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In Friends, One Episode Stands Above The Rest

"Friends," with its 10 seasons and 236 episodes, exists in the upper echelons of sitcom fame. Some might argue that no other television series, sitcom or otherwise, has had a greater impact on pop culture than the NBC show about six 20-somethings living and loving in New York City. From its unforgettable catchphrases like "How you doin?" to its influence on fashion (the Rachel cut, anyone?), "Friends" defined a television era. The show first permeated pop culture in 1994, and its domination has barely waned in the years since.

Given the number of episodes that generated iconic moments, naming one episode of "Friends" as the "best" is kind of a fool's errand. There were so many great Thanksgiving episodes. The London episodes changed everything. And who can forget the Holiday Armadillo, Santa's part-Jewish friend? Since we won't deign to be the arbiters of this, let's turn to the numbers. 

According to IMDb, two "Friends" episodes are tied with a high rating of 9.7 out of 10. Not surprisingly, one of those episodes is the series finale, "The Last One." To break the tie, we turned to a few major entertainment outlets.

The One Where Everybody Finds Out is the best episode of Friends

And the overwhelming favorite is ... "The One Where Everybody Finds Out," the 14th episode of Season 5.

As fans know, the view from Monica's (Courteney Cox) apartment includes a direct line of sight into Ugly Naked Guy's apartment. The plus-sized nudist is a running gag throughout the first several seasons of "Friends," and makes the last of his three on-screen appearances in "The One Where Everybody Finds Out," when Ross tries to sublet the man's apartment.

While touring the apartment with Ross (David Schwimmer), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) gaze out the window and catch Monica and Chandler  (Matthew Perry) in an intimate moment. The future Mr. and Mrs. Bing began their secret affair during Ross' disastrous London wedding. Until "The One Where Everybody Finds Out," only Joey was aware of their shenanigans. Miffed over being left in the dark, Rachel and Phoebe conspire to force the couple to admit their relationship. What follows is a comical "They don't know we know they know" game of flirting one-upmanship between Phoebe and Chandler, who ultimately loses and publicly declares his love for Monica. At the episode's end, after Ross has successfully become Ugly Naked Guy's subletter, he also spies Monica and Chandler getting hot and heavy, and fecklessly shouts, "Get off my sister!"

Though IMDb has "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" tied with "The Last One," the episode ranks considerably higher on "Best of" lists curated by leading entertainment outlets. Rolling Stone ranked "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" at #5 and "The Last One" at #25. The series finale didn't even make The Hollywood Reporter's or Variety's lists, whereas "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" came in at #2 and #1 respectively.

The love for this episode is understandable. Not only did it feature Ugly Naked Guy, it marked the official "coming out" of the series' most enduring couple, setting the stage for their future engagement, wedding, and family planning. In addition to its effect on future episodes, "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" is bolstered by Emmy-nominated performances, direction, and writing (via DigitalHit).