Friends TV Characters Ranked by Intelligence

Friends is one of the most iconic and beloved TV shows of all time running from 1994 to 2004. The series, which followed the day-to-day lives of six friends living in New York City, won six Emmys and is considered the 47th best TV series of all time, according to IMDb. Though the touching final episode aired almost two decades ago, the show is still insanely popular and the subject of many debates, such as which of Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) comebacks is the best and which of the show’s couple do people most love?

However, the subject of the characters’ intelligence is rarely brought into the discussion, and it would be interesting to figure out who is the brains of the bunch.

Rachel Green

Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) goes through quite the journey after leaving Barry at the altar, growing from a spoiled young woman whose father gives her anything she wants to a prominent figure in the fashion industry, working for Ralph Lauren and Bloomingdales. Though she is incredibly well-versed in all things fashion, there are still a couple of topics that Rachel, like all of us, knows next to nothing about.

No moment better summarizes Rachel’s lack of common sense than when she attempts to bake a trifle but accidentally includes half the ingredients of a shepherd’s pie. Oh well, at least Joey liked it.

Joey Tribbiani

Each Friends character is memorable in their own way, and in the case of fledgling actor Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), he is remembered for his often hilarious stupidity. Across all ten seasons, we’ve seen him leave Ross’ son Ben on a bus, hide in his entertainment unit unknowingly allowing a potential buyer to rob him, and, most amusingly, completely misunderstand how to use a thesaurus while filling out Monica and Chandler’s letter of recommendation for the adoption agency.

Joey is sensitive, caring, and passionate about achieving his dreams; he’s just not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you don’t believe us, watch him try to learn French.

Monica Geller

Monica Geller (Courtney Cox) is by no means the brightest member of the Geller family, but she’s undoubtedly one of the smartest members of her friend group. By her mid-thirties, she has become the head chef of a renowned restaurant, with many people admiring her food. Before that, she held a number of smaller jobs, including starting her own catering company with Phoebe and, for a brief moment, investing in the stock market.

However, Monica is just as prone to moments of stupidity as the rest of the gang. She arrived very drunk to her own surprise party on one occasion, and on another, she and her brother Ross stayed outside wrestling over a football because neither of them was big enough to admit the other had won.

Chandler Bing

Chandler Bing’s intelligence is best displayed in his biting sarcasm. No matter the situation or location, he always finds a way to make his friends’ suggestions seem incredibly dumb. Chandler also excels in his workplace once he finds a job he enjoys, discovering that advertising fits him like a glove. Of course, that’s not to suggest Chandler is without his dumb moments.

Among his dumbest moments are when he got an action figure’s gun stuck in his throat to prove the toy wasn’t dangerous and the time he claimed Ross was dead on his college’s alum page.

Ross Geller

Of the many things Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) has achieved in his life (raising two children, falling in love with Rachel, wearing leather pants), they all pale compared to being crowned the most intelligent character on Friends. The paleontologist worked at the New York Museum of Prehistoric History before taking on a role as a professor at the New York University, for which he was eventually given tenure. His incredible knowledge of dinosaurs is unprecedented, and though he often thinks he’s smarter than he is, there’s no denying that Ross does know a great deal of information.

Still, he’s certainly not a genius: he’s prone to a terrible decision or two…or twelve. He somehow thinks it’s OK to date one of his students; he moronically attempts to keep a monkey in a small New York apartment, and, worst of all, he insists that he and Rachel were on a break, making what he did with the copy girl fine.

Phoebe Buffay

Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) knows a lot of things. She knows how to give an excellent massage, play the guitar like nobody’s business, and how to be a good friend. Despite everything she does know, however, she believes in many things that most would consider rather ridiculous. For example, she thinks a cat she finds is actually her reincarnated mother. She believes she has been possessed by an elderly client who died on her massage table, and, worst of all, she HATES Pottery Barn.

Phoebe’s real intelligence comes from her understanding of people and how to help them when they are struggling. Her greatest strength is her loyalty; the others are lucky to have her as a friend.

Mike Hannigan

Mike Hannigan (Paul Rudd) and Phoebe Buffay are the perfect match. They’re both musically inclined; they’re both cautious as they’ve been hurt in the past, and, frankly, Mike is almost as weird as Pheobe, and that is saying something. Alongside his musical prowess, Mike is also a gifted artist (as demonstrated by his incredible “welcome home” banner in the finale) and blessed with an incredibly dry wit.

Mike is let down by his poor social skills, however. He’s unable to think of a single thing to say to Ross when they have a guy’s night together, and he manages to propose to Pheobe in some of the most cliched ways possible before finally getting it right. Come on, Mike, do better!


Gunther (James Michael Tyler) is much smarter than Joey. He successfully runs a coffee shop that is so popular that six friends in their late twenties are unable to stay away for even a day, but he has one fatal flaw. After years of rejection and a complete lack of interest on her behalf, Gunther still believes that one day Rachel Green will fall in love with him.

Much of Gunther’s character is defined by his admiration for the fashion icon, with him often pushing aside all other responsibilities to take Rachel’s order or even speak to her.


Chandler didn’t exactly have the smoothest dating journey on his way to falling in love with Monica, which probably explains why he jumped back to Janice (Maggie Wheeler) so often. Janice is loud, irritating, and, let’s face it, she’s not that bright. She should have known better than to cheat on Chandler, something that’s hard to forgive her for.

Janice’s most startling lack of intelligence comes from her lack of self-awareness, with her often unable to spot that she’s driving everybody in the room absolutely crazy with her nasal voice and infuriating laugh. Chandler deserved better.


David (Hank Azaria), also known as the Science Guy, was a major love interest for Phoebe. The two were very much in love before David’s rather vague scientific exploits required him to move to Minsk, breaking Phoebe’s heart in the process. Naturally, becoming a scientist takes a huge amount of hard work, dedication, and knowledge, making him easily the second most intelligent character to appear on the show.

David falls short, though, because his trip to Minsk was an absolute disaster. He does not prove what he set out to do and loses Phoebe in the process, which is just about the dumbest thing he could have possibly done. Maybe the Science Guy isn’t such a genius after all.

Author Profile

Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


Leave a Reply