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The One With All The Thanksgivings
Season 5, Episode 8
Air date 19 November 1998
Written by Gregory S. Malins
Directed by Kevin S. Bright
Episode guide
The One Where Ross Moves In
The One With Ross's Sandwich

"The One with All the Thanksgivings" (also known as "The One with the Thanksgiving Flashbacks") is the eighth episode of the fifth season of the American television sitcom Friends, which first aired on NBC on November 19, 1998.[1] The plot sees the main characters recalling Thanksgivings from when they were younger.

The episode was directed by Kevin S. Bright, written by Gregory S. Malins and guest-stars Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles as Jack and Judy Geller, with a cameo appearance by Morgan Fairchild as Nora Tyler Bing.[1] It frequently ranks high in polls to determine the best episode of the series.


Ross's (David Schwimmer) complaint that his divorce and eviction means he is having the worst Thanksgiving ever prompts the others to tell their stories of bad holidays gone by. Chandler (Matthew Perry) reminds everyone of the Thanksgiving where his parents told him they were getting a divorce. Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) then tells of a worse one from a past life, though Ross disqualifies her story, limiting the tales to present lives. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) says she knows Monica's (Courteney Cox) worst Thanksgiving, but Phoebe interrupts with a story about the Thanksgiving when Joey (Matt LeBlanc) got a turkey stuck on his head (a la Mr. Bean). Monica then tells the group what she thinks is her worst Thanksgiving: in 1987, Ross brings Chandler home for Thanksgiving (where they are dressed in 80's attire, with Ross looking like John Oates and Chandler having a Flock of Seagulls style haircut), where Monica, who is overweight, overhears the latter call her fat.

Back in the present, Chandler apologizes to Monica for insulting her. Rachel reveals that story is not the story she was referring to. The flashbacks continue to 1988; Ross and Chandler (this time dressed like members of Miami Vice) arrive for dinner to find Monica has slimmed down, and Chandler now finds her attractive. Monica tells Rachel that she wants to humiliate Chandler for calling her fat, so Rachel suggests tricking him into taking off his clothes. Monica tries to seduce Chandler by rubbing various objects, including a knife, against her skin. She drops the knife and severs his toe. He is rushed to hospital to have it reattached but, in the commotion, Monica mixed up the digit with a carrot. In the present, Chandler becomes upset after learning that he had lost his toe because he called Monica fat, and angrily leaves. When Monica comes by his apartment seeking his forgiveness by putting a turkey on her head, he inadvertently tells her he loves her for the first time in their relationship. A tag scene shows another of Phoebe's past life memories as she serves in a World War I field hospital.[1]

[edit] Continuity errors[]

  • The dates of the flashbacks create continuity errors for the series. The flashback to 1992 shows that Joey was already in the group; however, the season 3 flashback episode "The One With the Flashback" takes place in 1996 and flashes back three years to 1993, and shows how Joey first met the group.
  • As well as many later episodes showing flashbacks of Ross and Chandler in their college days, this episode implies that Chandler has known Rachel since college. Previous episodes, however, show contradictory evidence: not only do Rachel and Chandler seem to not have known each other before they meet in "The Pilot", in "The One With the Flashback" Chandler and Rachel behave like two utterly unknown people to one another when they meet in the pub that later became Central Perk. (Apparently, this continuity error remained unnoticed, since a later episode even shows Chandler and Rachel making out in Ross and Chandler's college days.)

[edit] Reception[]

Entertainment Weekly rates the episode "B+", calling the "pre-nose job" Rachel and "Fat Monica" great sight gags and citing Joey's line "It's not so much an underpant as it is a feat of engineering" (in reference to a thong) as the best of the episode.[2] The authors of Friends Like Us: The Unofficial Guide to Friends write "This unusual episode is one of the series' best ever, with the non-stop comedy roller-coaster suddenly throwing a brilliant surprise ending at you".[1]

Debra McGuire was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series, while the mixers were nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special.[3] The popularity of this episode saw it included on one of the first region 1 "best of" DVD releases.[4]