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  • Pair the Spares:
    • Parodied/exaggerated. Ross’s doppelganger Russ, newly dumped by Rachel, is saying goodbye to the gang. Julie, the woman Ross broke up with to be with Rachel, turns up. Russ and Julie look into each other's eyes, and in mere seconds are completely in love.
    • Joey comments to Phoebe that "Ross and Rachel are together, Chandler and Monica are getting married, maybe you and I should...". She replies that they do, "all in good time".
    • Joey and Phoebe both avert this, remaining Platonic Life-Partners until the end.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: Chandler and Joey watch "Good Will Humping" and "In and Out and In Again" in "The One with the Free Porn". Ursula used Phoebe's name to appear in "Sex Toy Story 2", "Inspect Her Gadget", "Buffay the Vampire Layer" and "Lawrence of a Labia". In "The One with the Red Sweater", Joey watches "Doctor Do Me A Little". In "The One Where Monica and Richard Are Just Friends", there's "Clockwork Orgy" (which a really exists.
  • Paranormal Episode: The series had an episode where Phoebe says she has been possessed by the ghost of an old woman, who will only leave her body after she has seen "everything". The ghost apparently leaves her body after Phoebe goes to Carol and Susan's lesbian wedding.
  • Parental Savings Splurge: Monica expects her parents to help her out, financially, with her wedding to Chandler. Unfortunately they already spent it on a holiday house for themselves.
  • Pass the Popcorn:
    • Rachel gives Ross permission to hit on Isabella Rosselini when she comes into the coffeehouse:
    Monica: Rach, are you really gonna let him do this?
    Rachel: Honey, he's about to go hit on Isabella Rosselini. I'm just sorry we don't got popcorn.
    • In another episode, when Ross and Rachel are about to have a discussion, they ask Phoebe to leave. Phoebe says "Okay," then sits down right next to them, smiling eagerly. When the ensuing argument peters out to nothing, Phoebe gets annoyed: "That's it? You call that a fight! C'mon! "We were on a break!" "No, we weren't!" What happened to you two?"
  • Parental Favoritism: Ross was favored by his parents as a child. As a result, as an adult, he is a neurotic Know-Nothing Know-It-All who is full of himself and refuses to accept responsibility for his actions.
    • In "TOW Rachel's Sister", Rachel finds out her dad refers to her as the only one of his daughters he's proud of, because she's financially independent. This, though, is really a case of her sisters making her look good, because they're shallow and vapid and rely on others to support them.
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: Jack Geller walks in on Monica and Chandler having sex in a storecupboard.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word:
    • In an earlier episode, Chandler, bemoaning his pickiness with women, once mentioned he broke up with a girl for (mis)pronouncing a word, "supposebly" (meant to be "supposedly".) The incorrect version seems to stick with Joey, though.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: Chandler keeps a list of five celebrities he'd like to date. While most of them are attractive Hollywood actresses who exist in the real world, this list also includes Jessica Rabbit, a cartoon character.
  • Pest Episode: Subverted when Phoebe's boyfriend Mike tries to convince her to get rid of her pet rat she named Bob. Bob turns out to be a female when Phoebe discovers a rat nest, then Bob is killed by one of the traps that was set by Mike. Mike tries to get Phoebe to give up the baby rats because they can reproduce. Phoebe later gets rid of them.
  • Pick Up Babes With Babes: Joey and Chandler intend to use Ben to pick up women in "The One With the Baby on the Bus," but the first woman Ben snares thinks Joey and Chandler are a gay couple.
  • Picked Flowers Are Dead:
    • "The One where Rachel Quits": Free-spirited Phoebe gets sad when she realizes Joey sells Christmas trees. Joey tries to convince her it's their life purpose to make people happy at Christmas. She sort of accepts that but is horrified when she sees trees getting destroyed even before they're sold. Monica and Rachel's apartment then gets filled with all of the old Christmas trees from Joey's work. Phoebe is excited the trees are saved. Chandler snarks it's like Night of the Living Dead Christmas Trees.
      Joey: And I gotta go sell some Christmas trees.
      Phoebe: Have fun. Oh wait, no, don’t! I forgot I am totally against that now.
      Joey: What? Me having a job?
      Phoebe: No, no, I am against innocent trees being cut down in their prime, and their, their corpses grotesquely dressed in like tinsel and twinkly lights. Hey, how do you sleep at night?
    • "The One with the Ball": Phoebe's boyfriend Gary wants to ask Phoebe to move in with him. The friends think it might be too soon, but he thinks it's the right step. Monica gets excited, but advises him not to bring her flowers because Phoebe cries when they die.
  • The Picture Came with the Frame: Phoebe's grandmother's MO. She convinced her for years that her father was the model in the photos. And her grandfather was Einstein.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse:
    • In "TOW The Girl Who Hits Joey", Joey's short, new girlfriend Katie playfully punches him over and over, which Joey admits really hurts. The others make fun of him for it until Katie does it to Rachel, who responds by kicking her in the shin.
    • Monica, who is the smallest of the gang, but described as 'freakishly strong'
  • The Plan: Pulled off by Chandler to get a baby named after him (instead of Joey). Which, since Chandler is a Butt-Monkey, backfires when the baby turns out to be a girl and the parents don't consider to change the name.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: After pretending he and Monica had got divorced, Chandler says this to her.
    Chandler: "You know what the worst part was? I got to see what my life would be like without you...please promise that you will never leave me, that we will grow old together, and be with each other for the rest of our lives."
    Monica: "I promise."
  • The Pollyanna: Phoebe's boyfriend Parker (Alec Baldwin), who annoys the rest of the gang and eventually Phoebe herself.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This show is built on this trope. You can actually watch the writers become more dependent on this trope as the series progresses. The best (worst?) example is when Chandler attempts to masturbate and Monica (his wife) interrupts him. He quickly changes the channel to a show about sharks, and Monica presumes this means he finds sharks sexually stimulating.
    • The infamous break up between Ross and Rachel stems heavily from this trope. Had Rachel been clearer on what "being on a break" meant, Ross would not have misinterpreted it as a break up.
    • This actually contrasts with how Monica and Chandler's communicate: Several episodes revolve around them misunderstanding each other but they normally resolve their problem by talking things through at the end.
    • The season 9 opener episode, The One Where No One Proposes, is built around this trope.
    • One of the final episodes finally pokes fun at itself at this, when Ross is celebratory over getting tenure and thinking Rachel is crying tears of joy when she's actually broken up over being fired from Ralph Lauren. The gang lets Ross carry on obliviously until Rachel finally spills the beans; as he's giving Rachel a consoling hug, he looks at the group and snarks "A little heads-up would've been nice!"
  • Poor Man's Porn: Chandler comes to visit Rachel at work so he can take a peek at the most recent catalogues.
    • When Joey displays an unusual talent for drawing anatomically-correct pictures of naked people, he follows it up with "This little talent came in useful when I couldn't afford porn!"
    • One episode inverted this with a subplot dedicated Chandler and Joey accidentally getting the porn channel on TV for free. At first, they are thrilled and refuse to turn the TV off (fearing it will go away if they do). However, over the course of the episode, they become so saturated with the constant porn that it begins to warp their views of daily life and they admit they need a break.
  • Pose of Silence: The most blatant examples of this are from this show, where it would seem the characters are all deaf, and an invisible soundproof wall was found just behind all sofas.
    • And menus when the characters being discussed are sitting at the same table...
  • Potty Emergency: When Joey gets an audition with a famous Broadway actor/director, he goes along having just had a drink and needing to pee. This, evidently, makes him a better actor (since he plays a nervous man with lines like "I could go right now!") He has an even worse potty emergency when he goes for the call back, due to trying to need to pee for the audition. This unfortunate circumstance leads to him having Potty Failure whilst said famous director is hugging him...
    • In "The One With The Evil Orthodontist", Chandler is waiting for a call from a girl he went out with. Right before he goes to the bathroom, the phone rings.
    Chandler: (to Monica) She's on the other line, she's gonna call me back.
    • It evolves into a jig as he's both excited, and still has to pee.
    Chandler: (jumping back and forth) She's on the other line, she's gonna call me back; she's on the other line, she's gonna call me back.
    Monica: Don't you have to pee?
    Chandler: That's why I'm dancing. (goes into bathroom)
    • Another minor example when the gang is outside Joey's door, after he got fired from Days of Our Lives:
    Rachel: Oh c'mon Joey, we care about you.
    Chandler: We're worried about you.
    Monica: And some of us really have to pee.
  • Power of Friendship: Obviously. It's pretty clear none of the characters would get through any of their problems, without the rest of the gang to support them. This was established from the minute the theme song played:
    I'll be there for you... When the rain starts to pour
    I'll be there for you... Like I've been there before
    I'll be there for you...'Cause you're there for me too
  • Power Outage Plot: In "The One with the Blackout", The city's power goes out. While Chandler is stuck in an ATM vestibule with a model named Jill, his friends all try to hang out and have some intimate discussions about sex and relationships. They also try lighting the apartment with candles, which works until the last candle goes out. Suddenly, when the lights come back on, Rachel and recurring character Paolo are found kissing. Jill and Chandler, meanwhile, end up bonding and playing a game, but she leaves when the lights come back.
  • Practice Kiss: Joey had an audition for a role where he had to kiss a guy, so he tried to talk Ross or Chandler into kissing him to help him get used to it. Ross eventually did it but by then Joey had already had the audition.
    • In the alternate universe episode Monica and Chandler have practice sex. Like their real-life counterparts this leads to love.
  • Preemptive "Shut Up": Chandler proposes a rather transparent con to try and fool Joey. Monica responds by saying, "Don't you think Joey will figure that out?" She then immediately realizes how unlikely that is and cuts off Chandler's rebuttal with, "I heard it."
    • When Ross is angry that Rachel kissed Gavin while he gave dating up (per her request) to help with Emma, he remarks that if she's gonna kiss guys she barely knows, then so will he. Before Chandler can even respond, Ross sarcastically remarks, "Very funny, Ross is gay, ha ha!"
  • Pregnancy Test Plot: At Monica and Chandler's wedding, Phoebe and Rachel find a positive pregnancy test in Monica's bathroom and assume she's pregnant. Turns out the test is Rachel's.
  • Present Peeking:
    • In "The One With The Routine", Rachel and Phoebe look for their presents from Monica. They claim they do it every year as part of Christmas fun, but they have never found them. Rachel persuades Chandler to join them so that he can give Monica gifts of the same value.
      Rachel: I mean what if she gets you a great present, two medium presents, and a bunch of little presents? And you've just gotten her one great present? I mean that's just gonna make her feel bad. Why would you do that to her Chandler? Why? Why?
    • Monica is impatient to see what she and Chandler got for their wedding presents. First she unwraps just a tiny gift, which is a salt shaker, but she ends up opening all of them, and doesn't manage to wrap them again for Chandler's benefit.
  • Pretty in Mink:
    • When Phoebe gets a mink as an heirloom from her mother, she eventually realizes it actually looks good on her. So even though there was a Reset Button, for that time, she did think she looked, well, pretty in mink.
    • When Phoebe and Mike get married, Mike's mother wears a white fur coat to the wedding.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Rachel accidentally breaks a dinosaur thing in Ross's apartment. She really hopes it's not real because Ross treasures his precious collection. Subverted when Rachel finds out it's fake and she casually hides it into a lamp.
  • Primal Scene: Monica first found a video tape of her parents having sex (complete with "Oh Jack" and "Oh Judy"). Then a few episodes later she was hiding from her parents in the bathroom when both walk in, and, well, this quote pretty much sums it up:
    Ross: Mon? Mon, are you okay?
    Monica: Remember that video I found of Mom and Dad?
    Ross: Yeah?
    Monica: Well I just caught the live show.
    • In a later episode, when she recounts this, Chandler mentions that he once walked in on his parents and a man having a threesome.
  • Product Placement: The infamous episode "The One With Pottery Barn", which features Rachel redecorating Phoebe's apartment in all Pottery Barn products and having to lie to her about where she purchased them, and has been snarkily described as a half hour Pottery Barn commercial. To this day, Pottery Barn claims to see a spike in their sales every single time that episode airs.
  • Prosthetic Limb Reveal: Chandler learns his girlfriend has a prosthetic leg when Joey admits to throwing it into a fireplace on a date.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: When Chandler enters into a serious relationship with Janice in early season 3, the relationship is objectively Janice cheating on her husband with Chandler. She and her husband had separated at the time, but were still married with at least a possibility of reconciliation. Which happened- what the audience is shown as Janice cheating with The Mattress King (her estranged husband) and her subsequent breakup with Chandler was really her choosing to go back to her husband and child and end her affair with Chandler. It wasn't until sometime between then and her appearance in season 4 that she actually divorced Mattress King.
  • Punch a Wall: Parodied.
    Ross: [explaining why his life sucks] ...And then none of this would have happened, and I wouldn't have put my fist through the wall!
    Rachel: You put your fist through the wall?
    Ross: No, I missed and hit the door. But it opened really hard!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Janice's Incoming Ham phrase "Oh! My! God!", that makes Chandler's balls "jump back up inside his body".
    • Ross does it twice in the same scene. An emphatic version of an infamous phrase ("We! Were! On! A! Break!") and "Front — and back'''!"
    • And Ross again in this scene. As in:
    Ross: It. Was. My. Sandwich.
    Colleague: Now, now. Calm down — come look in my office. Some of it may still be in the trash. W-well, it was quite large; I had to throw most of it away!
    Ross: You-you-you-you. Threw. My. Sandwich. Away? My sandwich?! MY!! SANDWICH!!!!
  • Punctuated Pounding: A scone gets on the receiving end of Ross' rage after finding out Emily is getting married.
  • Pursue the Dream Job:
    • Monica's then-boyfriend Pete, an uber-rich businessman, gives up business to become an Ultimate Fighter. He gets clobbered, of course.
    • Subverted with Chandler who works as a data analyst for a corporate organization but he has always assumed it's temporary. When he's offered a promotion, he quits because he doesn't want to get stuck there. However, he has no idea what he'd like to do instead and the money they offer him is too good, so he returns.
    • Played Straight in later seasons when Chandler learns he's the only one of their gang who hates his job, and pursues a new career in advertising. It seems to have been chosen rather randomly but he really likes it. However, he has to start at the bottom of the career ladder.
    • Phoebe's Love Interest Mike used to be a lawyer, however, he decided to become a professional pianist in his early thirties. It helps that he has some family money.
    • Despite being near-broke, Rachel quits her waitress gig at Central Perk to start at the ground level in the fashion business. The rest of the series has her slowly but steadily climbing the ladder and putting together a successful career in the field.
  • Put Off Their Food: Ross reads several books about childbirth while Carol is pregnant. Phoebe is flipping through one of them:
    Phoebe: Ooh, this is says in some parts of the world, people actually eat the placenta.
    Chandler: And we’re done with the yogurt. (tosses his yogurt container onto the table)
    • Later in the series when Ugly Naked Guy is moving out:
    Rachel: Ohh, I'm gonna miss that big old squishy butt.
    Chandler: And we're done with the chicken fried rice. (sets down his container)
  • Race for Your Love: Done several times, most notably in the finale when Phoebe (recklessly) drives Ross to the airport so he can tell Rachel he loves her.
    • This actually mirrors Rachel's attempt to speak to Ross, before he boards the plane, after Chandler reveals Ross' feelings for her, in Season 1 finale. Ross' race to the airport in season 10, is actually not his first time; after having done the exact same thing with Emily, they eventually get married. Then he ends up chasing her in an airport, once again; this time in London.
  • Rage Judo: Ross and Monica start telling on each other to their parents, each one-upping the other on their outrageous behavior, in a back-and-forth, continually failing version of this trope.
    Monica: And Dad, y'know that mailman that you got fired? He didn't steal your Playboys! Ross did!
    Ross: Yeah, well, Hurricane Gloria didn't break the porch swing, Monica did!
    Monica: Ross hasn't worked at the museum for a year!
    Ross: Monica and Chandler are living together!
    Monica: Ross married Rachel in Vegas! And got divorced! Again!
  • Rapid-Fire Name Guessing: Joey is confused whether he's about to go out with Angela or Andrea. Chandler gives the identifier for each, and Joey remembers that he's going out with Julie.
  • A Rare Sentence: In "The One With The Holiday Armadillo", Monica says "Okay Ben you stay here and Santa, The Armadillo and I will have a little talk in the Kitchen. There's a sentence I never thought I'd say".
  • Ready for Lovemaking:
    • Monica did this for Richard: skimpy negligee, rose petals scattered on the bed, a fresh rose in her teeth, wine at the ready, the whole shebang.
    • Rachel did it for Joshua at his parents' posh townhouse. While he went elsewhere to wash up, she dressed down to her nightie and presented herself on the couch —at which point Joshua's parents came in. She tried to pass it off as the latest European fashion and even went out to dinner with them (un)dressed like that.
    • Implied just after Chandler and Monica get together — when their relationship is still a secret. Rachel goes into Monica's room after knocking (and hearing a rather seductive "I've been waiting for you" in response) and comes out screaming a moment later. When Monica claims to have been taking a nap, Rachel replies that no one takes a nap "in that position".
    • In "The One with the Flashback", Joey gets naked when Monica invites him for lemonade.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • See "The One With The Proposal" above.
    • Emily and Ross's marriage was meant to last much longer. However, due to Helen Baxendale's pregnancy and desire to remain in England, it was abruptly cut short.
    • Reese Witherspoon (Jill, Rachel's sister) was supposed to have a story arc lasting for around six episodes, but due to complications with her film schedule, it was shortened to two.note  In Witherspoon's place, Amy Green, the previously unnamed third Green sister, was created instead; Christina Applegate won an Emmy for her guest spot. The writers have said in the episode commentaries that there have actually been several instances throughout the series of storylines being cut short due to backstage problems with the guest stars they hired.
    • Lisa Kudrow's pregnancy necessitated the story of Phoebe being a surrogate for her brother's triplets. It was also the reason she had to stay behind when they filmed the episodes in London.
    • The Monica/Chandler proposal in Season 6. Originally, the plan was to have a "big showdown" between Chandler and Richard, cultivating in a cliffhanger with Monica deciding who to move forward with. However, rumors that Season Six would be the final season of Friends, made the writers decide to end it with Monica proposing to Chandler instead. They also stated on the episodes commentary that they felt the 'showdown' ending would be too predictable as Monica would obviously choose Chandler. (Given the only reason Richard was in the running was because she thought Chandler didn't want to get married at all, and had flat out told Chandler a season before she loved him more than Richard and he was now the love of her life.)
    • Chandler had to move to Tulsa for a few episodes because Matthew Perry's rehab stays would have messed up filming too much otherwise.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic:
    • Friends was excoriated by English teachers across the world for degrading the language with all its, like, disfluencies and, y'know, rising inflection? It's like, did they ever stop to think, y'know, "Maybe they're just talking like real people talk?"
    • One episode makes fun of Ross's tendency to do this when Rachel dates a guy identical to Ross, named Russ. Both of them occasionally stutter, repeat words, pause between words and use "um" and "uh" a lot.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Joey is the obvious example; however, Phoebe tends to reveal many unexpected sexual escapades at the most random times as well. This is addressed in season 9, when Ross notes that she's well into her thirties, and still hasn't had a long-term relationship.
    • Also in season 9, when Rachel tells Phoebe about how Ross flirted with a store clerk, she says he's "picking up some shop girl at Sluts-R-Us". Phoebe pauses for a moment, then asks, "Is that a real place? ...Are they hiring?"
    • It's also hinted Rachel was like this in high school.
  • Real Men Hate Affection: Averted with Chandler and Joey who hug enough that Chandler lampshades this trope joking "Do you think we do this to much?" They continue to show a lot of a physical affection for each other, even going for a hug over a handshake in the finale.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • A few, but the best one was Hugh Laurie's one to Rachel in 'The One With Ross' Wedding'.
    • And in "TOW All The Jealousy", Monica gives one to Julio (the poet who described all American women as an "empty vase") — through a barbershop quartet.
  • Recurring Character:
    • Janice, who makes an appearance in all but one season.
    • Jack and Judy Geller are the only consistent family members of the bunch.
  • Relationship Revolving Door
    • Ross and Rachel's relationship epitomized the trope for almost all nine seasons of it run, and was the show's primary focus. All told, they broke up and got back together four times.
    • Chandler had an on-and-off relationship with Janice (she of the Annoying Laugh) for several years, even after Janice got married.
    • For the first season or two Monica had an on-and-off with "Fun Bobby." The gang realized that Fun Bobby had a drinking problem and helped him quit, but then discovered that without alcohol Bobby wasn't Fun.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Rachel running out on her wedding in the pilot, sending her to Monica, the only person she knew who lived close by. After being inseparable in school, they had drifted apart in their adult lives and hadn't kept in touch, and Monica even briefly balks at Rachel inviting herself to stay with Monica. They quickly become best of friends again and stay that way.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Ross and Rachel in Season 2.
    • Monica and Chandler get together in the series 4 finale. It's initially a Friends with Benefits relationship that upgrades further to a full-blown romance that eventually ends up with them Happily Married.
  • Remember the New Guy?: All the celebrity guest stars on Friends easily fall under this trope.
    • For instance, Brad Pitt's character, who was supposedly a close friend of Ross.
    • Phoebe says she has a roommate Denise who has always been there if only the gang would listen to her. Word of God says that Denise didn't actually exist. It was just a weird Phoebe quirk the writers tossed in for comic relief.
  • Replacement Flat Character: The originally spoiled, selfish Rachel undergoes character development to become more complex and likeable. In two separate episodes, we meet her two sisters who are still the spoiled, selfish people Rachel used to be. It's revealed that Rachel is the only daughter their father is proud of, precisely because of her development.
  • Retail Therapy: Rachel indulged in this in the first episode and often after she got a better paying job. Jill, Rachel's sister, did something similar after getting cut off by their father (having memorized all his credit card numbers). When Rachel find out she... keeps all the purchased items for herself. To teach Jill a lesson.
  • Retroactive Wish: In the pilot, Ross says, "I just want to be married again" right before Rachel appears wearing a wedding dress. Chandler immediately jumps in, "And I just want a million dollars!"
  • Returning the Wedding Ring: Rachel has to return her engagement ring to Barry in the second episode. Unfortunately it goes missing the night before, forcing the gang to scour the apartment looking for it.
  • Revealing Hug: Rachel stops short of confessing her feelings to Ross when she sees him and Emily (his bride-to-be) kissing and instead wishes him a great marriage with a "congratulations" hug, while looking utterly miserable when she hugs him.
    • In the first season episode "The One With the Dozen Lasagnes," Rachel breaks it off with the Romantic False Lead, Paolo, after discovering he hit on Phoebe. When Ross swoops in to reassure (and hopefully woo) her, Rachel goes on a diatribe about being done with men romantically before gratefully hugging Ross for his support. Poor Ross's face drops from friendly understanding to "well, crud."
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The following exchange from the episode "The One Where No-One's Ready":
    Ross: It starts at eight. We can't be late.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Joey and Chandler's chick when it was first brought on the show. Chandler lampshades this when it later grows into a rooster.
  • Ridiculously Long Phone Hold: In "The One with the Screamer", Phoebe spends several days on hold (on Monica's phone) with a company she needs to talk to before her phone warranty expires. It is only after these days have passed that they realize they are being charged for this call (Long distance) since Phoebe had mistaken the Utah area-code for a toll-free number.
  • Right-Hand Hottie: Rachel hires a totally unqualified guy for her assistant solely on the basis that she thought he was cute.
  • Right Through the Wall: Their upstairs neighbor pulls up his carpet, so everything (including his sex with Phoebe, and later, other women) can be heard clearly in Monica's apartment.
    • When the Friends go to a conference in Barbados, Monica, Chandler and Phoebe are in a room that's caught up between two situations. Namely Rachel and Joey hooking up, and Ross and Charlie getting together. Chandler then squicks out Monica by asking why she's listening to the wall that has her brother on the other side.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: Rachel and Monica use Rock Paper Scissors to decide who gets the last condom in the box. Rachel wins.
  • Romance-Inducing Smudge: After Monica and Richard break up, the two engage in various, completely platonic (in the beginning, anyway) activities such as preparing food for a dinner Richard is hosting. He gets tomato juice on his shirt and Monica is quick to wipe the stain off his chest, leading to much tension.
  • Romantic Candlelit Dinner: In "The One With Unagi", Monica tries to repay Chandler's romantic mix-tape with a romantic dinner, the apartment lit with candles as a cherry on top. Then Janice's voice pops up on the mix-tape, Monica realizes Chandler didn't make the tape, and the romantic mood is gone.
  • Romantic False Lead:
    • In season one, Rachel dated muscle-bound Italian Paolo (who was formerly the Trope Namer for this very page) while Ross looked on jealously. The writers lampshaded Paolo's role by having Chandler's mother, a romance novelist, refer to Paolo as "a complication you eventually kill off." In the second season, Ross dated academic Julie while Rachel looked on jealously. Since Paolo was a slow-witted pig who could barely communicate with Rachel while Julie was a sweet and lovely person, the writers hit one trap then the other. According to the nature of the Ross-Rachel relationship, pretty much every person either one of them dated for more than an episode after that point had elements of the false lead.
    • Ross' English girlfriend Emily at least seemed to be a generally likable false lead, and Rachel's last minute "I HAVE TO TELL HIM HOW I FEEL" seemed exceptionally selfish and petty (a passenger played by Hugh Laurie calls her out on it too). While she does indeed decide against telling Ross she still loves him and simply wishes him a happy marriage, Ross accidentally says her name when he's up on the altar, showing that he at least has some feelings for her. Later when Ross tries to reconcile with Emily, she too is turned into a selfish, petty shrew by forcing Ross to never see Rachel again and, when she can't have her way, turning her back on him. The writers didn't plan it this way, but the actress who played Emily got pregnant, so they had to write out her character faster than it was originally intended.
    • Joey himself was a false lead on at least two occasions: first with Chandler and Kathy, then later with Ross and Charlie.
    • Ross turned out to be the false lead for Charlie and Greg Kinnear's character. The part where he confesses his love and Charlie runs off with him plays like the end of a romantic comedy - except we weren't following the couple's love story, we were following her love story with the other guy (Ross). It's actually pretty hilarious watching Ross' face when he realises he's the false lead and not The Hero.
    • In series 5, Rachel inadvertently creates one for Chandler and Monica. Their relationship is secret and they're just Friends with Benefits... until Rachel sets up Monica with a very handsome male nurse called Dan, devestating Chandler. Dan's out of the picture by the end of the episode, but his role was to make Chandler and Monica face the realisation that their "goofing around" has taken them well beyond the friendship stage.
    • Also Richard in the Season 6 finale when he and Chandler both propose to Monica. Although he had been a serious Love Interest in the past, by this stage Monica and Chandler were blissfully happy, clearly meant for each other and the last season finale had Monica promising Chandler he, and not Richard, was the love of her life and she loved him more than anyone else before. Richard's appreance was clearly a (well-written) ploy to create drama and miscommunication. (In fact Monica didn't just choose Chandler over Richard, but when his proposal plans were ruined, staged her own proposal and asked him to marry her.)
  • Romantic Rain: When Ross and Rachel first get together in season 2, they have an argument in an empty coffee house and Rachel throws Ross out. It's raining and he keeps watching her through the window. She unlocks the door, they look at each other, fall into each other's arms and start kissing. The rain pouring down is seen in the background through the open door.
  • Roommate Com: A classic example. The show has a group of six best friends ever, three young women and three young men. Rachel moves in with Monica who lives across the hall from Joey and Chandler. They also hang out with Phoebe who lives with her grandma and Monica's divorced brother Ross. (The roommate sets were sometimes mixed during different seasons.) Chandler was supposed to be gay, but it was turned into a Running Joke that people assume he's gay. Joey is a crappy actor and Phoebe is a weird one who sings and plays the guitar abysmally.
  • Roommate Drama: After Joey moves out, Chandler is so lonely he finds a new roommate and stumbles upon a strange, temperamental man who accuses him of sleeping with his ex girlfriend while also naming a pet after Chandler. He's so unhinged that Chandler has to force him to leave eventually.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: In "The One With All The Rugby", Ross plays rugby to impress Emily, and ends up in agony.
    Ross: Oh, just hold on a second. I’m watching this rugby thing on ESPN. I don’t know what the big deal is. I’m man enough to play this sport.
    Joey: Dude, you’re not even man enough to order the channel that carries the sport.
    • Joey tries to explain the sport to him.
      Joey: Right here, this is a "scrum," okay. It's kinda like a huddle.
      Ross: And is a "hum" kinda like a "scruddle"? Heh.
      Joey: Heh heh. Ross, these guys are gonna kill you.
  • Running Gag: Ross's repeated cry of "We were on a break!" whenever anyone mentions that he once cheated on Rachel.
    • This running joke faded over time but resurfaced some years after it began when, in response to Chandler discovering his girlfriend had cheated on him, Ross hesitatingly commented "maybe it was okay, you know, if she thought you were on a break", provoking a rapturous response from the audience - a prime example of how a well implemented running gag can lead to eternal love for a show from its fans.
    • This got a crowning moment in either season 4 or 5, when Ross is about to marry Emily. Rachel's on a plane, venting her entire history with Ross to unwilling passengers when guest star Hugh Laurie snaps, takes off his earphones, and calls her shallow topping it off with "And I think it was quite clear that you guys were on a break." Cue shocked face by Rachel.
    • After an episode in which Joey showcased his greatest chat-up line - "How you doin'?" on Phoebe, proved extremely popular, it became synonymous to viewers with his terrier-like libido, and he went on to use it repeatedly whenever he suddenly realised that he might have a chance with a woman.
    • It was also a well known fact that Joey had an ongoing love affair with sandwiches of every kind.
    • Phoebe's liking for kinky sexual practices were discussed regularly.
    • There were regular gags about Rachel's pre-surgery nose, leading eventually to a flashback episode in which a teenage Rachel appeared with an enormous arch on the bridge of her nose.
      Monica: (while discussing Rachel's pregnancy) Are you afraid she'll have your nose?
      Rachel: (piteously) I am. I really am.
    • Also, the references to Monica's previous fatness, and, in the last few seasons, Chandler's gay "qualities".
      Chandler: Wow, we were meant to be together. We both have the soundtrack to "Annie"!
      Monica: Honey, those are both yours.
    • Also, Ross' numerous marriages (and divorces) are brought up in conversation very often.
    • The duck and the chicken appearing at odd moments.
    • Chandler's cog-in-the-machine, corporate drone job, and the fact that no one can remember what it is. (It seems unlikely that he has people skills...)
      • And then lampshaded years into the show, Chandler finally changes his job, and Monica suddenly rattles off the job he used to do.
      Monica: You deserve to do something you love. Not statistical analysis and data reconfiguration.
      Chandler: I quit and you learn what I do?!
    • Phoebe using the fake name "Regina Phalange".
    • Joey's increasingly absurd list of nonexistent "talents" listed on his acting resume.
    • Ross and Monica's childhood fist-bumping substitute for the middle finger pops up in several episodes.
      • To the point that the other members of the group starting using it, too.
    • For the few times he appeared, Mr. Heckles' appearances always end up like this whenever he complains:
      Heckles: You're disturbing my X.
      One of the Friends: You don't have X.
      Heckles: I could have X.
    • Ugly Naked Guy, who lives in the apartment across the street, and the various things the gang (but never the audience see him doing. Includes a mention in the flashback episode The One With The Flashback where Phoebe notes that "Cute Naked Guy is really starting to put on weight".
  • Sabotutor: Joey once taught a soap-opera acting class, and one of his students wanted Joey to coach him and prepare him for a role of a boxer that Joey auditioned for as well. Joey advised the student to play the role "homosexually". It backfired, though, because it turned out that they loved it and the student was cast.
  • Sadistic Choice: For Ross answering "give up either sex or food" is easy, but "sex or dinosaurs" evokes comparisons to Sophie's Choice. For Joey "sex or food" is almost as hard.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: We have this exchange:
    Joey: (to Ross and Chandler) I need advice from you guys on how to repel women-
    Ross: Hey, I don't repel women! I've been married three times!
    cue Chandler's Sarcastic Clapping
  • Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: In the episode "The One With The Prom Video," Monica says that Roy, her prom date, had seen Star Wars 317 times. His name was even in the paper for this.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: In the episode "The One With The Evil Orthodontist" Chandler is staring intently at a telephone, waiting for a girl to call. Monica sneaks up on him and makes the phone buzzing/ringing sound to startle him. He scrambles for the handset to answer it before realizing that she tricked him. He sneers at her, "Hell is filled with people just like you", but Monica just defiantly tosses her head.
  • Screw the Electric Bill!: Lampshaded in an episode, after Joey sees how big the electric is, he quickly turns off the lights.
  • Second Love:
    • Ross' rarely seen ex-wife Carol might count as his second love, following as she did after his teenage crush on Rachel (or Rachel herself could be the second love, as their relationship did not progress into actual romance until after Carol).
    • Also Chandler was Monica's Third Love whose first love was Richard and second love was Pete. She had other short relationships but they were the only ones she seriously thought about marrying.
    • Fittingly Monica was also Chandler's Third Love as he had serious relationships with Janice and Kathy and was devastated when they ended. note 
    • Monica was also this to Richard. His first love was his ex-wife, who was his High School Sweetheart, and after they got divorced, he fell in love with Monica.
    • Mike is this to Phoebe, her first love being David.
    • And, interestingly enough, Phoebe might have been this for Mike, as it was established that the latter had been married before, and the divorce was harsh enough for him to give up on the institution of marriage until he met Phoebe.
    • It's also notable that in any competition, the Second Loves win almost every time: Monica picked Chandler over Richard, Chandler definitely picked Monica over Janice and Phoebe picked Mike over David.
  • Secret Relationship:
    • Monica and Chandler milked this for almost an entire season. And the other characters found out one... by... one.
    • Double-subverted in a plot where Ross is dating one of his students. They agree to keep it secret, as it's not something Ross would get fired over, but it is "frowned upon". Later, sick of keeping it secret, Ross announces the relationship to his fellow professors, who inform him he will be fired if the administration finds out (it was not just "frowned upon"). Thus, they go back into Secret Relationship mode.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: "The One with Christmas in Tulsa" shows Chandler as completely untempted when a sexy co-worker attempts to seduce him.
  • Self-Deprecation: When Monica and Chandler are looking for sperm donors:
    Monica: It's just that when we were asking him all those questions before I just realized I don't care if he's the most perfect guy in the world. He's not you.
    Chandler: Yeah. He's better!
  • Selective Enforcement: Ross finds out that students are sneaking into the library stacks for sex (particularly the aisle containing his thesis). The library refuses to do anything about it. He decides to monitor the aisle himself, meets a pretty grad student... and ends up getting caught by the librarian.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Chandler (sensitive) and Joey (manly). Generally Joey will sleep with girls for a night and Chandler will make them breakfast the next morning.
    • Played with in one episode: Phoebe was dating two guys at the same time, a manly fireman and a sensitive teacher. She tries to break up with the fireman but discovers that's he's also sensitive and artistic to boot ("He has access to lots of charcoal"). He tries to break up with the teacher while he's fixing up his apartment, and he's totally hunky.
  • Sentimental Music Cue: Occasionally used during the first five or so seasons, usually during a particularly dramatic Ross/Rachel moment.
    • There was plenty of this in the episode where Ross's grandmother died. This wasn't the only problem of the episode. The grandma's moment of death was literally played for laughs and The "Fun" in "Funeral" segments hardly worked together with the sappy and fake emotional moments during which the Full House Music plays.
    • Same problem when Mr. Heckles dies in season 2 and the group leaves his apartment for the final time.
  • Sequel Episode: "TOW the Embryos" and "TOW All the Haste" about Rachel and Monica and Joey and Chandler switching apartments. They both even start the same, with Rachel being rudely awakened in the morning.
  • Series Continuity Error: 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's birthday is stated to be in both October and December.
    • 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.
  • Serious Business:
    • A game of catch that lasted over 24 hours. And when it's ended by Phoebe.
    • "We are dessert stealers! We are living outside of the law!"
    • When a coworker throws away Ross's special sandwich.
    • And of course, to Monica, anything related to cleaning, cooking, and weddings is extremely serious business. Even when the wedding's not even her own.
  • Sex Changes Everything: Ross and Rachel, a Ross and Rachel kiss. Everything'll be great now, right? Ross writes a list of Rachel and Julie's pros and cons. This infuriates Rachel, and she dumps him. B. Later on, they get together for real. The relationship lasts the better part of a year, but Ross gets jealous of Rachel's new job and her coworker Mark. Some misunderstandings and a sleepover with the hot copier girl, and they break up. C. Later on, Rachel says that she'll be with Ross again if he accepts full responsibility. He agrees not knowing what he was agreeing to. They break up again. D. They get drunk in Las Vegas and get married, then divorced. E. Rachel gets pregnant. Cue fighting about whether to get married or not. The creators dangle the carrot in front of the viewers and yank it away over and over again, knowing they'll fall for it every single time.
    • And possibly because of the sheer frustration of Ross and Rachel's relationship when Monica and Chandler had sex, none of this happened. When they argued it was mostly about legitimate couples stuff and they resolved it more often than not by listening to each other and being mindful of the fact that they were different people who would occasionally differ on things. This was partly because they were extremely close prior hookup but unlike Ross and Rachel weren't hiding hopes for 'more' and starry-eyed. Instead Monica and Chandler were well-aware of each other's faults but still best friends who openly admitted they loved each other. You sensed for them the step from platonic to romantic love was a natural one, as they had a stable basis for their relationship.
  • Sex Equals Love: Chandler and Monica started a sexual relationship in London that they initially intended to limit to London. That fell apart after only one episode. The casual nature of their relationship fell apart after only three, and they eventually ended up Happily Married. Somewhat subverted in that several episodes throughout the first four seasons (when they were just friends and nothing more) had made it clear that they did love each other very much, just not in a sexual way. Apparently, introducing the sex was the only nudge needed for them to cross what was clearly (for them) a blurred line between platonic and romantic love, especially when they realized that neither making out or having sex felt weird to them.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Joey-Rachel relationship. There's a few episodes centering around Rachel secretly having feelings for Joey. The cliffhanger of Season 9 has Joey and Rachel kissing. In the first two episodes of Season 10, there's some serious drama about how Ross will feel about the whole thing. And the episode after that...they decide they're better off as friends. The fact that they even went out at all is only mentioned once in the rest of the season. Partially Real Life Writes the Plot as the final season was six episodes less than the others due to Jennifer Aniston's condition of returning only with a shorter season in order to pursue her film career.
  • Shared Family Quirks: As Ross and Monica were siblings they were revealed to have some weird shared obsessions from their childhood, including quiz shows, the Osmonds, a dance routine that they won a school talent show by performing and the "Gellar Family Cup" awarded after family sports matches.
    • Similarly when Phoebe meets her long-lost biological mother she discovers that they both use the made up word "floopy". The mother then plays with this by pointing out her love of pizza as another sign that they must be related.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: Ross and Monica's cousin Cassie shakes her hair loose in slow motion, prompting a sagging jaw from Chandler, Ross forgetting he's related to her and even Phoebe getting turned on.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • For most of series the rest of the gang (especially Phoebe, who helped them unite in the final episode) were this for Ross and Rachel. Later episodes have the other three losing enthusiasm (Joey struggling with his own feelings for Rachel, Monica and Chandler sickening of the Will They or Won't They? saga and busy their more stable relationship). And while Phoebe did ultimately help the two unite in the finale, even she got sick of their drama in the middle seasons, on one occasion calling it "a bunch of high school crap that no one… you know". However, everyone is happy when they get back together for good.
    • Monica also shipped Ross/Emily at one point.
    • Joey was dating Erin. He asks the girls to break up with her for him. Too bad the gals started talking. Cue Phoebe saying "We want you to marry her!"
    • Ironically Monica once shipped Chandler/Kathy while Chandler seemed to ship Richard/Monica and Pete/Monica. This naturally changes later, and actually causes a few issues when he thinks she still loves Richard.
    • Rachel also shipped Monica/Pete.
    • Joey is captain of the Chandler/Monica ship including helping hide their Secret Relationship and officiating at their wedding. This quote pretty much sums up his feelings:
      Joey: You guys are perfect for each other. Y'know, we look at you and-and we see you together and it fits. Y’know? And you just know it's gonna last forever.
    • Ross also gets on board the Chandler/Monica ship when he realizes it's serious and is thrilled at Chandler becoming his brother in law.
  • Ship Tease: Joey and Phoebe are teased a bit. In several instances, they favor each other over the other friends, and with the Monica/Chandler and Ross/Rachel deals, it makes sense for them to be together. At one point, Joey even proposes to Phoebe, but it turns out it's only because he thinks she's pregnant and doesn't want to do it alone. She still responds to his proposal enthusiastically. Phoebe only said she was pregnant to cover for Rachel, who really was pregnant. When Joey finds this out, he proposes to Rachel instead, who rejects him. Phoebe says she will "take him back." The ship was well and truly sunk when Phoebe met and married Mike Hannigan. Him and Phoebe did have two passionate kisses across the series though. The first was when Phoebe was pretending to be her twin sister Ursula (Whom Joey had been seeing and was ditching him, Phoebe wanting to give Joey some closure in Ursula's place). The second was Phoebe's birthday where she laments that she hasn't had the perfect kiss yet.
    Joey: You know, Monica and Chandler are married. Ross and Rachel are having a baby. Maybe you and I should do something.
    Phoebe: All in good time, my love. All in good time.
    • Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow were reportedly keen on the idea that Joey and Phoebe were having casual sex behind everyone's backs, but the writers vetoed the idea.
      • Producers David Crane and Marta Kauffman have said that they "always assumed Joey and Phoebe were having a secret affair". Which may count as Word of God.
    • "The One with the Flashback" was one big tease for Ross/Phoebe, Chandler/Rachel and Joey/Monica.
    • The only time the writers didn't have Ross and Rachel in this trope is when they were actually dating, which was like a fifth of the series' run.
    • Chandler/Monica were teased mildly in early seasons, with them almost having sex in a flashback, Chandler describing her as the most beautiful women he's ever known-come-favourite person, offering a Fallback Children Pact, and spending two episodes straight arguing that she should date him which led many fans to theorize he had some buried feelings for her. They also had crushes on each other in flashback episodes and confided secrets that even the other Friends didn't know. No one thought it was serious until they slept together in Season 5, fell in love and ended up Happily Married.
    • A lot of pairings had this at some point, mostly Played for Laughs. It helps that all the six friends, except Phoebe and Monica, have kissed each other (although the kisses between Ross/Chandler, Rachel/Monica and Ross/Monica happened off screen and the Joey/Monica one was only a fictional kiss in an Alternate Reality Episode).
  • Shock Party: The show did this three times over the years:
    • In "The One Where They All Turn Thirty", Monica arrives for the surprise party stone drunk. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Rachel's divorced mom and dad (who can't stand each other) arrive at her surprise birthday party; the gang are forced to split it up into two parties to make sure they don't run into each other. Again, Hilarity Ensues.
    • Monica was thrown a party by Rachel and Phoebe, who regretfully inform her that none of her other friends where able to make it. Monica goes into a speech about how she'd rather spend the occasion with the two of them rather than a bunch of outsiders she doesn't care about. Cue everyone else coming out from their hiding places, murmuring "Surprise..."
  • Shoe Size Angst: : From "The One After 'I Do'":
    Chandler: What size shoes do you wear?
    Joey: Uh, eleven, eleven and a half.
    Chandler: Great, because my shoes are giving me a little problem on the dance floor. Can I borrow the boots from your costume?
    Joey: Uh, I don't even really know where I left those. Sorry.
    Chandler: (looking at Joey's feet) Those aren't eleven and a half?
    Joey: Okay, fine! I'm a seven, alright! I have surprisingly small feet, but the rest of me is good! I'll show ya!
  • Shot in the Ass: In "The One Where The Monkey Gets Away", Phoebe is shot in the butt with a tranquilizer dart, as she dives to save Marcel (a monkey) from capture - in slow motion, to the theme of Shaft.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show:
    • A real show-within-a-show, Joey was a cast member on the soap opera Days of Our Lives.
    • Along with several less real examples (like Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. and Freud!).
  • Singing Telegram: In the episode "The One With All the Jealousy" Monica dates Julio, who turns out to be misogynist about white women. She dumps him by sending a barbershop quartet to the restaurant where they work to sing a special message:
    First Singer: Mister Pretentious, you think there's no one finer, well but your poems are unpublished, and you work in a diner.
    Quartet: You're no God's gift to women, that's all in your head. You are just a buttmunch.
    Second Singer: No one likes a buttmunch.
    Quartet: And you're also bad in bed!
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man:
    • At first, Rachel did not know Paolo was a nasty guy. When she realised he was, she complained to Ross that what she really wants is a nice guy, a sweet, caring guy etc. She did this more than once before they finally got together.
    • Monica dated the badass from her high school days and got to ride his motorcycle... but he hadn't ever grown out of that old persona and still lived with his parents, so she relished dumping him. Her first two serious boyfriends were Richard and Pete who both fit the "Nice Guy" stereotype pretty well. Pete was a little obsessed, but he was still "stupidly charming", as he described himself, and also a billionaire who took Monica to Italy for pizza on their first date. (At least until he went crazy.) She ended up with her best friend Chandler who was incredibly sweet and arguably the nicest guy on the show.
  • Situational Sociability: When Chandler and Monica are going to have Dinner with the Boss, Chandler warns Monica that he's going to be "Work Chandler" instead of normal Chandler while they're there, which includes laughing at his boss's stupid jokes.
  • Sleep Cute:
    • Happened entirely by accident in private to Ross and Joey in Friends. After concluding that it was the best nap both had ever had, and that it didn't mean anything, they voluntarily do it again... and woke up after the rest of the group had been staring at them for several minutes.
    • In another episode Monica stops to watch Chandler sleeping on her couch. He wakes up and freaks out, since he just got rid of his creepy roommate who also watched him sleep.
  • Sleep Deprivation:
    • 6 friends plus Tag are sitting on the roof looking for a comet. Everyone except Ross and Joey head back inside. Those two remain stranded on the roof. They go down the fire escape, but it doesn't go all the way down and it lasts for a long time until they finally make it.
    • Phoebe can't sleep because her fire alarm keeps going off. She rips it out of the wall and even smashes it, but the alarm continues to beep. She tries to throw it down the garbage chute, however, a fireman manages to find it and brings it back, reminding her that it's illegal to remove it. The alarm continues to go off, with Phoebe going crazy from the sound.
    • Tag and Rachel head to their office in the middle of the night to check for some contracts that were supposed to be mailed.
    • Chandler can't fall asleep, so he wakes Monica up and wants to talk. Monica however wants to go back to sleep. Chandler decides to read a boring book and make some hot milk to help him sleep, but makes a loud noise in the kitchen... which wakes Monica up for the night. They stay up and talk, then they have sex and somehow one or the other keeps falling asleep and getting woken up throughout the night. In the morning Chandler calls in sick and stays home from work.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 3 (Subtle Continuity).
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: While the show does show relatable hardships these people in their mid-later 20s, the show remains more on the idealistic end due to the heart and loyalty these friends show.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Joey in the pilot episode. Fortunately, during the remainder of the series, he's quite a bit more humble.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Season 3's "The One With The Flashback" reveals Mr. Heckles is the reason Joey wound up as Chandler's roommate, after Heckles turned away Chandler's preferred roommate by randomly saying he was Chandler's roommate.
    • Mr. Waltham, Rachel's boss in season four, is a very minor recurring character with only a line or so during his first appearances. However, in season 4 episode 14 ("TOW Joey's Dirty Day"), he asks Rachel if she could take his niece to Die Fledermaus since he can't attend, which Rachel convinces Ross to do in her place as Rachel wants to attend a function with current crush Joshua. And thus, Ross meets, and instantly falls for, his future second wife, Emily Waltham.
    • Gunther is an incredibly minor character, but he does perform one big action that forever alters the path of Ross and Rachel: He's the one who tells her Ross slept with another woman.
  • Snicket Warning Label:
    • Phoebe Buffay's mother would turn off movies like Old Yeller, saying, "That's the end" before the sad ending, so Phoebe didn't know the ends to lots of sad movies. The films whose endings she finally discovered in that episode include Old Yeller, Charlotte's Web, Pride Of The Yankees, among others. All of those films would probably count for this trope.
    • Subverted when Monica gives Phoebe It's a Wonderful Life to cheer her up, and Phoebe turns it off halfway through because of all the bad things that happen to George, so she doesn't get to see the happy ending.
      Phoebe: It should have been called "It's a sucky life and just when you think it can't suck anymore it does".
  • Snow Means Love: Phoebe and Mike's wedding is almost ruined by extreme snow storm. Instead, the weather calms down and they have a wonderfully romantic wedding on the street covered in snow.
  • Society Marches On: The prevalence of the Internet has rendered this exchange from "The One With Barry and Mindy's Wedding" very dated.
    Phoebe: Oh! Someone's wearing the same clothes they had on last night. Someone get a little action?
    Chandler: I may have.
    Monica: Woo-hoo! Stud!
    Ross: What's she look like?
    Chandler: Well, we haven't exactly met, we just stayed up all night talking on the Internet.
    Monica: Woo-hoo! Geek!
  • Something Completely Different: The 1-hour special "The One that Could Have Been." Aside from the pre-opening sequence, the entire episode takes place in an alternate timeline where each member of the gang's lives had turned out differently than in the actual show (although things more or less wind up close to how things are regularly by the end).
  • Sore Loser:
    • Ross tends to complain in a childish fashion whenever he lose even in the most petty of things.
    • In The One With The Embryos, Chandler and Joey win a bet with Monica and Rachel, with Monica betting on her apartment. Although Monica is disappointed in losing the match but nevertheless accept to honor the deal, Rachel refuses to move out.
    • A few episodes later, the two groups have another challenge for the apartment again in which Chandler and Joey win again. When they come back from a basketball game however, the girls have secretly switch back to their apartments.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job:
    • Chandler Bing works as a data analyst (funny that his closest friends can't even remember his position) for a corporate company. He assumes it is temporary and wants to do something else, but he gets stuck in the company for a long time. He is eventually promoted and gets his own office. His former colleagues become his subordinates (which is a thing he hates because he can't be too friendly with them) and his direct boss is a guy who wants to socialize with him (which is a thing he also hates because he and Monica are dragged to activities they don't particularly enjoy). The money is great, but he still absolutely hates his job.
    • In one episode, Phoebe gets a temporary job selling toner over the phone. The very first prospective client she calls is on the verge of suicide. He works in a cubicle as an Office Supplies Manager and nobody at the office seems to notice him. He says that after ten years at this job, none of his colleagues remember him or pay him any attention, not even when he screams at them that he's going to kill himself.
    • The two-parter "The One That Could Have Been" shows a What If? scenario. We learn what could have happened if Phoebe had worked as a stockbroker. In that reality, Phoebe is a chain-smoking workaholic who earns a lot of money. She doesn't dislike the job but she's apparently very stressed. She loses several million dollars and gets a heart attack. When she returns to her job, she finds out she is fired (her friends wanted to protect her and didn't give her the message) and has another heart attack. In this alternate reality, she's very dismissive of her previous career choices and hobbies, like being a masseuse and playing the guitar, which she loves in the normal timeline.
  • Spanner in the Works: Joey occasionally functions as this when the other friends need to keep him in the dark. In one episode, Chandler lies to him about still being in Tulsa to spend more time with Monica but only ends up arousing his suspicion that Monica is cheating on him.
  • Special Guest: More big-name guest stars than can be listed here, especially in later seasons when this trope was was damn near mandatory for NBC comedies. Notably, Bruce Willis and Christina Applegate won Emmys for their appearances, while nominations were given to eight others.
  • Spiritual Predecessor: To How I Met Your Mother, also to Happy Endings.
  • Stage Whisper: The Friends frequently engage in a downplayed version of this, where if groups of characters are separated by a few feet in the very small kitchen space, the laws of acoustics bend so that no one from one group overhears what someone in the other group is saying. Lampshaded in "TOW Ross and Rachel...You Know" where Ross and Rachel partake in this in Chandler and Joey's kitchen, only for Chandler to ask them to speak up because he's having trouble eavesdropping from his chair, forcing them into the complex hallway.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Erika, who stalks Joey thinking he's his character Drake Ramoray from Days of Our Lives.
  • Standard Office Setting:
    • Chandler works as a data analyst in a cubicle. Later he's promoted and gets his office. One episode deals with his having to be a boss to his former pals, or interacting with his superior whom he doesn't particularly like, but who keeps inviting him to various activities.
    • Rachel works in an office in the fashion industry. She starts as a girl-for-everything, but climbs up the company ladder and later works as an assistant buyer. Some episodes have her struggle with being the only non-smoker in their department, finding a secretary (actually a guy Tag she has a crush on) or being a new mother who must coordinate the care for a baby and work.
    • In one episode, Phoebe gets a temporary job, selling toner over the phone. She works in a cubicle. She calls only one guy who also has only a cubicle. His office has some motivational posters that don't seem to motivate him very much. He has a whiteboard next to his desk, with only one task for today: KILL SELF.
  • Starter Marriage: This is a Running Gag for Ross. The show starts with Ross confirming he and his wife Carol are now divorced after she came out of the closet. They were married for four years. He then marries Emily in a Fourth Date Marriage, and she divorces him for accidentally saying Rachel's name at the altar. Eventually, Ross and Rachel marry - because they were very drunk, in Vegas, and thought it would be funny. Once sober, they then divorce. At this point, the gang agree that Ross's "thing" is to be "the guy that gets divorced".
  • Statuesque Stunner: Charlie; several jokes are based around her height. Aisha Tyler, who plays Charlie, is six feet tall.
  • Status Quo Is God: * A common complaint about the show is that, despite the many changes that happen in the six characters' lives throughout the series (new jobs, new apartments, etc.), they (except Chandler and possibly Rachel) never really grow or evolve as people. Instead, continuing to make the same mistakes and maintain the same unlikable traits (which are, if anything, amplified due to Flanderization) from season to season. In a sense, the series both plays straight and averts this trope.
  • Stealing from the Hotel:
    • Ross always tries to get his money's worth out of hotels by staying in the room to the very last minute before checkout, taking the batteries from the remotes, and taking the Bibles (despite being Jewish). It was a Running Gag for his character.
    • There was an episode where Ross and Chandler were together on a hotel and they decided to do this. Their conversation (courtesy of here):
      Ross: No, Chandler, you have to find the line between stealing and taking what the hotel owes you. For example: hair drier, no, no, no, but shampoo and conditioners, yes, yes, yes. (pause) Now, the salt shaker is off-limits, but the salt (he opens the salt shaker and pours the salt into his hand) I wish I'd thought this through.
      Chandler: I think I know what you mean though...the lamp is the hotel's, but the bulbs (goes to take the bulb)...oh, you already got that.
      Ross: Not my first time in a hotel, my friend.
      Chandler: Ok, how about this (picks up the remote control)?
      Ross: No, no, no, you can't take the remote control!
      Chandler: Yes, but the batteries...
      (Ross claps his hands)
    • Rachel is also seen doing this during the London trip. At one point she comes running into Ross' hotel room with her arms full of miniature toiletries to tell the others that there's an unattended housekeeper's cart right outside.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Frequently with Phoebe and Joey.
    Joey: Pheebs!!
    Phoebe: Yeah?
    Joey: I found my identical hand twin!
    Phoebe: Ohh, you are so lucky!
  • Strictly Professional Relationship: ZigZagged with the Rachel and Tag storyline. Rachel was promoted and was supposed to hire an assistant. She chose Tag despite the fact that he was not very suitable for the job in order to spend time with him. She then fretted because she couldn't date him as his superior but did all she could to prevent him from dating anybody else, such as telling him that all the women he flirted with are gay. She invited him as a friend for their Thanksgiving dinner and blabbed that she liked him but tried to take it back and say that it's just physical and doesn't want to pursue this any further. Tag, however, liked her too, obviously, and they started a secret office romance.
  • Stupid Question Bait: When Ross started to teach at the university, he was nervous about making a good impression and spoke in an English accent. He later tried to phase in out during one or two sentences. When Ross asked for questions, everybody raised their arm. One guy bluntly asked about the accent. Ross tried to be cool, but said what happened. When he asked for more questions, more people raised their arm. When he specified he meant about palaeontology and the stuff he taught, all put it down. This presumably happens again when moments later, Rachel stormed into the class and berated him for lying to her about having annulled their drunken marriage from Vegas.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The show does this a lot with Joey's acting career. Days of Our Lives doesn't escape, despite being a real-life soap. In fact, in one memorable scene, Joey's stalker refuses to believe he is an actor and not really Dr. Drake Ramoray - but is convinced to leave by a badly acted, badly improvised skit concocted by Ross. This reached its height of superb nonsense when Joey's character received a brain transplant so that a woman could live on in Drake's body - but then the body rejected the woman's brain, as explained in a scene where Joey is acting as though he has the brain of Drake, even though Drake's brain was meant to have been damaged beyond repair.
    • Some of the dross Joye's been seen in on stage, like Freud! The Musical or the play that first looks sophisticated enough, but one scene later shows Joey leaving the planet with aliens.
    • As Chandler said of Mac And C.H.E.E.S.E., a Buddy Cop Show that paired Joey with a robot, "That was one of the worst things ever. And not just on TV."
    • "Why Don't You Like Me", a one-woman monologue featuring an angry lady shouting her life story at her audience. Chandler, unintentionally left to watch it by himself, gives it a rave review, saying it's deepened his understanding of what women go through. Of course, it was painfully bad - by tricking the friends into seeing it, Chandler gets his revenge.
    • Phoebe's songs don't exactly hit high notes in the music world either. However, unlike Joey's career, this is recognized by everybody but herself.
    • Ross's "wordless sound poems" played on the keyboard are horrible, but he thinks he's a musical genius.
  • Superstition Episode: In the episode "the One with the Giant Poking Device", Phoebe is refusing to go to the dentist because she's convinced that every time she goes to the dentist, somebody close to her dies.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Occurs loads. A notable one is when Ross has been practicing telling a story (Joey told him it would get a woman to have sex with him) in front of a video camera. When Rachel walks in, she asks him "Were you just talking to yourself?" He answers, out loud, "That's less embarrassing. Yes, yes I was."
  • Surprise Party:
    • When Ross dated Rachel, the gang organized a surprise party for her birthday. The real surprise came when they had to throw a second impromptu party in the guys' flat at the same time because both Rachel's parents showed up unexpectedly, and they couldn't be in one room together as they were going through divorce.
    • TOW the fake party features Rachel hosting a surprise "Bon Voyage" party for Emily in order to seduce Joshua.
    • In one episode there's a flashback to when Monica turned thirty— her friends and relatives have a very formal party. Monica freaked out and got really drunk before that. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: One episode has several of these, related to why Joey is napping at Monica's, not at his:
    "[The duck] did not get sick somewhere in there, and it was immediately found and properly cleaned up."
    "[The couch] is not one of the places the duck got sick."
    (even later...)
    "[The duck] did not eat your face cream..."
    • When Monica and Chandler hook up, and want to keep it a secret:
    Joey: Have you seen Monica?
    Chandler: I'm not seeing Monica!
    Laura: I must say this seems like a lovely environment to raise a child in.
    Monica: By the way, you're welcome to look under any of the furniture, because, believe me, you won't find any porn or cigarettes under there.
    • A variant of this happens in "The One With The List," when Phoebe sings her song about the Ross/Rachel/Julie love triangle. She clumsily changes their names in-song and constantly insists that the story she's telling is fictional.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer:
    • Ross finds out his wife Carol is a lesbian after learning why she was spending so much time with her "friend" Susan. It's implied this was a surprise to Carol herself, making the relationship her own awakening. They remained on good terms, especially after learning she was pregnant with Ben.
    • The Ross and Rachel break up happened due to a monumental Poor Communication Kills incident, where Rachel suggests "take a break... from us" which Ross interpreted as a temporary cool down. But he was led to believe she had moved on with a co-worker, which was recently the cause of some strain in their relationship anyway, and he ended up having a one night stand in response. Rachel didn't actually do anything sexual and reached out to him the next day, but Ross is adamant for the rest of the series that his infidelity was more of an oversight in technicality rather than done maliciously. "We were on a break!"


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