During its ten-season run, the hit NBC sitcom Friends gave us countless hilarious and memorable episodes that we still go back to when we need a good laugh. Various compilations of best and funniest moments can be found on YouTube, as well as specific scenes that have become fan-favorites, and thanks to YouTube recommendations, we've all gone down the rabbit hole re-watching our favorite Friends scenes.
The series is also responsible for introducing and popularizing a variety of words, phrases, and concepts. Friends created a good number of pop culture references, and we've picked the ten most well-known and relevant.
“The One with the Prom Video” is a landmark Friends episode and rightfully considered as one of the show’s very best. This season two episode marked the first appearance of Fat Monica, pre-nose job Rachel, and Afro-hair Ross. It is also the episode in which Ross and Rachel become a couple, and the one where Phoebe coins the iconic expression “he’s her lobster”.
According to Pheebs, lobsters mate for life, so to call someone your lobster means that the two of you are meant to be together forever – like Ross and Rachel. The Lobster Theory gained popularity among fans and it's commonly featured on Friends merchandise.
Joey has never been the sharpest tool in the shed, and apparently, as the show went on he took a level in dumbass. Still, on rare occasions, what he said made a lot of sense, even if he never got it quite right. In the season seven episode “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs”, Rachel wonders how long she should wait before asking Tag out given his recent breakup.
Surprisingly enough, the best piece of advice comes from Joey who explains that unless Tag likes her back this is all a moo point – or, as he explains it: a cow’s opinion, it doesn’t matter, it’s moo. Joey’s expression and explanation thereof aren’t just funny. Maybe we've spent too much time with Joey, but this really does make sense, which is why it’s so memorable and quotable.
Oh. My. God! Ten whole seasons those three words were more than enough to send chills down our spines because they can only mean one thing: Janice. Chandler’s nasal ex-girlfriend Janice knew how to make an entrance. Whenever she would pop up unexpectedly her arrival would be announced with a nasal, drawn-out “Ohhh. Myyyy. Gwaaad!” before we’d even get see her.
Janice made several surprise appearances on the show causing Chandler, but also other friends, to freeze on the spot upon hearing her voice. Her unforgettable catchphrase has been referenced on other shows, even the friends themselves did their best impressions of Janice, and every Friends fan has probably made this reference countless times.
Phoebe Buffay is best-known for her hippie lifestyle, unabashed silliness, and her unusual musical expression. Over the course of ten seasons, Pheebs wrote and performed a number of songs, most commonly at Central Perk. Her biggest hit is titled “Smelly Cat” and it’s about a foul-smelling cat – duh! The song was played on many different occasions and even got a music video in “The One Where Eddie Moves In”.
The "Smelly Cat" song has become a staple of the show and Friends fans love singing along to it, just as Phoebe's friends did at the end of the episode with the music video. There are covers of "Smelly Cat" YouTube and Lisa Kudrow actually performed the song on stage with Taylor Swift.
Explained by Monica as a way of giving the finger without actually having to give it, the “fist-banging” first appeared in season four episode ‘The One with Joey’s New Girlfriend”. Ross gives Rachel the Friendly Finger as a response to her teasing him about his dinosaur toys and bragging about her new, way too young, college boyfriend.
Since then the Friendly Finger has been used in various instances by all of the friends, interestingly enough, with the exception of Phoebe. The funny gesture has made its way from the small screen into the real world. We know we’ve used it numerous times, and we’re pretty sure other Friends fans have as well.
If you’re planning on starting any self-defense classes the first thing you need to know about is “Unagi” – no, not the freshwater eel – but the Japanese concept of complete awareness. Well, that’s if you believe Ross’s karate expertise. In the hilarious season six episode “The One with the Unagi”, Ross goes a bit overboard attempting to prove to Rachel and Phoebe that they’re gonna be helpless against an attacker because they don’t have “Unagi”.
Throughout the episode, Ross keeps saying “ahh Unagi” whenever he proves someone has or doesn’t have "Unagi". It’s a reference any fan of Friends will understand and one we’ve all made at least once. There are memes and gifs about Unagi, as well as merchandise like T-shirts, mugs, and so on.
In one of the show’s best episodes, “The One Where No One’s Ready”, Joey puts on all of Chandler’s clothes and waltzes into Monica’s apartment uttering the iconic line: “Look at me, I’m Chandler. Could I BE wearing any more clothes?” poking fun at his friend's tendency to put special emphasis on the word "be" in an unnatural way.
The joke works because Chandler really does do that. Like when he and Joey get robbed and have to put patio furniture and a canoe in their living room, Chandler looks around the room and poses the hilarious rhetorical question: “Could we BE more white trash?” Chandler’s famous line is one of the show’s most well-known catchphrases and one that can always be used in real life.
When Ross buys a new couch for his new apartment, he insists that he and Rachel carry it to the building and up the stairs to the apartment all by themselves. However, the narrow stairway doesn't cooperate, so they decide to get help. Chandler joins the party and the trio, after carefully studying Ross’s sketch of the whole process, begins the arduous task of getting the big couch up the stairway. Once they get to the corner, Ross starts hysterically yelling out “Pivot!” prompting us to burst out into laughter and Chandler to yell out “shut up” in response.
Needless to say, no fan of Friends has ever been able not to laugh at the word "pivot" ever again. And moving any furniture without yelling "pivot" is virtually impossible. Recently, Courtney Cox moved a desk from one room to another and recreated this scene on her Instagram.
Perhaps the longest running gag on the show was the catchphrase “we were on a break”. It all started with “The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break” and the line was first uttered by Rachel in the following episode “The One with the Morning After”. But though Rachel may have said it first, “we were on a break” became Ross’ trademark.
The running gag started with episode seventeen of season three and lasted until the very end. Ross repeated it countless times and even joked about it in the “I got off the plane” scene. Whether Ross and Rachel really were on a break depends on whom you're asking, but one thing is certain: "we were on a break" is one of the best-known and most-used Friends references that has spawned tons of hilarious memes and gifs.
The incorrigible womanizer Joey Tribbiani relied on his good looks and his charms to woo women. In “The One with Rachel’s Crush”, Joey demonstrates his “How You Doin’?” technique to Rachel and Phoebe in an attempt to give Rachel some pointers about asking her new crush out on a date. While Phoebe is quick to dismiss his approach, when Joey actually tries it on her she can’t help but giggle.
The line “How you doin’?” has become synonymous with Joey and it’s impossible for any fan of Friends to read it without hearing Joey’s voice. It’s by far the most recognizable catchphrase ever to be used on the show, it has appeared on other shows, and it's been listed as one of the best catchphrases in TV history.