What's on TV on Thanksgiving? Don't Worry, There's More Than the Parade & Football

Thanksgiving is a big holiday with big expecations. You get a four-day weekend (if you're lucky) to gorge yourself on a big dinner, watch lots of TV, then eat more turkey, and get up early to shop for holiday deals. Most of the TV expected from Turkey Day are the two mainstays: football and the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. They've always been on during Thanksgiving Thursday, and probably always will be. But those two aren't the only offerings airing that day — there's plenty more TV to watch on Thanksgiving, from dog shows to Charlie Brown and CBS comedy favorites.

How will you choose? Or have you already chosen football? We have bad news if it's the latter — the NFL game between Seattle and San Francisco will have to end and crown a victor at some point, so you should be prepared with what options you'll fill your non-turkey-eating, non-pigskin time with after the final touchdown. You could choose something new, something special, or something that's a rerun — it's up to you. Check out this handy slideshow guide to all your possible Thanksgiving Thursday TV options to go with your turkey, tofurky, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and gravy (food not included).

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

As tradition states, the beloved annual parade airing live on NBC (and parts on CBS) is making its balloon-and marching-band-filled 88th trek in Manhattan. New giant inflatables this year incude Paddington Bear, Pikachu, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, Skylanders Eruptor, and Thomas the Tank Engine.

And what would the parade be without some Broadway musical performances? Expect to see musical numbers from numbers from Tony Award-winning Best Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Sting’s The Last Ship, On the Town, Side Show, and Honeymoon in Vegas. And my personal favorite — NBC’s own Peter Pan Live! will offer a sneak peak before it takes flight on Dec. 4.

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Football, Football, Football

Thanksgiving Day football games have a history of being great entertainment and these should be no exception, if you’re a sports fan. The San Francisco 49ers will host rivals the Seattle Seahawks for a game on NBC that could determine second place in the NFC West (they’re currently tied). That’s also probably a big deal if you’re a football fan.

CBS will air the Detroit Lions hosting the Chicago Bears and Fox is broadcasting the Philadelphia Eagles taking on the Dallas Cowboys. Go team!

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CBS Comedies

The Eye has it — new episodes, I mean. Fresh episodes of Mom, Two and a Half Men, The McCarthys, and Elementary will fill the Thursday night block, as if it’s not even a holiday. But some of those episodes will be Thanksgiving-themed, so it won’t be that much of an escape from reality.

Image: Trae Patton/CBS


What would we do without man’s adorable best friend? Dogs make up a good amount of the Thanksgiving TV schedule. The annual National Dog Show Presented by Purina airs on NBC following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Actor John O’Hurley and dog expert David Frei host what the network calls the “ultimate canine showdown.”

In primetime, Glee’s Jane Lynch and two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank will host Fox’s Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular, which will crown rescue doggies in categories like Cutest Puppy, Best Celebrity/Dog Lookalike, and Funniest Dog, in addition to Pedigree’s Shelter Hero of the Year award.

Image: Michael Becker/FOX

'How To Get Away With Murder'

Missed out on the murder, mayhem, and steamy hookups of ShondaLand’s newest hit? Fear not. How To Get Away With Murder may have aired its winter finale (and revealed the murderer) last week, but ABC is letting you catch up from the beginning on Thanksgiving night, airing the first two episodes of the Shonda Rhimes-produced drama series starring Viola Davis.

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Robin Roberts Special

The Good Morning America host will lead a special called Thank You, America! airing at 8 p.m. on ABC. It’ll follow Roberts as she travels the country saluting unsung heroes and showing gratitude for their actions. ABC says that the special will recognize ”ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their communities.”

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