Since Thanksgiving is my absolutely favorite holiday, I’ve been looking forward to this post since I started this blog almost a year (!) ago. Monica Gellar shares my affinity for this holiday, and each of Friends‘ 10 seasons has a Thanksgiving episode. Thanksgiving episodes are Friends’ things, and they do not disappoint!
So, without further ado, here is my definitive ranking of Friends Thanksgiving episodes. Let’s count ’em down!
10. Season 10: The One with the Late Thanksgiving
- Context: Phoebe challenges Monica to make a better Thanksgiving dinner than the previous year, and she can’t resist a challenge, even though she was initially against making anything. Phoebe and Rachel take Emma to a baby beauty pageant. Joey and Ross go to a Rangers game. Everyone is late and Monica and Chandler lock everyone out.
- Noteworthy: The great visual gag pictured above; the heartwarming news from the adoption agency.
09. Season 7: The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs
- Context: Rachel invites Tag over for Thanksgiving dinner and debates making a move on him after his girlfriend has just dumped him. Phoebe, staying with Monica and Chandler after her apartment fire, is secretly keeping a dog, which Chandler is supposedly allergic to.
- Noteworthy: the 50 states games; Joey’s explanation of a moo point.
08. Season 9: The One with Rachel’s Other Sister
- Context: Rachel’s “other” sister Amy (Jill, played by Reese Witherspoon was the first of two sisters to appear) shows up and stays for Thanksgiving. Amy can’t remember Emma’s name. Arguments break out over who would hypothetically take custody of her if Rachel and Ross died. Monica obsesses over her good china.
- Noteworthy: Christina Applegate playing Amy makes a believable family to Rachael and Reese/Jill; crazy plate lady
07. Season 8: The One with the Rumor
- Context: Monica invites an old friend of hers and Ross’s from high school to Thanksgiving dinner. Will (played by Jennifer Aniston’s then-husband Brad Pitt) has lost a lot of weight since high school and Rachel doesn’t remember him. She flirts with him, but he still harbors hatred from high school. Joey finishes a 19 pound turkey by himself.
- Noteworthy: The use of Brad before JAniston fans hated him; the references to Monica, Ross, and Rachel’s high school days; Joey still having room for pie.
06. Season 4: The One with Chandler in a Box
- Context: To atone for kissing Joey’s former girlfriend, Chandler agrees to spend Thanksgiving in a large box. Monica scratches her eye on some ice. Her new eye doctor (post-break-up with Richard) is out of town and she ends up seeing Richard’s son, also an eye doctor. Then she wears an eye patch.
- Noteworthy: Well, it’s pretty self-explanatory… Chandler’s in a box for the majority of the episode; Gunther to Joey, I thought you were Chandler.
05. Season 1: The One Where Underdog Gets Away
- Context: The one that establishes it all! Everybody’s Thanksgiving plans seem to fall through, so Monica steps up and caters to everyone planning a Thanksgiving for the six of them. The menu includes 5 different kinds of potatoes. We find out Monica loves Thanksgiving and that Chandler hates Thanksgiving and refuses to eat any related foods. As the title implies, the Underdog balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade gets loose and the gang goes to the roof to catch a glimpse. They accidentally get locked out (Got the key-eys?) and basically everything’s ruined.
- Noteworthy: Chandler’s vehement Thanksgiving aversion; Joey’s VD poster; early Rachel days where she works at Central Perk and literally has no money; Ugly Naked Guy & Ugly Naked Girl.
04. Season 3: The One with the Football
- Context: The gang decides to play a game of Thanksgiving touch-football. Monica and Ross get super competitive and reveal that they are “not allowed” to play football because of what happened at Gellar Bowl VI when Monica broke Ross’s nose and the Gellar Cup– a troll down nailed to a piece of wood– was thrown in a lake. No worries– Monica retrieved the trophy. Picking teams, no one wants Rachel. At first it’s Monica, Joey, and Phoebe v. Ross, Chandler, and Rachel. They switch to girls v. boys and Rachel has her moment… kind of.
- Noteworthy: the Gellar Cup itself; the complete novelty of seeing the gang in sweatpants; the change of scenery to the outdoors.
03. Season 2: The One with the List
- Context: Less of a Thanksgiving episode than the others, but I love it nonetheless. Rachel and Ross have just kissed. Rachel is on board with moving forward with the relationship, but Ross is still torn between Rachel and Julie. He makes a pros and cons list between Julie and Rachel to disaster effects, when Chandler’s new computer prints it right into Rachel’s hands. Meanwhile, Monica is jobless and signs on to make some signature recipes for a new chocolate substitute, Mockolate.
- Noteworthy: Phoebe’s song, Two of Them Kissed Last Night; Monica’s entire mockolate storyline, especially this is what evil must taste like!; she’s not Rachem.
- Best Quote: “Or will it be the one who we’ll call …Loolie?” (Phoebe)
02. Season 6: The One Where Ross Got High
A very close second as far as Thanksgiving episodes, and Friends episodes go!
- Context: Monica and Chandler want to open up about their relationship to Monica’s parents, who are coming for Thanksgiving dinner. The Gellars hate Chandler because Ross once melted his dad’s records when he was high, and told them Chandler did it. Meanwhile, Rachel wants to contribute and Monica entrusts her with the only dessert. She makes an English trifle, but the pages are stuck together when she’s reading the recipe and she adds beef sautéed with pees and onions.
- Noteworthy: Joey teaching everyone how to “act” like they like Rachel’s dessert by rubbing their stomachs and saying mmm; Monica’s interpretation of that; everyone’s reaction to eating the trifle; actually everything about the trifle; Phoebe yelling I love Jacque Cuosteau; Judy Gellar dealing with everybody, but especially Rachel.
- Best Quote: “Hurricane Gloria didn’t break the porch swing; Monica did!” (Ross)
01. Season 5: The One with All the Thanksgivings
This is actually my favorite Friends episode period.
- Context: Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, and Joey have just finished their Thanksgiving meal and sit around so full. The episode is done mostly through a series of flashbacks chronicling everyone’s worst Thanksgiving. Chandler’s is of course when he found out his parents are getting divorced– the Thanksgiving that ruined Thanksgiving for him. Phoebe picks a past life in which she was a nurse in war. Joey’s is when he got a turkey stuck on his head. Rachel recounts a couple particularly painful ones for Monica.
- Noteworthy: Phoebe yelling “more bandages!” on the battlefield; the fat Monica/Rachel’s old nose flashbacks; Monica dancing with the turkey on her head, complete with oversized sunglasses and fez which somehow elicits Chandler’s first I love you to her. The absolute best moment is newly skinny Monica trying to seduce Chandler which brings me to…
- Best Quote:“Ooo, I love macaroni and cheese!” (Monica)
I can’t live without this quote. I say this all the time. Somebody please get on my level.
I’ll admit, guys, I changed this order around a couple times writing this post, but those top 2 are etched in stone for me. What’s your favorite Friends Thanksgiving episode?!