Friends: 10 Most Heartbreaking Episodes

The ones where they broke our hearts...

Friends Rachel

It's probably fair to say that, if you're having a bad day, Friends is one of those few sitcoms you can go to that will really cheer you up. Watching the adventures of six of our favourite New Yorkers makes you laugh over and over again, and it's a rare testament to the success of the show as to how we can chuckle at the same jokes forever, watching our problems melt away.

That's the impact Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross had on us over Friends' ten-season run as we watched them go through life, supporting each other (and us) along the way.

But of course, not every episode was all about the comedy, and the show garnered a reputation for mixing its humour with some real life issues, from work struggles to relationship woes, from family challenges to friendship divides.

While each episode did have its share of laughter, some were outright heart-breaking as we witnessed the turmoil our characters went through, navigating through their 20s and 30s, dealing with life and New York culture. But which were the ones that really tugged at the heartstrings?

10. The One With The Monkey (S1, Ep 10)

Friends Rachel

At this early point in the show, we were still getting to know the individual traits of the six main characters and, ten episodes in, Phoebe was probably the one least explored. We knew virtually nothing about her love life, and so it was a thrill when we got to see her explore her feelings with someone for the first time.

Scientist David will always be Phoebe's first love, and it was evident from their first encounter in Central Perk that this was someone Phoebe was serious about. Their affection for each other is very moving: we see a socially-awkward pair find confidence and affection with each other, over a number of short but fulfilling scenes in David's lab where the two really connect.

So of course, the reason their story makes this list is their initial farewell at Monica's New Year party. Many of us have been in similar shoes - after David turns down a move to Minsk for his relationship, Phoebe makes him go, realising that she cares about him so much she doesn't want to be the person who hinders his career. Their farewell at the stroke of midnight is relatable, moving and terribly sad to watch.

Managing to fit an in-depth love story of this level in a 20-minute sitcom really is brilliant writing indeed.

In this post: 
Posted On: 

Jamie is a freelance broadcast journalist and writer, with a particular obsession for sci-fi, theatre and politics. In his spare time he enjoys amateur dramatics and making homemade curries.