Dozens of actors made their mark in recurring supporting roles on Friends throughout its ten-season run, and while our core gang of Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, and Joey didn’t take too kindly to letting others into the group, certain characters seemed like a natural fit beside our titular six. Whether a love interest, relative, coworker, or even a pet, these are the characters that had a shot at becoming real Friends — though some were more successful than others. Below, we’ve ranked them in order from least likely to most likely to be there for our gang.
15. Ursula (Lisa Kudrow)
Phoebe and her twin sister never got along as kids, and sadly, they weren’t destined to be friends as adults, either. Among Ursula’s many sins over the course of the series: she broke Joey’s heart, used Phoebe’s name to star in porn videos, and conveniently forgot to tell her sister about the existence of their birth mother. Not exactly friend material.
14. Mr. Heckles (Larry Hankin)
Apartment dwellers with overly loud upstairs neighbors can probably sympathize with broom-wielding Mr. Heckles and the episode where he dies certainly humanized him. But he was still a crotchety crank who complained way too much. Heckles also thwarted Chandler’s chances of living with a fashion photographer — and hanging out with his model pals — after claiming to be Chandler’s new roommate. We’re not sure Chandler could ever forgive that injustice over a cup of coffee at Central Perk.
13. Janice (Maggie Wheeler)
Chandler’s on-again, off-again flame provided excellent comic relief but she she never fit in with the rest of the gang (well, except for Ross, who inexplicably slept with her in season five). Joey absolutely hated her, everyone was annoyed by her laugh and nasal voice (remember the sound she made when she was having contractions?), and someone whose signature “Oh. My. Gawd.” refrain made Chandler’s balls “jump back up inside [his] body” could never be a real friend.
12. Estelle (June Gable)
Joey’s chain-smoking agent wasn’t always great at her job (like when she called Joey to offer him an audition for the show he was about to get fired from), but she usually worked hard on his behalf (she did land him the Days of Our Lives audition, though she agreed that he’d have to sleep with the casting director to get the part). It’s hard to say how Estelle would have gotten along with the rest of the gang, but Phoebe’s perfect impression of her in season ten makes us think those two could have been pals and maybe gone off on some fun side-adventures.
11. Tag (Eddie Cahill)
Not the brightest crayon in the box, Tag was incredibly sweet (not to mention cute), adored Rachel, and got along especially well with kindred childlike spirit Joey. But his and Rachel’s age difference was ultimately too significant, and he seemed way too eager to bolt after Rachel told him she was pregnant — this before he found out he definitely wasn’t the father. It’s a non-starter. You just know Monica would not have approved of his affinity for wearing the same red sweater all the time (did he even wash it?).
10. Emily (Helen Baxendale)
We feel for Emily, who was humiliated when Ross said the wrong woman’s name at the altar. She seemed to genuinely love the goofy paleontologist, she got along great with Monica, her spontaneity rivaled Phoebe’s, and she was willing to spend her last night in town at a lame faux party with his pals. But she couldn’t get over her trust issues when it came to Rachel — and there was no way she was going to push Rachel out of the group, Kip-style. Besides, the fact that Emily froze out Ross for months after their wedding didn’t bode well for their future.
9. David (Hank Azaria)
Phoebe’s sweet scientist boyfriend, who charmed our friend back in season one before suddenly moving to Minsk, had the potential to be her soulmate, but alas, the icy climes of Belarus thwarted their romance. He reappeared a couple times later in the series, but by season nine, Phoebe had moved on to Mike, who she just couldn’t get over. That, coupled with the fact that he didn’t really fit in with the rest of the friends (his awkward chat asking Chandler for relationship advice was particularly painful) sealed his fate.
8. Julie (Lauren Tom)
Julie seemed cool, but she was no match for the Ross and Rachel rollercoaster. Before her abrupt dismissal, she was especially close with Monica, and she got bonus points for constantly hanging out with Ross’s friends all the time (not to mention broaching peace with Rachel when she sensed some awkwardness between them). But once Rachel — who was insanely jealous of Julie — admitted she had feelings for Ross, it was curtains for Dr. Geller’s girlfriend. We hope Julie wound up getting a cat anyway.
7. Frank Jr. (Giovanni Ribisi)
Phoebe’s half-brother was even ditzier than his older sister, and him shacking up with his former teacher Mrs. Knight — Alice, sorry — made the rest of the friends squirm. But Joey, Ross, and Chandler were won over by their love story (they volunteered to be in his wedding party), and Frank Jr. eventually proved to be a devoted husband and family man. He and Phoebe formed a close bond when she served as the surrogate for his and Alice’s triplets, and while the exhausted dad may have later tried to give one of the kids to his sister, he ultimately reconsidered because he loved them too much. Now that’s a true friend.
6. Richard (Tom Selleck)
Monica and Richard’s relationship was a May-December pairing we could get behind, and it was clear they were a great couple. Despite the age difference, Richard clicked with the rest of the gang (Chandler and Joey loved hanging out with him, though they made him feel old), and was committed to a life with Monica (not to mention lots of time spent with her pals — seriously, did Richard ever see his own friends?). Unfortunately, his ideal future didn’t involve kids, prompting their breakup. While it was devastating at the time, better things — and Mr. Bing — were waiting for Monica.
5. The chick and the duck
These two get the nod over Marcel — an embarrassment to all other TV and film primates — thanks to their ability to add comic relief without being an implausible or distracting addition to the ensemble. (Did we really need a scene of Ross and the rest of the friends serenading Marcel with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”? We did not. Did Rachel accidentally losing Ross’s monkey — the weirdest plot synopsis ever — really need to take up an entire episode? It did not.) The chick’s transformation into a crowing rooster prompted one of the show’s greatest installments (“The One With the Embryos”), the fowl helped expose Rachel’s screaming date, Tommy (played by an unhinged Ben Stiller), and they provided some excellent material for Phoebe (like when she mediated a squawking match between the pair) and Chandler and Joey (their argument over the animals’ care was especially funny/silly). Though Chick and Duck 2.0 prompted the end of the foosball table in season ten, to us, they remain the best Friends pets ever. Suck it, Marcel. You shouldn’t have pooed in the shoe.
4. Carol and Susan (Jane Sibbett and Jessica Hecht)
Carol didn’t get off to a great start, leaving Ross for another woman. And her and Susan’s initial insistence that they were going to raise Ross’s baby on their own was odd. But despite some early stumbling blocks, the trio eventually made peace, with Carol becoming a confidant for Ross after he and Rachel broke up, and Ross putting aside his history with Carol to walk her down the aisle during her and Susan’s wedding (which all the friends attended, in a sweet showing of solidarity). Plus, you could always count on Susan for an excellent wisecrack. She and Chandler probably should have hung out more.
3. Gunther (James Michael Tyler)
Gunther desperately wanted to be a friend, eagerly dropping in on the gang’s conversations and hoping for invites and acknowledgments that never materialized. He was excluded from Monica and Chandler’s wedding (and Ross’s champagne toast), though he did score an invite to Phoebe’s big day, and was a regular presence at the gang’s various parties over the years. His secret crush on Rachel was one of the show’s most reliably funny running gags (he even bought her creepy lizard hairless cat), and while the group never paid much attention to him aside from ordering coffee, his constant presence made him an integral part of the series (he was the one who told Rachel about Ross and the girl from the copy place, after all). Plus, he was always good for a random revelation (he used to star on All My Children and he speaks fluent Dutch). The friends really should have made more time for him. At least Phoebe and Judy thought he was cute.
2. Jack and Judy Geller (Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles)
Sure, Ross and Monica’s mom and dad are connected to the group by blood, but their importance to the series runs deeper than that (and puts them ahead of other Friends parents, like Chandler’s and Rachel’s). Whether it’s fueling the Geller siblings’ competitive side or spurring painfully awkward scenarios, they always made things funnier. And while Judy was overly mean to Monica at times, that encouraged Monica to stand up for herself (she and Phoebe had a nice bonding moment while catering for Mrs. Geller); consequently, Jack’s guilt over favoring Ross made him more considerate of Monica’s feelings, like when he gave her the Porsche to make up for ruining her childhood belongings. The Gellers are great in the flashback from “The One With the Prom Video” (which also underscores their connection with Rachel), and Judy’s speech to the group in the Thanksgiving episode where Rachel ruins the trifle is a classic. There wouldn’t be a Ross and Monica without them, and there couldn’t have been a Friends without them, either. Never forget that it’s okay to be friends with your friends’ mom and dad if they’re cool enough.
1. Mike (Paul Rudd)
As a certain Bud Light campaign reminded us, everyone loves Paul Rudd, and the delightful actor’s work as Mike stole our hearts right along with Phoebe’s. Though he should have been more up front with her about his initial views on marriage, he eventually realized the error of his ways when he thought he’d lost Phoebe forever, and their wedding (which included all of the other friends, in one way or another) was arguably even more romantic than Monica and Chandler’s. Sure, he had an awkward time bonding with Ross, but he became good friends with Monica and Chandler (their ping pong showdown was legendary, and the sign he made for the twins was beautiful), had a fun rapport with Joey (who introduced him to Phoebe on their disastrous first date), and was generally affable and sweet (like when he defended Phoebe to his snooty parents). Plus, the fellow musician could go toe-to-toe with Phoebe in the goofy department. Phoebe deserved a happy ending after her crappy childhood. Crap Bag to the rescue.
Friends: The Complete Series is available on DVD