Arguably the most popular TV show of all time, Friends comes with an ensemble cast. The magical six characters have charmed generations. We all were in love with stylish Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), weirdo Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), flirtatious Joey Tribbiani (Matt Le Blanc), sarcastic Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), control-freak Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) and geeky Ross Geller (David Schwimmer).
The popularity of these characters, as well as the show, was so much that their individual salaries went from $22,500 per episode from Season 1 to $40,000 per episode in Season 2. They were paid $75,000 in the third season, $85,000 in the fourth, $100,000 in the fifth and $125,000 in the sixth season. The salaries were further increased to $750,000 per episode in the seventh and eight seasons. They ended with $1 million per episode in the ninth and tenth seasons.
The main cast members are special because each of them got equal importance during the show. Each of them have their own stories, character development and individual space. Friends is often called “the first true ‘ensemble’ show.” With these main characters, we came to know about many other characters who came and charmed the viewers with their screen presence. There were a number of guest appearances by Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt, Robin Williams and Bruce Willis. However, it is the recurring characters that made the season even more special. They added twists and turns to the tale with their roles in the main characters’ lives. Here are 15 Friends characters, other than the main leads, whom we love.
15. Charlie Wheeler
Ross falls in love with Charlie Wheeler (played by Aisha Tyler), who is also a paleontology professor like Ross. However, before he could ask her out, Joey goes on a date with her. Ross becomes extremely angry about it, but he starts helping Joey date an educated woman like Charlie, who breaks up with Joey, as there is nothing in common with them. She starts dating Ross but breaks up with him to get back with Dr. Benjamin Hobart, her old flame.
Charlie Wheeler is one of the very few ethnic minority characters in the show. The lack of diversity in the show often attracted sharp criticism. Aisha, however, backed the makers of the show for making Charlie an extremely sexy and smart woman. According to her, Charlie was not just “the black girl” on the show. She stood out as one of the most attractive women on Friends.
14. Mr. Heckles
Mr. Heckles, played by Larry Hankin, is another irritating character in Friends, even though he did not have an extended presence in the show. He was Monica and Rachel’s neighbor downstairs. He constantly complained about the two ladies making noise, while they did not actually do anything. All the six friends are quite “normal” in their conversations. However, Mr. Heckles still found them noisy. It was only revealed after his death when the six friends visit his apartment that sounds coming from their apartment were somehow amplified in his room.
Mr. Heckles, who was never fond of Monica and Rachel, was not in a mood to appease them even after his death. He left all his junk for the two ladies, whom he referred to as “the noisy girls in the apartment above mine.” He eventually dies of a heart attack, when he was banging his ceiling with a broomstick to irritate his neighbors upstairs.
Played by Hank Azaria, David is a physicist whom Phoebe falls in love. Azaria initially auditioned for Joey, but his guest appearance as David won him a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2003. David finds it difficult to have a fluent conversation because of his hesitant way of speaking.
Phoebe’s feelings for the “scientist guy” are probably because of the fact that David is also weird like her in his own way. Phoebe gets heartbroken when David decides to go to Minsk for three years on a research trip. However, it took him seven years to get back to New York. During his brief visit to the United States, he meets Phoebe, as it is evident that he still has feelings for her. Phoebe and David rejuvenate their relationship a couple of years later. David even proposes to Phoebe, but she already has feelings for Mike Hannigan by then.
12. Estelle Leonard
Played by June Gable, Estelle is Joey’s agent. Her first major appearance is when Joey goes to his talent agent and tells her that he was not in a mood to do small roles anymore. Estelle does her job well and gets him a significant role in Days of Our Lives. She is quite supportive of a struggling actor like Joey and tries to give him sound advice about his acting career. However, when she comes to know that Joey has left, which is a misunderstanding on her part, she decides to sabotage Joey’s career.
While auditioning for the role, Gable was given the liberty to “do something” with the character. She wore a fat suit and ate a sandwich during her audition. Interestingly, Gable played another character in the show. She played the nurse who delivered Ross’ son Ben. Estelle dies in the final season, but it took Joey a long time to realize it. He eventually attends the memorial and gives a speech.
11. Dr. Richard Burke
Richard and Monica fall in love with each other despite the age difference between the two. In fact, Richard is a close friend of Jack Geller, Monica’s father. Her parents get furious when they come to know about Monica dating Richard. Monica eventually breaks up with Richard, when he tells her that he does not want to have more children, as his own children have already become adults. The breakup takes place even though the two are still in love with each other.
Later in the show, Richard decides to propose to Monica, but he comes to know that Chandler has similar plans as well. He hesitates at first, but he gives one advice to Chandler. Richard asks him not to let her go. Richard’s incredibly good looks and manly personality often made Chandler insecure.
10. Frank Buffay Jr.
Played by Giovanni Ribisi, Frank Buffay Jr. is Phoebe’s half-brother. Phoebe finds out about him by accident, while she was trying to find out about her father, Frank Buffay Sr. The brother, with a punctured lung, believes his sister is a prostitute. He originally thought “massage parlor” meant brothel. Frank, as weird as Phoebe’s brother could be, starts dating his teacher, Alice, who is 26 years older than him. Despite the age difference, the two have great chemistry.
Frank and Alice desperately want to have children. When they meet Phoebe to discuss, she tries hard to break them up. They get married and ask Phoebe to carry their child. Phoebe, after giving it a lot of thought, decides to become Frank and Alice’s surrogate and gets pregnant with triplets. Phoebe wants to keep one of the kids, but Rachel tells her that Frank and Alice want all three of them. Phoebe names one of the kids Chandler, but it turns out to be a girl. Frank and Alice decide to keep the name anyway.
9. Mike Hannigan
Mike is one of the most sorted characters in the show. Played by Paul Rudd, Mike dates Phoebe and eventually gets married to her, even though his family is not particularly thrilled about it. He comes to know about Phoebe on a blind date, which does not go well for the two. He meets Phoebe again the next day and impresses her with his gentle and pampering behavior.
Mike and Phoebe start living together. Even though Phoebe has already planned getting married to him, Mike says he won’t get married again after his messy divorce. Phoebe and Mike break up, only to get back to each other again. We come to know that Phoebe has got her match in Mike, when he decides to change his name to Crap Bag. That’s how he reacted when he comes to know that Phoebe has changed her name to Princess Consuela Bananahammock. Phoebe, not willing to be called Mrs. Crap Bag, decides to stick to her original name.
8. The Chick And The Duck
Friends is such a show that it managed to show not only humans but animals in a charming way as well. Joey adopts a chicken and a duck, who are later accepted by Chandler also. There comes a time when Chandler and Joey treat the two as their own kids.
Chandler names the Chick after Baywatch actress Yasmine Bleeth. However, the Chick turns out to be a rooster later on. Chandler says, when the Chick and Duck have a kid, they should name it a Dick. But, Joey believes they should name it Chuck. Chandler and Joey eventually lose the two animals. In fact, those two died, but Chandler decided not to tell that to Joey, as he would be upset.
7. Ursula Pamela Buffay
Ursula, also played by Lisa Kudrow, is Phoebe’s twin sister. She is a true Buffay in every sense. She is equally weird like Phoebe, but Ursula’s ways often disappoint her and leave her angry. Phoebe makes a lot of effort to connect with her sister, who is not at all interested. In fact, she makes every effort to ignore Phoebe. The major difference between Phoebe and Ursula is their moral standards. While Phoebe has high moral standards, Ursula is self-obsessed and brazen.
At some point, Joey is attracted to Ursula and starts dating her. Ursula tells her sister that she is bored with Joey’s stupidity, but she is not ready to tell him. Phoebe pretends to be Ursula and lets Joey down easy. According to Phoebe, Ursula is her “evil twin,” who turns out to be a p*rn star later in the show. Phoebe, whom people confuse as the p*rn star, takes revenge by claiming all the checks Ursula got from doing the films.
6. Ugly Naked Guy
Even though they never really show Ugly Naked Guy in the show, he remains one of the Friends characters we love. Played by Jon Haugen, he happens to be staying in the apartment across Monica’s. He is obese and apparently walks around naked in his apartment with open drapes. The makers of the show probably decided against showing the character much to let the viewers imagine it more. He makes his appearance only twice in the show. Once we can see his arm and belly, while his backside is visible on the other occasion.
All the six friends are found to be staring at Ugly Naked Guy at times and commenting about his actions. When Ross comes to know that he is moving out of his apartment, he decides to impress him so that he may get the apartment. He decides to have the conversation while being naked himself.
5. Emily Waltham
Ross had a whirlwind romance with Emily (played by Helen Baxendale) that eventually leads to marriage (but not a marriage that lasts, after Ross says Rachel’s name at the altar).
Emily gets convinced to move to New York, only if Ross promises to cut all ties with Rachel. She later comes to know that Ross was having dinner with Rachel among the other four friends. This makes her angry, and she decides to end the marriage. The character had to be cut short in the show, as Baxendale became pregnant while shooting. Emily was supposed to be Ross’ wife for a longer time otherwise.
If Chandler and Joey had the duck and the chick, Ross had Marcel. The white-headed capuchin monkey was introduced shortly after Ross comes to know his wife is a lesbian, and he is pretty upset about it. Marcel becomes his friend. In fact, Ross starts treating Marcel like his wife. In one incident, Marcel is unhappy that he is not allowed to play the music and bangs the bedroom door as he goes inside. On Monica’s New Year’s Eve party, Ross takes Marcel as his date.
The problem starts when Ross comes to know that he is not allowed to keep Marcel, as he is an illegal exotic animal. While the group of friends manage to keep Marcel away from authorities, Ross has to give him away when he reaches sexual maturity. Ross sends Marcel to San Diego Zoo. Later on, Marcel becomes a star in Hollywood. Ross catches him while shooting a film and spends a day with him.
3. Janice Goralnik
Janice Litman Goralnik, played by Maggie Wheeler, is Chandler’s past flame. She is known for her irritating laughter and typical line: “Oh My God!” With a heavy New York accent and a nasal voice, she is also one of the rare characters who appear in all the Friends seasons. However, she is a “good woman” otherwise, and that is why Chandler hesitates to hurt her feelings when he decides to break up with her. Chandler wanted to get back to having an affair with her again, when he got scared that he might die alone in life. However, Janice was already married and pregnant. These two got back together by chance again. In Season 3, Janice decides to leave her husband to stay with Chandler.
Janice makes a comeback and tries to be a spoil sport for Chandler and Monica, when the two are planning their wedding. Monica ends up thinking that Mr. Bing still has some feelings left for his past flame, even though it is not true. Janice is destined to be a common irritating factor, as she comes to the same labor room where Rachel is placed, when she is expecting Ross’ child.
2. Jack And Judy Geller
Ross and Monica’s parents make appearances regularly and leave the viewers charmed. While Jack (Elliott Gould) is known for his inappropriate comments, Judy (Christina Pickles) is highly particular about everything. While Monica hates her mother for being a perfectionist, she later realizes that she inherited the same traits. Jack has a balanced approach about his affection towards Monica and Ross, but Judy is totally biased for her son and finds faults in everything Monica does. She does not have any confidence in Monica’s abilities, which makes the latter sad and angry at the same time.
One of the most hilarious moments on Friends happens when Jack accidentally finds a couple having s*x inside a hospital room. When he tries to look further, he realizes it is none other than Monica and Chandler, who are desperate to have a baby. He advises Chandler about the most effective position, which would help Monica conceive. Chandler and Monica are obviously embarrassed about it.
Friends would not have been possible without Gunther, the manager of the Central Perk coffee house. Played by James Michael Tyler, the character was initially a background character. The first time you notice him, you can’t ignore his hair which became a trademark for his character. Tyler was initially selected for the role only because he could operate the coffee machine. Gunther has an irresistible crush on Rachel, but he never really had the courage to express his feelings to her. His hesitation might have come from the sense of insecurity that Rachel was too good to be his girlfriend.
Gunther is also the one who appoints Rachel and Joey at different times. It is a different story that both of them failed terribly in their respective responsibilities. Gunther has deep dislike for Ross, because Rachel chose the geek and not him. Basically, he is jealous of Ross, who has no idea why Gunther gives him the cold shoulder most times. However, he is in relatively better terms with the rest of the group. Gunther did not miss a chance to play a major role in circulating the fact that Ross cheated on Rachel (they were on a break, remember?).
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