Apocalypse Friends – who will survive?

by Hekate

For a decade we were entertained by the lives of 6 fictional 20-30something New Yorkers. They lived and loved and drank copious amounts of coffee. Throughout the series we learned more about the thoughts, feelings and secrets of these characters than we did about our real life friends (probably). Friends even had an alternate ‘what if’ universe in series 6. But the show never actually covered how each of the Friends would cope in the event of the apocalypse.

Luckily for you, dear reader, I spent quite a bit of my teenage years buying and watching Friends videos (see Mum and Dad, I’ve found a use for all those hours in front of the telly).

Rachel Green

Great hair isn’t a survival skill.

Physical Skills: She took a self-defence class with Phoebe and helped beat up Ross, though we never actually see that fight so don’t know who did the bulk of the work. She was a cheerleader in high school, can still do a somersault (sort of), and she keeps in shape. However she has shown no aptitude for conflict or confrontation. Her friends very easily surprised and overpowered her to put in eye drops.
Mental Fortitude:  Though she is courageous (as she once pointed out twice in a job interview), she hasn’t had to face any real hardships in her life. She’s prone to tears throughout the early series, in fact she burst into tears when the building supervisor just shouted at her, then acted as though the incident was an attack. Even later on it seems unlikely that she would cope for long without life’s little luxuries.
Team Value: Rachel has very few practical skills, she can’t cook or even sew (though she could tell you how fashionable your tattered jeans, mesh sleeves and biker boots are). Phoebe describes Rachel as a pushover, and if she isn’t arguing with someone she’s fairly willing to just do as they tell her. So Rachel would probably be most useful as a general minion, though sadly she could very easily end up being cannon fodder.
Other: Rachel is the Friend who has had the most character development over the course of the show. She starts as a spoiled, clueless daddy’s girl and finishes as a successful professional and mother. Though her chances of survival seem slim it’s very likely that Rachel has hidden potential that would come to the fore when faced with adversity. Let us not forget that Sarah Conner started as a really bad waitress too.
Survival Score: 3/10

Chandler Bing

Could I BE any less prepared?

Physical Skills: None that are mentioned, unless taking mime in college counts (it doesn’t). He joined a gym, but never actually used it. He is very uncoordinated, which is how he got his reputation as a ‘dropper’. When he and Ross are being bullied at the coffee house Chandler quickly submits rather than face physical confrontation. However he and Joey have played a variety of dangerous games, such as fire-ball and hammer-darts, and so he may have skills that can be used to deal death at a distance.
Mental Fortitude: Chandler is best known for using humour as a defence mechanism – but sadly zombies and robots aren’t known for their appreciation of jokes. He can be strong-willed when he has to be and will stand up for himself and his friends. His cowardly streak could prove useful in survival situations as his sense of self-preservation is fairly strong. Chandler does have a cunning edge and is willing to be sneaky for his own ends. He has also played post-apocalyptic video games, which might help.
Team Value: Chandler is clearly a joker, as it’s been pointed out your sense of humour is vital after the apocalypse. He is also the one who can step back from the group dynamic to get a clear-eyed, if slightly cynical, viewpoint. He may well point out holes in a plan or provide a reality check to those who are kidding themselves. Of course his sarcasm and mocking may not be appreciated by other team members, so his presence could cause friction.
Other: Chandler is the most attractive of the Friends (this may be a personal opinion and I might have had a teenage crush on Matthew Perry – or, y’know, whatever) and was the Friend voted best husband material by female viewers. Chandler could make a good companion for a leader or mercenary. Assuming Monica survives (see below) and they are together, his chances increase dramatically.
Survival Score: 4/10

Ross Geller

Ross: The Divorcer

Physical Skills: Ross used to study karate (that’s pronounced kar-rah-TEY) to deal with sexual frustration. He also (secretly) took dance lessons as a teenager, though there’s no evidence that these were successful. When Ross was growing up he wrestled with Monica, though it’s clear that she had the weight advantage and was far more competitive. Physical education was the class Ross didn’t do well in, but he isn’t afraid to get in there when playing sports with his friends, and he once played rugby (which is a like American football but without helmets or padding) to impress his girlfriend. However when confronted by coffee house bullies Ross does back down from a physical fight. He doesn’t know how to throw a punch and doesn’t instinctively dodge them. As a child he was mugged by a fourteen year old girl, and didn’t defend himself.
Mental Fortitude: Ross is the most educated Friend. As well as being a paleontology professor he is intellectually curiosity, and he absorbs and remembers a lot of information. His interest in documentaries and the life of early man means he’ll have useful survival information, though it’s doubtful that he’d be able to apply it to real life situations by himself. That said he should be able to pick up new skills quickly, so if he can learn how to survive he’s likely to get good at it. He’s a sensible person and deals well with practicalities and long term planning. Ross tends to become very downbeat when things go badly for him. However he has also been known to have episodes of rage, which might help when threatened.
Team Value: He may have a PhD, but he has no medical skills, in fact he’s squeamish about medical procedures. Ross is the smart guy of the group, and while he might have limited potential in a life-or-death situation, he’s likely to be useful when starting up a permanent settlement. Of course he’ll need help surviving up to that point, so he may be a bit of a burden initially.
Other: If the apocalypse involves dinosaurs in any way Ross will be ridiculously useful. Of course that is a pretty big If.
Survival Score: 5/10

Joey Tribbiani

Eats like a moose.

Physical Skills: Joey is probably the strongest Friend. He has good fighting instincts, he can throw a punch and automatically dodges a swing (even one he meant to take). He has a big appetite and a strong digestive system; as he says himself Tribbianis can’t run very fast, but they can eat – then he eats almost a whole turkey in one afternoon. This should mean Joey has a lot of reserves, but it also means he needs quite a bit of feeding. The inability to run fast is definitely unhelpful, unless faced with the slow, shambling variety of undead. Joey probably doesn’t do much of the more active or combative kind of acting, however he is willing to put his body through a fair bit of punishment.
Mental Fortitude: Joey isn’t smart, in fact sometimes he’s really stupid. Part of this is probably lack of interest in learning, which led to a certain amount of ignorance. Part of it does seem to be a genuine lack of common sense. This will probably be the thing that kills him. On the other hand Joey’s uncomplicated nature is likely to be what keeps him from breaking down. Where others might question their place in the post-apocalyptic world, Joey is likely to get on with looking for his next meal. This is a man who tried to protect a sandwich from a bullet. He’s clearly brave, but in a slightly unexpected way.
Team Value: Joey will be useful for lifting, carrying and heavy moving. He’ll be good at finding food, but terrible at being in charge of it. Always remember: Joey doesn’t share food! It’s probably best not to leave him to his own initiative, and he’s very easy to trick, but he’s a loyal friend and a good person to have beside you.
Survival Score: 6.5/10

Monica Geller

A steady hand & 11 categories for towels

Physical Skills: Monica is freakishly strong (according to her husband). She is also coordinated, fast and in great shape, because she’s ridiculously competitive and isn’t about to take part in anything unless she can excel in it. As Honeybadger pointed out in a previous post, she can out arm wrestle giant bunnies (that’s Monica, not Honeybadger -though I wouldn’t be surprised if HB could do it too). Growing up it’s clear that Monica could easily take her older brother in a physical fight. She was overweight as a child and could very easily bulk up again if needed.
Mental Fortitude: Monica’s competitive mindset means she has a ruthless streak and she thrives under pressure. She is very confident in her own abilities, though she could easily become overconfident and that’s when mistakes happen. Monica has plenty of willpower, she managed to lose a lot of weight in a single year, and despite much temptation (she is a chef after all) she keeps that weight off. She says that she never lets her inner child eat. However all of Monica’s mental strength is built on a foundation of low self-esteem, stemming from mother-issues and a desperate need to please. If the wrong nerve gets hit she could go to pieces, but even then she’s likely to keep active, and no one said you had to be emotionally stable after the apocalypse. Monica’s main issue is likely to be her obsessive neatness. Apocalypses are generally messy, and though hygiene is important to keep illness at bay you don’t want to spend time carefully arranging your ammo whilst the ravening horde draws ever closer.
Team Value: Monica is hyper organised and super bossy, she naturally takes the lead and expects high standards from those around her, as well as herself. Monica is confident that she would do well in combat, even boasting that she would be promoted to general first out of her friends. Of course this uncompromising attitude could make her unpopular as a leader, and it’s her boyfriend who points out she could end up being shot by her own troops. Her success as a leader could also falter if she wants her team to like her rather than fear her, but even then there are other roles she could fulfill. It’s likely that with a little training she could be a highly effective killing machine. Also she’s a professional chef and therefore an invaluable part of any group.
Survival Score: 8/10

Phoebe Buffay

It’s Crap from the Street!

Physical Skills: Phoebe spent her teenage years living on the street, she is the only Friend to face real hardship. Her origins are fairly mysterious, but she has clearly had combat experience: she stabbed a cop (he stabbed her first), she has various criminal associates, and she used to be a mugger – she was the fourteen year old girl who mugged Ross. Joey chooses her as the one who would win a hypothetical fight with Monica, he says she has a crazy temper and an edge. When a man tries to mug her she immediately stands up to him and she has a (hypothetical?) strategy for what to do if someone holds a gun to her head. As the only Friend who is into kinky stuff Phoebe certainly knows how to use handcuffs, rope and other restraints.
Mental Fortitude: Phoebe may be a New Age, peace-loving, vegetarian hippie, but she also used to be a homeless, teenage mugger. She used to live in a Gremlin (I’m told this is a car) and once a pimp spit in her mouth. Her mother killed herself when she was a teenager, she didn’t know her real father, and her step-father was in and out of jail. It’s clear that Phoebe grew up with little and lost most of that, so she’s the most likely to cope with losing everything. She’s dealt with problems like being cold and hungry, living outdoors, being offered food for sex, having to fight for everything you have. She’s seen the ugly face of humanity and though her quirky ideas and strange beliefs might make her seem odd, they obviously helped her cope. However Phoebe’s not much of a strategist, which means she’s more likely to drift rather than come up with a long term survival plan.
Team Value: Phoebe can give advice on how to survive day-to-day and has a variety of skills that are useful when living rough. She’ll also have helpful contacts -assuming they survive. However she might work better on her own, meaning she could be a good scout. Alternatively she could be good for morale, calming the group with massages, meditation and music.
Survival Score: 9/10

Hekate out.

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