Friends’ ending was an overall satisfying one, with each character ready to move on to another phase in their lives, but Rachel deserved a much better ending than the one she got. Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, Friends premiered on NBC in 1994, later becoming one of the most popular sitcoms of the decade, and often regarded as one of the greatest TV shows of all time.
The series followed the lives of six young adults (Monica, Phoebe, Rachel, Joey, Chandler, and Ross) in New York City, struggling with adulthood and everything that comes with it. Friends came to an end in 2004 after 10 seasons and lots of ups and downs in the lives of the characters. By the end of the series, everyone (except Joey) had found the balance they needed and were about to begin new chapters in their lives, but the ending that was given to Rachel was a disservice to the character.
Rachel was introduced as a very spoiled girl coming from a wealthy family. At the beginning of the series, she ran away from her wedding and needed a place to stay, thus becoming Monica’s roommate. Rachel had never worked before and was very self-centered, making her the character that needed an urgent reality check. She’s one of the few characters that actually evolved and was not the same person she was in the first seasons. Rachel became less self-absorbed, more independent, and worked hard to earn a spot in the fashion industry. Because of all this, having her abandon her dream job for Ross at the end of the series was one of the worst things the writers could have done to her.
Contrary to Rachel, Ross didn’t change much throughout the series - at least not for the better. He was controlling, jealous, egocentric, and manipulative, all of which he exhibited in the final episodes of the series when, in order to stop Rachel from moving to Paris, he bribed Rachel’s boss from Ralph Lauren to give her her job back. Rachel explicitly said that her job in Paris was a dream come true, but he didn’t seem to care about that, following her to the airport to tell her he loved her and shouldn’t go to Paris.
In earlier seasons, when Ross and Rachel first dated, Ross was very jealous and controlling, and even though Rachel changed a lot years later, he still treated her as a shallow and spoiled girl – and she deserved much better than that. Leaving her dream job and essentially becoming unemployed just them to end up together destroyed everything that was built about Rachel in 10 seasons. Although Friends’ final episode is considered by many as one of the best series finales, not everything about it is great. Rachel could have had a much more satisfying ending had the writers stayed true to the character and respected her evolution - both personal and professional - instead of giving her an ending that was more a “fan service” than anything else.