10. Season 9
What happens: Monica and Chandler try to make a baby, Phoebe starts dating Mike, Rachel develops feelings for Joey and everyone goes to Barbados to see Ross make a keynote speech.
What was it like? Sure, there are some iconic moments from this season, but a lot of the time the jokes feel a bit forced and the situations implausible. Friends never ‘jumped the shark’ but it had a close call when Monica thought Chandler was touching himself to shark porn in The One with the Sharks. But hey, Friends’ worst season is still miles ahead of the best season of any other show. Also, most die-hard Friends fans cringe at the thought of the Rachel-Joey arc, which was clearly a misstep by the writers.
Notable guest stars: Paul Rudd as Mike, Aisha Tyler as Charlie, Freddie Prinze Jr as Sandy, Christina Applegate as Amy Green
Best episode: The One With the Lottery
Best moment: Monica’s hair-splosion in Barbados
The One with the Lottery
9. Season 6
What happened: Monica and Chandler move in together, Joey gets a role in Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E., Ross dates one of his students and comes up against her dad (played by Bruce Willis), Chandler eventually proposes to Monica.
What was it like? By the time season 6 came around, it started to feel like the writers were running out of ideas slightly. Chandler and Monica’s relationship has become central, but the other main characters appear a little lost i.e. Ross dating his student and Joey ending up in an awful TV show. That said, there are still some brilliantly memorable moments, like Rachel’s beef trifle. The season ends well by tugging at our heart strings, with Chandler proposing to Monica.
Notable Guest Stars: Bruce Willis as Paul, Elle Macpherson as Janine, Reese Witherspoon as Jill
Best episode: The One Where Ross Got High - one of the famous thanksgiving episodes, this one featuring Rachel’s beef trifle (not a euphemism).
Best moment: Monica and Ross doing The Routine.
8. Season 7
What happened: The Friends hit their thirties, Rachel dates her assistant Tag, Joey returns to Days of Our Lives, Monica and Chandler tie the knot and we find out Rachel is pregnant.
What was it like? Season 7 is a bit hit and miss. The first half of the season still feels like the Friends are put in situations that are a bit forced, like when Chandler can’t smile like a normal person in his and Monica’s engagement photo. But by the end of the season, it has hit full steam again, with Joey marrying Monica and Chandler while the final moments of the season reveal that Rachel is pregnant by an unknown father.
Notable guest stars: Susan Sarandon as Jessica Lockhart, Winona Ryder as Melissa, Gary Oldman as Richard Crosby, Kristin Davis as Erin
Best episode: The One Where they All Turn 30
Best moment: Joey and Monica making a prosthetic foreskin out of lunchmeat so he can win a role where an uncircumcised actor is required.
7. Season 8
What happened: Ross is revealed as the father of Rachel’s unborn baby. Joey starts to develop feelings for Rachel after Ross and Rachel decide not to get back together and elsewhere Monica and Chandler decide to start trying for a baby. By the end of the season Ross decides to propose to Rachel but when Joey finds Ross’ ring on the floor, Rachel thinks Joey is proposing and accepts.
What was it like? Season 8 is memorable for two things: Brad Pitt i.e. Jennifer Aniston’s actual husband (at the time) playing Will Colbert who throws some serious shade at Rachel and the Ross/Joey/Rachel love triangle which emerges in the final episode. The jokes are still not as good as vintage Friends episodes but there are plenty of laughs to be found in season 8, like when Ross and Rachel debate over who initiated the hook-up that led to Rachel’s pregnancy.
Notable Guest Stars: Brad Pitt as Will Colbert, Alec Baldwin as Parker
Best episode: The One with the Videotape
Best moment: When Ross finds his sweater in Monica’s apartment and in doing so, reveals himself unknowingly to the rest of the group as the father of Rachel’s baby.
The One with the Videotape
6. Season 5
What happened: Ross and Emily did get married but it lasted approx 14 minutes, Phoebe gave birth to her brother’s triplets, Monica and Chandler keep their relationship secret, but everyone finds out eventually.
What was it like? With season 4 having ended on two such massive cliffhangers (Ross saying Rachel’s name when marrying Emily, and Chandler and Monica bumping uglies), avoiding an anti-climax in season 5 proved too Herculean a task. The decision not to get Ross and Rachel back together after all the wedding business was a disappointment to many. Nonetheless, there are some brilliant moments from the Friends canon in this season: Phoebe giving birth to triplets in the 100th episode, Monica putting her head in a turkey,
Notable guest stars: Helen Baxendale as Emily, Bob Balaban as Frank Buffay Sr
Best episode: The One with all the Thanksgivings
Best moment: From the same episode, the flashback to fat Monica accidentally severing Chandler’s toe while she was trying to flirt with him.
5. Season 10
What happened: Joey and Rachel are sort of together, but they decide to end it, Monica and Chandler find a mother willing to let them adopt her babies, Phoebe marries Mike, Rachel decides to move to Paris, only to change her mind at the last minute and get back with Ross.
What was it like? After a shaky 9th season, the gang and more importantly, the writing staff were back on form to deliver the best season in five years. The Friends are in very different places to where they were when the show first started but plenty of high quality laughs run throughout this season. It’s tinged with a faint sadness that it’s all about to come to an end, but with a perfectly judged finale, the show finished in style and not a dry eye was left in the house.
Notable guest stars: Danny Devito as Roy (the stripper), Greg Kinnear as Benjamin, Anna Faris as Erica
Best episode: The Last One Parts 1 and 2
Best moment: SHE GOT OFF THE PLANE!
She Gets Off The Plane
4. Season 1
What happened: We meet a group of twenty-something New Yorkers Monica, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe and Rachel who has just left her fiancé at the altar. They hang out in Central Perk and do suspiciously little work. Ross recently found out his wife is gay and is totally jonesing after Rachel (and has been for some time) who is totally oblivious to this fact. Chandler has a girlfriend he can’t stand named Janice, Joey is a struggling actor while Monica who used to be really fat, is a chef and lives with Phoebe the masseuse/general kook. Rachel moves in with Monica and hijinks ensue. The season ends with Chandler mistakenly telling Rachel that Ross is in love with her, leading her to chase him to the airport before he heads to China, but fails.
What was it like? The season where it all began has stood the test of time well. The reasons we all fell in love with Friends are as evident as the sizzling chemistry between the six principal cast members. It’s the most episodic of all the seasons, but each and every one of those episodes contains brilliant comedy. From Phoebe finding a thumb in her soda, Joey unwittingly appearing in an advert stating he has venereal disease to Chandler getting stuck in an ATM vesitbule and Ross getting a pet monkey, the show was full to the brim with quality writing, and quickly and deservedly became a global phenomenon.
Notable guest stars: Hank Azaria as David, Helen Hunt as Jamie, George Clooney as Dr Mitchell and Noah Wyle as Dr Russell
Best episode: The One with the Blackout
Best moment: Impossible to choose just one, but one of the more memorable ones is from The One with the Candy Hearts when Rachel, Monica and Phoebe decide to have a boyfriend bonfire.
3. Season 4
What happened: Ross and Rachel attempt to reconcile but fail, Chandler develops a crush on Joey’s new girlfriend Kathy, Phoebe becomes a surrogate mother for her brother, Ross falls in love with a Brit named Emily and the season ends with their wedding in London, where Monica and Chandler get together outta nowhere and Ross says Rachel’s name at the altar.
What was it like? This season is almost, but not quite as good as the season before it until the brilliant finale in London when the writers literally pulled the rug from beneath us - twice! The chemistry is still effortless between the cast, and the writing still impeccable. This season also delivers what some have described as one of the best episodes in the history of Friends The One With the Embryos where Chandler and Joey win Monica and Rachel’s apartment in a bet and Phoebe gets pregnant with her brother’s babies (not as weird as it sounds).
Notable guest stars: More than you can shake a stick at. Hugh Laurie, Richard Branson, Jennifer Saunders, Tom Conti, June Whitfield and actual former royalty (Fergie) in the finale alone. Accompanied by Helen Baxendale as Emily as Giovanni Ribisi as Frank Jr.
Best episode: It’s a tie between The One With the Embryos and The One With Ross’s Wedding
Best moment: The trivia quiz between Rachel & Monica and Chandler & Joey. Honorable mention to the big reveal of Monica revealing herself from beneath the bed covers and we realise her and Chandler have hooked up.
2. Season 3
What happened: Rachel gets a job at Bloomingdales and meets Mark, and Ross suspects (wrongly) that there’s something going on between them, Phoebe gets to know her half brother Frank, Monica dates her millionaire Pete Becker, Joey has a crush on his acting co-star Kate.
What was it like? Not overwhelmed at the task of topping the first two seasons, the third run delivers just as you hoped it would, with more classic moments. A brilliant tactic by the writers to save money was to have one episode where all 6 use just one set, leading to the episode The One Where No One is Ready, where Ross tries in vain to get everyone to attend his work function but, surprise, no one is ready. We also see the break up of Ross and Rachel driven by Ross’ sleeping with the Copy Girl after a row about Ross’ jealousy over Mark, leading to the episode with perhaps the show’s best known quote “We were on a break!”. This season is without question one of the best, but the fact that it is only number 2 tells how you good the first place season must be.
Notable guest stars:Isabella Rossellini as herself, Robin Williams as Tomas, Billy Crystal as Tim, David Arquette as Malcolm, Ben Stiller as Tommy
Best episode: The One Where No One is Ready
Best moment: “Look at me, I’m Chandler, could I be wearing any more clothes?”
1. Season 2
What happened? So much! At the end of season 1 Ross met Julie in China not knowing that while he was away, Rachel found out that Ross fancied him. Cue a bit of cat and mouse between Rachel and Ross for a while, before boom, they kiss and Ross dumps Julie for Rachel. But then, oh god, Ross makes a list of Rachel’s bad qualities causing her to halt their new found romance, before the discovery of the Prom tape makes Rachel reconsider, and thus Ross and Rachel become Ross and Rachel. Elsewhere, Joey gets an acting gig on Days of Our Lives, Monica dates her parents’ friend Richard (played by Tom Selleck) and Chandler gets a new roommate when Joey becomes rich and famous.
What was it like? This was the defining season of Friends. Almost every single episode of the 24 installments serves up moments of ingenuity from the writers, with some of these providing classic quotes that entered the pop culture lexicon (“He’s her lobster”, and Joey’s “Smell the fart acting”, as examples). The storytelling became more serialized than the episodic nature of the previous season, giving way to the turns and twists of Ross and Rachel’s relationship, which plays out beautifully, culminating with the viewing of the hilarious Prom video. But outside the actual show, season 2 pushed Friends’ into the stratosphere. Stars like Julia Roberts and Jean Claude Van Damme were already queuing up to cameo but by the end of this season, the stars of the show were global superstars themselves.
Notable guest stars:Tom Selleck as Richard, Charlie Sheen as Ryan, Julia Roberts as Susie, Jean Claude Van Damme as himself
Best episode: Impossible to choose just one, so three of the best are The One Where Ross Finds Out, The One With the Prom Video and The One With The Two Parties
Best moment: After leaving Ross a drunken voicemail saying she was over him, Rachel tries to stop Ross listening to the message. But it’s too late. Ross retorts “You’re over me? When were you…when were you…when were you under me?”