This should be pretty easy. Since there are exactly ten Thanksgiving episodes throughout the ten season run of Friends. I guess I just need to put them in some kind of order… huh?
No, I won’t put them in chronological order. I’m going to list them in order of my least favorite to favorite. Which means it’s just my personal opinion. So let’s start with number 10…
10. The One with the List – Season 2
Don’t get me wrong… this is a great episode. This is the one after Ross found out that Rachel has feelings for him after he spent the entire first season pining away for her. But he’s dating Julie, a fellow paleontologist that he connected with while away in China for work. So it’s in this episode that Ross has to figure out which of these women he wants to be with. Chandler foolishly suggests making a pro/con list for Rachel and Julie, beginning with the cons. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say this is never a good idea, fellas. But Ross plays along, listing several negatives for Rachel. His only con for Julie is that she’s not Rachel. Of course Rachel discovers the list and this leads to an extension of the Ross/Rachel will they/won’t they storyline. I put this episode in last place because it’s the only one on the list that isn’t strictly a Thanksgiving episode. Every other season has a dedicated episode to the holiday, but this one only sees a B storyline that follows Monica as she’s hired to create some dessert recipes for Mockolate, a chocolate substitute that wants to make Thanksgiving the Mockolate signature holiday.
- Chandler (in response to Ross’ conundrum of having to pick between Rachel and Julie): Oh, I know, this must be so hard. “Oh no, two women love me. They’re both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet’s too small for my fifties AND MY DIAMOND SHOES ARE TOO TIGHT.”
- Phoebe (after tasting Monica’s Mockolate chip cookies): Oh, sweet Lord! This is what evil must taste like!
9. The One Where Underdog Gets Away – Season 1
I generally think of most of the first season’s episodes as weak compared to any of the later seasons. Mostly, that’s because I think the cast were still figuring this whole thing out. It took them all a while to settle into their roles and turn the characters into the classics we came to know and love. There’s a very distinct difference between the way Matthew Perry plays Chandler in these early episodes compared to later on. And I think the same can be said of the entire main cast. But this is the one that sets the precedent for Thanksgiving to happen in Monica and Rachel’s apartment for the rest of the series. No one planned to have Thanksgiving with this group of friends. It started out as just Monica and Ross, since their parents were going out of town. Then Rachel can’t afford to join her family in Colorado. Joey can’t meet up with his family because they think he has VD thanks to a stock image of him being used in posters from the health department that have started showing up all over the city. Chandler just doesn’t like to celebrate Thanksgiving. And Phoebe observes Thanksgiving in December. And something about the Underdog balloon getting loose during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- Chandler: Oh, my God! Underdog has broken loose and is flying over the city!
Joey: The balloon?
Chandler: No, no… the actual cartoon character.
- Joey: Hey Mon, I have a question… I don’t see any tater tots.
Monica: That’s not a question.
8. The One with the Late Thanksgiving – Season 10
Monica decides that she doesn’t want to host Thanksgiving this year. It’s a lot of work and they all have a lot going on. But the others convince her to have Thanksgiving for everyone anyway. Then they all show up an hour later than they were supposed to. Phoebe and Rachel are late because they entered Emma in a baby beauty contest. Joey and Ross are late because they went to the Rangers game. When they finally arrive and try to enter the apartment, they find the door locked and chained closed for the first time in the show’s history. Monica and Chandler are angry enough to deny Thanksgiving to everyone. Then they get a phone call letting them know that a girl in Ohio has selected Monica and Chandler to adopt her baby.
7. The One with the Rumor – Season 8
This is the one where Brad Pitt came over for Thanksgiving dinner. At the time, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were still married, so it was cute to see them in the episode together. Especially since Pitt was playing Will, a guy that Ross, Monica, and Rachel all went to high school with… who absolutely hated Rachel. Back in the day, he formed the “I-Hate-Rachel-Green” club. And the only other member, at the time, was Ross. Apparently, they started a rumor at the school that Rachel had both male and female reproductive organs. As far as Thanksgiving episodes go, I just think this one is kind of weak.
- Chandler (upon meeting Will): Hey, I’d shake your hand but I’m into the game, plus I think it would be better for my ego if we didn’t stand right next to each other.
- Joey (after finding out that Monica’s not making turkey this year at Phoebe’s request): Phoebe?
Phoebe: Turkeys are beautiful, intelligent animals.
Joey: No, they’re not. They’re ugly, stupid, and delicious!
6. The One with Rachel’s Other Sister – Season 9
We had previously been introduced to Reese Witherspoon as Jill, Rachel’s youngest sister. Now we meet Amy, the middle daughter, played by Christina Applegate. She won an Emmy for this appearance, by the way. For this Thanksgiving, Amy arrives and we discover her to be even more vapid and self-centered than either of the other Green sisters could ever have been. The holiday takes place not long after Rachel gave birth to Emma, and she and Ross are wrestling with the decision of who should be Emma’s godparents. Amy is insulted that they wouldn’t pick her over Monica and Chandler… but she can’t even get Emma’s name right.
- Chandler (after learning that he wouldn’t get Emma if something happened to Monica first): No, that’s okay. You’re totally right. I don’t know anything about disciplining a child. But it did hurt my feelings, and I want you to know that if I die you don’t get Joey.
- Rachel: I would like to invite Amy to Thanksgiving.
Ross: You know, I think that’s a great idea. It’ll be like the Pilgrims bringing the Indians syphilis.
5. The One with All the Thanksgivings – Season 5
A classic Friends flashback episode. After enjoying another of Monica’s delicious dinners, the gang sit around the living room and talk about their worst Thanksgiving experiences. Chandler, once again, shares about the Thanksgiving where his parents revealed that they were splitting up. Phoebe dives into a past life in which she was a nurse on the frontlines of a war on Thanksgiving Day. Then they try to decide which Thanksgiving is Monica’s worst, with the options being the time Joey stuck his head in a turkey to scare Chandler, the year when Monica was still overweight and overheard her brother’s roommate (Chandler) make fun of her, or the year after that when Monica lost all that weight as a sort of revenge… and wound up accidentally cutting off Chandler’s pinky toe. This just gives us some made up friction because, at this point, Monica and Chandler are still keeping their relationship a secret from the others. It did give us Monica sticking her head inside a turkey, topped off with a fez while she tried to cheer Chandler up. Oh, and he tells her he loves her for the first time.
- Joey: Hey, how come I can’t remember any of my past lives?
Phoebe: That’s ’cause you’re brand new, honey.
4. The One with Chandler in a Box – Season 4
Chandler did a bad, bad thing. He kissed Joey’s girlfriend, Kathy (Paget Brewster), after developing a crush on her over the course of several episodes. Sure, it was clear that the attraction was mutual, but the thing is… if Chandler had just talked to Joey about it, he very likely would have just stepped aside. Because that’s the kind of friend Joey is. To salvage his friendship with Joey, he spends time alone in a big wooden crate, intended to give him the opportunity to really think about what he did and why it was so damaging to their friendship. This is a callback to when Joey got trapped in the giant entertainment unit he built while the apartment got robbed. At first, Chandler isn’t taking his time in the box seriously, while everyone else enjoys their Thanksgiving dinner. But then Kathy comes by to tell Chandler she’s leaving because she doesn’t want to be the reason his friendship with Joey is ruined. It’s at that point that Joey sees how much they really do care about each other and he lets Chandler out to go after her. Oh, and Monica invites the son of her ex-boyfriend over for dinner.
- Rachel: It’s sick.
Monica: Why is it sick?
Rachel: Because he’s Richard’s son, Monica. It’s like inviting a Greek tragedy over for dinner.
- Chandler: The meaning of the box is threefold. One, it gives me the time to think about what I did. Two, it proves how much I care about my friendship with Joey. And three… it hurts!
3. The One with the Football – Season 3
Ah, the Gellar Cup. While Monica prepares dinner, the gang watches football on TV. We learn that, due to Ross and Monica’s competitive nature, their parents forbade them from ever playing football again. This is because they always went a little too far when vying for the Gellar Cup when they were younger. It’s decided that they should split their group into teams and play a little 3-on-3 football. Rachel and Phoebe aren’t very good with the sports while Chandler and Joey compete to get the attention of an attractive Dutch woman who happens to be watching them play. The Gellar Cup, by the way, turns out to be a Troll doll nailed to a 2×4.
- Joey: Come on, man, you never wanna do anything since you and Janice broke up.
Chandler: That’s not true. I wanted to wear my bathrobe and eat peanut clusters all day. I wanted to start drinking in the morning. Don’t say that I don’t have goals!
- Monica: Phoebe, I thought you said you knew what you were doing.
Phoebe: I thought you meant in life.
2. The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs – Season 7
It’s almost easy to forget that this one is a Thanksgiving episode. It’s more like an episode where a bunch of smaller, awesome things are happening and it just happens to be that they’re all gathered for Thanksgiving. This episode gave us the 50 States game that Ross has so much trouble with. Joey had no problem with it, coming up with 56. I find that game to be super easy, by the way. We learn that Chandler is afraid of dogs because you can’t tell what they’re thinking. Oh, and Ross doesn’t like ice cream because “It’s too cold!” This episode also provided us with the “moo” point. Rachel invited her younger assistant, Tag, to have dinner with them and she’s debating whether or not to tell him she’s got a crush on him. Joey says she needs to find out if Tag likes her back, because if he doesn’t, this is all a “moo” point… instead of a moot point. Rachel asks him to explain what he means… “It’s like a cow’s opinion, you know? It just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.”
- Rachel (after hearing the moo point explanation): Have I been living with him for too long, or did that all just make sense?
- Ross: I hate America! When I finish this game, I swear I am moving.
1. The One Where Ross Got High – Season 6
The Gellars are coming over to have Thanksgiving with the gang and Monica is worried about how they’ll take the news that she and Chandler are now living together. Especially when they didn’t even know the two of them were dating all of last year. At first, they can’t figure out why the Gellars seem to dislike Chandler. Ross eventually reveals that, at one point in college, his parents surprised him with a visit in his dorm room and he was high after smoking marijuana. The odor was obvious, so he claimed it was Chandler… and they’ve believed that lie all these years. Meanwhile, Rachel has been put in charge of making the dessert this year and decides to make a traditional English trifle. It does not go well. The best part of the episode comes when Ross and Monica begin revealing secrets about each other and it all kind of boils over. It’s better if you watch it…
So that’s my order for Friends Thanksgiving episodes. Do you agree with my list? Which episode do you think deserves the top spot? Let me know down in the comments!