The Best 'Friends' Episodes of All Time

Could these BE any better?

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Friends is a show that's so beloved and timeless that many fans are always somewhere in a re-watch, or at least throwing on an episode when they need a laugh. Frankly, it's tough to pick a definite list of the best Friends episodes, because everyone will have a different ranking, and they'd all be right. And yet, here we are, reminiscing about the best of the best, and ruminating over which episodes had the most entertaining storyline, banter, and character development for our favorite six Manhattanites Chandler (Matthew Perry), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Ross (David Schwimmer).

If you're a superfan, you might revisit old episodes for the Easter eggs and the real-life context that drove the show. (In the 2021 Max reunion special, for example, Aniston and Schwimmer admitted they had feelings for each other and threw that mutual love into their characters.) You may also view the show now as a loving memorial to the incredible talent of the late Perry. But if you don't know it quite well, or are looking for a stand-out episode to throw on, below you can find a list of which Friends episodes are most worth your time.

"The One Where It All Began" (season 1, episode 1)

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The first words of the entire show are, “There’s nothing to tell!” Even though it was the pilot, it’s still a fantastic episode, where we immediately see the chemistry between the characters, particularly the spark between Ross and Rachel.

"The One with the Blackout" (season 1, episode 7)

friends episode "The One with the Blackout"

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The core cast later said that, looking back, they really knew they were making something special when they filmed this episode. It’s a crossover with other shows at the time, including Seinfeld and Mad About You, that all aired the same night in a huge monolithic event.

"The One with Phoebe's Husband" (season 2, episode 4)

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This one features a delightful cameo from Steve Zahn, and top-notch chemistry between him and Kudrow. The opening is also funny—with Rachel trapping a pigeon in a pot and then letting it go in surprise when she finds out Phoebe is married. Also, this is where the long-running "third nipple" bit first comes into play.

"The One Where Ross Finds Out" (season 2, episode 7)

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This one features an iconic scene between Ross and Rachel, where she jumps on his back as he’s listening to the message she left him while drunk on a blind date and admitting her feelings for him. (What a mouthful, but also a great physical comedy.) That kiss follows the dramatic confrontation, and although it's technically not their first on-screen kiss (the first being from a dream sequence), it's one of the series' most swoon-worthy moments.

"The One With the Prom Video" (season 2, episode 14)

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There are many references and details in the titular old, home video at the center of this episode, from Ross' hair to the '80s fashion. (There are also some very dated, problematic jokes, like Monica's fat suit.) Ultimately, it's an important Ross-Rachel episode—in which Phoebe proclaims, "She's your lobster!" and they share a great kiss.

"The One Where No One’s Ready" (season 3, episode 2)

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The brilliance of this episode is that it's shot entirely in Monica and Rachel’s apartment, and pretty accurate to the timing of the episode—they basically have 30 minutes to get ready—so the episode plays out pretty real to time. And then, obviously, there's Joey wearing all of Chandler's clothes.

"The One With the Football" (season 3, episode 9)

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This one features some classic scenes, including the part where the girls try to beat the boys in football using unconventional tactics (including Phoebe's attempt to distract Chandler by flashing him). That, plus the fun detail of the Gellar Cup (a troll doll on a 2x4), makes this a hidden gem of detail.

"The One With the Ultimate Fighting Champion" (season 3, episode 24)

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Friends has a handful of great celebrity cameos, and "The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion" is peak Jon Favreau. Not to mention, this also features a very short but very funny appearance by legends Billy Crystal and the late Robin Williams.

"The One With the Jellyfish" (season 4, episode 1)

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The combo of Monica, Joey, and Chandler is underrated—they have amazing banter. Plus, this one has a funny and foretelling scene between Monica and Chandler where she says, “I love you—but you will always be the guy who peed on me,” as a reason not to date him.

"The One With Chandler in a Box" (season 4, episode 8)

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Friends was particularly good at their holiday content, and this classic Thanksgiving episode was no exception. At its core, this seasonal installment is all about reaffirming to men everywhere that they can have besties and it’s okay to show feelings.

"The One With the Embryos" (season 4, episode 12)

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This one includes the now-classic competition between Rachel, Monica, Joey, and Chandler, emceed by Ross, where they bet Rachel and Monica's apartment to the winner. Spoiler alert: The girls lose, and Monica (borrowing a line from Ross) screams, “NOOOOOO!” in hilarious fashion.

"The One with Ross's Wedding" (season 4, episodes 23 and 24)

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Friends relied on its twist endings and cliffhangers to keep its audience guessing what would happen next. The two-part season 4 finale was probably the best example of the form, with the introduction of Monica and Chandler's relationship and Ross' gasp-inducing slip-up at the altar, "I, Ross, take thee Rachel."

"The One After Ross Says Rachel" (season 5, episode 1)

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Season 5 of Friends deals with the fallout of all the bombshells from Ross and Emily's wedding. It's not just a major step forward for the show, but it ultimately sets up many of the storylines that last through the rest of the series in the best, most awkward-funny way.

"The One With All the Resolutions" (season 5, episode 11)

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Many superfans cite this as their all-time favorite episode, in part because it features a hilarious—and very long—bit of physical comedy, thanks to Ross' leather pants. And Rachel and Joey discussing Monica’s and Chandler’s secret relationship? Chef's kiss.

"The One Where Everybody Finds Out" (season 5, episode 14)

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One memorable line says it all: "They don't know that we know that they know!" This domino effect of discovery, combined with the pure chaos that the show was so good at, makes this one a narrative pretzel in the best possible way.

"The One with the Cop" (season 5, episode 16)

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Also known as the "PIVOT!" episode (another highly meme-able moment that the show originated), this one also features Phoebe's highly questionable decision to find a cop's badge and use it wildly before being caught by the handsome cop it belongs to.

"The One Where Phoebe Runs" (season 6, episode 7)

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If you've forgotten, this is where we learn that Phoebe runs like she's being chased: "a cross between Kermit the Frog and The Six Million Dollar Man," as Rachel puts it. It's a fan-favorite among Phoebe devotees.

"The One With the Routine" (season 6, episode 10)

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Even if you don't know Friends well, you probably know this highly meme-ed dance routine with Ross and Monica. Even as adults, their sibling rivalry comes into play throughout the series, so it's a joy to see them tag-team on this New Year's Eve episode as they try to fulfill their dream of being featured on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.

"The One With Rachel's Sister" (season 6, episode 13)

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Hi, Reese Witherspoon! This one's still very culturally relevant, as Jennifer Aniston and Witherspoon have remained friends and even worked together again on The Morning Show. At the end of the episode, when the two sisters say goodbye to each other—"BYE BYEEEE!"—it became a prototypical version of, "I'm saying goodbye, but clearly dissing you."

"The One With the Nap Partners" (season 7, episode 6)

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This one features a rare but satisfying interplay between Ross and Joey. And while the bloopers that accompany each season are always funny (and sometimes the best part of the show), the bloopers from the nap scene are extra special. They're arguably funnier than the scene itself.

"The One Where They All Turn Thirty" (season 7, episode 14)

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The episode is structured brilliantly, with flashbacks to how the six friends handled the milestone of turning 30. Monica’s is probably the best; Courteney Cox playing the character as very drunk is incredible to watch. There's also fun foreshadowing here!

"The One With the Red Sweater" (season 8, episode 2)

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Friends prided itself on its season mysteries and how the gang finds out about them. This one, where Monica, Phoebe, Joey, and the audience discover that Ross is the father of Rachel’s baby, is a well-paced and acted conundrum.

"The One With the Videotape" (season 8, episode 4)

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If you're looking for a classic episode with the entire ensemble interacting with one another, this is it. Specifically, they each give an incredible look when it's revealed that Rachel came on to Ross the night they conceived their child together.

"The One with the Halloween Party" (season 8, episode 6)

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The Halloween episodes are always a joy, in part because of the costume each character wears. In this one, Chandler dresses like a legendary pink bunny and Ross is SPUDnik (a cross between a potato and the Russian satellite), which Joey immediately confuses as "doodie."

"The One Where Rachel Has A Baby" (season 8, episodes 23 and 24)

friends episode "The One Where Rachel Has A Baby"

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Technically, this storyline where Rachel gives birth isn't contained to the season 8 finale, but it's pretty special how it all plays out. This two-parter eventually leads to the season 9 opener, "The One Where No One Proposes," during which Rachel says yes when she thinks someone proposed to her. It's another great cliffhanger payoff.

"The One with the Sharks" (season 9, episode 4)

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“Chandler watches shark porn!” If you know, you know—and if you don't, it's all the more reason to tune into this season 9 stand-out. The drama unfolds when Chandler changes the channel to a nature show about sharks to cover up what he's really watching, leading to some pretty epic confusion.

"The One With Phoebe's Birthday Dinner" (season 9, episode 5)

friends episode The One With Phoebe's Birthday Dinner

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Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow always had fantastic chemistry, like their characters were competing to be the most spacey, but this episode is peak Joey-Phoebe. It's a testament to how much the two actors love each other IRL. Plus, Phoebe hilariously yells about a sock.

"The One With Christmas in Tulsa" (season 9, episode 10)

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If you believe in the rumors, the storyline in this episode was supposed to include Chandler cheating on Monica, but Matthew Perry didn’t want that to be a part of their love story. It also features a hilarious cameo from Selma Blair, and ultimately ends up being a cute flashback episode to some of Monica and Chandler’s best moments.

"The One Where Ross Is Fine" (season 10, episode 2)

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If you've ever used the iconic Friends meme featuring Ross squeaking out an, "I'm fine!" when he is very clearly not—then you've captured the essence of this episode. That's one of the ways this storyline will live in perpetuity, thanks to the brilliance of David Schwimmer's cringe comedy here.

"The One With Ross's Tan" (season 10, episode 3)

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Second only to the "Ross wears squeaky leather pants" bit, this is probably one of David Schwimmer’s very best episodes. It also features a cameo from Jennifer Coolidge that made the actors laugh so hard they struggled to get a take where all of them are straight-faced.

"The One With Phoebe's Wedding" (season 10, episode 12)

friends episode "The One With Phoebe's Wedding"

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A young Paul Rudd joining the cast was an inspired choice by the showrunners. Mike and Phoebe's snowy outdoor wedding, plus their vows, and all of the antics throughout the episode are so wonderfully Phoebe and the perfect happy ending for the character.

"The Last One" (season 10, episodes 17 and 18)

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The last word of the show is “Where?” spoken by the beloved Perry. For superfans, the two-part finale is tough to watch because of how much real love and sadness is reflected in the characters and actors. The classic Ross and Rachel scene where she gets off the plane even had to be filmed in secret so it wasn’t spoiled before it aired. No one had dry eyes that day. As for the final shot with a wraparound view of Monica and Rachel's empty apartment, landing on the door, it's a perfect way to close out the sitcom.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.