This Thanksgiving, many people are keeping gatherings smaller and staying home instead of traveling. Star Trek can help bring that Thanksgiving mood and family feelings fans might be missing this year.
While Starfleet doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, many episodes have three important Thanksgiving mainstays: big meals, family reunions, and awkward family moments. This year, we thought you might enjoy these 11 episodes, which have families making up after a long dispute, show how meals can help bring people closer, and explore found families and the lengths people will go to to protect their loved ones.
Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda, come aboard the Enterprise as delegates to the planet Coridan. Kirk notices the tension between father and son and tries to mend it by praising Spock, though Amanda tells him it might be hopeless. After a tense reception among delegates, one of the ambassadors is found murdered, and it appears a Vulcan is to blame. After Kirk, McCoy, and Spock question Sarek, he reveals that he has a heart defect and couldn’t have murdered anyone. Moreover, he needs surgery, and Spock must be a blood donor for the surgery to be successful. This tense episode ends happily as father and son share a joke. Hopefully, your Thanksgiving meal isn’t as tense as their initial reception!
This heartfelt episode perfect for Thanksgiving explores three familial relationships. After his Borg assimilation, Picard takes a much-needed leave with his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew at their vineyard in La Barre, France. At first, the brothers’ relationship is strained, but the two find common ground in their shared memories as the episode progresses. Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, Worf welcomes his foster parents on board in a surprise visit. As he gives them a tour of the ship, his parents tell the crew embarrassing family memories that show how much they love Worf. Dr. Crusher also has a surprise for Wesley: a holo-message from his father recorded when Wesley was 10 weeks old.
Many Thanksgiving family reunions have awkward moments with that relative (or relatives), and for Deanna, that relative is her mother. In “Cost of Living,” Lwaxana Troi surprises Deanna by arriving unannounced on the Enterprise with her fiance, whom Deanna has never met. Lwaxana decides her wedding must take place on the Enterprise, much to Deanna’s distress. Meanwhile, Deanna is mediating Worf and his son Alexander’s troubled relationship. Always the busybody, Lwaxana decides to help Alexander, too and takes him to the holodeck for a mudbath. The episode ends with the wedding going awry when Lwaxana arrives nude, followed by a well-deserved group mudbath for Lwaxana, Deanna, Worf, and Alexander. If only all family gatherings ended in a group mudbath or scratch that, maybe not.
A family meal subplot makes “The Abandoned” a cozy Thanksgiving watch. Sisko invites Jake’s new girlfriend — Dabo girl Mardah — to dinner to learn more about her. Sisko cooks a spicy meal for them, and Mardah reveals how Jakes writes poetry and excels at dom-jot, which Sisko didn’t know. While Sisko was hoping to dissuade Jake from dating the older Mardah, the dinner helps him realize that Jake can make his own decisions and Sisko should instead be learning more about his son. Meanwhile, Quark finds a Jem'Hadar infant in a salvaged ship he’d purchased. The infant grows quickly, and Odo vows to mind him in the hopes that he can help the Jem’Hadar find his independence. Both plots explore the distance between adults and children and how/if that distance can be bridged.
This episode is one of the most feel-good episodes of the entire Star Trek franchise. Captain Solok challenges Sisko — a former classmate and rival — to a friendly game of baseball between Starfleet crews. Most of the crew doesn’t know how to play baseball or even what it is. Dubbed the Niners, after their first practice round, many of the team wind up in the infirmary. But their practice brings them closer together, and when it comes game time, a surprising turn of events has them celebrating. While Thanksgiving is typically a football holiday, this baseball episode still gives that combination of camaraderie and competition Star Trek and sports fans alike enjoy.
“Homestead” opens with Neelix hosting a party celebrating First Contact Day with platters of non-replicated food and a jukebox playing Earth classics. Everyone is having a blast even though Neelix can’t get Tuvok to dance with him. When Voyager discovers a colony of Talaxians living in an asteroid, Neelix reunites with his people. After being hurt in a mining blast, a fellow Talaxian brings him to her home and heals him. Neelix meets her son and begins to develop deeper feelings for mother and child. At the end of the episode, Neelix decides to stay with the colony and leave Voyager. Tuvok dances as a farewell. This episode celebrates two families: the found family Neelix had with his crewmates on Voyager and the new family he becomes a part of when he departs Voyager.
Archer speaks with Reed’s parents and learns that Reed’s birthday is coming up. He decides they will throw him a party, but Reed’s parents don’t know what his favorite meal is. Archer orders Sato, who enjoys cooking, to find out Reed’s favorite food and make him a meal. After interviewing the chef and many of the crew, Sato discovers what Reed’s favorite food — pineapple — and makes him a delicious pineapple cake. This is a fun and sweet episode to watch for Thanksgiving.
Picard brings Soji to the planet Nepenthe, where Riker and Troi have made a home with their daughter, Kestra. Riker cooks a woodstove pizza, and the friends catch up over dinner. Soji learns more about her father — Data — while also developing a trust for Picard as she watches him interact with his former crew. She also befriends Kestra. This glimpse into an idyllic home life gives Soji and Picard a moment of respite from the traumatic events that brought them together. Reuniting over a home cooked meal and relaxing with family and friends is exactly what Thanksgiving is all about.
This intense family reunion episode opens when Burnham is ten-years-old, and the Klingons attack the colony where she and her parents live. Her mother, Gabrielle, successfully hides Burnham while the Klingons kill her father, and Gabrielle flees in the Daedelus suit. In the present, while Gabrielle is unconscious, Burnham relives that time as she scans her mother’s memory logs, which are all addressed to her. When Gabrielle awakens, she tells Georgiou to take care of Burnham, knowing that she will not be remaining with Discovery and that Georgiou, despite her protests, loves Burnham like a daughter. This is the most action-packed episode on this list and shows how family reunions can bring up painful memories while also providing closure.
Saru reunites with his sister Siranna when the Red Angel’s signal appears over his home planet of Kaminar, and Discovery goes to investigate. Saru escaped Kaminar 18 years earlier to join Starfleet and explains to the crew that Kelpiens, like him, are the prey to the Ba’ul, another species on the planet. Siranna isn’t exactly happy to see Saru, who she claims abandoned her and their father. Discovery’s presence threatens to overturn the predator/prey balance on the planet. By the end of the episode, the two siblings have made up, and Siranna tells Saru he’s always welcome to come home and visit.
The crew feels depressed as the realization that they’ll never see family and friends again sinks in. The computer suggests a dinner for the officers and a day off for the crew to bring everyone closer together. Saru hosts a Thanksgiving-style feast for the officers, but things go awry when Detmer tells an insulting joke, and she and Stamets argue. Meanwhile, Burnham takes Adira to the Trill homeworld to help recover their memories, but the Trill are resistant to the idea of a human host. But, as one of the Trill points out, Adira poses a possible future for the Trill. The recovery of Adira’s memories, though painful, brings peace to Adira, and they and Burnham become closer. The episode ends with the crew laughing at Buster Keaton and Detmer and Stamets sharing a hug. This found family episode is one of the most beautiful Discovery episodes yet.
Margaret Kingsbury (she/her) is a contributing writer at Book Riot, where she raves about the SFF books she loves. She writes about children's books at Baby Librarians, a website she co-founded, and you can find her on Twitter @areaderlymom and on Instagram @babylibrarians
Star Trek: Picard streams on CBS All Access in the United States, in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave, and on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories.
Star Trek: Discovery streams on CBS All Access in the United States, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries.