Friends will always be there for you. It’s been tough for so many lately and yet, the adventures of Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, and Chandler have still managed to make us crack a smile throughout. For many, it’s the equivalent of comfort food: put an episode (or 20) of Friends on and bathe in the same hilarious jokes you’ve been reciting for decades now. It’s noodle soup for the soul.
But which Friends episodes are the best? Could that be any trickier to answer? Using the powers of unagi – and more than a few arguments in the office – we’ve put together the top 25 episodes from the show’s 10-season run. All your favorites are here: the finale, the one with Ross’ wedding, and the one with the prom video. And don't forget to check out our guide on how to watch Friends: The Reunion online.
25. "The Last One" (Season 10, episodes 17 and 18)
We start at the very end. Friends’ last episode sees Ross and Rachel finally get together for good, bringing the epic saga of their relationship to an emotional end. Of course, things are not exactly straight forward as there's first a chase across New York that sees two men declare their love for Rach (poor Gunther), two airports traveled to, and a phalange mysteriously go missing. If that wasn't enough, Chandler and Monica learn that surrogate Erica is expecting twins. During childbirth. The episode ends with the gang saying farewell to the apartment that hosted them for ten seasons. And everyone, mainly us, was in tears.
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, "The One With The Football" is notable for going in deep on the historical rivalry between Ross and Monica. The episode sees the gang play some American football after watching the NFL over the holiday. However, this new interest quickly ends up turning into a contest between the siblings, who will employ any dirty trick to win. There’s a side-plot where Joey and Chandler become obsessed with a Dutch girl, which today feels a lot like lazy (and pretty inaccurate) stereotyping.
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. "The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line" sees flirting turn to hairdressing, and hairdressing turn to kissing, but there’s light relief from their guilt by way of Ross’s newfound love of music and discovering his "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.”
Chandler: "Oh it’s the phone, the phone’s making sounds!"
22. "The One With The Girl From Poughkeepsie" (Season 4, episode 10)
While often overlooked as one of the best episodes of Friends, "The One With The Girl From Poughkeepsie" is a genuine gem. 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 actor refuses to leave because he makes too much money in tips (and he gets to call himself Dragon). Meanwhile, Ross is dating two women at once – one from the city, the other he meets on a train to Poughkeepsie. Of course, things do not end well for Ross, who ends up finishing things with them both – but not before falling asleep on the train and ending up in Montreal. Throughout the episode, the jokes are strong and the situational comedy is sharp.
Joey: "I was gonna do it! Really! But I was standing there with $327 in one hand and $238 in the other hand, and I was thinking, ‘Wow! It’s been a long time since I had… $327 plus $238!"
21. "The One After The Superbowl" (Season 2, episodes 12 and 13)
This two-parter (the most-watched two episodes of the entire seres) sees Ross reunite 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 voice actor 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.
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 and 24)
Another two-parter, this one 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 a heavily inebriated 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. The light-relief storylines of Phoebe’s slot-machine rival and Joey’s hand-twin amuse too.
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.
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’s decision as to whether he would stick with his current, newly bald flame, or go back to Ms. Green. The latter wins, with a hilarious caveat: the 18-page letter. Ross's continued assertion 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.
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 laughs, 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...
Quartet guy one: "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 two: "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, "The One With Chandler In A Box" sees Joey punish his best friend’s unfaithfulness by locking him in a box for six hours. Likewise, the episode makes for an important marker in the chronicles of Monica-Richard, when the former kisses his son, Tim. The funniest moment, though, comes when Chandler waves a silent, single-finger goodbye 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!”
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. This episode taps into the universal fear/comedy of "telling the parents" about a relationship. 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.
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)
Chandler and Rachel end up eating a cheesecake delivered to their door by mistake… and it’s the best cheesecake they’ve ever had. So begins their illicit obsession, which ends with them eating the ruins of a cheesecake off the floor. An iconic moment for any Friends fan. 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. The moment makes for some wonderfully awkward TV.
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)
"The One With Ross’ Tan" delivers hilarious slapstick and body comedy in spades. Ross gets envious of Monica’s fake tan and decides to get one himself, but messes up the application and ends up looking hilariously mahogany. There’s a bit of heart here too, as Rachel and Joey wrestle with their burgeoning physical relationship. The episode, though, is mostly about laughing at Ross because of his silly tan. Sometimes that’s just what you need.
Ross: "I went to that tanning place your wife suggested."
Chandler: "Was that place the sun?"