Friends at 25: Ranking the Top 25 Episodes of All Time

By Marc Miller
Published: September 17, 2019 (Last updated: February 12, 2024)

There’s nothing like old friends, even ones that you haven’t seen for nearly 15-years. This weekend will mark the anniversary of the trend-setting sitcom’s first episode that will be honored with an actual theatrical release titled The One with the Anniversary. While the cultural impact of the show can’t possibly be measured, one thing is for certain: Friends still remains one of the funniest shows in the history of television. Please take a moment to read our ranking of the 25-greatest Friends episodes of all-time, in honor of its silver anniversary, that couldn’t *BE* any more sterling.

(Note: Please use the links at the bottom of the page to navigate through this list.)

The 25 Greatest Friends Episodes of All Time: Part 1

#25: Season 2, Episode 15, “The One Where Ross and Rachel… You Know” [February 8th, 1996]


There might be what some consider better episodes, but for me, one of my personal favorites is when America’s best buds refuse to get up from a couple of recliners and become a couple of lazy-boys in the process. Oh, by the way, Ross and Rachel finally have sex.

Best Line: “No, we still have time,” Chandler replies after the building’s fire alarm goes off and he leans over from his recliner to feel the floor for heat from their impending doom.

Factoid: This is the first episode of a surprisingly long and effective (that’s what she said) guest spot for Tom Selleck as Monica’s love interest, Dr. Richard Burke.

#24: Season 3, Episode 2, “The One Where No One’s Ready” [September 26th, 1996]


Or, the one that’s closest to Seinfeld, where nothing really happens, with more than often hilarious results. Ross is giving a speech at a black-tie fundraiser and naturally, being as co-dependent as one can get, not only needs his girlfriend, but his sister, two best-buddies, and that weird yet loveable friend of his sibling. Set that aside, Chandler’s mind-blowing observation about Donald Duck and watching Joey do deep knee lunges with his roommates’ pants while going commando makes for a memorable episode.

Best Line: “Look at me! I’m Chandler! Could I BE wearing any more clothes?”- Joey doing an impression of his best bud to his best bud.

Tell Me Why: So, Joey puts on Chandler’s clothes, after Chandler puts on Joey’s underwear. Also, in the episode “The One where Joey Moves Out,” Joey reveals that the bar of soap they share (really?) is used for that special place right before Chandler uses it. These BFF’s are a germaphobe’s worst nightmare.

#23: Season 1, Episode 7, “The One with the Blackout” [November 3rd, 1994]


The episode that really elevated Friends into a mainstream hit, breaking away from singularly weird episodes for the sake of being, well, you know, just weird (remember the episode with the thumb in a soda-can?), it became pop-culturally significant for practically coining the phrase, “the friend-zone.” This set the stage for the main focus of possibly the most successful sitcom storylines of all-time of Ross’s many attempts to tell Rachel how he feels about her.

Best Line: “Oh, um, Milwaukee.”- Phoebe adding to the discussion of where is the weirdest place you did it.

Factoid: The first episode for characters Mr. Heckles and Paulo.

#22: Season 3, Episode 6, “The One with the Flashback” [October 31st, 1996]

The one that is essentially the Pilot before the Pilot, as all six friends have flashbacks to moments in their lives where they all almost slept with one another. While most of the flashback episodes reveal chronological time-line goofs, you have to remember, they are basically memory plays, and everyone’s view can be different or in a new light. Besides, watching Ross lament that he is not “lesbian enough” to keep his marriage together, along with the sight of Ross and Phoebe making out on a pool table (he comments about the stupid balls being in the way) and this is an excuse to forgive almost anything.

Best Line: “The cute naked guy is really starting to put on weight.” Phoebe, in a flashback, revealing Ugly Naked Guy used to be a piece of eye-candy.

Factoid: This would mark actor Larry Hankins’ last episode as Mr. Heckles.

#21: Season 3, Episode 9, “The One with the Football” [November 21st, 1996]

Who cares that Monica threw the football after the whistle, or the girl Joey and Chandler fight over clearly doesn’t have a Dutch accent? The battle for the Gellar Cup began a run of Thanksgiving Day episodes of Friends that became an annual event after “The One with the Football.” After understanding their mistake in season two, the writers started a run of classic holiday-appointment television.

Best Line: “And the Tennille’s.” Chandler to Monica after she wants to pick Captains for the touch football game.

The 25 Greatest Friends Episodes of All Time: Part 2
#20: Season 3, Episode 16 “The One with the Morning After” [February 20th, 1997]

This is an episode that started a ridiculous fight with my wife when watching it together during an endless late-night binge on basic cable. I landed on the side of everything is fair in love, war, and when you are on a “break.” My wife ended on the side of you keep it in your pants when on a break, and I ended up on the couch. I ended up watching The One with the Red Sweater on that pull-out, so the night wasn’t a total loss.

Factoid: Rachel leaves a message on Ross’s machine stating that “This whole break-up thing is just stupid” and doesn’t want to get back together over the answering machine. This would make it a fact that they were broken up. While writing this, shortly after I shared this with you know who, it started another fight, but it was totally worth it.

#19: Season 3, Episode 25, “The One at the Beach” [September 25th, 1997]

This is an episode of our beloved group that displays how the show can juggle intentionally ridiculous delightful moments of nonsense, like Joey peeing on Monica’s leg to save her from a jelly-fish (seriously, he seems to be able to use that thing for almost anything) or Rachel getting Ross’s girlfriend to shave her head; while also progressing series-long storylines. This episode has something for everyone.

Best Line: “We were on a break!” Ross to Rachel after commenting about the perspective he gained after they broke up.

#18: Season 4, Episode 8, “The One with Chandler in a Box” [November 20th, 1997]

Considering that Joey and Chandler share an apartment, clothes, soap, a toothbrush, and even underwear, is it really a shock, you know, they would share a girlfriend? When Joey finds out Chandler slept with Kathy (Criminal Mind’s Paget Brewster), he decides to stay locked in a box for six hours on Thanksgiving to show him how sorry he was.

Best Line: “Because he’s Richard’s son, Monica. It’s like inviting a Greek tragedy over for dinner.” Rachel when Monica attempts to date her ex’s son, Tim (played by Michael Vartan).

Tell Me Why: In front of Gunther, there is a potato that is in a covered cake tray on the counter of the Central Perk.

#17: Season 5, Episode 9, “The One with Ross’s Sandwich” [December 10th, 1998]

I’m not sure I ever laughed more at a single moment in Friends than when Ross finds out that the head of his department ate his beloved sandwich; you see, what you need to understand is it contains something called, the “Moist Maker.” This is a standout episode featuring a great comedic performance by Matt LeBlanc, as he continually covers for the secret romance between Chanica (I’m trying this out, over 20 years later).

Best Line: “Yeah, well I kinda liked that Lamaze class I took, but I was looking for something a little bit more intellectual, with a less painful final exam.” Phoebe

Best Line #2: “Get ready to come out of the non-gay closet.” Joey to Chandler and Monica after being fed up covering for them.

#16: Season 5, Episode 11, “The One with all the Resolutions’ [January 7th, 1999]

The one that might as well be called where Rachel finds out #2, she overhears that the other “Mr. Big” in New York City lives across the hall, and Monica has had a front-row seat for the show since London. This leads to a fantastic bit of banter between LeBlanc and Aniston that had me giggling more than Anderson Cooper talking about p***y-willows. Ultimately, it ends with a tender moment of Rachel allowing her friend’s romance to continue and give their relationship a chance that it deserves.

Factoid: Did you know the now-famous scene of when Ross smacks himself in the face with a hand full of paste formed from lotion and powder when trying to slip on a pair of leather pants was an accident? It was so funny that they decided to keep it in the episode.

The 25 Greatest Friends Episodes of All Time: Part 3

#15: Season 5, Episode 23 & 24, “The One in Vegas Part 1 & 2” [May 20th, 1999]

In a two-part whopper, Chandler finally decides to propose to Monica, while Ross has fun with a permanent magic marker and drawing on Rachel’s face while she is asleep on the plane to Sin City. This all leads to one of the funniest cliff-hanging twists in sitcom history — just as Chanica is ready to tie the knot in a Vegas chapel, Ross and Rachel storm out of the door, married, clearly inebriated, and after congratulating each other on a job well done on tying the knot, drunkenly go their separate ways.

Best Line: “Except you, Pheebs. You can live in the thumb.” Joey telling the group that all of them besides Phoebe can live in his great hand-shaped mansion.

Factoid: Frequent future Mathew Perry co-star and Reno 911’s Thomas Lennon stars as the card dealer or, as he is also known, Joey’s hand-twin.

#14: Season 8, Episode 2, “The One with the Red Sweater” [October 4th, 2001]

Legend has it the audience reaction to the humongous, twisty-reveal of who was the father of Rachel’s baby was so loud that the cast had to calm the entire jaw-dropped crowd so they could finish the scene. In perhaps a series that had more potent plot twist reveals than a group of passengers that might have been Lost on an island, Friends had the innate ability to keep reinventing itself, and with one great reveal after another. No sitcom was better at it, broadcast or cable, and no sitcom has come close since.

Best Line: “Marriage advice? Really?” Chandler to Ross, after he counsels him on, you know, marriage.

Factoid: This episode was directed by David Schwimmer.

#13: Season 1, Episode 24, “The One Where Rachel Finds Out” [May 18th, 1995]

I’m not sure if any episode of television had a greater blunder of a reveal than “The One Where Rachel Finds Out”, but the satisfying and unexpected pay off was wonderfully structured among its absurdist one-liners. If it wasn’t for that damn crystal duck, this episode contained one of the most surprising, natural, spontaneous, and real-to-life moments in the history of sitcoms in a series that had a handful of great ones.

Best Line: “Not following you.” Joey not catching Monica’s drift about being there for her.

Best Line #2: “Yes, the doctors say if they remove it, he’ll die.” Chandler commenting on the child in all of us.

#12: Season 2, Episode 7, “The One where Ross Finds Out” [November 9th, 1995]

After 31 episodes, 930 minutes, 55,800 seconds of wondering, waiting, and hoping they would end up locking lips, Ross and Rachel finally take that next step when he finds out that she has feelings for him as well. This is the episode that also displayed an obvious amount of chemistry between Courtney Cox and Matthew Perry that would give the writers of the show its rebirth halfway through its run.

Best Line: “Joey, be a pal, lift up my hand and smack her with it.” Chandler letting Monica know he doesn’t want to lose that last pound.

Tell Me Why: In the following episode, “The List,” does anyone else find Monica’s reaction strange when she finds out her brother kissed Rachel?

#11: Season 5, Episode 8, “The One with All the Thanksgivings” [November 19th, 1998]

Sure, it was an unusually blatant rip-off of a classic Mr. Bean episode, but when Joey accidentally puts his head inside the uncooked carcass of the main attraction of Thanksgiving, it was that lovable lug’s equivalent moment of a bear named Pooh getting his hand stuck in that bee-hive full of honey. A stand-out episode of flashback craziness and delightful continuous sight gags, like the image of Ross and Chandler’s endless choice in updated clothes and hairstyle, this is a clear-cut example of making something your own.

Best Line #1: “Hey! It’s not how it sounds!” Joey to his friends when it was brought up he once had a turkey stuck on his head.

Best Line #2: “It’s exactly how it sounds.” Chandler replying to, well, you know.

The 25 Greatest Friends Episodes of All Time: Part 4

#10: Season 4, Episode 24, “The One with Ross’s Wedding” [May 7th, 1998]

As mentioned previously, while Friends was a cultural phenomenon, a worldwide sensation, perhaps it never received the credit it deserved for its sharp writing and careful attention to storylines by constantly reinventing them when needed. By the end of season three and a period that led up to the middle of the following season, the storylines of the show became inconsistent, petered off in quality, and became somewhat stagnant. However, it all changed by the season four “Embryos” episode the following season that led to a finale of revelations of Chandler and Monica hooking up in London, and when Rachel arrives to break up Ross’s wedding, she backs off to set him free; moments later…

Best Line: “Take thee, Rachel.” Ross to Emily, during his vows, yes, at the wedding.

Best Line #2: Before he was Dr. House, Hugh Laurie guest starred as The Gentleman on the Plane, and told Rachel, “And by the way, it seems to be perfectly clear that you were on a break!”

#9: Season 6, Episode 9, “The One Where Ross Got High” [November 25th, 1999]

I’m not sure that Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles were ever given proper credit for being reliable and funny guest stars as Ross and Monica’s parents. In what is perhaps their best episode, they show clear disdain for their future son-in-law-to-be. It’s later revealed that Ross lied and told them Chandler was smoking marijuana and jumped out of the window to cover up that he was smoking a joint in his bedroom.

Best Line: “What’s not to like? Custard? Good! Jam? Good! Meat? Good!” Joey to Ross on how much he enjoys Rachel’s 10-layer trifle, complete with layers of ladyfingers, jam, custard, raspberries, beef, sautéed onions, peas, bananas, and topped with whipped cream. Did I forget and mention the custard was made from scratch?

#8: Season 7, Episode 23 & 24, “The One with Monica & Chandler’s Wedding Part 1 & 2” [May 17th, 2001]

In the season seven finale, LeBlanc and guest star Gary Oldman take acting to next-level greatness by reinventing spit-takes, because when you enunciate you, of course, spit. Meanwhile, Phoebe and Rachel assume Monica is having a baby when they find a positive pregnancy test in the bathroom. Chandler then gets cold feet, runs away, but comes back to marry the woman we knew was right for him all along, which, it turns out, was all a distraction for that big season-ending reveal: Rachel is the one who is expecting.

Best Line: “Don’t be so negative. Isn’t it possible Sorry’s in their right now?” Phoebe to Rachel and Ross surmising that Chandler could have changed his name to, “Tell Monica I’m sorry.”

Factoid: While Chandler is hiding out in his office, you can clearly see the name on the door reads Mike Smith.

#7: Season 8, Episode 4, “The One with the Videotape” [October 18th, 2001]

This is one of those episodes that can be endlessly quoted and settles the debate on who made the first move the night Rachel and Ross conceived Emma. The script, by David Crane, Marta Kauffman, and Scott Silveri, had another wonderfully plotted episode, setting the trap early on that led to the big reveal because Joey has a story about backpacking through Europe.

Best Line: “Sky’s blue Ross, and I had sex yesterday.” Joey to Ross after telling him his 6-month dry spell has made him appreciate the little things in life.

Best Line #2: “Oh, there he is, the father of my child, and the porn-king of the West Village.” Rachel as Ross walks in the door.

Best Line #3: ‘That’s like the pervert’s motto.” Phoebe to Ross, when, you know, he tells her he’s not a pervert.

#6: Season 10, Episode’s 17 & 18, “The Last One Part 1 & 2” [May 6th, 2004]

Even though we all knew it was coming, the creative team had one well-played twist at the end of the trend-setting show’s run: When Ross thought he lost Rachel forever, he played the message she left for him, revealing she loves him and is trying to get off the plane to come back to him. As he is neurotically yelling at the now practically defunct messaging contraption to wonder aloud if she got off the plane, Rachel walks up behind him and says, “I got off the plane.”

Best Line: “There is something wrong with the phalange!” Phoebe yells out loud to stop Rachel’s plane from going to Paris.

The 25 Greatest Friends Episodes of All Time: Part 5

#5: Season 6, Episode 24 & 25 “The One with the Proposal Part 1 & 2” [May 18th, 2000]


That James Bond looking, magnificent mustache wearing, one of the three men who is looking after a child while baby-sitting and water thieving Tom Selleck returned for his 10th and final episode of his run on Friends, trying to be a homewrecker to Monica and Chandler’s relationship. After unintentionally interrupting Chandler’s proposal plans, Monica begins to doubt their future and finds herself in his arms again. Luckily, she comes to her senses, with the help of Joey, as Chandler walks into their apartment to reveal she is there, ready to drop to one knee.

Best Line: “You’ve got to forget about Elizabeth, man. If you’re not careful, you may not get married at all this year.” Chandler to Ross, poking fun at his relationship track record.

#4: Season 2, Episode 14, “The One with a Prom Video” [February 1st, 1996]

While, unfortunately, the term “Bracelet Buddies” never quite took off, at least that didn’t stop Joey from buying Chandler a gaudy gold watch that allowed Matthew Perry to dust off his Mr. T impression. Then, with Phoebe reassuring Ross about the power of a certain crustacean, the pining for Rachel stops. With their relationship finally finding some solid footing after it’s revealed when watching Monica’s old prom video that “Mr. Kotter” was going to save the day when Rachel’s date fails to show but is left heartbroken in the process.

Best Line: “See! He’s her lobster.” Phoebe

Best Line #2: “So, how many cameras are actually on you?” Chandler, after Monica tells everyone the camera adds ten pounds.

#3: Season 8, Episode 9, “The One with the Rumor” [November 22nd, 2001]

The best Thanksgiving episode of them all, Brad Pitt was probably the biggest guest star in the history of television at the time when he played an old friend of Ross’s that was against the type of his own ultra-cool Ocean’s 11 persona. What’s remarkable about the episode is that despite the mega-star wattage of Pitt, the cast is so good here, he fits in like a simple piece of the puzzle that doesn’t overshadow or make it feel at all out of place. The writers also smartly placed Aniston and Pitt against each other, while being married in real life at the time, in adversarial roles, with Pitt’s Will still being a proud member of the I Hate Rachel Green Club. Matt LeBlanc carries the episode’s best jokes, trying to finish an entire 19-pound turkey, along with the meat-sweats, and a generous slice of pumpkin pie.

Best Line: “Oh, come on, Will, just take off your shirt and tell us!” Phoebe to Will about revealing the rumor.

Best Line #2: “As a romancer of the elderly?” Ross laments to Monica about the rumor Rachel spread about him in high school.

#2: Season 4, Episode 12, “The One with the Embryos’ [January 15th, 1998]

Ranked as the 21st greatest sitcom episode of all-time by TV-Guide, this episode was a jolt to a show that was in desperate need of one after the Rachel and Ross break-up. In a sequence of great comic timing, Ross referees a bet for a couple of hundred bucks where the stakes suddenly get raised in a lighting round of either the guys get the girls’ apartment or the guys have to get rid of the rooster and ducks. What’s the deciding factor? No one seems to know what Chandler’s job actually is; we still don’t.

Best Line: “Viva Las Gaygas.” Monica screaming the answer to the name of Chandler’s father’s Vegas show.

Best Line #2: “We’re getting a second opinion.” Chandler, after explaining the vet thinks the chick is becoming a rooster.

#1: Season 5, Episode 14, “The One Where Everyone Finds Out” [February 11th, 1999]

One of the greatest sitcom episodes of all time, maybe across all genres, it’s a master class on how to plot out and wrap up one great storyline. After 15 episodes of sneaking around, will they or won’t they, who will tell or won’t, the rest of the group finally discovers Chandler and Monica have been doing the deed. In typical Friends fashion, in between its sharp wit, its high-stakes tension-building comedy duel, and ultimately touching wrap up, each cast member shined. From Chandler’s being afraid of bras because he can’t work them, or Joey being incapable of keeping a poker face, or Ross applauding Ugly Naked Guy’s willingness to bare it all, or Phoebe experiencing a blinded Oedipus moment, or Monica’s willingness to win at all costs, The One Where Everyone Finds Out couldn’t BE a more satisfying 22 minutes of television.

Best Line: “I couldn’t if I wanted to.” Joey replying to the line below.

Best Line #2: “They don’t know that we know they know we know.” Phoebe to Rachel, after attempting to turn the tables on Monica and Chandler for the third time.

Best Line #3: “Hey, check it out, Ugly Naked Guy’s got a friend.” Joey says to the group before they realize it’s their naked friend, Ross.

Factoid: This was the last appearance of the Ugly Naked Guy, played by Jon Haugen, who, at the time, was uncredited in the role until senior staff writer Todd Van Luling took a year to uncover the truth.