All the Friends Flashbacks: RANKED!

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All the Friends Flashbacks: RANKED!

VOICE OVER: Emily - WatchMojo WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
It's time to go back to a simpler time with these “Friends” flashbacks, ranked. For this list, we'll be looking at our favorite times that we got to see our favorite characters' backstories on the show. Our countdown includes Rose & Rachel's tape, the gang's thirtieth birthdays, the prom video, and more!
Transcript
It was a day, a week, a month, or even a year - or many - ago. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be Ranking the “Friends” Flashbacks.

For this list, we’ll be looking at our favorite times that we got to see our favorite characters’ backstories on the show. These flashbacks had to actually happen, so alternate realities, like “The One That Could Have Been” will not be considered.

#7: Ross & Rachel’s Tape (aka The One with the Western Europe Story)
“The One with the Videotape”

While some flashbacks over “Friends”’ run gave us insight into the characters’ younger selves, this episode gives us a look back at events that happened just weeks earlier. After finding out that Ross is the father of Rachel’s baby, everyone wants to know exactly how the conception came to pass, considering they hadn’t realized the two exes were hooking up. Ross and Rachel argue about who initiated things, before Ross blurts out that he actually has the encounter on video. We go back in time and see Ross getting dating advice from Joey, who reveals his - almost - foolproof tale of backpacking in Western Europe. Being a bit out of practice romantically, Ross decides to tape himself running the story on his own - only to be interrupted by Rachel. Later in the episode, the friends - and audience - get to see the actual tape, where it’s revealed that Ross was actually right for once!

#6: The Real Origin of Chandler & Monica
“The One with the Truth About London”

While they’re in the process of planning their wedding, Monica and Chandler end up recruiting Joey to be their officiant. Joey has… and gives… and shares… and receives, well, a lot, so Monica and Chandler recount the story of how the two got together at Ross’ wedding in London to give him some material. Though we knew some of the circumstances, we had to wait almost 3 seasons to find out more about how the friends ended up in bed. As it turns out, Monica - distraught at being mistaken for Ross’ mother - had gone up to Chandler and Joey’s room to seek comfort with the latter. Chandler’s obviously upset, but eventually manages to see that even though Monica set out for Batman, she’s more than happy with Robin.

#5: The Gang’s Thirtieth Birthdays
“The One Where They All Turn Thirty”

In this episode, Rachel is celebrating her 30th birthday - though “celebrate” is a strong word. As she laments getting older, all of the other Friends look back on their own 30th birthdays and show her that they had a rough time of it too. Joey has an existential crisis at both his and Chandler’s 30ths, Phoebe finds out that she’s a year older than she thought, Ross impulse buys a fancy car, and Monica gets absolutely wasted for her surprise party. Though each handles being three decades old with varying degrees of grace, what’s always heartening is that the friends are all together to get through it - whether it’s to help Phoebe cross a goal off her list, lift and slide Ross’ car, or be a shoulder to cry on when it seems like 40’s just around the corner.

#4: Ross’ First Kiss with ‘Rachel’
“The One Where the Stripper Cries”

In the show’s final season, our friends aren’t done learning revelations about each other. At a high school reunion, Ross and Chandler determine they broke their bro pact by making out with each other’s crushes. While the memories of Helvetica bold 24 point, dumb hair, and single tears are great fun, this episode’s just getting warmed up. Enter: 1987 Monica and Rachel. Chandler, freshly heartbroken at his betrayal in the common room, decides to exact his revenge on Ross by kissing Rachel, who had come with Monica to visit. Present-day Ross is dismayed to hear the news, because he’d always fondly remembered the occasion as the first time he and Rachel ever kissed. In a crazier case of mistaken identity than an Agatha Christie novel, everyone finds out Ross hadn’t kissed Rachel at all, but had accidentally locked lips with his sister instead. Yeah, they both probably booked therapy appointments after this.

#3: The Prom Video
“The One with the Prom Video”

In this season two episode, Rachel is still mad at Ross because of the list he made comparing her and Julie. But when the gang finds Rachel and Monica’s old prom video, Rachel’s feelings soften when she sees how much Ross really cared about her even back when they were teenagers. Just when it looks like Rachel’s date has stood her up, Ross steps in, throwing on a suit and grabbing flowers out of a vase to offer her. Before she can see what he’s done however, her date finally arrives and she’s out the door - leaving him heartbreakingly crestfallen. It’s okay though; they’re like lobsters who mate for life, and Rachel shows she’s forgiven Ross with a cheer-worthy kiss. This was the first time we got to see the Friends in their youth and it was so perfect.

#2: The Entire Flashback Episode
“The One with the Flashback”

In season three, Janice stirs up memories when she asks the Friends who among them have hooked up, and then presses and asks if any of them has almost gotten together. We go back to a time three years earlier, and a year before the action of the show began. At this point, the gang consisted of Phoebe, Monica, Chandler and Ross, but Joey arrives as Chandler's new roommate, attracting Monica’s eye, and Chandler hits on Rachel as she contemplates having a fling before her wedding. This is the group right as big changes are happening in their lives; Phoebe moves out of Monica’s apartment, Ross finds out Carol’s a lesbian, and Central Perk’s a bar. This episode shows us a side of all the Friends that we hadn’t seen before - plus some surprise romantic pairings - and for that, it has to be one of our favorites.

#1: The Thanksgiving Flashbacks
“The One with All the Thanksgivings”

“Friends”’ Thanksgiving episodes are always a highlight, and this offers many for the price of one. The question on tap: which Friend has the worst Thanksgiving memory? Was it Chandler finding out his parents are separating? Phoebe losing an arm in the war? Joey getting a turkey stuck on his head? Well, turns out Monica’s Thanksgiving problems rival them all. At Chandler’s first Thanksgiving with the Gellers, he made an insensitive comment about Monica. By the next year, everyone’s had a bit of a makeover: Rachel’s had a nose job, Monica’s lost weight, and Ross and Chandler go all “Miami Vice.” Monica wants to get back at Chandler for his hurtful jab, but isn’t so much with the art of seduction and ends up cutting off his toe. We won’t make you pick the best flashback, but each is funnier than the last. Plus, it gives us a look at the beginnings of Monica and Chandler’s rapport.
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