Mates rates: which friend from Friends would make the best friend?

Dismiss Joey as too dim or Chandler too snarky at your peril – each Friend has their benefits

Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow.
Great shakes … Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow. Photograph: Getty Images
Great shakes … Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow. Photograph: Getty Images

Last modified on Tue 16 Feb 2021 04.34 EST

In the Guide’s weekly Solved! column, we look into a crucial pop-culture question you’ve been burning to know the answer to – and settle it, once and for all

Just as with real-life friends, each Friend from Friends comes with their own unique pros and cons. There’s tidy but neurotic Monica; sweet but self-centred Rachel; frank but surreal Phoebe; reliable but sarcastic Chandler; caring but nerdy Ross; and the nice but dim Joey. Everybody needs a best, best friend, one who can speed-dial to get you out of any scrape without judging. So which Friend should you pick?

To help decide, let’s consider what friends are good for. First, lending you money. Jobbing actor Joey, freelance masseuse Phoebe and pre-Bloomingdale’s waitress Rachel are all strapped for cash. Far easier to guilt palaeontologist Ross, chef Monica and (transponster?) Chandler into ponying up the spondoolies. Chandler has splashed plenty of dosh on Joey for rent and bills and never asked for it back. So, bank with Bing.

Which Friend should you live with? For La-Z-Boys, table football and giant pizzas, it’s Joey and Chandler. For cleanliness, Monica will Hoover the Hoover. Although an ideal flatmate is one who’s mostly out. Phoebe and Ross are perpetually round the other Friends’ gaffs. But could you stand Phoebe’s guitar practice screeching through the walls? Crash with Ross.

If you’re after more of an, ahem, friends-with-benefits situation, avoid Joey: he bottles it with Rachel in series 10 and is unlikely to bridge the friend-zone. Avoid Monica: she’ll get cross with you for messing up the sheets. Rachel will probably be thinking of Ross (or Russ). And – careful! Chandler has a penchant for handcuffs. Phoebe’s attitude to a hookup of hers is telling: “That wasn’t a date! That was just friends getting together having sex.” But Phoebe is slightly scary. For the safest pair of hands choose Ross: even if he was once dumped while on the job.

So what else? Best Friend to fake-appreciate your disgusting trifle? Monica. Best Friend to help build an entertainment centre? Joey. Fastest Friend to give you a lift? Rachel. Best Friend to be trapped in an ATM vestibule? Chandler. Carry a surrogate child or three? Phoebe. Help move a couch up the stairs? Ross.

Perhaps your best Friend is one of the other characters? Nah. Rachel’s ex Barry is too cheaty. Ross and Monica’s mum Judy, too judge-y. Downstairs neighbour Mr Heckles, too creepy. Phoebe’s half-brother Frank, too stealy, and her twin sister Ursula, too split-screeny. Rachel’s Italian beau Paolo, too hairy. Monica’s ex Richard, too Sellecky. Ugly naked guy, too ugly. Gunther? No one’s that desperate. And Marcel is a monkey.

Friends come and go, so to decide on the best Friend, we should consider where our Friends left us at the end of series 10. Monica and Chandler are off to the suburbs to have twins, so unless your idea of fun is changing nappies, it’s goodbye Bings. Ross and Rachel’s on-a-break/not-on-a-break relationship is so precarious, best steer clear of that. And The Buffay-Hannigans have probably turned into that couple who’ll only have you over for a barbecue. Which leaves Joey: although you’ll have to wait until he moves to Hollywood for two series of Joey and comes to the UK to present and leave Top Gear until he’s free to fully commit as your best Friend, too. Just keep him away from the turkey: he might stick it on his head.

This article was amended on 16 February 2021. In the eponymous TV series, Joey moves to Hollywood, not New York, as an earlier version said.