is one of the all-time best television shows. A commercial juggernaut and critical darling, the show defined an entire generation, launched its cast into stardom, and cemented itself as one of the most influential series. It remains highly influential today, confirming its classic status.
The show lasted ten seasons, including 236 episodes, many so iconic that they have entered the pop culture vocabulary. However, with so many to choose from, some are bound to slip through the cracks. These episodes might not be the most popular but they deserve more love from the show's faithful audiences.
Season one of and many great episodes, but "The One with the Fake Monica" usually flies under the radar. The main plot concerns Monica as she befriends a woman who stole her credit card. Assuming the name "Monana," Monica joins the fake Monica in new experiences, stepping out of her comfort zone and learning to be less uptight.
The plot is a great showcase for Courteney Cox's underrated comedic talents and a step forward in Monica's story. Elsewhere, Ross' monkey, Marcel, reaches sexual maturity, forcing Ross to give it to a zoo. The story is bittersweet but for the better, as having Marcel around messed with the group's dynamic.
Mr. Heckles is one of the show's best but most underrated supporting characters. Unfortunately, he dies early into season 2, with Chandler discovering he has much in common with his newly-deceased former neighbor and becoming scared he'll end up like him. Although Chandler doesn't quite make a full 180 in the end, he does change his way of looking at life and relationships.
The episode's second main plot concerns Ross trying to convince Phoebe that evolution is a fact, which the typically aloof Phoebe resists believing. The storyline is hilarious and a perfect showcase of David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow's comedic abilities. The ending, in particular, ranks among the best moments in .
Phoebe is the best character in and episodes like "The One Where Old Yeller Dies" prove it. The storyline sees her learning that her mother lied to her about many movies' endings to "protect" her. She then falls down a rabbit hole, trying to see everything she's missed and struggling to accept the truth. Kudrow shines in the episode, playing up Phoebe's innocence to great comedic effect.
The B-plot finds Joey and Chandler becoming close with Monica's then-boyfriend, Richard, who gets disappointed upon learning they see him as a father figure rather than one of them. Tom Selleck gives one of his best performances in this episode, which shines a light on how different Monica and Richard are.
The early days of Chandler and Monica's relationship are full of secrecy. Their time together is apart from the main group, forcing them to interact with other characters, like Chandler's annoying boss, Doug. "The One with Chandler's Work Laugh" centers on Monica learning that Chandler uses a ridiculously fake laugh to indulge Doug's awful and offensive sense of humor.
Although the setup is lazy, Cox and Matthew Perry elevate it through sheer charisma and chemistry. In the end, the couple bond through their shared dislike for Doug and their use of increasingly ridiculous laughs. It's this kind of complicity that no other couple in the show had and cemented them as ' best romance.
, but her cop boyfriend, Gary, was the worst. He was rude and plain annoying, qualities that are on full display during the season five episode "The One with the Ride Along." The story follows Ross, Chandler, and Joey going on a stakeout with Gary, suffering what they believe is a shootout but is actually a car backfiring. Schwimmer, Perry, and Matt LeBlanc get some great physical comedy, and the absurdity of Joey's true allegiances is hilarious.
Monica and Rachel get a story of their own as they break into Ross' apartment and overhear a message his ex-wife, Emily, left him. The Emily plot overstayed its welcome, but the episode marks her last appearance, and Jennifer Aniston's anxious energy sells the episode.
The Rachel-Phoebe duo was one of the show's best. The seasons where they lived together were the best for their characters, with Rachel's leading lady persona balancing Phoebe's wacky demeanor. "The One with the Apothecary Table" features the best of both characters, with Rachel's ambitious personality trying to get the best of Phoebe's innocence.
The episode works as an extended commercial for Pottery Barn, but it's also a showcase for Kudrow and Aniston, whose dynamic never falters. The other story concerns Joey's dilemma, as Janine dislikes spending time with Chandler and Monica. Elle McPherson gives her final performance in the show, although Cox is the story's true standout.
Joey steals many episodes thanks to his unique mix of ignorance and hilarity, and "The One with Joey's Fridge" is among his finest hours. When his fridge breaks, attempts to guilt his friends into giving him money to repair it, with chaotic yet hilarious results.
LeBlanc elevates the plot to new heights, milking it for all it's worth and delivering some brilliant bits of physical comedy. The Ross-Elizabeth B-story is more forgettable and somewhat creepy, but Joey is the episode's true star, easily walking away with it.
Chandler's overwhelming persona can easily become annoying, especially during the show's later seasons. However, his comedic brilliance is front and center in "The One with the Engagement Picture," which sees him unable to pose for a photo, making increasingly sillier faces instead of smiling. With Cox acting as the ideal straight man, Perry goes all-in on the premise's absurdity.
The Joey-Rachel-Tag B-story is less successful, mainly because Rachel's predatorial ways are on full display. However, the C-story, which centers on Phoebe and Ross dating a divorcing couple, is funny, chaotic, and loud; in short, it's everything fans could expect from Phoebe and Ross.
. The actor plays Phoebe's boyfriend-turned-husband Mike in the show's last seasons, acting as a welcome addition to the group's dynamic. Mike has one of his most memorable episodes in season nine with "The One with Rachel's Phone Number," which finds him spending a night with Ross and discovering he has nothing in common with the paleontologist.
Schwimmer and Rudd, both excellent comedians, bring out the best in each other, playing up the character's awkwardness and discomfort to hilarious effect. The episode's other storylines are less memorable, but the Ross/Mike scenes are among the show's all-time best.
Joey's struggling acting career and chaotic relationship with his agent, Estelle, are . Estelle dies in season ten, but Phoebe impersonates her throughout the episode "The One where Estelle Dies" to shield Joey from the pain.
Kudrow's impersonation of Estelle's famous voice is enough to make the episode. However, her continuous calls to the increasingly exasperated Joey are comedy gold, and LeBlanc and Kudrow make the best of them. Monica and Chandler's story sees them bumping into Janice one last time, and seeing Maggie Wheeler is always a treat.