It's not too much of a stretch to say one of my favorite spaces to spend Thanksgiving is in Monica Geller's apartment. Watching the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends is a tradition that I highly recommend you implement immediately. But not all episodes are created equal. So grab your fat pants—or your grilled cheese and bag of Funyuns if you are Chandler—and enjoy this definitive ranking of 10 seasons of Friends' Turkey Day episodes.
Plot: Should also be called "The One After Ross & Rachel Kiss," this episode is very important in the total run of Friends, but not an especially good Thanksgiving entry. After their big kiss at Central Perk—with tongue, cool—Ross makes a pros and cons list to help him decide between Rachel and his current gf, Julie. After telling Rachel, he chooses her, she sees the list and is livid. Meanwhile, Monica's latest job is to develop Thanksgiving-themed recipes for Mocklate, a synthetic chocolate substitute that Phoebe thinks is what "evil must take like."
Why: The connection with Thanksgiving is way too small to put this any higher on this particular list. And considering the importance of food on a day like that, it's too upsetting to consider Monica making the embodiment of evil as a dessert.
Best Home Moment: While it's tough to watch Rachel with a broken heart, we can't help but be envious of her wallowing spot—the girls unbelievable window seat. We'd sit there and mope to U2 too.
Plot: Rachel's sister Amy (Christina Applegate) crashes Monica's Thanksgiving and manages to insult everyone before getting upset when Rachel and Ross say she wouldn't get Emma if they both died. Joey realizes he was supposed to be with the cast of Days of Our Lives at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and works with Phoebe to come up with a lie for why he wasn't there (which for some reason, always features raccoons). Chandler encourages Monica to use their wedding china for the big meal, but she goes to extreme lengths to protect the plates.
Why: The introduction of Amy is a welcome one, but her obsession with what would happen to Emma if Ross and Rachel dies becomes tiresome. It does bring up important conversations for Monica and Chandler about what types of parents they will be, which is quickly ruined when Chandler breaks all of Monica's plates.
Best Home Moment: I bet you know someone who can relate to Monica's stress about using her fancy plates. Hopefully, that person never has to deal with her husband breaking them all.
Plot: Monica and Chandler try to get out of hosting Thanksgiving because of adoption stress, but Phoebe manipulates Monica into trying to top last year. However, when the day arrives, the guys go to a hockey game, and the gals enter Emma in a pageant and end up 45 minutes late to dinner. Monica and Chandler are not pleased.
Why: There's a lot to love about this episode—Emma dressed up in Louisa May Emory's cowgirl outfit, Joey using his weird staring trick, Chandler and Monica FINALLY getting a baby—but the jokes all fall just a smidge flat. Understandable, as this final season of Friends was just a shadow of what was once great, but still, it's your last Thanksgiving episode, people! You should have done better.
Best Home Moment: We love the ingenuity of Monica keeping her Friends out of the apartment by using the chain on the door, mostly cause it allows for Joey's to slip his head in and try to stare the Bings down.
Plot: Rachel invites her hot assistant, Tag, to Thanksgiving dinner and contemplates making a move when she hears he broke up with his girlfriend. Chandler challenges the group to name all 50 states in six minutes, and Ross tortures himself when he can't name them all. Phoebe reveals she's been hiding a dog in her room at Monica and Chandler's, which forces Chandler to admit he hates dogs.
Why: The "state" game is the type of thing I could see my family playing on a holiday, and I love that Ross is so sure he could nail it but then can't figure out what he's missing. Also, this episode features one of the greatest jokes Friends has ever made:
Joey: [about Rachel's assistant, Tag] If he doesn't like you, then this is all just a moo point.
Rachel: Huh. A moo point?
Joey: Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion, you know, it just doesn't matter. It's "moo."
Rachel: Have I been living with him for too long, or did that all just make sense?
Best Home Moment: When Monica goes over to Ross' apartment to pick up the pies she has baking there, she wonders to Chandler, "Ross' apartment is nice, why don't we ever hang out here?" And she's right—I can't stop thinking about how I could never afford that spacious of a living room in New York City.
Plot: When Monica and Ross' parents are going to be out of town for the holiday, Monica offers to host her first Thanksgiving for the gang. Chandler reveals he hates Thanksgiving, but agrees to come if his traditional meal of grilled cheese and Funyuns are available. Rachel is trying to earn enough money to join her family skiing, but the gang ends up helping her out. Joey can't go home because his entire family thinks he has VD. On the big day, the gang runs to the roof to watch an escaped Macy's parade balloon and get locked out of the apartment—causing Rachel to miss her flight and dinner to be ruined. But at least they have each other...and Chandler's grilled cheese sandwiches.
Why: Watching the Friends realize they'd rather spend Thanksgiving together than with their respective families set the stage for many wonderful Thanksgivings to come. It feels real, as is the fact that they make this realization by yelling at each other.
Best Home Moment: When the girls get locked out of their apartment after everyone goes to the roof to watch Underdog float away, the guys come to the rescue...kind of. They just have to work their way through a drawer of a zillion keys—which honestly—we all can relate to.
Plot: It's Thanksgiving, and instead of just watching football, the gang decides to play a game, despite Monica and Ross being banned from the game as kids because of their fighting over the "Geller cup." During the game, Joey and Chandler compete for the affections of a Dutch girl. Eventually the teams switch to girls vs. boys, with Monica and Ross getting more and more aggressive in their hunt for the Geller cup—which tuns out to be a Troll doll nailed to a block of wood.
Why: It's refreshing to see the friends actually go outside and do something, rather than just sit on couch. Plus, the Geller sibling rivalry never gets old. It just gets more relatable.
Best Home Moment: Since most of this episode takes place outside the apartment, there wasn't much to choose from for this category, so we're going with the inclusion of a classic kitchen timer as the football game's clock.
Plot: To punish Chandler for kissing his girlfriend, Joey sentences Chandler to spending Thanksgiving in a box. Monica hurts her eye, and falls for the on-call eye doctor — her ex-bf's son. Everyone draws for Secret Santa, and no one wants Rachel because she returns everything she's ever given. This upsets Ross when he realizes she exchanged gifts he gave her when they were dating.
Why: Chandler's betrayal of Joey provides some of the show's funniest, and touching moments, especially when Joey gives Chandler permission to pursue his ex-girlfriend as his Secret Santa gift. Monica's attempt to date Richard's son allows the gang to make a lot of great jokes at her expense, and Ross and Rachel tug at our heartstrings fighting about exchanging gifts.
Best Home Moment: Joey, still furious at Chandler, says he's going to return all the fancy new furniture that Chandler bought out of guilt. Thankfully, he doesn't go through with it, and that butter yellow couch will make us jealous for seasons to come.
Plot: Monica invites an old friend of Ross', Will (Brad Pitt), to Thanksgiving, not realizing that he hates Rachel. Upset that Monica didn't want to cook a whole turkey because of all the leftovers, Joey says he can eat the entire thing on his own. While everyone, especially Phoebe, comments on how hot Will is, he can't hide his hatred for Rachel. It comes out that he and Ross started a rumor about Rachel in high school that she had both male and female reproductive parts. It's also revealed that Rachel told the whole school that Ross made out with their high school's librarian.
Why: I mean, BRAD PITT. If you need more reason than that, this builds on the history a lot of these characters by bringing up antics from high school. Plus, it's just so fun to watch Pitt torture his then-wife for having a "teenie weenie." Finally, Joey wears Phoebe's maternity pants and declares they are his Thanksgiving pants.
Best Home Moment: Though it's been there for several seasons, this episode gives a shining moment to the sconces on Monica's kitchen wall. At one point when Will (Pitt) sees Rachel, he grasps the sconces with rage and says, "My two greatest enemies, Ross—Rachel Green and complex carbohydrates."
Plot: Monica hasn't told her parents that her and Chandler are dating, let alone living together, because they don't like Chandler after Ross told them Chandler was smoking pot in his room when they were in college. Ross and Joey are trying to hurry through dinner so they can go hang out with Joey's hot roommate. Rachel is put in charge of dessert (half an English Trifle, half a Shepherd's Pie) and inevitably messes it up, causing everyone one to try to pretend to like it.
Why: Rachel's attempt to make a trifle steals the show here, in fact our friends at Delish even attempted to recreate it. Plus, Ross' exasperation at managing both his parents not finding out that he smoked pot, and not hurting Rachel's feelings is comedy cold. "It's Thanksgiving, not TRUTH day."
Best Home Moment: While we don't actually see this moment, my favorite home-related mention is when Ross and Monica are fighting by telling long-held secrets to their parents. Ross mentions that Hurricane Gloria didn't break the porch swing, Monica did." Perhaps if they'd had one of these porch swings, it would have survived.
Plot: A round of everyone saying what they are thankful for turns into tales of everyone's worst Thanksgiving. Through flashbacks, we see the day Chandler's parents told him they were getting divorced, Joey getting a turkey stuck on his head, Chandler calling Monica fat, and Monica accidentally cutting off Chandler's toe. In apology, Monica puts a turkey on her head, and Chandler lets it slip that he loves her.
Why: The flashbacks in this episode brought us so many things—Phoebe remembers past lives, Joey once put his head up a dead animal, Chandler called Monica fat, and finally Monica cut off Chandler's toe. Plus, all of these lead to Chandler telling Monica he loves her. This episode...like gum..is perfection.
Best Home Moment: Usually we see the gang gathered around Monica's kitchen table, but this year, they make us all kinds of jealous by getting cozy with dessert around the coffee table. I mean, the chair Rachel is sitting in looks PERFECT for a post-turkey nap.