During times of chaos and anxiety, many of us take comfort in nostalgia. And as the streaming wars heat up, platforms like HBO Max and Peacock have shelled out massively to land the rights to fan favorite TV series. Among the most coveted of these is Friends, which left Netflix last year and is now available on HBO Max. All 10 seasons of the beloved sitcom are available to stream on the platform, and while some moments have aged less well than others, the show has retained its popularity among fans since it aired its final episode in May 2004.
For those looking to revisit some of the show’s most memorable moments, here is a list of the 15 best Friends episodes to stream on HBO Max, presented in chronological order:
The One With the East German Laundry Detergent (Season 1, Episode 5)
Early on in Friends, it becomes clear that newly-divorced Ross (David Schwimmer) has longstanding feelings for Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). This episode marks plenty of firsts—Rachel’s first time doing laundry, Ross and Rachel’s first “date,” and the pair’s first kiss. It also introduced audiences to Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) recurring flame Janice (Maggie Wheeler)—and her inimitable laugh.
The One With the Prom Video (Season 2, Episode 14)
The flashbacks of the series make for some of the best viewing, and this one, featuring an old video of Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel’s prom, is one of the funniest and most moving. Besides the questionable outfits and hair—as well as the problematic comments about Monica’s weight and Rachel’s nose—everyone gets a glimpse into how hopelessly devoted to Rachel Ross has been since their teenage years, which predictably melts Rachel’s heart.
The One Where No One’s Ready (Season 3, Episode 2)
Ross has planned a night out for the gang to a black-tie benefit at his museum, and he’s timed everything right down to the minute. The challenge is to get everyone dressed and ready to go, but obstacle after obstacle gets in the way—not least of which is a childish fight that ends with Joey (Matt LeBlanc) wearing every item in Chandler’s wardrobe and uttering the immortal line, “could I be wearing any more clothes?”
The One With the Jellyfish (Season 4, Episode 1)
A weekend away at the beach descends into chaos as Monica gets stung by a jellyfish and Ross decides to break up with his new girlfriend to get back together with Rachel. But an 18-page letter (“front and back!”) brings up unresolved feelings from Ross, and a few days of bliss for the on-again, off-again couple ends in another shouting match. Did someone say “we were on a break”?
The One With the Embryos (Season 4, Episode 12)
Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) takes the first step to help her brother and his wife conceive children via surrogacy and the women compete with the men as to who knows each other better. This one is worth watching for the frantic excitement of the timed trivia rounds, seeing Monica’s slightly terrifying competitive side come out, and the revelation that no one has the faintest clue what Chandler’s job actually is.
The One With All the Wedding Dresses (Season 4, Episode 20)
Chandler is dealing with sleepless nights as Joey’s snores rattle through their apartment. Meanwhile, Monica goes to collect Ross’ fiancée Emily’s (Helen Baxendale) wedding dress, and quickly becomes addicted to wearing the dress around her apartment. Luckily she’s not the only one—Phoebe turns up at her door wearing a gown, and Rachel joins in too. It turns out to be particularly bad timing for Rachel, who accidentally opens the door to the commitment-shy guy she’s been seeing, fully decked out in a wedding gown and exclaiming, “I do!”
The One With All the Thanksgivings (Season 5, Episode 8)
The gang reminisces about all their worst Thanksgivings, and some shocking secrets come to light. It’s another fun flashback episode that takes us back to the ’80s, as Ross and Chandler come home from college having discovered the band Wham!. The main lesson from this episode? Never wear wicker shoes.
The One With All the Resolutions (Season 5, Episode 11)
It’s the beginning of 1999, and the six friends make new resolutions: Ross promises to try and do one thing he’s never done before every day, Phoebe wants to pilot a commercial jet, Chandler begrudgingly agrees not to make fun of his friends, Joey plans to learn the guitar, Rachel tries her best not to gossip about people and Monica resolves to take more photos. And while Ross’ resolution inexplicably results in his disastrous purchase of a pair of leather pants, Rachel stumbles on a secret about Chandler and Monica that is too big not to gossip about.
The One Where Everybody Finds Out (Season 5, Episode 14)
Chandler and Monica have been dating in secret for the past 14 episodes since they got together at Ross’ wedding in London. One by one, the rest of the group finds out and decides to have some fun of their own, culminating in a very awkward double-bluff date between Chandler and Phoebe, and the return of angry Ross in the final scene.
The One Where Ross Got High (Season 6, Episode 9)
Ross’ parents have always had a firm dislike of Chandler and we finally find out why, as one of Ross’ white lies from their college days comes back to haunt him. But the best supporting actor in this episode is Rachel’s traditional English trifle, composed of lady fingers, jam, custard, raspberries, bananas, whipped cream and, of course, beef sautéed with peas and onions.
The One With the Routine (Season 6, Episode 10)
Joey finally gets his chance to kiss his roommate Janine, played by Elle Macpherson, at the recording of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve party. But it’s Ross and Monica who steal the show with “The Routine,” their middle school dance routine which has to be seen to be believed.
The One That Could Have Been, Parts 1 and 2 (Season 6, Episodes 15 and 16)
When Rachel hears that Barry, the man she was meant to marry but ran away from in the first episode, is getting a divorce, it prompts the friends to think about how different their lives could have been had they made different decisions. Cue two episodes that show the gang in an alternate reality, in which Rachel marries Barry, Ross stays married to Carol, Monica “stays fat,” Joey still works on Days of Our Lives, Phoebe takes a job at Merrill Lynch and Chandler quits his job to pursue writing.
The One With Unagi (Season 6, Episode 17)
An episode in which Ross tries to mansplain self-defense, “kara-TE” and “unagi” to Rachel and Phoebe. “Only by true unagi can you be prepared for any danger that may befall you,” he tells them, before they give him a taste of his own medicine.
The One With All the Cheesecakes (Season 7, Episode 11)
An erroneous cheesecake delivery sets Chandler and Rachel on a slippery slope to stealing more desserts and even eating the remains of one dish from the hallway floor. This episode also sees the return of Phoebe’s earlier love, scientist David (Hank Azaria), in one of the most endearing guest turns of the series.
The One Where Ross Is Fine (Season 10, Episode 2)
Ever run into an ex, and the conversation is a little awkward? Ross ups the ante here by hosting a dinner party with Charlie (his new girlfriend), Rachel (his ex-girlfriend), and Joey (who has just started dating Rachel and used to date Charlie). Ross stresses, but everything turns out fine, especially when washed down with margaritas.
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