So no one told you life was gonna be this way... (clap, clap, clap, clap)
A sitcom that ran from 1994-2004 which centers on a glamorous circle of Manhattan singles.
Though admittedly formulaic, Friends featured a top-notch cast and, at least in the early seasons, some legitimately outstanding writing. The Ross-and-Rachel relationship easily ranks as the most tired Will They or Won't They? plot in sitcom history. Interestingly, they became a couple early on, only to break up on account of Ross' cheating. Despite this, the characters managed to reconcile and even conceive a child without officially getting 'back together.'
A giant success in its day (the stars graced the covers of a dozen entertainment and gossip magazines every week), and accordingly one of the more polarizing shows of recent memory. "Seinfeld or Friends?" became a kind of shibboleth used to determine one's television street cred.
Friends is famous for its Idiosyncratic Episode Naming that referenced how the episodes would be most likely to be referred to when discussed among casual fans. All episode titles follow the format "The One with..." or "The One Where...". The two exceptions are "The Pilot" (which, even then, has been RetConned with the name "The One Where Monica Gets A Roommate") and "The Last One".
Over its 10-year run, the show featured literally dozens of big-name guest stars -- Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Jean-Claude Van Damme, George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Sheen, Bruce Willis, Ben Stiller, Gary Oldman, Brooke Shields and Jon Lovitz -- to name just a few. They even got Charlton Heston!
The main cast of Friends grew to be real-life True Companions; Tom Selleck commented in an interview that he often felt 'left out' during the filming of his appearance (a not-uncommon sentiment among guests on a hit series, but nonetheless). The cast as a whole demanded equal salaries, leading to the show holding the world record for "best-paid women actors in a TV show" for many years. And they insisted that, should they be nominated for awards (which they were), they all be in the same category: you couldn't nominate Matt Le Blanc (Joey) as "Supporting Actor" and David Schwimmer (Ross) as "Lead Actor"; both of them had to be Lead or Supporting.
- Friends Rent Control: Hand-waved for Monica's apartment; it's her grandmother's and she's illegally subletting it. Chandler presumably makes enough at his white-collar job to afford his apartment.
- It Tastes Like Feet: Ross' verdict on Rachel's cooking.
- The One With...
- Absence of Evidence: Played for laughs: Joey gives Chandler his show reel in order to be considered for an advert being produced by Chandler's company. When Chandler claims to have watched it, Joey says that he obviously hasn't, because part of the audition tape was an advert Joey did where he wore "Lipstick for Men", which Chandler would have definitely made fun of.
- AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: Subverted; Ross does try to say the word "karate" with the right Japanese intonation (putting more stress into "te" instead of the Western habit of stressing "ra"), but the way he says it just makes the word seem weird.
- Accidental Hug: Several variations when Rachel gets a job at Ralph Lauren.
- Acting Unnatural: When Rachel and Joey are having their brief fling, Ross knocks on the door to Rachel's hotel room; she tells Joey that they aren't doing anything suspicious and he just needs to act "nonchalant". He poses awkwardly with his hands on his hips, staring at the ceiling, until admitting he doesn't know what "nonchalant" means.
- Aerith and Bob: Chandler was a much more unusual name than the likes of Joey or Rachel.
- Afraid of Needles: Ross and Phoebe.
- Air Hugging
- The Alcoholic: Monica's on-again, off-again boyfriend Fun Bobby from Seasons 1 and 2. He eventually quits drinking, and Monica discovers that it was the alcohol that made him fun.
- Alternate Reality Episode: "The One That Could Have Been" has the gang imagining would might have happened if key points in their lives had played out differently.
- There's a sequence in "The One with the Truth About London" where Monica confesses that the night she hooked up with Chandler in London, she actually went to the room to seek out Joey. They imagine what life would've been like with those two together, in which Joey is fatter than young Monica, thanks to her cooking.
Joey: *looking at food* "How YOU doin'?"
- Always Someone Better:
- Joey vs. The Hombre Man in Season 2 Episode 2.
- Chandler panics when Monica refers to a colleague as the funniest guy she's ever met.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Chandler's mother is a writer of erotic novels, and his father is a transgendered cabaret entertainer. For example, in "The One with Chandler's Dad", he says: "When I was in high school, he used to come to all of my swim meets dressed as a different Hollywood starlet. Y’know it’s hard enough to be fourteen. You’re skinny. You’re wearing speedoes — that your mom promised that you would grow into! And you look up into the stands and there’s your dad cheering you on dressed as Carmen Miranda. He was wearing a headdress with real fruit that he will later hand out to your friends as a healthy snack!"
- Rachel's mother Sandra is a sorority girl who never grew up and Jack & Judy Geller are Happily Married, almost painfully so.
- The Art of Bra Removal: Joey has trouble opening Rachel's bra. This is a sign that them having a relationship is not a good idea, as he usually can do it without any effort.
- Audio Erotica: Phoebe gets sick in one episode and has a sexier husky voice. She desperately tries to get sick again after feeling better.
- Author Appeal: There are a lot of doctors in this show. Ross Geller (paleontologist), Rachel's father Leonard Green (vascular surgeon), Drake Ramoray (fictional neurosurgeon), Rachel's fiance Barry Farber (orthodontist), Richard Burke (ophthalmologist), Timothy Burke (ophthalmologist), Charlie Wheeler (paleontologist)and a pair of physicians played by George Clooney and Noah Wyle... and that's just the family and the love interests.
- Badass Mustache: Richard (played by Tom Selleck). Chandler tried to imitate him, with limited results.
- Bait and Switch: A staple of Chandler's jokes, especially when he talks about his parents and seems to be talking about his mother, but is actually talking about his (transgender) father.
- Beach Bury: Joey falls asleep at the beach, and gets buried, including sand boobs.
- Beastly Bloodsports: When Ross was looking for zoos to take his monkey Marcel, one of the prospects asks how good Marcel is with a knife, and it quickly becomes apparent that he's running some sort of animal fighting park.
- Bed Trick: Attempted by Chandler in "The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant". When a mysterious woman leaves a message on his machine looking for her old lover Bob, Chandler pretends to be Bob and makes a date with her. He then consoles her when Bob doesn't show up, and they sleep together. Later, Chandler is hoisted by his own petard when the woman calls the machine and tells "Bob" that Chandler just can't compare to him sexually.
- Better as Friends: Rachel and Joey.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rachel could come off as this at times.
- One of Rachel's boyfriends (played by Ben Stiller) in Season 3. He seems perfectly fine until someone or something pisses him off.
- Phoebe often had shades of this early on. Of course later on, she dropped the sheep's clothing.
- Black and Nerdy: The "Morning's Here!" guy who lives across from Joey's bedroom.
- Black Belt in Origami: At one point, Ross insists that he knows a martial arts technique called "Unagi." Rachel and Phoebe, however, know what the word actually means and spend much of the episode after making jokes about it.
- Blatant Lies: Phoebe's song "Two Of Them Kissed Last Night" about Betty (Rachel), Neil (Ross) and Loolie (Julie).
- Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: "The One with All the Cheesecakes".
- Blind Alley: In " The One in Barbados", Ross and Charlie enter a room down the corridor while their pursuers continue down the hall.
- Bottle Episode: "The One Where No One's Ready".
- Arguably a Trope Codifier, as the show's bottle episodes were often very well received.
- Bottle Fairy: Fun Bobby.
- Bow Chicka Wow Wow: Rachel sings this.
- Brain Bleach: Invoked In-Universe.
- The Central Perk manager hates Phoebe's singing so much it makes him want to "push my finger through my eye, into my brain, and swirl it around."
- In the episode "The One with the Butt", where Joey gets a gig as Al Pacino's butt double, he goes into Monica's bathroom to put lotion on his rear end in preparation for the "part". Chandler comes in with the phone in his hand:
Chandler: Where's Joey? His mom's on the phone.
Monica: In the bathroom. I don't think you wanna go in there right now!
Chandler: Oh come on, we're roommates. (enters bathroom, runs out screaming) GAAAAAAH! MY EYES! MY EYES!
- In "The One Where Everyone Finds Out", Phoebe sees Chandler and Monica having sex, and screams the exact same line.
- In "The One with the Prom Video", Monica accidentally stumbles upon a tape of her parents having sex. In the later episode "The One Where Joey Moves Out", she unfortunately catches the live show.
- In a much later season, Monica's dad then walks in on her and Chandler.
- "The One with the Jellyfish" has everyone traumatized when Chandler had to pee on Monica after she got stung.
- Break-Up Bonfire Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel burn mementos of their exes when they find themselves all single on Valentine's Day and decide to do something to "cleanse" their bad luck. The firemen who attend when it inevitably gets out of control tell them that Valentine's Day is one of their busiest nights of the year, for exactly that reason.
- Brick Joke/Call Back: Joey's "Southern" (read: Jamaican) accent.
- Also, when Joey brings in a crib to convince a pregnant Rachel to stay at his apartment, he has his stuffed penguin toy Huggsy as a stand-in for the baby, but balks when Rachel believes he's going to give it to the baby. When Rachel and Emma live with Joey, Emma takes a liking to Huggsy, which Joey has a big problem with, as alluded to before.
- Brought Home the Wrong Kid: In one episode, Joey and Chandler worry they've done this to Ben (they left him on the bus by accident as well) but it turns out to be the right kid in the end.
- Brutal Honesty: In "The One with the Butt", everyone says non-committal positive-ish things about Joey's terrible play, except Chandler, who says "Awful play man, woah!". He's too excited about the beautiful girl who just agreed to go out with him to care about lying.
- Even Phoebe couldn't hide it.
Joey: Wow, an agency left me its card! Maybe they wanna sign me!
Phoebe: Based on this play? ...Based on this play!
Phoebe: It's my friends. They have a... liking problem. With you. In that they don't.
- But We Used a Condom: When Ross gets Rachel pregnant:
Ross: But we used a condom!
Rachel: Right, honey, but they are only 97% effective.
Ross: WHAT? They should put that on the box!
Rachel: They do!
Ross: No they don't! (Storms off to his bedroom. Pause. Returns with a box of condoms in hand) WELL THEY SHOULD PUT IT IN HUGE BLOCK LETTERS!!!
- Call Back: In Season 3, "With or Without You" by U2 plays in the bar after Ross and Rachael go on a break and he glumly says he likes the song. He requested it on the radio for Rachael back in Season 2, to apologize for making the list about her. And then he ends up dancing to it with Chloe, the girl from the Xerox place...
- Call Forward: The flashback episodes are about 80% this.
- Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Played with in "The One After the Superbowl" when Chandler's date invites him to the bathroom for sex, he excitedly states "I'm going to the bathroom now!"
- Can't Believe I Said That: In "The One with the Blackout", Chandler gets stuck in an ATM vestibule with Victoria's Secret model Jill Goodacre. She offers Chandler gum and at first he turns it down. Then he realizes that he shouldn't have and tells her:
Chandler: You know, on second thought, gum would be perfection. (Thinking) Gum would be perfection? Gum would be perfection. Could have said, "Gum would be nice," or "I'll have a stick," but no no no no no. For me, gum is perfection. I loathe myself.
- Catch Phrase: Joey's "How you doin'?"
- Cats Are Mean: Rachel once bought a hairless sphinx cat that scratches and hisses at her because her grandmother had one.
- Averted with the cat Phoebe believes her mother reincarnated into.
- Caught on the Jumbotron: This happens when Mike tries to propose to Phoebe.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Monica walks in on Chandler having some "alone time" in Oklahoma and mistakenly assumes that he is turned on by shark porn when he quickly changes the channel on the TV from (normal) porn to a shark movie.
- A much more well-known example where Ross wears a pair of tight leather pants to a date's house and cannot get them back up after pulling them down in her bathroom. Joey recommends he rub lotion and powder over his legs and Ross gets caught by his date.
- Celebrity Paradox: Lots of it, given the amount of guest stars. Notably, the guys are huge Die Hard fans, but don't recognize Bruce Willis in the coffee house.
- Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, and Jessica Rabbit make Ross and Chandler's list of celebs they'd want to sleep with. Sarandon and Ryder would later guest-star on the show, and Kathleen Turner, who voiced Jessica Rabbit, plays Chandler's transgender father.
- Character Development: At the beginning, Chandler had serious issues with commitment, which made him incapable of holding a relationship. He eventually got rid of them during his relationship with Monica. Rachel started out as spoiled, selfish and somewhat incompetent; she eventually became a successful, independent career woman.
- And mother.
- Character Filibuster: Joey talks about the wonders of thongs in the Cold Open of "The One with the Thanksgiving Flashbacks". He's still talking about it by the end of the opening credits.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The "girl with the belly ring" gets who gets mentioned in Season 3 breaks up Ross/Rachel.
- THEY WERE ON A BREAK!
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Ben disappears after Season 8, Carol after Season 7, and Susan after Season 6.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: Chandler's an ex-smoker, but can be seen lighting up again in particularly stressful situations.
- Circumcision Angst: An inverse example. Joey auditions for the role of an Italian immigrant in a movie that involves a tasteful nude scene with a Jewish girl. The character specifically points out that it's the first time she's ever with a man who isn't circumcised, so naturally the actor who portrays him can't be either. However, Joey is, but he stupidly says he isn't just to get a callback. Monica helps him fashion a substitute out of luncheon meat, and it all goes great until he gets to the callback...
Joey: "That's... never happened before."
- Class Reunion
- Clip Show
- Cloudcuckoolander: Phoebe who combines this with Granola Girl. Also Phoebe's sister Ursula and Rachel's sister Amy, both of whom are likely more oblivious than Phoebe.
- Comic Role Play
- Completely Missing the Point: Phoebe. Just Phoebe. And Erika, too: when Monica tells her she and Chandler decided to name one of the twins Erika, she assumes it's just a coincidence, turning what could have been a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming into a funny moment.
- The nurse, after being told that Rachel has hurt her ankle trying to take down the Christmas light. "You still have your Christmas lights up?!"
- Compressed Vice: In "The One with the Thumb". When the others berate Chandler for his smoking, he rattles off a list of their annoying habits that he puts up with, such as Joey's knuckle-cracking, Phoebe chewing her hair and Monica snorting when she laughs. None of them ever came up before, or after.
- Confession Deferred
- Congruent Memory: Joey practices for a commercial by repeating, "Mmmm, soup", using tomato soup as his prop. When filming, they use noodle soup, and he is unable to get the simple "Mmmm, soup" line right.
- Continuity Nod: In an early episode Chandler mentions he used to have a "Flock of Seagulls" haircut. In a Season 10 flashback, Chandler is seen with a "Flock of Seagulls" haircut
- Continuity Snarl: As a long running show there's bound to be one or two things that don't add up, but a pretty bad one occurs in Season 1 that there's little excuse for because it comes about in the space of two episodes right at the start of the show. There's barely any continuity to screw up. One episode centers on Ross moping because it's the anniversary of his first having sex with Carol (and also losing his virginity). Monica is the one who first remembers, which is Squicky but Ross says there were few people he didn't tell. In the very next episode, Monica says the line "Wow, my brother didn't even tell me when he lost his virginity."
- Chandler and Rachel are shown interacting in Thanksgiving flashbacks to their teen years, and in a flashback to a few months before the series began, and yet in the pilot they're introduced as total strangers. Ross, however, gets a "You remember..." before his name, as Chandler ought to as well.
- Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Repeatedly.
- Cool Aunt: Rachel is delighted when Ross' young son Ben starts calling her his 'Cool Aunt Rachel' and being thrilled to see her.
- Cool Old Guy: Richard.
- The Couch
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Played for Laughs. Ross was this way with Rachel and, to a lesser extent, Emily. Chandler had a bit of this with Kathy as well.
- Deconstructed later on with Ross as his irrational jealousy leads to him and Rachel breaking up. Emily becomes this in a much less funny way. And Chandler's jealousy drives to Kathy to sleeping with her co-star.
- Crossover: With Mad About You, somewhat, as in a few episodes Ursula can be found as the Buchmans' regular waitress, much to their dismay.
- There was an actual crossover when the MAY characters appeared in the coffee shop, mistook Phoebe for Ursula, and, assuming Ursula had been (rightly) fired there and hired here, tried to order coffee from her.
- There was also at least one with The Single Guy.
- A more straight example would be the crossover with Caroline in The City in the episode "The One with the Baby on the Bus". Caroline meets Chandler and Joey on the street and mistakes them for a gay couple. The same night that episode aired, Chandler appeared in an episode of Caroline.
- Then there was NBC's "Blackout Thursday", in which the characters on Mad About You caused a citywide blackout, followed by the characters on Friends and Madman of the People dealing with the aftermath. Notably, Seinfeld didn't join in as its script for the week had been written long before.
- Crying Indian: Attempt to invoke it, at least that's what Chandler claimed.
- Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Lampshaded by Chandler, who remarks that his wrists don't actually hurt, he just always saw the guys in the movies do it.
- Damned By Faint Praise: By the entire gang, trying to praise the Freud musical Joey's starring in, and by Rachael when Ross agrees to play rugby in an attempt to impress his British girlfriend.
- Dating Do-Si-Do: If they could have gotten away with pairing Ross and Monica they probably would have.
- Did You Just Have Sex?: In "The One with Phoebe's Husband", Ross was dancing down the street and was called out on it by an old lady: "Well, somebody got some last night." He gleefully shouts back "twice!"
- In the pilot, Monica has just been with Paul the Wine Guy, and her co-worker calls her on why she's smiling all the time. As Rachel said earlier, "It looks like you slept with a hanger in your mouth!"
- In "The One After Ross Says Rachel", when Phoebe sees Chandler and Monica for the first time since their trip to London, where the two hooked up, she immediately yells out "You had sex!" to which the two start sputtering and trying to deny it. Phoebe says to Chandler, "Well, obviously not YOU. I meant Monica." Monica then denies it as well. In a rare subversion, Phoebe accepts this, saying "Man, this pregnancy's throwing me all off."
- Different in Every Episode: The Magna Doodle in Chandler and Joey's apartment has a different picture each time.
- Disorganized Outline Speech
- Distant Reaction Shot: MY SANDWICH?!
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Monica admitting to Rachel that she went shopping at Bloomingdales with Julie. Monica redeveloping an addiction to cookies. Rachel and Chandler stealing cheesecakes, played off as having to commit multiple cover up murders to cover up their original crime. Phoebe's ex husband telling her he realized he was straight, not gay as he should have been, "normally". Chandler and Joey arguing about the care of their new "baby" chick. Joey's kidney stones needing to be peed out, when Phoebe cut Monica's hair, and many, many occasions of Joey and Chandler acting like a couple, including arguments about Chandler's ex-roommate Kip and buying furniture together...
- Door Focus
- Doppelganger: Russ.
- Doppelganger Dating: "The One with Russ".
- Double Standard: Discussed in-universe in "The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel", when Janice catches Chandler following her around after she tells him their relationship is moving too fast. Rachel and Monica tell Chandler that he's blown any chance he had with her, but Janice ends up thinking what Chandler did was romantic. Rachel and Monica complain that if they had done to a guy what Chandler did to Janice, the guy would think they were crazy and never speak to them again.
- Drives Like Crazy: Rachel and Phoebe.
- Drop-In Character
- Dumb Blonde: Erica the biological mother of Chandler and Monica's adopted kids and arguably Phoebe's sister Ursula and Rachel's sister Amy.
- As well as Phoebe and Rachel themselves, to an extent.
- Dysfunction Junction: Monica's parents favored Ross over her, Rachel's parents are very unhappily divorced, Joey's mother loves the fact that her husband cheats on her, Chandler's genetic father was transgendered and had an overly licentious, Mrs. Robinson mother. Phoebe takes the cake, with a Hilariously Abusive Childhood-cum-Mysterious Past that involved her adoptive mother's suicide and being forced to live on the streets.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Easy to miss, but--in the first season, there was no street outside the Central Perk set, only a painted backdrop in the window.
- Egocentric Team Naming:
Monica: Go Team Monica!
Monica: Okay, we'll think of a name later.
- Eighties Hair: In the first season.
- El Spanish-O: Joey shows off his terrible Italian accent: "That's-a what I suspected-a!"
- Embarrassing Cover Up
- Embarrassing First Name/Embarrassing Middle Name: Chandler Muriel Bing. Seriously, what the hell?
Ross: Chandler Muriel Bing. Your parents never even gave you a chance, did they?
- Embarrassing Slide: The gang is looking at old photographs of Monica and find one of what they think is Monica naked as a baby. Ross says no, it's him. "I was trying something."
- Ensemble Cast
- Erotic Dream: Ross is jealous after Rachel dreams about sex with Chandler, and then sex with both Chandler and Joey. When she finally dreams about him, he dances on a table with joy.
- Escalating Punchline
- Escalating War
- Eskimos Aren't Real: Joey and Chandler are both interested in a visiting Dutch woman. Chandler gets an edge by "guessing" that Dutch people come from somewhere near the Netherlands (the place they really come from). Joey responds, "Nice try. See, the Netherlands are this make-believe place where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell come from."
- The European Carry All: Joey's unisex bag, and Ross's "faded salmon color" (pink) shirt.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Monica's oh so perfect Season 1 boyfriend Alan.
Ross: If only he were a woman.
Rachel: Yeah... (they awkwardly look at each other and walk away)
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex
- Everybody Is Single: By the end of the show, only Joey is single.
- What about the numerous dates the characters have over the course of the series?
- Everything Is Better With Monkeys: Marcel
- Ross in Season 6 pointed out this was a stupid storyline ("What was I thinking?").
- Evil Laugh: "The Plan Laugh", employed by Phoebe -- Joey tries to imitate it, but can't get it right.
Joey: Ho, ho, ho!
Phoebe: It's not Santa's plan!
- Joey's stalker (played by Brooke Shields) has a pretty scary laugh.
- Evil Twin: Phoebe's twin sister, Ursula, is by all accounts a bad person: she's an awful waitress, nearly cons a man into marrying her, has no affection for Phoebe, and becomes a porn star using Phoebe's name. She also didn't tell Phoebe that their mother had left a suicide note, and tried to improvise one on the spot before admitting she'd thrown it away.
- And don't forget she stole Phoebe's Judy Jetson thermos!
- She also sold Pheobe's birth certificate.
- And raped one of her boyfriends.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Many episode titles, such as "The One Where No One's Ready" and "The One in Vegas", exhibit this.
- Eye Scream: Rachel's phobia.
- Face Doodling: During an escalating prank war on the plane to Vegas, Ross draws a beard and mustache on Rachel's face. She doesn't notice until they reach their destination and discovers that it won't come off. Later on Ross suggests that she draws on him so she won't feel so self conscious. She gives him whiskers and writes 'Ross' on his forehead. They then stumble drunkenly about Vegas together, calling one another Mrs Ross and Mr Rachel.
- The Faceless: Ugly Naked Guy, the only time we see anything of him.
- Face Your Fears: Joey advocates this.
...the way I see it, you face your fears same as anything else, you've got a fear of heights, you go to the top of the building. You've got a fear of bugs... get a bug. In your case you've got a fear of commitment so you go in there and be the most committed guy there was.
- False Start
- Fashion Hurts: Monica learns this with a pair of boots.
- Fate Drives Us Together
- Faux Yay
- First Girl Wins: Rachel.
- Joey starts as a slightly dim character who's good with the ladies, and becomes a food obsessed sex-god who can barely count.
- Monica shows none of her control issues for the entire first season, and the first time it shows up it's because of the stress of her mother visiting. Later, she eventually becomes a cold, severely-OCD neat freak who violently attempts to control her friends' lives.
- Phoebe starts as a sweet but ditzy hippie chick and later becomes a shrill, manipulative bitch.
- Ross's nerdiness gets played up after his issues with Carol and Rachel are put aside, and his pickiness and temper issues get extremely inflated.
- Flash Back
- Flashback Stares
- Food Slap: Joey has a Loony Fan who thinks he's his One Life to Live character, Dr. Drake Ramoray. When she gets angry at Ramoray and goes after Joey, the others save him by convincing her that he's actually Drake's Evil Twin, and splash glasses of water at him for various offenses, most famously leaving the toilet seat up.
- Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Ross and Rachel get married while drunk in Vegas. Ross makes preparations for an annulment, but delays signing the papers because he likes being married to Rachel, and because he's already been divorced twice. When Rachel finds out, she is none too pleased.
- Formally-Named Pet
- For the Funnyz
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "The One After the Super Bowl", when Ross' monkey Marcel cannot meet him at his apartment he goes out to eat with Joey and Chandler, the bonus is on the menus of the restaurant that say Marcel's on them.
- Freudian Excuse: Pretty much the subject of the play Joey stars in, Freud! (not just Freud, but Freud!).
- Chandler has some serious issues with his mother, and describes her as "a Freudian nightmare".
- Friendship Moment
- Friends with Benefits: Monica and Richard attempt this, but it doesn't work out.
- Also what Monica and Chandler's romantic relationship started out as.
- Full House Music: Occasionally used during the first five or so seasons, usually during a particularly dramatic Ross/Rachel moment.
- Funny Background Event: Ross getting attacked by a cat in "The One with the Blackout".
- Funny Money: When her millionaire boyfriend takes Monica to Italy, the lira is treated as such.
- Fun with Acronyms: The WENUS (Weekly Estimated Numerical Usage System) and the ANUS (Annual Net Usage Statistics).
- Fur and Loathing: Phoebe inherits a fur coat, and is about to throw it out due to believing fur is murder. On realizing that she looks good in it, she decides to keep it. She later gets rid of it after she thinks she is being looked at accusingly by a squirrel.
- Gainaxing: The reason why Chandler and Joey love Baywatch. In "The One Where Eddie Moves In":
Joey: Hey, hey, they're running!
Chandler: See, this is the brilliance of the show. I say always keep them running. All the time, running. Run! Run Yasmine, run like the wind!
- Gay Moment
- Gender Bender: Chandler's transgendered genetic father is played by a woman.
- Gender Equal Ensemble: Three guys (Ross, Chandler and Joey) and three gals (Monica, Rachel and Phoebe).
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Used quite often.
- Monica and Rachel offer to kiss each other in front of Joey and Chandler to win their apartment back in "The One with All the Haste". It works.
- In "The One with Rachel's Other Sister", when Rachel got into a Cat Fight with her sister, Amy:
Phoebe: Oh my god! Shouldn't we stop this?
Joey: What? Are you out of your mind? Lets throw some Jell-O on them!
- In "The One with the Birth Mother", Phoebe and Rachel discuss helping each other try on bras, and Phoebe says "Wait a minute. Are we in Joey's imagination?"
- In the "What If" episode "The One That Could Have Been", Ross is still married to Carol. She suggests a threesome in order to spice up their sex life. Ross later confesses to Joey that he was mostly a passive participant, and he even made a sandwich while watching. However, Ross mentions to Joey that he got a little bored while watching (which is the reason he made the sandwich), in which case that would make this an aversion. An example of "Girl On Girl ISN'T Hot".
- In "The One with George Stephanopoulos", when the guys want to go to a hockey game:
Ross: You know what, I'd better pass on the game. I think I'm just gonna go home and think about my ex-wife and her lesbian lover.
Joey: The hell with hockey, let's all do that!
- In "The One with Joey's Big Break", Rachel is afraid to take her eye drops, and Monica tries to force her, and ends up straddling her and pinning her arms down. Rachel says: "You know, if Joey and Chandler walked in right now, we could make a fortune!"
- In "The One with the Chick and the Duck", Monica slams into Rachel when she practices roller skating, knocks and falls on top of her. When Joey sees them, with Rachel moaning (in pain), he says: "Oh, my!"
- In "The One with the Flashback", when Janice asks if anyone of the group ever slept together:
Joey: Well, there was that one time that Monica and Rachel got together.
Monica and Rachel: What?!!
Rachel: Excuse me, there was no time!
Joey: Okay, but let’s say there was. How might that go?
- In "The One with the Nap Partners", Phoebe, in a desperate attempt to win the judges' vote for maid of honor, makes a toast regarding her and Rachel:
Phoebe: I can't believe that Monica and Chandler are getting married. I remember talking about this day with Rachel, while we were showering together... naked.
Joey: And she's back in the game.
- Go-To Alias:
- Phoebe is practically guaranteed to use the name "Regina Phalange" whenever pretending to be someone else. In "The One Where Joey Speaks French", she gives her alias as a French woman as 'Régine Phalange'.
- Joey apparently uses "Ken Adams" from time to time, but we only see it in action in one episode.
- Go Look At the Distraction
- Gravity Is Only a Theory: When Ross compares evolutionary theory with gravity, Phoebe states, "Lately I get the feeling that I'm not so much being pulled down as I am being pushed." It was never confirmed whether she was serious or just messing with Ross.
- Hands Go Down: When Ross has begun teaching his class in a bad English accent, then admits he's not English:
Ross: Are there any questions?
(hands go up)
Ross: About paleontology?
(hands go down)
- Happy Dance
- Happily Married: Monica and Chandler from Season 8.
- Also, Ross and Monica's parents (as opposed to the parents of the rest of the gang).
- And Frank Jr and Alice.
- Hash House Lingo
Phoebe: I can be a waitress. Okay, watch this. Um, gimme two number ones, 86 the bacon, one Adam and Eve on a raft and rick'em, la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la.
- Has Two Mommies: Carol and Susan for Ben.
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: A non-video game example, this is used word for word in TOW Rachel's Going Away Party between Rachel and Joey. No points in guessing who keeps winning.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Chandler and Joey, until Chandler moves in with Monica.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Courtney Cox's pregnancy in the last few episodes, Monica's sterility being an important plot thread at that point.
- Helen Baxendale's pregnancy, along with her country of residence being England, meant that Emily was written out earlier than the writers had originally intended and mostly appeared in voiceover and under bedsheets.
- His and Hers: Ross buys Carol and Susan a matching set of "Hers and Hers" towels.
- Hit Me Dammit: When Joey wants Ross to forgive him for the proposal fiasco. Ross is reluctant at first, but after much goading from Joey he finally swings... and Joey instinctively ducks, causing Ross to punch a metal pole. Joey tries to explain that "when you see a fist coming at you, you duck!" and ends up punching Ross in the face to prove his point.
- Hollywood Dateless: Ross and Chandler.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Frequently, between Joey and Chandler. See the article for details.
- Hot Mom: Nora Bing. And later, Rachel.
- Hot Dad: Richard (Tom Selleck) and Paul (Bruce Willis).
- Hyperventilation Bag: Rachel does this in the pilot.
- And later Janice does this when Chandler reveals he saw her kissing her (supposedly soon-to-be) ex-husband. She also gags on the receipt from the large box of condoms Chandler had just purchased that was in the bag, just to be more ironic.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming/No Title/The One With.../: As noted above, every episode except the pilot was titled some variation of "The One with..." or "The One Where...". This was a joke referencing how viewers rarely knew the titles of individual episodes of a television series. Arguably now a case of Aluminum Christmas Trees, as the rise of DVRs (which give the episode title when recording) and internet discussion forums with individual episodes makes The One With... trope less true.
- Idiot Ball: Every now and then, a character would usually have to pick this bad boy up and run it into the endzone for a off-kilter subplot to work. Case in point: "The One with the Sharks", in which Monica thinks Chandler gets off on shark shows after catching him in the act of "molesting himself", instead of thinking that, you know, he changed the channel away from his porn when he heard her come in.
- Or when Joey was trying to learn French from Phoebe, but couldn't even repeat simple words, instead spouting a stream of pure gibberish.
- Monica and Chandler frequently grabbed this when they first started going out. There were countless times where they almost got caught. While it is partly justified in how it would be difficult to keep a relationship like that a secret in such a tight-knit group, they were really careless most of the time. Such as having sex against an open window after Ross decided to check out and live in the apartment opposite. Twice. The rest of the cast grabs this too when it takes them so long to figure it out, despite the rather big clues right in front of them.
- I Drank What: In "The One with the Race Car Bed", Rachel admits to adding body fluids to the drinks she serves to people who don't tip her sufficiently.
- Joey sometimes experiences this (such as when he drank from a glass of fat).
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Ross gives his "big brother talk" to Chandler before his wedding to Monica, but the thought of Ross threatening to "...Hunt you down, and kick your ass!" causes the girls to laugh hysterically.
- Ignored Confession: Ross and Rachel.
- I Have This Friend: Regarding to Ross, Rachel and Julie's love triangle.
"He must decide / He must decide / Even though I made him up, he must decide!"
- I Know You Know I Know: "The One Where Everybody Finds Out".
- Comedy Central recently rated this its favorite episode of the series. For good reason.
- I Like Those Odds: In one episode, the guys buy many lottery tickets as there is a lot of money on the jackpot, Ross says he won't join, because they have a better chance of being struck by lightning 42 times. Chandler answers that, as there are six of them, they would each only have to be struck seven times. Joey says the trope name verbatim.
- Incoming Ham: OH. MY. GOD.
- Inelegant Blubbering: What Rachel and Monica do when Rachel is leaving for Paris.
- Informed Attractiveness: With some of the girls that appear in the show, such as Joey's dancer roommate or Emma's hot nanny. While they were attractive, they weren't that much more attractive than any other girl on the show yet the guys just fall head over heels for them.
- 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 the cat was her Mom after it went into her guitar case.
- In Spite of a Nail: "The One That Could Have Been" is an Alternate History fantasy in which the friends' lives are all very different... yet by the end of the story, they've all managed to end up in the same positions as their main-timeline counterparts.
- Instant Birth, Just Add Water: Averted with Rachel, who is in labor for well over 24 hours, and complains about the fact that five different women have come and gone since she's been in her room.
- Insult Friendly Fire
- Interrupted Intimacy: Monica is forced to hide under the sheets and Chandler pretends to have A Date with Rosie Palms when Joey walks in on the two of them in London.
- Inverted Trope: Quite a lot of instances in the show. An example would be Phoebe's husband, in Season 2, quoting stereotypical lines like "experimenting in college" to excuse himself for going out with women, a trope used the other way around for straight men or women realizing that they are gay. Here is the other way around.
- I Resemble That Remark:
Monica: Rachel always cries!
Rachel: (crying) That's not true!
- Ironic Birthday
- Irrevocable Message: Played for drama in Season Two ("The One Where Ross Finds Out"), and for laughs in Season Three ("The One Where No One's Ready").
- It Meant Something to Me
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Richard has this in his final appearance. After coming back asking Monica to get back together while she's with Chandler (even offering her marriage and children), he ultimately bows out when he sees that Chandler is also prepared to offer these things (and more willing to have children than he is) and says to him: "You want her that badly?... You go get her, Chandler. And when you've got her... Don't let her go. Trust me."
- I Want You to Meet An Old Friend of Mine: Brad Pitt's character in "The One with the Rumor" was an old acquaintance of then-wife Jennifer Aniston's character. However, he hated her and she barely remembered him.
- I Wish You Had Called: Kathy says this to Chandler after he arrives at her apartment when her new lover is there.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: How Chandler compares Monica's massage.
"It was like she was torturing me for information and I wanted to give it up, it's just, I didn't know what it was."
- Jerkass: Rachel's father
- Jiggle Show: For a couple of years, none of the girls wore underwear.
- Also the only reason the guys watch Baywatch.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: Keeping Monica and Chandler's relationship in secret creates several problems for Joey.
- "Kick Me" Prank: This is one of the many pranks Rachel teaches Ross's son, Ben.
- Killed Off for Real: Downstairs neighbor Mr. Heckles (who had appeared in five total episodes) in Season 2, Rachel's boss Joanna (who had appeared in three episodes) in Season 4 and most notably, Joey's agent, Estelle (who had appeared in ten episodes) in Season 10.
- The chick and the duck.
- They didn't die. Chandler took them to a special farm. It's a shame people can't visit there, though.
- The chick and the duck.
- Lamaze Class: One convoluted plot had Ross going with his ex-wife's (not pregnant) lesbian lover (who also forces Ross to play the birthing mother in the exercises).
- Lampshade Hanging: And without breaking the fourth wall, too.
- Romantic False Lead: When Ross confesses to Chandler's mother (who is a romance novelist) about being jealous of Rachel's boyfriend Paolo, she soothes him by saying "the guy is a secondary character; a complication that you eventually kill off."
- In Season Six, when Monica and Chandler decide to live together, Monica gives him a key to her apartment. Chandler responds, "This door hasn't been locked in five years, but why not."
- In the first season, right when Ross is about spill his feelings to Rachel, her former fiance Barry bursts into the apartment to say he's still in love with Rachel, causing Ross to complain aloud, "OK, we have GOT to start locking that door!"
- Limited Social Circle: In one episode, all six characters are sitting in Monica's apartment, when there's a knock on the door. Everyone looks utterly confused; no one says anything, but you can tell they're thinking, "if we're all already here, who the heck is it?" Phoebe is even shown pointing at each of the characters, counting them, just to make sure.
- In Season Five, Monica, Joey, Chandler and Phoebe discuss a party for Rachel.
Monica: We could have a dinner party and just invite her close friends.
Joey: Ross! We're having a surprise party for Rachel!
Ross: (from the bathroom) Okay!
- Ross got mugged by a homeless person who is a friend of Phoebe's. She says "I'm sorry if I have friends outside the six of us."
- It's a Small World After All: Throughout the series, the gang bumps into Janice (Maggie Wheeler) often. In her final appearance, near the end of the series, Janice makes a cameo in the neighboring house of the one Monica and Chandler are buying. Chandler lampshades the unlikelihood of bumping into her every now and then.
Janice: What a small world!
Chandler: And yet, I never run into Beyoncé.
- One-Hour Work Week: One Cold Open features the characters bitching about how their employers hate them. Joey: "Maybe it's because you're in a coffee shop at 11:30 on a Wednesday morning?"
- Another Cold Open in the premiere of Season 3 sees the cast walk into the coffee house and see that another group of six friends (writers of Season 3) has taken their spot on the couch. Chandler notes, "Huh", and they turn around and walk out.
- Later in the series, you can occasionally see a "Reserved" sign on the table in front of the couch as an explanation of how they manage to always get "their" spot.
- The very last joke of the series:
Rachel: Do you guys have to go to the new house right away, or do you have some time?
Monica: We've got some time.
Rachel: Okay. Should we get some coffee?
Chandler: Sure. (Beat) Where?
- The characters often pointed out minor continuity quirks:
- In Season Four, Chandler offers to get Rachel a date.
- The characters often pointed out minor continuity quirks:
Rachel: Hang on, now. I've been single before, how come you didn't offer to get me a date then?
Chandler: Well, I have a girlfriend now, so I'm happy. I no longer need to deprive others from being happy.
- In Season Six, Rachel needs to move out and find a new place to stay. She asks Phoebe if she can stay with her, but Phoebe says she already has a roommate. The others immediately point out that they have never heard of said roommate; Phoebe HandWaves this by saying they never listened when she was talking about her.
- Chekhov's Gun: "The One with the Poking Device". Joey makes a poking device out of chopsticks he'd been saving for no reason.
- When Rachel's mom came to visit and tried to relive her youth, Rachel asked why her mom couldn't have just copied her hair style. This was a jab at the popularity of Rachel's hair style at the time.
- Large Ham: Janice. Most guests also count, from which Gary Oldman is the most memorable.
- In-universe examples are Phoebe and Ross. They tend to go over the top when they "act".
- Also, Ross when disguised as the HOLIDAY ARMADILLOOOO!!!
- This seems to be what Joey is trying for when he acts, particularly as Dr Drake Ramore.
- In-universe examples are Phoebe and Ross. They tend to go over the top when they "act".
- Last-Minute Baby-Naming:
- Ross names his son Ben after a series of mishaps which befall Ross and his ex-wife's partner at the hospital while she's busy having the baby; at one point there is a janitor's coverall involved which has the name "Ben" on it. Prior to that they were feuding over what to name him.
- Soon after Rachel gives birth, she can't decide what to name her daughter. When Monica tells her that she plans to name her own future daughter Emma, Rachel likes the name so much that Monica lets her have it.
- Last Het Romance: Ross to his ex-wife, who became a lesbian.
- Least-Common Pizza Topping
- Like a God to Me: Joey about a guy who got Phoebe to sleep with him and not try to call him.
- Likes Older Women: Frank Jr. just doesn't care if his wife is twice his age.
- He's the only character who actually married his older love interest, but there were other instances in the show, like Elizabeth and Ross, or Monica and Richard. Or Monica and Young Ethan ("The One with the Ick Factor").
- Limited Social Circle: And how!
- Local Hangout: Central Perk, conveniently located on the first floor of the gang's apartment building.
- Longing Look
- Loony Fan: Joey's Daydream Believer stalker, as well as the Fonzie-obsessed doctor who delivered the triplets.
- Love Epiphany
- Magic 8-Ball
- Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: A major plot-driving force.
- The Masochism Tango: Ross and Rachel.
- Mathematician's Answer:
Joey: Hey Phoebes, do you think it would be okay if I asked out your sister?
Phoebe: Why? Why would you want to do that?
Joey: So that if we went out on a date, she'd be there.
- May-December Romance: Monica's boyfriend Richard was "a person who can drink" older than her.
- "I used to pee in your pool!"
- Meat Versus Veggies: Phoebe is an odd case of this, as she flits between being a strict vegetarian due to being an animal-rights supporter, and eating meat as part of Hypocritical Humor. The trope is played straight in one episode, however, when she gives in to peer pressure and eats some veal, and is later sick because of it.
- Actually, Phoebe is a fairly straight forward vegetarian and is only seen eating meat twice (when she was pregnant and was craving it and when she met Mike's parents and was trying to make a good impression). Monica also mentions that Phoebe ate a cheeseburger when her gay husband left and she was depressed.
- Though in one episode, when told she should say she had a salad for lunch, she complains "No wonder I don't feel full." ...What else would she have had at most restaurants?
- Midlife Crisis Car: Ross buys one when he turns 30.
- Ross and Monica's dad also had a Porsche.
- Milholland Relationship Moment: Several examples:
- "The One with Chandler's Work Laugh" features Ross agonizing over telling Chandler that he had a brief relationship with the latter's ex-girlfriend, Janice. Finally, at the end, Ross confesses and Chandler openly indicates that he doesn't care, what with having no lingering feelings for Janice.
- "The One Where Phoebe Runs" features this trope again, when Chandler moves Monica's things to clean their apartment and can't remember where they all go. After an episode of his agonizing over what she will think, she returns home and seems ready to blow up at him, though in the end she just thanks him for trying to be nice and do her a good thing by cleaning up for her.
- In "The One Where Ross Can't Flirt", Rachel borrows and loses an earring that Phoebe had borrowed from Monica. They spend the entire episode agonizing over it, until Phoebe decides to take the blame. She fesses up, and is instantly forgiven. Seeing this, Rachel admits that it was really her fault, expecting to be forgiven too. She isn't.
- Misplaced Accent: In-universe. Joey evidently had vocal training to learn how to do an American Southern accent for a play about the American Civil War, but it ends up coming out as a Jamaican accent.
- Miss Conception: Monica and Chandler want to adopt from a woman who is still pregnant with the child. They inquire about the father who she reveals is one of two choices: one golden boy and one jail hound who murdered his own father with a shovel (Shovelly Joe). They (especially Chandler) worry about the father-murderer choice until Monica discovers that the act she committed with him was not something that could get you pregnant.
Chandler: Was it the thing we rarely do or the the thing we NEVER do?
Monica: The thing we NEVER do.
Chandler: [With respect] Shovelly Joe...
- Monochrome Casting: A common complaint thrown at the show.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: Sometimes happens to Chandler.
- Also, Ross at times.
Rachel: These are my friends! And Ross.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits: Ross explodes when he first finds out about Chandler and Monica, until they both say that they're in love and not just fooling around. He immediately becomes happy for them. Of course, he was taking anti-rage drugs at the time.
- Naked People Are Funny: Ugly Naked Guy. Though he only stays until mid-Season 5 and Ross moves into his apartment.
- Poked fun at in a flashback episode, where the girls mourn the fact that "Cute Naked Guy is getting fat."
- Joey revealed in one episode that he cooks while naked.
Joey: "Oatmeal, toast. Nothing that spatters."
- And Phoebe.
"Why do you think it takes me so long to answer the door?"
- And Ross.
"Oh, my God! That's our friend! It's naked Ross!"
- Nice Guy: Even though he tends to overreact a lot to little things, Ross fits this trope pretty well.
- Also Ross and Monica's father Jack Geller.
- Monica's Season 2 boyfriend Richard Burke is one of the nicest characters on the show.
- Pheobe's first serious love interest David "the Scientist Guy".
- Noodle Incident: That time Phoebe stabbed a cop. To be fair, he stabbed her first. Also, vomit tux.
- In "The One Where Phoebe Runs", what "guy problem" did Chandler have and why did it need medication?
- Not-So-Great Escape: Ross does this several times in one episode of Friends. When he is in a secluded log cabin waiting for his girlfriend, Elizabeth, to get back from the shop Elizabeth's dad, Paul, turns up with Rachel. Ross, with his trousers around his ankles, hides under the couch. Later he is discovered by Rachel, who covers for him and gets Paul to leave the room. Ross takes the opportunity to move to another room, which turns out to be Paul's bedroom. When Paul comes in later Ross hides behind the door, then falls to the floor and crawls under the bed, from where he witnesses Paul's embarrassing routine in front of the mirror. When Paul leaves Ross begins to climb out of the window, but is discovered when he is half-way out.
- Then in another episode, Ross breaks into his ex-girlfriend's apartment to retrieve his favorite pink salmon sweater and is inside when aforementioned girlfriend comes home with a date. He is then forced to hide under the couch on which they are currently making out. Eventually he gets bored and starts reading a magazine.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: There have been several twists that have challenged the Status Quo Is God of the series. However, only two of them have stuck:
- Ross and Rachel's first breakup in Season 3. The dynamics of their relationship were never the same afterwards.
- Chandle and Monica ending up together.
- Not Important to This Episode Camp: Happens to Ben and later Emma a lot. Justified with Ben, since Carol and Susan are his primary caregivers. However, Emma was always explained as being at somebody else's house.
- Nuclear Candle: In one episode, there's a blackout, and the friends are bringing in candles for light. Later on, all the candles but one are extinguished, and yet the light level is almost the same. One of the characters then blows on this last candle extinguishing it, and everything goes dark.
- Nude Nature Dance: When Phoebe suggests a relationship cleansing ritual, it turns out you can either go the burnt offering route or the "dance naked with sticks" route. Rachel and Monica opt for the first.
- Object Ceiling Cling: Monica is making a milkshake, but Rachel says something that surprises her, making her lid hand slip, splattering bananas on the ceiling. It doesn't come down until Monica mops it up.
- Oblivious Mockery: Rachel and Monica discover a message on Ross's answering machine from Emily, Ross's ex-wife. Emily is having second thoughts about her upcoming marriage to someone else. They debate whether or not to erase the message - Monica wants to, Rachel doesn't.
Monica: All right, look. She's obviously unstable, okay? I mean, she's thinking about running out on her wedding day... (in the first episode, Rachel ran out on her wedding) Okay, fine, but... I mean, look at the position she's putting him in. I mean, what's he going to do? He's like... Ross is going to run over there on the wedding day and break up the marriage? Who would do that? (Rachel did this when Ross & Emily were getting married)... Okay, fine. All right? But that's... you know, that was different. Although it did involve a lot of the same people.
- Oblivious to Love: Rachel to Ross in Season 1, Ross to Rachel in the first half of Season 2, and Rachel to Gunther except for the final episode.
- Also Rachel to Joey in Season 8. This happens to Rachel a lot.
- Old New Borrowed and Blue: Monica and Chandler try and find this for their Vegas wedding.
- To be more specific, Monica steals a blue sweatshirt to make it borrowed, blue, and new, while the "old" thing is a condom that's been in Chandler's wallet since he was twelve.
- One-Hour Work Week: All but Joey have jobs that should keep them busy for a standard work week, but they're at the coffee shop all the time regardless. See Lampshade Hanging above.
- One Steve Limit: On set, Matt LeBlanc was referred to by his last name to avoid confusion with Matthew Perry while shooting.
- Opening Credits Cast Party: All six friends goofing around in front of (and in) a park fountain. Distressingly, David Schwimmer's "Mr. Roboto" dance was removed in later versions.
- Opposites Attract: Ross and Rachel; Phoebe and Mike.
- Other Me Annoys Me: Ross about Russ.
- Pair the Spares: Discussed after Monica and Chandler move in together. Joey and Phoebe talk about whether they'll inevitably end up together. Phoebe, of course, has an elaborate and unlikely prediction for how it will take place.
- Parallel Porn Titles: Chandler and Joey watch Good Will Humping and In and Out and In Again in "The One with the Free Porn". Ursula used Phoebe's name to appear in Sex Toy Story 2, Inspect Her Gadget, Buffay the Vampire Layer, and Lawrence of a Labia. In "The One with the Red Sweater", Joey watches Doctor Do Me A Little.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Joey at one point says, "It's a moo point anyway." Presumably this is based on a mishearing/misunderstanding of the word "moot", as he explains a "moo point" as something unimportant. His reasoning, however, is that "It's like a cow's opinion."
- Pick Up Babes with Babes: Joey and Chandler intend to use Ben to pick up women in "The One with the Baby on the Bus", but the first woman Ben snares thinks Joey and Chandler are a gay couple.
- The Picture Came with the Frame: Phoebe's grandmother's MO. She convinced her for years that her father was the model in the photos. And her grandfather was Einstein.
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Faded Salmon is confused for being pink, and thus not a color for guys to wear.
- The Plan: Pulled off by Chandler to get a baby named after him (instead of Joey).
- Which, since Chandler is a Butt Monkey, backfires when the baby turns out to be a girl and the parents refuse to change the name.
- Poor Communication Kills: The Season 9 opener episode "The One Where No One Proposes" is built around this trope.
- Poor Man's Porn: Chandler comes to visit Rachel at work so he can take a peek at the most recent catalogues.
- When Joey displays an unusual talent for drawing anatomically-correct pictures of naked people, he follows it up with "This little talent came in useful when I couldn't afford porn!"
- One episode inverted this with a subplot dedicated Chandler and Joey somehow getting free porn. At first, they are thrilled and refuse to turn the TV off (fearing it will go away if they do). However, over the course of the episode, they tire of the constant porn and admit they need a break.
- Pose of Silence
- Practice Kiss: Joey had an audition for a role where he had to kiss a guy, so he tried to talk Ross or Chandler into kissing him to help him get used to it. Ross eventually did it but by then Joey had already had the audition.
- Preemptive "Shut Up"
- Pretty in Mink: When Phoebe gets a mink as an heirloom from her mother, she eventually realizes it actually looks good on her. So even though there was a Reset Button, for that time, she did think she looked, well, pretty in mink.
- When Phoebe and Mike get married, Mike's mother wears a white fur coat to the wedding.
- Primal Scene: Monica first found a video tape of her parents having sex (complete with "Oh Jack" and "Oh Judy"). A few episodes later she was hiding from her parents in the bathroom when both walk in.
- Product Placement: Sometimes quite blatant. One episode revolves around how nice Pottery Barn furniture is; in another one, Phoebe and Monica try to deduce the world's best chocolate chip cookie recipe -- it turns out to be Nestlé Tollhouse.
- The second may not have been product placement-- the joke was that the recipe was printed on the side of the by-far most common chocolate chip packages, but her mom lied and said it was an "old family recipe".
- The Pottery Barn episode also isn't really that complimentary to Pottery Barn. It actually pretty much states at one point that they just carry "a bunch of mass-produced junk".
- Punch a Wall: Parodied.
- Queer People Are Funny: Lots of gay jokes here, especially around Ross' ex wife.
- Race For Your Love: Done several times, most notably in the finale when Phoebe (recklessly) drives Ross to the airport so he can tell Rachel he loves her.
- This actually mirrors Rachel's attempt to speak to Ross, before he boards the plane, after Chandler reveals Ross' feelings for her, in Season 1 finale. Ross' race to the airport in Season 10, is actually not his first time; after having done the exact same thing with Emily, they eventually get married. Then he ends up chasing her in an airport, once again; this time in London.
- Rage Judo: A back-and-forth, continually failing version.
- Rapid Fire Name Guessing: Hey Joey, are you dating Angela, Andrea, or Julie?
- Ready for Lovemaking
- Recurring Character: Several, most notably Janice, who makes an appearance in all but one season.
- Remember the New Guy?: Phoebe says she has a roommate Denise who has always been there if only the gang would listen to her.
- Retail Therapy: Rachel indulged in this in the first episode and often after she got a better paying job. Jill, Rachel's sister, did something similar after getting cut off by their father (having memorized all his credit card numbers). When Rachel find out she... keeps all the purchased items for herself. To teach Jill a lesson.
- Retroactive Wish: In the pilot, Ross says, "I just want to be married again" right before Rachel appears wearing a wedding dress. Chandler immediately jumps in, "And I just want a million dollars!"
- Revealing Hug: Rachel and Ross, revealing Rachel's real reaction to meeting Emily.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Joey and Chandler's chick when it was first brought on the show. Chandler lampshades this when it later grows into a rooster.
- Right-Hand Hottie: Rachel hires a totally unqualified guy for her assistant solely on the basis that she thought he was cute.
- Right Through the Wall: Their upstairs neighbor pulls up his carpet, so everything (including his sex with Phoebe, and later, other women) can be heard clearly in Monica's apartment.
- When the Friends go to a conference in Barbados, Monica, Chandler and Phoebe are in a room that's caught up between two situations. Namely Rachel and Joey hooking up, and Ross and Charlie getting together. Chandler then squicks out Monica by asking why she's listening to the wall that has her brother on the other side.
- Rock-Paper-Scissors: Rachel and Monica use Rock Paper Scissors to decide who gets the last condom in the box. Rachel wins.
- Another version is done with Rachel, Phoebe, Ross and Joey. With fire and water balloon.
- Romantic False Lead: Former Trope Namer The Paolo, for Rachel's Season 1 boyfriend. Given that it was fairly clear that Ross and Rachel would get matched together eventually, all of their boyfriends and girlfriends were Romantic False Leads, to the point of excess: Paolo, Julie, Emily, Charlie, Bonnie, even Joey.
- Rugby Is Slaughter: When Ross tries to impress Emily by playing rugby he ends up in more than a little pain.
- Running Gag: Ross and Monica's childhood fist-bumping substitute for the middle finger pops up in several episodes.
- To the point that the other members of the group starting using it, too.
- WE WERE ON A BREAAAAAAAAAK!!!
- How you doin'?
- Phoebe's fake name, Regina Philange.
- Sarcastic Clapping: Chandler's reaction to Ross' assertion that he doesn't repel women because he's been married 3 times.
- Saw Star Wars 27 Times: In the episode "The One with the Prom Video", Monica says that Roy, her prom date, had seen Star Wars 317 times. His name was even in the paper for this.
- Selective Enforcement: Ross tries to get the library to crack down on people using a particular aisle for sex, and then is the first person to get reprimanded.
- Serious Business: A game of catch that lasted over 24 hours. And when it's ended by Phoebe, they still manage to blame it on Chandler.
- "We are dessert stealers! We are living outside of the law!"
- When a coworker throws away Ross's special sandwich.
- And of course, to Monica, anything related to cleaning, cooking, and weddings is extremely serious business. Even when the wedding's not even her own.
- Seventh-Episode Twist
- 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.
- Shaking Her Hair Loose: Ross and Monica's cousin Cassie shakes her hair loose in slow motion, prompting a sagging jaw from Chandler, Ross forgetting he's related to her and even Phoebe getting turned on.
- Ship Tease: Phoebe and Joey had their moments (and legit kisses and even an engagement, albeit played for laughs), but most of them were with an obvious wink to pairing spares.
Joey: You know, Monica and Chandler are married. Ross and Rachel are having a baby. Maye you and I should do something.
Phoebe: All in good time, my love. All in good time.
- Matt Le Blanc and Lisa Kudrow were reportedly keen on the idea that Joey and Phoebe were having casual sex behind everyone's backs, but the writers vetoed the idea.
- The only time the writers didn't have Ross and Rachel in this trope is when they were actually dating, which was like a fifth of the series' run.
- Surprisingly, Monica and Chandler were teased several times before they actually got together, although prior to the fifth season it was Played for Laughs.
- Shock Party: Rachel received one where her parents both show up and the gang are forced to split up the party into both apartments; Monica got two -- one when she showed up drunk for her thirtieth birthday party, and one where she has just finished insulting her colleagues when they walk out of their hiding places to say "Surprise...."
- Show Within a Show: Days of Our Lives, in hilariously over-the-top parody form.
- Also, Mac And C.H.E.E.S.E..
- Six-Student Clique:
- The main character/The Quirk: Chandler and Ross. A unique case where their positions suggest Ross as the main guy while Chandler's the quirk yet their actual personalities switch this.
- The Muscle: Joey.
- The Pretty One: Rachel.
- The Smart One: Monica, though her hyper-competiveness (and other neuroses) frequently pushes out of this role. Sometimes Ross is this, as well, given that he has a doctorate in paleontology.
- The Wild One: Phoebe.
- Sixth Ranger: Well, seventh: Charlie Wheeler, who happened to be a Twofer Token Minority. Also Richard and Pete, two of Monica's early boyfriends that got their own arcs. And Mike Hannigan, who marries Phoebe in the end.
- And Fun Bobby, and Marcel the Monkey.
- Slut Shaming: Pretty much the only friend not to be shamed for having sex was Phoebe. The network was so concerned about audience reaction that during the filming of the pilot, the crew polled the audience to see how much they judged Monica for sleeping with a guy on the first date.
- Snap Back: Chandler goes to Yemen to fend off Janice in "The One with All the Rugby". He is in New York in the next episode.
- Snicket Warning Label: Phoebe was protected by her mom from a host of unhappy endings in movies.
- Social Semi-Circle: Averted at Monica's place but played straight as an arrow at Central Perk; apparently the couch is directly facing the back wall.
- Something Completely Different
- Spin-Off: Joey which, predictably, didn't last two seasons.
- Spiritual Predecessor: To How I Met Your Mother, also to Happy Endings.
- Stop Copying Me: They call it the Shadow Game.
- Straw Misogynist: The poet Monica dates for awhile, who writes a poem called "The Empty Vase" about beautiful but hollow and meaningless things.
"That poem isn't about you! It's about all women! Well, all American women."
- Stripper Cop Confusion
- Stylistic Suck: Stuff that Joey was in, like the musical Freud! ("Y'know, it's not just Freud, it's Freud!") and Mac And C.H.E.E.S.E., a Buddy Cop Show with a Robot Buddy.
- Sure, Let's Go with That
- Suspiciously Specific Denial
- Take Off Your Clothes: Joey asks one of the girls to take off her bra so he can use the underwire to pick a lock.
- Teacher-Student Romance: Phoebe's half-brother Frank married his former Home-Economic teacher Alice Knight. Ross dated one of his students.
- Team Pets: The Chick and the Duck. Though aside from Joey and Chandler, who treat the birds like their own children, no one else in the group is particularly fond of them.
- Terrible Ticking: In "The One Where They're Up All Night", Phoebe is kept up by her fire alarm beeping. She smashes it and it still beeps. She puts on earmuffs and a hat to drown out the noise and also tries throwing it out.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Rachel putting a big bow on Emma's head.
- While Amy goes one step further in getting the baby's ears pierced.
- Thematic Theme Tune: "I'll Be There for You". The song, performed by jangle-pop band the Rembrandts, was subsequently released as a single and became a chart-topping hit.
- The "The" Title: Most episodes are titled "The One with the..." or "The One Where...".
- This Is Sparta: OH. MY. GOD.
- This Loser Is You: The main cast goes through several hardships throughout the series. When the series started, Rachel had just ended her engagement, got cut off from her dad's money and was employed as a waitress. Before returning to Days of Our Lives, Joey was frequently low on cash, borrowing money from Chandler, and had to work several part-time jobs.
- Three-Way Sex: In "The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break", Chandler and Joey once thought they might end up having sex with the same woman. When Joey asked who would go where, Chandler suggested flipping a coin:
Joey: Yeah, I guess, but what's like heads and what's tails?
Chandler: Well, if you don't know that I'm not sure I want to do this with you!
- Hilariously subverted in the same series in a hypothetical What Could Have Been episode, where Ross and Carol, still married, agree to have a threesome with Susan, who was then only a... friend of Carol's. Ross, tossed aside during most of the act, finds out the hard way about his wife's homosexuality...
- In the episode "The One with the Jellyfish", it was revealed that Phoebe was conceived from a three-way between her parents and the girl who ended up being her adoptive mother.
- Throwing Out the Script: When Monica and Chandler get married, Chandler throws out his vows and improvises new ones on the spot.
- Took the Bad Film Seriously: A famous actor played by Gary Oldman, who stars in a World War I movie with Joey.
- Tranquillizer Dart: Subverted when Phoebe is shot in the backside with a dart. She never passes out, though she does comment that her buttock is asleep (and that the other one has no idea). Of course, the dart was intended for a very small monkey, so there probably wasn't much juice in there anyway.
- Trans Equals Gay: Chandler's father is supposed to be a gay drag queen, but he's played like a trans woman.
- Trash of the Titans: One of the girls Ross dates with.
- Triage Tyrant: The one who ends up with a face full of hockey puck.
- Triple Nipple: Chandler is said to have a third nipple, which he calls a "nubbin". He later has it surgically removed.
- Trojan Gauntlet: Monica and Rachel once had a long, hilarious scene fighting over the last condom in the bathroom while Richard and Ross awkwardly waited together outside for the two to come to an agreement.
- True Companions: Both in the show and in Real Life.
- Truth-Telling Session: In "The One Where Ross Got High":
Monica: Mom! Dad! Ross smoked pot in college!
Mr. and Mrs. Geller: What?!
Ross: You are such a tattletale! Mom, Dad, you remember that-that time you walked in my room and smelled marijuana?
Mr. and Mrs. Geller: Yes.
Ross: Well I told you it was Chandler who was smoking the pot but it was me. I'm sorry.
Mrs. Geller: It was you?
Monica: And Dad, y'know that mailman that you got fired? He didn't steal your Playboys! Ross did!
Ross: Yeah, well, Hurricane Gloria didn't break the porch swing, Monica did!
Monica: Ross hasn't worked at the museum for a year!
Ross: Monica and Chandler are living together!
Monica: Ross married Rachel in Vegas! And got divorced! Again!
Phoebe: I love Jacques Cousteau!
Rachel: I wasn't supposed to put beef in the trifle!
Joey: I wanna gooooooo!
Mrs. Geller: That's a lot of information to get in in thirty seconds!
- Two Decades Behind: Season One, to some extent.
- Tying Up Romantic Loose Ends: Julie and Russ.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Throughout the course of both relationships, we are consistently given the impression that Rachel and Monica are way out of Ross and Chandler's, respectively, leagues. In fact, Ross and Rachel's relationship has been described as the epitome of "every geek's dream that he can land a babe like her." This, despite the fact that David Schwimmer is reasonably attractive and Matthew Perry is quite handsome.
- It's mostly due to their personalities. Chandler never had trouble attracting the attention of women but he always made horrible first impressions and ruined it. Similarly, Ross' relationships were often doomed by his inexperience and lingering feelings for his ex Carol, and later, Rachel.
- The Unfair Sex: Ross is somewhat treated as the guilty party after his first divorce even though it was Carol who cheated on Ross with Susan. And Susan acts like a harpy towards Ross during most of her appearances.
- Susan's behavior makes sense when you remember that Carol didn't leave Ross because she didn't love him. And, for a divorced couple, they get along rather well.
- Meanwhile of the six main cast, the women routinely get away with acting unfairly towards the men. "The One with All the Poker" centers around the three being displeased with the boys not letting them play poker with them, then when the men do let them play Rachel mocks they're using their skill at the game to lord over them. "The One with the Embryos" has Rachel and Monica challenge Chandler and Joey to a trivia game to see which of the pairs knows the other better -- they end up raising the stakes that if they win, Chandler and Joey have to get rid of the chick and the duck, and they accept if Rachel and Monica will trade apartments when they lose. The boys win, but Rachel and Monica are incredibly bitter when it comes to holding up their end of the deal, and they end up going back on it a few episodes later.
- Unlimited Wardrobe:
- Somewhat averted at least in earlier seasons, you'll occasionally see on of the gang wearing something they wore a episodes back.
- Also, somewhat justified in that Rachel works at Ralph Lauren and it wouldn't be too hard for her and her friends to keep up with current fashion.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Ross, Rachel and Julie.
- Also Joey and Rachel in Seasons 8 and 9.
- Unusual Euphemism
- Unwanted Gift Plot: In "The One with the Prom Video", Joey buys Chandler a gaudy bracelet, and Hilarity Ensues.
- Very Special Episode: While never exactly played straight, some episodes, particularly those that involved Chandler smoking, definitely felt like this.
- There's one episode in particular where Jon Lovitz plays a restaurant manager who smokes a joint before interviewing Monica for a job with his restaurant. His behavior certainly isn't that of somebody who smoked a marijuana cigarette.
- Walk On the Wild Side Episode: Monica has a few examples of this.
- There's a minor subplot where the other friends suggest she not get so uptight about things like coasters and leaving her shoes out of her room. At the end of that episode, she can't sleep because she's worrying about leaving out the aforementioned shoes. She gets to considering putting them in her closet and getting up early to put them back out before she realizes "you need help" and goes to sleep.
- Another episode had someone stealing her credit card. When Monica tracked the woman down, she found said woman a lot of fun and started doing everything with her to the point where she was drunk in the middle of the day and kept missing work.
- Wedding Day: Ross and Emily (doesn't go well), Monica and Chandler, Phoebe and Mike. Also, Carol and Susan.
- Welcome Episode: The pilot for Rachel.
- Wham! Line
- Season 1: "Remember when Ross first fell in love with Carol and he bought her this ridiculously expensive crystal duck?"
- Season 2: "You're over me?"
- Season 3: "You told Rachel?" "Was I not supposed to?"
- Season 4: "I take thee, Rachel."
- Which was preceded by another wham in the very same episode: "Do you think he knew I was here?"
- Season 5: "Well, hello, Mrs. Ross!"
- Season 6: "I can't believe you're gonna propose to Monica."
- Season 7: "I didn't take a pregnancy test."
- Season 8: "Yes." 
- Season 10: "Did she get off the plane?!" "I got off the plane."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Poor Ben...
- In the two-parter at the beach house, it's revealed that Phoebe's biological mother is very much alive. After this two-parter and one Season 4 guest appearance, she never appears again and arguably came down with Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
- Phoebe's father Frank (played by Bob Balaban) who made one appearance and was never seen or heard from again.
- Will They or Won't They?: The trope could very well be called "Ross And Rachel", except for the whole thing about not naming tropes after characters. For reference, the Ross/Rachel UST was introduced in the first five minutes of the Pilot Episode, and not fully resolved until the last five minutes of the Grand Finale. That's right, it was dragged out over literally the entire series.
- Which is fairly amusing seeing as Ross/Rachel was never meant to go beyond the pilot but it was so popular they abandoned their original plan -- Joey/Monica, which got the occasional reference of Monica having a crush on Joey when he moved in. So the show's longest plot was almost the one that never was.
- Sam and Diane do not think that "Ross and Rachel" is an appropriate name for this trope.
- Worst Whatever Ever: Chandler tries to watch porn, but accidentally watches a video of a birth. He doesn't catch on for a minute.
"Worst porn ever! Worst porn ever!"
- Wrong Name Outburst: Ross destroys marriage #2 by calling Emily Rachel's name at the altar.
- Wrong Parachute Gag: Referenced. When Chandler realizes he's Digging Himself Deeper, he exclaims "Dear God, this parachute is a knapsack!"
- Wrote the Book: Several examples; notably, in "The One with Rachel's Sister", Rachel claims to have invented the sobbing apology tactic.
- You Fail Biology Forever: Rachel is pregnant for at least fifteen months, being already pregnant at Chandler and Monica's wedding (May 15th) and going on maternity leave in August the next year.
- And how about the fact that despite many season premieres taking place within minutes or even seconds of the previous season finale, hair has somehow managed to grow several inches?
- That's why they don't film entire scenes before the season is over. That way, the audience has a summer to "forget" what the characters looked like and will accept the changes with little fuss.
- Ironically enough they also Lampshade plot devices like this through Joey's work on Days of Our Lives: his coma-bound character gets a brain transplant that turns him into the donor's character in a new body. Later, he somehow reverts back to his old character (Drake Ramoret) when his body rejects the brain.
- You Look Familiar: The actor who played Joey's agent Estelle also played the doctor who delivered Ross' first baby.
- In-universe example was when Phoebe became an extra on Days of Our Lives and noticed some of the extras would play more than one role, and that Joey slept with most of them.
- Giovanni Ribisi's notable role on the show was as Phoebe's half-brother, though before that he also played a guy who donated a condom to her while she played guitar outside of Central Perk.
- You Say Tomato: In the What If episode, Ross insists on using the proper Japanese pronunciation of "karate", "kaah-raah-Tay", instead of the U.S.-normal "kuh-rah-dee." There's also Chandler's pronunciation of the "whipped" onomatopoeia/gesture as "Whoop-pah!" (with the rest of the cast favoring "hwu-cher!").
- You Will Be Spared: Phoebe once says: "When the revolution comes, I will have to destroy you all... except you, Joey."
- Joey accidentally proposes to Rachel.