Aug 16 2017 8:30am

Who Is the Best Couple on Friends?


A Definitive Ranking of Every Couple from Friends

The day Friends went onto Netflix was one of the happiest days of my life. I had watched the show sporadically when it originally aired, and many of my high school and college days were spent watching reruns. With its return to TV, I now do a full series rewatch of Friends at least once a year… and if I’m being honest, it's probably even more often than that. Everyone has an opinion on whether Rachel should have ended up with Joey or Ross, and whether Monica and Chandler are soul mates. However, today I gladly ranked every relationship that has ever gotten screentime on the show. Whether it was a serious relationship or a one-time flirtation, I've ranked them all! Scroll through and tell me where you agree and disagree with my ranking, and let me know down in the comments who your Top 5 couples are! 

(Note: This post contains spoilers of all aired episodes of Friends.)

39. Monica and Chip

Do you ever see people from a different time in your life and think “wow, they haven’t changed a bit?” Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes that’s a bad thing. In the case of Chip Matthews, it is a very bad thing. As Monica so succinctly puts it at the end of her only date with him: “I always wanted to go out with Chip Matthews in high school, well, tonight I actually went out with Chip Matthews in high school.” Do you need some aloe for that burn, Chip?

38. Ross and Chloe

Why is the girl Ross had a one-night stand with on this list? She is the catalyst behind one of the greatest debates in TV history (I’m being hyperbolic, but I still argue about this with friends even today). Were Ross and Rachel on a break when he slept with Chloe? It’s open to interpretation, but because she’s the Helen of Troy of Friends, Chloe gets on this list!

Rachel and Paolo

37. Rachel and Paolo

Paolo the Rebound. ‘Nough said. He was the sexy Italian neighbor that a poor, dejected Rachel sorely needed. Their meet-cute is very romance-worthy and if Paolo was another character, perhaps this relationship would be higher on the list. He was there when Rachel needed him and that counts for something.

36. Frank and Alice

Let’s be real here. Frank and Alice were a really creepy couple. They were a joke that was appropriate in a post-Mary Kay Letourneau world, but upon a re-watch of the show, they had one of the more cringeworthy relationships. There’s something to be said for the puppy-love Frank has for Alice in the early days of their relationship, especially since he’s such a morose character to start. But the real bright spot in the Frank/Alice ship is Phoebe. I love nothing more than Phoebe’s pregnancy arc and I often re-watch those episodes. 

35. Rachel and Russ

Ah, Rachel and Russ, the great romance that never should have been. It was the show’s attempt to illustrate that despite Rachel saying she wasn’t into/was over Ross, she clearly wasn’t. Enter the Ross-lookalike, Russ. Luckily this gag was only an episode-worth and not a long-running schtick.

34. Phoebe and Malcolm

Friends, it seemed, delighted in messy relationships for Phoebe. Maybe it was because of her own free-love mentality and hippy notions of love, maybe just because the show thought they were funny—we’ll never know why Phoebe constantly got the messiest relationships on the show. One of the messiest was the “love triangle” of Ursula (Phoebe’s twin sister), Phoebe, and Ursula’s stalker, Malcolm. In true Phoebe fashion, instead of being horrified at his appearance when he starts stalking her (thinking she's Ursula)… she’s endeared. The episode has many highlights (Monica's post-Richard breakup obsession with jam, Joey's love affair with said jam, Chandler learning how to untangle himself from Janice to name a few). But mostly this is just showed that Phoebe inherited all the good genes in that family, and none of the good.

Monica and Fun Bobby

33. Monica and Fun Bobby

This is another situation where ‘90s television maybe does a disservice by making light of a very serious situation. In this arc, Monica is reunited with a boyfriend from her past—Fun Bobby. It quickly becomes apparent that the whole reason Bobby is fun is because he’s an alcoholic and dealing with some serious issues of depression. Monica successfully helps him quit drinking but as a repercussion, Fun Bobby just isn’t fun anymore. In the end, Monica feels conflicted over wanting to break up with Bobby only to have him break up with her because he feels their relationship has become too co-dependent.

32. Monica and Timothy

Phoebe isn’t the only one to have a cringeworthy relationship and nothing becomes more cringeworthy than the end of the episode where Timothy, the man Monica has been dating, is revealed to be Richard’s son. Yes. The same Richard that was the great love of Monica’s life and her relatively recent ex. Talk about a doomed relationship, the second the two realize the connection things are broken off.

31. Ross and Cheryl (a.k.a. The Dirty Girl)

When you first start dating someone, you try not to make any assumptions about them until you get to know them better. Ross faces a conundrum when he agrees to go home with Cheryl—a fellow paleontologist played by Rebecca Romijn—only to discover that she has a problem at her apartment—and that problem is that her apartment could double as a dumpster. After finding, and accidentally killing, Cheryl’s hamster, which he mistakes for a rat, this relationship comes to a quick end.

30. Rachel and Danny

No friend is safe in the awkward date department—much like real life. Rachel, in an episode that highlights her shallowness, sadly, meets one of her more awkward dates when she starts going out with Danny. Who’s very “close” to his sister. ‘Nough said.  

29. Monica and Julio

While Julio gets very little screentime in the grand scheme of the Friends series, he’s solidified as one of Monica’s more awful boyfriends. During Monica’s tenure as a waitress/chef at a ‘50s style diner, she meets Julio, a busboy and would-be poet. His poetry leave much to be desired. When Julio leaves us with a line like “The Empty Vase is about all women—"well, all Americanwomen,” it’s no wonder she broke up with him.

Phoebe and Gary

28. Phoebe and Gary

Phoebe and Gary’s chemistry was off the charts. This opposites-attract couple was fun to watch, until one morning during a nice cuddle session, Gary pulls out his gun (he’s a cop) and shoots a bird that’s pleasantly chirping out the window. Vegetarian, peace-and-animal-loving Phoebe swiftly leaves for obvious reasons.

27. Chandler and Joanna

I have one word to sum up Chandler’s relationship with Joanna: weird. They had a weird power dynamic, and generally I think Joanna came into Chandler’s life at just a… weird time. Add in that Joanna was Rachel’s boss and the messiness of this relationship was just not my favorite.

26. Charlie and Benjamin Hobart

If the actions of Benjamin Hobart (who I always call by his full name) weren’t directly messing with a main character’s happiness—even when that main character is Ross—I might have rooted for him more. Unfortunately, Benjamin Hobart was childish, unprofessional… and really, really in love with Charlie. You can’t fault a guy completely for doing everything in his power to win her back.

25. Ross and Julie

Much of Ross and Julie’s relationship is defined by a third person: Rachel. When Ross goes off to China at the end of Season 1. Cut to Season 2 and Rachel is ready to finally confess her feelings to Ross, only to have him return from China with a new girlfriend. The relationship is fraught with Rachel trying to break them up and Rachel’s obvious (childish) animosity toward Julie. However, poor Julie is really dealt the short end of the stick when Rachel confesses her feelings to Ross.

24. Rachel and Barry

For better or worse, so much of what happens on Friends is because of Rachel and Barry’s relationship. In a flashback episode we saw how close the friends got to sleeping with one another in a “what might have been” sort of way, but I’ll always wish we could see what truly might have been if Rachel had married Barry. We do see a glimpse of their relationship, but it’s overlaid with themes of cheating and wanting what you can’t have that it takes some of the fun out of it and just leaves me screaming “Rachel, what are you doing!?”

23. Phoebe and Eric

Here’s a scenario for you. You’re at a Halloween Party when in walks a man who mistakes you for your twin. Over the course of the evening, you realize your twin has been lying to him… and that you 're perfect for him. That’s the problem poor Phoebe is faced with in “The One with the Halloween Party.” Over the course of the next few episodes, Eric breaks up with Ursula and gets together with Phoebe, but alas the pair are doomed to never be together as both acknowledge it’s a little too weird. Poor Phoebe.

Ross and Jill

22. Ross and Jill

Spoiler Alert: I hate Rachel’s sisters. I know I’m supposed to. I know they’re written as caricatures of the luxury life Rachel left behind, but I hate them. I’m not too fond of Ross either. Luckily this “relationship” is short-lived as Jill just did it to spite Rachel and Ross realized that if he slept with her sister, he could never be with Rachel.  

21. Ross and Charlie

As a character, I think Ross is fine and even sometimes funny, but as a romantic hero who I’m expected to root for… he leaves much to be desired. One of Ross’s worst characteristics is his low self-esteem. Throughout Friends it’s one of the attributes that drives so many of his actions to the detriment of himself and his relationship with others. While Ross did get the short end of the stick on his breakup with Charlie, I think his insecurity would have eventually driven them apart anyway.

20. Rachel and Joshua (not Josh, Joshua)

Speaking of inappropriate, remember that one time Rachel kind of stalked a customer when she was a personal shopper at Bloomingdale’s? Rachel was obsessed with getting together with Joshua and went to extreme lengths—ones that even lead to Ross and Emily getting together. I didn’t love Joshua. I didn’t love that Rachel insisted he be called Joshua, and her immature behavior during this particular courtship was destined for ruin.

18 & 19: Rachel and Paul Stevens/Ross and Elizabeth Stevens

I packaged these two together because you can’t really talk about one without the other. In a post “we were on a break” world, Rachel and Ross each start a new relationship. Rachel with an older widower in Bruce Willis’ Paul Stevens, and Ross with a younger woman… who happens to be his student (we’ll leave the “Ross is a cliche” conversation for later). Hilarity ensues when these two relationships intersect. I love me a good hijink and this relationship arc is full of them.

Joey and Charlie

17. Joey and Charlie

To be fair, the extent of Joey and Charlie’s relationship is mostly a kiss on a rooftop, however I love this relationship mostly because it upsets ross and I hate Ross with a burning passion. This kiss serves as a catalyst for many reasons—notably it’s at this time that Ross was coming over to flirt with Charlie, and Rachel was coming to talk to Joey. It’s a double dose of angst when the scene ends revealing that the object of their respective affections are kissing one another.  Sadly, Joey and Charlie were just too different and this relationship was doomed to fail.

16. Rachel and Tag

Friends is no stranger to pushing the limits of acceptable (office romances, friendships getting muddied by romantic entanglements, teacher-student relationships (more than one!), stalkers, to name a few). Let’s be real here, Rachel hired Tag because he was hot. If a man did it, we would yell at him, and back then when Rachel did it, it was a bit of a “you go, girl” moment. Upon re-watching, there is a bit of a squick factor to it all, but you could see a real fondness between Rachel and Tag. In the end, it’s on Rachel’s 30th birthday that she realizes that she needs to start getting serious about a relationship if she wants children, and Tag just isn’t part of that future.

15. Ross and Mona

There was something about Mona that I never liked. I can’t explain it. She really only reacted to the “Rachel is having Ross’s baby, but they’re not together” thing in the same way as anyone else would have. My distaste for this relationship largely could have had something to do with Ross’s desperation to get with her at Monica and Chandler’s wedding, or the generally sticky circumstances around his weird Love Square with Joey, Rachel, Mona, and Ross. Whatever the circumstances, this relationship is just not for me!

14. Ross and Carol

You didn’t think I would rank Ross and Carol so highly did you? Okay, so Ross and Carol are obviously divorced by the time we see them on screen. It’s a painful and recent development for Ross, but one that was necessary. Seeing the way these two interact you can see that maybe they weren’t the best suited toward one another, sexuality aside. Despite their differences you can always tell one thing: they’re dutiful and proud co-parents to Ben. In a day and age (the ‘90s) where many couples were shown as unhappily divorced, it was really great to see such a well-adapted pair.

Ross and Emily

13. Ross and Emily

I don’t really like Emily as a love interest, but my sympathies are with her in this arc, which starts the running gag of “Ross loves to get divorced.” Divorce is hard enough, but when your marriage starts with the groom saying the wrong name at the altar, you may have had a hint or two that things would be doomed. Don’t even get me started about how Ross rushed things with Emily and that maybe they shouldn’t have gotten engaged to begin with.

12. Joey and Kathy

The Joey and Kathy situation was always complicated. Joey liked Kathy, Kathy liked Joey, Chandler liked Kathy, and as it turned out Kathy liked Joey too. I love this relationship more because it highlights how good a friend Joey is. Even after Joey and Kathy break up, Joey—who’s a little sore about Kathy and Chandler now getting together—eventually comes around and is nothing but happy for them. That’s why Joey is the best friend on Friends.

11. Monica and Peter Becker

Not only bad things came out of Monica’s time at the diner! For one, we got to see a young Jon Favreau take a turn as the billionaire-cum-MMA fighter. In the end, though, his adrenaline chasing behavior was too much for the cautious Monica. This relationship was fun while it lasted and Favreau will always be one of my favorite guest stars!

10. Jack and Judy Geller

Okay, real talk, here. Jack and Judy Geller are not great parents. They clearly prefer their son, they are not at all supportive of Monica, and the gender politics inherent in how they raise their children are pretty gross. All that being said, Jack and Judy love each other, and I’ll never laugh harder nor find greater fulfillment than in the scene where Monica wants to come clean about her relationship with Richard and accidentally ends up witnessing her parents… romantic interlude… in an attempt to escape them catching her with Richard. I cheer for this scene because it really highlighted a romantic and sexual relationship with people over 40 and I loved them for that. Factor in that I kind of love Judy as an antagonist of the series and you have me falling for this couple.

Carol and Susan

9. Carol and Susan

I think the only person who dislikes Ross as much as I do is Susan. While I have very little sympathy for Carol and Susan—they were cheating, if we read between the lines—I loved the portrayal of a happy lesbian couple living their best life and being great moms to Ben. They obviously and clearly loved one another and found their other half. 

8. Ross and Rachel

As I previously mentioned, I’m not overly fond of Ross. I think he’s entitled, I think he portrays himself as a Nice Guy, which makes him think he’s more deserving of things than he is. Ross and Rachel, for better or worse, were just drawn to one another. I like to think that in the years to come that Rachel truly showed Ross the error in his ways and continued to grow in her career. I hope that Ross became more secure in Rachel's love and more mature as a person. In my head, that all happened.

7. Kathy and Chandler

This episode should have been called “The One with Joey’s Girl” in honor of the very “Jesse’s Girl” vibe that permeated this arc. Chandler finally found the perfect woman for him (that wasn’t Janice) and who does it turn out she’s dating? Joey. His best friend. His soul mate. His better half. So of coursehe can’t make a move on her. It is such a heart-wrenching pairing and the angst nearly killed me, in a good way. Anxiety and jealousy eventually drives a wedge between these two, but in the end it’s for the best.

6.Phoebe and Mike

Finally, after all this time, Phoebe finally gets a perfect, quirky guy! Phoebe deserves only good things out of this life, and after a tough childhood, she deserves Mike. While he’s not exactly who I would have envisioned for Phoebe, he was the sweet and lovable guy she needed in her life. Very swoony, and complete with a delightful grand gesture.

5. Chandler and Janice

Unpopular Opinion: I love Janice. I love how loyal and kind she was. I love that she had a great sense of humor—even if not a great laugh. I loved how much she loved Chandler Bing. Chandler deeply needed assurance that he was worthy of love after the many hiccups of his childhood and he was able to find that with Janice. Were they meant to be together forever? No. But they were meant to be together in that moment.

4. Phoebe and David

You’re probably thinking “What?! How can you put David above Mike.” But Listen. There comes a time in your life when you think back on what might have been. David and Phoebe were constantly in a cycle of “what might have been.” The angst, the yearning, the longing. It was delicious, and while Phoebe and Mike were lovely, nothing gave me feels like Phoebe and David.

Monica and Richard Burke

3. Monica and Richard Burke

Chandler is Monica’s person. Her lobster, if you will. But if there was ever a runner-up that person would be Richard Burke. After a chance encounter years later, Monica starts a relationship with her parents’ neighbor and best friend, Dr. Richard Burke. Their love story is epic and if it wasn’t for the fact that Richard never wanted any more children, and Monica desperately wanted to be a mother, I think the end of this show might have been very different.Rachel and Joey

2. Rachel and Joey

The short answer to why I love Rachel and Joey so much is that they made each other better. (I will let Twitter do the majority of the “long answer” on this one since last week’s most excellent thread broke down why Rachel and Joey should have actually been endgame). While we never saw their relationship come to fruition, what we did have was a lovely and satisfying relationship. Rachel and Joey were always on an equal playing field—especially when you look at Rachel and Ross who were always unequal (and Ross liked it that way). Joey was always there for Rachel, from lifting up her self-esteem and making her laugh in the early seasons to when she was pregnant and needed a place to stay. He let Rachel be 100% herself, and no one was more thrilled than Rachel for each and every one of Joey’s accomplishments. They supported each other and wanted each other to reach new heights not because of their expectations of what the other person thinks their partner should do or be, but because it makes them happy. And isn’t that what we all look for in a partner?

Monica and Chandler

1. Monica and Chandler

Monica and Chandler are a balm to my neurotic soul. Their union gives me hope and makes me swoon. From the first season I was immediately hooked on Mondler’s chemistry—from when they cuddled on the couch to watch Joey’s porn (how romantic) to when they made a pact to marry one another if they were both still single at 40 (so swoony). By Season 4, I was riding the Mondler train 24/7 and was totally hooked. When they got together at Ross’s wedding I was over the moon—nothing was better than the reveal of who Chandler

You don't have to rank all the couples in the comments, but I'd love to hear what your Top 5 look like! Where do you disagree with me? Where do you agree? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. You can usually find her wishing time-travel was possible so she could go back to Victorian England or that she was a paranormal creature. But in the meantime, she fills her time being the Community Manager for Heroes and Heartbreakers, and reading and writing romance. You can find her on Twitter at @JennProffitt.

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Anna Bowling
1. AnnaBowling
Yes, yes, yes, on the final four. I'm okay with Ross/Rachel ending up together, but not shaking pompoms over it. I hope they found a way to make it work, especially for Emma's sake, but if they were still on the same are they/aren't they merry go round all these years later, I would not be surprised. Bookmarking the Rachel/Joey piece for later reading, because I would have loved to have seen what might have come from that.

Monica/Richard, oh so much in another world, but the kid issue sank that ship, and the pain was palpable, because they were that great together. We hurt along with Monica, and with Richard. I am Mondler all day, every day, lobsters indeed, but Richard does get the silver medal on this one.

I do like Mike for Phoebe, but I crazy loved David for her and with her, and, once again, dammit, what if?
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
@AnnaBowling there were SO many what ifs on this show! And "If Onlys" Like I crazy-love Mondler, but also Richard was just so GOOD and their breakup wasn't a crazy hijink it was literally, they wanted different things and just couldn't make it work. And I'm glad that their age wasn't exactly the thing that tore them apart. And each and every time Richard bame back I was like YES, RICHARD. YES! But... still Chandler 4 Life!

The Rachel/Joey twitter thread was great reading and I agreed with all of it!
3. Lolane
I am completely on board with the Mondler as the number 1 couple. The Chanica? The Monica and Chandler. That couple made sense and also made lots of funnies on the show.
Jennifer Proffitt
4. JenniferProffitt
@Lolane, they were the best! Like when they were trying to cover up their romance and hide it from Ross, in particular? So good! They're a gift.

Terri Rose
5. Terri L
I'm a little late on this thread, but had to chime in. I am 100% with you on the Joey/Rachel ship. Ross and Rachel never fit to me and always felt forced. Joey and Rachel were my very first ship before I even knew what shipping was! I was all in the second that I saw the way Joey looked at Rachel when she was watching Cujo.
Jennifer Proffitt
6. JenniferProffitt
@TerriL, never too late--I'm always here to talk Friends! Joey and Rachel make FAR more sense than Rachel and Ross... not least of which because I hate Ross. Joey just deserves happiness and if there was a reboot of this show today (which I don't think there there should be but if there was) I would hope for nothing more than to at least see Joey happily settled... if not with Rachel than with someone worthy of his little puppy dog heart.
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