The 15 most-watched Thanksgiving TV episodes

There’s nothing like holiday cheer, especially in the car — for better or worse, for everyone. We’re not going to pretend to know your Christmas plans. We would never judge. We certainly wouldn’t dare pretend to. But when it comes to Thanksgiving, D.C. television will always give you just enough in the way of tradition, only the right amount of extra things to get annoyed about, and great songs from the ’70s that make you say, “Eddie Holman y’all?” Yes, no one will be able to resist it, but let’s put it out there, and out there loud and blaring from the corner car window, that there are plenty of people, as Justin Timberlake noted from the driveway, who won’t be watching.

The good news is, a WTOP/Weigel Consulting review of data from Nielsen and Viacom affiliate WTTG-TV found a dozen Thanksgiving episodes of all kinds of shows that have been seen by millions of viewers over the years:

• At 8 p.m. on Nov. 26, “Saturday Night Live” drew an average 11.8 million viewers from 11:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. Sunday. No Thanksgiving episode has beaten the numbers of hosts Scarlett Johansson and Donald Glover. “SNL” also will honor a special Thanksgiving sketch, “Stump the Trumpster,” a week later.

• “The Big Bang Theory” averaged 11.3 million viewers on Nov. 22, making it the most-watched live Thanksgiving episode in a decade. “Big Bang” would later draw 14.7 million for its 11th-season finale on May 11.

• “The Goldbergs” drew 11.2 million viewers on Nov. 24, 2008, the second-most-watched Thanksgiving in the show’s three-year history. The Muppets premiere nabbed 11.5 million viewers, the record-holder for highest-rated Thanksgiving episode.

• “The Grinch” drew 9.3 million viewers on Nov. 23, 1989, to top the show. For those wondering, after only two reruns, the movie “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” had a five-week run at No. 1.

• “Seinfeld” averaged 8.9 million viewers on Nov. 22, 1998. It’s another legendary Thanksgiving episode, with characters hoping to score a date with Jayne Mansfield, scoring tickets to a romantic grandiose movie that comes across like a fairy tale, and then, of course, Jerry and Elaine dancing on a red velvet dance floor at Central Park.

• “The King of Queens” averaged 5.2 million viewers on Nov. 21, 2007, the biggest single-episode audience for an American Thanksgiving episode of the show ever.

• “Thursday Night Football” averaged 8.3 million viewers on Nov. 23, 2017, making it the third-highest-rated Thanksgiving for the league. It also reached a record-tying high on Nov. 14, 2008, drawing an average of 19.2 million viewers. And, don’t forget, it’s the most-watched regular-season program in nine years.

• “America’s Funniest Home Videos” averaged 8.7 million viewers on Nov. 26, 1988, the biggest Thanksgiving audience for the show since 1999. The show also had a special special airing on Nov. 22, which earned 5.6 million viewers.

• “The Simpsons” averaged 8.3 million viewers on Nov. 23, 1990, making it the biggest Thanksgiving audience in the show’s 26-year history.

• “The Simpsons” averaged 7.6 million viewers on Nov. 22, 2000, making it the biggest Thanksgiving for the show.

We’re not sure what’s going to happen with this week’s main media story. There’s still a chance House Republicans could drop a budget deal before Friday, which would clear the way for a vote on the deal in the House as early as Tuesday.

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