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A Data Scientist Has Finally Identified The Main Character In 'Friends'

A Data Scientist Has Finally Identified The Main Character In 'Friends'
(Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

Chances are you've seen Friends.

I mean, it was only the biggest sitcom of the 1990s and definitely one of the most popular television shows of all time.

The real question, however, is whether you believe Friends was truly an ensemble cast.

Thanks to data scientist Yashu Seth, we finally know who the real lead of the classic television show actually was.

The answer:



Yes, Ross Geller.


Seth downloaded the transcripts to all of the show's 10 seasons and analyzed the number of lines spoken, the total number of words per character and the number of screen appearances both individual and otherwise.

He found that Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Ross (David Schwimmer) had over 9,000 lines each during the course of the show's entire run.

Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) had the least amount of lines, at about 7,400. Chandler (Matthew Perry), Monica (Courtney Cox) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) each had around 7,900.

Seth observes:

"It seems that the writers have done a really good job in distributing the number of lines among the six friends. Ross had the most number of lines in the first three and the last season. Well, these were the times when the Ross-Rachel angle was in its prime. Could this be a reason?"

Seth notes that the number of words spoken "more or less follow the same distribution," saying:

"I would say there is a tough competition between Ross and Rachel."

Things got interesting when he analyzed the number of screen appearances.

Chandler had the most screen appearances, with over 1,400. He found that Ross and Rachel "were not very far behind with around 1330 and 1370 appearances respectively," and that Phoebe "follows the same pattern again and had the least number of appearances."

"The number of individual scenes can also be a good parameter to answer our question," Seth continues.

"For this part, I consider scenes in which only one character among the six was present. This also counts scenes where other supporting characters were present but with only one of these six."

Ross won that category.

Finally, Seth analyzed how many times the respective characters were mentioned in the episode title, finding that Rachel "was mentioned 27 times followed by Ross who was mentioned 24 times in the episode titles. Monica was last with only 8 mentions."

Seth concluded that although Ross and Rachel were virtually neck-and-neck for claiming the title of series lead:

"Ross beats Rachel by a significant margin in the individual scene appearances. Besides, there was very little difference between them in the other parameters. Hence, I will have to give it to Ross."



Friends is still insanely popular.

The official Friends Twitter account boasts more than 255,000 very engaged followers...

...and the show is still the butt of many jokes.

Oh, and did we mention that the cast reportedly still makes millions each year more than a decade after the show officially ended?

According to USA Today, the stars receive two percent of the syndication income. The show continues to bring in $1 billion annually for Warner Brothers, meaning they each earn roughly $20 million every year.

Yes, it definitely pays to be on a hit TV show.

And if you're jonesing for a Friends fix, the complete series is available on Blu-ray and DVD here.