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On Sept. 22, the Emmy-winning and still-wildly-popular sitcom Friends will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its premiere on NBC. Over the course of 10 seasons, the show that launched as many hairstyle copycats as it did catchphrases (‘How you doin’?”) aired 236 episodes. That’s a whole lot of Chandler quips and Monica cleaning up.
In honor of 25 years of Friends, here are the 25 best episodes of the iconic and infinitely re-watchable comedy. (That remote is about to click over to a TBS rerun right now, isn’t it?)
25/24. “The One in Vegas, Parts 1 & 2” (Season 5, Episodes 23 & 24)
While the gang’s Las Vegas adventure has some delightful moments (Joey finds his identical hand twin), it’s Ross and Rachel realizing they drunkenly got hitched in Sin City that really makes this a trip to (hazily) remember.
23. “The One With the Rumor” (Season 8, Episode 9)
This one doesn’t exactly hold up in the P.C. department — the plot about how Rachel was rumored to be a hermaphrodite in high school is pretty yikes — but Brad Pitt’s cameo as an old classmate who hated Rachel (he and Jennifer Aniston were still married at the time) remains a total riot.
22. “The One With Joey’s Porsche” (Season 5, Episode 6)
Before Monica gets her dad’s Porsche in a later season, Joey pretends to have one that’s parked on the street. (“Hey! It’s Por-sha!”) Meanwhile, Ross continues to live in a fantasy world of his own: he didn’t get an annulment like he promised to Rachel. She completely freaks out, and rightfully so.
21. “The One With the Proposal, Part 2” (Season 6, Episode 25)
There is no moment that elicits more happy tears in the entirety of the show’s run than when Monica and Chandler finally propose to one another.
20. “The One Where They All Turn Thirty” (Season 7, Episode 14)
Joey may not have been thrilled to turn the big 3-0, but we loved watching Monica get drunk on hers and Ross buy a midlife crisis sports car for his.
19. “The One With the Football” (Season 3, Episode 9)
Ross and Monica have always been hyper competitive, but never is it more apparent than when the siblings vie for the “coveted” Geller Cup in this Thanksgiving episode.
18. “The One With All the Cheesecakes” (Season 7, Episode 11)
Chandler and Rachel didn’t get too many storylines together, which is a shame because this unlikely duo is great together, especially when they’re stealing (and eating) their neighbors’ cheesecakes.
17. “The One With Chandler in a Box” (Season 4, Episode 8)
Joey puts Chandler in a box on Thanksgiving as punishment. The meaning of the box is threefold.
16. “The One With the East German Laundry Detergent” (Season 1, Episode 5)
Some of Ross and Rachel’s best moments are before they become an item, and none were cuter than the time they hung out in a laundromat together.
15. “The One With All the Thanksgivings” (Season 5, Episode 8)
This one has all the makings of a great Friends episode: flashbacks, confessions of love (Chandler says it to Monica for the first time) and frozen turkeys on various friends’ heads.
14. “The One Where Ross Finds Out” (Season 2, Episode 7)
Poor Julie was probably Ross’ best girlfriend in the show’s entire run, but she never stood a chance after Rachel’s ill-timed phone confession of love. Plus, Ross and Rachel’s first real kiss is pretty damn amazing.
13. “The One With the Routine” (Season 6, Episode 10)
There are no bigger dorks than the Geller siblings — look no further than their excitement to break out a middle school dance routine on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
12. “The One With the Jellyfish” (Season 4, Episode 1)
Sure, Chandler pees on Monica to help her with a jellyfish sting, but the real burn comes when Ross ushers in the era of “We were on a break!”
11. “The One With Unagi” (Season 6, Episode 17)
From Chandler’s bungled efforts to make Monica a thoughtful Valentine’s Day present to Joey buddying up with his audition look-alike Carl, this one fires on all cylinders. Still, it’s all about the Unagi, i.e. Ross’ ridiculous sense for danger, which ultimately results in him getting his ass handed to him by Phoebe and Rachel. Give the cast credit for going all-in on physical comedy for all 10 seasons.
10/9. “The One With Ross’ Wedding” (Season 4, Episodes 23 & 24)
The gang goes to London! In the two-part finale for season four, Joey, Chandler and Monica head over to merry old England for Ross’ ultimately doomed nuptials to Emily. While a pregnant Phoebe stays back in New York City, Rachel heads across the pond to tell Ross how she really feels. He, in turn, says her name during his vows. Whoops. As if that wasn’t enough, these are the episodes when Monica and Chandler first hook up and make for the show’s best couple.
8. “The One With the Blackout” (Season 1, Episode 7)
Friends was a hit with fans from the very start, but it was this episode that proved it had serious comic chops. As Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe and Joey hang out in the girls’ apartment in the midst of a Manhattan blackout, Chandler finds himself stuck in an ATM vestibule with none other than model Jill Goodacre. Both storylines have high stakes (Ross gets oh-so-close to telling Rachel how he feels) and bittersweet payoffs. The episode, much like gum, is perfection.
7. “The One With the Cop” (Season 5, Episode 16)
Sometimes Ross deserves some appreciation, because as much as everybody hates that guy, he still produces some of the all-time best scenes on the show. Case in point: when he recruits Rachel and Chandler to help get his new couch into his apartment and instead just screams “PIVOT” at them while said couch gets stuck in the hallway. The scene only gets funnier as it goes, and no one has said the word “pivot” the same since. So thanks, Ross.
6. “The One With the Prom Video” (Season 2, Episode 14)
Friends dives into the flashback quite a bit during its 10 seasons, but none are as satisfying or special as “The One With the Prom Video.” It’s the first glimpse at the younger, permed versions of Rachel, Monica and Ross thanks to an old home movie. It also officially moves a longstanding high school crush into one of the most famous on-again, off-again couples in TV history. Because at the end of the day, he (Ross) is her (Rachel) lobster.
5. “The One Where Ross Got High” (Season 6, Episode 9)
Friends’ Thanksgiving episodes are unequivocally some of their best ones, but none compare to that of Rachel’s infamous beef/custard/jam trifle. The episode works on so many levels, as it has not one but two great storylines (Monica and Ross tattle to their parents on each other). But nothing compares to everyone’s strained reactions to tell Rachel she didn’t mess up the dessert. Well, everyone but Joey.
4. “The One Where No One’s Ready” (Season 3, Episode 2)
This is easily one of the best bottle episodes not only of this series, but possibly of any sitcom. In this episode, the gang tries — and continually fails with hilarious results — to get ready to attend one of Ross’ work events. From Phoebe wearing a giant Christmas bow to cover up a hummus spill on her dress to Joey wearing literally all of Chandler’s clothes, it’s a series of misadventures and misunderstandings that wholeheartedly annoys Ross and, in turn, delights viewers.
3. “The One With All the Resolutions” (Season 5, Episode 11)
The one that should have been called “The One With the Leather Pants” because, let’s face it, it’s so perfectly awkward. As the gang ushers in 1999, they make and break a series of resolutions, such as Rachel gossiping less and Chandler not making fun of anyone. Ross’ attempt to be happier and looser in the new year results in him getting stuck in a pair of too-tight leather pants and, thus, the one of the show’s funniest bits of physical comedy was born.
2. “The One Where Everybody Finds Out” (Season 5, Episode 14)
The Monica and Chandler love affair heads into new territory as the rest of the gang, one by one, learns about their then-secret relationship. As Phoebe and Rachel attempt to mess with Chandler (and Monica by association) with a “date,” everything goes hilariously awkward and haywire when both sides pretend that they-don’t-know-that-we-know-that-they-know. Arguably among the most fun episodes of the series, everyone gets to play up their comedic strengths for 22 glorious minutes.
1. “The One With the Embryos” (Season 4, Episode 12)
This episode encapsulates everything Friends did best: a whole lot of funny (“Actually, it’s Miss Chanandler Bong”) and a little bit of sweet (Phoebe finds out she’s pregnant). The episode centers around Chandler and Joey facing off against Rachel and Monica in a game of Ross-led trivia. As the stakes for winning the game get higher, so do the laughs. It’s an episode that not only takes the gang to new places (i.e. the guys moving in to the girls’ apartment), but gives fans some hilarious backstories, too. “The One With the Embryos” ends with a big group hug, and that’s exactly what this episode — and to a larger extent, the show itself — feels like.
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