FOXs Bobs Burgers has the best holiday episodes of any show currently on television. Its Thanksgiving episodes are especially great and rivaled only by Brooklyn-99s love of turkey day. While there are other great animated shows to celebrate (and binge!) over this holiday, it seemed like it was time to dive deep into the Belcher family and Bobs favorite holiday.
The best part of this? Not a single one of these episodes is a turkey. Theyre all great Thanksgiving episodes. With that, well start with the worst which is better than your average Thanksgiving episode of anything. Truly, the worst Thanksgiving episodes of Bobs Burgers are the first two seasons when they only ran in the spring and there were no holiday-themed episodes. Oh, and did we mention you can stream all of these on Hulu? Convenient.
Season 8, Episode 5Neighboring Store name: We Lather Together Family SoapsExterminator: Mashed Potato Bugs Pest ControlBurger Special(s): The Catch Me if You Cran BurgerScore: 6.5/10
Its a Teddy-centric episode, which is both the strength and weakness of this episode. Overwhelmed at the prospect of hosting for his own family, Teddy enlists Bob to help cook his meal. But when Linda and the kids try to help set up his dining area, they find a room full of hoarded goods. While its super entertaining to watch the kids play Find the best thing, its hard to watch someone deal with something that very clearly causes them a great deal of anxiety. But, its fun to watch Bob make a second Thanksgiving, complete with both spatchcocking and plenty of spatchcocking jokes.
Season 6, Episode 4Neighboring Store name:MAXI PADS: Large Apartment RentalsExterminator:The Good, The Bad, & The Bugly Pest ControlBurger Special(s):(none)Score: 7/10
Megan Mullally as Gayle is always a treat, but this episode is the perfect example of how less is more. When Bob has to go pick up Gayle for Thanksgiving in a blizzard and the car is buried by a snowplow, he has to pull her through the snow on an improvised sled made of a kiddie pool. And her cat gets away. And hijinks ensure, but the most important part is that Bob tries to get the family to finish making the Thanksgiving meal, which they are completely unprepared for. Its a fun episode about the lengths we go to when we have to put up with family and their quirks at holidays, but theres just a little too much Gayle.
Season 9, Episode 7Neighboring Store name: Plymouth Jock: Old Timey Athletic WearExterminator:To Kill a Shocking BugBurger Special(s): (none)Score: 7/10
When the Deputy Mayor screws up the town turkey pardoning, its up to the Belcher kids to rescue the turkey, now doomed to be sent to a *whisper* slaughterhouse due to bureaucratic ineptitude. While I enjoy the political overtones of the episode, its mostly a pretty straightforward adventure and nowhere near the zaniness and darkness we get from some of our best episodes.
The real center of the episode is, as with many others, Louises struggle to admit her feelings of empathy for other people and things, this time based around the turkey. The other business in the episode also revolves around Bob wanting real cranberries for his sauce, which culminates nicely when they find a cranberry bog at the farm where they take the turkey. As a fun callback, its the same farm with the two-butted goat from Stand By Gene.
Season 10, Episode 8Neighboring Store name: With Great Whisk Comes Great Reward Cooking ClassesExterminator: It Must Be MiceBurger Special(s): (none)Score: 7.5/10
This years episode revolves around Bob finally getting the heritage breed turkey hes obsessed about after years on a waiting list. But when the gas is shut off for the entire block, he is forced to roast the bird in the alley over an open pit.
So much of Bobs Burgers is about watching Bob obsess over something and be disappointed or blocked in some (usually inane) way. This is just such an episode, and it also balances it well with a side plot of the kids being sent out to find more things to burn to keep the fire going. Linda also spends part of the episode looking for things to burn in the house and instead gets lost in old drawings and crafts the kids made that she saved. It brings a lot of sweet to the heavy salt of this episode.
Season 3, Episode 5Neighboring Store name:Colonial Baloney (Smaller sign: Get Your Thanksgiving Baloney Now!)Exterminator:The Last of the Mousehicans Pest ControlBurger Special(s): (none)Score: 8.5/10
Any episode is better with Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline), as the not at all subtle classist satire is usually incredibly deft. This is on full display here, as Calvin asks if he can rent the Belcher family for Thanksgiving to impress an old flame. And by impress, I mean seduce, because she is a notorious homewrecker and will only want him if hes married and can break up his marriage.
Theres multiple things going on in the episode, not the least of which is that Bob gets high on absinthe while cooking Thanksgiving dinner. This leads not only to a hallucination in which we get the best My Neighbor Totoro reference ever (this was the exact moment I fell in love with Bobs Burgers) and then the comedy of errors culminates with a shootout chase through the mansion. The rich truly are different, arent they?
But my personal favorite part of the episode is that Mr. Fischoeder is bribing Linda and the kids even more, that for things they say and do that he likes, he is paying them extra. Louise playing sweet is always adorable, especially because we see how rehearsed and acted it is. But even funnier is how bad and awkward Tina is. Tina doing awkward mixed with sincere is the special sauce of the show (see #1 and #2 on this list), and this episode nails it like the perfect amount of sage in your turkey.
Season 5, Episode 4Neighboring Store name/Exterminator/Burger Special(s):(none)Note: This episode has a cold open and doesnt include the normal opening sequence, instead going directly into a scene which references the opening to Jurassic Park.Score: 9/10
Bobs Burgers is especially good when it gets surreal, and this episode is a great example. Trying to follow many of the tropes of a zombie apocalypse movie, instead the culprits are a bunch of unruly turkeys who run wild over the town after being let loose at the towns Thanksgiving celebration.
Bob, however, is boycotting and stays home and listens to Donna Summer which really makes this episode. So do the terrible carnival rides, and the proper deployment of both Teddy and the Fischoeders as side characters in the perfect amount. Also any episode where Regular-Sized Rudy gets to be a hero is good in my book.
Season 7, Episode 6Neighboring Store name: Lets Give Them Stuffing To Talk AboutExterminator: From My Coal Dead Ants Pest ControlBurger Special(s): Jagged Little Dill BurgerScore: 9.5/10
The only reason this episode isnt #1 is that the idea of the kids putting on a show was done even better in Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl and Topsy. But still, just a turkeys feather off the lead is this gem where Tina writes and directs a play called The Quirky Turkey where she confronts the neglect and bullying by her peers in a way that is both beautiful and disturbing.
Gene and Louise play this beautifully as well, trying to parlay the play into getting part of the day off before Thanksgiving, but end up getting emotionally invested by the end. The what have we done realization is always fun with these two, and then realization that theyll have to clean up the fake blood and turkey guts from the play hits even harder.
Oh, and Linda finds a potato she thinks looks like her grandfather. Its the perfect running gag.
Season 4, Episode 5Neighboring Store name: Dr. Rangelove Stove StoreExterminator: Oh No You Rodont ExterminatorsBurger Special(s):(none)Score: 10/10
This episode is the top of the heap because of its excellent mix of everything Bobs Burgers does well. First, the bizarre. Someone keeps putting Bobs turkey in the toilet. It becomes a mystery and Louise plays detective, even though everyone suspects her in the first place. Second, the sweet. Tina is trying to graduate from the kids table to the adult table, and its really adorable to watch her trying to play act as what she thinks an adult is. Third, the hilarious comedy of errors. The guy at the grocery store who thinks Bob is hitting on him. Bobs obsession with preparing his turkeys and talking to them. Fourth, we get the perfect amount of the side characters we want here: Aunt Gayle, Teddy, and Mort all make appearances and wackiness ensues.
But [spoiler alert] this episode is, at its heart, about a dad who loves his kids and what happens when he gets high on allergy medicine and sublimates his anxiety about his children growing up into play acting with a raw turkey. Its sweet. But it also involves the toilet. This is prime Bobs Burgers.
And with that, dont forget its almost time to celebrate Christmas again, and what better way to do that than with Twinkly Lights, the holiday theme we all need about light bulbs, drag queens, and diversity/inclusion? Oh, and we made another list of the best Bobs Burgers Christmas episodes last year. Happy Thanksgiving!
A mild mannered digital strategist working for an environmental nonprofit in Austin, TX roaming the interwebs fighting his nemeses President Luthor and the Roxxon Corporation by day, and by night consuming all manner of media. You can find him either on his couch or at the nearest Alamo Drafthouse catching the latest. Don't follow him on Twitter @CitizenAndy.
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