Top 10 Cringeworthy TV Thanksgivings

tv dinners

Think your Thanksgiving is stressful? Take a look back at some of the most disastrous Thanksgiving dinners in TV history.

Nov 27, 2013 | 09:38 PM

Thanksgiving is considered by many to be one of the most stressful holidays of the year, and for good reason. Traffic is notoriously horrible, you’re forced to mingle with strange relatives you haven’t seen all year, and one wrong move in the kitchen ruins the entire day for everybody. Add booze to the mix and you have the perfect storm for a disastrous family get-together.

Of course, one man’s disaster is another man’s primetime entertainment. Call it schadenfreude, but some of our favorite TV episodes of all time revolve around ruined Thanksgivings. By the time you finish taking a look at our top 10 favorite moments, we bet that your dry turkey breast will start looking pretty darn good in comparison.

10. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Season 6, Episodes 9 & 10: “There’s the Rub

After a misunderstanding at a “massage parlor” (yes, that kind of massage parlor), Will and Uncle Phil are thrown in jail, right before Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, Vivian finds herself with more guests than she can handle after Hilary and Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro) invite a few folks from the homeless shelter to have dinner at the Banks mansion.

9. The O.C., Season 1, Episode 11: “The Homecoming

Ryan confronts elements of his rough past when he takes Marissa to his hometown of Chino to help his imprisoned brother, Trey. The real drama, of course, takes place back in Newport, where Seth tries to juggle his relationships with both Summer and Anna to disastrous effect.

8. Gossip Girl, Season 3, Episode 11: “The Treasure of Serena Madre

Since we’re on the topic of teen soaps, Gossip Girl has not only one, but two drama-packed Thanksgiving episodes. This episode comes out on top, completely thanks to the scene where Lily’s gorgeous Thanksgiving feast falls apart to the tune of Jason Derulo’s “Whatcha Say.”

7. South Park, Season 1 Episode 8: “Starvin’ Marvin

While trying to score a free promotional sports watch on TV, the boys accidentally adopt a malnourished Ethiopian child. Meanwhile, a flock of genetically engineered turkeys wreak havoc on South Park, leading to one of the most moving “Braveheart” parodies of all time.

6. Friends, Season 5, Episode 8: “The One With All the Thanksgivings

Everyone shares their worst Thanksgiving stories to cheer up Ross after his divorce. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Joey once got his head stuck in a turkey and (fat) Monica accidentally cut off Chandler’s toe when trying to get back at him for teasing her about her weight. This is news to Chandler, who is upset to learn the truth about his lost digit. The episode comes to a “head” when Monica tries to earn Chandler’s forgiveness.

5. Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 13: “The Wheel

Although Don’s tear-jerking pitch to Eastman Kodak is the focal point of this episode, let’s not forget about all the terrible things that happened, too: Peggy finds out that she’s pregnant with Pete’s baby, Harry has to sleep in his office after his wife kicks him out of the house, and Don backs out of spending Thanksgiving with Betty and the kids. Ouch.

4. Dexter, Season 4, Episode 9: “Hungry Man

A show about a serial killer who hunts down heinous criminals isn’t exactly light fare to begin with, but Dexter’s Thanksgiving episode proved to be especially upsetting when Dexter spends an awkward Thanksgiving dinner with an abusive killer and his family. We hope the food was worth it.

3. How I Met Your Mother, Season 5, Episode 9: "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap"

Against his better judgment, Marshall invites Lily’s estranged father Mickey to Thanksgiving dinner. When Lily storms off after Mickey shows up on their doorstep, the gang passes the time by playing Mickey’s new board game “Diseases” and threatening Barney with a legen--wait for it--dary Slapsgiving slap.

2. The Sopranos, Season 3 Episode 8, “He is Risen

Angry at Ralphie for disrespecting the organization, Tony disinvites him from his family’s Thanksgiving dinner, forcing Carmela to lie to Rosalie. Did we mention that Summer gets into a car accident, Tony sleeps with a Mercedes saleswoman in order to steal her therapy timeslot, and Gigi dies on a toilet? Yeah, that happened too.

1. The Simpsons, Season 2, Episode 7: “Bart vs. Thanksgiving

Every kid who grew up in the ‘90s will remember this classic episode. After accidentally destroying Lisa’s carefully constructed centerpiece, Bart is sent to his room for ruining Thanksgiving (which, let’s face it, he kind of did). He runs away from home and finds himself at a homeless shelter, where he’s interviewed on the evening news. Luckily, this bad Thanksgiving has a happy ending: Bart returns home and apologies to Lisa for ruining her centerpiece and the Simpson family reunites for a loving dinner. Aw.

Did we miss any of your favorite disastrous TV Thanksgivings? Let us know in the comments!


More Thanksgiving on WhoSay:

You might also like

Now on People