The relationship between protagonists Joey Tribbiani and Rachel Greene first began in season eight. Joey develops feelings for Rachel which leads to a story arc that goes into the beginning of the tenth season.
During seasons 5, 7, and early parts of season 8, Joey playfully flirts with Rachel. She never takes this seriously and rebuffs him. However, in the season Six episode, "The One Where Ross Dates A Student", she moved in with Joey after Phoebe's apartment catches fire. As time progresses, she begins to have fun living with Joey so much that she decides to stay with him, after Phoebe's apartment is poorly rebuilt (with one bedroom) in the season seven episode "The One With The Holiday Armadillo".
In the Season 5 episode "The One With All The Resolutions", Joey and Rachel kissed on New Year's Day, but this was simply part of a plan to allow Chandler and Monica to kiss despite their currently secret relationship (Joey arguing that Ross would prefer that Chandler kiss his sister rather than Joey and Ross reasoning that kissing Phoebe as the ball dropped would be less awkward than Rachel, although Rachel was less bothered than Ross).
In the season 5 episode, "The One With Joey's Bag", Rachel helps Joey look good for his audition by helping him choose an outfit and accessories including a bag. When Joey thinks its a woman's bag, Rachel tells him its unisex, which he thinks she wants to have sex with him, which he says he's not gonna say no to, confusing her.
In the season eight episode, "The One With The Stain", Rachel starts to look for an apartment for her and her unborn baby, who Ross is the father of, without consulting Joey first. When Ross finally tells him about this, he becomes worried, and decides to sacrifice his sex life in order to help Rachel look after the baby, just as Ross gets her the "good" apartment.
In the episode, "The One With Ross' Step Forward", Rachel wants to sleep with someone once since she doesn't want an actual relationship and starts coming onto Joey when she is talking to him about it. The two start somewhat freaking out, saying they can't do it and he says it's wrong especially because they are friends. Joey then asks Rachel if she wants to do it and she shouts "No!", in which he says he is just testing her. When the two go back in their rooms, Rachel tries to go to Joey, but he stops her before she can go into his room, with saying "Get back in there!", stopping them from sleeping together.
In "The One Where Joey Dates Rachel", Joey takes Rachel out on a "date" to raise her spirits about the fact that she won't be dating for a while. Afterwards, Joey realizes that he had a great time and that he may be developing feelings for Rachel. He tries to deny these feelings because he knows that Ross and Rachel are meant to be together and Rachel carrying Ross' child makes the situation even harder.
For the next few episodes, Joey's feeling become stronger and stronger. Eventually the group slowly begins to find out, with the exception of Rachel. Joey tries to be comfortable about living with Rachel when she is pregnant with Ross' baby, but in "The One With The Secret Closet", he allows her to move in with Ross to make him more involved in the pregnancy.
In "The One With The Birthing Video", Joey finally tells Ross that he is in love with Rachel and after some time, Ross agrees that him feeling weird should not stand in the way and that he should tell Rachel how he feels.
In "The One Where Joey Tells Rachel", he confesses his love for her, but she politely and lovingly turns him down. After some tension, the situation fades, but Joey's feelings remain. While Rachel is in labor, Judy Geller shows up with a ring and tries to persuade Ross into proposing. Joey accidentally finds Ross' ring and Rachel mistakes it as a proposal from Joey, and says OK.
When Ross learns of Joey and Rachel's mistaken engagement, he becomes extremely angered. He stays upset with Joey longer than Rachel, partly because she just had his child. After a scuffle and a trip to the emergency room (after Joey forced Ross to punch him and then ducked), Joey and Rachel both assure Ross that nothing will happen and that they are just friends. However, later in the season, Rachel has a fight with Ross, moves back in with Joey and, later on, has a dream where she kisses him. After that she begins to develop feelings for him. She hints at him a few times, but he stays oblivious.
Eventually, Joey starts dating Charlie, which upsets both Rachel and Ross, who has feelings for Charlie. While in Barbados, Joey breaks up with Charlie and soon learns about Rachel's feelings for him. He turns her down, however, because of Ross. Almost immediately afterward, Joey sees Ross kissing Charlie and returns to Rachel's room and kisses her.
Joey and Rachel decide to not take their relationship any further, unless Ross is OK with it. Back in New York, they both attempt to talk to Ross about it, but something stops them each time. Eventually Ross walks in on Joey and Rachel kissing, which he is clearly not OK with, but tries to mask it. After an extremely awkward double date with Ross and Charlie, Joey talks to Ross and he tells him that he will make himself be OK with Joey and Rachel's relationship.
Joey and Rachel continue to date, but can't make it past kissing. Every time Joey would slide his hand across Rachel's thigh, she would slap it away, and Joey could not manage to get Rachel's bra open. This is most likely due to the fact that Joey has tried many times to get Rachel's bra off, and she got used to slapping it away; Rachel herself notes that she was unable to stop herself thinking about the fact that Joey was the one touching her. After trying again and injuring Joey, the two decide that they are not compatible with each other. They decide that they are too good as friends to pursue a romantic relationship and leave it at that, their relationship returning to normal.
- Joey started to have feelings for Rachel in "The One Where Joey Dates Rachel" (S8E12), after they went on a date as friends.
- Joey stated a few times that his relationship with Rachel was the first time he actually fell in love with a woman. However, that's not correct as he fell in love with Kate in Season 3. He also dated Angela Delveccio for three years prior to The Pilot. Due to how long the relationship was, he must have loved her at least some point during that duration.
- Their relationship developed as an arc from season 8 to season 10.
- Rachel realized she liked Joey in "The One With Rachel's Dream" (S9E19).
- They dated for a week, as said by Rachel in season 10.
- Joey told Rachel he loved her in "The One Where Joey Tells Rachel" (S8E16).
- They broke up in "The One With Ross' Tan" (S10E3).
- Jennifer Aniston stated that she believed that Joey and Rachel's relationship was really just friends with benefits rather than an actual relationship.
- Matt LeBlanc and Jennifer Aniston protested to the writers about the story arc but were ignored.
- Reasons Why Rachel and Joey Are The Best Couple, cinemaprobe.com, 2018
- Why Friends' Rachel should have got off the plane for Joey and not Ross, metro.co.uk, 2019
| To view the Joey and Rachel gallery, click here.