Culture of Pop

26 Days of Thanksgiving Episodes: Shibboleth (The West Wing)

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 looking at “Shibboleth” from The West Wing.

Basic Info

Directed by: Laura Innes

Written by: Aaron Sorkin

Episode Number: Season 2, Episode 8

Where to Watch It: Netflix

Found Family

Charlie Young spends the episode searching for a carving knife that’s to the President’s liking. In a touching pay off, the President gives Charlie his old carving knife. He tells him that it was passed down from his grandfather to his father to him and now he wants to give it to Charlie. After he tells him the history of the knife, he says, “I’m  proud of you, Charlie.”


CJ has to choose a turkey to receive a presidential pardon. When the reality of the turkey she doesn’t choose being sent off to be slaughtered sets in, she decides to save both of them, which ends up being a large task that involves getting the President to intervene to make sure neither of the turkeys ends up becoming anyone’s dinner.

When CJ agrees to spend thanksgiving with Toby, Josh and Sam, she asks if there’s anything she can bring. Toby responds, “Yeah. Do you know how to cook food?”


Toby, Josh and Sam plan to spend the day watching football together. They make sure the President doesn’t know the they’re just watching football because they don’t want to get roped into spending Thanksgiving dinner with him.


In the opening scene, Sam works on a speech about the pilgrims. He jokes around with the speech, saying, “Well over three and half centuries ago, strengthened by faith and bound by a common desire for liberty, a small band of pilgrims sought out a place in the New World where they could worship according to their own beliefs – and solve crimes.”

Toby is genuinely frustrated because he’s sick of how bastardized American history is.

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