Frankly, if you asked us which was the very worst episode of Friends, we’d say the season 10 finale, “The Last One” – and it has got nothing to do with the storyline. For any Friends fan, these six goofy, crazy, anal, dumb, silly, emotional, lovable, and dedicated characters became family to us. And the last episode meant that there would not be any more antics, laughs, or inspirations that we’d get from the dumb but endearing Joey, the bohemian Phoebe, the tangled-up Rachel, the nutty Monica, the nuttier Ross, and the sarcastic Chandler.
True to its form, the last double episode finale of Friends remained funny and endearing as ever – and we are sure that many of us choked up when the last shot pans around in that empty apartment with the set of keys on the table. New directions, new lives for them, but it meant the end for us – though there are always reruns…
But not every episode could be as great as the finale, and just like any great show, some episodes pale in comparison. So without further ado, here are the worst episodes of Friends, in chronological order. That said, there is joy to be found even in these cringe-worthy incidents, or maybe I’m just saying that because I’m a Friends fan!
15. Season 1, Episode 20: The One With The Evil Orthodontist
Frankly, the thought of Barry and Rachel together gives us the heebie-jeebies – she is supposed to be Ross’ lobster through and through. Barry is the one her snooty parents thought she would be the happiest with, which made her run to her friends for help in the first place. In this episode, Rachel is downright cringe-worthy. She bones her ex Barry in the dental exam chair in his office. After which, Barry’s soon-to-be wife, and Rachel’s friend, Mindy, asks Rachel to be the maid of honor – double cringe or is it triple?
And then there is the convoluted plot of Mindy boning Barry while Barry was with Rachel and then Rachel admits to just doing the same. And when they both storm to Barry to break it off – he admits to loving them both but wanting to marry Mindy. And so Rachel again agrees to be the maid of honor… Phew!
14. Season 1, Episode 21: The One With The Fake Monica
This episode effectively proves one thing, that we are not alone in hating Monica at times. Sometimes, she hates herself. When her credit card is stolen, she tracks down the thief… and then she ends up going starry-eyed over – she hangs out with her new buddy, gatecrashes parties, and gets drunk with her.
Eventually, this “fake Monica” is arrested and Monica confesses everything to her – and the fake Monica gives the real Monica a lecture about how she cannot really change who she truly is. Meanwhile, Marcel the monkey is humping everything is sight, and so it’s bye-bye for him as Ross finally gets him into the San Diego zoo.
Joey is dumb enough not to know who Joseph Stalin was, and uses this as a stage name. To top it off, once he gets to know about Stalin, his new stage name is Holden McGroin (holding my groin)! A little too dumb, even for Joey…
13. Season 2, Episode 2: The One With The Breast Milk
Joey and Chandler are uncomfortable with Carol breastfeeding Ben in front of them – somehow the conversation moves to how tasting breast milk is nasty and Ross in particular flips outs when Phoebe and Joey taste it. When Susan challenges Ross to do it, since she has tasted it too, Ross tries to taste it but simply cannot make himself do it. He finally does taste it, and then gulps down half a dozen Oreos to get the icky taste out of his mouth. Our only question, why did the breast milk have to be tasted, and what was so icky about after all?
And then, of course, there is Rachel’s angst about Julie stealing her boyfriend and trying to steal her friends too – and Joey’s perfume spritzing standoff with The Hombre Man… Sometimes, it feels that the script writers were trying just a little too hard with the gags and the laughs making this a rather unfunny episode in the end.
12. Season 2, Episode 16: The One Where Joey Moves Out
The thing we love most about Friends is that it mostly managed to make us happy even on dark, gloomy days. So when an episode of Friends turns dark and gloomy and makes us cry, we hate it. With a vengeance! In this episode, Chandler and Joey fight over each other’s disgusting manners. We agree, Joey licking the spoons and putting them in drawers is icky, but for them to suddenly do this to us is simply not fair. Joey’s colleague ends up offering him his apartment, and suddenly Joey decides that it is time for him to move out and be independent.
Then for some reason, Monica is dating Richard, her father’s friend who is father-like in his age too. The couple are faced with some issues when they attend a party with both Richard and Monica’s parents in attendance. While the guys may think Richard is so cool for having found a young girl to date in the city, the girls (including Monica’s mother) think that the “Twinkie” he is dating must be an idiot. No one knows that Monica is the “Twinkie.” And the episode ends with Joey moving out and giving Chandler a tight, meaningful hug. Chandler goes to his room and the ending is as dark, gloomy, and depressing as it gets.
11. Season 4, Episode 7: The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line
So, if you do not want to hear or see Ross playing out “sounds” on his keyboard (we cant’ really call it music, rather just helicopter sounds, dog barks, creaking doors and loud explosions crammed together over what sounds like a jazz bass progression that Phoebe finds inspirational) we suggest you skip this one and be kind to your ears.
Chandler ends up falling for Joey’s date Kathy. And Joey, being Joey, is on a date with someone else when Kathy comes over. Chandler entertains her while they wait for Joey. She cuts his hair, and he kisses her, and though they decide that it was wrong and decide not to do this – they cannot stop kissing. To make up for this, Chandler buys new furniture for Joey but when Joey finds out about that kiss, he boycotts the furniture and refuses to talk to Chandler. This fight leaves us in shambles – making this one of the worst episodes ever. Besides, who even liked Kathy anyway? Definitely not us!
10. Season 4, Episode 8: The One With Chandler In A Box
We hate the next one too. Joey is being unreasonably (or maybe it’s pretty reasonable, actually) stubborn in forgiving Chandler, but Ross manages to convince him to hear Chandler out. Just when Joey is about to talk to Chandler, he sees Chandler and Kathy kissing again. Now his punishment for Chandler is that Chandler has to stay locked in a box for six hours. Initially, Chandler finds it a laugh, but when Joey gets upset, Chandler finally sees the light and stays put. He stays silent even when Kathy comes and breaks up with him and that makes Joey forgive him and tells him to go get Kathy.
Meanwhile, in a slightly strange turn of events, Monica has hurt her eye and refuses to go to her ophthalmologist, who happens to be her ex, the father-figure Richard. However, she finds out that Richard is not in town and there is another doctor there, Timothy. Timothy ends up being Richard’s son and he and Monica get along great – that is until they kiss and she is grossed out by how much it reminds her of Richard… Yikes… We were grossed out too!
9. Season 5, Episode 6: The One With The Yeti
So, why this one? Because this is the episode in which Ross effectively ends his second marriage, the first having ended when his wife turned out to be a lesbian. This comes after he literally turns his life upside down in a bid to please Emily – from changing all the furniture he has because Emily does not want to use the furniture that Rachel once, uhh, sat on, to even making him move to a new apartment altogether. Emily further freaks out when Ross is having dinner with Rachel, and when Ross says that she has to trust him or the marriage is over, she says she cannot and the marriage is truly over.
While Ross is heartbroken, Rachel might just be on a new romantic adventure with their neighbor Danny – who she and Monica accidentally fog with a bug bomb. Interspersed with this sob story is a fur coat that vegetarian (and animal-loving) Phoebe receives as a family heirloom. She reluctantly realizes she looks great in it, but ultimately just gives it away to a stranger, having been shamed into doing so by a couple of squirrels… Wait, what? Nevermind…
8. Season 5, Episode 12: The One With Chandler’s Work Laugh
Chandler’s laugh, specially reserved to please his boss Doug, is grating enough to peel paint off the walls – and this is one of the main reasons that this episode is one of the worst ones. It beats Janice’s “oh my gaaaawwd” screech, hands down! Anywho, Chandler proves that he is a big suck up at work and Monica hates it, so much so that when Chandler’s boss and his wife Doug and Kara invite them for a tennis match, she gets overly competitive, and Chandler has to overly suck up! Hate that laugh!
Speaking of Janice, Ross is lonely, and in a moment of frustration, goes out with Chandler’s ex – and his whining is too much even for her (duh!), so she leaves the “date” midway. Ross apologizes to Chandler, saying that he broke the line since no one is supposed to date anyone’s ex or relative among friends. This, while Chandler and Monica have been secretly dating.
7. Season 6, Episode 18: The One Where Ross Dates A Student
We think the name is reason enough. Ross, who is a college professor, is letting his heart, or pants, rule his head and is dating a student, Elizabeth. What he doesn’t know is that dating a student is not merely frowned upon, but could get him fired. Of course, with Ross being Ross, he continues going out with Elizabeth, keeping the relationship a big hush-hush secret. We all know how well that works for Ross, don’t we?
Then, of course, Phoebe’s apartment, which she shares with Rachel, catches fire – presumably by Phoebe’s candles. Rachel gets first choice to stay in Monica’s plush guest room whilst Phoebe gets to bunk with Joey. When they find out that it was actually Rachel’s flatiron that causes the fire, they switch. And while Rachel loves living with relaxed Joey, Monica is driving Phoebe up the wall.
Oh and Joey forgets an audition that he was supposed to go to, for an Al Pacino movie! Talk about being dumb.
6. Season 6, Finale: The One With The Proposal Pt. 1
Yet again, Ross finally understands what his friends have been trying to tell him all along, in his own nerdy, complicated and convoluted way. When he sees Elizabeth in a water balloon fight with her friends, he finally figures out that she is much too young for him (duh!). Of course, when he breaks it off with her, she retaliates by dropping water balloons on his head. Mature!
And while we know that Joey is dumb, and frankly we love him for it – this episode takes his dumbness to new heights, or lows, whatever. At a charity auction that Joey goes to, accompanied by Rachel and Phoebe, Joey “accidentally” ends up bidding on a yacht and wins with money he doesn’t actually have.
And then there is also the spiral descent into darkness, the plot of Chandler wanting to propose to Monica but getting blocked by her ex, Richard. In a bid to make sure Monica doesn’t get a hint that Chandler is about to propose, he talks against marriage, a little too strongly, because that makes Monica think that Richard might be a better choice for her after all. Ugh.
5. Season 8, Episode 7: The One With The Stain
We all love all six of these friends, and Monica is no different. In this episode, she goes a little too haywire, though. Chandler hires a maid to clean the apartment, Brenda, and Monica agrees to give her a chance. However, she notices that her jeans and her bra are missing and thinks that Brenda stole them. To prove that the jeans Brenda is wearing are hers, she gets Brenda to climb on the kitchen counter to clean the top shelves… and then peeks between her legs, since her missing jeans have a stain on the crotch. Needless to say, Brenda now thinks that she is a lesbian.
Later, Rachel tells Monica that she had borrowed her jeans, and Monica discovers that she had been wearing the “missing bra” all along – by that time, Brenda has quit.
Also interwoven in all this is Sean Penn who plays Eric. Eric previously dated Phoebe’s twin Ursula, but now wants to date her. They have fun, and Phoebe leaves. When she comes back, Eric has slept with Ursula, thinking it was Phoebe. Too complicated for us too, thankfully they break up…
4. Season 9 Premiere: The One Where No One Proposes
In the season eight finale, we see Joey kneeling and picking up a ring, and Rachel, who is somewhat hormonally unbalanced and emotionally unhinged after the birth of her child, misunderstands that he is proposing, and accepts!
Now in the season nine premiere, Joey is confused. He wants to clear it up with Rachel that he didn’t mean to propose, and yet is also pleased that she accepted. We understand that Rachel was emotionally at a loss, but what was wrong with Joey? The plot of this episode seems like a comedy of monumental errors – Phoebe thinks Ross has proposed and is happy, so much so that she convinces Ross that he did in fact propose. Joey is freaked out when Rachel breastfeeds Emma. Monica confronts and convinces Rachel that she made a mistake. Ross is happy till he discovers that Joey accidentally proposed and that Rachel accepted. Rachel, at the end, is foolishly forlorn – having lost both Joey and Ross (not really). We are still trying to make heads and tails out of this one.
3. Season 9, Episode 17: The One With the Memorial Service
Ross and Chandler start a childish online fight after Ross joins the college alumni page. Chandler writes “Ross has sex with dinosaurs” on Ross’s page and to retaliate, Ross creates a gay page for Chandler. Then Chandler writes that Ross has died, and when no one responds, Ross gets depressed that none of his college friends care that he is dead. Chandler and Ross makeup and then host a fake memorial service for Ross which is attended by just two people. One is a male classmate who had a crush on Chandler and for some reason assumes that Monica is a male transvestite, the other is a hot girl who had a crush on Ross. The girls storms out after she gets to know that Ross is alive, but Ross is just happy that a hot girl in college had a crush on him!
2. Season 10, Episode 3: The One With Ross’ Tan
In yet another case of not-so-funny sibling rivalry, Ross is jealous of Monica’s gorgeous spray tan and so he decided to go and get one on himself. Of course, in true Ross style, he botches it over and over again, then goes to a salon and botches it even more till he basically looks like a different race, but only from the front, a fact that Chandler takes a picture of so that no one could ever forget Ross’ tanning experiment.
And for some reason, we have Joey and Rachel going on a date, and then trying to get some after-date smooches on the couch, but Rachel keeps slapping Joey’s hand away when he goes to touch her. And when they finally try to power through to second base on Monica’s advice, Rachel accidentally knees Joey in the groin, making sure that he can’t “rise” to the occasion. Later, they amicably break up. Question from our end, why did they have to hook up in the first place?
1. Season 10, Episode 11: The One In Which The Stripper Cries
So Phoebe is being thrown a clean and sober bachelorette party – but she had wanted a wild one with all the amenities, including a stripper. Monica and Rachel hurriedly call for one but he ends up being a round, short, portly stripper that arrives at their door, played by Danny DeVito. When he realizes that the ladies are cringing at his performance, he becomes sad and depressed. The three feel sorry for him and let him finish the routine – and thankfully, the audience is not subjected to most of it.
What’s cringe-worthy about this episode is that when Chandler and Ross began to reminisce about their college heydays. Chandler admits to having kissed Rachel at a party, and Ross too apparently had kissed Rachel for the first time at the same party. Later, they realize that Ross didn’t kiss Rachel, but instead, had ended up accidentally kissing – wait for it– his own sister Monica, and that Monica’s mystery first kiss had been none other than her brother Ross! Ewwwww!