Traditionally, families gather together on Thanksgiving Day and eat baked turkey with cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and other autumnal delicacies. Since it’s a very relatable holiday, many TV series have episodes dedicated to turkey-eating, but it was “Friends” who made Thanksgiving Day a meta-tradition inside the show.
Here are all 10 Thanksgiving Day episodes ranked from worst to best!
1. “The One With the List” (s02e08)
After kissing Rachel, Thanksgiving is the last thing on Ross’s mind. He now needs to make the biggest decision of his life: Julia or Rachel? In a typical 90s’ sitcom fashion, he writes a list of Julia and Rachel’s strengths and weaknesses to choose who is better, and naturally, Rachel finds out. I personally hate this episode, so down you go, fiend!
2. “The One With With Football” (s03e09)
The friends go outside to play some good old football while the turkey is baking in the oven. The whole episode is filled with the spirit of toxic competition. Monica vs. Ross, Phoebe vs. Rachel, Joey vs. Chandler – each of them is trying to win, but we’re all losers in their game because we need to watch them struggle. Not as bad as the list episode, but still bottom of the barrel.
3. “The One With All the Thanksgivings” (s05e08)
This time we find our friends after a festive dinner with their bellies full of delicious turkey, reminiscing about their worst Thanksgiving days. This is where we discover why Chandler is the way that he is and that Phoebe was a nurse in 1917 during World War I. In her past life, of course. However, the most interesting story comes from Monica about how she chopped off Chandler’s pinky toe while trying to seduce him with carrots. The episode ends with an iconic scene where Monica tries to cheer Chandler up with a turkey on her head.
4. “The One Where Underdog Gets Away” (s01e09)
Monica and Ross are having their first Thanksgiving away from home and family. Joey has inadvertently become the face of venereal diseases. Rachel is late for her shoop-shoop-shoop vacation because the door to her apartment slams shut. While Monica makes everyone’s “favorite TG dishes,” like lumpy mashed potatoes and tater tots, it all goes up in flames when the group gets stuck outside. A solid start to a yearly tradition!
5. “The One With Chandler in the Box” (s04e08)
On this Thanksgiving Day, Monica finds herself at a reception with her ex-boyfriend’s son and decides to invite him to the celebration. That’s already weird, but Chandler’s love escapades are even worse. He dared to kiss Katie, Joey’s GF, which meant he betrayed his best friend’s trust and now had to sit in a huge box the entire evening. The saving grace of this episode is the relationship between Chandler and Katie. And as sad as it is to watch this absurd situation with the box, it is also incredibly funny, and many consider it a classic of Friends.
6. “The One Where Chandler Does Not Like Dogs” (s07e08)
In this episode, Rachel’s personal assistant-slash-boytoy Tag joins the group for a festive dinner. Ross is mocking everyone because they can’t name all 50 states. Spoiler alert: neither can he! And Chandler freaks out about their new roommate – a lovely pooch. It turns out that dogs, especially puppies, are the scariest monsters in his mind. Why? We don’t know, but it’s very funny.
7. “The One Where Ross Gets High” (s06e09)
Ross and Monica’s parents are joining the group this Thanksgiving. They have yet to find out about Mon and Chandler, and they really dislike him. Why? Because he smoked pot once, or at least that’s what Ross told his parents when he got caught. While that’s going on, Joey just wants to go back to his place, where his new neighbor, Janine, is celebrating Thanksgiving with her sexy friends. And then the cherry on top is Rachel’s cooking. How can you not love everyone’s reaction to her traditional English trifle with beef, peas, custard, and jam?
8. “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister” (s09e08)
On this Thanksgiving Day, we are blessed by the presence of Rachel’s sister Amy, played by Christina Applegate. She did an amazing job portraying an airheaded blonde. Friends spend the evening arguing about who will get Ross and Rachel’s daughter Emma if they both die. For some reason, everyone wants to become the girl’s guardian, and as you know, you can’t please everyone. Honestly, Applegate turns this rather boring episode into a fun-filled romp!
9. “The One With the Rumor” (s08e09)
Ross’s high school friend Will comes to visit for Thanksgiving, and it turns out he was bullied by Queen Rachel back in the day. He used to be a chubby nerd, but over the years, he’s become Brad Pitt, who at that time was Aniston’s husband. As a payback for the bullying, Will and Ross formed the “I Hate Rachel” Club and spread the rumor that she was a hermaphrodite. All that while Joey is going for his personal record – eating a whole turkey all by himself.
10. “The One With the Late Thanksgiving” (s10e08)
The last Thanksgiving is always the saddest one. The Bings are preparing a fancy dinner even though they were not in the mood for the party. But everyone is late, which ticks off Monica as she’s been cooking all day long. Ross and Joey are at a hockey game, and Phoebe and Rachel used little Emma to win a beauty pageant. When they all finally show up to the dinner, Monica and Chandler refuse to let them in until Joey gets stuck in the door. Chaos ensues, Monica freaks out, but then a call from the adoption agency brings the good news, and everyone cries. Even the viewers.