10 'Friends' Thanksgiving Episodes, Ranked For Your Holiday Viewing Pleasure
Turkey heads, boxes, and dogs, oh my! No holiday tradition is better than binge-watching all 10 of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes. Airing on Thursdays on NBC, the beloved sitcom quickly developed a special affinity for Turkey Day and produced a holiday episode during every season. Whether you're watching these via Netflix or the annual TBS marathon, the Friends Thanksgiving episodes are the cream of TV's holiday crop. However, there are definitely a few you can skip in favor of the best ones, so we've ranked all of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes to help you hone your watching schedule.
Comedy is subjective, and while most Friends fans would probably agree on which of the 10 Thanksgiving episodes are a must-see, opinions about which one deserves the crowning title are complex. In the end, everyone is entitled to their favorite episode despite what the popular vote says, but the following list is based on several factors. How quotable was the episode? What classic, relatable Thanksgiving detail does it capture? Who guest starred? Ultimately, when we think of a Thanksgiving with the six Friends, what year comes to mind?
No matter what, an hour or two spent watching these before relatives descend upon your house is a Thanksgiving inevitability. Play the episodes in the background when you're helping your mom set the table or save them for when your food coma has fully set in. Stay away from the English trifle and watch out for Brad Pitt crashing dinner after you've checked out our episode ranking, listed below from best to worst.
1. "The One Where Ross Got High" (Season 6)
This episode culminates with the gang's quick and hilariously weird confessions to the Gellers, but it first focuses on Monica and Chandler trying to tell her parents that they live together. Meanwhile, Ross realizes that a hazy lie he told in college may be why Jack and Judy dislike Chandler. When I think of a Friends Thanksgiving, I envision Ross and Monica divulging the other's biggest secrets to their parents, Phoebe crushing on Jack Geller from afar, and Rachel unsuccessfully trying to craft the perfect dessert. Who can't find something to relate to in that? The episode also wins for quotability, particularly thanks to Ross's declaration that Rachel's failed trifle "tastes like feet."
2. "The One With The Football" (Season 3)
Ross and Monica's fierce sibling rivalry reignites when the others suggest they play a game of football before dinner is on the table. Some of the best Friends episodes only featured the six main actors together, and "TOW the Football" is a key example of this. From Phoebe's childlike delight about playing to Rachel's struggles in keeping up, the episode smoothly melds one of the nation's favorite holiday traditions with established character traits and Season 3's existent storylines, such as Chandler trying to recover from another breakup with Janice. It also earns some bonus points for doubling as a strong secret weapon that convinces your family not to watch actual football yet.
3. "The One With All The Thanksgivings" (Season 5)
The most iconic image from a Friends Thanksgiving episode is Monica wearing an uncooked turkey on her head as she dances to cheer up Chandler. While reminiscing about past Thanksgivings (complete with cringe-tastic '80s wardrobes), Chandler realizes he lost a toe thanks to Monica's attempts to get back at him for his mean, fat-phobic comment about her. Newly dating, the couple reconcile by the end of the episode, and Chandler utters his first "I love you." Although other characters appear in flashbacks, the main six are once again the only ones in the present timeline, proving that their group dynamic is the holiday company we all wished we had.
4. "The One With The Rumor" (Season 8)
Then married to Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt starred in "TOW the Rumor" as an old high school classmate who once formed an "I hate Rachel" club with Ross. While Pitt's Will refuses to let go of any hostility he felt toward a now pregnant Rachel, Joey is determined to finish the enormous turkey Monica prepared especially for him. Nowadays, it's odd to see Pitt during his heartthrob heyday and remember his marriage to Aniston, but he shines here as the former teen geek who grew into his looks. He even scored a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his guest role. In his subplot, Joey also sums up everyone on Thanksgiving when he changes into stretchy pants to power through the remaining turkey.
5. "The One With Chandler In A Box" (Season 4)
Friends' fourth season is arguably one of the show's strongest years. While this Thanksgiving story isn't really a season standout, it brings us the silly but satisfying visual of Chandler trapped in a box to atone for kissing Joey's girlfriend. As the men argue about Chandler's faux pas, Monica invites the young, attractive son of her ex Richard to Thanksgiving dinner, making the rest of the group uneasy. The episode's most quotable moment comes from Monica calling out her friends for their own romantic flaws, seen above.
6. "The One With Rachel's Other Sister" (Season 9)
In this episode, Christina Applegate joined the gang's Thanksgiving table as Rachel's sister Amy, who is insulted when she learns that Ross and Rachel wouldn't leave her baby Emma if they died. As the sisters gradually creep toward having an explosive fight over Monica's china, Phoebe teaches Joey how to lie after he forgets to join his Days of Our Lives co-stars on a Thanksgiving parade float. Like with Pitt the year before, Applegate's Emmy-nominated performance is the episode's memorable highlight, adding a hilarious layer to the group's typical holiday dinner.
7. "The One Where Underdog Gets Away" (Season 1)
The first half of Season 1 often emphasized that newcomer Rachel was still an outsider within the group, and its Thanksgiving story captures that when she originally plans to go skiing for the holiday. After the Geller parents announce they're going away, Monica offers to host everyone else for the first time, but she takes on more than she can manage. When Rachel misses her flight, she joins them, and Monica's quest to produce the perfect Thanksgiving falters even more.
"TOW Underdog Gets Away" feels the most relatable for 20-somethings spending the day away from home and struggling to emulate their favorite dishes that Mom always made perfectly. Seeing as the characters and their holidays noticeably "grow up" after this year, this episode is perfect if you're kicking off your own Friends phase of living independently and relying on your pals for a dose of family atmosphere.
8. "The One With The Late Thanksgiving" (Season 10)
As with much of Friends' final season, "TOW the Late Thanksgiving" feels a bit too much like a means to an end. After convincing a disinterested Monica and Chandler to host Thanksgiving, the others ditch dinner for their own plans. When Joey, Ross, Phoebe, and Rachel finally show up late, the couple lock them out of the apartment, leading to the episode's best moment of Joey squeezing through the door and crashing into the food. It ends on a sweet note when Monica and Chandler learn an expectant mother has picked them to adopt her baby, but fitting with Season 10's tone, the episode is just missing something special.
9. "The One Where Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs" (Season 7)
Even longtime Friends fans tend to forget the specifics of "TOW Chandler Doesn't Like Dogs." Rachel's often forgettable assistant Tag is the special dinner guest this year, prompting Rachel to wonder if she should share how she feels about him. Meanwhile, Phoebe hides a dog from dog hater Chandler, while Ross is determined to name all 50 U.S. states before eating. It really is as random and thrown together as it sounds, but on the bright side, it does lead to some great episodes, like "TOW the Holiday Armadillo" and "TOW All the Cheesecakes."
10. "The One With The List" (Season 2)
Although it's always included in the official Turkey Day lineup, "TOW the List" is the least festive, coming at an awkward time before the show seemed to realize it would stick to its own annual tradition of an explicitly themed episode. It mentions Thanksgiving only briefly and focuses more on Ross's list of pros and cons about dating Rachel. As a whole, the second season is very enjoyable, but even on Thanksgiving, this episode isn't something you want to curl up on the couch with some pie to watch. If you have to skip a few seasons in your marathon, this is the one to cut.
Friends is currently streaming on Netflix. All of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes air on Thursday, Nov. 22, beginning at 1 p.m. ET on TBS.