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  • 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. Lampshaded when Rachel and Phoebe throw a last-minute Bridal Shower for Monica and Phoebe doesn't recognize any of the people who show up.
    Phoebe: Hey Rach, who the hell are all these people?
  • '80s Hair:
    • Downplayed in Season One. While most of the hairstyles this season are pretty appropriate for the time periodnote  and one of the most iconic styles of the 90's (see the '90s Hair section below) was born then, a number of female characters (including Phoebe in a few episodes) sport the permed hairstyle that was popular in the late-80's. Also, a number of episodes show Joey with a late-80's/early-90's gelled hairstyle.
    • Seen whenever there are flashbacks to their teens. 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.
  • '90s Hair: Rachel's short, layered hairstyle from the first two seasons was one of the iconic women's hairstyles in the 90s. She's even one of the trope images, and the page quote is her Lampshade Hanging. Monica occasionally sported the feathered bob that was popular towards the end of the decade.

  • Abuse of Return Policy: Ross tries to move his new couch in with only Chandler and Rachel for help. In an attempt to make it more manageable for the three of them he cuts it in half, effectively destroying it. He still tries to return it for a refund.
    Ross: Look, I am a reasonable man. I will accept store credit.
    Saleswoman: I'll give you store credit in the amount of four dollars.
    Ross: (Beat) I will take it.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • The Relaxi-Cab subplot never really paid off, and simply petered out after a few episodes.
    • Joey falling in love with Rachel originated in mid-season 8 and the season 9 finale shows them getting together for the first time. They are together through the first few episodes of season 10, with an episode dedicated to showing their struggles being more intimate (which is directly compared to similar issues with Ross and Rachel back in season two). Afterwards it seems they gave up on being together with no explanation really given, the closest was Chandler telling them that getting together with Monica just felt right and Joey suggesting that they were just too close of friends. This made it essentially a year and a half of build up with only 4 episodes of any resolution. Out of universe much of the cast and crew didn't like the story.
  • 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.
  • Absent Animal Companion: The chick and the duck serve as Chandler and Joey's pets for several seasons before disappearing without explanation. In the Grand Finale, it's mentioned that they died of natural causes and everyone in group lied to Joey that they were sent to live on a farm.
  • 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 therefore clearly screwed up, Monica striving to be perfect at everything because she never feels good enough, and Chandler using humor as a defense to hide his crippling insecurity. It's not until they fall in love and build a loving relationship together that their self-esteem improves.
  • 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.
  • 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 another episode, Ross finds that he tends to slip into a stereotypical English accent during his new job of lecturing at a college, due to 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; Ross and Rachel are having a big argument over an attractive co-worker Rachel was spending time with and she 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 (in fact, he initially interpreted it as a cool down before Rachel clarified "from us"). Ross is lead to believe that she has moved on with that co-worker and, hurt and drunk, has a one-night stand. Rachel considers it cheating; Ross repeatedly and vociferously disagrees. "We were on a break!" is the most persistent Running Gag of the show. Which one of them 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Act of True Love:
    • Chandler is in love with Joey's girlfriend Kathy but doesn't want to pursue it because of Joey, but suffers terribly. When it's her birthday, he buys her an old edition of The Velveteen Rabbit because it was her favourite book when she was a kid. When his friends tell him that this will be incredibly meaningful, screaming 'I love you', especially compared to Joey's present (he's got nothing; has an idea for a pen with a clock and later charges Chandler with a task of buying a present for her instead of him). Chandler ends up giving the book to Joey to give it to her because he wants her to have it. She figures it out, though, because Joey told her "I know you like rabbits and cheese".note 
    • This is how Rachel finds out Ross is in love with her in the season 1 finale "TOW Rachel Finds Out". Ross, on his way to the airport for China, leaves Rachel a birthday present, an antique pin she had seen weeks prior that resembled one her grandmother had when she was a child.
      Rachel: I can't believe he remembered...
      Phoebe: So pretty! This must have cost him a fortune!
      Monica: I can't believe he did this!
      Chandler: Come on, Ross? Remember back in college when he fell in love with Carol and bought her that ridiculously expensive crystal duck?
      Rachel: What did you just say?
      [everyone looks at Chandler, who goes into Oh, Crap! mode]
  • 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.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • On "The One with the Football," Phoebe wears a That Girl T-shirt. Marlo Thomas, the star of that show, played Rachel's mother.
    • There's even one for animal actors. In "The One After the Superbowl," Ross learns Marcel the monkey is now filming the fictional sequel to Outbreak. The monkey actually was the monkey in the film.
    • For one episode in the opening credits, Courteney Cox gets first billing and is now billed as Courteney Cox-Arquette (due to her marriage to David Arquette). The rest of the cast also have Arquette hyphened onto the end of their names in the credits for that episode. The end of the episode has a little dedication saying "For Courteney and David, who did get married".
    • In "TOW The Ultimate Fighting Champion", we meet formerly-bald Bonnie, played by Christine Taylor. Laura, her Alpha Bitch character in The Craft, lost her hair as part of a bullying-revenge subplot.
    • In the first season, Joey gets a part in a porno movie. Prior to Friends Matt Leblanc appeared in the soft-core series.
    • All the references to Days of Our Lives and Rachel as a big fan of the show. Her dad is long-time Days star John Aniston.
    • In “The One in Barbados,” David takes a moment to be a schadenfreude by saying “Ha Ha!”, the catchphrase of Nelson Muntz on The Simpsons.
    • A Season 10 gag has Phoebe changing her name, making a joke that her friends can call her Valerie. Lisa Kudrow's middle name is Valerie, and early in her career she had tried to change her name to 'L. Valerie Kudrow'.
    • After Ross's second wedding, Rachel accidentally travels alone to Greece. Jennifer Aniston is half Greek.
    • While looking for a substitute minister for Chandler and Monica's wedding Rachel borrows the Greek Orthodox minister from the "Anastasakis/Papasifakis" wedding. Anastasakis was Jennifer Aniston's father's original surname, which her grandfather changed to "Aniston" when the family moved to America.
  • Actor Leaves, Character Dies: In-Universe, Dr. Drake Ramore gets dropped down an elevator shaft after Joey claims that he writes his own lines on Days of Our Lives.
  • Adam Westing: During his appearence As Himself Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a rather sleazy, boastful version of himself.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Ursula Buffay's characterization on Mad About You is ditzy and oblivious, but certainly not the Evil Twin version that the writers of Friends created.
  • 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 is a much more unusual name than the likes of Joey or Rachel. The other friends sometimes mock him about this.
  • Aerosol Spray Backfire: In one episode, Chandler has started smoking again. His office has a no-smoking policy, so after he takes a drag he sprays some air freshener into a fan to cover up the smoke smell, then sprays his mouth with breath freshener. At one point he's so distracted that he swaps the two cans, spraying the breath freshener into the fan and the air freshener into his mouth. Ugh.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • Forms Ross's arc in the breakup with Rachel. When Rachel gets a job at Bloomingdale's and is taken under the wing of a handsome co-worker named Mark, Ross is incredibly jealous of Rachel spending more time with Mark and her job than him. Monica lays into him for thinking so little of Rachel that he would think she would cheat on him if anyone showed interest in her (because of his past with ex-wife Carol), and Rachel explains to him that she likes having a career all her own after being raised as a spoiled child with everything handed to her. Ross is initially accepting of both of their rationales, but can't let go of either insecurity in subsequent episodes and eventually drives Rachel into the infamous "break".
    • Throughout the series, Chandler never seems to learn from the fact that the one thing that hurts Joey the most is when Chandler lies to him, which Chandler often exacerbates by lying more to cover up an initial lie. Lampshaded in season 9's "TOW Rachel's Phone Number" after the umpteenth bald-faced lie Chandler sells to Joey:
      Monica: So you lied to him?
      Chandler: It's always better to lie than to have the complicated discussion!
  • 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.
  • Again with Feeling: In "The One with the Memorial Service," Ross and Chandler prank each other by posting fake items on their college's alumni website. Chandler eventually goes all out and claims that Ross has died. Ross happily reports that the trick backfired...only to realize just what that means:
    Ross: Nobody called! Nobody wrote anything! Nobody cares that I'm dead!...oh my God, nobody cares that I'm dead.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • In "The One with the Ick Factor", 26-year-old Monica dates a guy the others call Young Ethan. He's a senior in college. Monica originally tells him she's 22, but admits her real age when they sleep together. He has a little confession himself: He's a senior, all right. In high school. Monica freaks out and breaks up with him because it's icky.
      Monica: What we did was wrong. Oh god, I just had sex with somebody that wasn't alive during the Bicentennial.
      Young Ethan: I just had sex.
      Monica: Ethan, focus. How could you not tell me?
      Young Ethan: Well, you never told me how old you were.
      Monica: Well, that's different. My lie didn't make one of us a felon in 48 states. What were you thinking?
    • Monica's boyfriend Richard is "a person who can drink" older than her and he's friends with her parents. His friends are impressed that he's dating a twinkie. Her friends freak out at first, but Rachel and Phoebe admit that he's very hot. They eventually break up because they are at such different stages of their lives. Specifically, Monica really longs to have children and Richard is only willing to consider it because of her wish.
      Monica: I used to pee in your pool!
    • Phoebe's younger half-brother Frank marries his former teacher Alice. He is 18 and she is 44. When Phoebe finds out about them dating, she tries to break it off and wants to convince Frank he needs to have fun and enjoy his youth, but he's just too unhappy without her.
    • Ross and Elizabeth, who is ten years younger than him and his student to boot. Rude jokes aside, Monica eventually points out that there are legitimate issues despite the fact that the age gap is not that huge, namely that Ross is established in his life and career while Elizabeth is still in college and hasn't even started out yet.
  • Ageless Birthday Episode:
    • There were several ageless birthday episodes for Rachel, except the episode where Rachel has her 30th.
    • Ross celebrated a birthday without viewers being told the age. Also, he was said to be 30 for three seasons.
  • Air Hugging: Chandler and Joey air-hugged 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 American 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.
    • In "TOW the Fertility Test," Monica and Chandler run into the ever-present Janice at the fertility clinic, saying she and her husband are having trouble conceiving again despite already successfully having one child together (Janice's second, in fact). Outlandish, far-fetched excuse being used by the universe bending over backwards to torture the Bings? Not at all — it's called "secondary infertility," a sadly not uncommon problem.
    • Many Friends fans outside of America are shocked to find that Days of Our Lives is an actual program, thinking it was an intentionally silly Soap Within a Show. Similarly, Amazing Discoveries (where Joey tries out the Milk Master 2000) was also a real show. A syndicated As Seen on TV weekly informercial, it was hosted by Mike Levey (and his famously loud sweaters), who also appeared in the episode.
  • 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.
    • 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. Therefore, 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.
  • All Women Hate Each Other: Ross drunkenly lets slip that his girlfriend Charlie didn't like Rachel when they first met. Charlie tries to apologize and Rachel says it's okay, girls usually don't like her.
  • 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?
      Chandler: No!
      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).
    • 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.
  • Amusing Injuries: Chandler is handcuffed in Rachel's boss's office in "The One With The Cuffs", and at one point, while handcuffed to a filing cabinet, he pulls open the drawer the handcuff is attached to, causing it to hit him hard in the head.
  • Amusingly Short List:
    • Pheobe says Ross is "on my list", before adding "Has anyone seen my list? It's a piece of paper and it says 'Ross'."
    • Ross has Chandler type out a pro-con list to help him decide between Rachel and Julie. The only thing in Julie's con list is "She's not Rachel". Rachel is upset when she finds the list, and is not reassured when she finds the Julie's con list, as Chandler has typed it as "She's not Rachem".
    • Rachel's resume is very brief when she quits her first job as a waitress.
      Ross: Well hey, who did these resumes for ya?
      Chandler: Me! On my computer.
      Ross: Well you sure used a large font.
      Chandler: Yeah, well... waitress at a coffee shop and cheer squad co-captain only took up so much room.
    • The guy who works a Soul-Crushing Desk Job and to whom Phoebe tries to sells toner over the phone has a hilarious and utterly sad short task list on his white board. It reads: Today's tasks: KILL SELF. No one in his office notices.
  • 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.
  • Annoying Laugh: Rachel's childhood friends who appear a couple of times.
  • 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 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.
    • Similarly, the prom video was shot on video tape instead of film.
  • 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.
    • The episode with Emma's first birthday party aired 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 Ramoray) 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 Manhattan 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:
    • In "The One With the Ick Factor," Monica's latest boyfriend Ethan tells her he's a college senior but confesses after they've had sex that he's only 17. Monica freaks out, saying he made her "a felon in 48 states!" The age of consent is either 16 or 17 in 37 of the United States, meaning he would have made her a felon in 13 states (where Ethan would be under the age of consent of 18), but New York (where they are) isn't one of them (Ethan meets the age of consent there of 17). While Monica has every right to be grossed out by Ethan's deceit, she doesn't need to worry about being a criminal.
    • 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.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • At one point Ross makes a reference to "the Mesozoic mastodon." Mastodons did not appear until millions of years after the end of the Mesozoic.
    • Deliberately invoked by Rachel as a way to set off Ross' Berserk Button when she claims that he always has to be right.
    • —>Rachel: Jurassic Park could happen.
  • As Himself: Many through the years, including Sarah Ferguson, Charlton Heston, Isabella Rosselini, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Trudy Styler, Jill Goodacre, and soap stars Matthew Asford and Kyle Lowder.
  • 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:
      Joey: Shaving?
      Chandler: No, rabies.
    • Joey meets up with Chandler, who is waiting for Phoebe to drive up in her Grandmother's 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!
    • In the same episode ("TOW The Ski Trip"), Chandler does this again and Monica finally calls him out on this trope; amusingly, this trait of Chandler's is mostly phased out from this point on:
      Joey: [trying to open Phoebe's locked taxi] Anyone got a coat hanger?
      Chandler: Oh, I do!...No, no, wait a minute, I took it out of my shirt when I put it on this morning.
      Monica: So if your parents hadn't got divorced, you'd be able to answer a question like a normal person?
    • Before Characterization Marches On, Joey gets one in when Rachael realizes her resume had a major typo.
      Rachael: Do you think it's on every one?
      Joey: No, I'm sure the Xerox machine caught a few.
  • 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."
  • As You Know: Done at the beginning of most episodes once the show was off and running after season 1, to catch people up on the current A-plot at hand. For example, at the beginning of "TOW Chandler Crosses The Line", in the middle of the Joey/Chandler/Kathy Love Triangle arc:
    Chandler: You know, it's not enough I'm in love with my best friend's girlfriend...
  • 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 many 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...

  • Baby's First Words: When Emma says "gleba", Rachel gets excited about her saying her first word. At first, Ross doesn't think it's a real word, but when Rachel looks it up in the dictionary and finds out that it means "fleshy, spore-bearing inner mass of certain fungi", he thinks Emma will grow up to be a scientist.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Phoebe, and later Ross, in TOW Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E., when they are reading lines with Joey. This gives a rare chance to see Joey be the good actor. Usually Joey is portrayed as a wooden and unnatural actor, bordering on this trope himself.
  • 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.
  • Behind the Black: Monica gets led into what she thinks is a surprise party by Rachel and Phoebe, but nobody is there, and they inform her that none of her other friends were able to make it. Monica says she's happy that only her closest two friends are there because now she doesn't have to pretend to be interested in a bunch of old acquaintances that she doesn't care about. Cue everyone else coming out from their hiding places, halfheartedly murmuring "surprise" - and one of these people was "hiding" from the camera in-between an armchair and the door Monica used to walk into the room such that it would have been impossible for Monica not to see her the moment she walked into the room.
  • 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 ultimately decide they are this. They even say that Monica and Chandler weren't as good of friends as they were. Which is true from a certain point of view.
  • 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.
    • Season 6 has Monica (Archie) choosing between neurotic, snarky best friend Chandler and sophisticated, ex-boyfriend Richard. Appearance 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:
    • Phoebe's first birthday party is significant because Joey doesn't show up, instead spending time with Phoebe's 'evil' twin Ursula.
    • Rachel has a Surprise Party at which 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.
    • The gang go to a concert for Ross's birthday.
    • They throw a party for Joey in Season 3. Chandler kisses one of Joey's sisters but can't remember which one.
    • When Rachel turns thirty, she's 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. A birthday of Phoebe's involves her finding out she's actually a year older than she thought. Monica gets drunk before appearing at her posh surprise party, that includes her parents with a camcorder.
    • 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.
    • Phoebe celebrates her birthday in a fancy restaurant. Everyone shows up late except for Joey.
    • Emma's first birthday is celebrated. All the friends attend plus Judy and Jack as Emma's grandparents.
  • Birthday Party Goes Wrong:
    • "The One with Two Parties": Rachel's recently divorced parents both show up at her surprise birthday party, so the friends have to keep them separated otherwise they'll start fighting. Quickly things begin to go wrong. Monica rules over her formal party with an iron fist and wants to play boring games. Most of the guests want to sneak out to Chandler and Joey's second party, started as a distraction, because it is more fun and relaxed. Rachel's boyfriend Ross tries to bond with her parents only to make a fool of himself. Rachel tries to spend time with both her mother and her father who say only nasty things about each other, which is driving Rachel the birthday girl crazy.
    • In "The One with Two Parts, Part 2", Phoebe's Surprise Party doesn't go very well. Ross brings the cake which he drops because others scare him, shouting "Surprise!" prematurely. They try to save the cake somehow and completely miss Phoebe is coming. What's worse, Joey, one of her closest friend whom she really wanted to see, doesn't even show up at the party because he's dating Ursula, Phoebe's Evil Twin.
    • "The One Where They All Turn Thirty":
      • Rachel gets really depressed when her friends throw her a party for her 30th birthday. She feels old and it gets worse when Chandler's birthday card says "grandma" and she realizes she's "behind" regarding her career and mostly her life plan to get married and have a family. Eventually, she breaks up with her 'boy-like' boyfriend Tag whom she really likes but realizes he's too young and immature.
      • Monica comes home completely wasted because she felt nervous about turning thirty. Turns out Chandler is throwing her a formal party with her parents. Monica overreacts and makes a huge scene.
      • Joey's party goes wrong because he gets whiny and complains about getting too old, talking to God that they had a deal about others getting old, not him and his friends.
      • Chandler's party for his 30th birthday gets ruined when Joey once again cries about it not being fair that their gang is getting old.
      • Ross's party is ruined because he has bought himself a red sports car, claiming he's a sports car enthusiast and he shows off his car to his friends. The car gets locked in by two cars in the street. He spends his birthday trying to get out. Finally, his joy is completely spoilt in The Tag when an unattractive and much older man in the very same red car waves at him and greets him with a lame, "How hot are we?"
      • Phoebe looks pretty ok with turning thirty, with her party and crossing off wacky adventures of her bucket list. That is until her twin sister Ursula tells her they are in fact thirty-one. Suddenly Phoebe's plan for things she wanted to accomplish falls apart and she feels depressed.
    • "The One With Phoebe's Birthday Dinner": Phoebe wants to celebrate her birthday with her closest friends in an expensive restaurant. Her boyfriend Mike can't come because he works. Only Joey comes on time and the waiter tries to move them to a table for two. Both Phoebe and Joey are hungry and cranky. When the others finally show up, Monica and Chandler are still visibly angry because of their argument and Rachel is anxious to get back to her baby girl. Then Phoebe announces she's going to see her boyfriend instead who is unexpectedly available. Joey ends up sitting there alone, but completely satisfied because he got to eat six dinners and a cake.
    • "The One With The Cake": Emma's first birthday is not going well. Emma sleeps when the guests start arriving who then become cranky. The cake is not delivered, and later when they go to pick it up, it turns out they made a cake with some erotic images, which is totally inappropriate for a baby. Luckily, it ends up fine with the cake rearranged to resemble a bunny and the six close friends play with the little girl.
  • 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...
    • Gunther. He tends to be this, particularly when he intentionally tells Rachel that Ross slept with Chloe, as well as when he smiles at Ross hurting his thumb or getting hit by Joey.
  • 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.
  • Blame the Paramour: Downplayed. Ross's wife Carol cheats on him and divorces him for another woman, Susan. Ross blames Susan more than Carol for the affair, partly because Susan often acts like a jerk towards him.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Phoebe's song "Two Of Them Kissed Last Night" about Betty (Rachel), Neil (Ross) and Loolie (Julie).
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three girls during Season 3 when Rachel dyes her hair auburn and fills the redhead spot alongside Phoebe's blonde and Monica's brunette. (The rest of the time she's blondish brown).
  • 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 and these episodes are often cited as being the best in the series.
  • Book Ends:
    • 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.
    • Season 5 began and ended with Ross getting married.
    • '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?"
    • "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" begins and ends with one of the gang watching Monica and Chandler having sex through the windows of Ross' new apartment and discovering their secret relationship.
    • In fact the entire series starts with the gang hanging out at Central Perk and ends with them going to get coffee there.
    • At the beginning of the series, Rachel joins the friend group as the newest friend. Near the end of the series, Rachel prepares to leave the group entirely to go to Paris.
  • Born Unlucky:
    • Chandler and Monica 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 a long time and unjustly hated on by her new staff when she gets her dream job.
    • Thankfully averted 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.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Rachel and Monica hear a voicemail on Ross's answering machine from his ex-wife Emily, asking about possibly getting back together (on the eve of her next wedding). The two respond by swapping catchphrases:
    Monica: Noooooo!
    Rachel: I know!
  • 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.
  • Brick Joke:
    • 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 bedroom. 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 frequently. 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:
      Phoebe: 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:
  • 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...
    • 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!"
  • Calvinball:
    • The show featured Cups, a card game invented by Chandler to transfer money to Joey without him recognizing 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In "The One with the Unagi", Joey's fake twin Carl is played by Louis Mandylor, who was the runner-up to Matt Le Blanc for Joey during the series development.
  • 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.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Noooooo", Rachel.
    • "I know!" Monica.
    • "Oh no." Phoebe.
    • "Hi." Ross.
    • "How YOU doin'?" Joey.
    • "Could... BE any more X?" Chandler (usually, sometimes other characters use it).
      • Chandler also had "Hello children!" every time he entered a room for the first couple of seasons.
    • "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 Frank Jr., 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'Donnell, 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 Pfeiffer, and Dorothy Hamill. He wanted to include Isabella Rossellini, 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: Happens so often due to the sheer abundance of guest stars it seems the show takes place in an Alternate Universe where either the celebrities look completely different or different actors starred in each paradoxical work referenced.
    • 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 in that film is Elliott Gould, known on Friends as Jack Geller.
    • Ross and Rachel have sex for the first time listening to Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game", a mere three episodes after Isaak's own guest spot as a crush of Phoebe's.
    • In one particularly meta example, Ross reunites with Marcel on the set of a fictional sequel to Outbreak; the monkey from Outbreak was in fact played by the same monkey who plays Marcel, making Marcel The Other Darrin to himself.
  • Character Death:
    • Downstairs neighbor Mr. Heckles (who had appeared in four episodes and would still appear in another one) 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.
  • 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.
  • Chic and Awe:In a season one episode, Joey tricks Monica into going on a date with some guy; when they arrive at the bar, Monica finds out that Joey had never actually met the guy in question. She berates him nut is cut off mid-sentence when the guy walks in, looking amazing.
    Monica: For chrissakes Joey, for all we know this guy could be horribly—
    [handsome guy walks in]
    Monica: —horribly attractive. I'll be shutting up now.
  • 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: Ross and Chandler attend their college reunion in season ten.
  • 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.
  • Cliffhanger: It became a tradition - and eventually, a cliche - that every season has to end on a dramatic cliffhanger (all involving Rachel), often introduced just moments before the episode ends, though this was actually averted a few times.
    • Season 1: Rachel realizes she is in love with Ross and rushes to the airport to confess her feelings after he returns home from a lengthy trip to China, only to find he has come back with a new girlfriend!
    • Season 2: Averted, perhaps because the writers realized audiences were fatigued with all the Ross/Rachel Will They or Won't They? antics throughout the season. (But it is the first of a whopping four season finales to feature a wedding.)
    • Season 3: Whose room does Ross enter - Bonnie's or Rachel's?
    • Season 4: The most famous - Ross says Rachel's name at his wedding to Emily, and the officiant pauses to ask if he should continue.
    • Season 5: Chandler and Monica are in Vegas and about to elope - only for Ross and Rachel to emerge from the chapel already married!
    • Season 6: Averted, the episode was originally written to have Monica forced to decide between marriage proposals from both Richard and Chandler, but contract negotiations with the cast for a renewal were still up in the air when the episode was filmed so it was decided to have Monica propose to Chandler and (potentially) end the series on a good (and definitive) note. (Amusingly, this means that the only cliffhanger to be canceled was the only one that didn't involve Rachel in any way.)
    • Season 7: Another famous one: Phoebe discovers a positive pregnancy test in the trash at Monica's apartment and naturally believes Monica to be pregnant. Chandler eventually learns this and, after he and Monica are married, promises her that he is ready to have a baby with her. Monica is confused... and the camera cuts to Rachel, acknowledging that she is the one who is pregnant.
    • Season 8: Rachel is finally delivering her baby and Ross is ready to propose marriage, but somehow Joey ends up with the ring and, at the very last second, presents it to her in such a way that appears he is proposing, and she accepts. Again, season 8 looked like it was going to be the last season, but this time a deal was reached far enough in advance that the writers were able to insert this quite-obviously shoehorned-in cliffhanger.
    • Season 9: Joey and Charlie break up, and Charlie hooks up with Ross. Joey, discovering this, decides to go back on his personal pledge not to hurt Ross's feelings and goes to Rachel's room and kisses her.
    • Season 10: As the series finale, there is no cliffhanger, but there's something of a pastiche of past cliffhangers with the plot about whether or not Rachel will fly to Paris.
  • 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 They All Turn 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.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • 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 Geller 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 to 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. In later seasons, Rachel is often this to Joey too, as she's also his roommate (she even tells him to be careful and not to ride in the street).
    • Phoebe to her younger brother, Frank Jr.
    • Rachel to her younger sister, Jill.
    • Mike to Phoebe, to some extent.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Erica. 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:
      Phoebe: 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: What?!
      Phoebe: 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.
      Monica: What?!
      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 frequently. For example, he once asked 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.
      Joey: Who would you rather sleep with, Monica or Rachel?
      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.
    • 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 (possibly sleep apnea) for no immediately apparent reason, much to Chandler's annoyance.
    • Joey's complete lack of hygiene in season 2 that eventually leads to him moving out. While Joey is not the most upkept person (as evidence by the constant expired food in his fridge), him stooping to licking spoons then putting them back in the drawer without cleaning them is a briefly-glimpsed vice compared to more acceptable levels of roommate messiness.
  • 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?".
    • Monica intends to do this to her identity thief in "TOW The Fake Monica", until she meets her, finds out she's really cool, and becomes her friend instead. Monica reluctantly confronts her after Fake Monica gets caught, though.
  • 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 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. A 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.
    • In Season 7, Monica declares that she will be the maid of honor for whoever isn't hers. When Rachel is chosen to be hers, Phoebe smugly smirks as she goes into full-blown "Monica-mode. . . until Rachel reminds her, "She's going to be YOURS". Sure enough, in Season 10, Monica is Phoebe's maid of honor and she is every bit the bridesmaidzilla she feared.
  • Continuity Snarl: In a long-running show, there are bound to be things that don't add up.
    • One episode centers 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 when hanging with the Gellers, and even made out in college, and yet in the pilot they're introduced as total strangers. In "The One With The Flashback", which takes place shortly before the series began, Chandler and Rachel interact again in the complex's bar as strangers; this episode was in Season 3, so the idea that the two knew each other during school years was still not canon.
    • 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.
    • Ross is supposed to be at least two years older than Monica, but in series 1 they both claim to be 26.
    • It's established Phoebe has massaged Ross and Monica in the past, deeming them the "worst tippers". However, the B-plot in Season 8's "TOW The Secret Closet" revolves around Monica having never let Phoebe massage her before.
    • In early seasons, Ross admits he was always too shy to play his "music" around others, but the final season reveals he and Chandler briefly had a band together.
    • Later seasons play up Joey and Rachel having a general aversion to literature (Joey sticking to comic books and strips, Rachel buys a lie that Jane Eyre has cyborgs), but in season 3, their favorite books are revealed to be The Shining and Little Women, hardly light reading, especially when they swap novels.
    • Monica mentions twice in her wedding vows that Chandler is her "soulmate". In a later season, she says she doesn't believe in "soulmates", as Chandler worried about her being attracted to someone who is a closer bird-of-a-feather than Chandler is.
    • In "TOW Rachel's Big Kiss", Phoebe doesn't believe Rachel when the latter said she once got drunk and made out with her college sorority sister, citing Rachel's "vanilla"-ness as the reason "I can't picture it." Yet Phoebe was present when a very sober Rachel famously made out with Monica for a minute to secure their apartment back from Joey and Chandler.
    • The flashback episodes create a few of these, the most obvious one being how Chandler and Rachel first met. In the pilot episode, where Rachel moves to Monica's apartment, she's introduced to Chandler, and there's no indication the two of them have met before. But in later episodes we learn that Chandler tried to hit on Rachel (albeit briefly) when she was visiting New York a year before the events of the pilot, and that Chandler and Rachel met a couple of times during his college days, when they both spent Thanksgiving at Ross' parents, and that Chandler made out with Rachel when Rachel and Monica visited him and Ross at their college, the reason for this being that Chandler was mad at Ross for kissing a girl Chandler also fancied, so he decided to retaliate by doing the same with the girl he knew was the love of Ross' life. But despite all this history, Chandler and Rachel apparently don't know recognize each other in the pilot.
    • Another conflict between the pilot and "The One with the Flashback" is that in the latter is set one year before the start of the series and during the episode Ross finds out about Carol being a lesbian, yet in the pilot Carol is revealed to be pregnant from Ross, so either they kept having sex for almost a year after she came out or she was pregnant for a year and a half.
    • Another blatant continuity error happens in "The One with All the Thanksgivings", which shows via flashback that Joey was friends with Monica, Ross, Phoebe, and Chandler in 1992, even though "The One with the Flashback" had already established that he met them for the first time in 1993.
    • Ross has three birthdays. In series 1, he states on October 20 that his birthday was seven months ago. In series 4, when Gunther askes Rachel when her birthday is, Ross begins "Mine's December ..." and is cut off by Gunther. In series 9, he reminds Joey that his birthday is October 18.
    • Early on, it is established that Ross's ex-wife Carol is the first person he ever slept with (and thus his only partner up until the divorce). But in a later series we're told he slept with the cleaning lady when he was in college.
    • Monica and Ross's childhood dog Chi-Chi changes sex almost every time it's mentioned.
    • In series 1, Phoebe's bald friend is named Abby. When Ross dates her in series 3, her name is Bonnie.
    • In series 2, Phoebe states that her biological father left her mother before she was born. From series 5 onwards, he's a bad father who left after she and her sister were born.
    • Exactly when Monica got fat seems to vary. When we see a childhood video of her and Ross, she is not fat, and at one point she states she started to gain weight after joining the Brown Birds. But at another time, she says she was so fat in kindergarten that they had to bring in an older child to do the see-saw with her, and in one episode she says her bike bent when she sat on it when she was six.
    • In series 5, Rachel tells Danny that she doesn't sail, she just supports it. But in series 7, she is an avid sailor who teaches Joey how to sail his boat.
    • In series 7, we learn that Chandler apparently hates dogs. Yet prior to this he showed no fear of them - he had no problem with the puppy Phoebe's biological mother gave her, for example.
    • In series 7, Monica begins to list men Rachel slept with on the first date. None of these guys have appeared in the series, and none of them were on the list of previous lovers Rachel told Ross about when they were dating.
    • In series 8, Phoebe's sister Ursula tells her fiance she wants to get drunk. When she dated Joey in series 1, she didn't drink (though it's possible she changed or, knowing her, was simply lying).
    • In the series 9 episode The One with the Sharks, it's stated that Phoebe has never had a serious relationship. However, she moved in with Gary the cop, albeit briefly, and while she wasn't with David for long she certainly had serious feelings for him.
    • Joey is also said to never have had a long-term relationship, yet was apparently with Angela del Vecchio for three years.
    • In the series 1 episode The One Where Nana Dies Twice, we see Monica and Ross's maternal grandmother pass away at a good age. In series 7, Jack Geller talks as though she's still alive, telling Chandler that his in-laws think he is a lawyer and if Chandler ever meets them to "play along." Then in series 10, Judy Geller herself says that both her parents died young!
    • In the pilot episode, Joey and Chandler live at number 4, and Monica and Rachel at 5. In every subsequent episode, the guys live at 19 and the girls at 20.
    • When the W.E.N.U.S. is first mentioned, the S stand for "systems." Whenever it's referred to after this, it's "statistics."
    • In The One Where Heckles Dies Monica states she's allergic to shellfish. Two episodes later, she orders grilled prawns in a restaurant. She also claims to be allergic to cat hair, yet must have had a cat in the past as Ross picks up cat toys from her when planning on getting a cat with Julie.
    • In series 10, Monica tells Phoebe she's never been fired, yet we saw her fired over the "five steaks and an eggplant" incident back in series 2.
    • In The one with Mrs. Bing Joey says of his mother: "You think it's easy giving birth to seven children?" He later has seven sisters, meaning his mother must have given birth to eight children.
    • When we first hear about Chandler's aversion to Thanksgiving in series 1, he tells the gang he remembers vividly that he had a mouthful of pumpkin pie when his parents told him they were getting divorced. When we see this event in flashback in series 5, they are still eating the main meal, with the houseboy offering young Chandler more turkey.
  • Contrived Coincidence: How Rachel finds out Ross "cheated" on her. Joey and Chandler warn Ross to cover the trail of people who know Chloe the copy girl that could get word back to Rachel. As it turns out Chloe told her coworker, who told his sister, who happens to be Phoebe's coworker, who happens to be roommates with Gunther, who of course spilled the beans.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: The show loves this trope.
    • In the season one finale, Rachel's first birthday among the crew, Chandler gives her a travel version of Scrabble. Rachel immediately hands it back to him
    • 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 Kathy: 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".
    • Amy tries to be this to Emma, and by tries we mean pierces her ears without Ross or Rachel's consent.
  • 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.
  • Cowboy Episode: Joey duels in a cowboy costume in season 2 "The One With The Breast Milk." The episode parodies many Western techniques
  • 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 with Monica whenever Richard is brought up.
    • Deconstructed later on with Ross as his jealousy is the catalyst for him and Rachel breaking up. Emily becomes this in a much less funny way. And Chandler's jealousy becomes the excuse for Kathy to cheat on him with her co-star. Plays out better with Chandler and Monica, as he explains he's worried about Richard because he thinks she loves him more than Chandler (and he has an inferior complex comparing himself to Richard as well), 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 Jamie and Fran 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. The joke is that Phoebe (who doesn't recognize them and has no idea what they want from her) reacts basically exactly as Ursula would if she did work as a waitress at Central Perk.
    • 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, attempting to rent a dirty video from a video store.
    • An episode of Hope & Gloria had that show's eponymous duo spending a weekend in New York, where they visit Central Perk and encounter Phoebe.
    • There was also at least one of these with The Single Guy, with Ross making a guest appearance in a Mistaken for Gay-centric episode.
    • Then there was NBC's "Blackout Thursday" stunt, in which the characters on Mad About You (at 8:00) caused a citywide blackout, followed by the characters on Friends (at 8:30note ) and Madman of the People (at 9:30) dealing with the aftermath (although this technically doesn't count as a true crossover, since there was no actual interaction between the various shows' characters). Seinfeld (at 9:00) was a notable holdout, as its script for the week had already been written and the producers refused to change it.
  • 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.
  • Currency Cuisine: In the episode "The One With Ross's Thing", when everyone thought that millionaire Pete was going to propose to Monica, Rachel has the following idea...
    Rachel: You have to make it a theme wedding. And the theme could be: "Look How Much Money We've Got!" I mean, you could put money in the invitations. You could have, like, little-money place settings. And you could start with a money salad. I mean, it'll be dry, but people will like it.

  • 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 "TOW Morning After") where Rachel and Ross's falling out is played more seriously than just about any other arc in the series.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • In "TOW All The Haste", the girls claim their original apartment back from Joey and Chandler after a lost bet switched their residences. Rachel and Monica then offer a proposition where if the boys let them keep Monica's apartment, they'll kiss for a whole minute. Gilligan Cut to Joey and Chandler immediately beelining for their bedrooms after that "one good minute".
    • In "TOW Phoebe's Uterus", Monica gets a little too into illustrating to Chandler the seven erogenous zones of a woman ("Seven! Seven! Seven!"). After a beat, the girls head for their bedrooms and Chandler goes into their bathroom.
    • In "TOW The Truth About London", during Monica and Chandler's London hookup, Joey barges into their room with Monica quickly ducking under the blankets. When Joey sees Chandler naked in bed with the TV off, he assumes this trope and gives an embarrassed apology. Things don't get less awkward when Chandler has to ask Joey to leave a condom behind "for himself", from the pack Joey is taking to the bridesmaid he's hooking up with.
    • When Phoebe's homemade, elaborate dollhouse catches fire (thanks to an overzealous "incense room") in "TOW The Dollhouse", Ross's panicked recourse to put it out is to barge in the bathroom while Monica is showering. Afterward, an embarrassed Monica sheepishly passes off that she "was only checking the shower massager".
    • When Chandler has to give a sperm sample in "TOW The Fertility Test", he's icked out by the prospect of doing it in a medical room "in a cup". Monica and Janice give him grief that it's no weirder than the time he masturbated in a parked car behind a Wendy's fast food restaurant.
  • 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 Bing. 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 anymore! 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.
    • 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!"
    • Rachel also becomes this around the beginning of the fourth season.
    • Monica also counts, though she's more subtle about it.
      Monica: [Ross is talking] Oh great, another dinosaur story. When will those become extinct?
    • Despite being The Ditz, and an overall Nice Guy, Joey has his moments too. Especially in The Pilot and the first season. In the later seasons, he became dumber, but still had a moment or two. His Crowning Moment of snark is perhaps when he pointed out the obvious reason why the main characters' bosses hated them: “Or maybe, because you're all hanging around here at 11:30 on a Wednesday.”
      Rachel: What else did [Ross] say? I mean, does he, like, wanna go out with me?
      Joey: Well, given that he's desperately in love with you, he probably wouldn't mind getting a cup of coffee or something.
  • Deconfirmed Bachelor: Chandler. At the beginning of the series he has serious problems with commitment. Then he falls in love with Monica, and they stay together for the rest of the series. Deconstructed as before this he did want commitment but was scarred by his parents divorce and hurt whenever he tried to commit. Ironically he turns out to be better at serious relationships than 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.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Chandler: I walk into the steam room and it's really steamy!
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • Several aspects of Chandler varied wildly:
      • Some episodes, he's as rabid a sports fan as the guys and others he's as clueless about them as Rachel (who once even mocked him for it), to the point he can't think of a male-driven sport until Ross snaps "FOOTBALL!"
      • Some episodes have him chiding Joey for his immaturity and others he's even more juvenile (including blowing an interview for being unable to hear "duty" as "doody").
      • Sometimes he could very charming with women, others he couldn't even spit out anything coherent.
      • His sliding scale of small Freudian slips from being In Touch with His Feminine Side to outright sexuality-questioning remarks.
    • Phoebe's level of intelligence could vary greatly depending on the episode. At other times she could be a slightly weird voice of reason or a Deadpan Snarker. Mostly she could be a Cloudcuckoolander who despite her oddness was otherwise pretty functional. At other times she could be a full blown Dumb Blonde.
    • How good Rachel was at her job tendened to vary from episode to episode. While she was consistently an abyssmal waitress once she moved onto the fashion world her portrayal was much more erratic - sometimes she was a smart, hard working employee, sometimes she was lazy and borderline incompetent.
  • 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 Jerkass 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.
    • 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.
    • Averted 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. Richard graciously accepts this and wishes Chandler the best of luck with Monica. 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.
  • Desk Sweep of Passion:
    • David the Scientist Guy (played by Hank Azaria) awkwardly attempts to sweep his desk to impress and kiss Phoebe before realizing that most of the equipment on it is quite expensive (like a laptop or a microscope). To get him to stop, Phoebe has to point out that he's tidying more than spontaneously sweeping off the desk.
      David: ...the longer I waited, the more phenomenal the kiss had to be, and now we've reached a place where it's just gotta be one of those things where I just like... sweep everything off the table and throw you down on it. And, uh, I'm not really a, uh, sweeping sorta fella.
    • When Rachel is dating her assistant Tag, she dramatically sweeps all the stuff off her desk and hops up onto it.
      Tag: Are you serious?
      Rachel: No, I’ve just always wanted to do that. Can you help me clean this up?
    • Tag sweeps stuff from Rachel's desk and wants to get it on. Rachel glares at him and says it took her so long to get that desk organized... but it turns out she's just messing with him and is into playful flirting. She just wants to see his ass as he tries to pick up the things from the floor.
    • Chandler tries this thing with Monica, sweeping everything off the table in their apartment. She, however, is obsessed with cleanliness and orderliness.
      Monica: Okay, trying to turn me on by making a mess? Know your audience!
  • 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. When Joey's stupidity leads to them getting robbed, we see the thieves wrote, "Thanks for your stuff!"
  • 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.
    • Chandler accidentally lets slip to Formerly Fat Monica he once broke up with a girl named Julie he met at camp as a teenager, because she got fat. Chandler keeps digging his own grave when he asks Monica, who ran into said girl, if Julie was still upset by it.
      Chandler: That was a really, really long time ago, does she still feel bad?
      Monica: Apparently, she does.
      Chandler: Well, you know what they say, elephants never forget.
      [nervous audience laughter]
      Chandler: [beat] Seriously, good luck marrying me.
  • Dinner with the Boss: Inverted - Chandler's boss has him and Monica over to his house for dinner.
  • Discontinuity:
    • In the pilot episode, Joey and Chandler live at number 4, and Monica and Rachel at 5. In every subsequent episode, the guys live at 19 and the girls at 20.
    • Ross and Monica's childhood dog Chi-Chi changes sex almost every time it's mentioned.
    • In The One With The East German Laundry Detergent Monica exclaims to the girl she's on a double date with: "My brother never even told me when he lost his virginity!" Yet in the previous episode, she knew the precise date Ross lost his virginity - October 20.
    • In series 1, Phoebe's friend who shaves her head is named Abby. When she later dates Ross, her name is Bonnie.
    • When the W.E.N.U.S. is first mentioned, the S stand for "systems." Whenever it's referred to after this, it's "statistics."
    • In The One Where Heckles Dies Monica states she's allergic to shellfish. Two episodes later, she orders grilled prawns in a restaurant. This could be explained as Monica lying in hopes it would get Rachel to get rid of the tacky seashell lamp.
    • Ross has three birthdays.
  • 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 when they were 8, which unbeknownst to Chandler garnered her the nickname "Suzy Underpants" all the way through high school. 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. Chandler argues her actions are this trope, to which she retorts that he should call her in 20 years and let her know if he's still upset about this.
    • 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 frequently 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.
      Monica: Look, when it started I was just trying to be nice to her because she was my brother’s girlfriend. And then, One Thing Led to Another and, before I knew it, we were... shopping.
      Rachel: Oh my god.
      Monica: Honey, wait. We only did it once. It didn’t mean anything to me!
      Rachel: Yeah, right.
      Monica: Really, Rachel, I was thinking of you the whole time!
    • An early episode 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 a lot like trying to get a kid into college.
    • After Joey and Chandler stop living together, Chandler gets his hopes up after a friendly call from Joey that it will convince the latter to move back in with Chandler. Ross and Rachel gently break to Chandler how happy Joey is in his new place in a manner of an ex-partner who is in a new relationship.
  • 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.
  • Dork in a Sweater: Of all dorky male characters of the series, Chandler usually wears a sweater. Also Ross qualifies sometimes.
  • 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. He isn't just referring 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.
    "Look around you guys, this was your first home... And it was a happy place, full of love and laughter."
  • 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: Abuse, Female on Male: Subverted in "TOW the Girl Who Hits Joey". The titular girl's punches, while seemingly meant to be playful, hit Joey hard. Of course, the rest of the group makes fun of Joey's concerns, until Rachel gets a taste of it herself, realizes that Joey was right, and strikes back at her. It's implied that the girl is using the Double Standard to her advantage; Joey asks her to stop, and she punches him more, believing that he was making fun of her.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: A 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: Zig-zagged 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. On the one hand, this is definitely played for laughs to the audience. On the other hand, the characters take it completely seriously. Nobody mocks or criticizes Chandler for speaking up about what happened or for being upset, nor do they imply that what happened was his fault or isn't a big deal. Joey fails to take it seriously at first only because he thinks that this is the normal way tailors measure pants. After Ross assures him it isn't, Joey is appropriately horrified, and in a subsequent scene we see him on the phone, informing his father of this so they can avoid him in the future.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male:
    • Not rape, but sexual harassment: Joey is offered a role in a soap opera— in exchange for sleeping with the female casting director. In the end he refuses, only for her to offer him a bigger role on the same terms, and he does end up sleeping with her. The entire scenario is played for laughs, as the other five place bets on whether or not he would do it, and his only qualms about the situation are about his pride being hurt that he wouldn't have truly "earned" the role. Never once does it come up that it's completely illegal and morally reprehensible for employers to solicit sex from employees (or potential employees) as a criterion for hiring or promotion.
    • When Phoebe starts a relationship with Ursula's (her identical twin sister) ex-boyfriend, Eric, she shows up at his house. Despite expecting to "pick up where they'd left off" earlier in the episode, Eric mentions how he's still quite tired from the sex they had earlier in the day. Only, Phoebe and Eric never slept together, and they soon realise Ursula had come over, and believing she was Phoebe, Eric slept with her. If this had been twin brothers and a girlfriend, it would have turned into a completely different sort of show altogether.
    • In high school, Ross made out with the fifty-year-old libarian much to his friends' amusment with Moninca remarking that she [the libarian] walked with a cane. Had the genders been switched, instead of laughter, there would be horror and outrage that a creepy old man took advantage of a teenage girl.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Joey's advice to Phoebe when she starts craving meat during her pregnancy.
  • Dream Sequence:
    • Chandler has one at the end of "The One with Joey's Dirty Day", trying to snap out of a sad spell after breaking up with Kathy. He imagines himself surrounded by strippers he saw earlier at the strip club, along with Monica and Rachel, and demand they chant "Chandler's the king!" A heavy-set, bald patron from the strip club interrupts the sequence, calling himself Joshua (Rachel's current boyfriend) and was there to pick up Rachel. When Rachel points out that isn't Joshua, Chandler lampshades that he's never met Joshua so his subconscious has no idea what Joshua looks like.
    • Joey has one at the beginning of "The One with the Cop", picturing himself and Monica as a couple.
    • Joey has one in "TOW The Secret Closet" during his infatuation with Rachel, picturing him and Rachel about to become parents, only for Rachel to give birth to a baby with the head of a disapproving Ross.
      Ross: I hope you're a better father than you are a friend! Waaaahhh!
    • Rachel finally realizes she has feelings for Joey when she has a dream about him in "TOW Rachel's Dream"; while reading through a love scene for Days Of Our Lives with Joey to help him prepare, she's taken by an Anguished Declaration of Love monologue and asks Joey to kiss her, leading them to make out before it cuts to Rachel waking up in bed.
      Rachel: [beat] Well, that's new...
  • 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 too. 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.
    • 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!:invoked
    • 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.
    • In "TOW The Birth Mother", Phoebe refuses to hook Joey up with another friend, because of his penchant to sleep with women and never call them again, like with her friend Mandy. Joey doesn't remember who Mandy is and asks if she was "a really hot blonde with big boobs", to which Phoebe says no. Joey turns to the only other Friend at the coffee house with him:
    Joey: [turns to Rachel] I know why I don't know why I remember her, huh! [winks]
    Rachel: [completely unamused] Do you think I'm someone else?
  • 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 commitment 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 without help.
    • Joey's parents had a poor marriage, with his mother enjoying his 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 commitment.

  • 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 scene transition music in general have a blues feel compared to the more familiar house-rock cues later on, and music would sometimes play over a scene instead of dialogue to underscore for comedic or dramatic effect. The fashions also look a little plastic and artificial this season (they would look much 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 immediately dropped in favor of Ross/Rachel and later Chandler/Monica.
    • Because of the planned Joey/Monica relationship, both their characterizations were subtly different: Joey was more jerkish and a Handsome Lech, while Monica was much 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 much 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, to the point that 9/11 was never directly addressed in the show (despite the Friends living a 30-minute walk from Ground Zero) besides Joey starting to wear FDNY shirts and (of course) the towers disappearing from establishing shots.
    • One running gag of sorts that was extremely common in the first season was to have a tertiary character with an in-universe nickname based on their occupation or some personality trait. Examples include Paul the Wine Guy, Fun Bobby, Fake Monica, Young Ethan and Brian from Payroll. This almost completely vanished from the second season on.
    • With not as much serialization and cross-character plots as it would pick up once the show was more established, season 1 early on is full of Seinfeld-ian conversations and A-plots. For instance, the third episode "TOW The Thumb" involves a conversation on the meaning of when a date says "We should do this another time"; Chandler's smoking habit; Phoebe getting fortunes from mistakes (like the titular thumb in a soda); and Monica's inability to dump a guy the gang likes more than she does, with the Seinfeld-esque episode-ending ironic punchline being him admitting he couldn't stand her friends.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Both in out out of universe, Gunther can be seen in the background of most of the Central Perk scenes in the first two seasons. He doesn't have a line until season 3.
  • 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 tumultuous Ross and Rachel showing a couple who actually work at their relationship and make each other stronger. They both go from careers that they were good at, but mistreated in, to jobs they both love and are respected in. 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!
    [murderous glares]
    Monica: Okay, we'll think of a name later.
  • Elevator Conference: In "The One with Ross's Teeth," Rachel is having trouble getting her boss, Kim, to acknowledge her in the elevator on the way to the office each morning. Until...
    Rachel: So I hear the Ralph Lauren fooled around with someone in the copy room.
    Kim slams on the emergency brake button
    Kim: Tell me everything.
  • Embarrassing Ad Gig:
    • Joey models for an ad that turns out to be a public service campaign warning against sexually transmitted diseases. Women keep turning him down when they recognize him and think he really does have an STD.
    • One of the informercials Joey was in was for the Milkmaster, a plastic spout that you attached to milk cartons so you didn't have to open the flaps. His character is unable to open carton flaps without tearing the carton open and spilling milk. That episode was "The One With The Metaphorical Tunnel" and it gets a callback in "The One With The Tiny T-Shirt" when someone recognizes him as "the guy that doesn't know how to pour milk". She even tells other people, who keep asking Joey to open their drinks. And Joey being Joey, he can't always do it.
    • Joey starred in a Japanese commercial plugging lipstick for men. He gives the tape of the commercial to Chandler, who promises to watch it but doesn't. He tells Joey he watched it, but Joey can tell he's lying because otherwise he would have made some kind of joke about it.
  • 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 had?
    • 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. Chandler had already reached the point of self-deprecation about his name when the series starts, but his middle name is so much this trope that he successfully hides it from his friends (and the audience) until season 8.
    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 trios. All six main characters appeared in 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:
    • Phoebe in "TOW in Massapequa" about her insanely happy boyfriend, Parker:
    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!
    • Another Phoebe line:
      "Sluts-R-Us"? Is that a real place?... Are they hiring?
  • Escalating War:
    • The Vegas episode, 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.
    • 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.
  • Estranged Soap Family: The last two seasons seldom if ever featured Ross' son Ben or the parents of either Rachel or Ross/Monica, who used to be fairly frequent recurring characters.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: Season One episode "The One With The Butt" has Chandler date an extremely promiscuous Italian woman.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Ross and Monica's cousin Cassie, played by Denise Richards. By the end of her episode Phoebe is seriously considering asking her out.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Monica's oh so perfect season 1 boyfriend Alan.
    Ross: If only he were a woman.
    Rachel: Yeah... (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: Subverted 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.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Played with. Monica, Ross and Rachel grew up together. Chandler was Ross's roommate 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.
      Phoebe: Muahahahahaha!!!
      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. She also sold Phoebe's birth certificate and stole her Judy Jetson thermos.
    • Parodied in another episode, when Joey was dating someone who honestly believed he was the character he played on TV, Dr. Drake Ramoray. 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.
  • Exact Words: After the nasty Ross/Rachel breakup, Phoebe asks Rachel if she can set Ross up with a friend, Bonnie. Rachel doesn't remember Bonnie, and Phoebe mentions that she was the bald friend from an earlier party, to which Rachel enthusiastically says it's OK. When she sees Bonnie, she's stunned that Bonnie has Christine Taylor's beautiful blond locks.
    Rachel: You said she was bald!
    Phoebe: Yeah, she was bald, she's not now.
    [later on]
    Phoebe: You said it was OK!
    Rachel: You said she was bald!
    Phoebe: WAS! WAS, WAS, WAS!
  • 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.
  • Experimented in College:
    • In one episode, Rachel claims that she kissed one of her sorority sisters (played by Winona Ryder), only no one, except Joey, believes her. In the end, it turns out to be true (and the woman in question is still in love with her).
    • In another episode. Phoebe's Citizenship Marriage husband is an ice dancer who everyone (including himself) thought was gay. It turns out he's really straight. Nevrtheless he admits that he experimented in college: Well, I've never told you this but, there were one or two times, back in college, when I'd get really drunk, go to a straight bar and wake up with a woman next to me. But I, I, I told myself it was the liquor and everyone experiments in college.
  • 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.
  • Exposition Already Covered: In Season 2, "The One with Ross's New Girlfriend", Rachel is so upset over Ross having a new girlfriend named Julie, when Ross and Julie try to talk about their horrible bus ride, Rachel immediately gives away the ending to the story under the excuse that the story was just so good, it was all she could think about, leaving Ross and Julie just a bit irritated with her.
  • The Ex's New Jerkass: Rachel briefly dates a guy, played by Ben Stiller, who seems perfectly pleasant around the gang. Ross witnesses him absolutely scream at an older couple at a play, but no one believes him, because Ross and Rachel used to date and just went through a bitter breakup. The group does eventually catch Rachel's boyfriend screaming at Joey and Chandler's pets. He reacts by saying, "Well, I guess we're broken up now. GOD!"
  • Eye Contact as Proof: In the third season of Friends, Chandler is dating Janice, a woman he has dumped three times in a year. Eventually they get back together and Chandler seems happy. Too bad she really annoys Joey, who just wants to know when Chandler is breaking up with her. When Chandler insists this time he's going the distance with Janice, Joey isn't buying it.
    Joey: Okay. All right. You look me in the eye and tell me, without blinking, that you're not breaking up with her. No blinking.
    Chandler: (looks him in the eye) I'm not breaking up with her! (They stare at each other for a while, then Joey blows in his face.)
  • 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.