Television has been a large part of Zelda’s and my relationship. In our fourteen years of friendship, we’ve bonded over many serialized fictional characters, matching up who is who from our actual friend groups to the ones that graced our beloved small screens (I’m Lorelai; she’s Rory. I’m Robin; she’s Lily. I’m Phoebe; she’s Monica. You get the picture.) So it stands to reason that our holidays would not be complete without our fictional friends as well as our IRL ones. Without further ado, here is a list of seven of our favorite Thanksgiving episodes, a week’s worth of guest stars, deep-fried turkeys, and super spies to help get you in the spirit for the real thing.
Disclaimer: This list is merely some of my recent favorites. I write what I know. Tell us about the favorite Thanksgiving episodes we left out in the comments!
How I Met Your Mother: Blitzgiving (Season 6 Episode 10; November 22nd, 2010) – I was going kick this list off with the original HIMYM Thanksgiving episode Slapsgiving. However, rewatching all the awkward Ted/Robin-ness left me with bad flashbacks to the failure they called a series finale (Zelda and I are still not over it), so instead I decided to feature this season six gem. Nothing says Thanksgiving like guest stars and one character’s overzealous dinner plans. You don’t want to miss it (lest you catch the curse of the Blitz). Featuring a post-Lost/House, pre-Once Upon a Time Jorge Garcia and Jennifer Morrison, and multiple Lost references.
Barney: “Robin! Robin! I will pay you to be the Blitz. A hundred dollars! No, ten thousand dollars! No, sixty bucks. What’s a lot of money to someone like you?”
Chuck: Chuck Vs. The Nemesis (Season 1 Episode 10; November 27th, 2007) – Otherwise known as The Return of Bryce Larkin (not an accountant). Bryce Larkin (our hero’s former friend turned nemesis) was supposed to be dead, but he’s not, and now Chuck has to deal with that. Plus, you know, there’s the usual “how to keep my family and friends from knowing I have a super secret CIA computer in my head.” Additionally, the Nerd Herd succumbs to the Black Friday pressure. Also, Matt Bomer
Chuck: “Hey! No guns at Thanksgiving!”
Greek: The Wish Pretzel (Season 5 Episode 9; October 26th, 2009) – Greek was a lovely little show on ABC family that, in our opinion, was woefully underappreciated. Yes, it’s about sororities and fraternities, but it’s also about the family we create outside our family. With all our favorite players stuck inside the trope of “thrown together for the holiday,” chaos and heartwarming moments are bound to ensue: Friends are briefly enemies, enemies are briefly friends, and people finally admit that they still like each other! But all’s well that ends well in a Peanuts-style Thanksgiving dinner of popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans and Wild Turkey (the bourbon, not the animal).
Rebecca: “I care about old people: I watch Desperate Housewives!”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Thanksgiving (Season 1 Episode 10; November 26th, 2013) – If you’re not watching this show, you should be, like, now. I decided to watch it last year on a whim and immediately fell in love with the kooky co-workers of the 99th precinct. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a crime-procedural based comedy (see: Psych). In this episode, Jake hates Thanksgiving (daddy issues) and does all he can to avoid Amy’s painstakingly planned dinner for the squad. While the rest of the Nine-Nine plays Boyle Bingo, learns that Amy can’t cook, gets kicked out of a bar, and has a brief rat encounter, Captain Holt teaches Jake that being an adult means that you can make your own holiday traditions. Jake realizes that the Nine-Nine are his new family, and Boyle saves Thanksgiving. Boom.
Peralta: “I am happy to be here with my family. My super weird family with two black dads, two Latina daughters, and two white sons, and Gina and…and I don’t know what you are, some strange giant baby? To the Nine-Nine.”
The West Wing: Shibboleth (Season 2 Episode 8; November 22nd, 2000) I was late to the West Wing game. I watched the entire series in about a month just last year, but it has earned a special place in my heart all the same. This episode is the perfect Sorkinian balance of drama interspersed with light-heartedness. President Bartlet has to decide whether Chinese stowaways should be granted religious asylum, Josh and Sam have to deal with the Christian lobbyists, Charlie is on the hunt for the perfect carving knife, and C.J. has to pardon a turkey and sing a song.
C.J: “They sent me two turkeys. The more photo-friendly of the two gets a presidential pardon and a full life at a children’s zoo. The runner-up gets eaten.”
Bartlet: “If the Oscars were like that I’d watch.”
Gilmore Girls: A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving (Season 3 Episode 9; November 26th, 2002) – Probably one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes of all time. The Gilmores attempt a feat that is daunting even for food junkies like them: four Thanksgiving dinners in one night. (“Rory, what are we if not world-champion eaters?….It’s not too much food. This is what we’ve been training for our whole lives. This is our destiny; this is our finest hour!”) We get a glimpse of each corner of our favorite ladies’ world: It’s very (as all holidays should be) “Rory and Lorelai, this is your life!” Plus: Drunk Sookie, Rory and Jess the early years, Pre-O.C. Adam Brody, and Cat-Kirk!
Luke: “Shouldn’t we give thanks first?”
Jess: “Thanks for what?”
Luke: “Well, that we’re not Native Americans who got their land stolen in exchange for smallpox infested blankets.”
Friends: The One with Chandler in a Box (Season 4 Episode 8; November 20th, 1997) Friends elevated the Thanksgiving Special to an art form. Not only is this one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes of all time, but it’s also probably one of my favorite episodes of television of all time. To be fair, you can’t go wrong with any of our favorite sixsome’s November shenanigans (Rachel’s disastrous trifle, Joey with Venereal Disease, The Geller Cup?) But this classic is my favorite. Monica gets a cork in the eye and winds up looking like a pirate (and making out with her ex’s son), while Chandler has to spend six hours in a box. Plus guest stars Paget Brewster and Michael Vartan (who would both go on to make awesome government agents)
Monica: “Fine! Judge all you want to but [points to Ross] married a lesbian, [points to Rachel] left a man at the altar, [points to Phoebe] fell in love with a gay ice dancer, [points to Joey] threw a girl’s wooden leg in a fire, [points to the box Chandler’s in] live in a box!”