Celebrate Thanksgiving With Our Look at the Thanksgiving Episodes of “Friends”

By November 26, 2015

So no one told you life was gonna be this way *clap*clap*clap*clap*

We all know Friends, right? The show about a group of 20-somethings living in a fantasy version of NYC where Rachel can afford to fly to London on a whim and then immediately take an impromptu trip to Greece and still have a job waiting for her when she gets back. But despite that leap from reality, I do love this show. It’s definitely one of my, if not my number one, favorite show of all time. I may not be very strong or very fast, but I would annihilate you in Friends trivia.

One of the things that I love is that every season-save for season 2- had a Thanksgiving episode. Some episodes used the holiday as a backdrop whereas others really used the day to their advantage. So I feel it’s my duty to rank all 9 Friendsgiving episodes. So break out your Joey “Thanksgiving pants” and let’s get started.

9. Season 7- The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs

Despite being at the bottom of the list, this one is still pretty fun. When it’s discovered that Phoebe has been hiding a friend’s dog in Monica and Chandler’s apartment, he finally reveals that he doesn’t like dogs much to everyone’s shock and disgust because people who don’t like dogs are monsters who must be exiled. There’s also the subplot of Rachel debating whether to not to tell her attractive assistant Tag that she likes him, and the highlight of the episode: when Ross tries to play Chandler’s work game where you have to name all 50 states in under 6 minutes- a task he sees as easy- and fails, he bets that he can get them all before dinner or he won’t eat.

My biggest problem is that none of the stories necessarily have to take place on Thanksgiving and make it stand out compared to the others, plus the dog storyline is already too light to lead an entire episode. But I do love watching Ross go crazy trying to get those last few states, something that’s harder than it seems.

Funniest moment: Joey coining the phrase “moo point.”

8. Season 10: The One With The Late Thanksgiving

When Monica says she’s not up to cooking Thanksgiving, she gets forced into doing it anyway. So when everyone shows up an hour late- Phoebe and Rachel entering Emma in a creepy baby pageant, and Ross and Joey going to the Rangers games- Monica refuses to let them in. The episodes has some really solid moments, mostly including the characters trying to come up with an excuse for being late, and then later poking their head through the crack in the chained door to apologize, leading Chandler to humorously refer to them as “floating heads.”

It’s a funny premise that more or less delivers, but it perhaps could have gone even further. Although the moment where Monica discovers and reveals that she and Chandler have been chosen to adopt a child is really touching.

Funniest moment: when trying to come up with a reason for why they were all late, Joey tries to make it look like Ross was mugged.

7. Season 9: The One With Rachel’s Other Sister

After being introduced to Rachel’s sister Jill played by Reese Witherspoon in season 6, here we are introduced to Rachel’s other sister (ah, that’s the title!) Amy played by Christina Applegate who’s just everything you would imagine her to be. She’s spoiled, self-centered, and clueless. And when she’s informed that she wouldn’t get Emma if Ross and Rachel died, all hell breaks loose.

With subplots including Monica being skittish about using their wedding china and Phoebe helping Joey come up with a lie as to why he missed a work thing, the episodes isn’t as funny or creative as the previous one but Applegate’s pitch perfect performance elevates it to a whole other level. It’s just a shame we never got Aniston, Applegate, and Witherspoon together. I guess the world couldn’t handle it.

Funniest moment: after butting heads throughout the episode and building up to a Pilates/ yoga infused fight, Rachel and Amy end up in a pathetic slap fight that quickly gets out of control.

6. Season 4: The One With Chandler In A Box

After Chandler kisses Joey’s girlfriend Kathy (Paget Brewster), Chandler tries desperately to make amends and keep Joey from moving out. Joey’s solution? Put Chandler in a box to think about what he did. Like you do.

Throw in an eyepatch-wearing Monica kissing the son of her serious ex-boyfriend Richard and you have your typical Thanksgiving shenanigans. There’s other stuff going on, but it’s really about Chandler in the box. Despite it supposedly being a way for Chandler o show remorse, he finds plenty of ways to make it funny.

Once again, the episode didn’t necessarily need to take place on Thanksgiving for the episode to work, but there’s enough humor and touching moments to go around that you’re just happy to be there.

Funniest moment: after the gang makes various comments about how weird it is that Monica asked out her ex-boyfriend’s son, she finally lets them have it.

5. Season 3: The One With The Football

What’s there even to say about this one? It’s Friends at the height of its powers having a little fun. While waiting for the turkey to finish, Monica and Ross (to his reluctance) revive a Thanksgiving touch football game from when they were kids. There’s a subplot involving Chandler and Joey both trying to woo a beautiful Dutch woman at the park, but for the most part it’s just the gang getting sporty. We see Monica’s competitive nature come out in full force as well as Ross’ infamous temper.

In all-time episodes, this one would definitely rank higher, but the “Thanksgivingness” takes a backseat to the competitive festivities, so I had to knock it a little. It’s still funny as hell and still a Thanksgiving favorite.

Funniest moment: just the fact that they put all this energy and anger into winning a troll doll nailed to a 2×4.

4. Season 1: The One Where Underdog Gets Away

When everyone’s plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families go awry, they all come together to have dinner at Monica’s, forcing her to make all sorts of alterations to her menu to accommodate their individual traditions. But when they all go to the roof to see a parade balloon that got loose, they get locked out of the apartment and everything gets worse from there.

Before the show became the fantasy that it was where the characters can date Jean-Claude Van Damme (actually happened), the show was a more down to earth look at the lives of young adults living in the city and this was a prime example of that. It’s the time when people break free from their families and start making traditions for themselves and the new people around them. They all try and fail to make it like home before realizing that things will never work out as they were and they have to grow up.

Although it’s not all seriousness and life lessons, it’s a really funny episode with plenty of Thanksgiving cheer to go around. Plus Chandler’s story about why he hates Thanksgiving is the best.

Funniest moment: Joey models for the health clinic thinking that he would be the face of healthy living, but finds out his image was used for VD posters.

3. Season 5: The One With All The Thanksgivings

With a title like that, it’s gotta be a good one.

With flashbacks to the worst Thanksgivings ever from Chandler’s parents getting divorced, to Joey getting a turkey stuck on his head, to Chandler meeting Monica for the first time and calling her fat behind her back, to Monica accidentally chopping off his toe, to Phoebe in a past life treating victims on a battlefield, this one definitely covers lots of ground.
This is the episode that seems to get that no matter what you do and no matter how hard you try, Thanksgiving will have its vengeance. Whether it’s something as small as someone saying something mean or something as big as having a body part cut off, a perfect Thanksgiving is about as likely as The Walking Dead not being spoiled. #GlennLives.

Funniest moment: there are several to choose from in this one but nothing makes me laugh harder than Joey’s reaction to Monica wearing a turkey on her head.

2. Season 8: The One With The Rumor

Brad. Pitt.

In this instant classic, Brad Pitt plays an old friend of Ross and Monica’s who’s in town and gets invited to Thanksgiving dinner. There’s only one wrinkle: he absolutely hates Rachel.

The episode is filled with funny moments including a subplot where Chandler and Phoebe pretend to watch a football game to get out of helping, but it’s really all about the Pitt. The episode is made even funnier when you remember that this was filmed when Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were still married at the time. The episode plays differently in hindsight when you remember that Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Lara Croft, but still. It’s a damn funny episode that ranks among the very best. Phoebe’s less than subtle admiration of Brad Pitt’s flawless features is particularly amusing.

Funniest moment: Brad. Pitt.

1. Season 6: The One Where Ross Got High

Or as it should have been called: The One With Rachel’s Trifle.

I mean come on, of course this one was gonna make the top. Packed with various subplots, all hilarious, this one really captures the hectic nature of a “Friendsgiving.” With Ross and Monica’s parents visiting, she tries to hide the fact that she and Chandler are living together because they think Chandler got high in their house even though it was really Ross who’s trying to hide the fact that he got fired as well as trying to leave early with Joey to go hangout with a bunch of hot dancer girls. Not to mention Phoebe who, in the course of 30 minutes, manages to fall in love with Monica’s dad and Jacques Cousteau.

But the highlight of this episode, and the part that everyone remembers, is Rachel’s trifle. After the pages in a cookbook get stuck together, Rachel ends up making half an English trifle and half a shepherd’s pie. A desert that, according to Ross, tastes “like feet.”

Funniest moment: I would have gone with Ross’ “critique” of Rachel’s trifle, but it’s hard to beat the succession of confessions (hey that rhymed, I wasn’t even trying) that closes the episode.

PS: I was inspired to make a real trifle for Thanksgiving last year and it was delicious. I decided to leave out the beef sautéed with beef and onions.

Well there it is, your collections of Friendsgivings. Of course this is all one man’s opinion. I think they’re all worth watching if you feel like having yourself a little Thanksgiving marathon. You can find all of these episodes on Netflix.

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Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Contributing Writer at GeekNation
Matt is a writer of all sorts and a film addict who's still waiting for his Hogwarts acceptance letter. If you find him at a party, he's probably talking about Xena or doing a Nicolas Cage impression.