Data science reveals who was the 'main character' in 'Friends'

Ben Arnold
Friends (Credit: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Surely the thing about Friends was that there wasn’t really a ‘main character’ as such?

But it seems that once again data and science – and in particular data science – has found another way of bursting our bubble.

Because it turns out that out of Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Monica, the classic long-running US sitcom DID have a main character after all.

The cast of Friends (Credit: Jon Ragel/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

And it was… (SPOILERS AHEAD!)


Yep, data scientist Yashu Seth has crunched the numbers, and our favourite goofball paleontologist Ross Geller is the main man.

The conclusion was drawn from breaking down the scripts of all 10 seasons of the show to find which character proved most consequential.

“Everybody will come up with a different answer if you start asking around. But what does the data say?” asked Seth.

“To determine an answer to this question, I downloaded transcripts of the ten seasons… I have used different parameters to find out who stood out among our six friends.”

Number of lines spoken, lines per season, screen appearances, and mentions in the episode titles were all mashed together to come to the conclusion.

Other findings included:

  • Rachel and Ross had the most number of lines with a negligible difference between them.
  • Chandler had the most number of screen appearances but again Ross and Rachel were not very far behind.
  • Rachel had the most number of mentions in the episode titles, with Ross was just 3 episodes behind.
  • Chandler and Joey had the most screen appearances as a pair.
  • Of all the show’s scenes, 16 percent were in Central Perk, and 26 percent in Monica’s apartment.

But it all came down to Ross, due to his character having the most individual screen appearances, though Rachel had marginally more words to say.

Read more
Silent Witness to return
Jason Gardiner wants same sex couples of Dancing on Ice
EastEnders’ Sean Mahon chased by fan