The Closest Friends

The series finale of the sitcom Friends aired on May 6, 2004, ending a successful ten-year run. During that time, which two of the six “friends,” Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe, were the closest? Ben Blatt examined the transcripts and crunched the numbers, and came up with way more data than you can imagine about the characters’ screen time relationships.

There are 63 possible arrangements in which the six characters could have appeared in any given scene. This includes all combinations of one, two, three, four, five, or six characters. Each one of these 63 combinations occurred during the show’s run, though some combinations are more common than others. For instance, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, and Chandler appeared together 41 times, more than any other foursome. This stands to reason: For a long stretch of the series, Joey and Chandler were roommates as well as friends, and it makes sense that the missing pair were the on-again-off-again lovers Ross and Rachel. Indeed, as you might expect, Ross and Rachel are the two friends most likely to have their own scenes together.

Other combinations of friends were much less common. There is only one scene in the entire history of Friends in which Joey, Phoebe, Monica, and Ross appeared together without either Rachel and/or Chandler. The scene occurred in Season 1, Episode 7 when, during a blackout, the four are left in Monica’s apartment to listen to Phoebe’s newest song: “New York City has no power, and the milk is getting sour, but to me it is not scary, because I stay away from dairy.” During this scene Chandler is memorably trapped in an ATM vestibule with an attractive woman and Rachel is alone on Monica’s balcony.

There’s a lot more of this type of catnip for Friends fans, and the answer to the title question, at Slate. You can also play with an interactive graphic that will give you more statistics.


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