Pass the Dinner Rolls and the Remote: Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes

I don’t know about you, but in between my post-Thanksgiving-dinner-nap and pre-dessert-nap, I like to kick back on the couch, unbutton my pants, and watch some football or festive TV. Here are just fourteen of the most well-done Thanksgiving episodes from eight different shows.



Bob’s Burgers

  • “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” (S3, EP 5)—The Belcher fam (aka Bob, Linda, Tina, Louise, and Gene) try to have a memorable and relatively normal Thanksgiving holiday, but it becomes anything but. Mr. Fischoeder—the owner of the Wonder Wharf in townborrows the Belcher family as his own to make his ex jealous. Hilarity ensues, and we’re gifted with an IMPECCABLE Thanksgiving jingle, courtesy of Linda. The lyrics to “Kill the Turkey” are, “Pass the cranberry sauce / We’re having mashed potatoes / Oh the turkey looks great / Thank you for loving me / Thank you for being there / Thank you for loving me / Everybody’s thankin’ / The whole world’s thankin’ you / Kill, kill, kill / Kill the turkey. However, reading the lyrics don’t do the song justice, so you must listen to Linda sing it here.



  • “Turkey in a Can” (S4, EP 5)—Bob once again is trying to provide his family with a tasty Thanksgiving. However there are two problems: (1) he keeps finding the turkeys in the toilet and (2) the culprit keeps evading him. He also keeps getting hit on by the butcher because rather than explain his turkey toilet sitch, Bob just continues to unintentionally lead this guy on. Tina is hilarious in her attempts to snag a seat at the adult dinner table. Gene also writes a Thanksgiving carol. Turns out, Bob was the turkey toileteer; he was having a side effect to his cat allergy pills and bittersweetness about his little girl, Tina, trying to grow up too fast. The episode ends with, you guessed it, turkey in a can and a heartwarming embrace from the Belcher brood.



  • “Dawn of the Peck” (S5, EP 4)—The rest of Bob’s family decides to spend Thanksgiving down at the Wonder Wharf—the kids on the spinning teacups and Linda doing the “Turkey Trot” fun run… the run, however, is anything but fun because Mr. Fischoeder’s evil twin brother Felix forgot to buy enough turkeys. So instead, the birds that usually chase the runners for a boost in energy (which are predominantly turkeys) are now a mix of turkeys and other farm animal birds that turn comically vicious. Where’s Bob, you may ask? Getting drunk and listening to Donna Summer CDs. But then he gets struck with the desire to make dinner anyway and hurls himself into the middle of the bird chaos by going to the grocery store. Linda rescues the kids from the teacups where they were waiting out the madness by reorganizing the pecking order of the birds and establishes her dominance by head-butting everyone. The day is saved, but after going berserk with the birds, nobody is in the mood for Bob’s feast.



New Girl

  • “Parents” (S2, EP 8)—Jess tries to pull of a “Parent Trap” by inviting both her mom and dad, who have been divorced for many years, to Thanksgiving dinner at the loft in an attempt to rekindle their once-strong love for each other. Mainly failed attempts later, including Nick hitting on Jess’s mom, Joan to make Bob jealous, and the mission appears to look futile. Schmidt also has a familial dispute with his older brother about who should really be called “Schmidt” and then compete in manliness tests, as suggested by Cece to make for some laughs on this day. The end result on who gets to be Schmidt? If they kiss Winston. And how does this Thanksgiving end for Bob and Joan you may ask? They let the festive mood get to them, and Jess oversees them gobbling each other up in the bathroom. This further eggs Jess on to keep trying, but her parents are insistent it’s never going to happen again (that is, until the end credits when they’re making out again).



  • “Thanksgiving IV” (S4, EP 9)—Everyone is single on Thanksgiving, so Schmidt decides to call it “Bangs-giving” in an attempt to get everyone laid. They all draw names for who they then must bring a date for dinner. Coach brings Jess’s work crush, Ryan, and things go haywire when Jess tries to have a one-night stand with him to resolve her crush. It ends badly because Ryan is both an A1 cutie AND a genuine good guy, so he tells her he has deeper feelings than that. Jess later goes to apologize, although they do end up completing “Bangs-giving” in the end. Schmidt and Nick have an issue because Schmidt brought an old fling of Nick’s, which breaks their bro code of dating exes with the statute of limitations being 1,000 showers. Best line from this conversation comes when Schmidt tells Nick that it’s been three and ½ years since he dated her, as well as the fact it was only for 2 and ½ months. Nick’s rebuttal was, “And if you think I’ve taken more than 1,000 showers in that time, then you’re out of your MIND!” Winston’s date ends up being a hot lunch lady named Pearl and Coach has to get over his intimidation of his muscled date, who end up sharing a cute kiss at the end. But really, Winston has his priorities straight.




  • “The One with the Football” (S3, EP 9)—Emotions become the feast of the day when the gang plays a game of touch football on Thanksgiving. There’s some crazy sibling rivalry between Ross and Monica, not to mention a feud over a girl between Joey and Chandler. It’s also kind of refreshing to see the show take place somewhere other than Monica’s apartment. However because the pigskin is on everyone’s minds, especially when a rematch is called, nobody remembers that the turkey is left stewing!


  • “The One with All the Thanksgivings,” aka “The One with the Thanksgiving Flashbacks”  (S5, EP 8)—This episode is chock-full of everyone’s bad Thanksgiving episodes, a proclamation of love from Chandler to Monica, and of course, who could the fusion of Joey’s head with the turkey?


  • “The One Where Ross Got High” (S6, EP 9)—Ross and Monica’s parents come to this dinner. While they’re there, secrets are revealed from the whole family: The Gellers spill that they don’t like Chandler because when Ross almost got caught smoking weed in college, Chandler took the blame; Ross reveals that Monica and Chandler are living together; and Monica reveals that Ross and Rachel married in Vegas but got divorced… again! But the real star of this episode is Rachel’s trifle which, in order, is a layer of ladyfingers, a layer of jam, custard (made from scratch), fresh raspberries, more ladyfingers, beer sauteed with peas and onions, a little more custard, sliced bananas, and whipped cream.


The Office

  • “” (S7, EP 9)—Michael helps Ryan by charming people to invest in his internet company, Dwight creates a hay festival in the parking lot for the Thanksgiving holiday. Jim learns of a new Sabre capping policy that prevents him from earning too much commission. While it’s not a run-of-the-mill Thanksgiving episode, this one is for-sure watch if you like an unconventional way to enjoy the holiday season. As per usual, this episode isn’t short of laughs.


Gilmore Girls

  • “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” (S3, EP 9)—Lorelai and Rory have quite a feat a four Thanksgiving feasts in one day ahead of them: Lane, Rory’s best friend and the Korean aspect of the title, Sookie, Lorelai’s best friend, Luke, and Emily and Richard Gilmore, Lorelai’s parents. It’s a fun time experiencing four very different attitudes throughout the different dinners and as full as I feel after my own meal on turkey day, I cannot IMAGINE what they felt like—bring on the stretchy pants!


This is Us

  • “Pilgrim Rick” (S1, EP 8)—This is one of the most tender episodes on the list, with that being the nature of the show’s mood. The whole episode goes from flashback about the worst/best Thanksgiving the Pearsons celebrated in a motel with vending machine food to a very, very chaotic present day Thanksgiving. Because I don’t want spoilers, even though this aired in 2016, I’ll just say Randall learns a secret that is shattering to him, Kate makes two life-changing decisions, and Kevin is still in limbo about love.



  • “Happy Thanksgiving” (S2, EP 10)—Parenthood is one of those shows that interweaves so many different plotlines and character’s lives together in a complicated web that we can’t help but watch and rewatch… this episode for me is a lot to summarize without watching the show, but I highly suggest you do. There’s tensions, there’s laughs, there’s tears, there’s anger, and a lot of love: all things that no matter what it is, it will always be better when done with family.


Modern Family

  • “Punkin Chunkin” (S3, EP 9)—Like the title of this show suggests, there are many different family dynamics represented, which leads to a comedic chaos every episode but especially for the holiday season. Phil is a creative genius, while sometimes misplaced, but Claire tries to stifle his ideas. Cam and Mitch are always a lively couple but Mitch is doubtful of Cam’s colorful childhood stories, mainly “pumpkin chunkin,” hence the name of this episode. Manny took creative liberties with the centerpieces for dinner, but Gloria, his mom, won’t let Jay give constructive criticism. How it all ends, you may wonder? With a group pumpkin chunkin… that dents Claire’s car. Whoops!


  • “Three Turkeys” (S6, EP 8)—Phil and Luke are on dinner duty this holiday, but Claire has some doubts about their ability to succeed… so she hides back-up turkeys everywhere. Gloria and Jay try to have a vacation during the holiday but when the trip gets cancelled last minute, they have to figure out how to avoid the family who is NOW hosting the feast at their HOUSE. Lily also is struggling with convincing Mitch and Cam not to wear a fancy dress to dinner.


This article is stuffed with so many different options for turkey-tastic television specials for this Thanksgiving season. Hope you gobble some of them up and whatever you do on November 22, do it with friends, family, and festivity!