Friends: The Thanksgiving Episodes, Ranked

Holiday episodes were always a huge thing in Friends. These are the best Thanksgiving episodes of the beloved TV show, ranked.

10. “The One With The List” – Season 2, Episode 8

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A Thanksgiving Episode with a Twist on Decisions and Dilemmas

In this somewhat unconventional Thanksgiving episode of “Friends,” Season 2 presents “The One With The List.” The episode revolves around Ross’s romantic dilemma involving Rachel and Julie, his current girlfriend. After sharing a kiss with Rachel, Ross is torn between the two women. With the assistance of Chandler and Joey, he makes a pros and cons list to decide whom he should be with, a decision that inevitably spirals into chaos once Rachel discovers the list.

Monica’s Unique Culinary Challenge

Simultaneously, Monica faces a professional challenge: she has a job interview that requires her to create recipes using a peculiar and unpalatable ingredient. This subplot adds an element of humor and highlights Monica’s passion and creativity in the kitchen. However, the twist comes when Monica discovers that the ingredient is not FDA-approved and has unexpected side effects, adding to the episode’s comedic elements.

Why It’s Unique in the Thanksgiving Line-Up

Though “The One With The List” is less focused on traditional Thanksgiving themes, it maintains the show’s essence of friendship, decision-making, and the complications that often arise in relationships. It stands out for its focus on personal dilemmas rather than the typical Thanksgiving festivities. This episode is remembered for its humor, character development, and the way it addresses the complexities of relationships, making it a unique but significant entry in the “Friends” Thanksgiving collection.

While “The One With The List” may not be the most “Thanksgivingy” episode, as Phoebe puts it, it encapsulates the spirit of the series and the holiday season’s theme of reflection and decision-making. It’s a memorable episode that offers a different perspective on the holiday, resonating with viewers who appreciate the show’s approach to tackling life’s awkward and often humorous moments.

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

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A Thanksgiving Episode with Family Drama and Classic Sitcom Antics

Season 9’s Thanksgiving episode, “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister,” stays true to the beloved “Friends” formula, combining family drama with the build-up to a memorable dinner scene. The episode introduces Rachel’s other sister, Amy, who unexpectedly arrives and is invited to Monica’s Thanksgiving dinner out of pity. This sets the stage for a series of comedic yet tense moments, especially involving Joey, who forgets his new celebrity duties at the parade, and Monica, who is anxious about using her cherished wedding china.

The episode’s main conflict revolves around Amy’s desire to become the guardian of Rachel and Ross’s baby, Emma, should anything happen to them. This leads to a heated debate and eventual decision to choose Monica and Chandler as the preferred guardians, escalating tensions at the dinner table.

Standout Performances and Memorable Scenes

Jennifer Aniston delivers one of her best performances as Rachel, particularly shining in scenes with her sisters. Ross’s supportive yet less prominent role includes a memorable moment balancing a plate in his hands. Monica’s hilarious insistence on guests cutting their food in the air and the scheming between Joey and Phoebe to fabricate a lie for Joey’s absence from the parade add layers of humor to the episode.

The episode reaches its climax with a classic sitcom moment: Monica’s prized plates crashing to the floor, accompanied by one of Chandler’s memorable quips. This scene encapsulates the episode’s blend of comedic timing, character dynamics, and the essence of a “Friends” Thanksgiving episode.

8. “The One Where Underdog Gets Away” – Season 1, Episode 9

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An Unconventional Thanksgiving in the Heart of New York

The first season of “Friends” presents its Thanksgiving episode with a mix of chaos and warmth. Monica, aiming to host her first Thanksgiving dinner without her parents, finds herself catering to the diverse and demanding tastes of Ross, Phoebe, Joey, and the rest of the group. This episode lays the groundwork for the series’ tradition of memorable Thanksgiving episodes, showcasing the group’s dynamic in a holiday setting.

The Group’s Thanksgiving Mishaps

Each character faces their own Thanksgiving challenge: Rachel grapples with her newfound independence and lack of funds to visit her family, Joey deals with unexpected fame and family issues due to a misleading ad campaign, and Chandler reveals the personal reason behind his disdain for the holiday. These individual stories intertwine with Monica’s quest to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving meal.

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Locked Out and Left Out

The episode’s climax is a comedic disaster: the group, except for Ross, gets locked out on the rooftop while trying to catch a glimpse of the Underdog balloon from the Thanksgiving parade. This mishap leads to the turkey burning and the dinner plans going awry. Ross, meanwhile, experiences an awkward but touching moment trying to connect with Carol’s unborn baby.

What Makes This Episode Stand Out

“The One Where Underdog Gets Away” excels with its early-season narrative style, filled with humor and character-driven plots. Chandler’s comic relief, Phoebe’s eccentricities, Joey’s lovable naiveté, and the group’s overall dynamics shine through. The episode concludes with an unconventional but heartwarming Thanksgiving meal, setting a high bar for the show’s future holiday specials.

7. “The One With the Late Thanksgiving” – Season 10, Episode 8

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A Thanksgiving Episode Filled with Mishaps and Revelations

In the final Thanksgiving episode of “Friends,” Season 10 brings together all the characters in a story that encapsulates the essence of the series. Monica, determined to host the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, and Chandler, assisting her with the cranberry sauce, expect everyone to be punctual. However, Ross and Joey get sidetracked at a Rangers game, while Rachel and Phoebe are busy entering Emma in a baby pageant, setting the stage for a series of classic “Friends” comedic scenarios.

The Tension of Lateness and Forgotten Pies

The episode’s central conflict arises when the group, dubbed “the four idiots,” arrive late to dinner, having also forgotten to pick up the pies Monica had requested. The situation escalates when Monica, frustrated and feeling disrespected, locks them out of the apartment, leaving them to plead from the hallway.

Comedy Amidst the Nostalgia

This episode brilliantly captures the show’s nostalgic elements, with each character’s quirks and the group’s dynamic shining through. The comedy remains at the forefront, even as the episode touches on more serious themes, such as Monica and Chandler receiving significant news.

Joey’s Standout Performance

Matt LeBlanc’s portrayal of Joey is particularly noteworthy in this episode. His comedic timing and ability to deliver humor even in the midst of chaos highlight why Joey is such a beloved character. LeBlanc’s performance here is a testament to his contribution to the series and the character’s enduring appeal.

“The One With the Late Thanksgiving” is a fitting conclusion to the series’ Thanksgiving episodes. It encapsulates the humor, warmth, and camaraderie that defined “Friends,” offering a nostalgic look back at the series while providing a satisfying conclusion to its Thanksgiving tradition.

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

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Chandler’s Canine Conundrum and Ross’s State Struggle

In this Thanksgiving episode from Season 7, Chandler’s dislike of Thanksgiving is compounded by another revelation: he hates dogs, and puppies terrify him. The episode weaves multiple storylines, with Monica busy cooking Thanksgiving dinner, while Chandler discovers that Phoebe, temporarily living with Monica and Chandler after her apartment fire, is secretly keeping a dog named Clunkers.

The Secret of Clunkers

Phoebe’s attempt to hide Clunkers in the apartment leads to humorous situations, with Joey advising Chandler to keep his dislike for dogs under wraps. The situation escalates when Monica and Phoebe are forced to move Clunkers to Ross’s apartment. However, Chandler’s eventual acceptance of Clunkers, in an act of love for Monica, adds a sweet twist to the episode.

Rachel, Tag, and Ross’s Hilarious Challenge

Meanwhile, Rachel’s storyline involves her assistant, Tag, whom she invites over and reveals her crush on. This subplot adds a layer of romantic comedy to the episode. However, it is Ross who steals the show with his comical challenge: he must name all 50 states before he can eat turkey. His struggle and eventual realization that he wrote Nevada twice, missing a state, brings a hilarious conclusion to his quest.

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What Makes the Episode Stand Out

The episode is a delightful mix of the characters’ quirks and the festive spirit. It’s not just about Chandler’s and Ross’s amusing troubles but also about the dynamics of friendship and romance within the group. The ending, where Ross triumphantly finishes the game only to find out he’s too late for dinner, encapsulates the light-hearted yet endearing nature of the show.

5. “The One With the Football” – Season 3, Episode 9

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A Thanksgiving Episode Centered Around Sibling Rivalry and Football

“The One With the Football,” the Thanksgiving episode of “Friends” Season 3, stands out with its unique setting and focus on friendly competition. The episode brings the entire group together in a celebratory mood, deciding to play a football game. The hesitation from Ross and Monica stems from their childhood experience with the Geller Cup, a Thanksgiving football tournament that ended in their parents canceling the event due to their intense sibling rivalry. Eventually, they agree to play, leading the group to a local park for an impromptu football match.

A Shift in Setting and Dynamics

This episode marks a significant shift in the series’ structure, taking place entirely in the park and focusing on the group’s dynamic during the game. The episode brilliantly balances personal conflicts with comedic elements, particularly highlighting the ongoing rivalry between Monica and Ross.

Standout Performances and Memorable Lines

Matthew Perry and Lisa Kudrow deliver standout performances in this episode, contributing significantly to its humor and charm. Monica’s character, in particular, shines with one of her most memorable lines, showcasing her competitive spirit and deep-seated desire to triumph over Ross without excuses.

“The One With the Football” is a memorable Thanksgiving episode, notable for its unique setting, focus on the group’s dynamic, and the perfect blend of comedy and drama. It remains a fan favorite for its portrayal of sibling rivalry and the humorous yet heartfelt bonds within the group.

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

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Friendship and Forgiveness in a Quirky Thanksgiving Setting

In the Thanksgiving episode of “Friends” Season 4, we witness a unique take on holiday celebrations. The central plot revolves around Chandler, who faces the consequences of crossing a line in friendship. After developing feelings for Kathy, Joey’s ex-girlfriend, Chandler’s guilt and desire for redemption are put to the test in a humorous yet heartwarming manner.

Chandler’s Unusual Atonement

As an act of penance, Chandler spends Thanksgiving inside a wooden box, symbolizing his remorse and dedication to repairing his friendship with Joey. This physical confinement serves as a comedic element but also as a poignant symbol of the lengths one will go for friendship.

Monica’s Unexpected Thanksgiving Date

Meanwhile, Monica, played by Courtney Cox, encounters her own Thanksgiving dilemma. An accidental eye injury leads her to meet Richard’s son, Timothy, stirring up an unexpected romantic subplot. This adds another layer of humor and complexity to the Thanksgiving dinner.

“The One With Chandler in a Box” is not only about Chandler’s journey of redemption but also about the enduring bonds of friendship that define the show. It is a fine blend of humor, emotional depth, and the quirks of everyday relationships, making it a memorable episode in the series’ Thanksgiving lineup.

3. “The One With the Rumor” – Season 8, Episode 9

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Brad Pitt’s Memorable Guest Appearance

In the eighth season’s Thanksgiving episode of “Friends,” Brad Pitt’s guest appearance as Will, a figure from Monica and Ross’s high school past, steals the show. Monica invites Will to the group’s Thanksgiving dinner, unaware of his deep-seated animosity towards Rachel, stemming from their teenage years. This unexpected dynamic adds an intriguing twist to the holiday gathering.

High School Grudges and Hilarious Revelations

The episode is peppered with humor and surprising revelations, particularly involving the “I Hate Rachel Green” club founded by Will and Ross in high school. The dinner scene becomes a pivotal moment when Will discloses the absurd rumor he and Ross spread about Rachel in high school. This revelation adds layers to Ross’s character, showcasing Schwimmer’s ability to balance humor with the complexities of his role.

Joey’s Turkey Challenge and Lighter Subplots

Meanwhile, Joey takes on the ambitious challenge of eating an entire turkey by himself, leading to a series of comedic moments, including his decision to wear Rachel’s maternity pants to accommodate the feast. Phoebe and Chandler’s subplot, where they try to avoid helping with dinner preparations by feigning interest in football, adds another layer of comedy to the episode.

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What Makes the Episode a Fan Favorite

Brad Pitt’s performance is a highlight of the episode, perfectly complementing the established dynamics of the main cast. The blend of high school nostalgia, the absurdity of the rumor, and the classic “Friends” humor, particularly Joey’s antics, makes “The One With the Rumor” a memorable and entertaining Thanksgiving episode in the series.

2. “The One Where Ross Got High” – Season 6, Episode 9

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A Thanksgiving of Secrets and Surprises

In the sixth season’s Thanksgiving episode, the dynamics of the “Friends” group are in full swing, with each character bringing their unique quirks to the holiday gathering. Monica and Chandler, now a couple, face the challenge of hosting Thanksgiving dinner while keeping their cohabitation a secret from Ross and Monica’s parents, Judy and Jack. This setup paves the way for a series of comedic and awkward situations.

Phoebe’s Unusual Crush and Rachel’s Culinary Disaster

Phoebe finds herself unexpectedly attracted to Jack after a dream, adding an amusing subplot to the mix. Meanwhile, Rachel attempts to contribute by making dessert, leading to an unforgettable culinary mishap. Ross and Joey, eager to leave for a party, encounter the disastrous dessert but choose to stay silent to expedite their departure.

The Climactic Confession Scene

The episode crescendos into a hilarious and chaotic scene where Monica and Ross, under pressure, start revealing embarrassing secrets about each other to their parents. The revelation of past misdeeds, including Ross’s marijuana use and blaming it on Chandler, creates a whirlwind of confessions and reactions, with each character’s personality shining through.

Standout Moments and Humor

David Schwimmer’s portrayal of Ross is particularly notable in this episode, delivering one of his most iconic lines in response to Rachel’s bizarre dessert: “It tastes like feet!” This episode is a blend of humor, family dynamics, and the delightful absurdity that “Friends” is known for, making it a standout in the series’ Thanksgiving episodes.

1. “The One With All the Thanksgivings” – Season 5, Episode 8

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A Thanksgiving Episode Full of Nostalgia and Hilarity

“The One With All the Thanksgivings,” acclaimed as the best Thanksgiving episode of “Friends,” offers a delightful blend of nostalgia, comedy, and a glimpse into the characters’ pasts. Set in a post-Thanksgiving dinner scene where the group is too full to move, they embark on sharing stories about their worst Thanksgivings. This setting provides a unique opportunity to revisit crucial moments in their lives, particularly those involving Chandler and Monica before they became a couple.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The episode takes the audience back to the 1980s, where college friends Ross and Chandler visit the Gellers for Thanksgiving. Here, we see a different side of Rachel and Monica, showcasing the evolution of their characters over the years. The flashback scenes are not only significant in terms of character development but are also filled with humor, particularly the fashion choices of Ross and Chandler.

Monica’s Grand Gesture and Joey’s Turkey Mishap

One of the episode’s highlights is Monica’s act of love and apology towards Chandler, involving an infamous turkey-on-the-head moment. This scene is not only poignant but also hilariously memorable. Joey also finds himself in a similar, comically absurd situation with a turkey on his head, adding to the episode’s laugh-out-loud moments.

Phoebe’s Whimsical Flashbacks

Phoebe’s character adds another layer of humor with her recounting of past life experiences during Thanksgiving, particularly as a nurse in a war. Her stories, while absurd, perfectly encapsulate Phoebe’s quirky and whimsical nature.

Why It’s the Best Thanksgiving Episode

With its perfect mix of revisiting the characters’ pasts, showcasing Monica’s heartfelt and humorous gesture, and the overall comedic tone, “The One With All the Thanksgivings” stands out as the quintessential “Friends” Thanksgiving episode. Its ability to blend humor, nostalgia, and character depth cements its place as the best in the series.