8. Rachel & Joey
If we learned anything from that time Rachel put beef in the trifle, it’s that two good things put together don’t necessarily make another good thing. We love Rachel, and we love Joey, and yet every second of their relationship was painfully forced, right from the moment Joey realised he had feelings for her. Their romance did at least give us the joy of Ross being fine, but we’re still never getting over the fact that this mess of a relationship was allowed to exist while Phoebe/Joey never happened.
7. Ross & Emily
Poor Emily. Her way-too-speedy engagement to Ross was so clearly doomed from the start, but she really put in the time and probably deserved better than the send-off she got. She and Ross were actually pretty cute in their early days, until the horror show that was “I take thee, Rachel” turned her – justifiably – into a jealous shrew.
6. Chandler & Janice
For a couple as fundamentally mismatched as they were, Chanice really had a pretty good run of it. Okay, so Janice was insanely grating (the voice was just the tip of the iceberg) and Chandler spent most of their early relationship trying desperately to break up with her, but these two just had some kind of magnetic pull to each other. In the end, we were kind of rooting for them – so much so that Janice cheating on Chandler with the Mattress King actually stung.
5. Monica & Richard
Age really is just a number. While it’s undeniably creepy that Richard had fond memories of Monica playing in his pool as a child, their romance just clicked. Tom Selleck’s charisma, moustache and overall dapperness put Monica’s other love interests to shame (not a high bar in the early seasons, we’ll grant you), and these two also get points for having one of the most quotable breakups in history (“I’m breezy!”)
4. Phoebe & Mike
Objectively, Mike is pretty much perfect. He’s sweet and loyal, he’s got a great dry wit on him, and he is Paul Rudd. It’s hard to imagine a better husband for Phoebe – he shares her love of music and her admirable commitment to weird decisions (Exhibit A: Princess Conseula Banana-Hammock and Crap Bag). But thanks to the next entry on this list, we’re still all kinds of conflicted about Phoebe ending up with him.
3. Phoebe & David
You know what’s crazy about David the scientist guy, aka the love of Phoebe’s life? He appeared in a total of five episodes in the whole series, and he and Phoebe were together for just ONE EPISODE before he had to go to Minsk. The fact that their relationship made such an impact speaks volumes about just how amazing their chemistry was. The episode where he briefly returns in series seven is maybe one of the show’s most heartbreaking ever, and Phoebe should have chosen him over Mike in the end. Sorry, Mike.
Iconic. Just plain iconic. This is a romance so deeply ingrained in pop culture that “Ross and Rachel” has become shorthand for extended will-they-won’t-they relationships, and for the first three or so seasons of Friends they were flawlessly written. From the intense build-up – Ross pining for Rachel in season one, and Rachel pining for Ross in season two – to the cute intimacy of their actual relationship, right through to their gut-wrenching breakup. Things inevitably got a little repetitive as the series progressed, the writers coming up with increasingly contrived ways to keep them apart until the finale, but Ross/Rachel never lost their spark. Their first kiss at Central Perk is still a contender for the best TV lip-lock of all time.
1. Monica & Chandler
Who would ever have predicted this pairing when the show began? Even the Friends writers had no idea that Monica and Chandler would one day become the show’s lynchpin couple (the original plan was for Monica/Joey to be a thing), but that hookup in London turned out to be the beginning of something glorious. There are a hundred reasons why this relationship shouldn’t have worked – both characters are pretty high-strung – but their different brands of neurosis ended up complementing each other perfectly. And really, is there anything more romantic than that?