The 15 Best Friends Characters, Ranked (2024)

Summary

  • Friends characters remain iconic, influencing TV with humor, heart, and unforgettable moments fans cherish for decades.
  • Supporting characters like Mr. Treeger, David, and Erica added depth and humor, enhancing the Friends ensemble cast.
  • From Phoebe’s quirky love interests to Janice’s unforgettable catchphrase, every character brought something special to Friends.

Though it features one of the most famous television ensembles of all time, the best Friends characters still stand out from the rest. The hit sitcom remains beloved by millions of fans, making it one of the biggest television hits of the 1990s and 2000s while still remaining a popular binge-watch option on streaming. It is the Friends characters that fans keep returning for with some of the most iconic and influential television creations of all time that audiences laughed with, cried with, and shared important life moments with over the course of the 10 seasons of Friends.

While the six main cast members of Friends are most important, there are some great supporting characters who came in and out of the series and deserve recognition as well. With memorable highlights from them all, it is difficult to determine the best Friends character in the end. However, looking at the performances, the impact of the characters, and the big moments they had on the show, there are some that remain more beloved than others.

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15 Michael Gerard Hagerty As Mr. Treeger

5 Episodes

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The apartment building was such an important setting on Friends, so it makes sense that the building superintendent would have a role in the show, even if only for a few episodes. Mr. Treeger was a gruff and intimidating character at first, but he eventually showed a softer side.

His standout moment in the series was when he allowed his vulnerability to be shown when he asked Joey to help him learn how to dance. The nervousness Treeger has and the gratitude he shows to Joey for helping him are touching. From that point on, Treeger was an endearing character even if he would only pop in and out of the episodes as he was needed.

Sadly, actor Mike Hagerty passed away in 2022 after a long career that included appearances on Seinfeld and Brooklyn Nine-Nine as well.

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14 Hank Azaria As David

5 Episodes

Each member of the core Friends group had their share of love interests, but Phoebe might have had the best ones of them all. That’s largely because her love interests are all so very different from one another. While she would eventually marry Mike, David was a terrific early boyfriend who seemed like an ideal match for Phoebe’s strange energy.

David was a smart but socially awkward man who nervously bumbled his way through their love story, which saw him forced to move away to Russia and come back to try to win Phoebe’s heart at a later point in the series. Hank Azaria is a brilliant comedic actor and his performance as David allowed him to stand apart from the other love interests with a quirky role that earned Azaria an Emmy nomination.

13 Anna Faris As Erica

4 Episodes

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Anna Faris is known for her own sitcom in Mom, but also for comedic movies like the Scary Movie franchise and the rom-com What’s Your Number. There’s no question she can hold her own against comedy veterans like the main cast of Friends. Though she only appeared in 4 episodes, Erica was a big part of one of the most important storylines of the final season of Friends. She was the young pregnant woman who chose Chandler and Monica as the adoptive parents of her baby.

Erica gets a nice recurring role in the final season as the show checks in with her pregnancy while also allowing her to steal scenes with her space-headed gimmick. While it could come off a bit cartoonish if another actor had the part, Anna Faris plays such roles better than most, making for the funny finale moment when Erica is as surprised as Chandler and Monica when she gives birth to twins.

12 Christina Applegate As Amy Green

2 Episodes

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Some of the best supporting characters on Friends are the family members of the main characters who show up. Not all of them recur consistently throughout the series, but when they appear, they help the audience understand even more about the personalities of the main cast. While Reese Witherspoon was terrific as Rachel’s younger sister, Christina Applegate is even better than the third Green sister, Amy.

Amy is an interesting look at what Rachel might have been like if she hadn’t run from the altar and started again with her new group of friends. Amy is rude, spoiled, and self-involved, with Applegate having a lot of fun playing the worst aspects of the character. She comes into the apartment in her first appearance and tears down the entire group with her passive-aggressive comments, stealing the show entirely. Applegate won an Emmy for her hilarious performance.

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11 Tom Selleck As Richard Burke

10 Episodes

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Another stand-out love interest who made a big impact on the show was Richard Burke. Looking back on the series, there is a bit of an uncomfortable aspect to the romance since he is Monica’s father’s friend, though the show does address the awkwardness of that. Ignoring Monica and Richard’s age difference, they made for a charming couple and he fit surprisingly well into the ensemble.

Not only was he a charming boyfriend for Monica who understood her need to have things just-so, but Joey and Chandler idolized him, taking up smoking cigars and growing mustaches in his honor. Tom Selleck maintains his cool persona while showing a bit of his comedic side, earning an Emmy nomination for the role and appearing more than many of the other recurring love interests outside of the core six did.

10 James Michael Tyler As Gunther

159 Episodes

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Gunther originally started out as a minor character who was only seen in the background at Central Perk before he hopelessly fell in love with Rachel. He could have simply been an extra with no lines, but that gradually changed, fleshing out the character over the years.

There are many hilarious scenes across the 10 seasons where he attempts to tell Rachel how he feels to no avail. Although Gunther could be cruel to Ross at times – he revealed Ross’ fling with Chloe to Rachel to break them up – Gunther was largely a gag character. There were some fans who even rooted for him because of how persistent Gunther was in his hopes to win Rachel, which shows just how much he grew on audiences.

Outside the main cast, Gunther appeared in more episodes than any supporting character in the entire run of the show.

9 Maggie Wheeler As Janice

20 Episodes

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Janice started out as another short-lived love interest on the show, but the popularity of the character grew and she was brought back again and again. Janice’s quote of “Oh my God!” has become part of pop culture and signaled another crowd-pleasing appearance from the character.

Janice’s traits like her nasal voice and piercing laugh helped to make her so memorable. She had a tendency to pop up in any situation, from sharing a delivery room with Rachel when she was giving birth to looking at the same neighborhood when Chandler and Monica make plans to move.

She was so popular that she ended up appearing at least once in every season of the show, and she even dated multiple members of the group of friends. That didn’t happen very often for recurring characters as the writers would be more likely to have two of the guys argue about the same woman for an episode, and then forget her by the next. Wheeler’s fantastic comedic timing, however, meant the writers kept bringing her back for more.

8 Elliott Gould As Jack Geller

22 Episodes

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Among so many disappointing parents in the series, Jack always stood out as one of the best on Friends. Unlike his wife, he was very warm toward Monica and went over to his daughter to comfort her during her breakup with Richard. Of course, much of that warmth might have been a result of Gould’s natural charm as that’s also a reason he’s a favorite in the Ocean’s Eleven movies.

Jack was also willing to do better as a father by apologizing for inadvertently favoring Ross and gifting her the Porsche she loved so much. Despite his small number of episodes, the audience could see Jack changing throughout the show’s run. Elliott Gould also brought his legendary comedic skills to the role, making Jack the goofy father, especially in the later seasons. Silly moments in the show, like Jack forgetting the family dog or even forgetting which baby was his granddaughter, were funny moments that mixed well with his sweeter ones.

7 Paul Rudd As Mike Hannigan

16 Episodes

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Paul Rudd is so likable that, no matter what the role is in an ensemble show or movie, there’s a good chance he’s going to quickly become a fan favorite. That’s the case for his Friends character, Mike, who is one of Phoebe’s later love interests in the show. When the Friends characters are ranked, he’s the best character who isn’t one of the core six.

In retrospect, it appears that Phoebe and Mike were an underrated Friends couple because the latter was the only person not part of the main group to become a permanent fixture. The show never allowed outsiders to stay with the group for too long, but Mike endeared himself with his sweet relationship with Phoebe.

Paul Rudd’s winning performance allowed him to move outside the typical bounds of the love interest role, including sharing a torturous evening with Ross and even joining the rest of the gang when they went to Barbados. In the end, the wedding of Mike and Phoebe in the final season solidified him as one of the gang.

6 David Schwimmer As Ross Geller

234 Episodes

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Out of the main group on Friends, Ross was the one who was easier to dislike, but that is a testament to David Schwimmer’s willingness to make him the butt of the joke. Ross could often feel like the grown-up of the group with his more serious and responsible behavior. However, some of the funniest moments on the show came from laughing at Ross’ embarrassing moments like getting stuck in his leather trousers, getting excessively tanned, or saying the wrong name at his own wedding.

Ross was also the center of the romantic aspect of Friends, selling the romance and the heartbreak of his relationship with Rachel, which made fans cheer for him to win her back. Schwimmer was nominated for an Emmy in the show’s first season, proving he was a breakout star early on, but it’s not hard to feel his character became overshadowed by the others as the show grew.

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5 Courteney Cox As Monica Geller

234 Episodes

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Monica started out as a relatively unremarkable character before she became much more ferocious and strong. There is a sense that she is not seen to be as funny as the other characters, but Monica’s over-competitive nature, confrontational attitude, and obsessive cleanliness make for some hilarious moments.

Courteney Cox embraces these explosive moments, bringing the character to life. Monica is also the source of comfort for her friends with a loving personality while it was a joy to see her find happiness as the series went along, first with her marriage to Chandler and then with them starting a family together in the final episode.

Because Cox was so often the “straight man” of the more outlandish comedic scenes, she was often overlooked come award season. Most of her award show nominations were for the entire Friends ensemble during the show’s run.

4 Phoebe Buffay

234 Episodes

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Phoebe serves as an inspiration for the kind of kooky characters many sitcom ensembles typically have today. She comes up with the wackiest theories – such as believing her mother was reincarnated as a cat and that Santa was actually real – but carries them with so much innocence that it is hard not to become fond of her. Her carefree attitude and no-drama persona made her a joy to watch, while her tough side was also a source of a lot of entertainment whenever it came out.

Lisa Kudrow walked a fine line with the character’s eccentricities but also nailed the emotional moments, like Phoebe acting as a surrogate for her brother and his wife and ultimately giving birth to triplets. Her performance led to Kudrow earning five Emmy nominations over the course of the series and becoming the first member of the cast to win an Emmy.

3 Matt LeBlanc As Joey Tribbiani

234 Episodes

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Despite sometimes being a shameless lothario, Joey had the biggest heart among all the Friends characters. He was a loving best buddy to Chandler, always exhibiting a little bit of jealousy when he and Monica got together. He was also there for Rachel as her fun-loving and supportive roommate. He was often the funniest character on the show, with Joey’s active dating life, love of food, and low intelligence compared to the rest of the group making for perfect comedic material.

As the series went on, Joey was the character who improved the most, with Matt LeBlanc gradually stealing the show. Though he didn’t receive an Emmy nomination for the series until 2002, he ended up being nominated for the final three seasons. While his spinoff Joey was seen as a failure, it is not surprising that he was the character chosen to get his own show.

2 Jennifer Aniston As Rachel Green

234 Episodes

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While Friends is certainly an ensemble, there are times when it feels like Rachel is established as the main character. She is at the center of some of the biggest moments in the series, from the ongoing drama of her relationship with Ross to her giving birth in season 8. Indeed, the whole series kicks off with Rachel running into Central Perk in her wedding dress, becoming part of the friend group, and beginning the journey of her new life. It makes her a fun and compelling arc to follow throughout the series.

Jennifer Aniston also helped to make Rachel into a pop culture fixture, with her hair inspiring a cultural movement. Aniston was often given the most dramatic material of all the main cast and nailed those moments with some heartbreaking scenes, such as Rachel confronting Ross about the list and discovering she is pregnant for the first time.

Aniston was nominated for an Emmy five times for her performance, winning once.

1 Matthew Perry As Chandler Bing

234 Episodes

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Chandler is the breakout character from Friends, having made an impression right from the opening moments of the show. His self-deprecating sarcasm, witty nature, and tendency to embarrass himself introduced a new and fresh style of sitcom humor that has been mimicked and copied ever since. A lot of that is due to Matthew Perry, whose delivery and ad-lib styles made him the only actor imaginable for the role.

Despite him rarely taking anything seriously in the early seasons, Chandler was also willing to grow, easily being the character who developed the most maturity. Alongside Rachel, he has the strongest character arc of the show. Chandler overcame his phobia of commitment and married Monica, becoming a father by the end of the series, along with finding a job that made him truly happy.

Perry received an Emmy nomination for his role as Chandler in 2002. The passing of Perry in October 2023 led to many fans taking another look at his career, especially his role as Chandler, and the outpouring of love and appreciation for the actor cemented him as the best Friends character.

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Friends

Friends is the popular sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, released back in 1994 and ran for ten seasons. The show follows a group of six twentysomethings through their lives in New York City and their time spent between their two apartments and their local coffee shop. The show features the group navigating tricky relationships with one another and comical misadventures.

Release Date
September 22, 1994
Seasons
10
Writers
David Crane , Marta Kauffman
Showrunner
Marta Kauffman
The 15 Best Friends Characters, Ranked (2024)
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