No one knew how much of a hit Friends is going to be, and here we are almost 30 years later, writing an article on the best episodes from Friends. The show has garnered a huge fanbase that seems to never stop growing. And sure, some of the jokes and scenes did not age well in today’s more media-conscious culture, but let’s just take them as a learning point.
It can be daunting to start watching Friends as it has 10 seasons in total, but here are some highlights that may make you change your mind. This list is filled with spoilers, but for a show that has been around this long, you would have seen most of these remade as memes online anyway. Let’s go!
1. The One With The Embryos
Season 4, Episode 12
There are a couple of highlights in this episode, one with Phoebe deciding to be a surrogate for her brother and the other when the girls lose their house to the boys. This episode is the writer’s smart way of writing Lisa Kudrow’s pregnancy into the show. Sure, it was unprecedented and fast, but everything Phoebe does is unprecedented and fast.
The other half of the episode is a trivia game, which is equally riveting for the audience as it is for the characters. Monica and Rachel go up against Chandler and Joey in a game to see who knows each other best. The losing team has to give up their apartment. As part of the audience, we get to learn more about the characters, which fuels our very own Friends trivia night.
It’s a good mix of seriousness and fun with the IVF procedure that Phoebe has to go through in the beginning and the trivia gamble in the second half of the episode.
2. The One Where No One’s Ready
Season 3, Episode 2
The tensions are high in this bottle episode set in Monica’s apartment. Ross has an important event to go to, and everyone is invited. However, it seems that everyone is preoccupied with their issues, and takes forever to get ready. Either that, or they are simply not getting ready at all.
Rachel is plagued on what to wear to the event and ends up fighting with Ross about it. Monica keeps going back to the voicemail her ex-boyfriend left her, making things worse each time. Chandler and Joey are fighting over a chair, which ends in Joey wearing all of Chandler’s clothes, completely butt naked underneath while doing lunges.
This spawned the iconic line, ‘Could I be wearing any more clothes?’ by Joey, which remains in the heart of every Friends fan. Plus, Ross apologizing by drinking chicken fat may just be the most satisfying thing to witness, marking this as one of the best episodes from Friends.
3. The One With All The Resolutions
Season 5, Episode 11
We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions before, so there’s nothing to gawk at here. However, the way the group carries out their resolutions and the lengths to which they attempt to keep it together is a hilarious watch. Plus, this was the episode where Ross and Phoebe kiss, and so did Joey and Rachel, in the name of New Year.
Ross resolves to try something new every day, which ends with him getting stuck in leather pants. Chandler resolves to not make fun of his friends, which lasts about a day or two. Rachel resolves not to gossip, which sort of backfires on her as she finds out about Monica and Chandler. This sort of sets up the following episodes of how everyone finds out about the two’s relationship.
As for Phoebe, she decides she wants to pilot a commercial jet, while Monica resolves to take more pictures. These are the only two seemingly normal ones this time around with a chance to achieve them. Well, normal enough for their characters.
4. The One Where Everybody Finds Out
Season 5, Episode 14
Absolutely one of the best episodes from Friends (if not the best). This is the episode where everyone finds out about Chandler and Monica. A series of mind games and hilarious attempts at manipulation, this hilariously twisted episode even features a forced kiss between Chandler and Phoebe to prove a point.
At this point of the season, Rachel and Joey already know about their relationship. Phoebe finds out by looking out a window and witnessing the two getting frisky. She chooses to mess with their minds instead of coming clean that she knows about their secret. Along with Rachel and Joey, Phoebe decides to seduce Chandler and make him uncomfortable in all sorts of ways.
It culminates with Chandler confessing that he is in love with Monica, making it a rather sentimental moment. Ross ends up getting Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment, where he witnesses Chandler and Monica once again getting frisky. All in all, everyone found out eventually!
5. The One Where Ross Finds Out
Season 2, Episode 7
In another chapter of the Ross and Rachel situation, this episode is where he finds out her true feelings for him. There is some satisfaction in watching this episode as we finally get to watch Rachel confront her true feelings and jealousy when it comes to Ross. Especially since Ross has been the one to do all the chasing in season one to no avail.
She gets drunk and leaves a terrible voicemail indicating she’s over him. They get into a small fight, and she spends her entire day in Central Perk working and cleaning up. As she closes the shop for the night, Ross comes by, and after a few intense moments of staring at each other, they kiss.
This marks their first romantic interaction with each other beyond the flirting and longing, so you can imagine how ecstatic the Ross and Rachel shippers were. Even if the happiness doesn’t last long, this is still one of the best episodes from Friends out there.
6. The One With Unagi
Season 6, Episode 17
Another episode with a lot to laugh about as the characters branch off into their own situations. Monica and Chandler are supposed to make their own Valentine’s Day presents this year, but they both end up forgetting. Instead, a sort of regifting situation happens, which ends with a crooning Janice singing ‘My Funny Valentine’ and a ton of apologies.
On the other end, Joey hires an ‘identical twin’ in an attempt to make big bucks out of a scientific study. Rachel, Phoebe, and Ross get into a battle of who would be able to kick each other’s asses. Mainly because Ross keeps bragging about his karate skills and the ‘Unagi’ method as Rachel and Phoebe start taking self-defense classes.
In the end, Ross gets his ass handed to him – even after all the random sneak attacks and jumpscares. Plus, Unagi just means eel in Japanese, which makes the whole situation rather laughable. It does make for an iconic catchphrase, though, an inside joke for those who have watched the episode.
7. The One At The Beach
Season 3, Episode 25
The finale for season 3 is another bout of Ross and Rachel, but it also explores Phoebe’s complicated relationship with her birth mother. As the group rests in the sand-filled beach house, they play some strip poker with Joey on the losing end.
Rachel plans to get back with Ross, but that’s a bust as Bonnie (Ross’ current girlfriend) decides to make an unexpected appearance. However, Bonnie shaves her head, Ross and Rachel kiss, and then the whole conflict arises once more. On the other side of things, we have Phoebe meeting up with her mother’s best friend to learn more about her mother.
As season finales go, this one ends in another cliffhanger of Ross deciding between Bonnie and Rachel. We all know how that worked out since the next episode – ‘The One With The Jellyfish’, is also on our best episodes from Friends list.
8. The One Where Ross Got High
Season 6, Episode 9
This is one of the best episodes from Friends that features Thanksgiving. Chandler is pressured trying to gain the approval of Monica’s parents, who see him as a bad character. But as secrets start spilling in a shouting match between Monica and Ross, we watch as their parents get confronted with one horrifying truth after another.
On the side, Rachel is trying to make a good impression by making the Thanksgiving trifle. That’s great and all, but she ends up unknowingly making half a beef casserole and half a trifle instead. Ross warns everyone not to tell her about this mistake, and we get a whole scene where everyone is forced to chow down on the disgusting mess.
These two parts make this episode memorable, aside from Joey’s stellar dialogue where he happily chows down on the food. He even compliments each part of the trifle while everyone looks at him in disgust and awe. A true Joey Tribbiani moment.
9. The One With All The Thanksgivings
Season 5, Episode 8
Another Thanksgiving episode, this time it’s more of a flashback compilation of all their previous Thanksgivings as they reminisce on the worst Turkey Day experiences together. We have the witty collection of Phoebe and her past lives, Joey getting a Turkey stuck on his head, and Chandler’s parents announcing their divorce.
Even with all that, the episode takes a darker tone as Rachel recalls her memory of visiting the Gellers for Thanksgiving. Monica overhears Chandler making fun of her size and appearance to Ross. By next year’s Thanksgiving, she has lost all her weight and resolved to seduce Chandler in an attempt at revenge.
This does lead to Chandler accidentally telling Monica he loves her, which works as a premonition of what’s to come. And sure, there’s a plot hole here, but everyone tends to look past that and focus on how Chandler was a jerk as a young adult.
10. The One With The Football
Season 3, Episode 9
It’s okay if you’ve never watched football or have an inkling of its rules of play. The way these guys play it, you’ll get confused even if you know how to play football. It all starts with a little Geller sibling rivalry and a rehash of the ‘Geller Bowl’. Both Monica and Ross are as hard-headed as they come, which culminates in a group football tourney for the Geller Cup.
Phoebe is excited to play her first football match, while Rachel keeps getting undercut and underestimated by everyone. For the B-side plot, we have Chandler and Joey competing for the attention of a model who happens to be sitting by watching them play. Don’t worry, they lose her at some point.
As the girls and the guys go head to head for a homemade trophy of a troll doll stuck to a 2×4 plank, there are a lot of hilarious moments to witness. Plus, it’s nice to have a breath of fresh air away from the typical set for once.
11. The One With Barry and Mindy’s Wedding
Season 2, Episode 24
Imagine your ex-fiance getting married to your former friend, and she makes you her maid of honor. Would you have gone? That doesn’t seem to be an option for Rachel as she reluctantly agrees and gets placed into a fluffy pink dress befitting of Little Bo Peep.
As the season finale to Season 2, we get our fair share of laughs, heartbreak, and ponderings of love. As the episode progresses, Chandler gets enamored by a mysterious woman online, and Joey tries to find a man to kiss. To be clear, he has to kiss a man for a movie audition and simply wants to practice.
One of the highlights would be Monica contemplating her relationship with Richard and the subject of having kids – she wants them, but he doesn’t. This sort of marks the start of the end of their relationship. And Chandler’s mystery woman? None other than his ex – Janice!
12. The One With The Jellyfish
Season 4, Episode 1
There’s a lot to unpack in this episode, as it follows the cliffhanger from Season 3. It continues where we left off, with the gang back from the beach. Ross and Rachel have made up, but it was short-lived as he fell asleep while reading her ridiculously long letter. The whole ‘we were on a break’ fight starts up once again.
Aside from that, Monica, Chandler, and Joey have an unforgettable shared experience on the beach, which we flashback to. Monica gets stung by a jellyfish, and the only way to alleviate the pain would be to pee on her. This leads to Chandler and Joey trying to successfully pee on her leg – a traumatizing experience for everyone involved.
On a side note, Phoebe coming to terms with her birth mother and her circumstances is a plus point of the episode. That and getting to see Ross turn red from anger may just be worth it to put this on our list of best episodes from Friends.
13. The One With The Prom Video
Season 2, Episode 14
A little throwback never hurt, and they may be some of the best that we look forward to when watching Friends. Mainly because they always give more insight into the characters and their dynamics before we get to know them as they are. In ‘The One With The Prom Video’, we meet the teenage versions of Ross, Rachel, and Monica as they look forward to prom.
This is the first time we get to see fat Monica, Rachel without her nose job, and Ross with an unseemly mustache. This episode is important, though, as it follows the aftermath of Ross making a pros and cons list of Rachel and his current girlfriend. Rachel realizes how much and how long he has cared for her, as he almost takes her to prom when her date seemingly bails on her.
The whole ‘lobster’ thing that Phoebe talks about at the beginning of the episode is further cemented as the two realize that perhaps they are meant to be. This is also the origin of Friends fans using lobsters as a metaphor for fated love.
14. The One That Could Have Been
Season 6, Episode 15 & 16
‘The One That Could Have Been’ explores the group in an alternate universe where everything is slightly similar but drastically changed. We have Joey as the successful one while Chandler struggles, a married Rachel, fat Monica, Phoebe as a stockbroker, and Ross who never got a divorce.
Ultimately, the two episodes show us that some things are unavoidable and bound to happen. It seems that Monica and Chandler were destined to be together, while Rachel and Ross’s marriage both fall apart. Phoebe ends up in the hospital with a heart attack, while Joey’s fame leads to Rachel almost sleeping with him.
Some circumstances remain as is. However, it is amusing to see the characters largely ending up in the same situations as they do in the present day. Side note, though, the fat jokes did not age well.
15. The One Where Chandler Can’t Remember Which Sister
Season 3, Episode 11
This should serve as a warning to never mess around with your best friend’s sister, especially when they all look the same. It is no secret that Joey is the only male in his family, and he has seven sisters that he will die to protect. So when Chandler drunkenly kisses one of them, he is in big trouble.
If that was all, he may have a slight chance at redemption. But in the process of proving himself, he kisses the wrong sister and then proceeds to apologize to a different sister as well. Safe to say he landed himself a black eye for that one.
At the same time, we see Ross being suspicious about Rachel’s job offer to work at Bloomingdale’s, suspecting that the person who gave her a job might like her. His insecurities get the best of him most of the time. The minor subplot of the noisy, charming man living above the girl’s apartments is a fun one, too.
16. The One With The Routine
Season 6, Episode 10
In another episode that focuses on the Geller sibling’s relationship, the two attempt to steal the spotlight with their brother-sister dance routine. This time, Ross and Monica somehow found themselves a part of ‘Dick Clark’s New Rockin Eve’ as background dancers.
At the same time, Joey tries to make his move on Janine by kissing her at midnight on the show. The ploy seems perfect; they can’t help but kiss at midnight, and he will be able to figure out if she likes him back or not. While all of this is going on, Phoebe and Rachel descend upon the apartment in search of Monica’s hidden Christmas gifts.
Naturally, the highlight would be Ross and Monica’s high school dance routine, but this episode is peppered with a ton of highlights, each as engrossing as the other. Hence, it should be included in this list of best episodes from Friends!
17. The One With The Proposal
Season 6, Episodes 23 & 24
Monica and Chandler’s relationship is one of the highlights of the show that will forever be remembered, especially since we’ve all been watching them from the beginning. Chandler and his fear of commitment, Monica with her desire for love and building a family. It seems like they were a perfect match after all.
With this season finale, we watch as Chandler fights tooth and nail for Monica and proves his love. The amount of challenges and typical movie setbacks he had to go through in this finale is not one to laugh at. We have Monica trying to be the one to propose, Chandler saying the absolute right thing at the right moment, and everyone being in tears.
Another cute highlight would be Phoebe and Rachel picking out the boys as their marriage backups and making pacts. But truly, this season finale is some of the best episodes from Friends out there.
18. The One Where Ross and Rachel Take A Break
Season 3, Episode 15
Ahhh, and here we are. This episode will be brought up for future evidence and scrutinization. This is where Ross and Rachel officially take a break. It starts with Rachel being too busy to celebrate their anniversary together. Ross’ combination of jealousy and overthinking gets the better of him, and he starts bringing up Mark as a problem again.
As they fight and she decides that they need a break, a couple more misunderstandings and miscommunications fuel the situation. Somehow, it ends with Ross sleeping with Chloe from the Xerox place while Rachel tries calling him again at home.
Perhaps this is the best time as any to ask a question – was Ross’s actions justified? They were on a break, after all, but a break does not mean a break-up, right? Do let us know in the comments below what your stance is on this age-old debate.
19. The One Where They All Turn Thirty
Season 7, Episode 14
Flashback episodes are always some of the best episodes from Friends, and ‘The One Where They All Turn Thirty’ is no exception. As we celebrate Rachel’s thirtieth birthday, we get a flashback of how everyone decides to celebrate their birthdays as well.
There’s the one where Joey makes a deal with God over getting old, Monica gets flat-out drunk, and Ross gets himself a red sports car. For Phoebe, she finds out that she is a year older than she originally thought. This makes her motivated to do all the things she wanted to do in the entire year she missed out.
The only one we didn’t get to see much of is Chandler, where we get a glimpse of Joey just getting upset that he’s turning older. Some highlights would be Monica’s drunk birthday party, attended by her parents and all her friends. There’s also the romantic kiss shared between Phoebe and Joey!
20. The One With The Cop
Season 5, Episode 16
Truth be told, the cop – Gary, who ends up being Phoebe’s boyfriend, started all right. They start with a meet-cute that only Phoebe will ever experience as she finds a police badge in Central Perk and starts to impersonate an officer on the streets.
Her impersonation leads to her getting tracked down by the cop himself, and they start going out with each other. That’s great and all, but one of the most iconic scenes happened in this episode as well. It starts with Ross not wanting to pay a delivery fee for his couch and having to move it up a flight of stairs.
With the help of Chandler and Rachel, the three attempt to heave the couch up the stairs, but there’s no space to move. This is where the iconic ‘Pivot! Pivot!’ line by Ross is born.
21. The One With All the Cheesecakes
Season 7, Episode 11
First and foremost, don’t ick their yum. You’ve probably seen the scene where Rachel and Chandler start eating a smashed cheesecake from off the floor. This may not be acceptable in this day and age due to COVID-19, but back then, it was a fun little scene.
Anyway, it all starts as a harmless misdelivery, but the cheesecakes keep coming, and the two find themselves addicted to eating them. Wrapped up in this episode are several important lessons on friendship and life as well. The two important ones are not ditching your friends for a date and don’t show up to a wedding you’re not invited to.
As a little cherry on top, Joey walks in on Chandler and Rachel eating cheesecake on the floor. Without hesitation, he pulls out a fork and jumps right in. Classic Joey.
22. The One With The Rumor
Season 8, Episode 9
A rare occasion where one of the cast member’s significant other decides to guest star on the show. We have the dashing Brad Pitt playing Will, a former fat kid in high school who got his glow-up. The irony is that he hates Rachel with a passion. Rachel, in reality, is his actual wife – Jennifer Aniston. You can look into the timeline of their real-life relationship in this People article.
It’s all harmless fun, but his passive aggressiveness towards Rachel throughout the dinner warrants a ton of curiosity. Soon enough, the secret comes out. Will and Ross formed the ‘I Hate Rachel Green’ club in high school and started multiple awful rumors about her. This is news to Rachel and fuels the whole situation between her and Ross.
Ross did it out of spite, Will did it out of insecurity and hate. It’s a fun episode to dive into, and Brad Pitt is one of the best guest stars to come on the show. He played his character so well.
23. The One With Ross’ Wedding
Season 4, Episode 23 & 24
Another season finale takes a spot on our best episodes from Friends list. But these two episodes mark the turning point for multiple characters and surprising advancements that will leave you screaming.
These episodes are set in London, so we get a few cool British guest stars in the show, like Richard Branson and the Duchess of York. Ross and Rachel keep tiptoeing around their love for each other, resulting in Ross saying the wrong name during the wedding ceremony. Yet somehow, this was not the most surprising thing to have happened.
Monica and Chandler happened in this episode. As much as the two have always been platonic, they ended up sleeping together the night before the wedding. Hence, the beginning of the best relationship in the show.
24. The One On The Last Night
Season 6, Episode 6
An episode with a big change. Monica and Chandler decide to move in together, and Rachel ends up living with Phoebe. This episode is loaded with heavy emotions that come with change and embracing it to move forward into the future.
It is also a testament to how close each of the duos and members of the group are. Chandler frets over how Joey is going to pay his bills, so he makes up a stupid game to give him money. Monica and Rachel get into a petty fight, which is just a disguise for how much they’re going to miss each other.
The gist of the episode is everyone has to help Rachel pack her things for the move, cause in typical Rachel fashion, she hasn’t packed a single thing.
25. The One After Vegas
Season 6, Episode 1
Truly, some of the best episodes from Friends are the ones that showcase the aftermath of the previous season’s finale. We get resolution, conflict, or simply new drama to chew on. It’s always fun to start a new season with the latest crazy thing to have happened.
This episode showcases the aftermath of the group’s Las Vegas trip, where Rachel and Ross got drunkenly married while Monica and Chandler were having doubts about getting married. The simple subplot of Joey and Phoebe road-tripping and picking up a hitchhiker was fun as well.
At this point, though, Rachel tells Ross to get the wedding annulled, but Ross being Ross, decides he does not want to be a third-time divorcee. And so, he lies to her about getting the annulment. Here we go again with the latest Ross and Rachel fight.
And that’s the 25 best episodes from Friends! Truly, there are hundreds of episodes we could choose from, but these are the ones that stick out in our minds. Notable episodes that deserve honorable mentions would be: ‘The One With Phoebe’s Wedding’, ‘The One With The Holiday Armadillo’, and ‘The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding’. Anyway, do check out more of our TV show articles like this one on the best first seasons of TV shows.