Thanksgiving is only a few days away here in the United States and that means you're about to spend some time sitting around with family, feasting on turkey, and trying to think of something to talk about. If you happen to have little ones running around, you know the whole talking thing can be difficult when they want your undivided attention. With that in mind, we've put together a handy list of 10 Thanksgiving special and episodes that your kids can stream right now.
Just as a quick note, our definition of streaming might be different than yours (since everyone seems to have a different idea of what constitutes "streaming") so know that, while many of the titles included below can be streamed with a subscription to Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime (and even free on YouTube), there are a few that you'll need to buy the digital title for. Happy Thanksgiving!
1. Animaniacs - "Turkey Jerky" (1993)
One of the most brilliant animated shows of all time, Animaniacs covered nearly all of the holidays in one way or another. Their Thanksgiving episode is a delightful, funny look at everyone's favorite feast that not only includes a surprise cameo by Elmer Fudd, but also features a brief appearance by Skippy and Slappy. The story of the Native American Warners trying to keep their pet turkey from the hungry hands of Miles Standish is clever, but it's the excellent voice-acting that always makes Animaniacs such a joy to watch.
Originally created by American Greetings in 1981, the Care Bears have taken on a life of their own over the past few decades. From plush teddy bears and TV specials, to multiple different animated series and feature films, the brand has become a huge hit worldwide. In 1986, Canadian studio Nelvana began running season one of their series called The Care Bears Family, the eleventh episode of which is the Thanksgiving special "Grams Bear's Thanksgiving Surprise." While the plot about Grams Bear and the other Care Bears having to stop Sour Sam from ruining Thanksgiving with Crabby Apple Pies isn't going to set the world afire, the animation still holds something special nearly 30 years later.
This one skews towards the slightly older kids crowd (and adults), but make no mistake that Regular Show is one of the very best modern cartoons on TV. Clever, funny, and beautifully simple in its animation, the Cartoon Network series is also one of the channel's most popular shows. The season five "Thanksgiving Special" episode is typical Regular Show with Mordecai and Rigby running amok and nearly ruining the holiday before the whole crew comes together to put it all back together. Ooooohhhhhh!
4. Garfield's Thanksgiving (1989)
Garfield's Thanksgiving might not have the cachet or cult following of the exceptional Garfield's Halloween Adventure, but it is still a really fun half-hour starring the lazy, lasagna-loving feline. Featuring the legendary voice of Lorenzo Music as Garfield, the special does have two cute songs that spruce up the proceedings, as well as Pat Carroll as the voice of Jon's spunky Grandma. If your kiddo hasn't had the pleasure of being introduced to Garfield yet, start with Garfield's Halloween Adventure, but quickly follow that up with Garfield's Thanksgiving and A Garfield Christmas.
5. Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz (1980)
Also known as Dorothy in the Land of Oz, this 1980 TV special stars the Emmy Award-winning Sid Caesar, but it's not exactly among the best Oz adaptations in the eyes of many fans. Caesar takes on three roles (the Wizard, U.N. Krust, and the Narrator) while Mischa Bond voices Dorothy Gale. The film features many of the usual Oz characters, including Dorothy, the Lion, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, Tik-Tok, and Jack Pumpkinhead, but takes off on a story all its own. Originally created as a Thanksgiving cartoon, the special was later recut without the holiday element so it could be aired throughout the year.
The original Rugrats series may have ended in 2004, but millions of kids are still enjoying the antics of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica through the power of streaming, DVD, and even YouTube clips. In fact, until SpongeBob SquarePants knocked it off the mantle in 2012, Rugrats was Nickelodeon's longest-running Nicktoon ever. "The Turkey Who Came to Dinner" aired during the show's fourth season and finds the Rugrats clan celebrating Thanksgiving while the kids make trouble like usual. It's adorable, like nearly every episode of the series, and one that your little ones will probably watch again and again.
7. The Mouse on the Mayflower (1968)
At first glance, you might not even realize that The Mouse on the Mayflower is a Rankin/Bass production. Premiering in 1968, only four years after their stop-motion animated classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the film is one of the duo's traditionally-animated specials that include Frosty the Snowman, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Frosty's Winter Wonderland. Narrated by Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Mouse on the Mayflower is certainly not one of Rankin/Bass' very best films, but it does have its moments and does a fine job paying homage to the Thanksgiving holiday. Best of all, you can watch the whole thing right there on YouTube.
8. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
Everyone knows It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas, but the equally awesome, Emmy-winning A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving tends to get the short end of things when it comes to fan obsession. The 1973 special is the tenth based on Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comic strip, but it continues the tradition of the series' high quality. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang decide to have two Thanksgiving dinners and provide some truly memorable scenes during them. The most memorable, however, is the group's raucous singing of "Over the River and Through the Woods" as they ride to grandmother's condominium. Fun stuff.
9. Hey Arnold! - "Arnold's Thanksgiving" (1998)
Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold! ran for five seasons, from 1996 to 2004, and gained a very loyal fan base during that time. Following a fourth-grade boy named Arnold who lives with his grandparents, the show tackled the ins and outs of city living while also giving ample time to explore its side characters in a meaningful way. It became, in a way, a coming-of-age story for the animation crowd and flourished through 100 episodes. "Arnold's Thanksgiving" is a half-hour episode that aired during the show's third episode, and it's a heck of a lot of fun. Arnold and Helga both try their best to enjoy the holiday, but end up running into quite a bit of trouble finding someone to properly celebrate with. It's not the very best Hey Arnold! episode, but it's certainly a good representation of what makes the show so endearing.
10. The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't (1972)
There are plenty of folks out there that will say The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't probably never should have been, but we've got a soft spot in our hearts for anything created under the Hanna-Barbera banner. Though it sometimes still airs on television, the instances have become more rare and YouTube might actually be your best bet in seeing the film. With voice work from June Foray, Hal Smith, and Don Messick, this fictionalized recounting of the first Thanksgiving is actually better than its reputation, but that still doesn't meant it's all that good. Nonetheless, it's worth watching, at least once, if your kiddos are patient (or if you're an animation junkie).