Friends is one of the best shows in any genre in the past thirty years. Even if you were a little young when the show originally aired in the 90s, you’ve probably have seen it syndicated on TBS, or recently binged it on Netflix. Either way, this show was a huge part of our culture for ten years. The cast started trends, made us want our hair cut like Rachel’s, made Smelly Cat get stuck in our heads for years, and is still a huge part of pop culture even twelve years after its series finale.
There are some amazing episodes on this show that really tap into the viewers’ emotions. But, there are also some seriously terrible ones as well. The beginning of the series is some of the best writing of any show. But as the show goes on, some of the plot holes are large enough to fall through. But because we have fallen in love with the characters, we still watched it.
There are relationships that we would consider #relationshipgoals by today’s standard, and there are others that are simply the worst. They have the best of the best, and the worst of the worst. Rarely has there been a relationship on this show that viewers are simply indifferent towards. And we care about these relationships because after years of watching, we feel as if these characters are our friends too, and we just want what’s best for them.
16 BEST - Chandler and Kathy
This is more like the relationship I wanted to work. When Kathy is with Joey, and Chandler is just lusting after her, their chemistry is undeniable. Out of all the girls Chandler is with (besides Monica, of course), Kathy seems like the best fit. He gets her a rare edition of her favorite book. They bond late at night while watching old TV, and sit in the canoe. Even before they date, they just seem great together.
And then after all the drama with Joey, after Chandler spending Thanksgiving in the box, the relationship we hope for is cut short. When Chandler and Kathy actually date, we only see them together for like an episode or two. And then he accuses her of cheating until she actually does cheat. And it’s heartbreaking, not just for Chandler, but for us as well. It’s realistic, but it still isn’t the worst.
15 BEST - Monica And Fun Bobby
Fun Bobby is a small recurring character early in the first and second seasons. Everyone loves Fun Bobby, as his name would say, he is a fun guy. This is one of the most light-hearted relationships on the show. While many of the characters fall into very serious relationships or have quick flings, Fun Bobby is one of the few recurring characters that isn’t a part of the worst date list.
I enjoy Fun Bobby because we see a lot of depth out of him in a relatively short amount of time. When Monica invited him to New Years, his grandfather has just died, and he is more of a Depressed Bobby than Fun Bobby. We also see during season two when Monica sparks their relationship again that he has a drinking problem. But when she helps get him clean, it is realized that he was so fun because of the alcohol.
Fun Bobby is one of the more dynamic recurring characters in this show. And even with his flaws, I wish he had stayed on throughout as a friend of the gang.
14 BEST - Phoebe and David
Oh, David. The sweet, lovable, nerd who leaves for Minsk - the one who got away. Before David, we never see Phoebe with anyone that seriously. She is going on dates, and we see them, but none of them stick. Before David, we don’t see this side of Phoebe, and it’s a character development that we love.
Her attraction to David is instantaneous. And we buy completely into it right from the beginning, and honestly, hope that it lasts. We love that Phoebe is taking a relationship seriously, and even though it is a short relationship, we are just as heartbroken when David goes off to Minsk. Was David the guy we always imagined Phoebe with? No. But he made her happy.
That’s why when he comes back in season 9 and plans to propose to Phoebe, we are torn between him and Mike - just like Phoebe. And while we love David, did we really see her choosing him over Mike? I didn’t, but that’s just me.
13 BEST - Monica and Richard Burke
Before Chandler was in the picture, you have to admit, that you wanted Monica to be with Richard. Yes, he was her parents’ age. Yes, he was even friends with her parents and to be honest that was weird. But he was so good to her. And their chemistry was undeniable.
Did their relationship have flaws? Yes, of course. Monica wanted kids, and Richard already had grandkids. But I think this relationship does a lot to show us what it’s like to have a significant age difference in a relationship. Why we would hide it from our parents and friends, why it could have problems in the future, and why it might not work out.
And if I had to pick someone else for Monica to be with besides Chandler, there are no questions asked-- it would be Richard. That is why when she sees him right before getting engaged it is such a conundrum. While Monica is figuring out who to be with, we are making our own options of the two men.
12 BEST - Janice and Chandler
I know what you’re thinking; Janice is the worst, why would you put her on this list? Just give me a minute to explain. Janice really sticks with Chandler. At the beginning of the series, he is kind of a mess. He doesn’t know what he wants; he is terrified of commitment, he is working a job he doesn’t even like. And the number of times he has broken up with Janice is ridiculous. But she keeps coming back.
Now ladies, don’t you have a guy like that. Maybe he wasn’t the best to you, and yeah he broke your heart a couple of times, but he always seems to come back? And you always seem to let him?
What I like about this fictional couple is how realistic it is. We all have that person we would go back to, no matter how annoying their voice is, or how many times they hurt us. There is just something about them. And we always cross paths one way or another.
11 BEST - Rachel and Ross
These have become such a place in pop culture history-- that when there are couples who are on again off again, they call them Ross and Rachel. It is maddening how many times these two come together and fall apart. And I get it; it’s a writing tactic to keep audiences interested in the show. Once they come together, there isn’t all the much drama anymore. But still, this was excessive.
Their chemistry starts instantly on the first episode, and they continue not only to play huge roles in the other's life but create drama in their relationships. Ross says Rachel’s name at his wedding to Emily. Rachel is the wedge that breaks up Ross and Bonnie. And then they go far as have a child together. During this time, when she is pregnant, even when she is in the hospital, you think that maybe they will finally be together.
It isn’t until the last episode that we finally see them come together. After all those years of waiting, after all the drama, all the loose ends - they ultimately choose each other, and there is a collective sigh of relief from every single person watching that finale, even today.
10 BEST - Phoebe and Mike
First things first, Paul Rudd plays Mike. Can we just, for a second, talk about how you can’t not love Paul Rudd. He is the cutest. I haven’t seen a single character he has ever played (including the idiot brother from Our Idiot Brother), that I haven’t loved. But I digress.
These two meet in an unconventional way, which is fitting for Phoebe. And this is her first long-term relationship ever. Sure there were others who were serious, but she has never gotten over into the land of serious boyfriend-girlfriend stuff. Sure it gets a little rocky there when Mike doesn’t want to get married, and Phoebe does. But they come back together in the end.
9 BEST - Chandler and Monica
This is an obvious pick for the number one spot. Out of all the couples on the show, these two not only have the longevity, the chemistry but most importantly the follow through. Yes, there are some cute couples on the show, some that make us laugh and cry. But if you didn’t cry during the proposal, you might not have a heart.
I think what I love about them is that it’s real. They move at a normal pace in comparison to everyone else on the show. They don’t jump into things, or move in too soon, or get engaged too soon. They fight how ordinary people would fight. They love, as normal people would love. It’s the most realistic view of love on the show.
And we always pull for Monica and Chandler. We want them to hook up at Ross’ wedding. We want them to start dating, and we love that we are in on their little secret for so long. We want them to get married. We want them to have kids. And why wouldn’t we? They’re our friends, and we want the best for them.
8 WORST - Monica and Timothy Burke
I know what you’re thinking, Burke, that last name sounds really familiar. That’s because Richard’s last name is Burke. Richard Burke, as in Monica’s long time serious boyfriend that was around her parents’ age. Yes. After their breakup, she got together with his son, who is around her age.
This is a weird relationship on so many levels. Can you looks a man in the eye and not think about his father, who you also slept with? Would you compare them all the time? It’s just so creepy to me. And while this is an entertaining story idea, it really just feels wrong on a lot of levels.
Which is exactly why this relationship didn’t really go anywhere. Monica is reminded of Richard when she is with Timothy (as she should), and Timothy is reminded of his mother (which is just even worse). This entire situation is just too much for me to handle.
7 WORST - Rachel and Paolo
Remember Paulo? The beautiful Italian, who hardly spoke English and made most women in the 90s envious of Rachel Greene. And while there is denying just how hot Paulo was, this relationship was kind of ridiculous.
It all started during the blackout, and it seemed like it would only be a fling. When the lights finally came on, they were caught making out, just when Ross had finally worked up his nerve to finally tell Rachel how he felt. To be fair, he did miss his chance, and you can’t really blame Paulo for his timing, he went after something he wanted.
But you can absolutely blame Paulo for being a dog. Remember when Phoebe was giving him a massage, and he grabbed her butt? Cheating on your girlfriend is one thing, trying to cheat on her with one of her best friends is another thing entirely.
Even before he did this, there was no real connection between Paulo and Rachel. Yes, there was sex, but it didn’t seem like a very deep relationship. All in all, this is one of my least favorite couples in the series.
6 WORST - Ross and Elizabeth
To preface the rest of the list, Ross easily has the worst relationships. He has more than any one else on this show. And I left most of them off too and tried to only pick the worst of the worst. But really, he didn’t have many good relationships - and he was married three times.
But I digress and get back to the topic - Ross and Elizabeth. Firstly, he is her professor. Not only is there the age difference with this relationship, but this is a really morally dicey situation. Ross could potentially lose his job, and yet he still pursues a romantic relationship with her. And then towards the end of their relationship we see the maturity difference, and that I think is the real kicker for Ross. Honestly, it just seemed like a terrible idea right from the beginning, and only got worse as time went on.
5 WORST - Monica and Young Ethan
Remember Young Ethan? He was one of Monica’s short flings way back in season one. The guys joked about Young Ethan because he was a senior in college. When we see them after a date, we see them after Monica took his virginity. During this, she feels compelled to tell him her real age because she lied to him and said she was 22 and not 26. After her confession, he tells her that he is really a senior in high school.
Not only is this morally frowned upon, but as Monica says, “… it’s icky”. Beyond all that, though, this relationship was built upon two large lies. How was something like this supposed to last when she lied about her age, and he did as well? Also, how could you seriously date a 17-year-old when you are 26? That is quite the age and maturity difference.
4 WORST - Ross and Rachel
I know that I put them on the best category as well, but let’s all be honest with each other for a minute and admit that you have a love/ hate relationship with this couple. As great as they could be, they were equally as terrible. They spend so much time going back and forth, that after a while, do we even want them together?
They ruin relationships for the other over the years. Rachel ruins his relationship with Julie, and Bonnie, and Emily. Rachel goes all the way to England for Ross’ wedding, and it seems like the only reason she goes is to sabotage it. And then when he says her name, they don’t even date afterwards? And he asks to take her on his honeymoon with him, and he leaves her to run after Emily? It just seems way too ridiculous to me.
And then there was that time when they drunkenly get married for in Vegas. They have a kid together, and yet still, they don’t fully commit until the last seconds of the finale. They’re infuriating.
3 WORST - Ross and Carol
Poor Ross. To get divorced in the 90s because your wife is a lesbian seems like a hard pill to swallow. It also seems like a really good way to give foreshadowing for how his relationships would unfold throughout the series. This is just the first of many terrible relationships, and honestly, I thought about just adding only Ross on the list of the bad ones, but figured that wasn’t fair because some of the other characters had made some really awful choices as well.
Carol is one of his worst because he still kind of lusts after her even though she has a girlfriend, and that just isn’t cool. He fights with Susan in the beginning, which seems super awkward because she is helping to raise his son. And he tries to be this macho man and prove his masculinity in front of them. It’s just out of control.
2 WORST - Ross and Emily
It started out seeming like a good idea, right? They met, they had a short cross-continental relationship, and they got engaged. After their first date, they took a weekend getaway to Vermont. At first, you just think that this is what happens with star-crossed lovers, right? That maybe love can work that fast when you are so caught up in it.
But it doesn’t, especially for our dear friend Ross Geller. Relationships never seem to be easy for this man, but this one, to me, seems like it was doomed pretty early on. They just move so fast; it seems like they decide to spend their lives together before they even really know one another.
The wedding itself seems kind of thrown together. How did they not know the church was going to be demolished? That seems insane to me. And then Ross says the wrong name at the altar. I’m not saying that’s where the problems started, but it definitely did not help the situation. This relationship was basically doomed from the beginning.
1 WORST - Rachel and Joey
This is easily one of the worst plot lines, and relationships, in the history of television. What were the writers thinking when they put this one together? Did they think that the show was at the end of its rope, and there was nothing to lose? Was it something they always wanted to do? Seriously, if someone knows anyone who was a writer on this show, ask them, and contact me. This is something I’ve been dying to know about since ’03.
Why specifically is this the worst on-screen relationship? Let’s take a look, shall we. It starts as a mild crush from Joey. No problem there, who doesn’t have crushes on friends? But when they finally, after all, that time, start dating, it ends faster than it began. They decide they are better as friends within two episodes. So what was all the hype for anyway? I feel like if they wanted to make it successful, they should have had them date for a while (even if their personalities totally don’t match up at all, but that’s beyond the point).