These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Richard/Monica and Chandler/Kathy were pretty popular, but vanished almost the minute Monica popped up from under Chandler's covers and the entire fandom jumped on the Chandler/Monica ship, which sailed strongly into the end of the series.
Actor Shipping: Matthew Perry/Courteney Cox have a pretty big fanbase due to their chemistry and close friendship. The shipping wasn't as prevalent during the actual show as Courteney was Happily Married to David Arquette, but after the couple split up 'Matteney' fans grew exponentially and were regularly fuelled by Cox guest starring on Perry's show, their habit of crashing each others interviews (in Courtney's case to kiss Matthew on stage) and Matthew throwing around comments like "I just wanted to make her laugh all the time" and "she's a very beautiful woman" and making sexual jokes about their relationship: "would Courtney be the bike?" and even a skit on Ellen joking that they're a couple. Not to mention Courteney posting on Twitter that, on a scale from 1 - 10, she loves Matthew '13.6'. When Courtney's guest starred on Matthew's show there were photo's of them practically snuggling during breaks. Tumblr exploded.
Angst? What Angst?: There were many instances of abuse, death, etc. on the show where the characters' lack of a sympathetic reaction made them seem very unlikable or tactless; when Chandler and Joey are robbed of just about everything they own aside from a couple of things like the Magna Doodlenote "Thanks for all your stuff!", Monica's reaction is a mundane "What happened?" then telling Rachel about her date with Chip.
Despite having had what most would consider a traumatic life, Phoebe in is usually very throwaway about it, even using her mother's suicide to get the last muffin.
Friends, as a whole, has had a tendency to do this several times for a cheap laugh. For example, in one episode, Monica discovers that her Aunt Sylvia died. Instead of being sad about it, she jumps up for joy and cheers, because she can now have her dollhouse. Now, it was implied that Aunt Sylvia was a bit of bitch. But still...
The whole gang also get over break ups pretty fast. Even Ross and Rachel go back to happily being friends after they split. The only characters who react realistically are Monica and Chandler, as the fall out from their various break ups last several episodes. (Both characters seemed to be more romantically vulnerable than the others, though that made them more sympathetic rather than needy). Otherwise characters would shrug it off and be fine by the end of the episode.
Award Snub: Poor Courtney Cox is the only Friend to not be nominated for an Emmy, something critics are still scratching thier heads about and viewers will complain about a decade later. The writers have also expressed their utter confusion, as they admit Cox provided the energy and rock that kept the rest of the cast together.
The show itself didn't win 'Best Comedy Series' until the eighth season. (Which, was a nice nod but extremely late in the game considering the strength of the early and mid-seasons).
Given his popularity in playing one of the more dynamic characters, some take issue with Matthew Perry being unable to win (and only getting one nomination in Season 8).
Base Breaker: All the main characters fall into this, with Ross and Rachel being the biggest examples.
Monica: Charmingly quirky Woobie thanks to her status as The Unfavorite and supportive Team Mom, or militant Control Freak who runs roughshod over her friends and treats her boyfriend/husband so bad it borders on emotional abuse.
Ross: A sympathetic, relatable, Adorkable and hilarious Butt Monkey, or a pedantic know-it-all loser, who refuses to take responsibility for his actions, and should just shut up and stop whining.
Phoebe: Crazy Awesome and hilarious kook with an interesting and tragic backstory, or a horrible jerkass who treats her friends Ross and Chandler terribly.
Chandler: A funny, nice, Cool Loser with some understandable parent issues or someone overly, pathetically immature whose snarking can often be dickishlyinsensitive?
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Robin Williams and Billy Crystal's guest appearance at the beginning of the episode "The One With the Ultimate Fighting Champion" has no relevance to the plot and is never mentioned again. It wasn't even in the original script, they coincidentally just happened to be in the same building where the show was filmed and the writers asked if they wanted to make a guest appearance.
There's also "The One With the Baby on the Bus", where Rachel cancels Phoebe's gig at Central Perk to make way for a better and more famous singer (played by Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders). This isn't weird by itself, but after said better singer is introduced, she proceeds to grind the entire episode to a screeching halt in order to play an entire song (about four minutes long) as though performing in concert for the studio audience. Even showing a snippet of the singer singing wouldn't have been bad — it's just that she went on... and on... and on... even though it had no bearing on the plot, was never mentioned again, and the song itself had nothing to symbolically or thematically connect itself to the events of the episode.
That's because it was just a snippet on the broadcast version. The DVDs have her singing "Angel In The Morning" as an extended scene within the episode.
Broken Base: Did Ross cheat on Rachel? And what does "on a break" mean, for that matter?
The entire Ross/Rachel relationship. Some love it for being a great Will They or Won't They?, Opposites Attract plot and believe its an epic love story. Others think it's an unrealistic and unrewarding Masochism Tango of two unsuited people who treat each other horribly. The split is probably highlighted by the younger, newer fans who, thanks to Seinfeld Is Unfunny, find Will They or Won't They? plots over-used in TV and the Give Geeks a Chance mantra cliche. The relationships also draws ire from Monica/Chandler fans, who find the 'Lobsters' reputation as the 'greatest couple ever' undeserving when the Mondler relationship lasted six times as long, worked better together and had a greater impact on the group dynamic.
Crazy Awesome: Phoebe. Case in point, Monica and Phoebe were supposed to plan Rachel's surprise birthday party together. Monica naturally makes all the decisions about the way the party will go, leaving Phoebe with only cups and ice. Phoebe ends up making cups and ice the dominant theme of the party, to the point where Monica's finger food is dismissed over Phoebe's snow cones.
Crack Pairing: Chandler/Rachel and Ross/Phoebe are quite popular, though not as much as the canon pairs or the obvious Joey/Phoebe.
Though it should be pointed out that Ross/Phoebe was canonically almost a reality in "The One With the Flashback" when the latter comforted Ross over the revelation of Carol's Sudden Sexuality.
Double Standard: The One With the Girl who Hits Joey, Joey's girlfriend playfully hits him, unintentionally hurting him. Nobody seems to care. If Joey hit her, even playfully, people would be calling him a monster.
Though subverted at the end of the episode, when Rachel realises how painful Joey's girlfriend's punches are.
Dry Docking: People of both sexes did not want Ross and Rachel to be together, so they could have that couple for themselves.
Dude, Not Funny!: The Geller's abuse of Monica for many viewers. When you have Monica breaking down sobbing because her mother says no man will ever want her or that she won't have kids and her openly admitting they'll never love her as much as Ross, it's hard to laugh much.
Both Phoebe's love interests, Mike and David, are well liked, especially Mike...being played by Paul Rudd helps.
Jack Geller is popular too. His wife not so much...
Janice is this. Although, being hilarious and annoying at the same time, she's also a Base Breaker.
Richard, for being one of the most decent and likable love interests. Like Janice though, he can fall into the Base Breaker territory, since some people see him as The Scrappy.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: "The One With The Cat" where Phoebe thinks a stray cat is her reincarnated mother. After learning the cat belongs to a little girl, Monica, Rachel, Chandler and Joey all wimp out at telling Phoebe, and Ross alone goes through with it. When Phoebe decides to keep the cat because she has to respect her mother's wish to be with her, her friends all wimp out again, and only Ross insists on putting an end to this. For this, Ross gets chewed out for being a bad friend, because he wasn't supportive of Phoebe, like the others were. The problem with that is that Ross was supportive of Phoebe, and only stopped humoring her when he found out about the little girl. The only real difference between Ross and the others was that he was unwilling to let Phoebe keep the cat at the little girl's expense. Apparently, being a good friend means you have to support somebody unconditionally, even when they're totally wrong, when they're being selfish, or when their actions would actually hurt an innocent child.
What makes it worse is that after Ross apologizes, Phoebe does a complete 180-degree turn and returns the cat. What happened to respecting her mother's wishes? The episode gives no explanation for Phoebe's abrupt change of heart, nor does it note that if she had just agreed to do that to begin with, her fight with Ross wouldn't have happened at all.
Author Appeal: The subplot was the brainchild of writer/creator Marta Kauffman, who had just lost her mother (the episode is dedicated to her). According to another writer in an interview, Kauffman basically forced the subplot and its resolution through the screening process; the writer also noted that had it been written by anyone else, it would've been shot down during the table read.
Fanon: Many fans believe Monica's middle initial 'E' stands for Elizabeth.
Another popular theory is that Monica and Chandler who adopted twins at the end of the show later managed to have a child naturally. (It was 'unlikely' not impossible'). Although their adoption storyline was popular fans found it hard to see the one committed couple who had worked so hard for a family struggle with infertility so this is a reassuring comfort. It also matches Monica's mother who was thought to be barren before having her and Ross. Bonus points if the kids called Daniel which was what Monica originally wanted to call her first son.
Despite how hated the spin-off' 'Joey'' was a lot of fans like to think he married Alex who was his Love Interest from the show so he could also have happy ending. (And of course he moved back to New York to be with the Friends again).
Fans also try to shoehorn the opening credits sequence of the six friends dancing in the fountain with the couch, lamp, and lights strung up everywhere as canon by saying it was a photo shoot that Joey did early on in his career, and when they needed a handful of good-looking people on short notice, Joey called the others.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Many fans wanted Phoebe to end up with David the Scientist Guy instead of Mike. It didn't help that throughout the storyline where Phoebe was torn between the two, David acted like a gentleman towards his rival, while Mike was a complete douche to him in return. Mike comes across even worse when we later find out that he was already in a relationship at the time as well!
Some fans (and even the actors themselves!) would have liked to see Joey and Phoebe get together in the end. Sadly the writers thought it would be too cliche (not to mention the fact that they had to free Joey up for the spin-off that Matt LeBlanc signed on for that Lisa Kudrow didn't.)
Also Chandler/Monica who were originally meant to be a quick fling but were so popular with the audience that the writers developed the relationship and eventually married them.
Four moments become less funny due to one event later in the series:
In earlier seasons, Chandler makes multiple jokes about not being able to have children.
In season 3, Monica considers getting pregnant from a sperm donor. It's played for laughs and the rest of the cast thinks it's a dumb idea, largely because she's single.
At Monica and Chandler's wedding, Judy Geller mistakenly thinks Monica is pregnant and gives Monica the cold shoulder when she discovers the truth.
After watching Pete (Monica's ex boyfriend) getting beaten up Ross quips: "Well, this is ironic. Of your last two boyfriends, Richard didn’t want to have kids, and from the looks of it, now Pete can’t." Her next boyfriend is Chandler and...
At the end of season 9, when Chandler and Monica are together, they turn out to be incompatible. Chandler has lazy sperm, and Monica's uterus is inhospitable, so the the chances of her getting pregnant are already low. As such, they have to consider surrogacy or a sperm donor.
Chandler's smoking addiction wasn't very funny later on when Matthew Perry went into rehab to control his drinking.
A season 2 episode showed Monica getting Chandler to get in shape reflecting Matthew Perry's later weight problem.
When Joey auditions for the lead of a new detective show, he tells his friends not to get their hopes up, as he isn't sure if he's good enough to carry his own TV show. Turns out he was right.
In season 8, Brad Pitt appeared as one of Ross's old high school friends, who hated Rachel to the point that he was president of an Anti-Rachel club in high school. At the time, it was a funny Casting Gag due to the fact that Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston in real life. The joke became a lot less funny after Aniston and Pitt's very, very public divorce.
Likewise, the Season 6 opening credits added 'Arquette' to everyone's names and end with a dedication to Courteney Cox and David Arquette 'who did get married'. The couple have now divorced. Not as bad as Aniston's case, as they ended amicably and are still good friends but it still stings.
In "TOW No One's Ready", Phoebe wears a Christmas ornament in order to hide a stain on her dress, stating that she'll explain it away as a political symbol. When Chandler asks her what she is supporting, she responds "Duh, Christmas." It's hard to believe that something treated as an absurd joke reflecting Phoebe's personality would become an actual politically charged issue a decade later.
Kathy and Chandler developing feelings for each other while she's with Joey, looks lot worse after Kathy cheats on Chandler as well. At first it seemed she really fell in love with Chandler and that's why they kissed. Cheating again, made her seem like the type who gets bored with guys and moves on from them fast, Hell, maybe she really 'cared' about the new guy like she cared about Chandler when she wasn't dating him. Puts the hell Chandler went through and how he honestly thought they'd both fallen in love, in a much grimmer light.
In 'The One With the Girl who Hits Joey' Chandler goes overboard and proposes at Monica at the end, even though he isn't ready. They're in the same location & positions they are when the real proposal happens.
A flashback reveals Chandler and Monica almost have sex when he calls her "the most beautiful woman I've ever known [in real life]." In season 5 when they have sex for real what does he say that sparks it? "You're the most beautiful woman in most rooms". Clearly that line works on her.
In Season 1 Chandler offers to get together with Monica and raise a family together if they're both still single at forty. Turns out he doesn't wait until they're forty.
In 'The One Where Heckles Dies' Chandler freaks out that his committment phobia will prevent him from finding the one, and he'll be left alone when the others settle down. Flash forward to later seasons, and he has found the one, (she was living across the hall the whole time), and he and Monica are the first to get married (and stay married) and start a family.
'The One With All the Flashbacks' when pre-series Chandler comforts Monica over not having a boyfriend and tells her she'll find someone. Of course, she does find someone: Him.
Chandler and Monica's conversation at Ross's wedding in the Season 4 finale. Monica confides her fears that she's "Never going to get married" and Chandler responds with: "Who wouldn't want you?". Three seasons later, the finale is all about their wedding.
In TOW The Jam, Joey talks Monica out of becoming a single mother, because he always thought she'd marry a great guy and they'd have a whole, proper family together. The great guy she finds? His best friend. (Who Joey himself had to reassure he wouldn't die alone).
More like Heartwarming with Oversight, but Chandler's Season 7 promise to Monica that he'll love her no matter her size, is even sweeter when you remember the Season 6 episode 'TO That Could Have Been'. Because the viewers know, even if the characters don't, that had Monica been fat Chandler would have fallen in love with her even when no one else did, adding a whole new level of fuzzies to the scene.
The One With Barry and Mindy's wedding has a character being called Princess Bubble Yum way before Adventure Time has a literal Princess Bubblegum.
Season 5 ends with Ross and Rachel getting married while drunk in Vegas. Ross promises he'll get it annulled, but he doesn't want to have his third marriage fail as well, so he ends up lying to Rachel about it. Rachel finds out three episodes later that they're still married, and she furiously asks Ross, "When were you going to tell me? After the birth of our first secret child?". Two seasons later she gets pregnant with Ross's child, and Ross is the last one to find out.
When Carol and Susan get married, someone asks who is the most likely to get married last and everyone looks at Chandler. He actually marries Monica a few seasons later, while other main characters are still single.
Rachel also fawns over Ross in a military (Navy) uniform.
In "The One With All The Resolutions", Ross says "no divorces in '99!/Just the one divorce in '99!". He ends up Divorcing Rachel less than a year later in "The One with Joey's Porsche" (Which aired on October 21st, 1999) making his 'resolution' hilarious indeed.
Joey asked Rachel "How you doin'? You all right?"? in the season 2 premiere. Who would have thought that the first half of that would be his catchphrase?
Invoked in universe during the One with the Thanksgiving Flashbacks when Ross brags about Carol playing "for both teams."
Also from that episode its revealed Monica and Chandler had crushes on each other the first and second time they met respectively. Both crushes faded, but years later they've now fallen in love and are dating
The episode where Rachel was freaked out that Ross has been planning their future, down to the name of their kids. The first he came up with was Emily.
Emily's actress Helen Baxendale got fame in the UK for starring in Cold Feet. What's her character's name? Rachel.
Season 1: Chandler offers Monica a Fallback Marriage Pact if they're both single when they're forty. Turns out he cashes in on that deal a lot sooner...
And from the same episode, Monica complaining that a woman has two babies and she doesn't even have one. Chandler promises she'll get one....And nine seasons later when their baby arrives? It's twins. Boy when Chandler makes a promise he'll damn well follow through with it!
In Season 3 Chandler spends an episode fruitlessly convincing Monica she should date him. She refuses for numerous reasons. (He's not 'mature' enough, puts on weird voices, is 'Chandler' and would always be the guy who peed on her). They go on to not only date, but fall in love, start a relationship, move in together, get engaged, get married and raise a family together.
Chandler: "There's a nuclear holocaust, I'm the last man on Earth. Would you go out with me?"
In season 9 (aired 2002-2003), Joey considers investment options, and Monica tells him real estate is the ideal choice.
Season 6 has one episode that shows how different the cast would be if they did something in their lives that changed them forever. In this alternate continuity, Chandler is the one who is unemployed and has to borrow money from Joey instead of it being the other way around. Season 9 has an episode where the same exact scenario is played out, except Chandler swallows his pride to ask Joey for the money.
In Season 4 Monica gives Chandler a crash course in 'pleasing women' in the rather famous "Seven, Seven, SEVEN!!!" scene. Cue Season 5 and her new boyfriend is the "best she's ever had".
In Richard's first appearnece, Pheobe simply says "James Bond!" because he was wearing a tuxedo. Tom Selleck later appeared as a retired spymaster in Killers, alongside Asthon Kutcher.
Monica marries the guy who peed on her. Chandler marries the woman who cut off his toe.
In "The one with the butt," Joey gets a role in a musical about Sigmund Freud. Years after the episode first aired, an actual musical about Sigmund Freud premiered in Sweden.
In the episode where the guys play "Bamboozled", Chandler Bing loses after drawing a Google card. That's right, for once, Google ruined Bing.
The Season 2 episode 'TOW Old Yeller Dies' has Joey and Chandler idolizing Richard who is currently dating Monica. Chandler even tries to grow a moustache to be more like him. This is extremely funny later in the series when Chandler is the one dating Monica.
In season 5 Rachel lies to a guy saying she'll be at a Regatta Gala. A few seasons later, guess who tries to teach Joey how to sail.
Straddling the line between Hilarious in Hindsight and Late to the Punchline is the famous "Ross and Rachel kiss for the first time" scene. The set-up seems normal at first, but try to remember this exchange while wearing your Troper Glasses - and remember it happened before Internet culture:
Ross: What matters is I-I don't need this right now. I'm happy! Thisship has sailed.
Rachel: Ok, you go ahead and you do that, Ross, because I don't need your stupid ship.
A season 6 episode has a throwaway gag with Rachel robbing some money out of Ross's jacket. When she catches a girl looking at her she replies "Alimony". Which becomes especially funny knowing she has a baby with Ross one year later.
Fans who side with Ross on the whole "they were on a break" thing can get a kick out of rewatching the London episodes and realizing that House agrees with them, since House is an Insufferable Genius whose whole schtick is that he is almost always right.
Ho Yay: There have been more marriage/romance/infidelity metaphors surrounding Chandler and Joey's relationship as roommates than is possible to count.
The Ho Yay between Joey and Chandler even continue into the What Could Have Been episode in season 6, where Joey hires Chandler (now a struggling comedy writer) to be his assistant. And then there's this line:
Also occasionally between Ross and Joey, especially in The One With the Nap Partners. Ross also gave Joey a passionate kiss when he needed to audition for a role that involved having to kiss another man. Joey remarked that Rachel was a lucky woman.
Phoebe was shown to have Les Yay tendencies in "The One with Ross And Monica's Cousin" where she ends up starring longingly at Cassie and she even thinks "Ask her out! She's not your cousin!"
She also once said Monica had "the breasts of a Greek goddess" with a longing look on her face.
Chandler once kissed Ross while drunk.
Rachel and Monica have had break-up moments, the most hilarious one being when Monica was spending time with Ross's new girlfriend Julie and Rachel confronted her about it. The conversation sounded like two lovers having a quarrel over cheating.
In another episode Rachel and Monica made a deal with the guys that they would kiss each other for 1 minute if they could get their apartment back. The deal was accepted.
Ross and Chandler are definitely this. Especially Chandler in the first few seasons where all women seem to treat him like he's repulsive when actually he's quite cute and very funny. It gets better when the writing focuses on how he's socially awkward rather than unattractive.
On a more notable level, Fat!Monica.
Hollywood Pudgy: Chandler. In one episode, several members of the group comment that he has put on weight. Phoebe even mockingly pretends that she can't put her arms around him to give him a hug. A particularly glaring example of this trope, as not only does Chandler look exactly the same as he always does, until the rest of the group point it out, he is completely unaware of having put on any weight.
Also Fat Monica. From the way everybody on the show talks, you'd think she was a two ton blimp. But she's just mildly obese, at most.
"The One Where Ross Gets Married". Drama occurs when Emily calls off the wedding. Monica explains to Ross this is because at the age of five all women dream of the perfect wedding with the perfect guy and helps Ross fix it. The DVD commentary reveals the female producer came up with this based on her and her daughter's childhoods, but Courtney Cox had trouble with it because she never did any such a thing as a child. The producer dismissed Cox's concern as the actress simply not remembering doing it as a child, but many female fans over the years have reacted to the plot line exactly the same way Cox did.
"The One With The Sharks". Monica walks in on Chandler having A Date with Rosie Palms, causing him to jump and change the channel from porn to a documentary about sharks. Seeing which programme was on the television, Monica reaches the only logical conclusion: Chandler has a fetish for sharks.
"The One With Rachel's Phone Number." Joey gets tickets to go to a New York Knicks game with Chandler, who had already made plans to spend the evening with Monica. Not wanting to hurt Joey's feelings, Chandler instead lies and claims that he has to stay in Tulsa for business. This backfires when Joey hears Chandler in Monica's apartment that night and, believing that Chandler is away, suspects that she is having an affair with another man. This forces Monica and Chandler to go through an elaborate setup of lies to cover up the original one but things eventually fall through and Joey figures it out. Feeling guilty about trying to trick Joey, Monica allows Chandler to go with him to the Knicks game. Chandler and Joey begin heading to the game... and immediately turn back when Chandler points out that Joey had misread the tickets and the game is not until the next day.
But considering that five minutes later, the others gently asked Phoebe what she'd do about the little girl, this might not apply. Ross went on a whole rant about Phoebe using a random cat to displace her guilt at spending time with her birth mother, while the others left that alone and still got Phoebe to give the cat back.
Emily. She turned into a Control Freak and Clingy Jealous Girl only after Ross humiliated her in front of her family and friends at her wedding, the most important day of her life.
Ross can also be this sometimes.
Phoebe. She already has a Dark and Troubled Past (living on the street, a mother who killed herself) and apparently became more of a bitch by the end of the series because of the revelations about her family. Makes perfect sense when you realize that she found out she had a brother her father didn't bother telling her about, her grandmother didn't tell her how to get in touch with her father, she lost a year when she found out she's a year older than she thought, doesn't even know her full name because her sister sold her birth certificate, and found out her mom isn't her mom, but her mom's girlfriend. She probably started being such a bitch when she realized her entire family lied to her almost all of her life.
Laminated list, also known as freebie list. explanation A list of your top 5 people, usually famous celebrities with whom you can have sex if you have a chance to score, regardless whether you are in a relationship or not, and your significant other must comply. It was first mentioned by Chandler when he dated Janice, and Ross spent the entire episode trying to figure out the very best selection of ladies possible, and when he was finished, he had his list printed and laminated.
Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat...
Most Annoying Sound / Most Wonderful Sound: Janice's laugh somehow manages to be both at the same time. It's ridiculously grating, yet so silly and over the top you can't help but look forward to hearing it.
Narm: The Ross/Joey/Chandler plot in "The One With George Stephanopoulos" is definitely this. It's a melodramatic plot about Ross being weepy and teary-eyed over the fact that it's the seven year anniversary of him losing his virginity.
Put on a Bus to Hell: Poor, poor David. During his first few appearances, he was shown to be a kind and compassionate person with a stable career and genuine affection for Phoebe. However, once it was decided that Mike would be her permanent love interest, David was immediately transformed into a pathetic loser who bombed his research in Minsc and could barely utter a simple "Hello" without stuttering. And then, once he finally proposes to Phoebe, she gives him a very callous rejection (clearly forgetting that she was the one who originally convinced him to go to Minsc in the first place), and he storms out. Never to be seen or even mentioned again.
Retroactive Recognition: For American audiences, this trope may just as well be called House on a Plane (the actor was already huge in Britain).
Another Plane example, fans of Community will be surprised to find out the man freaking our on the plane next to Rachel in the finale is Dean Pelton, with hair
Ellen Pompeo shows up in "The One Where the Stripper Cries."
Romantic Plot Tumour: In later seasons both Ross/Rachel and Joey/Rachel. Fans were sick of Ross and Rachel's Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them and Joey/Rachel was awkward, out of character and a Shaggy Dog Story which stopped Joey's personal arc. At that point it was getting hard to care who Rachel ended up with, and made her look like a Creator's Pet pulling attention from Phoebe's relationship with Mike and Monica and Chandler having children which people actually cared about. Plus only one couple could last and Genre Savvy viewers figured they'd never ditch Ross/Rachel. Sure enough Joey and Rachel broke up after barelythree episodes and Joey was left alone at the end of the series.
Judy Geller, for her appalling cruelty towards Monica. Jack was clearly Innocently Insensitive in mildy favouring Ross and horrified when he realized. However Judy's callous criticism of the insecure Monica, even it was Played for Laughs, made her a Abusive Parents and hugely unpopular with fans. It's kind of hard to like someone who sends one of you main characters into depression or even tears everytime she appears.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: While it is still regarded as funny, and a benchmark that other comedy sitcoms try to reach, the impact it had is largely forgotten after the slew of other shows that followed.
At the time, it was unique for a show to have a cast of young people who could be romantically paired up in many different ways. Pretty much every heterosexual combination between the main cast was explored during the series (except for Ross and Monica, of course). This type of series premise has since become the norm.
Friends was, at the time, also unique for delving into the trials and tribulations of 20-something life. A demographic that had, until then, been mostly ignored by television and was just gaining cinematic recognition through movies like Reality Bites. Whereas, today, at least half of all prime time sitcoms are about 20 and early-30 something life.
Things like the coffee house, now a cliché, were actually considered 'too hip' by the executives, and they had to be talked into accepting it.
When the Pilot was filmed, NBC actually screened audiences to see if they thought Monica having sex with Paul on a first date would make her seem slutty. Given what women on network television get away with these days, it's hard to believe such a thing was cause for concern among network executives in 1994.
Ross and Rachel. As mentioned above, thanks to a combination of Values Dissonance and Seinfeld Is Unfunny, a lot of younger fans who got on board after the show was cancelled are watching their relationship pan out and questioning what made it so popular. While it's easy now to pinpoint everything that was wrong with them as a couple (pettiness, having very little in common, jealousy issues, etc.), during the mid-90's, such a relationship was seen as fresh and unique. As, until then, the Give Geeks a Chance trope was rarely (if ever) represented in television. While, in film, it was still seen as a refreshing break from the predictable "pretty boy gets the hot girl" trope so prevalent until the mid-80's. Today, with the Give Geeks a Chance trope being more-or-less played out and the culture as a whole taking a much more cynical view of the Dogged Nice Guy, it might be hard for younger fans to really appreciate how significant the Ross and Rachel romance was nearly 20 years ago.
Also the Will They or Won't They? on/off nature of their relationship: At the time it was a innovative and relatively new way of setting up a couple. Nowadays, virtually every show has a Unresolved Sexual Tension pair and their initial Unrequited Love Switcheroo seems text-book form. (Especially as they first got together as early as Season 2, now writers drag it out much longer.) In fact, its got to the stage where the creative approach is not to break up your main couple, so ironically, Monica and Chandler's relationship appears more unique.
The show was seen as very progressive in its handling of Carol and Susan as a gay couple. In fact, the Season Two episode "TOW The Lesbian Wedding" almost never aired due to its content.
The childbirth video, especially for Chandler and Monica.
There was a Running Gag of Monica saying intimate things to Chandler without realizing Ross's presence.
Monica: Take off those pants, Bing! *notices a Squicked-out Ross* Didn't notice you there, Gellar!
Speaking of Ross, it wasn't just Monica for him. He also clearly had some feelings for his cousin, Cassie (played by Denise Richards), though this was definitely amplified by his lack of romantic life up to that point (not that revealing that helped things, as Ross quickly realized).
Strawman Has a Point: When Monica's parents tell her they spent her wedding fund, Chandler confesses he has some money saved up and tells Monica how much. She's immediately excited and makes plans to spend it on the wedding, but Chandler refuses to devote all of his savings to what he sees as a one-time party. While we're not told exactly how much money is being discussed, Monica says it's enough to pay for her dream wedding. Considering how she can be it's likely that it's a lot of cash Chandler has, and odds are also that a lot of the stuff she has planned are things she doesn't need. To both of their credit though, Chandler eventually relents but Monica agrees with him.
In the final season when Monica and Chandler move out of New York and start a family you finally learn why he was so reluctant to use that money.
In "The One With The Cat", Phoebe encounters a cat and suddenly gets the vibe that it's reincarnated from the spirit of her dead mother. Fair enough...except the cat has an owner (an eight year old girl to be exact) and Phoebe refuses to give it back. She doesn't mean it a jokey way either, she seems serious about it. When Ross calls her out on it, Phoebe basically accuses him of being intolerant of her beliefs and he is eventually pressured into apologising to the cat. Behind Phoebe's back, the others actually agree with Ross, but they don't support him when he actually confronts Phoebe. While Ross could've been a tad calmer about the whole thing, even contemplating the idea of stealing someone else's pet was definitely low of Phoebe.
Joey not wanting to share food is portrayed as a selfish character trait. Except in the episode the girl he doesn't share food with simply grabs it off his plate without even asking. And on the second date she orders a salad and then asks to eat some of his food as well. Joey has a right to be annoyed since if she wanted to eat his food, why didn't she order it for herself? In other episodes he seems happy enough to let Phoebe have some of his food when she asks nicely whereas this girl simply looks at his food, asks "are those stuffed clams?" and then reaches out to grab one.
In the season 5 finale Emily wants to call off the wedding and move it to a later date because the venue has undergone sudden construction work. Monica tries to explain to Ross about how Emily has been dreaming of her wedding her entire life and thus her wishes come first. Except Ross, Joey, Monica, Chandler and Ross's parents had flown all the way from America to England and they had already spent a fortune on planning the wedding so Emily's wanting to move the wedding last minute comes across as pretty unpractical.
Super Couple: Ross and Rachel. And although they didn't have as big a cultural impact, Monica and Chandler also qualify.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Arguably "The One With The Flashback." What could've been a fascinating glimpse into the pre-Pilot lives of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey and Chandler turns out to be nothing more than a filler episode with all six characters acting either like jerks or idiots throughout.
The Mike/Phoebe/David arc, which could have given a much longer story with Phoebe genuinley torn between the two. Instead its passed off in one episode (and not even the finale).
Chandler's strained relationship with his parents and his background had a lot of good material, especially his mother who was a famous, erotic writer and his teen years at boarding school. However his backstory was never delved into much and his parents only appeared in 2 episodes.
Unfortunately, the issue stretched to how actors of other ethnicities were treated on-set, especially Asians; guest actor Steve Park was incensed when one crew member called to "bring the Oriental guy" over, and after hearing similar stories from other actors who had been on the show, he wrote a mission statement for the industry calling for better treatment in Hollywood for Asian-American actors, citing a complete lack of "humanity and courtesy".
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Monica was portrayed as being overweight and weird during her teenage years. The audience is supposed to feel bad for Monica who grew up being a virgin for a long time and had very few friends but it's hard to sympathize when past Monica is always referenced to eating a lot or breaking stuff with her size while her present self is neurotic and OCD over being clean. In fact, this was handled so badly that this trope used to be called Fat Monica.
And Rachel, who we're meant to feel sorry for because she keeps losing Ross and has to watch him date other women...except she's the one who broke up with him (and refused to take him back), malevolently manipulates The Unfair Sex and back stabs any woman he tries to move on with.
We're also meant to sympathise with her 'empowering' journey of getting over her spoiled upbringing and breaking into the fashion industry. That works early on when she's vulnerable and hard-working but not much later when she's unprofessional, lazy and 'empowering' equals taking Ross's daughter to a different continent from him. It doesn't help that Monica is clearly more hard-working, Chandler more capable and Ross more intelligent in their respective jobs but she's still the 'Career' character.
However it should be noted that, both Ross and Rachel have been called out on several occasions throughout the show for their shortcomings and refusal to take fault, arguably more spectacularly and exceptionally than the others. While maybe not proportionately to their actions, there are times they are intentionally played as Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists.
Chandler is an interesting example. While Rachel and Phoebe treat him badly, Monica adores him and considers him the love of her life, and Ross and Joey both argue over whose best friend he is. Joey especially views him as a brother. So while Chandler's unpopular with some of the gang, he's the most significant person to the other three. Most of his faults (bad with women, unattractive, feeling pathetic) are mainly mentioned through Heroic Self-Deprecation and the result of his own insecurities not the others opinions.
Values Dissonance: Being a sitcom from the mid-90's, you can expect a lot of derogatory gay jokes. Especially during the first three seasons (often directed at Chandler).
Especially in the episode where Ross, Chandler, and Monica were telling each other embarrassing stories from their childhood. One of the first was Chandler drunkenly making out with a man dressed like a woman at a party. As the episode progresses, the stories get more and more humiliating (Chandler winning a Vanilla Ice look-a-like contest, Ross coming in fourth and crying and making out with the college maid, Monica being unable to tell time until she was 13 and eating a macaroni jewelry box after being sent to bed without dinner.) However, none of these simply compare to "Whatever, dude, you kissed a guy." That alone undercut everything else. This was even weirder because it was established in an earlier episode that Joey had made out with a "girl" who had the biggest adam's apple he'd ever seen... the audience and the gang knew exactly what that meant, but Joey didn't. Joey wasn't teased about that event, but Chandler was about his.
Another episode from season 5 stands out. The guys are taking a police car ride with Phoebe's current boyfriend Gary and Ross is giddy that since he's in the passenger seat, he could be called Gary's partner in crime. Annoyed, Chandler states "You know, that usually sounds cool when people say that. When you say it . . . it sounds gay." It's used in the context as a derogatory word and it's a small wonder it hasn't been edited in reruns. Considering Chandler is often Mistaken for Gay, this also comes off rather hypocritical.
Monica also once asks Chandler if he's gay simply because he was talking about a play he enjoyed.
When Joey is helping Treeger with his dancing, Monica asks Joey how it's going: "Gay yet?"
What an Idiot: Joey may be the dumb one of the group, but the rest of them have their dumb moments too. Such as Monica and Chandler trying to keep their relationship a secret at first. And how terrible they were at it.
Ross Geller, who is the "divorce" guy in the group. He is possibly the worst when it comes to relationships, sometimes, these relationships fail because of the actions of his friends, sometimes because of his own actions. Nonetheless, you can't help but feel a little bit sorry for him most of the time. The only reason he isn't any woobier is because he finally does hook up with the girl he has loved since the 9th grade by the end of the series.
Monica has been The Unfavourite to her parents simply for being second-born and was also obese when she was young. She then becomes a Woobie again at one point during work, when the job she's dreamed of doing for years is ruined because the staff all hate and bully her. (Though this improves and she also becomes Head Chef at a different, very prestigious restaraunt). She desperately longs to get married and have a happy home with children but her relationships keep failing and later finds out she's infertile.
Chandler is a Sad Clown who uses humour as a defence and has devestatingly low self esteem, which stems from his Hilariously Abusive Childhood. He's also terrified of ending up alone but struggles with Commitment Issues thanks to his dysfunctional parents, so has to watch Joey have multiple one nights stands and Ross several steady girlfriends while he's either rejected or cheated on. Thankfully, both he and Monica lose this status when they fall in love, as she gets him over his self-loathing and he gives her the love she alwayed wanted. And although they find out they're infertile decide to adopt (instead of surrogacy or sperm donorship) so they can give an unwanted baby a happy home. They end the series Happily Married with adopted twins.
Joey in season 8 when he was in love with Rachel. Then he lost the only girl he ever loved and was the only friend who ended up without his soulmate.
Pheobe is the woobiest of all of them, with her Trauma Conga Line past: she grew up very poor (she mentions once that on Christmas, her stepdad would sell his blood to buy them food), her drug-dealer mother killed herself, she lived as a homeless for a lot of her life and then found out that her real mother had given her away. No wonder she's so messed up.
Gunther? Poor guy's stuck in a dead end job at Central Perk and harboring a huge crush on Rachel for at least 9 years that's completely unreciprocated, and it's implied he doesn't really have that many friends either.
Poor, poor Emily. The man she loves completely humiliates her in front of her friends and family on her wedding day by saying the wrong woman's name at the altar.
David, a thousand times David. The poor guy was forced to spend eight years away for his work, pining after the woman he loved the whole time, only for his research to fail because it was based on a typo and he was left him a a penniless failure. He came back and Phoebe suggested they had a future together, only for her to callously dump him for Mike in the middle of his proposal.