Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Stuffed? Kick back with the best Thanksgiving movies and TV episodes

It’s that time of year again. With bellies full of turkey and fixings, and a potential football blowout underway, sometimes the most satisfying way to spend Thanksgiving is to gather around the glow of the TV screen and stream to your heart’s content.

Thanksgiving might not have the wealth of shows and movies that Halloween or Christmas do, but there are some holiday-themed treasures available if you know where to look. Some of the classic movies are rental-only — that’s how they get you — but there are plenty of great TV episodes to watch with a subscription to one of the many streaming services out there, including Disney+, which has added new film options. Below, we’ve gathered all the essentials so you can get your Turkey Day stream on.


Friends, The One with All the Thanksgivings

The friends of Friends have a long, complicated history, and The One with All the Thanksgivings explores their intertwined pasts as the characters flashback to previous Thanksgivings, showing how they have changed over the years. It’s also an important episode in the development of Monica and Chandler’s relationship, with one of the most memorable endings in the series.

Watch now on:

Friends, The One with Chandler in the Box

Friends is one of the few shows that refused to miss a Thanksgiving, so, of course, we’ve added another classic pick from the series here. Who could forget Chandler’s indiscretion that prompted him to literally lock himself in a box to earn back the love of his platonic partner, Joey? It’s time to bask in the simpler time of the aughts with a double dash of Friends-giving.

Watch now on:

South Park, Helen Keller! The Musical

The golden age of South Park brought one of TV’s best Thanksgiving episodes, in which the fourth graders of South Park Elementary prepare to put on a rendition of The Miracle Worker for the school’s Thanksgiving showcase. When Butters tells them that he just spied on the kindergartner’s play, and it was incredible, the fourth graders decide to pull out all the stops. Reworking the play into a musical turns out to be the first of many ridiculous attempts to up the ante, and a precursor of sorts for Trey Stone and Matt Parker’s musical aspirations. South Park is known for political commentary, but the show is at its best — as it is here — when it takes a mundane concept and runs them into absurdity.

Watch it now on:

The West Wing, Shibboleth

Life in the White House is never breezy, even during the holidays. As President Jed Bartlet prepares for the annual pardoning of a turkey, a shipping container full of refugees lands on the California coast. The refugees claim to be persecuted Christians seeking asylum from the Chinese government, prompting an international crisis. It’s an episode that showcases the many faces of Bartlet, who must be America’s cheerful head of state while navigating the country’s precarious relationship with China. As is usual for The West Wing, it also features witty banter and an inspiring speech about the American dream.

Watch it now on:

Bob’s Burgers, Turkey in a Can

This episode is a bit of a heartstring-tugger, as it gets into the family warm-and-fuzzies at the end, yet still offers plenty of hilarity — Bob’s back-and-forth with the deli guy at the supermarket is some of the best repartee the series has to offer. If you haven’t yet seen this one, get ready for a treat that goes well beyond your turkey dinner.

Watch it now on:

Bob’s Burgers, An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal

Yes, there are also two Bob’s Burgers choices on the list, but that’s because, like Friends, the show has multiple Thanksgiving specials (including a new one for season 10) and they’re all pretty fantastic. Thanksgiving is generally a family affair, so what to do if you don’t have a family? Rent someone else’s, naturally. That’s what Bob’s landlord, Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline), does in this very special episode, offering Bob’s family five months of free rent if they pretend to be his family so he can make an old flame jealous. It’s another hilarious episode, and Linda’s Thanksgiving song alone is worth the watch.

Watch it now on:

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Gang Squashes Their Beefs

For most people, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. For the members of the gang on Always Sunny, it’s a time to reflect on just how awful they have been over the years. After some old foes hinder their Thanksgiving plans, Dennis, Mac, Dee, Charlie, and Frank realize they have too many enemies, and decide to bury some hatchets (literally, in one instance). The Gang Squashes Their Beefs is a fun episode, full of throwbacks to classic Always Sunny plots.

Watch it now on:


With subscription

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Yes, yes, we know this iconic film is first and foremost a Christmas movie, but you may remember it actually begins at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, when Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) is forced to stand in for a drunken Santa at the last minute — and that makes it a great bridge straight into the holiday season. Kringle’s unconventional methods win the hearts of the people, but the department store management begins to worry when he begins to express that he really is Santa. Is he delusional? Mentally ill? Or, could it be that he really is the true Mr. Claus?

Pieces of April (2003)

This film is an offbeat choice but an interesting one. Katie Holmes plays the titular April in this film about a rebellious woman who invites her dysfunctional family to celebrate Thanksgiving with her in her New York City apartment. With her dying mother en route along with the rest of her estranged family, April struggles to create a meal that will bring them all together and heal old wounds. Holmes is joined in the cast by Oliver Platt and Alison Pill, as well as Patricia Clarkson in the role of April’s terminally ill mother.

Home for the Holidays (1995)

Thanksgiving is all about family dysfunction and awkward meals, right? This is another film that has all that in spades. Single mother Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) returns home for Thanksgiving dinner after having just lost her job. Meanwhile, her daughter, Kitt (Claire Danes), has decided to stay home to go “all the way” with her boyfriend over the holiday. Great. Despite plenty of familial tension and a mysterious new person at the dinner table, an unexpected love story emerges.

For rent

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Widely regarded as one of the greatest Thanksgiving movies ever made, this comedy casts Steve Martin as an uptight marketing executive whose attempt to get home to Chicago from New York City for the holiday is thwarted by one misadventure after another. He’s joined on the journey by an overly talkative (and annoyingly cheerful) salesman played by John Candy. The film was written, produced, and directed by celebrated filmmaker John Hughes, who knows a thing or two about great comedies.

Scent of a Woman (1992)

While looking for some quick work over the Thanksgiving weekend to help pay for a flight home, New England prep school student Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell) happens upon Frank Slade (Al Pacino), a blind retired Army Ranger lieutenant colonel who suffers from alcoholism and is in a dark place. In a sweet turn of events, the two help each other through their own respective issues, and an unlikely bond forms. This film is an absolute classic, and Pacino won his only Oscar for his performance.

Related Topics: Netflix | Hulu | Amazon Prime | More Streaming Services

Editors' Recommendations

Ryan Waniata
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Waniata is a multi-year veteran of the digital media industry, a lover of all things tech, audio, and TV, and a…
The best family movies on Amazon Prime Video right now
The tiger Richard Parker and Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi.

One of the best ways to get the family together is for a movie night. That time, of course, is sacred, so you want to make the best of it whenever you have it. Scrolling through Amazon Prime Video's annoying-to-navigate interface is not making the best of it. Don't worry, we've already done the navigating to sort the wheat from the chaff. These are the best family movies on Amazon Prime right now.

Looking for even more family films? We've also put together lists of the best family movies on Netflix, the best family movies on Hulu, and the best family movies on Disney+. 

Read more
The best comedies on Amazon Prime right now
The cast of Jackass Forever.

Like to laugh? When it comes to movie night, comedies are always a great option. Sure, sometimes you want something intense or thought-provoking, but isn't it nice just to have a laugh?

With Prime Video, you'll always be able to find a comedy worth your time, but you'll also find a ton of options that really aren't all that funny. So, to help you narrow down your choices, we've curated this list of the best comedies on Amazon Prime right now.

Read more
The best action movies on Amazon Prime right now
Amleth screams for battle In The Northmen.

Sometimes the real world isn't all that exciting. Fortunately, we have cinema to liven things up whenever we want. With your Amazon Prime subscription, you have access to a host of great action movies at your fingertips.

When you're in the mood to live vicariously through characters involved in high-speed car chases, shootouts, or death-defying stunts, just head to Prime Video. We've even saved you some time by identifying the best action movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.

Read more