Richard/Monica and Chandler/Kathy were pretty popular, but vanished almost the minute Monica popped up from under Chandler's covers and the entire fandom jumped on the Chandler/Monica ship, which sailed strongly into the end of the series.
Ross and Rachel was undoubtedly the biggest ship in the first seasons but from season four and onward it steadily became less and less popular. The writers and producers continued to love the pairing and believed them to be a lot more popular than they were, making a great many fans frustrated with how the show insisted on focusing on them which in turn made more people abandon the ship. Many found it frustrating that so much focus went to Ross and Rachel and their numerous get-togethers and break-ups while less focus came to Chandler and Monica who were a steady couple for more than half the show's run, with even Chandler and Monica's wedding episode ending on a Ross and Rachel cliffhanger.
Actor Shipping: Matthew Perry/Courteney Cox have a pretty big fanbase due to their chemistry and close friendship. The shipping wasn't as prevalent during the actual show as Courteney was Happily Married to David Arquette, but after the couple split up 'Matteney' fans grew exponentially and were regularly fueled by Cox guest starring on Perry's show, their habit of crashing each others interviews (in Courtney's case to kiss Matthew on stage) and Matthew throwing around comments like "I just wanted to make her laugh all the time" and "she's a very beautiful woman" and making sexual jokes about their relationship: "would Courteney be the bike?" and even a skit on Ellen joking that they're a couple. Not to mention Courteney posting on Twitter that, on a scale from 1 - 10, she loves Matthew '13.6'. When Courteney's guest starred on Matthew's show there were photos of them practically snuggling during breaks. Tumblr exploded.
Them convincing Ross to move past Rachel at the end of the first season, leading to him getting together with Julie and Rachel pining for him.
They wind up convincing Ross to make the infamous list, and proceed to start it up for him. Then when Rachel finds it and gets upset, neither guy takes the fall for Ross by taking credit for it and absolving him, instead letting him take the full blame.
When Ross was already starting to get jealous over Mark, they make him even more paranoid.
Then in the following episode, Ross is already in hot water after his affair with the copy girl and initially decided to just come clean to Rachel, only for the two to convince him to try to cover it up, which just made things even worse for him when she did find out.
After Hours argued here that all of the main characters are spectacularly nasty, cruel, stupid, selfish, homophobic, lecherous people, but unlike in Seinfeld, the show doesn't end with them getting their comeuppance and the audience is supposed to sympathize with them, given that the tone is much lighter than in Seinfeld.
Chandler is a repressed bisexual, many characters have stated that he has a (gay) 'quality' to him, and Chandler often tends to get overly defensive whenever his sexuality is brought up. It is possible he was written as a character who may have latent homosexual desires, but was terrified to ever admit to them because of the depraved actions of his father scarring him since childhood.
Comic author Magdalene Visaggio postulated that Chandler is actually a repressed transgender lesbian, which could explain the disconnect between his 'quality' and his attraction to women (though this is less likely to have been an intentional writing decision).
There's also some evidence Joey may have been written to be secretly bisexual but only dates women due to his career (which could be very detrimental to an actor in the 90's). This included telling Chandler quite openly that he had 'no problem with the gay thing' (when he assumed Chandler was gay), seeming rather sexually relaxed in general, and when interviewed for a Soap Magazine about being homosexual, Joey considers the questions for quite longer than one normally should (due to said episode being a Clip Show) before finally rather defensively claiming he's straight.
The guy who stole Ross' sandwich. On the face of it, his actions seem unintentionally thoughtless, maybe a bit absent-minded, but nothing too drastic. However:
The sandwich was both distinctive (it had a third piece of gravy-soaked bread in the middle), and labelled with a lame but memorable 'knock knock' joke that clearly identified it as belonging to Ross. The guy cops to having noticed and read the note.
So, he's an admitted thief. But there's more. Considering he opened the fridge, picked up a sandwich, identified it as someone else's, but still ate it, it begs the question of why he opened the fridge at all. If he had his own sandwich in there, he surely would have kept searching for it after realising Ross' wasn't his.
Thus, we are forced to conclude that he had no food of his own in there, and instead opened the fridge with the express intention of taking someone else's lunch. Not only that, he clearly wasn't planning to replace or reimburse whoever's lunch he took. Perhaps Ross didn't need to scream at him, but he definitely deserved a chewing out.
Americans Hate Tingle: "TOW Ross's Wedding" is considered by many fans to be one of the series' classic episodes. However, fans in Britain despise it for being a stereotypical and patronizing caricature of London and its people. Many of them dismissively call it "The One Where They Insult the English"
Despite having had what most would consider a traumatic life, Phoebe in is usually very throwaway about it, even using her mother's suicide to get the last muffin. Lamp Shaded in an episode where she's writing a song and says she can't think of anything sad to draw inspiration from, Rachel suggests her mothers death or living in the street, Phoebe decides to use a bad hair day. Lisa Kudrow says she was inspired by a friend of hersnote Who was forced to drop out of college because her strict parents thought it was making her irreligious and had to work in a nursing home to pay the bills. According to Lisa, she remained The Pollyanna throughout the whole thing. and realised that the humour would come from Phoebe acting as if she was just like everybody else.
The infamous Ross and Rachel Will They or Won't They? relationship, which lasted throughout the entirety of the show's 10 seasons. After a few seasons, it got to a point where many believed that these two being around one another in a relationship just wasn't going to be healthy for either one of them.
Even though fans generally liked Monica and Chandler as a couple, some of the plot arcs dealing with their relationship made many viewers feel they were being stretched too thin. After the two first hook up, they decide to keep their affair a secret from others. Even after Monica and Chandler realize they're actually in a serious relationship, for some inexplicable reason they still don't want to tell their closest friends about it. This whole arc is stretched over 14 episodes of the fifth season before it finally gets resolved. Compared to that, their proposal arc is relatively short, taking only the last four episodes of season 6. But after the proposal, the entire seventh season is spent dealing with various dramas and shenanigans leading up to the wedding: Who will pay for it? Will it be fancy or modest? Who will be the maid of honor? Will the engagement photo look good? What about Monica's wedding dress? What band will pay at the wedding? Will Chandler's dad be there? Will Chandler get cold feet due to the failure of his parents' marriage?
Poor Courteney Cox is the only Friend to not be nominated for an Emmy, something critics are still scratching their heads about and viewers will complain about a decade later. The writers have also expressed their utter confusion, as they admit Cox provided the energy and rock that kept the rest of the cast together.
The show itself didn't win 'Best Comedy Series' until the eighth season. (Which, admittedly, was one of the stronger seasons of the show in the eyes of many at the time, but extremely late in the game considering the strength of the early and mid-seasons).
Given his popularity in playing one of the more dynamic characters, some take issue with Matthew Perry being unable to win an Emmy (and only getting one nomination for his run in the show, in Season 8, which he lost to Ray Romano for Everybody Loves Raymond).
Base-Breaking Character: All the main characters except Chandler fall into this trope. In many of the cases, the broken bases involve liking the original characters and disliking the later, Flanderized versions, as the disliked traits in question become much more pronounced as time went on.
Monica: Charmingly quirky Woobie thanks to her status as The Unfavorite and supportive Team Mom, or militant Control Freak who runs roughshod over her friends and treats her partner so bad it borders on emotional abuse.
Ross: A sympathetic, relatable, Adorkable and hilarious Butt-Monkey, or a pedantic know-it-all loser, who refuses to take responsibility for his actions, and should stop whining and get over his unhealthy obsession with Rachel. Either way he's the most authentic New Yorker of the main cast.
Phoebe: Crazy Awesome and hilarious kook with an interesting and tragic backstory, or a horrible jerkass who treats her friends Ross and Chandler terribly. Depending on who you ask, she's either a textbook example of kindness and Incorruptible Pure Pureness or the meanest of the main characters.
Better on DVD: The DVD sets not only made it easier to binge through the series, but also had additional scenes in the episodes that add in several more jokes and even a few extra story scenes that were cut from the broadcast releases for time. In an inverse of They Changed It, Now It Sucks!, the fact that the HD remasters of the episodes, such as on Netflix and Blu-Ray, have lacked these scenes because of technical issues making it impossible to convert them to HD hasn't been well-received.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Robin Williams and Billy Crystal's guest appearance at the beginning of the episode "The One with... the Ultimate Fighting Champion" has no relevance to the plot and is never mentioned again. It wasn't even in the original script, they coincidentally just happened to be in the same building where the show was filmed and the writers asked if they wanted to make a guest appearance.
Did Ross sleeping with the copy girl after Rachel told him they needed "to take a break from us" count as cheating? And what does "on a break" mean, for that matter?
The entire Ross/Rachel relationship. Some love it for being a great Will They or Won't They?, Opposites Attract plot and believe it's an epic love story. Others think it's an unrealistic and unrewarding Masochism Tango of two unsuited people who treat each other horribly. The split is probably highlighted by the younger, newer fans who, thanks to "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, find Will They or Won't They? plots over-used in TV and the Give Geeks a Chance mantra cliché. The relationships also draws ire from Monica/Chandler fans, who find the 'Lobsters' reputation as the 'greatest couple ever' undeserving when the Mondler relationship lasted six times as long, worked better together and had a greater impact on the group dynamic.
In a much less serious example, the fans can't seem to agree on whose reaction (Joey's, Rachel's, Phoebe's, or Ross's) to finding out about Monica and Chandler's affair is the funniest.
Crazy Awesome: Phoebe. Case in point, Monica and Phoebe were supposed to plan Rachel's surprise birthday party together. Monica naturally makes all the decisions about the way the party will go, leaving Phoebe with only cups and ice. Phoebe ends up making cups and ice the dominant theme of the party, to the point where Monica's finger food is dismissed over Phoebe's snow cones.
Crack Pairing: Chandler/Rachel and Ross/Phoebe are quite popular, though not as much as the canon pairs or the obvious Joey/Phoebe. Both were also canonically almost possible, as shown during flashback episodes that showed Ross and Phoebe did almost get together and Chandler and Rachel did fantasise about getting together.
Crosses the Line Twice: Phoebe's flashbacks to her past lives in "The One with All the Thanksgivings." Getting her arm blown off would normally be horrifying anywhere else, but the way she casually mutters "oh no," like it happens all the time quickly sends it to this territory.
Dry Docking: People of both sexes did not want Ross and Rachel to be together, so they could have that couple for themselves.
Chandler's Dad is played by a woman. It's not really clear whether Chandler's Dad is supposed to be a drag queen, a male crossdresser, or a transgender woman. At the time the show was written, all of these things were seen as one and the same. With hindsight, however, this can seem a bit awkward to the modern viewer now that transgender people are better understood and more accepted. One of the creators, Mara Kaufman, has gone on record saying she regrets the jokes in hindsight (and clarified that she was meant to be a trans woman).
Ross' wife leaving him for a woman is portrayed as inherently humiliating to a quite eyebrow-raising level these days, but the way he largely accepts it (under the laws of the time, he easily could have gotten her barred from ever seeing their son rather than letting her raise him) and we even see a lesbian wedding being portrayed as completely legitimate is quite impressive for the time.
By 2020 standards, Carol and Susan's relationship reeks of Hide Your Lesbians - namely the fact that other characters are reluctant to refer to them as a couple, they rarely refer to themselves as a couple, and not once do they ever kiss on-screen, not even at their wedding. The way that their lesbianism is often the butt of the joke can also come across as homophobic. However, at the time it was considered groundbreaking for a mainstream TV show to have a (relatively) positive portrayal of a same-sex couple, and a lot of these things (namely never kissing) were because the censors would not have allowed it.
Ross and Rachel hook up in the last episode but they don't end up married. However many fans and shippers like to think that they are now Happily Married (or better, remarried). Even the show's official wiki lists Rachel as Ross's current wife.
Many fans believe Monica's middle initial 'E' stands for Elizabeth.
Another popular theory is that Monica and Chandler who adopted twins at the end of the show later managed to have a child naturally. (It was 'unlikely' not impossible'). Although their adoption storyline was popular fans found it hard to see the one committed couple who had worked so hard for a family struggle with infertility so this is a reassuring comfort. It also matches Monica's mother who was thought to be barren before having her and Ross.
While on the subject of Monica and Chandler's "trying to have a baby" storyline, there's a theory out there that it's only Monica that has a problem. The reason being that when the gynecologist called to inform Chandler what their issue is, the doctor specifically asked for Monica rather than wanting to inform both the trying parents. As a result, it leaves you wondering if Chandler was informed that Monica's inhospitable uterus is the problem, but Chandler chose to lie to Monica about having lazy sperm as well in order to protect her from blaming herself.
Despite how hated the spin-off Joey was a lot of fans like to think he married Alex who was his Love Interest from the show so he could also have happy ending. (And of course he moved back to New York to be with the Friends again.)
Fans also try to shoehorn the opening credits sequence of the six friends dancing in the fountain with the couch, lamp, and lights strung up everywhere as canon by saying it was a photo shoot that Joey did early on in his career, and when they needed a handful of good-looking people on short notice, Joey called the others.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Some fans wanted Phoebe to end up with David the Scientist Guy instead of Mike, since David appeared as early as Season 1 and was Phoebe's first true love.
Many fans (and even the actors themselves!) would have liked to see Joey and Phoebe get together in the end. Sadly the writers thought it would be too cliche (not to mention the fact that they had to free Joey up for the spin-off that Matt LeBlanc signed on for that Lisa Kudrow didn't.)
Also Chandler/Monica who were originally meant to be a quick fling but were so popular with the audience that the writers developed the relationship and eventually married them.
Joey/Chandler was so popular (still is, but there was genuine speculation in season two) that David Crane had to make a statement along of the lines of "Chandler is straight because he's a character and doesn't have a choice in the matter".
At least six moments become less funny due to Chandler and Monica's infertility later on in the series:
In earlier seasons, Chandler makes multiple jokes about not being able to have children.
In season 3, Monica considers getting pregnant from a sperm donor. It's played for laughs and the rest of the cast thinks it's a dumb idea, largely because she's single.
In season 4, immediately after Phoebe agrees to be Frank and Alice's surrogate, Monica asks Rachel if she'd be a surrogate if Monica asked her to.
At Monica and Chandler's wedding, in an extended scene Judy Geller mistakenly thinks Monica is pregnant and gives Monica the cold shoulder when she discovers the truth.
After watching Pete (Monica's ex boyfriend) getting beaten up Ross quips: "Well, this is ironic. Of your last two boyfriends, Richard didnt want to have kids, and from the looks of it, now Pete cant." Her next boyfriend is Chandler and...
In an episode of season 6, Chandler and Ross are arguing over which of them came up with a joke that Ross got published, and ask Monica to adjudicate. In an effort to get her on his side, Ross appeals to family loyalty, while Chandler points out that he's her boyfriend and "I'm your only chance to have a baby".
Chandler's smoking addiction wasn't very funny later on when Matthew Perry went into rehab to control his drinking.
"TOW Nana Dies Twice" has a gag where Ross takes too many pain pills for a muscle spasm and starts acting stoned. Funny for him, not so funny for Matthew Perry after he hecame addicted to pain meds.
A season 2 episode showed Monica getting Chandler to get in shape reflecting Matthew Perry's later weight problem.
When Joey auditions for the lead of a new detective show, he tells his friends not to get their hopes up, as he isn't sure if he's good enough to carry his own TV show. Joey was cancelled after only two seasons. However this is less harsh with Matt LeBlanc's Career Resurrection in Episodes.
In season 8, Brad Pitt appeared as one of Ross's old high school friends, who hated Rachel to the point that he was president of an Anti-Rachel club in high school. At the time, it was a funny Casting Gag due to the fact that Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston in real life. The joke became a lot less funny after Aniston and Pitt's very, very public divorce.
Likewise, the Season 6 opening credits added 'Arquette' to everyone's names and end with a dedication to Courteney Cox and David Arquette 'who did get married'. The couple have now divorced. Not as bad as Aniston's case, as they ended amicably and are still good friends but it still stings.
In "TOW No One's Ready", Phoebe wears a Christmas ornament in order to hide a stain on her dress, stating that she'll explain it away as a political symbol. When Chandler asks her what she is supporting, she responds "Duh, Christmas." It's hard to believe that something treated as an absurd joke reflecting Phoebe's personality would become an actual politically charged issue a decade later.
In "TOW Five Steaks and an Eggplant", after an awkward conversation about Phoebe, Joey and Rachel not having much money, Chandler changes the subject with "So, the ebola virus. That's gotta suck, huh?", which is played for laughs. Come the 2014 global outbreak of this same virus which has infected and killed thousands of people, it becomes ten times more awkward.
Part of dragging out the Ross/Rachel subplot involved Rachel getting pregnant with Ross's child before they finally reconciled. This becomes a lot less funny when years later one of the reasons cited for Jennifer Aniston's divorce from Brad Pitt reportedly boiled down to Pitt wanting to start a family and have children while Aniston wanted to focus on her post-Friends acting career, which led to Pitt hooking up with Angelina Jolie, having children with her and becoming a father to the children she had already adopted. On top of that, Aniston has been plagued by rumors ever since that she's allegedly desperate to have children of her own and has gone through multiple celebrity boyfriends, with the tabloids publishing bombastic articles about how she's finally on the verge of yet another dream wedding and starting over.
In "The One With the Male Nanny" Freddie Prinze Jr. plays an ultra nice guy that gets hired to serve as Emma's nanny, but despite how much of a hit he is Ross is weirded by how sensitive he is and decides to let him go, which Rachel compares it to firing Elmo. It's a bit harsher after 2012 when Elmo's voice actor and puppeteer Kevin Clash was hit with several false accusations of eliciting sex from minors, which would eventually cause him to quit Sesame Street.
"The One with Rachel's Book" features a quip about Chandler not having told his parents yet that he's engaged. "The One with Chandler's Dad" would later show he has a very distant relationship with his dad and wasn't originally going to invite him to the wedding until they reconciled.
Ross's quip in "TOW A Dozen Lasagnas" about casually wanting to call immigration on Paolo is a lot less funny in the 2010s, with US immigration enforcement agencies being criticized over apparently indiscriminate deportations and cruel policies regarding treatment of immigrants.note Though the agency that has received the most attention over these controversies, ICE, did not exist when the episode aired.
Possibly overlapping with Hilarious in Hindsight: When Joey's Days of Our Lives character was killed off in season 2, he mentions that the damage was so bad the only neurosurgeon who could have saved him was himself. Years later, a very similar case of Death by Irony occured on Grey's Anatomy with the death of Derek Shepherd, played completely straight.
While the show is still regarded as a great sitcom in America, it definitely becoming more and more a case of "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny. But in Europe, the show is still remembered as an all-time classic, even ten years after it ended. A common comment among Europeans is that the characters were "universal", and even timeless, hence why they could smash cultural barriers with stunning ease. That's a pretty strong contrast with many of its American detractors, who accuse the show of being nothing but trendy dribble and a Arc Fatigue ridden show that overstayed its welcome.
Broadcasting U.S.-friendly newscasts into Saudi Arabia has been unsuccessful in dissuading anti-Americanism there. Broadcasting Friends, on the other hand, proved quite helpful. This is ironic, considering the ensemble tend to fornicate regularly and wear revealing clothes (of course, that's also probably why it was successful there...).
Gunther was popular abroad despite being only a minor character. James Michael Tyler (Gunther) was so popular in Dubai that he got offered to be the spokesman for a local coffee brand but NBC botched the deal (they wanted more money).
Even years after its ending, UK channels such as E4 still show two rerun episodes of Friends several times a day. It got to the point that all E4 showed during one particular summer was live Big Brother and reruns of Friends. Since the channel lost the rights to both in 2011, its content has become more varied and seemingly attracts fewer viewers. Meanwhile, Comedy Central continues to run the show endlessly.
As of 2013, Friends and Seinfeld are the two most rerun shows on the Israeli broadcast networks, in terms of cumulative airtime over the past 45 years (i.e. since the first Israeli television broadcasts). Each of them easily outranks any other foreign or local show in terms of total rerun airtime. Geeking out over "Friends" is probably the one thing an Israeli and Arab could bond over (Friends is popular all over the Middle East).
It was very popular in the Czech Republic among the young and the older when it first aired in The '90s, and in The New '10s, chances are that one of the TV channels is airing its reruns.
It also was and continues to be popular in India, due to being one of the few American shows broadcast in the early 1990s.
Growing the Beard: While the first season not considered bad, it had a lot of 80s-ish styles and fashions(particularly in hairstyles), and was quite a bit more wholesome, family-friendly, and episodic than the other seasons, with some critics regarding it as an inferior clone of Seinfeld. It started to grow some stubble with "The One With All The Poker", the first episode to really show what it can do with its Gender-Equal Ensemble by pitting Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe against Joey, Chandler, and Ross in a friendly game of poker. However, it dosen't really find its stride until the second season, after that the styles and fashions match the proper decade much more, the writing improves, it finds its own consistent humor and voice, the character's personalities begin to gel more, and there are more ongoing story arcs. It had also set itself apart from many other sitcoms of the time by ending most of their seasons in soap opera style cliffhangers, a trend that 3rd Rock from the Sun soon followed. By the end of season two, it was already competing with Seinfeld as the ultimate sitcom of the 90's.
Early on in season 2 Monica becomes friends with Ross' then-girlfriend Julie and goes shopping with her, something that Rachel gets upset over when she finds out. The ensuing argument is meant to sound like Monica cheated on Rachel, including phrases like "it meant nothing to me" and "I never meant for you to find out". Hilarious at the time. A little less hilarious (or more, depending on how seriously you take the show) when Ross and Rachel have almost the exact same argument about an actual accusation of infidelity.
Kathy and Chandler developing feelings for each other while she's with Joey looks lot worse after Kathy cheats on Chandler as well. At first it seemed she really fell in love with Chandler and that's why they kissed. Cheating again made her seem like the type who gets bored with guys and moves on from them fast. Hell, maybe she really "cared" about the new guy like she cared about Chandler when she wasn't dating him. It puts the hell Chandler went through in a much grimmer light, given how he honestly thought they'd both fallen in love.
In the same episode as the above, the gang points out all the couples who worked together who ended up romantically linked: Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, none of whom are together now. Robbins and Sarandon's split seemed pleasant enough, but the other divorces were, unfortunately, quite acrimonious and public.
Monica and Chandler learning they can't conceive children can get even bleaker with the knowledge that Aisha Tyler, who began guest starring on the show at pretty much that exact time (only one episode prior), struggled with real-life infertility a decade later.
Any conversations concerning Monica and Chandler's plans to have children are pretty painful knowing how things turn out. Even sweet moments like Chandler describing the four kids and cat they'll have, the baby onesie he buys before their wedding, their Fallback Children Pact in S1, babysitting the triplets together for 'practice', Monica pretending the sweater they're hiding under her dress is a baby and her excitement when she realizes Chandler is ready to start trying for kids, all start hurting when you realize none of those plans will ever happen. Granted, they do adopt babies and are happy with them, but it's still pretty harsh to realize their dreams of conceiving a child all come to nothing.
"TOW The Fake Monica": Given that identity theft has become such a major social issue during the last decade, the idea of Monica being a victim of it doesn't seem as funny now as it did twenty years ago.
Joanna' s treatment of Sophie and to a lesser extent, Rachel, would now be considered workplace bullying.
Rachel's behavior towards her assistant Tag, in particular, her telling people that he's gay so that no one else will date him (aside from being untrue, is not her business to disclose regardless), could have gotten her reprimanded or even fired for sexual harassment—and the others even tease/warn her about this.
Ross's Girl of the Week with the filthy apartment is as usual played for laughs. Nowadays—and even then—an apartment that messy wouldn't indicate that someone was merely a slob, it'd be suggestive of a hoarding disorder, a serious mental illness that can be a symptom of other mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression.
Although, she doesn't just horde objects, but also leaves food and empty food packaging around the place, and doesn't seem to mind the presence of a random rat, so it's perhaps a mixture of the two.
Monica has struggled with body image and worrying about whether Chandler will leave her if she gains weight. Courteney Cox became paranoid about growing older and admitted to getting addicted to cosmetic surgery - a decision she confessed to regretting.
Christina Pickles and Courtney Cox had both previously worked together in the infamous 1987 Masters of the Universe film, where Pickles' character The Sorceress healed injuries Cox's character Julie sustained in the battle against Skeletor. In this show, Pickles plays Cox's mother, and their relationship isn't so good.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: A great deal of Monica and Chandler's interactions throughout the series become this once they become a couple:
In 'The One With the Girl who Hits Joey' Chandler goes overboard and proposes to Monica at the end, even though he isn't ready. They're in the same location and positions they are when the real proposal happens.
A flashback reveals Chandler and Monica almost have sex when he calls her "the most beautiful woman I've ever known [in real life]." In season 5 when they have sex for real what does he say that sparks it? "You're the most beautiful woman in most rooms". Clearly that line works on her.
In Season 1 Chandler offers to get together with Monica and raise a family together if they're both still single at forty. Turns out he doesn't wait until they're forty.
In 'The One Where Heckles Dies' Chandler freaks out that his commitment phobia will prevent him from finding the one, and he'll be left alone when the others settle down. Flash forward to later seasons, and he has found the one, (she was living across the hall the whole time), and he and Monica are the first to get married (and stay married) and start a family.
'The One With All the Flashbacks' when pre-series Chandler comforts Monica over not having a boyfriend and tells her she'll find someone. Of course, she does find someone: Him.
Chandler and Monica's conversation at Ross's wedding in the Season 4 finale. Monica confides her fears that she's "Never going to get married" and Chandler responds with: "Who wouldn't want you?". Three seasons later, the finale is all about their wedding.
In TOW The Jam, Joey talks Monica out of becoming a single mother through sperm donors, because he always thought she'd marry a great guy and they'd have a whole, proper family together. The great guy she finds? His best friend. (Who Joey himself had to reassure he wouldn't die alone).
In Season 1 Chandler explains he hates Thanksgiving because it's the day his parents split up. By the end of the series, Thanksgiving is the day he met the love of his life (shown in flashbacks) and the day they found out they were getting a baby. For him it stops being about his parent's family falling apart, and about his own family coming together.
More like Heartwarming with Oversight, but Chandler's Season 7 promise to Monica that he'll love her no matter her size, is even sweeter when you remember the Season 6 episode 'TO That Could Have Been'. Because the viewers know, even if the characters don't, that had Monica been fat Chandler would have fallen in love with her even when no one else did, adding a whole new level of fuzzies to the scene.
In the second episode of the series, Ross is at work when Carol comes to visit. One of his coworkers, who he's having an argument with, says, "Isn't that your ex-wife?", to which he replies "No it's not". The hilarious part is that her actress changes after that episode, so it really isn't.
The One With Barry and Mindy's wedding has a character being called Princess Bubble Yum way before Adventure Time has a literal Princess Bubblegum.
In 'The One with George Stephanopoulos' when the girls are discussing what 'their guys' would be like to sleep with, Phoebe and Rachel think Chandler would be repressed, but Monica insists he's more sophisticated than he lets on. Guess who turns out to be the 'best sex she's ever had'?
"The One with the Dozen Lasagnas" opens with the Friends all humming the theme for The Odd Couple. Twenty one years later, and Matthew Perry was cast as Oscar in the 2015 show.
Season 5 ends with Ross and Rachel getting married while drunk in Vegas. Ross promises he'll get it annulled, but he doesn't want to have his third marriage fail as well, so he ends up lying to Rachel about it. Rachel finds out three episodes later that they're still married, and she furiously asks Ross, "When were you going to tell me? After the birth of our first secret child?". Two seasons later she gets pregnant with Ross's child, and Ross is the last one to find out.
In the series finale, Anna Faris has twins that Monica and Chandler adopt. They name the boy Jack after Monica's dad. Anna Farris and Chris Pratt's real life son is also named Jack Pratt.
Also from the same episode, Mike (who was married to Phoebe at that point) tells that he wants a baby too and Phoebe jokingly says they can just steal one of the babies. Paul Rudd also has a son named Jack.
When Carol and Susan get married, someone asks who is the most likely to get married last and everyone looks at Chandler. He actually marries Monica a few seasons later, while other main characters are still single.
In "The One With All The Resolutions", Ross says "no divorces in '99!/Just the one divorce in '99!". He ends up Divorcing Rachel less than a year later in "The One with Joey's Porsche" (Which aired on October 21st, 1999) making his 'resolution' hilarious indeed.
Joey asked Rachel "How you doin'? You all right?"? in the season 2 premiere. Who would have thought that the first half of that would be his catchphrase?
The episode where Rachel was freaked out that Ross has been planning their future, down to the name of their kids. The first he came up with was Emily.
Emily's actress Helen Baxendale got fame in the UK for starring in Cold Feet. What's her character's name? Rachel.
From the same episode, Chandler saying Batman is much cooler than James Bond becomes this, because, back then, it sounded ridiculous. After the success of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy and the popularity of comic book movies in general, Batman, as of 2020, is genuinely more popular than James Bond.
Season 1: Chandler offers Monica a Fallback Marriage Pact if they're both single when they're forty. Turns out he cashes in on that deal a lot sooner...
And from the same episode, Monica complaining that a woman has two babies and she doesn't even have one. Chandler promises she'll get one.... And nine seasons later when their baby arrives? It's twins. Boy when Chandler makes a promise he'll damn well follow through with it!
In Season 3 Chandler spends an episode fruitlessly convincing Monica she should date him. She refuses for numerous reasons. (He's not 'mature' enough, puts on weird voices, is 'Chandler' and would always be the guy who peed on her). They go on to not only date, but fall in love, start a relationship, move in together, get engaged, get married and raise a family together.
Chandler: "There's a nuclear holocaust, I'm the last man on Earth. Would you go out with me?"
In season 9 (aired 2002-2003), Joey considers investment options, and Monica tells him real estate is the ideal choice.
Season 6 has one episode that shows how different the cast would be if they did something in their lives that changed them forever. In this alternate continuity, Chandler is the one who is unemployed and has to borrow money from Joey instead of it being the other way around. Season 9 has an episode where the same exact scenario is played out, except Chandler swallows his pride to ask Joey for the money.
In Season 4 Monica gives Chandler a crash course in 'pleasing women' in the rather famous "Seven, Seven, SEVEN!!!" scene. Cue Season 5 and her new boyfriend is the "best she's ever had".
In Richard's first appearance, Phoebe simply says "James Bond!" because he was wearing a tuxedo. Tom Selleck later appeared as a retired spymaster in Killers, alongside Ashton Kutcher. In another episode, Ross asks if Richard was "in 'Nam". Tom Selleck later appeared in Blue Bloods, where his character explicitly served in Vietnam. Magnum was also a Vietnam vet.
Monica marries the guy who peed on her. Chandler marries the woman who cut off his toe.
In "The one with the butt," Joey gets a role in a musical about Sigmund Freud. Years after the episode first aired, an actual musical about Sigmund Freud premiered in Sweden.
In the episode where the guys play "Bamboozled", Chandler Bing loses after drawing a Google card. That's right, for once, Google ruined Bing.
The Season 2 episode 'TOW Old Yeller Dies' has Joey and Chandler idolizing Richard who is currently dating Monica. Chandler even tries to grow a moustache to be more like him. This is extremely funny later in the series when Chandler is the one dating Monica.
In season 5 Rachel lies to a guy saying she'll be at a Regatta Gala. A few seasons later, guess who tries to teach Joey how to sail.
Straddling the line between Hilarious in Hindsight and Late to the Punchline is the famous "Ross and Rachel kiss for the first time" scene. The set-up seems normal at first, but try to remember this exchange while wearing your Troper Glasses - and remember it happened before Internet culture:
Ross: What matters is I-I don't need this right now. I'm happy! Thisship has sailed.
Rachel: Ok, you go ahead and you do that, Ross, because I don't need your stupid ship.
A season 6 episode has a throwaway gag with Rachel robbing some money out of Ross's jacket. When she catches a girl looking at her she replies "Alimony". Which becomes especially funny knowing she has a baby with Ross one year later.
Fans who side with Ross on the whole "they were on a break" thing can get a kick out of rewatching the London episodes and realizing that House agrees with them, since House is an Insufferable Genius whose whole schtick is that he is almost always right.
In "The One With All the Haste" after the girls switch the apartments back, Chandler angrily states that he's going to try and move back in whenever they have to leave for work. As it turns out, two years later he would eventually move back in to the apartment, after he and Monica decided to start living together. Likewise, Rachel's behavior where she absolutely hates living in Joey and Chandler's apartment is pretty amusing to watch knowing that she spends most of seasons 6 through 10 living there with Joey and loving it.
In "TOW Frank Jr.", Winona Ryder is one of the finalists on Ross's list of celebrities he's allowed to have sex with. Four seasons later, she appears as Melissa Warburton in "TOW Rachel's Big Kiss". And Ross mentions Susan Sarandon for his list - who would later appear in "TOW Joey's New Brain" (hooking up with Joey, too!).
Not to mention Chandler choosing Jessica Rabbit for his list. Kathleen Turner, Jessica's voice actress, would later star in the show as Chandler's drag queen father.
Ross' and Chandler's middle names (Eustace and Muriel) are also the names of the main characters in Courage the Cowardly Dog.
Matt LeBlanc revealed, when Episodes premiered, that his hair started going gray at the start of Friends' run and that he dyed his hair himself. Rewatching the show after learning that fact can make viewers notice that Joey's hair gets darker and darker and actually stops reflecting light with each progressing season as LeBlanc went grayer and moved from simply dyeing his temples to having to dye all of his hair.
In "The One With Princess Consuela," when Monica asks if they really have to call her Princess Consuela Bananahammock, Phoebe responds with "No, I'm going to have my friends call me Valerie." Lisa Kudrow's next big role was The Comeback where she played... Valerie Cherish.
Ben Stiller's guest appearance as Tommy in "The One with the Screamer" has him going on an anger-rant toward Ross at one point. Years later, the two are buddies in Madagascar as Alex the lion and Melman the giraffe.
In the season 7 premiere, Rachel tells Ross that they never had a "bonus night" - when two people break up but they get back together for just one night with no strings attached. The two didn't manage to get that bonus night then, but later while dealing with invitations for Monica and Chandler's wedding, the two of them have sex with apparently no strings attached as far as feelings go... Only for Rachel to get pregnant.
One episode has Joey accepting a Soap Opera award on behalf of a co-star - and he, Rachel and Phoebe play with it when they get home. Well guess what - none other than Kate Winslet claims she keeps her own Oscar in the bathroom at her home. So that any visitors can play with it if they wish.
Phoebe's song about sexuality in "The One After the Super Bowl", which includes the bit, "then there are bisexuals, but some just say they're kidding themselves," becomes downright amusing when Phoebe herself started explicitly showing signs of being bi as the series went on.
In "TOW the Chicken Pox", Ross dresses up as a naval officer as a treat for Rachel. Five years later, his actor would appear as an officer in another military branch.
One episode has a sub-plot in which Monica becomes obsessed with that fact that someone would not have dated her had she been a lesbian, and picked Rachel over her. in 2017, a certain other Monika would become obsessed with winning over another person who picks her friends over her...
In "TOW the Tea Leaves", Rachel's lie to Joey involves bosses and babies. In the same episode Alec Baldwin guest stars in. And Lisa Kudrow voices The Boss Baby's mom.
The mini arc about Chandler's psycho new roommate in Season 2 includes Chandler being appropriately creeped out when he learns Eddie's been coming into his room to watch him sleep. "Eddie," of course, is the diminutive form of "Edward"...
In "The One With Joey's Fridge" (2000), Monica and Chandler get into a heated rivalry with Phoebe over who chose the best guy for Rachel to date, even belittling a different guy Rachel actually likes. It looks like a commentary on the practices of Die for Our Ship and shipping wars... before either of them became widespread online.
"The One With Monica's Secret Closet" has Chandler desperately trying to get Monica to open a locked door and her at one point begging him to "Let it go!"
After Phoebe, who was being a surrogate mother, delivers the babies at the hospital, Rachel asks her if it's really as painful as they say. Phoebe says it is, and that Rachel wouldn't be able to take it. Several seasons later, Rachel gets pregnant and finds out for herself.
"TOW Rachel's Inadvertent Kiss" has Monica obsessed with proving she and Chandler are a hotter couple than Gary and Phoebe, insisting they have to be "the best" couple. Heaven help us if she ever finds out about the endless fandom debate of whether Ross and Rachel or Monica and Chandler are the best relationship!
Ross and Chandler are definitely this. Especially Chandler in the first few seasons where all women seem to treat him like he's repulsive when actually he's quite cute and very funny. It gets better when the writing focuses on how he's socially awkward rather than unattractive.
On a more notable level, Fat!Monica. While she's notably larger than average (although not really that big), she has a cute face and those winning blue eyes, and she's absolutely adorable. It is however shown in a What If? episode that she would have a boyfriend if she remained fat, and Chandler would still fall for her.
Ross's girlfriend Bonnie, after Rachel convinces her to shave her head. Everybody is really creeped out by it, and Rachel deliberately encouraged her to do it to sabotage Ross's relationship with her because it would creep him out, even though it's the same stunningly gorgeous Christine Taylor. It's especially strange since, even though the friends are assumed to be pretty milquetoast about such things, you would assume six twenty-something New Yorkers would have seen stranger things than a Bald Woman. On the other hand, Joey did ask who Ross was going to choose in his dilemma to see if Bonnie was gonna be available, so it might have simply been surprised at the abrupt change.
Chandler. In one episode, several members of the group comment that he has put on weight. Phoebe even mockingly pretends that she can't put her arms around him to give him a hug. A particularly glaring example of this trope, as not only does Chandler look exactly the same as he always does, until the rest of the group point it out, he is completely unaware of having put on any weight.
Also Fat Monica. From the way everybody on the show talks, you'd think she was a two ton blimp. But she's just 7/10 on the weight scale, at most. Though it's worth remembering that Friends was set in the early nineties, and Monica would have been fat in the mid to late eighties. Back then the percentage of obese Americans was just 11%, so while modern viewers see Monica as being just slightly overweight given the current standards, she was genuinely seen as being quite large back then.
"The One Where Ross Gets Married". Drama occurs when Emily calls off the wedding. Monica explains to Ross this is because at the age of five all women dream of the perfect wedding with the perfect guy and helps Ross fix it. The DVD commentary reveals the female producer came up with this based on her and her daughter's childhoods, but Courtney Cox had trouble with it because she never did any such a thing as a child. The producer dismissed Cox's concern as the actress simply not remembering doing it as a child, but many female fans over the years have reacted to the plot line exactly the same way Cox did.
"The One With The Sharks". Monica walks in on Chandler having A Date with Rosie Palms, causing him to jump and change the channel from porn to a documentary about sharks. Seeing which program was on the television, Monica reaches the only logical conclusion: Chandler has a fetish for sharks.
"The One With Rachel's Phone Number." Joey gets tickets to go to a New York Knicks game with Chandler, who had already made plans to spend the evening with Monica. Not wanting to hurt Joey's feelings, Chandler instead lies and claims that he has to stay in Tulsa for business. This backfires when Joey hears Chandler in Monica's apartment that night and, believing that Chandler is away, suspects that she is having an affair with another man. This forces Monica and Chandler to go through an elaborate setup of lies to cover up the original one but things eventually fall through and Joey figures it out. Feeling guilty about trying to trick Joey, Monica allows Chandler to go with him to the Knicks game. Chandler and Joey begin heading to the game... and immediately turn back when Chandler points out that Joey had misread the tickets and the game is not until the next day.
Ross generally ends up on the receiving end of this, most infamously in "The One With The Cat", where Phoebe thinks a stray cat is her reincarnated mother. After learning the cat belongs to a little girl, Phoebe decides to keep the cat, claiming she has to respect her mother's wish to be with her. Everyone looks like they're going to accept it, and only Ross insists on putting an end to this. For this, Ross gets chewed out for being a bad friend, because he wasn't supportive of Phoebe, like the others were. He ends up apologizing and, embarrassed for his attitude, momentarily drops his point altogether. The problem with that is that Ross was supportive of Phoebe, and only stopped humoring her when he found out about the little girl. The only real difference between Ross and the others was that he was unwilling to let Phoebe keep the cat at the little girl's expense. And then, despite having made him out to be completely wrong for insisting on giving the cat back, Phoebe does a complete 180-degree turn and decides to return it as though that was what she planned to do all along rather than as the result of Ross insisting she give her back. It was later revealed the rest of the show's crew hated the script and the only reason it made it into the show was that the writer actually had recently lost her mother and was clearly working some things out.
Another Ross example is in the season 4 finale, where Emily wants to call off the wedding and move it to a later date because the venue has undergone sudden construction work. Ross is portrayed as a jerk because he wants to keep the date as is and just find a new place, and Monica tries to explain to Ross about how Emily has been dreaming of her wedding her entire life and thus her wishes come first. Except Ross, Joey, Monica, Chandler and Ross's parents had flown all the way from America to England and they had already spent a fortune on planning the wedding so Emily's wanting to move the wedding last minute comes across as pretty impractical.
Yet another Ross example. In "The One with Ross's Sandwich," Ross is depicted as being crazy, unstable, and overreacting to his boss eating his sandwich to the point where he gets suspended from his job and eventually loses it. Even though it's just a sandwich, it's completely understandable that Ross would be upset by this, especially considering he put his name on it and the boss stole it anyway and the sandwich meant a lot to Ross. It's not like he hit his boss. Many fans feel like his anger was justified and the punishment was too severe.
Emily. She turned into a Control Freak and Clingy Jealous Girl only after Ross humiliated her in front of her family and friends at her wedding, the most important day of her life.
Ross can also be this sometimes; in many of his relationships he becomes irrationally jealous and sometimes clingy (from being convinced Mark was pursuing Rachel, to thinking Emily will cheat on him with Susan because of how much fun she was having with Susan). As Monica actually points out, though, Ross was fine in relationships until his marriage with Carol ended by her discovering she was lesbian (and doing so by cheating on him with Susan, possibly repeatedly). Now he's just terrified that the same kind of thing will happen again. A lot of Ross's more Jerkass behavior also comes in the later seasons after he's had several humiliating experiences, both in his love life ("three divorces") and elsewhere.
Phoebe. She already has a Dark and Troubled Past (living on the street, a mother who killed herself) and apparently became more of a bitch by the end of the series because of the revelations about her family. Makes perfect sense when you realize that she found out she had a brother her father didn't bother telling her about, her grandmother didn't tell her how to get in touch with her father, she lost a year when she found out she's a year older than she thought, doesn't even know her full name because her sister sold her birth certificate, and found out her mom isn't her mom, but her mom's girlfriend. She probably started being such a bitch when she realized her entire family lied to her almost all of her life.
Less Disturbing in Context: Imagine someone channel hopping and finding "TOW Phoebe's Uterus" and not knowing or recognizing it and hearing Frank Jr. say "My sister's going to have my baby!" without realizing that he's talking about surrogacy not incest.
Laminated list, also known as freebie list. explanation A list of your top 5 people, usually famous celebrities with whom you can have sex if you have a chance to score, regardless whether you are in a relationship or not, and your significant other must comply. It was first mentioned by Chandler when he dated Janice, and Ross spent the entire episode trying to figure out the very best selection of ladies possible, and when he was finished, he had his list printed and laminated.
Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat...
The word you're looking for is... anyway...
"The Rachel" was a very popular women's hairstyle in the '90s.
The "double fist bump" that the gang uses as the equivalent of flipping off someone.
"Ross Without The Laugh Track" videos showing how creepy Ross could be sometimes without laughter.
The scene from "The One With All the Poker" of Marcel playing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" on Ross's CD player got some attention when people started replacing the song with something else, notably Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road".
Narm Charm: The cast dancing in the fountain. Ridiculously cheesy, obviously not the characters and proves the show as unabashedly 90s, but they're all young, cute and having fun, and it's hard not to be endeared.
Nightmare Fuel: "The One with all the Thanksgivings": The flashback where Chandler gets his toe accidentally chopped off. Granted, we don't actually see the gory result, but we do see the knife falling in slow motion with the Psycho theme playing, before it quickly cuts to Chandler being rushed to the hospital on a gurney. Sweet nightmares, folks...
Also Fergie's cameo as herself - where Joey bumps into her while touring London. She compliments him on his hat.
And of course Isabella Rossilini casually walking into Central Perk - and Ross's disastrous attempts at hitting on her.
James Hong has two brief scenes in "The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion" and only has dialogue in the first, but manages to pretty memorable as Pete's trainer, who apparently turns out to be a former assassin and quickly has to shut Pete up before he blabs it to everyone else.
All the main characters get this nowadays, with many articles that point out how all the main characters are sociopathic assholes and horrible friends, exaggerating their flaws and questionable moments, even the unintentional ones. Even if they are all flawed in their own way, it's pretty clear they are not bad people, their friendship is genuine, and treat each other fairly well compared to many other sitcom characters. Despite that, some people compare them to the cast of Seinfeld and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, sadist shows where everyone is known for Lack of Empathy.
Of the main cast, Ross receives the most bile from modern viewers, perceiving him to represent the worst excesses of the Dogged Nice Guy who think's he's Entitled to Have You; Rachel/Joey is now ironically looked on more fondly by some as a result. However, most if not all of those flaws are addressed in the show and he frequently gets his comeuppance for them; he and Rachel were both jealous and possessive and equally at fault for a lot of things that went wrong in their relationship; and he often goes out of his way to do kind and supportive things for his friends (buying Phoebe the bike she never got to have, helping Chandler deal with his last-minute panic before his and Monica's wedding).
Janine, Joey's temporary roommate/girlfriend from season 6. She was already off to a rough start with viewers feeling that Elle MacPherson just wasn't that good of an actress compared to the rest of the cast. However, it got even worse by Janine's final episode, which ended up doing a complete 180 on her character by revealing Janine to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing that dislikes Chandler and Monica. Also qualifies as Critical Dissonance, since, in the episode guide in Entertainment Weekly's special all-Friends issue (culminating in "TOW Monica and Chandler's Wedding"), they described Elle as "naturally funny."
Susan, the lesbian love of Ross' ex-wife Carol, receives a lot of hate for her cruel and cold attitude towards Ross, who really didn't do anything to deserve it. Not helping matters is that, Closet Key for Carol or not, she had a direct role in breaking up a marriage and was never shown to have any remorse for it. She got off to a bad start when they found out Ross was pregnant; she wanted to, for the baby's last name, hyphenate Carol's and her own, and leave Ross' name off, as if the baby was conceived in the context of their relationship and Ross was just a sperm donor.
Try to find any fan of the show who actually liked Mark. Though Ross and Rachel is somewhat a Broken Base, fans were relieved when Rachel and Mark never got together.
Also, Marcel. Ross's pet monkey in Season One. A character who was so hated that, in a S6 episode, Ross himself wonders what he was thinking by getting him. The big reason for him being so hated isn't so much that he's a monkey, but for the fact that the show seemed to promote the illegal keeping of exotic animals.
Judy Geller, for her appalling cruelty towards Monica. Jack was clearly Innocently Insensitive in mildly favoring Ross and horrified when he realized. However Judy's callous criticism of the insecure Monica, even it was Played for Laughs, made her an abusive parent and hugely unpopular with fans. It's kind of hard to like someone who sends one of your main characters into depression or even tears every time she appears.
None of Rachel's family are particularly well-liked (except for maybe Sandra), due to the fact that they're all huge Jerkasses. The absolute worst is Dr. Leonard Green, who is an excessive dick to everyone he meets, very often a Hypocrite when it comes to his own standards, and oftentimes incredibly selfish. Needless to say, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who likes him. The only time he may have been liked was in the quick instance where he and Ross bonded over Rachel's laziness.
Joanna, Rachel's boss in the third and fourth seasons, who was nothing more than a smug bully. Nobody complained when she was handcuffed by Chandler or died in a car accident.
Seasonal Rot: The show took on a Denser and Wackier tone towards the end of season three and Flanderization kicks in sometime around season five. Common complaints are that flanderization was stretched beyond believability (to the point where the characters had basically become cartoon versions of their former selves), the plots were less creative and more outrageous (for example, one episode centered around Joey not even being able to successfully repeat basic French words), and the actors were very visibly bored with doing the show.
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: While it is still regarded as funny, and a benchmark that other comedy sitcoms try to reach, the impact it had is largely forgotten after the slew of other shows that followed.
At the time, it was unique for a show to have a cast of young people who could be romantically paired up in many different ways. Pretty much every heterosexual combination between the main cast was explored during the series (even Ross and Monica had an accidental kiss in their background). This type of series premise has since become the norm.
Friends was, at the time, also unique for delving into the trials and tribulations of 20-something life. A demographic that had, until then, been mostly ignored by television and was just gaining cinematic recognition through movies like Reality Bites. Whereas, today, at least half of all prime time sitcoms are about 20 and early-30 something life.
Things like the coffee house, now a cliché, were actually considered 'too hip' by the executives, and they had to be talked into accepting it.
When the Pilot was filmed, NBC actually screened audiences to see if they thought Monica having sex with Paul on a first date would make her seem slutty. Given what women on network television get away with these days, it's hard to believe such a thing was cause for concern among network executives in 1994.
Ross and Rachel. As mentioned above, thanks to a combination of Values Dissonance and "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, a lot of younger fans who got on board after the show ended are watching their relationship pan out and questioning what made it so popular. While it's easy now to pinpoint everything that was wrong with them as a couple (pettiness, having very little in common, jealousy issues, etc.), during the mid-90's, such a relationship was seen as fresh and unique. As, until then, the Give Geeks a Chance trope was rarely (if ever) represented in television. While, in film, it was still seen as a refreshing break from the predictable "pretty boy gets the hot girl" trope so prevalent until the mid-80's. Today, with the Give Geeks a Chance trope being more-or-less played out and the culture as a whole taking a much more cynical view of the Dogged Nice Guy, it might be hard for younger fans to really appreciate how significant the Ross and Rachel romance was nearly 20 years ago.
Also the Will They or Won't They? on/off nature of their relationship: At the time it was a innovative and relatively new way of setting up a couple. Nowadays, virtually every show has an Unresolved Sexual Tension pair and their initial Unrequited Love Switcheroo seems text-book form. (Especially as they first got together as early as Season 2, now writers drag it out much longer.) In fact, it's gotten to the stage where the creative approach is not to break up your main couple, so ironically, Monica and Chandler's relationship appears more unique.
The show was seen as very progressive in its handling of Carol and Susan as a gay couple. In fact, the Season Two episode "TOW The Lesbian Wedding" almost never aired due to its content.
Most prior sitcoms centered around families, a particular job or the cast is otherwise unified in some fashion by being roommates, classmates or all visiting the Local Hangout. Friends was unique in that it was literally nothing more than the adventures of a group of friends, everyone had different history with each other, different career paths and different social circles outside their clique. Together with Seinfeld the show redefined the sitcom genre with the "a group of friends" premise.
Special Effects Failure: The incredibly obvious green-screen background when Rachel tries to teach Joey how to sail a boat in the third episode of Season 7, "The One With Phoebe's Cookies."
And then add in that Ross actually did kiss Monica once, in a dark bedroom at a college party, where he thought it was Rachel "under a pile of coats".
Ross: You were my first kiss with Rachel?!
Monica: You were my first kiss ever?!
Chandler: [horrified] WHAT DID I MARRY INTO?!
Don't forget this line from Chandler in "The One With Ross' Tan" when Monica gets a spray-on tan:
Chandler: "Dude, stop staring at my wife's legs! (beat) No, no. Stop staring at your sister's legs!"
In one Thanksgiving episode, Monica considers dating Richard's son. The two actually do get to this point in the end (to the point where Monica abruptly twitches), but by that point, the others have already been squicked out.
"Are you sure you wanna be in a relationship where you can actually use the phrase, 'That's not how your dad used to do it?'"
"Hey, y'know, Mon, if things work out between you and Richards son, youd be able to tell your kids that you slept with their grandfather."
The childbirth video, especially for Chandler and Monica.
There was a Running Gag of Monica saying intimate things to Chandler without realizing Ross's presence.
Monica: *entering the apartment* Pants off, Bing!
Ross: *makes his presence known with a squicked-out look*
Monica: Didn't see you there, Geller...
Speaking of Ross, it wasn't just Monica for him. He also clearly had some feelings for his cousin, Cassie (played by Denise Richards), though this was definitely amplified by his lack of romantic life up to that point (not that revealing that helped things, as Ross quickly realized).
Ross' Aunt Mille for some reason refuses to kiss him anywhere but on the lips, much to his own disgust.
Ross: Why?! Why on the lips?!
The writers seemed to like the incest jokes. Chandler's offhand line about undressing his male cousin Glenn when he was younger was thankfully shhed by Monica before he could go into more detail.
When Phoebe's dollhouse catches fire and Monica's showering, Ross bursts into the bathroom and puts it out in the shower with her, prompting this response when they both emerge.
Strawman Has a Point: Joey not wanting to share food is portrayed as something that he does because he's selfish, and he later steals his date's entire dessert as a means of showing how hypocritical he is. Except in the episode the girl he doesn't share food with simply grabs it off his plate without even asking. And on the second date she orders a salad and then asks to eat some of his food as well. Joey has a right to be annoyed since if she wanted to eat his food, why didn't she order it for herself? In other episodes he seems happy enough to let Phoebe have some of his food when she asks nicely whereas this girl simply looks at his food, asks "are those stuffed clams?" and then reaches out to grab one.
Super Couple: Ross and Rachel. And although they didn't have as big a cultural impact, Monica and Chandler also qualify.
In the extended version of "The One After I Do", Chandler's shoes wind up being too slippery for the dance floor, which causes him to accidentally rip most of Judy Geller's dress off as he falls in public for everyone to see, leaving her humiliated. As noted in The Scrappy section, Judy wasn't particularly well-liked due to her constant harsh criticism of Monica, and it feels especially rewarding to watch since just moments ago in the same episode she shrugged off Monica on her wedding day after learning that she wasn't pregnant.
Judy gets another moment in "The One After Ross Says Rachel." During the fallout of Ross's disastrous marriage to Emily, Judy wonders if things turned out the way they did because she was a bad parent. Emily's father walks by and instantly replies "YES."
Several years after Ross' monkey Marcel had thankfully left the show, he randomly says "Remember when I had a monkey? Yeah, what was I thinking?"
Rachel discovering that Joanna died midway through the fourth season. The smile on Rachel's co-worker, Sophie, who was bullied way worse than Rachel was, really hammers the point in.
One of the most common criticisms directed at the show, particularly early in its run, was that it was a Seinfeld knockoff. Even though the two shows had very little in common except that they both took place in New York City. Actually, the show Friends most closely resembled was probably Cheers (arguably even more so than its spin-off).
Friends also inspired a lot of this in regards to other shows after it became such an unexpected smash hit. While there were a good handful of obvious knockoffs, critics were calling virtually any show that featured an ensemble cast of people who were friends with each other "a Friends clone". Drew Carey even mentioned that despite the fact that he liked the show himself, its theme song became a Berserk Button for him because of the constant claims that his very different show was a Friends imitation. His show was the Seinfeld knockoff, since Seinfeld created the template for all 90s sitcoms starring stand-up comedians. (Drew= Jerry; Kate= Elaine; Mimi= Newman; Lewis and Oswald= George and Kramer, etc.)
The Mike/Phoebe/David arc, which could have given a much longer story with Phoebe genuinely torn between the two. Instead it's passed off in one episode (and not even the finale).
The whole Chandler/Kathy arc. While early on it is shown that the two have a lot in common and clearly have strong feelings for each other, once she breaks up with Joey and he tells them he's okay with the relationship, things go downhill. For the rest of their relationship, Kathy is mostly only mentioned with her only appearing in two more episodes, neither of which she plays a very large role. It all ends when Chandler accuses her of cheating on him, only for her to go and do just that. A lot of fans weren't pleased with this and thought it was too obvious of a way to end Kathy's storyline.
Chandler's strained relationship with his parents and his background had a lot of good material, especially his mother who was a famous, erotic writer and his teen years at boarding school. However his backstory was never delved into much and his parents only appeared in 2 episodes. And even when Chandler was forced to confront his strained relationship with his father in Season 7, the focus was entirely on Chandler's embarrassment with his father's sexuality, which is not treated particularly seriously and leads to many jokes that appear rather homophobic and transphobic in retrospect. Meanwhile, the Parental Neglect and borderline abuse Chandler suffered during his childhood, which likely would have made for better drama, is not even mentioned.
Lisa Kudrow got in a lot of good acting with Phoebe's real family, but as soon as the father appeared (with a scene that ended with Phoebe still being uncomfortable around him) in season five they dropped the plot and any more chances to work through her past issues. Similarly, her biological mother only showed up in three episodes before disappearing entirely, with the suggestion that Phoebe is spending time with her offscreen.
In early season six (when characters were starting to be flanderized), Monica asked Chandler once if he was scared of her and actually sounded concerned. While understandable that they didn't want more drama after Ross/Rachel, it could have least been a cue to dial the Control Freak personality back.
Ben stops appearing before Emma is born and the viewers never get to see how having a half-sister will affect Ben's relationship with his father.
Considering how the three Green daughters are played by Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Christina Applegate, it's actually somewhat surprising that there was never at least one time in the series where all three are on screen together for some sort of family bonding episode. Though there supposed is a good reason for this: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon may have had a lot of tension on set, though that was ultimately debunked by both actresses.
The show never did anything with the "Phoebe-as-closet-wrestling-fan" idea.(Odd, given the show's New York City setting and that the Monday Night Wars were big during the same time, and how NBC owns the USA Network, which airs WWE Raw.) That said, they did a very good job with the "Friend-who-acts-more-sophisticated-than-she-really-is" card in "TOW The Embryos," where it was revealed that while Rachel says her favorite movie is the Oscar-winningDangerous Liaisons, her actual favorite movie is the low comedy Weekend at Bernie's.
Season 3's episode, "The One With Frank Jr," showed that Joey had a knack for carpentry and house construction, such as constructing an entertainment unit for his apartment, or retiling Monica's bathroom floor. This could have been a way to fit in a side-job for Joey to make up for his struggles throughout the series at becoming an actor, yet it's never brought up again.
Took the Bad Film Seriously: The infamous episode about the cat is universally despised, but damn if Lisa Kudrow's delivery of "Ross, how many parents have you lost?" isn't powerful.
Uncanny Valley : CHEESE, the robot that Joey works alongside in his short lived in-universe TV series, is pretty creepy.
Of the main cast, Chandler probably fits this role the best. In-series, he is the second biggest Butt-Monkey after Ross with some of the least amount of luck with women. His friends often find his jokes annoying and make fun of him from time to time as well. Among the fandom, he is frequently considered to be the best character and the least base-breaking among the cast.
In-series, Ross is an unlucky and often pathetic nerd who is frequently made fun of for his mishaps and terrible love life. However fans find him hilarious, especially in later seasons where his comedy manages to overshadow even Chandler.
Monica while fat is object of ridicule and no one respects her on the show. In the eyes of the fandom, she's an adorkable, funny Big Beautiful Woman.
The main characters find Janice annoying because of her voice and Annoying Laugh. However her over-the-top hamminess and Catchphrase make her one of the most memorable characters. Not to mention she's a sweet and well-meaning girl who does her best to get along with the group.
Especially in the episode where Ross, Chandler, and Monica were telling each other embarrassing stories. One of the first was Chandler drunkenly making out with a man dressed like a woman at a party. As the episode progresses, the stories get more and more humiliating (Chandler winning a Vanilla Ice look-a-like contest, Ross coming in fourth and crying and sleeping with the college maid, Monica being unable to tell time until she was 13 and eating the macaroni from a homemade jewelry box after being sent to bed without dinner.) However, none of these simply compare to "Whatever, dude, you kissed a guy." That alone undercut everything else.
When Joey is helping Treeger with his dancing, Monica asks Joey how it's going: "Gay yet?" Also crosses over to behind the scenes.
"The One With The Rumor" had Brad Pitt's character and Ross started a rumor in high school about Rachel having both boy and girl parts, ending with Monica telling her she needs to get over it. That would have caused a lot of upset people today.
Joey regularly mentions picking up girls (in the college age bracket) when he was way under the age of consent (he knew how to unhook a bra at age fourteen), something that never even gets mentioned by the other characters as, well, icky. He even once said that he slept with a teacher in seventh grade for an A, to Monica, and she didn't even react to it.
When Rachel takes Ross out to dinner with her father, Dr. Green pays for the entire meal but only puts out a 4% tip. He's portrayed as a jerk for both this, and for getting mad at Ross for leaving extra money on the table to pad out the tip. In the US, where waitstaff are often paid lower than minimum wage, Ross's outrage at the small tip makes sense (a common tip ranges from 15-20%, which can be a great payout for waitstaff on an expensive meal). In other countries where restaurant wages are better regulated, this is not common knowledge, and so Ross ends up looking more unreasonable for expecting a man who just paid for a very expensive meal to pay even more for the tip.
Chandler making fun of Ross or Joey for taking part in any 'unmanly' activities. One episode had Chandler accuse Joey of turning into a woman all because Joey was trying to bond with his temporary female roommate by knitting pot cozies with her and learning floral arrangements. Ross likewise gets worried when Ben is found playing with a Barbie doll, and he tries to get him to play with a GI Joe instead. Ross also wants to get rid of Sandy the nanny just because he's a slightly effeminate male (though this Double Standard is repeatedly lampshaded in the episode itself).
In Brad Pitt's episode, the gang make fun of Ross for making out with a high school librarian. The joke is because she was incredibly old. But if you think about it, although she wasn't a teacher, she was still in an authority position and took advantage of a teenage boy. With awareness of the double standard now more widespread, this gag would probably not fly today.
Given the increasing epidemic of teenage eating disorders, a lot of the jokes at Monica's expense at being an overweight teenager come off as cruel.
Ross's actions - particularly in the early seasons - are looked on far more critically than they would have been at the time. He claims to be a 'Nice Guy' but here's a rough list:accuses Rachel of cheating just because he's jealous of Mark; acts incredibly smothering and possessive and later lies about getting their marriage annulled. Any of these actions would be used to portray him as a Jerkass today rather than the Dogged Nice Guy he was presented as in the 90s.
Chandler's boss playfully slapping his butt is played for laughs, with the other employees mentioning this demonstrates that Chandler is his favourite, and Chandler convincing his boss to slap other employees' butts to stop them feeling jealous. In today's society, in the wake of the #Me Too! movement, it's less likely this sort of behaviour would be played for laughs, especially as Chandler is clearly uncomfortable with this.
Chandler's father being played by a cis woman was actually considered an admirably daring piece of casting at the time, but is now looked on much more critically as awareness has grown about the plight of trans actors losing even roles fitting their identity to cis actors.note It's actually not quite clear if the character is supposed to be trans or a male drag queen, but it's still uncomfortable either way. Co-creator Marta Kauffman later admitted that she regrets the character being written that way, as well as the ambiguity with which their identity was handled.
With increased understanding of the terrors of stalking, its now quite off-putting to watch "The One With The Jam", where Phoebe is flattered when it appears she has one, and when it turns out the man is actually stalking her twin sister Ursula and followed her by mistake, she tries to convince him to switch to her. During the shows 25th anniversary in 2019, this was named as the episode the crew most regretted.
'The One With the Girl who Hits Joey' has aged pretty poorly, all things considered. The arc of the entire episode is Joey dating a woman who hits him, which doesn't really seem very funny anymore now that there is more awareness of domestic violence and abuse (including of male victims) is taken more seriously. In fairness to the episode, the joke isn't that Joey's girlfriend hits him, it's that the group doesn't believe a girl with the tiny stature of Soleil Moon Frye could hit that hard with her seemingly playful punches; the punchline comes when Rachel finds out that little Katie does hit like "a very small, but very real, bat" and acts accordingly (a retaliatory kick to the shin).
What an Idiot!: In "The One with Rachel's Date" Chandler directly asks his superior about downloading porn on the computer, then later confesses that he shreds important documents due to not caring about looking at them. Chandler is completely serious about both of these, and the only thing that saves him is his boss thinks he's automatically joking, as otherwise he would immediately get fired.
The Woobie: Almost all the main characters, and some secondary ones.
Ross Geller, who is the "divorce" guy in the group. He is possibly the worst when it comes to relationships, sometimes, these relationships fail because of the actions of his friends, sometimes because of his own actions. Nonetheless, you can't help but feel a little bit sorry for him most of the time. The only reason he isn't any woobier is because he finally does hook up with the girl he has loved since the 9th grade by the end of the series.
Monica has been The Un-Favourite to her parents simply for being second-born and was also obese when she was young. She then becomes a Woobie again at one point during work, when the job she's dreamed of doing for years is ruined because the staff all hate and bully her. (Though this improves and she also becomes Head Chef at a different, very prestigious restaurant). She desperately longs to get married and have a happy home with children but her relationships keep failing and later finds out she's infertile.
Chandler is a Sad Clown who uses humor as a defense and has devastatingly low self esteem, which stems from his Hilariously Abusive Childhood. He's also terrified of ending up alone but struggles with Commitment Issues thanks to his dysfunctional parents, so has to watch Joey have multiple one nights stands and Ross several steady girlfriends while he's either rejected or cheated on. Thankfully, both he and Monica lose this status when they fall in love, as she gets him over his Commitment Issues and he gives her the love she's always wanted. And although they find out they're infertile decide to adopt (instead of surrogacy or sperm donorship) so they can give an unwanted baby a happy home. They end the series Happily Married with adopted twins.
Joey in season 8 when he was in love with Rachel. Then he lost the only girl he ever loved and was the only friend who ended up without his soulmate.
Pheobe is the woobiest of all of them, with her Trauma Conga Line past: she grew up very poor (she mentions once that on Christmas, her stepdad would sell his blood to buy them food), her drug-dealer mother killed herself, she lived as a homeless person for a lot of her life and then found out that her real mother had given her away. No wonder she's so messed up.
Gunther is stuck in a dead end job at Central Perk and harboring a huge crush on Rachel for at least 9 years that's completely unreciprocated, and it's implied he doesn't really have that many friends either.