Every Friends Holiday Episode Ranked—From Worst to Best
The very best Friends holiday episodes combine lots of laughs, the right amount of festive cheer and just a little drama. Where do your favourite episodes rank on our list?
12. “The One with Christmas in Tulsa” (Season nine, episode 10)
One of the creative low points of Friends‘ twilight years (the ninth season was intended to be its last, until NBC convinced the cast to come back for a shortened 10th), “The One with Christmas in Tulsa” is mostly a compilation of clips from past holiday and Chandler-and-Monica-are-so-in-love episodes. Still, even a bad half-hour of Friends isn’t all that bad, and this episode’s twist ending—Chandler quits his job and re-joins the gang right before Christmas—is rather moving.
11. “The One with the Creepy Holiday Card” (Season eight, episode 11)
The extraordinary eighth season of Friends—the only time the show won the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series—reached its great heights thanks to Rachel’s pregnancy arc. In “The One with the Creepy Holiday Card,” a hormonal Rachel suddenly finds herself attracted to every man in sight; it’s the sole bright spot in an otherwise cheerless episode. The other major storyline? Ross’s new girlfriend wants to put their photo on a Christmas card, and Ross can’t bring himself to tell her that their relationship is actually going nowhere. Bah humbug!
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10. “The One with All the Candy” (Season seven, episode nine)
The highlight of season seven’s “The One with All the Candy” is the B-plot that follows Ross and Phoebe: after finding out that Phoebe’s never owned a bicycle, Ross buys her a pink one and teaches her how to ride it. Unfortunately, the episode’s main storyline—Monica begins baking holiday sweets for her neighbours, who all fall in love with her candy and begin pressuring her for more—quickly wears out its welcome.
9. “The One with the Monkey” (Season one, episode 10)
The first-ever Friends holiday episode is light on laughs and, well, holiday spirit—but on the bright side, the cast’s famous on-screen chemistry was already beginning to hit its stride. In the lead-up to New Year’s Eve, the six friends agree to go solo for the big night but end up breaking the pact in speedy fashion. “The One with the Monkey” is noteworthy, however, for introducing Marcel, Ross’s pet capuchin monkey. Plus, the episode’s selection of ’90s alt-rock cuts will surely have you feeling nostalgic. R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People,” anyone?
8. “The One with the Inappropriate Sister” (Season five, episode 10)
After landing a gig collecting donations outside Macy’s, Phoebe’s ready to spread some good ol’ festive cheer. It doesn’t take long, however, for New York City’s colourful characters to give her a hard time. (“Nobody respects the bucket. You wouldn’t believe what people put in there,” she later complains.) Rachel, meanwhile, goes on a date with neighbour Danny and discovers that his relationship with his sister may be too close. “The One with the Inappropriate Sister” is often quite funny, but it’ll hardly get you in the mood for the holidays.
7. “The One with the Girl From Poughkeepsie” (Season four, episode 10)
In “The One with the Girl From Poughkeepsie,” several characters hit the Friends-equivalent of a low point: Monica is tormented by her restaurant employees; Chandler sets Rachel up on a disastrous date with his co-worker; and Ross, while pursuing a relationship with the titular girl, falls asleep on the train and winds up in Montreal. If that doesn’t sound very merry, the episode is nonetheless worth watching for Phoebe’s holiday song, with choice lyrics like “Monica, have a happy Hanukkah” and “Please tell Joey, Christmas will be snowy!”
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6. “The One with Monica’s Boots” (Season eight, episode 10)
There’s a lot of comedy gold in this episode—see: Phoebe desperately trying to get a glimpse of Sting (whose son is classmates with Ben) and Joey’s pregnant sister going to Rachel for advice. But “The One with Monica’s Boots” is, of course, about a pair of expensive designer boots that Monica impulsively buys, much to Chandler’s annoyance. While on their way to Chandler’s office Christmas party, Monica admits that the boots are in fact extremely painful to wear, forcing Chandler to have to carry Monica home in semi-romantic fashion. Everything about this episode is perfectly on-character.
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5. “The One with Phoebe’s Dad” (Season two, episode nine)
After discovering that her estranged dad lives in upstate New York, Phoebe—with Chandler and Joey tagging along for emotional support—sets out to reunite with him. But when the trio arrive at his home, Phoebe’s frightened he won’t accept her: “I’ve already lost a fake dad this week and I don’t think I’m ready to lose a real one.” This episode, which ends on a happier note in the form of a gift exchange, shows that while the holidays may not always be the happiest time of the year, they’re always better if they’re spent with people you love.
4. “The One with All the Resolutions” (Season five, episode 11)
A brilliant episode which revolves around the six pals coming up with New Year’s resolutions. Rachel has to quit gossiping, Chandler has to stop making fun of his friends, Monica has to take more photos, Joey has to learn the guitar, Phoebe has to pilot a jet, and Ross has to try one new thing every day. It’s the last bit that makes “The One with All the Resolutions” so memorable, as Ross runs into some issues with his leather pants while out on a date. (The post-New Year’s Eve setting may disqualify this as a “holiday” episode, but the scene in which a panicked Ross calls Joey for help is well worth bending the rules.)
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3. “The One Where Rachel Quits” (Season three, episode 10)
Rachel’s tenure as a waitress at the Central Perk is one of the show’s funniest workplace arcs. Thankfully, however, her character would go on to do bigger things, which makes “The One Where Rachel Quits” especially jolly. Plus, the episode’s two subplots—Joey saves over a dozen old trees at a local Christmas tree farm as a present to Phoebe, while Ross sells Christmas cookies for a little girl he accidentally injures—are the very definition of feel-good.
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2. “The One with the Routine” (Season six, episode 10)
All it takes is the slightest challenge to Ross and Monica’s egos to bring out the worst (read: funniest) in them. In the stellar “The One with the Routine,” Joey’s girlfriend, Janine (Elle Macpherson), invites the Geller siblings to be dancers on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and the ultra-competitive pair are determined to perform their choreographed “routine” on TV. Back at the girls’ apartment, meanwhile, Rachel and Phoebe set out on a mission of their own: to find Monica’s hidden Christmas presents with the help of a reluctant Chandler.
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1. “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” (Season seven, episode 10)
Another Ross-centric triumph, “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” is everything a Friends holiday episode should be. Desperate to teach his son Ben about Hanukkah but not wanting him to miss a visit from Santa, Ross hatches a plan to combine the two celebrations together. When he’s unable to find a Santa outfit, however, Ross invents a new character instead: the Holiday Armadillo. The failed plan results in a brilliant extended sequence between Ross’s improvised get-up (“I’m Santa’s representative from all the southern States… and Mexico!”), a wonderfully delighted Monica and Chandler’s bewildered Santa.
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