Power Ranking the A-Listers Who Appeared on Both ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Friends’

Ranking the superstars who played parts big and small in both of the 1990s’ most popular sitcoms
Power Ranking the A-Listers Who Appeared on Both ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Friends’

In the 1990s, it seemed like every attractive, in-shape, mid-20s actor whose career was starting to take off appeared on a single episode of either Seinfeld or Friends as an ultimately unimportant side characterJon Lovitz did it on both.

Back when sitcom seasons started at 20 episodes apiece, NBC sets and soundstages were awash with actors who performed as passably humorous in their screen tests and looked good standing next to David Schwimmer or Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Serialized sitcoms needed a steady stream of warm bodies to fill bit parts and supporting roles in each episode — and, every now and then, networks would double-dip on a certain performer who was the perfect person to play both a millionaire boyfriend in Friends and a caustic birthday clown in Seinfeld. And, sometimes, that performer grew up to be Jon Favreau.

By some counts, as many as 115 actors appeared on both Friends and Seinfeld in bit roles and background parts, but this list will not be nearly that exhaustive. No, this is just for the heavy-hitters, the stars, the players whose powerful presence added massive entertainment value to both the shows and the shows’ trivia pages. Here are the top dual-threats in the combined history of Seinfeld and Friends, starting with…

Jennifer Coolidge

Despite her brilliance, Jennifer Coolidge gets last place on the list simply because her performance in Friends as Amanda Buffamonteezi, the fake accent-having former roommate of Monica and Rachel, led to one of the most unfortunate entries of her filmography — a separate role in the spin-off series Joey. Comparably, Coolidge’s brief appearance as a masseuse who doesn’t do free rubdowns for her lover in Seinfeld was less ill-fated.

Denise Richards

On both Seinfeld and Friends, the Starship Troopers star played essentially the same role — the inappropriate object of male objectification. By the time Seinfeld’s “The Shoes” aired, Richards was actually 21 instead of 15 as her on-screen father, NBC executive Russell Dalrymple, warned the leering George, which makes the “good look” that Costanza got only slightly less creepy. 

Ross Geller, on the other hand, had no excuse for his attraction to Richards — though his cousin Cassie was canonically of-age, she was still, you know, his cousin.

Jon Lovitz

The Saturday Night Live star played separately hilarious skeezeballs on both shows, but I’m personally partial to his Seinfeld performance. Lovitz played the pothead restaurateur Steve on two separate episodes of Friends (with an unusual eight-season gap between appearances), but his time as Gary Fogel, the Munchausen syndrome-having, toupee-wearing not-cancer patient who grinds Jerry’s gears in “The Scofflaw” was more unforgettable.

Courteney Cox

Monica Geller is an automatically obligatory entry, seeing as she’s appeared in more episodes between the two shows than anyone else on the list by a long shot. Shortly before the beginning of her Friends tenure, Cox appeared in a single Seinfeld episode, “The Wife,” where she played Jerry’s penny-pinching pretend wife Meryl, who was the only woman in Jerry’s dating history to find out how to make him (kind of) settle down — do it for a bit.

Jon Favreau

Either of the future MCU power player’s roles on Friends and Seinfeld would be a fitting origin story for a superhero or supervillain respectively, at least on par with what Madame Web just gave us. In George Costanza’s defense, “Eric the Clown” is an absolutely preposterous stage name, as is the existence of a professional birthday clown who has never heard of Bozo. Over on the Friends’ side of 1990s New York City, poor Pete Becker is just your friendly, neighborhood tech millionaire whose love of Monica Geller is only bested by his love of mixed martial arts.


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