Friends was an incredibly popular show on television from 1994-2004. Everyone tried to be home or tape it on Thursday nights at 8. So did the names of the characters- Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, and Joey- gain or lose popularity because of the show? Only Chandler received a boost by the show and it was pretty minor. A rarer name back then, the show at least put Chandler into the consciousnesses of parents everywhere as they named their babies. As the table below the graph shows, Chandler was already on the rise, so the show just catapulted it higher. The name Rachel (and its similar spelling, Rachael) may have fallen due to the show- it’s hard to say for sure. The actress (Jennifer Aniston) and character became super popular a couple years in, especially in part to “the Rachel” haircut, so that may be why it started to drop around 1997. It’s interesting how Rachel plateaued for several years because I have not seen this shape for very many popular names (most names are mountain, hill or roller coaster-shaped). I was surprised to not see Phoebe gain more popularity as the character is lovable and Lisa Kudrow is hilarious, but maybe her eccentric and aloof personality turned people away from the name. The name Monica stayed pretty flat through the start of the show but dipped after the 1998 Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The line on the graph represents when Friends premiered in fall of 1994.
Click to enlarge