A Definitive Ranking of the Friends Thanksgiving Episodes
Does Brad Pitt or the trifle take the top spot?
When it comes to things that are synonymous with Thanksgiving, turkey and football make take the top spots, but Friends isn’t too far behind.
The show’s annual Thanksgiving episodes are nothing short of iconic, but how do they stack up against one another? It’s a tough call, but we’ve managed to put the episodes in order, from worst to best. Get an extra helping of stuffing and prepare to binge in more ways than one:
10. The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs, season 7
There’s so much about this episode that comes up short. First of all, we find out Chandler hates dogs, which is such a downer. Then, Tag gets his car stolen. And there’s a continuity error: Ross says he hates ice cream, but any Friends fan could tell you that he ate it on a date with Elizabeth the season before. It’s still a Friends Thanksgiving, but if you’re going to skip one episode in your marathon, make it this one. Thankfully, the season more than made up for the lack of holiday cheer in this episode a few weeks later, with The One with the Holiday Armadillo.
9. The One with the List, season 2
Part of the reason this one lands so low on the list is that it barely feels like a Thanksgiving episode at all. The holiday gets a couple of mentions, but that’s it. But it is a pivotal episode in the Ross and Rachel romantic saga, which keeps it from last place. In it, Ross writes the ill-advised list comparing Julie and Rachel; Rachel and Ross briefly get together; and then the two fight and end things for the first of what is soon to be many times to come.
8. The One with the Late Thanksgiving, season 10
There’s just too much tension in this one! First off, Monica says she doesn’t want to host Thanksgiving. What kind of blasphemy is that? Then no one shows up and everyone gets in a fight. However, this episode redeems itself with the announcement that Monica and Chandler are going to be parents, one of the most heartwarming, thankful-for moments in the entire series.
7. The One with Chandler in a Box, season 4
It’s never fun when Joey and Chandler are fighting, which is a big part of the reason why this Thanksgiving episode is such a downer. Chandler spends the bulk of it in a box to try and show Joey how sorry he is for kissing Kathy, his girlfriend (all ends happily in the end for Chandler, Joey and Kathy). But what keeps this episode low on the list is the beyond-awkward flirtation between Monica and Tim, Richard’s son — yes, her much-older ex-boyfriend’s child. They realize by the end of the episode that it’s a bad idea, but that doesn’t make it any less cringe-worthy throughout.
6. The One with Rachel’s Other Sister, season 9
We don’t meet any of Rachel’s sisters until season 6, and it takes nearly 10 years for us to meet Amy, the ultra self-involved sister with a sorely missing moral compass, played by Christina Applegate. It’s Applegate’s Amy that steals the show in this episode, in particular for her anger over not getting guardianship of Emma in the event that Ross and Rachel face an early death — despite the fact that she can’t remember the baby’s name. Plus, Monica’s, well, Monica-ness about her wedding china provides some laughs, too.
5. The One with the Football, season 3
Football is almost as synonymous with Thanksgiving as Friends is, so it was only a matter of time before the three combined. In this episode, we get a glimpse into the past Thanksgivings of the Geller family, including the famed Geller Cup — “a troll doll nailed to a two-by-four.” The gang plays football with hilarious results, plus, we get to see all the guys make fools out of themselves while trying to hit on the sole person watching their game.
4. The One Where Underdog Gets Away, Season 1
The first-ever Friends Thanksgiving episode earns a spot near the top of the list in part because it’s the first, setting the precedent for great episodes to come. Though it’s not such a great Thanksgiving for Rachel, who misses her flight to Vail despite the gang pitching together to buy her ticket, their show of friendship makes us feel all gooey inside, just as Thanksgiving should. But perhaps the best part of the episode has nothing to do with Thanksgiving at all: Joey’s face gets put on a poster for VD awareness.
3. The One with All the Thanksgivings, season 5
Many Friends flashback episodes are missable — we’re talking about the ones where 90 percent of the screen time is filled with clips from previous episodes. But the ones that show us the friends’ lives before Friends can’t be missed. In this one, we learn just what led Monica to lose all that weight (Chandler calling her fat), why Monica “accidentally” dropped a knife on Chandler’s foot and what Phoebe was doing on Thanksgiving in a past life.
2. The One with the Rumor, season 8
There’s one big reason why this one nabs the second-place spot: Brad Pitt. Jennifer Aniston’s then-husband is hilarious as an old high school enemy of Rachel’s, a storyline made even funnier by knowing that the two were married off-screen at the time. Also of note: Phoebe and Chandler’s attempts to pretend they understand football to get out of meal prep.
1. The One Where Ross Got High, season 6
There’s just so much to love about this episode. First, that Jack and Judy Geller are there. Second, that Chandler spends the episode trying to convince Monica’s parents to like him. Third, that Phoebe has a romantic dream about Jacques Cousteau. Fourth, that Joey and Ross keep trying to leave to go hang out with Joey’s roommate, Janine, and her dancer friends. Fifth, that Rachel makes half an English trifle and half a Shepherd’s pie, giving us the line “Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Beef? Good.” Thanks, Rachel.
What’s your favorite episode? And if you’re in to more than Friends, check out our list of iconic Thanksgiving TV episodes from some of the best series ever.