These nine Thanksgiving specials will take you back to childhood

Get stuffed on nostalgia.

Top image: Hanna-Barbera

Holiday season means a slew of television specials. Many of them are perennial favorites that have run for decades, but there is always a fresh batch of children to entertain with new creations. Which means that many of the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials we grew up watching have been tossed out like a turkey carcass to make way for Frozen or whatnot.

Of course, we still fondly recall those moralizing seasonal cartoons that played in the 1960s and 1970s. Let's take a look at some Thanksgiving specials you might have forgotten.


1. Davey and Goliath: The Pilgrim Boy

1962

Thanksgiving is all about sharing and gratitude. (Okay, and a little about pie and football.) It's no wonder this religious claymation classic, produced by the Lutheran Church in America, would take the opportunity to reflect on the lessons of our forefathers.

Image: YouTube

2. Underdog: Simon Says... No Thanksgiving

1965

"Simon Says... No Thanksgiving" was crafted to tie-in with the debut of the Underdog balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The heroic canine went back in time to the pilgrim age in the story, which originally aired at noon on November 25, 1965, right after the parade ended.

Image: NBC / Leonardo Productions

3. Mouse on the Mayflower

1968

Tennessee Ernie Ford starred as the narrator and "Willum Mouse" in this Rankin/Bass cartoon, which premiered the same year as its The Little Drummer Boy stop-motion special.

Image: Cartoon Research

4. The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't

1972

Hanna-Barbera produced this well-crafted cartoon that featured many of its vocal regulars — June Foray, Vic Perrin, Don Messick, etc. The story centers around a squirrel family (of no relation to Secret Squirrel, we assume).

Image: Hanna-Barbera

5. B.C.: The First Thanksgiving

1973

Johnny Hart's long-running daily comic strip came to life in this befuddling, anachronistic toon. This IMDb comment should give you an impression of its impression: "That horrifying, blood-curdling baritone scream after the caveman burns his hand… will probably haunt me for the rest of my life."

Image: NBC / Columbia TriStar Home Video / YouTube

6. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

1973

Who could overlook Snoopy? While not as beloved as Schulz's Halloween and Christmas specials, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving serves up many memorable moments: Snoopy and Woodstock setting up a ping pong table, the musket, the gang singing "Over the River and Through the Woods." May it never leave the airwaves.

Image: The Everett Collection

7. Bugs Bunny's Thanksgiving Diet

1978

The character is so ubiquitous, it's easy to forget that Bugs Bunny went away for a while. After 1964, the WB rabbit did not have a piece of new material until 1976, when Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals introduced the Looney Tunes to a new generation. This followed. As nobody really wants to hear "Diet" and "Thanksgiving" in the same sentence, it hasn't really stuck around. Two years later, Daffy Duck's Thanks-for-Giving Special aired.

Image: The Everett Collection

8. Star Wars Holiday Special

1978

Okay, the holiday in celebration here was technically the Wookie celebration "Life Day," but this notorious turkey aired the week before Thanksgiving and preached similar themes. Bea Arthur, Art Carney, Harvey Corman and Jefferson Starship joined a quite-visibly-uninterested Star Wars cast for one of the greatest mistakes in Hollywood history. (And who could forget Chewbacca's family, Itchy and Lumpy? Answer: Almost everybody.) Consider that you can't look anywhere these days without finding some Star Wars stuff. And you will probably never see this sold again.

Image: 20th Century Fox Television

9. Intergalactic Thanksgiving

1979

Or Please Don't Eat the Planet, as it's known in its homeland, Canada. Nelvana, the production company that had produced the animated segments in the Star Wars Holiday Special, was big on the space theme in the late 1970s, having also made A Cosmic Christmas. Sid Caesar and Catherine O'Hara were the principle voices.

Image: Nelvana / YouTube

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idkwut2use 5 days ago
Garfield's is the best (followed by Peanuts), but I also saw #3, 4, 7, & 9. Mostly pretty cute.
idkwut2use idkwut2use 4 days ago
...actually, come to think of it I've also seen the first two. Forgot I watched Davey & Goliath while marathoning all the Rankin/Bass stuff I'd never seen. Maybe I'll watch #5 just to be certain about it. x-3
WILD 5 days ago
The Star Wars Holiday Special featured the first appearance of Boba Fett. The question I have is - who doesn't know that Harvey Korman is spelled with a 'K' and not a 'C'?
VBartilucci 5 days ago
Let's discuss the irony of having to get screenshots of these shows with the logos of other cable companies.
JeanneH78 12 months ago
My local religious station WVCY (30 in Milwaukee) just aired #1 on Thursday (11/22/18) and this morning (11/24/18) and ABC aired #6 this past Wednesday (11/21/18). Not so forgotten.
AChromeBird 12 months ago
I've decided to watch every single one of these today.
maredawg 12 months ago
Why doesn't anyone air these specials?
scp 12 months ago
Some of these can be found on YouTube. Whether you want to actually watch them is another matter.
Martin 12 months ago
The parts of THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL worth watching are Jefferson Starship, the animated sequence with Boba Fett and, of course, Bea Arthur's performance. George Lucas has completely disowned it and has never allowed to air more than once, but it turns up on bootleg DVDs at comic book and sci fi conventions.
Tympany 12 months ago
MeTV should air these and other "forgotten" specials during the Holidays!
EricHollingsworth 12 months ago
Yeah I remember The Star Wars Holiday Special quite well. Back in grade school, we lived by the three S's: School, Saturday Morning Cartoons and Star Wars. When we heard about the special, we kids damn near plotzed! Anthony Daniels even appeared on the Captain Cosmic show. The day before it aired we kids all swore to watch. With the first musical number our generation uttered a unison WTF?! My dad got more than a bit miffed when C3PO appeared at the end introducing the first wave of Star Wars toys. "Well now we know why they made this" he said.
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