A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving



Classic Turkey Day special for young and old.
  • Review Date: October 9, 2006
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1973
  • Running Time: 25 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The second feature presents a more-or-less factual account of the Mayflower voyage and does not sugarcoat the hardships the Pilgrims faced both during the voyage and once they made it to the "New World." The story also is presented in a way that's easy for kids to understand. 

Positive messages

Positive themes about friends, togetherness, and the true message of Thanksgiving. The second feature provides a factual account of what happened during and after the Mayflower voyage and shows Pilgrims and Native Americans working together in peace. 

Positive role models

Charlie Brown takes in Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Franklin for Thanksgiving dinner, even though all he knows how to cook is "cold cereal, and sometimes toast." The Native American Squanto is helpful to the newly arrived Pilgrims, and his life story shows a man who went on great adventures, overcame tremendous hardship, and was a great leader. 

Violence & scariness

Tame cartoonish violence and pratfalls. In the second feature, one of the Mayflower voyagers falls overboard and is rescued before drowning. This second feature does not sugarcoat the hardships faced by the Mayflower voyagers and discusses death and sickness. Pilgrims are shown with muskets, and Native Americans are shown with spears. 

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

Words and name-calling that could be problematic for parents trying to keep young children from using words such as "stupid" or "blockhead" to describe others or situations. When Lucy asks him to kick the football, Charlie Brown says he will "fall flat on my back and kill myself." 


In addition to the comic strip and television specials, Peanuts characters continue to be marketed to sell everything from toys to clothing to school supplies. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this DVD pairs 1973's A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with The Mayflower Voyagers, a 1988 animated feature about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving feast. In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, the words "stupid" and "blockhead" are used by characters, which could be problematic for parents trying to keep younger kids from using those words to describe other people or situations. Also starring the Peanuts gang, The Mayflower Voyagers doesn't quite capture the whimsy of earlier Charlie Brown specials, but its historical tale should interest older kids: It's a more-or-less factual account of the Mayflower voyage that does not sugarcoat the death and sickness many of the Pilgrims faced when on the ship and when they landed in the "New World." Pilgrims are shown with muskets, and Native Americans are shown with spears.

What's the story?

In this popular animated special created by Charles M. Schultz, Charlie Brown (voiced by Todd Barbee) finds himself hosting a Thanksgiving meal for his friends. At first, the characters are ambivalent and somewhat negative about the holiday. But thanks to some philosophical words from Linus (Stephen Shea) and Marcie, the Peanuts gang comes to realize the true meaning of the holiday. Also included is The Mayflower Voyagers, which follows the Pilgrims -- including Charlie Brown and friends -- as they journey to the New World in 1620.

Is it any good?


Nobody does holidays quite like the Peanuts gang, and A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING is no exception. Stumped over what to serve his friends for Thanksgiving dinner, Charlie Brown whips up a few tried-and-true recipes, including buttered toast, popcorn, and pretzel sticks. In a fun kitchen scene, Snoopy "conducts" the food preparation to Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy," probably the most well-known and well-loved Peanuts tune. Snoopy steals the show again when he and Woodstock set the Thanksgiving table and later when they don Pilgrim-style costumes.

Released in 1988, The Mayflower Voyagers (the second feature on the DVD) strays somewhat from the simplicity that made its predecessors so endearing, but it's still educational. The animated special follows the Pilgrims -- including Charlie Brown and friends -- as they journey to the New World in 1620. It does a good job of depicting the perilous Mayflower voyage, as well as the challenges of settling in a new land.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the real meaning of Thanksgiving,¬†how it's not only¬†about turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. How did the Peanuts gang learn that lesson in this story? What will you be thankful for this Thanksgiving?

  • What did you learn about the Mayflower voyage that you didn't know before? How could you learn more?

  • How does Charlie Brown show the true spirit of Thanksgiving to his friends, even though he doesn't know how to cook turkey or much of anything else?¬†

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 20, 1973
DVD release date:September 12, 2000
Cast:Jimmy Ahrens, Stephen Shea, Todd Barbee
Directors:Bill Melendez, Phil Roman
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, History, Holidays, Misfits and underdogs, Music and sing-along
Run time:25 minutes
MPAA rating:NR
MPAA explanation:Not Rated

This review of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written bymyab October 14, 2010

Must See Thanksgiving TV

My family watches this every year; in fact, it's the kids who ask to see it. The Snoopy/folding chair scene still cracks me up! As far as the use of "blockhead", "idiot", etc., keep in mind when this movie was made. While kids still use these words to each other today, you won't find these sorts of phrases in most of today's gentler cartoons. However, their use in this show makes a good talking point about how mean the words sound and how they hurt Charlie Brown. It also helps to make his (Charlie Brown's) character more sympathetic, and makes him easier to connect with than most other cartoon characters.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old January 8, 2014

Who doesn't like Charlie Brown?

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bymrbookworm01 November 6, 2011

OK, but Mayflower Voyagers may be too much for youngest kids

I've watched this, and I think it's okay for kids of all ages. It's quirky and fun, and has positive messages on the importance of family, friends, and the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Plus, the "Mayflower Voyagers" part is educational, but may be a little bit too much for the youngest kids. Violence: The "Mayflower Voyagers" part mentions people dying from disease, and shows characters tending to sick people, but nothing too bad for young kids.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Special Needs Guide