The Most Heartwarming Friends Episodes

friends episodes

Nobody can deny the cultural impact and beloved status of Friends. For ten seasons, viewers invited Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe into our homes, and they became friends to the world. Viewers would share in their tears, root for their happiness, and always laugh at their shenanigans. The show’s hilarious antics contribute to its continued appeal.

But a significant reason why Friends has such an evergreen charm lies within the show’s heartwarming nature. As inherent as the humor, the show’s sweetest and most heartfelt episodes continue to delight fans year after year. Rather than looking at the greatest overall entries, find here a look at the best of these specific Friends episodes.

1. “The Last One” (Season 10, Episode 17)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Unsurprisingly, the series finale packs an emotional punch, resulting in many happy tears and hearty laughs as the six friends bid farewell. Monica and Chandler become parents to twins. Joey and Phoebe encourage Ross to tell Rachel he loves her before she gets on a plane to Paris because, as Joey puts it, a dinosaur would not give up. Tears of joy flow when Rachel does indeed get off the plane and as the friends say goodbye. Matthew Perry’s brilliance shines through in the show’s last line as Chandler jokes about where they’ll get coffee. This heartfelt series finale ranks as one of television’s finest, and one of the warmest Friends episodes.

2. “The One With the Proposal” (Season 6, Episodes 24 and 25)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Monica and Chandler treat viewers to one of this episode’s most romantic moments. Chandler wants his marriage proposal to be a surprise, so he throws Monica off track by pretending to be non-committal. Unfortunately, this leads Monica to her ex, Richard, who still holds a candle for her. 

Of course, it all ends happily with Monica surprising Chandler, lining the apartment with candles, and starting to propose to him before becoming overwhelmed. He finally asks through his tears in this heartfelt, emotional, and beautiful moment that demonstrates the actor's lovely on-screen connection.

3. “The One With Phoebe’s Wedding” (Season 10, Episode 12)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

The sweetest of Friends episodes gives Phoebe and Mike the loveliest wedding of the series. A snowstorm threatens their big day, but thanks to Monica’s planning skills, the ceremony goes off without a hitch. Joey officiates while Chandler walks her down the aisle. In the snowy street outside Central Perk, Phoebe and Mike exchange vows that showcase why they perfectly complement each other, with her friends being there for her as they always will be. 

4. “The One With Rachel’s Going Away Party”(Season 10, Episode 16)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

An episode where a friend plans to leave unsurprising gives viewers many emotional moments. This one sees Rachel saying goodbye to her friends before she plans to leave for Paris. Each goodbye brings tears from the characters and viewers, especially Rachel’s sobs to Monica about her being the best friend ever. The episode ends with Ross upset that she doesn’t say goodbye to him. But Rachel admits saying goodbye would be too hard because he means the most to her. Cue all the audible “awws.”

5. “The One With the Prom Video” (Season 2, Episode 14)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Ross and Rachel’s first kiss may be iconic, but “The With the Prom Video” proves the most significant and heartwarming episode for the couple. This entry shows the gang discovering a home movie from their high school days. On prom night, Rachel’s date runs late, and Ross quickly dons a tux, ready to surprise her. Seeing what he almost did for her prompts Rachel to forgive him, walk across the apartment, and kiss him. The audience and their friends cheer as Phoebe declares, “See, he’s her lobster.” 

6. “The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding” (Season 7, Episode 23 and 24)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

The heartfelt nature of this episode lies in two storylines. Firstly, Monica and Chandler’s wedding day arrives, and the groom suffers some doubts and cold feet. The friends distract Monica (whom they think is pregnant), so she remains blissfully unaware. Chandler, of course, overcomes his fears, and seeing this fan-favorite couple exchange vows gives viewers a rush of emotions. But those feelings grow when a cliffhanger reveals Rachel’s pregnancy.

7. “The One With the Birth” (Season 1, Episode 23)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Becoming a parent represents a rite of passage for many people. Of the six friends, Ross becomes the first, and the episode plays out in the funny, heartwarming way one would expect. Joey finds himself the surrogate birth coach for a woman on her own, providing many laughs. Monica displays her yearning to be a mom, with Chandler showing her comfort, and her moment when she first holds her nephew elicits smiles and tears as she says, “I will always have gum.”

But the episode’s MVPs go to Ross, Susan, and Phoebe, who find themselves accidentally locked in a supply closet, nearly missing the birth. Phoebe gives her usual sage but quirky advice to the bickering pair, who make it just in time to see the arrival of baby boy Ben. Call it one of the most pivotal–and emotional–Friends episodes.

8. “The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel” (Season 6, Episode 2)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

When Monica tells Rachel about moving in with Chandler, she feels hurt by her best friend’s lack of response. But we find out Rachel doesn’t believe it will indeed happen. When that becomes apparent, Rachel reacts appropriately, crying that she and Monica won’t live together anymore. After all, this represents “the end of an era.”

9. “The One Where Rachel Quits” (Season 3, Episode 10)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Sometimes, the heartwarming moments in Friends episodes come from simple but genuinely grand gestures. This episode features two storylines of that nature. Ross accidentally breaks a little girl’s leg and attempts to make it up to her by selling her Scout cookies to win her a trip to space camp. When he falls short, he, Joey, and Chandler create a makeshift galactic adventure for her that will surely make anyone smile.

Meanwhile, Joey gets a job at a Christmas tree lot and horrifies Phoebe when she sees what happens to old trees that nobody buys. So what does Joey do for his friend to save these trees from the wood chipper? He buys them all, and Phoebe’s gleeful delight at this reveal gives us warm and fuzzy holiday feelings.

10. “The One With the Last Night” (Season 6, Episode 6)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

On Rachel and Joey’s last nights living with Monica and Chandler, the couples spend their time saying goodbye. The men have a bittersweet night, but the women’s evening becomes arguments. Naturally, the anger fades when Monica remembers all the sweet things Rachel does for her. Monica’s tears that she now has to “live with a boy” live rent-free in our heads.

11. “The One Where Rachel Has a Baby” (Season 8, Episodes 23 and 24)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

The birth of Ross and Rachel’s baby proves that laughs and heart go hand in hand in Friends episodes. Rachel’s frustrations as her labor moves at a snail’s pace bring some big laughs. When she and Ross look at their baby girl for the first, and she insists they name her “Gellar-Green,” the tears flow.

12. “The One With the Cake” (Season 10, Episode 4)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

This episode sees Rachel wanting Emma’s birthday to be as memorable as possible, but things keep thwarting her efforts. The party begins well with Joey’s heartfelt, albeit unplanned, reading of I’ll Love You Forever. But a mistake with the cake sends her and Ross on a long errand while everyone else wants to leave. Ultimately, everything turns out just as the mother hoped, with all the friends sharing this auspicious day.

13. “The One Hundredth” (Season 5, Episode 3)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

When actress Lisa Kudrow became pregnant, Friends creators wrote the storyline of Phoebe becoming a surrogate for her brother and sister-in-law. The episode where she gives birth to triplets delivers plenty of laughs. But seeing Phoebe talk to the three newborns with tears in her eyes makes viewers shed a few tears as well.

14. “The One With the Birth Mother” (Season 10, Episode 9)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Since season one, Monica has a great desire to become a mother. So when she and Chandler find themselves having difficulty conceiving, the audience's hearts break along with theirs. When they decide to adopt, and a mother chooses them, it feels like fate smiles on the couple- until we learn the adoption agency mixed up their file. Chandler’s speech about his wife’s maternal instinct and capacity to love warms hearts, making this episode shine.

15. “The One With Ross’s Wedding” (Season 4, Episodes 23 and 24)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Despite the audience disliking Emily, the episode with her and Ross’s wedding still proves heartfelt. Of course, the source of these warm feelings comes from someone else. Rachel arrives in London, ready to tell Ross she still loves him. But seeing him so happy, she loses her nerve. Of course, everything changes in the fateful moment Ross says Rachel’s name during his vows, leaving viewers shocked but overjoyed.

16. “The One After I Do” (Season 8, Episode 1)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

The revelation of Rachel’s pregnancy threw us for a loop, and this episode has us on the same emotional roller coaster as the characters. Monica and Phoebe give Rachel the emotional support she needs when she takes another test to confirm her pregnancy. To see how Rachel truly feels about becoming a mother, Phoebe briefly lies and says she’s not pregnant. Rachel’s tears of disappointment turn to joy when Phoebe reveals the truth, giving us a genuinely heartwarming moment and some of Jennifer Aniston’s finest acting.

17. “The One Where Rosita Dies” (Season 7, Episode 13)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

The sweet, heartfelt moments in this episode lie within two tonally different storylines. In the first, at a temp job at a call center, Phoebe meets a man fed up with life and thinking of ending his own. With her unique communication and compassion, she helps him. Some may balk at how the show seems to make light of a serious issue, but like Phoebe, finding light and laughter in the dark can offer the most help.

In the second storyline, Chandler and Rachel believe they’ve broken Joey’s chair, “Rosita.” And the way they scramble to keep their friend happy and unaware shows the lengths they’ll go to for each other, even for the little things.

18. “The One With the Ring” (Season 6, Episode 23)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Chandler grows as a character over the show’s run, and seeing him fall in love with Monica delights viewers. In this episode, he and Phoebe go engagement ring shopping. Most of the entry has us in stitches, especially Phoebe’s haggling for a price of ten dollars. But when Chandler chokes up over finding the perfect ring, so does the audience.

19. “The One Where Rachel Finds Out” (Season 1, Episode 24)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

The season finale of season one sees the gang gathering for Rachel’s birthday. While Ross goes to China for work, he leaves a very thoughtful gift behind. Rachel’s astonishment at the present matches her incredulity when Chandler accidentally slips and says Ross loves her. After soul searching, she realizes that she returns his feelings. This leaves the friends and viewers happy. That happiness turns to surprise when we see Ross return home with a girlfriend, but Rachel’s hope makes hearts swell.

20. “The Where Old Yeller Dies” (Season 2, Episode 20)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

The heartwarming moment of this episode also makes viewers giggle. But light moments can still be emotional.

Seeing Chandler and Joey hang out with Richard and, in turn, try to be like him proves very sweet. Equally heartfelt, Phoebe discovers her mother shielded her from the ends of sad movies as a child. Monica gives her It’s a Wonderful Life, but once again, Phoebe doesn’t make it to the end, thinking it will be sad too. Rachel feels frustrated that Ross seems to have their entire life planned out. Still, their argument becomes their first declaration of love, leaving the audience with unavoidable smiles.

21. “The One With the Chick and the Duck” (Season 3, Episode 21)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

This episode sees Chandler and Joey become pet parents to an adorable baby chick and duck. But an even more poignant moment sees Ross help Rachel after she breaks a rib. While it feels natural for him to assist her despite being broken up, Rachel discovers he gives up a huge opportunity to appear on the Discovery Channel. He has his failings, but these moments show Ross’s true heart and goodness.

22. “The One Where Ross Finds Out” (Season 2, Episode 7)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Equally as funny and touching as “The One Where Rachel Finds Out,” this helps bolster an iconic quote. While on a disastrous date, and after a few drinks, Rachel leaves a phone phone message for Ross saying she’s over him. Despite Rachel’s best efforts, he hears the message the next day and utters, “You’re over me? When were you under me?”

The episode ends with a seminal moment: an honest and intense conversation about their feelings, which leads to their passionate first kiss. Hearts soar, and the show changes forever. 

23. “The One With the Holiday Armadillo” (Season 7, Episode 10)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

While the many Thanksgiving Friends episodes feature heartfelt moments, this holiday-themed entry tugs at hearts a little more. Ross wants to share the Jewish side of his heritage with his son Ben. He willingly dons a cumbersome, outlandish costume, calling himself the holiday armadillo. Although Chandler dressed as Santa and Joey dressed as Superman somewhat upstage him, Ross still manages to share some history and tradition with Ben, making for a very touching episode.

24. “The One in Vegas” (Season 5, Episodes 23 and 24)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Affecting moments mixed with hilarious ones define Friends episodes. “The One in Vegas” more than qualifies this type of episode as the gang heads to Vegas after Joey lands a part in a movie. Phoebe Ganges and helps Joey with his “identical hand twin.” Ross and Rachel drink too much and have a giggly time. And Monica and Chandler find themselves ready to tie the knot. But much to their surprise, Ross and Rachel beat them to it, creating another iconic cliffhanger.

25. “The One Where No One’s Ready” (Season 3, Episode 2)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

This classic episode that takes place entirely in Monica and Rachel’s apartment shows the six friends getting ready for a function at Ross’s workplace. While this remains one of the funniest of Friends episodes, the show's heart rings true in several moments. Monica hears a message from her ex, Richard, and they all give her the support and honesty she needs. 

Meanwhile, after Ross loses patience and yells at Rachel, she nearly doesn’t go until he apologizes and proves how much he wants her there by being willing to drink a glass of chicken fat. As silly as it may seem, this gives us another funny but heartwarming moment. It demonstrates what the characters mean to each other and why Friends episodes continue to stand the test of time.

Author: Marianne Paluso

Title: Writer

Expertise: Entertainment, Travel, Books

Bio:

Marianne Paluso is a freelance writer and artist and holds a Masters Degree in English and Children’s Literature from San Diego State University. Inspired by her favorite films, television, theme parks and all things pop culture and geek related, she especially loves Disney, classic films, fairy tales, period dramas, musicals, adventures, mysteries, and a good rom-com. She joined Wealth of Geeks in 2021, and has also contributed to The Nerd Machine, Catholic News Agency, Christianity Today, and The La Jolla Light. She writes on her own website TheGirlyNerd.com, creates art that is sold on Redbubble and Etsy, and also partakes in the occasional Disney bound, cosplay, and YouTube video. She resides in San Diego, California.