There are some common themes that span across most TV shows’ Thanksgiving-themed episodes: Dysfunctional families reach their breaking points, characters with control issues lose their minds in the kitchen, and special guest stars pop in to play rarely-seen uncles or brand-new love interests.
The episodes below, several simply titled “Thanksgiving,” follow those trusty formulas, but they also kick things up a notch. Some take empathetic looks at how people of different cultures celebrate the holiday, while others plant the seeds of some of the greatest love stories on television. And, in a few, you can see showrunners and writers creating their own traditions by forcing themselves to outdo their past holiday episodes’ storylines with every new season.
Whether the TV will serve as a place to gather with your loved ones over your second helpings of mashed potatoes or a sacred refuge to drown out their annual interrogation about whether you’ll ever have children, there are plenty of content options to put you in a festive mood.
Grab some snacks and settle in with your favorite fictional families: Here, Shouzy breaks down the best 25 Thanksgiving episodes to watch on your turkey day.
An honorable mention has to go to “Friday Night Lights’” plot-packed fourth season finale, “Thanksgiving,” in which the Taylors host an extended family dinner; Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland) deep-fries a turkey; the Riggins’ boys have to face the consequences of stripping cars; and the Lions pull out a TV fantasy football win, which includes a more-than 40-foot field goal.