The pop culture staple of the 1990s, NBC's award-winning sitcom Friends, is one of those shows that will always be fondly remembered, rewatched, referenced and quoted. It's been twenty-five years since the show first started in September of 1994 and yet we're still talking about it.
There's just something about these characters, their stories, the show's fine balance of humor and emotional weight that keeps us coming back to it. Even though it ran for ten seasons, the show never had a season that was outright bad. Still, we all have our favorites, so here's our ranking of all ten seasons of Friends.
10 SEASON 9
Alright, if we have to pick the worst season there’s really no other choice but to go with season nine. The penultimate season did have its good moments. Episodes like “The One with Ross’s Inappropriate Song” where he raps “Baby Got Back” to his baby daughter, and “The One with Rachel’s Other Sister” where Christina Applegate guest-stars as Amy and causes mayhem during Monica’s Thanksgiving dinner were hilarious.
However, there were some episodes, plotlines, and jokes that didn’t quite land, indicating that the show had run its course. Many fans couldn’t get behind the idea of Rachel having feelings for Joey. Plotlines like Joey not remembering if he already slept with the woman he was dating, and the whole ordeal with Ross, Rachel, Joey, and Charlie won’t make anyone’s favorites list.
9 SEASON 1
Next off is season one. Coincidentally, it is Lisa Kudrow’s favorite season because it was the first one. However, since it was the first one, the show hadn’t yet found its feet. Don’t get us wrong, season one makes us laugh every time we watch it. Of course, certain episodes do stand out as exceptionally funny, like the one where Chandler gets stuck in an ATM vestibule during a blackout, and the season finale where Rachel finds out that Ross is in love with her.
On the other hand, season one had some serious issues when it comes to characters, specifically Joey, Phoebe, and Rachel, who were a bit too stereotypical at times to actually be relatable. And let’s not forget that, at one point, Ross had a freaking pet monkey, which the show itself made fun of in later seasons.
8 SEASON 7
Season seven is a mixed bag. Far from being outright bad, or even having a legitimately bad episode or two, season seven was just average by Friends standards. Sure, it had its moments. Who could ever forget Ross in an Armadillo costume or Chandler’s charming smile? The two-part season finale was certainly the highlight of the season with lots of excitement, hilarious and emotional moments prior to, and during Monica and Chandler’s wedding ceremony.
However, season seven also had some of the show’s least memorable episodes like “The One with All the Candy” and “The One with Ross and Monica’s Cousin”, which was pretty… weird – yea, let’s go with that word.
7 SEASON 2
Season two finally gave the audience what they wanted – Ross and Rachel, and then some. However, some of the best and worst moments of the season revolve around the aforementioned couple. So, let’s start with what worked. The first episode was pure Jennifer Aniston comedic gold and her line “isn’t that just kick-you-in-the-crotch spit-on-your-neck fantastic?” is nothing short of iconic.
The strongest episode of the bunch has to be “The One with the Prom Video”, that is, simply put, Friends at its best. Plus, it kicked off the flashback tradition that yielded some priceless moments in future seasons. That being said, “The One with the List” stands out as one of season two’s weakest and most frustrating points. Then there's the episode with Rachel's new boyfriend, aka Ross's more annoying doppelganger Russ, which wasn't great.
6 SEASON 10
Now, we come to the final season of Friends, which sits comfortably in the middle of our list. Right off the bat, let’s make it clear that the finale was pretty much everything we could have wanted it to be. It made us laugh, it made us cry, and even today the mental image of six keys laid out on the kitchen counter brings tears to our eyes.
Other episodes that stand out include “The One Where Ross is Fine”, “The One with Ross’ Tan”, and basically every moment where Ross goes absolutely bonkers. We also loved seeing more Paul Rudd, aka Mike, and “The One with Princess Consuela” is hands down the best Phoebe/Mike episode. That being said, season ten did have the worst first episode of all seasons.
5 SEASON 6
Season six had all kinds of great moments, both comedic and emotional. With contenders like “The One Where Ross Got High”, “The One with the Routine”, “The One with Unagi”, “The One that Could Have Been”, and of course the two-part finale with Chandler’s proposal it’s impossible to pick out a favorite episode.
Furthermore, all six friends had some outstanding moments. Phoebe in the Pottery Barn episode (which is basically a course in product placement), Rachel and her unforgettable beef trifle, Joey with his “identical” twin, everything about Chandler and Monica's relationship and the proposal, and last but not least Ross attempting to deal with his third divorce. Case in point, the glorious scene where he explains his three failed marriages to three potential dates. Because you see, once you know the stories it’s not that bad.
4 SEASON 3
In season three, Friends really hit its stride. It’s the season that managed to break our hearts and have perfect comedic beats at the same time in “The One with the Morning After”. It’s the season that thought us that cushions are the essence of the chair and never to hide a person’s underwear as one can never know what they will deem a suitable reciprocation.
In season three, we also learned how to fashion a giant poking device in case we ever needed to poke a possibly dead naked guy from our balcony. It’s the season that gave us the Geller Cup, the Chick and the Duck, and, last but not least, "we were on a break” – the line that would go on to become a staple of Ross and Rachel's relationship and the show itself. And all that's just the tip of the iceberg.
3 SEASON 8
Other than the misguided plotline that included Joey developing feelings for Rachel, season eight was perfect. It's worth noting that, this is the only time that Friends won the Emmy for Best Comedy Series. The red sweater storyline that revealed the identity of the father of Rachel’s baby was brilliant. David Schwimmer shines again with Ross's over the top reaction to the news. Then there’s the meticulously plotted episode “The One with the Videotape” that manages to tie all the seemingly unrelated plotlines together in a tight knot.
In “The One with the Baby Shower”, one of those deceptively titled episodes, we got to see the best, but sadly fake, gameshow in the history of television. While the girls were having their baby shower, the guys played Bamboozled – the craziest quiz game ever created with the most ridiculous and complex set of rules. The fact that Bamboozled never became a real thing on TV is a shame.
2 SEASON 4
Season four had at least one of the show’s best episodes. We are talking of course about “The One with the Embryos”. Despite what the title might suggest, Phoebe getting impregnated isn’t quite the main event here. The real action takes place in Monica and Rachel’s apartment, which they end up losing in a quiz to Joey and Chandler. The question that marked their doom: what is Chandler Bing’s job? Hint: it's not transponster.
And let's not forget the other season four gems, like “The One with the Jellyfish”, “The One with the Girl from Poughkeepsie”, the two-part finale with Ross’s wedding, and of course the one where Monica, while wearing an eyepatch, gets in one of the best zingers, “Fine! Judge all you want to, but married a lesbian; left a man at the altar; fell in love with a gay ice dancer; threw a girl’s wooden leg in a fire; live in a box!”
1 SEASON 5
Out of all ten seasons, the fifth season has the most episodes that are generally considered the best episodes of Friends. Ross mental breakdown over his second failed marriage provided a lot of comedic fodder, as did Monica and Chandler’s secret relationship. “The One with All the Thanksgivings” is widely considered the top Thanksgiving episode, and “The One in Vegas: Part 2” is one of the show’s best season finale. Then, there's the one where Ross loses his mind over his sandwich, or as he likes to call it "the only good thing going on in his life," and the one where they throw a ball around for the entire episode.
Finally, there's "The One Where Everybody Finds Out", which reached new levels of hilarity and gave us one of the show's most memorable lines, “they don’t know that they know we know.” Storywise, characterwise, comedy-wise, and in every other possible aspect, season five is Friends at its absolute best.