Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather, share a delicious meal, and give thanks for the year’s abundance. Along with watching parades and football games, it’s also the perfect time to take a walk down memory lane and revisit some classic Thanksgiving-themed TV specials and episodes.
From endearing childhood favorites that show us the true meaning of friendship to laugh-out-loud sitcoms that center on found family, these shows are packed with all the holiday nostalgia, unforgettable feasts, and oddball antics that make this time of year so special.
Here are 10 quotes from some of the most memorable Thanksgiving TV episodes and specials that celebrate all the joys and quirks of the day. Between the laughs and absurdity, they serve as a reminder of why this holiday is a time to appreciate the coziness of home and the comfort of those we love.
You gotta have turkey on Thanksgiving! I mean, Thanksgiving with no turkey is like Fourth of July with no apple pie, or Friday with no two pizzas.Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) in "The One with the Rumor"
Brad Pitt guest stars in this classic Friends episode as Ross’ old friend Will, whom Monica invites to dinner. Unfortunately, Will has harbored an intense hatred for Rachel since she snubbed him in high school, making for a hilariously cringe-inducing Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, after Monica agrees to make a turkey especially for Joey, Joey vows to devour the entire bird on his own.
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.Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) in “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving”
The beloved mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore have an abundance of things to be thankful for in this season 3 episode of Gilmore Girls, including four Thanksgiving dinners. Somehow, they have to squeeze in three Stars Hollow dinners before heading to Lorelai’s parents’ house to cap off the holiday.
Make sure you save room at Thanksgiving for the words you will be eating!Louise Belcher (Kristen Schaal) in “Turkey in a Can”
In this wacky and poignant episode of Bob’s Burgers, Bob’s plans for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey involve a three-day brine. But when his turkey repeatedly and mysteriously ends up in the toilet, Bob is forced to rethink his plans — and track down the culprit, with the help of Louise.
"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"
I can’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner! All I can make is cold cereal and maybe toast.Charlie Brown (Todd Barbee)
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a rewatch of this childhood classic. Charlie Brown’s lament is undoubtedly shared by anyone who’s ever been faced with the daunting task of cooking their first Thanksgiving meal. But as Charlie Brown discovers, it’s not really about the food on the table — it’s about the people you share it with.
“WKRP in Cincinnati”
As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump) in “Turkeys Away”
In this episode of the 1970s sitcom, there have been some changes around the “WKRP” radio station, and Mr. Carlson, the station manager, is feeling left out. He masterminds a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway featuring live birds being dropped from a helicopter. Suffice to say, things don’t go quite as planned.
"Master of None"
I’m still your daughter. Nothing’s changed.Denise (Lena Waithe) in “Thanksgiving”
Spanning several Thanksgiving celebrations from the 1990s to the present, this episode of Master of None centers on Dev’s friendship with Denise through the years, as Denise embraces her sexuality and comes out to her family.
"How I Met Your Mother"
As slap-bet commissioner, I’m issuing a ruling. Thanksgiving is a day of peace. There will be no slaps today!Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) in “Slapsgiving”
This season 3 episode centers around Marshall and Lily’s first Thanksgiving as a married couple. It’s also the first time the friends have spent the holiday together, but Marshall’s focus is on terrorizing Barney with threats of delivering the third slap in their so-called “slap bet.”
"The West Wing"
They sent me two turkeys. The more photo-friendly of the two gets a presidential pardon and a full life at a children’s school. The runner-up gets eaten.C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) in “Shibboleth”
There’s always a lot going on in the White House on The West Wing, especially as Thanksgiving approaches. Balancing the poignant with the absurd, the staff grapples with their response to a container ship attempting to smuggle Chinese immigrants into California as C.J. is tasked with choosing which turkey President Josiah Barlet will pardon.
God knows I couldn’t love them more, but even the Kennedys didn’t get together this often.Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill) in “Three Turkeys”
Phil and Luke are aiming to make the Thanksgiving turkey by themselves, but Claire has a backup plan in case things don’t work out as planned. And if Modern Family taught us anything, it’s that things never work out as planned.
I guess it’s the seasonal happiness of others that tends to throw a glaring light on our own interpersonal relationships. But gee, of course, that’s no problem for me — I’m alone.Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) in “Thanksgiving Orphans”
The gang from Cheers heads to Carla’s new house for a Thanksgiving potluck, but things get a little tense when Norm can’t get the turkey cooked — resulting in perhaps the greatest food fight in TV history.
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