As we’ve discussed before, there’s simply not enough Thanksgiving-themed TV. Turkey Day has long been dominated by football, James Bond marathons, Christmas specials, and Friends reruns. If you’re all Friends-ed out, though, there’s another sitcom that you can fire up for a festive binge watch. Since its third season, Bob’s Burgers has routinely churned out a Thanksgiving-themed episode establishing itself as patriarch Bob’s favorite holiday. We’ve ranked all 10 episodes from worst to best for the most optimal streaming playlist.
Nothing lasts forever. Although Bob’s has cemented its place in the animated TV hall of fame, the second half of the series has significantly fallen off. Season 9’s Thanksgiving episode is a rather bland holiday special. The Belcher family find themselves on an impromptu mission to save a supposedly pardoned turkey from the slaughterhouse after the deputy mayor fails to find a home for it. By taking the plot out of the Belcher home, you forget that it’s a holiday episode even with a turkey for a guest star.
Last season’s entry serves as a vehicle for another one of Bob’s trilogy of parodies. In what has become their version of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror series, the Belcher family tell improvised food-themed stories to soothe Gene’s woes while he’s quarantined in the bathroom with food poisoning. Most of your favorite supporting characters pop up to spoof Predator, Air Force One, and Armageddon, but unlike Treehouse of Horror, these episodes are not the show’s forte. Even the foods these segments are themed around, bread, apples, pears, and chicken parm, are not very festive. While all the Belchers are iconic in their own way, Gene’s persona is not strong enough to carry an episode.
Bob’s fiery passion for Thanksgiving often sets him up for disappointment. It’s Murphy’s Law in season 10 as Bob desperately tries to salvage his dinner after a gas leak knocks his ovens out of commission. The family fights the elements and the fire department to cook a vaunted heritage turkey over a makeshift fire pit in the alley. As Thanksgiving episodes go, this one is a bit one-note, with the kids and Linda being underused.
Season 7 combines Louise’s scheming ways with Tina’s fanfiction for an episode that sounds better on paper. “The Quirkducers” largely takes place at Wagstaff school as the kids volunteer to produce the Thanksgiving play. Tina stars as the Quirky Turkey, a feathery, awkward outcast who’s madly in love with a pig (played by Jimmy Jr., naturally), while producer Louise secretly attempts to sabotage the production in order to get a half-day dismissal. The actual play is the highlight of the episode, as a singing Tina in a bespectacled turkey costume is a special treat.
It’s all about Uncle Teddy as Bob helps everyone’s favorite handyman prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner for his visiting family. While Bob toils away in the kitchen, Linda and the kids carry out an ill-advised attempt to cure Teddy of his hoarding habit. Teddy is at his most flustered as another fall holiday goes off the rails.
The most recent episode serves up a surprisingly amusing Turkey Day tale. The Belchers spend the day volunteering at their local retirement home where an emergency leads to Bob and Louise (after losing a hand fart contest) volunteering to cook dinner for the elderly tenants while Zeke, Gene, and Tina put on a festive parade. The series’ fall festivities are at their best when it keeps Bob in his element, the kitchen, but it’s the slew of honest and tactless seniors that steal the show with a steady stream of laughs and sass.
As the title suggests, it’s a Gayle-heavy episode as the eccentric drama queen is once again invited to her sister’s for Thanksgiving dinner. Linda and the kids are tasked with cooking dinner this time around while Bob journeys off to rescue Gayle and her favorite cat, Mr. Business, from a snowstorm. Despite being his favorite day of the year, Thanksgiving once again is nothing but a nightmare for Bob as the kids do as good of a job cooking as you’d expect.
This is the first Thanksgiving episode in the show’s history and the first in a very strong three-episode run of A++ holiday stories. Linda and the kids agree to pretend to be Mr. Fischoeder’s family in an effort to win the affection of an old flame who only wants what she can’t have. Even with the promise of five months rent, Bob is incredibly reluctant to forgo his cherished holiday traditions in order to act as Fishoeder’s personal chef. He drowns his frustrations in absinthe, hallucinates, and gets a little too close to the turkey, Lance. As always, Drunk Bob is a very good Bob while the kids are at their weirdest as they try to impress their guest. And the cherry on top is Linda’s Thanksgiving carol. “Pass—the cranberry sauce…”
Birds are evil. It’s a fact of life and the theme of season 5’s episode as the Fischoeder bros host a running of the bulls style event at Wonder Wharf. A defiant Bob stays home to drink and dance to Donna Summer while Linda regretfully gets chased by a gaggle of wild turkeys and geese. Delightful madness ensues as Linda teams up with Teddy and our favorite ex-con Mickey to try and guide themselves and the kids to safety. We get another great appearance from Drunk Bob as well as the underrated Regular Sized Rudy. I hope someday we learn how that man died on the Tickle Boat.
It’s the episode that established Bisexual Bob Belcher as canon and holds the title of the show’s best Thanksgiving special. Bob’s one-ups its stellar first Thanksgiving episode with a whodunnit that would make Rian Johnson’s imposter syndrome flare up. Bob’s efforts to prep a turkey with a special four-day brine is obstructed by a mysterious vandal who strikes in the night and repeatedly steals and drops the bird in the toilet. Bob pulls out all the stops and blows through his dinner budget attempting to outsmart the bandit. Meanwhile, Tina is determined to prove she’s mature enough to sit at the adult table and Louise tries to salvage her reputation after everyone assumes she’s the toilet culprit. It all culminates in a brilliant twist, but the episode will mostly be remembered for Bob’s increasingly awkward interactions with a flirty butcher at the supermarket.
Olivia Cathcart is a comedian and writer.