I’ve struggled every year to find Thanksgiving movies and videos. But I found some good ones and put them together into a list of Thanksgiving movies you’ll actually want to watch – you can check out that post here. But I found that I was wanting a list that included even more movies and also some videos too (it’s amazing how many YouTube videos are out there about Thanksgiving).
So this year I decided to make an ultimate list of Thanksgiving movies and videos with lots of different options to choose from and honestly I haven’t even gotten to watch everything on this list because it is so massive.
Since this list is an Ultimate list – that means it has all kinds of genres – which can be quite lengthy to scroll through. So feel free to use this list to jump from section to section.
- Animated Films, Videos & Movies
- Documentary & Educational Films for Kids
- Thanksgiving Science – Turkeys and Autumn Facts
- Thanksgiving Read Aloud Books
- Documentary and Historical Films
- Historical Fiction
- Thanksgiving Family Features
- Classic Television Episodes
- Romance and Chick Flicks
Animated Films, Videos & Movies
This is a really cute, 3-minute cartoon that tells about the first thanksgiving from the unique perspective of the rock, Plymouth Rock. Perfect for helping young children understand the basic history surrounding why we celebrate Thanksgiving today.
An educational animation that tells the in-depth story surrounding the first Thanksgiving.
Here is another really short, but very cute YouTube video for kids. This one shows the contrast between the very first Thanksgiving and the way Thanksgiving is celebrated today.
This short story, tells about the struggles of the pilgrims and the events leading up to the first Thanksgiving, all from the perspective of the young Mary Chilton.
This short story, put to song, touches on the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, the American Revolution, and the establishment of the first American colonies. Set to a catchy tune with cute animation that kids will love.
This short video tells the story of the pilgrims and the history of Thanksgiving in a creative way – putting the story to song with some entertaining animation.
Another video that tells the story of the pilgrims through music and song.
This is a fun, full-length children’s movie that tells the story of the first Thanksgiving from the perspective of a mouse.
This classic, made-for-television, animated special is a fictionalized telling of the first Thanksgiving celebration in America, told from the perspective of a Squirrel.
Davey is curious about the holiday of Thanksgiving, so his father reads him the story of the first Thanksgiving. The whole story is played out through Davey’s imagination.
The story consists of the Pilgrims, who are at first cautious about the Indians. The Indians bring food to the Pilgrims and help them out by educating them on how to provide (the key word) for them to survive. The Pilgrims are so appreciative of their new friends that they celebrate by having a feast, a Thanksgiving feast.
An old classic cartoon for Thanksgiving. The show is mostly just for fun, but it does have a section about the pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving.
Finger puppets act out this background story on the life of Squanto and how he came to be a hero in the Thanksgiving story.
William Bradford fled with the Pilgrims to the new world where he discovered that the price for religious freedom was hunger, sickness and death. As a peacemaker, he befriended the Native Americans who taught the struggling Pilgrims how to survive.
By the end of the first year, William Bradford became Governor of the new land. After their first critical harvest, he set aside time for the Pilgrims and their new Native American friends to feast together and express their thanks to God. Thus, William Bradford became the Father of Thanksgiving Day.
Another great video from the Animated Hero Classics series, this time featuring an inquisitive Indian girl who saves the life of an Englishman and goes on to become a great ambassador for peace.
Other Movies Featuring Pocahontas:
Timmy the Angel is given an important new assignment. He must find a way to help the people in two villages who are about to be stricken with illness. The Native Americans have lived in the valley for centuries; new settlers now live across the river. Join Timmy as he helps Little Sparrow and Johnny find the health giving berries and bring their two villages together in friendship and trust.
>> Preview On YouTube (I say “preview” because the quality of this recording is terrible, but at least you can see what the movie is like!)
The classic Charlie Brown Thanksgiving movie! The fun begins when Peppermint Patty invites herself and her pals to Charlie Brown’s house for a REALLY big turkey party. Good grief! All our hero can cook is cold cereal and maybe toast. Is Charlie Brown doomed? Not when Linus, Snoopy and Woodstock chip in to save the (Thanksgiving) Day. With such good friends, Charlie Brown – and all of us – has so many reasons to be thankful.
This deluxe DVD also includes the Charlie Brown Mayflower Voyagers movie!
Madame Blueberry has everything she needs – good friends, plenty of food, a nice tree house to live in – but she isn’t happy because some of her friends have a lot more than she does. In this VeggiTales movie, kids will learn that “being greedy makes you grumpy, but a thankful heart is a happy heart!” Madame Blueberry teaches kids why God wants us to be thankful for what we have.
This holiday special features three different holidays including Groundhog’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For Thanksgiving Rabbit corrects his friends regarding their choice of foods they plan to serve at the Thanksgiving feast and sets them off on a quest to find and gather all the perfect ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving feast.
Alvin’s Thanksgiving Celebration
Celebrate Thanksgiving Chipmunk style with these fun-filled original episodes from Alvin and the Chipmunks. On this DVD, the world-famous Chipmunks, Alvin, Simon and Theodore perform in a play, recall famous moments in American History, take care of a kitten and face the marriage of Dave!
Benny bear is waking up from his winter hibernation and his friends all want to give him a special wake up surprise. But when he wakes up grumpy instead of grateful, every one has a lot to learn about the importance of being thankful.
This same video is also available in modern animation: Benny’s Wake Up Surprise
Plato learns that Annie and Zach are collecting canned goods for a homeless shelter, but their first priority is the rewards they’ll get instead of helping the hungry. He tries to explain how true giving requires selflessness.
This short film is set in the pioneer days, not the pilgrims, and it doesn’t have any reference to Thanksgiving, but apples come in season in the fall making Johnny Appleseed a great character to study around this time of year. Plus, the song he is famous for, “The Lord is Good to Me” is a perfect song to sing for Thanksgiving!
If you’re not familiar with the Wild Kratts movies, they are fun (often silly) shows that teach kids scientific facts about various animals amidst the fun cartoon adventures.
This Thanksgiving may just be Tom Turkey’s unlucky day! First the cats want to carve him into turkey dinner, then the dogs try to rescue him. Can Tom Turkey keep them from fighting like cats and dogs and make them celebrate like the Pilgrims and Indians did at the first Thanksgiving?
Two turkeys from opposite sides of the track set aside their differences and embark on an adventure through time to try and change holiday tradition and get Turkeys off the Thanksgiving menu for good.
Not officially a Thanksgiving movie, in fact, it makes no reference to any holidays at all, but with this movie having such a strong emphasis on food and family it just has an over-all feel of being festive and appropriate.
Today is Thanksgiving and evil Sour Sam the Pie Man creates a batch of crabby apple pies to try and ruin the festivities.
You May Also Like Care Bears Give Thanks!
Brother and Sister Cub learn to be happy with what they have to count their blessings instead of wishing for things they don’t have.
More Thanksgiving Cartoons and Animated Films:
>> Jerky Turkey
Documentary and Educational Films for Kids
An educational film telling about the struggles and hardships the pilgrims faces in coming to the new world and setting up the first American colonies.
An educational film telling about the struggles and hardships the pilgrims faces in coming to the new world and setting up the first American colonies.
This is a great reenactment telling the story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.
Take a virtual tour of the 17th century English village as well as a Indian homestead and learn about what life was like for both Pilgrims and Indians during the time of America’s founding.
What was life like for children in the first American colonies? This documentary helps to answer that question.
John Green teaches you about the (English) colonies in what is now the United States. He covers the first permanent English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, the various theocracies in Massachusetts, the feudal kingdom in Maryland, and even a bit about the spooky lost colony at Roanoke Island. Exploring the different colonies in Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusettes.
If you like this show you may also like Crash Course US History: The Natives and the English
This American History Series tours actual geographical landmarks and includes adventure, Dave’s special humor, and the integration of our Christian history.
More Documentary and Historical Films for Kids:
Thanksgiving Science – Turkeys and Autumn Facts
Learn about the season of fall, about why the leaves change color, why birds migrate, why squirrels bury nuts . . . and even some really cool turkey facts! A great way to incorporate educational learning into the holiday festivities.
Already listed above, but definitely worth listing twice. This short animated film is both fun and educational, as the Wild Kratts go on an adventure and learn all kinds of interesting facts about turkeys!
A short video clip that teaches about the season of fall. This film does a great job of explaining why leaves change color in the fall!
More Thanksgiving and Autumn Science Films:
Thanksgiving Read Aloud Books
Just as the title suggests, this read aloud book tells the story of the Pilgrims as they flee England and journey across the ocean to a new world.
A simple biography of the Wampanoag Indian who helped the Pilgrims survive in their early days in the Plymouth colony.
From A-Z, this read aloud book goes through the alphabet of Thanksgiving, with a focus on the true history behind this national holiday.
This read aloud story book takes a look at many of the things we have to be thankful for!
Clifford the big red dog is lonely on Thanksgiving and decides to go and spend Thanksgiving in the city with his mom.
This book by Ken Robbins is a great educational book for kids.
More Thanksgiving Read Aloud Books:
Documentary and Historical Films
A festinating look at the story of Squanto – who he was and how he came to be a hero in the Thanksgiving story.
If you’re looking for a great documentary that gives the Christian history behind the Thanksgiving holiday, this is the documentary you’re looking for! John Bona and Marshall Foster (friends of Kirk Cameron) explain the true Thanksgiving story in a touching way that truly gives God the glory!
This documentary is a part of the “Story of Liberty” series that helps us to see the divine hand of God at work throughout history.
A film that dramatizes the Pilgrims’ harrowing voyage and arrival to America. Upon landing they encounter hunger, disease, and the proud but wary Native Americans. Loyalties are tested and hard-fought alliances between leaders become strained when the Pilgrims suspect a traitor in their midst.
From their self-imposed exile in Holland and perilous Atlantic crossing in the Mayflower to unimaginable hardships encountered in their new land, this is the definitive story of the Pilgrims and how they came to live–and ultimately prosper–in the harsh climate of an unfamiliar world.
An archeological and historical look at the hard truth of what really happened to the first settlers who came to the new world expecting a paradise lined with gold and were instead faced with a harsh winter, starvation, espionage, the bubonic plague, and cannibalism.
A documentary about John Smith, an explorer and founder of the Jamestown colony in Virginia.
A Historical re-enactment of the challenges for those who founded Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America. Captain John Smith held the colony together during times of starvation and disease, Indian attacks and internal dissension.
Thanksgiving virtual field trip featuring Pilgrims and the Native American Wampanoag, discussing their lives, their collaboration, and the first Thanksgiving.
The story of the first Thanksgiving, especially featuring the contribution that the Native Americans made to this national holiday.
Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure
In this Monumental series, Kirk Cameron meets with historians and experts in an effort to discover America’s true “national treasure” – the people, places, and principles that made America great.
Exploring the Forefathers Monument that overlooks Plymouth, and digging in to its symbolic meaning and the lessons we can take from it still today.
More Documentary and Historical Films:
The story of a twelve-year-old Pilgrim girl’s first few months at Plymouth Colony.
Originally titled The Voyage of the Mayflower, this old classic film is not even available on DVD yet. Set in the 1620’s, the story begins with the religious persecution of the Puritans in England and their decision to emigrate to Plymouth Colony in America. This is a fairly sturdy and enjoyable piece of historical drama, with the most important details about who, what, where, and why informatively answered.
Another forgotten classic you can’t find on DVD! Spencer Tracy and Gene Tierney star in this Hollywood realization of life aboard the Mayflower on her most historic journey. Tracy is at his gruffest and bitterest as the disagreeable, tempestuous Captain Jones, master of the famous vessel that carried the Pilgrims to the New World. The depiction of the hardships faced by the passengers and crew on the voyage are fairly accurate, despite any minor liberties taken with historical facts.
A young warrior, abducted from his homeland and enslaved must battle impossible hazards on a desperate journey home. Driven by a passion to be free, he risks everything to escape his captors, braving the wilderness and triumphing, finally, as a great leader.
This movie is not fact based, but it is well done and can be a good way for kids to see the types of lives people in that age lived.
Thanksgiving Family Features
Set in the late 1880’s, a widowed mother of three struggles to keep her family intact and to put food on the table. The oldest daughter sends a letter to her estranged and very wealthy grandmother urging her assistance, much to her mother’s disapproval. When the grandmother arrives, old wounds are opened but eventually healed. Based on a story by Louisa May Alcott.
A classic Hallmark video in which a single, workaholic woman thinks she has everything she could ever want and has no time for family and holiday festivities. But then when a mysterious woman uses a bit of magic to transport her into a life unlike her own (a life complete with a husband, kids, and a mini-van) she will need to discover for herself who she really is and what her heart truly desires.
A classic musical that encompasses all the major US holidays, including a musical number for Thanksgiving.
The section on Thanksgiving is very short, but the entire film has a very “festive” feel to it, making it a holiday favorite!
A teenage boy is torn between his love for an injured Canadian goose that he has found and his agreement to fatten and kill it for an approaching Thanksgiving dinner for his neighbors.
Matthew Stevenson is a troubled kid from a broken home. When he vandalizes the local church, Matthew has to repair the damage to the church to avoid criminal charges. While working at the church, he meets Ernest, an accomplished wood carver who created the intricate woodwork decoration that Matthew destroyed. Ernest has become something of a hermit, but reluctantly comes out of reclusion to help repair the church. Now Ernest and Matthew must work together to preserve the church’s beautiful antiquity, and along the way, they also manage to restore their faith in God and in life.
The heart-warming and heartbreaking story of an immigrant family that settles in Baltimore, the tale is told through the eyes of the family’s patriarch and tells a story of the importance of family in good times and in bad. Much of the movie centers around Thanksgiving and its meaning, and will have your whole family in tears by the end.
With dognappers hot on his heels, an adorable puppy named Beethoven adopts the unsuspecting Newton family and promptly grows up into a 185 pounds romping, drooling, disaster-prone St. Bernard! The not-too-thrilled father’s disdain for the canine soon turns to loyalty when Beethoven becomes the target of unspeakable animal experimentation and it’s up to dad to save the day.
Single mom, Claudia Larson, just got fired from her job and her daughter announced that she is spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend. Claudia’s only other option? Go to her childhood home for the holidays.
After returning home in glory, a group of World War II veterans experience a range of emotions as they try to assimilate back into “normal” life in a society that has stopped being thankful for the sacrifices they made.
Classic Television Episodes
Greg employees the family to act as pilgrims and Indians for a school project.
It’s Danny’s first Thanksgiving without his late wife. When the girls’ grandma is stranded at home by a snowstorm, the three men are left to prepare a meal at home, which leads to tragic turkey and pie.
Season 3 Episode 10. It’s Thanksgiving day and Tim is building a set and dressing his family in costumes in hopes of getting the perfect picture for their Christmas cards, then the family sits down for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner together.
Also Season 8 Episode 10 – Home Improvement: Thanks, but No Thanks
It’s Thanksgiving in Cutter Gap and Christy’s father visits the mission. Amidst many trials, including her father suffering a stroke, still everyone is able to enjoy a very happy Thanksgiving together.
Season 2 Episode 8. A drought threatens the town and no one has any food to spare for the Thanksgiving feast. The Cheyenne come to Thanksgiving dinner, bringing food with them. Between trials and conflicts everyone must learn to be content and thankful for what they have.
Season 3 Episode 10. Dr. Mike and Sully are traveling through dangerous Indian country when their stagecoach is robbed and they are abandoned. With them are a just married Kid Cole and Sister Ruth as they try and reach home for Thanksgiving. Evading hostile tribesmen is only the beginning.
Other Classic TV Shows:
Romance and Chick Flicks
The respective children of two rival bakers fall in love while preparing to compete against each other in a pumpkin pie contest.
The annual Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade has to cut costs or it’s going to be canceled this year. When the city brings in consultant Henry Baldwin to analyze the books, he goes toe to toe with parade manager Emily Rogers who thinks Henry only cares about dollars and cents and doesn’t understand how much the parade means to the city.
When Boston lawyer, Mary Ross inherits a house in Plymouth from her late aunt, her initial desire is to sell the house, but she is later surprised to discover that there is strong evidence to show that her house may very well be located on the site of the first Thanksgiving! But the house is more than just a historic site for the country, it is also an artifact of her own history before her happy childhood memories were tarnished by her father’s abandonment. Ultimately, Mary must decide if it is more important to preserve the house’s historical ties or make it the site of many happy Thanksgivings to come. What will she choose?
When Frankie Baldwin and Nate Deluca both have a claim to ownership of Sorrento Farm, they are forced to divide the vineyard right down the middle and work the fields alongside each other to bring in the harvest leading up to the Best Wine competition at the annual Autumn Harvest Festival – only this rivalry won’t be settled in the fields, because in spite of their contentious bickering, the simplest way to settle this particular legal dispute is with a romance.
A young couple’s spur of the moment marriage is immediately annulled by the bride’s parents. Years later, they discover that a glitch in the paperwork means they are still husband and wife – a big problem since they’re both about to marry other people. Sparks begin to fly as they are forced to reunite and make their divorce legal.
A best-selling author who got amnesia as a result of a car accident finds refuge with the local doctor of a small idyllic town in Vermont.
A workaholic, perfectionist chef must surrender some control of her restaurant kitchen to a carefree male colleague when she becomes the guardian of her willful young niece. This is not technically a Thanksgiving film, but with a strong emphasis on food and family it just has an over-all feel of being festive and appropriate.
Not exactly a Thanksgiving movie, but this film is set in the fall and does make a very brief reference to Thanksgiving.
A pre-med student unknowingly falls in love with the prince of Denmark who is in disguise and trying to escape his royal responsibilities. This is not really a Thanksgiving movie unless you count the one section in the middle of the film where Paige invites “Eddy” out to the family farm for Thanksgiving break.
Other Autumn Romance Films:
A deceased billionaire leaves his spoiled grandson a series of odd tasks to perform in order to receive “the ultimate gift,” with the resentful grandson having no idea what that might be. Along the way he must learn which things are truly valuable and worth having in life.
The Thanksgiving dinner he shared with his family becomes a real eye-opener for him when he tries to convince them to count their “blessings” instead dollars. A great film for the holidays!
Bot a prequel and a sequel to the movie “The Ultimate Gift”. The main actor is different from the first movie, but the plot and story are still very well done. Jason Steven’s is struggling in his never ending responsibilities as a billionaire and head of the Stevens Foundation. He looks for answers in his grandfather’s journal which plunges into a dramatic back-story of Red Stevens, starting out when he was just an impoverished youth struggling to make a life for himself.
The third movie in the trilogy. Jason Stevens’ life carries on. Having dealth with the tragedies and perils of his own family, he must try to help a friend along a similar journey. This touching conclusion shows that when we learn something we change our own life, and when we teach something we change another’s life, but when we teach people to teach we change the world!
A story about a mother with Alzheimer’s and her daughter, both distanced by a little stubbornness on both sides. They are slowly reunited during the Thanksgiving holiday quite by accident.
They promised to love each other forever—“in sickness and in health.” But when John’s wife, Ellen, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, can their family weather the storm?
No officially a Thanksgiving movie, but the film shows how the holidays are greatly changed by the family crisis and how it’s important to stick close as a family especially in the tough time.
A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he’s poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor. Despite many obstacles including homelessness, greatness can be achieved.
There is no mention of Thanksgiving in this movie, but the film has a lot to teach about gratitude and appreciating our families and what we have in life.
The Blind Side
Based on a true story, this movie shows us so many things we have to be thankful for, and with a lot of it being about football and even including a scene with Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the perfect movie to watch around Thanksgiving time.
Thanksgiving Comedies and Dramas
Warning: Some of these shows may not be appropriate for children!
On Thanksgiving day, four ethnically diverse families — Vietnamese, Latino, Jewish, and African American — gather for the traditional meal. Each family has its own distinct way of cooking the traditional holiday meal and its own set of problems.
An American comedy that tells the intertwined stories of an extended family over two years, beginning and ending with a family Thanksgiving dinner.
Charlie Simms is a student at the Baird School, an exclusive New England prep school. Unlike most of his peers, Charlie was not born into a wealthy family, and attends the school on a scholarship. To pay for a flight home to Oregon for Christmas, Charlie accepts a temporary job over Thanksgiving weekend looking after a blind and cantankerous retired Army officer with suicidal thoughts. But the job is not at all what he anticipated.
Black Friday drama. A single suburban father works at a mall as a security guard to make ends meet, and he takes his job very seriously. As the holidays approach, Paul gets his moment to shine when Santa’s little helpers shut down the mall down and take hostages, including his daughter and girlfriend. He realizes no one knows the place better than he does, and he mounts his trusty steed, a Segway, and goes to the rescue.
Easily excitable Neal Page is somewhat of a control freak. Trying to get home to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his wife and kids, his flight is rerouted to a distant city in Kansas because of a freak snowstorm, and his sanity begins to fray. Worse yet, he is forced to bunk up with talkative Del Griffith, whom he finds extremely annoying. Together they must overcome the insanity of holiday travel to reach their intended destination.
This movie follows the story of a lifelong feud between Max Goldman and John Gustafson — two grumpy old men. Their hostility deepens on Thanksgiving Day after spotting their new female neighbor on a date.