As a culture, we tend to think of Thanksgiving as a holiday where we exclusively spend time with friends and family. We gather around a festooned table, eat too much food, and give thanks to those we love or take for granted. So, the idea of not spending Turkey Day with family seems odd to some people. But what if you were someone who, say, fought the forces of evil? We highly doubt the bad guys take holidays off.
One of the most enduring genres of storytelling on television today has to be science fiction. From space shows to superhero dramas, the need for reality-bending narratives is never satisfied. And with Thanksgiving being so popular, it's no wonder sci-fi shows often incorporate a related episode ever so often. So, here are ten of the best Thanksgiving episodes in sci-fi television, ranked.
10 Amazing Stories: Thanksgiving
Steven Spielberg's original 1985 anthology Amazing Stories dabbled in every genre: adventure, comedy, history, horror, and, to a lesser degree, science fiction. The series lasted two seasons, but it generally received lukewarm responses from the critics. However, sometimes an episode was undeniably clever.
In the season two episode "Thanksgiving", Kyra Sedgwick's character's dreams have long faded under the thumb of her ornery stepfather. When he discovers a society of unseen beings living at the bottom of his dried-up well, though, he eventually gets his own karmic comeuppance.
9 Roswell: Max in the City
The original adaptation of the Roswell High book series was on the air for three seasons, two of which were shown on the WB, whereas the final installment was seen on UPN. In the first television show, a pair of teenage siblings and their best friend are secretly aliens who were adopted by humans. Their secret identities are put at risk when one of them, Max, uses his powers to save Liz, a classmate he has feelings for.
In the season two episode "Max in the City", the titular character accompanies the Dupes (or, Duplicates) to New York City during the Thanksgiving holiday. There, he learns that he might be putting many lives at risk if he doesn't give up the location of the Granilith.
8 Heroes: Thanksgiving
Most fans will agree the original run of Heroes started off strongly before it took a notable dip in quality. This was the result of the Writers Guild of America strike that began in 2007 and ended in 2008. Nonetheless, Heroes remains an iconic series in modern sci-fi.
In the fourth and last season of the flagship show, before it was canceled and later revived as Heroes Reborn, the November holiday was at the center of the aptly titled "Thanksgiving" episode. In the episode, three families — the Petrellis, the Bennets, and the carnival folk — each have their own festive celebration.
7 Quantum Leap: The Leap Home
Quantum Leap was an affable, slice-of-life sci-fi-drama that aired for five seasons starting in 1989. It concerned a physicist who gained the ability to "leap" through space-time, and throughout history, he assumed the body of others so he could correct historical fallacies.
In the third season's two-part opener "The Leap Home", Scott Bakula's character, Sam, finds himself in his sixteen-year-old body. His mission is to win a basketball game whose outcome has major sway over many lives. However, Sam is preoccupied with the chance to save his family from upsetting fates.
6 Supergirl: Livewire
The CW's popular Arrowverse series Supergirl is all about family and friendship, which makes its season-one episode "Livewire" so perfect for Thanksgiving. The fact is, the episode aired a bit early in November. Due to the real-life Paris attacks in 2015 at the time, the network switched out an intended, possibly insensitive episode with this one.
In "Livewire", Kara prepares for a visit from her adoptive mother, Eliza. As Kara contends with the episode's eponymous, electrified villain, her sister, Alex, gets reamed by their mother for allowing Kara to risk her life as a superhero.
5 Smallville: Ambush
Thanksgiving is an important holiday in the Smallville universe. For one, it totally validates the series' overarching theme of belonging no matter your origin. Although by season ten, it was getting harder and harder to feel the familial love now with Clark's Earth mother and father out of the picture.
In the final season's episode "Ambush", Lois and Clark scramble to get Thanksgiving dinner ready as Lois' father and sister visit the farmhouse. Meanwhile, Oliver and Tess learn that someone might be trying to reform the dreadful Suicide Squad.
4 Charmed (1998): The Truth Is Out There... And It Hurts
No matter which version of Charmed you're watching, you're going to see two magically inclined families trying to balance life with magic. The original series, however, took things more slowly when it came to character development and story progression.
In the eighth episode of the first season, "The Truth Is Out There... And It Hurts", we are treated to two concurrent storylines. The main plot revolves around the Charmed Ones fighting a future-sent warlock who is after the creator of a vaccine that would wipe out his kind. In the meantime, Prue casts a truth spell that would show her Andy's honest reaction if he was to learn her secret. And as the title of the episode promises, what he has to say is going to sting.
3 The Flash: O Come, All Ye Thankful
Like other series in the Arrowverse, The Flash includes a sizable family for its title character. Or rather, a family of choice. They have all been put through unimaginable trials that surely would have broken anyone else. But once they've gotten through the hard parts, they can all celebrate the simpler things in life we often fail to appreciate.
In season five's "O Come, All Ye Thankful", Nora struggles with the long-standing anger she feels over her father's missing status in the future. All the while, Team Flash must stop a new, dangerous meta known as the Weather Witch.
2 Star Trek — The Original Series: Charlie X
One has to wonder why one would celebrate Thanksgiving in space, but some traditions are hard to break, as we learn in the original Star Trek series. The episode doesn't wrap itself entirely around the holiday as there is an actual story involved. There is a small reference to the timely holiday as Captain Kirk requests the chef to shape a synthetic meatloaf so that it resembles a turkey. In a humorous turn, the chef mistakenly creates actual turkeys off-screen.
In the second episode of the first season, "Charlie X", the Enterprise picks up a stray teenager who survived a crash. Once aboard, however, he starts to threaten everyone with his uncanny powers.
1 Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Pangs
Buffy the Vampire Slayer bridged every genre known to fiction: action, comedy, horror, and, to some people's surprise, science fiction. Though in hindsight, the show didn't partake in the holidays as much as it could have. The series skipped Halloween every other season, and as for Thanksgiving, there was only one thematic episode. The season-four episode "Pangs" is amusing in spite of elements that have admittedly not aged well whatsoever. That being said, some fun can be found here in spite of the latent, glaring controversies.
In "Pangs", a vengeful Chumash spirit is awakened in Sunnydale. As Buffy tries to prepare a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal for her friends, Angel sneaks into town so he can covertly help the Slayer fight off the new enemy.