We all watch TV, and which is the “best” show is a matter of opinion really. Here are the top 10 Thanksgiving episodes of all time. Don’t forget to check out other lists throughout Thought for Your Penny.
10. The Big Bang Theory – The Thanksgiving Decoupling (2013)
The gang is spending Thanksgiving at Wolowitz’s mom’s house, much to the chagrin of Sheldon. Making matters worse, Penny finds out her fake Vegas marriage to ex-boyfriend Zack is legitimate (which angers Leonard, whose proposal she previously rejected). Meanwhile, Sheldon is bonding with Bernadette’s dad Mike by mocking Howard.
Director: Mark Cendrowski
Writer: Eric Kaplan, Steve Holland, Maria Ferrari
Starring: Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki
9. Happy Endings – More Like Stanksgiving (2005)
Thanksgiving this year is at Alex’s, even though Jane and Brad already spent a week preparing. Max plans on guilt-tripping everyone about the plight of the Native Americans because he’s 1/16 Navajo. We also learn Jane and Brad met on Real World: Sacramento, where Brad had quite a bit of truth to say about his now wife and Max tried to be the first openly Greg man on TV.
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Writer: Leila Strachan
Starring: Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert, Damon Wayans Jr.
8. Friends – The One Where Ross Got High (1999)
Ross and Monica’s parents are coming to Thanksgiving dinner, but they don’t like Chandler and don’t know he’s living with Monica. Rachel’s dessert goes horribly wrong when she accidentally follows half the recipe and another half of a shepherd’s pie recipe, so everyone has to pretend to enjoy chocolate, beef, and peas together.
Director: Kevin Bright
Writer: Greg Malins
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry
7. Cheers – Thanksgiving Orphans (1986)
In the only watchable holiday episode pre-1990, the drunken losers who constantly hang out at a bar inevitably have nothing to do on Thanksgiving. So Diane suggests they have a potluck at Carla’s, which everyone begrudgingly agrees to. They end up getting in a huge argument that ends in a food fight with even Diane (whose fancy Thanksgiving invite she bragged about earlier is actually a job).
Director: James Burrows
Writer: Cherie Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner
Starring: Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman
6. Fresh Off the Boat – No Thanks-giving (2016)
The Huangs had a normal Thanksgiving last year, but this year Jessica is tired of celebrating a holiday that has nothing to do with their culture. So they open Cattleman’s Ranch and everyone hangs out there instead. Grandma just wants to see Garfield in the parade, Eddie has determined school doesn’t matter, and Jessica rigged the (live) turkey raffle to save money.
Director: Alisa Statman
Writer: Keith Heisler
Starring: Randall Park, Constance Wu, Hudson Yang
5. Chuck – Chuck Versus the Nemesis (2007)
Bryce escapes from his holding cell in castle by taking Chuck hostage, and it makes Thanksgiving at Ellie’s a bit difficult. Adding to the problems, Anna thinks Ellie has a crush on Morgan, and everyone at the Buy More is preparing for the dreaded Black Friday sale. A Folcrum agent figures out Chuck is the real Intersect, and he’s forced to use the safe word (pineapple) to evacuate the store and escape in the confusion.
Director: Allison Liddi-Brown
Writer: Chris Fedak
Starring: Zachery Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin
4. black-ish – Auntsgiving (2016)
When Pops’ older sister Almaviligerais comes for Thanksgiving, Ruby isn’t happy. Turns out she’s the one who told Pops to leave Ruby since he couldn’t stay faithful to her. The kids are anxious to hear the family secrets, and Dre is just excited to see his aunt. Bonus points go to Ruby for asking for weed, as that’s one of my favorite parts about hanging out with my black friends on Thanksgiving.
Director: Michael Shultz
Writer: Kenny Smith Jr.
Starring: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laurence Fishburne
3. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – The Gang Squashes Their Beefs (2013)
The McPoyles bought the video store, so Dennis and Mac can’t rent Thunder Gun Express for Thanksgiving. Even worse, the hoagies smell like gas because Gail the Snail works at WaWa and Dee had to get them at a gas station. With all their enemies in one room, things quickly descend into chaos with the apartment on fire, so the gang decides it’s better to avoid their problems and leaves everyone trapped inside.
Director: Todd Biermann
Writer: Rob Rossell
Starring: Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney
2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – There’s the Rub (1995)
Spoiled Carlton and Hilary Banks are volunteering at a homeless shelter for Thanksgiving and learn the true spirit of the holiday. Meanwhile, Will and Phil are arrested in a massage parlor sting and unjustly held in jail. Not wanting to miss out on the tiny little onions in cream sauce, Phil gets the D.A. to let them out. Lessons are learned all around.
Director: Shelley Jensen
Writer: Joel Madison
Starring: Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, James Avery
1. South Park – Black Friday Trilogy (2013)
South Park has no shortage of classic Thanksgiving episodes, but the Black Friday trilogy is the best. The kids are divided in two factions, depending on whether they plan to buy an Xbox One or PS4. Meanwhile Stan’s dad Randy got a job as a security guard in order to cut the Black Friday lines. It’s a modern holiday classic that sums up everything about this consumerist holiday.
Director: Trey Parker
Writer: Trey Parker
Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mona Marshall