Friends is one of the greatest comedies show of all time. It shaped modern sitcoms, was filled with relatable characters and situations and is just as beloved now as it was when it originally aired. Funny, warm, endlessly quotable, this series which aired for 10 seasons from 1994-2004 and had 236 episodes, is my personal favorite modern comedy series. In honor of the show’s 25th anniversary I am counting down my 25 favorite episodes along with a few honorable mentions. It was difficult to choose these indeed because there are so many amazing episodes.
Season 1 Episode 18
The One With the All the Poker
A hilarious battle of the sexes with the game of poker helps established key character traits for each one of them, particularly Monica’s competitiveness, Joey’s food rules, and Phoebe’s sweetness. It becomes clear Ross completely loves Rachel when he folds a winning a hand so she can win, happy to see her happy.
Season 4 Episode 23/24
The One with Ross’ Wedding
Ross’ wedding in London provided many laughs and unexpected romantic moments that led to two endgame couples as Rachel hastily flies to the wedding to tell Ross she loves him, and Monica and Chandler hook up for the first time. Joey’s romp through London, Phoebe trying to warn of Rachel’s arrival and a amusing guest star appearance from Hugh Laurie are real highlights.
Season 10 Episode 16
The One With Rachel’s Going Away Party
Sweet and heartfelt executed in a hilarious way is one of the things Friends did brilliantly and is known for. After 10 seasons what these characters mean to each other is shown in each goodbye to Rachel as she prepares to move to Paris, each one in true fashion to each character. Of course it’s the one with Ross that would mean the most to both of them.
and now onto the Top 25!
25. Season 7 Episode 23/24
The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding
Monica and Chandler’s relationship may have comes as a surprise (at least to some), but what was so wonderful was that they became the show’s most stable and sweet romantic relationship, and their wedding was nothing short of beautiful, romantic and funny as you would hope. Chandler’s cold feet, Rachel and Phoebe trying to stall, Gary Oldman, and finally the wedding itself, everything is wonderful. Of course, the show threw in a twist at the end when it was revealed that Monica was not the one that was pregnant, but rather Rachel. It was both a satisfying culmination of a journey and the start of another.
24. Season 5 Episode 3
The One With the One Hundredth
Phoebe is the most eccentric but also one of the most selfless characters on the show, seen none more so by being the surrogate for her brother’s and his wife’s triplets. The 100th episode of the series was a special one as Phoebe finally gives birth, Monica and Chandler realize the relationship is a special one, and Joey, thinking he’s having sympathy pains has kidney stones instead. Of course who can forget that Phoebe’s doctor is even more eccentric then she is, proclaiming unprompted how much he loves Fonzie! The moment Phoebe spends with three little miracles she helped bring into the world is a heartwarming gem.
23. Season 1 Episode 23
The One With the Birth
From the very beginning the birth of Ross’s child was the source of joy and trepidation for the character, but in true Friends fashion everyone is true to character and gets their moment to induce laughter, from Monica’s yearning for a child, Chandler awkwardly attempting to make her feel better, Rachel flirting with a handsome doctor, and Phoebe giving Ross and Susan advice about their bickering. It’s sweet and light, but showcases the proper gravity of the event. As an Aunt myself when Monica holds baby Ben for the first time, it’s a sweetly relatable moment that makes me cry.
22. Season 8 Episode 9
The One With the Rumor
When Jennifer Aniston’s then husband Brad Pitt guest starred in Season eight’s Thanksgiving episode, it was definitely a hilariously subversive turn for the actor as someone who can’t stand Rachel, and had formed in high school (with a very regretful Ross), the “I Hate Rachel Green Club” and started a very serious rumor about her. So many laughs, but not from this alone, from Phoebe’s crush on Pitt’s character, to Joey doing what Tribbiani’s do best and eat his own weight in food, this was a Thanksgiving for the record books.
21. Season 5 Episode 23/24
The One in Vegas
Three different storylines from three different duos highlight the end of Season 5, each one so totally in character, and each one full of sweetness and silly giggles and unexpected turns. Joe’s big movie break ends up being a bust but he thinks finding his identical hand twin is his saving grace- only Joey could think this way, except maybe Phoebe who his enlists to help as her alter ego Regina Phalange. Monica and Chandler’s anniversary quickly turns into high stakes gambling where a roll of the dice helps them decide to tie the knot in a truly sweet moment. But they are hilariously upstaged as a very drunk Ross and Rachel, complete with pen silly faces, come bursting out of the chapel right before them!
20. Season 10 Episode 5
The One Where Rachel’s Sister Babysits
Friends truly hit the jackpot when he came to guest stars, especially those who played Rachel’s sisters. In her second appearance, Christina Applegate is once again brilliantly funny as she cannot remember who Ross is, nor baby Emma’s name, repeatedly calling her Ella, and caps off being Aunt of the year by piercing her ears without permission, deciding she’s going to be of all things a “baby stylist.” But these were not the only fine moments as the other storylines involves a few botched marriage proposals between Phoebe and Mike, until one that finally is perfect and completely sweet and happy.
19. Season 1 Episode 7
The One With the Blackout
The first truly iconic episode of the series features a blackout across New York with most of the friends in Monica and Rachel’s apartment, while Chandler is stuck in an ATM vestibule with Jill Gudacre. Ross wants to profess his feelings for Rachel, but a cat and charming Italian stranger get in the way. Phoebe, Monica and Joey distract themselves with music and sage advice for Ross and Rachel. And Chandler proclaims what is now an iconic quote and one which I reference on the regular “Gum would be perfection!” Fun and funny in every way!
18. Season 4 Episode 16
The One With the Fake Party
Even though I wanted (and obviously fans on the whole) Ross and Rachel to end up back together in the end, we cannot deny that their other romantic entanglements provided a lot of hilarious, even endearing moments. In this episode Rachel is determined to seduce her crush Joshua at an impromptu party she cooked up as a going away party for Ross’ new British girlfriend and it is absolutely hilarious as she keeps trying different things, from changing outfits, to spin the bottle, and then a “goodbye cheer” that results in a broken tooth. Poor Rachel feels so dejected at the end, so when Joshua shows back up, ready to be with her despite trepidation, you can’t help but be happy for her; not to mention that she so sweetly offered Ross kind advice about trying make a go of it with Emily, despite her not being in New York. It’s the hijinks and sweet moments that made this episode so great.
17. Season 4 Episode 1
The One With the Jellyfish
Any true Friends fan knows this episode well, and its many quotable moments, from the truth about what happens on the beach when Monica gets stung by a Jellyfish, to Ross and Rachel getting back together under false pretenses because he fell asleep reading her latter that was 18 pages- FRONT AND BACK!! Even though we love the sweet, quite moments too, there’s something hilarious about these wacky and quick paced episodes that include revealing secrets, arguing and more. It’s also good to know the lengths Joey and truly Chandler would go to help one of their friends. That’s true friendship.
16. Season 10 Episode 12
The One With Phoebe’s Wedding
This is truly one of the sweetest and loveliest episodes of the entire series, and honestly, even though Monica and Chandler’s wedding is amazing, this was my favorite wedding of the series. And it couldn’t have happened to a sweeter and more deserving character. Having such a rough childhood, and no sense of normalcy, Phoebe grew into a unique, tough but extremely loving and compassionate woman. And when she found someone to love and be a part of the family she found with her friends, she was able to celebrate it in an ultimately simple but profound way. Quiet, snowy and with those she loves most there we get to see Phoebe and Mike declare their love and commitment, thanks to Monica’s fast and unsurprising organizing skills. It may have been freaking freezing but our hearts were as warm as ever.
15. Season 2 Episode 7
The One Where Ross Finds Out
It was a tough go for Rachel when she found out Ross was in love with her, only for him to return from a business trip with a new girlfriend. Her bind date which turned into her borrowing a very understanding man’s phone to drunkenly declare to Ross’ answering machine that she is finally over him. It real began to show Aniston’s comedic chops while it also led to one of the show’s best moments and a real turning point for the show and one of the best first kisses in TV history.
14. Season 10 Episode 11
The One Where the Stripper Cries
It takes a truly incredible show to still be able to deliver comedic gold 10 years into a series, and this one from Friends’ final season is a wacky array of just that. Monica and Rachel arrange a classy bachelorette party for Phoebe much to her chagrin, and the last minute stripper is not what they expected in guest star Danny Devito, who has a bit of an existential crisis while there but eventually dances for the girls. It’s surprisingly endearing. Meanwhile, Joey’s turn on the game show Pyramid showcases his unconventional way of thinking that is likewise completely endearing and completely hysterical. If you don’t randomly shout out “Paper, snow , a ghost” while playing your favorite game, are you an even a Friends fan?
13. Season 6 Episode 12
The One With Rachel’s Sister
The first time we see one of Rachel’s sisters is one of the most quotable and funniest episodes, and a true showcase as a way of utilizing a guest star’s talent without making it too gimmicky or overshadowing the point of the story. Seeing Rachel’s sister Jill go through something similar but react completely differently being much more selfish and self involved led to pure hilarity when she decides to try to hook up with Ross; but that’s not the only comedic gem here. Monica’s stubbornness is seen tenfold as she refuses to admit she’s sick and even seduces Chandler in thinking she has. I cannot name all the amazing quotes below but some highlights include Monica’s congested “I’m in the prime of lime,” Rachel’s “You know what happened to the girl who tried too much too fast? She died Jill,” and Jill’s “You had me doubting how smart I am! You had me doubting my fashion sense!” It’s also worthy to note the funny moment when there’s a knock on the door as they count each other, wondering who it could be when they’re all sitting there.
12. Season 2 Episode 14
The One With the Prom Video
The episode that developed a new way of describing someone’s soulmate and true love, which is a great feat in itself, we knew that this established Ross and Rachel as an endgame couple (despite the rocky road that lie ahead). The episode also demonstrated many of the show’s common themes and plot devices we would see multiple times throughout the series: Ross’ unassuming and quiet nobleness he would showcase when it mattered, Phoebe’s sweet positivity and wisdom, and flashbacks to their younger selves which were not only funny but informed and help their characters in their present day lives. In this case, seeing that Ross was going to take Rachel to the prom when it seemed like her date had dumped her, and Rachel walks across the apartment to kiss him, the show was never the same and all the better for it.
11. Season 4 Episode 20
The One With All the Wedding Dresses
Another classic example of the Friends being completely their characters in such funny ways is this hilarious episode where Chandler, who can’t do things like a normal person, takes Joey to a sleep clinic to help his snoring, Monica’s gets a bit carried away trying on Emily’s wedding dress, which quickly rubs off on Phoebe, and Rachel’s gets really carried away trying to compete with Ross and hastily proposes to Joshua. Every moment is giggle inducing from Gunther yelling “You idiot!” at Joshua who turns Rachel down, to Joey falling asleep and asking the entire clinic “How you doin,” to Phoebe’s concern that they can’t marry Chandler, at least “not after this”, ie seeing them in wedding dresses.
10. Season 6 Episode 6
The One With the Last Night
Don’t lie, you tried to play Cups after watching this episode, Chandler’s, not so subtle to the audience but lost on Joey, fake game to try to help his friend out as he prepares to move out is such a example of what these two are to each other, a true blue support system not matter what. But the real highlight of the episodes was the bickering between Monica and Rachel which changed from listing things they hate to things they love, appreciate and will truly miss about each other. Life is every changing and the episode showed that even when our lives change, these friends will always be there for each other.
9. Season 5 Episode 16
The One With the Cop
I say the word “PIVOT” and that should be enough of an indicator of what makes this such a classically hilariously episode. Ross, Chandler and Rachel trying to move Ross’ new couch into his apartment with that single word being shouted over and over again is never not funny, especially when wondering why it didn’t work because, after all, he had a sketch. But every story in the episode is beyond funny from Joey wanting the closeness that Monica and Chandler share, so thinking hitting on his friends is the answer, to Phoebe finding a police badge and getting carried away doing good deeds, these all are filled with iconic moments galore.
8. Season 6 Episode 9
The One Where Ross Got High
There are two Thanksgiving episodes in the top 10 and this is the first. Most viewers will remember this episode as the one where Rachel accidentally makes half an English trifle and half a shepherd’s pie resulting in a custard and jam dessert mixed with beef, peas and onion, aka a dessert that tastes like feet to everyone except for Joey, the man who will clearly eat and love anything. Of course there are is more hilarity than that- the Gellar’s shunning Chandler for a lie Ross told and he and Monica proceeding to spill all of each other’s secrets, and Phoebe’s dreams that change her love from Mr. Gellar to Jacques Cousteau. A lot of information comes out as do a lot of laughs as a result.
7. Season 3 Episode 9
The One With the Football
The second Thanksgiving episode in the top 10 is the funniest and most on point with the day with hopes for food and being distracted by one of America’s greatest sports- a tie between football and healthy competition. Of course when it comes to playing with friends who are hyper competitive, things can get messy and this was no different. From Chandler and Joey fighting over a girl, to Ross and Monica over the “Geller cup” to Phoebe being so happy to finally play the game and Rachel desperately trying to, what turns into a battle of the sexes is an absolute delight.
6. Season 5 Episode 19
The One Where Ross Can’t Flirt
If you don’t laugh at the episode I think it’s possible you are without a funny bone. Some of the best episodes of Friends are ones where its entirety takes place in a single location, mostly Monica’s and Rachel’s apartment, and the gang are all talking or preparing for something. In this case the all are waiting to watch Joey on Law and Order, with his Italian speaking grandmother, while Monica and Chandler are anticipating going out to dinner for their anniversary after, Rachel tries to find earrings of Monica’s she lost, and Ross attempts to flirt with the Pizza delivery girl, all to hilarious results. From the grandmother’s “No, no Sam Waterston,” to Joey filming a scene when he realizes he’s been cut from the show, to Ross’ hilarious flirting which ends in him talking about gas of all things, this is classic Friends.
5. Season 6 Episode 24/25
The One With the Proposal
For a couple whose relationship initially wasn’t supposed to last, Monica and Chandler became the sweetest, most charming and stable romantic relationship on the show, and when it came the episodes that ended with their engagement, it definitely was a showcase of some of what the show did best- provide constant laughs, strong character development and a great deal of heart. Wanting it to be surprise Chandler pretends to be against marriage which leads Monica back to Richard who had expressed regret and remaining love for her. Luckily Monica’s love for Chandler is strong and Richard proves to be an honorable man. And of course Phoebe being her usual eccentric self while helping Chandler pick out a ring was so funny. But the real treat was the heartfelt proposal for the couple, who truly prove that falling in love with your best friend is something we all would dream of.
4. Season 10 Episode 17/18
The One With the Last One
Perhaps the greatest series finale ever, everything about “The Last One” wraps up the story as it should be. Funny, sweet, surprising emotionally satisfying, we say goodbye to this groups of friends and their growing families in a way that makes us laugh and cry and feel like they each are exactly where they should be. Monica and Chandler finally become parents, to twins as a lovely and happy surprise, while Joey and Phoebe help Ross in his hopes to finally come together with Rachel, before she leaves for Paris and it’s too late. Bringing back iconic running gags like Phoebe using the word “Phalange” in a very crucial moment, to Joey’s adorable understanding of what Ross’s job actually is, to showcasing a new iconic moment for the couple who we knew was meant to be from the very beginning, but as is life took a long time to finally get it right. Ross is Rachel’s lobster so of course she “got off the plane.” When it comes down to it, this group of Friends is a family and while their lives are ever changing they will always be there for each other.
3. Season 5 Episode 14
The One Where Everyone Finds Out
Monica and Chandler’s relationship remained a secret until this episode and unsurprisingly when they do find out, they choose to have some fun before letting on- and we are all the better for witness such hilarious hijinks. The real star of the episode is Phoebe, while the star moment is the revelation that Monica and Chandler’s relationship is more than just a fun fling, but true love. It’s difficult to elaborate on the greatness of the episode but when you create another iconic quote that people use on the regular, frequently out of context, you know it’s a classic episode of television.
2. Season 3 Episode 2
The One Where No One’s Ready
Another truly hilarious episode that brought certain quotes and phrases into our everyday vernacular this episode classic Friends is, like others in the Top 10 in that it takes place entirely in one location, and quite uniquely, in real time, as everyone is meant to be getting ready to go out to a function for Ross, and are doing everything but. Phoebe supporting Christmas by sporting a bow to hide a humus stain, Monica insisting she’s breezy when leaving a message on Richard’s answering machine, Chandler and Joey fighting over seat resulting in Joey wearing everything Chandler owns, and Ross regretting losing his temper at Rachel and proving he would do anything for her, because he was willing to drink a glass of fat, there is only one episode that could top this because you cannot get most classic Friends than this!
1. Season 4 Episode 12
The One With the Embryos
Was there any doubt that this episode would be number 1 on this list. There is no episode more iconic and a true showcase of each character and many of their defining traits: Chandler and Joey’s eccentricities and goofiness, Monica’s competitiveness, Rachel’s eagerness but desire to please, Ross being the most knowledgeable, and Phoebe’s selfless willingness to carry her brother and sister in-law’s child. If you can’t recite the entirety of them playing their game of trivia about each other, especially the “Lightning Round” remembering the TV guide is addressed to Miss Chanandler Bong, that Monica has eleven categories of towels, and that Rachel’s actual favorite movie is Weekend at Bernie’s, are you even a real Friends fan? Regardless, we will never forget the moment the game goes in favor of the guys because the girls don’t know what Chandler’s job is. And at the end of the day, they prove in true goofy and heartfelt fashion that no matter the fights or bickering they will be happy for each other because when your Friends are your family, that’s all the truly matters.
What are your favorite episodes of Friends? Did I mention your favorites? Let me know in the comments!