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Rachel Greene's Friends Timeline Explained

"Friends," the story of six New York friends and their trials, tribulations, loves and losses, remains one of the most iconic TV sitcoms of all time. Each member of the ensemble brings their own interesting element to the show, from Chandler's odd humor to Monica's competitiveness, Phoebe's oddball life and curious history to Joey's acting history and inexhaustible appetite. At the same time, while all the 'friends' in "Friends" are pivotal to the plot and each others' lives, Jennifer Aniston's Rachel Greene is arguably the series' most important character.

From her pivotal on-again, off-again romance with Ross to her longstanding friendship with Monica, Rachel's journey was at the heart of the show. Perhaps most importantly, while all the gang grew to varying degrees over the course of the series, Rachel clearly exhibited the most growth — intellectually, professionally, relationally, and morally. 

From a self-centered, sheltered, immature young woman to a confident, mature, professional mother, Rachel's arc in the series is easily the most impressive. With that in mind, here is a breakdown of Rachel's timeline on "Friends," from the beginning to the end.

The Early Years of Rachel Greene

Rachel Greene was born to two wealthy parents, Leonard and Sandra Greene, who spoiled her along with her sisters Jill and Amy. She met Monica Gellar originally when the two were six years old, maintaining a best-friendship that carried on throughout high school. The two were drastically different — Rachel was privileged, shallow, and popular, while Monica was neurotic, dorky, and had self-esteem issues (effectively stemming from weight-based self-image). Rachel even had a track record as an occasional bully, picking on an overweight student named Will Colbert.

Through Monica, Rachel met Monica's older brother Ross, who notably developed what would become a life-long attraction to Rachel. Her history of complicated relationships began in high school with her boyfriend Chip, a popular boy who broke up with young Rachel on Thanksgiving, then sought to get back together. He took her to senior prom, didn't come to pick her up, then just when Rachel was convinced he wasn't coming (and Ross was set to take her out himself) he arrived and the two left ... and then Chip left Rachel at prom to have sex with someone else. A proper class-act, indeed.

Rachel in Season 1

The series began with Rachel having left Barry at the altar and running through the rain into Central Perk in a rain-soaked wedding dress. There, she found Monica, seeing her for the first time in years, quickly catching her up on what had happened. Monica quickly introduced her to Chandler, Phoebe, Joey, and once again to Ross. After a discussion with her father, she set her mind on moving in with Monica, but was now cut off from her father's money. So, she started working at Central Perk.

Rachel soon discovered that Barry had cheated on her with Rachel's best friend Mindy, even taking Mindy on the honeymoon planned for their wedding. Rachel adjusted to working at Central Perk while Ross attempted to get closer to her. During a blackout, Ross attempted to romance her until a rogue cat got in the way, and upon attempting to return the cat they ran into another tenant: Paolo. To Ross's dismay, they hit it off. She later broke it off with Paolo, swore off all men, and accidentally revealed to Ross the sex of his child.

Rachel discovered Barry was engaged to Mindy while Ross intended to express his love for her ... before being suddenly interrupted by Barry entering to express his continued feelings for Rachel. Barry continued his engagement while seeing Rachel on the side, until Rachel and Mindy confronted him (and Rachel stopped while Mindy stayed committed). Ross traveled to China for work, and Rachel discovered from Chandler that Ross loved her. She traveled to the airport to talk to Ross before he took off, but he couldn't hear her — as a result, she missed her chance before he left.

Rachel in Season 2

While Ross was returning from China, Rachel was waiting for him. To her dismay, he arrived with another woman he seemed to be dating — Julie — and Rachel was so upset she had a one night stand with Paolo. Attempting to sabotage Ross' relationship with Julie before trying to move on, she went on a blind date. Rachel got drunk and left an answering machine message for Ross, claiming to be "over" him; Ross found the message the next morning, confronted Rachel, and they kissed.

Ross listed with Chandler a series of Pros and Cons to help him decide between Julie and Rachel ... which Rachel then found and became angry at. She later watched an old video of her and Monica's prom preparations, discovering that Ross was willing to step in as her prom date rather than let Chip let her down. She kissed him (in "The One With The Prom Video"). Their first date was awkward, but the two slept together for the first time ("The One Where Ross And Rachel... You Know").

Rachel's mother informed her she was leaving Rachel's father, causing Rachel distress, while she also had to deal with Barry's decision to marry Mindy — a wedding that would have Rachel be Mindy's maid of honor.

Rachel in Season 3

At the beginning of Season 3, Rachel and Ross had been dating for some time, and Rachel herself had a few casual issues (like bridging divides between Ross and her father). She was eventually persuaded by Joey and Chandler to quit Central Perk (in "The One Where Rachel Quits"), getting a job at a local clothing store. There she met Mark from Bloomingdales, who helped her get a job in his department, leading to jealousy from Ross ("The One With All the Jealousy").

On her one year anniversary with Ross, Rachel was forced to work. Ross planned a romantic surprise to bring to Rachel's office, but Rachel got mad at his thoughtlessness and the two instead argued at her apartment. Rachel told Ross they should "take a break," and Rachel spent the night alone until Mark called and came over with food and emotional support. When Ross called he heard Mark's voice over the phone and got suspicious. Ross hung up on Rachel, got drunk, and spent the night with a woman named Chloe.

Rachel changed her mind about being on a break, but then found out about Ross's drunken indiscretion. They had a massive fight and broke up ("The One With The Morning After"). The breakup strained their ability to be friends, with them fighting continuously afterwards. They eventually tried to get along for everyone's sake. Her heart gradually softened again towards Ross, and she even sabotaged his time with another attractive woman (Bonnie), which revealed to Ross she still had feelings for him. The pair kissed, but the episode ended with Ross deciding whether to choose Rachel or Bonnie.

Rachel in Season 4

We learn that Ross chose Rachel, but decided to break up with Bonnie before starting anything. Rachel presented to Ross an 18-page letter, saying he had to agree with it before they could resume dating. 

Ross fell asleep while reading it, feigning that he read, and agreed to, all of its contents — including the provision that he would agree to take full blame for everything that went wrong in their prior relationship. The pair then had sex, but Ross's anger over the forced full responsibility continued to boil until he angrily yelled at Rachel, causing them to break up once again, and also causing a major rift in their friendship.

Things continued to decline for Rachel: she and Monica lost their apartment to Joey and Chandler in a game, and soon she was demoted at Bloomingdales. She was about to quit before she met an attractive new client, Joshua, who she desperately attempted to seduce, a drastic attempt that left her with a chipped tooth. 

Meanwhile, Rachel introduced Ross to her boss' niece Emily. The two hit it off, and Rachel's competitive streak (against Ross and Emily's quick moving relationship) caused her to propose to Joshua after only four dates. He broke up with her after she answered the door in a wedding dress. 

On his end, Ross and Emily arranged to get married in London, and while Rachel said she couldn't attend she realized she still loved Ross and traveled to tell Ross how she felt. Ross' happiness with Emily changed Rachel's heart, however, and she merely congratulates him instead. But at the altar, Ross says Rachel's name instead of Emily's.

Rachel in Season 5

The wedding proceeded despite Ross's major altar error — and despite the repercussions it caused, Rachel was persuaded to go on the booked honeymoon with Ross (solely as a friend) when it looked like Emily wasn't coming. Emily saw them leaving together, stormed out, and Ross chased after her to leave Rachel going alone. Later, when home, she and Ross bonded over Rachel's absurd continued feelings for Ross and his marriage in shambles (in "The One With All The Kissing").

Emily agreed to join Ross in New York under one condition: he could never see Rachel again. He agreed, causing Rachel to get angry at him (and the implication that she'd be the one forced to leave the friends group). They had an emotional moment, and Ross discovered her fears, assuring her if anyone left it would be him, and Rachel expressed regret that she wouldn't see Ross any more. Ultimately, in a later phone conversation with Emily about the situation, Emily realized she didn't trust Ross, deciding to divorce.

Ross was then forced to move out of his apartment, and when Phoebe and Rachel looked at the apartment of the "Ugly Naked Guy" on Ross's behalf, they saw Monica and Chandler having sex across the street and decided to bother them as punishment for keeping secrets. 

She later got an interview at Ralph Lauren, getting the job despite repeated errors. At the finale of the season, everyone traveled to Vegas (minus Ross and Rachel) and Ross accidentally saw Rachel naked, leading to an escalation of pranks and challenges until the two drunkenly got married in Vegas and woke up in bed together.

Rachel in Season 6

Rachel decided it was best to annul the marriage, but left it up to Ross — who didn't want yet another divorce, and could not get an annulment.

So, he stayed secretly married to Rachel until she discovered his ruse. The pair ultimately got a divorce when a judge ruled they didn't qualify for an annulment. Despite Ross being angry, the two admitted if they were to marry for real, it would be the one that sticks.

Rachel also had to contend with the realization that Chandler would be moving in with Monica, moving in with Phoebe. An apartment fire resulted in Rachel having to stay with Monica and Chandler, then Joey, until their apartment was fixed. As the season progressed, Ross began dating Rachel's sister Jill until he realized that taking it further would prevent anything happening with Rachel again — a fact that softened Rachel's heart (and caused Chandler to cry).

Rachel in Season 7

Monica and Chandler's engagement caused everyone joy, but Rachel got jealous (despite denying it), proposing she and Ross had a "bonus night." But their kissing was caught by Monica, who angrily claimed Rachel was trying to steal the attention.

Rachel got promoted at Ralph Lauren, allowing her to hire a personal assistant, Tag, a young man who became her boyfriend. They dated until she broke up with him on her birthday, not seeing them having a future together because he was too young and immature. Rachel had some more casual events befall her, including teaching Ben practical jokes (it progressed out of control). Later, she ran into a former sorority sister with whom she had one excellent kiss. 

The morning before the wedding, Phoebe and Rachel found a positive pregnancy test in the bathroom trash, which Phoebe thought belonged to Monica — but Rachel knew it was her own (from a time she had clandestinely slept with Ross).

Rachel in Season 8

Admitting her pregnancy to Phoebe at the wedding reception, Rachel later confirmed it to Chandler before eventually telling Ross that he was the father. 

Ross took her to get a sonogram, seeing the baby for the first time. As things progressed, Rachel considered telling Ross that she was thinking about restarting their relationship, until she saw Ross talking to Mona. Ross and Mona had a good relationship, until the pressures of Ross's situation with Rachel became too complicated for her, causing them to break up.

Joey suggested that Rachel move in with Ross, but he became increasingly attracted to her while Rachel admitted that she saw him as a friend ("The One Where Joey Tells Rachel"), causing tension. At the season's end, Rachel went into a long labor, while Ross's mother gave him a ring for his planned proposal. 

Rachel gave birth to a girl: Emma. The ring fell from Ross' jacket pocket, with Joey picking it up in a way that Rachel misunderstood as a proposal — and she said yes.

Rachel in Season 9

Dealing with the realities of living with Ross as well as motherhood, Rachel discovers that Ross is upset that she is becoming increasingly interested in dating.

Ross discovered that she gave her number to a man she met at a bar. When he called their place, Ross didn't give her the message. Rachel then proceeded to kiss her new colleague Gavin at her birthday party, which Ross saw; she decided to talk with Ross about it, but became so angered when Ross brought home a date that she decided to move in with Joey.

As time passed, she became more romantically interested in Joey, even dreaming that they kissed ("The One With Rachel's Dream"). Just when she decided to tell him, Ross's co-worker Charlie started dating Joey. Charlie later broke it off, finding herself having more in common with Ross, as Rachel admitted she wasn't interested in Joey romantically. 

The pair agreed to talk to Ross first, but Joey saw Ross and Charlie kissing, which angered Joey (mainly because Ross didn't approach him first). Joey walked to Rachel's room, and he kissed her.

Rachel in Season 10

The final season began with Rachel and Joey as a couple, albeit one Ross did not know about ... until he walked in on them kissing. 

Attempting to be supportive, it was clear that he was not okay with the situation, and Joey and Rachel found it hard to move beyond kissing. Chandler suggested that so many obstacles may mean it wasn't meant to happen, and perhaps they're just too good as friends. So, the pair split up, paralleled by Charlie having an opportunity to re-engage in a relationship with her ex-boyfriend Benjamin Hobart, effectively choosing him over Ross.

Rachel focused on parenting, preparing for Emma's first birthday and forcing everyone to cancel plans to attend. She was met by a number of personal challenges (including conflict with her sister Amy for getting Emma's ears pierced), falsely believed Chandler was having an affair after seeing him accompanied by a woman who turned out to be a real estate agent. Her father had a heart attack, causing her great stress, and then she approached Ross for sex in her vulnerable state; he chivalrously refuses.

A larger challenge came later, when her boss at Ralph Lauren found out she'd been interviewing for another job, firing Rachel. Ross helped her gather up her office belongings, running into her prior boss Mark (who Ross was once quite jealous over); he offers her a job at Louis Vuitton — but, in Paris. 

Rachel accepted, and at the going away party said goodbye to everyone but Ross. She then went to Ross's apartment to explain that it would be too difficult to say goodbye to him — and Ross kissed her, leading to them sleeping together. Sad to find that she was still planning to move to Paris, he decided to let her know how he felt about her once and for all, chasing her to the airport and confessing his love before she boarded the plane. 

Not knowing what to do, Rachel got on the plane, and Ross returned to his apartment to find a cut off message Rachel left while trying to get off. He turned around to find Rachel, who had left the flight. Cue the tears as they kissed in the doorway, with the final scene showing them happily together.