From Cheers to South Park, Thanksgiving episodes are a decades-long tradition among sitcoms of all kinds. However, no show has as much love for the day as Bob’s Burgers. The holiday is arguably the most important in the show's universe, with Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) always striving to achieve turkey perfection, even if the odds aren’t usually in his favor: from a desperate Teddy (Larry Murphy) asking for help to a flock of wild turkeys terrorizing the town, there always seems to be something in his way. But nothing can stop a man so into Thanksgiving that he might love a well-roasted heritage turkey even more than his own kids - his words, not mine! Well, November is coming to an end and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means there’s a brand new Bob’s Burgers’ special episode coming out. It's a tradition that dates back to Season 3, in 2012, when the Belchers celebrated their first Thanksgiving. While we wait for their newest turkey day hijinks, let’s hold hands and give thanks for all the Bob’s Burgers’ Thanksgiving episodes we've had so far, from worst to best.
9. Season 9, Episode 7: “I Bob Your Pardon”
While the Belchers are out watching the town’s very first turkey pardoning, Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman), and Louise (Kristen Schaal) overhear the mayor’s assistant saying she’ll be taking the bird to a slaughterhouse after the ceremony. It’s up to the family to rescue little Drew P. Neck, with the help of a reporter intent on turning his inconsequential Thanksgiving story into a real scoop. “I Bob Your Pardon” is far from being the strongest Bob’s Burgers’ episode ever. The story is all over the place, and it feels like the writers were just going with the flow with all the twists and turns. Still, a bad Bob’s Burgers’ episode can still be a pretty entertaining watch.
8. Season 11, Episode 7: "Diarrhea of a Poopy Kid"
Bob’s Burgers’ anthology episodes can be kind of hit-or-miss. After all, instead of a single story, audiences need to be captivated by at least three different ones, which leaves much more room for mistakes to de made. Luckily, “Diarrhea of a Poopy Kid” manages to fall on the hit side with three stories told by Louise, Tina, and Bob. The premise is that Gene has the stomach flu and needs help developing a hatred for food since he won’t be able to taste Bob’s special Thanksgiving menu. Louise’s story is bloody (or maybe, in this case, bready?) as usual, and Tina takes the uncomfortable cake with a tale of peeled fruit-teen boys. But it’s Bob that tells the best story, as well as the most rooted in the Belchers’ reality: a version of Armageddon in which a driller Gene must eat a whole chicken parmesan asteroid the size of Texas. In the end, Gene does manage to rethink his relationship with food somewhat - and perhaps his relationship with his mom - and Bob promises to eat dinner with him as soon as he feels better. Though it’s not the strongest episode in terms of a holiday message, it’s still a funny one that carries a lot of the sense of humor the show became known for over the past decade.
7. Season 10, Episode 8: “Now We're Not Cooking With Gas”
Bob’s favorite time of the year becomes even more exciting when he gets a call from Riverbrook Lake Farms informing him that, after a five-year long wait, he’ll finally be able to get his hands on one of their super expensive, never frozen heritage turkeys. “They’re, like, the Ferraris of turkeys”, Bob informs his family as they drive the bird home. But when the Belchers' gas is cut due to a leak in the mainline, Bob has to concoct a plan B in order to get his perfect Thanksgiving dinner ready on time. And, so, he decides to build a firepit and cook the turkey just like the pilgrims did: in a stinky alley beside a dumpster and possibly human poo. Bob gets so obsessed with the bird that he nearly forgets the really important part of any holiday: spending quality time with the people you love. Thankfully, Tina, her Gratitude Tree, and the fire department are there to remind him. The episode ends with a nice message, and a little Thanksgiving miracle.
6. Season 8, Episode 5: “Thanks-hoarding”
After Teddy’s sister calls the day before Thanksgiving telling him she’s coming over with her husband, their mom, and their mom’s slightly age-inappropriate boyfriend, he asks the Belchers’ for help setting up a nice dinner for his family. While Bob cooks, Linda (John Roberts) and the kids look for a nice place to set the table and end up discovering Teddy’s terrible secret: he’s a hoarder. From an old phone without a receiver to two chairs with just two legs each, he’s got it all hidden inside what should be his dining room. Linda insists Teddy throws his stuff out and tries using a Marie Kondo-like method on him, but this proves to be way too much for the handyman to handle. When Thanksgiving day finally arrives, Ted calls the Belchers again for help, and Bob, having made a subpar Thanksgiving dinner, sees this as an opportunity to redeem himself. “Thanks-hoarding” is far from being a great Thanksgiving episode, but it sure has its funny and beautiful moments. Most of all, it wins a couple of points for giving us some insight on how Teddy’s wonky mind works.
5. Season 5, Episode 4: “Dawn of the Peck”
It’s Dawn of the Dead meets The Birds when Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) and his brother Felix (Zach Galifianakis) organize a turkey version of the Spanish bull run for Thanksgiving. While Bob sits alone at home, drowning his sorrows in whisky and Donna Summer music, Linda and the kids take off to Wonder Wharf to participate in the festival. However, due to a less than honest mistake by Felix, the truck delivering the birds arrives full of chickens, ducks, and, worst of all, geese. The few turkeys actually in the turkey run are real feathery maniacs, led by a one-eyed bird with nothing but rage in his tiny heart. It’s up to Teddy and Linda to save the day in this action-packed holiday special that ends with certain characters getting their just desserts after a nice meal, just like how every Thanksgiving dinner should end.
4. Season 4, Episode 5: “Turkey in a Can”
With Gayle (Megan Mullally), Mort (Andy Kindler), and Teddy coming over for Thanksgiving, Bob has a special three-day brine planned for this year’s turkey. But things take a turn for the weird when the family wakes up to find the bird shoved in the toilet. With Gayle upset that Bob is being mean to her cats, Tina wanting to sit at the adults’ table, and Gene offended that his dad doesn’t appreciate his Thanksgiving carol, everyone is a suspect. Louise, however, is the first to be accused. With an unexpected, sweet ending that you should be careful not to spoil for friends new to the show, “Turkey in a Can” is a not-so-classic Thanksgiving whodunnit that is sure to be loved by Bob’s Burgers' fans for many years to come.
3. Season 6, Episode 4: “Gayle Makin' Bob Sled”
Gayle is always a great addition to any Bob’s Burgers episode. In this one, she sprains her ankle after breaking up with Mr. Frond (David Herman). Due to the snow, the injury, and her broken heart, she needs someone to pick her up at home for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s up to Bob to leave his beloved turkey behind and drive to Gayle’s. However, when his car gets snowed in, what should’ve been a quick trip turns into a long journey through snow covered streets with a very temperamental cat, a kiddie pool turned into a sled, and makeshift snowshoes put together with Gayle’s collection of kitty litter scoops. Back at the Belcher’s, Linda and the kids have to put up a real war operation to cook a dinner that is up to Bob’s Thanksgiving standards. Chaos ensues on all fronts, resulting in a hilarious episode that doesn’t waste a single second.
2. Season 7, Episode 6: “The Quirk-Ducers”
While Linda forms an emotional connection with a potato that looks like her late grandpa, Louise and Gene try to find a way to get rid of Mr. Frond’s Thanksgiving play and get the half school day they deserve. Their plan is to put up a show so offensive that Mr. Frond will have no choice but shut it down, and the source material is right there at their breakfast table: Tina’s newest holiday-themed erotic friend-fiction, The Quirky Turkey, written in response to a mean joke made by Tammy (Jenny Slate) and Jocelyn (John Roberts). However, in true The Producers form, Louise and Gene fail to inform Tina of their plans, leaving her heartbroken when she realises her siblings and classmates don’t really care about her personal tale. “The Quirk-Ducers” has all the elements that make a truly great Bob’s Burgers' episode, from the jokes to the emotional honesty to the killer musical numbers. Even if Thanksgiving doesn’t play such a big role in the story (let’s face it, it could take place in any other time of the year), the episode still deserves to be high up on this list.
1. Season 3, Episode 5: “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal”
The one that started it all. Bob’s Burgers' first Thanksgiving episode has Mr. Fischoeder recruiting the Belchers to be his fake family for the holiday. Linda, Tina, Gene, and Louise must pretend to be their landlord’s wife and children in order to help him catch the eye of an old flame that has a reputation for being a homewrecker. Meanwhile, Bob must pose as Fischoeder’s cook. In exchange, the Belchers' won’t have to pay rent for the next five months. It’s not exactly a bad deal, but when you value Thanksgiving as much as Bob does, the task might prove impossible - especially when there’s a bottle of absinthe in the kitchen just waiting to help a sad dad drown his sorrows. A romp from start to finish, “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” is not only Bob’s Burgers’ best Thanksgiving episode, it’s also one of the show’s best episodes, period. It’s packed to the brim with now iconic moments, like Bob hitting on the turkeys at the supermarket and that unforgettable My Neighbor Totoro reference, and Linda tops it all off with a great musical number during the end credits. It's truly something to be thankful for.
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