Over the years, many critics believe that Friends began to lose its way. What was once a groundbreaking and consistently hilarious hangout comedy was slowly becoming a flanderized version of itself. But, late-stage Friends still had such chemistry and such beat-by-beat joke deliveries that it hardly seemed to have lost a step to its many fans. Many still clamor for a reunion!
Even with the decreasing intelligence of Joey and the increasing zaniness of Phoebe, Friends still managed to capture the hearts of many during its final stretch, even if it was running out of ideas. Fortunately, these ten ideas in episodes from season nine proved to be great ones to the voters on IMDB.
10 “The One With The Mugging” – 8.4
Rating as the lowest of the top ten IMDB episodes of Friends‘ ninth season is “The One with the Mugging.” The major takeaway from the episode is that it delivers a storyline between Ross and Phoebe.
It was an unconventional character pairing, but viewers quickly realized that it was delightful to see Phoebe’s brash street smarts play off of Ross’ bookish academic smarts. When their mugging leads to the revelation that their paths had crossed in the past, with Phoebe mugging Ross, the characters react exactly as one might expect.
9 “The One With The Male Nanny” – 8.4
With Emma, a newborn baby, on the show, many of the trials and tribulations that come along with parenting had to be addressed by Friends in a major way.
After all, Rachel and Ross were parents now, rather than just Ross. To begin to solve these growing pains, they hire a nanny named Sandy. But, to Ross’ chagrin, he is a male nanny, portrayed by Freddie Prinze, Jr. He’s not the only guest appearance, however, as the episode also features the surprising return of Hank Azaria’s David, who throws a wrench into Phoebe’s relationship with Mike.
8 “The One With The Memorial Service” – 8.5
Speaking of Phoebe and Mike, this episode deals with some of the fallout of their eventual break-up. (Don’t worry, potential shippers. Friends doesn’t really have an unhappy ending for any character, after all.) But the episode is most notable for the miscommunication that Ross is actually dead.
Despite these two big plots, the best part of the episode is Joey, unwilling to give his favorite stuffed animal to Emma. Joey has a bit of arrested development, but this is one of the sweeter instances of his troubles with growing up.
7 “The One With Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner” – 8.5
“The One With Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner” should probably rate higher on the list because it is just a classic Friends premise. Phoebe is having a birthday dinner, obviously, and Joey is the only one who shows up on time because Monica gets in a fight with Chandler, who takes up smoking again.
Meanwhile, Ross and Rachel are locked out of their apartment. It is a simple premise, and that always makes for the best Friends humor and character dynamics. It also provides some of the best quotes from season nine, including Ross’ “I bruise like a peach,” when he protests breaking the door down.
6 “The One Where Emma Cries” – 8.5
In “The One Where Emma Cries,” nothing really stands out as a remarkable element of the episode. It is just a solid, clicking-on-all-cylinders affair that pairs the characters up in various ways with no iconic moments or quotes emanating from the installment. Monica is the only one capable of getting Emma to stop crying, Chandler inadvertently accepts a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Ross and Joey get into a quarrel.
It sets up a number of emotional arcs for the characters, something that Friends dabbled with only sparingly, but it is a quality installment throughout.
5 “The One With The Lottery” – 8.6
“The One with the Lottery” offers one of the core philosophies of the show: friends are what matters most in the world. Of course, in the moment of a big deal lottery, this can be easily forgotten, as the friends prove more than evident.
But the heartwarming nature returns when Emma says her first word, and it seems like nothing else matters in the face of a moment like that. Still, one of the lottery tickets eventually dropped to the ground below by Phoebe ends up being a big winner and that can still cause resentment.
4 “The One In Barbados” – 8.6
“The One in Barbados” is technically a two-part episode, but, for the purposes of the list, it is only being included once. The six friends travel to Barbados as a result of Ross giving a speech, but, as with everything in Friends, nothing goes right.
The major heart of the episode sees conflict between Ross and Joey, however. Charlie (Aisha Tyler) and Joey break up and Ross kisses her quickly thereafter, resulting in Joey and Rachel acknowledging their feelings for one another. It begins one of the most misguided romantic plots in the entire show, but the episode still has Monica’s frizzy hair and a game of ping pong between her and Mike, which resulted in stellar bloopers.
3 “The One Where No One Proposes” – 8.6
“The One in Barbados” was the season finale of Friends‘ ninth season, and “The One Where No One Proposes” was the season premiere. As viewers can now see, the elements of a Joey and Rachel relationship were present from the beginning, with the fallout of Joey’s miscommunicated “proposal” to Rachel at the end of season eight serving as the major focal point of the installment.
It is a very funny episode that is satisfying for viewers who were left on a cliffhanger, but it also has a major step forward for Chandler and Monica conceiving a baby.
2 “The One With Ross’s Inappropriate Song” – 8.7
Even its ninth season on television as one of the most popular shows in the world, Friends still managed to produce episodes and scenes that rank among the most memorable from the show. Even if one does not find “Baby Got Back” to be a funny song, there is no denying that it has lived on in the estimation of the world, thanks in large part to the treatment it received in this Friends episode when Rachel and Ross realize that the song is the only thing that makes Emma laugh.
Fortunately, this bit of obvious humor is saved by a heartening storyline between Mike and Phoebe when he palpably proclaims his love for her.
1 “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister” – 8.8
One thing that Friends always managed to do exceedingly well was employ big-name guest stars in hilarious capacities. One of the best examples of this comes in this episode, which sees Christina Applegate appear as Rachel’s sister. She is hysterical throughout, but the episode, as a whole, is filled with hilarious moments.
The one that stands out the most is Chandler’s crushing reaction to breaking all of the plates—and the plates were required for the day because it was Thanksgiving, and those holiday episodes of Friends were always the best.
NEXT: Friends: All Thanksgiving Episodes Ranked