In honor of Thanksgiving, I present a ranking of all of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes from the worst to the best:
10. The One With the List (Season 2)
While this isn’t technically a Thanksgiving episode and the focus is really on the ongoing Ross and Rachel drama, there are some mentions of Thanksgiving. Monica makes mockolate chip cookies “just like the Indians served” in hopes of making Thanksgiving the mockolate holiday but still there is very little that is warm and fuzzy about this episode. It’s not necessarily bad, it just doesn’t bring up a lot of happy feelings. It takes place soon after Ross and Rachel’s epic first kiss in the rain and Ross, with help from Chandler and Joey, ends up making a list comparing Rachel and Julie. Rachel finds the list, drama ensues and we have to wait a bit longer for Ross and Rachel to get together.
Best Line Award Goes to Chandler: “Oh, I know. This must be so hard. Oh, no. Two women love me. They’re both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet’s too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight.”
9. The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs (Season 7)
Phoebe is caring for a friend’s dog and is hiding it from Monica and Chandler. This brings up a few issues which make this number nine. She’s hiding the dog for three days. How do Monica and Chandler not know there is a dog in the apartment? The other big issue is the title. Chandler suddenly hating dogs seems to come out of nowhere and really just seems to be a plot device and nothing to do with the character who has never expressed a dislike of dogs before. Also, how many people tried to do Chandler’s “50 States” game on their own or wondered why Ross put Nevada twice? Anyone?
Best Line Award Goes to Joey: “This is all a moo point … It’s like a cow’s opinion. You know, it just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.”
8. The One With the Rumor (Season 8)
This one starred Brad Pitt as a former classmate of Rachel, Ross and Monica’s. It is revealed the Ross and Will (Pitt) started a rumor in high school that Rachel was a hermaphrodite. My problem with this episode is that it felt like stunt casting and it had more to do with Brad Pitt being in an episode of Friends then it having anything to do with the six friends. Will had never been mentioned before and was never mentioned again. The rumor that had been started had never been mentioned before and was dropped after the episode. This episode felt more about celebrating Brad Pitt and honestly, anyone could have played the role of Will.
Best Line Award Goes To Joey: “Oh yes I do. Otherwise what’s next? Today I’m just a guy who can’t finish a turkey, but tomorrow I’m the guy who eats half a Powerbar, wraps up the rest and puts in the fridge? No! No, I just…I just—I gotta change my pants. Jeans have no give.” Joey wins this episode with taking on the challenge to eat an entire turkey.
7. The One with Rachel’s Other Sister (Season 9)
Let it be known though that none of these episodes are particularly bad, just some are a little better than others. In this episode, Christina Applegate guest stars as Rachel’s spoiled older sister, Amy. The plot revolves around who would become the legal guardian of Emma if Ross and Rachel both died and you know, nothing says holiday togetherness like talking about death. Oh and Emma makes an appearance as the best- behaved baby ever. She’s asleep pretty much the entire episode despite the crashing of plates and Christina Applegate and Jennifer Aniston’s brawl. While I did love the touching moment between Chandler and Monica when Monica assures Chandler that he would be a good dad, but the discussion of death on Thanksgiving is never a great idea.
Best Line Award Goes to Monica: “Emma is the product of a bottle of Merlot and a five-year-old condom.” Monica had some great lines in this episode as she worked hard to protect her precious plates which met an untimely end thanks to Chandler.
6. The One Where Ross Got High (season 6)
The highlight of this episode is Rachel making the trifle. In this episode, Monica is reluctant to tell her parents that she and Chandler are living together because her parents don’t like him. This seems strange because the Geller parents have met Chandler many times by season 6 and have never expressed any dislike for him at all. The reason for the Geller parents disliking Chandler is because Ross apparently smoked pot in college and blamed Chandler. My problem with this episode was that it seemed like the writers wanted the fans to forget everything we knew about Ross from the first few seasons and embrace this new, slightly less likable Ross as well as an over-the-top Chandler but thank goodness for that trifle….which apparently tasted like feet.
Best Line Award Goes to Rachel: “It’s a trifle. It’s got all of these layers. First there’s a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard, which I made from scratch, then raspberries, more ladyfingers, then beef sauteed with peas and onions, then a little more custard, and then bananas, and then I just put some whipped cream on top!”
5. The One With the Late Thanksgiving (season 10)
The thing that ranks this episode as number 5 is the ending when Monica and Chandler find out that they would finally be getting a child after finding out they can’t conceive. Those last moments are what makes this episode top five material. I found the subplot where Rachel and Phoebe enter Emma in a Beauty Pageant to be slightly creepy and out of character for Phoebe. This was surpassed by the acknowledgment that Joey has a Cabbage Patch Doll. The line between Joey being just dim and being almost incapable of being a normal adult who could function in society seemed to vanish by this point. The episode was saved by that final moment where you couldn’t help but smile. You had followed these characters for so long that this just seemed perfect.
Best Line Award Goes To Monica: “This Thanksgiving kicks last Thanksgiving’s ass!”
4. The One With All the Thanksgivings (season 5)
Once again, a perfect Thanksgiving ending to this episode where Monica dances for Chandler with a turkey on her head and Chandler tells her that he loves her. This episode centered around flashbacks. The plot follows the first time Chandler has Thanksgiving with the Geller’s and he calls Monica fat. The following Thanksgiving, Monica is now thin and in a revenge plot which goes horribly wrong, Monica cuts off Chandler’s toe. This episode fully cemented Chandler and Monica as a stable couple even if at this point, they were still keeping it secret.
Best Line Award Goes to Chandler “It’s a tradition, like the parade. If the parade decided it was gay, moved out, and abandoned its entire family.”
3. The One with Chandler in a Box (season 4)
Joey and Chandler are fighting because Chandler kissed Joey’s girlfriend, Kathy. Monica brings Richard Burke’s son as her Thanksgiving date despite everyone trying to convince her that it is, as Rachel says, “like inviting a Greek tragedy to dinner” but the most important plot of this episode is the sweetness between Joey and Chandler’s friendship. Perry does a fantastic job in this episode as he spends the majority of it in a box. Watching these actors playoff each other is what makes for a classic Friends episode and this is certainly up there. It’s both funny and moving.
Best Line Award Goes to Monica: “Fine. Judge all you want to, but [to Ross] married a lesbian, [to Rachel] left a man at the altar, [to Phoebe] fell in love with a gay ice dancer, [to Joey] threw a girl’s wooden leg in a fire, and [to Chandler] live in a box!”
2. The One with the Football (season 3)
The best Friends episodes are the ones where there are no guest stars, no other gimmicks, just the six playing off each other. This episode occurs after Chandler and Janice’s breakup. The group plays a game of three on three touch football or maybe three on two because due to Rachel’s lack of athletic ability, they keep making her go really long. This episode showed each one of these characters at their best and as a non-athlete myself, I found myself silently cheering when Rachel made the final touchdown. It was the perfect episode with only one issue that had nothing to do with the episode. Knowing what we know now about Matthew Perry’s struggles with addiction, this episode can be hard to watch because of how thin and sick he looks. He looks like he’ll break at any moment and it takes you out of the episode completely.
Best Line Award Goes to Chandler ” Guys! Guys! Come on! It’s Thanksgiving, it’s not important who wins or loses. The important thing is, (to Joey) the Dutch girl picked me! Me! Not you! Holland loves Chandler! Thank you, Amsterdam! Good night!!”
Although there are plenty of close seconds and there are many terrific lines in this episode and pretty everything Phoebe says in this episode is perfect.
1. The One Where Underdog Gets Away (season 1)
Why is this number one? Why not? It’s the one that started it all. That first Thanksgiving is a reluctant one. Monica hosts Thanksgiving after the Geller parents go out of town leaving Ross and Monica to fend for themselves. We learn Chandler hates Thanksgiving and Joey ends up reluctantly being the face of VD after a modeling job for New York City Free Clinic. Rachel misses her flight to Vail to be with her family and Phoebe doesn’t spend Thanksgiving on the same day as everyone else because her grandmother’s boyfriend is lunar. Thanksgiving dinner is burnt thanks to Underdog getting away and the group ends up feasting on grilled cheese. This episode was perfect and established what we would come to expect from Friends Thanksgiving episodes: moments that alternate between touching and hilarious.
Best Line Award #1 goes to Phoebe: “Oh, I believe it. I think the baby can totally hear everything. I can show you. Look, this will seem a little weird, but you put your head inside this turkey, and then we’ll all talk, and you’ll hear everything we say.”
Best Line Award #2 goes to Ross: “Here we come, walkin’ down the street, get the funniest looks from, everyone we meet. Hey, hey, you’re my baby, and I can’t wait to meet you. When you come out I’ll buy you a bagel, and then we’ll go to the zoo. Hey, hey, I’m your daddy. I’m the one without any breasts…..”