9 classic Thanksgiving TV episodes to watch after eating your turkey

Eat your heart out with these classic moments

The cast of NBC's "Friends" appears in this scene in this undated publicity photo. Shown from left are Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matt Le Blanc as Joey, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Lisa Kudrow as Pheobe, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, and Courteney Cox Arquette as Monica Geller Bing. (AP Photo/Warner Bros.) (Anonymous, AP2004)

There’s nothing better than crowding around the TV on Thanksgiving night, snacking on some leftover turkey, and watching your favorite Thanksgiving episodes of your favorite shows.

Oh wait, is that just me?

If this isn’t something you’ve tried out, I implore you to give it a shot this year. You don’t need a third football game, especially after watching the Lions lose at 12:30!

Thanksgiving episodes are nostalgic, relatable and just classics. Take “Friends” for instance, which made their annual Thanksgiving episode an event. But they aren’t the only ones.

Here are nine Thanksgiving episodes of TV shows you can re-watch this holiday, not ranked, just stated. (I’m not saying these are the best of all time, just my favorites!)

Friends -- “The One with All the Thanksgivings” (S5, E8)

The Friends flashback episodes are always gold, and this episode delivered.

The gang takes turns reminiscing about their worst Thanksgivings, which includes Chandler finding out about his parents’ divorce, Monica’s recalling how Chandler called her fat, resulting in her cutting off his toe (accidentally?), and of course, Joey recalls having his head stuck in a turkey.

The whole thing is beautifully done, for Friends, and it’s worth rewatching. Friends is streaming on HBOMax. So ask your cousin for the login.

Also: I’m not going to list all the Friends episodes here, but Season 3, Episode 9, “The One with the Football,” is also a great one. And Season 6′s “The One Where Ross Got High” is hilarious.

How I Met Your Mother -- “Slapsgiving” (S3, E9)

If you’re a fan of HIMYM, the Slapsgiving episode -- and the over-arching Slap-bet bit -- is one of the most memorable of the entire series.

(AP Photo/CBS, Ron P. Jaffe) (AP)

In this Thanksgiving episode, Marshall looks to repay a slap-bet win over dinner, leaving Barney on edge as he waits for a potential slap at any moment. And there’s the whole Ted and Robin thing, but hey, that’s pretty much every episode.

It’s a general good time (say it, general good time!). How I Met Your Mother is streaming on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Disney+.

Seinfeld -- “The Mom & Pop Store” (S6, E8)

Seinfeld’s overall theme is perfect for these sorts of episodes. It’s just chaos, all the time, about absolutely nothing, and somehow everything at the same time.

“The Mom & Pop Store” is a Seinfeld classic, where George thinks he bought actor Jon Voight’s Vovlo (it wasn’t of course), and Kramer hatches a scheme to save a local repair shop by taking all of Jerry’s shoes to get fixed, leaving him with just cowboy boots. And there’s the whole bit about if Jerry is invited to Tim Whatley’s (played by Bryan Cranston) Thanksgiving party.

Season 6 of Seinfeld might be the best. Just watch the whole thing. Seinfeld is streaming on Netflix.

New Girl -- “Parents” (S2, E8)

There’s nothing more awkward than being Jess -- then throw in both of her divorced parents, and you’ve got a great holiday episode.

“Parents” featured Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner has the parents of Jess, who both show up at the same time, unexpectedly, for Thanksgiving dinner at the apartment.

Jess hatches a plan to “parent trap” them, aka, trying to get them back together. Shockingly, it doesn’t work out. But the whole thing is hilarious. Bob and Nick swapping conspiracy theories is amazing.

New Girl is currently streaming on Netflix, and it’s totally worth a binge.

Cheers -- “Thanksgiving Orphans” (S5, E9)

In a show full of rowdy drinking, yelling and some jokes that didn’t age too well, this Cheers episode is really quite beautiful.

The entire Cheers gang finds themselves without any plans for Thanksgiving, so they get together for a very rare outside-the-bar episode, pulling off a potluck dinner at Carla’s house.

An unexpected guest arrives and the feast turns into a food fight -- making this Cheers episode not only a classic Thanksgiving episode, but one of the all time sitcom greats.

Cheers is streaming on Hulu. Watch it, and then watch Frasier!

Parks and Recreation -- “Harvest Festival” (S3, E7)

Perhaps one of the most memorable episodes of the entire series, Leslie and the crew attempt to hold Pawnee’s harvest festival, with the department’s future in the balance.

Of course, pretty much everything goes wrong, but we do meet a Parks and Rec fan favorite -- Lil Sebastian, a mini-horse with a big following. Things get crazy when Tom tells Leslie that the mini-horse has gone missing. (Dang it, Jerry!)

Parks and Recreation is currently streaming on Peacock.

That 70′s Show -- “Thanksgiving” (S1, E9)

There’s something so special about the first few season of That 70′s Show, before the group starts growing up and dealing with more grown-up issues.

In this first season classic, Thanksgiving dinner at the Foreman home gets weird after Laurie brings her friend Jenny to dinner, and well, she’s attractive, which throws Eric and Donna into a tailspin.

Oh, and everyone forgot to pick up Grandma for dinner. Whoops.

That’s 70′s Show is unfortunately not streaming anywhere at the moment, but you can rent it on Amazon. Maybe you have an old DVD laying around!

Bob’s Burgers -- All of them

Bob’s Burgers makes the Thanksgiving episode, in every season, their best of the best. And it’s impossible to pick one. So here are a handful of my favorites:

“Dawn of the Peck” -- Linda and the kids skip Thanksgiving festivities to go on a turkey run at a local amusement park. Bob is upset. Meanwhile, Linda and the kids find themselves in a zombie-movie situation with evil turkeys. (Season 5, Episode 4)

“Turkey in a Can” -- Bob tries a new brine for his turkey, but things get thrown off when Tina decides she’s an adult and shows up to the adults table with lipstick on. Linda’s sister Gayle shows up with her cats, and Bob finds someone dumped his turkey into the toilet. (Season 4, Episode 5)

“An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” -- Mr. Fischoeder, the Belcher’s landlord, presents them with a chance to make up for late rent by helping him impress a married woman by pretending to be his family for Thanksgiving. Bob is assigned to be the chef, and he just gets drunker and drunker. There’s a sort of “Most Dangerous Game” thing going on. (Season 3, Episode 5)

Seriously, they are all great, just watch them all. Bob’s Burgers is streaming on Hulu.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air -- “Talking Turkey” (S1, E12)

Fresh Prince was not really known for big Thanksgiving episodes, but this Season 1 ordeal was a big one because we meet Will’s mom, Viola.

She shows up for dinner and is frustrated to see the kids not doing much of anything to help out for the holiday. Aunt Viv, her sister, feels pressured to show her kids aren’t spoiled and orders them into cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Fresh Prince is streaming on HBOMax.


Other notable Thanksgiving episode mentions:

  • WKRP in Cincinnati -- “Turkeys Away” -- Season 1, Episode 7
  • This Is Us -- “Pilgrim Rick” -- Season 1, Episode 8
  • Gilmore Girls -- “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” -- Season 3, Episode 9
  • Modern Family -- “Punkin Chunkin” -- Season 3, Episode 9
  • Grey’s Anatomy -- “Thanks for the Memories” -- Season 2, Episode 9
  • The Sopranos -- “He Is Risen” -- Season 3, Episode 8
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- “Pangs” -- Season 4, Episode 8

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving TV episode? Let us know in the comments!


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.