“Friends” isn’t just getting older, but its fans have now gotten even younger. The 90’s phenomenon television show is also heading to the big screen. We’ve also added our favorite, funniest most iconic fifteen episodes below so you can see if you agree or have your own to comment on.
As the sitcom about six twentysomethings marked its 25th anniversary on Sunday, it has spawned a devoted youthful viewership, especially among tween and teen girls who weren’t yet born when it went off the air in 2004.
In an era when everyone assumed they would move on to YouTube and Instagram video, young girls have embraced the series and its old-fashioned, studio-audience, sitcom format, bingeing its 10 seasons on Netflix through their tablets and phones, wearing T-shirts with the show’s logo and constantly quoting catch-phrases.
“It is old but you can’t tell that much when you’re watching,” said 15-year-old Sammy Joyce of Long Beach, California. “It’s too funny to care about how old it is.”
Some first hear about the show from Generation X parents who watched the initial NBC run, but the show has caught on mostly via word-of-mouth between friends.
“My friends all really liked it. They were all really into it and they would always be quoting it so I decided to give it a try,” said 15-year-old Adelaide Driver of Taos, New Mexico. “I kind of immediately was super into it.”
Lucia Mozingo, 10, of Long Beach says she’s been spreading her love for the show “like a disease” among her grade-school classmates.
She and Sammy, who watches her after school, can mimic their way through entire episodes, sing every word to Phoebe’s song “Smelly Cat” and can do impressions of every major character and many minor ones.
Rites of Passage
The show has become almost a rite of passage in some circles, where their “Friends” phase is almost a coming of age.
For girls like Lucia, understanding the show’s adult-but-not-too-adult subject matter can feel like a step into sophistication.
“My parents showed me the show ‘Friends’ when I was 8, and I didn’t really get it, so I wasn’t really into it.”
Then, trying it again at 10, it all clicked, and she understood why Ross and Rachel got together, and why they broke up, and why they got back together again.
“I just got it,” she said.”
“Friends,” some fans said, is a piece of the past that allows them to fantasize about their future. They swoon at the notion of living in a big-city apartment with their best friend the way Courteney Cox’s Monica and Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel do, with two more friends across the hall like Matthew Perry’s Chandler and Matt LeBlanc’s Joey.
“I would love to live across the hall from my best friends,” said 12-year-old Imogen Schwartz of Glendale, California. “When you watch it you wish you had a Rachel and a Chandler and a Joey and everyone else.”
The characters also have fledgling careers that the girls can see themselves aspiring to.
“My favorite moments are whenever they’re talking about their jobs: actor, musician, masseuse, fashion-person,” said 13-year-old Esme Goldman of Pasadena, California. “I think jobs are interesting.”
New York Idealized
And they live and work in an idealized New York, a dream of some young fans.
“I want to live in New York. I want to pursue my dreams in New York,” Esme said, “even though their version of New York is completely unrealistic. I’m not going to have an apartment like that.”
Marta Kauffman, who along with David Crane created the show that premiered on Sept. 22, 1994, agreed that its aspirational qualities are a huge part of its appeal for younger viewers.
“For the characters themselves, this is that kind of time in their lives when their friends are their family, I think that’s incredibly aspirational,” Kauffman told media outlets. “Teenagers who imagine it are imagining that kind of life when they’re with their friends.”
Everyone Loves Phoebe
Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe, and her proudly eccentric persona, has special standing among young-girl fans, who overwhelmingly name her as their favorite character.
“She’s different but she doesn’t really care,” Lucia said. “Like, she’s always trying to cleanse your aura, and like, she’ll make her own shoes with candy on them.”
“She’s kind of a little crazy,” Adelaide said. “She’s like a lot of the people here in Taos.”
Phoebe’s personality, with her strange folkie songs and odd observations, would make her a social-media star.
“Phoebe would be a very popular YouTuber,” Imogen said.
Social Media Rebirth
Most young fans also immerse themselves in “Friends” on social media. Its archetypal characters including David Schwimmer’s Ross and catch-phrases make it incredibly meme-worthy, and many say they first decided to watch it after being prompted on Instagram or Snapchat.
Netflix, which paid a reported $100 million to stream “Friends” through 2019, rarely releases streaming figures, and declined a request for them for this story, making it difficult to know how broad the trend truly is. There’s an abundance of anecdotal evidence — the number of T-shirts at malls and school campuses alone — that suggests it’s vast.
Other sitcoms, such as “The Office,” also have masses of surprisingly young viewers, but few are as old, or as traditional in format, as “Friends.”
Age Is An Asset
Yet its age could also be an asset. While a current show might only offer a few short seasons to plow through, “Friends” has a decade’s worth, 236 episodes to binge on and return to repeatedly. That’s more time than some young girls have spent with most of their real-life friends. They feel like they really know the characters.
“You got to watch Chandler and Joey and Monica and Rachel and Phoebe and Ross all, like, throughout a decade go through ups and downs and everything between,” Imogen said.
And some may not even realize it’s old at first.
“When my daughter’s friends discovered ‘Friends’ they thought it was a period piece,” Kauffman said. “They thought it was a contemporary show set in the 90s.”
The days of “Friends” on Netflix are now numbered. WarnerMedia is moving the series to its own streaming platform, HBO Max, next year.
That has some young fans scrambling to gorge on episodes, unsure if their parents will spring for the new channel.
“Since they’re taking it off Netflix,” Imogen said, “I want to get in as much time watching ‘Friends’ as possible.”
Top 15 Funniest and Iconic “Friends” Episodes
Having 236 episodes to peruse through over and over, there are so many episodes that could have been on this list, but we wanted to put the ones we found the funniest and why. I’m sure someone will ask “Why didn’t you put this on?” Well, put it in the comments and why that episode was so great and iconic for you.
The One With the Blackout (Season 1, Episode 7)
The Plot: A city-wide blackout strands Monica (Courteney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), and Ross (David Schwimmer) at the girls’ apartment and traps Chandler (Matthew Perry) in — say it with me — “An ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre” (who plays herself).
Why We Love It: While the gang in the apartment delivers great comedic moments — Joey’s menorah, the cat attacking Ross, Mr. Heckles (Larry Hankin) trying to steal the cat, which he calls Bob Buttons — this episode is a showcase for Chandler as he chokes (literally and figuratively) while trying to play it cool around the Victoria’s Secret model.
Best Line: “You know, on second thought, gum would be perfection.” —Chandler
The One With Two Parts: Part 2 (Season 1 Episode 17)
The Plot: Ross frets over impending fatherhood while Joey is dating Phoebe’s twin sister, Ursula, much to Phoebe’s chagrin. After Rachel injures her ankle, Monica rushes her to the hospital, where they meet two cute doctors (George Clooney and Noah Wyle, who were starring on E.R. at the time, but play different characters here). The rub is that Rachel doesn’t have health insurance so she pretends to be Monica, which wreaks havoc on their subsequent double date.
Why We Love It: The double-crossing double date is one of the most hilarious bits of comedy the show has ever done. As the girls’ frustrations with one another take over, Monica (as Rachel) and Rachel (as Monica) begin to talk shit about one another to the doctors, who could not be more confused by what they’ve walked in to.
Best Line: “[hysterical laughing] Oh God, I’m so spoiled.” —Monica as Rachel
The One After the Superbowl (Season 2, Episodes 12 & 13)
The Plot: These two episodes, which aired as one-hour installments (and why it counts as a single entry on this list), feature Jean-Claude Van Damme, Julia Roberts, Chris Isaak, and Brooke Shields in a performance so uproarious that NBC basically gave her a sitcom afterward (Suddenly Susan, which aired from 1996 to 2000).
Why We Love It: Phoebe becomes a hit with kids by singing truthful songs about death; Phoebe turns Monica and Rachel into her “bitches” as they fight about dating Van Damme; Ross goes on a day date with Marcel; and Chandler gets played by Susie Moss (Roberts), his fourth grade classmate hellbent on getting revenge for a childhood humiliation.
Best Quote: “Eat me. I’m done.” —Chandler
The One With the Prom Video (Season 2, Episode 14)
The Plot: A newly employed Joey thanks Chandler for years of fronting rent and coffee bills with a gaudy gold bracelet (it reads: Best Buds), while Monica attempts to get a new job, and Rachel draws a line in the sand when it comes to dating Ross.
Why We Love It: This episode is overflowing with laughs, as Chandler accidentally mocks the bracelet in front of Joey (“I pity the fool!”) and then has to replace it to save face, but the installment hinges on the titular VHS tape that chronicles Monica and Rachel’s very ’80s prom night. As the gang gawks at the big noses, bigger hair, and tacky dresses, we’re introduced to Fat Monica and some killer one-liners are dropped before hearts melt at the episode-ending revelation.
Best Line: “See! He’s her lobster.” —Phoebe
The One Where No One’s Ready (Season 3, Episode 2)
The Plot: Ross has less than 30 minutes to get everyone dressed and out the door to attend a museum benefit.
Why We Love It: This bottle episode (all the action takes place in a single room) is so inspired, even a tired trope — Rachel can’t decide what to wear — feels fresh here. There are wonderful asides (Why does Donald Duck wrap a towel around his waist after getting out of the shower if he doesn’t wear pants?), great throughlines (drink the fat), and a series-defining fight between Chandler and Joey over ownership of the apartment’s comfiest chair.
Best Line: “Look at me, I’m Chandler! Could I be wearin’ any more clothes?” —Joey
The One With the Dollhouse (Season 3, Episode 20)
The Plot: Monica inherits a dollhouse from her dead aunt, but doesn’t play well with others, causing Phoebe to build her own dream dollhouse. Chandler goes on a terrible date with Rachel’s boss, but can’t bring himself to dump her.
Why We Love It: Monica’s face during Phoebe’s dinosaur attack on the dollhouse; Phoebe screaming “the foster puppets” when Ross reveals who made it out of her burned dollhouse; Joanna’s (Alison La Placa) uncontrollable disdain for Sophie (Laura Dean); and Chandler’s inability to end a date without saying, “We should do it again sometime.”
Best Quote: “Checkin’ out the Chan-Chan man!” —Chandler
The One With the Embryos (Season 4, Episode 12)
The Plot: While Phoebe is at the fertility clinic attempting to be artificially inseminated, Joey, Chandler, Monica, and Rachel are squaring off in a Ross-created trivia game to see which gender knows more about the other — and the girls’ apartment is at stake.
Why It’s So Funny: The information revealed throughout the game (Miss Chanandler Bong, sandwiches, big fat goalie) is hilarious, but what makes this episode such a standout is how brilliantly LeBlanc, Perry, Aniston, and Cox deliver every excited exclamation.
Best Line: “That’s not even a word!!!!” —Monica
The One With All the Thanksgivings (Season 5, Episode 8)
The Plot: After a particularly filling meal, everyone sits around reminiscing about their worst Thanksgivings.
Why We Love It: Because we’re given more hideous flashback hair (mostly thanks to Chandler), a ridiculous aside about Phoebe’s past life as a French battlefield nurse, and two people wear turkeys on their heads.
Best Quote: “It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Chandler bumming us out.” —Joey
The One With All the Resolutions (Season 5, Episode 11)
The Plot: Everyone tries, with varying degrees of success, to uphold their New Year’s resolutions.
Why We Love It: Phoebe (pilot a jet), Joey (learn to play guitar), and Monica (take more photos) aside, the resolutions made by Chandler (stop making fun of his friends), Rachel (gossip less), and Ross (try something new every day) provide the spine for this episode and yield the highest comedy. “The One With All the Resolutions” also offers Schwimmer a worthy platform for his excellent physical comedy skills, which typically go uncelebrated.
Best Quote: “If the paste matches the pants, you can make yourself a pair of paste pants and she won’t know the difference.” —Joey
The One Where Everybody Finds Out (Season 5, Episode 14)
The Plot: After Phoebe discovers what Rachel and Joey have known for weeks — that Monica and Chandler are dating — the girls start messing with the couple, which clues in Monica and Chandler, so they retaliate. This back-and-forth culminates in an epic game of chicken.
Why We Love It: From Ross’ amazing apartment spazz-attack to the introduction of Hugsey, Joey’s bedtime penguin pal, there’s a lot to love in this episode. But it truly belongs to the prolonged sexual showdown between Phoebe and Chandler — it starts with bicep squeezing and ends with an adorable declaration of love.
Best Quote: “They don’t know that we know they know we know.” —Phoebe
The One Where Ross Got High (Season 6, Episode 9)
The Plot: Monica and Chandler are hosting Thanksgiving, but it turns out that Jack and Judy Geller (Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles) hate Chandler. Ross and Joey want to bail so they can go to a party with supermodels, and Rachel screws up the dessert.
Why We Love It: While some sitcoms struggle to deliver compelling A- and B- plots, Friends was often able to successfully execute a half-dozen concurrent storylines and this episode is a prime example of the writers’ ability to keep all of the plots in the air at once. Here, Monica is keeping her relationship with Chandler a secret from her parents because they dislike him, and it turns out that their grudge is decades-old as Ross blamed Chandler for the pot smell in his room during sophomore year spring break. Meanwhile, as Rachel is making dessert, she accidentally creates half an English trifle and half a shepherd’s pie, which Joey and Ross convince everyone to eat so dinner will end and they can leave. And Phoebe is harboring sexual feelings toward Jack following a naughty dream. All of these threads culminate in a hilarious tidal wave of revelations that, to quote Judy, is “a lot of information to get in 30 seconds.”
Best Quote: “Hurricane Gloria didn’t break the porch swing, Monica did.” —Ross
The One With Unagi (Season 6, Episode 17)
The Plot: While Joey is trying to dupe his way into a science experiment for twins, Monica and Chandler have each forgotten to make the other a Valentine’s Day gift, and Ross tries to test Rachel and Phoebe’s self-defense skills.
Why We Love It: Because Ross’ ridiculous series-long obsession with “kara-tay” (his snooty pronunciation) basically gets a stand-alone episode as he squares off with Rachel and Phoebe in a series of scares designed to test their Unagi (perhaps a state of total awareness, definitely a type of sushi). Because Joey’s ridiculous series-long obsession with twins starts here as he tries — and fails — to convince the scientific world that Carl (Louis Mandylor) is his identical twin. Because Chandler’s ridiculous past obsession with Janice (Maggie Wheeler) rears its ugly head once more as he gives Monica a romantic mixtape that was actually made for him by Janice, unaware it includes nasally mid-song interjections that will eventually blow up his spot.
Best Line: “Damn it, Carl.” —Joey
The One With Joey’s New Brain (Season 7, Episode 15)
The Plot: Joey’s character on Days of Our Lives comes out of his coma and gets a new brain from soap opera icon Cecilia Monroe (Susan Sarandon), while Ross learns to play the bagpipes for Monica and Chandler’s wedding, and Phoebe fights with Rachel over a lost phone belonging to — they presume — a handsome man.
Why We Love It: Few things in Friends history are funnier than watching Ross play bagpipes (or the actors trying to keep straight faces during the scene) — but Sarandon’s divinely self-involved performance and Monica’s obsession with getting slapped in the face by Cecilia come mighty close.
Best Quote: Whatever words constitute Phoebe trying to “sing along” as Ross plays the bagpipes.
The One In Massapequa (Season 8, Episode 18)
The Plot: Everyone goes to Jack and Judy Geller’s anniversary party, where Monica tries to make her parents cry with a touching speech and Phoebe brings her vivacious new boyfriend, Parker (Alec Baldwin), whose enthusiasm for life irritates her friends.
Why We Love It: Because Alec Baldwin is a damn delight in this role. To Parker, everything is awesome and Baldwin delivers each line with the unbridled adoration of someone who just polished off a top-notch eight ball.
Best Quote: “Massapequa, it sounds like a magical place!” —Parker
The One with Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner (Season 9, Episode 5)
The Plot: While Phoebe and Joey are waiting for everyone to arrive at Phoebe’s birthday dinner, Rachel and Ross have accidentally locked Emma in the apartment and Monica is furious with Chandler for smoking.
Why We Love It: Each character gets great moments of humor in their separate storylines (particularly Ross, who mocks Rachel with a theoretical tale about the apartment filling with water as Emma fights a bird on fire). But the true star is, rightfully, Phoebe, whose frustrations with her tardy friends boil over in an amazing moment when she screams across the room at Ross’ mom, who is babysitting Emma, to pick up the child’s fallen sock.
Best Quote: “I’m so glad I changed; I almost wore my threadbare robe that can’t contain my breasts.” —Phoebe