Ranking Friends Couples From Worst To Best

Friends couples set some unrealistic standards back when it aired — the show had plenty of unrealistic moments actually. After all, you probably couldn't afford an apartment like the one Monica and Rachel had. Still, you probably have gone on a horrible blind date, worked an embarrassing job, or realized you actually didn't want to go to that party you agreed to. "There's an argument," script editor Andrew Ellard told The New Republic, "that unmarried, underemployed twentysomethings who hadn't sorted their lives out weren't being seen on TV in the early Nineties. But when Friends arrives, suddenly it's clear that people like that are in fact the majority." Ellard added, "Now it's thirtysomethings who haven't figured out where their lives are going — and that's what gets you The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother."

Friends illustrated the turbulent lives of six people navigating their 20s and early 30s and that youth comes with a lot of relationships and a lot of mistakes. There are many episodes dedicated to dating mishaps and many to love everlasting, but just which Friends relationships were the most memorable — and for what reasons? These are the Friends' couples ranked from worst to best.

Friends couple Rachel and Barry were never meant to be

To Dr. Barry Farber's credit, if he and Rachel were never an item, the show would never have started. Sure, getting left at the altar was pretty bad, but it turns out that he had been cheating on Rachel with Mindy, her best friend and maid of honor, so he couldn't have been too heartbroken. After all, he went on the honeymoon with Mindy, who he would then cheat on again with Rachel...

We later find out in the Season 6 episode "The One That Could Have Been" that if Rachel had married Barry, he would have ended up cheating on her anyway. "It seems like no matter what timeline ... I just can't get out of my own way, and apparently out of somebody else's bed," the actor who played Barry, Mitchell Whitfield, joked to Today. Barry was sort of just there to be the "bad" guy in Rachel's past. He fit the bill pretty well for that, but, by default, that pins him and Rachel as the worst Friends couple.

Friends couple Phoebe and Gary could never have worked

Gary shot a bird while he was snuggling up with Phoebe on the bed. Yes, that's a pretty pithy statement, but, even if Phoebe wasn't an avid animal lover, that alone would be grounds for a break up. The two were together for six episodes in the show's fifth season. They met when Gary, a cop, could have easily turned Phoebe in for impersonating an officer, but he instead asked her on a date. Through the short affair, the Friends couple seemed to have quite a bit of physical chemistry.

Out of the main cast, Phoebe was the one with the least amount of "serious" relationships. Thus, having Gary around for more than just a couple of episodes and having a cute bit where he interrogated her about moving in with him, makes him significant enough to be mentioned. But these two clearly didn't have a future.

Ross and Julie were one Friends couple both Rachel and fans couldn't stand

By Ross Geller's own admission, Julie's only crime was that she "wasn't Rachel." Julie was nice, smart, and mature, and she had a lot in common with Ross. Even when Rachel tried to sabotage Julie's relationship with Ross time and time again, Julie only ever tried being civil with her. The unwarranted hate towards Julie wasn't even just on-screen. "I wasn't prepared for the amount of venom I was about to receive in a live audience where they actually booed my character," the actress who played Julie, Lauren Tom, shared with Today. She noted, "But I did understand intellectually that, you know, the audience was meant to be rooting for Rachel. Even I was rooting for Rachel, on some level, 'cause I was a fan of the show."

Ross did end up breaking up with Julie (only to lose Rachel too, due to the infamous pros and cons list), as this Friends couple's relationship was little more than an obstacle for Rachel. Nevertheless, Julie got her happy ending. Tom believes she ended up with the Ross doppelgänger, Russ. 

Emily and Ross were one Friends couple that didn't stand a chance

Let's face it: Ross is terrible to the women in his life. Besides that awful pros and cons list he made when deciding between Julie and Rachel, there was that whole "we were on a break" thing, his possessive behavior, and, of course, his saying the wrong freaking name at the altar. Needless to say, Emily was rightfully upset at Ross' blunder and went into hiding after the wedding. She started appearing again in Season 5, and the show tried to paint her as jealous, though really she was acting pretty reasonably considering the circumstances.

Emily saw Ross going on their honeymoon with Rachel and disappeared for another three episodes. Ross tried to convince her to return to the States and she agreed upon the condition that he not see Rachel again. You know, the woman he was clearly still in love with. This Friends couple finally ended their relationship soon after when Emily realized she couldn't trust Ross. Despite any affection the two had prior to the wedding, this relationship was a dumpster fire.

Friends couple Chandler and Janice wouldn't stop breaking up

Janice and Chandler's relationship was like a weird but entertaining ping-pong match. Chandler broke up with Janice about three times in the first season alone. The two were the most serious in Season 3 when they rekindled their affection for one another as Janice's marriage fell apart. Eventually they would split in a heartfelt but hilarious break up. The next attempt at a relationship would result in the great Yemen escape of Season 4.

Janice was a memorable, funny character. You could never really tell if Chandler hated or loved her, but this Friends couple was always amusing to watch on screen. The audience lost their minds whenever that nasally voice came through the door with an, "Oh. My. Gawd!" Actress Maggie Wheeler, who played Janice, told Uproxx, "The beautiful thing about Janice is that in spite of how other people see her in the context of a room, she does not see herself that way. She sees only possibility, which is what makes the comedy so rich and so funny..." As fun as Chandler and Janice were together, it was probably for the best that they saw other people.

Friends couple Chandler and Kathy started with a betrayal

There aren't many notable successful relationships out there that begin with an affair. In Friends, Kathy started going out with Joey, but Chandler began to develop strong feelings for her. Chandler pined for her until eventually she revealed that she had feelings too and kissed him. To Chandler's credit, he did the right thing and told Joey soon after. 

Kathy, in truth, wasn't all that interesting. It was the stress she caused on Chandler and Joey's strong friendship that was really the meat of the episodes she was in. Joey ended up stuffing Chandler in a box for a whole episode. Joey, of course, eventually forgave Chandler, and Kathy stuck around for a while. Then, shock of all shocks, she ended up cheating on Chandler with another actor. Chandler and Kathy got along well, and the Friends couple had a sarcastic humor in common. However, their own drama eclipsed them, and, once it was over, Kathy had little narrative use.

Rachel and Tag made for a cute but ultimately short-lived Friends couple

In Season 7, Rachel hired the 24-year-old Tag Jones as her assistant — not because he was capable, but because he was cute. One can only judge her so much considering how easy actor Robert Cahill is on the eyes. The two, of course, had the build-up of a forbidden office romance, which is always fun in a sitcom. 

The Friends couple worked well together, on screen and off. "She really allowed me to have a voice on set," Cahill told Glamour

The characters had a fun fling, but that's also all their relationship really was. They ended up breaking up when Rachel realized she wanted a more serious relationship and the two were at different stages in their lives. He would try to get back together with her a season later, only to freak out when he learned Rachel was pregnant. Tag was memorable for the workplace hijinks, but this Friends couple just didn't have staying power.

As a Friends couple, Charlie and Ross were a good match for each other

Professor Charlie Wheeler showed up late in the game in Season 9. Charlie, portrayed by Aisha Tyler, would be the first black actress on the show with a recurring role. "I think why it worked was that they didn't make it into a 'very special episode of Friends,' where the friends suddenly confront issues of race, or try to somehow counterbalance the previous eight seasons' relative lack of diversity," Tyler told InStyle. "I was just a character on the show, with her own appeal and quirks and foibles, and I think that's why it worked so well."

Charlie was smart and funny, and she was possibly the only one of Ross' partners to truly match him intellectually. Ross and Charlie — who got together after her relationship with Joey — very well could have made it as a Friends couple had they been given more development. However, the show was wrapping up, and Ross needed to reunite with Rachel for the last time. Charlie was a part of one of the last short-term relationships on the show.

Friends couple Rachel and Joey could have had something great

Joey and Rachel might have made up the most controversial Friends couple of the entire series. Years after the finale, people still seem to hate the romance subplot between them. Not even the cast was completely on board. Kelsey Miller said in her book I'll Be There For You: The One About Friends (via People), "LeBlanc said it felt incestuous (especially uncomfortable after so many years of cultivating a brotherly bond with the female characters)." But, as Twitter user Claire Willets passionately pointed out (via Cosmopolitan), Joey and Rachel were friends first before beginning their relationship, which is something we have to respect — and something that was different from Ross and Rachel's romance since Ross had always had a crush on her.

The potential for Joey, the notoriously shallow character, falling for Rachel when she was pregnant was incredibly compelling and sweet. If they had stayed together, the character growth for Joey would've been amazing. Plus, it's no question that the two had fun together. The only real complaint most people seemed to have is that Rachel and Ross belonged together, apparently.

Carol and Susan were one of the strongest Friends couples

Like Barry, Carol and Susan were not part of the main cast of Friends, but the show might not have been if they hadn't gotten together. Carol divorced Ross prior to the first episode after realizing she's a lesbian. She married Susan, and the two remained together for the series' entire run. Their wedding aired in 1996, exactly nine years before same-sex marriage would be nationally legalized. However, the Friends couple couldn't kiss on-screen. 

Jane Sibbett, who portrayed Carol, told Metro, "It wasn't not allowed, it just wasn't filmed, that segment of the wedding. People were worried that that was going to happen and maybe they pulled back on that a little bit." She added, "We had blackouts in Lima and Texas, the affiliates were blocked out. There were at least two affiliates that refused to air it." Other than Monica and Ross' parents, Carol and Susan made up the only on-screen couple to remain together throughout the whole series. Clearly, they were doing something right.

Phoebe and David had a special connection as a Friends couple

The Friends gang racked up quite a few exes over the show's tenure. Most hookups lasted only an episode or two, and the characters involved didn't have much personality. But this was not so with the nerdy scientist David. Phoebe met him after she yelled at him for talking during one of her performances. David only appeared in five episodes throughout the whole series, but he had enough of an impact that Phoebe cried for him when he had to leave for Minsk.

David returned from Ukraine a couple of times: once to try and win Phoebe back, and another to propose to her. Despite trying to sabotage her and Mike's relationship, he was sympathetic and funny. His quiet, dorky demeanor made him an endearing foil to Phoebe, and he clearly cared for her. Discussing the Friends couple, actor Hank Azaria, who played David, told HuffPost, "Whatever part of me is David the science guy who went to Minsk, which admittedly is probably a small part of me [laughs], but that part of me wanted to end up with Phoebe. So I was sort of sad when I didn't."

If it weren't for their age difference, Friends couple Monica and Richard could have made it

Outside of a certain someone else, Dr. Richard Burke was arguably Monica's most important partner on the show. He was 21 years older than her and her father's best friend, but the Friends couple worked surprisingly well together. Monica was already the most mature of the group, and Richard was able to handle her more erratic moods. He was even popular with the rest of her friends. Phoebe proclaimed she liked Richard more than anyone else Monica had been with, and he became fast friends with Chandler and Joey.

But their age gap came back to haunt them in the end. Monica was enthusiastic about having kids, while Richard was already a grandfather and not interested. He did eventually agree to it, but Monica realized she would be forcing him and that it would be best to break up. The split was actually quite poignant, as it didn't end in a shouting match or a tearful goodbye but instead one last dance.

Friends couple Phoebe and Mike were a great fit for each other

Actor Hank Azaria, who played David on Friends, told HuffPost about his character's exit to Minsk, "I didn't know that was the end of David. The plan always was kind of to bring him back." He added, "I think, honestly, what happened was Paul Rudd is so awesome that they sort of found a groove with him and [my character] became more of just the grist for that mill." The power of Paul Rudd literally changed Phoebe's fate.

Mike, of course, was a great fit for Phoebe as they both had a weird childish nature to them. Mike was willing to put it all on the table for her, and he even told off his parents when they found her too strange for their son. He was Phoebe's first long-term boyfriend and, eventually, her last. This Friends couple's wedding was wonderfully weird and a beautiful conclusion to Phoebe's dating life. It's too bad for David, but Mike really was the perfect man for Phoebe.

Ross and Rachel had passion as a Friends couple

People can argue all day about the merits of this Friends couple, but the truth is that Ross and Rachel were the quintessential "will-they, won't-they" romance. No one can deny that their first kiss in the Central Perk café was iconic. The two went through practically every phase of a relationship throughout the series: They were dating, they were married, they were divorced, and they even had a child together.

There was something to what Ross and Rachel shared that resonates fiercely with viewers. Some might find the hot and cold nature of their relationship frustrating, but that's part of its charm. Friends executive producer and director Kevin Bright explained to Metro, "I thought what Marta and David did, which was such a brilliant and brave move with their relationship, as soon as everyone got their wish the wish was taken away. It made it so much better when they did get together."

And, just in case there's still any doubt, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman told The Hollywood Reporter, "Yes, I think [Ross and Rachel] would still be together. And as David Crane said earlier, Emma would be in therapy."

Friends couple Chandler and Monica needed to end up together

While Ross and Rachel were certainly the face of Friends, Chandler and Monica were the best couple, and they weren't even intended to last. Saul Austerlitz outlined in his book Generation Friends: An Inside Look at the Show That Defined a Television Era (via People), "There was a fear ... that bringing Chandler and Monica together would be perceived as near-incestuous." Nevertheless, when Monica's head popped out from under Chandler's covers "he cheers and hoots of delight went on and on, drowning out the performers and shaking the room." The fan response was too good to ignore.

Monica and Chandler brought out something as a Friends couple that none of the other relationships on the show did: They brought out the best in each other. Chandler went from a wise-cracking commitment-phobe to a loving husband. Monica learned to loosen up a little and wasn't afraid to make a fool of herself for love. Interestingly, fans still celebrate Monica and Chandler's wedding anniversary all these years later, so clearly this couple had an effect.

People may question Ross and Rachel's strength as a couple, but nobody can question Chandler and Monica's love.