- 24 Hour Party People: Any time any of the protagonists has a party, it's populated by people we've never seen before. The only exceptions to this are the occasional parents, Love Interests of the Week, and Gunther. Averted rather realistically in "TOW the Fake Party": the party is meant for Joshua and Emily, and the only other guest besides them is Gunther.
- '80s Hair: Seen whenever there are flashbacks to their childhood. Most notable example is "The One With All The Thanksgivings'', with Ross and Chandler sporting ridiculous A Flock of Seagulls (and later Miami Vice) haircuts.
- A Cappella: In "The One with All the Jealousy", Monica dates a co-worker named Julio who is a foreigner and a pretentious poet. In one of his poems, he refers to her as an "empty vase", then later claims it was a reference to all American women, not just her. Monica gets her revenge by sending an A cappella barbershop quartet to the diner to ridicule him (and call him a buttmunch) while he's hitting on another woman.
- Aborted Arc: The Relaxi-Cab subplot never really paid off, and simply petered out after a few episodes.
- Absence of Evidence: Played for laughs: Joey gives Chandler his show reel in order to be considered for an advert being produced by Chandler's company. When Chandler claims to have watched it, Joey says that he obviously hasn't, because part of the audition tape was a Japandering advert Joey did for "Ichiban Lipstick for Men", which Chandler would have definitely made fun of.
- Absentee Actor: Surprisingly considering it had six lead characters and racked up 236 episodes over a decade, averted - all six turn up in every single episode.
- If an actor was unavailable to take part in an episode,the producers worked around this by having said actor film scenes ahead of time, or after initial taping. For example, in "The One With the Proposal", all of Ross' scenes were filmed beforehand, as David Schwimmer had to go film "Band of Brothers". This is also why Ross is missing in the final scene where everyone congratulates Chandler and Monica getting engaged.
Phoebe: "Wait! This is wrong! Ross isn't here!"
Rachel: "Oh, he's done this three times, he knows what it's about!"
- Abusive Parents: Although Played for Laughs, Monica suffers a lot of emotional abuse from her mother who either ignores or criticizes her. Chandler's childhood was also pretty horrible. (His parents skipped his first parents' day, announced their divorce on Thanksgiving, had orgies with the poolboys in front of him, and used him as a pawn in their fights). Both characters are clearly screwed up as a result, Monica striving to be perfect at everything because she never feels good enough, and Chandler using humour as a defence to hide his crippling insecurity. It's not until they fall in love and build a loving relationship together that their self-esteem improves.
- AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: Subverted; Ross does try to say the word "karate" with the right Japanese intonation (putting more stress into "te" instead of the Western habit of stressing "ra"), but the way he says it just makes the word seem weird.
- In a later episode, Ross finds that he tends to slip into a stereotypical English accent during his new job of lecturing at a college, as a result of nerves. Mid-lecture, under the assumption that he wasn't being listened to anyway, he attempts to reassert his normal accent, but finds that he starts slipping in and out, resulting in the placement of emphasis on strange parts of words, such as saying "IdentiFY'".
- Chandler has a habit of emphasizing the word "be", which occasionally joked upon by the others.
- By the end of the series this has become such a running gag that the other characters imitating Chandler's habit has occurred more times than Chandler has actually emphasized "be".
- Accidental Adultery: A famous example of the Poor Communication Kills variety; Rachel declares that she and Ross should "take a break... from us," by which she later claims to have meant that they should cool down and sort out their own feelings before continuing to work through their relationship problems, but Ross interprets it as more like an actual breakup. When Ross, hurt and drunk, has a One Night Stand, Rachel considers it cheating; Ross repeatedly and vociferously disagrees. Who is right is a matter of some disagreement among the base.
- Also happened to Joey. Joey was obsessed with getting his picture put up on the wall in a dry cleaner's. He had angered the owner a couple of times, and when a woman who works there says *she* can also get his picture up on the wall, he takes her up on it. Later Joey and Phoebe walk in the door to the cleaner's, and the owner begins yelling at Joey, who had unknowingly gone out with the guy's wife! The first draft of the script had Joey actually sleep with her, but the writers didn't want to make Joey that much of a creep. This explains the guy's level of anger and Phoebe's shocked reaction.
- The Ace: Monica's season 1 boyfriend Allan who was good at sports, is a delight in conversation and apparently well-endowed. The gang didn't take it well when Monica decided to break up with him.
- Accidental Hug: Regularly between Chandler and Joey.
- Several variations happen when Rachel gets a job at Ralph Lauren.
- Accidental Proposal: Shortly after Rachel gives birth to Emma, Joey finds Ross's engagement ring, which Ross was going to present to Rachel and ask her to marry him. Joey turns around while happening to be on one knee, still holding the ring. Rachel says yes to Joey. A delightful series of miscommunications ensues.
- Acting Unnatural: When Rachel and Joey are having their brief fling, Ross knocks on the door to Rachel's hotel room; she tells Joey that they aren't doing anything suspicious and he just needs to act "nonchalant". He poses awkwardly with his hands on his hips, staring at the ceiling, until admitting he doesn't know what "nonchalant" means.
- Adoring the Pests: Phoebe had an entire family of rats in her house as pets.
- Adults Are Useless: Several examples:
- Chandler's childhood in general, as he apparently received very little support during his parents divorce and Dad coming out as gay.
- In "The One With The Halloween Party," none of the trick-or-treaters are with their parents or guardians.
- In "The One After I Do," there is no babysitter at the kids' table.
- Phoebe's entire backstory. You have to question how an orphaned 14-year-old ended up on the streets and not in care or a foster home.
- Aerith and Bob: Chandler was a much more unusual name than the likes of Joey or Rachel. The other friends often mock him about this.
- Aesop Amnesia: Chandler never seems to learn from the fact that the one thing that hurts Joey the most is when Chandler lies to him.
- He also struggles with remembering that Monica loves him more than anyone else ever and is utterly uninterested in Richard, other funny guys, Richard, her so-called soulmate and Richard.
- Afraid of Needles:
- Phoebe and Rachel decide to get tattoos, but Phoebe backs out at the last moment when she realizes it's actually done with needles.
Rachel: You don't say! Because MINE was licked on by kittens!
- Ross doesn't like needles either. In one episode, he has a severe allergic reaction to kiwi fruit and doesn't want to go to the hospital for a shot. He suggests that they could "take the needle and squirt it into my mouth, you know, like a squirt gun" instead. Monica says he can hold her hand while he gets the shot; he grips it so tightly that she ends up with a bone bruise and a puncture wound from her ring.
- Ageless Birthday Episode: There were several ageless birthday episodes for Rachel, except the episode where Rachel has her 30th.
- Ross was said to be 30 for three seasons!
- Air Hugging: Chandler and Joey did this on occasion.
- They also lampshaded and averted it in the finale when they decide on the "lame cool guy hand shake" over the "awkward hug", but end up giving each other a real hug, anyway.
- Air Quotes: Joey doesn't understand how these are meant to be used.
- The Alcoholic: Fun Bobby, an occasional boyfriend of Monica's. Alcohol was what made him entertaining. When he quit drinking, Monica started upping her alcohol intake to cope with his stories about shoelaces.
- Alternate Reality Episode: "The One That Could Have Been" is a two-parter where the teaser has each of the Friends imagining something that could have happened differently in their lives and the rest of the story drops into an Alternate Reality where these things happened. Monica never lost her teenage weight and is still fat as an adult, Joey is still on Days of Our Lives and has become famous and wealthy, Rachel married Barry and is quietly miserable (and considering having an affair with Joey the celebrity), Phoebe is a stockbroker, Chandler is a (failing) writer and Carol has not come out of the closet and is still married to Ross (though she is very interested in having a threesome with Ross and another woman).
- There's a sequence in "The One With The Truth About London" where Monica confesses that the night she hooked up with Chandler in London, she actually went to the room to seek out Joey. They imagine what their lives would be if they had gotten together, and we see an alternate future where Monica has prepared a massive feast for Joey's dinner, and Joey has become morbidly obese thanks to Monica's cooking.
Joey: *looking at food* "How YOU doin'?"
- Aluminium Christmas Trees: Remember Mockolate (fake chocolate made from suspicious substances)? Disgusting and potentially hazardous? Well, so does anyone who grew up in the Soviet Bloc. Hershey's and other chocolate companies are doing this now, replacing cocoa butter in their "chocolate" with vegetable oils. Critics have taken to using the "Mockolate" term coined by Friends to describe it.
- "...other AMERICAN companies..." In almost every other country in the world, chocolate must contain cocoa butter and cocoa solids to be called "chocolate".
- Always Someone Better:
- Joey vs. The Hombre Man in season 2 episode 2.
- Chandler panics when Monica refers to a colleague as the funniest guy she's ever met.
- Also Joey to Chandler in early seasons, at least at picking up girls. He's also devastated when Monica admitted she originally wanted a one night stand with Joey and not him.
- Since Chandler and Monica were friends for years before they became a couple, they know each other's dating history. As a result, Chandler was there as a friend when Monica was going through her relationship with (then) love of her life, Richard, and how hard it was for her to get back on her feet when the relationship ended. Richard was also very popular with the entire gang for being a very nice, respectable, successful man. Chandler is sometimes haunted by this knowledge even though he's also a very nice, respectable, successful man who completely surpassed Richard as the love of Monica's life. As an Insecure Love Interest, he sometimes has trouble believing this.
- Case to point, Season 9 reveals Chandler still feels threatened by Richard even though he and Monica have been Happily Married for a year, together for four years and she and Richard haven't dated in six years. The fact he still views Richard as the better man prompts Monica to point out than given she chose him he should feel sorry for Richard not envious.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: The show has it from time to time:
- Ross and Monica's father Jack has sex-related comments (e.g. asking his daughter's husband if he's able to give her an orgasm).
- Chandler's folks: his mother is a gorgeous sex-driven blonde writer of erotic novels who even kisses one of his best friends, and his father's a gay transgender Las Vegas cabaret entertainer. At one point, Chandler was worried that he was turning into his parents. Ross asks him:
Ross: Chandler, have you ever put on a black cocktail dress and asked me up to your hotel room?
Ross: Then you are neither of your parents!
- Mrs Bing proves how good a mother she is by revealing she bought Chandler his first condoms. On the Jay Leno show.
Chandler: (watching)...And then he burst into flames.
- Rachel's parents. Her father is an overbearing man who isn't a smooth tipper and is easily irritable, sometimes causing scenes. Rachel's mom asks Rachel and the girls what's new in sex.
- Amicable Exes: Ross and Carol still get on very well; if Carol wasn't a lesbian, they'd probably still be together. This may explain why Carol's partner Susan doesn't seem to like Ross much (though her opinion of him jumps up considerably after he shows just how amicable he is by convincing Carol to go ahead with the marriage despite family issues)..
- And of course, Ross and Rachel. They were hostile towards each other for a few episodes after their breakup, but after the others voiced concerns that their issues could hamper the entire group dynamic, they mutually decide to get along for the benefit of everyone. Even after Rachel moves out of Ross's after a big fight later in the series, the very next episode has them on relatively good terms again. Of course, it helps that they really do love each other through thick and thin.
- Animal Metaphor: Phoebe compares Ross & Rachel's relationship to lobster, because they mate for life. According to Phoebe, you can actually see old lobster couples in a lobster tank holding claws.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- Ross has asked Rachel to make a list of things that she doesn't like about him (it's a long story). While she's initially reticent, he finally ticks her off enough:
Rachel: OK, you're whiney, you are, you're obsessive, you are insecure, you're, you're gutless, you know, you don't ever, you don't just sort of seize the day, you know. You like me for what, a year, you didn't do anything about it. And, uh, oh, you wear too much of that gel in your hair.
- In this context, it actually makes sense: she's not going for a dramatic buildup, she's listing them as she thinks of them, and it's reasonable that hair gel might not be the top one on her mind.
- In the episode "The One With George Stephanopoulos", at the beginning of the episode, they're all discussing what they would do if they were omnipotent for a day. Phoebe goes on to use this trope.
Phoebe: Ok, ok. If I were omnipotent for a day, I would want, hum, world peace, no more hunger, good things for the rain forest. And bigger boobs!
- In the episode "The One After the Super Bowl", Joey gets his stalker to leave him alone by pretending to be his own Evil Twin (well, actually the Evil Twin of his soap opera character, Drake Ramoray, whom the stalker believes him to be). His friends help him out:
Rachel: He pretended to be Drake to, to sleep with me! (throws her drink in his face)
Monica: And then he told me he would run away with me, and he didn't! (throws her drink in his face)
Chandler: And you left the toilet seat up, you bastard! (throws his drink in his face)
- From the same episode, when listing what is stolen from the zoo, the list is a monkey, a snowy egret, a two-toed sloth, and three hooded sweatshirts from the gift shop.
- When Monica gives the manager of a restaurant a terrible review, his gripes with her are that she said the food tasted terrible, the service was inadequate, and she claimed they took the Discover card.
- Played with in The One With Ross' Sandwich, making it more "Arson, Jaywalking and Murder".
Rachel: He takes naked pictures of us, and then he eats chicken, and then he looks at them!
- Art Shift: During scenes involving Joey's soap opera work, the show goes from 24fps to the soap opera standard of 48fps.
- Artistic License – Biology: Rachel is pregnant for at least fifteen months, being already pregnant at Chandler and Monica's wedding (May 15th) and going on maternity leave in August the next year.
- Not to mention the episode with Emma's first birthday party airing in the fall.
- Ironically enough they also Lampshade plot devices like this through Joey's work on Days Of Our Lives: his coma-bound character gets a brain transplant that turns him into the donor's character in a new body. Later, he somehow reverts back to his old character (Drake Ramoret) when his body rejects the brain.
- Artistic License – Geography: In "The One with... Joey's Big Break", while he and Chandler are driving out of Manhattan for Las Vegas, the (rather grainy) bridge is obviously the Queensboro Bridge, which crosses East River and connects Manhattan to Queens, but after Joey kicks out Chandler for saying the movie won't be his break, the Orbital Shot is of the Manhettan Bridge, also spanning East River but connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. At the coffee shop, Chandler mentions it was the George Washington Bridge, which would have been correct as it crosses the Hudson and connects Manhattan and Fort Lee, New Jersey, though the Holland Tunnel is closer to the Village and would be a faster route.
- Phoebe had a scientist boyfriend called David, who went to Minsk on a research trip. Minsk is stated to be in Russia several times, while it actually is the capital of Belarus. Belarus was the part of the Soviet Union to which Americans often referred as "Russia", but the Soviet Union was dissolved years before Friends even started.
- In TOW The Girl From Poughkeepsie, Ross accidentally ends up in Montreal and meets a woman who says "it’s just a two hour ferry ride to Nova Scotia". Unless you're flying, the journey should take over 11 hours. And not by water at all.
- Artistic License – Law: Ross and Emily's wedding takes place in a church being demolished.
- First, if the church was scheduled for demolition, it would be deconsecrated and could not be booked or even perform weddings, and any wedding conducted there would be null and void.
- Second, if were it still consecrated, it would be unthinkable to demolish it.
- Third, Britain's incredibly restrictive health and safety laws would prohibit a wedding from taking place in a church undergoing an in-progress demolition.
- Fourth, English law requires weddings to take place either in recognized churches or in licensed civil premises - at that time limited to registry offices and weddings granted special licenses, which is not the case here. A half-demolished church is neither.
- Fifth, there's also no way Ross could have arrived in the UK and got married in the time-frame shown, since he clearly wasn't around to make the necessary applications.
- Sixth, at the time the episode was aired it was still a legal requirement that weddings in England be held before 6pm. Given that it's light when Rachel leaves New York, there's a five hour time difference and a five hour flight (plus customs) and the journey to the church, there's no way the wedding takes place before 6pm. Even without Rachel's timings, it's clearly dark outside, which it never is by 6pm in May in England.
- As Herself: Trudie Styler, Sting's wife, guest stars in "TOW Monica's Boots".
- In "TOW The Soap Opera Party", Matthew Asford and Kyle Lowder appear as themselves; other examples include Sarah Ferguson, Charlton Heston, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Jill Goodacre.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: Chandler really likes this joke:
- In one episode, Joey is upset at his co-star Wayne, who is about to have him fired:
Wayne: Joey, I'll get you your job back if you help me out.
Joey: Why should I help you out?
Chandler: ... the reason he just said?
- After calling his Girl of the Week:
Chandler: I got her machine.
Joey: Her answering machine?
Chandler: No, interestingly enough, her leaf blower picked up.
- During the first Thanksgiving episode.
Chandler: The most unbelievable thing has happened. Underdog has gotten away.
Joey: The balloon?
Chandler: No, no, the actual cartoon character. Of course the balloon.
- When they're playing poker and Rachel wants to leave:
Chandler: Rach, Rach, we gotta settle.
Rachel: Settle what?
Chandler: The Jamestown colony of Virginia. You see, King George is giving us the land so...
- In a deleted scene, where Rachel calls everyone over to see Emma crawling for the first time, and Chandler arrives with shaving cream on his face:
Chandler: No, rabies.
- Joey meets up with Chandler, who is waiting for a cab:
Joey: Is she here yet?
Chandler: Yeah, she brought the invisible cab. Hop in.
- After Ross and Rachel break up and the gang feels awkward around them:
(knock on the door)
Chandler: Oh that’s great, with my luck, that’s gonna be him.
Phoebe: Him? Him, Ross?
Chandler: Nope, hymn 253, His Eyes Are On The Sparrow!
- Asleep in Class: After Monica says, "You snooze, you lose" in reference to Ross, Chandler says that Ross isn't snoozing, he's teaching a class. Monica retorts, "Well, then somebody's snoozing!" Ross also mentions nicknaming one of his students "Sleepy Sleeperson."
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In one episode, Joey is at Central Perk when he realizes he should have been at work two hours ago. Then he gets distracted talking to Chandler and sits back down. Chandler reminds him about work, so he leaves, only to see an attractive girl outside and get distracted talking to her. Chandler yells out the window, "Joey, for God's sake, go to work!" and he runs off.
- Author Appeal: There are a lot of doctors in this show. Ross Geller (paleontologist), Rachel's father Leonard Green (vascular surgeon), Drake Ramoray (fictional neurosurgeon), Rachel's fiance Barry Farber (orthodontist), Richard Burke (ophthalmalogist), Timothy Burke (ophthalmalogist), Charlie Wheeler (paleontologist)and a pair of physicians played by George Clooney and Noah Wyle... And that's just the family and the love interests...
- Badass Mustache: Richard Burke. Chandler in particular seems to resent this and makes fun of it whenever possible. He's been accused of doing so because he's proven unable to grow a good mustache. Chandler did try to imitate him, with limited results.
- Bait and Switch: A staple of Chandler's jokes, especially when he talks about his parents and seems to be talking about his mother, but is actually talking about his (transgender) father.
- It also seems to have become a staple joke in the show that whenever anyone compliments Phoebe she usually replies with “I know.” or something similar, whereas you would normally expect someone to deflect the compliment or be humble.
- Bathroom Breakout: Emily locks herself in the bathroom after Ross says the wrong name at their wedding. Rachel mentions that when she did this at her own wedding (to Barry), she was trying to pop the window out of the frame so she could escape. Ross then forces the bathroom door open; the curtains are blowing in the breeze and Emily's gone.
- Batman Gambit: When Phoebe is trying to choose between the names "Joey" or "Chandler" when naming the third triplet, and it looks like she'll go with "Joey", Chandler fakes a name-based existential crisis which tricks Phoebe into attempting to make him feel better about his name by naming the baby after him instead of Joey. It becomes hilarious when it turns out that the third triplet is a girl, who would end up still being named Chandler anyway.
- Beach Bury: Joey falls asleep at the beach, and gets buried in an elaborately-sculpted mermaid-shaped mound, including sand boobs. Of which he definitely approves.
- Beastly Bloodsports: When Ross was looking for zoos to take his monkey Marcel, one of the prospects asks how good Marcel is with a knife, and it quickly becomes apparent that he's running some sort of animal fighting ring.
- Bedtime Brainwashing: In the episode "The One with the Hypnosis Tape," Chandler uses a self-help stop-smoking tape given to him by Rachel to listen to while he sleeps, unknowingly affecting more of his behavior than just the quitting smoking part, because the tape has messages such as "You are a strong, confident woman who does not need to smoke." Joey learns of the tapes and in a Command usage of this trope, adds his own words to the tape in an attempt to influence Chandler in other ways...
Joey: (in monotone, on the tape): Joey is your best friend... You want to make him a cheese sandwich every day... You also want to buy him hundreds of dollars of pants...
- Bed Trick:
- Attempted by Chandler in the episode "The One With Five Steaks and an Eggplant." When a mysterious woman leaves a message on his machine looking for her old lover Bob, Chandler pretends to be Bob and makes a date with her. He then consoles her when "Bob" doesn't show up, and they sleep together.
- In the episode "The One With The Stain", Phoebe is dating her twin sister's ex-fiance, and said twin sister pretends to be Phoebe in order to sleep with him.
- Best Friends In Law: Invoked when Ross discovers that Chandler's now in a relationship with his sister Monica and initially sees it as a case of My Sister Is Off-Limits!.
Ross: (angry) I can't believe it, my best friend and my sister!
Chandler explains that it's a serious relationship.
Ross: (overjoyed) I can't believe it, my best friend and my sister!
- Beta Couple: Chandler and Monica to Ross and Rachel for most of the series.
- From Seasons 5-7, they were arguably elevated to Official Couple status, as much of the show's plot was driven by the progression of their relationship, from moving in together, to being engaged, and finally getting married.
- Better as Friends: Rachel and Joey.
- Betty and Veronica: The third season has Ross choosing between Rachel (Betty) and Bonnie (Veronica). They're both blonde, but the trope still applies as Rachel was his best friend, on-again-off-again ex-girlfriend and the woman he'd been in love with since his teenage years and Bonnie was the exotic hypersexual newcomer.
- The second season love triangle between Ross, Rachel and Julie can also be seen as being an example of this. Although arguably, sweet, harmless Julie would be the Betty, with Rachel as the previously unobtainable Veronica.
- Season 6 has Monica (Archie) choosing between neurotic, snarky best friend Chandler and sophisticated, ex-boyfriend Richard. Apperance wise, it fits, as Richard is Tall, Dark and Handsome and Chandler is fairer haired and not considered very attractive. Monica still picks him.
- Subverted in an early episode where Phoebe has to choose between a bulky fireman and a sweet schoolteacher, only to find out both of them were both athletic and sensitive (i.e. not too different after all).
- Big Blackout: "The One with the Blackout" has one of these, during which Chandler gets stuck in an ATM booth with Victoria's Secret model Jill Goodacre (to his great delight) while the others search for the owner of a stray cat that scratches Ross. (The episode was part of a "Blackout Thursday" gimmick from that involved several NBC sitcoms; see Crossover, below.)
- The Big Damn Kiss: Ross and Rachel at the ends of "The One Where Ross Finds Out", "The One with the Prom Video." and "The Last One"
- Chandler and Monica have one in 'TOW Everyone Finds Out'. A big damn one because they have kissed before but this is their first public kiss, in front of all their friends and right after Chandler's openly yelled out his love for her.
Chandler: "I love her!" *Cue shocked looks* "That's right, I love her! I love her...I love you, Monica."
Monica: "I love you too Chandler" *They kiss*
- Chandler and Monica have multiple ones: 'TO After Ross Says Rachel' (their first on-screen kiss), 'TO in Vegas' ("It's a four"), 'TO After Vegas' (agreeing to move in together), 'TO That Could Have Been', 'TOW The Proposal' (their engagement) and two in 'TOW Monica and Chandler's Wedding (during their wedding vows).
- Birds of a Feather: Chandler and Monica manage to be this and Opposites Attract. He's relaxed, calm and commitment-phobic; she's energetic, uptight and looking for a serious relationship. However they both suffered difficult childhoods and are pretty neurotic. The key is that while their reactions are different, their issues are similar and so they can understand each other. (Which is very much Truth in Television). This conversation sums up their shared issues well:
Chandler: Is that why you became a chef? So that people would like you?
Monica: Oh, you really want to talk about getting people to like you, huh, funny man?
- Interestingly Monica's Second Love Pete was definitely Birds of a Feather. Like Monica he was a Competition Freak and The Determinator, which actually caused their break up, hinting Monica couldn't be with someone as stubborn and driven as she was. Her next and final boyfriend was Chandler who repeatedly demonstrated he was capable of stabilizing her.
- Ross and Julie, Ross and Charlie and even Ross and Emily are also this. (Contrasting with Rachel).
- Birthday Episode: Rachel has three birthdays celebrated, and in one both of her parents (who are going through a divorce) show up. To keep them from having to interact they split the party in two.
- In another Rachel turns thirty, the last of the group to do so. The episode is a mixture of everyone dealing with Rachel's current birthday and flashbacking to everyone else's thirtieth birthday parties.
- When Rachel gets a new job, Phoebe and Monica organise a surprise birthday party for her a month before her actual birthday, have a falling out over the organisation and it turns into a very weird cup-theme party... that also reveals everyone forgot about Chandler's birthday which is coming up much sooner than Rachel's.
- A birthday of Phoebe's involves her finding out she's actually a year older than she thought.
- One of Monica's has her getting drunk before appearing at her posh surprise party, that includes her parents with a camcorder.
- The gang go to a concert for Ross's birthday, and throw a party for Joey in Season 2.
- Emma's first birthday is also celebrated.
- The only Friend who misses out is Chandler.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
- One of Rachel's boyfriends (played by Ben Stiller) in season 3. He seems perfectly fine until someone or something pisses him off. Also Joey's first new roommate Janine who hates Chandler & Monica.
- Emily, Ross' 2nd ex-wife. Later on in her appearance, she became much more...not bitch per se, more along the lines of 'possessive extremist with a short temper'. Granted, she had reason for being not so innocent anymore (Ross said the wrong name at the wedding), but her 'demands' were unreasonable...
- Rachel also comes across like this, frequently manipulating Ross's girlfriends behind his back, forcing him to take all responsibility for their relationship problems and drawing all attention to herself.
- Phoebe, late in the series, especially in that episode where she and Monica try to break up and fire, respectively, a guy, but the second one to do so is the bitch. Monica rehires him but Phoebe doesn't take him back. She's also pretty horrible to Ross and Chandler (Monica's boyfriend and later husband) including introducing Monica to her "soulmate" while being well aware of Chandler's rampant insecurities.
- Blatant Lies: Ross says he's fine with Joey and Rachel going out. The way he has a mental breakdown, speaks in a very artificially happy voice and gets drunk the following evening tells that he's really not.
- Black Belt in Origami: At one point, Ross insists that he knows a martial arts technique called "Unagi." Rachel and Phoebe, however, know what the word actually means and spend much of the episode after making jokes about it.
- Blatant Lies: Phoebe's song "Two Of Them Kissed Last Night" about Betty (Rachel), Neil (Ross) and Loolie (Julie).
- Blind Alley: In " The One in Barbados Part 2", Ross and Charlie enter a room down the corridor while their pursuers continue down the hall.
- Boarding School: Chandler reveals he attended boarding school. The details aren't revealed, (apart from being all boys), but he doesn't make it sound like fun and it's hinted he was bullied.
- Bottle Episode: In a first season episode, the entire cast had to stay in one apartment. This eventually became a staple of the show.
- Bookends: The episode "The One with All the Haste" begins with Rachel angrily yelling at a man who sings right outside her window early in the morning. The episode ends with Joey singing along happily with the man, after the boys and girls have switched back apartments.
- 'TOW That Could Have Been' began with the gang at the coffee house together and ended with the alternate gang hanging out there, effectively answering Ross's opening question, "If all those things were different do you think we'd still be friends?"
- In fact the entire series starts with the gang hanging out at Central Perk and ends with them going to get coffee there.
- Season 5 began and ended with Ross getting married.
- Born Unlucky: Chandler and Monica have shades of this in early seasons: Both of their families neglected and/or emotionally abused them, despite their obvious efforts to please them and being the type of kids most parents would love to have. Their love lives are a mess and unlike the rest of the gang whose problems are often their fault. note they never do anything to cause their break ups: Both Chandler's serious girlfriends cheated on him and went off with someone else, while Monica's First Love didn't want children and her Second Love went crazy. Chandler is also ridiculed by everyone from random girls to his work colleagues and Monica is fired from her job for an innocent mistake, unemployed for along time and unjustly hated on by her new staff when she gets her dream job.
- Thankfully they lose this status after they fall in love in Season 5, as their perseverance results in a healthy fulfilling relationship, switching them firmly into Earn Your Happy Ending territory instead. In fact for the second half of the series, they're the characters who have their lives most sorted and are obviously content with where they are.
- Bow Chicka Wow Wow: Rachel from does this in the episode "The One With the Free Porn," apparently unaware of what she's singing. Eventually she asks what it is that's been in her head all day and is told it's the theme to Good Will Humping.
- Brain Bleach: Invoked in-universe.
- The Central Perk manager hates Phoebe's singing so much it makes him want to "push my finger through my eye, into my brain, and swirl it around."
- In the episode "The One with the Butt" where Joey gets a gig as Al Pacino's butt double, he goes into Monica's bathroom to put lotion on his rear end in preparation for the "part". Chandler comes in with the phone in his hand:
Chandler: Where's Joey? His mom's on the phone.
Monica: In the bathroom. I don't think you wanna go in there right now!
Chandler: Oh come on, we're roommates. (enters bathroom, runs out screaming) GAAAAAAH! MY EYES! MY EYES!
- In "The One Where Everyone Finds Out", Phoebe sees Chandler and Monica having sex, and screams the exact same line.
- In "The One with the Prom Video," Monica accidentally stumbles upon a tape of her parents having sex. In the later episode "The One Where Joey Moves Out", she unfortunately catches the live show.
- In a later season, Monica's dad walks in on Monica and Chandler.
- "The One With The Jellyfish" has everyone traumatized when Chandler had to pee on Monica after she got stung.
- In "The One with the Cake," Chandler uses the bathroom while Joey is trying to keep everyone from leaving the birthday party. When Phoebe realizes there is a window in the bathroom that he could escape from, she and Joey run into the bathroom and are disturbed when they see Chandler actually using the bathroom.
- Break-Up Bonfire: In an episode, Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel burn mementos of their exes when they find themselves all single on Valentine's Day and decide to do something to "cleanse" their bad luck. The firemen who attend when it inevitably gets out of control tell them that Valentine's Day is one of their busiest nights of the year, for exactly that reason.
- In Season 4, Rachel's crush, Joshua, has to buy a lot of new clothes as his ex-wife set all his old clothes on fire. He later reveals he keeps on buying clothes since he likes Rachel.
- Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Rachel and Ross go through sooooooooooooo many...
- Brick Joke / Call Back: Joey's "Southern" (read: Jamaican) accent
- When Joey brings in a crib to convince a pregnant Rachel to stay at his apartment, he has his stuffed penguin toy Huggsy as a stand-in for the baby, but balks when Rachel believes he's going to give it to the baby. When Rachel and Emma live with Joey, Emma takes a liking to Huggsy, which Joey has a big problem with.
- Ross accidentally says "Rachel" instead of "Emily" during his season 4 wedding. He and Rachel accidentally get married in the season 5 finale.
- In "The One The Morning After", as Ross and Rachel break up in the living room everyone else is stuck in the living room. Two seasons later, as the situation repeats (with Ross receiving a letter from Emily) it's revealed that Joey hid a survival kit under the bed in case that happened again.
- The Ichiban lipstick makes for another punchline near the end of "TOW Ross's Grant".
- In "TOW The Metaphorical Tunnel", Rachel is seen using the milk carton opener that Joey was demonstrating on an informercial during the cold open.
- In "The One with the Stoned Guy" from Series 1, Jon Lovitz plays a restaurant owner who likes to smoke pot. He later reappears as the same character in Series 9's "The One With the Blind Dates", where he reveals that he lost his business due to his drug habit.
- In "TOW Five Steaks and an Eggplant", the three who go to the Hootie & the Blowfish concert bump into a guy who Monica used to babysit, who asks her, "Were you one of the ones who fooled around with my dad?" The next day at Central Perk, when Monica relays the story, Rachel responds, "Oh yeah, I used to babysit him, how's his dad?"
- In the beginning of "The One with the Cop", Phoebe finds a police officer's badge in the coffee place and Chandler and Ross make the same lame joke about the coffee house not serving donuts, which nobody laughs at. At the end of the episode, when the police officer whose badge it belongs to tracks Phoebe down, he ask her out to dinner and promises not to just take her out for donuts. Chandler bursts out laughing, and when Rachel looks at him, perplexed as to why he's laughing at such a lame joke, he replies "He has a gun".
- Phoebe's pregnancy pants in the Season 8 Thanksgiving episode. Phoebe brings her pants over for Rachel, then points out that you can steal a watermelon while wearing them. Much later, after Joey is in the middle of eating an entire turkey, he leaves to change his pants and returns wearing the maternity pants.
- The Bro Code: Alluded to several times.
- Played for Laughs when Ross dates Chandler's ex-girlfriend Janice, and is worried he'll be angry. Chandler makes a big deal of forgiving him and makes him promise to do the same. (As he's secretly dating Monica at the time and is worried about Ross's reaction).
- They had a similar issue before, when Ross kisses Chandler's MOTHER (who was played by Morgan Fairchild).
- Played more seriously when Joey falls in love with Rachel and agonizes over Ross's reaction.
- Chandler falls hard for Joey's girlfriend Kathy. Would be normally ok, but Joey is serious about her too...
- Interestingly, Joey says he wouldn't have minded Chandler getting involved with Kathy if Chandler had spoken to him about it first.
- In a throwaway line early on, someone mentions that Monica had a crush on Joey when he first moved into the building. In Season 7's "TOW The Truth About London," we find out that The first time she slept with Chandler, Monica was looking for Joey when she went to Chandler's room.
- Brought Home the Wrong Kid: Double Subverted. In one episode, Joey and Chandler worry they've done this to Ben (they left him on the bus by accident as well) but it seemingly turns out to be the right kid in the end. After Ross cradles the baby after the audience has been convinced the baby seemingly is Ben, the diaper the baby is wearing reveals a "Property of State Department" stamp on it.
- Brutal Honesty:
- Rachel's sister Amy does this a lot. She wonders how come people dislike hearing that their babies look bad.
- In "The One With The Butt", everyone says non-committal positive-ish things about Joey's terrible play, except Chandler, who says "Awful play man, woah!". He's too excited about the beautiful girl who just agreed to go out with him to care about lying.
- Even Phoebe couldn't hide it.
Joey: Wow, an agency left me its card! Maybe they wanna sign me!
Phoebe: Based on this play? ...Based on this play!
- Buffy Speak: Phoebe to a certain extent:
''' It's my friends. They have a... liking problem. With you. In that they don't.
- Her brother even more so (he described his love for his fiancée as "being with her is like... so much better than not being with her, y'know")
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In "TOW the Rumor" Rachel's old high-school classmate Will (played by Brad Pitt) reveals that she was so mean to him in school that he founded the "I Hate Rachel Green Club". Rachel doesn't even remember him.
- But We Used a Condom:
- When Ross gets Rachel pregnant:
Ross: But we used a condom!
Rachel: Right, honey, but they are only 97% effective.
Ross: WHAT? They should put that on the box!
Rachel: They do!
Ross: NO THEY DON'T! (Storms off to his bedroom. Pause. Returns with a box of condoms in hand) WELL THEY SHOULD PUT IT IN HUGE BLOCK LETTERS!!!
- Made even funnier when Ross tells Joey and he tries to do some quick math about how many girls he's slept with, given 97% effectiveness each time... panic attack! And then he pulls a huge roll of condoms out of his pocket to check.
- Cain and Abel: Phoebe was revealed to be the twin sister of Recurring Character Ursula on Mad About You. On her appearances in this show, Ursula was conveniently made into a Man- eating Jerkass who left Phoebe to clean up after her mistakes.
- Rachel is the Abel to both of her sisters' Cain, moreso to Amy than to Jill, though.
- California Doubling: Averted with the London-set episodes; played straight with "The One In Barbados" (and the rest of the series).
- Call Back: "With or Without You" by U2 plays in the bar after Ross and Rachel go on a break and he glumly says he likes the song. He requested it on the radio for Rachel back in Season 2, to apologise for making the list about her (and it was supposed to play as both kissed for the first time, but ended up as only a Suspiciously Similar Song) And then he ends up dancing to it with Chloe, the girl from the Xerox place...
- Early in the series, Phoebe gives Rachel her "world's best oatmeal raisin cookies," from her grandmother's recipe. In Season 7, there's a subplot around the cookies.
- Monica's frustrations with everyone judging her for dating her ex-boyfriend Richard's son in "The One With Chandler In A Box" boil out and she talks about Ross marrying a lesbian, Rachel leaving Barry at the altar, Phoebe falling in love with a gay ice dancer (The One With Phoebe's Husband), Joey accidentally throwing a girl's wooden leg into a fire (The One With Phoebe's Ex-Partner), and Chandler living in a box.
- Season 7's "The One With the Cheap Wedding Dress" features several of these. Joey and Ross find themselves fighting over the same woman, and - in an effort to make the other look bad in front of her - bring up various embarrassing moments from the earlier seasons of the show. These included:
- Joey's character on Days of Our Lives getting a brain transplant from a woman in "The One With Joey's New Brain" 2 episodes ago.
- Ross getting divorced 3 times.
- Joey eating the food off of one of his date's plates while she was in the bathroom.
- Ross' first wife being a lesbian.
- Joey serving as a model for a poster about gonorrhea in Season 1's "The One Where the Underdog Gets Away".
- Ross living with his monkey Marcel in Season 1.
- Joey getting locked in a TV Cabinet in Season 3's "The One With Frank Jr." and Season 4's "The One With the Cat".
- Call Forward: A flashback has Ross proudly tell his parents that his new girlfriend is really athletic; she's on the lacrosse team and the golf teamnote . Yes, Carol "plays for both teams"...
- This show has loads, especially in their first flashback episode: Phoebe mentions that "cute naked guy" was starting to put on some weight, Ross is excited about Carol befriending "a Susan something" and encourages her to have a "girl's night", Chandler says he doesn't wanna have a roommate handsome enough to relegate him (Chandler) as "the funny one", Monica runs into Rachel and then bets she's never gonna see her again, the gang (then consisting of four of the six main characters) comment on how the bar is closing to become a coffee house and wonder where are they going to hang out...
- In "The One With All The Thanksgivings", there's a flashback where a teenage Monica has a crush on Chandler and makes him some mac 'n' cheese for Thanksgiving dinner. Afterward she asks if he liked it, and he somewhat sarcastically remarks, "Yeah, it was great. You should be a chef." Monica giggles and says, "Okay!"
- Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Played with in "The One After The Superbowl Part 2" when Chandler's date invites him to the bathroom for sex, he excitedly states "I'm going to the bathroom now!"
- The show featured Cups, a card game invented by Chandler to transfer money to Joey without him recognising it as charity. Beginner's Luck is a vitally important feature.
- Joey auditioned to be a host of a quiz show Bamboozle! which involves "Wicked Wango Cards" and "The Wheel Of Mayhem". This actually becomes a plot point in-show, as the studio execs want to change it to a more conventional quiz show because it's too complicated for the audience to follow.
Joey: Well, what's complicated? You spin the Wheel Of Mayhem to go up the Ladder Of Chance, you go past the Mud Hut through the Rainbow Ring to get to the Golden Monkey, you pull his tail and boom, you're in Paradise Pond!
- Phoebe Ball, which Phoebe makes up and names on a whim, and which appears to consist of Phoebe asking questions and arbitrarily awarding points for the answer closest to the description she was thinking of. This being Phoebe, the others gets frustrated after one round.
- Chandler and Joey, as the typical "boys will be boys" characters, have invented a number of their own games, including "Hammer Darts", of which we know nothing beyond what can be intuited from the name, and which cost them their insurance and part of the wall; and "Fireball", which involves oven gloves, lighter fluid and a tennis ball. Or better yet, a bowling ball and acetylene torch for Ultimate Fireball!
- Camp Gay: The waiter played by Sam Pancake. Not only does he speak in this manner, but when Joey and Rachel were hugging (and being the last customers in the restaurant), the waiter cynically stated he thought one of them was dying, and hoping it was Rachel. When looked at strangely by a colleague, he said, "What? The guy is really cute!" Another time Ross is stood up by his blind date and gets offered free crab cakes, to which he offhandedly remarks: "I was hoping to get some sex tonight.", and the waiter responding with an interested "Ooh."
- Can't Believe I Said That: In "The One With The Blackout", Chandler gets stuck in an ATM vestibule with Victoria's Secret model Jill Goodacre. She offers Chandler gum and at first he turns it down. Then he realizes that he shouldn't have and tells her:
Chandler: You know, on second thought, gum would be perfection. (Thinking) Gum would be perfection? Gum would be perfection. Could have said, "Gum would be nice," or "I'll have a stick," but no no no no no. For me, gum is perfection. I loathe myself.
- Also in The One With The Holiday Armadillo, Monica says "Okay Ben you stay here and Santa, The Armadillo and I will have a little talk in the Kitchen. There's a sentence I never thought I'd say".
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Ross and Rachel. If they're with other people, they want each other: If they're together they argue constantly and break up. Rachel is especially bad as at one point she manipulated Ross into breaking up with his current girlfriend and then refused to get back together with him unless he took all the blame for a past breakup. (He didn't.)
- Captain Morgan Pose : Phoebe's third season Boyfriend of the Week, Robert, has a penchant for this. He also tends to wear loose-fitting shorts without underwear.
- Captain Obvious: The show has this a lot. Dim-witted Joey is often the one being densely obvious, and Chandler the one answering humorously.
- Casting Gag: In The One with Two Parts: Part 2, George Clooney and Noah Wyle play a pair of doctors, just like they did (at the time the episode first aired) in ER.
- Cat Fight: Monica fights with Rachel, and later Rachel and her sister Amy in "TOW Rachel's Other Sister".
Chandler: That fight was totally arousing.
- Rachel and Monica in "The One After The Superbowl". Phoebe, who is a much more skilled fighter, manages to subdue both of them.
Phoebe: You know what, if we were in prison, you guys would be like my bitches.
- Catch Phrase:
- "Noooooo", Rachel
- "I know!" Monica
- "Oh no." Phoebe
- "Hi." Ross
- "How YOU doin'?" Joey
- "Oh... My.. God" by Janice.
- "We WERE ON A BREAK!!!!!" Ross (though Rachel said the line the first time)
- This video has a nice compilation.
- Cats Are Mean: Rachel once bought a hairless sphinx cat that scratches and hisses at her, because her grandmother had one who was nice.
- Averted with the cat Phoebe believes her mother reincarnated into.
- Caught on the Jumbotron: This happens when Mike tries to propose to Phoebe.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Monica walks in on Chandler having some "alone time" in Oklahoma and mistakenly assumes that he is turned on by shark porn when he quickly changes the channel on the TV from (normal) porn to a shark movie.
- A much more well-known example where Ross wears a pair of tight leather pants to a date's house and cannot get them back up after pulling them down in her bathroom. Joey recommends he rub lotion and powder over his legs and Ross gets caught by his date.
- Celeb Crush:
- One crazy woman not only has a crush on Joey, but actually thinks he is a doctor called Drake Ramoray, a character he plays in Show Within a Show Days of Our Lives.
- Rachel also had a Celeb Crush on Joey in "The One That Could've Been".
- Monica has hots for the actor Jean-Claude Van Damme who plays himself as an actor in a film being made in New York. The gang is allowed to be on the set because they are friends with Marcel the monkey who used to belong to Ross. Rachel has guts to go to talk to Jean-Claude and he finds her cute and asks her out, and Monica thus thinks Rachel stole him from her.
- In the one with the laminated list, Chandler introduces the concept of having an agreement with your partner about being able to have sex with five celebrities of your choice, should you have a chance to score.
- Chandler's girlfriend Janice has the magician David Copperfield among her freebies.
- Chandler's own list includes Kim Basinger, Cindy Crawford, Halle Berry, Yasmine Bleeth, and Jessica Rabbit.
- Rachel promptly makes her selection on the spot: Chris O’Donnel, John F. Kennedy Jr., Daniel Day Lewis, Sting, and Parker Stevenson.
- Ross spends the whole episode trying to come up with a perfect list, and his final version involves Uma Thurman, Winona Ryder, Elizabeth Hurley, Michelle Pfieffer, and Dorothy Hamill. He wanted to include Isabella Rosselini, but the guys convinced him that she's too international, so his odds would be very low. Too bad Rosselini did appeared in their favorite coffee place; however, Rachel allowed him to hit on her despite being out of the list.
- The concept of the list comes back as a Brick Joke when Ross stops at the coffeehouse to look for Chandler. He runs into his parents, who discuss Judy adding Gunther to her "list"...and Jack says Rita Moreno is on his.
- When Rachel and Phoebe discuss pregnancy hormones, Phoebe says she remembers trying to steal a cardboard cutout of Evander Holyfield when she was in her fourth month. At the end we find out she did steal it and she offers it to Rachel. However, her affection for the cutout is too strong and she cannot bring herself to lend it to her. Quite an example of in-universe Perverse Sexual Lust.
- Celebrity Paradox: Lots of it, given the amount of guest stars.
- Ross, Joey, and Chandler are die-hard fans of Die Hard. However, when they meet Paul Stevens (played by Bruce Willis), he doesn't seem to remind them of anyone.
- In earlier episodes, Ross has Winona Ryder on his "list," but when Rachel's sorority sister shows up, nobody says, "Wow, you look just like Winona Ryder."
- Ross also considers Susan Sarandon for the list. She also turned up in a later episode, not playing herself.
- Then Chandler has Jessica Rabbit on his list. Kathleen Turner, who voiced Jessica Rabbit, plays his transgender dad.
- Also in the episode "The One With the Princess Leia Fantasy", Chandler talks about women he has mental images of during sex, mentioning Elle Macpherson. Elle Macpherson starred in Season 6 as Janine, Joey's roommate.
- Jurassic Park is mentioned quite a few times, due to Ross being a paleontologist, yet Jeff Goldblum shows up as a guest in one episode, also not playing himself.
- In the second season episode "The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies", Chandler mentions an ex-girlfriend who thought that 'Sean Penn' was the capital of Cambodia. Sean Penn appeared in two episodes of the eighth season, playing neither himself nor the capital of Cambodia.
- Ross mentions Magnum P.I. in an Orphaned Punchline during "TOW No One's Ready"; of course, Tom Selleck had his run as Richard in the previous season.
- In "TOW Ross Can't Flirt" Joey's grandmother mentions that she knows Sam Waterston from "Capricorn One". Also starring there is Elliott Gould, known on Friends as Jack Geller.
- Character Death:
- Downstairs neighbor Mr. Heckles (who had appeared in five total episodes) in Season 2.
- Rachel's boss Joanna (who had appeared in three episodes) in Season 4
- Joey's agent, Estelle (who had appeared in ten episodes) in season 10.
- The chick and the duck.
- No, they went to live on a farm....
- Character Development: At the beginning, Chandler had serious issues with commitment, which made him incapable of holding a relationship. He eventually got rid of them during his relationship with Monica. Rachel started out as spoiled, selfish and somewhat incompetent; she eventually became a successful, independent career woman and an able mother.
- Character Filibuster: Joey talks about the wonders of thongs in the Cold Open of "The one with the Thanksgiving flashbacks". He's still talking about it by the end of the opening credits.
- Chekhov's Gunman: "The girl from the Xerox place" is mentioned in multiple episodes starting in the second season. Later, Ross sleeps with the girl, ending his and Rachel's relationship.
- Childhood Friends: Monica and Rachel.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
- Phoebe's biological mother, played by Teri Garr. Discovering and reconciling with her had been a major point of development in Phoebe's life, but after a few appearances, she never came up again.
- Phoebe's biological father, Frank Buffay, after his one-shot appearance. Phoebe spent literally years trying to track him down over the course of multiple seasons. Whole subplots of certain episodes basically revolved around it. Then they finally meet, and after an emotional (if awkward) reunion, he never appears again.
- After Emma was born, Ross seems to forget he has a son and Ben is last seen in Season Eight, and even then with Phoebe rather than Ross. Carol is last seen in Season Seven, and Susan disappears in Season Six. Ben's disappearance was lampshaded in 'The One Where No One Proposes': Ross' father, Jack, is looking at Emma and says "look at her, my first grandchild", when Ross asks about Ben, he says "Well of course Ben, I meant my first granddaughter!" then turn to Monica making a "I totally forgot about him!" face. The fact that they never show or address Ben meeting his new sister is pretty egregious.
- Max Wright, from Alf and The Norm Show, played Central Perk's manager Terry in two early episodes. The character was intended to be a father figure the characters could go to regularly, but the writers decided to scrap him in the end, elevating Gunther as Central Perk's main figurehead from that point on.
- Somewhat true for the chick and the duck, disappearing in season six. The duck gets one mention in season seven, but never again. Though we do learn what happened, several seasons later.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: Chandler's an ex-smoker, but can be seen lighting up again in particularly stressful situations.
- Circumcision Angst: An inverse example. Joey auditions for the role of an Italian immigrant in a movie that involves a tasteful nude scene with a Jewish girl. The character specifically points out that it's the first time she's ever with a man who isn't circumcised, so naturally the actor who portrays him can't be either. However, Joey is, but he stupidly says he isn't just to get a callback. Monica helps him fashion a substitute out of Silly Putty, and it all goes great until he gets to the callback...
Joey: "That's...never happened before."
- Class Reunion
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Season 9 ends with Ross and Charlie as well as Joey and Rachel hooking up with each other. These pairings were preceded by a long buildup to make the romances seem feasible, but during early season 10 the writers summarily and abruptly break up both couples to make room for the eventual Rachel and Ross reunion in the series finale. With Rachel and Joey, it turns out they're Better as Friends, and Charlie gets back together with an Old Flame, so everyone gets a tidy ending.
- Clip Show: The show is the master of the clip show. The first one was in Season 4, episode 21, where Ross's decision whether or not to invite Rachel and her decision whether or not to attend are accompanied by flashbacks of every memorable scene in their relationship over four seasons. There are about a total of four new scenes, period, including the two bookends.
- Subverted in "The one where everyone turns 30" which showed clips of what the gang did when they each turned 30.
- "The One With Christmas in Tulsa" in Series 9 played with this: half of the episode was a clip show, but the rest was new footage, and contained a very plot-relevant development. Namely Chandler quitting his job.
- Phoebe Buffay is probably the most well-known example for a mass-media audience. For instance, she doesn't believe in evolution or gravity, and was convinced that her deceased mother's spirit returned in a cat, she was possessed and once blamed Ross for something he did in a dream. The matter of the cat was slightly subverted in the end, because she stated she'd rather believe her mother was in a cat, because she had nothing else to remember her by.
- Rachel's sister Amy. She's not able to remember her niece's name (she keeps calling her Ella instead of Emma) and thinks "Phoebe" is just a weird noise, not able to realize Phoebe is telling her her name. She keeps confusing Ross with a guy who sells fast-food. She also starts a business as fashion advisor and designer for babies and is surprised that parents don't like hearing that their babies are ugly.
- While quite sane in the first few seasons, Joey ends up fitting this trope in later seasons. His intelligence seemed to drop off and he was very particular about food, not sharing it with anybody and eating quite excessively.
- Jack Gellar can be something of one as well.
- Chandler's brief replacement for Joey, Eddie. Eddie watches Chandler sleep, loves shrinking fruit, and keeps a goldfish cracker as a pet. The only way Chandler is able to get him to leave is by pretend Eddie never lived there and Joey was there all along.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Chandler to Joey, to the point of taking care of him as if he was his child. In later seasons, Monica is this to Joey as well.
- Phoebe to her younger brother, Frank Jr.
- Rachel to her younger sister, Jill.
- Mike to Phoebe, to some extent.
- Clucking Funny: Chandler and Joey keep a chick and a duck — as their pets. They got the chick when s/he was a cute yellow ball of fluff, but little Yasmine grew up into a nice rooster. Hilarity Ensued, many times. One guy who dated Rachel had a serious bird phobia, though, and he did not find them cute, funny or mildly disgusting. He was genuinely scared of them.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Erika. When Monica tells her she and Chandler decided to name one of the twins Erika, she assumes it's just a coincidence, as well as Joey reacting the same way later, turning what could have been a heartwarming moment into a funny one.
- The nurse, after being told that Rachel has hurt her ankle trying to take down the Christmas light. "You still have your Christmas lights up?!"
- While listing the craziest place they'd had sex, Joey says his was in the second floor reading room of the New York City library. Monica reacts with "Oh my god! What were you doing in a library?"
- In "The One with Ross's Wedding", when Rachel realizes that she still loves Ross, and the rest of the group knew that, she asks Phoebe, why didn't they tell her:
Well, because we thought you knew!! It's so obvious! God, that would be like telling Monica, "Hey, you like things clean", or telling Joey
, "Hey, you're gay." Rachel:
Oh, please! She's always got a broom in her hand!
- Phoebe's actually fairly common for this trope. In "The One with the Tea Leaves", she has to change all her shopping habits to avoid a stalker, leading to this conversation:
Phoebe: I also have to find a new video store, a new bank, new adult book store, a new grocery store.
Phoebe: (slowly) A new g-r-o-c-e-r-y store.
- Another Phoebe example is in "The One with all the Candy", when she tells that she never had a bike as a child, while the girl across the street had a great one:
Monica: Did the girl ever let you ride it?
Phoebe: No! But she gave me the box that it came in. It had a picture of the bike on the front. So I would sit on it and my step-dad would drag me around the backyard.
Ross: That is so unfair!
Phoebe: Not really, I got to drag him around too!
- Joey is prone to these a lot. For example in one episode, he asks Ross a series of questions (he learnt from Phoebe) and he's gonna answer them quickly. Not realizing he has to alter them, they come out wrong.
Ross: ...Dude, you are sick.
Joey: Oh yeah, I forgot you had the whole Rachel thing.
- In "TOW Rachel's Other Sister", Ross and Rachel are visited by Rachel's sister Amy, who is self-absorbed and very rude. When Rachel mentions Ross has a Ph.D, Amy thinks she means something else and leaves the room to talk on the phone, and Rachel can't stand having her in their apartment.
Rachel: God, she's unbelievable!
Ross: I know! I mean, a Ph.D is just as good as an MD.
- College Is High School Part 2: When Ross delivers Girl Scout Cookies to the NYU dorms, they refer to him as "Cookie Dude!"
- Also, most of the students at NYU (where Ross eventually works as a college professor) seem unusually immature for college students, let alone students at a school as prestigious and selective as NYU.
- Comic Role Play: In the episode "The One with... The Stoned Guy", Ross doesn't know how to talk dirty to his new girlfriend, so he practices with Joey, leading to a Ho Yay Not What It Looks Like moment when Chandler walks in on them.
- Commitment Issues: It's one of Chandler's defining traits. His parents had a messy divorce, and he's unable to trust, commit and be happy. He had struggles picking up women but when he succeeded, often broke things up over minor issues. He dated Janice who was nice enough, but a fairly insufferable woman who he stayed with because he thought he couldn't do better and that she was his only chance for a long-term relationship. (And she eventually chose another man over him). He also dated Kathy who he was crazy about but lied and cheated on him, making him even more scared of falling in love. He freaked out several times that he's destined to die alone. He later got together with one of his best friends Monica and they had a stable, loving relationship, but he still had several crises when he either got cold feet or thought that a minor argument means they are breaking up for good. Thankfully because they were so close before she faithfully reassures him about his fears, refuses to let him screw up and bolt, and they end up Happily Married.
- Compressed Abstinence: The episode "The One With All The Resolutions", where among other things, Chandler tries and fails to give up sarcasm.
- Compressed Vice: In "TOW The Thumb". When the others berate Chandler for his smoking, he rattles off a list of their annoying habits that he puts up with, such as Joey's knuckle-cracking, Phoebe chewing her hair and Monica snorting when she laughs. None of them ever came up before, or after. The one about Ross overpronouncing every word applies, though.
- Ridiculously played straight with Chandler's shyness and inability to even talk to attractive girls in "The One With The Cheap Wedding Dress"(where Joey and Ross try to date the same girl). In the entire series preceding that point, although he was usually unlucky in love in the long run, he'd been shown as an admirably competent pickup artist capable of striking up conversations and dispensing hilarious off-the-cuff witticisms with attractive women in almost any situation. He occasionally struck out, but he'd certainly never had a problem talking to any of them.
- An episode that shows less respect for continuity comes in the Season Five New Year's episode where Rachel suddenly turns into a gossip who can't shut up about her coworkers' dirty laundry. The whole thing turns out to be a plot device to launch us into a Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere plot as Rachel resolves to stop gossiping, and then immediately discovers the unkeepable secret that Chandler and Monica are doin' it.
- Another one where Rachel is trying to teach Joey how to sail a boat, and she becomes a very bossy, condescending, overbearing know-it-all that hates not being listened to (though it's implied this is just about boats) in The Stinger where Joey and her have reconciled, Joey has a similar vice where she's dropping sandwich toppings off of her lunch, despite Joey having been shown (earlier or later) no qualms with dropping food or eating food off of the floor.
- One season four episode has Joey suddenly start snoring for no immediately apparent reason, much to Chandler's annoyance.
- Confession Deferred
- Confronting Your Imposter: In one episode, Phoebe found a lost police badge, which she then starts flashing around to intimidate people. Eventually she tries to pull it on a real cop and tries to bluff her way through his questions, like which precinct she works at. After a while he seems to believe her, then he asks "So where did you find my badge?".
- Congruent Memory: Joey practices for a commercial by repeating, "Mmmm, soup," using tomato soup as his prop. When filming, they use noodle soup, and he is unable to get the simple "Mmmm, soup." line right.
- Continuity Snarl: In a long-running show, there are bound to be things that don't add up.
- One episode centres on Ross moping because it's the anniversary of his first having sex with Carol (and also losing his virginity). Monica is the one who first remembers, which is Squicky but Ross says there were few people he didn't tell. In the very next episode, Monica says the line "Wow, my brother didn't even tell me when he lost his virginity."
- Chandler and Rachel are shown interacting in Thanksgiving flashbacks to their teen years, and in a flashback to a few months before the series began, and yet in the pilot they're introduced as total strangers. Ross gets a "You remember..." before his name, as Chandler ought to as well.
- In one of the early episodes, Phoebe is talking to a professional guitar player, Stephanie, and knows the real names of the chords. Several seasons later, when she was teaching Joey how to play a guitar, she appeared not to know the real names, and instead used her own made-up names (like Bear Claw).
- The gang's ages also change throughout the seasons. In Season 1, they're said to be 26 or 27, but flashback dates of them as teenagers and their thirtieth birthdays in Season 6-7 would make them 24 or 25 in Season 1. Apparently the writers lopped a few years off their ages somewhere along the way.
- Continuity Nod: In an early episode Chandler mentions he used to have a "Flock of Seagulls" haircut. In a S10 flashback Chandler is seen with a "Flock of Seagulls" haircut
- In The One with Phoebe's Ex Partner, when playing "Smelly Cat", Phoebe sings in the same way as the cover artist from her music video, shown in The One Where Eddie Moves In.
- In the 5th season, Monica is noted to give horrible massages. In a later 5th season episode, she gives Phoebe an equally painful handshake.
- In the very first scene of the show, Chandler says that his mother never calls him. Few episodes later we find out that she's a famous writer and informs her son about upcoming visits through tv interviews.
- When Marcel the monkey is introduced in, he's sitting on Ross' neck and Chandler remarks "Hey, that monkey's got a Ross on his ass." Several seasons later, when Ross has a strange growth on his posterior region of which even the doctors don't know what it is, Joey suggests that it's something new that might be called for him as in "Poor guy, he's got a Ross."
- A Season 5 flashback reveals Chandler made fun of Monica when she was Formerly Fat. S6 has her saying he wouldn't date her if she was fat (an Alternate Universe episode proves her wrong) and S7 has her mentioning how he mocked her and him saying he's matured and will love her no matter what.
- Convenience Store Gift Shopping: The show loves this trope.
- In season two, Joey and Chandler get caught up before buying their gifts, and end up shopping at a gas station on Christmas Eve. Rachel gets wiper blades, even though she doesn't have a car (but they give an odorizer so she can feel like she's inside one), Phoebe gets a package of toilet seat covers, Monica gets a box of condoms, and Ross gets two cans of pop (the last two trade each other's gifts...).
- Monica and Rachel are throwing a baby shower for Phoebe. None of the usual (cliched) gift ideas will work, since Phoebe is being a surrogate for her brother, so everybody shows up with things that Phoebe can't use until after the birth, such as leather pants and tequila. What with pregnancy mood swings, this doesn't end well.
- In one episode, Chandler and Monica agreed to make each other presents for Valentine's Day. Monica ended up giving Chandler a sock puppet Phoebe had made. Chandler gave Monica a mix tape he had lying around in his closet (and it transpired that the mix tape had been made for him by Janice for an earlier birthday).
- And on one occasion, Chandler gave the group letters saying, "A donation has been made in your name to the New York City ballet." Bad enough on their own, at least for someone who doesn't care to support the ballet, but the act earns double trope points due to the fact that he took the letters from the Christmas bonus pile at work.
- At Emma's first birthday party, Joey didn't realize they needed to bring presents. He improvises, and does a 'dramatic' reading of one of Emma's favorite books. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but he earns bonus points for moving everyone to tears.
- Joey's gold bracelet he bought for Chandler, aka "The Woman Repeller".
- Joey's birthday present for Cathy: it's a pen AND a clock.
- Cool Aunt: Rachel is delighted when Ross' young son Ben starts calling her his 'Cool Aunt Rachel' and being thrilled to see her.
- When Phoebe is bummed about having to give up her brother's babies after giving birth to them (as a surrogate), Rachel and Monica cheer her up by telling her that she'll be "cool aunt Phoebe".
- Cool Old Guy: Richard.
- Corpsing: In the scenes where Ross is playing music in the apartment (his keyboard, and then later in the show, his bagpipes), Jennifer Aniston is visibly trying to hold it together, putting her hand over her mouth as casually as she can. In the bagpipes scene, she has a tougher time once Phoebe "joins in" with his rendition of "Celebration" ("EEEEEE! EE-EEEE! EEE! EEE!....E-E-EEEEE!")
- The Couch: Subverted in that the classic audience-facing couch setup is actually in the coffee house, while the couch in Monica's apartment is perpendicular to the audience facing the TV on the right wall, and the guys' apartment sports two recliners, faced perpendicularly to the TV on the left. The reason for this may have been that unlike virtually all other sitcoms, Friends usually has us see the characters' television screens while they're watching them, particularly because this often involved Joey. Though Chandler and Joey's apartment usually had two chairs and for a season a kayak.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Played for Laughs. Ross was this way with Rachel and, to a lesser extent, Emily. Chandler had a bit of this with Kathy as well, and Monica whenever Richard is brought up.
- Deconstructed later on with Ross as his irrational jealousy leads to him and Rachel breaking up. Emily becomes this in a much less funny way. And Chandler's jealousy drives to Cathy to sleeping with her co-star. Plays out better with Chandler and Monica, as he explains he's worried about Richard because she loves him more than Chandler and Monica quickly asserts that Chandler has never been second best to her and he's more important than Richard.
- Crazy-Prepared: During an episode, half the characters are trapped in Rachel's room for most of the night without any food. A later episode shows that Joey had planted a box of food and games in that room in case it ever happened again. That box also included condoms because, as he put it:
Joey: We don't know how long we're gonna be in here. We may have to repopulate the earth.
Chandler: And condoms are the way to do that...
- In another episode where Chandler and Rachel fight over a slice of cheesecake that fell on the floor, Joey suddenly walks in. Seeing both of his friends kneeling over the cheesecake on the floor, he pulls out a fork from his shirt pocket and joins them!
Joey: What're we having?
- Joey and Chandler keep the chopsticks "for no real reason" after they order Chinese takeaway. They later use them to fashion a poking device to stir the Ugly Naked Guy when they think he could be dead.
- Cringe Comedy: From time to time, and usually at Ross's expense.
- Crosscast Role: Chandler's father (who is either a transvestite or transsexual; the show was never clear) played by Kathleen Turner (voice of Jessica Rabbit).
- Crossover: With Mad About You, somewhat, as in a few eps Ursula can be found as the Buchmans' regular waitress, much to their dismay.
- There was an actual crossover when the MAY characters appeared in the coffee shop, mistook Phoebe for Ursula, and, assuming Ursula had been (rightly) fired there and hired here, tried to order coffee from her.
- There was also at least one with The Single Guy.
- A more straight example would be the crossover with Caroline in the City in the episode "The One With The Baby On The Bus". Caroline meets Chandler and Joey on the street and mistakes them for a gay couple. The same night that episode aired, Chandler appeared in an episode of Caroline.
- Then there was NBC's "Blackout Thursday," in which the characters on Mad About You caused a citywide blackout, followed by the characters on Friends and Madman of the People dealing with the aftermath. Notably, Seinfeld didn't join in as its script for the week had been written long before.
- Cry into Chest: Monica to Chandler in Season 1 after her Mom says that she's never going to get married or have children, (which she desperately wants). He also offered her a Fall Back Marriage Pact earlier in the episode. (This was when they were Just Friends).
- Crying Indian: In one episode, the characters are stranded at a rest stop. Chandler throws his empty pack of cigarettes on the ground. When scolded, he replies, "I thought maybe if I littered, that crying Indian might come along and save us."
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Simultaneously subverted and lampshaded. Chandler's been handcuffed to a chair. Upon being released he does this. Rachel asks if it hurts. He responds that it doesn't, but people always do it in the movies.
- Damned by Faint Praise:
- The characters argue over what faint praise they could offer Joey's awful T.V. show "Mac And C.H.E.E.S.E": "The lighting was O.K."
- They do the same thing a few seasons prior with his performance as Sigmund Freud in "Freud! The Musical": (in response to Joey's mock-German accent) "All of your 'w's' were 'v's'."
- Another one had Ross promising to play rugby. Rachael reassured him that he was the toughest palaeontologist that she knew.
- Dance of Romance: Monica and Chandler have one off-screen when Chandler realizes Monica is the woman he "wants to dance all his dances with."
- Dark and Troubled Past: PHOEBE.
- Her father leaves.
- Her birth-mother gives her up.
- Her step-father goes to prison.
- Her mother commits suicide.
- She lives on the streets at the age of 14.
- She loses contact with her bitch sister, Ursula.
- Darker and Edgier: The middle of season three (roughly from "TOW Rachel Quits" to "TOT Morning After").
- Dating Do-Si-Do: Played with. Almost all of the straight, non-incest pairings had a Ship Tease, though most were Played for Laughs, and almost all the characters have kissed each other. But only three pairs (Ross/Rachel, Monica/Chandler and Joey/Rachel) were treated seriously and actually happened. Given the show ran for ten years, the writers did pretty well at not having the characters constantly date each other.
- Dating Service Disaster: A variation happens to Chandler on at least two occasions (once it was a blind date, the other time they met online), both times with his ex-girlfriend Janice. (However, on the second time, he's not upset about it, and they start a relationship).
- Dawson Casting: In-universe. Joey tries to pull this off in order to land a part for a 19-year-old character. Everyone else calls him on how ridiculous it would be, and that's before Joey puts on a beanie and Knicks jersey, pulls his boxers up to his stomach, and talks ("Sup with the wack PlayStation sup!").
Joey: Come on, am I 19 or what?!
Chandler: Yes, on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the DUMBEST a person can look, you are definitely 19!
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Chandler. In fact, one episode had Chandler's friends make a bet with him saying that he couldn't last a week of not making any smart assed comments. Chandler clearly strains his brain to resist from being sarcastic and it didn't help that his friends unintentionally (or maybe on purpose) do things that would make Chandler normally be snarky. In the end, Chandler gave up and let loose what could possibly be the most Badass Snarkfest in the history of Badass Snarkfests. Chandler felt relieved afterwards.
Chandler: I can't take it any more! So you win, okay? Pheebs? Flying a jet? Better make it a spaceship so that you can get back to your home planet! And Ross, phone call for you today-Tom Jones, he wants his pants back! And Hornswoggle? What? Are you dating a character from "Fraggle Rock"? Ahhhhhhhhhh.
- Rachel also becomes this around the beginning of the fourth season.
- Ross also proves to be quite the snarker sometimes. In fact, one particular standout sequence has Ross actually outsnark Chandler, as Chandler makes a typical crack about all his failed marriages, only for Ross to turn it around and mock Chandler's current unemployment, leading Chandler to cry, "What's wrong with you? You know I can only dish it out!"
- Making Chandler a Snark Glass Cannon?
- Monica also counts, though she's more subtle about it.
Monica: (Ross is talking) "Oh great, another dinosaur story. When will those become extinct?"
- Deconfirmed Bachelor: Chandler. At the beginning of the series he has serious problems with committment. Then he falls in love with Monica, and they stay together for the rest of the series. Deconstructed as before this he did want committment but was scarred by his parents divorce and hurt whenever he tried to committ. Ironically he turns out to be better at serious relationships that casual dating. He also states Monica made him happier than he'd ever been before.
- Denser and Wackier: The protagonists had hardly normal lives. But at a certain point, everything they faced was increasingly off kilter (Monica dates a billionaire who wants to be an MMA fighter! Ross gets fired due to a sandwich! Chandler is mistaken as masturbating to sharks!).
- This was a deliberate decision on the writers' part. After witnessing how dramatic the Ross/Rachel breakup was in season three, they vowed to never take Friends in such a dark or serious direction ever again. They gradually made the show sillier and more cartoonish.
- Depending on the Writer: While mostly this happened with Chandler, how okay the guys were with In Touch with His Feminine Side or gay innuendo/moments varied wildly from episode to episode.
- Derailing Love Interests:
- After Chandler moved in with Monica, Joey's new roommate was a woman to whom he was attracted and eventually got together with. Then, she inexplicably turned out to be unable to stand Chandler and Monica, causing Joey to break up with her and her moving out.
- Paolo, Rachel's boyfriend in Season 1. Introduced as a dumb, but harmless guy who enjoyed being with Rachel....Then he randomnly became a Jerk Ass who tried to cheat on her. This was to make way for the Ross/Rachel relationship.
- Repeated nine seasons later with Charlie, Ross's girlfiend. She seemed pleasant, intellectual and well-matched with him. Out of the blue she cheated on Ross with her ex-boyfriend right in front of him. This was to accomodate another Ross/Rachel hook-up for the end of the series.
- In a similar case, Kathy, Joey and then Chandler's girlfriend in Season 4. While she did kiss Chandler, while she was with Joey, it was portrayed sympathetically as they'd genuinley fallen in love, while she and Joey were very casual. Then she cheated on Chandler with another guy, leaving him devastated and spiralling into depression for the next few episodes. Unfortunately, the most logical explanation is she was always a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, who got bored of guys, cheated on them and moved on.
- Barry, Rachel's fiancee from before the series. Initially he was a nice, but boring guy who she left at the altar because she didn't love him. Later its revealed he was a Smug Snake cheated on with her best friend throughout their engagement.
- Pete Becker in Season 3. He started as a sweet, smart Dogged Nice Guy who went to great lengths to win over Monica. Then he turns into a pig-headed, Competition Freak who picks wrestling over her. Could be explained, by his Dogged Nice Guy, Determinator personality extending to all areas of his life, and once he'd 'won' Monica, he got bored and moved onto a new challenge.
- Specifically subverted when Richard returns in Season 6. When he asks Monica to leave Chandler for him he's portrayed as the Nice Guy he's always been: Charming, intelligent and, in Chandler's eyes at least, a much better prospect. Except... Monica doesn't love him anymore, she loves Chandler and there isn't anything he can do about it. This actually makes her choice to pick Chandler much more heartwarming, as it wasn't she chose him because she didn't have a better option, but because he's the person she wants to be with.
- Devoted to You: Gunther, Ross and later Joey to Rachel.
- Diabolus ex Machina: In "The One Where They're Going To Party," Rachel is hoping for a promotion at Bloomingdale's but gets screwed over by her boss Joanna. Joanna later shows remorse and promises to create a new position to promote Rachel to. Before she gets a chance to fill out the paperwork, however, she gets run over by a cab.
- Did You Just Have Sex?: In "The One With Phoebe's Husband", Ross was dancing down the street and was called out on it by an old lady: "Well, somebody got some last night". He gleefully shouts back "twice!"
- In the pilot, Monica has just been with Paul the Wine Guy, and her co-worker calls her on why she's smiling all the time. As Rachel said earlier, "It looks like you slept with a hanger in your mouth!"
- In "The One After Ross Says Rachel" when Phoebe sees Chandler and Monica for the first time since their trip to London, where the two hooked up, she immediately yells out "You had sex!" to which the two start sputtering and trying to deny it. Phoebe says to Chandler, "Well, obviously not YOU. I meant Monica." Monica then denies it as well. In a rare subversion, Phoebe accepts this, saying "Man, this pregnancy's throwing me all off."
- Different in Every Episode: The Magna Doodle in Chandler and Joey's apartment has a different picture each time.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Seen in the episode "The One Where Ross Can't Flirt," in which Ross's attempts to flirt with a pizza delivery girl degenerate into a lecture on the smell of gas and an intended compliment which makes Ross sound like a pedophile.
- There was another one where he ended up talking about sewage.
- Chandler brings up another occasion, when Ross talked about the Irish Potato Famine.
- In an attempt to flirt, Ross asks two women whether they would hypothetically prefer being burned alive or drowning.
- Chandler, while attempting to suck up to Monica's parents.
- In the first season, Chandler one says to Monica that if they turn 40 and neither of them are married then they should marry each other. When Monica asks why she wouldn't be married by then, everything he then says just makes her angrier.
- In the final season, Chandler accidentally reveals to a step-kid that he's adopted. Then he traumatizes the kid even worse by revealing Santa Claus isn't real.
- Chandler comforting Phoebe after her heart attack in the hypothetical episode.
Monica: Phoebe, a heart attack is nature's way of telling you to slow down.
Chandler: I always thought a heart attack was nature's way of telling you to die. I mean you're not going to die. I mean you are going to die, but you're not going to die today. (Beat) I wish I was dead.
- Dinner with the Boss: Inverted - Chandler's boss has him and Monica over to his house for dinner.
- Disorganized Outline Speech
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- In the episode "The One After the Superbowl", Julia Roberts guest-stars as a childhood friend of Chandler's, whose underpants he once exposed to an auditorium of people. Twenty years later, she exacts her revenge by seducing him, telling him to wear her underpants, then offering to have sex with him in a restaurant bathroom and walking off with his clothes, leaving him in just her thong. This may be borderline disproportionate, because it wasn't just that he exposed her underwear, it was the fact that because of that, everyone at school called her "Suzy Underpants" until she was 18.
- In the episode "The One with the Thumb", Chandler (who was cranky from having quit smoking) makes a joke about doing this:
Monica: Where's Joey?
Chandler: Joey ate my last stick of gum, so I killed him. Do you think that was wrong?
- A less severe example in "The One Where No One's Ready": Chandler hides all of Joey's underwear (Joey isn't wearing any at the time, and he's not going to do so in his rented tux, refusing to "go commando in another man's fatigues"), so Joey threatens to do "the exact opposite" to Chandler, which turns out to be wearing every article of clothing that Chandler owns (except his underwear).
Chandler: That is so not the opposite of taking somebody's underwear!
- Deconstructed during a flashback in "The One with All the Thanksgivings," Monica tries to get back at Chandler for having called her fat one year earlier, by tricking him into getting naked and then locking him outside the house. However, she bungles her attempt at seducing him and makes the retribution far more disproportionate by accidentally severing one of his toes, and then destroying any chance to reattach it by bringing in a piece of carrot to the emergency room by mistake. Tension comes from Chandler finding out about her initial plans and thinking she deliberately mutilated him out of spite, despite her genuinely feeling awful it went that far.
Present-Day Chandler: That's why I lost my toe? Because I called you fat?!
- Distant Reaction Shot: Ross is aghast that not only did his co-worker swipe his special sandwich (leftover Thansgiving turkey with bread drenched in gravy), but that his boss got full and threw the rest away. His anguished cries of MY SANDWICH?! is cut to the outside of the building, then birds flying away in Central Park.
- Ditzy Secretary: Rachel once hired an incompetent assistant purely because he was pretty.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Much of the humor in the show was this trope:
- An episode strangely did one where an ice skater revealing to his wife Phoebe that he was straight had almost the same dialogue as it would if he were revealing he was gay ("Have you told your parents?" "No, but they're pretty cool. My brother's straight"); it was a Citizenship Marriage and she had known him to be gay. Friends also did this a lot with Joey and Chandler acting like a married couple including arguments about Chandler's ex-roommate Kip and buying furniture together....
- And an episode where Rachel discovers Monica has been shopping with Ross's new girlfriend, and it's treated like infidelity.
- Let's not forget an episode fairly early on where Phoebe and her current boyfriend were infected with chicken pox. They couldn't resist scratching themselves, so they had oven mitts duct-taped on to their arms. Eventually, the itching became too severe for them to resist, Phoebe started saying how good it would feel to give in and her boyfriend was saying "We can't, we'd regret it!", and eventually he succumbed to temptation along with her in a clear parallel to a highly turned-on couple trying to resist the urge to...get it on.
- And when they finally do, they end up rubbing their backs against each other, complete with groaning, until Ross and Rachel walk in and gasp in horror, with Ross saying "I expected this from you Phoebe, but you're a military man!" to the boyfriend.
- One episode has Ross and Joey accidentally taking a nap together. It's treated like a night of drunken experimentation.
Joey: I wanna do it again!
Ross: We can't do it again!
Joey: Why not!?
Ross: Because it's weird!
- Monica redeveloping an addiction to cookies.
- Rachel and Chandler stealing cheesecakes, played off as having to commit multiple cover up murders to cover up their original crime.
- Chandler and Joey arguing about the care of their new "baby" chick.
- Joey's kidney stones needing to be peed out
- When Phoebe cut Monica's hair...
- Ross trying to get Marcel (his pet monkey) into a zoo is treated alot like trying to get a kid into college.
- Door Focus: Used at least five times per episode.
- Doppelgänger: Russ
- Doppelgänger Dating: "The One With Russ": After breaking up with Ross, Rachel goes out with Russ, who looks, acts, and talks just like Ross. The only other character not to notice the similarity is Ross.
- In one episode, Phoebe and her identical twin Ursula date the same guy, who is very confused.
- Double Meaning: Chandler's speech to his and Monica's twins in the final scene of the show, and then Monica talking about how the whole gang has lived in the apartment at one point.
"Look around you guys, this was your first home....And it was a happy place, full of love and laughter."
- He isn't just refering to the it being the babies first home, but the home of every single one of the characters who have grown up and laughed and become who they are in the apartment together.
- Double Standard: Discussed in-universe in "The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel," when Janice catches Chandler following her around after she tells him their relationship is moving too fast. Rachel and Monica tell Chandler that he's blown any chance he had with her, but Janice ends up thinking what Chandler did was romantic. Rachel and Monica complain that if they had done to a guy what Chandler did to Janice, the guy would think they were crazy and never speak to them again.
- Also discussed at a later date when Ross complains to Monica that Chandler was flirting with the girl that brought the pizzas. Monica doesn't mind and admits she still flirts with guys. Chandler's reaction is less understanding. When she calls him on the double standard, he explains that while women view flirting as innocent fun, the thoughts running through a man's head when flirting with a woman are anything but innocent.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Another season two episode had Phoebe make Rachel and Monica stop fighting by grabbing their ears and making them kneel. She then says they would be her bitches if this were prison, and the lesbian Prison Rape reference makes the audience howl with laughter.
- Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: In the Season 2 premiere, Joey refers Chandler to a great tailor. Chandler goes there, and ends up getting molested. Then it turns out the tailor's been doing the same thing to an oblivious Joey (and possibly Joey's father) for years. Despite the characters' outraged reactions, the whole thing is played for comedy.
- Dream Sequence:
- Chandler has one at the end of "The One with Joey's Dirty Day", picturing himself having sex with numerous women at the same time before being interrupted by a random bald guy.
- Joey has one at the beginning of "The One with the Cop", picturing himself and Monica as a couple.
- Dresses the Same:
- Rachel and Phoebe take Ross shopping for new clothes to wear on his date. Later Rachel tells him that she'll just buy something nice but their bags get mixed up. Not only does Ross wear a pink flowery shirt on his date, but his date is wearing it as well. They are both very uncomfortable and leave abruptly.
- Ross and Rachel's ex-boyfriend Tag own the same red sweater and they meet on a street while each is wearing it.
- Drives Like Crazy: Rachel and Phoebe.
- Driving a Desk: "The One with... Joey's Big Break", when Joey and Chandler are driving to Las Vegas. Interior shots of the bridge are very grainy compared to the rest of the scene. It's also the Queensboro Bridge, not the George Washington Bridge.
- Partially lampshaded in that Joey is supposed to be driving and is looking at Chandler and talking to him instead. Which Chandler calls him out on, and Joey's response is "Don't worry, it's out there!"
- Drop-In Character:Every character does this at one time or another, usually at least once an episode.
- Slightly lampshaded at one point near the end of the series when Monica can't remember the last time her apartment door was locked.
- Also lampshaded when Ross is about to finally tell Rachel he loves her, but is interrupted by ex-fiancee Barry bursting in the door and beating him to the punch.
Ross: WE HAVE GOT TO START LOCKING THAT DOOR!
- And again in the last episode, where Monica and Chandler, about to leave their apartment for good, solemnly drop their keys in a dish for the landlord to pick up - followed by all the other leads adding their own key to the dish.
- This is also mentioned by Monica, in episode 3.19, when she enters her house only to find Phoebe, Chandler and Ross there.
Monica: Hello, people who do not live here! I gave you a key for emergencies.
Phoebe: We were out of Doritos.
- Dude, Not Funny!:
- In-Universe example in "The One with the Girl who Hits Joey", where Chandler has a fight with Monica and proposes to her out of guilt. Monica says no, and the rest of the gang teases Chandler about it, until...
Ross: This is fun. Hey Rach, remember that whole "We were on a break" thing? Well, I'm sorry, will you marry me?
(nobody but Ross laughs)
Chandler: That's not funny.
Joey: That's not funny at all!
(they all get up and leave Ross)
- Downplayed but still implied during Chandler's job interview. He aces it until he makes a "poo" joke, befuddling the interviewer and ultimately costing him the job.
- "The One with... The Birth", when Rachel jokes about a taxi charging for each contraction during labor, everyone looks at her like she made a tasteless joke. Rachel points out that Chandler does stuff like that and it is considered funny. Shortly after Chandler picks a better joke and moment where everyone laughs, reminding Rachel to pick her spots more carefully.
- Dumb Blonde: Erica the biological mother of Chandler and Monica's adopted kids and Rachel's sisters Jill and Amy.
- As well as Phoebe and Rachel themselves, to an extent.
- Dysfunction Junction: The gang are living at this junction:
- Phoebe's father ran off, her mother killed herself and she lived on the street, seeking refuge in Cloud Cuckoo Lander tendencies to deal with it.
- The Geller's favored Ross over Monica, producing a Know-Nothing Know-It-All son and Control Freak daughter determined to be perfect at everything. Ross's wife revealed herself to be a lesbian after their marriage and divorced him turning him into a Crazy Jealous Guy with future girlfriends.
- Chandler's parents had a horrible divorce and paid more attention to their sex games than him. Consequently he's terrified of committment and uses humour to hide his deep insecurity and self-loathing.
- Rachel was extremely spoiled, and in early seasons incapable of coping in the real world.
- Joey's parents had a poor marriage, with his mother enjoying her father cheating on her.
- Interestingly as the series continued a lot of the story arcs are about them overcoming their issues. Phoebe reconnects with her family, becomes more grounded and builds a successful relationship rather than jumping from guy to guy. Monica and Chandler fall in love and find in each other the support their parents never gave them. Ross gradually gets over his divorces, Rachel learns how to be independent, and Joey starts considering committment.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first season feels quite a bit different from the other nine seasons. The plots are more slow-paced and episodic, the characters are less quippy and there's quite a bit of a Sentimental Music Cue. The fashions also look a little plastic and artificial this season (they would look a lot more natural from season two onward). It's also the only season where Matthew Perry has long (or, at least, long-ish) hair.
- Not to mention that Ross' ex-wife Carol is played in her first appearance by an actress who looks nothing at all like the one who took over the role for the rest of the series.
- The pilot episode also has hints of Joey/Monica which was almost imemdiately dropped in favor of Ross/Rachel and later Chandler/Monica.
- As a result of the planned Joey/Monica relationship, both their characterizations were subtly different: Joey was more jerkish and a Handsome Lech, while Monica was a lot more sexual. (In the rest of the series, while not conservative, she's the most sexually cautious of the girls). They settled into their normal characters pretty fast though.
- Easy to miss, but—in the first season, there was no street outside the Central Perk set, only a painted backdrop in the window.
- The first couple episodes actually portray Monica as the show's lead. Granted, Friends was always meant to be an ensemble series (Schwimmer himself reportedly refused to do the show unless it was such), but the writers have openly stated that they originally weren't sure of how to properly make such a series. And so, in the first few episodes, Monica is portrayed as the everywoman lead while the other five characters are portrayed as her "wacky group of friends." She was even listed as the show's lead character when The Pilot was being screened by critics. The show's ensemble format didn't really take off until "The One With George Stephanopoulos."
- Perhaps related to the plastic-looking fashions: the show was a lot more blatant about its NYC setting in the first season. Most of the side characters talked in thick, stereotypical New York accents and were often portrayed as snide jerkasses. The stereotypical NYC sensibility was much more muted from season two onward.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Monica and Chandler. Both had difficult childhoods, Monica was The Unfavorite and Chandler underwent Parental Neglect, leaving them emotionally damaged. Together they overcame their personal insecurities, and despite their early marriage being fraught with unemployment and infertility they continue to support each other and eventually adopt children and get the family they always wanted. They also provide a much needed contrast to the tumultous Ross and Rachel showing a couple who actually work at their relationship and make each other stronger. They end the series blissfully happy, very much in-love and boy have they earned it.
- Also Phoebe who grew up on the streets but eventually found the Friends and a normal life.
- Egocentric Team Naming:
Monica: Go Team Monica!
Monica: Okay, we'll think of a name later.
- Embarrassing Cover Up:
- Chandler tries to stop Monica entering the apartment while he and Ross are trying to fix the furniture by saying "You can't come in! Ross is naked!". This is just as embarrassing for Chandler as it was for Ross, though.
Monica: Why is Ross naked?
Ross: Um, a "guy problem".
Monica: Oh, is it the same thing Chandler has?
- Chandler and Monica were seeing each other and didn't want anyone else to know, but Joey figured it out and they had to swear him to secrecy. This, of course, meant that he had to cover for their slip-ups, such as when Chandler's underpants were found in Monica's apartment ("Oh, they're mine."). This culminated in Monica and Chandler "outing" Joey as a sex addict to the group, at which point he turns the tables on them by announcing that he had slept with Monica in London and she'd become obsessed with trying to get him back in the sack ever since. Monica's forced to endorse his version, thus keeping the secret, allowing Joey to get a little revenge for the way he'd been taken for granted and protecting his reputation as The Casanova.
- Embarrassing First Name / Embarrassing Middle Name: Chandler Muriel Bing.
Ross: Chandler Muriel Bing. Your parents never even gave you a chance, did they?
- Embarrassing Slide: The gang is looking at old photographs of Monica and find one of what they think is Monica naked as a baby. Ross says no, it's him. "I was trying something."
- Enlightened Self-Interest: Discussed on "The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS" when Joey argues to Phoebe that there's no such thing as a selfless good deed, since everyone expects something good in return. Phoebe spends the episode trying to prove Joey wrong, with no success.
- Ensemble Cast: The show famously had six main characters, or two male/female Power Trios. All six main characters appeared on every single episode.
- Erotic Dream: In the episode "The One with the Ick Factor" Ross is jealous after Rachel dreams about sex with Chandler, and then sex with both Chandler and Joey. When she finally dreams about him, he dances on a table with joy.
- In "The One with the Cop", Joey has a dream about Monica, which is not really erotic, but she's his girlfriend in it. He first thinks that the dream means that he's in love with her, but Monica explains that he just envied the close relationship he saw between her and Chandler.
- In "The One with Rachel's Dream", Rachel has a dream where she kisses Joey, which makes her realize that she has feelings for him.
- Escalating Punchline:
[[Parker]]: I'm sorry, but that's who I am! I'm a positive person!
Phoebe: No, I'm a positive person. You are like Santa on Prozac! At Disneyland! Getting laid!
- Escalating War: The Vegas episode of Friends, where Ross and Rachel try to humiliate one another.
- Or the episode in which Rachel tries to get revenge on Chandler for accidentally seeing her naked after having stepped out of the shower...and accidentally walks in the wrong target. Come to think of it, this show does this a lot.
- Probably the most notable episode that delves into this would be "TOW Everyone Finds Out", with Rachel & Phoebe trying to goad Monica & Chandler into coming out as a couple by having Phoebe flirt with Chandler, which forces him to play along; neither side wants to give in and it escalates into the two having an awkward kiss before Chandler finally caves.
- Eskimos Aren't Real:
- Joey and Chandler are both interested in a visiting Dutch woman. Chandler gets an edge by "guessing" that Dutch people come from somewhere near the Netherlands (the place they really come from). Joey responds, "Nice try. See, the Netherlands are this make-believe place where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell come from" , apparently has confused the Netherlands with Neverland.
- When Chandler claims that he's moving to Yemen to get rid of Janice, Joey says "Yemen," that actually sounds like a real country!"
- When Ross becomes obsessed with naming all 50 states, Joey looks at his list and says: "First of all, Utah? Dude, you can't just make stuff up!"
- And that one comes after Joey lists 56 states, including New England ("They have a sports team!") and South Oregon.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Monica's oh so perfect season 1 boyfriend Alan.
Ross: If only he were a woman.
(they awkwardly look at each other and walk away)
- Everyone Can See It: Ross and Rachel on. At one point Rachel realizes she's still subconciously attracted to Ross and Phoebe tells her everyone just assumed she knew. "It's like telling Monica 'You like things to be clean.'"
- Surprisingly averted when Chandler and Monica start their Secret Relationship. The gang take months to figure out they're together, despite blatantly obvious hints. Possibly because the pair were extremely close before hooking up, sharing each other's deepest secrets and frequently seen cuddling up together. Their friends may not have noticed the change from platonic to romantic affection.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: There was an episode where Phoebe was concerned that her boyfriend wouldn't sleep with her after a couple of weeks. Phoebe wonders what his deal is, and Joey suggests he's gay. It turns out that the guy was holding out so that Phoebe would essentially beg him for sex and tell him he didn't have to call her afterwards.
Joey: And he's got you thinking this is a good idea? This man is my God!
- In another episode one character mentions that another character's relationship "isn't serious" because they haven't even had sex yet. If you listen carefully, it's clear the studio audience isn't sure if the line is supposed to be a joke or not.
- And in yet another, Ross is going stir-crazy because he hasn't had sex in a few months.
- In The One That Could Have Been (Part 2), (alternate)Chandler mentions that he's had sex with two women besides (fat)Monica, and the audience laughs at him.
- Everybody is Single: By the end of the show, only Joey is single.
- In the first half of the series they all have short relationships that usually only last a handful of episodes. (Joey and Kate/Kathy, Chandler and Janice/Kathy, Monica and Bobby/Richard/Pete, Phoebe and David, Rachel and Paolo/Ross/Joshua, Ross and Julie/Rachel/Emily) but are mostly single. From Season 5 onwards Monica and Chandler are the only two in a long-term relationship and the others continue with short relationships. (Gary, Janine, Mona, Tag, Parker, Gavin, Charlie etc.)
- They seem to have no problem meeting drop-dead gorgeous singles during everyday situations such as grocery shopping. Only rarely (such as in TOW The Candy Hearts and TOW The Ballroom Dancing) is this trope ever subverted when it comes to meeting potential romantic interests.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Marcel
- Ross in season 6 pointed out this was a stupid storyline ("What was I thinking?").
- Everyone Went to School Together: Played with. Monica, Ross and Rachel grew up together. Chandler was Ross's roomate in College and met high school Monica and Rachel. Phoebe and Joey didn't meet the gang until they were adults. (Apart from when Phoebe mugged Ross.
- Evil Laugh: "The Plan Laugh", employed by Phoebe — Joey tries to imitate it, but can't get it right.
Joey: Ho, ho, ho!
Phoebe: It's not Santa's plan!
- Joey's stalker (played by Brooke Shields) has a pretty scary laugh.
- Evil Twin: Phoebe's twin sister, Ursula, is by all accounts a bad person: she's an awful waitress, nearly cons a man into marrying her, has no affection for Phoebe, and becomes a porn star using Phoebe's name. She also didn't tell Phoebe that their mother had left a suicide note, and tried to improvise one on the spot before admitting she'd thrown it away.
- And don't forget she stole Phoebe's Judy Jetson thermos!
- She also sold Phoebe's birth certificate
- Parodied in another episode, when Joey was dating someone who honestly believed he was the character he played on TV, Dr. Drake Ramore. When she sees him in person while the show plays on the TV in the background, she becomes confused. Joey tells her the truth but she doesn't understand, so Ross tells her that he is actually Hans Ramore, Drake's evil twin.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Many episode titles, such as "The One Where No-One's Ready" and "The One in Vegas", exhibit this.
- Exponential Plot Delay: Ross and Rachel's relationship. The first three seasons had a heavy focus on it, with Ross pining for Rachel and them slowly getting to know one another in the first season. Season two has Rachel be the victim of an Unrequited Love Switcheroo and pine for Ross very similar to the way he did for her. They then actually get together midway through and date for a year until mid-season three, when they break up. The remainder of the season is spent on them dealing with the break up and even consider getting back together until the season four premiere when that is firmly shot down. From then on, season 4-10, save for the pregnancy storyline of season 8, very little happens until their Last Minute Hookup in the finale.
- Eye Scream: Comedic example, an episode of involving Rachel with an eye infection reveals Rachel freaks out every time someone gets close to touching an eye.