The one where I rank every 'Friends' Thanksgiving episode
It’s officially that time of year.
Newly fallen leaves scatter across lawns and leftover Halloween candy is a thing of the past.
You sip a warm mug of spiced cider and grab a slice of freshly baked pumpkin pie.
… and then you binge every single ‘Friends’ Thanksgiving episode.
No? Just me?
Every year, I rewatch these beloved episodes from one of my favorite shows, cackle like a hyena and wish I was their 7th best ‘friend.’ But alas, they haven’t returned my calls. I even offered Joey some meatball subs … could I BE any more desperate. I’ll let you know if I hear anything, but in the meantime, dust off your DVD boxed sets or head to your nearest Netflix browser.
Here’s my definitive ranking of every ‘Friends’ Thanksgiving episode:
*** press play below to properly set the scene ***
1. “the one with the football” (season 3)
This is one of my all-time favorite episodes so it’s fitting I put it at No. 1. I’m not a football fan by any means, but the jabs and hilarity in this one get me every time.
Summary: The episode centers on the gang playing what you would assume to be a friendly game of football before Thanksgiving dinner. Before taking the ‘field,’ Monica and Ross inform the crew behind their reluctance to play: The two competed for the Geller Cup (“a troll doll nailed to a 2x4”) growing up, but when Monica broke Ross’ nose one year, the Cup was thrown into the lake. (The horror!) The episode proves their sibling rivalry is alive and well as the gang fumbles their way through the sport. (Pun intended).
“Okay, we have to pick captains.” — Monica
“And then Tennilles.” — Chandler
“Okay guys, I have exactly 28 minutes before I have to baste again.” — Monica
2. “The One Where Ross Got High” (Season 6)
Largely regarded as a Thanksgiving favorite, this comes in at a close second for me. Also, TRIFLE!
Summary: Monica and Ross’ parents join the group for Thanksgiving dinner in this holiday classic. Chandler struggles to prove himself to his future in-laws, Ross comes clean about getting high while home from college and blaming Chandler, Joey and Ross rush through dinner to go to Janine’s dancer friend’s party, Rachel makes her infamous English trifle … among many other highlights. Definitely a Thanksgiving must-see if you can only watch a few.
Memorable quote: "What's not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, good!" — Joey
3. “the one where the underdog gets away” (season 1)
Summary: In the inaugural Thanksgiving episode, Monica cooks her first Thanksgiving dinner for the group and tries to appease everyone’s family traditions when all their plans fall through. Underneath it all, the episode’s feeling of togetherness and the little family the group has formed helps set the tone for the rest of the series.
“Set another place for Thanksgiving. My entire family thinks I have VD.” — Joey
“I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m very thankful that all of your Thanksgivings sucked.” — Chandler
“And here’s to a lousy Christmas …” — Ross
“And a crappy New Year!” — Rachel
4. “The One with the Late Thanksgiving” (season 10)
This holiday episode doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. While it may deviate from the Thanksgiving festivities to feature the gang’s whereabouts throughout the day, the hilarity of it all wins it over for me.
Summary: The minute Monica decides she doesn’t want to make Thanksgiving dinner, Phoebe cleverly convinces her otherwise. But after Monica creates a feast, the rest of the gang (sans Chandler, obviously) arrives late to dinner (Ross and Joey attend a Rangers game prior to dinner; Rachel and Phoebe enter Emma into a beauty pageant).
Memorable quote: “Don't you put words in people's mouths. You put turkey in people's mouths!” — Joey
5. “The one with all the thanksgivings” (season 5)
Que the flashback episode!
Summary: The group reflects on their worst Thanksgivings: Ross’ divorce and eviction; Chandler’s parent’s divorce announcement; Phoebe’s time in the Civil War; Joey getting his head stuck in a turkey; and Monica … well, for that you’ll just have to watch.
“You know what we should do? We should play that game where everybody says what they're thankful for.” — Rachel
“Oh. I should be thankful for the wonderful fall we've been having.” — Joey
YEAH. – everyone
"I remember one day I was at the bus stop and this cool fall breeze came blowing out of nowhere and totally lifted this chick's skirt. Oh. And I'm also thankful for thongs.” — Joey
6. “the one with rachel’s other sister” (season 9)
Cue the cat fight.
Summary: Rachel’s sister, Amy (Christina Applegate), joins the festivities — but not without offending everyone in sight. The episode heavily relies on Rachel and Amy’s dynamic and while it delivers on holiday drama, it feels like a damper on the whole Thanksgiving vibe.
Memorable quote: “It’s Thanksgiving and we should not want to be together, together!” — Rachel
7. “The One with the Rumor” (Season 8)
Summary: In this Thanksgiving episode, Brad Pitt cameos as Will, a formerly obese classmate of Monica, Ross and Rachel, who joins them for dinner. The entire episode centers on his hatred for Rachel, something he’s sustained after all these years.
Memorable quote: “"My two greatest enemies, Ross: Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates." — Will"
8. “the one with chandler in a box” (season 4)
Summary: After kissing Kathy, Chandler attempts to prove his loyalty to Joey by locking himself in a box throughout the feast. While prepping dinner, Monica gets injured and reluctantly heads to the optometrist, expecting to run into her ex, Richard Burke. To her surprise, Richard’s son, Tim, is filling in for him that day and Monica ends up inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner (AWKWARD) … and then they kiss (GASP AWKWARD OMG EW).
Memorable quote: "Fine. Judge all you want to, but [to Ross] married a lesbian, [to Rachel] left a man at the altar, [to Phoebe] fell in love with a gay ice dancer, [to Joey] threw a girl's wooden leg in a fire, and [to Chandler] live in a box!" — Monica
9. “The one with the list” (season 2)
Summary: After Ross and Rachel’s much-anticipated kiss, Ross must decide between his girlfriend, Julie, and his lobster, Rachel. He’s then led to create a pro/con list for both women, hurting Rachel in the process. This episode throws your heart in the blender. Also, it isn’t very Thanksgiving-y apart from Monica’s mockolate storyline … which doesn’t really count in my opinion, but here we are.
“It’s always been you, Rach.” — Ross
"This must be so hard. 'Two women love me. They're both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet's too small for my $50s and my diamond shoes are too tight!'" — Chandler
10. “the one where chandler doesn’t like dogs” (season 7)
Summary: Phoebe dog sits for a friend despite Chandler claiming he’s allergic (spoiler alert: he’s not). Ross becomes obsessed with naming all 50 states (spoiler alert: he can’t). And finally, we’re deprived of anything Thanksgiving-y apart from Rachel’s assistant, Tag, tagging (haha. tagging.) along for Thanksgiving dinner — much to Rachel’s delight.
Memorable quote: “This is all a moo point … It’s like a cow’s opinion. You know, it just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.” — Joey
Bonus episode (and therefore, unrated):
“The one with Ross’s Sandwich” (Season 5)
Who could forget the moist-maker episode! If you’re in a ‘Friends’ coma but need another helping, check out this episode from season 5.