How '90s TV Characters Celebrated Thanksgiving

by | November 21, 2014 | Comments

For many, the 1990s evoke fond memories of popular things like Skip-It, Tamagotchi, and Beanie Babies. They gave us Hanson, the Spice Girls, and the Macarena. But they also gave us ridiculously fantastic — and often iconic — television. With the holidays around the corner, it’s that time of year to give thanks and be grateful for the wonderful TV of the past. Take a trip down memory lane and check out what some of your favorite characters were doing to celebrate Turkey Day during the last great decade of the 20th century.

Beverly Hills, 90210

Season 6, Episode 12 – “Breast Side Up”
November 22, 1995

Aaron Spelling’s TV shows ruled the airwaves for the last half of the 20th century, and 90210 was the hippest zip code in the 1990s. The West Bev High days are behind us as this post-Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) episode celebrates turkey day. The plan is to have dinner at the Walsh residence, but the gang scatters to take care of some pre-holiday commitments: Steve (Ian Ziering) and his girlfriend attend a faculty party, while Brandon (Jason Priestly) and Kelly (Jennie Garth) run last minute errands for dinner. Donna (Tori Spelling) surprises her boyfriend with a visit from San Francisco 49er Steve Young, while Val (Tiffani Amber Thiessen) deals with David’s (Brian Austin Green) not-so-mentally-stable mother and her attempts at schooling Valerie in food preparation. **Pies for dessert graciously provided by the Peach Pit.

Boy Meets World

Season 4, Episode 10 – “Turkey Day”
November 22, 1996

Boy Meets World was a mainstay of ABC’s now defunct “TGIF” lineup. In season four’s Thanksgiving episode, best friends Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) convince their families — who don’t like each other much — to spend Thanksgiving together, and the Matthews head to the Hunters’ trailer park for the fest, which makes Cory’s family uneasy. It’s only when the boys begin expressing what they’re thankful for that the parents realize how judgmental they’ve been toward each other, and all ends well. If this show brings back fond memories, you’re in luck: the Disney Channel quasi-rebooted it earlier this year with Girl Meets World, which centers around Cory, Topanga (Danielle Fishel), and their kids.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4, Episode 8 – “pangs”
November 23, 1999

Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn’t a big hit when it hit theaters in 1992, but screenwriter Joss Whedon wasn’t one to give up easily, so he took his creation to TV, and the rest is history. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) decides to host Thanksgiving at her place while her mom is out of town. Of course, evil doesn’t take a day off just because we do, so Buffy springs into action to fend off a vindictive Native American spirit with an axe to grind. With the help of her friends — and an admirer looking out for her — Buffy saves the day, per usual.

Dawson’s Creek

Season 3, Episode 8 – “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
November 24, 1999

Memes of James Van Der Beek crying have roamed the internet for years now, but Dawson’s Creek had a lasting impact on a generation. Kevin Williamson (writer of The Vampire Diaries and the Scream franchise) was the man behind this show, which featured teens who regularly spoke like they were thirty-five years old. For the series’ 1999 Thanksgiving episode, Jen’s (Michelle Williams) estranged mother shows up, and the gathering at Gram’s gets a little awkward. Joey (Katie Holmes) politely reminds Jen how nice it is to have her mom around at all, despite their strained relationship, and the gang ultimately realizes how lucky they are to have each other, even if the usual teen angst still exists among them.


Season 1, Episode 9 – “Thanksgiving”
November 24, 1998

Keri Russell got her start on The All New Mickey Mouse Club that aired in the early-to-mid-1990s on the Disney Channel (yes, the same MMC that gave us Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears). In Felicity, she played the titular coed, who follows her high school crush, Ben (Scott Speedman), to college in New York City. For her first Thanksgiving vacation, Felicity decides to stay at school instead of returning home to her family in California. Noel’s (Scott Foley) girlfriend, Hannah (Jennifer Garner), comes to visit him and he downplays his friendship with Felicity, which doesn’t make her too happy. Julie (Amy Jo Johnson) avoids going home due to a recent tragic event, so when everyone’s plans fall through, they share an “Orphan Thanksgiving” together.


Season 5, Episode 8 – “The One With All the Thanksgivings”
November 19, 1998

Friends is the quintessential 1990s sitcom, a show that’s still fondly quoted and referenced to this day, and one whose episodes frequently remind its fans of situations they’ve encountered in their own lives. In this episode, the gang takes a trip down memory lane, recalling their worst Thanksgivings ever. Chandler (Matthew Perry) claims to be the king of the worst Thanksgiving, and when Monica (Courtney Cox) tries to cheer him up, he accidentally responds with those three little words. Monica reacts exactly like you’d expect her to react.

Mad About You

Season 3, Episode 8 – “Giblets for Murray”
November 17, 1994

Mad About You followed a newlywed couple living in New York City, and in this particular episode, Jamie (Helen Hunt) and Paul (Paul Reiser) host Thanksgiving dinner at their place for their families. Naturally, they stress out all day trying to please everyone’s tastes, and right when things start coming together, they discover their dog Murray has gotten into the turkey. By the way, how weird is it to see smoking in someone’s residence on a network TV sitcom? Oh, how times have changed.


Season 6, Episode 8 – “The Mom and Pop Store”
November 17, 1994

Seinfeld is famously a show about nothing, but “The Mom and Pop Store” is loaded with even more randomness than usual. In this episode, Kramer is on a mission to save the shoe repair store downstairs from going out of business, but in typical Kramer fashion, he only ends up making matters worse. George buys a car because Jon Voight might have driven it, while Elaine is helping her boss get into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (and loses her hearing in the process). That night, Tim Whatley (Bryan Cranston, in his first Seinfeld appearence) has everyone over to watch the parade on TV (never mind that it’s broadcast live during the day). In other words, Thanksgiving is just as crazy as any other day in Seinfeld-land.

Sports Night

Season 1, Episode 8 – “Thespis”
November 17, 1998

Here we have a pre-Six Feet Under — and Parenthood — Peter Krause, a very much alive Josh Charles (sorry, Good Wife fans), and a pre-Housewives Felicity Huffman. The laugh track is a bit distracting, but all Sorkin-isms are in play (watch this on-point sketch Seth Meyers recently did on Late Night for clarification). As for the episode itself, Huffman’s character, Dana, is busy putting out multiple fires — as most executive producers do — when her thought-to-be frozen turkey ends up crashing through the ceiling landing on the news desk from the floor above. This was Aaron Sorkin’s first TV show, and it unfortunately lasted only two seasons before Sorkin decided to concentrate on The West Wing instead.

Will & Grace

Season 2, Episode 7 – “Homo for the Holidays”
November 25, 1999

Before Debra Messing was kickass detective and single mom Laura Diamond on The Mysteries of Laura, she was Grace Adler, an interior designer living with her gay best friend Will (Eric McCormack), a lawyer in New York City. Along with Karen (Megan Mullally), Grace’s socialite assistant, and Jack (Sean Hayes), Will’s other BFF from college, these four starred in one of NBC’s most popular sitcoms during its “Must See TV” years. Here, Jack is super pumped for turkey day, but things go south when he finds out Will invited Jack’s mom to Thanksgiving dinner; Jack hasn’t told his mother he’s gay. His friends are there for him when he finally comes out to his mom, and as it turns out, she’s harboring a secret of her own.

Tag Cloud

Western Freeform indie halloween streaming First Look Animation critic resources game of thrones San Diego Comic-Con President X-Men anime Columbia Pictures period drama franchise cults cops 20th Century Fox GIFs archives disaster Pirates dark Super Bowl remakes Starz History animated The Walking Dead crime drama politics romance Bravo VOD fresh asian-american festivals Hulu Rocky 71st Emmy Awards spy thriller Image Comics prank james bond series historical drama Election what to watch cinemax NBA spanish language Thanksgiving AMC dceu New York Comic Con high school unscripted young adult nbcuniversal obituary Rock Sci-Fi Sundance The Purge PBS spanish TNT latino Lifetime mutant Comics on TV LGBTQ Winter TV scene in color aliens 90s Teen Extras 99% miniseries olympics comiccon Amazon Prime Video Martial Arts Family superhero Academy Awards Binge Guide TCA Awards stoner dragons BBC Esquire Amazon Year in Review Marvel festival news 007 green book PlayStation mockumentary art house USA book Marvel Studios die hard Universal Pictures batman Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Hear Us Out finale sitcom adenture Pop TV MSNBC Rom-Com canceled TV shows VH1 Song of Ice and Fire Crunchyroll Black Mirror films Funimation revenge basketball halloween tv YA international BBC America hispanic Shondaland WarnerMedia AMC Plus robots a nightmare on elm street concert CMT telelvision vampires Mary poppins classics live event TBS harry potter Women's History Month Marvel Television 2020 Photos Tarantino Toys FOX quibi CW Seed mcc Dark Horse Comics TCA Stephen King Amazon Prime superman doctor who transformers The Academy black The Walt Disney Company Turner comics screenings thriller Star Wars true crime WGN Netflix Christmas movies ghosts rt labs VICE biopic Box Office Awards HBO justice league ABC Signature sequels aapi television The Arrangement sopranos book adaptation Trailer Paramount new zealand lord of the rings SDCC spain Red Carpet spider-verse breaking bad Country Cannes Biopics MCU RT History Wes Anderson Pacific Islander debate cartoon Mystery Exclusive Video Holidays Crackle Drama Awards Tour TLC Classic Film Opinion cancelled live action docudrama supernatural Endgame CBS All Access space Tubi Travel Channel ITV Amazon Studios Paramount Plus Winners HBO Go comic book movie nature psycho australia APB comic vs. psychological thriller Fox News based on movie DC Universe blaxploitation Comic-Con@Home 2021 singing competition RT21 kids Heroines IFC streaming movies Musical target Interview Pop travel OneApp YouTube Red DirecTV Superheroe golden globes TV movies Comic Book Mindy Kaling spinoff Anna Paquin Fox Searchlight razzies video godzilla Shudder Arrowverse USA Network Trophy Talk Turner Classic Movies Pride Month Disney+ Disney Plus TV toy story hidden camera blockbusters HBO Max all-time Disney Plus foreign TV One Quiz new star wars movies spider-man Summer cats Podcast directors stop motion TV renewals universal monsters Netflix black comedy Film Mudbound dramedy reviews TCA 2017 crossover movies italian DGA DC Comics Star Trek Logo king arthur Reality A&E MTV action-comedy gangster 21st Century Fox Paramount Network The Witch Cartoon Network cancelled TV shows SundanceTV slashers Ellie Kemper The CW CBS sports Captain marvel Certified Fresh comic books legend Disney Channel anthology toronto trailers TCM scorecard Apple TV+ cooking Fantasy sequel political drama zombies National Geographic reboot docuseries First Reviews indiana jones 1990s screen actors guild 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Video Games Food Network jurassic park boxoffice south america NBC japan Syfy Tomatazos best Neflix Spectrum Originals BET Awards saw stand-up comedy parents YouTube Brie Larson twilight football facebook ratings Elton John Infographic 93rd Oscars GoT witnail Holiday Character Guide blockbuster Television Academy El Rey Valentine's Day Nickelodeon wonder woman serial killer popular rt labs critics edition crime elevated horror SXSW know your critic DC streaming service critics Legendary Vudu LGBT Discovery Channel richard e. Grant Peacock Spike Mary Tyler Moore venice Premiere Dates 2016 Ghostbusters biography romantic comedy TruTV Marathons Ovation Grammys Lionsgate christmas movies Alien Polls and Games Tumblr Epix Pet Sematary joker hist casting IMDb TV A24 science fiction Oscars strong female leads Broadway ViacomCBS IFC Films documentaries sag awards movie TV Land NYCC 4/20 discovery french YouTube Premium dogs police drama Emmy Nominations hispanic heritage month documentary FX 2018 Apple See It Skip It versus Disney streaming service BET binge FX on Hulu Nominations Sneak Peek renewed TV shows Nat Geo PaleyFest worst Action scary 2019 name the review technology Writers Guild of America chucky TCA Winter 2020 ID Sundance Now Mary Poppins Returns Superheroes crime thriller Universal marvel cinematic universe child's play Reality Competition Pixar kong Watching Series Adult Swim worst movies kaiju Film Festival Calendar Hallmark Walt Disney Pictures E! 2015 E3 mob Countdown marvel comics BAFTA laika Television Critics Association japanese Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comedies rom-coms Music king kong cancelled TV series Lifetime Christmas movies social media royal family Christmas tv talk Best and Worst award winner Trivia jamie lee curtis ABC Family feel good 2017 dc nfl independent dreamworks 24 frames Schedule Showtime new york women Tokyo Olympics Masterpiece Black History Month Kids & Family Sundance TV Chernobyl Acorn TV mission: impossible scary movies posters war suspense boxing genre fast and furious adventure American Society of Cinematographers heist movie rotten movies we love Cosplay children's TV pirates of the caribbean cars Comedy Emmys adaptation Apple TV Plus slasher emmy awards Sony Pictures hollywood Spring TV BBC One criterion Instagram Live OWN werewolf composers FXX monster movies zero dark thirty Britbox Hallmark Christmas movies canceled dexter medical drama rt archives Avengers zombie diversity video on demand cancelled television Creative Arts Emmys Horror 2021 rotten deadpool satire Set visit Fall TV natural history free movies 73rd Emmy Awards comic book movies Baby Yoda Rocketman Disney Musicals 45 ESPN game show TIFF theme song ABC Warner Bros. CNN 72 Emmy Awards talk show Lucasfilm golden globe awards Comedy Central teaser GLAAD