Many of us can agree that Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday, but we still celebrate it because of the shared traditions it’s built for Americans around the country. And no television show better encapsulates those traditions than Friends, which brought us a new take on the holiday (almost) every season.
From stories about the Friends characters’ younger years and all their quirky traditions to our favorite guest star appearances, Thanksgiving with Joey, Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, Ross, and Rachel never disappointed. So, if watching football games and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t your thing, here’s our official ranking of every Friends Thanksgiving episode.
10. Season 2, Episode 8 — “The One With the List”
This episode of Friends isn’t a bad episode, even if we can’t fully agree with Rachel for not forgiving Ross’s “She’s not Rachem” typo.
However, it’s *barely* a Thanksgiving episode, with its only mention of the holiday being when Monica needs to try to come up with Thanksgiving recipes for the off-brand “mockalate.” After Season 2, showrunners quickly figured out that they need to make Thanksgiving episodes an annual thing.
9. Season 8, Episode 9 — “The One With the Rumor”
If this was just a simple episode featuring Brad Pitt when he and Jennifer Aniston were married, we’d be all about it. Plus, there are some great quips in the episode when it comes to Phoebe’s shock at how good Brad Pitt looks (we agree, Pheebs).
However, the main “reveal” of the episode is that Brad Pitt’s character, Will, was in an “I Hate Rachel” club with Ross in high school. The duo started a rumor that Rachel had a “teeny weeny.” This is arguably the most transphobic episode of Friends, and the joke is simply not funny anymore.
8 . Season 10, Episode 8 — “The One With the Late Thanksgiving”
Honestly, Season 10 is just not Friends’ strongest suit. It’s focused more on tying up the plot of the series while over-exaggerating different aspects of the characters’ personalities.
While this episode is one of the better episodes of the series’ final season, it plays up Monica’s anal tendencies and Joey’s idiocy way too much. But the iconic heads-stuck-in-the-door bit is still a good laugh.
7. Season 7, Episode 8 — “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs”
There’s nothing particularly memorable about this episode except that, for some reason, Chandler doesn’t like dogs. We also don’t buy that Monica wouldn’t notice Phoebe keeping a dog in their apartment for days. On the other hand, Eddie Cahill’s performance as a completely oblivious and charming Tag is very lovable.
6. Season 4, Episode 8 — “The One With Chandler in a Box”
Like our previous pick, this episode doesn’t have jokes that are too memorable aside from Chandler being in the box. At the same time, it’s perfectly lovable, cozy, and nostalgic. And, there’s nothing better than the bromance between Chandler and Joey. Not to mention, Monica’s absurd situation — she tries to date her ex-boyfriend’s age-appropriate son — is both somehow hilarious and icky.
5. Season 9, Episode 8 — “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister”
We love a good guest star, and Christina Applegate’s entrance into the world of Friends as Rachel’s sister comes with welcome arms.
From her not remembering who Ross is (calling him the falafel guy) to her offensive descriptions of Ross and Monica, Amy Green is written on the perfect fine line of comedy and believability. We also love a good “what happens when someone dies” joke.
4. Season 6, Episode 9 — “The One Where Ross Got High”
This episode is in the top half of our Thanksgiving rankings thanks to some memorable exchanges. Starting with Phoebe’s dream crush on Jack Geller and ending with every Friend revealing their true desires and thoughts, this is easily a top Friends episode overall.
The tension of secrets builds amid a backdrop of Rachel’s incorrectly made trifle as Judy Geller expertly brings everyone back to reality.
3. Season 1, Episode 9 — “The One Where Underdog Gets Away”
Many Friends aficionados agree that the series’ earliest episodes are its best. This Season 1 episode is so brilliant because it marks a milestone as the main characters shift from friends to family when they’re forced to celebrate together for the first time.
We also get some expert jokes, from Monica and Rachel mishearing “got the keys” and everyone wanting different mashed potatoes to an early Ugly Naked Guy reference.
2. Season 5, Episode 8 — ”The One With all the Thanksgivings”
This flashback episode makes fun of the Friends’ goofy pasts. We meet a young Chandler in the root of his Thanksgiving hatred as Phoebe declares that other people definitely had worse Thanksgivings (referring to her past life as a nurse in the war).
This Friends episode also expertly ties in moving Chandler and Monica’s secret relationship forward while making light of their pasts, giving us context into some of our favorite characters’ quirks.
1. Season 3, Episode 9 — “The One With the Football”
Last but not least, it’s safe to say that “The One With the Football” is the best Thanksgiving Friends episode. It captures the nostalgia of a Thanksgiving tradition, like football, while also differentiating each character's personality.
This is also a near-bottle episode, with a majority of the action taking place in the park, so the comedy of it rests on the actors’ physicality and line delivery. The end, in which Monica and Ross refuse to let go of the football, is also impossible to forget.