Ranked: Episodes Of Friends Hits & Misses
Friends has been off the air for almost two decades, but that has in no way hindered its popularity. Thanks to syndication and even more recently to streaming services, Friends can be relived over and over again, which is exactly what fans do. Of course, any show that runs for 10 seasons and 236 episodes is bound to have some low points — even Friends. While every Friends fan has their own favorite and least favorite episodes, most would agree that these are some of the very best and very worst of the iconic television series:
20. Worst: The One With the Memorial Service
While Friends has remained just as popular as ever since it came to an end back in 2004, there has been one character that has received more and more hate as time has gone on. Many fans have revealed that they can’t stand Ross Geller and season nine’s “The One With the Memorial Service” is a prime example as to why. The whole episode centers around Chandler and Ross pranking each other on their college’s alumni page until Chandler finally writes that Ross has died, but no one seems to care. Naturally, they then throw Ross a fake memorial service. The whole episode relied a little too heavily on Ross being self-centered and a little neurotic. Meanwhile, the other storylines included Joey refusing to give up his favorite stuffed penguin Huggsy for Emma, which really made it one of the blandest Friends episodes there is.
19. Best: The One With Ross’ Tan
Although Ross certainly had his moments that made fans annoyed, it can’t be denied that he also completely made up some of the best moments in the most memorable episodes. Season 10’s “The One With Ross’s Tan” is one of the most played in syndication because it is remembered as one of the funniest episodes of the series. Ross’s ridiculous spray tanning disaster led to the iconic line, “Is that place the sun?” and Ross being the butt of the joke. Some aren’t huge fans of this episode because it also includes Rachel and Joey’s cringe-worthy first date, it also marks the end of their incredibly awkward romantic storyline which was a huge relief.
18. Worst: The One With the Ick Factor
Season one of Friends was still working out the kinks with its humor and what direction to take the characters and “The One with the Ick Factor” was a good example of what not to do. In the episode, Monica lies about her age when she finds out the guy she is seeing is only a college student. After they sleep together however, she finds out he also lied and he is actually just a high school student. While the jokes worked hard to cover up the serious issue this presented, the title said it all and viewers couldn’t help but feeling uncomfortable with the episode. The episode did have some redeeming qualities as Chandler’s coworkers liked Phoebe better than him when she stepped in as a temp at his office, but overall it wasn’t enough to make it one of the good Friends episodes.
17. Best: The One With the Rumor
The Thanksgiving episodes of Friends have become iconic and while there is much debate over which is the best, there is no denying that season eight’s “The One With the Rumor” isn’t just one of the best, if not the best of the Thanksgiving episodes, it is simply just one of the best Friends episodes. While the big drawing point of the episode was the guest starring role of Jennifer Aniston’s then-husband Brad Pitt, it was even better because the episode ended up being one of the most quotable and Pitt actually had a great role. He had great chemistry with the cast and the episode gifted fans with iconic Friends moments including the “I Hate Rachel Green Club” and Rachel finding out it was them who started a rumor she was a hermaphrodite. Some other highlights include Phoebe’s “Oh come on, Will, Just take off your shirt and tell us;” Chandler’s “Everybody at my school heard it! You were the hermaphrodite cheerleader from Long Island?”; and of course Will’s “Look at her holding those yams. Those are our two worst enemies, Ross – Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates.”
16. Worst: The One With the Bullies
A lot of Friends fans might not even be able to remember that there was an episode called “The One With the Bullies” because of just how unmemorable it was. The season two episode featured Ross and Chandler getting intimidated and bullied out of their iconic Central Perk spot by two other men who threaten to beat them up if they ever return. The rest of the episode is equally as depressing as Monica is forced to wear fake breasts and work in a ridiculous ’50s diner after she loses all her money investing in bad stocks meanwhile Phoebe accidentally runs over her father’s dog after she gets up the courage to go meet her dad and then learns that he abandoned his second family as well. “The One With the Bullies” truly came off like that by the end of season two the writers were struggling with filling episodes, making new jokes and deciding which directions to take the characters, and the episode fell flat with viewers.
15. Best: The One With the Cop
When it comes to iconic Friends episodes, there is no need to look any further than season five’s “The One With the Cop.” Thanks to this episode, no Friends fan can now move without shouting, “Pivot, Pivot, PIVOT!” Aside from Ross buying a new couch and refusing to pay the delivery cost, the episode features Phoebe finding a wallet with a NYPD badge inside which she begins to use for her personal benefit. When she accidentally threatens the officer the badge belongs to he ends up asking her out instead of arresting her. This episode is one of the best in both physical and subtle humor and mixes up the characters well in their different storylines.
14. Worst: The One With the Evil Orthodontist
With Friends still finding its feet at the end of season one, things took an odd turn with “The One With the Evil Orthodontist.” Any episode with Barry in it was uncomfortable and this particular episode seemed to undermine all the progress Rachel Green had made over the course of the season. In the episode, Rachel and Barry hook up in his exam chair even though Barry is still with Mindy, and she then asks Rachel to be her maid of honor. The episode just hammers home the point that Rachel is way too good for Barry, and Mindy probably is too, but for some reason, these women keep falling for the creepy and sleazy orthodontist. Overall it is a Friends episode that is better left forgotten.
13. Best: The One With the Prom Video
Season two’s “The One With the Prom Video” is one of the most watched episodes of Friends of all time. Over 33 million tuned in for the episode which features Ross, Rachel, and Monica getting ready for their prom in the ’80s all of which is captured on a video that the group is watching in the present. This episode is one of the best not only because of the great content the prom video featured including Ross’s afro, but it finally saw Ross and Rachel getting together after she realizes not only how much he has always cared about her, but how much she has always cared about him. On top of all that it also featured Joey giving Chandler a gold bracelet so they could be “bracelet buddies”, classic Joey.
12. Worst: The One Where The Stripper Cries
Phoebe’s Bachelorette party was nothing short of a disaster in season 10’s “The One Where the Stripper Cries,” thanks to a big miscommunication between Phoebe and Monica and Rachel. When they call for a last-minute stripper, none other than a short, aging stripper played by Danny DeVito shows up. Although an appearance from Danny DeVito is never a bad thing, it was entirely too awkward to watch his sadness set in as the ladies (and the audience) cringed at his performance. To make the episode even worse, however, was that when Chandler and Ross start to look back at their college days, it is revealed that when Ross thought he had kissed Rachel for the first time at one of their college parties, he had actually kissed Monica. This meant Monica’s first real kiss which she had always cherished was actually with her own brother. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Friends had made weird incestuous storylines or jokes — remember season seven’s “The One With Ross and Monica’s Cousin”?
11. Best: The One With the Jellyfish
Many Friends fans will agree that season four was one of the best. By season four the show had firmly found its footing, a very loyal and large fanbase, and the characters and their directions had been solidified so it isn’t surprising that season four had some of the best episodes. In “The One With the Jellyfish,” there are three very separate plots going on: One with Monica, Joey, and Chandler at the beach; Phoebe finding out about her birth mother; and Ross and Rachel reconciling after she writes him an 18-page letter. The scene where Chandler has to pee on Monica because she got stung by a jellyfish is enough to make it great, but the “we were on a break” scene has become a pop culture staple, which is finished when Rachel tells Ross as he storms off, “And hey, just so you know it’s NOT that common, it DOESN’T happen to every guy and it IS a big deal!” “The One With the Jellyfish” is one of the most classic and iconic Friends episodes hands down.
10. Worst: The One With Phoebe’s Rats
By season nine things were starting to wind down with the show, and it became clear that storylines were getting scarce with the episode “The One With Phoebe’s Rats.” In the episode, Joey has a hard time not trying to sleep with Rachel and Ross’s attractive new nanny Molly, meanwhile, Rachel’s condescending coworker puts the moves on her at her birthday party. Then, of course, there are Phoebe’s rats. After Mike kills a rat in Phoebe’s apartment, she discovers the rat had babies and starts taking care of them and even brings them to Rachel’s birthday. It isn’t surprising if a lot of fans don’t even remember this episode, but it is telling that out of all the mundane storylines powering the episode, they chose to name it after the rats.
9. Best: The One Where Ross Is Fine
Whether viewers liked Ross or not, he was never more relatable than in the iconic season 10 episode “The One Where Ross Is Fine.” In the midst of everyone hating the Rachel and Joey romantic storyline, this episode is a bright spot at the cost of Ross’s happiness. For the sake of one of his best friends and the mother of his child (and love of his life) Ross puts on a brave face to try to support their romance but ends up drinking far too much alcohol at a dinner he wanted to host. From his fajita making to insisting he is fine, this episode was some of David Schwimmer’s best work in the character, and honestly, so many people knew exactly what he was going through.
8. Worst: The One With Chandler’s Work Laugh
Although part of one of Friends’ running jokes is that no one actually knows what Chandler does, a fair amount of time is given to his job and his office. Season five’s “The One With Chandler’s Work Laugh” is one episode that fans can really do without. The episode is all about an especially annoying laugh that Chandler uses at work for his boss Doug, and Monica gets upset when she realizes what a suck-up Chandler is at work. If Chandler’s laugh wasn’t annoying enough however, the episode took an unnecessary turn when a desperate Ross went on a date with none other than Janice after he learns that his ex-wife Emily is remarrying. The episode is not Friends’ best work and is especially disappointing because the middle seasons were actually some of the best of the series except for these few unfortunate episodes.
7. Best: The One With the Late Thanksgiving
There is no better Friends Thanksgiving episode, and few better episodes in general than season 10’s “The One With the Late Thanksgiving,” or what is known as “The One With the Floating Heads.” After Monica doesn’t even want to host Thanksgiving because of the stress, she is convinced to do so only to have everyone except for Chandler wind up being late. Rachel and Phoebe take Emma to a baby beauty pageant while Ross and Joey go to a Rangers game, all the while Monica gets more and more infuriated with their tardiness. It is hilarious thanks to the floating heads, and the excuses being made out in the hall as they fight with Monica and Chandler through the door, and the moment where Joey tries to make it look like he and Ross had been mugged by tearing the pocket off Ross’s shirt is absolutely priceless. What makes the great episode even better is that it is also when Monica and Chandler find out there is a woman who is interested in them adopting their baby which eventually brings them all together. The episode brought to light just how effective the show was when all six characters are together and most of the action is just in the apartment (or in the hall in this case).
6. Worst: The One With Phoebe’s Husband
Season two of Friends hit some highs and lows as it really began to work itself into the great show it would become, but one of the low points was the episode “The One With Phoebe’s Husband.” The episode revealed that Phoebe had a gay ice dancer husband named Duncan who she married just so he could get his green card. Phoebe had an interesting and bizarre past that was often better reserved for a surprising comment or joke from the character, not for a whole episode. The rest of the episode was just as disappointing with Chandler revealing his three nipples, Joey revealing he was in an adult movie, and Rachel lobbying against Ross’s new girlfriend Julie. What makes this episode one of the worst aside from the shoddy storylines was that in the end, Duncan reveals he is straight and Phoebe is a little heartbroken by the deception.
5. Best: The One With the Embryos
This episode really should have been called “The One with The Quiz.” In this season four episode, a friendly game of who knows who best between the boys and Rachel and Monica ends with the girls losing their apartment to the boys. The loss of the apartment is one of the hooks of the show and this episode gave us the classics, “Miss Chanandler Bong” and “big fat goalie.” Everything from the storyline to the writing to the acting was peak Friends, and this episode is definitely considered one of the finer moments of the beloved series.
4. Worst: The One With the Breast Milk
Season two’s “The One With the Breast Milk” has made people uncomfortable since it aired and even more so now. In the episode, Joey and Chandler are freaked out by Carol breastfeeding Ben and it turns into some of the friends actually trying the breast milk. Ross is so grossed out by the idea that when he finally does try it, he eats a bunch of cookies to get rid of the taste. In the end, the jokes and gag of the breast milk being gross seemed really forced and wasn’t really funny enough for one joke let alone an entire episode, making it one of the episodes fans are least likely to watch again and again.
3. Best: The One Where No One’s Ready
Joey may not have coined the term “commando” but, when he used it in the fantastic season three episode “The One Where No One’s Ready” in 1996, it became a common term. This episode is one of the best mostly because of the scene where Joey comes into the apartment wearing every single piece of Chandler’s clothing and states, “Look at me, I’m Chandler! Could I be wearin’ any more clothes?” This is yet another moment that is so iconic in pop culture that even non-Friends fans are aware of it. What makes the episode truly great however is that it was one of those interesting bottle episodes where the whole thing takes place in just the apartment, yet remains one of the very best as Ross tries to get everyone ready and out the door. The wit and intelligence behind the show is paramount. Even though there is no change in scenery, the writing, acting, and storylines develop and carry the episode with ease.
2. Worst: The One Where Ross Dates A Student
Admittedly Ross goes through a lot when it comes to his love life on Friends, but this season six plotline is yet another reason why fans have a hard time liking the character. The name speaks for itself with “The One Where Ross Dates a Student” as Ross, a college professor, begins dating one of his students, Elizabeth. Given how much of an issue this is in the real world and the fact it could get him fired, the entire situation is ridiculous and not even romantic, because Ross should have never entertained the idea of dating a student let alone trying to keep it a secret so that he doesn’t get fired. Although the storyline did give fans the epic guest starring part for Bruce Willis as Elizabeth’s dad, it wasn’t enough to make this episode a good one for Friends.
1. Best: The One Where Everybody Finds Out
Putting Monica and Chandler together was one of the most brilliant yet risky moves that Friends writers made, and it was this episode where it was solidified that the two were the real deal, and it was going to be a much different relationship than the Ross and Rachel mayhem. In the episode, Monica and Chandler are still hiding their relationship and only Joey and Rachel know about it, which meant that it was only a matter of time before Ross and Phoebe found out as well. Not only is it one of the most memorable episodes of all, but it is also one of the funniest. It works in the “they don’t know that we know that they know” plotline, as Phoebe comes on to Chandler, forcing him to break down and admit that he loves Monica. Everything about the episode brings out the best of every character, and what is paramount is when Ross then finds out which leads into the epic opening for the next episode.