Could it BE any more difficult: Pulp ranks the six lead characters on Friends


Since it was first broadcast in 1994, Friends has struck a chord with millions worldwide.  Arguably the first truly “ensemble” sitcom, the show’s ten years were typified by, and dependent on, unprecedented chemistry between the characters, and their complex relationships.  But just who is the best of the characters on the show?  Death threats can be referred to, as I attempt to rank the six lead characters on Friends.

 #6 Monica Geller
In a show where there isn’t a bad character, it was hard to pick last place.  However, Monica gets the spot for a couple of reasons.  For a start, her character development throughout the show isn’t very convincing.  Rather than added complexity being afforded to her, Monica basically just becomes an exaggerated version of her formerly relatable self towards the middle of the show.  While her obsessive, neurotic behaviours were always grounded in the early seasons, she becomes flat-out bizarre and childish around the time her relationship with Chandler becomes serious.   Also, I never bought into “Monica was fat” as a running joke.
#5 Joey Tribbiani
Like Monica, Joey’s character development basically consisted of him becoming a caricature of who he was in the early seasons.  If Friends had have stopped at season five or six (actually wait, forget I said that), he’d probably be a lot higher; Joey’s unflinching loyalty and bromance with Chandler were both endearing in the early phases of the show, and his lack of filter and bawdy humour were, let’s be real, hilarious.  But towards the later seasons, the “Joey is dumb” card was used and abused, often with howlingly unfunny consequences.  His efforts at a relationship with Rachel were also the kind of trainwreck that you’d only expect from The Big Bang Theory.
#4 Rachel Green
While there isn’t really a lead character on Friends, Rachel probably comes the closest in terms of the actual plot of the show- at least in the early seasons.  Her transformation from naive and stuck-up to independent and down-to-earth is a high point and unlike Monica and Joey, her quirks never become unrelatable- if anything they help to give the series momentum, as is the case when she goes to London for Ross’ wedding.  The only reason she hasn’t been able to crack the top three is that most of the hilarious moments that we remember from the show just don’t seem to be catalysed by her.  She’s a solidly funny character without ever really being next level hilarious.
#3 Ross Geller
Arguably the most polarising character on Friends, I’m probably going to cop a bit of flack for putting Ross this high up the list.  But not even the hardiest Ross-hater could deny that Ross’ obsession with Unagi, his attempts at rocking leather pants and playing rugby are all incredibly memorable.  Yes, he’s a bit annoying and maybe even maniacal from time to time, but his devastating combination of insecurity and lovability resonates almost more than any other character trait combination.  And unlike some, he’s actually able to remain funny until the end.

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#2 Phoebe Buffay
Of all the characters on Friends, it feels like even after ten seasons, there’s still more we could learn about Phoebe.  That in itself is a testament of her complexity as a character.  Beyond this, she also works well as something of a reprieve from the sometimes divisive plot points of the show.  She’s a break from the “we were on a break” shit that keeps coming up, and her quirkiness never becomes quite as insufferable as it probably could have.  She’s also just a lot of fun- I’d want to be friends with Phoebe.
#1 Chandler Bing
Could it BE anyone else?  Probably not.  “The Chan Chan Man” is probably the most original of the lead characters, failing to adhere directly to sitcom tropes like some of the others.  He’s an immature, insecure comedic genius with exactly the right blend of neurotic and sarcastic behaviours, and Matthew Perry’s timing as a comic actor is unrivalled amongst the main cast.  Chandler’s plot points later in the series also seem fairly organic- his ventures in a new job are always pretty entertaining, for instance.  A genuine crowdpleaser, Chandler helped to inspire whiney youths the world over, and will hopefully continue to do so.

Pulp Editors