It's Thanksgiving! A day here in the U.S. when overeating, oversleeping and over-sports-ing are not only acceptable, they're almost encouraged. (Just like most days!) Regardless of how you've felt about what's going on in the world at large, there are many different worlds on our televisions that we have been very thankful for in 2016. Technically, too many exist to count, but there are binge-sessions to get through before 2017 begins, so we've limited it to the following items. Raise your glasses and forks and turkey legs and read on!
For Negan's Arrival
From April to October, fans of The Walking Dead rabidly fretted over the big mystery victim bludgeoned by Jeffrey Dean Morgan's new villain Negan, barely taking the time to appreciate the leather-wearing character's arrival. But now that Negan has cemented his foul-mouthed and domineering presence during Season 7, his threat-laden charisma and brute force have completely changed the zombie drama in huge and enjoyable ways. We are also thankful for Lucille and Simon's mustache.
For South Park's Member Berries
"Memba' Bionic Man?" South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have taken their satire-soaked comedy to new serialized heights, and Season 20 has offered up one of the long-running series' greatest elements in "member berries." This superfruit preys on people's embrace of nostalgia, with its many berries' voices constantly overlapping in celebrating the memory of days past. "Memba' Slimah?" "Memba' Chewbacca?" Elections and internet trolls are great, but they can't compete to funny fruit. "Memba' Chewbacca again?"
For Westworld Finally Airing On HBO
A Westworld TV show has been in the cards since the 1990s, but it was in the summer of 2013 that HBO got involved, with Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy as the creative minds behind it. Years of development and setbacks later, the heady sci-fi reimagining finally reared its artificially intelligent head in 2016 and was worth every second of anticipation. The intricate plotting, complex characters and nuanced performances are blissfully all too real.
For Rachel Bloom, Issa Rae, Pamela Adlon, Etc.
Rarely does TV give audiences the wide variety of comedies centered on and created by women that 2016 has offered. Rachel Bloom's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continues to be perfect, Issa Rae's Insecure is black femininity at its finest, and Pamela Adlon's Better Things is hilariously unpolished motherhood. Which isn't to ignore Sarah Jessica Parker, Tracee Ellis Ross, Amy Schumer, Constance Wu, Minnie Driver, Tig Notaro, Zazie Beetz, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kulap Vilaysack and every other badass woman bringing the laughs this year.
For Dave Chappelle's Return To TV
Dave Chappelle grabbed headlines in 2006 with his entertainment self-exile, and we were left a largely Chappelle-free country until, as a counter to all of 2016's woes, the comedian recently drew surprise and high praise by hosting SNL. Amazingly, that led to Netflix announcing a trio of new stand-up specials. Combine that with unreleased George Carlin footage and Mitch Hedberg's mega-box set, and 2016 was great for catching stand-up comedians we haven't seen in a while.
For Jon Bernthal's Punisher
After delivering the contained fury of Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk, Daredevil brought rage beyond the surface in Season 2 with Frank "The Punisher" Castle. It could have been arched-brow melodrama in many actors hands, but there was genuine, inescapable angst in Jon Bernthal's portrayal, and it managed to overshadow everything the Man Without Fear was doing. Bernthal's work, and fans' reactions to it, was solid enough to get the character his own spinoff, which also gets our gratitude.
For Syfy Making Lots Of Great Shows Again
For years, Syfy lost sight of quality genre programming, opting for schlock and unscripted paranormal shows. But the network's renaissance period is going strong, and 2016 saw the conclusions of awesome debut seasons from novel adaptations The Expanse and The Magicians, as well as the premieres of better-than-expected series Channel Zero: Candle Cove, Wynonna Earp and Van Helsing. 12 Monkeys, Dark Matter and Killjoys are keeping fans as happy as ever, too. And more goodness is coming.
For Winter Finally Coming On Game Of Thrones
Since its earliest days, Game of Thrones has been talking about the grand and fearful threat of Winter being on the way. (The series premiere title? "Winter is Coming.") After six seasons of shocking deaths and heinous tyrants, the HBO epic finally reached that point of "snow" return, with the arrival of the dreaded Winter and its White Walkers now finally at its most imminent. Season 7 may be shorter than others, but it'll be no less intense.
For Saturday Night Live Feeling Edgy Again
The latest Presidential election's cycle was surely a boon for cable news networks, but there was no shortage of political coverage elsewhere on TV, and Saturday Night Live thankfully kept up the momentum it built up at the end of 2015. From Tom Hanks' "Black Jeopardy" to Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump to Colin Jost's recent "Weekend Update" joke controversy and more, SNL had a finger hovering around the satirical pulse of the nation again. Unlike, say, where Conner4real's fingers are.
For Kiefer Sutherland's Return To TV
It's technically only been 2 years since Kiefer Sutherland last hit the small screen to reprise Jack Bauer in 24: Live Another Day, but his short-lived drama Touch was a potential indication that he might not be long for television outside of terrorist-thwarting action. Thankfully, his absence from 24: Legacy will be a lot easier to swallow now that he's leading the country on ABC's intriguing and popular politi-drama Designated Survivor.
For Young Justice Finally Getting Renewed
When a TV series finds new life following a cancellation, such as Longmire and Nashville, it tends to happen fairly quickly. But after Cartoon Network cancelled Young Justice in early 2013, fans of the animated superhero series had to wait over three years to hear the gloriously good news that Warner Bros. Animation was going into production on a third season, with its network home to be found later. Always be thankful that hope never dies.
For Bryan Fuller's Amazing Hannibal Rebound
Bryan Fuller is easily one of the most engaging and imaginative storytellers working in television, so Hannibal's cancellation last year was crushing. But while we have yet to get a full look at his next efforts, Fuller has spent all of 2016 working on Starz's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods (which had a superb trailer) and CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery. He's also started developing a reboot of Amazing Stories. My thankfulness quota for 2017 is already full.
For Fox's Lethal Weapon Actually Being Awesome
Film-to-TV remakes are nearing dime-a-dozen territory, but there are luckily a few standing above the rest; or, in Lethal Weapon's case, hurtling through an explosion-filled sky above the rest. With Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans as Riggs and Murtaugh, respectively, Fox's Lethal Weapon wisely adheres to the basic logline of the original film, rather than aping any specifics, and the result is the kind of laugh-filled and action-packed drama that Fox should always strive for.
For The Stranger Things Kids
Oh, the upside-down days when Netflix's now-ubiquitous Stranger Things was more commonly referred to as "the horror show with Winona Ryder that used to be called Mantauk." The biggest of the show's many charms, however, was the young pack of mostly unknown cast members, who made the fright-filled search for a best friend feel as fun and genuine as one's own best and non-terrifying memories of adolescence. The actors' continued impact on pop culture has been no less enjoyable.
For Everything About Donald Glover's Atlanta
Every lesson that Community's Donald Glover has learned in his widespread comedic and rap career is on full display in FX's brilliant Atlanta, where no moment is under-thought or wasted, and no cast member is less than perfect. Laugh-out-loud situations clash intriguingly with alarming drama, bittersweet melancholy, and random absurdity, with the spotlight on a black neighborhood in Atlanta's sprawl, where the American dream involves making money with earworm rap music and weed. Glover, still in his early 30s, has had his opus realized.
For Supergirl's Move To The CW
When it was airing on CBS, Supergirl was a good show and put its budget where its cape was. But Kara Danvers can fly even farther now, with her world becoming fully embraced by The CW's Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Though Cat Grant was largely excised, that downside was balanced by a real Superman, an ever-growing mythology, and increased roles for Kara's colleagues. And we can all agree Melissa Benoist's boundless enthusiasm fits far better on Supergirl's new home.
For Netflix Bringing Full House And Gilmore Girls Back
Netflix started earning its cap as a show-saving haven with Arrested Development, and the company used 2016 to continue the stories of beloved shows from two different eras: Full House and Gilmore Girls. Fuller House was cheeseball gloriousness, with Season 2 coming soon, and though Rory and Lorelai aren't back quite yet, we are just as thankful for all of this year's Gilmore conversations as we've been for the actual Tanner/Gibbler dance parties.
For The Voice Nailing Its Latest Coaches
The Voice's consistent coaching change-ups can make a mostly great season feel torturous due to some bad apples. Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys' combined Season 11 debut was prefaced by wild anticipation, and perhaps surprisingly, it's been one of the best seasons yet in that respect. Keys' consummate professionalism makes for much-needed word variation in critiques and advice, and Cyrus' fun and free quirks retain little of her bad girl image. And, of course, there's Adam and Blake.
For Ghost Rider Joining Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
After two feature films in which Nicolas Cage wasn't actually on fire, the comic favorite Ghost Rider made his live-action debut on the small screen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it was a blazingly magical. With Gabriel Luna's Robbie Reyes offering up a lesser-known take on the character, Ghost Rider immediately became a fan favorite, sharing few of the moral qualms other comic TV characters have about stopping crime and putting down villains. He needs his own show like yesterday.
For Mike Ehrmantraut
As second seasons go, the exquisite Better Call Saul was textbook in how it exceeded the first season's best qualities. The biggest way co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould went about this was by bringing Mike Ehrmantraut to the forefront of the drama, giving actor Jonathan Banks ample time to any steal scene he wanted. Seldom has a character's glaring and measured contemplation made for such must-watch TV, and getting all this time with Mike now adds so much to rewatchings of Breaking Bad's later seasons.
It's an imcomplete list, to be sure, but we couldn't be happier about everything on here. Hit the comments to tell us what is it about TV in 2016 that you guys were most thankful for.