Everyone has different Thanksgiving traditions, but you can always rely on the November holiday for quality time with family and friends. And, of course, a food coma, which may provide you with the best sleep you’ve had all year. It can also be the source of a great deal of amusement and drama—large gatherings accompanied by alcohol have a tendency to bring those along—which may not be the most fun thing to watch unfold at your own dinner table, but it makes for really great TV.
So, to get you in the mood, we’ve pulled together the absolute best Thanksgiving-themed episodes of all time. These 17 episodes will provide you with the perfect escape from your own family while showing how our favorite television characters deal with all the trappings of this beloved, complicated holiday.
Succession, “I Went to Market”
Season 1, Episode 5 on HBO
Succession fever hit the internet hard with the advent of season two this summer, but season one’s Thanksgiving episode is worth revisiting. Logan Roy’s estranged brother Ewan (James Cromwell) makes an appearance, sowing even more conflict in a family already rife with it. Bonus: We see Connor’s escort-slash-playwright girlfriend Willa for one of the first times in this episode.
Fresh Off the Boat, “Huangsgiving”
Season 2, Episode 8 on Hulu
The most traditionally American of holidays got a much-needed update on season two of Fresh Off the Boat, with matriarch Jessica winning out to host the big celebration (and, of course, going slightly nuts from the pressure). Any holiday that features both Cornish game hen and bok choy is guaranteed to delight.
Master of None, “Thanksgiving”
Season 3, Episode 8 on Netflix
It’s a little harder to wholeheartedly enjoy Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series since those allegations about him came out, but that shouldn’t take away from the perfection of season two’s “Thanksgiving” episode, for which Lena Waithe became the first-ever black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. The episode is a stunning examination of race, sexuality, friendship, family, and what it really means to be accepted, all in just over 30 minutes.
The Sopranos, “He Is Risen”
Season 3, Episode 8 on HBO
There’s nothing like an episode of The Sopranos to make you grateful for your own normal-in-comparison family. (Assuming you don’t come from a mob clan, that is.) This episode is significant because Tony Soprano actually displays some degree of—gasp—morality, attempting to un-invite an associate, who recently committed a particularly gruesome crime, from his family’s Thanksgiving.
How I Met Your Mother, “Slapsgiving”
Season 3, Episode 9 on Hulu
It’s Marshall and Lily’s first Thanksgiving as a married couple, and they have the whole gang over to celebrate. While Lily frets over making the perfect meal, Robin and Ted deal with the residual sexual tension from their recent breakup as Robin tries to move on with a new man who’s also in attendance at the dinner (who, at the age of 41, is, by everyone else’s standards, ancient). The most amusing events of the night, however, revolve around Barney and Marshall: After losing a slap bet to Marshall, Barney is living in perpetual fear of when Marshall will enact his payment and bring on the third slap.
The West Wing, “Shibboleth”
Season 2, Episode 8 on Netflix
In one of the best plotlines ever, C.J. is given two turkeys and forced to choose between which one will be pardoned and sent free after a ceremony, and which one will be eaten on Thanksgiving. Elsewhere in the White House, they’re dealing with illegal immigration, school prayer, and the be-all-end-all carving knife, making for an all around action-packed, hour-long episode that isn’t to be missed.
Gilmore Girls, “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving”
Season 3, Episode 9 on Netflix
Rory and Lorelai attend not one, but four whole Thanksgiving celebrations in this episode, which throws any logic about how much food one can consume in one day out the window. From Tofurky at the Kims’ to Sookie’s deep-fried turkey, we get the best insight into the lives of all the characters of Stars Hollow in this episode—and it’s also where it’s revealed for the first time that Rory wants to go to Yale.
Friends, “The One With All the Thanksgivings”
Season 5, Episode 8 on Netflix
The group gathers in Monica’s apartment and shares their most horrific Thanksgiving stories: Phoebe reveals her past life as a nurse who lost an arm (a story that ends with Joey having a turkey on his head, which is one of the best moments of ’90s TV); Chandler speaks about learning about his parents’ divorce; and they all try and figure out what exactly happened during the Thanksgivings of 1987 and 1988.
That ’70s Show, “Thanksgiving”
Season 1, Episode 9 on Netflix
Something that That ’70s Show always did incredibly well was show the inner workings of a family: From tough times to the most hilarious interactions, they’re all documented in a way that feels totally spot-on. This Thanksgiving episode is no different—Laurie comes home to visit with a friend who puts Eric in hot water with Donna, and Red’s mother reminds them too many times to pick her up from the airport...and gets forgotten. Jobs, finances, and family tensions—this episode’s got it all.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs”
Season 9, Episode 10 on Netflix
After the gang finds out they can’t rent the movie they want to watch over Thanksgiving due to an un-squashed beef with the McPoyles, and that they can’t eat the hoagies they want from the WaWa due to their un-squashed beef with Gail the Snail, they decide to bring everyone they have problems with over for a Thanksgiving dinner to squash the beef. Suffice it to say, that doesn’t happen—but you’ll be in tears over the best characters’ epic returns to battle it out.
South Park, “Black Friday"
Season 17, Episode 7 on Hulu
A couple of things about this episode: It was nominated for an Emmy, it’s part of a three-episode arc (which you should watch the entirety of), and it’s the South Park take on Game of Thrones. Centered around the madness of Black Friday, Randy Marsh has taken a job as a security guard in order to be the first one to get to the discounts, and the boys are dressed as their favorite GoT characters in a role-playing game that spirals into a battle over which console they should pool their money to buy. It’s all-out war in South Park, and it’s endlessly amusing from start to finish.
Gossip Girl, “Blair Waldorf Must Pie!”
Season 1, Episode 9 on Netflix
In the first Thanksgiving of Gossip Girl, Blair un-invites Serena to her home after they have a fight over her feelings for Chuck. So Dan swoops in to save the day, having Serena and her family over, only to learn about the shocking history between Rufus and Lily—all while Blair deals with her issues with her father and her struggles with eating disorders. Meanwhile, Nate’s family is in meltdown mode and his father overdoses on painkillers, forcing them to have a frank discussion about how important he is to the family. It’s all drama all the time for this crew, but this is an exceptionally drama-packed episode.
The Simpsons, “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”
Season 2, Episode 7 on Hulu
In one of the most classic (and, frankly, best) episodes of The Simpsons, Bart runs away from home after he angers the entire family, and he spends the holiday on The Wrong Side of the Tracks, which shows him that maybe his life isn’t so bad after all—but his family freaks out after they see him on the news, and they call the police on their missing son. After much cajoling, Bart apologizes to his family and they have one of the most heartfelt Thanksgiving dinners of all time.
The OC, “The Homecoming”
Season 1, Episode 11 on Hulu
Not unlike “Bart vs. Thanksgiving,” “The Homecoming” focuses on Ryan’s return to the other side of town to help out his brother, who’s in jail, take care of business. Marissa tags along for the trip down memory lane, while back in Newport, Seth deals with a failed setup and an unexpected hook-up with Anna that leads to him have a heart-to-heart with Sandy about how confused he is about which woman he should be with. Debts are paid and hearts are broken, but at the end of the day, it’s clear that everyone is ready to move forward from Thanksgiving and on to the next holiday.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Pangs”
Season 4, Episode 8 on Hulu
Joss Whedon has gone on record saying this is one of his favorite episodes of the show, although it received a mixed response at the time it aired. The spirit of a member of an indigenous tribe eradicated by settlers returns to haunt their descendants. All of the key cast members are in attendance at the Thanksgiving dinner Buffy has arranged, and they team up to fight the spirit while understanding the origins of the holiday they’re celebrating—and the fact that it’s not all thanks and gratefulness.
Orange Is the New Black, “Fucksgiving”
Season 1, Episode 9 on Netflix
During the preparations for Taystee’s leaving party, Pennsatucky rats her out for dancing with Piper, and resulting in her getting thrown into the SHU, missing her Thanksgiving reunion with her husband Larry. There are a lot of things that happen in this episode—Larry gets asked to do a show on his relationship with Piper, Piper loses her mind in the SHU, Daya decides to keep her baby, Mendez throws down with Red, and Healy tries to break up Piper and Larry—but the most important event is that this is the episode in which Piper and Alex finally break the sexual tension and consummate their new relationship.
Bob’s Burgers, “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal”
Season 3, Episode 5 on Hulu
Bob is enormously excited about Thanksgiving—his favorite holiday, and one that has many rituals for him—but when Fischoeder offers him a free month of rent in exchange for Bob’s family playing his family in order to impress a woman, there’s no way he can say no. Bob is tasked as the cook and starts to go off the rails from steadily consuming absinthe while his family competes for tickets (the compensation for the most convincing performance of the fake family they’re portraying). It’s inevitable that everything’s going to explode—and it does, in the most glorious fashion possible.
Originally Appeared on Vogue