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"The Great Can Drive" is the twenty-second episode of the first season of Recess, which was first broadcast on November 22nd, 1997.



The holiday can drive starts up once again, only this time, while Mikey is only doing this to help out the less-fortunate, the rest of the gang is sure to beat The Ashleys.

At first, only Mikey wants to participate in the Thanksgiving can drive competition against the unbeatable Ashleys, because unlike everyone else who see it as a contest he sees it as helping the needy. Rallying against the Ashleys the other kids unite but lose sight of the real purpose of the competition in doing so.

Main Story

While Miss Grotke finishes giving a history lecture on how Thanksgiving was founded, Principal Prickly gives an announcement, reminding everyone about the annual Thanksgiving can drive starting, "to help the homeless, the hungry, the handicapped, etc., etc.", adding that the winning class that collects the most cans by the week's end receives a lovely turkey dinner. The class feels humiliated, but Miss Grotke informs the class that the can drive is a fun school tradition. T.J., Vince, Gretchen, and Spinelli inform her that every year since kindergarten, the class with The Ashleys has always won the can drive no matter how much cans the other classes have collected, and everyone knows that since they're in Miss Furley's class, that class is going to win. Miss Grotke replies that they have just as much chance of winning as the next class, and they just have to work at it. As the class exits, they see the Ashleys with bins of cans they have already collected ahead. At first, the entire class wants to drop out of the drive, but Mikey still wants to participate, not believing in winning or losing. As the drive begins, Mikey's classmates think he has no chance.

By the next day, the Ashleys have still collected more cans than Mikey, and during lunchtime, while Mikey's friends comfort him, the Ashleys taunt them for giving him advice on how to lose. The gang save for Mikey declare that they're going to beat the Ashleys in the drive. With that, they help Mikey collect more cans. However, they later see that the Ashleys are using machines to collect more of theirs. The gang gets an idea on letting more kids join in.

At first, the other kids (including Swinger Girl, Hustler Kid, The Diggers, and Guru Kid) refuse, but are later convinced to join after the gang says that they're "going to beat the Ashleys". With that, they help the gang collect a lot more cans for Miss Grotke's class.

On stage, all the cans have formed a pyramid, and a graduate student (Miss Eudora Finkelstein from Third Street Elementary's Class of 1928), holds the turkey for the winning class. However, the final results for Miss Grotke and Miss Furley's classes each have 4,362 cans, resulting in a tie. This disappoints both sides, except for Mikey who says that it's perfect, and either side needs one more can to win, which Miss Finkelstein has (she was going to give it to the winning class). The classes get into a tug of war over it, but Mikey declares both classes to put the cans together and forget about the turkey, as he still believes that can drives are not about competition, and are "about helping people and being generous and sharing [their] bounty". However, Mikey's words fall on deaf ears, and the tug of war resumes and uncharacteristically backstabs Mikey. But the last can slips off of Miss Finkelstein's hands (due to her unable to hold it any longer), and it rolls over to the pyramid, which topples over, letting the cans' contents splatter over everyone. Mikey tells off both sides for their selfishness, adding that nobody, not even the homeless, is going to have a good Thanksgiving and storms off. The rest of the gang and the Ashleys hang their heads and frown in shame, knowing that Mikey's right. Because not only they ruined the can drive, they've also ruined Thanksgiving.

The next morning, a downhearted Mikey walks to the classroom only to find it empty. The rest of the gang and the Ashleys find him, telling him that they felt really bad about what happened, and they decided to work together as a team, collecting twice as many cans as before (Spinelli got her cousin Nick from Fifth Street school to help, the Diggers got help from their society friends, and even Swinger Girl got help from the swinger convention) which impresses Mikey. And if that were not enough, the Feedbin store even got to donate a truckload of food to every homeless shelter in the city. And it is all thanks to Mikey, because, thanks to him, both Miss Grotke and Miss Furley's classes realize that working with each other is better than working against each other.

Just then, Principal Prickly announces that the Holiday toy drive is beginning the following Monday, much to everyone's bewilderment.


  • November 1997 (around Thanksgiving)


  • Animation/continuity error: In this episode, all of the Ashleys are in Miss Furley's class; yet in the rest of the series, all of them or half of them are in Miss Grotke's class. In many episodes, only Ashley Q. and Ashley T. are in her class.
  • Animation/continuity error: When T.J. sees Mikey alone at the cafeteria and suggests to cheer him up, Gretchen, Spinelli, and Gus sit in front of Mikey. However, when Gretchen talks to Mikey, she is shown sitting alone.
  • Animation/continuity error: During the scene where the pyramid of cans falls, some scenes of the cans falling and the kids running away are played twice and in reverse (this is somewhat corrected in the version on Disney+, as the scenes aren't in reverse but are still repeated) Moreover, when the cans fall, and Miss Grotke jumps off of the stage, she is wearing her usual outfit instead of the Native American outfit she wears for most of the episode.
  • Continuity error: In this episode, Swinger Girl is ready to beat the Ashleys in Miss Grotke's (the gang's) class. However, in the episode "Swing on Thru to the Other Side", Vince says "The kids in Miss Furley's class said she [Swinger Girl] never showed up for school today", meaning she is not in her class.
  • Animation/continuity/consistency error: Various kids during a few scenes either replace one of the kids, move from spot to spot, do both of these options, or gets refrained. Here are some examples of this.
    • When Miss Grotke's class escapes out of the classroom, Judy is seen walking on the right of them, but when T.J. says to the class that they can just battle out of the Ashleys, Judy disappears. She disappears until in one of the main shots of Mikey.
    • When Miss Grotke's class escapes out of the classroom, Gordy is seen between the Unnamed Girl and Vince, but when perspective changes, they switch spots together. They are later back to their original spots. After a couple shots, he has been replaced by a boy, who looks similar to Timmy Milton. Mikey is also replaced by Megan in this shot as well.
    • During the scene where the class are having a conversation in the hallway, Gretchen is seen near Spinelli, but in two shots of Spinelli, Gretchen is not seen near her on the left.
  • Animation/continuity error: When T.J. turns to Mikey while Mikey yells "Nay!", his nose is drawn differently for a few frames.
  • Animation/framing error: When Vince asks "What did you say, Mikey?", Mikey overlaps Spinelli.
  • Animation/continuity error: When Ashley A. says "Yeah, right. Like you did for the last five years in a row?", her eyebrows are blonde.
  • Coloring/continuity error: When T.J. told Ashley A. to watch it because they will make the Recess Gang something they do not want to do, the girl with freckles and long hair with curls in the bottom has skin-colored lips, which were colored correctly in the previous scene she was in. This also happens when T.J. told Ashley Q. that she is going to be "crushed so bad, the only thing left will be broken green beans and a smeared streak of creamed corn".
  • Animation/continuity/consistency error: While Hustler Kid and a boy are playing a game, Hustler Kid mix the covers up, in which the one with the ball inside switches from the middle to the right, but when a boy picks the correct one, he picks up the cover, and the ball slightly disappears. One of the staff must have storyboarded or drew this either by accident or while having some issues (either accidental or incidental).
  • Animation/continuity error: When Ashley A. looks at an African-American boy and sticks out her tongue, Ashley T.'s eyebrows are thinner than usual.
  • When the can pyramid collapse, The auditorium was a mess, even though it's impossible for the cans to drop and splatter all over everyone and all over the place since the cans are on the stage
  • Everyone could've gotten injured from the cans
  • When the can slips off, there is no way a can could roll over the pyramid and drop all the cans everywhere



  • This episode is the TV series' Thanksgiving special.
  • This episode was released on the VHS and DVD, Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street.
  • Principal Prickly notes that Eudora B. Finkelstein was a graduate of Third Street School's first class in 1928, suggesting that as the founding school year.
  • Moral: Do not let competition get the better of you, because winning is not everything. Also, a good deed is its own reward, but may pay off later too.


  • This is the first Holiday special in the series.


  • The sign above the can pyramid in the auditorium reads "Catch Can Fever", a possible reference to the 1977 song "Cat Scratch Fever" by Ted Nugent; or the disease the song is named after.