A good season finale needs to get a couple of things right. Usually, the dramatic tension is raised, loose ends are tied, and there's some kind of a cliffhanger. This is mostly how Friends did it for ten years, and it worked perfectly. Episodes like the season four finale, "The One With Ross's Wedding," had all of these traits in spades.
Having ranked all the seasons of Friends, we now decided to go over all ten season finales of Friends and rank them from worst to best.
10 "The One In Barbados" (Season 9)
While the season nine Friends finale had its moments, the misguided romantic subplot between Joey and Rachel was abysmal. It felt unnatural, forced, and just plain wrong. The only good thing ever to come out of the whole Rachel and Joey debacle is the first episode of season ten, “The One Where Ross is Fine,” which is one of the show’s most hilarious episodes.
As for “The One in Barbados,” Part 1 is saved by Monica and Chandler's meddling in Phoebe's love life and Mike coming back to propose to Phoebe (because Paul Rudd is hilarious). Part 2 is saved by the same foursome engaging in a very, very long ping-pong game.
9 "The One With Barry And Mindy's Wedding" (Season 2)
As finales go, this one is pretty average. But it was a rather significant episode that had some pretty hilarious one-liners, supplied mostly by Chandler. The “we don’t have your sheep” line was so funny that even Matthew Perry couldn’t stop himself from laughing.
There are several plotlines here: Joey trying to kiss every guy he knows to practice for a role, Chandler discovering online dating, Monica and Richard breaking up, and all the shenanigans that take place at the wedding. The literal oh-my-God moment comes at the end, when it’s revealed that Chandler’s mystery online girlfriend is none other than Janice. It's a funny enough episode with a twist at the end, but other season finales did all this much better.
8 "The One Where Rachel Finds Out" (Season 1)
The season one finale ends with one of the show’s strongest cliffhangers, which paid off spectacularly in the season two premiere. As the title suggests, this is the episode in which Rachel finds out that Ross is in love with her. While opening her presents, Rachel discovers that Ross got her a special pin (which could be interpreted as a big romantic gesture) and Chandler lets it slip that Ross is in love with her.
She spends the next couple of days contemplating what to do and decides to meet him at the airport. Unbeknownst to anyone, Ross had started dating another woman during his China trip and Rachel is about to be unpleasantly surprised. Packed with surprises and lots of humor, this is a season finale we'd gladly re-watch any time.
7 "The One At The Beach" (Season 3)
The season three finale was also ripe with Ross and Rachel relationship drama. In “The One at the Beach,” the gang heads out to Montauk to find Phoebe’s mom’s best friend, Phoebe. Meanwhile, Chandler is hilariously trying to prove to Monica that he is boyfriend material, Ross is dating Phoebe’s friend Bonnie and Rachel is jealous because she still loves Ross.
At the beach, the gang plays strip Happy Days game, Ross and Rachel end up kissing and Phoebe learns that the other Phoebe is actually her mom. The season ends on a huge cliffhanger as Ross walks down the hallway – to one side is Rachel’s room; the other, his and Bonnie’s. He stops to think and then picks a door and goes in. As cliffhangers go, this is a pretty good one.
6 "The One Where Rachel Has A Baby" (Season 8)
The season eight finale sees the birth of Ross and Rachel’s daughter Emma. The entire two-parter episode takes place at the hospital as the gang eagerly awaits the birth, but not nearly as eagerly as Rachel (who’s been in labor about 21 hours). Meanwhile, Monica and Chandler decide to start trying, like right then and there, Phoebe meets a cute guy with a broken leg, and Ross’s mother gives Ross an engagement ring to propose to Rachel.
The episode is filled with guest stars playing couples who get their babies before Rachel, and features the best surprise Janice appearance. Phoebe has a heart-to-heart with Ross and convinces him to go after Rachel, but, in the final moments, Rachel thinks Joey is proposing to her and says yes. Emotional from start to finish, this season finale left us with a shocking cliffhanger.
5 "The One With The Proposal" ( Season 6)
As interesting as fake proposals are, nothing beats the real thing. The two-part finale of Friends’ sixth season revolves around Chandler’s proposal to Monica. All grown up and ready to settle down, Chandler plans the perfect proposal, only to have it all ruined by Richard.
Thinking the gang may have gotten Monica to suspect he's planning something, Chandler decides to throw her off course by acting like he doesn't ever want to get married, inadvertently almost pushing her back to Richard. Fortunately, it all ends well, with both Monica and Chandler proposing in what is remembered as one of Friends' most romantic moments and one of TV’s sweetest proposals. Just talking about it makes us weep.
4 "The One With Monica And Chandler's Wedding" (Season 7)
What could possibly top that romantic proposal? Well, the wedding, of course. In the season seven finale, Monica and Chandler finally tie the knot, but not before some hilarious shenanigans take place. Chandler gets cold feet and takes off, the girls find a positive pregnancy test and conclude that Monica’s pregnant, Joey gets spit on by Gary Oldman, Rachel stalls Monica by faking the most ridiculous fall ever, the news of Monica's pregnancy spread, Monica and Chandler briefly become Greek Orthodox, Joey crashes the wedding and officiates the ceremony wearing a World War I uniform... it's just non-stop.
A lot happens in this two-part hilarious, heartwarming, and surprising season finale, an episode that made us laugh and cry. All the plotlines are interesting and funny, Monica and Chandler’s vows are beautiful, and the cliffhanger at the end really took us by surprise.
3 "The One In Vegas" (Season 5)
In the season five finale, the gang heads out to Las Vegas to visit Joey on the set of his new movie, tagging along with Monica and Chandler who just wanted to celebrate their anniversary. Unbeknownst to them, Joey’s movie got canceled and he’s now working at Caesar’s Palace, where he finds his identical hand twin. Meanwhile, Phoebe blabs about Monica having lunch with Richard, causing the couple to fight. Ross draws on Rachel’s face with a permanent marker, so they stay in the room.
And how does all of this play out? Well, Monica and Chandler make up, then decide to let chance decide whether they get married then and there. Joey unsuccessfully pursues his million-dollar-idea. The final moments of the season show Ross and Rachel exiting the chapel married, while Monica and Chandler stare after them in shock. As we all did, because this was one of the biggest twists in Friends history.
2 "The Last One" (Season 10)
The Friends series finale isn’t one of the funniest Friends episodes or one of the best written, but because it’s the last one, it holds a special place in our hearts. Rather than delivering side-splitting moments, the episode delivered a proper and satisfying closure, which isn't a small feat. That being said, “The Last One” did have its funny bits: Monica and Chandler freaking out about the twins, the whole left phalange thing, and the return of the chick and the duck.
“The Last One” mostly thrives on emotional moments, which it has in spades. From Joey and Chandler’s almost tearful goodbye and Ross’s big airport chase and speech to the unforgettable “I got off the plane” scene – the Friends season finale hits us right in the feels from start to finish. The final scene with the friends saying goodbye at the now-empty apartment and heading to Central Perk for coffee always makes us cry. Making a satisfying finale to a story that's lasted for ten years isn't an easy task, yet Friends managed to do it. We could re-watch this episode time and time again, with an appropriate supply of tissues, of course.
1 "The One With Ross's Wedding" (Season 4)
The Friends season four finale is as perfect as a season finale can get, and it's often listed as one of the best Friends episodes. This double-length finale is absolutely packed with hilarious moments – from Chandler and Joey's sightseeing and Rachel's flight to London to the rehearsal dinner and Phoebe's amusing conversations with the Walthams. It also features tons of guest appearances and cameos by British actors and celebrities, as well as a couple of huge twists that would change the show forever.
After the somewhat fail of a rehearsal dinner, we get the first big twist when Monica and Chandler wake up in bed together, which is without question the best thing to ever happen to the show. For this moment alone the season four finale deserves the number one spot, but there's more. The second shocker comes at the very end when Ross says the wrong name at the altar, causing everyone at the wedding (and all the fans watching) to gasp in disbelief. Out of all the season finale cliffhangers, this one is undoubtedly the best.