Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Jack And Judy Geller's Friends Timeline Explained

Among the strengths of "Friends" when it aired on NBC back in 1994-2004 was a cast of high-caliber recurring stars that added depth and hilarity to the goings-on at that Manhattan high-rise where Chandler (Matthew Perry), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Ross (David Schwimmer), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox), and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) lived and hung out. Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles, who played Ross and Rachel's parents starting in the second episode, "The One with the Sonogram at the End," were among those stars. 

Jack and Judy Geller's appearances in the series were distinctively funny, naturally. But also, the early inclusion of these supporting players gave viewers perspective regarding what some of the show's main characters were like as children — Ross was a star, Monica was lonely and pudgy — and where their influences came from. Later on, the parents also provided comedy fodder when it came to Ross' missteps with his ongoing romantic relationships and as they developed relationships with the friends in their children's lives.

Jack Geller and his wife Judy continued to be part of their children's lives throughout the series, both separately and together, becoming the only parents of any of the main characters to appear in all 10 seasons of the show. Here's how their appearances have developed over the course of the series' run.

Jack and Judy prefer Ross over Monica

It's a fact of life: Parents have favorite children, though they're not supposed to show it. In the case of Monica and Ross, it's clear from the first scene with their parents in that second episode that Ross is the darling child of the Geller family. Judy skeptically denigrates Monica's cooking and her job as well as her marriage prospects while she and Jack praise Ross' drive, ambition, and ability to attract the girls of their acquaintance. Jack says over dinner, "And I read about these women trying to have it all and I thank God, our little Harmonica doesn't seem to have that problem." 

When Ross, in an effort to break his personal news while taking the heat off his sister, tells his parents about his ex-wife's lesbian status and the fact that she's having their child, Judy's reaction is to turn to Monica and say, "And you knew about this?" Basically, their parents' main initial trait seems to be their belief that Ross can do no wrong — and Monica can do no right.

Psychologists will say that singling out favorite kids isn't necessarily good for sibling bonds or adult relationships. In the case of Monica and Ross, their closeness doesn't seem to have suffered; their affection remains strong throughout 10 seasons of the show. However, they do end up having all kinds of tumultuous and somewhat dysfunctional relationships, so maybe we can blame those on Jack and Judy.

Fans discover the criticism of Monica stems from Judy's relationship with her own mom

The parents didn't stay one-note for long. In their very second appearance, "The One Where the Nana Dies Twice," fans find out more about Geller family dynamics, including that Jack wants a burial at sea and why Judy is so critical of Monica. Turns out, Nana (who apparently collected Sweet'N Low packets) did the same thing to Judy. During the get-together following the funeral service, Judy tells Monica Nana would have hated the event: "I'd be hearing about why didn't I get the honey-glazed ham or I didn't spend enough on flowers. If I spent more, she'd be saying, 'Why are you wasting your money? I don't need flowers, I'm dead.'" 

After Monica says that did indeed sound like her grandmother, Judy replies, "Do you know what it's like to grow up with someone who is critical of every single thing you say?" Monica asks Judy if she'd wished she'd told Nana the truth about how her words hurt, and Judy says she prefers that everyone gets along. Then she tenders a compliment to Monica that isn't backhanded or accompanied by an insult. Though Judy shows very little self-awareness here, viewers at least learn more about why Judy treats Monica so tactlessly.

Jack and Judy have a healthy, loving marriage

The second-season episode "The One with the Prom Video" became famous because it spawned the line "She's your lobster." Phoebe explains to Ross that this applies to his relationship with Rachel because lobsters mate for life. The two are currently on the outs, with Ross trying to get her to forgive him. Later, the friends watch a prom video from the past in which Jack and Judy urge college student Ross to take a disappointed, stood-up Rachel to the prom, and he puts on a tux in order to do so. It turns out, though, that Rachel's date is only late, and she and Monica happily leave with their dates. The episode shows that the parents have compassion and kindness for the jilted Rachel, and later, it shows there is affection for Monica when his dad dances with her. It shows something else, too. 

It turns out that Jack and Judy recorded over the end of the video. The prom scenes cut to a view of them together ... in bed. Monica is watching alone at this point and is not happy. But the scene does show that Jack and Judy have a good marital relationship, as gross as that might be for their kids to realize. Other episodes reveal that Judy was pregnant before Jack and Judy got married and consistently show that the two are simpatico — so it's no surprise that their marriage is healthy and thriving.

Their bad opinion of Chandler changes after the truth comes out

Chandler's relationship with the Gellers didn't seem particularly substantial — at least, not until the sixth season. In "The One Where Ross Got High," Monica reveals that Jack and Judy don't like Chandler, and this is why she hasn't told them about their relationship. The Thanksgiving dinner in this episode starts off with a few faux pas on Chandler's part and some zingers from Jack. When Chandler accidentally remarks on the tightness of Judy's sweater, Jack wants to know what's wrong with him and Judy says she thinks he's stoned again.

This makes Ross realize why his parents maybe don't like Chandler. He takes his friend aside to tell him that, back in college, he got stoned in his room. When his parents walked in on him, he told them that Chandler was the culprit and had jumped out the window. Then, Monica arrives, having been sent in to find out if Chandler's trying to get Ross stoned. The two urge Ross to come clean, but Rachel's messed-up dessert (half trifle, half shepherd's pie) distracts everyone for some time. Meanwhile, Phoebe is looking at Jack differently because of dreams she had about him.

Eventually, Monica gets tired of Ross' equivocation, leading to a shouting match of truth-telling followed by a calm, collected Judy dealing with all the confessions in order. She tells Chandler that, as a friend who stuck by Ross all those years through a drug problem and who has now "taken on" Monica, "Well, I don't know what to say. You're a wonderful human being," she says. Jack hugs and thanks him, too. Instant relationship warm-fuzziness ensues. 

Later, when the Chandler and Monica are married in Season 7's finale, Jack and Judy are clearly pretty happy about it, even though it was revealed in "The One with Rachel's Book" that they spent all of the wedding money because they figured Chandler would never propose.

Their relationship with Rachel also becomes stronger

Jack and Judy Geller's relationship with Rachel had always been congenial. They were well-aware of her status as Monica's friend and later as Ross' on-again, off-again romantic partner. As seen in that prom episode, they felt for her when her prom date seemed to stand her up. Later, of course, Rachel became the mother of their grandchild, which certainly endeared her even more to them. In the first part of the finale of Season 8, "The One Where Rachel Has a Baby," Judy cements their affection for her with a gesture: She shows up at the hospital with Ross' grandmother's engagement ring. When Ross seems reluctant to propose, she reminds him, "This isn't just some girl you picked up in a bar and humped." Rachel comes out and thanks Judy for coming.

Once Emma is born, Judy takes on occasional babysitting duties, although Rachel has trouble leaving her child behind for a celebratory event in "The One with Phoebe's Birthday Dinner." Ross and Rachel get locked out, the super's not around, and they must wait for Judy to arrive with her key. Rachel gets so freaked out by this experience that she refuses to leave her child ever again. So, Judy ends up coming with them to the restaurant. She's a trouper for agreeing to sit at the bar with the baby all night, and it's a testament to her good relationship with Rachel that she's helping despite Rachel's new mom hysteria — although she does take advantage of her proximity to the bar quite a bit that night.