Yes, I took a 6-month hiatus from blogging. Yes, my first post back has nothing to do with running or yoga. Yes, it might be because I had very little to do while being posted up after a surprise appendectomy (which are, let’s face it, always a surprise), and I could finally finish this post I started ages ago. But here it is, just in time for the holiday: all of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes RANKED!
Happy Thanksgiving friends!! I have a whole lot be grateful for right now, from a great team of doctors and nurses that successfully removed my appendix two days ago, to my amazing fiancé and sister, who were by the side the whole time, to all who sent notes and entertainment. I am also grateful for my favorite “comfort show,” which has never failed to brighten my spirits when I’m posted up on the couch while sick or just in need of some easy-viewing comedy that is cheesy and wonderful.
As any Friends fan knows, one of the best parts of this series is the succession of Thanksgiving episodes. I love re-watching them as the holiday approaches, and while there are probably 300 rankings out there, mine is The One That I Wrote and therefore my personal favorite. Please feel free to debate me on any of these points, or to simply use this as a guide toward selecting the top-priority episodes to enjoy tomorrow while you crush leftovers. Enjoy.
Thought: Is this show the origin/inspiration for Friendsgiving? It has to be, right? How has this never occurred to me? Anyone have deets on this?
#1: The One Where Ross Got High
Season 6, Episode 9
Synopsis: This is not only my number one favorite Thanksgiving episode, it’s one of the best Friends episodes ever! There’s so much going on: Monica hasn’t told her parents that she’s dating Chandler because they don’t like him. Phoebe has weird fantasy dreams about Jack Geller and also…Jacques Cousteau. Everyone is nervous about Rachel attempting to make dessert. Joey and Ross want to hurry dinner along so they can hang out with Janine and her hot dancer friends. These eps where the Fab 6 barely leave the same room for 23 minutes are where this show really shines. Bring on the laugh track.
Guest Appearances: The Gellers! Jack and Judy. Always a treat.
- The big reveal: The Gellers don’t like Chandler because Ross blamed his pot smoking on Chandler in college. Ross proceeds to be a big baby about owning up (“I got tricked into all those things!”).
- Everyone trying to eat Rachel’s English Trifle + Shepherd’s Pie dessert fail. Monica’s “mmmmmm” reaction as she first tastes the dessert is top notch (see gif below), but best strategy for ditching the nasty dish goes to Chandler for pulling the old “bird on the balcony” trick. Although Phoebe doesn’t even have to try it since she’s a vegetarian…veggies for the win!
- The episode really picks up once Monica spills to her parents about Ross’ stoner days and all the secrets come pouring out. Soon, like in all 90s/early 2000s sitcoms, everyone is yelling about their respective problems.
- “Judge” Judy Geller addresses everyone’s issues in one fell swoop. It’s super badass and hilarious. Best part: “Rachel, no you weren’t supposed to put beef in the trifle. It did NOT taste good.”
- What is with Ross and Joey BAILING on Thanksgiving dinner in multiple seasons? Not cool.
- Jack drinking condensed milk DOES make me laugh every time but it’s also wicked gross. I’m really reaching for lowlights in this great episode.
- “What is WITH everybody?! It’s Thanksgiving, not Truth Day!” – Ross
- “It tastes like FEET!” – Ross after trying the nasty trifle
- “What’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Beef? Gooood.” – Joey
- “I LOVE JACQUES COUSTEAU!” – Phoebe, Queen of Non Sequiturs
#2: The One with the Football
Season 3, Episode 9
Synopsis: Chandler is trying to get over Janice and the group decides to play football. Monica and Ross have been forbidden to play by their mom due to their insane competitiveness growing up as captains of the Geller Bowl. Geller Bowl 6 ended it all when Monica broke Ross’ nose. As you can see, this is a plot line of Friends GOLD, and the episode is also high up on my ‘best of Friends’ list.
Guest Appearances: Margha the Dutch woman. Played by Suzanna Voltaire
- Playing football in a leafy park in NYC is pretty much Thanksgiving goals.
- Ross and Monica’s trash talking and rivalry make them seem more like siblings in this episode than in almost any other (possible exception: “The Routine.”). My sister and I would definitely be those two people still clinging to the ball as the snow starts to fall.
- Rachel getting picked last and her inability to play is so relatable for me. My dad used to work in my hometown and he has fond memories of driving by my high school and seeing me clapping, wandering, and basically eating pretzels a la Rachel during flag football. Don’t get me wrong; I was fierce AF on the soccer field or basketball court. But football was NOT my game. “I went really long.”
- The group’s football outfits, celebrations, and strategies are fantastic. Pants-ing, flashing, clotheslining? THIS is a game I could get behind.
- The Geller Cup is the most disgusting and hilarious trophy. As Chandler wonders, “Is everybody else seeing a troll doll nailed to a 2×4?”
- Rachel mouthing “Oh shit” as she catches the final toss.
- Chandler and Joey fighting over “the Dutch girl” has its moments but it takes them way to long to let her weigh in on who she’d like to date. In Margha’s own words, “By the way, I find very weird.”
- Ross drives me nuts in this episode. I know that’s the point, but it’s still infuriating. I don’t have a big brother, but if I had one like Ross, I definitely would have elbowed his nose during a family football game.
- “42 to 21! Like the turkey, Ross is DONE!” – Monica
- “The important thing is, the Dutch girl picked me! Me, not you! Hollander loves Chandler! Thank you, Amsterdam. GOODNIGHT!” – Chandler
- THIS WHOLE SERIES OF QUOTES:
#3: The One with the Rumor (aka BRAD PITT IS HERE)
Season 8, Episode 9
Guest stars: Brad Pitt as Will Colbert
Synopsis: Monica bumps into Will, a guy who went to high school with her, Ross, & Rachel. She promptly invites him to T-givs dins. A) Who does that? B) Oh wait, it’s Brad Pitt, so that seems like a solid idea. Except that Will HATES Rachel. And yams. Also, Joey decides to eat a whole turkey himself, and Phoebe & Chandler pretend to like football (Go Mermen!) to get out of helping. But this is all secondary to Brad Pitt’s presence, which incites the loudest studio audience reaction ever.
- The high school revelations never stop. Monica had an imaginary boyfriend named Jared. Ross was in an “I Hate Rachel Green” club. Phoebe used to meet behind a dumpster to learn French. Bon jour!
- Phoebe’s ongoing reactions to Will’s hotness are dead on.
- Will glaring at Rachel is hilarious. As is her misinterpretation of this as “sexy smoldering.”
- Joey’s idea to repurpose maternity pants as Thanksgiving pants is genius and I am stealing it. Friends hasn’t generated a pants idea this good since Jill invented “apartment pants.”
- Joey’s reaction after eating a whole turkey and requesting a piece of pie: “Little bigger. Little bigger. What are you afraid you’re gonna run out?! Cut me a real piece!” Pretty much sums up my Thanksgiving experience.
- Will’s highlights. They are not quite baby-Justin-Timberlake bad, but his hair is mildly distracting. Although let’s face it: very little can detract from the wonder that is Brad Pitt’s face.
- We never find out what Rachel did to make Will hate her, and therefore can’t decide whether he was justified in starting a club for Ray Ray Green haterz. I mean, probably not, but we need specifics.
- Will considers yams his enemy and that makes him MY enemy.
- “HOT STUFF!” – Ross upon seeing Will. Valid.
- “Oh come on, Will! Just take off your shirt and tell us!”– Phoebe. Also valid.
- “Turkeys are beautiful intelligent animals. – Phoebe. “No they’re not! They’re ugly and stupid and delicious!” – Joey.
#4: The One with Rachel’s Other Sister
Season 9, Episode 8
Synopsis: Rachel’s annoying sister Amy comes to town. Joey forgets to head to the parade for the Days of Our Lives float and needs to come up with an excuse for his absence. Monica is super worried about using their fancy wedding plates to serve dinner and would rather store them safely forever than use them (relatable). This one is solid and very Thanksgiving focused, but doesn’t have as many iconic and hilarious moments as the eps above.
Guest Stars: Christina Applegate as Rachel’s sister Amy.
- Christina Applegate is hilariously oblivious as Amy.
- Amy keeps calling Phoebe “Emma.”
- Amy stirs up trouble by asking who’s next in line as Emma’s caregiver.
- Whenever Joey tries to lie, he incorporates a raccoon. This leads to Phoebe shouting, “NOTHING WITH A RACCOON.”
- Amy calls Monica “The Crazy Plate Lady”. So does Chandler.
- Like food getting ruined, I don’t find the plates breaking funny. It’s straight-up stressful, let’s face it. To quote Monica, “Comedy with the plates will not be well received!”
- Amy goes from oblivious to straight-up mean when she says Emma isn’t even very cute. As Ross says, “Not cool, Amy.”
- The dude commentary on the sister fight is eye rolling, but I can’t help but love the “frizzy frizzy frizzy!” fight strategy. I’ve definitely seen my cousins pull that move.
- “I’ll tell you what. I will be careful for the rest of our lives, until told otherwise.” – Chandler
- “You’re on Days of our Lives! Wow, they must put a lot of makeup on you.” – Amy
- “The producers from Days left a message on my machine asking why I wasn’t at the parade. They said everyone is really pissed off at me, AND they all got to meet Santa!” – Joey
#5: The One with the Late Thanksgiving
Season 10, Episode 8
Synopsis: Monica decides not to cook Thanksgiving dinner, but then the group tricks her into doing it anyway by making it into a competition against Monica’s previous self. Everyone then proceeds to be super late, which is #rude.
Guest Appearances: Just the OG 6! Unless you countAlicia May Emery
- Joey’s sorry eyes as he stares through the door
- Chandler’s obsession with being in charge of making cranberry sauce. He even calls them Chanberries and refers to Thanksgiving as Cranberry Day. I totally relate, since always want to help out on Thanksgiving but I’m way too scared to try something hard. Cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes it is!
- The floating heads are generally amazing.
- Joey refers to his Cabbage Patch Kid, Alicia May Emery, at least twice.
- I love season 10 generally because even though the jokes get hokier, the “one last time” vibe is strong and fun and happy!
- I am personally very annoyed at their lateness after they made Monica cook dinner. She handles it better than I would have! Although now that I think about it, 4pm is an unreasonable time for dinner. Maybe that’s on you, Monica.
- I also never find it funny when food is ruined on TV. It just makes me sad and hungry.
- “Happy Needless-Turkey-Murder Day!” – Phoebe
- “Enough! A monkey could have made them!” – Monica re: Chanberries
- “Grand supreme little Darling?” – Monica. “CONGRATULATIONS!” – Rachel (it’s more the way Rachel shouts that sells this one.)
- “It’s Thanksgiving and we should all NOT want to be together, TOGETHER!” – Rachel, summing up the holiday.
#6: The One With All the Thanksgivings
Season 3, Episode 9
Synopsis: The group shares all of their worst Thanksgiving stories. This could be a real bummer, but turns out to be hilarious. Phoebe worked triage in another life, Joey got a turkey stuck on his head, and Chandler found out about his parent’s divorce and father’s affair with the turkey-serving houseboy.
Guest Appearances: The Gellers and the Bings
- Seeing Monica and Rachel’s early friendship and revenge plotting is adorbable.
- There are so many rad haircuts.
- Ross and Chandler wrote a song called Emotional Knapsack. Need I go on?
- Monica’s seduction involves rubbing herself with a knife, mac and cheese, and carrots.
- Monica’s turkey dance to woo back Chandler is perfection (just like gum. Raise your hand if you get THAT subtle reference). Plus they say “I love you” for the first time when one of them is wearing a turkey. Relationship goals.
- Chandler is a total jerk about Monica’s weight. He’s also unreasonably mad at her for accidentally cutting off his toe, IMHO. But whatev. They work it out in the cutest way possible.
- “More turkey Mr. Chandler?” – Chandler, complete with increasing accent.
- “I’m not the only one who looked like an idiot. Remember when Ross tried to say buttersquash and it came out squatternutbash?!” – Joey
- “Of course it did. They’re made of wicker.” – Jack Geller re: the knife going right through Chandler’s shoes
#7: The One with Chandler in a Box
Season 4, Episode 8
Guest Appearances: Paget Brewster as Kathy (boooo).
Synopsis: Joey is furious at Chandler for kissing his girlfriend Kathy, and decides that Chandler should spend some time thinking inside a giant box as punishment. Everyone finds out that Rachel returns every gift she is given. Monica gets ice in her eye and has to go see Richard’s son as her eye doctor. Unfortunately, she finds herself attracted to him.
- Chandler is in a box. And drops hilarious commentary from within.
- Rachel demonstrates her soft side by revealing that she kept mementos from her relationship with Ross. Ross points out that she isn’t supposed to steal things from the museum, endearing him to no one.
- Monica’s little fling with Richard’s son is beyond gross. I can’t even look at it. I’m actually jealous of Monica’s eye patch because at least it’s blocking SOME of this nastiness.
- I don’t like Kathy. At all. Her mere presence really sucks the life out of episodes. I avoid the “Kathy era” when I re-watch this show, along with the “Emily era” (don’t even get me started). This is probably the episode in which Kathy is the most likable, but I don’t forgive her for being an all-around turd.
- It’s also no fun seeing Joey and Chandler fight. But mostly the Kathy thing.
- “Judge all you want to, but married a lesbian, left a man at the alter, fell in love with a gay ice dancer, threw a girl’s wooden leg in the fire, LIVE IN A BOX.” – Monica, droppin’ serious truth bombs.
- “Monica, do you actually want to be in a relationship where you can use the phrase, ‘That’s not how your dad used to do it’?” – Phoebe
#8: The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs
Season 7, Episode 8
Synopsis: Phoebe sneaks a dog named Clunkers into Monica and Chandler’s apartment. Monica df. Rachel debates making a move on her newly dumped assistant.
Guest Stars: Does Tag count? Meh.
- This was my first introduction to the 50 states game and I love Ross’ inability to let it go when he can’t remember all 50. I have the saaaame problem with this game. And rubix cubes. And generally any challenge that I am just not equipped to take on but cannot seem to get over.
- Clunkers is mad cute and has a badass name.
- The dog plot line is lame, despite Clunkers being so snuggly looking.
- Tag and Rachel is blah. This whole ep is a tad blah.
- Everyone is giving Chandler a hard time for the dog thing but I think ice cream is much more universally loved than dogs! Why aren’t we focusing on Ross’ clear issue?
- Tag and Clunkers are both adorable and have cool names, but they don’t make for much excitement.
- “It’s like a cow’s opinion. It doesn’t matter. It’s moo.” – Joey describing the meaning of ‘moo point.’
- “Have I been living with him for too long or did that all just make sense?” Rachel, re the line above.
#9: The One Where Underdog Gets Away
Season 1, Episode 9
Synopsis: Rachel wants to spend Thanksgiving skiing with her family in Vail (shoop, shoop) and is trying to raise the cash. Joey models for a free clinic ad, and winds up as “the VD guy,” causing his family to bar him from joining for dinner. As the group’s plans fall apart, they turn to Monica to cook Thanksgiving dinner. The episode isn’t great, but it IS the first time they spend Thanksgiving together rather than with their families, and they never look back. I’m just going to say this episode is the origin of Friendsgiving until proven otherwise.
Guest Appearances: None
- It’s right there in the title: Underdog gets away! The general idea of Thanksgiving parade floats escaping is excellent. Parades are lame, but I might watch if it involved more unruly balloon drama.
- The montage of hundreds of Joey’s VD posters all over the city set to “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” is gold.
- Ross, Susan, and Carol have a cute “we will be great co-parents” moment while singing The Monkees to the baby. Awwww.
- Everyone makes Monica cook their preferred type of potato, which is sort of adorable because they all have sentimental connections to potatoes, but also super annoying. Basically no one ever appreciates Monica’s hard work on Thanksgiving and it’s NOT cool. Whipped, with lumps, AND tots?! Potato divas over here.
- The “who was supposed to grab the keys?!” fight is a universal roommate experience, and totally the worst.
- Rachel’s “shoop shoop” description of skiing makes me feel like she’s never tried it. As Chandler says, “Oh you must stop shooping.”
- “You have to take a course. Otherwise they don’t letcha do it.” – Susan after Ross points out that she has a lot of books about being a lesbian.
- “Come on! An 80-foot inflatable dog set loose over the city?! How often does that happen?!” – Chandler. “Almost never!” – Phoebe
#10: The One With The List
Season 2, Episode 8
Synopsis: This episode is definitely the worst of the Thanksgiving series. You wouldn’t even know it’s Thanksgiving except that Monica is hired to come up with recipes for “mockolate,” a synthetic chocolate substance that some company is hoping to turn into the highlight of Thanksgiving or something ridiculous. Also, Ross and Rachel kissed, so now Ross has to decide between Rachel or Julie (I mean, duh. Get with it Ross).
Guest Appearances: JULIE! Played by Lauren Tom.
- Pretty much the only saving grace is Phoebe’s song which hints way too closely at the situation and tortures Ross. HE MUST DECIDE! In fact, let’s just leave this here as the highlight:
- The pro-con list is cruel. Especially the part where they say Rachel is “too into her looks” and also that she has “chubby ankles.” Really?
- Rachel doesn’t get why the list says “She’s not Rachem.” This seems prettttty obvious, girlfriend.
- Mockolate sounds disgusting. Especially the foaming part.
- “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!” – Chandler.
- “It’s always been you, Rach.” – Ross, who could really save us 10 seasons of on-again, off-again if he just stuck with this statement and didn’t make stupid lists.
Well, that’s my ranking and I’m sticking to it! Except that I moved things around like 7 times. Shout out with your favorite ep/moment and ENJOY THANKSGIVING!!
Photo & Gif Sources: