Friends may be more popular today than it ever was while it aired. Since it appeared on streaming services like Netflix, the '90s sitcom has seen a huge uptick in popularity — meaning new audiences are getting acquainted with a show that was so popular in part because it was remarkably consistent. There aren't that many bad episodes of Friends. Keyword: Many.
In the age of the internet, everything gets rated and some of the episodes just aren't rated very well by watchers. On IMDB, for example, some episodes shake out closer to a 10/10, while others are low-sevens. Compared to some other shows, that's not bad, but for a show like Friends, it proves that a show carried by great actors can have misfires. Whatever the reason the internet may have, these are the least favorite episodes of Friends. Whether or not they're actually the show's worst episodes is another question entirely, and it's up for you to decide.
It may not come as a shock that "The One With the Invitation," which is a clip show recapping the show's first four seasons, ranks as the lowest-rated episode on IMDb. After all, the episode features much less new content than the average episode of Friends.
The show's new storylines on this ep largely revolve around Ross and Emily's preparations for their wedding — which we know will be fairly pointless. But, it gives both Ross and Rachel a chance to reflect on their relationship and each of the friends gets a chance to remember something they'd forgotten. That's what makes it a clip show, and also probably why most people on the internet don't love it.
The only thing that really happens on this low-rated Friends episode is that Chandler makes a mistake. On the episode, Joey is up for the lead role on a TV show, and when his audition time gets changed, he forgets to write a note to Joey letting him know.
As a result, Joey misses his audition and Chandler has to work to get him another one. The rest of the show, though, is composed of clips of the friends reminiscing about other mistakes they've made that have ruined things for someone else. It's better than "Invitations," but not by much.
What you may not realize as you watch Friends is just how many clip episodes the show did over the course of its run. In "The One with Christmas in Tulsa," the Friends relive their memories about Christmas specifically. Although the episode is a clip show, it does feature some actual plot developments — setting it apart from other episodes on this list of the worst Friends episodes. When Chandler is forced to work in Oklahoma on Christmas, Monica begins to worry that he'll cheat on her.
By the end of the episode, though, he has returned to the apartment and resigned from his job. It's a pretty large development, but this episode is still in the bottom.
Yet another clip show, this one is largely devoted to Joey as he prepares for his interview with Soap Opera Digest. Because it's an interview, Joey has to think about his past relationships, and all the trouble he's gotten into with his friends.
The episode has a couple of solid jokes. Because it's an episode focused on Joey, it's funnier than Friends clip shows typically are. (No shade to the boring other friends.) Still, they're using recycled material and lack of originality can't equal high ratings. But it does give everyone the break they probably need when they make so many episodes a season.
"The One with the Vows" dives into Monica and Chandler's relationship as the two of them reflect on their pasts as they prepare to write their vows. You guessed it — a clip show! That's pretty much the entirety of the episode, but it does serve as a great tribute to their relationship, which turns out to be the most functional of any romantic pairing on the show.
It's also a great opportunity to relive some of Chandler's best moments from the rest of the show. Whatever you think of Chandler, he undoubtedly gets a lot of the show's best dialogue. Reliving that isn't the worst way to pass the time.
"The One with the Donor" is not a clip show, which makes it the lowest rated episode of Friends that features entirely new content. The show's main plot focuses on Monica and Chandler's search for a sperm donor, and Chandler's decision to invite a co-worker over to covertly interview him for the job.
Elsewhere in the episode, Rachel and Phoebe go shopping with Charlie, and Phoebe finds out that Rachel has a crush on Joey. Ross also works to earn a speaking gig in Barbados, and Phoebe runs into David and discovers that he's back from Minsk permanently. The episode sets up the season finale, but it doesn't work very well on its own.
This episode features, among other things, Ross's jealousy over Rachel's relationship with Mark at its absolute worst. In addition, "The One with Phoebe's Ex-Partner" also gives Phoebe a chance to reunite with her former singing partner, only for the two to break up again when Phoebe realizes that she's in it for the wrong reasons.
Chandler also goes on a date with a former girlfriend of Joey's. She has a prosthetic leg, which Joey once mistakenly threw in a fire. The episode also reveals Chandler's third nipple, which is one of the show's weirdest moments of character specificity. Overall, it's an unremarkable episode.
Oh, the early days of Friends. Remember Barry? He features prominently in this episode, as he and Rachel begin seeing one another again even though he's now engaged to Mindy. The episode gives Rachel closure and allows her to realize that she ultimately made the right decision in breaking up with him.
Elsewhere, Chandler is upset because a woman he likes won't return his calls. The episode isn't bad, but it feels more like a bump along the road than a blockbuster in and of itself. It gets Rachel ready for her relationship with Ross, which is what eats up the end of the show's first season.
Getting rid of Marcel was one of the best decisions Friends ever made. That monkey was not nearly as charming as the show thought he was, and what's more, there was no need for that kind of quirky animal sidekick. Thankfully, this episode features Ross saying goodbye to Marcel. Meanwhile, Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe work to find the woman who has stolen Monica's identity, only to be thoroughly charmed by her.
The episode's best moments come from Joey, though, as he attempts to find a stage name that is less ethnic than his own. He starts with Joseph Stalin, before landing on Holden McGroin. Yeah, just one of those skippable episodes.
"The One with the Stain" is a strange one. The episode follows Chandler's decision to hire a maid to clean his and Monica's apartment. Monica quickly becomes convinced that the maid has stolen Monica's jeans and one of her bras, and so she decides to take matters into her own hands to investigate.
The episode also sees Rachel move in with Joey after Ross fails to lure her into his building, and Phoebe's attempts to date Eric, a man who used to be obsessed with her sister Ursula. Ursula's another example of a character that never totally worked, and she contributes to a below-average episode.
"The One Where Chandler Gets Caught" is an episode from the show's tenth season, and it actually features a pretty major development. On the episode, we learn that Monica and Chandler are planning to move out of the city to raise their child together.
The rest of the episode is consumed by the rest of the friends becoming convinced that Chandler is having an affair when what he's really doing is checking out real estate. Although the reveal is a big one, the actual storyline is fairly unoriginal. If we had a dime for every time someone wrongly thought someone else was having an affair on Friends, we'd have a lot of money.
This episode from the show's ninth season features the introduction of Gavin, Rachel's arrogant but surprisingly kind co-worker. Initially, Rachel feels threatened by Gavin, and decides to come back from her maternity leave ahead of schedule, and even brings Emma with her.
The episode also features Chandler's first attempts to reboot his career, and his realization that he won't be making as much money as he once was. That complicates his and Monica's plans to have a baby, but only for a second. It's a fairly inconsequential episode in the show's grand narrative, but it is amusing for large stretches, so that's worth something.
This episode features a pair of plot lines that are both fairly standard for Friends. Monica and Phoebe fight about planning a surprise party for Rachel, and Joey goes on an audition, this time with Ross's son Ben. The episode isn't bad per se, but it does fall back on some of the easiest characterizations of the friends.
Joey is a striving actor who needs every part he can get, and Monica is high-strung. Ross gets a little angrier than he should, and Phoebe is proven to be more competent than everyone thinks she is. There are plenty of solid jokes along the way, but they don't add up to much.
"The One Where They're going to Party!" features two promotions and a couple of the friends realizing they've gotten older. After leaving a restaurant a bad review, Monica is offered a job as that restaurant's head chef, which upsets Phoebe, who is working with Monica in a catering business.
Happening simultaneously, Rachel is up for a position as an assistant buyer, but her boss sabotages the interview. Meanwhile, Chandler and Ross realize that they're too old to go clubbing when an old party-hard friend comes to town and tries to take them out. Getting older stinks, but it is pretty funny.
This episode comes at the height of the will they/won't they tension between Ross and Rachel. It's a Christmas episode, and one that deals with Rachel, who is still furious at Ross over his creation of a pros and cons list to decide between Rachel and Julie.
Meanwhile, Phoebe discovers that the man she always thought was her father is actually a stock photo. This leads her on a journey toward discovering her actual father, and Joey and Chandler are there to support her. Although she never actually meets him, it's a sweet moment where the friends get a chance to support her. Still, it's rated below-average for Friends episodes.
This is another early season two episode where the chief ongoing storyline is Rachel's feelings for Ross, and Ross's relationship with Julie. Not a ton changes on that front in this episode, but we do learn that Phoebe is married to a gay man who she helped immigrate to America.
The Phoebe story is sweet, and speaks to Phoebe's general kindness as a human being. The dynamic between Ross and Rachel, on the other hand, is largely frustrating. For fans waiting for the two to get together, "The One With Phoebe's Husband" was not going to be the episode that satisfied them.
You may have noticed a running theme in the last three episode titles. All of them mention Phoebe explicitly, which seems to be a negative for those rating these episodes online. Although this episode is named after the rats that Phoebe takes care of during the episode, the most concrete development in the episode comes with Rachel and Gavin kiss for the first time.
Meanwhile, Ross has hired an attractive nanny to look after Emma, and Joey immediately wants to sleep with her. Although the episode largely works, it's another case where nothing huge happens and the Ross and Rachel drama drags things down a bit.
"The One Where Nana Dies Twice" is a perfect example of a Friends episode that checks all the boxes with plenty of laughs without doing anything really noteworthy, which probably contributed to it landed in the bottom-20 Friends episodes. The episode focuses on Ross and Monica as they deal with the death of their grandmother. The first time she dies, it's a false alarm, which is how they episode earned its name.
At the funeral, though, Ross falls into an open grave, Joey tries to covertly watch some football, and plenty of other amusing things happen. The episode even ends with the suggestion that Ross and Monica are not so different from their grandmother, even if they're from different generations.
After more than two seasons as a waitress in Central Perk, this episode is the one that starts Rachel on her career in the fashion industry. In that respect, the episode is pretty pivotal, but the rest of the friends are focused on pretty normal hijinks otherwise.
Ross starts working with a girl scout to sell cookies in order to win her a trip to space camp. Meanwhile, Phoebe jeopardizes Joey's job selling Christmas trees when she becomes upset about the fact that they're cut down and taken away from their homes. It's an episode that plays more as set up for future events than anything else.
Another episode focused on Marcel, this one follows Rachel as she's tasked with babysitting the monkey but eventually loses him when she's taking out his poop. The rest of the episode is spent searching for him while Ross prepares to tell Rachel that he has feelings for her.
The episode is frustrating because it never gives him the chance to do so, and also because it's so focused on the monkey. Friends realized pretty quickly that Marcel wasn't totally necessary to make the show work. Thankfully, when they made that realization, they decided to get rid of him almost immediately. We've got to believe the reason it's not lower on the list of bad Friends episodes is because Rachel's outfit is one of her most iconic.