Bob, Linda, and Bob’s true love.
“Uh-oh, somebody’s getting excited about Thanksgiving!” As Bob’s Burgers fans well know, Thanksgiving is Bob’s favorite holiday. Given the care and creativity that goes into the long-running Fox series’ Thanksgiving-themed episodes, it’s safe to say the show’s writers are fond of it too—if only for all the, ah, meaty inspiration it yields.
In chronological order, here are 11 nuggests of wisdom we’ve learned about Thanksgiving from all the Bob’s Burgers episodes so far. Which Thanksgiving episode is your favorite?
10. Go easy on the hallucinogens while cooking
Turkey Day got its first dedicated episode in season three’s “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal,” in which the family’s landlord, Mr. Fischoeder, hires the Belchers to pose as his family as part of a Thanksgiving-dinner ruse to win over an old flame. Well, all the Belchers except Bob; Bob pretends to be Fischoeder’s cook while actually tending to the turkey (who is very chatty and named “Lance”). Too bad someone left a bottle of absinthe lying around for a loopy Bob to find... and drink... and dream up a wonderful My Neighbor Totoro homage en route to causing a scene that wrecks Fischoeder’s scheme, but does reunite the Belchers in the end.
9. Beware of sleepwalkers
Season four’s “Turkey in a Can” sees Bob’s careful, multi-day preparations ahead of the big meal go terribly awry when someone keeps dropping the brine-bathing bird into the Belcher family toilet. A whodunnit swirls around the house (which includes Linda’s high-maintenance sister, Gayle, who’s visiting with her herd of cats) while the culprit remains at large, and a frantic Bob must keep buying replacement turkeys from an increasingly flirty supermarket meat-department guy. In the end it’s revealed to be Bob himself—stressed and hopped-up on allergy medicine—sleepwalking his way to dooming the dinners. Repeatedly. It’s very delightful and heartwarming, somehow.
8. Avoid any and all “Turkey Trots”
Season five’s “Dawn of the Peck” brings a distinct horror flair to the proceedings. The local “Turk-Tacular Turkey Town Festival and Turkey Trot” careens off the rails when the turkeys (and chickens, ducks, and geese) the Fischoeder brothers unleash as part of the fun run burst forth in a furious, feathery rampage—trapping Louise, Tina, and Gene on one of the Wonder Wharf rides. Meanwhile, Bob indulges in day drinking and disco dancing until he realizes he just can’t give up cooking Thanksgiving dinner... even if there are vengeful turkeys raging through the supermarket.
7. The problem with most sides is that they aren’t dessert
Is season six’s “Gayle Makin’ Bob Sled” the very best Bob’s Burgers Thanksgiving episode? Votes in its favor: Bob showcasing his superhuman powers of patience and determination while helping an injured Gayle travel from her apartment (with cat in tow) through a snowstorm so she can have dinner with the Belchers; and Linda and the kids doing their best-worst at recreating Bob’s precious menu (including hilariously sugar-laden “side dishes” from Gene and Louise) while the chef himself is in extreme struggle mode. It’s chaos end to end, but somehow finishes on a high note despite featuring maybe the most unappetizing Belcher Thanksgiving feast ever.
6. It takes guts to be yourself
Season seven’s “The Quirk-Ducers” sees Louise attempting to mastermind early dismissal from school the day before Thanksgiving—by mounting the worst-ever Thanksgiving play in history. The fact that The Quirky Turkey is written by a very earnest Tina complicates things when she realizes her siblings are planning sabotage—via turkey costumes that will spew gizzards and giblets onto the unsuspecting audience. It’s predictably gross, but Tina ends up winning the day and saving her play with a triumphant finale even more show-stopping than Louise ever envisioned. Do you have the guts to be yourself?
5. We all have our “things”
In season eight, the Belchers gather at a woefully unprepared Teddy’s house to help him stage a perfect Thanksgiving for his unexpectedly visiting family... and soon realize he has a hoarding problem. Over the course of “Thanks-Hoarding” Bob makes two elaborate holiday feasts—including one with a turkey so perfect, it makes him cry—and we learn that everyone has their “thing” to help them cope with the frustrations of the world. Teddy’s is collecting too much stuff; Bob’s is, well, Thanksgiving.
6. Keep your word
In season nine’s “I Bob Your Pardon,” the Belchers set out to rescue the turkey their town pardoned after they find out it’s secretly destined for the slaughterhouse after the ceremony. Sometimes, you gotta keep your word and save the bird! Even if you’re planning to gobble your own turkey—you know, the one you cooked for Thanksgiving dinner—after your heroics.
8. If a crisis strikes, improvise
A near-disaster arises in season 10's “Now We’re Not Cooking With Gas,” when a gas outage means Bob must frantically come up with an alternate way of cooking his expensive, much-coveted, much-beloved Riverbrook Lake Farms heritage turkey. Roasting it on a spit in the back alley, over a pile of burning found objects, to the consternation of the local fire department? Why not? It just might turn out delicious.
9. Experiment with new menu items
In season 11's “Diarrhea of a Poopy Kid,” Gene gets the stomach flu and ends up camped out in the bathroom; most of the episode is Louise, Tina, and Bob’s action movie-inspired storytelling through the door to keep him amused. The episode’s biggest Thanksgiving takeaway, however, is that Bob decides to shake up his traditional menu with some fancy-sounding new dishes: a baked brie and roasted pear appetizer, rosemary bread, sausage and chestnut stuffing... which would sound fantastic, if not for all the poop and vomit elsewhere in this one.
10. Don’t be a “Thanks-zilla”
Season 12 saw the Belchers head to the Elegant Doily Retirement Home to give back to their community in “Stuck in the Kitchen With You”—and Louise being pressed into service as Bob’s helper, and therefore being forced to reckon with his being an absolute tyrant (his nickname: “Thanks-zilla”) in the kitchen. Though their inevitable argument makes Bob briefly consider leaving his family and running away with the Thanksgiving feast he’s prepared, he and Louise end up sincerely apologizing to each other—and Louise finally gets to live out her crème brulée torch dreams.
11. Don’t mess with the yeti
The current season of Bob’s Burgers just dropped its Thanksgiving entry this past Sunday. While “Putts-giving” was pretty light on actual turkey-dinner content, it did teach a valuable lesson about not screwing around at the local putt-putt course (the delightfully sci-fi themed “Mystery Planet World Mini-Golf”), no matter how cool your scheme to manipulate the hole involving the dancing yeti might be. Ahem, Louise.
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