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.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me in real life or has listened to my podcast that I am a huge fan of the Fox show Bob's Burgers. While every single episode has its merits, I particularly love the holiday episodes, and I find myself rewatching every year to celebrate.
Of course I have *opinions*, so please enjoy my personal ranking of all the Bob's Burgers Valentine's Day episodes!
7: bed, bob, and beyond (s9e13)
I love the episodes where the kids get to each tell their own stories, and this one is super fun. Bob and Linda are fighting on Valentine's Day, but the kids need them to be in a good mood so they can break the news that they broke Gene's bed jumping on it. So the kids take turns describing the plot of this ridiculous movie, a combination of love story tropes, to lift their spirits.
This one isn't my favorite because the plot is super all over the place (lol kids amirite). The tone is also not incredibly romantic with the fighting and the guilt about the bed. However, it's hilarious as all episodes are. I love when the kids team up together for something like this. It's definitely worth a watch, and try to catch the Notting Hill, Speed, and Titanic nods.
6: romancing the beef (s11ep11)
In another not-very-romantic Valentine's Day episode, Louise convinces Bob to capitalize on the holiday by hiking up prices and taking walk-ins for those sorry couples who failed to make dinner reservations. The B plot follows Tina attending Tammy's Anti-Valentine's Day party, then panicking as it quickly devolves into a make-out party.
This episode is fun entirely because of the kids. The eighth graders (particularly Tammy and Jocelyn) are fucking hilarious always, and Tammy's flimsy excuse for a make-out party is so classic her. Meanwhile, Louise and Gene are giving their all at the restaurant. The highlight of this episode is Gene creeping up on couples, wearing only a diaper and wings to portray Cupid, and singing "It's okay; we're just children watching you."
5: the gene and courtney show (s6e7)
In classic Bob's Burgers Valentine's Day fashion, this episode is a shit-show. Gene and Courtney take over the morning announcements because they're hilarious together--until they rekindle their romance and lose their touch. Meanwhile, Tina is (for some fucking reason) in charge of the carnations program at her school, and she tears all the valentines apart desperately trying to see if someone has sent her one.
I'll admit, it's nice to see Tina stress about fucking up for once! She's always doing dumb shit like this and never seems to care, really. Louise and Linda come to her aid in her moment of need, which is a group of characters we don't often see in this series. Girl power! Gene and Courtney are so fun to watch, not because they're actually funny, but because they're actually pretty good together. This one is super fun to watch for the kids' take on Valentine's Day.
4: Bob actually (S7e9)
This episode follows every single romantic subplot it could possibly find in the world of Bob's Burgers! So if there's one plot line you're not into (*ahem* Keira Knightley's plot in Love Actually) it's no big deal, because you can just wait for a better plot line to roll around (the prime minister and his employee, anyone?). The two main story threads involve Bob learning to dance to impress Linda and Tina having diarrhea all day while Jimmy Jr. is trying to get romantic with her at long last.
While I don't love the gross plot lines (this isn't the only episode centered around diarrhea lol), this episode still has a ton to offer. I mean, who wouldn't want to see Bob do a dance routine for Linda? Plus, you'll get to see lots of minor characters getting short moments to shine. Definitely don't miss this one!
3: v for valentine-detta (S8E8)
Jimmy Jr. has asked another girl out on a date, and put her photo in the picture frame Tina made him! (The audacity of men, right?) So Linda forfeits her "romantic" date (in a hot pink Hummer limo) with Bob to take her daughters out for a night of forgetting all about boys! The B plot literally only features Bob and Gene getting stuck in a ridiculous situation together (about 20 feet up in the air) and then bonding over it.
Of course we all love this episode, because . . . NAT! Everyone loves Nat Kinkle, the legendary limo driver etc., the "yes" gal, the only person Louise has ever truly respected. The night goes absolutely sideways at her egging on, and I love this episode for that. Plus, we almost never get to see Bob and Gene truly bonding, so that's nice as well. In the end, this episode is a great homage to all the non-romantic relationships in life that don't get their own special day.
2: can't buy me math (s5e11)
Who doesn't love a fake dating gone wrong trope? Tina and Darryl pretend to date so they can catch the attention of their actual crushes. Of course, Tina loses sight of the endgame and tricks herself into thinking she's into Darryl--when in fact, of course, she's only really into the concept of having a boyfriend. Meanwhile, Linda has planned several full days of Valentine's Day activities for her and Bob to take the pressure off the big day. And none of those activities are particularly . . . good, or fun, or romantic.
Y'all know by now I love the eighth graders, and this episode is no exception. The ridiculousness of Aziz Ansari's Darryl comes out in full force in this episode, and the kids are all over their charade. Watching two nerds fall in love gives all the rest of us hope. Besides that, it's fun to see Bob and Linda sort of fail to get in the Valentine's Day mood, just like every other year. Their activities end with a bang! (Not that kind of bang!) You simply gotta watch this gem of an episode.
1: My fuzzy valentine (s3e13)
This episode is particularly absurd, as the kids manage to convince Bob to let them skip school to help him track down Linda the perfect Valentine's Day present--a "love test-o-meter" that he remembers from their first date. The B plot in this episode is funnier than the A plot, as Linda is left alone in the restaurant all day and decides to host speed dating. Police Chief Bosco crashes the whole thing and turns it into a grim affair in which the participants confess terrible things about themselves to find someone who can stomach the worst of them. In classic Linda fashion, she doesn't let go of being in charge easily, and it ends with her stealing a cop's gun. Because, you know, she's just passionate.
There are a ton of reasons My Fuzzy Valentine makes the top of my list. It's the first Valentine's Day episode the show ever aired, so it has that really charming early-Bob's quality. I honestly think the earlier episodes are more absurd as well, which makes for excellent storytelling. Absolutely ridiculous, hilarious, and classic, this is by far my favorite Valentine's Day episode.
I absolutely adore the Bob's Burgers holiday specials, and the Valentine's Day ones are no exception. I plan to also compile a list of my favorite non-V-Day romantic episodes to help you get in the mood! (What mood? I certainly couldn't tell you.)
Which episode is your favorite? Let me know in the comments! And