The greatest ‘Friends’ episodes of all time
As one of, if not the, most widely watched sitcom of all time, Friends is as important to Gen X and millennials as shows such as The Brady Bunch or Happy Days were to those that came before.
It’s safe to say that if you’re of a certain vintage and you have never laughed at Chandler’s sarcasm or Monica’s neurotic charm, then you really have not lived. That said, not all Friends episodes are created equal, something that’s hardly surprising – considering they made literally hundreds of them!
In this article, we explore the crème de la crème of Friends episodes, those truly special installments of the iconic series that have since gone down in television folklore. Without further ado, here’s our selection of the greatest Friends episodes of all time.
“The One with All the Rugby” (S4E15)
While this episode’s primary storyline of Ross’s rugby antics is downright great, the real magic of this season four standout comes with Chandler’s efforts to evade the advances of his ex-girlfriend and one of the show’s best recurring characters, Janice.
In his desperation, Chandler actually boards a plane to Yemen, in what is surely one of the greatest Friends moments of all time. Matthew Perry is at his sardonic, hopeless best here as everybody’s favourite era of Chandler.
“The One with All the Poker” (S1E18)
With its blend of outright hilarity and cleverly staged revenge, this episode has gone down as one of the very best of its kind in TV history. Not only is this the episode that saw the birth of Rachel’s trademark “no” catchphrase, “The One with All the Poker” is also a wonderful example of Monica’s trademark competitive edge coming into its own, not to mention some memorable Chandlerisms in this great outing.
“The One with the Embryos” (S4E12)
Forever remembered as the episode in which Joey and Chandler win the girls’ apartment, this is perhaps the outright funniest Friends episode of all time. With more top-notch lines than you can shake a stick at, it was always going to be tough for the episode’s main storyline of Phoebe’s embryo implantation to stand up to that of the quiz going on back at the apartment.
The sheer silliness that the genius quiz format allows the characters to display is perfectly positioned to showcase each of their respective virtues and flaws to a tee. It packs in more laughs in half an hour than many TV shows can scrape together in an entire season, perhaps even a whole series.
“The One with Ross’ Sandwich” (S05E09)
While Ross’s breakdown provides more than enough tear-inducing laughter, the addition of Joey’s attempts to cover up for Monica and Chandler’s still secretive romance is a truly legendary segment of Friends. Let’s stick to Geller’s breakdown, because it deserves recognition as one of the show’s best “I shouldn’t find this funny but I do” moments, and there have been quite a few.
There was something about seeing Ross going genuinely crazy about a sandwich in the wake of so much bad fortune that made us all fall even deeper in love with one of the Friends’s best loved characters.
Moving to the end of the episode and Joey’s coverup, the line Phoebe gives about giving the apparent “pervert” a chance to explain himself is true television gold. Matt Le Blanc gives what is perhaps a character-defining turn in this legendary episode.
“The One Where No One’s Ready” (S03E02)
The genius of this early episode is that it takes place almost entirely in the girls’ apartment, allowing the series’s writers to showcase their precocious talents. This era of the show is looked back upon today as the most outright hilarious of them all, with Joey in particular experiencing a golden era that he perhaps never quite managed to get back to.
In particular, Ross’s attempts to win Rachel over are some of the most hilariously heartwarming scenes in the show’s (until then) rather short life.