The question of taste has been debated for years. Which do you prefer? Blondes or brunettes. Whiskey or bourbon? Boobs or butts? Presented alone, we’d never turn down either, but when there’s a choice, it’s fun to decide. We love to be picky and analyze the smallest details of our favorite things.
In this list, we have one of the grandest debates of sitcom history. Is Rachel hotter than Monica? Or is Monica hotter than Rachel? We love the show Friends, but you don’t have to be a Friends fan to have an opinion on these two women. We’ve all heard of superstar actresses Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox. They’ve been in the Hollywood spotlight for decades, and by now, many of us have already chosen sides.
However, please try to suspend your loyalties as you go through this list, and see these classic characters with fresh eyes. We are basing this hotness contest on Friends stuff only. Screenshots from episodes are the preferred images to judge, but we also have included Friends-era promo pics and magazine photoshoots. Pairs of images will be set up by theme. We’ll offer a few trivia tidbits, but we’re mostly focused on looks. Enjoy. And remember, it’s easy to choose when either option is a winner.
15. Monica, Bikini
Our first theme is the always popular bikini. Here is Monica laying on the beach, looking very hot in a string bikini. But later on in the episode, she is attacked by a jellyfish. She yells, “Damn all the jellyfish,” and the hotness of her outfit is totally lost behind the drama. Every time Monica gets into a sexy situation, it seems like there is a zany twist to it. Like when she wore that turkey on her head, she had a very tight shirt on. She’d look great if it wasn’t for the damn turkey. Or the famous vape-o-rub scene—she looks so hot, but it’s probably a fever, since she has a terrible cold. Another time, she’s looking gorgeous playing ping pong in the Bahamas, but her hair is so over-frizzy that she looks like a clown. It seems that self-deprecation combined with beauty is a Monica trademark.
14. Rachel, Bikini
In this scene, Season 3 episode starts off in bed and Rachel is begging Ross to put down his paperwork and tell her about his biggest sexual fantasy. The thing is, Ross insists he doesn’t have one. “Well if you tell me, I might do it,” Rachel purrs. Come on, Ross! Get it together, man. “Okay,” he says, putting his book down, “Have you ever seen Return of the Jedi?” At the end of the episode, Rachel comes out in a bathrobe, and takes it off to reveal her hot Princess Leia costume. But it just doesn’t work for Ross. Thanks to a conversation he had with Chandler, Ross pictures his mom in the costume instead of his beautiful girlfriend. Something here is a bit off for me too. Maybe the hair? Overall though, Rachel looks great, and she wore this outfit way before cosplay and geeky Star Wars stuff was as cool as it is today. One point for Rachel.
13. Monica, In The Buff
With our next theme, let’s take more clothes off and see how the two characters compare. This theme is by far one of our favorites—the naked shot. Both characters appeared nearly nude on the show, both with hilarious results. In Episode 13 of Season 6, Monica enters the room in a fluffy red bathrobe and tries to get Chandler into bed. The problem is she’s very sick and Chandler even notices some snot running out of her nose. Monica protests, asking quite comically, “You don’t want to get with this?” Chandler dryly replies, “I don’t think you should say that even when you’re healthy.” He insists he doesn’t have s*x with sick people. Later, she strips topless and rubs Vicks vape-o-rub all over her naked chest. “This is turning you on?” she asks. Chandler says, “It must be the vaporizing action.” Then they go to bed, which was Monica’s plan all along.
12. Rachel, In The Buff
In Episode 23 of Season 5, Rachel gets naked in her kitchen. It’s a pretty corny scene as the internal monologue is heard while she explores the apartment in the buff and then sings Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” into a wooden pasta spoon. Meanwhile, Ross is across the way, and he sees Rachel dancing without any clothes on. Then we hear his inner monologue as he debates whether or not to go pay her a visit. Of course, he knocks on the door a few minutes later and comes on to her in the dorky, charming way that only Ross can. So if we’re judging naked scenes here, it’s a close one. Monica was pretty sick, so maybe, we’ll have to choose the healthy Rachel for this theme. We just wish she had better taste in music. One point for Rachel.
11. Monica, Photoshoot
Here’s a pretty smoking hot photo of Courteney Cox, back in the glory days at the dawn of the Friends experience. She is looking hotter than ever, with her knees bent up against her bare chest and showing off some side boob, which we rarely get to see. Cox is seldomly revealing, but would Monica ever wear an outfit like this? Probably. She is definitely an adventurous woman. Overall, the character and the actress’ sensibilities seem to be very similar though. One extremely emotional parallel was when Cox was trying to get pregnant, off the set, and then Monica had a similar problem on the show. The good news is, both in real life and in character life, things ended up being just fine. Cox had a daughter, Coco, and Chandler and Monica were blessed with twins, Erica and Jack. Thanks to birth mom, also Erica, played by Anna Faris.
10. Rachel, Photoshoot
We will try to compare these two photoshoots, but it will be difficult. The Cox shot is one that many people have never even seen before. And then there’s Aniston’s shot, which is one of the most iconic Rolling Stone covers of all time. Everybody has seen this pic. Some fans can even remember the day they bought the mag off the stand, or retrieved it from their mailbox. Look at her famous Rachel hair. The woman caused a fashion revolution with that bob. Every woman in the nation was running to the salon trying to bleach, dye, and layer. But nobody made it all look as effortless as Jen. The irony is that the title of hairdresser is not on Rachel Green’s resume. She worked as a waitress at the Central Perk and held various fashion industry jobs, but never cut hair. One point for Rachel.
9. Monica, Lingerie
Here is a pic of Monica wearing lingerie in an episode of Friends. She looks stunning in the red lace with a black bra and panties showing through. One thing I’ve noticed when researching this article is that Cox looks so much better in the clips than in the still shots. There’s something in the way she carries herself that doesn’t fully come across in a photo. Monica wore this outfit on Valentine’s Day, when she was trying to get Chandler in bed. She even rented an adult DVD to get him in the mood. But Chandler wasn’t having it because he had watched childbirth, and his perspective on v*ginas had changed. They ended up watching a birth video and Monica agreed. Groaning at the images, she stated, “Ugh. No wonder my mother hates me.”
8. Rachel, Lingerie
Now it’s Rachel’s turn to wear some lingerie. This episode is hilarious. Most of the Friends shows have held up really well over the years. Sometimes comedy does not age well. For example, Seinfeld conflicts could now be easily solved with a cellphone. But much of Friends’ personal and dating issues still resonate. In this episode, Rachel tries to surprise her boyfriend with a sexy outfit, but then his parents unexpectedly drop by. Then the boyfriend’s mom drops the line, “The $500 we gave you was for groceries.” Burn! Rachel can’t let her boyfriend’s mom think she’s a “night worker” so Rachel comically tries to convince her that the lingerie is actually a dress from Italy. This theme was a close call, but because the lingerie is the entire focus of the show, one point goes to Rachel.
7. Monica, Pilot
Let’s take these characters all the way back to the beginning. The first show opened up at Central Perk, sitting on the couch, and Monica tells her buddies that she has a new boyfriend. They immediately poke fun at her. “Does he eat chalk?” Phoebe asks. Then the scene has a beat, with a camera sweep. It’s assumed a little time has passed, and then Chandler describes his dream that he was naked in, his p*nis turned into a phone, and then his mom called him. Then the “time sweep” thing happens again, and now Ross is there lamenting about his failed marriage. Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler give advice, and Monica comforts her bro. Cox looks so young and beautiful, of course, and every cast member’s hair looks strikingly different. Nearly all of the friends are introduced, but we all know who the lead is. When the setting changes, again, Monica has the first line. She is the lead, and the foundation of the show.
6. Rachel, Pilot
But before they change the setting to Monica’s legendary apartment, we meet the 6th friend. Right when Ross whines “I just want to be married again,” on cue, Rachel walks in wearing a wedding gown. She’s an old high school friend of Monica, and the lead introduces Rachel to the rest of the gang. “You remember my brother Ross, don’t you?” Rachel replies, “Of course,” and as they attempt to shake hands, Ross’ umbrella goes off in Rachel’s face. It’s all set up already. You can see the characters forming. Joey and Phoebe are still underdeveloped (especially Joey) but that will come with time. Rachel describes how her wedding failed because she realized the groom looked like Mr. Potato head. Although she he looked stunning in that white dress, for this one, the point goes to the chief, Monica.
5. Monica, Tight Shirt
Okay, there’s more to this theme than just wearing a tight shirt. We put “tight shirt” in the title because we didn’t want to seem super shallow, but in actuality we are. It must be cold in the room, right? The term pokies is popular online. Euphemisms like “she’s smuggling peas” may be heard in certain social circles. That’s enough, right? You get the drift. Rachel looks beautiful in this shot and I’m sure the scene is funny and written well, but we’re going into straight-up ogle mode for this image. The male actors on this show had a total dream come true, right? Not only are these women beautiful, but they have the real-life reputations of being savvy intellectuals, and sweethearts too. And on top of it all, they’re making huge amounts of cash. Can’t get any better than that.
4. Rachel, Tight Shirt
This theme is very lopsided as well—almost as lopsided as the Rolling Stone shoot. We have Monica, who has “tight shirts” once in a blue moon, and then there’s Rachel, who is the exact opposite. In fact, it was difficult to find an image of Rachel that did NOT involve some tiny twin protrusions. What is the deal, right? Are they extra hard, or long, or something? Aniston appeared nude briefly in The Break Up, and the anatomical aspect looked normal. Does acting just really turn her on? And red carpets? And photoshoots? I know, maybe when anybody busts out a camera, it’s like, ding! There must be a scientific explanation here. Okay fine, I’ll settle down on this topic. Got a little carried away. That’s embarrassing. One point for Rachel.
3. Tug of War
Let’s take a break from side-by-side themes, and put both characters in one image to see how they compare. Check out this hot ensemble shot of the Friends girls. Lisa Kudrow snuck into this one, but we’ll just ignore her kind of like we did during the show’s run. Phoebe was always the least likable female in the cast, right? Some people surely identified with her quirkiness and musical sensibilities, but most dudes were like, “Where’s Rachel?” Oops, there I go. I’m being biased. Monica is super hot too, let’s be impartial. Honestly, I’d say that Cox is looking the hottest of all in this pic. Aniston is trying too hard with the kissy face thing and Kudrow looks like she’s farting. Cox was the most well-known and highest paid actress on the cast when Friends initially began and here’s why. She’s a pro. One point for Monica.
2. Their Kiss
Fooled you! We snuck in a non-Friends pic, but it was too good to pass up. This never happened on the legendary comedy, but timing-wise it was close. This shot is taken from Dirt, Cox’s much anticipated follow-up to Friends. The dark tabloid-based drama only lasted a year, back in 2007. Cox produced the floundering show, and brought on her buddy, Jen, to play a lesbian, and boost ratings. Cox said about the scene, “It is really not a big deal to kiss [Aniston]. I am not saying don’t tune in to watch Jennifer on the show, because she is fantastic and you get to see us together again, but if you think it is just about a major make-out session, you will be disappointed.” Way to sell in it, Courteney, gees. As far as kissing goes, Rachel wins. She kissed every friend on Friends, even a quick peck on Monica’s cheek. She also kissed guest star Winona Ryder. But if you want to see Aniston really go at it with a hot girl, watch Rockstar (2001). Point goes to Rachel.
1. Before Beauty
This is a funny one. We have the “ugly” high school versions of the characters back when they were awkward and still hilarious. Could Monica still pull off the fat girl in our current hyper-sensitive media climate? Would people say the whole idea was fat shaming? Or get defensive about overvaluing her thin attractive figure over the rounder, obese one. So if we played, “who’d you rather,” I might go with Monica on this one. She is a larger woman here, but she’s still very cute. Meanwhile, Rachel looks a little too hyper, high maintenance and annoying. One point for Monika.
Results: Rachel wins, 6-3