The 32 Worst Episodes of 'Friends' Ever

The hit sitcom was on for a whopping 10 seasons, so not every episode can be a winner.

friends eps "The One That Could Have Been"
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're a long-time sitcom fan, chances are you have your individualized ranking of the best episodes of Friends. Many of us have the episodes we love to watch and rewatch, but we also have episodes that missed the mark for us (or aged badly). The show about a group of Manhattanite pals had a whopping 10 seasons, so it stands to reason that Chandler, Ross, Joey, Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe (Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, and Lisa Kudrow, respectively) might have some tiresome storylines and inane decisions over the years.

Before you get angry that one of your favorite episodes is on here, or one of your least favorite episodes didn't make the cut, know that this list is highly subjective. These are simply the episodes that some other super-fans don't enjoy watching—and there's nothing wrong if you still like them. We promise.

Below, find a round-up of the worst Friends episodes ever.

"The One With The Thumb" (season 1, episode 3)

still from the friends episode The One With The Thumb

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It is, perhaps, a little unfair to judge Friends while it was finding its footing—which is common for a lot of shows. But a plotline where Phoebe finds a literal thumb in her soda and Monica doesn't like her boyfriend is a cross between weird and unfunny.

"The One Where Nana Dies Twice" (season 1, episode 8)

friends episode The One Where Nana Dies Twice

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Half of this episode is sweet and nostalgic, with a tender sendoff to Ross and Monica's grandmother. And then the other half of the episode is a rumination on Chandler's sexuality and whether he gives off a "gay vibe." It won't be the last time we say it on this list: That didn't age well!

"The One With The Evil Orthodontist" (season 1, episode 20)

chandler in The One With The Evil Orthodontist

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's nothing inherently wrong with parts of this episode, but it feels like Rachel's silly storylines don't make sense for her character (sleeping with her ex-fiancé Barry). Essentially, her decisions feel like meandering ways to keep her away from Ross for as long as possible.

"The One With The Fake Monica" (season 1, episode 21)

friends episode The One With The Fake Monica

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is quite a cool premise, with Monica tracking down the woman who stole her credit card and then surprisingly bonding with the woman. But this is also one of the episodes with Ross and monkey Marcel—and that's one of the weakest subplots the show has ever had.

"The One With The Ick Factor" (season 1, episode 22)

friends episode The One With The Ick Factor

(Image credit: Google)

Monica dates a 17-year-old (accidentally!). That's it, that's the whole joke. This one, predictably, aged badly, but it's also a good example of when the A plotline doesn't work—and then the whole episode doesn't work even when the B plotline is fine.

"The One With Phoebe’s Dad" (season 2, episode 9)

friends episode the One With Phoebe’s Dad

(Image credit: Google)

Fans apparently weren't a fan of how "cramped" the episode is. If you don't remember, Phoebe takes Chandler and Joey to meet her estranged dad and they spend most of the episode inside a taxi. This one gets redeemed from all the "gifts" they bring home from the gas station.

"The One Where Eddie Won't Go" (season 2, episode 19)

friends episode The One Where Eddie Won't Go, chandler and his roommate eddie

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Friends is far from the only show that used mental illness for comedy in the '90s. But framing that illness as a punchline ("Ding dong, the psycho's gone!") is not a great look, even if guest star Adam Goldberg is very funny.

"The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel" (season 3, episode 4)

friends episode The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel

(Image credit: Google)

Even if you don't know Friends very well, you're probably familiar with the one where Ross gets freaked out when his son plays with a Barbie. It's absolutely karma to see him having a tea party in lady clothes as "Bea," but we still don't like the premise.

"The One with the Giant Poking Device" (season 3, episode 8)

friends episode The One with the Giant Poking Device

(Image credit: Google)

Many fans crack up at “Ugly Naked Guy" and all those related plotlines. The joke feels superficial and falls flat now—and it's especially altruistic to see the gang try to poke him to see if he's still alive in this episode.

"The One With Phoebe's Ex-Partner" (season 3, episode 14)

friends episode The One With Phoebe's Ex-Partner

(Image credit: Google)

Ross, trying to impress Rachel, attends a fashion seminar with her—and falls asleep. Phoebe's bitter about her ex-partner wanting to sell "Smelly Cat" to advertisers. Joey throws an ex's wooden leg into a fire(?). The whole episode feels like a bad look.

"The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break" (season 3, episode 15)

The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break friends episode

(Image credit: Google)

This one is almost as hotly debated as it was on the show—were Ross and Rachel on a break? Was he cheating? Was their argument (which felt contrived and based on Ross' insecurity) even valid? But the result is probably what Ross-and-Rachel fans really hate.

"The One With the Morning After" (season 3, episode 16)

friends episode The One With the Morning After

(Image credit: Google)

After Rachel discovers Ross slept with someone else—and he insists they were on a break—the two have an all-out fight while the other friends hide in the bedroom. It is a long, drawn-out, painful fight, and (while it might be a good episode) it's tough to watch.

"The One with the Ballroom Dancing" (season 4, episode 4)

friends episode The One with the Ballroom Dancing

(Image credit: Google)

“How goes the dancing? Gay yet?” is a line uttered by Monica after Joey agrees to help their building's superintendent learn how to dance for an upcoming ball. It's a brutal summation of how this episode treated the thought of (gasp!) two guys platonically touching.

"The One With the Fake Party" (season 4, episode 16)

friends episode The One With the Fake Party

(Image credit: Google)

You might remember this one as when Rachel dresses up in a cheerleading outfit to try and seduce someone. It's also the one where Rachel's fake party ruins Ross' last night with Emily, and she comes off as incredibly immature most of the night.

"The One With the Invitation" (season 4, episode 21)

friends episode The One With The Invitation

(Image credit: Google)

Friends was not the only sitcom to rely on"clip" episodes (or flashback episodes) that show previous moments in the series. But when they did, fans often felt cheated—even in this case, where Rachel is debating whether to attend Ross' wedding to Emily.

"The One Where Rachel Smokes" (season 5, episode 18)

friends episode The One Where Rachel Smokes

(Image credit: Google)

This features one of the most '90s plotlines the show has ever seen: Rachel briefly feels like she has to take up smoking because it's helping her have important, off-the-cuff conversations with her boss. It was divisive among the characters even at the time, and even weirder now.

"The One With the Apothecary Table" (season 6, episode 11)

friends episode the One With The Apothecary Table

(Image credit: Google)

A.k.a. "The One That Is Just an Ad for Pottery Barn." Shows hadn't landed on how much product placement to use, so this one refers to unnecessary items (including said apothecary table). Phoebe ends up loving and keeping it, though, so that's a plus?

"The One That Could Have Been" (season 6, episodes 15-16)

the one that could have been friends episode

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

The notion of "putting Monica in a fat suit for flashback episodes" is widely regarded today as a completely offensive punchline. While watching the character awkwardly dance might have once been considered funny, now it just feels heartbreaking. And to add insult to injury, she's also a virgin in this alternate reality.

"The One Where Ross Dates A Student" (season 6, episode 18)

friends episode The One Where Ross Dates A Student

(Image credit: Google)

Sometimes you don't need any explanation beyond the title. Much like Monica accidentally dating a high schooler, Ross briefly dates one of his students—except it's not an accident, and he is shocked to discover it's against the rules. Sheesh.

"The One With Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E." (season 6, episode 20)

friends episode The One With Mac And C.H.E.E.S.E.

(Image credit: Google)

Yet another clip episode. Here, Chandler screws up and doesn't write down an important note for Joey's callback time. And then we get a bunch of throwback scenes reminding us of all the times the friends have screwed up. So, you know! That happened!

"The One With Rachel's Assistant" (season 7, episode 4)

friends episode the One With Rachel's Assistant

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rachel hires an assistant because he's hot (and deeply underqualified) and then she starts a relationship with him. This is right up there with sleeping with a student or a guy who's not even 18, except the guy in question, Tad, ends up being deeply annoying on top of that.

"The One with the Truth About London" (season 7, episode 16)

friends episode The One with the Truth About London

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In another instance of fat-shaming from the show, this episode contains an "alternate reality" in which Joey and Monica get together. Both characters have to wear fat suits, and it's just depressing—especially since the rest of the episode features a bunch of fun, silly pranks between Ross, Ben, and Rachel.

"The One With Ross and Monica's Cousin" (season 7, episode 19)

friends episode the One with Ross and Monica's Cousin

(Image credit: Google)

Or rather, "The One Where Ross Tries to Kiss His Cousin." Yes, said cousin is a young Denise Richards, who's always a joy to see. Yes, as Ross explains, he hasn't been with anyone in a long time. But they really could not sell the idea at the end of the day. (Couldn't she have been a family friend?)

"The One With Chandler's Dad" (season 7, episode 22)

friends episode The One With Chandler's Dad

(Image credit: Google)

If you're unfamiliar, Chandler's dad is a drag performer in Vegas. And that situation leads to bad, insensitive, and generally unpleasant jokes. Kathleen Turner, who plays Charles Bing, has even said she wouldn't take on the role today.

"The One With the Rumor" (season 8, episode 9)

friends episode The One with the Rumor

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wow, this episode aged badly. It's weird enough watching guest star Brad Pitt's character Will actively antagonize the character played by his then-wife, knowing the two would get divorced in real life. It's even worse when we remember that Will admitted to starting a nasty, insensitive rumor about Rachel in high school that she was intersex, which shouldn't be a joke to begin with.

"The One Where Joey Dates Rachel" (season 8, episode 12)

friends episode The One Where Joey Dates Rachel

(Image credit: Google)

This episode is an exercise in contrasts. On one hand, watching Ross try to get across Manhattan in 10 minutes is very funny. On the other hand, this fake date between Joey and Rachel starts us down the plotline of the two dating, which many fans will argue was a mistake.

"The One With Ross's Step Forward" (season 8, episode 11)

friends episode the One With Ross' Step Forward

(Image credit: Google)

There isn't anything overtly wrong with this episode, but some fans avoid watching it because it's just another example of the men on the show being bad at relationships. Although, Ross giving away his apartment key because he doesn't have a copy is funny.

"The One With Joey's Interview" (season 8, episode 19)

friends episode The One With Joey's Interview

(Image credit: Google)

Another flashback episode! The conceit is good—Joey needs to nail an interview, which is difficult because he is Joey—but it's also a good example of why Joey is best served as a side character. It's at least rewarding that he nails the interview in the end.

"The One With the Male Nanny" (season 9, episode 6)

friends episode the One with the Male Nanny

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ross and Rachel hire a male nanny, and "hilarity" ensues because Ross can't fathom how a straight man would want to take care of children. Also, Phoebe sort of cheats on Mike with her ex David (we love you, Hank Azaria, just not the character!)—and the love triangle doesn't really work.

"The One With Ross's Inappropriate Song" (season 9, episode 7)

friends episode The One With Ross's Inappropriate Song

(Image credit: Google)

It's pretty hilarious that Ross and Rachel have to rap Sir Mix-a-Lot's “Baby Got Back” to get their daughter to sleep. But if you'll recall, this is also the episode where Chandler goes and looks at a sex tape of Monica and Richard. Say it now: Ew.

"The One With Phoebe's Rats" (season 9, episode 12)

friends episode The One With Phoebe's Rats

(Image credit: Google)

Phoebe loves animals: Sure! Phoebe has some pet rats: Okay. Mike accidentally killing them: Disturbing, frankly. The side plot about Joey wanting to hook up with Ross and Rachel's nanny: Getting old at this point. You could tell that the show was running out of ideas a little bit.

"The One With the Donor" (season 9, episode 22)

friends episode the One With The Donor

(Image credit: Google)

There are some good plotlines here, particularly with Monica and Chandler's reckoning with not being able to have a child. But it also features the return of David, in another diversion from Phoebe ultimately being with Mike, and leans in on the bitterness of the other main characters.

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.