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Friends Character Endings Ranked From Worst To Best

The six main characters of Friends went through an impressive journey over the show's ten-year run. Along the way, they crossed paths with dozens of memorable characters who experienced their own dramatic arcs, from the heartwarming to the downright cringe-worthy. By the time the series reached its two-part finale in 2004, every storyline had been wrapped up, although not everyone got their happily ever after.

For the six central cast members, they experienced a decade's worth of growth by the finale, and all of them ended in a different place than they started. Meanwhile, although the supporting characters of Friends didn't have quite as far to travel, they still left their marks on the audience. Yet when it came to how their stories ended, some were far more satisfying than others. Although there were way too many notable characters on Friends to mention all of them, we ranked the endings of some of the most significant players, taking into account where they started, where they wound up, and what happened to them along the way.

Emily's ending on Friends is pretty awful

Poor Emily Waltham (Helen Baxendale) wound up being the person most damaged by Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston) off-again, on-again relationship. Rachel was actually the one who accidentally pushed Emily and Ross together in season four, not anticipating that the two would hit it off and become engaged.

At their wedding, seeing Rachel distracts Ross from the task at hand, and he accidentally says Rachel's name during his vows. This begins Emily's final, destructive downward spiral. She goes through with the wedding, but then immediately runs away, mortified by the actions of her new husband. Later, Ross convinces her to try to make the marriage work, but she's so jealous of Rachel that she forbids him to see her or even to keep anything she ever touched. 

Ultimately, Emily's conditions prove too much for Ross, and their brief marriage ends. However, that's not the last time we hear from Emily. She eventually gets engaged again, but before her wedding, she tells Ross that she wants to consider getting back together. Ross doesn't take her up on the offer, but Emily's ending doesn't speak to a character who's moved on in a healthy way, and her fixation on Ross doesn't give us a lot of faith that her second marriage will go much better than her first.

David never gets what he wants

Despite only appearing in five episodes, David (Hank Azaria) has one of the longest-running guest arcs on Friends. The character was introduced in the show's first season, when he quickly hit it off with Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), only to reveal that he would soon be leaving the country to pursue scientific study in Minsk. Both Phoebe and David are heartbroken to have their relationship cut off so soon, and for years following his departure, Phoebe carries a torch for David, despite seeing other people in the meantime.

The two briefly reconnect years later, when David comes to town for one night, and Phoebe drops everything to see him, saying he could be the love of her life. But he returns to Minsk yet again, and Phoebe finally moves on and falls in love with Mike (Paul Rudd). David makes his last appearance in season nine, after Phoebe breaks up with Mike. He tells her that he's returned to the United States for good, after realizing that the scientific breakthrough he was attempting to achieve was, in fact, impossible, and he prepares to propose to Phoebe. 

Unfortunately for David, Mike realizes he doesn't want to lose Phoebe, and he proposes instead. David is left alone, without the woman he loves or the scientific advancement that he'd prioritized over their relationship. It's a pretty sad ending for a character who never seems to have things turn out the way he wants.

Richard loses out on love

Before ultimately finding love with one of her best buds, Monica (Courteney Cox) fell for her parents' good friend Richard Burke (Tom Selleck). Despite their significant age gap, Richard and Monica quickly fall in love but realize they want totally different things in life, since Monica wants to have children of her own, while Richard's kids are adults, and he doesn't want any more. The two break up, realizing that staying together will mean forever depriving one of them of the life they want.

Several years later, Richard decides that he's willing to have children if that's what it takes to be with Monica. But by then, Monica has fallen in love with Chandler (Matthew Perry), who also wants to get married and have children. Accepting that Monica already has everything she wants, Richard stops trying to pursue her. As far as we know, he never remarries, but we do find out later on that he at least continues to do well professionally, since he winds up selling his apartment to buy a much larger apartment with a view of Central Park. So even if he remains alone, he'll be alone in style.

We're hoping things get better for Frank and Alice

The story of Phoebe's teenage half-brother, Frank Buffay Jr. (Giovanni Ribisi), takes a surprising turn when he tells Phoebe that he's fallen in love with his home economics teacher, Alice (Debra Jo Rupp). Alice is several decades Frank's senior, and Phoebe is initially appalled, but she accepts their relationship after she realizes Frank and Alice are determined to get married.

Shortly after tying the knot, Frank and Alice hurry to have children, using Phoebe as a surrogate. Much to everyone's surprise, Phoebe becomes pregnant with triplets, and Frank and Alice are thrilled. However, in the final season of the show, a sleep-deprived Frank comes to Phoebe asking if she'll take one of his kids off his hands, admitting that three is too much for them to handle. But when pressed to pick one, Frank realizes he can't bring himself to part with any of his children, no matter how exhausted he is. While we're glad that Frank comes to accept his role as the father of triplets, it's a little concerning that he's so overwhelmed that he comes to the brink of giving away one of his children, and we hope he and Alice eventually find a better balance.

Gunther is in healthier place at the end of Friends

Along with Central Perk and Monica's purple apartment, Gunther (James Michael Tyler) is a permanent fixture on Friends, although he never gets much of a story of his own. We get little glimpses of his life here and there, such as when he informs Joey (Matt LeBlanc) that he used to be an actor on All My Children, but he mostly exists as a background character without much of an internal or personal life.

The one exception to Gunther's lack of significant characterization is his long-standing crush on Rachel. It's obvious that Gunther has strong feelings for her and experiences significant jealousy towards the men she dates. Occasionally, this ventures into creepy territory, such as when he tells Emily that Rachel is his girlfriend, but in the series finale, Gunther seems to have finally reached a healthy place with his feelings. He tells Rachel he loves her, but he seems at peace when she doesn't reciprocate, making us hopeful that he's realized that pining for a woman who doesn't love him isn't good for him, and that he'll be content to move on with his life.

Janice ends things on an upbeat note

Janice (Maggie Wheeler) begins as Chandler's girlfriend, but she continues popping up long after their relationship ends. For a brief period after Chandler breaks up with her, Janice dates Ross, but the match doesn't last long, and Janice ultimately gets remarried to someone else (after previously getting married and divorced in between periods of dating Chandler).

Later, Janice shows up unexpectedly in the hospital where Rachel is giving birth, revealing that she's also having a baby with her new, mostly deaf husband, Sid (Maurice Godin). Sid's limited hearing makes him the perfect match for Janice, whose nasal voice and distinctive laugh prove off-putting for most other characters on the show. Janice then appears in the fertility clinic where Monica and Chandler are trying to conceive, revealing that she and Sid are trying to have another baby. 

Janice's last appearance is as a homebuyer who considers purchasing the home next door to Chandler and Monica, but she decides against it when Chandler pretends to still have feelings for her. All in all, despite Chandler's tendency to lie to her rather than be upfront, Janice seems to have done pretty well for herself, finding a husband she loves and raising a family while always remaining true to herself.

Carol and Susan have one of the best relationships in Friends

One of the most stable relationships throughout Friends is between Ross' ex-wife, Carol (Jane Sibbett), and her partner, Susan (Jessica Hecht). Prior to the series premiere, Ross and Carol got divorced after Carol met Susan and realized she was gay, but they slept together one final time, where she became pregnant with their son, Ben. Shortly after Ben is born, Susan and Carol get married and have a healthy marriage in which they equally co-parent Ben and keep up a friendly relationship with Ross.

The series never gives Carol and Susan a definitive ending, but it checks in on them from time to time, mostly in the context of their shared custody of Ben with Ross. Although Ross and Susan never became exactly friendly, his animosity towards her fades over time, and Carol remains on good terms with the rest of Ross' friends. Mostly, Carol and Susan appear to have a loving and supportive relationship, which only intersects with Ross when they have to share parenting duties and otherwise doesn't seem wrapped up with Carol's ex at all — which is probably how it should be.

Ross' ending isn't all it's cracked up to be

It's only fitting that the six main cast members should claim the top spots in these rankings, since Friends is their story, and their endings are given the most attention. Of the core group, Ross' ending — while perfect in his own eyes — comes in at the bottom of the stack. Professionally, he gets a tenured position at New York University, and he also continues to share custody of his son with Carol, although Ben lives with his mom most of the time.

Although Ross dates many women throughout the series, he consistently carries feelings for Rachel. They have a daughter together, Emma, in season eight, but don't remain romantically involved, and they share parenting duties while living separately. However, in the series finale, as Rachel prepares to take a job in Paris that would mark a huge step forward in her career, Ross realizes that he's still in love with her and asks her to remain in New York with him. Rachel agrees, and while Ross is overjoyed with her choice, it's hard to overlook that Ross' happy ending came at the cost of Rachel's career. We can't help but wonder if it ever crossed Ross' mind to offer to go to Paris with Rachel, instead of begging her to give up her job to stay with him.

Joey's ending is anticlimactic

Loveable idiot Joey Tribbiani is the only friend still single by the show's finale, and he probably undergoes the least amount of character growth of the six. A struggling actor who moonlights as everything from a barista to a museum tour guide, Joey spends years waiting for his big break, which never really comes. His biggest success is as Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives, but his character is killed off after he angers the writers ... only to be brought back to life several seasons later. Joey wins an award for his portrayal of Drake, but he never rises beyond that role.

Romantically, Joey tends to avoid serious relationships, although he briefly tries to make things work with Rachel. However, he's instrumental in some of his friends' relationships, and he officiates the weddings of both Monica/Chandler and Phoebe/Mike. He ends the series single (although he gets engaged in the short-lived spinoff Joey) and preparing to live totally on his own for the first time, without either a roommate or best friends across the hall, since Monica and Chandler are preparing to move to the suburbs (to a house in which they've designated one of the bedrooms the "Joey room," naturally). Overall, Joey's ending is pretty anticlimactic, with him serving more to support his friends' conclusions than getting a definitive ending of his own.

Rachel finds love but makes a huge career misstep

Rachel Greene arguably undergoes the most growth throughout Friends. She begins as a spoiled runaway bride with no marketable skills, and she struggles as a waitress before transitioning into a successful career in fashion. Once she's got her foot in the door, Rachel gradually climbs the ladder but winds up getting fired from Ralph Lauren when her boss discovers she's taken a job interview with Gucci. However, this proves to be fortuitous for Rachel, who's soon offered an even better job with Louis Vuitton, which would require her to move to Paris. She makes arrangements to move, along with her daughter, and is on the plane to leave when Ross proclaims his love for her in the finale.

Initially, Rachel insists that she still has to go to Paris, but she winds up changing her mind and gets off the plane to stay with Ross. She ends the series happy in her relationship, but after flaking out on the Paris job, one has to wonder whether she's shot herself in the foot professionally. The finale doesn't grapple with this question, but considering how much of Rachel's arc in the series focuses on the hard work she puts into her career, it's a little disappointing to see her give that all up in the finale, even if it's for love.

Phoebe and Mike's ending on Friends is pretty much perfect

The free spirit of the group, Phoebe Buffay begins the series as a masseuse who enjoys performing original songs at Central Perk, and she ends in pretty much the same place. However, while Phoebe doesn't go through any major professional changes, she does experience some big life events. In season four, she agrees to act as a surrogate for her brother and his wife, and she gives birth to triplets. Then, after having mostly casual relationships, Phoebe meets Mike Hannigan in season nine, and the two soon fall in love.

An easygoing piano player with a similarly quirky sense of humor to Phoebe's, Mike proves the perfect complement to Phoebe's eccentric nature. The couple gets married in season ten in an impromptu outdoor ceremony during a blizzard, which winds up being just as unique as the two of them. In the series finale, Mike tells Phoebe that he'd like to have a baby, to which Phoebe enthusiastically responds that she'd like to have a whole bunch, "like the Von Trapp family." Her ending is fitting for a character who never compromises who she is but isn't afraid to move on to the next big thing.

Chandler's story is incredibly satisfying

Despite none of his friends having a clear idea of what he does for a living, Chandler is one of the most professionally stable friends throughout the series, building a successful career in data and statistical analysis. However, Chandler doesn't like his job, and after accidentally accepting a promotion that requires him to commute to Tulsa four days a week, he leaves his field and starts over as a junior copywriter at an advertising agency. While this is technically a step back for him professionally, it's also the first step towards a career he actually enjoys, which will hopefully lead to an even happier life.

Romantically, Chandler goes through a number of unsuccessful relationships before getting with Monica. Starting as best friends proves to be exactly what Chandler needs, and the two prove to perfectly balance out each other's quirks and neuroses. Monica and Chandler get married in a wedding officiated by Joey, and Chandler becomes a father in the series finale, when he and Monica adopt twins and move to the suburbs to raise them. It's a huge amount of growth for a character who started out immature, insecure, and afraid of commitment, and it's a tremendously satisfying way to wrap up his story.

Monica has the best ending on Friends

Monica Gellar begins as a struggling chef who longs to fall in love, settle down, and start a family. Over the following ten seasons, she makes significant strides in every area of her life, although each are hard-won. Professionally, after a string of less than successful career moves, Monica earns a job as head chef at a local restaurant, and she later accepts her dream job at Javu, an upscale Manhattan eatery.

On the relationship front, Monica first finds love with Richard, but she makes the hard decision to break it off when she learns he has no desire for more children. Eventually, she falls for Chandler, one of her best friends, and the two get married. However, after a year spent trying to get pregnant, they learn that they can't conceive and decide to adopt instead.

The couple is chosen by a young pregnant woman named Erica (Anna Faris), who doesn't realize she's having twins until she's already delivered the first baby. Although Chandler is initially reluctant to take home more than one, Monica insists they'll adopt as many babies as Erica gives birth to, and they end the series preparing to move to the suburbs to raise their new children. It's the perfect ending for Monica's control-freak character, with nothing happening exactly the way she planned but with her ultimately getting everything she ever wanted.