Every Big Bang Theory Thanksgiving Episode, Ranked

Every Big Bang Theory Thanksgiving Episode, Ranked
Image credit: CBS

Get into the holiday spirit with TBBT!

The Big Bang Theory loves the holidays – Christmas episodes, Halloween episodes, Valentine's Day… but strangely, in 12 years of celebrations there have only been three Thanksgivings with the Big Bang gang.

Polls on such highly scientific sites as IMDB show a clear ranking among fans, so if you're looking for some laughs over the holidays we suggest starting with #3 and working your way up the list.

#3. The Platonic Permutation (Season 9 Episode 9)

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Sheldon and Amy are broken up, but when he can't find anyone to accompany him to a dinner at the aquarium she decides they can handle going as friends. Meanwhile, Leonard is frustrated that Penny doesn't know when his birthday is. Emily, Raj, and Bernadette drag Howard to volunteer at a soup kitchen, which he tries to lie his way out of.

Criticisms of this episode mostly involve those last two plots, which critics described as mediocre and not particularly funny. Leonard's attempts to prove that he knows everything about Penny only prove that he has been reading her journal – a breach of trust and privacy that the show manages to breeze past pretty quickly. Meanwhile, Howard gets to meet his hero Elon Musk at the soup kitchen, prompting a discussion on space travel that proves what a stiff and unconvincing actor Musk really is (and seems to reward Howard for his selfishness.)

On the other hand, the conversations between Sheldon and Amy are funny, grounded, and actually quite moving. When Amy announces that she's ready to get back together, Sheldon responds, 'Amy, I excel at many things, but getting over you wasn't one of them.' This rare admission from Sheldon showed real growth for the character and saved this episode from being totally forgettable.

#2. The Pirate Solution (Season 3, Episode 4)

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When Raj loses his research funding, he's at risk of deportation. His attempts to get a new job are thwarted by his inability to talk to women, so Sheldon offers Raj the chance to work for him (not WITH him, as the two will continue to argue about.)

Meanwhile, with no Raj around, Howard ends up being a third wheel for Leonard and Penny.

Fans enjoyed this episode more, especially as it gave us time with Raj and Sheldon – two characters who don't normally get much screen time together. Howard's increasingly annoying intrusions on Penny and Leonard's love life are also good for a few chuckles. However, it stays in the middle of the pack because it's ultimately an episode where not much really happens.

#1. The Thanksgiving Decoupling (Season 7, Episode 9)

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When Mrs. Wolowitz is stuck in bed with gout, Howard manages to convince all of his friends to have dinner together at his mom's house. This is by far the most popular of the Big Bang Thanksgivings, with all the characters stuck in one location and farcical conversations all happening on top of each other.

The most notable revelation in this episode comes when Penny fondly remembers a Thanksgiving in Vegas, where she 'pretended' to marry her ex, Zack. Of course, everyone else realizes that Penny is legally married, and now she needs to figure out a way to get an annulment.

One of the reasons this episode is so popular is that we get to enjoy a different side to many of our favorite characters. For once, Raj gets to be the calm, competent eye of the storm, as he creates a full Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of the chaos (his best line of the episode: 'My, my. The plot, like my gravy, thickens.') Meanwhile, Sheldon bonds with another man over football, and the stories about his childhood get good laughs while also being poignant and revealing.