What to Watch: A Guide to Thanksgiving-Themed Shows and Specials

Modern Family Thankgiving Episode - H 2011

Modern Family Thankgiving Episode - H 2011

There's plenty to give thanks for during the Thanksgiving holiday, including a generous serving of Turkey Day themed episodes and special holiday programming. 

Thanksgiving episodes begin Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. with New Girl and Raising Hope and continue through the next weekend until CW's Hart of Dixie episode “The Pirate & The Practice” on Nov. 28 at 9 p.m.

AMC will celebrate the holiuday with marathons of its original series The Walking Dead and Mad Men. The cable channel will also broadcast the classic movies Gone With the Wind and The Godfather trilogy through the long holiday weekend.

Continue reading for highlights from this year's Thanksgiving programming:

Tuesday, Nov. 15

New Girl: “Thanksgiving”
Fox, 9 p.m. ET/PT
Jess (Zooey Deschanel) invites Paul (guest star Justin Long), a music teacher at her school on whom she always has had a crush, over to the loft for Thanksgiving. But dinner goes awry when Jess tries to cook, and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Cece (Hannah Simone) pitch in.

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Raising Hope: “Burt’s Parents”
Fox, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT
Jimmy (Lucas Neff), Virginia (Martha Plimpton), Burt (Garret Dillahunt), Sabrina (Shannon Woodward), Maw Maw (Cloris Leachman) and Hope (Baylie and Rylie Cregut) borrow a house to impress Burt’s wealthy parents (guest stars Lee Majors and Shirley Jones) who have decided at the last minute to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family.

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Thursday, Nov. 17

Swamp People: "It's Swampsgiving!"
History Channel, 9 p.m. ET/PT
This Thanksgiving episode follows the food from swamp to table, with all of the drama, hijinks and hilarity that America has come to expect from Swamp People.

Sunday, Nov. 20

Thanksgiving Live!
Food Network, 12 p.m. ET/PT
The two-hour, interactive show hosted by famed Turkey-master Alton Brown will answer viewers’ toughest questions about holiday meal-making.

Family Guy: “Thanksgiving”
Fox, 9 p.m. ET/PT
Lois (Alex Borstein) cooks a big Thanksgiving meal and invites the whole crew over for dinner, and Joe (guest voice Patrick Warburton) is shocked when his formerly M.I.A. son, Kevin Swanson (guest voice Scott Grimes), returns from Iraq.

The Cleveland Show: “A General Thanksgiving Episode”
Fox, 7:30 p.m. ET/PT
Will Arnett guest-voices on an all-new Thanksgiving-themed episode that also features an original song performed by Rallo (Mike Henry) and Holt.

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Monday, Nov. 21

2 Broke Girls: "Very Christmas Thanksgiving"
CBS, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT
In the special episode “Very Christmas Thanksgiving,” Caroline and Max works in a department store to make a little extra money in the first Caroline "broke Holliday."

Wednesday, Nov. 23

The Biggest Loser: Where Are They Now
NBC, 9 p.m. ET/PT
The NBC special will feature former contestants and bloopers from the series.

The Middle: "Thanksgiving III"
ABC, 8 p.m. ET/PT
Frankie's parents, Pat (Marsha Mason) and Tag (Jerry Van Dyke), invite the Hecks to spend a few days at their house to celebrate Thanksgiving together.

Suburgatory: "Thanksgiving"
ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT
Tessa convinces Dallas to take her to the city for a girls' day out.

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Modern Family: "Punkin Chunkin"
ABC, 9 p.m. ET/PT
At Thanksgiving the family is divided between the "Dreamers" and the "Pritchetts" – and they decide to settle the score with a punkin chunkin challenge.

South Park: "A History Channel Thanksgiving"
Comedy Central, 10p.m. ET/PT
The boys are getting close to discovering the truth about the first Thanksgiving.

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Thursday, Nov. 24

A Very Gaga Thanksgiving
ABC, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT
The broadcast, which was conceived and directed by Lady Gaga, offers an intimate look inside the private life of the award-winning artist as she performs eight songs in front of a small audience filled with her close friends and family.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
NBC, 9 a.m. All Time Zones
This year the Today Show's Matt LauerAnn Curry and Al Roker will host the annual Thanksgiving entertainment special, featuring Rodney Atkins, the Big Apple Circus, Neil Diamond, Cee Lo Green, Avril Lavigne, the cast of The Muppets and the cast of Broadway's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark among others.

The 85th Anniversary of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
NBC, 10 p.m. ET/PT
The 85th Anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade special will look back at the 85 years of one of America's greatest holiday traditions. The show is hosted by Matt Lauer and will feature tales about the floats, balloons and performances that make the show one of the most watched spectacles every year.

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The National Dog Show
NBC, 2 p.m. in All Time Zones
NBC will present the 10th anniversary edition of its popular holiday special The National Dog Show Presented by Purina this Thanksgiving Day. The show will be hosted by John O'Hurley (Seinfeld, Dancing with the Stars) and expert analyst David Frei.

Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown
Fox, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT
The world premiere of Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown will go head to head with Turkey Day classic “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” but we figure you can flip back and forth and it will probably seem like nearly the same show.

Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas
Fox, 8 p.m. ET/PT
The feature film series comes to the small screen with this holiday spectacular in which Sid the sloth, fearing he’s made Santa’s naughty list this year, takes off to the North Pole to prove himself to Santa.

Cake Boss: Family Feast
TLC, 9 p.m. ET/PT
The whole Valastro famiglia is coming together with their culinary expertise to prepare one big Italian Thanksgiving feast. Plus, Buddy gives the bakery crew a surprise lunch complete with a massive turkey cake for dessert! Join Buddy and the crew as they prepare their specialty Thanksgiving dishes in this one hour special.

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Friday, Nov. 25

Shark Attack Experiment Live
National Geographic Wild,  9 p.m. ET/PT
The special will feature experts testing common shark attack myths while swimming freely among them.

Saturday, Nov. 26

Storm War
SyFy, 9 p.m. ET/PT
Two rival brothers learn that their father, a brilliant but deranged scientist, has created diabolical weather weapons which he unleashes on his enemies – and the city of Washington, DC.

Sunday, Nov. 27
The Walking Dead
AMC, 2:30p.m. ET/PT
Leading up to the midseason finale of Robert Kirkman's zombie drama, AMC will present a marathon of Season 2 episodes of The Walking Dead.

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Monday, Nov. 28
Hart of Dixie: “The Pirate & The Practice
CW, 9 p.m. ET/PT
Thanksgiving is “Planksgiving” for the town of Bluebell, which was saved by pirates after a hurricane destroyed Thanksgiving many years ago.