Ah, Thanksgiving… It’s a time to feast with family, friends and the television show Friends. For whatever reason, the writers of Friends decided to take Thanksgiving and make it the show’s big holiday and we are incredibly thankful to them.
Now some people marathon all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes. Some people need to watch them in order. However, we at VH1 know that you might not have the time for five hours of your favorite Friends. (I mean, there’s also this thing called football happening and some people are actually cooking.) To help you pick and choose, we’re ranking them Thanksgiving buffet style. Which episodes make a good main dish? Which offer a sweet sentimental dessert? And which episode, like Chandler’s traditional non-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving food, is fulfilling for a Friends fan, but not very festive?
The Turkey (aka The One You Absolutely Can’t Miss–and The One With The Turkey Head)
Season 5: “The One With All The Thanksgivings”
This might be the best Thanksgiving episode if only because it’s a massive treat for the show’s fans. Nowadays it’s the norm for a character on a sitcom to reference something funny and to have a quick cutaway to the scene or situation referenced. In the late ’90s though, it was most certainly not the norm. So, this is an episode full of great jokes, insightful flashbacks, and of course, Monica wearing a turkey on her head.
The Stuffing (aka The One Chock Full Of Laughs, Character Backstory & The BIG Guest Star)
Season 8: “The One With The Rumor”
“The One With The Rumor” could be also be called “The One Where Brad Pitt Shows Up.” It was one of the most-hyped half hours of television during NBC’s Must See TV era, and it holds up amazingly well today. The episode is sharply written and, much like many of the show’s best Thanksgiving episodes, deals with the gang’s backstory. It’s almost as though the producers wanted to give the biggest movie star in the world (who was then married to Jennifer Aniston) a really great and really memorable episode to guest star in.
The Mashed Potatoes (aka The One That’s Heavy On Fun)
Season 3: “The One With The Football”
This episode is one of the few Thanksgiving episodes that’s not about the meal, but the other big Thanksgiving tradition: football. “The One With The Football” also uses each of the character’s personalities and interpersonal relationships to full comedic effect.
The Yams (aka The One That’s Nice And Filling But Not A Massive Stand Out)
Season 6: “The One Where Ross Got High”
This episode should really be called “The One Where Rachel Made the Meat Trifle,” because that’s the most memorable part of the episode-which is not a bad thing at all! It’s actually one of the most fun subplots in the show’s history. Not only that, but this is the episode where Ross & Monica’s parents visit and Phoebe makes eyes at Elliott Gould.
The Gravy (aka “The One That’s A Delectable Topper To Everything Else”)
Season 1: The One Where Underdog Gets Away
Friends’s very first Thanksgiving episode is a lovely slice of comedy. It would have been impossible for the writers to know that this episode foresaw many thematic elements that would span the entire series, but it seems clear that when Monica locks everyone out in the very last Thanksgiving episode, it’s a coda to when in this episode, the gang got locked out of the apartment by accident.
The Cranberries (aka The One That–In The Words Of Monica–No One Really Cares About, But You Can’t Forget It)
Season 7: “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs”
There’s nothing particularly bad about this episode. There’s a cute dog involved. Rachel gets to mack on her assistant. Ross gets frustrated over the 50 states. The only thing is that it doesn’t stand out in comparison to many of the series’s other Thanksgiving episodes, which isn’t fair if only because some of the show’s Thanksgiving episodes are sitcom classics.
The Brussels Sprouts (aka The One You’ll Love Or Hate)
Season 9: “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister”
There’s a Thanksgiving episode (it’s Season 10) where the gang bad talks Brussels sprouts, which is not only unfair, but also unreasonable. Sure, some people find them stinky, but there are those of us who adore Brussels sprouts.
Season 9’s “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister” is kind of like this. Christina Applegate’s Amy is either the most annoying character ever introduced in a holiday special or she’s a brilliant satirical take on privilege. This reviewer finds her character insufferable, but this reviewer also knows people who think she’s one of the funniest guest stars in the show’s history.
The Grilled Cheese (aka The One We Love Even Though It Has Barely Anything To Do With Thanksgiving)
Season 2: “The One With The List”
The second season Thanksgiving episode is probably the least Thanksgiving-y of all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes, but it ranks high because it features one of the best conceits in the entirety of the Ross & Rachel odyssey. Ross can’t decide if he wants to date his current girlfriend, Julie, or the woman of his dreams, Rachel. Chandler, who is excited about his bulky new laptop, asks him to compare the two in an excel sheet that Rachel finds and thinks is mocking her.
Oh, and speaking of mocking, this is the Mockolate episode.
So, yeah, it’s not at all centered around Thanksgiving, but it’s a great Friends episode.
Mockolate Chip Cookies (aka The One That Should Be Sweet But Is Rather Bitter, But Hey, Everything’s An Acquired Taste)
Season 4: “The One With Chandler In A Box”
Okay, it’s not that this is a bad episode. The problem is that a lot of the best and funniest and most memorable parts deal with heartbreak, betrayal and Chandler being stuck in a box. It all works out in the end, but between the drama surrounding Monica trying to get over Richard by making out with Richard’s son, Joey and Chandler being on the outs, and Chandler getting broken up with (briefly) while he is forced to remain silent and in a box, it’s kind of a downer of a Thanksgiving episode.
Pumpkin Pie (aka The Sweet One That Finishes Everything Off)
Season 10: The One With The Late Thanksgiving
If this wasn’t the final Thanksgiving episode, it might not stand out amongst the others in terms of comedy. However, it is important for the history of the show. Monica and Chandler find out that they’re going to be able to become parents via adoption. This episode is more about how the friends of Friends are actually family.
[Photo Credit: NBC]