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  • Abandon Shipping:
    • Many, many fans abandoned Ross and Rachel in seasons three and four as a result of the Arc Fatigue. They still kept a fanbase, but nowhere near as big as the writers believed. A noteworthy jumping off-point was Monica and Chandler's wedding episode ("The One With Monica And Chandler's Wedding") as it ended on yet another Ross and Rachel cliffhanger. Even if not many liked Joey/Rachel, some argued that, at least, it was something different than Ross/Rachel.
    • Pretty much every Monica and Chandler ship died out when Monica and Chandler became an Official Couple.
  • Actor Shipping: Courtney Cox and Matthew Perry have great chemistry on and off-screen.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Maybe Crossover Displacement? People are more likely to remember Ursula as a Friends character even though she was created for the earlier Mad About You.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • After Hours argues that all six of the friends are terrible, selfish, and manipulative people that no one should root for. And some of the comment section argues that the quartet didn't speak enough about the friends' shortcomings.
    • As understanding about sexuality progressed, some have theorized that Joey and Chandler might be bisexual. After all, Chandler has a certain "quality" about him.
    • Most of the debate about why Phoebe is a Shipping Torpedo to Monica/Chandler is whether or not she has feelings for Monica and her saying that she would choose Rachel over Monica was her hurt speaking out.
  • Author Appeal: There are a lot of doctors here. Doesn't matter if they're medical or not as long as the title is there.
    • Ross.
    • Richard.
    • Barry, Rachel's ex-fiance.
    • Rachel's dad.
    • David, the scientist Phoebe asked to New Years.
    • Joey played a doctor in Days of Our Lives.
    • Chandler gets mistaken for one by the girl who is going to give him and Monica her baby.
    • George Clooney and Noah Wyle even guest starred.
  • Arc Fatigue: Both Official Couples get this:
    • Ross and Rachel's Will They or Won't They? dynamic lasted ten years. Some people actually thought that they should break up permanently for the sake of their sanity.
      • Emma's birth lasted three episodes. Combine that with Rachel's Longest Pregnancy Ever and some fans got tired of her before she was even born.
    • Monica and Chandler zig-zag this. Getting together and deciding their dynamic is pretty quick. Deciding to actually let their friends know takes up the whole second half of the fifth season. Getting engaged is four episodes of Season 6. Every episode of the seventh season is then dedicated to planning their wedding.
  • Award Snub:
    • Over the whole of the show's run, Courtney Cox was the only cast member not to receive an award nomination to the shock and confusion of everyone who worked on the show.
    • It wasn't until Season 8 that the show won "Best Comedy Series."
  • Base Breaker: Every main character but Chandler gets this. Depending on the Writer for all the characters and the Flanderization of later seasons doesn't help things.
  • Better on DVD: Not only does it make the series easier to binge but the DVDs have Deleted Scenes.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Robin Williams and Billy Crystal guest-starring.
  • Broken Base: So much of Ross and Rachel's relationship.
    • Were they on a break?
    • Is it a wonderful and epic "Will They or Won't They?" story or were all those breakups indicative of the fact that the two should not be paired up?
    • Are they soulmates or are they both guilty of "Entitled to Have You"?
  • Crack Pairing: "The One With The Flashback" has Chandler/Rachel and Phoebe/Ross.
  • 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.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Phoebe's flashbacks in "The One with All the Thanksgivings."
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Many of Ross and Rachel's Romantic False Leads are liable to get this treatment, Emily and Mark in particular. The only who didn't was Julie on account of being so Adorkable that it proved impossible to hate her.
    • The extremists of the Monica/Chandler ship will happily invoke this for Richard, the nicest Nice Guy in the whole show. This cropped up to Richard returning to the show when Chandler was about to propose to Monica but even that doesn't excuse it as Richard gave Chandler his blessing to go after Monica and offered him free advice.
    • Mike is not treated well by the David/Phoebe shippers. Doesn't really help that he's something of a Base Breaker (he either adds a charm to Phoebe's life or he's totally superfluous and something of a douche) and that some consider his sudden revision on marriage as a Romantic Plot Tumor.
  • Dry Docking: People of both sexes did not want Ross and Rachel to be together, so they could have that couple for themselves.
  • Ear Worm:
    • Sing the first line to "Smelly Cat" to any Friends fan. Listen as they sing the next few lines with the emphases in just the right places.
    • Even worse, sing the opening theme "I'll Be There For You". Expect claps.
    • Also, the Freud! song.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • The Chick and the Duck.
    • The Singing Man in "The One With All The Haste" who sings "Morning's Here."
    • Charlton Heston only appeared once, but he was such a Nice Guy to Joey that he stuck with everyone.
    • The British Passenger sitting next to Rachel in "The One With Ross's Wedding Pt. 2." Being played by Hugh Laurie helps.
    • Will Colbert is quite popular with those who dislike Rachel. Being played by Brad Pitt helps.
    • Phoebe Abbott, Phoebe's birth mother, for being so wonderfully nice and supportive of her daughter. Helps that she wrote off Ursula as a lost cause.
    • Leonard Hyes. It's Jeff Goldblum and only the heartless dislike Jeff Goldblum.
    • To hear the fans talk, Gunther must have appeared in every episode and been a key player.
    • David the Scientist, long debated as Phoebe's one true love, only appeared in five episodes but he left a hell of an impact.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Oh, dear Lord, the episode in which Phoebe thinks a stray cat is her reincarnated mother. After learning the cat belongs to a little girl, Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey all wimp out at telling Phoebe, and Ross alone goes through with it. When Phoebe decides to keep the cat because she has to respect her mother's wish to be with her, her friends all wimp out again, and only Ross insists on putting an end to this. For this, Ross gets chewed out for being a bad friend, because he wasn't supportive of Phoebe, like the others were. The problem with that is that Ross was supportive of Phoebe, and only stopped humoring her when he found out about the little girl. The only real difference between Ross and the others was that he was unwilling to let Phoebe keep the cat at the little girl's expense. So, apparently, being a good friend means you have to support somebody unconditionally, even when they're totally wrong, when they're being selfish, or when their actions would actually hurt an innocent child.
    • By the way, just so the whole thing makes NO sense at all, after Ross apologizes, Phoebe does a complete 180-degree turn and returns the cat. What happened to respecting her mother's wishes? The episode gives no explanation for Phoebe's abrupt change of heart, nor does it note that if she had just agreed to do that to begin with, her fight with Ross wouldn't have happened at all.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With Seinfeld. Though most fans like both shows, those who are more Seinfeld fans than Friends fans can't seem to move past the early critiques of Friends as a knock-off of Seinfeld.
    • With How I Met Your Mother. Again, most fans like both shows but some Friends fans tend to look down on HIMYM as copy of their show.
  • Fanon:
    • The opening credits with the whole cast dancing in a park fountain with strings of lights everywhere is canon, and actually from a photoshoot Joey was modelling in which needed five other good-looking extras in a pinch.
    • It's a common internet theory that Hugh Laurie's guest character was a young House on his way to a medical conference. A less popular one is that even George, The Pollyanna to end all pollyannas, was appalled by Rachel's attitude.
    • The "E" in "Monica E. Geller" is for "Elizabeth."
    • If you asked any fan, and even the show's wiki, you might think that Ross and Rachel remarried in the Grand Finale. They actually didn't. They just got back together. Joey said that they remarried which seems to be the source of the confusion.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Given Ross/Rachel and Chandler/Monica, it's not a huge surprise that Joey/Phoebe was not far behind. The two often flirted and Joey was Phoebe's first choice as a back-up husband. Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow were even on-board with this idea. Sadly not meant to be as the writers thought it too predictable.
    • Even Hank Azaria wanted Phoebe to end up with David the Scientist, long touted as Phoebe's true love and The One That Got Away, instead of Mike.
    • Chandler and Monica was supposed to be a one time thing but they proved so popular that the writers made them the Beta Couple.
  • Fetish Fuel Station Attendant: Phoebe, a ditzy blonde whose identical twin sister is a porn star.
    • And given that we learn Phoebe is quite kinky in the sack herself...
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment:
    • In earlier seasons, Chandler makes multiple jokes about not being able to have children...
    • Chandler's smoking addiction wasn't very funny later on when Matthew Perry went into rehab to control his drinking.
    • A season 2 episode showed Monica getting Chandler to get in shape reflecting Matthew Perry's later weight problem.
    • In "The One With The Cake", the gang record a message for the year 2020. They're trapped indoors when filming it. Netflix UK had an ironic sense of humour to release the clip during the COVID-19 lockdown. Even more-so with Jack and Judy Geller wondering if they'll still be around in 2020. They'd be in the at-risk segment of the population. In fact, one of the actors of Emma's grandparents, Ron Leibman, who portrayed Dr. Lenard Greene, died in December 2019 (though not due to COVID-19).
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: While the show is very popular in the United States, it's also subject to much criticism for its Arc Fatigue and Seasonal Rot. In Europe by contrast, it's regarded as a timeless classic.
  • Growing the Beard: Season 2 is generally regarded as when the show stepped out from Seinfeld's shadow and really came into its own, though "The One With All The Poker" is usually regarded as an early milestone.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • 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 (though largely because she's single). At the end of season 9, Chandler and Monica turn out to be incompatible so they have to consider surrogacy or a sperm donor.
    • Related to this, in the episode where they go to the beach, Chandler comments on Rachel's gigantic hat by saying "I was taken aboard that hat! Now I can't have children."
    • 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 over the fact that Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston in real life; the joke became a lot less funny after Pitt divorced Aniston after apperently cheating on her with Angelina Jolie. Oh the cringe!
    • In After Hours' "How To Ruin Your Favorite Sitcoms With Simple Math", the group calculates, using simple math, that the triplets Phoebe gave birth to must have actually been her children. With that in mind, her reluctance to give them up can be a lot harder to watch.
  • He Really Can Act: "The One With The Cat" is regarded as one of the series' lowest points but damn if the cast, Lisa Kudrow in particular, didn't knock it out of the park.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Season 5 ends with Ross and Rachel getting married while drunk in Vegas. Ross promises he'll get it annulled, but he doesn't want to have his third marriage fail as well, so he ends up lying to Rachel about it. Rachel finds out three episodes later that they're still married, and she furiously asks Ross, "When were you going to tell me? After the birth of our first secret child?". Two seasons later she gets pregnant with Ross's child, and Ross is the last one to find out.
    • When Joey auditions for the lead of a new detective show, he tells his friends not to get their hopes up, as he isn't sure if he's good enough to carry his own TV show. Turns out he was right.
    • When Carol and Susan get married, the group questions 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.
    • The already hilarious couch moving scene ("Pivot!") is even better after you've seen David Schwimmer as Drill Sergeant Nasty Herbert Sobel in Band of Brothers.
    • 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 that would be his catchphrase?
    • Invoked in universe during "The One With All The Thanksgivings" flashbacks when Ross brags about Carol playing "for both teams."
    • 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.
    • For how much Rachel hated living in Joey and Chandler's apartment during Season 4, she moved back in Season 6 and adored living there.
    • There was a semi-popular belief in the fandom that Rachel would become fat after the show ended. With talks of a reunion special in 2020 (before the COVID-19 outbreak), unless the writers stuff Jennifer Aniston into a fat suit, this, as anyone who's looked at Jennifer Aniston can tell you, is very clearly not the case.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • Ross and Chandler. 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. The way the characters talk, you'd expect Monica to have been an immobile tub of lard. But to most viewers, it came off as Adorkable. In the What If episode, Chandler still hooked up with Monica despite her still being fat (and the episode even opened by Ross saying that Monica was so fat, that even Chandler wouldn't touch her). Might be Values Dissonance as Fat!Monica was quite large by the standards of The Eighties and The Nineties but in The New Tens, she's slightly overweight at best.
    • Rachel convinces Ross' then girlfriend Bonnie to shave her head to freak Ross out. If she was not played by Christine Taylor, the audience might have bought it as a reason to break up with her.
  • Ho Yay: There have been more marriage/romance/infidelity metaphors surrounding Chandler and Joey's relationship as roommates than is possible to count.
    • Also occasionally between Ross and Joey, especially in The One With the Nap Partners.
      • Ross also gave Joey a passionate kiss when he needed to audition for a role that involved having to kiss another man. Joey remarked that Rachel was a lucky woman.
    • Phoebe was shown to have Les Yay tendencies in "The One with Ross And Monica's Cousin" where she ends up starring longingly at Cassie and she even thinks "Ask her out! She's not your cousin!"
    • Chandler once kissed Ross while drunk.
    • The Ho Yay between Joey and Chandler even continue into the What Could Have Been episode in season 6, where Joey hires Chandler (now a struggling comedy writer) to be his assistant. And then there's this line:

  Joey: (to Chandler) Hey, go take off those pants, they look ready!

    • Rachel and Monica have had break-up moments, the most hilarious one being when Monica was spending time with Ross's new girlfriend Julie and Rachel confronted her about it. The conversation sounded like two lovers having a quarrel over cheating.
  • Informed Wrongness: Ross is treated as intolerant of Phoebe's beliefs when he wants her to return a stray cat she found to her actual owner, an 8 year old girl. Phoebe is reluctant to do so because, for some reason, she thought that the cat was her Mom after it went into her guitar case.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Yes, Emily is a Control Freak and a Clingy Jealous Girl but Ross humiliated her at her own wedding. It's no wonder that she can't trust him.
  • Less Disturbing in Context: Phoebe carrying her brother's babies.[1]
  • The Masochism Tango: Ross and Rachel.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Never Live It Down: No one, In-Universe or out, will ever forget the fact that Ross had three divorces, even if, according to Joey, he did remarry Rachel.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Emma is a mild one to Ben. As a baby, she doesn't do much and all she adds to the plot is more ways to stretch out the Ross/Rachel tango. By contrast, Ben did have some storylines centered around the other members of the gang.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • As time passed, Values Dissonance led to all six of the main cast getting this treatment. All six are good, if flawed, people but it's not uncommon to find internet dwellers who exaggerate them into sociopathic monsters.
      • Ross seems to get it the most given society's increasing cynicism towards the Dogged Nice Guy and some of his Entitled to Have You moments. Never mind that Ross is also a very Nice Guy who always tries to help his friends, often putting their happiness before his, and even helped his ex-wife get married to a woman whom he hated, and that Rachel was equally responsible for many things that went wrong in their relationship, if not more so.
    • Dr. Ledbetter. How dare he eat Ross' sandwich?
    • Emma in "The One With The Memorial Service." If you read some YouTube comments on the episode's clips, some fans genuinely believe that a baby, who wasn't even one yet, was an awful person for becoming attached to Joey's plush toy.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Ross and Rachel, more-so Rachel, as their Will They or Won't They? plot eventually became the A-Plot to show in later seasons.
    • Ross and Monica's mother, Judy gets this due to her blatant Parental Favouritism and how much she puts down Monica. What makes it even worse is that when their father, who'd unknowingly indulged in the same behaviour, realized how much he'd hurt his daughter, he was quick to beg for her forgiveness and consoled her many times.
    • Rachel's family, her father in particular, are among the most hated characters in the fandom.
    • Janice, Chandler's on-again/off-again, girlfriend became this starting in Season 3. Her two-timing the poor guy really didn't help things. Nor did her laugh.
    • Rachel's boss Joanna for being little more than a smug bully. Needless to say, many didn't share Rachel's sadness at her dying. And Rachel was only sad because she's blackmailed Joanna for a cushy job and now wasn't going to get it.
    • Susan, Carol's lesbian lover, has received a lot more hate as time passed. She has no sympathy for Ross whatsoever, even after he helped her marriage go through, and constantly belittles him. And when it was found that Carol was pregnant, she wanted to cut out Ross' last name from the baby's, as though Ross was nothing more than a sperm donor.
    • Emily. Though Jerkass Woobie, see above, does grant her some sympathy points, you'll be hard pressed to find a fan of hers.
    • Mark. Ross/Rachel is a divisive subject at best but very few people seemed to like Mark.
    • Pheobe's Evil Twin Ursula has garnered a lot of hatred due to how needlessly cruel she is. Doesn't help that the finale of Mad About You paints her as a total Karma Houdini who became Governor of New York. Though this one is more applicable to those who know Ursula from Friends instead of Mad About You.
    • Janine, Joey's Australian roommate. She wasn't hated at first, merely disliked for being somewhat generic compared to the other characters but she properly achieved this status in her last episode when she suddenly decides that she hates Chandler and Monica.
  • Seasonal Rot: Seems to have happened sometime around Season 3 to 5 as most fans agree that that's when Flanderization set in and the show became Denser and Wackier. Some even argue that the cast starts to look bored from Season 8 onwards.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny:
    • A group of 20 years olds hanging around a coffee house going through the trials and tribulations of everyday life? Hilarious and fresh in The Nineties. Played out by The New Tens.
    • Ross and Rachel's whole relationships, particularly the Will They or Won't They? dynamic. At the time, it was a very fresh idea but nowadays has been explored from every possible angle. Factor in society's diminishing love for Opposites Attract and many new viewers can't rationalize why they should be rooting for these two.
    • Susan and Carol's lesbian relationship. While the idea of same-sex couples on television is taken for granted now, "The One With The Lesbian Wedding" almost never aired.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Joey and Rachel's feelings for each other for the better part of the last two seasons (including being the big cliffhanger finale for Season 9) is resolved in two episodes. 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.
  • Shocking Swerve: Rachel's pregnancy.
  • Squick: In "The One with Joey's Big Break":

Joey: [to Ross] So who would you rather sleep with, Monica or Rachel?

Ross: Dude, you are sick!

Joey: Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot you had that whole Rachel thing...

    • 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 clothes".
    • Don't forget this line from Chandler in "The One With Ross' 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, but by that point, the others have already been squicked out.

 "Are you sure you wanna be in a situation where you can say, 'That's not the way your father did it?'"

  • Super Couple: Ross and Rachel.
  • Take That Scrappy: Hugh Laurie reaming out Rachel.
  • Tear Jerker: This scene allegedly had everyone in tears during its filming.
    • Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry also reportedly couldn't hold back the tears when filming the scene where Monica proposes.
    • If you don't cry after seeing what Ross did for Rachel on the prom video, and the expression on his face after Rachel leaves, you do not have a soul. A clip can be found here.
    • Seeing Phoebe say goodbye to the triplets and just end up quietly rocking them while the camera panned out.
    • If you've watched every episode of this show, you WILL cry at the very end.
      • Heck, the part that brought tears to this troper's eyes in the finale was of all things the destruction of the foosball table to rescue the ducklings. THE TABLE!
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Ross in "The One With Ross' Sandwich." He'd been through a bad year and just wanted to enjoy a nice sandwich. Factor in how incredibly condescending and unsympathetic his boss, the man who stole the sandwich, was. There isn't even any reason given for why his boss took his sandwich. He saw the note, he didn't even have his own sandwich to mistake it for, he just randomly opened the fridge with the intent to steal someone's lunch. With all that, Ross comes out looking as having been stepped on by the machine.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Rachel dabbles in this in Season 4 even if she does have some freudian reasoning. She starts off the season with thirty-six pages' worth of Never My Fault, then shoves off her responsibilities to try and get a guy and is outraged when the responsibility she shrugged off gets Ross a new girlfriend. And when the guys and girls switch apartments, Monica at least tried to make the best of it but Rachel fully embraced what it meant to be a Spoiled Brat. Really everything that went wrong for her was down to her own id.
  • Unpopular Popular Character:
    • Ross and Chandler, despite being seen as total losers in the show, are often regarded as the funniest characters in the show.
    • Fat!Monica. Old Shame for her, but hilarious ball of Adorkable for the fandom.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • A lot of the material; mainly the gender and sexuality jokes; became cringe worthy in The New Tens but were ground-breaking in The Nineties.
    • Ross' antics in the first few seasons seem more like Manipulative Bastard rather than Dogged Nice Guy to modern viewers. Rachel can also get hit with this as some view her "playing hard to get" as more of Entitled to Have You hypocrisy.
    • "The One With The Jam." Everything about it. In 2019, the creators admitted it to be their least favorite episode.
    • Chandler's boss slapping people on the butt as a sign of affection.
    • Fat!Monica. She may have been heavy by the standards of The Eighties and The Nineties but in The New Tens, she's, at best, slightly overweight. If she'd worn loser clothing, it would hardly be noticeable to modern viewers.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • In a sense. When many first watched the show, Chandler was viewed as a whiny character. In rewatches, he's often seen as the most realistic of the bunch and is the only one who isn't a Base Breaker.
    • Joey/Rachel may not be beloved but given how Values Dissonance has treated Ross, it gained some popularity from newer viewers.
  • Wangst: Ross in the first half of Season 5. It was an Intended Audience Reaction as even Janice felt Ross was too whiny which served as the kick in the pants that he really needed.
  • What an Idiot!: So many plots could have been avoided if it wasn't for how dumb Joey is.
  • The Woobie: Given Phoebe's past and her wide-eyed look on the world, you know you just wanna give her a hug. The fact that she's played by Lisa Kudrow helps, too.

Notes

  1. She's a surrogate.
  2. Literally translated from Italian it means "Go to Naples" but in Italy you may as well be saying "Go to hell" with that phrase.
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