The best Friends episodes of all time

Could this list of the best Friends episodes be any better?

Despite seemingly everyone in North America having watched every episode of Friends at least twice, HBO ended up paying an astronomical $500 million for the show's streaming rights. Why? Because Friends is that one show you can revisit time and time again. Yes, some of the jokes have aged badly – really badly – but spending time with Joey, Rachel, and the gang is like revisiting, well, old friends.

The question we're here to debate is which are the best Friends episodes. There are 236 to choose from, plus the recent reunion, and we've whittled that list down to just 25. Some of your favourites have inevitably not made the cut, but hopefully, you will agree with a few of our picks. Maybe. All together now, pivot!

By Total Film staff

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!’

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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'?

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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?

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12. The One With All The Resolutions (Season 5, episode 11)

David Schwimmer never gets the credit he deserves in Friends. Against the other characters, his boring, divorced father is the straight man to everyone else’s comedy flailing. Which is a shame because 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. Against a New Year’s background that uses resolutions to exploit everyone’s flaws beautifully, Ross gets trapped in a date’s bathroom, unable to put the the trousers back on. Cue a gentle slide into madness involving talc, moisturizer, and an eventual shamefully bare-legged exit. It’s also, crucially, the episode where Chandler and Monica’s relationship is finally discovered by Rachel. 

Best line: Monica (on the phone speaker, 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…
Rachel: AHHHHH!

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11. The One With Ross’ Wedding (Season 4, episodes 23-24)

The most famous Friends episode ever, with cameos from Richard Branson, Jennifer Saunders, the Duchess of York (!) and – best of the lot – Hugh Laurie as Rachel’s straight-talking plane neighbour. This episode bridges everything yet to come from Friends, as Ross messing up his vows makes it clear he and Rach will never be ‘over’, and Chandler and Monica get it on for the first time: A move so popular with the live audience that Perry and Cox had to hold their pose, after Monica lifts the bed covers, for 27 seconds.

Best line: Phoebe: Let’s try some aversion therapy, okay? Look at the picture...[Rachel looks at a picture of Ross. Phoebe pushes the picture away, then slaps Rachel across the temple]
Rachel: Ow!
Phoebe: Okay, how do you feel now?
Rachel: Well, I like you less.

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10. The One With Joey’s Porsche (Season 6, episode 5)

Season 6 is rockier than its predecessors, but still throws up the occasional gem – such as this. Joey finds the keys to a Porsche and, when no owner can be found, claims it as his own upon realising its ice-breaking abilities with the ladies. Yet he 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.

Best line: 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?

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9. The One Where Ross Is Fine (Season 10, episode 2)

Of course, Ross isn’t fine. He’s not fine about the relationship between Joey and Rachel, which reaches its peak when he invites them round to a dinner party with him and Charlie, and 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 adopted their son, to get an idea of what’s involved in the process. 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. It’s Friends at its ‘oh god did he just say that???’ best.

Best line: 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.’

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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 ep. (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 at owner Gary, who offers her dinner. Also, one word defines this episode: “Pivot”!

Best line: Ross: Piv-et. Piv-et. Piv-eeeeeeeeeet!"

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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 to help him decide whether or not to dump Julie and give it a go with his childhood crush. Unlike many Friends episodes, the comedy here is dark and mixed with tragedy, as the list prints just in time for Rachel to read it - a cruel way to deny 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 of any episode. 

Best line: 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.

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6. The One With The Blackout (Season 1, episode 7)

A Friends classic, from early in the very first season. There’s a power cut across most of New York, and the Friends 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.

Best line: Ross: Do you know the word, 'crapweasel'?
Paolo: No.
Ross: That's funny, 'cause you are a huge crapweasel!

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5. The One Where Everyone Finds Out (Season 5, episode 14)

Ingenious use of both Phoebe and Chandler here, as news of the latter’s tryst with Monica begins to circulate among the Friends. Egged on by Rachel and Joey (Phoebe) and Monica (Chandler) – “they don't know that we know they know we know!” – the pair’s game of chicken escalates from mild flirting 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…

Best line: Ross: What are you doing? GET OFF MY SISTER!

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4. The One With The Prom Video (Season 2, episode 14)

This was finally the episode where Ross’ moping, unrequited love for Rachel stopped being a character bullet point and the plot device that went on to define the show. Although the real star of the episode is the High School prom video of the title. At the time it was a real 'woah' moment, using makeup to reveal the cast as teens in the ‘80s: 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, appearing 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.  

Best line: Phoebe: See, he’s her lobster.

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3. The One With Ross’ Sandwich (Season 5, episode 09)

Perhaps it’s cruel to laugh at the mental breakdown of one of the show’s core characters. Perhaps. All we know that it’s also hilarious to see Ross lose it 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 / his eviction come spilling out. The ending, where Joey covers for the Monica and Chandler’s secret relationship to avoid inciting Ross’ rage (and to stop everyone else finding out) - painting himself as a sex addict - is brilliant.

Best line: 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!

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2. The One Where No-one’s Ready (Season 3, episode 2)

At their peak Friends’ writers crafted great episodes based only 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 ep intensity to balance out the laughs – and there are many, particularly Joey and Chandler’s schoolboy squabble over a chair – with a fan-pleasing pay-off as Ross proves his love to Rachel by attempting to drink Monica’s leftover cooking fat.

Best line: Joey: Look at me, I’m Chandler. Could I be wearing any more clothes? Maybe if I wasn’t going commando…

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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, and series. “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 than some series manage in an entire run, season 4, episode 12 marks Friends’ pinnacle. You might even call it the Friennacle. Except, of course, “That’s not even a word!”.

Best line: Ross: What is Chandler Bing’s job? [Silence]

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Could this list of the best Friends episodes *be* any better?