FRIENDS’ 25th Anniversary: Ranking the 23 Opening Credits - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FRIENDS’ 25th Anniversary: Ranking the 23 Opening Credits

September 8, 2019 by  

Friends Opening Credits

Credit: Warner Bros.

[On Thursday, September 22, 1994, NBC debuted the pilot of FRIENDS. The sitcom, about a group of six 20-something friends, went on to become a pop culture touchstone. In honor of the milestone, we’re doing 25 Days of FRIENDS, looking back at the show in big and small ways.]

Even if you’ve never seen a moment of FRIENDS, odds are good you know the theme song. But one of the fun long-running gags for the series was its ever-changing credits.

So which ones were best? We ranked the credits (from worst to best)…

23. Season 7 (Version 2): This may not be fair, but I am always irrationally annoyed when I see these. At least one network uses just this version for EVERY SEASON in syndication. That’s not the way this works!

22. Season 5 (Version 1/Ross’s Wedding): As well-intentioned as this one was, it’s rough to get good credit footage from only two episodes. Arguably the most awkward credit sequence.

21. Season 5 (Version 3): The weird slowing of the fountain footage bumps this down a lot.

20. Season 4 (Version 1): As odd as this sounds, I just don’t love the shots of them with the umbrellas, in this context, at the end.

19. Season 9 (Version 1): Too many cringe-worthy hospital moments, frankly. (Ross should never have tried out the stirrups on the hospital bed.)

18. Season 9 (Version 2): The credits are OK, but this gets extra points because this particular batch of footage at the fountain is fun.

17. Season 3 (Version 2): Fun fountain antics, but a number of the episodic clips felt misplaced/like a bad fit.

16. Season 1 (Version 3): Though there are a few good shots (Ross with the sugar packets falling is one of my favorites from this one), it didn’t hold up to the other opening credits this season.

15. Season 8 (Version 2): Um, it took until literally me writing this piece to realize Rachel’s umbrella doesn’t open up all of the way.

14. Season 2 (Version 1): The hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil homage remains great.

13. Season 3 (Version 1):  Man, Jennifer Aniston’s hair really was great in season 2. Plus, the bonus reminder of Chandler and Joey trying their best to mimic Richard.

12. Season 7 (Version 1): This was perfectly fine! Though the clip of Chandler and Monica’s engagement at the end is absolutely lovely, the credits are mostly just…there.

11. Season 8 (Version 1): Almost an exact ditto to the sentiments about Version 1 of season 7, but swap in Monica and Chandler’s wedding.

10. Season 6 (Version 2): Honestly, it just makes me giddy that so many of the characters are represented by happy clips.

9. Season 6 (Version 4): Look, we got “TOW Ross Got High” footage and Joey saying “How you doin’?”…that’s a win.

8. Season 5 (Version 2): Season 4 was a big year for the show-Phoebe’s pregnancy, Ross and Emily’s wedding/most of the group going to London, Monica and Chandler hooking up—and it provided a lot of good footage for the first real credits of season 5.

7. Season 4 (Version 2): Yeah, ending it on them “cursing” at each other makes me laugh.

6. Season 2 (Version 2): This one just makes me happy. “TOW the Prom Video” is repped a lot, and it’s one of my favorite episodes, so this batch of credits.

5. Season 10: They’re grownups! But, really, what warms my heart is that often the final clip was saved for big romantic moments. I loved that. But there is something really special about ending the final credits with (most of) the characters hugging.

4. Season 6 (Version 3/”The One That Could Have Been”): Putting aside the questionable use of Fat Monica, what remains impressive about this sequence is that it’s the only time they updated the fountain footage and they shot “episodic” clips just to put into the credits so it would mesh with how the ones before it looked.

3. Season 6 (Version 1/The Arquette version): This is absolutely a sentimental pick. It was lovely the show (and the cast) honored Courteney Cox’s marriage to David Arquette with the one-time order change (with Courteney leading off the credits) and everyone taking the Arquette name.

2. Season 1 (Version 2): This one gets bonus points for there being clapping over the theme song’s clapping. Yes, sometimes it’s that simple. (And this one flows better than the version that followed it.) But there’s also something pretty special about so much of the show footage being from upcoming episodes (at the time), given this started with episode 2.

1. Season 1 (Version 1): As lovely as it is to have the scenes from the show, there’s something so absolutely pure about the pilot’s opening. It’s just the cast in the iconic fountain, long before they knew how big the show was going to be. It’s also fascinating to see how many seeds of what the show/dynamic will be from within the cast’s interplay. (Ross and Rachel! Monica and Chandler! Phoebe’s loopiness and Joey being very chill.)

Which opening was your favorite?


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