The Thanksgiving special episodes of How I Met Your Mother aren’t just regular sitcom episodes. Most of them have an oddly emotional touch to them, which I believe is a good thing. Every season does not have a Thanksgiving special episode, but the ones we have are worth it!
Thanksgiving for Ted and his gang is synonymous to “Slapsgiving”. If you’re a fan, you know why. While that’s quite funny at times, it is also a bit much sometimes. Frankly speaking, it was quite easy to rank the six Thanksgiving special episodes from the show for this reason.
If you’re looking to rewatch HIMYM or want to binge through the Thanksgiving episodes while feasting on a delicious dinner, read on. Hopefully, this ranking of every Thanksgiving episode in the series will help you start!
6Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra (Season 9, Episode 14)
First of all, this episode has nothing to do with Thanksgiving. I am only including it because of the slapsgiving bit. Secondly, it is badly written, over the top, and annoying for the most part. The plot makes no sense, and it looks like you’re watching a bad spoof of the Karate Kid.
You would either find this ridiculously funny or absolutely hate it. There’s no in-between. This is another episode where the writers dragged the Slap Bet track way too much, making an entire episode about it.
This episode basically focuses on Marshall making up an elaborate story about how he learned to slap the best, with special training from various teachers. These teachers are variants of Ted, Robin, and Lily. The episode tries hard to make you laugh but ends up being the very definition of over-the-top.
5The Rebound Girl (Season 7, Episode 11)
This one is not one of the best Thanksgiving episodes but the reason why I keep this above Slapsgiving 3 is because of its inclusivity. There’s an interesting conversation between Ted and Barney involving adopting kids as a gay couple.
Though both of them realize that neither of them is gay, they consider the idea of an unconventional family where the two of them can together adopt a child without being a couple. I think that’s quite an idea and it was good to see a sitcom from the early 2000s explore it.
We also meet James, Barney’s brother, and his baby girl in this episode. Marshall and Lily move into a new house, which upsets Robin. All in all, this episode isn’t the funniest or the most enjoyable, but nevertheless is not a bad watch.
The ending of this episode is quite significant, considering that it will lead to one of the saddest episodes in the series of all time.
4Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap (Season 5, Episode 9)
There are mixed views about the entire Slap-Bet track in How I Met Your Mother, and rightly so. It is not unnatural to feel that the writers overdid the slap track too much, dedicating entire episodes to it. At times, it is annoying when every second word in the episode begins with ‘slap’.
This overdoing is one of the reasons why I am ranking this episode lower than the others, but still at number 4 because it explored some serious issues. The highlight of this episode for me was Lily’s relationship with her father. The episode explored the reasons behind her bitter feelings toward family life in general.
This episode is a bit too serious for a sitcom Thanksgiving special episode, but I think it is very relevant as it explores why some of us might not feel the same warmth about family. It clearly depicts how Marshall and Lily have different ideas of family life and affection, and yet they manage to make it work.
Apart from that, there are the usual slap jokes and slaps being transferred from Ted to Robin to Mickey to Lily, and so on. At last, Barney gets slapped once again, like a typical HIMYM Thanksgiving.
3Belly Full of Turkey (Season 1, Episode 9)
This is the first Thanksgiving episode of the series and the only one which took place before the Slap Bet began. In this episode, Marshall and Lily travel back to Minnesota to spend Thanksgiving with Marshall’s family. Meanwhile, Ted and Robin decide to volunteer at a kitchen, only to discover Barney there.
There are quite a few funny moments, especially involving Ted, Robin, and Barney. I mean, how ridiculous is it to end up with an order to carry out compulsory community service after being arrested for public urination? That’s Barney Stinson with his Volunteer of the Month award!
There’s also the obvious sensitive touch to this episode exploring some serious issues. It portrays how suffocating family life can be for someone not used to such affection. It also shows the orthodox mentality that pushes women to have kids and be the only ones to sacrifice their life.
The experience that Lily has at Marshall’s place sets the tone for their eventual breakup, albeit temporary. It also puts forward how healthy and non-toxic Marshall and Lily’s relationship is, especially with how Marshall came back to support Lily.
2Blitzgiving (Season 6, Episode 10)
The penultimate episode in this list is definitely one of the funniest episodes in the entire series. This episode is based on the Blitz curse—a curse that falls upon you if you leave early from a friends’ meet or gathering and miss something awesome. After that, you keep missing out on awesome stuff, and cool things happen the moment you leave the room.
Over the course of the episode, the Blitz curse transfers from Blitz (who was known by this name because he was carrying the curse for the longest time), to Ted, to Barney, and back to Blitz. There are extremely funny moments in the episode, which make it worth rewatching.
Technically, the main plot of this episode isn’t directly related to Thanksgiving. But it takes place on Thanksgiving, with Ted preparing a special turkey within a turkey, which he called “tur-turkey-key”. Like all HIMYM episodes, this one too has a sensitive subplot involving Ted’s love interest, Zoey, and her stepdaughter.
1Slapsgiving (Season 3, Episode 9)
Slapsgiving is hands down the best Thanksgiving episode in the entire series. It is also iconic because it is in this episode that Marshall coins the term “Slapsgiving” to refer to his third chance to slap Barney. I won’t elaborate on the background story behind the “Slap-Bet” but if you’re a fan of HIMYM, you know why the concept is iconic for fans of the series.
This episode marks Marshall and Lily’s first Thanksgiving as a couple in their signature New York apartment. There’s also the subplot of Ted and Robin’s drama. I absolutely love how this episode introduces Ted and Robin’s inside joke, which also brings them together as friends after their awkward breakup.
As we already understand, HIMYM episodes, even when they’re conventionally funny, have a certain emotional side to them. All episodes we’ve ranked in this list also belong to this category.
I think Slapsgiving is an episode that has the right amount of fun and emotion. There are moments that will make you laugh audibly and moments that will make you tear up just a little. Moreover, the episode captures the Thanksgiving spirit very beautifully, with everyone being thankful to Lily for preparing a good dinner and leaving aside their differences.
About How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother is an American sitcom, created by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays for CBS. The series ran from 2005 to 2014 and stars Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alysson Hannigan and Jason Segel in lead roles.
It follows the main character, Ted Mosby, and his group of friends in New York City’s Manhattan. As a framing device, Ted, in the year 2030, recounts to his son, Luke, and daughter, Penny, the events from 2005 to 2013 that led him to meet their mother.