Friends is as popular with young people today as when it first aired 25 years ago, and it appears time has only strengthened overall fondness for Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica.
The discussions among today’s Friends watchers are the same that people were having back when the show first aired: Why wasn’t the Joey and Rachel storyline destroyed in utero? Where did Ross’ son Ben go? And, most importantly, who was the best character?
We’ve had many years to review the characters in hindsight, to see who they are now as adults and what we think of them now that we’re adults. Here’s our ranking of the Friends main characters!
6. Monica Gellar
“Nobody likes Milhouse!” This iconic Simpsons quote could be repurposed for Monica, since she was someone nobody had much affection for. She was overly tidy, often a party pooper, and generally quite selfish, all things considered.
She did have her funny moments—the whole cast did—and the jellyfish sequence is one of the series’ classic comedy bits. (By the way, don’t pee on a jellyfish sting! It’ll just make it worse.)
But when you boil Monica down, she’s the friend who tells the rest that she’s upset and goes home after two beers. She’s the one everybody else has to cheer up. And even once the show has ended, there aren’t many fond memories of Monica that come to mind.
Is it a coincidence that Courteney Cox was the only Friends cast member to not get an Emmy nomination for her work? She’s not a terrible actress, so perhaps it comes down to the character material.
5. Ross Gellar
There was something off about the Geller family in Friends. Monica wasn’t the only one who annoyed everyone. In fact, Ross was right up there with her, although in different ways.
He was a whiner who considered himself better than those around him because he was a doctor. Furthermore, he was the single worst boyfriend in sitcom history—even worse than the promiscuous Jerry Seinfeld.
He had temper problems but often played himself up as the victim. The way he treated Rachel during their friendship and their relationship was downright mean at times, as was the way he spoke to the rest of the gang (*uses hands to request keeping the volume down*).
In the finale, Ross got his happy ending with Rachel—which is really the best for everyone because Rachel might be the only person who can really deal with his irritating personality.
Yes, Ross had good moments. The sandwich incident and the leather pants debacle were hilarious, and the flashback video of him with a moustache trying to help out a seemingly dumped Rachel was very sweet. However, it isn’t enough to make him more likable now.
4. Joey Tribbiani
Affable, lovable, and completely devoid of character development—at least, any character development that was meaningful.
Joey had many great comedy sequences during the show’s run, and he always seemed to be doing okay no matter the circumstances. He was the person who dated the most throughout the series, and was always available to help out when his buddies needed it.
He was funny, too. Joey’s over-the-top personality made for several great moments, such as: putting Chandler in a box to teach him a lesson, building a TV unit that was way too big, the care he took in raising the duck and chick, etc.
As time has passed, Joey remained the same. Other characters have undergone re-evaluations, but Joey has always been Joey: a kind soul who loved to eat and did his best to be there for his friends.
3. Rachel Green
Rachel is the one who grew the most during Friends.
Her tale started with her arriving at the coffee house after running away from her wedding. From there, she worked at Central Perk before becoming involved in the fashion industry, then becoming a mother who stood on her own two feet and deserved her success.
Rachel’s story, in many ways, is the spine of the series. Her on-again-off-again relationship with Ross dominates every season of the show, even through to the finale when they finally get back together.
Her getting off the plane in the final episode is one of the series’ highlights as she gets the man she wants and the life that she knows will bring her the most happiness.
Rachel could be snippy and overly dramatic at times, but this was balanced out by her kind nature and the fact that she mostly seemed to handle her situations without excess whining.
2. Chandler Bing
How could anybody not love Chandler? Yes, he was sarcastic to a fault. Yes, that mouth of his often landed him in trouble. But for the audience, he was pure box office antics.
Pound for pound, Chandler was the funniest character on the show. His remarks often cut through any situation like a hot knife, and nobody could match his mocking ability.
However, there was more to Chandler than that. He was a genuinely sweet man who loved his friends and always looked out for them—especially Joey, whom he considered a brother.
The series was at its best when Chandler and Joey lived together across the hall from Monica and Rachel, as the boys-vs-girls battle waged on.
He got what he wanted in the end: he and Monica bought a big house in the suburbs, and they became parents to twins. In hindsight, Chandler was difficult not to like and it’s no wonder so many fans would pick him as their favorite character of the show.
1. Phoebe Buffay
Looking back at Friends, there are the Five Friends and Phoebe. She’s the renegade. She’s the one who spews profound statements dressed up in nonsense (“See, he’s her lobster!”)
Phoebe’s overt role in the show was to be the outcast, the one who saw the group as a whole and hung out with them because she liked them. She became the comedic glue that held everybody together, even while she had the loosest connections to all of them individually.
Beneath all of that, Phoebe was a heartbreaking character. She had endured so much pain in her life, yet still found ways to keep on smiling in the worst of moments. She gave the best advice to her pals and was the kindest, sweetest person out of all of them.
The moments that define Phoebe Buffay weren’t her hilarious ones but her emotional ones—like finally meeting her father for the first time since she was a child and telling him of her life, or giving up her surrogate triplets after sharing a few quiet seconds with them.
In the end, Phoebe wasn’t just the best character in Friends by a long shot, but one of the best characters of any TV sitcom.