Our Favorite Thanksgiving Specials

With the Thanksgiving holiday just a few days away, what better way to prepare for your meal by sitting down in front of the television? From television shows to movies, we’ll share our favorite specials that get us in the holiday spirit.

The Vampire Diaries-Season 6, Episode 8 “Fade Into You”

Paul Wesley, Zach Roerig, Candace King, and Nina Dobrev in The Vampire Diaries. Courtesy of IMDb.

Though this may seem a little out there as a choice for Thanksgiving, I loved everything about this episode of The Vampire Diaries. It’s non-traditional but like many family holidays, it has its share of drama straight out of the gate. From murderous siblings to separated family reunited; this episode has it all.
Despite the blood, knives and teddy bears (Bonnie’s bear, Miss Cuddles, becomes the vessel for Bonnie’s magic) the prominent theme here, is family.  The vampires of Mystic Falls may not be related by blood (Damon and Stefan aside) but they and their friends are a family and no matter what threat they are facing, they will face it together.
In her effort to celebrate and bring her extended family, vampire and non-vampire closer, Caroline creates a “Friendsgiving” dinner.  This reminds me of many of my own past Thanksgiving celebrations that always included family, friends and friends of friends that didn’t have any family of their own.  For that day we became one big extended family. Our celebrations weren’t always traditional but they were full of love.
To quote one of my favorite Supernatural characters, Bobby Singer, “family don’t end in blood, but it doesn’t begin there either.”  This is something that we can see in all of the episodes of The Vampire Diaries but particularly this one and it’s the reason that this is one of my favorite episodes.-Deb

Supergirl, Season 2, Episode 8 “Medusa”

Helen Slater, Chyler Leigh, and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl. Courtesy IMDb.

Supergirl has had a couple episodes celebrating Thanksgiving, but the most important one to the series might possibly be the Season 2 episode “Medusa.” The Danver family is celebrating their Thanksgiving dinner with James, Winn, and Mon-El. It is always special that their dinner is shared with their found family, their friends.
And what is a family dinner without some big news to share? James and Winn talk about telling Kara about James being The Guardian during dinner. While it was Alex’s idea for them to tell Kara, she shoots down that idea because she has news of her own. Alex fully plans on coming out to her mother. Unfortunately, Alex is interrupted by the space time continuum ripping apart in Kara’s apartment. It would not be Supergirl without a little alien drama!
It is still such a special moment. I saw this episode long before I came out to my own mother as bisexual, but I could recognize how special a moment it was for Alex, and how much courage it took for her to do so. And that feeling she got after she finally did, being comfortable in your own skin for being your true self, I could relate to that.
Eliza knew something was up with Alex. Like she said early on in the episode, “a mother always knows.” She could tell that Alex’s news had something to do with Maggie. Eliza was so accepting of Alex, assuring her she could never let her down and reminding her of how exceptional she was. It was a beautiful moment between mother and daughter, and one of my favorite on-screen coming out stories. The Thanksgiving dinner may have been such a short part of the episode, but family was such a strong theme throughout, both the good and the bad. And Alex got the girl at the end of the episode!Melanie

Bob’s Burgers, Season 3, Episode 5 “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal”

Bob Belcher with his Thanksgiving turkey. Courtesy of IMDb.

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with loved ones and reflect on what you are thankful in your life. Reconnect with family you may not have seen a long time and share new and old traditions together. This episode of Bob’s Burgers has all of that, including Bob Belcher getting drunk with the turkey.
Thanksgiving is Bob’s favorite holiday he loves cooking the meal to the point he talks to the frozen turkey. He has a tradition that he does with each of his children. With Tina, he does the wishbone, Gene they play tackle, with Louise turkey crime scene investigation and it ends with his toast. This year is going to be different because their landlord Mr. Fishoeder, wants to borrow his family to pretend to be his to impress a girl. Of course, none of it goes according to plan Bob drinks Absinthe while cooking Lance the turkey and his family rather play pretend than be with him. As Bob continues to drink and hallucinate, he spends most of the episode talking to the turkey. Linda comes in looking for an onion, so she can cry to make it all believable. When no one comes into the kitchen for the toast at 8 pm he decides he will go out there and give it in front of everyone. When Mr. Fishoeder kisses Linda since she is pretending to be his wife, it freaks Bob out, so he grabs the turkey and runs so no one can have any. Shelby, the woman Mr. Fishoeder wants to be with chases after him with a gun. When she shoots through the door and you hear a thud sounding like a body hitting the floor. The Belchers all think Bob got shot but, when they open the door, it was Lance the turkey that was shot. So, they go home and try to enjoy a family dinner after the chaos.
Bob’s Burgers has had multiple thanksgiving episodes, but this is the one that I tend re-watch. It is my favorite episode because at the heart of it is family, traditions, humor, and not everything has to be perfect for it to be enjoyable.-Sarah

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Santa Claus at the 2017 Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade. Photo by Sam.

Everyone has traditions around the holidays. For my family, every Thanksgiving morning we join over 40 million other people in watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Grandma and my aunts would always be in the kitchen getting food prepped and started while my sister and I eagerly awaited Santa’s arrival in Herald Square. Today, we will do, only now, I’m helping with that early morning food prep over a cup of coffee and taking breaks to watch the Singers and Broadway performances. It’s come a long way since 1924. Then 250,000 spectators watched the Macy’s store employees march with animals from the Central Park Zoo. Now, 3.5 million will line the streets to watch floats, marching bands, costumed characters, and giant balloons of pop culture icons. When I was young, that was my favorite part, seeing which of my favorite characters would be flying high through the streets of New York. I’m more interested in the sneak peeks into the most popular Broadway plays this year. We never look anything up before the parade, instead we let ourselves be surprised by the performers and all the new additions to the parade. My family may not sit down and all watch the parade together as we would a typical holiday special, but it is a staple in our house on Thanksgiving, and the holiday just wouldn’t be the same without it playing in the background that morning.-Heather

I have had a variety of traditions on Thanksgiving. At first my mom would fix the traditional meal and my Grandpa would come over. Then it became pizza for just myself, Mom and Dad, we aren’t huge on turkey. The past two years we have gone to NYC. The thread between them all is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I vividly remember coming downstairs on Thanksgiving and seeing the parade was on TV. Last year I experienced it in person. On Wednesday we went to the parade Balloon Blow-Up. This event happens between 77th and 81st and Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. Then we were up bright and early Thursday to get our seats. Seeing all of the balloons and performances in person is an amazing experience.-Sam

Gilmore Girls, Season 3, Episode 9 “A Deep- Fried Korean Thanksgiving”

(Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) celebrate their second of four Thanksgiving meals with Sookie (Melissa McCarthy). Courtesy IMDB.

For many Thanksgiving celebrations with friends and family can be an especially hectic time and for Lorelai and Rory Gilmore this is especially true in this third season episode of Gilmore Girls.
Having already committed to three Thanksgiving meals Lorelai is caught off guard when her mother Emily makes her commit to a family dinner with her parents and their friends. Once Rory informs her mother that they now have four Thanksgiving meals to attend Lorelai decides that their holiday tradition at Luke’s Diner is probably not that important to Luke the two breathe a sigh of relief. That is until they tell Luke they’re not coming and see his disappointment. The meal is back on! The girls survive almost all of the meals, including tofurkey at Lane’s and deep fried turkey at Sookie’s, until they reach the home of Emily and Richard. The tension between Lorelai and her parents reaches a boiling point when she realizes that Rory has applied to Yale without telling her. Lorelai and Rory finish their holiday with a second stop at Luke’s.
As though Thanksgiving for the Gilmores was not stressful enough there is also the added drama of the Dean/Rory/Jess love triangle as Jess and Rory are now officially a couple and Dean is none too happy about it.
This episode showcases the relationships of Gilmore Girls in all of their chaotic glory. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is extremely important to my family so the lengths Lorelai and Rory go to to make sure they are able to celebrate with everyone have a tad bit of familiarity to them. At the heart of the episode is the importance of friends and family and that is a huge reason it’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes.-Em

New Girl

The cast of ‘New Girl’ in “The Last Thanksgiving”. Courtesy of IMDb.

Out of all the various Thanksgiving specials that are floating around out there in the universe, the New Girl Thanksgiving episodes are my go-tos when I’m looking for a feel-good laugh session. New Girl is a funny, charming, and heartwarming show, which had a handful of festive, holiday-themed episodes throughout the course of its 7 season run (including Christmas, Halloween, and Valentines Day as well.) As someone who grew up celebrating Thanksgiving in a very traditional, American way (family dinner, kids table, football), I have an affinity for off-the-wall interpretations of ways to celebrate the holiday.
New Girl aired a total of five Thanksgiving episodes, which are appropriately titled:  “Thanksgiving”, “Parents”, “Thanksgiving III”, “Thanksgiving IV”, and “Last Thanksgiving”. Season 5 was missing a special episode due to the fact that the season premiered during January instead of September, and Season 7 was a short eight-episode series finale that aired between April and May.
“Thanksgiving IV”, one of my particular favorites, is jam-packed with hilarious jokes (I mean come on, Bangsgiving?!) and awkward moments (three words: Jess, oven mitts). The entire premise of the episode is based on Schmidt’s Secret Santa-esque plans for the loft crew, which consist of everyone being assigned to bring a secret dinner date for someone else. The plan is (not surprisingly) somewhat of a disaster, but everyone ends up on the upside in one way or another by the end of the episode. To top it all off, Jess’ short-lived but dreamy English love interest, Ryan (Julian Morris), ends up being the surprise date that Coach organized for her. Nick and Jess will always reign supreme, but Ryan was certainly a strong contender and an enjoyable character (in my opinion).
“Parents” is another great episode, in which Jess attempts to reenact The Parent Trap on her divorced parents (Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner) as her separately scheduled Thanksgiving dinners with both of them just so happen to overlap. Toss in Schmidt’s cousin (Rob Riggle), who also goes by Schmidt, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an awkwardly dysfunctional turkey dinner. The episode features a robust platter of disastrously wonderful plot points, such as but not limited to: Nick’s strange chemistry with Jess’ mom, Jess’ parents and their bathroom encounter, Schmidt and Schmidt’s hardcore bro-off, and Nick’s crisis as Jess’ dad enlightens him that he’s essentially rewriting Twilight in his latest novel.
Although I’m sad that there will not be any more New Girl holiday special episodes to look forward to in the future, I’m thankful that there are so many to look back on and re-watch!-Lindsey

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

Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, and Matthew Perry. Courtesy of IMDb.

Friends is a show that unfailingly gives me a warm nostalgic feeling on top of always being good for a laugh. It was a show that was often times on at some point during the day at my house when I was growing up, and one day my children (my pets?) will be able to say the same thing.
Even with so many Thanksgiving episodes to choose from, “The One with All the Thanksgivings” is my easy favorite. When Ross claims to be having the worst Thanksgiving ever because of his divorce and subsequent eviction, Chandler begs to differ, telling the gang his typical Thanksgiving sob story where his parents announced their divorce to him. Phoebe promises she’s the one who’s had the worst Thanksgiving, detailing a tale of losing her arm in one of her past lives.
Rachel assumes Monica’s worst Thanksgiving is the one where Joey got his head stuck in a turkey while trying to scare Chandler. Monica tells what she considers to be her worst Thanksgiving, where college Ross brought Chandler home for dinner. Monica overheard them talking and Chandler saying she was overweight, which ultimately prompted her to lose weight.
In the present time, Chandler apologizes for calling Monica fat. They flashback to Thanksgiving 1988, when Chandler joins the Gellars and Rachel for dinner again, shocked to see how much weight Monica had lost. Monica has the idea to humiliate Chandler to get back at him and Rachel gives her the idea to seduce him. She starts acting like everything around her turns her on, holding and rubbing random objects against herself when she’s talking to Chandler. She accidentally drops a knife on his foot, severing his toe. They rush him to the hospital to reattach it but in her haste Monica accidentally mixed up his toe with a small piece of carrot.
Back in present day, Chandler leaves, upset and angry. Monica tries to cheer him up by putting a turkey on her head, complete with a funny hat and over sized glasses. Despite Chandler claiming it wouldn’t work to cheer him up, Monica begins shimmying towards him, and Chandler starts laughing, uttering a casual “you’re so great, I love you”. He immediately tries to deny admitting his love for Monica for the first time in their relationship, and while she attempts to have him admit it again, she accidentally scares Joey when he walks in to find the turkey on her head.
I think the reason that this Friends episode is my favorite Thanksgiving special is because holidays in my family are always chaotic. While my family get-togethers are ultimately enjoyable, they usually come with their fair share of drama. The thing I relate to most is the gang recounting past misery, since my family always ends up doing something similar when the dessert and booze are served.-Sydney

Buffy, Season 4, Episode 8 “Pangs”

This was always one of my favorite Buffy episodes, holiday theme aside.
With her mother away for the Thanksgiving holiday, Buffy decides to throw her own celebration for the Scooby Gang. Things don’t go smoothly for the Slayer’s plans with Spike on the run, Xander trapper in the old Sunnydale Mission, and a Native American warrior now on the loose.
Buffy, Willow and Giles take the case and discover that they are dealing with a Chumash Indian.
Angel makes his return to Sunnydale, warning Giles that he believes Buffy is in danger, but he doesn’t want her to know he is back in town. While on the case, Buffy and Willow talk about their preparations for the Thanksgiving holiday when Riley shows up. Buffy invites him to dinner, but he already has plans.
Spike- who has been in Anya’s care- goes to see Harmony for help, but she threatens him and he leaves, ending up at Giles’s place for help. Meanwhile Buffy goes looking for a Father Gabriel, who is a priest that may be able to help them, but discovers he has been killed by the Chumash spirit. The spirit was unleashed when the Mission was uncovered and the spirit has returned to right the wrongs done to his people.
The gang starts in on dinner, and Willow discovers that the Chumash were peaceful, but the denizens of Sunnydale were horrible to them. The Chumash spirit has been cutting off his victim’s ears, and Willow learns this is a way for the warrior to show that his kills were successful. This leads to a heated discussion about the treatment of the Native Americans and the people who mistreated them between Giles and Willow.
Anya has retrieved Xander and takes him to Giles’s place, and they determine that he has contracted several of the diseases that the European settlers brought with them that wreaked havoc on the indigenous people. Spike shows up, shielded from the sun by only a blanket looking for help, which Buffy is reluctant to give. They bring him in, but tie him to a chair.
Another argument breaks out when the gang decides how to handle the spirit, with Willow not wanting to kill him, but everyone else seems to think there is no other option. Meanwhile, the spirit has called forth more spirits to enact their revenge.
The spirits start attacking Buffy, Giles and Spike- who is still tied up- with arrows. Buffy is struck by an arrow while going for more weapons. The Scooby Gang tries to attack the spirits, and Angel shows up to aid in the fight. Buffy cuts one of the spirits with his own knife, discovering that only their weapons can harm them. The spirit turns into a bear, and while trying to escape it, Spike ends up toppling over in his chair. Buffy fights the bear, stabs it, and then the spirits disappear. Angel leaves, unnoticed by Buffy. Later, the gang sits down to dinner-with Spike still tied to his chair.
This episode was one of my favorites for many reasons, there were some truly funny moments -even in the heat of battle- in true Buffy Fashion, but this episode did also touch on a larger morally complex issue as well.-Kayla

Thankskilling

Courtesy of IMDb.

Beginning with a cameo by adult film actress Wanda Lust, Thankskilling follows a group of college students on their trip home for Thanksgiving. Their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, so they decide to make camp for the night. This is a mistake as they are then terrorized by Turkie, a murderous, wise-cracking turkey. Bloody hijinks ensue as the group fights for their lives.

Honestly, this movie is amazing. If you love “so-bad-it’s-good” movies, this is right up your alley. It eschews the general feel-good themes of Thanksgiving specials and gives something just as special: a terrible turkey puppet viciously killing random young people.-Kari

What are your favorite Thanksgiving specials?

Kayla

Kayla has been with Nerds and Beyond since 2016 when she decided to combine her love of fandoms and writing. She enjoys all things Marvel, Supernatural, reading, traveling, going to conventions and concerts. When not writing, she can usually be found in front of the tv enjoying her favorite shows and trying to make a dent in her every growing 'to watch list', behind a camera lens, or on Twitter yelling about her love for Bucky Barnes.

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