The 20 Best Female Friendships In TV History, Ranked

One of the advantages television has as a story-telling medium is its ability to explore relationship dynamics as they unfold over the course of multiple episodes and seasons. While work buddies, families, and romantic couples are all great in their own way, there's something special about the bond between TV's gal pals. From "I Love Lucy" to "Golden Girls," female friendships have been at the core of some of television's most iconic series and memorable moments.

With deep and emotionally complex relationships, the best female friendships can veer seamlessly between comedic highs and dramatic lows. As in our real-life friendships, our television friends can guide us through life's big moments, from love to work to family problems. It's easy to see why our favorite ladies bring us back to our TV screens time and time again. Here, we've ranked the 20 best female friendships in television history from worst to best.

20. Jane, Kat, and Sutton — The Bold Type

Another series about 20-something young women in New York City, "The Bold Type" follows three friends, Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee), and Sutton (Meghann Fahy), who work at a huge women's magazine based on Cosmopolitan. Jane is a cautious and responsible journalist who wants to report on serious women's issues — despite dating a playboy writer for the men's magazine next door. Kat is the magazine's social media expert whose romance with a famous lesbian artist ignites her passion for activism and politics. Sutton works as the magazine's fashion stylist but aspires to make clothes of her own while carrying on a romance with one of the top executives at her company. 

As they work together to achieve their career goals, they also navigate messy and complex personal lives. While Jane, Kat, and Sutton don't always agree, they have each other's backs. Jane, Kat, and Sutton also represent a refreshing group dynamic for TV friendships. Even when the three of them fight, they prioritize rebuilding their friendship, and no two of them are closer than all three of them together.

19. Rory and Paris — Gilmore Girls

"Gilmore Girls" is a story centered on mothers and daughters. Naturally, it features lots of fantastic female friendships. However, Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Paris (Liza Weil) have a unique dynamic. The two first meet when Rory transfers to a prestigious prep school. Initially, the two are at odds, as Paris sees Rory as competition. Rory chooses to ignore Paris' combativeness, making Paris even more unsettled and determined to win. However, they soon find they have more in common than they realize. Still, neither of them fully knows how to engage with the typical high school social scene. 

Rory and Paris form a solid friendship that carries them through their time at Yale, but it's not without its struggles. Paris' drive and closed-off emotions and Rory's increasing selfishness lead to plenty of fights. While at Yale, Rory makes a series of irresponsible decisions that jeopardize their friendship. However, their shared ambition and intelligence allow them to forges a strong bond that always brings them back to each other.

18. Laverne and Shirley — Laverne & Shirley

Originally appearing on "Happy Days" as friends of Fonzie's (Henry Winkler), Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cyndi Williams) spun off into their own successful series that highlighted their hilarious and heartfelt friendship. The series follows the two roommates' adventures as single working women in 1950s and '60s Milwaukee. Like many of TV's best female friendships, Laverne and Shirley are a classic "opposites attract" pairing. 

Laverne is a brazen, outspoken tomboy from Brooklyn, but Shirley is sensitive, shy, and emotional. Laverne and Shirley's friendship is set against the working-class themes of the era, with the pair working at a local brewery and also taking on a variety of odd jobs. Outside of work, Laverne and Shirley have a vivacious social life that includes dating and spending time with their family and friends. No matter what wacky escapades they get into, Shirley provides emotional support for the tough Laverne, and Laverne sticks up for the quiet Shirley. Laverne and Shirley's sweet and silly friendship is easily one of TV's funniest and most memorable.

17. Liza, Maggie, and Kelsey — Younger

"Younger" is the best kind of romantic comedy. Its premise is delightfully absurd yet true to the genre. The series follows Liza (Sutton Foster), a recently divorced woman who reenters the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom. Unfortunately, Liza finds that she's too old to break into publishing. At the urging of her best friend Maggie (Debi Mazar), she decides she's still young enough to fake her age and poses as a millennial, getting a job as an assistant at a publishing company. There, she meets Kelsey (Hilary Duff) who, believing they're the same age, takes Liza under her wing. 

Both of Liza's friendships are special in their own way. Since Maggie took Liza in after her divorce and serves as an auntie to Liza's daughter, the two have a long history. While she and Maggie are at the same literal life stage, Liza and Kelsey are at the same metaphorical life stage, as Kelsey helps guide Liza on her new path of self-discovery. Although the premise is incredibly silly, the series does a great job of developing multiple wonderful friendships that each have different dynamics.

16. Jess and Cece — New Girl

While "New Girl" is centered on the classic sitcom premise of one woman (in this case, Jess, played Zooey Deschanel), living with her three male roommates, the heart of the show is her friendship with her best friend Cece (Hannah Simone). Friends since they were kids, Jess and Cece are another great example of opposites attracting. Jess is a quirky, nerdy, and awkward music teacher. Cece, however, is a confident, bold, and beautiful model. 

Despite their superficial differences, there is never an uneven power dynamic between them. The two push and support each other. Jess encourages Cece to be the most well-rounded version of herself possible, and CeCe pushes Jess out of her comfort zone with romance and fashion. 

Still, their relationship isn't without its complications. Jess tends to be prudish and conservative, leading the riskier Cece to keep secrets from her for fear of judgment. At the end of the day, though, these two friends always find their way back to each other with plenty of fun along the way.

15. Grace and Frankie — Grace and Frankie

Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) are a classic odd couple. Having known each other for years due to their husbands' joint law practice, they have always disliked and avoided each other — until their husbands tell them they are leaving them for each other. With nowhere else to go, Grace and Frankie move into their families' shared beach house. Soon, they find that they are each the only person who can understand what they're going through. 

While Frankie is an artistic free-spirited hippie, Grace is uptight, neurotic, and conservative. Together, the two bring out the best in each other as they navigate the next chapter of their lives. They embark on new adventures, including opening a business together and dating new people. However, while their children largely support their ex-husbands, the kids assume that Grace and Frankie are unable to manage without them, leading Grace and Frankie to rely on each other even more. As in "The Golden Girls," "Grace and Frankie" shows the value of friendship between modern, older women.

14. Devi, Fabiola, and Eleanor — Never Have I Ever

Strong friendships are the cornerstone of teen comedies, and "Never Have I Ever" is no exception. In the series, we meet Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) a few months after she suffers the sudden loss of her father. Devi goes on a spiral of selfish decisions to escape her pain. In the process, she abandons her best friends Fabiola (Lee Rodriguez) and Eleanor (Ramona Young). While Devi processes her grief, Fab comes to terms with her sexual orientation, and Eleanor deals with her relationship with her estranged mother. 

However, Fabiola and Eleanor remain tirelessly supportive of Devi, leading Devi to realize how grateful she is for them and in turn, how selfish she's been. As Devi becomes more mature and learns how to deal with her emotions, she also becomes a better friend to Fab and Eleanor. Devi, Fab, and Eleanor go through many of the same growing pains that real teens experience. That realism elevates their relationship from a standard, one-dimensional TV friendship to something more complex and nuanced.

13. Harley and Ivy — Harley Quinn

In the world of DC's adult animated series "Harley Quinn," Harley (Kaley Cuoco) and Ivy (Lake Bell) meet (where all great Gotham villains meet, Arkham Asylum) right after Harley breaks out of a traumatic and psychologically abusive relationship with the Joker. After the two leave Arkham, they begin a new chapter, living together in Ivy's house where Harley begins to assemble her new villainous crew of minions and sidekicks. While Harley is heartbroken and bent on revenge against the Joker, Ivy's calm and logical demeanor keeps her emotional friend from going too far — for the most part. 

As all good friends do, Ivy supports Harley — even as she tries to talk her down from increasingly bad decisions. That's a dynamic that many friends can relate to that adds pathos to this surreal animated show. Further complicating Harley and Ivy's friendship is the simmering romantic chemistry between them, a trope rarely explored on television. Overall, Harley and Ivy have a complex, fascinating, and heartfelt friendship unlike any other on TV.

12. Annie and Fran — Shrill

"Shrill's" Annie (Aidy Bryant) and Fran (Lolly Adefope) meet in college and become best friends, living together as roommates into their late twenties. Annie is a gifted writer trapped in a toxic hookup relationship while Fran is a confident hair stylist and commitmentphobe who bounces from relationship to relationship. Wanting to be further along in her career and desiring more respect in her romantic relationships, Annie decides to start asserting herself in a way she never has before. 

As Annie takes more risks at work and in her personal life, Fran cheers her on but also keeps her in check. As they progress into adulthood, Annie and Fran have to face the fears that come with letting in people outside of the sacred bubble of their friendship. As far as they've come, Annie and Fran still don't have the healthiest dynamic and cling to each other like a security blanket. Although they have different personalities and backgrounds, Annie and Fran each allow the other to be her truest self in a beautiful example of platonic love that makes their codependence completely understandable and relatable.

11. Abby and Campbell — Work in Progress

Some friendships are more like family than anything else. In "Work in Progress," we meet Abby (Abby McEnany) and Campbell (Celeste Pachous) decades into their friendship. Abby is a darkly funny woman who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and suicidal ideation. Campbell is her cantankerous partner-in-crime. Abby and Campbell are each other's first call when there's a crisis or a cause for celebration. When Abby navigates a new and exciting romantic relationship, Campbell plays the role of diligent friend and protector. In turn, Abby is there for Campbell and takes care of her after a devastating loss. 

While they both have other friends, romantic partners, and family, they are each other's platonic soulmates — there for each other through thick and thin. Abby and Campbell also share in and navigate their shifting queer identities as they grow older. It's a special kind of friendship that rings especially true for older LGBTQ+ women, and one that's rarely seen on television, which makes it all the more worth praising.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

10. Rebecca and Paula — Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Unlike many of the other friends on our list, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's" Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) and Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) meet later in life. Rebecca makes a spur-of-the-moment decision after a chance encounter with her old summer camp boyfriend, Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III). She goes off of her medication and moves to West Covina, convinced she'll find true love and happiness. While Paula is initially skeptical of Rebecca, they're both hopeless romantics and intelligent women who enjoy schemes. The two soon bond over Rebecca's crush on Josh. 

Bored with her marriage, Paula vicariously lives through Rebecca, and Rebecca leans on Paula as a surrogate mother to enable her bad decisions. As Rebecca engages in increasingly risky maneuvers to get close to Josh, so does Paula, and that leads to a toxic and messy dynamic between them despite the very real love they have. However, once Rebecca begins to face up to her problems, they both ultimately realize they need to spend more time on themselves, leading to an even deeper love and trust between them. 

9. Tuca and Bertie — Tuca & Bertie

In the animated series "Tuca and Bertie," Bertie (Ali Wong) is an anxious, neurotic, and fearful song thrush, and Tuca (Tiffany Haddish) is an adventurous, extroverted toucan. As they make their way in Birdtown, the two are inseparable best friends, living with a degree of codependence that most people (and birds) would find alarming. It's a dynamic that challenges them as they bring new people into their lives. Bertie's amiable boyfriend Speckle (Steven Yeun) understands that Tuca is part of the package. Nevertheless, Tuca struggles to integrate Bertie into her burgeoning romantic life. 

As Bertie unpacks her past and present traumas as a survivor of sexual abuse, Tuca is there for her every step of the way. Of course, Tuca also has her own issues to face as a recovering alcoholic. Tuca and Bertie each have to face their own internal struggles, leading them to become stronger friends. Their evolving friendship is sweet, heartfelt, and funny in the ways it explores mental health, addiction, and trauma, making it all the more impactful and special.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

8. Meredith and Cristina — Grey's Anatomy

In "Grey's Anatomy," Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Cristina (Sandra Oh) meet on their first day as interns at Seattle Grace Hospital and connect instantly, soon earning the nickname "Twisted Sisters" for their reputation of trauma bonding over all the tragedies they endure. Meredith and Cristina each face plenty of problems throughout their friendship, but they are always there for each other. Cristina protects Meredith's healing process and keeps Derek (Patrick Dempsey) away after their breakup. Meredith and Christina also confide in each other about their pregnancies. 

Despite the many difficulties they face, their friendship is filled with plenty of good humor and heart. Cristina sleeps over at Meredith's house — not caring if Derek is there — and works out whatever tragedy or heartbreak they're facing. With so much love and trust between them, it's safe to say that, even when they fight over issues at the hospital or are separated by distance, Meredith and Cristina remain each other's person.

7. Buffy and Willow — Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan) of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" meet when Buffy transfers to Sunnydale High, hoping to start over fresh after having a bad first attempt vampire-slaying in her hometown of Los Angeles. While Willow is painfully shy and nerdy, new kid Buffy is happy to make friends with her, beginning a relationship that will change both of their lives forever. As Buffy grows in her powers as a slayer, Willow comes into her own as a witch, and the two begin working together to keep the forces of darkness in check. 

Bonded by their mystical callings, Buffy and Willow move into different phases of life together both as slayer and witch and as best friends. Their friendship also evolves as they live together as off and on roommates in college and in Buffy's home. Buffy and Willow learn to traverse the shifting power dynamics within their relationship when Willow becomes addicted to magic, forcing Buffy to confront her best friend. Regardless of the trials and tribulations they face, Buffy and Willow always come together to save the world — and each other.

6. Dorothy, Sophia, Rose, and Blanche — The Golden Girls

One of television's most beloved classic sitcoms, "The Golden Girls" follows three widows and a divorcee who all live in a home together in Florida. Highly pragmatic with a dry sense of humor, Dorothy (Bea Arthur) is a retired teacher. Her sharp-tongued mother, Sophia (Estelle Getty), moves in with Dorothy and her friends after her retirement home burns down. Rose (Betty White) is a naïve Midwestern farm girl, starting over after the death of her husband. Rounding out the group is Blanche (Rue McClanahan), a stereotypical Southern Belle who is happy to rediscover the dating scene as a widow. 

All of the women have big personalities that clash as they poke fun at each other. Rose gets teased for her intelligence, Blanche for her love life, and Dorothy for her looks. Yet, they go through the complex and emotional process of aging together, leaning on each other through heartbreak, new marriages, conflicts with children, and more as only women with their shared life experience can.

5. Maya and Anna — PEN15

As proven by "PEN15's" Maya and Anna, childhood friendships are some of the most important and indelible. Real-life best friends Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle portray fictionalized versions of their tween selves in this dramedy that chronicles their experiences growing up in the early 2000s. While the series is comedic on its surface (especially as the adult Erskine and Konkle act alongside child actors), it's also a thoughtful and emotional look at the physical and psychological experience of going through puberty. 

Maya and Anna are close childhood friends, but the bonds of their relationship are tested as they grow up and are faced with the trials of oncoming adulthood (such as boyfriends, divorce, and death). As in many of TV's best female friendships, Maya and Anna choose each other over everything else — even as they face the daunting prospect of growing up. While they know that one day they might fight or break up, they ignore that reality and choose their love for each other instead.

4. Lucy and Ethel — I Love Lucy

"I Love Lucy" made history in countless ways, but the classic series also featured one of TV's first and most iconic female friendships. In the show, Lucille Ball plays Lucy Ricardo, a fictionalized version of herself, who wants desperately to perform with her bandleader husband Ricky (Desi Arnaz) in his popular musical nightclub act. Lucy's landlady and best friend Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance) is a former successful Vaudeville performer herself who tends to get unwittingly roped into Lucy's hare-brained schemes. While Lucy is wacky, goofy, and emotional, Ethel is the buttoned-up straight woman who is always loyal to her more adventurous friend. 

Lucy and Ethel have a close friendship but still get into the occasional tiff, providing a bit of grounded reality to their zanier moments. Despite their differences, Lucy and Ethel's adventures comprise some of TV's most iconic moments, including the ever-hilarious chocolate factory scene. However, the most remarkable thing about Lucy and Ethel is how they served as the blueprint for television's many female friendships to come.

3. Abbi and Ilana — Broad City

"Broad City's" Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana (Ilana Glazer) are a sort of stoner Lucy and Ethel for the millennial generation. Abbi and Ilana's friendship is forged through their life in New York — which is not an easy place to live. Still, they figure out how to survive together as young 20-something postgrad women. Abbi is neurotic, cautious, artistic, and quietly romantic while Ilana is wild, expressive, and sexually adventurous. 

When we first meet them, they're both in dead-end jobs and far more interested in hanging out with each other than pursuing anything related to adulthood. As the series progresses, Ilana pushes Abbi outside of her comfort zone while Abbi guides Ilana to be a bit more grown-up. Though they remain each other's most important person, they also slowly begin to discover who they are away from each other. When Abbi pursues her dream of becoming an artist and Ilana realizes her gift for helping people, their lives naturally lead them on separate journeys. Yet, it's clear that no matter where they are, Abbi and Ilana will always be deeply and profoundly connected.

2. Issa and Molly — Insecure

Issa Rae's critically acclaimed comedy "Insecure" recently concluded its final season with a sweeping arc that wrapped up the show's true love story. The series follows Rae's Issa Dee, a loosely autobiographical character, as she navigates her late 20s and early 30s in Los Angeles with her best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji). Issa is a goofy, creative dreamer who raps to herself in the mirror. Still, she's unsure of exactly what she wants to do with her life. Molly, however, is a neurotic, driven attorney with exceedingly high standards. As Issa floats in and out of a relationship with her long-term boyfriend, Molly battles the issues keeping her from being happy with any of her partners.

Molly and Issa have a deep and complicated friendship that "Insecure" explores in nearly every way (including a controversial fight that blew up Twitter). Alongside their other friends, Molly and Issa also explore different facets of modern Black womanhood, which is still largely underrepresented on television. Overall, Issa and Molly's friendship and love are incredibly deep because (and in spite of) everything they go through.

1. Leslie and Ann — Parks and Recreation

In the NBC comedy "Parks and Recreation," Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ann (Rashida Jones) are first brought together over an issue that can't be solved: a massive pit in Ann's neighborhood that falls under Leslie's purview as the Deputy Parks Director. Despite their very different personalities, Ann and Leslie develop a real friendship. Leslie is an upbeat, optimistic, workaholic, while Ann is a grounded, caretaking realist. Nevertheless, Ann and Leslie are always there for each other. Leslie fights tirelessly against the issues that plague Ann (including the seasons-long saga of the pit), and Ann supports and takes care of Leslie when she works herself to the bone. 

They share a symbiotic and giving relationship that speaks to the unique bonds forged in adulthood when two people find each other at a crossroads in their lives. Leslie and Ann's friendship is also declarative: Leslie hilariously expresses her love for Ann at every turn and creates an annual holiday, Galentine's Day, to celebrate their friendship and the other women in her life. Ann and Leslie's selfless love for each other is admirable, humorous, heartfelt, and one of TV's very best.