Friends: 11 Brilliant Inside Jokes That Every True Fan Will Get

The cast of Friends

Could Friends fans BE anymore excited to stream their favorite sitcom on HBO Max? Probably not, especially with the ability to relive all the show’s funniest moments and most iconic inside jokes, like the one I just dropped at the beginning of this paragraph.

Like any enduring pop culture staple, Friends has become the epicenter of several common phrases and countless viral memes that devoted followers of the long-running sitcom use, practically, on a daily basis. Yet, any casual viewer or complete virgin to show who comes across these references would be as confused as a fluent French-speaker in a conversation with Joey (which is another gag only truly fans will pick up).

The amount of references and inside jokes that still make Friends fans laugh after all these years is astronomic. However, for the purposes of remaining concise, I have narrowed the selection down to 11 to pay tribute to.

Maggie Wheeler as Janice on Friends

“OH… MY… GOD!”

Before Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) and Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) became Friends’ most unexpected and cherished couple, the hopeless romantic’s first love (much to his eventual chagrin) was Janice, portrayed by Maggie Wheeler doing a not-too-exaggerated impersonation of Fran Drescher. The exceptionally irritating multiple divorceé became popular enough after her Season 1 debut to make at least one appearance in each subsequent season, traditionally making her presence known with the slow, nasally utterance of “OH… MY… GOD!”

Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay on Friends

“Smelly Cat”

Phoebe Buffay's (Lisa Kudrow) pursuit to moonlight as a musician never ceased, despite a fanbase that never grew beyond her five passive aggressive pals. If there was one successful move in her singing career, however, it was "Smelly Cat," her original ballad about a lonely feline bearing an unflattering stench, which actually becomes well-known enough to get its own music video on the show and earned Lisa Kudrow a gig performing the tune onstage as a duet with fan Taylor Swift.

David Schwimmer as Ross Geller on Friends


One often overlooked recurring gag on Friends is Ross Geller's (David Schwimmer) attempt to hide his history of dance lessons by claiming it was martial arts. This lie has never been made more clear than by his definition of "unagi" as a "state of total awareness" that keeps those who master it prepared for danger. Of course, as Phoebe and Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) deduce, it is actually a type of sushi.

David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston on Friends

“He’s Her Lobster”

While many people might refer to their significant other as their "soulmate," those who love Friends use the term "lobster." This is in reference to Phoebe's use of the aquatic crustaceans' life-long mating ritual to represent Ross and Rachel's destined endless romance. The lobster metaphor proves to be flawed when associated with the couple, but we'll get why later.

Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, and Courtney Cox on Friends

Ms. Chanandler Bong

During a high-stakes trivia contest in Friends' fourth season that pits Monica and Rachel against Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) to see which pair of roommates knows the other pair better, quiz orchestrator Ross asks the ladies what name Chandler's TV Guide is addressed to. Rachel guesses Chandler's real name, to which Ross informs her the answer is "Chanandler Bong," at which Chandler interjects, saying it is actually "Miss Chanandler Bong."

David Schwimmer gives Jennifer Aniston the "Friendly Finger" on Friends

Ross and Monica's Secret Obscene Gesture

If you ever wanted to visually insult someone, but without having to face the consequences, you could get away with it by just knocking your fists together in their direction. This gesture was designed by Ross as a kid as a means of giving Monica or someone else the finger without getting into trouble. It's also a gesture which every main character on Friends, excluding Phoebe, would go onto use for their own purposes since Ross first used it on Rachel in Season 4.

Lisa Kudrow as Regina Phalange on Friends

Regina Phalange

Every once in a while, the characters of Friends would use pseudonyms for whatever reason, with Joey going by Ken Adams at one time and Phoebe, more than once, introducing herself as Regina Phalange. While the last name may be synonymous with a bone that exists in the finger or the toe, it certainly rolls off the tongue more effectively than "Princess Consuela Banana Hammock." The alias came to its peak in the series finale when Phoebe successfully got Rachel (and eventually the rest of the passengers) off a plane to Paris by telling her over the phone she suspected one of the "phalanges" might be faulty.

Matt LeBlanc on Friends

“Joey Doesn’t Share Food!”

For much of the series run, Joey's incomparable appetite was no secret, but it was not until the tenth and final season when we learned it extended to a severely selfish case of gluttony. After Phoebe sets the hungry man up on a date with an acquaintance of hers, he reveals afterward that she made the crucial mistake of taking a fry off of his plate at dinner. This would prompt the first of his many loud, third-person declarations that "Joey doesn't share food!"

Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer on Friends


No moment has ever defined why people dread the day their friends or family ask them to help move furniture better than in the fifth season of Friends when Ross asks Chandler and Rachel to help him carry his new sofa up to his apartment. The task becomes more daunting than expected as the trio struggles to get the sofa past a tight corner in the stairwell, and Ross' repeated, one-word instruction to "pivot" the item only makes things worse. Reaching his threshold of tolerance, Chandler responds with us repeated, one-word instruction that Ross "shut up!"

Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow on Friends

“They Don’t Know That We Know They Know We Know”

The secret of Monica and Chandler's romance which came to end in "The One Where Everyone Finds Out," in which the recently privy Phoebe and Rachel try to mess with the couple's heads by having Phoebe hit on Chandler, inciting a series of mind games with Joey as the reluctant middle man. Each responding attack comes from the realization that the opposing party is unaware they are aware of their awareness of the truth, culminating in Phoebe's diabolical mouthful, "They don’t know that we know they know we know."

David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Courtney Cox, and Jennifer Aniston on Friends

“We Were On A Break!”

We have saved the most frequently quoted phrase in the history of Friends, which also still remains a long-standing subject of debate among fans: the legitimacy of Ross and Rachel's temporary split, during which Ross slept with another woman. For every time Rachel brings up his infidelity, Ross cannot resist arguing that they were "on a break." Whether or not his defense stands, I think we can at least agree with Chandler that he said it a little too often.

What do you think? Did this list make your day, your week, your month, or every your year, or did those explanations for these Friends inside jokes really come in handy for you? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for updates on the beloved sitcom here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.