The third season of Friends aired from September 16, 1996 to May 15, 1997.
This season took on a significantly greater serialized format.
Rachel meets Mark Robinson, who helps her to get a job at Bloomingdale's as their employer's second assistant. Ross immediately becomes jealous and suspicious of Mark, convinced that Mark only helped Rachel to get the job so he could steal her from Ross. Ross's jealousy provokes Rachel to the point where she tells him that she thinks they should take a break, something that she immediately regrets. Ross and Rachel get back together, only to break up once again when Rachel discovers that Ross slept with the hot girl from the copy shop, Chloe. His insistence that he and Rachel were "on a break" becomes a running gag through the remaining seasons. The two show significant animosity towards each other through the second half of the season, though the cliffhanger ending suggests the two reconcile. Interestingly, the first episode after they break up does not focus on the two of them, but on Chandler, who's having a very hard time dealing with the situation, as it reminds him of his parents' divorce.
Phoebe, established as having no family except for an identical twin sister, becomes acquainted with her half-brother, Frank Jr. In the season finale, she meets Phoebe Abbott, the birth mother she never knew she had.
Joey develops a crush on Kate Miller, his acting partner in a new play. At first, she doesn't harbor feelings for him, even after sleeping together. After her boyfriend/director dumps her following a scathing review of the play, she turns to Joey for support. The relationship doesn't last long, as she is given an opportunity on a soap opera in Los Angeles.
Monica begins a relationship with Pete Becker, a millionaire who has a crush on her. At first, she only sees him as a friend. But eventually, he wins her heart. Monica prepares for what she thinks is a marriage proposal, but is disappointed when Pete confides in her that he wants to become the Ultimate Fighting Champion. After seeing him get beat up badly in two matches, she tells him he has to give it up. Since he won't, she breaks up with him.
- Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green
- Courteney Cox as Monica Geller
- Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay/Ursula Buffay (The One With The Jam)
- Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani
- Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing
- David Schwimmer as Ross Geller
- Maggie Wheeler as Janice
- Jon Favreau as Pete Becker
- Steven Eckholdt as Mark Robinson
- Angela Featherstone as Chloe
- Giovanni Ribisi as Frank Buffay Jr.
- Dina Meyer as Kate Miller
- Interestingly, this is the only season without a two-part episode. However, "The One With The Morning After" can be considered a continuation of "The One Where Ross And Rachel Take A Break".
- The opening title sequence in this season differs from others in that Rachel and Chandler are seen to jump onto the side of the fountain. Also the characters all hold different coloured umbrellas to the normal title sequence (Rachel has an orange one whilst Ross has a blue for example) at the start.
|1||49||"The One With The Princess Leia Fantasy"||Michael Curtis & Gregory S. Malins||Gail Mancuso||September 19, 1996|
|Ross's secret fantasy doesn't stay secret for long after he confides in Rachel. Chandler begins to rekindle his relationship with ex-girlfriend Janice.|
|2||50||"The One Where No One's Ready"||Ira Ungerleider||Gail Mancuso||September 26, 1996|
|Ross gets riled when his friends fail to be ready on time for a museum fundraiser where he's giving a speech.|
|3||51||"The One With The Jam"||Wil Calhoun||Kevin S. Bright||October 3, 1996|
|Monica becomes obsessed with making jam as a means of getting over Richard. Still feeling unfulfilled, she decides she wants to having a baby and visits a sperm bank.|
|4||52||"The One With The Metaphorical Tunnel"||Alexa Junge||Steve Zuckerman||October 10, 1996|
|Ross and Rachel encourage Chandler to "go through the tunnel" and commit to Janice. Ross worries when his son plays with a girl's doll and tries frantically to substitute masculine toys.|
|5||53||"The One With Frank Jr."||Scott Silveri & Shana Goldberg-Meehan||Steve Zuckerman||October 17, 1996|
|Phoebe invited her half-brother Frank Jr. to visit. Ross makes a list of famous women he'd like to date.|
|6||54||"The One With The Flashback"||Marta Kauffman & David Crane||Peter Bonerz||October 31, 1996|
|After Janice asks whether they've ever dated each other, the friends reminisce about a time three years ago and some dark secrets are revealed.|
|7||55||"The One With The Race Car Bed"||Seth Kurland||Gail Mancuso||November 7, 1996|
|When returning a misdelivered bed back to the store, Monica and Joey catch Janice passionately kissing her ex-husband in the back room.|
|8||56||"The One With The Giant Poking Device"||Adam Chase||Gail Mancuso||November 14, 1996|
|When Phoebe believes she's killed the ugly naked guy across the street from Rachel and Monica, Joey constructs a long poking device. Chandler confronts Janice.|
|9||57||"The One With The Football"||Ira Ungerleider||Kevin S. Bright||November 21, 1996|
|It's Thanksgiving and the friends start a game of football that reveals some major rivalries and prods a rematch that has serious implications for the roast turkey!|
|10||58||"The One Where Rachel Quits"||Michael Curtis & Gregory S. Malins||Terry Hughes||December 12, 1996|
|After quitting her Central Perk gig, Rachel worries she'll be jobless long-term. Joey's job selling Christmas trees upsets Phoebe, who becomes distressed over leftover trees.|
|11||59||"The One Where Chandler Can't Remember Which Sister"||Alexa Junge||Terry Hughes||January 9, 1997|
|A handsome stranger offers Rachel a fashion-buying job. Chandler forgets which of Joey's sisters he fooled around with after getting drunk at Joey's birthday.|
|12||60||"The One With All The Jealousy"||Doty Abrams||Robby Benson||January 16, 1997|
|Ross becomes obsessively jealous of Rachel's sexy new co-worker Mark and is convinced he is flirting with Rachel. Monica is smitten with a sexy busboy.|
|13||61||"The One Where Monica & Richard Are Friends"||Michael Borkow||Robby Benson||January 30, 1997|
|Monica and ex-boyfriend Richard meet by chance - and the lunch they go to leads to something more.|
|14||62||"The One With Phoebe's Ex-Partner"||Wil Calhoun||Robby Benson||February 6, 1997|
|Phoebe's ex-singing partner Leslie wants to use Smelly Cat for a cat-litter ad. Chandler dates a beautiful woman with an artificial leg... and a tie to Joey.|
|15||63||"The One Where Ross & Rachel Take A Break"||Michael Borkow||James Burrows||February 13, 1997|
|Ross and Rachel decide to go on a break. Phoebe becomes involved with a foreign diplomat.|
|16||64||"The One With The Morning After"||Marta Kauffman & David Crane||James Burrows||February 20, 1997|
|Unaware of Ross's one-night stand with another woman, Rachel visits him to declare her undying love.|
|17||65||"The One Without The Ski Trip"||Scott Silveri & Shana-Goldberg Meehan||Sam Simon||March 6, 1997|
|Rachel asks everyone to go on a ski trip... except Ross. Chandler is particularly traumatized by the Ross/Rachel breakup, which reminds him of his parents' divorce.|
|18||66||"The One With The Hypnosis Tape"||Seth Kurland||Robby Benson||March 13, 1997|
|Chandler uses a hypnosis tape to quit smoking. Unbeknownst to him, it's aimed only at women. Phoebe freaks when her brother wants to wed a woman twice his age.|
|19||67||"The One With The Tiny T-Shirt"||Adam Chase||Terry Hughes||March 27, 1997|
|Ross is upset when Rachel returns his belongings. Monica dates a millionaire she considers funny, nice and yet not quite her dream man.|
|20||68||"The One With The Dollhouse"||Wil Calhoun||Terry Hughes||April 10, 1997|
|Monica inherits an exquisite dollhouse from her aunt. Joey winds up in bed with his leading lady. Rachel's boss dates Chandler.|
|21||69||"The One With A Chick And A Duck"||Chris Brown||Michael Lembeck||April 17, 1997|
|Monica is ecstatic when her millionaire friend Pete buys a restaurant and wants her as head chef. Joey buys Chandler a chick - a live baby chicken and later a live duck.|
|22||70||"The One With The Screamer"||Scott Silveri & Shana Goldberg-Meehan||Peter Bonerz||April 24, 1997|
|Joey's play gets terrible reviews. Ross tries to convince Rachel her date is psychotic.|
|23||71||"The One With Ross's Thing"||Andrew Reich & Ted Cohen||Shelley Jensen||May 1, 1997|
|Ross discovers a strange growth on his buttocks. Phoebe dates a firefighter and a teacher.|
|24||72||"The One With The Ultimate Fighting Champion"||Teleplay by Scott Silveri & Shana Goldberg-Meehan, Story by Mark J. Kunerth & Pang-Ni Landrum||Robby Benson||May 8, 1997|
|Monica begs Pete to stop fighting after he is beaten up. Chandler is unnerved when his boss slaps his butt. Ross starts dating a new woman.|
|25||73||"The One At The Beach"||Teleplay by Adam Chase, Story by Mark J. Kunerth & Pang-Ni Landrum||Robby Benson||May 15, 1997|
|Phoebe invites the group to her client's beach house. Rachel tricks Ross's new girlfriend into shaving her head.|