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TV's 8 Best Thanksgiving Episodes

Posted Nov 21 2012 - 10:00am
Tagged With: holidays, thanksgiving, tv


Okay,’s almost Thanksgiving break! Whether you’re dreading the visit home or bitter that your roommate got to leave three days earlier than you, these bad feelings will soon be swallowed in a vast sea of turkey, pie and competitive discount shopping. In the meantime, here are a few great Thanksgiving TV specials to get you in the holiday spirit. 

Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, Season 4, Episode 8: “Pangs”


“It is a sham, but it’s a sham with yams.” In an attempt at normalcy (kind of hard to achieve when you’re a vampire slayer), Buffy vows to cook a perfect Thanksgiving feast for all of her friends. And in typical Buffy fashion, some big monster shows up - the ghost of a Chumash Indian exacting revenge on white settlers, to be exact - inviting a moral dilemma about the true meaning of Thanksgiving. 

Seinfeld, Season 6, Episode 8: “The Mom and Pop Store”


Okay, so like most episodes of Seinfeld, this one isn’t really about anything, least of all Thanksgiving. But you can’t not laugh at Kramer getting bit in the arm by Jon Voight! Also, Jerry pops the Woody the Woodpecker float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Holiday fun for all! 

New Girl, Season 1, Episode 6: “Thanksgiving”


“The most sexy holidays are Fourth of July, uh... Independence Day obviously, Women's History Month, and Christmas.” Jess convinces her roommates to partake in a real Thanksgiving dinner so she can invite her fellow teacher and crush Paul, who is still recovering from the death of his beloved Nana. (In a few words, he’s the kind of guy who would bring a violin to a complete stranger’s house on Thanksgiving.) This is New Girl, so of course hilarious hijinks ensue - Jess sets the turkey on fire when she tries to put it in a clothes dryer! The gang escapes to their neighbor’s apartment, only to find her corpse! Okay, that one was a little unexpected. But Justin Long’s Paul and Schmidt preparing Thanksgiving dinner are enough to make this episode a keeper. 

The West Wing, Season 3, Episode 8: “The Indians in the Lobby”


“If I cook the stuffing inside the turkey, is there a chance I could kill my guests? I'm not saying that's necessarily a deal-breaker.” Okay, if you’ve ever seen The West Wing you know each episode is filled with allegories and deeper meanings, and this episode is no different. Two Stockbridge-Munsee Indians arrive at the White House, demanding an answer on the application their tribe submitted over a decade ago. Their plight reminds us of the true origins of Thanksgiving and the United States as a whole. But come on, the president calling the Butterball hotline? That’s some pretty good stuff. 

Parks & Recreation, Season 3, Episode 7: “Harvest Festival”


Calling this a Thanksgiving episode is a bit of a stretch, but it’s so fall-y and fun that I couldn’t resist. Leslie and the rest of the gang must successfully revamp Pawnee’s Harvest Festival in order to save the parks department. Plus, it’s the debut of Li’l Sebastian! Any true Parks & Rec fan knows and loves the mini horse that stole Indiana’s heart (“Son, this horse has an honorary degree from Notre Dame.”). 

The O.C., Season 1, Episode 11: “The Homecoming”


“Nothing says Thanksgiving like moo shu pork.” This one is a classic (as are most episodes of The O.C.‘s first season). Just as the Cohens are preparing a beautiful Thanksgiving meal, Ryan receives a mysterious phone call from his delinquent brother Trey. When Ryan decides to return to Chino (ew!), Marissa of course begs to go with him. While this episode’s punch count comes in at only two (for an episode of The O.C., that’s pretty average), it is chock full of typical Cohen drama. When the inexperienced Seth attempts to juggle Anna and Summer, it entirely blows up in his face (this episode is worth a watch if only to see the rise and fall of Seth Cohen, the player). 

Gilmore Girls, Season 3, Episode 9: “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving”


“It's not too much food. This is what we've been training for our whole lives. This is our destiny, this is our finest hour.” The Gilmores get roped into four Thanksgiving dinners (which, if you remember how much they’ve eaten in other episodes, doesn’t seem like that much of a hardship). The first is at the Kims’ house, where an adorable pre-O.C. Adam Brody plays Lane’s love interest - one of my favorite moments is Mrs. Kim reading, “This Bible belongs to God, but is being used by Dave Rygalski.” Then to Sookie and Jackson’s, where master chef Sookie drinks herself into oblivion of her husband’s deep-fried turkey. Next comes Luke’s, where Babette critiques an awkward public kiss between Rory and Jess, confirming Rory’s paranoia that everyone is watching them (PS: Jess & Rory forever!!!!). Finally, a perfectly awkward meal at the grandparents’ house ends with Rory’s admission that she has applied to schools besides Harvard, including Yale...I never understood why Lorelai was so mad about this? I feel like applying only to Harvard would be a bit of a gamble. 

How I Met Your Mother, Season 3, Episode 9: “Slapsgiving”



This is it, guys. The ultimate Thanksgiving episode. While Lily was hoping for the start of a great tradition (their first Thanksgiving all together, with Lily and Marshall married), Robin and Marshall have different plans. To start, Robin has decided to invite Bob, an older guy she’s been seeing. Nobody’s really happy about it, least of all Ted. (“The only reason I'm jealous of Bob is because Noah gave him shotgun on the ark.”) And of course, the main event - the continuation of Marshall and Barney’s slap bet. Marshall has informed Barney that he will be administering his third slap on Thanksgiving day, or as he calls it, “Slapsgiving.”  The episode culminates with the hilarious “You Just Got Slapped” sung by Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris - if you don’t have time for the whole episode, watching this clip on Youtube should get you in the spirit of Slapsgiving! 

TV's 8 Best Thanksgiving Episodes