The 10 Best Thanksgiving Episodes of Television

By | November 26, 2020

The 10 Best Thanksgiving Episodes of Television has determined some of the very best episodes of Thanksgiving television to binge this holiday season. Check out our picks below!

Now more than ever we are glued to our television screens and that doesn’t change just because the holiday season is well underway. In fact, this time of year has a direct effect on the type of things we see as we channel surf (for those who still do that kind of thing) and stream. Like us, fictional characters have to endure the same awkward family gatherings for which they are thankful. As a result, turkey-themed television has become an annual occurrence. These are some of the very best Thanksgiving episodes of television.

RELATED: Between the World and Me to Stream for Free This Thanksgiving Weekend

The West Wing

Season 2, Episode 8 – “Shibboleth”

Morally-righteous soliloquies, just the right amount of sappiness, and an inspiring/trust-worthy president, The West Wing is officially retro, and just what we need this holiday season. “Shibboleth” follows President Jed Bartlet and his crew as they argue over granting asylum to a group of evangelical Chinese immigrants (talk about awkward conversations). On top of that, this episode includes C.J’s humorous pardoning of presidential turkey and Bartlet imparting carving-knife wisdom upon Charlie (the aforementioned sap).  

Friday Night Lights

Season 4, Episode 13 – “Thanksgiving”

Because football and Thanksgiving go and hand, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the time the Taylors hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Much like the rest of us, all eyes are on the Friday night football game, Lions vs. Panthers.


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

The show about nothing has a penchant for making fun of the mundane and, sometimes, that’s exactly what Thanksgiving is, Macy’s Day Parade and all. Also, Kramer gives away all of Jerry’s shoes to save a small shoe-repair business, George wants to buy a convertible owned by Jon Voight (a timely celebrity), and Elaine wins a radio quiz, allowing Mr. Pitt to be in the illustrious NYC parade.

The Sopranos

Season 3, Episode 6 – “He Is Risen”

Wiseguys love to eat as evident by all of the meatballs and lasagna (apologies for the stereotype). Turns out, they also do Thanksgiving pretty well. While not exactly the family-friendly, feel-good episode like the others on this list, “He is Risen” follows Thanksgiving at the Sopranos’ as Carmela prepares to host a large number of guests including Aaron Arkaway, a narcoleptic Christian who loves to announce how “he is risen.” The episode also features the growing feud between Tony and Ralph resulting in more than enough dysfunction.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Season 9, Episode 10 – “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs”

Dysfunction knows has never been better suited to television than with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs” sees Frank, Mac, Charlie, Dee, and Dennis confront people they have wronged during subversive Thanksgiving dinner. While said dinner doesn’t take place until the end of the episode, as a climax, it’s more than satisfying. Enemies/guests/legacy characters include Gail the Snail, Bill Ponderosa, Cricket, Hwang, and the McPoyles. 

How I Met Your Mother

Season 3, Episode 9 – “Slapsgiving”

If Friends is on this list, then of course so is How I Met Your Mother (AKA Friends 2.0). The story of Ted Mosby’s seemingly-never-ending search for the mother loves Turkey Day. Its best entry is season 3’s “Slapsgiving”—which introduces the reverenced jingle “You Just Got Slapped.” The episode sees the gang at Marshall and Lily’s house for Thanksgiving and Barney terrified of the long-prophesied third slap coinciding with their slap bet. Framed by Ted and Robin’s precarious relationship, and eventual reconciliation thanks to a long-running military joke, “Slapsgiving” is not only HIMYM at its best but the epitome of a “Friendsgiving.”


Season 5, Episode 8 – “The One With All the Thanksgivings”

In the opinion of man, Friends set a golden standard for sitcoms (it did the opposite for others). It also set a precedent for Thanksgiving episodes; its Magnum Opus being “The One With All the Thanksgivings.” This “one” flashes back to every Thanksgiving Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, and Chandler have spent together, including the time Monica’s clumsy flirting resulted in the loss of Chandler’s toe. Considering the present-day status of the pair’s relationship and the subsequent Mr. Bean-esque turkey-to-head shenanigans, this outing is one fans will never forget. 

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Season 1, Episode 12 – “Talking Turkey”

Fresh off of watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s 30-year reunion on HBO Max (and experiencing all its nostalgia and awkwardness) there’s nothing more appropriate than revisiting the show’s first season. This Thanksgiving outing, featuring Janet Hubert as Aunt Viv, sees Viola Smith visit her son in Bel-Air for Turkey day. The kids are forced to cook dinner after Viola (and the other adults) witness their mistreatment of Geoffrey the Butler. Obviously, things go less than swimmingly. 

Master of None

Season 2, Episode 8 – “Thanksgiving”

All family dinners/gatherings (not just the ones that take place over the Holidays) are plagued by that which goes left unsaid—the people expected to know you the most, often know very little. Master of None’s “Thanksgiving”—which won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (as well as a nomination for Angela Bassett)—follows Denise’s (Lena Waithe) coming-out story as framed by the annual gathering she has shared with Dev (Aziz Ansari) throughout the years. It explores Denise’s sexuality and its effect on the relationship she has with her mother (Bassett), who eventually accepts her. 


Season 5, Episode 9 – “Thanksgiving Orphans”

“Making [our] way in the world today…sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.” On November 27, 1986, Sam Malone, his staff, and the regulars of the place “where everybody knows your name” Thanksgiving at Carla’s for a potluck dinner. With Carla’s many children away at their father’s (Nick), the gang does their best to cook Norm’s increasingly cold turkey and get along. The situation goes awry, resulting in a food fight, the likes of which ruins one of the only opportunities audiences ever got to see Vera’s face. Cheers‘ Thanksgiving abandons civility in favor of belligerence and it’s beautiful.