Halloween is over and the Christmas decorations are starting to come up, but let’s not forget one of the best holidays of the year is right around the corner: Thanksgiving. And one of the best parts of the season—besides Pumpkin Spice everything and eating all the mashed potatoes we can find—is watching all the fall TV episodes, and a big part of that tradition is Friends. While Thanksgiving has been done on other sitcoms (see: How I Met Your Mother’s “Slapsgiving” episode), no show does it quite like Friends, y’all. Nope, not even The Office.
There are so many good Thanskgiving-themed eps over the 10-season history of the show, and when the holiday season rolls around, of course we should watch all of them all over again. But which ones are the best? All of them are good in their own way, but some are better than others! Not even Friends is a perfect show (though it’s pretty darn close).
Here is a definitive ranking of every Friends Thanksgiving episode, from worst (harsh, sorry) to best. Watch them in any order you please, but don’t you dare be late to Monica’s dinner… especially not for the sake of a toddler’s beauty pageant.
“The One Where Underdog Gets Away”
In this season 1 episode—the very first Friends Thanksgiving episode ever—everyone ends up celebrating Thanksgiving together because they aren’t able to get home to their families (even though Monica is super excited to cook). It all culminates in everyone on the roof, looking for the Underdog balloon that escaped from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (sure to be extra nostalgic this year, since the parade is being done differently for 2020). This isn’t a bad episode, it’s just the least GREAT Thanksgiving episode Friends has ever done… but that Underdog moment will forever be iconic.
“The One With The Late Thanksgiving”
Next comes the final Friends Thanksgiving episode ever. In season 10, Monica decides to cook at the last minute as an attempt to outdo herself from every Thanksgiving dinner she’d ever cooked before, but everyone ends up showing up to dinner late. As much as I love seeing Emma in Alicia May Emory’s outfit (and laughing at the fact that Joey owns a Cabbage Patch Kids doll) the real best moment of this ep is Monica and Chandler finding out they’re finally getting a baby.
“The One With Rachel’s Other Sister”
In this episode, we meet Rachel’s sister Amy (played by Christina Applegate). She shows up and basically ruins Thanksgiving because she’s rude to everyone, and poor Monica has to deal with the trauma of all of her broken wedding china. It is pretty funny to see Amy call Emma by all the wrong names… but the fact that Ross and Rachel wouldn’t let Chandler have custody of Emma if they died is rough.
“The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs”
This season 7 episode features a game that Friends almost certainly didn’t invent, but may as well have: The states game. Everyone attempts to name all 50 states in six minutes, and Ross is struggling hard. As a lifelong hater of Ross, it’s fun to watch him realize he’s not quite as smart as he thinks he is. Does that make me a bad person? Also, this is a fun game to play yourself to realize that you are also not as smart as you think you are.
“The One With Chandler In A Box”
When Thanksgiving rolls around in season 4, Joey and Chandler are at odds because Chandler kissed Joey’s girlfriend. As penance, he has to spend the holiday in a huge wooden crate. Seeing their friendship overcome such a huge issue is what really sells this episode for me. Seriously, does anyone not wish they could have what Chandler and Joey have?! This is true love.
“The One With The Rumor”
This episode is a trip… especially considering all the discourse that has happened in present day surrounding Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt’s former marriage. At the time this was filmed, they were still together, and Brad was guest starring on the show as the former president of their high school’s “I Hate Rachel Green” club. Phenomenal. Now, this episode lives on as a complete and total time capsule.
“The One With The Football”
It wasn’t until the show’s third season that we learn what a big part of Thanksgiving the football game was for Monica and Ross… and this is also the episode where we learn about the existence of the Geller Cup, which is actually a horrifying Troll doll trophy. This episode is such a perfect example of Friends at its peak… and seeing Monica and Ross compete actually makes him likable (just for a second, though).
“The One With All The Thanksgivings”
Okay, this one might actually be the most iconic Thanksgiving episode, because it features Monica with a turkey on her head, dancing as Chandler lets it slip that he loves her for the first time. Such an unforgettable moment… and it all started with the gang telling the story about the time Monica accidentally sliced his toe off. In her defense, though, who wears wicker shoes? Only Chandler.
“The One Where Ross Got High”
The best Friends episode of all time? This gem from season 6 (arguably also the best Friends season in general). The pure comedy that happens when everyone ends up ratting each other out for things they’ve done in the past is sitcom perfection… and so is the entire storyline surrounding Rachel’s trifle. Please do not try to make it at home.
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