10 of our favourite long-running gags in Friends

Can you believe it’s been 10 years since Friends left our screens? To mark a decade since Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Monica and Joey went to Central Perk that one last time, we’ve chosen the best long-running jokes from one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. Warning: spoilers ahead (in the unlikely event you haven’t rewatched the box set five times by now)

Phoebe’s ‘phalange’

Phoebe’s favourite word ‘phalange’ is is a joke that starts early and runs all the way into the finale. Phoebe often uses the fake name Regina Phalange. Phoebe’s made-up word plays an important part in the finale, where Rachel’s plane is halted because ‘there’s something wrong with the left phalange!’

Ross the divorcee

A three-time divorcee, Ross gets plenty of flack from the rest of the gang for his tendency to get married. And then swiftly divorced.

Monica’s childhood obesity

Monica’s larger past is another long-running gag throughout the series, and there are even flashback episodes with Courteney Cox hamming it up in a fat suit. Ross: ‘I grew up with Monica… If you didn’t eat fast, you didn’t eat!’

The secret swearword

When Ross tells the gang about a childhood signal he made up so he could ‘give the finger without actually having to give the finger’, it catches on and becomes a great inside joke.

Monica’s competitiveness

Monica’s insane competitive streak comes to the fore any time the group play a team activity. Which happens a lot. In the final season, Monica meets her match when she plays Phoebe’s Mike.

Phoebe’s awful guitar playing

We’re treated to many of Phoebe’s unusual songs over the seasons, but Friends wouldn’t be Friends without the anthem that is ‘Smelly Cat’.

How you doin’?

Ladies’ man Joey’s pick-up line is still an iconic catchphrase, and while it always seemed to work for loveable Joey, if you’re not Matt Le Blanc we’d advise against trying it.

Chandler’s forgettable job

There is a running joke that Chandler’s job is so impossibly boring that no one can remember what it is he does. It’s forgettable fact that loses the girls their apartment when they play a trivia game in series four, episode 12.

Gunther’s love for Rachel (and hatred for Ross)

Something of a cult character, Gunther’s pining for Rachel is a hilarious backdrop to any Central Perk scenes, particularly the ones with his love rival, Ross.

And of course… WE WERE ON A BREAK

The on-again, off-again couple of Friends were plagued by an argument over Ross getting with another girl when they were technically ‘on a break’.