TV

Every Breakup On ‘Friends,’ Ranked From Least To Most Terrible

More than 20 years since its debut, the television show Friends remains some of the most terrific/awful entertainment available. While Seinfeld is aging like fine wine, the warts of Friends — the incessant casual homophobia, the fact the best of friends can’t pick up on obvious sarcasm from each other — grow with each passing day. It’s still eminently watchable — Joey drinking a gallon of milk remains the height of comedy — but the fact that it’s so easily rewatchable also allows us to spot new flaws.

One you might not have noticed before: Friends characters are mostly awful people who ended relationships for incredibly stupid reasons. By my count, the six idiots on this show dumped love interests 37 times, and almost all of them were for incredibly idiotic reasons. And as any sane person in 2016 would do, I ranked those 37 dumpings from smartest to stupidest.

A few rules to the list:

1. Joey, Ross, Chandler, Phoebe, Rachel, and Monica had to be the ones doing the dumping. Besides, any time someone dumped one of these six people, it was a smart move. Mona dumping Ross needs zero explanation.

2. Any dumping that was mutual or blurry was excluded. So Joey and Rachel calling it quits doesn’t make it here.

Here are 37 Friends breakups ranked, starting with the intelligent ones and closing with the stupidest one in the show’s 10-season history, along with when it happened and the reason for the breakup:

37. Season 1, Episode 3
Breakup: Monica dumps Alan.
Reason: Monica just wasn’t into Alan.
Analysis: Totally fine.

36. Season 5, Episode 10
Breakup: Rachel dumps Danny.
Reason: Danny takes baths with his sister and very likely has sex with her.
Analysis: No issues here, except with the person who stood up in the writers room and proclaimed, “I know a good reason for Rachel to not date Danny.”


35. Season 8, Episode 18
Breakup: Phoebe dumps Parker.
Reason: He was overly positive about everything.
Analysis: This was when the show’s writers clearly did not care anymore.

34. Season 3, Episode 20
Breakup: Chandler dumps Joanna.
Reason: She’s a big dull dud.
Analysis: He didn’t find her interesting. Everyone seems normal so far.

33. Season 6, Episode 11
Breakup: Joey dumps Janine.
Reason: Janine sucks.
Analysis: Janine talked gallons of sh*t about Joey’s friends, and as the show’s only redeemable character, Joey not only dumped her but threw her out of the apartment. Good for Joey.

31. Season 2, Episode 12
Breakup: Joey dumps Erika.
Reason: Erika believed Joey was Dr. Drake Ramore and could not distinguish fantasy from reality.
Analysis: Commendable job by Joey, who very likely had an undiagnosed sex addiction, to break up with this girl. Maybe he could have gotten her psychological help, but these are sound grounds for breaking up with someone.

30. Season 3, Episode 3
Breakup: Phoebe dumps Malcolm.
Reason: Malcom was stalking Ursula before they met and… seriously this show wasn’t successful because of elite writing.
Analysis: Of course, this was a smart breakup and also the second “dating a stalker” plotline in 51 episodes.

29. Season 1, Episode 12
Breakup: Rachel dumps Paolo.
Reason: Paolo hits on Phoebe during a massage.
Analysis: Rachel was in the right, although one wonders why Phoebe would’ve agreed to rub down her friend’s boyfriend in the first place. And really, Rachel knew Phoebe for three months at this point. She could have believed Paolo’s word over hers. The breakup reasons begin to crumble now.


28. Season 1, Episode 1
Breakup: Rachel dumps Barry.
Reason: Rachel hates her pampered life and doesn’t love Barry.
Analysis: Leaving someone at the altar is never cool. She never should have let it get that far. By season five, it was plainly evident Barry got lucky here and Rachel made a massive life mistake.

27. Season 3, Episode 12
Breakup: Monica dumps Julio.
Reason: Julio wrote an unflattering poem about Monica and gave it to her, for some odd reason.
Analysis: Not for nothing, Monica, but you were an empty vase, desperate to fill it with a child instead of the love of a beautiful, mustachioed man who was perfect for you in every… sorry.

26. Season 1, Episode 13
Breakup: Phoebe dumps Roger.
Reason: Roger would say dick-ish things under the guise of psychology.
Analysis: Really, this was when we all should have first realized how terrible these characters all were as human beings. Roger made a lot of great points and no one was willing to take a deep, introspective look at their behavior. Phoebe should have kept Roger around.

25. Season 4, Episode 8
Breakup: Monica dumps Timothy.
Reason: He is Richard’s son and Monica is an emotional nightmare.
Analysis: Is it weird to date an ex’s son? You bet. Is it weird to only think it’s weird after you kiss him? Incredibly. This is one of the few breakups on this list that isn’t as weird as the fact the date happened in the first place.

24. Season 3, Episode 8
Breakup: Chandler dumps Janice.
Reason: Janice was married, which, you know, makes you wonder why Chandler would date this awful married person but not the terrific married woman from the first season.
Analysis: Good. Smart. Get her out of your life and off the show. Whatever you do, don’t force her back into shows over the next seven seasons. That would be awkward, painful and downright silly. But when you consider what Chandler did two seasons prior…


23. Season 1, Episode 6
Breakup: Chandler dumps Aurora.
Reason: Aurora was married and sleeping with multiple dudes.
Analysis: The sex was allegedly great, as was Aurora, but Chandler wasn’t happy with her sleeping around. Maybe if Chandler wasn’t so judgmental about Aurora’s sexual freeness, he could have enjoyed a strings-free sex partner for a little while longer. Why would Chandler dump an intelligent, Israeli commando but pine for Janice?

22. Season 3, Episodes 15 and 16
Breakup: Rachel dumps Ross.
Reason: Ross is an insecure baby and accuses Rachel of banging Mark and is just clingy and jealous and sucks so bad.
Analysis: She should have never dated him in the first place, because Ross sucks. They both suck, but Ross sucks more.

21. Season 3, Episode 22
Breakup: Rachel dumps Tommy.
Reason: Tommy yells at everyone, including the chick and the duck.
Analysis: Tough call. Tommy hated Ross, which shows he’s probably an okay dude, but so much unchecked anger. Then again, being around Ross all the time could make anyone snap. His rage was justifiable.

20. Season 1, Episode 22
Breakup: Monica dumps Ethan.
Reason: Ethan was a high school senior.
Analysis: If he was 18, then get over yourself, Monica. You got along well, the sex was good and you weren’t getting any regularly as of this point. Maybe she told herself she felt deceived because of Ethan’s lies and that’s why she ended it. Anyway, if he was 17 or 16 (the dude playing Ethan was 27 at the time!) then Monica should be in prison. If this were timed better, Benson and Stabler could’ve hauled Monica away in an SVU/Friends crossover episode.

19. Season 2, Episode 8
Breakup: Ross dumps Julie.
Reason: Rachel.
Analysis: This is when the decisions get downright moronic and we are only at 19. This is the decision that destroyed Ross’ life forever. He was free of Rachel, a boring, stupid, terrible person, and with Julie, an intelligent, fun person, and he chose the idiot. The next eight years of his life would include mental issues, a baby born out of wedlock and the hell of dating Rachel.

18. Season 4, Episode 13
Breakup: Chandler dumps Kathy.
Reason: She cheated on him with a co-star.
Analysis: Fine on the surface, but a) Chandler knew what he was getting into when she cheated on Joey with him, and b) he dated Janice while she was married so how about some consistency, Chandler? If you’re not careful, you’ll wind up with Monica.

17. Season 5, Episode 1
Breakup: Ross dumps Emily.
Reason: Rachel.
Analysis: Yes, it’s Emily who runs away after the wedding, but really, Ross saying Rachel’s name was when that relationship ended, and it ended with a passive-aggressive, subconscious declaration by Ross. That’s two breakups by Ross for Rachel and one because of Rachel. Emily sucked to be sure, but she had a point about cutting Rachel out of Ross’ life. This breakup dragged for six episodes, but this is truly when it happened.


16. Season 8, Episode 7
Breakup: Phoebe dumps Eric.
Reason: Eric had sex with Ursula when he thought it was Phoebe because Eric is either a liar or an idiot.
Analysis: This is six years after Phoebe dated Ursula’s stalker, so really, while the breakup grounds are good, Phoebe should have seen this coming.

15. Season 6, Episode 24
Breakup: Ross dumps Elizabeth.
Reason: She was too immature.
Analysis: Ross, the guy who gets married after knowing people for 11 minutes, felt someone else was too immature. F*ck you, Ross.

14. Season 5, Episode 7
Breakup: Phoebe dumps Larry.
Reason: He’s closing too many restaurants as a health inspector.
Analysis: Larry was too good at his job and apparently there are only six restaurants in all of Manhattan in 1998. Another great life choice, Friends character.

13. Season 1, Episode 16
Breakup: Chandler dumps Nina.
Reason: He dated her because he didn’t want to fire her, then told everyone in the office she was mentally unbalanced, then that was it.
Analysis: Chandler, the quiet jerk on this show, somehow remained employed with this company for nearly the duration of the series. Remember when he couldn’t figure out why his employees hated him? Look in the mirror, Chandler. It’s you.

12. Season 4, Episode 6
Breakup: Ross dumps Cheryl.
Reason: Cheryl’s apartment is filled with garbage — literal garbage, not just Ross.
Analysis: This seems like a legitimate reason on the surface, but what’s the issue? There’s ham on the couch. Ham is great. There’s a bag of chips on the coffee table. Chips are great. Maybe Cheryl was right and Ross’ apartment did smell weird. Buy a candle, you jackass.

11. Season 6, Episode 23
Breakup: Rachel dumps Paul.
Reason: Paul can’t stop crying.
Analysis: Rachel asked Paul to open up, he does, so she dumps him. Whenever Rachel gets what she wants on this show, she immediately gets turned off. Yeah, Bruce Willis was the worst celebrity cameo on a show with a lot of them, but this is a pretty crappy reason to break up with a person. At least give it a week to see if it stops.


10. Season 2, Episode 3
Breakup: Chandler dumps ????
Reason: Her nostrils were too big.
Analysis: There’s no name because Chandler never says her name. The friends give him crap for dumping girls for no good reason. He dates Janice forever yet he’s making up reasons like this for dumping other women.

9. Season 5, Episode 15
Breakup: Joey dumps Katie.
Reason: She punches him in the arms way too hard.
Analysis: This is dumb for a different reason: Joey once ran out on a girl after throwing her artificial leg in a fire, but he can’t just stop calling this girl? He needs help breaking it off? And really, just say, “You have to stop hitting me, it hurts. Honestly, I’m very serious.”

8. Season 5, Episode 21
Breakup: Phoebe dumps Gary.
Reason: Gary shoots a bird with a police-issued firearm.
Analysis: You get the strong sense the writers were like, “Gary is terrific. How do we end this with six seconds left in the show? Should he shoot a human? No, that’s too heavy. How about a bird? Yeah, that’s better. Someone write that down.” And please, he shot a bird. That’s not a dealbreaker, Phoebe.

7. Season 3, Episode 13
Breakup: Phoebe dumps Robert.
Reason: Robert wears shorts and his genitals are always hanging out.
Analysis: Was his penis small? Did it only hang out when he sat at certain angles? Who cares if Gunther, Chandler, etc. could see it and made jokes about it? Maybe if the characters weren’t all so sexually repressed, a little accidental public nudity wouldn’t be such a big deal.


6. Season 4, Episode 1
Breakup: Ross dumps Bonnie.
Reason: Rachel.
Analysis: Ross is stupid. For the second time in three seasons (the breakup begins in the season three finale), Ross is dumping a pretty great girl for Rachel, who sucks. Yes, they both suck and deserve each other, but Ross doesn’t realize Rachel only wants him when he’s happy with someone else. Screw Rachel. You’re a moron, Ross. I feel bad for your son.

5. Season 9, Episode 23
Breakup: Phoebe dumps David.
Reason: Phoebe is an idiot.
Analysis: In no sane world would Mike put up with Phoebe’s wanting to raise rats and whatnot. He would totally say, “I don’t believe in marriage” in an effort to get out of it then never return. David dug Phoebe. Phoebe dug David. They were meant to be from season one. But Paul Rudd was more famous than Hank Azaria, so this is what we got in Barbados.

4. Season 3, Episode 24
Breakup: Monica dumps Pete.
Reason: Pete is a terrible UFC fighter.
Analysis: Monica has all the loyalty of a cat. Here’s this man, this nice, unbelievably wealthy man with a dream, and the second that dream seems difficult, Monica bails. One episode prior, Monica was entertaining the idea of marrying Pete because of the ring design check, now she’s dumping a guy as he heads for a hospital. The entire Geller family is filled with garbage.


3. Season 7, Episode 14
Breakup: Rachel dumps Tag.
Reason: He was too immature.
Analysis: Tag was perfect for Rachel. They were both idiots who found each other attractive. It was never going to get better for Rachel, yet she goes through this timeline of events that will see her getting married, but it’s taking too long. Meanwhile, she’s been banging her secretary for months and acts like he’s the one making bad life decisions because he’s riding a scooter. God, these characters.

2. Season 2, Episode 10
Breakup: Monica dumps Fun Bobby.
Reason: Bobby, an alcoholic, stopped drinking.
Analysis: I know what you’re thinking: Fun Bobby dumped Monica. That’s not how I see this. Bobby got sober and Monica began drinking to compensate for him becoming boring, then he dumped her. She began a fake addiction that mocked his addiction and drove him away, leaving him with no choice. I put that on Monica. Elaine Benes, part of the most uncaring group of characters on TV, stayed with her boyfriend as he was going through heroin withdrawal, yet Monica pushed away a guy getting himself clean. Every character on this show should be shot into the sun.

1. Season 2, Episode 24
Breakup: Monica dumps Richard.
Reason: Richard doesn’t want kids because he’s old.
Analysis: You may argue this was a mutual breakup but you’d be wrong. Richard would’ve stayed with her if not for this. Why is this such a dumb breakup on behalf of a show’s character? They were dating for 10 episodes, which is like three months, and Monica is cornering this hunky dreamboat about kids already? He hesitates for a split second before saying he’d be into it, and she’s still like, “Nah sorry. Your initial reaction to this thought after just three months of dating wasn’t good enough, so see ya!” Screw off, Monica. Enjoy your crappy life with smoky, sarcastic Chandler.

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