The Characters’ Ages (& How They Get It Wrong)
The Friends cast ages stirred up a lot of confusion during the show’s decade-long run, a problem exacerbated by numerous changes to the in-show ages of the core characters. Viewers expected each season of the series to encapsulate one year of the lives of the six main characters: Rachel Green, Ross Geller, Monica Geller, Chandler Bing, Phoebe Buffay, and Joey Tribbiani, but this often proved to be inconsistent. So, truly, how old are the characters in Friends, and how old was the cast of Friends in season 1?
As the series went on, the characters grew older and dealt with more responsibilities regarding marriages, starting families, and making decisions with higher stakes, like the fate of Monica’s Greenwich Village apartment. The writers, however, were unable to keep the Friends character ages straight during Friends‘ run on NBC. So, how old is the Friends cast? Prior to the events of the series, Rachel and Monica were high school classmates and best friends, whereas Ross and Chandler entered college at the same time, brining into question the Friends cast ages. In addition, Rachel was said to be the youngest of the group on multiple occasions. Based on the early details of the series, it’s possible to piece together how old the characters of Friends were. Those ages, however, would frequently change based on birthdays and various details. Here are the ages of Friends characters explained.
How Old Each Friends Character Is At The Beginning & The End
Though the ages of Friends characters vary on the TV show, Rachel and Monica would have both been 24 years old during the Friends pilot episode in 1994. That would have made Joey 25, while Ross, Chandler, and Phoebe would have been the oldest at 26 years old. Friends lasted a decade airing on NBC, and that would mean fans witnessed a decade of events in the lives of Friends‘ characters. If that were the case, Rachel, Monica, Joey, Ross, Chandler, and Phoebe would have been in their mid-thirties, around 34-36, when the series ended. Surprisingly, the Friends cast ages weren’t that different from the characters. It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact ages considering how flawed the series became in terms of how old the Friends characters were throughout the series.
Some Friends Characters Had Inconsistent Birthdays
Rachel’s 30th birthday occurred in the 2001 Friends episode, “The One Where They All Turn Thirty.” The episode aired on February 8th, followed by a few other references to Rachel being born in the same month. At one point, she even told a police officer that she was an Aquarius. Other moments in the series suggested that Rachel wasn’t born in February and instead had a May birthday. Three other parties were held for Rachel’s birthday, and two of them were held in early May, which would have made her a Taurus. In “The One With Joey’s New Girlfriend,” Rachel told Gunther her birthday was May 5th, but it was unclear if she was telling the truth, further complicating the Friends cast ages.
Working out the Friends cast ages isn’t just problematic with Rachel, either. A few other characters in Friends had plot holes when it came to birthdays. Early in the series, it was stated that Phoebe’s birthday was February 16th. Then in the season 9 episode that focused on her birthday dinner, Joey mentioned that Halloween was days away. Ross’ birthday was also highly inconsistent throughout the sitcom. His birthday was revealed to be October 18th in season 2 and season 9. In other episodes, Ross’ birth month was implied to be March or December. Could they be less specific?
Friends Constantly Got The Character’s Ages Wrong
The only character whose age didn’t constantly change was Monica. Her age wasn’t stated many times during Friends, so any inconsistencies were avoided. She revealed she was 26 in season 1 (not that many years from losing weight after being the problematic Fat Monica) and aged pretty steadily at a rate of a year per season (with her 30th birthday happening in the timeline around season 5 or 6 in a flashback), which was logical. The same couldn’t be said for the rest of the characters. Rachel seemingly turned 30 in 2001, but they mentioned she was 29 years old two seasons earlier and was in the same school year as Monica.
David Schwimmer and Matt Le Blanc gave audiences a hard time working out Ross Geller and Joey Tribbiani’s ages too — or, more appropriately, the writers of Friends did. Ross was 26 years old in the Friends pilot episode and was stated as being 29 in seasons 3, 4, and 5. In Friends season 1, Joey was 25 years old, but the writers oddly aged him three years the following season. Details surrounding Phoebe and Chandler also didn’t follow the logical aging process. To avoid confusion, it’s easier just to consider them all twenty-somethings transitioning into their thirties.
Why Friends’ Age Inconsistencies Don’t Hurt The Show
While the ages of Friends’ characters are consistently inconsistent, it doesn’t hurt the show. The bottom line is that all of the Friends characters are supposed to be roughly the same age. The series starts them off in their early-mid twenties, and then gradually takes them forward as they journey into their thirties. Essentially, this is the premise of the series: a group of twenty-somethings growing up in New York City — clearly with an emphasis on the “somethings.”
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if their ages vary throughout the show within the acceptable range, as it doesn’t really affect the series. In essence, the birthday episodes are there for narrative content and to hallmark the Friends characters’ lives as they grow up. The purpose isn’t necessarily to establish any sort of canon in regard to their ages or birthdays. In addition, Friends isn’t a show that’s known for following logical processes to their exact end. There are many moments in the series that throw logic to the wayside to advance the plot, like Joey and Rachel’s romance arc toward the end of the series.
It’s difficult to say why the show keeps the ages of its characters inconsistent. It could be an endless stream of continuity errors, with showrunners forgetting to fact-check their own content. However, Friends‘ ten seasons form such an expansive series that it would be difficult to track every off-handed remark about a person’s age or birthday, and it aired long before owning TV box sets was the norm, so audiences were watching weekly without nitpicking — a simpler time, but one that wasn’t entirely conducive to ten-year arcs that made sense. However, more than likely, the ages of the characters differ throughout the series because it doesn’t affect the show as a whole. Regardless of this, Friends ran for 10 successful seasons and remains a cherished sitcom.
How Old Were The Friends Cast
The Friends cast ages were relatively close to that of their characters when the sitcom began. For example, Rachel Green was supposed to be 24 when the show started in 1994, and since Jennifer Aniston was born in 1969, she was 25 when the series began. Courteney Cox, however, was older than Monica. Monica was also supposed to be 24, but Cox was 30 in Friends season 1, being born in 1964.
Matt LeBlanc was close to Joey Tribbiani’s age, which was supposed to be 25, as he was 27 when Friends began and was born in 1967. David Schwimmer was also 2 years shy of his character Ross’ age. As he was born in 1966, the actor was 28 during Friends season 1, and the character was 26. Matthew Perry was actually younger than Chandler, who was supposed to be 26. Perry was born in 1969, making him 25. Finally, Lisa Kudrow was the oldest in the cast, as she was born in 1963. Her character Phoebe Buffay was supposed to be 26, but Kudrow was actually 31 when Friends season 1 premiered.
Next: Friends: How Much The Characters Would Earn In Real Life (& Who’s Richest)