Friends transports people of all ages to a place of comfort and cozy simplicity. No matter what goes wrong in a day, snuggling up on the couch and watching NBC's mega-hit from the 1990s cures ails and makes life seem okay. The chemistry of the six lead actors and actresses, combined with the stellar writing of the people behind the camera, turned the otherwise elementary sitcom into something far greater. With over 200 episodes and ten seasons of shows to choose from, everyone has their favorite reruns. Here's our take on the 22 best episodes of Friends, ranked!
1. “The One Where Everybody Finds Out” (Season 5, Episode 14)
Friends reached its peak when Monica and Chandler started dating behind everyone's back, and this mid-season episode in the fifth season hits hilarious levels of chaotic energy. Phoebe's flirting with Chandler after she becomes the first to find out about the relationship remains one of the fandom's favorite moments, with Phoebe letting us all know she's very bendy . . .
2. “The One with All the Thanksgivings” (Season 5, Episode 8)
Another Monica and Chandler-centric episode focuses on flashbacks to when Monica despised Chandler's personality in their younger years. Her annoyance leads to an unexpected moment of violence when she drops a knife on Chandler's foot, forcing the gang to the emergency room. Elliot Gould steals the scene as Mr. Gellar, providing an explanation for the doctors as to why the weapon went right through Chandler's shoes – “they're made of wicker!”
3. “The One with the Embryos” (Season 4, Episode 12)
Friends' brilliance often lies in the plotting devices of each episode, especially when the secondary storyline entertains even more than the main plot. Phoebe's decision to carry her brother's baby via surrogacy displays her humanity, but the rest of the cast playing a quiz show over a petty bet allows the chemistry of the leads to shine as no other show's actors can.
4. “The One Where Ross and Rachel . . . You Know” (Season 2, Episode 15)
Even though Friends executes bottle episodes in style, the sitcom separates from the competition by creating long-standing stories that lead viewers throughout the entire season. “The One Where Ross and Rachel . . . You Know” introduces one of Monica's best pre-Chandler boyfriends, played by Tom Selleck, and consummates the sexual tension between Ross and Rachel in a museum, of all places!
5. “The One with Ross's Wedding: Part 2” (Season 4, Episode 24)
The fourth season continues the romantic saga of Ross and Rachel when the former can't keep his true love out of his mind, even on his wedding day to Emily. The cast and crew filmed on-location in the United Kingdom, giving some needed international flair to a show that often stuck to traditional settings in New York City.
6. “The One with the Football” (Season 3, Episode 9)
Ross and Monica banter and bicker better than most sitcom siblings, and when the episode offers a sneak peek into their competitive drives, the comedic intensity jacks up several more notches. Watching them turn Thanksgiving into an arena for their football game from childhood never fails to make us laugh, especially seeing the dichotomy of the personalities between brother and sister!
7. “The Last One” (Season 10, Episode 17)
Series finales present a myriad of challenges to the writers and actors of beloved shows, but knocking the final episode out of the park lets everyone leave on a good note. Friends highlights its underrated strength in “The Last One:” the ability to tug at the heart . The group leaving the apartment reminds us how much the setting played a part in the greatness of the show.
8. “The One with the Cop” (Season 5, Episode 16)
Monica and Joey possess a wonderful platonic bond, but Joey tries to threaten that friendship when he desperately goes looking for love in all the wrong places. The episode helps to carve out Joey's character as more than just a player, but as a man who also wants to feel the affection of a long-term partner. Also, Ross yelling “pivot!” while moving a couch encapsulates his annoying personality to his friends and the audience.
9. “The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding: Part 2” (Season 7, Episode 24)
Nobody does wedding episodes like Friends. “The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding: Part 2” perfectly concludes the several-season arc leading up to the couple's ultimate moment of matrimony, with solid accompanying storylines such as Ross and Rachel trying to juggle the feelings of Chandler and Monica on the big day.
10. “The One in Vegas: Part 2” (Season 5, Episode 24)
Season five may be the best season of Friends. The finale episode, in which the gang heads to Sin City, heats up the relationships between Ross/Rachel and Chandler/Monica. Joey and Phoebe get into trouble in Vegas, with the storyline surrounding Joey's hand twin delivering plenty of amusement!
11. “The One with All the Resolutions” (Season 5, Episode 11)
Sometimes, a single scene makes an entire episode enter the pantheon of greatness. The two minutes in which Joey walks Ross through an ill-fated attempt at putting tight leather pants back on allows David Schwimmer to sink his teeth into some of the show's silliest slapstick material and absorbs us into the nightmare Ross experiences when nothing goes right with his paste pants.
12. “The One Where Rachel Has a Baby: Part 1” (Season 8, Episode 23)
Rachel finally giving birth to her and Ross's child emanates cathartic energy for both the cast and the audience, especially knowing how much Jennifer Anison wanted a baby in her real life off the set. The various couples traversing their childbirth experiences add tremendous comedic energy to the episode.
13. “The One with the Dirty Girl” (Season 4, Episode 6)
Friends inverts their typical gender analysis by poking fun at a woman Ross dates because she doesn't care about keeping a clean apartment. Ross finding everything from chocolate sauce to bologna on the couch while trying to “get busy” makes it clear how much effort the props department put into the episode.
14. “The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant” (Season 2, Episode 5)
A rare early-show episode helps to build background characteristics for the gang that apply further in the show. The financial tension between the characters realistically portrays the ways real-life friends might argue and resent their pals who make more cash. The wealthier members of the circle (Ross, Chandler, Monica) go to a concert with their excess money, to hilarious results.
15. “The One with All the Cheesecakes” (Season 7, Episode 11)
When Friends opted for more frivolous, slice-of-life storylines, it often resulted in even more laughs than the character development episodes. “The One with All the Cheesecakes” pairs Chandler and Rachel together in their guilty pleasure of stealing cheesecakes from their neighbors. The ways they sabotage each other, goad each other into their worst tendencies, and try to hide their secret from the gang feel fresh and unique.
16. “The One Where Ross Got High” (Season 6, Episode 9)
Yet another Thanksgiving affair leans into stereotypical family dramas on the holiday. Chandler's desperate husband impressions never seem good enough for Monica's parents, while Rachel despairs in the kitchen, failing in seemingly impossible ways.
17. “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” (Season 7, Episode 10)
Ross's nerdy demeanor annoys many, but it also endears him to a large sector of the audience. His portrayal of the “holiday armadillo,” a placental mammal who supposedly delivers Christmas joy, epitomizes his soft-spoken, big-hearted approach to parenting. Friends usually focused on Thanksgiving episodes, but “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” showed December holidays also shined bright on set.
18. “The One with the Male Nanny” (Season 9, Episode 6)
The main plot leverages the power of outdated gender stereotyping when Ross can't stand the idea of a male nanny, played by Freddie Prinze Jr., taking care of his child. As long as viewers take it with a grain of salt, the humor can still produce laughs here. The B-plot revolving around Paul Rudd and Hank Azaria's characters fighting for Phoebe's love allows two of the show's best recurring guest stars to play off one another.
19. “The One with the Routine” (Season 6, Episode 10)
Monica and Ross always dreamed of going on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve when they were growing up. Their insistence on performing their childhood dance routine produces another classic Friends moment of sibling superpowers from David Schwimmer and Courtney Cox.
20. “The One with Ross's Sandwich” (Season 5, Episode 9)
Ross becomes highly relatable when he overreacts to an invasion of privacy at work. How dare someone eat his leftover Thanksgiving sandwich! Much like when Seinfeld took obscure daily occurrences and stretched the truth just the right amount, Friends had a knack for doing the same thing once in a while.
21. “The One with the Wedding Dress” (Season 7, Episode 17)
Audiences are treated to Monica's wrath when she goes to extreme measures to acquire the wedding dress she desires. The funnier plot line follows Ross and Joey courting the same woman, played by Gabrielle Union, and the scene in which they sabotage each other's chances at winning her over!
22. “The One Where the Stripper Cries” (Season 10, Episode 11)
Danny DeVito plays a washed-up male stripper brought in to entertain Phoebe before she gets married. The bachelorette party features DeVito dancing to “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell. It stands out from nearly every other scene in the final season of the show and again proves Friends features the best one-time actors in the TV world.
Shawn Laib is a writer who has loved all things pop culture from a young age. Growing up playing classic Nintendo games and being introduced to a variety of movies and shows, he always enjoyed analyzing and getting to the bottom of the point of a story. As he went into high school, basketball and sports in general became a main focus. Shawn decided to put his skills in English class to good use and majored in the subject area at the University of Washington, graduating with a B.A. in 2020. He began his freelance writing career after college with sites like SUPERJUMP, Den of Geek, and Quote.com. He now remains a fixture with publications like The Manual and Wealth of Geeks.