Classic Episodes: Cheers – Thanksgiving Orphans

In Thanksgiving Orphans, the holiday is looming, and most of the Cheers gang has nowhere to go. Diane’s solution is simple: Why don’t they gather at Carla’s house? “What could be more enjoyable than opening your heart with holiday cheer?” she asks. Carla (Rhea Perlman) responds, “Opening yours with a can opener?”

Nevertheless, Woody (Woody Harrelson), Frasier (Kelsey Grammer), and Cliff (John Ratzenberger) agree to spend the holiday with Carla. As the afternoon wears on, they’re joined by Sam (Ted Danson), Diane (Shelley Long), and Norm, who arrives with “birdzilla,” a turkey so huge it takes all day to cook. Before this episode ends, nerves will fray, and the famished guests — arguably the most adept sitcom ensemble ever cobbled together — will indulge in the funniest food fight in TV history.

The final arrival at the party is Norm’s never-seen wife, Vera — who winds up getting smacked in the kisser with a pie just before we catch sight of her face.

“Throwing food is the most fun that you can possibly have,” Perlman said of Carla’s chuck-and-duck feast. “I don’t know why we don’t throw it at each other all the time. The world would be a better place.”

Episode originally broadcast 27 November 1986.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.