Thanksgiving is by far Bob Belcher's favorite holiday. He just loves food and his family, in that order. So it's my privilege and honor to rank the Bob's Burgers Thanksgiving special episodes for you from least favorite to my favorite.
11: The Quirkducers (S7E6)
My ranking has to start at the bottom with The Quirkducers. Louise comes up with a plot to put on a Thanksgiving play so offensive that the school will have no choice but to shut it down and send the kids home early. They take one of Tina’s horny stories about a quirky turkey, have her turn it into a musical (unwitting to the plan), cast some truly god-awful singers in the lead roles, and add some gore—yes, actual intestines and giblets and whatnot. When it all blows up, Louise feels bad for taking advantage of Tina, but that’s okay, because we all know by now that Tina is absolutely unstoppable in moments like this, for better or for worse.
This episode has kind of nothing that I enjoy in it save for a couple choice one-liners. Some Tina episodes can be hard to bear witness to, and this one is no different. She is unstoppable at times when she should—and I do not say this lightly—absolutely be stopped. If Tina being cringy as hell all over the place wasn’t enough to make this episode a “must miss” for me, the grand finale of blood and guts blasting into people’s faces and hair sure is. Gross.
10: I Bob Your pardon (S9E7)
When the family goes to watch the mayor pardon his annual Thanksgiving turkey, they learn that the mayor’s assistant plans to take it to a slaughterhouse rather than to a sanctuary. They get caught up in an extensive pursuit of the turkey in question, desperate that it should not be slaughtered even if they have no clue what should happen to it.
Honestly, I forget this episode exists when I’m not actively watching it. It’s boring. I have no further notes.
9: Putts-giving (S13E8)
The newest Thanksgiving special finds the Belcher family ditching their long day of cooking to go play mini-golf instead. Tina is sucking up to her parents to get their permission to attend a party; meanwhile, Louise and Gene unsurprisingly prefer to goof around. They end up breaking one of the putt-putt attractions, but Tina does them a solid and helps them fix it.
I was really looking forward to the Thanksgiving special this year, but I was underwhelmed. The episode is perfectly fine, very mild-mannered and straightforward. I could do with some more vivid sillines, however.
8: Stuck in the Kitchen with you (S12E8)
The Belchers spend Thanksgiving volunteering their time at the local nursing home—which is lucky, because the cook (and apparently most of the staff) failed to show, and they need Bob to cook for the entire facility. Louise gets roped into helping but pretends to be terrible at cooking to escape Bob’s “Thank-zilla” alter ego. Meanwhile, the other kids throw a parade for the elderly folks since the TV’s not working.
I love any time we get to see Bob and Louise’s relationship. They’re really so fun and sweet together (see “Oh my GOD, am I your HERO???” S3E22 Carpe Museum). The parade is a little boring, but I adore Zeke and his grandma. Basically, this episode shines through its relationships.
7: Thanks-hoarding (S8E5)
Teddy has agreed last-minute to host his family for Thanksgiving, so he enlists Bob to help him prep the day before. Of course, he’s useless, so Bob ends up doing a ton of free work in the kitchen—but it’s okay, because he loves it. While the Belchers are at Teddy’s, they discover he’s a secret hoarder; his dining room only is full to brimming with crap. They try to help him overcome his issue while getting ready for his family to visit.
Two words: Spatch. Cock. Bob’s spatchcocking is the highlight of this episode. There’s a ton of slapstick comedy moments with Bob and Teddy in the kitchen. The Teddy cringe factor is definitely heavy through this episode, but it has a happy ending, so it’s fun to watch.
6: Now we're not cooking with gas (S10E8)
Bob treats himself to a Riverbrook Lake Farms never-frozen turkey for Thanksgiving—just in time for the gas to go out in their apartment and the restaurant. So, naturally, he builds a small fire in the alley to slowly roast the turkey over. Except he doesn’t have literally any wood, so they’re just burning whatever they can find. The fire department comes to shut them down, and it also starts raining. But somehow, against all odds, Bob manages to cook the turkey to perfection.
A truly beautiful Bob’s Burgers Thanksgiving special is one in which Bob absolutely loses his mind over his favorite holiday. This episode depicts one man’s slow descent into madness as he desperately tries to stoke the embers of a fire that isn’t burning. Linda is beyond supportive and adorably reminisces over the kids’ childhood artwork while considering burning it. The whole situation is just so desperate and ridiculous, this episode is a ton of fun to watch.
5: Diarrhea of a poopy kid (S11E7)
Gene has the stomach flu over Thanksgiving and is extremely sad about it because he, like many of us, really enjoys food. Tina, Louise, and Bob tell him stories in which he overcomes food as a very real enemy in various fantasy situations.
Even though this episode is full of bathroom humor, it’s entirely great. I adore the mini-story episodes, and maybe I’ll rank all of those someday. It’s also nice to see the family come together when they know Gene is feeling down. Add guest appearances from several of our favorite minor characters (Regular-Sized Rudy, my man!) and this is a stellar Thanksgiving special.
4: Gayle makin' bob sled (S6E4)
Gayle has a broken leg, so Bob goes to pick her up for Thanksgiving dinner. While she’s taking her time getting ready, his car gets completely snowed in. So he sets out to pull her—and her cat, Mr. Business—in a blow-up kiddie pool all the way to his house. Mr. Business escapes (of course) and Bob hurts his back and it turns out Gayle is faking her injury, so when they finally make it home, Gayle pulling Bob along in the sled.
Some people can’t stand to witness Gayle’s truly ridiculous antics, and I understand that. She is a truly infuriating character. But she’s so positively ridiculous, I enjoy watching her episodes. And her relationship with Bob is so fraught and funny, she is so oblivious to him. The business with Mr. Business is the cherry on top of this episode. So ridiculous and funny and rewatchable.
3: Turkey in a can (S4E5)
Bob prepares his elaborate 3-day turkey brine, only to wake up the next morning and find the turkey in the toilet of their apartment. No one confesses to the crime, so Bob is forced to restart with a 2-day brine. But then, the turkey goes in the can, and so on. Finally, Bob prepares a turkey the day of Thanksgiving, mad as hell—until he falls asleep at the table, starts sleepwalking, and takes the turkey himself to place it in the toilet, dreaming of when he potty-trained Tina.
I’m realizing that the more ridiculous the Thanksgiving special, the more I love it (Quirkducers aside). This premise feels cozy, a little family mystery, but what’s happening is so hilariously nonsensical. The family dynamic is on-point and their banter is sharp. And, again, Bob’s slow descent into the madness of his passion for Thanksgiving—along with some bisexual flirtation.
2: Dawn of the peck (S5E4)
Perhaps the most ridiculous and the most terrifying of all the Thanksgiving specials, this is a Dawn of the Dead spoof in which a bunch of bloodthirsty turkeys get loose in Wonder Wharf along with all our characters. They have to outpace and outsmart the birds and make it to safety. All the while, Bob is home alone, drunk and pissed that his family bailed on his favorite holiday.
This episode has everything. Horrifying beasts, smash-cut comedy, a dramatic turkey baster, several athletics checks, and, most importantly, Regular-Sized Rudy. It’s fast, it’s funny, and it’s packed full of delightful characters. There are two noteworthy moments in this episode: Once they’re all safe, Linda lets all the many kids flip the birds the bird. And, perhaps the most glorious moment in the entire show as yet, Bob delivers a truly magnificent monologue alongside his turkey baster whilst drunk as hell trying to talk himself into cooking Thanksgiving dinner. *chef’s kiss* It’s a moment of true art.
1: An indecent Thanksgiving proposal (S3E5)
Mr. Fishoeder’s old girlfriend is coming to town for Thanksgiving, and she’s a great person, so she’s only attracted to married men. So Mr. Fish offers the Belchers 5 months of free rent in exchange for them pretending to be his family, including his chef, Bob. Bob tries to secretly connect with the family throughout the meal anyway, but they’re too absorbed in their farce to humor him. So, as per usual, he gets shitty drunk (on absinthe) and slowly descends into the Thanksgiving madness.
Mr. Fischoeder is my man. There’s just something about him. Maybe it’s his eye patch. Maybe it’s his raw confidence. Maybe it’s Kevin Kline. Maybe it’s just that I’m attracted to men in power. I adore every single line he graces us with; he’s so wild and aloof and charming. The family is so over the top in this one, from Linda in her bridesmaid dress to Louise with her interpretative dance about how much she loves her “Dad.” Bob snaps and goes feral, and I love that for him. I’m obsessed with every moment of this, the first Thanksgiving special Bob’s Burgers ever gave us.