As bachelors at the Koimoi team, the prospect of spending Thanksgiving away from our parents led us to a collective decision: we’re not just colleagues; we’re a pseudo family. Like any family, we aimed for a Thanksgiving feast, but true to familial dynamics, office politics inevitably crept in during our discussions. Nevertheless, we navigated through it all, culminating in a decision on what to watch during our pseudo-family Thanksgiving gathering, carefully avoiding conversations about why we didn’t make the trek home. Our final verdict? The chosen episodes from our favorite TV shows, a curated list that emerged victorious after considering various contenders, each eliminated due to the constraints of time.
So, for those seeking the perfect Turkey Day-themed TV episodes to complement their holiday gatherings, look no further. Our team, embracing the essence of chosen family, presents our definitive guide to elevate your Thanksgiving binge-watching experience.
Friends – “The One With All the Thanksgivings” (s05e08)
Available on Max
“The One With All The Thanksgivings” from Friends’ fifth season takes viewers on a humorous trip down memory lane. The episode aired on November 19, 1998. This Thanksgiving-themed episode skillfully intertwines the misadventures of the main characters. Ross’s post-divorce woes spark a candid discussion of holiday mishaps, including Chandler’s parents’ divorce and Phoebe’s eccentric past-life tale. Amidst attempts to uncover Monica’s darkest Thanksgiving memory, chaos ensues with Joey’s turkey-on-head prank. Flashbacks to 1987 reveal a pivotal moment for Monica, triggered by Chandler’s unintentional insult about her weight. In the present, Chandler apologizes to Monica, but a surprising revelation awaits. The narrative shifts to 1988, showcasing a transformed Monica catching Chandler‘s eye. Seeking revenge, Monica’s quirky seduction plan leads to a slapstick mishap with a dropped knife. Chandler, learning the true reason behind his lost toe, leaves in anger. Monica’s attempt at reconciliation involves an eccentric display, resulting in Chandler inadvertently expressing his love. The episode concludes with a tag scene, adding a historical touch to the Thanksgiving extravaganza. Overall, “The One With All The Thanksgivings” masterfully blends humor, nostalgia, and character development, highlighting the enduring charm of Friends.
Cheers – “Thanksgiving Orphans” (s05e09)
Available on Paramount Plus
In the realm of 1980s television, Cheers stood as a beloved sitcom, and its 1986 Thanksgiving episode, “Thanksgiving Orphans,” left an indelible mark. As one of the most-watched shows, Cheers had already clinched numerous Emmy Awards, solidifying its status in television history.
The episode unfolds within the familiar Cheers bar, where the gang discloses their Thanksgiving plans, revealing a mix of solitude and unexpected encounters. Amidst canceled dates, hoity-toity parties, and in-law dinners, the ensemble’s humorous dynamics come to life against the Thanksgiving backdrop.
Transitioning into Carla’s home, the group, despite their differences, transforms into an unlikely family. Sam’s last-minute inclusion, Norm’s diversion from in-laws, and even Diane’s attendance as waitstaff contribute to the festive chaos. The narrative cleverly weaves relatable Thanksgiving dilemmas, underscoring the anticipation and potential madness of the day.
As hunger takes center stage, tensions rise, and a cranberry sauce skirmish ensues, propelling the episode into unexpected hilarity. The ensuing food fight, unscripted and chaotic, elevates the comedic brilliance of the scene, breaking away from Cheers’ usual sophistication.
The aftermath sees the gang reveling in their unusual friendship, offering a nod to Coach, the show’s late bar owner. “Thanksgiving Orphans” earned its place among Cheers’ iconic episodes, securing the seventh spot on TV Guide’s greatest episodes list. Yet, it wasn’t without controversy. Airing amidst global famine concerns, the episode faced criticism for perceived food wastage. Despite reassurances of donated leftovers, viewers threatened to boycott, emphasizing the delicate balance between comedy and societal sensitivities in television.
Bewitched – “Samantha’s Thanksgiving to Remember” (s04e12)
Available to purchase on Amazon for $1.99 per episode.
In a whimsical turn of events orchestrated by Aunt Clara’s fumbled magic, the Stephens family and Mrs. Kravitz find themselves thrust into the heart of the original pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in 1620. What initially promised to be a tranquil Thanksgiving for three transforms into a lively gathering with the unexpected addition of Aunt Clara.
Prompted by nostalgia, Aunt Clara opts to spend the occasion with her Plymouth acquaintances. However, her magical intervention not only transports her but also whisks away Samantha, Darrin, Tabitha, and even the coincidentally present Gladys Kravitz to 1620.
Now immersed in the very first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, the central challenge becomes navigating a route back to their own time. The fortuitous belief of Mrs. Kravitz that this is a mere dream adds a layer of intrigue. As Aunt Clara endeavors to summon the spell for their return, the group finds itself engrossed in the festivities of the historic Thanksgiving alongside notable figures such as Miles Standish and John Alden. Meanwhile, Darrin grapples with mounting concerns about the prevailing anti-witch sentiments among some of the men.
The narrative takes an unexpected twist as what began as a potentially enlightening history lesson transforms into a perilous ordeal. Darrin’s use of a present-day match in the historical context leads to accusations of witchcraft, plunging the situation into a life-or-death predicament. Samantha is thrust into the role of rescuer as she confronts the challenges of preserving her husband’s well-being in this temporal conundrum.
The Wonder Years – “The Ties That Bind” (s04e07)
Available on Hulu
Money is tight around the Arnold household, and things don’t look so good when the kitchen stove finally dies. Jack goes to NORCOM to ask for a raise, and gets it, as well as a promotion. With the new stove in the kitchen, it seems the Arnold’s problems are over, until it becomes clear that Jack won’t be back for Thanksgiving Dinner.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs” (s09e10)
Available on Hulu
In “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs,” the notorious Paddy’s Pub crew endeavors to reconcile with their adversaries during a Thanksgiving gathering. Known for their offensive antics, Dennis, Dee, Frank, Mac, and Charlie explore their depths of depravity in this darkly humorous episode. Despite their despicable behavior, the show consistently delivers punchlines at their expense.
In a rare moment of maturity during the Season 9 finale, the gang, realizing the genuine threat posed by their accumulated enemies, decides to host a Thanksgiving feast to reconcile. However, their hollow and self-serving approach is evident in Dennis’ superficial resolution, asking enemies to sign a document without offering sincere apologies. The gathering brings back fan-favorite characters, yet tensions escalate as longstanding grudges come to the forefront. The episode humorously captures the gang’s inept attempts at reconciliation, ensuring the joke remains on them.
M.A.S.H. – “The Yalu Brick Road” (s08e10)
Available on Hulu
In the aftermath of Thanksgiving, the 4077th faces an unexpected crisis as food poisoning sweeps through the camp. Hawkeye and B.J., on a quest for antibiotics, become lost and encounter a lone North Korean soldier eager to surrender.
Father Mulcahy returns to find the Post Op overwhelmed with patients, all victims of a salmonella outbreak linked to a suspect Thanksgiving turkey supplied by Klinger. Defending the turkey’s innocence initially, Klinger and Potter both succumb to illness.
With Potter and Klinger indisposed, Potter becomes the sole doctor. Charles and Margaret are away, and Hawkeye and B.J. embark on a mission for antibiotics. Charles and Margaret, returning first, attend to the sick. Winchester’s attempt to evade chores results in Margaret’s firm directive—clean sheets or bedpans. Reluctantly, Winchester chooses the sheets.
Meanwhile, Hawkeye and B.J. navigate on foot after getting lost, encountering a persistent North Korean soldier, humorously nicknamed ‘Ralph.’ Ralph’s unexpected assistance proves vital when facing a threatening group of soldiers, averting a dangerous situation and earning gratitude from Hawkeye and B.J.
Continuing their journey, they assist an injured old man, ‘Fred,’ and receive a rusty motorcycle as a reward. B.J. insists on driving it, leading to a chaotic return to the 4077th, inadvertently running over Winchester’s freshly-cleaned sheets. In Post Op, Ralph’s surrender prompts humor from Hawkeye, emphasizing the episode’s blend of medical chaos and unexpected alliances. The M*A*S*H episode artfully weaves humor and drama into a post-Thanksgiving narrative, creating a memorable and engaging story for viewers.
The Office – “WUPHF.com” (S07E09)
Available on Peacock
In the Dunder Mifflin universe, this episode unfolds with Dwight on a mission to confront childhood scars left by competitive “hay festivals” held each Thanksgiving in his family, where he was perennially denied the hay crown. Determined to set things right, Dwight transforms the parking lot into his own festival, driven by the poignant desire to claim the crown he believes he deserves. This humorous yet heartfelt pursuit takes center stage, showcasing the essence of acknowledgment and the holiday spirit.
On a different note, the episode introduces Wuphf.com, a fictional social platform devised by Ryan Howard, allegedly borrowed from his then-girlfriend Kelly Kapoor.
Meanwhile, Michael’s involvement goes beyond financial matters as he lends a hand in enticing investments for Ryan’s internet venture. Concurrently, Jim discovers a new Dunder Mifflin policy that disrupts his ability to earn commissions. The intersection of personal quests, workplace dynamics, and the Thanksgiving backdrop creates a captivating narrative within the Dunder Mifflin universe.
Will & Grace -“Moveable Feast” (S04E09)
Available on Prime Video or Hulu
In the uproarious ninth episode of “Will & Grace” Season 4, “Moveable Feast,” the characters embark on a rollercoaster of dinner party invites. Grace battles anxiety over her ex’s soirée, enlisting Will and Jack for moral support. Yet, Will’s entangled in his boss’s shindig, while Jack’s over the moon about an invite from Cher, pleading with Will to tag along.
The night unfolds into a hilarious musical chairs scenario, with Grace navigating her ex’s party solo, feeling out of place. Meanwhile, Will and Jack grapple with the ever-shifting locations of their respective dinner plans. Will shuttles between his boss’s event and Jack’s encounter with Cher, each facing their unique challenges.
As the night progresses, the trio realizes they’ve piled on unnecessary pressure and should simply savor the evening. Grace seizes the moment, opting for a potential reconciliation with her ex. Jack finally meets Cher, and Will navigates office politics.
“Moveable Feast (1)” is a whirlwind, offering laughs and relatable struggles with multiple social commitments. Themes of self-doubt and the importance of taking relationship risks surface. Fans will revel in the dynamic between characters and the meaningful connections forged throughout the episode.
Seinfeld – “The Mom and Pop Store” (S06E08)
Available on Netflix
In a Thanksgiving-themed escapade, George’s car-buying plans take a hilarious turn when a slick salesman convinces him to opt for a LeBaron convertible, supposedly once owned by Jon Voight. Meanwhile, Elaine’s pursuit of romance with Jerry’s dentist, Tim Whatley, and Kramer’s insistence on sending Jerry’s sneakers to a struggling “Mom and Pop” shoe store add layers to the holiday chaos.
Elaine’s quest for a radio contest ticket for Mr. Pitt turns into a chaotic ordeal, and Jerry’s sneaker predicament intensifies when he discovers Kramer’s unexpected involvement. With Thanksgiving looming, Jerry’s dental mishap at Whatley’s party becomes a catalyst for unforeseen challenges. Simultaneously, Mom and Pop’s shoe store dilemma results in the disappearance of Jerry’s sneakers, setting the stage for quirky incidents and social missteps at the Thanksgiving celebration.
The episode crescendos with Jerry’s sneakers ending up in a Parsippany garage sale, prompting a comical bus journey with Kramer, complete with a nosebleed twist reminiscent of Midnight Cowboy. Amidst the holiday mayhem, the gang’s Thanksgiving takes an unexpected and uproarious turn, showcasing the series’ signature blend of humor and unpredictable twists.
All in the Family – “The Little Atheist” (S06E11)
Available on Pluto TV
In the Stivics’ household, Thanksgiving takes a dramatic turn as a heated dispute erupts between Mike and Archie, revolving around the religious upbringing of Mike and Gloria’s unborn baby. This recurring dynamic of verbal sparring between Archie and Mike during significant holidays once again takes center stage, with Thanksgiving serving as the arena for conflicting perspectives on whether the child should undergo baptism and be raised as a Christian. While Archie staunchly advocates for a Christian upbringing, Mike and Gloria assert the importance of granting the child the autonomy to choose their faith when they reach an age of independent decision-making. The clash of generational and ideological perspectives unfolds against the backdrop of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, adding a poignant layer to the familial tensions.
We believe that these carefully selected episodes serve as not just entertainment but also as a source of strength to navigate family gatherings during Thanksgiving. Watching these shows with your family provides a unique opportunity to bond, offering shared laughter and moments of connection amidst the chaos. In the midst of dealing with that nosey aunt, eccentric uncle, or any other family member quirks, these episodes act as a refuge, bringing joy during a potentially hectic time. Even in the presence of an overachieving sister, these shows become the perfect companions, allowing you to drown out any frustrations with laughter rather than seeking solace in other less wholesome options. Alternatively, if you choose to follow our lead and opt for a solo or friends’ Thanksgiving, these episodes make for ideal companions, ensuring a delightful escape from the holiday madness.
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