Friends - it's easily among the best shows on Netflix, and remains one of the funniest, most watchable shows on TV. Everyone knows the gang: Ross, Rachel, Joey, Chandler, Monica and Phoebe, regardless of whether they watched the original episodes air back in 1993, or just caught them recently on Netflix. But which are the very best Friends episodes?
Which made us laugh hardest, sigh the loudest, or tear-up with sentiment? Hmmm... Picking a list of the best Friends episodes from the 236 shows is a tough task. They're still genuinely funny, and good to binge three or four at a time. To paraphrase the immortal title song: no matter your mood or life circumstances, Friends will be there for you… it has been for the last 24 years and may well be for the next 24. Here are the very best episodes, from a show filled with best episodes.
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25. The Last One (Season 10, episodes 17-18)
We begin at the very end. Friends’ final episode finally reunites Ross and Rachel for good after a chase across New York taking in two declarations of love for Rach (poor Gunther!), two airports, and limitless missing phalanges, while Chandler and Monica learn that surrogate Erica is expecting twins. During childbirth. Farewells are also bid to the boys’ legendary foosball table, and the little big apartment that hosted ten seasons. That final scene? Proper ‘no, I’ve been chopping onions’ fare.
Best line: Erica: I’m tired.
Doctor: Well, you don’t have that much time to relax. The other one will be along in a minute.
24. The One With The Football (Season 3, episode 9)
One of the show’s many Thanksgiving episodes, this one is notable for really showing the historical rivalry between Ross and Monica. The guys are inspired to play some football after watching the NFL over the holiday, and it quickly ends up being a contest between the siblings, who will employ any kind of dirty trick to win. There’s a side-plot where Joey and Chandler become obsessed with a Dutch girl, but that feels a lot like lazy (and pretty inaccurate) stereotyping when watched in 2018.
Best line: Monica: Are we playing football or what? Come on you hairy-backed Marys!
23. The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line (Season 4, episode 7)
Chandler’s (obviously mutual) crush on Cathy really challenges the viewer: you’re rooting for them to get together despite the fact that, effectively, they’re both cheating on Joey. This ep sees flirting turn to hairdressing and hairdressing turn to kissing, but there’s light relief from their – and your! – guilt by way of Ross’ ‘Sound’. Naturally Phoebe is the only one who understands his discordant blend of dog barks, explosions, and keyboard taps, though it’s Rachel that summarises it best: “I can’t believe I ever let him touch me with those fingers.”
Best line: Chandler: Oh it’s the phone, the phone’s making sounds!
22. The One With The Girl From Poughkeepsie (Season 4, episode 10)
Not an episode you’ll find on many best lists, but this is a genuine gem. The highlight is when Monica hires Joey at her restaurant, because the other kitchen staff are picking on her, and she wants an ally. When she tries to fire Joey to demonstrate her authority, the out of work actor refuses to go because he makes too much money in tips (and he gets to call himself Dragon). Meanwhile, Ross is dating two women at once - a dull girl in the city, and the titular one he meets on the train to Poughkeepsie. Obviously it ends badly, and he ends up finishing with both of them, but not before falling asleep on the train and ending up in Montreal. There’s little special about the episode, but the jokes are strong and the situational comedy is sharp.
Best line: Joey: I was gonna do it! Really! But I was standing there with 327 dollars in one hand and 238 dollars in the other hand, and I was thinking, ‘Wow! It’s been a long time since I had… (tries to do the math in his head, but can’t) 327 + 238 dollars!’
21. The One After The Superbowl (Season 2, episodes 12-13)
This two-parter sees Ross reunited with Marcel the monkey, who is in New York filming Outbreak 2. It’s one of the first of Friends’ star-studded double episodes, and features a cameo from Jean Claude Van Damme (who has a crush on Rachel, but ends up inviting Monica for a threesome with Drew Barrymore) and a non-cameo from Julia Roberts (who leaves Chandler naked in a restaurant bathroom). Phoebe briefly dates Chris Isaak, and the Simpsons’ Dan Castellaneta plays a janitor who reveals the true location of Marcel to Ross. Oh, and Joey goes on a date with his very first stalker. It’s a brilliant couple of episodes, where every character gets their hilarious time in the spotlight. Despite it being the most watched episode ever, critics largely panned it. Looking back, we think it’s ace.
Best line: Susie: My skirt, you lifted, kids laughing. I was Susie Underpants 'till I was 18.
Chandler: That was in the fourth grade. How could you still be upset about that?
Susie: Well um, why don't you call me in 20 years and tell me if you're still upset about this...
20. The One In Vegas (Season 5, episodes 23-24)
The two-parter to end season 5 centres on Monica and Chandler calling a shotgun wedding based on her new-found success at the craps table – only to be beaten to the punch by the heavily inebriated pair of Ross and Rachel. Drunkenness is tough to pull off on the small screen, but Schwimmer and Aniston’s sozzled hotel room scene is both believable and hilarious, while light-relief storylines of Phoebe’s slot-machine rival and Joey’s hand-twin amuse too.
Best line: Rachel: Hello? Vegas? Yes, we would like some more alcohol, and you know, we would like some more beers too. Hello? Oh, wait, I forgot to dial.
19. The One With Unagi (Season 6, episode 17)
Ross is at his best when being equal parts neurotic and goofy, brilliantly illustrated here by his commitment to ‘Unagi’ – “a state of total awareness” – which is subsequently shattered when Phoebe and Rachel burst out from behind his living room curtains. That’s one of three memorable storylines; elsewhere, Joey employs a fictitious twin who looks nothing like him, and Chandler gives Monica a mixtape found in his closet for Valentine’s Day. The perfect romantic gesture, until the gap between songs is punctuated by the voice of… Janice.
Best line: Rachel: Ahhhh… salmon skin roll.
18. The One With The Jellyfish (Season 4, episode 1)
Bonnie or Rachel, Bonnie or Rachel? Two decades on, it’s impossible to convey the fervour with which fans awaited this episode, and Ross’ decision over whether to stick with his current, newly bald flame or go back to Ms Green. The latter wins out, with a hilarious caveat: the letter. “You had rambled on for 18 pages – front and back!” Ross's continued asserting that "We were on a break!" remains one of the series’ most repeated lines, while this is the first tease of Chandler and Monica’s affection for one another spilling over into something more – via the unconventional medium of him urinating on her jellyfish sting.
Best line: Joey: That’s right, I stepped up! She’s my friend and she needed help. If I had to, I’d pee on any one of you.
17. The One With All The Jealousy (Season 3, episode 12)
It’s Rachel’s first day at her new job in Bloomingdales, and Ross gets seriously jealous when he meets her handsome co-worker, Mark. What follows is classic overcompensation, as he showers her in gifts, including a Barbershop quartet. So it’s ironic when Ross takes Ben on a playdate with a stripper (who shows up to Chandler’s cousin’s bachelor party) and Rachel gets jealous in return. The real comedy, however, comes when Joey gets a part in a broadway musical after lying about his dancing skills on his resume, and Monica hires the same Barbershop quartet to dump a guy at work who has been cheating on her...
Best line: Quartet guy 1: Mister Pretentious... You think there's no one finer / Well your poems are unpublished / And you work in a diner...
All: You're no God's gift to women / That's all in your head / You are just a butt munch!
Quartet guy 2: No one likes a butt munch!
All: And you're also bad in bed!
16. The One With Chandler In A Box (Season 4, episode 8)
A key entry in the Chandler-Cathy chronicles, as Joey punishes his best friend’s unfaithfulness by locking him in a box for six hours, *and* the Monica-Richard chronicles, when the former kisses his son Tim. The best bit isn’t a joke, however, but Chandler’s silent, single-finger goodbye wave through a hole when he thinks his relationship with Cathy is over – immediately earning Joey’s forgiveness. “Now go! ‘Cause you can still catch her! And Merry Christmas from your secret Santa!”
Best line: Joey: All right, who got Chandler? ‘Cause I, uh, need to trade.
15. The One Where Ross Got High (Season 6, episode 9)
The show gets a lot of mileage out of the Chandler/Monica romance, but this episode taps into the universal fear/comedy of ‘telling the parents’ and that’s it's true genius. While Chandler is sucking up to Mr and Mrs Geller (because they don’t like him), he lets slip that Ross got high as a teenager… and blamed Chandler. What follows is a hilarious family breakdown, highlighting the extreme insecurity and competitiveness at the heart of the Geller clan. There’s plenty of yelling, but ultimately this is a feel-good episode that further cements the connection between Monica and Chandler.
Best line: Chandler: Hey, I can be pretty charming, babe, I won you over, didn’t I?
Monica: (hugging Chandler) I don’t think you’ll ever get my parents that drunk!
14. The One With All The Cheesecakes (Season 7, episode 11)
This episode is so-called because Chandler and Rachel end up eating a cheesecake delivered to their door by mistake… and it’s the best they’ve ever had. The illicit obsession ends with them eating the ruins of a cheesecake from the floor in a scene that feels maximum Friends. Meanwhile Monica isn’t invited to her cousin’s wedding, and insists that Ross takes her instead of a date… only to discover it’s because she used to date the groom. Which makes for some wonderfully awkward TV. This episode is filled with great lines, especially as the friends fall to the temptation of the amazingly tasty cheesecake.
Best line: Joey: (sees Rachel and Chandler eating off the floor, and pulls out a fork from his pocket) All right, what are we havin'?
13. The One With Ross’ Tan (Season 10, episode 3)
Sometimes you just want a bit of slapstick and body comedy, which this episode delivers in spades. Ross gets envious of Monica’s fake tan and decides to get one himself, but messes up the application, so ends up looking hilariously mahogany. There’s a bit of heart here too, as Rachel and Joey wrestle with their burgeoning physical relationship, but it’s mostly about laughing at Ross because of his silly tan. Sometimes that’s just what you need.
Best line: Ross: I went to that tanning place your wife suggested.
Chandler: Was that place the sun?