Over the course of 10 years and 10 seasons, the writers of Friends delivered no fewer than 236 episodes to their ever-increasing fan base.
Twenty-six years since the first episode aired, a reunion featuring all six cast members is scheduled to take place but had to be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Looking back on the show, it feels as though each 20-or-so-minute nugget contributed its own signature phrases and cult moments, which remain firmly embedded in pop culture nowadays.
Yet it is interesting to comb through those combined 4,720-ish minutes of television and separate the highs from the lows. Friends will surely always have a special place among the series that set the standards of the sitcom genre. That’s why the show remains a relevant topic of discussion to this day, and why it has come under renewed scrutiny as some (including this writer) have attempted to dissect the way it broached topics such as gender, sexuality, women’s rights, and body politics
Some of Friends’s best episodes still stand out for what they contributed to the history of television – an all-too-rare lesbian wedding, a surrogacy storyline, the empowering tale of a young woman finding her footing in the corporate world. Others are, quite simply, funny in a laugh-out-loud, goofy way, fuelled by the kind of moments that explain why Friends is, for many, the televised equivalent of comfort food.
Here it is, then: a full ranking of all 236 episodes of Friends, from worst to best.
236. The One with Chandler's Dad – Season seven, episode 22
The portrayal of Chandler’s parent – many viewers are now convinced, in hindsight, that Chandler’s “dad” was actually a transgender woman – was problematic throughout the show, and this episode is no exception.
235. The One with the Giant Poking Device – Season three, episode eight
“Ugly Naked Guy” was one of the least funny – and most offensive – gimmicks employed by the sitcom. A large part of this episode revolves around it, so it’s no surprise to see it tumbling towards the bottom of this ranking.
234. The One with the Vows – Season seven, episode 21
There is nothing crucially wrong with this episode, except that it’s made up almost entirely of flashbacks from previous instalments. Can you imagine tuning in, back when Friends was still airing weekly on network TV, only to be served what essentially amounts to a rerun? Boring.
233. The One with the Ick Factor – Season one, episode 22
Monica dates someone younger – whom she presumes to be a senior in college – only to discover he’s actually a 17-year-old senior in high school. Icky indeed. It’s just one of those episodes where the central joke doesn’t land.
232. The One with the Truth About London – Season seven, episode 16
This episode would have occupied the middle of this ranking if not for a brief sequence in which Phoebe wonders what would have happened if Monica and Joey had ended up together. In this alternative reality, a fat Joey struggles to bring his chair up to the table as he sits down to another epic dinner cooked by his partner. It’s fat-shaming at its worst, and it’s profoundly uncomfortable to watch.
231. The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel – Season three, episode four
Ah yes, The One Where Ross Freaks Out Because His Son Wants To Play With a Barbie Doll. OK, Ross. The only redeeming quality is the end sequence in which a young Ross is seen dressed as his female alter ego, Bea, and hosting a tea party.
230. The One with Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. – Season six, episode 20
Another flashback episode, this time pegged to Chandler’s failure to relay important news to Joey regarding a possible TV show role.
229. The One with the Rumor – Season eight, episode nine
Rachel Green’s former classmate Will (played by Jennifer Aniston’s then-husband Brad Pitt) wanted to make up an embarrassing rumour about her in high school, and apparently, the most humiliating option was to make Rachel supposedly intersex. This one doesn’t really need to be explained, does it? Activists have spoken at length about the stigma and shame associated with being intersex. This is one example of how pop culture has contributed to those issues.
228. The One with the Ballroom Dancing – Season four, episode four
Look, the storyline in which Joey agrees to help Mr Treeger practice his ballroom dancing is, in part, rather cute – but it’s ruined by the mockery he faces for it. “How goes the dancing? Gay yet?” Monica asks him in one of those moments that will remind you that Friends hasn’t always aged well.
227. The One Where Nana Dies Twice – Season one, episode eight
Ross visits his family as they prepare to say goodbye to his late grandmother, and discovers dozens of sweetener packets (which she loved to collect) tucked away in her bedroom closet. It's a very sweet moment so why, oh why, ruin it with an entire storyline about Chandler’s sexuality and whether he gives off some kind of gay vibe
226. The One with the Thumb – Season one, episode three
Is it Phoebe’s extremely unbelievable discovery of an entire human thumb in her can of soda, or is it the fact that the show was clearly still struggling to grasp its own identity when this one aired in 1994? Either way, something about this episode feels off.
225. The One with the Male Nanny – Season nine, episode six
Aka The One Where Ross and Rachel Find the Absolute Perfect Nanny After a Difficult Search but Have to Let Him Go Because Ross Has Outdated Ideas About Masculinity.
224. The One with the Inappropriate Sister – Season five, episode 10
Remember that weird time Rachel dated a guy named Danny who had an uncomfortably close relationship with his sister? Yes, I had blacked it out too. That storyline seems plain weird, and the rest of the episode isn’t compelling enough to make up for it.
223. The One with Joey's Interview – Season eight, episode 19
Oh, great, another flashback episode. This time, it’s pegged to Joey’s interview with an entertainment reporter (a tricky exercise for Joey, who tends to put his foot in his mouth while speaking to the press).
222. The One where Ross Dates a Student – Season six, episode 18
As the title would suggest, Ross, a university professor, starts dating a student – and his shocked when he learns that’s not merely “frowned upon” but plainly forbidden by the powers that be. Come on, Ross.
221. The One where Ross Meets Elizabeth's Dad – Season six, episode 21
When the aforementioned student’s father (played rather brilliantly by Bruce Willis) finds out his daughter is dating an older man in a position of authority, he’s none-too-pleased. Instead of accepting that fact, Ross enlists his own ex, Rachel, to talk him up to the student’s father. Of course he does.
220. The One with the Breast Milk – Season two, episode two
When Ross finds out his ex-wife Carol’s partner Susan has tasted Carol’s breast milk, he wants to try it too. But this is Ross, so naturally he’s torn between his rivalry with Susan and his aversion for said breast milk. Not to be overly critical of Ross, but this isn't his finest moment.
219. The One with Monica's Boots – Season eight, episode 10
Monica buys pricey boots and her husband Chandler (who is actually a few episodes away from quitting his job, thus putting financial pressure on his marriage) thinks they’re too expensive. So Monica pledges to wear them forever, and when it turns out they hurt, she tries to hide it from him. I realise Friends is just a fun sitcom, but this episode is enough to make you question whether you'd ever like to have a joint account with anybody.
218. The One with the Girl Who Hits Joey – Season five, episode 15
Far be it from me to be the Debbie Downer here, but I don’t find jokes about Joey’s girlfriend hitting him particularly funny? Sure, the storyline is played for laughs, but something seems a bit tone-deaf here.
217. The One Where Chandler Can't Remember Which Sister – Season three, episode 11
Little life tip: if you're going to fool around with your friend's sister, maybe remember which one it was? Looking at you, Chandler Bing lost in a sea of Joey's siblings.
216. The One with Joey's Fridge – Season six, episode 19
Let’s go back to Ross’s decision to date a student for a moment. In this episode, he gets so insecure when his girlfriend goes away for Spring Break (you know, as she should) that he follows her on her beach getaway. The sequence where David Schwimmer is seen dancing on what appears to be MTV Spring Break is almost funny enough to redeem it all. Almost.
215. The One with Phoebe's Ex-Partner – Season three, episode 14
In order to keep Rachel from attending a fashion seminar with her colleague Mark (who he's convinced is courting her), Ross decides to accompany her – except Ross doesn’t care about fashion and is so uninterested he falls asleep. In the words of Joey: how Ross got three women to marry him, I’ll never know.
214. The One with Rachel's Assistant – Season seven, episode four
Look, I gave Ross grief for dating his student, but I also wasn’t particularly taken with Rachel’s decision to hire her assistant Tag just because she thought he was cute (even though he was clearly under-qualified), turning down a perfectly fine applicant named Hilda in the process.
213. The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs – Season seven, episode eight
After a few episodes of lusting after Tag, Rachel finally kisses her assistant and starts a secret relationship with him. Again, I think Rachel – who worked so hard to carve herself a place in the corporate world and really loved her job! – deserved better than this narrative arc.
212. The One with the Race Car Bed – Season three, episode seven
Ugh. When Rachel brings her boyfriend Ross to dinner with her own father, it turns out Dr Green isn’t exactly fond of the palaeontologist. Both men, however, end up bonding over their mutual disdain of certain aspects of Rachel’s lifestyle, such as her decision to consult a chiropractor. Women, am I right?
211. The One That Could Have Been, Part One – Season six, episode 15
Flashbacks in Friends are always uncomfortable to some extent, mainly owing to the portrayal of young Monica, played by Courteney Cox in a fat suit. This episode is no exception to the rule: in this alternative reality, Monica is a 30-year-old virgin, presumably owing to her body shape.
210. The One That Could Have Been, Part Two – Season six, episode 16
More of the same. Part two one gets a slightly higher ranking than the first because the alternative-reality plot resolves to bring all six friends back to their actual situations on the show (meaning Rachel leaves her fiancé Barry, Ross realises his wife is a lesbian, and Phoebe quits her job at Merrill Lynch). As for Chandler, he realises he is in love with Monica, making their storyline slightly more nuanced than the 30-year-old virgin trope.
209. The One Where Underdog Gets Away – Season one, episode nine
Ross is uncomfortable speaking to his unborn child, but gets over his initial reluctance once because his ex-wife’s partner Susan does it. It’s slightly amazing how many of Ross’s actions in earlier seasons were motivated by his desire to compete with his ex’s partner. Also, any episode featuring Ugly Naked Guy automatically loses points.
208. The One in Barbados, Part One – Season nine, episode 23
You know there’s something wrong with an episode when the most interesting one-liners revolve around Monica’s hair and whether or not she’s going to leave The Supremes (because the Barbados humidity made it poofy, get it?). This one also sets up the “Rachel and Joey try dating” story arc, which never really seemed quite right.
207. The One with Joey's Bag – Season five, episode 13
Every time Friends makes a joke about masculinity (Joey wears a shoulder bag! Surely he must be a woman!), an angel loses its wings.
206. The One with Ross and Monica's Cousin – Season seven, episode 19
I could have lived without watching almost the entire Friends cast oggle Denise Richards for the better part of an episode. Meanwhile, Joey’s attempt to conceal the fact that he’s circumcised (for a role in which he has a full-frontal nude scene) with Monica’s help is one of the most bizarre storylines in the history of the show.
205. The One Where Chandler Gets Caught – Season 10, episode 10
Surely, Chandler must get caught doing something interesting, if his antics deserve to be turned into the episode’s title? Well, no. He’s consulting with a broker because he and Monica have decided to move away from the city to raise their children in the suburbs. Fair enough, but 1) the way they unexpectedly break the news to their friends feels like a bit of a betrayal, and 2) before their announcement, the episodes goes through a whole sequence of flashbacks commemorating Monica’s life in her Manhattan apartment. By now, you know the rule when it comes to flashbacks.
204. The One with the Apothecary Table – Season six, episode 11
This episode was just one major advertisement for Pottery Barn, the California-based home furnishing chain. Rachel loves Pottery Barn, Phoebe (the most anti-capitalist of all six friends) doesn’t. Much product placement ensues. It's actually not a bad episode, but the Pottery Barn overload feels unsettling.
203. The One with All the Thanksgivings – Season five, episode eight
So many aspects of this episode are insulting to Monica, it’s hard to know where to begin. Over the course of 20 minutes, we are taken through the group’s past Thanksgivings, including some in the Eighties when Monica was younger and fatter. Courteney Cox is back in her fat suit, and as is customary on Friends, young Monica is portrayed in a pathetic light – lusting after Chandler, who clearly thinks he’s too good for her. When Monica overhears Chandler referring to her as Ross’s “fat sister”, she stops overeating – instead of, you know, telling him off. The next year, she shows off her slimmer figure in front of him, fuelling the “changing yourself for a man is the ultimate act of revenge” narrative. And after all that, she’s the one who has to make amends in the present day for accidentally chopping off one of Chandler’s toes back in the day (she dropped a knife). All I want to do is give young Monica a hug, recommend therapy sessions, and urge her to never, ever marry that jerk.
202. The One in Barbados, Part Two – Season nine, episode 24
The jokes about Monica’s hair – specifically, about the cornrow braids she gets after her hair frizzes in the Barbadian humidity – have not aged particularly well.
201. The One with the Joke – Season six, episode 12
Nothing fundamentally wrong here, but this whole episode just seems forgettable. Ross and Chandler argue over who came up with a joke printed in Playboy. Rachel takes offence with Phoebe’s claim that she’s a pushover. Joey is fired from Central Perk, then re-hired. You could remove this episode from the season and everything would pretty remain much the same.
200. The One with the Nap Partners – Season seven, episode six
If Ross and Joey like to nap together, let them! Life’s too short to let a perfectly fine nap partner go to waste. Also, in this episode, Monica learns that Chandler once broke up with girlfriend because she had gained weight – and worries he’s going to do the same to her. Monica, if this is ever a concern, dump him. Just dump him.
199. The One with the Boob Job – Season nine, episode 16
Chandler thinks Monica is contemplating getting a breast augmentation and sets out to convince her that he finds her perfect the way she is – which leads Monica to believe that Chandler is worried about her body changing if she ever gets pregnant. Honestly, can you blame her for misreading this one?
198. The One with Phoebe's Rats – Season nine, episode 12
Phoebe and Mike take care of a litter of rats: OK. Joey is sad because he can’t make a move on Rachel and Ross’s “hot nanny” Molly: pretty offensive, and frankly repetitive at this point. Ross getting heartbroken after Rachel kisses someone else: again, we’ve been there so many times before.
197. The One with the Invitation – Season four, episode 21
Definitely the most entertaining of all flashback episodes. In this one, Rachel has to decide whether or not she will attend Ross’s wedding to Emily in London. She ends up planning not to go, claiming that she must stay to look after Phoebe (who is pregnant with triplets and cannot fly) but, as flashbacks of her relationship with Ross make clear, it’s simply too painful for her to watch him marry someone else.
196. The One with the Halloween Party – Season eight, episode six
It’s Halloween, and Ross dresses up as Spudnik (a cross between the Sputnik satellites and a spud). This makes up for the slightly lacklustre central plot that sees him armwrestling with Chandler to… impress the women in the room?
195. The One with All the Haste – Season four, episode 19
Rachel and Monica finally get back their apartment (which they had lost to Chandler and Joey a few episodes ago). Ross proposes to his girlfriend Emily on a whim, leaving Rachel secretly brokenhearted – and laying the ground work for the emotional rollercoaster of his disastrous London wedding.
194. The One with Rachel's Big Kiss – Season seven, episode 20
Rachel insists she once kissed her former sorority sister named Melissa (and played brilliantly by Winona Ryder). Phoebe doesn’t buy it, because she thinks Rachel is too “vanilla” to have kissed another woman. Joey, naturally, finds the whole thing very titillating. Ross, meanwhile, comments that “that makes two of my wives” – because his former spouse Carol is a lesbian, get it? It’s one of those episodes that hasn't really stood the test of time.
193. The One with the Butt – Season one, episode six
At this stage of season one, Friends was still trying to figure out its own identity, and it shows. Joey hopes to get his big break in film (little does he know he’s going to have to wait for several more seasons), Chandler can’t cope with dating a woman who is also seeing other men, and Monica is a neat freak. The plot lines are a bit all over the place, and none is particularly satisfying.
192. The One with the Secret Closet – Season eight, episode 14
OK, here’s the thing: most of Friends was at least pretty good, so we’re getting to the part of the ranking where some episodes end up towards the bottom simply because they're not as great as the rest. Here, the only interesting story arc is Rachel’s, who experiences Braxton Hicks contractions and relies on Joey’s support – leading Ross to realise he wants to be more present in Rachel’s life as she’s expecting their child. Other than that, Monica makes sexual noises when Phoebe massages her, and she also has a secret messy closet.
191. The One with the Football – Season three, episode nine
Watching Ross and Monica compete for the Geller Cup (a made-up award from their childhood) is pretty cute. Watching Chandler and Joey compete for a woman, less so.
190. The One with Chandler's Work Laugh – Season five, episode 12
Monica gets mad at Chandler for... wanting his boss to like him? Ross dates Janice? What’s going on here?
189. The One with Rachel's Crush – Season four, episode 13
I had forgotten how terrible Chandler was at relationships early on in the show. This time, he’s mad because his girlfriend Kathy, an ACTOR, plays a prostitute in a play, which he finds too sexual. Then date an accountant and leave the poor woman alone?
188. The One with the Evil Orthodontist – Season one, episode 20
Chandler desperately wants a woman to return his calls, then finds her needy when she finally comes to meet him in person. Joey tracks down a woman who was spying on the group from the opposite building. Rachel sleeps with her ex-fiancé Barry before realising she was right to leave him at the altar. Again, I don’t hate this episode with the fire of a thousand suns – it’s just not as good as the rest.
187. The One with Mrs Bing – Season one, episode 11
Phoebe and Monica fight over… a man who has never met them and is now in a coma (by their own fault)? Ross makes out with… Chandler’s mother? Everything about this episode is a bit odd.
186. The One with the Cheap Wedding Dress – Season seven, episode 17
Monica has to give up on her dream wedding dress so that she can book the band Chandler wants for their reception. Given everything that’s happened over the course of the previous seasons, one might question whether Chandler is really worth it, but OK, fair enough. Surprisingly, the better part of this episode revolves around Ross and Joey’s competition as they both decide to take the same woman out on two separate dates. Usually, I’m not a fan of the “woman as a competition prize” trope, but in this case, it’s diverted in a way that feels truly funny. (Hint: Joey attempts to sabotage Ross’s date, the two get into a screaming fight, the woman leaves, which those two don’t even notice until she’s gone and they’re left to eat dinner together.)
185. The One with the Bullies – Season two, episode 21
Ross and Chandler realise that just because they’re adults doesn’t mean they’re done with playground bullies. Also, Phoebe goes to visit her biological father, with whom she doesn’t have a relationship. After accidentally running over the family’s dog, she finds out that her father has walked out on them too, but meets her half-brother Frank Jr – who, as we all know, will provide an interesting story arc for Phoebe in seasons to come.
184. The One where Rachel Goes Back to Work – Season nine, episode 11
Look, it’s great that Friends tackled Rachel’s fears that she’s going to get unfairly pushed out of her job after going on maternity leave. But the man who fills in for her, Gavin, acts like a dismissive jerk for most of his on-screen time, and suddenly gets to emerge as a “really nice” guy just because he offers to babysit once? I don’t think so, Gavin.
183. The One with the Home Study – Season 10, episode seven
Chandler and Monica panic after realising that the social worker who’s evaluating them as potential adoptive parents went on a date with Joey – and of course, he never called her back. Meanwhile, Rachel reveals to Ross that she’s terrified of swings (yes, the playground equipment). It’s all OK, but the episode never quite takes off.
182. The One with the Screamer – Season three, episode 22
Rachel dates a man with anger issues. Joey’s co-star and girlfriend has to leave for LA. Phoebe tries to reach the customer service for her broken phone. It’s all pretty funny, but again, there are better episodes.
181. The One with the Flashback – Season three, episode six
This is one of the nicer flashback episodes, mainly because it takes place not too long before the show’s pilot, giving us a better idea of how we got here. We get to see Joey become Chandler’s roommate and meet the rest of the group. It’s slightly strange to see the Central Perk as a bar (before it was turned into the iconic coffee house), and the whole episode has a definite quirky vibe – but quirky's nice sometimes.
180. The One with the Lottery – Season nine, episode 18
This one belongs at the heart of the “not bad, but there are far better episodes” zone. The friends enter the lottery, and it’s pretty much a given that they’re not actually going to become millionaires – although what a plot twist that would be for the show’s penultimate season.
179. The One with the Fertility Test – Season nine, episode 21
Chandler and Monica go to a fertility clinic. Chandler makes many jokes about having to ejaculate in a cup. Meanwhile, Joey tries and fails to impress his girlfriend Charlie by memorising information about various artworks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This episode is just fine. It’s just not laugh-out-loud funny or surprisingly moving, which so many episodes of Friends were.
178. The One with the Stain – Season eight, episode seven
Monica hires a maid, becomes convinced that she is stealing her clothes and tries to peek at the maid’s crotch to check on a potential tell-tale ink stain on a pair of jeans (which she thinks might be hers). Monica, are you OK?
177. The One with the Monkey – Season one, episode 10
Phoebe meets David (her scientist boyfriend and also the one that got away because he went to Minsk to work on a research project), Rachel hangs out with her awful crush Paolo (who also happens to embody the stereotype of the promiscuous, womanising Italian), Monica invites her own boyfriend, Fun Bobby, whose backstory is never truly explained, and Ross adopts his monkey, Marcel. In other words, it's season one, and things are a bit messy.
176. The One with the Hypnosis Tape – Season three, episode 18
Monica starts seeing a millionaire named Pete who takes her to Rome (yes, Italy’s capital) on their first date. Phoebe’s brother Frank marries his home economics teacher and Phoebe is, understandably, a bit surprised – but ultimately accepts their relationship. This would be an unexpected but interesting episode if not for the story arc that sees Chandler using a hypnosis tape to quit smoking – except naturally, the tape is for women and Chandler starts acting in a more and more feminine way. Any storyline that involves Chandler and masculinity loses points. Those are the rules.
175. The One with the Boobies – Season one, episode 13
Chandler accidentally walks in on a topless Rachel, and this is a sitcom, so instead of apologising and moving on, Rachel embarks on a quest to get back at Chandler by walking him on him while he’s naked – but ends up peeping on all the wrong people. Pretty cringey in real life, but funny in a work of fiction. Meanwhile, Joey struggles after finding out his father is having an affair, and Phoebe dates a psychiatrist.
174. The One with Joey's Award – Season seven, episode 18
Monica momentarily panics when she realises that being engaged to Chandler means she will never experience the thrill of a new relationship. It’s a rather common trope, but refreshingly applied to a female character (men in fiction tend to have a monopoly on the fear of getting tied down to a single person for the rest of their lives). Meanwhile, Ross is involved in a pretty uncomfortable plot line in which several of his male students may or may not fake being in love with him, and may or may not fake being attracted to men, in order to improve their grades.
173. The One with the Jam – Season three, episode three
Monica tries to get over her break-up with Richard by making a lot of jam. Chandler, fool that he is, goes to Ross, of all people, for relationship advice. Oh, and Phoebe has a stalker.
172. The One with the Ball – Season five, episode 21
Ross and Joey (and, later, Monica) realise they’ve been throwing a ball to each other for two hours without dropping it, and challenge themselves to keep the streak going for as long as possible. It’s one of those episodes where a sitcom takes something that could realistically happen in real life and escalates it to over-the-top heights – and the result here is pretty funny.
171. The One with the Dozen Lasagnes – Season one, episode 12
Ah, yes, The One where Rachel’s Awful Boyfriend Paolo Stars Groping Everyone. An interesting idea, which would have been better conveyed if Paolo hadn’t been an offensive, sleazy-Italian-man stereotype.
170. The One with Rachel's Phone Number – Season nine, episode nine
Ross, who at this point hasn’t been in a relationship with Rachel since season three, takes a message from a man Rachel met at a bar. And then doesn’t give her said message. It will come back to haunt him, and rightly so.
169. The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion – Season three, episode 24
The whole “Monica dates a millionaire” plot was a bit bizarre – albeit not completely unrealistic for a sitcom set in New York, which gets regularly cited as one of the cities with the most millionaires in the world. It makes sense, then, that Monica’s relationship with millionaire Pete ended on a weird note: Pete decides he wants to become the Ultimate Fighting Champion and, being the dogged entrepreneur that he is, won’t stop until he succeeds, even if that means getting seriously harmed in several wrestling matches. Monica can’t bear seeing him get injured and breaks up with him. Strange, but points for originality.
168. The One with the Birthing Video – Season eight, episode 15
Ross’s girlfriend Mona is getting understandably frustrated after he lies to her about Rachel (who at this point in the series is pregnant with his child) moving in with him. His efforts to somehow straddle his relationship with Mona and his involvement in Rachel’s life have disastrous, yet hilarious results.
167. The One After the Superbowl, Part One – Season two, episode 12
Brooke Shields is amazing as Joey’s stalkerish fan Erika, who is unable to make a distinction between Joey and his character on Days of Our Lives, Dr Drake Ramoray. Plus, Ross’s quest to find his former pet Marcel, who has disappeared from the zoo Ross gave him up to, is actually quite funny.
166. The One Where Joey Tells Rachel – Season eight, episode 16
The Rachel-and-Joey plot overall felt like a misfire, especially once these two actually got together, but still – Joey’s feelings for Rachel made for a nice bit of character development on his part. Sweet, conflicted Joey was much more interesting than season 10 Joey, who somehow grew from a goofy airhead to an actual idiot towards the end.
165. The One Where Monica Sings – Season nine, episode 13
Ross brings a very nosy woman home, one thing leads to the next, and he and Rachel (who at this point are relatively new parents to Emma) realise they can’t keep living together. It was always pretty interesting to watch Ross and Rachel try to function as co-parents, and the show approached that storyline in a way that often felt honest and as realistic as possible in the land of sitcoms.
164. The One Where No One Proposes – Season nine, episode one
Rachel is trying to learn how to breastfeed her newborn daughter. She thinks Joey proposed to her but in fact he was just picking up the engagement ring that Ross was potentially, maybe going to consider giving her. Chandler and Monica are trying to conceive. That’s a lot to pack in a 20-minute episode, but somehow it works.
163. The One with the Cake – Season 10, episode four
It’s Emma’s first birthday, and everything goes wrong. None of Ross and Rachel’s friends want to celebrate (how kind of you, guys), Emma keeps napping, and her cake, which was supposed to be shaped like a bunny, ends up being modelled after male genitalia. Eventually, though, those issues get solved, and the sweet resolution feels earned.
162. The One with the Ring – Season six, episode 23
Phoebe helps Chandler pick an engagement ring for Monica, and she’s arguably the worst person for the job, which is what makes this episode so funny. Meanwhile, Rachel’s boyfriend Paul (aka Bruce Willis) starts showing more emotional vulnerability, only to end up shedding an endless stream of tears.
161. The One with the Soap Opera Party – Season nine, episode 20
This episode marks the arrival of Charlie Wheeler, aka Aisha Tyler, aka the first person of colour to become a regular cast member on Friends. Hurrah! But yes, it took the show nine seasons and practically a decade to get to that point. And even then, Charlie only remained for nine episodes.
160. The One with the Cooking Class – Season eight, episode 21
Jennifer Aniston delivers a pretty amazing (funny and yet touching) performance as a pregnant Rachel who doesn’t want Ross to date anyone (but doesn't want to date him, either). Oh, and Monica, a professional chef, goes to a cooking class to heal her bruised ego after her restaurant gets a searing review.
159. The One Where Rachel Finds Out – Season one, episode 24
Joey can’t have sex because he’s participating in a research study for which he needs to donate sperm, so he decides to focus on his partner’s pleasure exclusively. Imagine that! Of course, this only lasts as long as the study goes on.
158. The One with Ross's Library Book – Season seven, episode seven
Ross tries to prevent people from fooling around among the library stacks where his thesis is kept, while Rachel and Phoebe grow attached to a woman who was supposed to be Joey’s one-night-stand. And how nice is it to see Sex And the City’s Kristin Davis cross over into the Friends realm?
157. The One Where the Monkey Gets Away – Season one, episode 19
Rachel lets Ross’s pet monkey escape, and the friends embark on a breathless quest to get him back, which involves a former bullied classmate who now works for Animal Control. Rachel’s ex-fiancé Barry also makes a comeback, claiming that he still loves her and cannot, in fact, marry Rachel’s friend Mindy. So much drama!
156. The One with the Free Porn – Season four, episode 17
Chandler and Joey get unlimited free porn (remember this was pre high-speed Internet) while flipping through the channels and resolve never to turn off their TV set again lest they lose access. It’s a silly, classic Chandler and Joey undertaking.
155. The One with Phoebe's Husband – Season two, episode four
Phoebe’s secret husband, an ice skater who she thought was gay, comes back into her life and asks for a divorce – as it turns out, he’s straight. His conversation with Phoebe is a rather clever reversal of oft-used LGBT character tropes (in college, Duncan would often wake up next to women after partying, etc).
154. The One with Russ – Season two, episode 10
Freshly off a fight / semi-split with Ross (can you split if you weren’t really dating?) Rachel starts dating his clone, Russ (played by David Schwimmer under the alias Snaro). Of course, she insists she can’t see the resemblance. It's like watching Friends through the looking-glass.
153. The One Where Paul's the Man – Season six, episode 22
And the award for most hilarious pep talk goes to... Bruce Willis, aka Paul-the-father-of-Ross’s-student-girlfriend, standing in front of a mirror and assuring himself that he is “the man”.
152. The One Where Heckles Dies – Season two, episode three
Friends tackled the topic of death in various ways throughout the show, and it did so in quite a melancholic, touching way in this episode, which is dedicated to the friends’ largely unlikeable neighbour Mr Heckles.
151. The One with Joey's Dirty Day – Season four, episode 14
Remember when Phoebe, Rachel and Monica tried to lift Chandler’s spirits after a break-up by taking him to a strip club (and convinced one of the performers to quit to teach the third grade)? Sure, the whole episode isn’t handled in the most subtle of ways, but it’s really quite funny.
150. The One with Princess Consuela – Season 10, episode 14
When Phoebe finds out she can change her last name to anything she wants, she goes for Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock. And backs out when her new husband (the wonderfully deadpan Paul Rudd) threatens to take the name C**p Bag.
149. The One with Rachel's Inadvertent Kiss – Season five, episode 17
Rachel’s awkward impulse to kiss her future boss on the cheek after what had been a successful job interview is the stuff of nightmares. And of course, it only gets worse from there.
148. The One with All the Poker – Season one, episode 18
A competitive game of poker among all six friends becomes a way for Rachel to get over a failed job interview, and for Chandler and Joey to get confirmation that Ross is desperately in love with her. But mostly, this is the episode that taught us that “coincidence” is “joincidence” spelled with a “j”.
147. The One Where Ross Can't Flirt – Season five, episode 19
Ross really, really can’t flirt – just watch him order multiple pizzas while attempting to charm the delivery woman, Caitlin. There’s also a cute moment in which Phoebe somehow manages has a conversation in Italian with Joey’s grandmother.
146. The One with Rachel's Sister – Season six, episode 13
Reese Witherspoon steals the show as Rachel’s spoiled sibling Jill – and offers a great bit of character development for Rachel, who gets to show just how far she has come since the beginning of the series.
145. The One Where Chandler Takes a Bath – Season eight, episode 13
Joey’s feelings for Rachel create confusion in the group, Rachel accidentally finds out from Ross that they’re expecting a girl – but most importantly, Chandler realises he really likes taking baths, and Matthew Perry’s comedic talent shines.
144. The One with Phoebe's Birthday Dinner – Season nine, episode five
Phoebe is understandably frustrated when all of her friends are absurdly late for her birthday dinner. Lisa Kudrow beautifully pulls off one of Phoebe’s rare but powerful fits of rage.
143. The One where Monica and Richard are Just Friends – Season three, episode 13
Thanks to Rachel, Joey falls in love with Little Women (as he should), but is heartbroken to find out that Beth dies. On a less intellectual note, Phoebe’s new date, Robert, keeps “coming out of his shorts” and accidentally exposing himself.
142. The One with the Tea Leaves – Season eight, episode 17
In an attempt to avoid further awkwardness with Joey, Rachel makes up absurd workplace issues and tells him her boss wants to buy her baby. But the funniest bit comes when Ross attempts to secretly retrieve his beloved salmon pink shirt from his ex-girlfriend Mona’s apartment, and of course ends up getting caught.
141. The One with the Dollhouse – Season three, episode 20
Joey falls hard for his co-star Kate, who at first doesn’t like him back. Eventually, they get together, and as their romance escalates, Joey realises how poorly he has acted towards most of his exes – so he calls them to make amends. Meanwhile, Chandler stars dating Rachel’s boss Joanna and can’t bring himself to stop suggesting another date, even though he finds her impossibly dull.
140. The One with the Birth Mother – Season 10, episode nine
Unpopular opinion: I never found the “Joey doesn’t share food!” moment all that funny. I know, I know. However, Chandler’s monologue when he begs a pregnant woman to pick him and Monica as her child’s adoptive parents packs a surprising emotional punch – a major change of tone pulled off brilliantly by Matthew Perry.
139. The One with the Late Thanksgiving – Season 10, episode eight
Monica agrees to make dinner for the whole group, but everyone shows up late. Joey gets his head stuck in a door. A large mess ensues. But none of this matters, because Monica and Chandler get a call from their adoption agency telling them a woman has chosen them to be the parents of her baby.
138. The One with the Donor – Season nine, episode 22
Monica and Chandler find out they can’t conceive a child and resolve to adopt. Phoebe goes out with her long-lost love David, seemingly moving on from Mike! Joey’s girlfriend Charlie overhears Rachel confess her feelings for said Joey to Phoebe. All in all, this is one of the better episodes of season 10.
137. The One Where the Stripper Cries – Season 10, episode 11
Danny DeVito is simply unforgettable in his role as a balding, out-of-shape, yet perfectly competent stripper going by the name Officer Goodbody. And when Phoebe asks him to do his last performance for her, she gets the show of a lifetime.
136. The One with Ross’s Teeth – Season six, episode eight
Remember when Ross whitened his teeth before a date, and they ended up really, really white? This is one of those goofy, absurdly funny lines that sticks the landing.
135. The One with All the Candy – Season seven, episode nine
Ross gives Phoebe a bike, then teaches her to ride it – under the scornful gaze of judgemental parents at the park. The whole thing is genuinely touching and very funny.
134. The One with Rachel's Date – Season eight, episode five
Phoebe begins to date Monica’s sous-chef, then wants to break up with him – but Monica also wants to fire him. Both agree that said sous-chef shouldn’t be dumped and fired on the same day, but neither wants to wait. Hilarity ensues.
133. The One with Monica's Thunder – Season seven, episode one
Monica and Chandler just got engaged! Rachel and Ross kissed in the hallway! Monica is thus convinced that Rachel wants to steal her thunder on this glorious day! Rachel and Ross’s dialogue as they pretend to sleep together (as part of Rachel’s elaborate plan to get on Monica’s nerves) is laugh-out-loud funny.
132. The One with Joey's New Girlfriend – Season four, episode five
Ross and Rachel try to make each other jealous by dating, respectively, a woman who is looking for a baby sitter rather than a boyfriend, and a thief. A good reminder that these two had amazing chemistry as angry exes. Chandler tries to mask his growing feelings for Joey’s girlfriend, Kathy – and Matthew Perry delivers a wonderfully impassioned monologue about how much he loves her.
131. The One Where Joey Moves Out – Season two, episode 16
As the title suggests, Joey moves out of the apartment he shared with Chandler, as the two struggle to cohabit. It was always sad to see these two fight, but it made for good, rather genuine television. Phoebe and Rachel’s experience at a tattoo parlour (Rachel gets a heart tattooed on her hip while Phoebe stops the process after getting just a dot underneath her clavicle) provides great comic relief.
130. The One at the Beach – Season three, episode 25
Phoebe tries to find her birth mother in Montauk, and things get atrociously jumbled as Ross attempts to choose between staying with his girlfriend Bonnie or going back with Rachel. All in all, this is a good, eventful season finale.
129. The One Where They All Turn 30 – Season seven, episode 14
Rachel has trouble coping with the fact that she’s turning 30, prompting the whole group to reminisce about their own past birthdays. We learn that when Ross turned 30, he bought a ridiculous sports car that became stuck between two other parked vehicles. In a flashback sequence, Ross repeatedly instructs his friends to “lift and slide” the car in an attempt to un-wedge it – in a sequence reminiscent of his classic “Pivot!”.
128. The One with the Yeti – Season five, episode six
Emily, who is still recovering from Ross’s infamous “Rachel” slip at the altar, asks him to sell his furniture and move to a new apartment as they attempt to rekindle their relationship. As her demands escalate, Ross realises she will never trust him again, and the two decide to split for good – finally.
127. The One Where Eddie Won't Go – Season two, episode 19
Remember Eddie, Chandler’s extremely strange roommate played (brilliantly) by Adam Goldberg? He was so weird. And so very funny.
126. The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel – Season six, episode two
Rachel is trying to get Ross to annul their union after they drunkenly got married in Las Vegas. Ross is reluctant to do so because he doesn’t want a third failed marriage to his name, and because – as it turns out – he still has feelings for Rachel. Rachel, meanwhile, must accept the fact that her roommate Monica is going to move in with Chandler, and come to terms with the fact that “it’s the end of an era”.
125. The One with Christmas in Tulsa – Season nine, episode 10
Chandler, who has accidentally accepted a job transfer to Tulsa, Oklahoma, spends the lousiest Christmas ever in his office. One of his coworkers starts flirting with him, prompting him to realise how much he misses his wife Monica – and to hand in his resignation, in a rather satisfying mini plot twist.
124. The One with Two Parts, Part One – Season one, episode 16
Seeing Joey date Phoebe’s twin sister Ursula will always feel strange, but the storyline plays out nicely, and it gives a deeper look into Phoebe and Joey’s friendship – one of the sweetest bonds among the group.
123. The One Where Rachel's Sister Babysits – Season 10, episode five
Joey attempts to write a letter of recommendation for Chandler and Monica’s adoption case, overuses his thesaurus, and ends up writing it in his own words – aka, like a child. Mike is desperate to pop the question to Phoebe, who keeps unknowingly mocking his repeated proposal attempts before they happen.
122. The One After Joey and Rachel Kiss – Season 10, episode one
Monica, Chandler and Phoebe team up to eavesdrop both on Charlie and Ross (who just got together) and Rachel and Joey (ditto). The episode even takes on vaudeville undertones after Chandler pulls Joey out of Rachel’s room unbeknownst to a puzzled Rachel and an oblivious Ross.
121. The One with the Candy Hearts – Season one, episode 14
Carol, pregnant with Ben, ends up alone at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day after Susan needs to leave to tend to an emergency. Ross, who happens to be seated close to her (and is on a date of his own) tells her to come over. The evening devolves into a last-ditch effort for Ross to get his ex-wife back – until he finally accepts that they will never reunite. Monica, Phoebe and Rachel stage a “boyfriend bonfire” (in which they burn memories of their respective exes) and bond with firefighters after the blaze gets out of hand.
120. The One with Rachel's Dream – Season nine, episode 19
Ross and Chandler end up going together on a romantic weekend to Vermont (it’s a long story) and in an attempt to pay themselves back for the price of their room, embark on a quest to collect as many freebies as possible. And of course, Ross eats too many pieces of maple candy, which is a golden opportunity for David Schwimmer to pull off his “hyper Ross” performance.
119. The One Where Old Yeller Dies – Season two, episode 20
Phoebe’s shocked when she realises her mother shielded her from most sad movie endings throughout her childhood – and starts catching up on her pop-culture education. Ross causes (his then-girlfriend) Rachel to panic when he tells her he’s already mapped out their future as parents in the suburbs. Their argument ends with possibly the most angsty first “I love you” in the history of television.
118. The One with Ross's Denial – Season six, episode three
Yes, it was fun to watch an enamoured Ross make one bad decision after the next while refusing to admit to himself that he was still madly in love with Rachel – and at this point in the show, he still hadn’t told Rachel that he had failed to get their Las Vegas marriage annulled.
117. The One with the Stoned Guy – Season one, episode 15
Monica desperately wants to impress the owner of a restaurant she’s hoping will hire her as a chef, but he’s high and more interested in plain taco shells and gummy bears than her gourmet cuisine. Oh, and Ross’s date urges him to talk dirty to her, resulting in him blurting out the word “vulva”.
116. The One Where They're Up All Night – Season seven, episode 12
The title says it all: for a variety of reasons, no one can get a good night’s sleep. Ross and Joey are stuck on the roof, Tag and Rachel are caught up in a work-related argument, Chandler has insomnia and won’t let Monica sleep, and – the funniest of all – Phoebe’s fire alarm keeps beeping for no apparent reason.
115. The One with Ross's Step Forward / The One with The Creepy Holiday Card – Season eight, episode 11
Ross freaks out when his girlfriend Mona suggests they send a holiday card together and, in an attempt to avoid a difficult conversation, gives her a key (the only key) to his apartment. Classic Ross.
114. The One with Ross's Inappropriate Song – Season nine, episode seven
New parents Ross and Rachel discover that the only way to get their baby daughter to laugh is to rap “Baby Got Back”, Sir Mix-A-Lot’s not exactly child-friendly hit. So what to they do? They rap. Poorly, inappropriately, and hilariously.
113. The One with the Fake Monica – Season one, episode 21
This one is so weird, yet so interesting. When Monica’s credit card gets stolen, she catches the thief – who turns out to be a woman with a very fun, very criminal life. Her one-episode friendship with the real Monica is surprisingly touching, and it also helps Monica accept herself for who she is.
112. The One Where Rosita Dies – Season seven, episode 13
Rosita, aka Joey’s reclining armchair, meets her untimely demise. Rachel buys him a new one, but Chandler, who thinks he’s responsible for the tragedy, replaces Rosita with his own chair, leading to some confusion on Joey’s part. All this is pretty entertaining, but nowhere near as interesting as Phoebe’s attempt to keep an office worker named Earl from taking his own life. Their exchange is full of dark humour, and it's always interesting to see Phoebe – quirky, fun Phoebe – manage a high-stakes situation.
111. The One Where Eddie Moves In – Season two, episode 17
Remember when Phoebe shot a music video for “Smelly Cat” and wasn’t even sad when she realised her voice had been replaced by another woman’s? Fun times.
110. The One with Rachel's Book – Season seven, episode two
Joey finds Rachel’s erotic book and tries to make fun of her for it, but seems to be confused as to the meaning of the word “vicar”. And look, after seven seasons of the guys’ monopoly on porn, it was nice to see a female character (especially prim and proper Rachel) getting in on the fun.
109. The One Where Rachel Smokes – Season five, episode 18
Rachel worries that her status as a non-smoker means she’s getting excluded from important conversations at work – a delightfully Nineties concern. Also, Phoebe (who is arranging a surprise birthday party with Monica) pronounces the sentence: “Monica is going to rue the day that she put me in charge of cups and ice”, which is just epic.
108. The One with Ross's Wedding, Part One – Season four, episode 23
All the friends except a very pregnant Phoebe fly to London, where Ross is about to marry Emily – and find out the venue is getting torn down. Joey, who is initially incredibly excited to visit the English capital, ends up feeling comically homesick after one phone call to New York.
107. The One with George Stephanopoulos – Season one, episode four
Monica, Phoebe and Rachel are having the most depressing slumber party in history until they find out that their pizza has been accidentally delivered to George Stephanopoulos – and proceed to try to spy on the TV star. Oh, to be young in the Nineties in New York City.
106. The One Where Rachel Quits – Season three, episode 10
Rachel quits her job as a waitress in search of a better career path. By the end of the episode, she has a new gig, which mainly consists of making coffee for her boss. Still, it’s her first job in fashion – and the first step in Rachel’s series-long path to success.
105. The One with Rachel's Other Sister – Season nine, episode eight
Reese Witherspoon couldn’t return as Rachel’s sibling Jill, so Christina Applegate was cast as her “other sister” – and did a remarkable job at bringing the insufferable, tactless Amy to life. This time around, Amy manages to get invited to Thanksgiving dinner with the group and has the gall to get outraged when she learns that, should Rachel and Ross die, she wouldn’t “get” their daughter Emma – whom she keeps calling the wrong name.
104. The One After the Superbowl, Part Two – Season two, episode 13
This one was odd but fun – and it just screams Nineties nostalgia. By its second season, Friends was popular enough to attract some high-profile guest stars. Hence, Rachel and Monica fight over Jean-Claude Van Damme (I know, awwww) and Chandler goes out with a former schoolmate played by Julia Roberts. Delightful.
103. The One with the Proposal, Part One – Season six, episode 24
Sure. Chandler’s plans to propose to Monica are very touching, but this episode’s real * chef kiss * moment happens when Ross’s student / girlfriend, Elizabeth, bombards him with water balloons after he breaks up with her. You GO, Elizabeth.
102. The One with the Prom Video – Season two, episode 14
Any sequence in which the friends are seen during their college years is headed straight to Cringeville (hello, Courteney Cox in a fat suit). Only redeeming moment: when Rachel realises that many years ago, Ross was ready to step in after her prom date had apparently failed to show up. Thus, Ross and Rachel, who had sort of got together but not really, kiss again, and one of network television’s most iconic couples is reborn for good.
101. The One with Ross's Thing – Season three, episode 23
Ross has a thing on his backside. Is it a mole? Is it a cyst? No one seems to know! Only one thing is certain: Ross’s attempts to find out will be increasingly humiliating.
100. The One Where Rachel Is Late – Season eight, episode 22
Rachel is late. Late for what, you ask? To give birth, of course! She’s exhausted and justifiably cranky as her pregnancy continues past its term. A reminder if needed of Jennifer Aniston’s comedic talent.
99. The One with Rachel’s Going-Away Party – Season 10, episode 16
What a tearjerker. Rachel is preparing to leave New York for Paris, Chandler and Monica are about to move to the suburbs, and the series is nearing its end. The scenes in which Rachel bids goodbye to Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey are lovely – and at the time they aired, they must have provided some catharsis to heartbroken fans bidding the show farewell. After all this, of course, Ross and Rachel argue, then kiss – and set up the finale perfectly.
98. The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding, Part One – Season seven, episode 23
Friends had such a knack for wedding episodes. Monica and Chandler’s nuptials were especially lovely, not just thanks to the lovely couple, but also because the writers made sure to include interesting storylines in addition to the wedding itself. Here, we not only get to watch Chandler and Monica preparing to tie the knot (cute! And a bit stressful when Chandler goes missing) but we also find out – gasp! – that one of the friends is pregnant.
97. The One Where Ross Moves In – Season five, episode seven
Ross moves in with Chandler and Joey – and turns out to be the most insufferable roommate in the world. Phoebe dates an over-eager restaurant inspector, and Rachel, desperate for her new neighbour Danny to ask her out, proves surprisingly inept at playing it cool. It’s a fun, lovely little Friends episode, where nothing major happens except for about 20 minutes of perfectly enjoyable television.
96. The One Where Chandler Can't Cry – Season six, episode 14
Remember when Ross briefly dated Rachel’s sister Jill? That was weird, right? Weird but interesting. Meanwhile, Phoebe finds out that her identical twin sister Ursula is starring in pornographic films and using her name – and handles the situation with her usual panache.
95. The One with the Kips – Season five, episode five
Chandler and Monica have their first fight as a couple – and Chandler is flabbergasted to learn that this doesn’t signify the end of their relationship. A worthwhile lesson for every couple: it’s OK to argue! Speaking of which, Ross’s wife Emily asks Ross not to see Rachel anymore, after he accidentally said her name at the altar.
94. The One Where Phoebe Runs – Season six, episode seven
Sometimes, to write a page of TV history, you need to resort to hi-jinks and / or an abundance of dramatic tension. Other times, you can just have Phoebe Buffay run in a rather… unique way in Central Park.
93. The One Where Joey Dates Rachel – Season eight, episode 12
Joey takes a pregnant Rachel out on a date, because she misses that part of her social life. It’s all very cute, although it foreshadows Joey’s forever-kind-of-uncomfortable crush on Rachel. The best part, though, comes when Ross desperately tries to hold on to a new teaching slot, even though it takes place “across town”, aka on the other side of Manhattan. After several desperate attempts to cross the sizeable borough in 10 minutes (one of which results in him fainting), he winds up teaching on rollerblades.
92. The One with Two Parts, Part Two – Season one, episode 17
George Clooney and Noah Wyle make a cameo as two doctors treating Rachel after she hurts her ankle. It’s an ER / Friends crossover, in the mid-Nineties, back when both shows were in their infancy. Things don’t get much better than this.
91. The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy – Season three, episode one
Monica is so devastated after her break-up from Richard that she can’t sleep – until her father Jack drops by and tells her that Richard, too, is a wreck. Somehow, Monica’s story arc turns from painfully raw to very sweet in a matter of 20 minutes. And that, my friend, is what they call quality television.
90. The One with the Worst Best Man Ever – Season four, episode 22
Joey might be the worst best man in the history of matrimony, but Phoebe steals the show as the funniest, angriest pregnant woman who keeps snapping at her friends – all while denying she’s having mood swings. Just watch her yell at the crowd during her baby shower.
89. The One with the Sharks – Season nine, episode four
After telling Phoebe’s boyfriend Mike that Phoebe has never had a serious relationship, Ross tries to fix his mistake – by posing as her super serious (and extremely fictional) ex Vikram, a kite designer.
88. The One with the Baby Shower – Season eight, episode 20
Rachel becomes convinced she won’t manage to take care of her baby by herself and welcomes her mother’s offer to move in with her after the birth. Ross, however, steps in, and Rachel realises that 1) she won’t raise the baby alone as he will be there, and 2) she is absolutely capable of taking care of a child. It’s easy to forget, among all the jokes and the usual sitcom bells and whistles, how much Rachel grew as a character over the course of 10 seasons – and this episode serves as a useful reminder.
87. The One Where They're Going to Party! – Season four, episode nine
After learning that her own boss, Joanna, sabotaged her application for a position as assistant buyer because she doesn’t want to lose her as a PA, Rachel is promised a significant promotion. Sadly, Joanna dies before any paperwork could go through to make the changes official – meaning Rachel is back to square one. Rachel always had to battle to advance her career, but this particular setback was… unexpected, to say the least.
86. The One in Massapequa / The One with the Zesty Guy – Season eight, episode 18
Alec Baldwin is simply fantastic as Phoebe’s super! cheerful! boyfriend Parker. Initially, Phoebe tries to embrace his joie de vivre, until she snaps and equates him to “Santa Claus on Prozac at Disneyland, getting laid”. What a diss.
85. The One with the Paediatrician – Season nine, episode three
Rachel (and, soon after, the rest of the friends) discover that Ross is still seeing his childhood paediatrician, much to the group’s delight. More importantly, Joey agrees to go on a double date with Phoebe, forgets to find a proper guy for her, and ends up bringing the first Mike he can find at Central Perk. Enter Mike Hannigan, who will become Phoebe’s husband many episodes later.
84. The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS – Season five, episode four
Phoebe and Joey have an impossible debate about whether it’s possible to do charity work entirely for selfless reasons. Meanwhile, Ross tries to make one of the most important decisions of his life (does he move to London in an attempt to mend his relationship with Emily?) with the help of a… Magic 8 ball.
83. The One on the Last Night – Season six, episode six
It’s the last night before Rachel moves out of Monica’s apartment to make room for Chandler. Rachel and Monica keep fighting with each other, which turns out to really be a way for them not to acknowledge how sad they are. On the other side of the corridor, Chandler invents a game (“Cups”) to give Joey some cash, as he believes that Joey won’t be able to cope financially without his roommate. Adorable.
82. The One with a Chick and a Duck – Season three, episode 21
The chick and the duck, Joey and Chandler’s iconic pets, make their entrance. Ross gets picked to feature on a panel on the Discovery Channel, but after Rachel injures her ribs, he gives up on his TV appearance (without telling her) to take her to the hospital. The sweet moment comes as definite proof that their friendship is on the mend, several episodes after their dramatic break-up.
81. The One with the Blind Dates – Season nine, episode 14
Joey and Phoebe conspire to set up Ross and Rachel on terrible blind dates. The funniest bit of the episode occurs on Rachel’s rendez-vous, during which he man named Steve complains about “doing something he hates for no money” and being “funny-looking” – but not actually funny. Jon Lovitz, who plays Steve, has impeccable delivery and comedic timing.
80. The One with Ross's Grant – Season 10, episode six
Ross is in the running for a highly desirable academic grant, but the man deciding whether or not he will get it happens to be Ross’s girlfriend’s ex, who really wants to get back together with said girlfriend. Hilarity ensues. This is one of the better episodes of season 10.
79. The One with Rachel's New Dress – Season four, episode 18
Rachel is finally dating Joshua, the Bloomingdale’s client she has been lusting after for several episodes, and – long story short – ends up having to go out to dinner with him and his parents in a negligee. All because Joshua was too scared of Joey and Chandler’s feathery pets (the duck and the rooster) to stay in their apartment.
78. The One with the Jellyfish – Season four, episode one
Rachel is considering going back with Ross and gives him a long letter, which she says irons out everything that previously went wrong in their relationship. All he needs to do is agree with it. Ross, naturally, falls asleep reading the letter. Upon waking up, he pretends he’s in full agreement – only to find out later on that Rachel wants him to take all the blame for their past issues, which he’s not ready to do. It sounds twisted because it is.
77. The One with the Cuffs – Season four, episode three
Chandler starts dating Rachel’s boss Joanna. Rachel, fearing that this will affect her job, asks him to stop. Chandler doesn’t – and winds up handcuffed to Joanna’s office chair, half naked. Moral of the story: listen to Rachel. Also: Rachel and Chandler were a great pairing and should have had more storylines together.
76. The One with the Fake Party – Season four, episode 16
Aka the one where Rachel improvises a party in hopes of seducing Joshua, and refuses to give up even after attempting a cheerleading number (in her old uniform) and biting her lip.
75. The One with All the Kissing – Season five, episode two
Chandler and Monica struggle to hide their budding romance from the rest of the group – to the point that Chandler is left pretending that he got used to kissing people on the lips as a greeting in Europe. Oh, to be young and (secretly) in love.
74. The One Where Dr Ramoray Dies – Season two, episode 18
Sure, it’s very sad that Joey’s character on Days of Our Lives gets killed off. But how are we supposed to feel any sorrow when Chandler is busy dealing with his extremely strange roommate Eddie, who at one point accuses Chandler of stealing his goldfish, before replacing said animal with a goldfish cracker?
73. The One Where Everybody Finds Out – Season five, episode 14
Phoebe, Joey and Rachel have all uncovered Monica and Chandler’s romance. But Monica and Chandler don’t know that they know… or do they? One thing is for certain, though: Ross doesn’t know. Until he does.
72. The One with the Cat – Season four, episode two
Monica goes on a date with Chip Matthews, Rachel’s high school prom date… And realises he still very much lives like a popular high-school boy. Oh, and Joey and Chandler lose all of their furniture after Joey willingly gets into his entertainment unit (he was trying to prove a point) and gets locked inside of it.
71. The One with Joey's Porsche – Season six, episode five
After finding out that Ross never actually filed for an annulment after their Las Vegas wedding, Rachel drags him to a judge’s office to take matter into her own hands. She tries in vain to get their marriage annulled on various bases, and Ross gets in an argument with a court reporter who types his every word, including the sentence: “Stop typing”.
70. The One with Joey's Big Break – Season five, episode 22
Chandler snaps and tells Joey that no, he doesn’t believe that the low-budget Las Vegas movie he’s been cast for is going to be his big break – and when he turns out to be right, Joey refuses to admit it and gets hired as a centurion at a hotel. Rachel needs eye drops but refuses to get the treatment anywhere near her corneas, meaning Monica and the other friends are left staging a dramatic surprise intervention to make sure the drops go in.
69. The One without the Ski Trip – Season three, episode 17
Everyone except Ross embarks on a ski trip – because Ross and Rachel have just broken up and can’t stand to be in each other’s company. But the group’s car breaks down and only Ross can come to their rescue. After a fair amount of back and forth (and a bit of a lecture from Phoebe) the two realise that they’re going to have to find a way to be in the same room without snapping at each other, to preserve the entire group.
68. The One with the Engagement Picture – Season seven, episode five
Phoebe starts dating a man named Kyle, and Ross goes out with Kyle’s ex Whitney. Naturally, Phoebe and Ross end up arguing based on all the terrible things they’ve learned about the other’s date – until Phoebe angrily tells Ross she and Kyle “want the last six years back”.
67. The One with Joey's New Brain – Season seven, episode 15
Joey’s character on Days of Our Lives gets a new brain, or something like that. I don’t know because I was too busy paying attention to Ross’s attempt to woo Monica and Chandler with his bagpipes performance (which he wants to reiterate at their wedding). It’s so hilariously bad that I’m pretty certain you can see the cast cracking up.
66. The One with the Mugging – Season nine, episode 15
Phoebe realises, much to her horror, that she mugged Ross when she was living on the street. At first, Ross is outraged (which, by the way, is a great way to support your friend who was once homeless, Ross), but it turns out that Phoebe has saved a comic book he drew as a child, titled Science Boy, all these years.
65. The One here Rachel Has a Baby, Part Two – Season eight, episode 24
Rachel has a baby. Phoebe meets a guy. Joey passes as a doctor to check that said guy is not a creep. Monica lets Rachel use the name Emma, even though she was planning on using it for her own children. Joey accidentally proposes to Rachel. Fun times!
64. The Last One, Part Two – Season 10, episode 18
Of course, the finale was never going to land really high up in this ranking, because it’s just so sad to see the show end. But watching it again, 15 years later, I was struck by the fact that it’s actually really well done. Ross’s desperate attempt to confess his love to Rachel before her plane departs, combined with Phoebe’s reckless driving as she tries to get Ross to JFK as fast as possible – and that surprise resolution when Rachel shows up at Ross’s apartment and confirms that SHE GOT OFF THE PLANE – all of it is just so, so good.
63. The Last One, Part One – Season 10, episode 17
This one lands slightly higher than part two only because the show doesn’t wrap up at the end of the episode. It has all the tension of a series finale, without the gut-wrenching melancholy.
62. The One with Phoebe's Dad – Season two, episode nine
Phoebe tracks down her father upstate and brings Chandler and Joey with her as she tries to muster the courage to knock at his door. Once there, she realises she’s too scared that he will reject her, and leaves without attempting to talk to him. Joey and Chandler, who were supposed to go Christmas shopping, end up buying “gifts” (if toilet seat covers, soda cans and ribbed condoms qualify as such) from a gas station.
61. The One with the Chicken Pox – Season two, episode 23
Phoebe’s on-again, off-again crush, who is in the Navy, visits her in the city. Unfortunately, they both get chicken pox and spent the weekend trying and failing not to scratch their very itchy skin. While this is going on, Joey gets a job at Chandler’s office and gives himself an imaginary wife named Karen, Monica gets upset when she realises Richard has no apparent small obsession (unlike Monica, who has many), and Ross sweeps Rachel off her feet in a Navy uniform. It’s one of those lighter-hearted episodes that just works.
60. The One with the Girl from Poughkeepsie – Season four, episode 10
Ross, who for the record, lives in Manhattan, starts seeing a woman in Poughkeepsie, and while international audiences might not have immediately realised what the problem was, all you need to know is that Poughkeepsie is many things, and “close to Manhattan” isn’t exactly one of them. It’s basically just close enough that Ross is tempted to pursue the relationship, but far enough that it doesn’t end well. His temptation to start seeing a bigoted, unfunny, not-so-smart woman instead just because she lives uptown will resonate with the many New Yorkers who have spent enough time on the train for a lifetime.
59. The One After Ross Says Rachel – Season five, episode one
Whatever happens after someone says the wrong name at the altar is bound to be interesting.
58. The One with All the Wedding Dresses – Season four, episode 20
Rachel spooks her boyfriend Joshua by prematurely proposing to him (as Ross prepares to tie the knot with Emily), then scares him away forever by answering the door in a wedding dress (which she was wearing for fun with Monica and Phoebe). Oh, well.
57. The One with the List – Season two, episode eight
Ross, torn between his girlfriend Julie and Rachel, makes a list of pros and cons for each of the women – and boy, does he regret it.
56. The One with the Tiny T-Shirt – Season three, episode 19
After breaking up with Rachel, Ross is set on getting back all of his belongings, including a very tight T-shirt with the words “Frankie say relax” on it. Ultimately, though, he realises he needs to move on and gives the T-shirt back to her.
55. The One with All the Resolutions – Season five, episode 11
This one should really be titled The One Where Ross Wears Leather Pants on a Date and Things Go Absolutely, Terribly Wrong.
54. The One with Phoebe's Wedding – Season 10, episode 12
Phoebe’s about to marry Mike! That means she fires Monica as her wedding planner, then re-hires her. And just when everything is just about to fall into place, a blizzard threatens to cancel the entire event. But the friends end up improvising a small, adorable wedding on the snowy New York City streets, and it’s one of the most romantic moments in the entire show.
53. The One with the Videotape – Season eight, episode four
Forget about romance, this one is all about a sex tape – namely, the one Ross and Rachel shot sort of accidentally while conceiving Emma. Their friends want to see it, Ross doesn’t want anyone to see it, Rachel can be convinced – and unknowingly reveals to the group that she was the one who set her sights on Ross that night.
52. The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant – Season two, episode five
Ross, Chandler and Monica don’t realise they make significantly more money than Rachel, Phoebe and Joey – and rub salt in the wound after attending a very exciting, somewhat pricey Hootie and the Blowfish concert.
51. The One with All the Cheesecakes – Season seven, episode 11
Rachel and Chandler keep accidentally receiving delicious cheesecakes meant for somebody else. And they keep eating them. As they should.
50. The One Where Joey Speaks French – Season 10, episode 13
Spoiler alert: despite what he might tell Phoebe, Joey doesn’t actually speak French. But he can – sort of – drink a gallon of milk in 10 long seconds.
49. The One with the Two Parties – Season two, episode 22
The entire group comes together to keep Rachel’s divorced parents from running into each other – which doesn’t sound that fun in theory, but is hilarious in practice.
48. The One Where Chandler Crosses the Line – Season four, episode seven
Chandler crosses the line. Which line, you ask? Well, the one separating him from Joey’s girlfriend’s lips, of course. More fun: Ross starts playing the keyboard again and everyone (justly) thinks he’s awful, except Phoebe, who is a fan.
47. The One with Ross's Tan – Season 10, episode three
Ross doesn’t quite understand how his tanning booth works (are you supposed to count with or without Mississippis before you turn to spray your other side?). A solid running joke.
46. The Pilot – Season one, episode one
Aka The One Where It All Began! It’s always fun to re-watch the pilot, a full 25 years after it first aired. Everyone is so young and unassuming.
45. The One with the Ride-Along – Season five, episode 20
Ross, Chandler and Joey go on a ride-along with Phoebe’s cop boyfriend. Chandler is distressed after Joey ducks towards Ross when a car backfires (sounding like a gunshot) and questions why Joey would save Ross’s life rather than his. Ross, meanwhile, is shaken by what he chooses to call a near-death experience.
44. The One with Phoebe's Cookies – Season seven, episode three
Monica really, really, really wants the recipe for Phoebe’s delicious cookies, but it’s gone. After spending one episode trying to recreate it, it turns out the recipe is at the back of every bag of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips. And that is why Phoebe’s grandmother is burning in hell.
43. The One with the Baby on the Bus – Season two, episode six
Chandler and Joey babysit Ross’s baby son, Ben, and FORGET HIM ON A BUS. Things get very stressful and resolve out of pure luck. It’s not that often that Friends flirts with what could have been a six-part documentary series on Netflix.
42. The One with the Red Sweater – Season eight, episode two
Rachel still hasn’t told the group who the father of her unborn child is, but what we know is that he owns a red sweater. And guess who owns a red sweater just like this one? Tag, her former assistant / boyfriend! But also: Ross! Oh, the suspense.
41. The One After Vegas – Season six, episode one
Ross and Rachel wake up after drunkenly tying the knot in Sin City, and they’re none too pleased. Unlike the viewers.
40. The One in Vegas, Part One – Season five, episode 23
Ross and Rachel (who really got a ton of screen time at the end of season five / early in season six) sit next to each other on the plane to Vegas and start competing to embarrass / annoy each other as much as possible. Both are very successful.
39. The One with the Proposal, Part Two – Season six, episode 24
Monica almost ends up back with Richard, but of course she doesn’t – and after a couple of misunderstandings, she proposes to Chandler instead. Monica and Chandler are mostly remembered as the smooth-sailing couple of the series (once they found each other, they never really let go), but these two did know how to amp the drama every once in a while.
38. The One with the Routine – Season six, episode 10
“The routine” is a choreography that Ross and Monica invented as children, which they are eager (very eager) to perform on ABC during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve programme. “The routine” might also be the funniest memory dug up from Ross and Monica’s childhood.
37. The One Where Estelle Dies – Season 10, episode 15
Monica and Chandler are shocked to find out that Janice (yes, Chandler’s ex Janice) is considering buying the house right next to their future suburban home. Ross bribes Rachel’s former boss to convince him to re-hire her (and keep her from moving to Paris for a position at Louis Vuitton). Joey’s agent Estelle dies, and Phoebe, unaware that Joey knows, pretends to be Estelle during a hilarious (and, from Joey’s standpoint, confusing) phone call. All this to say: there are a lot of moving parts, which somehow come together to bring the show a little closer to its ending.
36. The One After 'I Do' – Season eight, episode one
Monica and Chandler have tied the knot, meaning we’re free to focus on what truly matters: Rachel’s pregnancy. After Monica finds out that her friend might be expecting, she convinces Rachel to take another pregnancy test during her wedding reception. As all three wait for the results in the bathroom, Phoebe pulls off a risky but masterful trick when she first tells Rachel the test is negative – and, after witnessing Rachel’s obvious disappointment, revealing that the test is actually positive. Maybe don’t try this in real life, but in the land of fiction, it’s pretty cute.
35. The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding, Part Two – Season seven, episode 24
The friends spare no effort to keep Monica from finding out that Chandler has gone missing, hours before their wedding. Joey, who is supposed to officiate the ceremony, is in danger of missing out because he’s trying to shoot a movie scene with a hopelessly drunk co-star. Of course, everything works out, and the episode (as well as the seventh season) ends with one of the show’s biggest plot twist when it’s revealed that Rachel is pregnant.
34. The One Where Joey Loses His Insurance – Season six, episode four
In an incident that will rang true to anyone who has ever tried getting healthcare coverage in the US, Joey loses his insurance and immediately gets a hernia – which he refuses to get treated until his coverage resumes. This is also the episode in which a panicked Ross puts on an English accent while giving his first lecture – and tries to phase it out when he realises he can’t possibly keep it up for the rest of the semester.
33. The One in Vegas, Part Two – Season five, episode 24
Chandler and Monica find their way back to each other after Monica has lunch with her ex boyfriend Richard. Ross and Rachel are confined to their hotel room because Ross drew a moustache on Rachel’s face with indelible ink – until they get drunk and go out to enjoy Vegas. And end up getting married in the process.
32. The One with Phoebe's Uterus – Season four, episode 11
Phoebe agrees to carry her brother’s triplets, Ross and Joey start a mini revolution so that all employees sit together at Ross’s workplace, but most importantly, Monica teaches Chandler a crucial lesson about how to pleasure a woman. Yay for healthy representations of female sexuality on screen.
31. The One Where Ross Finds Out – Season two, episode seven
Rachel, who is trying hard to forget her feelings for Ross (who is still dating Julie), goes on a date with a man named Michael. She has a couple more drinks than strictly necessary and decide to call Ross in the middle of dinner to tell him that she’s over him (because nothing says “I’m over you” like a long voicemail recorded during a date with someone else). And that, my friend, is what they call closure.
Click through the gallery below to see our top 30 Friends episodes
This article was originally published in February 2019
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