Friends Central

"The One Where Rachel Finds Out" is the twenty-fourth episode and season finale of the first season of Friends, which aired on May 18, 1995.


Rachel keeps drooling over Ben's baby pictures, unaware that Ross is drooling over her. Chandler and Joey are skeptical that anything can happen between the two and suggest to Ross that he move on and try find someone else.

At Monica's apartment, the friends are about to hold Rachel's birthday barbecue, to which Joey invites Melanie, a girl who works in the fruit basket gift business. She wants to have sex with him, but Joey can't because he's participating in a research study in which he donates sperm for money in return.

Ross drops by to tell the guys that he's going to China for a week, and leaves Rachel's present with them to give to her. Before eating, Rachel opens her presents, and is pleasantly shocked to find that Ross bought her a very expensive pin that she had pointed out to him a while ago. Chandler tries to play the present down by pointing out how Ross did something similar when he was in love with Carol and bought her an expensive crystal duck, but then realizes he has just told Rachel how Ross feels. She's even more shocked at this, but doesn't know how to react.

Joey keeps postponing sex with Melanie by doing other sexual things that please her only. This makes Melanie even crazier about Joey, and she quite literally fills his and Chandler's apartment with fruit baskets in gratitude. Joey is also having fun pleasing Melanie, which he points out to Chandler is something he doesn't usually do. However, as soon the sperm study ends, he changes his mind and returns to his normal love of sex.

Rachel and the girls discuss the pros and cons of going out with Ross, about which Rachel is still undecided. She leaves things with him at the airport, but as he has already passed through the gates, she can only leave him a message, but the flight representative delivers it to the wrong man. Ross, who's learning Chinese from a Walkman, leaves for China with Rachel's message unknown to him.

Rachel tries to put Ross out of her head by asking a guy named Carl on a date. The date goes horribly wrong - Carl is a self-obsessed bore, and Rachel can't get Ross out of her head. She finally makes up her mind after seeing Ross in a fantasy, and leaves for the airport to see him. Just when he's about to leave the gates, Ross picks up a bag that a woman dropped. She thanks him and gives him a kiss, revealing she is actually Ross' new girlfriend. Unaware of this, Rachel waits for Ross.

Cast and Crew[]

Main Cast[]

Jennifer Aniston - Rachel Greene
Courteney Cox - Monica Geller
Lisa Kudrow - Phoebe Buffay
Matt LeBlanc - Joey Tribbiani
Matthew Perry - Chandler Bing
David Schwimmer - Ross Geller

Supporting Cast[]

Lauren Tom - Julie
Corinne Bohrer- Melanie
Tommy Blaze - Carl
Kerrie Klark - Flight Representative
Jack Riley - Airline Passenger (uncredited)


Directed By:
Kevin S. Bright

Written By:
Chris Brown


  • The original finale for Season 1 was supposed to be the previous episode with the birth of Ross & Carol's son. Veteran sitcom director James Burrows pointed out the viewers' interest lay with the fate of Ross' feelings for Rachel.[1]
  • The concept of the episode (and the reveal in the Season 2 premiere) was inspired by the writing of Jane Austen. The other prevalent idea had been to have Ross and Rachel spontaneously kiss and discuss how it would affect their friendship.[1]
  • Ross and Rachel have their first broadcast passionate kiss in this episode although it's just in Rachel's fantasy. Their first physical passionate kiss occurs in "The One Where Ross Finds Out" (S2E7).
  • This is the first episode to show Rachel's habit for exchanging gifts that she receives from the friends, as she tells Monica she exchanged the blouse she received from her. Rachel is also unimpressed by Chandler's gift of Travel Edition Scrabble.
  • This is the first of five birthdays for Rachel to feature in the series. Her next birthday is in "The One With Two Parties" while her 30th birthday is observed in "The One Where They All Turn Thirty". Her last birthday in the series is observed in "The One With Phoebe's Rats". She does have a surprise birthday party in "The One Where Rachel Smokes" but, it was not formally her birthday then.
  • Joey's gift to Rachel is the book Oh, the Places You'll Go!;; by Dr Seuss.
  • In this, the season 1 finale, Rachel decides to go see Ross at the airport to tell him she has feelings for him. Nine seasons later in the "The Last One, Part 2", Ross chases Rachel at the airport to tell her he's still in love with her.
  • Lauren Tom appeared in Cadillac Man (1990) which also starred Robin Williams who makes a cameo appearance in "The One With The Ultimate Fighting Champion".
  • Lauren Tom is the first guest star on Friends whose appearances continuously extend from the previous season's finale up to the next season's premiere and later at its several episodes. The same thing would also happen to Christine Taylor (although she only appeared in the succeeding season's premiere), Helen Baxendale and Aisha Tyler in their respective roles as Bonnie, Emily Waltham and Charlie Wheeler.
  • Joey makes $700 by participating in a fertility study at NYU. It is later revealed that after the study he donated his sperm at a sperm bank. In "The One With The Jam", Monica runs across Joey's record when she's looking for sperm donors for her to have kids, but just as quickly rejected when Monica discovers it's him. In "The One With Unagi", he offers himself for medical studies again, but this time he abandons the idea of sperm donation.
  • In the uncut DVD version of the episode, Rachel leaves her half-finished date to Monica, who exclaims "he [Carl]'s not a sandwich". When Rachel explains who Carl is, Monica agrees to go on the date.
  • In the uncut version of the episode, on her way to the airport, Rachel runs into Chandler, who tries to put off her move because there are many things he hasn't accomplished in his life yet, including watching Baywatch since they have Yasmine Bleeth. This is the first reference to Chandler loving the lifeguards show (and his crush on Yasmine Bleeth).
  • This is the first time for Monica to give one of the friends sexual advice. She would do this again in "The One With Phoebe's Uterus", where she gives Chandler sexual advice about Kathy.
  • This is the first episode to have Rachel's name in the title.
  • This is the last episode not shot on Stage 24, later renamed "The Friends Stage".
  • When Ross asks if the guys know who Carl is, Chandler says "Let's see, Alvin, Simon, Theodore... No." This is a reference for the animated series Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • Monica tells Rachel that if she and Ross get together, they'll "be like friends-in-law". Rachel and Monica actually become sister-in-law during Ross and Rachel's six month marriage in season 6.
  • In the uncut version when Rachel leaves the apartment to meet Ross, she checks her skirt is away from the door. This is because in the blooper for the scene, the dress got caught in the door.
  • The female extra standing behind Rachel on her left has previously been seen as a Central Perk customer. She's also sitting on the bench in the tag scene of "The One With Phoebe's Husband".
  • The song playing at the end of the episode when Rachel waits for Ross at the airport is "Take A Bow" by Madonna, from her 1994 album Bedtime Stories.
  • On the DVD version Kevin S. Bright is credited as Kevin Bright.
  • This episode was used as "C is for Crystal Duck" in the Nick at Nite Friends A-Z Event (January 2023).


  • In the cold open there is a shot inside the coffee house showing a man and a woman on the couch. The next shot is inside the cafe and the gang replaces the man and woman. In fact the friends begin to speak before the camera switches to the view of the friends.
  • When Rachel heads to the airport, the boarding pass the gate agent is holding changes places. When the gate agent grabs Rachel's hands to stop her from going past, she is holding the boarding pass of the passenger behind Rachel, but when the shot changes, the passenger is holding the boarding pass.
  • The man who proceeds Ross in line at the gate is not the man who is in front of him in line on the jetway, he doesn't appear again.
  • When Phoebe says "I don't think any of our lives are going to be the same", Rachel's right hand is by her throat but immediately after Chandler says "Is there a mute button on this woman?", Rachel's hands are in front of her waist.
  • Rachel says Ross asked about asking her out on her FIRST night in the city but it was her second as it was after Monica had slept with Paul the wine guy. Though to be fair, since it was some time ago, it's perfectly believable she just remembered wrong.
  • When Rachel is about to set out to the airport, Phoebe stands with Ross' picture in front of her and Rachel clasps her bag in her hands. In the next shot Rachel's bag is over her left shoulder.
  • When Rachel leaves the apartment in pursuit of Ross, she turns left instead of right towards the stairs.
  • When Phoebe completes her line "your committed", Rachel's left hand is level with her mouth but when Phoebe says "what if it doesn't work out" the fingertips of Rachel's right hand are resting on her left hand in front of her.
  • In the uncut version, Chandler tells Rachel he hasn't watched Baywatch yet. However in "The One With The Flashback" which is set 12 months before "The Pilot", Chandler sits down with Joey to watch Baywatch.
  • After Monica tells Joey "think about it", she turns away from him but the next shot showing the gang Monica's repeating the line and turning again.


Notes and references[]

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Preceded by
"The One With The Birth"
"The One Where Rachel Finds Out" Followed by
"The One With Ross' New Girlfriend"