We’re counting down the days to Thanksgiving by looking at a variety of Thanksgiving-themed TV episodes. Thanksgiving episodes are all different, but they have lots of tropes in common. Today we’re kicking things off with the Happy Days episode “The First Thanksgiving.”
Directed by: Jerry Paris
Written by: Bob Howard
Episode Number: Season 6, Episode 12
Where to Watch It: Hulu
Fonzie joins the Cunninghams for Thanksgiving and is a welcome part of the holiday. Also, Ralph invites Potsie over to his house for Thanksgiving. When Potsie says, “But your dad didn’t invite me,” Ralph responds, “That’s okay. He didn’t invite me either.”
Poor, wonderful Marion Cunningham cooks a beautiful meal that no one cares about or appreciates. They supposedly learn their lesson and after dinner they say they’ll do all the cleaning. But, when she hears china breaking, she runs to do the job herself. Sigh.
The episode opens with everyone besides Marion fixated on the big game. Fonzie is unimpressed and asked why they’d watch sports when there’s a Shirley Temple movie on.
Marion decides to teach them the true meaning of Thanksgiving and most of the episode is a re-telling of the legend of the first Thanksgiving, using the Happy Days characters as pilgrims in 1621. The pilgrim version of Marion gets the idea to celebrate a bountiful harvest with a dinner. Most of the pilgrims are afraid of the Native Americans, but Fonzie is friends with them and convinces them to have a dinner together.
The pilgrim version of Fonzie is just as cool as the regular version and can make a fire start just by banging on the side of the fireplace. Most people love this, but Mr. Cunningham doesn’t trust him because of what he does with ladies on Inspiration Point.