12. "The One With All The Resolutions" (Season 5, episode 11)
David Schwimmer barely ever gets the credit he deserves for his hilarious performance in Friends. Against the other characters, Schwimmer's boring, divorced father is the straight man to everyone else’s comedy flailing. Yet, Schwimmer has some of the best timing and delivery in the whole cast, something he gets to show off during this episode’s "leather pants" incident. At a New Year's Eve party, Ross gets trapped in a date’s bathroom, unable to put his trousers back on. Cue a gentle slide into madness involving talc, moisturizer, and an eventual bare-legged exit. It’s also, crucially, the episode where Chandler and Monica’s relationship is finally discovered by Rachel.
Monica, speaking on speaker phone as Rachel listens in secret: "I can't wait to see you. I'm just going to tell Rachel that I'm doing laundry for a couple hours."
Chandler: "Laundry. Huh. Is that my new nickname?"
Monica: "You know what your nickname is, Mr. Big…"
11. "The One With Ross’ Wedding" (Season 4, episodes 23 and 24)
"I Ross, take thee, Rachel." .The world stopped for a minute after that line. "The One With Ross’ Wedding" is the most famous episodes of Friends, with cameos from Richard Branson, Jennifer Saunders, the Duchess of York, and – best of all – Hugh Laurie as Rachel’s straight-talking plane neighbour. This episode sets off everything that was to come in Friends, with Ross' messed wedding vows clearly indicating that he and Rach are not over ‘over’. The episode also sees Chandler and Monica get together the first time with a move so popular the TV studio audience that Perry and Cox had to hold their pose, after Monica lifts the bed covers, for 27 seconds.
Phoebe, after hitting Rachel during therapy: "Okay, how do you feel now?"
Rachel: "Well, I like you less."
10. "The One With Joey’s Porsche" (Season 6, episode 5)
Season 6 may be a rockier ride than its predecessors, but there are still a couple of gems. In "The One With Joey’s Porsche", our favourite wise-cracking New Yorker finds the keys to a Porsche and, when no owner can be found, claims it as his own, realising the car's ice-breaking capabilities with the ladies. Yet, Joey still can’t let go after being reunited with its owner, and scenes dressing as a Porsche nerd and replacing the car with a giant pile of boxes raise big laughs.
Rachel: "I am so mad, Ross. I don’t think I’ve ever been this angry."
Ross: "What about the time I said we were on a break?"
9. "The One Where Ross Is Fine" (Season 10, episode 2)
Ross is not fine. The relationship between Joey and Rachel has been quietly eating away at him. Things peak when Ross invites the pair over for a dinner party and he ends up getting roaring drunk – so drunk he gets a dish straight out of the oven without using gloves. Meanwhile – in another excellent, cringe-inducing plot – Chandler and Monica visit the house of a couple who have adopted their son, to get an idea of what’s involved in the process of adoption. Chandler, in his biggest moment of foot-in-mouth ever, accidentally tells the child he’s adopted, which he didn’t know previously. His follow-up line about Santa is priceless.
Chandler: "I'm so sorry, but you should have a sign out there or something. Or at least whisper it to people when they come in the door. 'Owen doesn't know he's adopted, and he also thinks that Santa is real.'"
8. "The One With The Cop" (Season 5, episode 16)
Joey and Rachel become a surprise couple at the end of season 9, but their pairing is actually briefly foreshadowed four seasons earlier in this episode. (At this point Rach is nonplussed by his awkward advances, which are based on a dream about Monica.) Love is in the air for Phoebe, too, when she finds an NYPD badge in Central Park and begins using it to accost mild law-breakers – only to flash it the badge's owner, Gary, who offers her dinner. Also, one word defines this episode: “Pivot”!
Ross: "Piv-ot. Piv-ot. Piv-oooooot!"
Chandler: "Shut up! Shut up!" Shuuuut Uuuuup!"
7. "The One With The List" (Season 2, episode 8)
On the surface, "The One With the List" is a cruel, heartbreaking episode. The boys encourage Ross to make a list of Rachel’s pros and cons, apparently to help him decide whether or not to dump Julie for Rach. Unlike many Friends episodes, the comedy here is mixed with tragedy as the list prints just in time for Rachel to read – a cruel twist that denied fans who had been shipping Ross and Rachel for one and a half seasons. It’s smartly done, and the show doesn’t shy away from commenting on how unacceptable the objectification of potential partners is. Meanwhile, Monica accepts work for the Mockolate company, resulting in one of the funniest side-plots in Friends history.
Chandler: "This must be so hard. Oh, no. Two women love me. They're both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet's too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight."
6. "The One With The Blackout" (Season 1, episode 7)
A classic episode of Friends, and rightly so. There’s a power cut across most of New York, and the gang find themselves stuck – Chandler is trapped in an ATM booth with Jill Goodacre, the model, and the rest are stranded in Monica’s apartment with a dwindling supply of candles. Chandler gets the more heartwarming story, as Jill warms to his goofy brand of humour after she saves him from choking on a piece of (someone else’s) chewing gum. Meanwhile, Rachel meets Paolo and ends up kissing him when the candles burn out, giving Ross a sickening shock when the power comes back on. Poor guy.
Ross: "Do you know the word, 'crapweasel'?"
Ross: "That's funny, 'cause you are a huge crapweasel!"
5. "The One Where Everyone Finds Out" (Season 5, episode 14)
"The One Where Everyone Finds Out" uses both Phoebe and Chandler ingeniously. The episode starts with Phoebe learning that Monica and Chandler are together, and she wants revenge. Egged on by Rachel and Joey – “They don't know that we know they know we know!” – Phoebe begins flirting with Chandler. Chandler tells Monica, and they decide to play their own game: having Chandler reciprocate those flirtations. The result is an awkward game of chicken escalates that leads to the series’ most awkward ever kiss, delivering huge laughs every step of the way. “Oh my God! He wants me to come over, and feel his bicep, and more!” Then, during the credits, Ross finds out too…
Ross: "What are you doing? Get off my sister!!"
4. "The One With The Prom Video" (Season 2, episode 14)
"The One With The Prom Video" marks the moment Ross' unrequited love for Rachel became one of the defining storylines of the entire show. However, while that may be the case, the real star of the episode is the eponymous High School prom video. Using makeup to reveal the cast as teens in the ‘80s, the video features our first looks at an overweight Monica, Rachel’s original nose, and Ross’ Jheri curl. Crucially, though, Rachel gets to see what happened after her and Monica left for the prom – a crushed Ross appears in prom gear, ready to take Rachel when it looked like her date wasn’t going to arrive. In the present, Rachel kisses Ross and sets the agenda for the next eight seasons.
Phoebe: "See, he’s her lobster."
3. "The One With Ross’ Sandwich" (Season 5, episode 09)
Perhaps it’s cruel to laugh at the breakdown of one of the show’s core characters. Perhaps. All we know is that it’s also hilarious to see Ross lose his cool when one of his coworkers accidentally steals his sandwich (it’s actually his boss), and all his pent up anger about his divorce with Rachel and his eviction come spilling out. The ending, where Joey covers for Monica and Chandler’s secret relationship – by painting himself as a sex addict – to avoid inciting Ross’ rage further is brilliant.
Phoebe: "Alright, wait! Just wait. Everybody just calm down. Okay? Let's give our friend Joey a chance to explain why he's such a big pervert!"
2. "The One Where No-one’s Ready" (Season 3, episode 2)
Friends’ writers crafted some great episodes based entirely in Monica’s apartment, and this is the best of the bunch. Cleverly, it plays out in real-time: Ross has 20 minutes to persuade everyone to get ready for a black-tie work dinner. It lends the episode an certain intensity that helps balance the laughs – and there are many, particularly Joey and Chandler’s schoolboy squabble over a chair – with a fan-pleasing pay-off: Ross proving his love to Rachel by attempting to drink Monica’s leftover cooking fat.
Joey: "Look at me, I’m Chandler. Could I be wearing any more clothes? Maybe if I wasn’t going commando…"
1. "The One With The Embryos" (Season 4, episode 12)
Friends’ best episode is also its most misleadingly titled. While the story of Phoebe’s embryo implantation on behalf of brother Frank delivers both laughs and a feel-good ending, it’s the quiz where the remaining quintet test how well they know each other – with Chandler and Joey ultimately winning Monica’s apartment – which steals the show. “Miss Chanandler Bong!” “He’s a trans… trans… transpondster!” “His legs flail about as if independent from his body!” “I can’t believe we live here!” With more quotable lines in one half-hour sepisode than some series manage in an entire run, "The One With The Embryos" marks Friends’ pinnacle.
Ross: "What is Chandler Bing’s job?" [Silence]
Every episode of Friends is available on HBO Max in the US, check out our guide on how to watch Friends online for other countries. Want more of the best TV on the airwaves? Check out our best It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes and best Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episodes.