Ranking the Friends Thanksgiving Episodes from Worst to Best

Ranking the Friends Thanksgiving Episodes from Worst to Best

Happy Birthday Jennifer Aniston! “Friends” THROWBACK

Hop in a BarcaLounger, grab a Nestlé Toulouse cookie and settle in, because we’re taking a closer look at the Friends Thanksgiving episodes.

Even though Friends has been off the air for 18 years, the NBC comedy’s holiday episodes are still our favorite way to commemorate Turkey Day. Every season, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Ross (David Schwimmer) celebrated with hilarious high jinks, quotable moments and notable guest stars. Sometimes they were even educational!

For instance, thanks to the ninth episode in season six, “The One Where Ross Got High,” we all learned how not to make an English trifle. Sorry, Rachel, but we’re sure it really did taste like feet.

And in the season five Thanksgiving episode, we learned how Chandler lost a toe. And that’s only a small taste of what Friends offered up as Thanksgiving content over its 10-season run. 

So the real question is, how do the episodes compare to one another? For our official ranking of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes, keep reading:

TBS/ Robert Isenberg//Danny Feld/Gary Null/NBC

Season 2, Episode 8: “The One With the List”

This Friends episode is at the very bottom of our own list because it’s only technically a Thanksgiving episode. “The One With the List,” which aired ahead of the November holiday, doesn’t feature a Thanksgiving dinner, but it does have Monica making “Mocklate” treats for a new job opportunity.

The rest of the episode centers around Ross and Rachel fighting over the paleontologist making a pros and cons list to decided between Julie and Rachel.


Season 10, Episode 8: “The One With the Late Thanksgiving”

This was the last Thanksgiving episode of the series and not its strongest. The episode centers on the gang, once again, demanding that Monica make Thanksgiving dinner, only for Ross, Phoebe, Joey and Rachel to arrive late for the meal. (Shout-out to Emma’s win at the Grand Supreme Little Darling competition).

What saves the episode? Ross, Joey, Rachel and Phoebe all poking their heads into Monica and Chandler’s apartment to apologize. Oh, and the Bings find out they’ve been selected to adopt a baby.

TBS/ Robert Isenberg//Danny Feld/Gary Null/NBC

Season 7, Episode 8: “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs”

Dogs make everything better, unless you’re Chandler Bing.

This season seven episode has the group’s resident funnyman admitting the truth about his stance on dogs when Phoebe brings a canine friend over: He doesn’t like him. “Don’t do it,” Joey begs Chandler as he braces himself to reveal his truth.

Chandler goes on to demand that the dog Phoebe is pet-sitting leave the apartment, but, in typical Friends fashion, the gang sneaks the pup back in. This causes a whole bunch of confusion, as a guilty Chandler goes to check on the dog, who is now supposed to be at Ross’ apartment. This has him thinking that the animal is missing, which inspires Phoebe to tell a hilarious faux rescue story.

An honorable mention from the episode? Chandler’s states game.

TBS/ Robert Isenberg//Danny Feld/Gary Null/NBC

Season 4, Episode 8: “The One With Chandler in a Box”

Joey and Chandler’s friendship is tested in the season four Thanksgiving episode when it’s revealed that Chandler kissed Joey’s girlfriend Kathy. As punishment, Joey makes his roommate spend Thanksgiving day in a box. Eventually, Joey realizes that Chandler didn’t intend to hurt him but was just truly in love with Kathy, and all is forgiven. Heartwarming, right?

This episode is low on our list because we’re honestly creeped out by the subplot of Monica kissing her ex Richard’s son. Ugh.

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Season 1, Episode 9: “The One Where Underdog Gets Away”

The gang’s first Thanksgiving was an unconventional one. After leaving the apartment to see a runaway Macy’s Day Parade balloon, the group returns to Monica and Rachel’s apartment, only to realize they are locked out. While it’s unclear whether this situation is Monica or Rachel’s fault, Joey and Chandler try to help by trying every spare key they have in their apartment—which is a lot.

They eventually make it inside, but dinner is ruined and Rachel has missed an important flight. The day is saved thanks to grilled cheeses and the surprise cameo of Ugly Naked Gal, their naked neighbor’s lady friend.

TBS/ Robert Isenberg//Danny Feld/Gary Null/NBC

Season 3, Episode 9: “The One With the Football”

“The One With the Football” is one of the more recognizable Friends Thanksgiving episodes, which is why it kicks off our top five. In the episode, Ross and Monica convince the group to participate in a Thanksgiving tradition from their childhood: A touch football game in which the winner receives the prized Geller Cup.

As the sibling rivalry intensifies, the game becomes a battle of the sexes with the women facing off against the men. Highlights of the episode include Rachel, who had been ignored for most of the game, almost scoring the winning touchdown, Joey not knowing where Dutch people come from and Monica and Ross’ bickering.

TBS/ Robert Isenberg//Danny Feld/Gary Null/NBC

Season 9, Episode 8: “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister”

A scheduling conflict made it impossible for Reese Witherspoon to reprise her role of Jill Green for the season nine Thanksgiving episode. Instead, we met an equally unpleasant Green sister: Amy, played by the brilliant Christina Applegate.

In the episode, Amy is outraged that Rachel and Ross don’t plan to let her raise baby Emily—reminder the child’s name is actually Emma—after they die. She gets even more offended when she learns that Rachel has a huge discount at Ralph Lauren and refuses to let her use it. This sparks a hilarious hair-pulling fight, which anyone with a sister knows all too well.


Season 5, Episode 8: “The One With All the Thanksgivings”

The perfect faux-flashback episode! “The One with All the Thanksgivings” helped flesh out the backstories of several characters, as it covered Monica and Chandler’s first meeting—and chaotic second meeting—Joey hilariously getting a turkey stuck on his head and a peek at Phoebe’s war-torn past lives.

This episode is particularly near and dear to us, as it’s the first time Chandler says “I love you” to Monica.


Season 8, Episode 9: “The One With the Rumor”

From Joey’s meat sweats to a hilarious guest appearance by Brad Pitt, this one has it all. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. “The One With the Rumor” starts off with Monica declaring that she isn’t going to cook a turkey since half the gang doesn’t want it. Joey, unhappy about this, changes Monica’s mind by promising to finish the entire bird himself.

Meanwhile, Monica, Ross and Rachel’s high school peer Will (Pitt) joins them. However, Will is upset to learn that Rachel is in attendance, as she wasn’t very nice to him in high school. During the meal, Will reveals that he and Ross were in the “I Hate Rachel” club and started a rumor that she was an intersexual. (Note: This part of the plot did not age well.) Before Rachel can get fully outraged, Monica reminds her pal that she started a rumor about Ross and the 50-year-old librarian—which wasn’t a rumor, per Ross’ confession.

Problematic jokes aside, the dynamic between then-married Pitt and Aniston was very funny.

TBS/ Robert Isenberg//Danny Feld/Gary Null/NBC

Season 6, Episode 9: “The One Where Ross Got High”

Things we learned from “The One Where Ross Got High,” you aren’t supposed to put beef in a trifle, Jacques Cousteau is dead and Chandler is a saint for putting up with the Gellers. The central theme of the episode revolves around Chandler trying to win Monica’s parents’ approval, because for some reason, they’ve never liked him.

Ross eventually reveals that Jack and Judy aren’t fans because Ross once blamed a college pot-smoking incident on Chandler. This sets off a series of revelations, including Rachel realizing realizing that she’s invented the most disgusting Thanksgiving dessert of all time. Without a doubt, “The One Where Ross Got High” has some of the most quotable lines of the series.

Every episode of Friends is streaming on HBO Max.

(A version of this story was originally published Nov. 25, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. PT)

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Author: Qiana Coby

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