What to Watch: Your Guide to 30 Must-See Thanksgiving Marathons and Specials

Thanksgiving week TV is like the best kind of holiday turkey: stuffed to overflowing. To help you navigate the dial, TVLine has singled out 30 marathons and specials that should be on your radar. From good ol’ USA Network’s time-honored series to a couple new syndie entries (welcome, Fringe and Castle!) to a brand-new SpongeBob special, here’s plenty to keep your TV remote busy this holiday.


Midnight — 5:30 am (Saturday) James Bond Marathon (Syfy) | Still on a high from Skyfall? Catch some classic Bond, starting with For Your Eyes Only and concluding with Thunderball.

6 am – 5 pm Dark Shadows (Chiller) | Before the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp film, before Twilight, before The Vampire Diaries, before True Blood, before even Buffy, there was this gothic soap about vamps.

6 am – 6 am (Friday) NCIS (USA Network) | The cable net continues its tradition of mixing crime and holidays.

9 am Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (NBC) | Among the celebs participating in this year’s festivities: Colbie Caillat, Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, Carly Rae Jepsen, the Muppets, the cast of Sesame Street (awkward!) and the U.S. Women’s Gymnatstic team, in addition to performances from the Broadway musicals Annie, Bring It On, Rodger + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Elf and Nice Work If You Can Get It.

10 am – 11 pm Castle (TNT) | We’re loving Rick and Kate as a couple, but if you’re missing the will they/won’t they sexual tension, this marathon of mostly Season 2 and 3 episodes should do the trick.

11 am – 9 pm Breaking Amish (TLC) | DUIs, exile, crushes — it’s all in there!

11 am – 6 pm Friends (TBS) | Spend some quality time with your pals during a marathon featuring “The One With the Late Thanksgiving.”

12 pm The National Dog Show (NBC) | John O’Hurley (Seinfeld) hosts the celebration of pooch perfection.

7 pm — midnight General Hospital (SoapNet) | Our very own Kimberly Roots is giving thanks for the ABC soap, so why not check out a marathon of select episodes from 1995 to 2011?

8 pm A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (ABC) | The annual animated feast is accompanied by the bonus cartoon This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers.


10 am – 10 pm Awkward (MTV) | We can’t think of a better way to spend Black Friday than catching up on the entire first two seasons of the charming MTV comedy. (It’s much more productive than almost getting killed at Best Buy over a fridge.)

FNL10:30 am – 11 pm Fringe (Science) | As the Fox series prepares for its swan song on Jan. 18, relive the simpler days of Season 1 when the baldies were just photo-bombing fringe events. (Also airs Saturday, Nov. 24, from 11:30 am — 11 pm.)

1 — 11 pm Friday Night Lights (ESPN Classic) | Oh crap, they’re airing the series finale. Where are the tissues?

8 pm Beverly Hills, 90210 (SoapNet) | The five-hour “Kelly & Dylan: Heating Up the Holidays” marathon kicks off with the twosome getting flirty while Brenda’s in Paris and ends at Donna and David’s wedding.

8 pm Frosty the Snowman & Frosty Returns (CBS) | Frosty would melt if we overlooked these two classics.

8 pm Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer (The CW) | Grandma, remember to always look both ways before crossing the street.

8 pm Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (Fox) | Charlie Brown sure is one busy guy around the holidays, isn’t he?

9 pm The Happy Elf (The CW) | Harry Connick, Jr. sings and narrates the special about Eubie the Elf’s attempts to bring Christmas joy to Bluesville. Which canceled series are they bumming over?

Hoops & Yoyo9 pm hoops & yoyo Ruin Christmas (CBS) | We’ll forgive them because they’re so cute.

9:30 pm It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! (CBS) | Mr. Krabs’ nemesis, Plankton, tries to get his Christmas wish by turning everyone bad in Bikini Bottom with the help of his special jerktonium-laced fruitcake. And in perfect casting, Roseanne‘s John Goodman voices Santa Claus.


9 am — 10:45 pm Star Wars (Spike) | Now that Disney’s bought the empire, prepare to see a lot more of it on TV, starting with back-to-back airings of Episodes I-IV. (Episode V airs Sunday at 7:30 pm and Monday at 1:30 pm, followed by Episode VI.)

12 – 4 pm Boy Meets World (MTV2) | We know it’s Season 5 (aka the not-as-great college years), but with our excitement building over the potential sequel Girl Meets World, we don’t care. Plus, you can catch Jennifer Love Hewitt (The Client List) in a guest spot.

12 pm – 2 am (Sunday) Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (USA Network) | For the marathon traditionalists.


9 am — noon I Found the Gown! (TLC) | Like Say Yes  to the Dress, but better because these designer wedding gowns are way discounted. And Thanksgiving weekend is all about the bargains…

2 – 10 pm Oprah’s Next Chapter (OWN) | The talk show queen chats up Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report), Kelsey Grammer (Boss), Usher, Fergie, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Hudson (Smash) before a new installment with Justin Bieber at 9 pm. (What, no Rihanna repeat?)

10 am — 1pm Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC) | Get your laughs with gabfest guests Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Michael Cera (Arrested Development) and Seth Rogen (Knocked Up).

5 pm — 2 am (Monday) Sex and the City (Style) | Consider this your homework before the prequel The Carrie Diaries premieres on Jan. 14, but feel free to sip liberally from that cosmo as you watch, because Ms. Bradshaw’s Sex backstory doesn’t exactly line up to what Diaries has planned.

8 pm Christmas Crazier (Travel Channel) | Think your neighbors’ holiday decorations are obnoxious? That’s nothing compared to the Christmas lights in one Brooklyn neighborhood. To top it off, this special features a huge ugly-Christmas-sweater party!

9 pm Christmas Rush (Travel Channel) | Check out how FedEx, aka the real Christmas elves, get your gifts where they need to be during the busiest time of the year.

Hit the comments: What will you tune into?


Comments (33)

  • With 14 family members staying over until Sunday, I’ll be lucky to catch the weather forecast.

    Comment by Templar – November 21, 2012 12:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • lol wow, good luck! Hope you have plenty of alcohol handy! :D

      Comment by Sara – November 21, 2012 01:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Stocked up on Grey Goose in advance of the coming price hike and have plenty of Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Glenmorangie. Five of the guests are underage, but any adults with special prefs will bring their own.

        Comment by Templar – November 21, 2012 02:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • While you are at it, download the ditty “Drunk On Christmas” by Jimmy Fallon and John Rich on iTunes. This song is a holiday staple in my house and every time they sing “drinking”. Take a drink. Good Luck!

          Comment by MujerdeFuego – November 21, 2012 04:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Spike TV shows Star Wars all the time. It has nothing to do with being bought by Disney.

    Comment by thelittleradish (@thelittleradish) – November 21, 2012 01:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The Chiller Dark Shadows marathon is the 1991 series, not the original series. I am highly disappointed.

    Comment by mike – November 21, 2012 01:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What would a holiday be without an NCIS marathon?! :D

    Comment by Corinne – November 21, 2012 01:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • No Twilight Zone or Mythbusters marathons? How lame. Netflix for me.

    Comment by bkwrm – November 21, 2012 01:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Normally “The Twilight Zone” reserves their marathons for New Year’s and, for some reason, around the 4th of July. I do agree, though, that it’d be cool if they had one during this holiday.

      Comment by Angela – November 21, 2012 06:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Twilight Zone (from the 1960s) marathon on KTTV

      Comment by LNN – November 22, 2012 04:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Oops! I meant KTLA

        Comment by LNN – November 22, 2012 08:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wait…I thought SOAPnet didn’t exist anymore and was replaced with Disney Jr.

    Comment by Neicy – November 21, 2012 01:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I too thought it was being taken off the air but its channel 253 on Dish not sure about the other providers.

      Comment by sara – November 21, 2012 07:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought I saw my DVR pick up on a Downton Abbey marathon?

    Comment by Mindy – November 21, 2012 01:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • That’s what I’ll be watching….I think it depends on your local public tv station, so it may not be available to everyone

      Comment by sarah – November 21, 2012 09:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • A Friends marathon on Thanksgiving? Thank God, something to entertain me!

    Comment by Babybop – November 21, 2012 01:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • AMC is playing Gone With the Wind today as part of their Thanksgiving weekend movie marathon thing. Great movie! Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone. Safe travels to all.

    Comment by Britta Unfiltered – November 21, 2012 02:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • They had the first couple of episodes of Fringe on the science channel last night starting at 8:00 PM EST.

    Comment by John – November 21, 2012 02:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This picture is so unOlivia-like

      Comment by Tristan – November 22, 2012 09:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s football for me.

    Comment by Renee – November 21, 2012 02:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • HTTR. Go RGIII. Dallas Cowboys will bore the sports world with their mundane story lines, win or lose.

    Comment by ESPN detester – November 21, 2012 02:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Think I’ll do my own marathon with episodes of Once Upon a Time, up until the new episode on Sunday night.

    Comment by Mary – November 21, 2012 03:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Re: FNL the station is ESPN Classic, not ESPN Encore

    Comment by ATXtall – November 21, 2012 03:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Man! How dare you forget about The Psych Thanksgiving Marathon! All DAY THURSDAY! That’s what I’m talking about!

    Comment by b. – November 21, 2012 03:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ohh yea, Marathon is on Cloo! :)

      Comment by b. – November 21, 2012 04:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Thank You!! I didn’t know this.

      Comment by suzi – November 22, 2012 06:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Where the mothership of L&O? It’s not a holiday without watching Brisco, Curtis, & Green on TNT

    Comment by GeoDiva – November 21, 2012 05:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really enjoy the college years of boy meets world.

    Comment by Mark – November 21, 2012 07:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m debating whether or not to watch Fringe. I recently discovered it and like it. I’ve only seen the first few episodes of season 1, though. I want to catch up. It’s too heavy a show to just marathon, so watching the marathon live and getting the DVD out from the library is a no-no. I would record it so I can watch it in my own time, but my DVR is packed. What should I do???

    Comment by nick1372 – November 22, 2012 08:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I expect the Science Channel will show lots of reruns of all episodes. Just relax and enjoy Thanksgiving.

      Comment by echo14612 – November 22, 2012 10:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Whatever you decide to do, watch them in order

        Comment by Tristan – November 22, 2012 09:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Castle on TNT for SURE!!!

    Comment by Jamie – November 22, 2012 10:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wasn’t the college years of Boy Meets World seasons 6 and 7?

    Comment by Midori004 – November 22, 2012 10:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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