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50 best episodes of Friends

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    50 best episodes of Friends

    If you were born before 1990, chances are you’ve watched “Friends” live on TV. With 236 episodes, the sitcom about six pals living in New York City is one of the most popular and longest-running primetime TV shows. Fans eagerly awaited each new episode, and a whopping 52.5 million people tuned in to watch the season 10 finale live. Critics clearly shared the fandom, as every starring actor except Courteney Cox received an Emmy nomination over the show’s 10 seasons.

    “Friends” has also enjoyed a prolific afterlife long after the final episode aired, thanks in part to streaming services like Netflix. Whether you’re just starting to binge the series or want to relive its best moments, this list of the 50 best “Friends” episodes should whet your appetite for some classic '90s television.

    Stacker compiled IMDb ratings for each episode of the 10-season series to come up with this list of the 50 highest-rated episodes. From emotional cliffhangers that shocked audiences to hilarious moments that produced some of the show’s most beloved jokes, this list runs the gamut.

    Read on to see where your favorite episode falls on the list—and maybe get excited to start watching the classic sitcom all over again.

    RELATED: 100 best episodes of "The Office"

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    #50. The One After Vegas

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 6, Episode 1

    Air date: Sept. 23, 1999

    Ross and Rachel don’t remember anything the morning after their Las Vegas wedding, so the rest of the group has to break the news to them. Joey and Phoebe take a road trip back to New York City in Phoebe’s grandmother’s cab, while Monica and Chandler decide whether or not they should really get married.

     

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    #49. The One Where Ross Can't Flirt

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 5, Episode 19

    Air date: April 22, 1999

    Joey finally lands a speaking part on “Law & Order,” so he invites his grandmother to come visit and watch his episode. The thing is, his scene actually got cut in post-production. Meanwhile, a bet with the gang leads Ross to try to demonstrate his natural flirting talent (or what little he has), and Phoebe and Rachel search for a pair of Monica’s earrings that Rachel lost.

     

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    #48. The One Where Chandler Crosses the Line

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 4, Episode 7

    Air date: Nov. 13, 1997

    Chandler’s feelings for Joey’s girlfriend Kathy intensify after Chandler accidentally sees her naked, so he tries to convince Joey to break it off. Phoebe discovers that Ross used to play the keyboard in college and persuades him to play his music for the gang. She loves his “sound,” but the crowd at Central Perk doesn’t agree.

     

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    #47. The One Hundredth

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 5, Episode 3

    Air date: Oct. 8, 1998

    The gang takes Phoebe to the hospital after she goes into labor slightly early. Joey starts having sympathetic labor pains that turn out to be kidney stones. Monica freaks out when Chandler says they’re not serious and threatens to go on a date with a hot male nurse in retaliation.

     

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    #46. The One with Rachel's Other Sister

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 9, Episode 8

    Air date: Nov. 21, 2002

    Rachel’s selfish middle sister Amy shows up for Thanksgiving dinner and causes problems among the gang. She remembers Ross as the guy who was weirdly obsessed with Rachel and Monica as Rachel’s fat friend. Even worse, she doesn’t congratulate Rachel on Emma’s birth, but for some reason, still thinks she should be Emma’s godmother.

     

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    #45. The One with Ross's Tan

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 10, Episode 3

    Air date: Oct. 9, 2003

    Ross is jealous of Monica’s tan, so he decides to go get a spray tan. There’s one problem: He doesn’t follow the instructions and winds up looking comical. Rachel and Joey try to hook up, but Rachel can’t stop slapping him and Joey can’t unhook her bra—something that usually comes naturally to him.  

     

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    #44. The One with the Chick and the Duck

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 3, Episode 21

    Air date: April 17, 1997

    Joey is smitten by a video of baby chicks that he sees on TV so he adopts one. When Chandler insists he take it back, he adopts a baby duck, too. Pete offers Monica a job at his restaurant, but he is still clearly in love with her and she can’t decide whether to accept or not.  

     

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    #43. The One with Ross's Wedding: Part One

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 4, Episode 23

    Air date: May 7, 1998

    The group is preparing for their trip to London, but Joey is driving Chandler crazy by forgetting everything and screaming “London, baby!” over and over. By the time they get to London, Chandler has had it and ditches Joey when he buys a hideous, touristy Union Jack hat. Emily takes Ross and Monica to their wedding venue only to discover that it has been torn down ahead of schedule. Meanwhile Phoebe is too pregnant to travel and is stuck at home. 

     

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    #42. The One Where Ross Is Fine

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 10, Episode 2

    Air date: Oct. 2, 2003

    Ross doesn’t take the news of Joey and Rachel’s relationship particularly well and gets drunk at a dinner party with disastrous results. Meanwhile Monica and Chandler visit friends of Phoebe's who have adopted a child, and during the visit, Chandler accidentally reveals to the child he was adopted.

     

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    #41. The One After the Superbowl: Part 2

    IMDb rating: 8.8

    Season 2, Episode 13

    Air date: Jan. 28, 1996

    Ross finds out that Marcel is starring in a movie that is being filmed in New York and the whole gang goes to the set so Ross can reunite with his former pet. Marcel doesn’t seem to recognize Ross, but the girls lock eyes with Jean-Claude Van Damme and fight over who should ask him out.  

     

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    #40. The One with Rachel's Going Away Party

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 10, Episode 16

    Air date: April 29, 2004

    Monica throws a going away party for Rachel. At the party, Rachel pulls each of the group aside for a heartfelt goodbye—except for Ross. Feeling hurt, Ross storms off. Rachel chases after him and confesses that the reason she couldn’t say goodbye is because it’s just too hard, and the pair share a romantic kiss.

     

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    #39. The One Where Rachel Has a Baby: Part 2

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 8, Episode 24

    Air date: May 16, 2002

    After 21 hours of labor, Rachel is finally ready to go to the delivery room. While she is waiting, she starts talking to Janice, who happens to also have just given birth at the hospital. Janice freaks Rachel out about being a single mother and inspires her to talk to Ross about the kiss they shared. Joey comes to comfort Rachel and she accidentally thinks he is proposing to her.

     

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    #38. The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding: Part 1

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 7, Episode 23

    Air date: May 17, 2001

    A few days before Monica and Chandler’s wedding, Joey finds out that he got the part in a big World War II movie. He’s thrilled to meet his famous co-star, but less-than-thrilled when the guy keeps spitting in his face during the scene. Seeing his drag queen dad and celebrity mother at the rehearsal dinner is too much for Chandler, who gets cold feet and runs away.

     

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    #37. The One with the Late Thanksgiving

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 10, Episode 8

    Air date: Nov. 20, 2003

    Monica doesn’t want to cook her annual Thanksgiving dinner, but relents when Chandler agrees to help. Her mood doesn’t improve when everyone else arrives late. The girls had decided to enter Emma in a baby beauty pageant with a grand prize of $1,000, and the guys snuck off to a Rangers game.

     

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    #36. The One in Vegas: Part 1

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 5, Episode 23

    Air date: May 20, 1999

    The gang finds out that Joey’s movie in Las Vegas fell through, and he’s actually working in a casino as a gladiator. Elated because she had lunch with Richard and didn’t feel anything, Monica gives Chandler his anniversary present—two tickets to Las Vegas—a few days early. The whole group decides to tag along.

     

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    #35. The One with the Nap Partners

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 7, Episode 6

    Air date: Nov. 9, 2000

    Joey and Ross fall asleep on the couch together, wake up cuddling, and decide they both just had the best nap ever. Monica makes Rachel and Phoebe audition to be her maid of honor, with Joey and Ross acting as judges.

     

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    #34. The One After Ross Says Rachel

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 5, Episode 1

    Air date: Sept. 24, 1998

    After Ross accidentally says Rachel’s name at the altar instead of Emily’s, he tries to repair the relationship. Meanwhile, Monica and Chandler adopt an “only in London” rule for their new relationship and look for a private place to get some alone time.

     

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    #33. The One at the Beach

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 3, Episode 25

    Air date: May 15, 1997

    Phoebe finds out about an old friend of her parents who is also named Phoebe and decides to visit her to ask her about the past. The friends chase after Phoebe and end up on the beach.

     

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    #32. The One Where Ross and Rachel... You Know

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 2, Episode 15

    Air date: Feb. 8, 1996

    Love is in the air for at least three of the gang. Ross and Rachel go on their first official date, but wind up hooking up in an unexpected location when Ross has to run an errand for work. Meanwhile, Monica caters a party for her parents’ friend Richard and ends up falling for him, despite the 21-year age gap.

     

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    #31. The One Where Rachel Finds Out

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 1, Episode 24

    Air date: May 18, 1995

    Joey signs up for a fertility study to make some extra cash. The only catch? He can’t have sex during the weeklong study, which really hampers his plans with his new girlfriend Melanie. Ross leaves for a work trip to China, and right after he goes to the airport, Chandler lets slip that Ross is in love with Rachel.

     

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    #30. The One with All the Poker

    IMDb rating: 8.9

    Season 1, Episode 18

    Air date: March 2, 1995

    Rachel is just one step away from getting her dream job as an assistant buyer, despite some silly mistakes on her resume. The girls demand to join the guys’ poker night—claiming it’s sexist if they aren’t invited—but lose miserably because they don’t understand the rules.

     

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    #29. The One Where Paul's the Man

    IMDb rating: 9

    Season 6, Episode 22

    Air date: May 4, 2000

    Ross is dating his student Elizabeth, but when her dad finds out, he threatens to have Ross fired if he doesn’t stop seeing her. Naturally, the threat doesn’t deter Ross. When the girls come across a gorgeous museum, they all decide to put their names on the waiting list to get married there.

     

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    #28. The One with All the Kissing

    IMDb rating: 9

    Season 5, Episode 2

    Air date: Oct. 1, 1998

    Monica and Chandler are still secretly dating, but the girls keep catching them kissing. To cover it up, Chandler begins randomly kissing Rachel and Phoebe. Pregnant Phoebe also feels left out of the trip to London, so the whole group plans a trip to Atlantic City.

     

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    #27. The One Where the Stripper Cries

    IMDb rating: 9

    Season 10, Episode 11

    Air date: Feb. 5, 2004

    Rachel and Monica throw Phoebe an elegant bachelorette party, but realize that Phoebe really wants a stripper—so they call the only one in the phonebook who’s available at the last-minute. Let’s just say that Officer Goodbody isn’t the most accurate name.

     

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    #26. The One with the Two Parties

    IMDb rating: 9

    Season 2, Episode 22

    Air date: May 2, 1996

    It’s Rachel’s birthday and the group decides to throw her a surprise birthday party. The only problem? Both of her parents want to come, but they can’t stand each other. Naturally, the friends throw two parties—one in Monica’s apartment and one in Joey and Chandler’s apartment as they smuggle people back and forth.  

     

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    #25. The One Where Ross Finds Out

    IMDb rating: 9

    Season 2, Episode 7

    Air date: Nov. 9, 1995

    Ross recently got a new girlfriend, Julie, just as Rachel realizes she has feelings for him. Monica sets Rachel up on a blind date, but instead of getting her mind off Ross, she drinks too much, spills her feelings to her date, and leaves Ross a drunken voicemail confessing everything.  

     

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    #24. The One Where No One's Ready

    IMDb rating: 9

    Season 3, Episode 2

    Air date: Sept. 26, 1996

    Ross has invited the entire group to a black-tie event at the museum where he works, but everyone takes their time getting ready. Rachel can’t decide what to wear, Phoebe stains her dress, Monica agonizes over an old voicemail from Richard, and Joey and Chandler get into a childish argument about who had dibs on the chair.

     

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    #23. The One with the Blackout

    IMDb rating: 9

    Season 1, Episode 7

    Air date: Nov. 3, 1994

    The power goes out across New York City, leaving Chandler trapped in an ATM vestibule with a gorgeous model. While he struggles to figure out how to talk to her, the rest of the group are getting to know one another better in Monica’s apartment. Ross tries to make a move on Rachel on the balcony, but it doesn’t go according to plan.

     

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    #22. The One with the Red Sweater

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 8, Episode 2

    Air date: Oct. 4, 2001

    Rachel reveals that she’s pregnant to some of the gang, and they urge her to tell the father. Then, they find a man's red sweater in Rachel’s apartment and think it’s a clue to the father’s identity. Meanwhile, Ross realizes that he lost the disposable cameras with Monica and Chandler’s wedding pictures on them, so he and Chandler try to fake some new photos.

     

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    #21. The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding: Part 2

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 7, Episode 24

    Air date: May 17, 2001

    Monica and Chandler’s wedding day is almost delayed when the groom goes missing. Rachel tries to stall Monica while Phoebe and Ross track down Chandler in his office and help him realize that getting married doesn’t mean turning into his parents. Meanwhile, there’s a mysterious pregnancy test and rumors are that it’s Monica’s.

     

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    #20. The One in Vegas: Part 2

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 5, Episode 24

    Air date: May 20, 1999

    On their trip to Las Vegas, Monica and Chandler make up after a big fight and hastily decide to get married. But when they head to the chapel, they see another very drunk—and familiar—couple coming out.

     

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    #19. The One with All the Resolutions

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 5, Episode 11

    Air date: Jan. 7, 1999

    The group tries to keep their New Year’s resolutions to disastrous results. Ross wears leather pants on a date to try something new, Rachel tries to stop gossiping, Phoebe teaches Joey how to play the guitar, and Chandler tries to go a whole week without making fun of anyone.

     

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    #18. The One with Ross's Sandwich

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 5, Episode 9

    Air date: Dec. 10, 1998

    Ross makes an epic day-after-Thanksgiving sandwich to take to work, but someone else eats it. He goes ballistic, prompting his boss to put him on sabbatical and send him to anger management therapy. Meanwhile, Joey is annoyed about constantly covering up Monica and Chandler’s secret relationship.

     

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    #17. The One with the Jellyfish

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 4, Episode 1

    Air date: Sept. 25, 1997

    A trip to the beach goes awry when Ross and Rachel get back together, prompting Ross to break up with his bald girlfriend Bonnie. When a jellyfish stings Monica, Chandler pees on her leg while Joey watches—mentally scarring the three of them. Meanwhile, Phoebe finds her birth mother and has an emotional conversation about her past.

     

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    #16. The One the Morning After

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 3, Episode 16

    Air date: Feb. 20, 1997

    The morning after Ross and Rachel go on the infamous break, she shows up at his apartment ready to work on their relationship, only to later find that he brought home another girl. He tries desperately to keep her from finding out, but she eventually does. The rest of the gang wind up trapped in Monica’s room while they argue for hours.

     

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    #15. The One with the Flashback

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 3, Episode 6

    Air date: Oct. 31, 1996

    When Janice asks the group how many of the friends have dated each other, they start reminiscing about all the times they almost slept together throughout their friendships. 

     

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    #14. The One with Unagi

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 6, Episode 17

    Air date: Feb. 24, 2000

    Rachel and Phoebe sign up for a self-defense class, but Ross tells them that everything they learned is useless without knowledge of the Japanese technique of “unagi.” Later, the three of them spend the entire episode trying to catch each other off guard.

     

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    #13. The One with the Football

    IMDb rating: 9.1

    Season 3, Episode 9

    Air date: Nov. 21, 1996

    In yet another Thanksgiving episode, things get a little off track when the group decides to play a “friendly” game of touch football. However, Monica and Ross’ old sibling rivalry soon makes it a much more serious game.

     

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    #12. The One Where Ross Got High

    IMDb rating: 9.2

    Season 6, Episode 9

    Air date: Nov. 25, 1999

    When the Gellers come over for Thanksgiving dinner, the gang tries to hide Chandler and Monica’s relationship because they hate him. Ross finally reveals why his parents don’t like Chandler and Rachel’s efforts to make a dessert go awry.

     

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    #11. The One with Chandler in a Box

    IMDb rating: 9.2

    Season 4, Episode 8

    Air date: Nov. 20, 1997

    After Chandler kisses Joey’s girlfriend Kathy, he’ll do anything to get his friend’s forgiveness—even sit in a wooden crate for several hours to think about what he’s done. Meanwhile, Monica gets ice in her eye and goes to the on-call eye doctor, who ends up being Richard’s son.

     

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    #10. The One with Ross's Wedding: Part Two

    IMDb rating: 9.2

    Season 4, Episode 24

    Air date: May 7, 1998

    Everything that can go wrong does go wrong at Ross’ wedding to Emily. The Gellers are at odds with Emily’s parents, the Walthams, over the cost of the wedding. Joey is incredibly homesick while Chandler consoles Monica after she gets mistaken for Ross' mom. Rachel decides at the last minute to go to the wedding, arriving just in time to hear Ross make a big Freudian slip.

     

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    #9. The One with All the Thanksgivings

    IMDb rating: 9.2

    Season 5, Episode 8

    Air date: Nov. 19, 1998

    Chandler hates Thanksgiving because it brings up memories of his dad coming out as gay and breaking up his parents' marriage. The others think they have experienced some really awful turkey days, too, so they all share their worst holiday stories.

     

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    #8. The One with the Videotape

    IMDb rating: 9.3

    Season 8, Episode 4

    Air date: October 18, 2001

    Ross hasn’t been having any luck with the ladies, so Joey suggests he videotape his routine so he can give him pointers. When Rachel pays him a surprise visit, Ross forgets to turn off the tape—and they end up getting together. Naturally, the friends all want to see the tape.

     

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    #7. The One with the Proposal: Part 2

    IMDb rating: 9.3

    Season 6, Episode 25

    Air date: May 18, 2000

    In order to throw Monica off the scent, Chandler is acting like he absolutely hates the idea of marriage and never wants to get engaged. Little does he know that Richard just told Monica he made a huge mistake and wants to get married and have kids.

     

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    #6. The One with the Rumor

    IMDb rating: 9.3

    Season 8, Episode 9

    Air date: Nov. 22, 2001

    Monica invites her old high school friend Will over for Thanksgiving dinner, unaware that he hates Rachel. Back in their high school days, when Will used to be overweight, Rachel was mean to him—so he and Ross spread a nasty rumor that she had both male and female genitalia.

     

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    #5. The One with the Prom Video

    IMDb rating: 9.4

    Season 2, Episode 14

    Air date: Feb. 1, 1996

    Up until this season two episode, Ross has been pining after Rachel, but she puts him solidly in the friend zone. That all changes when the gang watches a home video Monica’s parents took of their high school prom and Rachel realizes that Ross has cared for her all along. Also in this episode, Joey gives Chandler an ostentatious gold friendship bracelet—then overhears Chandler dissing the look.  

     

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    #4. The One with the Embryos

    IMDb rating: 9.5

    Season 4, Episode 12

    Air date: Jan. 15, 1998

    Phoebe agrees to act as a surrogate for her brother Frank and his wife, and is eagerly waiting to see if the embryos will attach. Meanwhile, Monica and Rachel take on Chandler and Joey in a high stakes game to find out who knows each other better. Pro tip: knowing Chandler’s occupation could come in handy in a “Friends” trivia game.

     

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    #3. The Last One: Part 1

    IMDb rating: 9.5

    Season 10, Episode 17

    Air date: May 6, 2004

    The first half of the series finale sets up plenty of drama for the second part. For starters, Erica, the birth mother of Monica and Chandler’s twins, goes into labor three weeks early. Then Rachel and Ross sleep together, leading Ross to realize that his feelings for her never really went away. It all leads up to a heart-wrenching series finale.

     

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    #2. The One Where Everybody Finds Out

    IMDb rating: 9.7

    Season 5, Episode 14

    Air date: Feb. 11, 1999

    Monica and Chandler managed to keep their love affair from the rest of the gang until this episode. When Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment becomes available, Ross desperately tries to get it—the clear view from Monica's apartment allows the group to watch firsthand just what Ross is willing to do to get the apartment. 

     

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    #1. The Last One: Part 2

    IMDb rating: 9.7

    Season 10, Episode 18

    Air date: May 6, 2004

    It’s fitting that the last episode of the series comes in at #1 on this list. The episode is all about endings: Rachel is leaving for her new job in Paris, while Monica and Chandler are packing up the apartment for the last time before they move to the suburbs to raise their children. Viewers can expect plenty of plot twists, heartfelt moments, and an issue with Rachel's plane’s “left phalange.”

     

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