The series featured six main cast members throughout its run, with numerous characters recurring throughout the ten seasons. The main cast members were familiar to television viewers before their roles on F.R.I.E.N.D.S, but were not considered to be stars. During the series’ ten season run, the actors all achieved household name celebrity status.

Jennifer Aniston portrays Rachel Green, a fashion enthusiast and Monica Geller’s best friend from high school. Rachel and Ross Geller are involved in an on again off again relationship throughout the series. Rachel’s first job is as a waitress at the coffee house Central Perk, but she later becomes an assistant buyer at Bloomingdale’s and a buyer at Ralph Lauren in season five. At the end of season eight, Rachel and Ross have a child together, which she names Emma. Aniston had already appeared in several unsuccessful sitcom pilots before being cast in F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Courteney Cox Arquette portrays Monica Geller, the mother hen of the group, known for her obsessive-compulsive and competitive nature. Monica is often jokingly teased for having been an extremely overweight child by the others, especially her brother Ross. Monica is a chef who changes jobs often throughout the show, and marries longtime friend Chandler Bing in season seven. Cox had the highest profile career of the main actors when she was initially cast, having appeared in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Family Ties.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S ‘ cast in the first season, from left to right, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Courteney Cox Arquette as Monica Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller and Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing.Lisa Kudrow portrays Phoebe Buffay, an eccentric masseuse and musician. Phoebe is known for her self-written guitar songs and for being ditzy yet street-smart. In the last season, she marries a character named Mike Hannigan, played by Paul Rudd. Kudrow previously played Ursula Buffay on Mad About You, and reprised the dual role of twin sister Ursula as a recurring character during several episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Before her role on F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Kudrow was an office manager and researcher for her father, a headache specialist.

Matt LeBlanc portrays Joey Tribbiani, a struggling actor and food lover who becomes famous for his role on Days of our Lives as Dr. Drake Ramoray. Joey is a womanizer with many girlfriends throughout the series, and develops a crush on his friend Rachel in season eight. Before his role on F.R.I.E.N.D.S, LeBlanc appeared as a minor character in the sitcom Married… with Children, and as a main character in its spin-offs, Top of the Heap and Vinnie & Bobby.

Matthew Perry portrays Chandler Bing, an executive in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration for a large multi-national corporation. Chandler quits his job and becomes a junior copywriter at an advertising agency during season nine. Chandler is known for his sarcastic sense of humor, and marries longtime friend Monica. Like Aniston, Perry had already appeared in several unsuccessful sitcom pilots before being cast.

David Schwimmer portrays Ross Geller, a paleontologist working at a museum of Prehistoric History, and later a professor of paleontology at New York University. Ross is involved in an on-off relationship with Rachel throughout the series. Ross also has three failed marriages during the series, which include Rachel, Emily, and his lesbian ex-wife Carol, who is also the mother of his son, Ben. Before being cast in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Schwimmer played minor characters in The Wonder Years and NYPD Blue.


Series creator David Crane wanted all six characters to be equally prominent, and the series was lauded as being “the first true ‘ensemble’ show”. The cast members made efforts to keep the ensemble format and not allow one member to dominate; they entered themselves in the same acting categories for awards, opted for collective instead of individual salary negotiations, and asked to appear together on magazine cover photos in the first season. The cast members became best friends off screen, and one guest star, Tom Selleck, reported sometimes feeling left out. The cast remained good friends after the series’ run, most notably Cox and Aniston, with Aniston being godmother to Cox and David Arquette’s daughter, Coco. In the official farewell commemorative book F.R.I.E.N.D.S ‘Til The End, each separately acknowledged in their interviews that the cast had become their family.

In their original contracts for the first season, each cast member was paid $22,500 per episode. The cast members received different salaries in the second season, beginning from the $20,000 range to $40,000 per episode. Prior to their salary negotiations for the third season, the cast decided to enter collective negotiations, despite Warner Bros. preference for individual deals. The actors were given the salary of the least paid cast member, meaning Aniston and Schwimmer had their salaries reduced. The stars were paid, per episode, $75,000 in the third season, $85,000 in the fourth, $100,000 in the fifth, and $125,000 in the sixth season. The cast members received salaries of $750,000 per episode in the seventh and eight seasons, and $1 million per episode in the ninth and tenth. The cast also received syndication royalties beginning with the fifth season.