When you think of “holiday specials” in TV and movies, Christmas and Halloween get all the love – but there are TONS of amazing Thanksgiving-themed episodes that deserve recognition! From comedies and dramas to thrillers and reality TV, Thanksgiving-themed tv episodes are some of the best content around. Everyone loves to see the heart-warming themes of thankfulness, friendship, family, while also commiserating with some of the funny, and sometimes troublesome issues, that come along with family gatherings!
That’s why today we are assembling the Top 10 Thanksgiving-themed tv show episodes ever!
#10 – Mad Men “The Wheel”
Advertising mogul Don Draper is ruthless in his business and personal dealings, and Thanksgiving won’t slow that down. He expresses his desire to not visit his in-laws, and instead stay home so he can continue to work normally. In defiance, his wife Betty takes the children to her parents anyways, foreshadowing the spiral of their relationship. Don eventually comes to realize the errors of his ways, and he has to grapple with his wife’s decision as well as shocking surprise to his entire family. Mad Men is one of the best shows on television, and it’s Thanksgiving-themed season one finale caps it off so well.
#9 – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs”
If you’re looking for some absolutely absurd humor to get you in the Thanksgiving spirit, this is it. Thanksgiving is all about thankfulness for what you have, and letting go of any grudges. In honor of these positive ideologies, “The Gang’s” iconic cast of characters gather those they may have wronged in an attempt to “squash the beef.” Needless to say, there are ALOT of people in attendance, and the standard Sunny hilarity ensues.
#8 – This Is Us “Pilgrim Rick”
One of the best dramas aired on television in recent years, This Is Us boasts one of the most heart-warming Thanksgiving episodes you could hope for. It features a flashback of the Pearson Family on Thanksgiving Day, and serves as an ode to families with unconventional Holiday Traditions. Sometimes life throws you a curveball and you, and your family, needs to be ready to take the unexpected change in stride. That’s what this episode, and the Thanksgiving season in general, is all about.
#7 – Parks and Rec “Harvest Festival”
Okay so technically this isn’t a true Thanksgiving-themed episode, but it’s close enough – and it’s hilarious! If you’ve never watched Parks and Rec before, it follows the story of a local Parks and Recreation Department in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana. In this episode, the whole department is busy planning an incredibly important Harvest Festival for the town. It just so happens the festival is being held on potentially cursed Native American grounds, which may derail the entire event. Immediately after realizing this, the regionally-famed miniature horse “Lil’ Sebastian” escapes his pen, local news covers the story, and the attempt to save the festival is on!
#6 – Gilmore Girls “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving”
Anyone who’s felt obligated to “make the rounds” and eat more than one Thanksgiving meal can sympathize with Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. While trying to enjoy their holiday together, the duo end up eating four separate meals – all while dealing with the standard small town family-and-friends drama that have endeared viewers to the Gilmore Girls for years.
#5 – Friends “The One With The Rumor”
There may not be another show that tackles everyone’s favorite events and holidays quite like Friends, and Thanksgiving isn’t spared! The award-winning show is known for its impressive balance of heart and humor, and this episode is no different. Monica and Ross Geller invite an old highschool friend, played by Brad Pitt, to join them for a Thanksgiving meal. Instead of friendly holiday conversation, an intricate web of vicious high school rumors and relationships are unraveled.
#4 – Modern Family “Three Turkeys”
The strength of Modern Family has always been the writer’s ability to weave multiple story lines together while viewers watch them unfold in real time, and that is precisely what happens in this episode! Two adult siblings and their families are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving while their father and his wife head out of town. When their travel plans are canceled, the couple opts to spend Thanksgiving alone…or so they thought! The family party ends up being held at the parents house, and they are forced to hide in their own home from their kids and grandkids!
#3 – Friends “The One With The Football”
There’s something about Friends that just keeps us coming back, especially in the Thanksgiving season. This episode tackles the age-old tradition of a Thanksgiving-day backyard football game, that many of us remember fondly. Except in this instance, it brings out the worst of the Geller sibling’s feud, reigniting their rivalry over just about anything they could compete in. The rest of their group inevitably gets roped into the competition, which results in a touching ending!
#2 – Master of None “Thanksgiving”
Thanksgiving means spending time with family, and for many of us that can spur on some difficult conversations. The Thanksgiving episode of Master of None tackles the difficult conversations a woman has with her mom in regards to her sexuality, throughout multiple years. From hiding it, lying about it, family fights, and more, it’s an incredibly real and relatable experience for many of us. This episode has made its way on to Top 20 TV Episodes lists, and even won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.
#1 – Friends “The One With All The Thanksgivings”
If Thanksgiving is all about eating good, then Friends is the visual comfort food we all want. This episode is told almost entirely in flashback, as everyone’s favorite cast reminisces about their worst Thanksgiving ever. Most of the stories are absolutely off the wall and get viewers laughing, but it’s also a great reminder to take stock of what you have, and that even the most imperfect holidays can become some of the best memories.