Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Best Cold Opens On Friends Ranked

The cold open technique has been used in television for decades, and while it's more commonly associated with sitcoms, it is widely used in drama. Also known as a teaser sequence, the cold open is synonymous with series like "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," "SNL," and "Law & Order: SVU." The tactic draws in the viewer immediately, often in the middle of a scene, to hook them before the opening credits. Sometimes, the cold open has nothing to do with the rest of the episode — think "The Office" — while other times, it's a direct lead-in to the moments that follow.

Many a sitcom has benefited from the cold open, and one of the most popular series to implement the technique in the '90s and early aughts was "Friends." However, the show was unique in that it didn't start every episode with a cold open. "Friends" would often kick off with the credits before rolling into the episode. Others would have a cold open completely divorced from the rest of the story, and there were several instances where it was integral to the overall plot. A time or two, the "Friends" cold open relied on the "previously on" format where we'd get a recap on the events of the former episode.

While "Friends" may not be one of the series most associated with a cold open, they had several dozen that were top-tier comedy moments. We've ranked the best ones from 10 seasons from great to greatest. So grab that oversized cup of coffee and put on your best sweater vest as we take a trip down "Friends" cold open lane.

14. Season 3, Episode 1 — "The One With the Princess Leia Fantasy"

It took two seasons before the writers and producers of "Friends" decided to make a joke about the six-some always having prime seating in Central Perk. In "The One With the Princess Leia Fantasy," the cold open kicks off with the group walking into the coffee house as they discuss a woman who may or may not have winked at Joey (Matt LeBlanc). As the group doubts the flirtation while Joey swears it happened, they realize that their couch is occupied upon walking through the door.

Not only is their velvety couch taken, but the coffee house is packed, and there is absolutely nowhere for them to plop down. They stand there dumbfounded as they stare at the strangers sitting in their seats. "Huh," Chandler (Matthew Perry) says, and the friends turn around slowly and walk out the door, looking like someone just ran over their puppy.

It's a great cold open, as the series poked fun at itself. For the rest of the show's run, the group's lucky seating situation is explained with a sometimes-there reserved sign.

13. Season 4, Episode 12 —"The One With the Embryos"

When it comes to the best of the best "Friends" episodes, "The One With the Embryos" is amongst the greatest in the series. It makes sense that its cold open would find its way onto our list. The opening is directly connected to the rest of the events in the episode, which is all about the group deciding who knows who best. The precursor to this is Joey and Chandler's rooster crowing early in the morning, which wakes up Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Monica (Courteney Cox) across the hall.

In the cold open, we see a disgruntled Rachel storm out of her room and yell, "What the hell is that?" An even sleepier Monica joins her as they travel to the boys' apartment, where Rachel starts banging on the door and demanding they wake up. With bedhead that would make A Flock of Seagulls members jealous, Joey and Chandler answer the door half asleep. When asking what that noise is, Chandler responds, "You," poking at Rachel for yelling and pounding on the door. Joey admits their chicken is going through some changes, and Chandler says the vet thinks it's becoming a rooster. After it crows again, he quips, "We're getting a second opinion."

12. Season 7, Episode 2 —"The One With Rachel's Book"

Speaking of stellar "Friends" episodes, "The One With the Holiday Armadillo" might just be one of the best of all time. In this holiday-themed episode, the group, sans Joey, is hanging out in Monica and Chandler's apartment, discussing how Ross (David Schwimmer) is going to teach Ben (Cole Sprouse) about Hanukkah this year. Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) suggests she teach Ben about her Christmas skull and how people die, while Rachel notes that it might be time Ben is taught about Phoebe.

As their conversation wraps up, Joey exits the bathroom reading the newspaper and walks past the group after giving them a subtle, "Hey." He leaves the apartment, and the five pals look at each other confused, clearly having no idea Joey was dropping the kids off at the pool a mere 15 feet away. After they all confirm they didn't know he was there, Chandler asks how long they have been home. "About a half an hour," Monica notes. "Lovely," Chandler responds.

11. Season 9, Episode 7 — "The One With Ross's Inappropriate Song"

"Friends" definitely had its stronger cold opens in earlier seasons, but this one from Season 9 is a definite classic. The scene kicks off with Ross changing Emma on his couch, and he starts talking to her in a baby voice. He jokes that she has a "big baby butt," and then quips, "I like big butts." Within seconds, Ross is singing "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot to his daughter, which she seems to enjoy as she responds with a laugh. Ross comments that it's the first time Emma has laughed, so he keeps on singing.

Emma continues to laugh as Ross goes on singing about anacondas and "women with giant asses," as Rachel will later put it. While he's so happy to see that he's made Emma laugh, Ross eventually realizes that he's a "terrible father" and the credits start rolling into an equally terrible song.

10. Season 3, Episode 2 — "The One Where No One's Ready'"

Season 3 was really the star when it came to the best "Friends" cold opens. Ross is frustrated with his pals in the second episode of the season as no one other than Phoebe is ready on time for his event. In the opening scene before the credits, Joey peruses Monica's fridge and grabs what he thinks is a glass of cider. Chandler suggests he tries it, and after a swig, Joey puts the glass back in the fridge and notes, "Yup, it's fat. I drank fat." The audience howls, and Chandler interrupts, noting, "Yea, I know. I did that two minutes ago."

A very paranoid Ross comes in and starts bugging his friends to get ready, and they wave him off, saying they have 30 minutes to do so. After Ross and Rachel have a nauseating nose-rubbing moment, we learn she has no idea what she's going to wear to her boyfriend's event, which only hints at the drama to come. As Ross gets nervous, he's offered some cider from Joey. He declines and turns away, and Joey comes back one more time and asks Ross if he wants a glass of fat before the credits start.

9. Season 4, Episode 17 — "The One With the Free Porn"

A rather forgetful "Friends" episode is saved by its hilarious cold open in Season 4. During the seven-episode run when the guys and girls swap apartments, Joey and Chandler have Mr. Treeger (Mike Hagerty) over to snake their shower drain. The opening kicks off with Treeger yelling from the bathroom, suggesting he's found some pretty gnarly things in the guys' drain. While he's working, Joey and Chandler discover they have free porn on the TV in the living room.

Mr. Treeger comes out and joins the men and notes a time that he used to have free porn in his apartment. He admits he made the mistake of turning it off and says he never got it back. "Now I'm sad," Treeger says as he putters off out of the apartment. "Why would he turn off the TV?" Joey asks Chandler as they look at each other in confusion. The best friend duo also has a hilarious back-and-forth where they say that the porn might be their punishment for not paying the cable bill. Chandler suggests they shouldn't pay their phone bill, and they'll get free phone sex. Joey hops in and says they shouldn't pay their gas bill but pauses as he realizes he has no idea how to finish his sentence.

8. Season 5, Episode 24 — "The One in Vegas Part 2"

In one of the longest cold opens on "Friends" at two minutes and 40 seconds, "The One in Vegas Part 2" consists of three storylines. It kicks off with Ross and Rachel entering the casino, with the latter oblivious that she has ink all over her face from a prank from Ross on their flight. Rachel's laughed at as she walks around the casino with a drawn-on mustache while Ross revels in her incognizance. When they run into Phoebe, she calls Rachel Pancho Villa, and the jig is up. Now furious, Rachel takes off to the bathroom to get the ink off her face.

It's here that Ross teaches Phoebe about lurkers after an older woman swoops in on her slot machine when she briefly steps away. Ross notes that his grandma used to be a casino lurker, and it's how she paid for his dance lessons. When Rachel comes back still covered in ink, she tells Ross that it won't come off. Joey joins the group and tells them about his identical hand twin idea, kicking off an absolutely wild episode that ends in Ross and Rachel getting married.

7. Season 2, Episode 17 — "The One With the Prom Video"

"The One With the Prom Video" is an incredible episode and has one of the all-time great "Friends" moments when said video is played. However, the cold open of that episode leads into a second and often forgotten storyline which is overshadowed by Monica's fat suit, Ross's Mr. Kotter haircut, and Rachel's old nose. This is the same episode where Joey gifts Chandler a gold bracelet to thank him for being such a great friend, or "best bud," as is inscribed on the terribly gaudy jewelry.

Joey presents the gold bracelet to Chandler in the cold open, and the latter's reaction is so hilarious because it's how any person would respond to getting a gift like that. Chandler takes the present, puts it in a nearby desk drawer, and then props a chair under the handle so it can't be opened. He says he wants to save the bracelet for a special occasion, but Joey takes it out of the drawer and puts it on his friend. Joey suggests the bracelet will do wonders for Chandler's sex life, to which the latter quips, "it'll probably slow it down at first, but once I get used to the extra weight, I'll be back on track."

6. Season 3, Episode 7 — "The One With the Race Car Bed"

One of the most creative cold opens on "Friends" came in Season 3, where Ross tells his buds a story about a kid who caused some sort of trouble at the museum. His voice slowly fades into the background and we're treated to the inner monologues of all the other five friends. First, Rachel says to herself that if she squints hard enough at Ross, she can pretend he's Alan Alda. The camera then pans to Monica, wondering when her brother's dinosaur stories are going to be extinct. Chandler is daydreaming about becoming a superhero who can fly and be invisible.

Joey isn't thinking anything so much as singing something, humming the tune to "Baby Elephant Walk." The last internal monologue we hear is Phoebe, who starts to look around silently and wonders, "Who's singing?" in response to Joey's hum. It's a hilarious moment as we learn Phoebe can hear other people's thoughts. We also find we have something very in common with five of the friends — being bored with Ross.

5. Season 7, Episode 14 — "The One Where They All Turn Thirty"

In "The One Where They All Turn Thirty," it's Rachel's birthday, but we're treated to flashbacks of the five other friends' big days throughout the episode. In this cold open, we see how upset Rachel is about turning 30, as she slams the door on her friends who have shown up to celebrate her. After Joey tells Rachel that turning the big 3-0 isn't a big deal, we flashback to his birthday, where he's yelling at God for making him grow old.

Chandler then tells the story of this 30th birthday, saying it "certainly wasn't that much fun." We flashback to his birthday, where he's about to blow out the candles on his cake. He's interrupted by Joey, who starts crying and yelling at God again for making his friend old. He throws his arm up in the air and walks away as the rest of the group stares at him blankly. There's quite a roar from the audience who seem to really enjoy Joey breaking down over age.

4. Season 5, Epsiode 15 — "The One With the Girl Who Hits Joey

"The One Where Everybody Finds Out" has long been hailed as the greatest "Friends" episode of all time. In the last seconds of the episode, Ross finds out about Monica and Chandler after spotting them through his window, and he starts to lose it. "The One With the Girl Who Hits Joey" picks up where that episode left off, with Ross running up to his sister's apartment as he screams at the couple to open the door. The chain lock is on, so Ross tries to shove his head into the room through a few inches and yells at Chandler.

When Monica finally lets him in, Chandler has to hide behind her to escape the frantic brother. Joey and Rachel come rushing in from across the hall to witness it all, as Ross freaks out that his best friend and his sister are fooling around. Chandler reveals that he's in love with Monica, and it's not a hookup, and Ross does a total 180 and goes from wanting to kill Chandler to hugging him. When he finds out that everyone else already knew, he turns red again but reverts back when his friends say it's only because they were concerned for him.

3. Season 3, Episode 23 — "The One With Ross's Thing"

In this Season 5 cold open, Ross rushes into Joey and Chandler's apartment to get some help on a very personal crisis. He lets his friends know that he discovered something odd on his body while he was showering, but he can't see it, so he wants them to look at it for him to let him know what it is. Of course, this mysterious little thing is on his butt, and Joey and Chandler are immediately uncomfortable at their friend's request.

Ross faces the camera and pulls down his pants a little bit in the back as Joey and Chandler get behind him to inspect the mystery. After the guys shoot down the theory that it's either a mole or a pimple — Chandler notes it's "fancier" than a pimple — they start to really look at the abnormality with deep thought. As Chandler and Joey stare at their friend's butt, Rachel walks in to see what's going on and is so disturbed she runs right out. Unfortunately, we never really find out what this thing is, as it haunts most of the episode. A holistic doctor accidentally rips it off, so Ross at least has some form of closure.

2. Season 5, Episode 11 — "The One With All the Resolutions"

It's no surprise that an epic episode — this is the one with Ross's leather pants — is kicked off with an epic cold open. At this point, Joey is the only person who knows about Chandler and Monica, and they enlist their pal to help them so they can kiss on New Year's Eve without anyone asking questions. Up to the task, Joey goes around to Phoebe, Ross, and Rachel and concocts a master plan to have everyone kiss someone.

After he tells Ross he can't kiss his sister, Joey gets tells Ross to kiss Phoebe since he has a complicated history with Rachel. He then goes to Rachel and says they're going to kiss at midnight because everyone needs to smooch someone. When Joey tells her she can't kiss Ross because of the history and then jokes it's better for her to kiss him than Chandler, she agrees. All the couples share a kiss at midnight, and Monica and Chandler's secret is safe to live another day.

1. Season 3, Episode 5 — "The One With Frank Jr."

Like a handful of other cold opens on our list, No. 1 comes from one of the best "Friends" seasons — Season 3. In this opening, Joey works on the entertainment unit — a running storyline throughout the season. Chandler enters their apartment, makes a couple of jabs at his roommate (mostly for the incredibly tight jeans Joey is wearing), and then heads off to his bedroom.

Chandler grabs the handle of his door, takes a step forward, and falls into his room. The top half of his door opens up, but the bottom half stays put, which causes him to trip. He pops up on his knees and stares at Joey, confused. "Power saw kind of got away from me there," Joey says to Chandler with a smile. This cold open kicked off a running gag on the series, as the door is never fixed throughout the entire show. Not many cold opens had such a lasting impact on the series or delivered a hilarious moment that absolutely killed the audience both in the studio and at home.