The Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes

One of the nation's biggest holidays will be here soon, and it's time to not only think about why we eat so much on Thanksgiving but also what to watch to celebrate the lead up to the day of feasting itself. Traditions evolve over time, and Thanksgiving is no different. Thankfully, these moments are captured on television so we can always remember how Thanksgiving has been celebrated throughout the years. In fact, some are already predicting how Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, but if we're being honest, it may include a lot of television.

Last year's Thanksgiving was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the pandemic lingers, this year likely won't be fully back to normal. Still, we can expect television staples like "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" to persist this year, per People, along with other classic Thanksgiving-centered episodes of TV. These are the best shows to watch leading up to Thursday, while you're making dishes ahead of Thanksgiving and on the holiday itself.

This Thanksgiving episode teaches history while being fun

When it comes to Thanksgiving TV episodes, one can't go wrong with "Bewitched." This classic, mystical series puts a magical spin on Thanksgiving in Season 4, Episode 12, "Samantha's Thanksgiving to Remember." According to Thrillist, a few of the main characters are magically transported to Plymouth, where one character, Darrin, is accused of witchcraft.

Where many Thanksgiving episodes focus on family drama on the holiday, nonetheless around the dinner table, "Bewitched" shows Thanksgivings of old and even flips gender roles on their heads (a male character is accused of witchcraft instead of a woman). At the same time, the Pilgrims in Plymouth originated Thanksgiving, so "Bewitched" offers a brief history lesson as well (via History). The plot is a perfect combination of the charm of the series and a greater purpose, and the characters even learn a little more about their nosy neighbor (who's also transported back in time with them). It's overall a perfect episode of television.

This Thanksgiving episode spins holiday episode formats on their heads

Another perfect Thanksgiving episode of television to devour on the big day comes from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Where "Bewitched" took a clever spin on the traditional episode format, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" shows how this format can be best done. According to Mental Floss, this episode is titled "The Gang Squashes Their Beef" and aired as episode 10 of its ninth season, acting as the season finale.

This episode is perfect because it may seem ordinary in its initial premise but becomes increasingly interesting when one realizes that the core characters have invited their enemies to Thanksgiving dinner to, well, squash their beef. They know their lives can't progress if their anger and other negative feelings are holding them back, so they utilize this holiday to mentally advance themselves. Naturally, the episode falls into hilarity, and it can be enjoyed even without having seen the rest of the series. It can be watched on Hulu.

This Thanksgiving episode shows a full circle family moment

Another Thanksgiving episode that straddles the line between the traditional and the new comes from NBC's "This Is Us." Season 1, Episode 8 of NBC's standout series is titled "Pilgrim Rick," and in typical "This Is Us" fashion, it includes both flashbacks and present day Thanksgiving story lines. According to Entertainment Weekly, shenanigans in the past ensue when Jack, Rebecca, and their three kids get stranded on their way to Thanksgiving dinner while the present day leans into more conventional Thanksgiving storytelling with familial drama as everyone gathers to celebrate together.

What makes this episode so special is not only everyone's acting but also how a Thanksgiving tradition is able to be established in flashbacks and then followed up on in the present day. This makes viewers feel warm inside as they've then seen these traditions come full circle in the Big 3's childhood and adulthood alike. "This Is Us" can be watched on Hulu.

This Thanksgiving episode is the most heartwarming

Lastly, a delightful Thanksgiving episode to enjoy this week comes from the classic sitcom "Will and Grace." Titled "Homo for the Holidays," Season 2, Episode 7 of "Will and Grace" features a heartwarming tale of coming out to family around the holidays while still maintaining humor and holiday charm (via Thrillist). More specifically, Jack struggles to come out to his mother, but in "Will and Grace" fashion, everything ends well at the end of the day.

Being queer around the holidays is hard, and to show an accepting family on one of the biggest holidays of the year is incredibly important. In this way, this is the episode that you want to watch with your family on Thanksgiving day so everyone can laugh at the humor and become incredibly warm inside as Jack becomes accepted by his family. This episode can be watched on Hulu.

So, which Thanksgiving episodes are you favorites?