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Every Thanksgiving Episode of “Friends,” Ranked

It’s no doubt that Friends is the epitome of Thanksgiving television specials—and with Turkey Day less than a week (yes, you read that right: a week) away, we can always turn to our six favorite friends to get us into the holiday spirit.

#10) Season 2, Episode 8: “The One with the List”

            The episode opens with the ladies and guys, respectively, recounting Ross and Rachel’s iconic first kiss, but the plot takes on a sharp turn when Ross can’t decide between staying with his then-girlfriend Julie and his long-time love Rachel. After listening to Phoebe’s *completely fictional* song “Two of Them Kissed Last Night,” Ross decides to make a pro/con list between Julie and Rachel to help him decide. Unsurprisingly, he chooses Rachel—but she’s outraged when she ultimately finds the list.

            The only real remnant of Thanksgiving throughout this episode is when Monica’s new job commissions her to create a series of Thanksgiving-based desserts using “mockolate,” a terrible tasting chocolate substitute. Her plight to “make Thanksgiving the mockolate holiday” is to no avail, and Phoebe proclaims that it “must be what evil tastes like.”


#9) Season 7, Episode 8: “The One where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs”

            Admit it: watching this episode made you want to try Chandler’s “Name All 50 States in 6 Minutes” game… which Ross gets far too invested in, and he vows not to eat until he can name all 50.

            Rachel spends the majority of the season crushing on her new assistant Tag, who winds up attending their Thanksgiving dinner when he and his girlfriend break up. Questioning if Tag reciprocates Rachel’s feelings towards him, Joey notes that if he doesn’t, it’s all a “moo point.”

            In this episode, we find out that Phoebe has been harboring her friend’s dog Clunkers for the past three days. This irritates a frightened Chandler, who claims he’s allergic to dogs. Admitting that he “can’t tell what they’re thinking and that scares [him],” Chandler is admonished by the entire group, and they reluctantly bring Clunkers to Ross’s apartment. Thinking that Monica was upset with him for forcing the dog away, Chandler tries to bring him back— unbeknownst to him that Phoebe and Monica had already snuck him back inside.


#8) Season 9, Episode 8: “The One with Rachel’s Other Sister”

            Rachel’s spoiled sister Amy makes an impromptu appearance for Thanksgiving in this episode when her married boyfriend cancels their plans. Rachel invites Amy to join Monica’s Thanksgiving dinner, which is best described by Ross as the equivalent to “the pilgrims bringing the Indians syphilis.” Ross and Rachel ask Monica and Chandler to be Baby Emma’s godparents, which infuriates Amy (who, by the way, continually butchers Emma’s name, calling her “Emit” and “Emily”). Eventually, the ongoing feud sends the sisters into a catfight, which presents Chandler with the opportunity to put his parenting abilities to the test as he breaks it up.

            Meanwhile, Phoebe coaches Joey on how to lie to the Days of Our Lives producers after he completely forgets that he was supposed to be a part of their Thanksgiving Day Parade float.


#7) Season 6, Episode 9: “The One where Ross Got High”

            Ross and Monica’s parents attend this Thanksgiving dinner, but Monica neglected to tell them that she and Chandler had been dating and living together— admitting that her parents don’t like him. We learn that their distaste for Chandler dates back to when Ross was home from college and was caught smoking pot… which he promptly blamed on Chandler. Monica tries to get Ross to admit that it wasn’t Chandler’s fault, but after avoiding the topic for too long, he and Monica heatedly disclose each other’s past wrongdoings to their parents. After digesting all of that new information, Mr. and Mrs. Geller praise Chandler as “a wonderful human being” for putting up with Ross and Monica, even throughout Ross’s “drug problems.” 

            Rachel spends the episode preparing a traditional English trifle for dessert— which she accidentally combines with a shepherd’s pie recipe— and winds up creating an… interesting… concoction of bananas, jam, whipped cream, and beef.


#6) Season 8, Episode 9: “The One with the Rumor”

            Brad Pitt guest stars in this episode as Will: Ross, Monica, and Rachel’s once-obese high school classmate who has since lost 150 pounds. Rachel is instantaneously attracted to him, but Will blows her off and confesses that he hates her because of how cruel she was to him in high school. It turns out that he and Ross formed an “I Hate Rachel Green Club” in high school, starting a rumor that she was a hermaphrodite. Rachel was infuriated, but Monica recounts that Rachel had told the entire school that Ross made out with their librarian.

            Over the course of the episode, Chandler and Phoebe pretend to be invested in the football game to avoid helping out with the Thanksgiving chores— but they primarily just spew out nonsense to the television screen, making it seem as though they knew what was going on. Meanwhile, Joey vows to finish an entire turkey on his own and turns to Phoebe’s old maternity pants in preparation (Pro Tip: maternity pants are also great for shoplifting melons, according to Phoebe).  


#5) Season 10, Episode 8: “The One with the Late Thanksgiving”

            Amidst the stress of adoption, Monica requests a break from hosting Thanksgiving this year— but Phoebe convinces her to compete with herself to top last year’s Thanksgiving. Rachel and Phoebe decide to enter Emma into a baby beauty pageant, while Ross and Joey go to a nail-biting Rangers game. With two-thirds of the friends preoccupied, they’re late to Thanksgiving dinner and confer in the hallway in an effort to conjure a good enough explanation. Unfortunately, Monica and Chandler hear them outside and refuse to let them in. Proclaiming that “it’s Thanksgiving and we should not want to be together, together,” Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, and Ross apologize and try to force their way into the apartment— but Joey’s head gets stuck in the door. As the chaos ensues, Monica and Chandler receive a call saying that there’s a birth mother interested in letting them adopt her baby, and the six reunite in a heartwarming group hug. 


#4) Season 4, Episode 8: “The One with Chandler in a Box”

            While preparing Thanksgiving dinner, Monica gets ice in her eye and reluctantly goes to the eye doctor… who turns out to be her ex-boyfriend Richard’s son, Tim. Despite her being forced to wear an eye patch, Monica and Tim flirt, and he decides to join them for Thanksgiving—r egardless of everyone’s vehement objection to the foreseeable awkwardness that would ensue. The two eventually kiss on the balcony, bringing their budding relationship to an abrupt halt when the kiss uncannily reminds Monica of Richard.

            After Chandler kissed Joey’s then-girlfriend Kathy in the last episode, Joey refuses to speak to a fervently apologetic Chandler. In an act of contrition, Chandler locks himself inside a box and takes a vow of silence as the others enjoy Thanksgiving dinner— though it’s not without a few smart remarks in the traditional Chandler fashion. Kathy later comes to the apartment and breaks up with Chandler (while still in the box, of course), prompting Joey to set Chandler free so he could go chase after her.


#3) Season 5, Episode 8: “The One with All the Thanksgivings”

            In their post-dinner, food comatose state, the six friends reminisce about bad Thanksgivings prior. Phoebe recounts her past-life Thanksgiving as a Civil War nurse, while Chandler recalls his parents’ announcement of their divorce during his childhood Thanksgiving. We get to see the pre-Friends Thanksgiving of 1992 when Joey gets his head lodged into a turkey in an attempt to scare Chandler, and then the attention turns to Monica’s worst Thanksgivings of previous years.

            While Monica was in high school, Ross brought his new college friend Chandler to their Thanksgiving dinner at home, and she overhears him calling her fat. Devastated, she pledges to lose the weight for the next Thanksgiving, at which point Chandler gawks over her beauty. Rachel tries to help Monica avenge her past self and humiliate Chandler, suggesting that she act like everything around her turns her on. Monica didn’t take quite well to the advice, and winds up accidentally dropping a knife on Chandler’s foot— making him lose part of his toe.

            Reminded of the painful account of that Thanksgiving, Chandler angrily storms out of the apartment. In an attempt to cheer him up, Monica shoves her head inside of a turkey—complete with a fez and oversized sunglasses—and dances around for him.


#2) Season 3, Episode 9: “The One with the Football”

            The Friends third-season Thanksgiving episode bids us with a welcomed change of scenery as the gang decides to have a traditional Thanksgiving football game. Monica and Ross reveal that growing up, they had a heated “Geller Bowl” every Thanksgiving, which, not surprisingly, grew viciously competitive.

            As the game commences, the teams are decided as Monica, Joey, and Phoebe versus Ross, Rachel, and Chandler. As the Monica-Ross rivalry intensifies, they decide to switch to women versus men teams— while Joey and Chandler simultaneously compete over the Dutch woman that they meet at the park. The game persists, and Rachel triumphantly (almost) scores the winning touchdown. When Chandler points out that the ball is still in play, Monica and Ross pounce towards it— refusing to move— in their relentless pursuit of the Geller Cup. As it turns out, the Cup was just “a troll doll nailed to a 2 x 4” that Monica retrieved from the lake after hospitalizing Ross in Geller Bowl VI.


#1) Season 1, Episode 9: “The One where Underdog Gets Away”

            After their parents decide to go to Puerto Rico for Thanksgiving, Ross encourages Monica to host their own Thanksgiving dinner in this first ever Thanksgiving episode of Friends during which everyone’s Thanksgivings go awry. With Chandler boycotting “all of the pilgrim holidays,” and Phoebe celebrating Thanksgiving in December (with her grandmother and her boyfriend…because he’s lunar, of course), they’re able to join in on the festivities as well. Meanwhile, Joey starts his short-lived modeling career for the free clinic and unknowingly becomes the poster boy for venereal diseases. Thinking he’s actually diseased, his family bans him from Thanksgiving dinner this year, and he finds himself joining the others. Rachel attempts to earn enough tips from the coffee shop to purchase a ticket to Vail so she can go skiing with her family. When this plan doesn’t quite pan out, the other five all pitch in to buy her the ticket.

            As Monica cooks dinner along with three different variations of potato requests, the friends receive news that the Underdog balloon in the Thanksgiving Day Parade had gotten loose. The gang heads to the roof to watch the events unfold… only to get locked out of their apartment when nobody has the keys to let them back in. All of the food that Monica’s cooking burns, Rachel misses her flight, and the six friends spend Thanksgiving together enjoying a festive dinner of grilled cheese. Monica and Joey split a sandwich in lieu of a wishbone, and together they all toast to the fact that “all of [their] Thanksgivings sucked.” 


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Native New Yorker Brooke Camarda has had her eclectic share of jobs—from the runways of NYFW to the haunted hallways of NYZ Apocalypse. Commonly known by her alter ego of Wonder Woman, there's no task or adventure that the skydiving-enthusiast isn't willing to take on. She loves typography and cappuccinos almost as much as she loves her (very) big family, and is thrilled to be writing for Bentley University's chapter of Her Campus.
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