The magic of Friends was always that it felt like every episode was a visit with friends you actually knew. When you really think about it, though, some of the characters on Friends would be better actual friends than others.
Of the six core characters on the show, a few would be genuinely great hangs, and a couple of others may be genuinely difficult to deal with. The show is currently streaming on HBO Max, and we thought we’d use that occasion to rank the six core friends from most to least likable.
It’s a bit obvious, maybe, but Ross had to land at the bottom of this list. His relationship with Rachel may have seemed like an ideal one, but, especially as it began to deteriorate, he got clingy and possessive.
Whether you think he cheated on Rachel or not, it’s fairly clear that he didn’t treat her very well. After their breakup, Ross doesn’t get any less obnoxious. He blows every relationship he’s in, and is generally prickly and high-strung. A bad boyfriend, and not a great friend either.
Monica is a good friend, but she’s also pretty high-strung. As a result, the other friends in the group often find themselves accommodating her various demands. She has a few moments of genuine sincerity, and they do ultimately make her a more endearing person.
Ultimately, though, her friends find themselves supporting her much more often than the other way around. As a result, Monica may be the neediest member of her friend group, even if her needs come loaded with good intentions.
His sarcasm can be hilarious, but it does feel like Chandler’s heavy reliance on it comes in place of any attempt to genuinely connect with those around him. That quality does improve somewhat over the show’s run, but Chandler remains the friend you may most want to punch in the face.
His relationship with Monica ultimately humanizes them both, but it’s not enough to save either of them from the bottom half of this list. Chandler may be an okay drinking buddy, but he’s not the kind of person you’d want to confide everything in.
Rachel’s main problem comes from her spoiled little rich girl status, but as she sheds that, she only becomes easier and easier to like. She comes out looking like a million bucks following her breakup with Ross, and seeing her succeed in her career felt almost revolutionary.
Rachel’s perspective has its limits, but in the end, she turns out to be a pretty decent friend to everyone else in her group. Should she have given Ross another chance? Maybe not, but we can’t hold that against her.
Joey is a womanizer, and that’s definitely not a great thing. Otherwise, though, he is also compassionate and caring. What’s more, he genuinely evolves and grows over the course of the show’s seasons. He’s never the sharpest tool in the shed, but he gets more and more emotionally intelligent as the seasons pass.
He also has no moments of major betrayal, which is not true for many of his other friends. Joey is certainly the best male friend in this group, and his worst sin is often being more careless or stupid than he should be.
Phoebe can be a little clueless on occasion, but other than that, she seems like a genuinely great hang. She’s fun to be around, funny, and she plays guitar! She doesn’t do it all that well, but she cares about the well-being of her friends and often prioritizes their happiness over her own.
It’s telling, of course, that Phoebe’s backstory was often so tragic. She didn’t have the kind of easy life that many of her friends did, and in the end, it might have made her a more likable person.
You can watch all 10 seasons of Friends on HBO Max.