It’s been well over a decade since Friends went off the air, but the fact that we are still talking about it just goes to show how popular and influential the series was. It is easily one of the most-loved sitcoms of all time, and consistently makes the top 10 of critics and fans alike.
The show ran for ten years – from 1994 to 2004 – and we all watched while Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, and Ross evolved and changed over that time. And, now that the entire series is on Netflix, we have the opportunity to go back and binge all 236 episodes again because '90s nostalgia never dies.
But, as is usually the case for shows that run ten seasons, continuity issues begin to arise because you start to incorporate flashback episodes, make references to the characters’ pasts, or use one-off jokes that seem funny at the time, but they end up causing serious issues in the show’s timeline.
It seems like it would have been somebody’s job to check on things that could cause issues, but does anyone really have the time to comb through hundreds of scripts before shooting each episode? Since no one seemed to be on top of this issue, family backstories changed, names switched spellings, and Ross’s hatred for ice cream just disappeared.
Friends is still a great TV show, and it is easy to watch it over and over again in a mindless loop, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have its fair share of inconsistencies and plot holes. And, of course, all these years later, it is still fun to go back and watch it again, so you can find the mistakes.
Do you call yourself a Friends super-fan? Well, did you ever notice…
23 All Of The Character's Names Change
In the season seven episode, "The One Where They All Turn Thirty," Rachel becomes the last member of the group to reach the big 3-0, and she is terribly depressed about her birthday. Throughout the episode, we also see a series of flashbacks of everyone else’s 30th birthday, but the problem is that Joey is the youngest in the group.
If you go back to the very first season in the episode The One With The Birth, Joey says he is 25, and there is an implication that Rachel is closer to Monica’s age of 26 since they went to high school together. And, Rachel’s birthday is supposedly in May because that is what she tells Gunther in "The One With Joey’s New Girlfriend."
But, by season seven, her birthday has apparently moved to January or February because she tells a police officer that she is an Aquarius.
As for the rest of the friends, their ages are just as inconsistent. The most shining example of this is that Ross was 29 for three seasons. In seasons three and four, he flat out says he is 29. And in season five, he talks about getting divorced twice before the age of 30.
22 Monica's Apartment Kept Changing
In the very beginning of the series, Monica lived in apartment number five, while Chandler lived across the hall in apartment number four. But, as the first season went on, producers realized that their apartment numbers would be much higher because of how high up in the building their apartments were supposed to be. So, Monica’s apartment number changed to 20 and Chandler’s changed to 19.
On top of that, Monica’s apartment never changed location, but the view from her kitchen window consistently changed. Yes, this is subtle, but once you notice it, you won’t be able to unsee it.
In many of the first episodes, her view is just a brick wall, which appears to be extremely close. Then, it later changes to a brick wall with a corner of a window that wasn’t there before. The view changes again when a clothesline seemingly appears out of nowhere. And, in some episodes, she has a view of buildings that appear to be far away.
Eventually, the plain brick wall comes back, but in the final episode of the series, all viewers can see is a wall of cardboard.
Also, the building that Ugly Naked Guy lived in also changed. By the time Ross tried to get his apartment, the view from the balcony was completely different. Monica’s balcony also changes in size, and from the exterior shot, it shouldn’t exist at all.
21 Rachel And Chandler's Memory Loss
If you go back and watch the pilot again, we find out that Rachel and Chandler have never seen each other before, so that leads to an introduction. But, later episodes completely contradict this idea because we learn that the two have met at least four separate times during high school and college.
And, in a season ten flashback, we discover that they once made out.
If you go with the story from the pilot, not only did he forget about meeting Rachel multiple times, but it also means that Chandler has no recollection of being in Ross’s band in college or knowing Monica when she was fat.
Chandler appears to suffer from serious amnesia because in the episode, "The One With The Prom Video," he is genuinely shocked when he sees fat Monica on tape and she says the camera adds ten pounds. He responds, “How many cameras were on you?”
It just doesn’t make sense, because the two met multiple times in high school and college. Plus, Monica “accidentally” cut off his toe when he visited the Gellers for Thanksgiving after she heard him call her fat the year before.
20 Rachel's Old Key
In season ten’s episode, "The One With the Late Thanksgiving," Chandler and Monica lock the door to their apartment because everyone shows up late for their Thanksgiving dinner. When the others discover that the door is locked, Rachel says she has an old key from when she used to live there, so she uses it to unlock the door.
But, the chain is still on the door, and Joey ends up getting his head stuck. While Monica is on the phone, Chandler lets him free, and Joey crashes into the dinner and presumably ruins everything. But, Monica doesn’t care. She isn’t mad at all because she is on the phone with the adoption agency who told her that she and Chandler could adopt a baby. Big moment!
However, Rachel should have never been able to get the door open in the first place. In the season eight episode, "The One Where Rachel Tells…," Joey and Phoebe accidentally lock the door to Monica’s apartment. To get in, Joey tells the superintendent that there is a gas leak. But, instead of finding the right key and unlocking the door himself, he calls the fire department and has them break the door down. After they get in, the super says he will have to change all the locks.
19 The 'Die Hard' Paradox
In the series, Joey, Chandler, and Ross are obsessed with Die Hard. And in one episode, the three of them enjoy a marathon together. But in the season six episode, "The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth’s Dad," none of them recognize Bruce Willis when he starts dating one of their friends.
This is a plot hole that producers seemed to embrace because it happened more often throughout the series. Susan Sarandon was on Ross’s list of celebrities he could sleep with, and then Joey later slept with a character played by Sarandon.
Once, Ross referred to himself as “Cro-Magnum P.I.,” and then later, Monica dated Richard, played by Tom Selleck, who was also Magnum P.I. In one episode, the gang tries to get a table in a restaurant by using the name Winona Ryder, and then in a later episode, Ryder plays a character Rachel went to school with.
Ross also claims to have come up with the idea for Jurassic Park, and later, Joey meets a character played by Jeff Goldblum. But, probably the most disturbing instance of this trend is that Jessica Rabbit was on Chandler’s list of celebrities he could sleep with, and later, Kathleen Turner played his father. Turner was the voice of Jessica Rabbit.
18 Ross Has Two Birthdays And A Blurred History In The Bedroom
Throughout the series, there are a few details in Ross’s life that he can’t seem to keep straight. To start with he apparently has two birthdays. In the season four episode, "The One With Joey’s New Girlfriend," there is a conversation between Gunther, Rachel, and Ross.
Gunther asks Rachel when her birthday is, and she replies that it is on May 5th and asks why he wants to know. He says that he is just making a list of people’s birthdays, and then Ross says his birthday is in December.
But, five years later, in season nine, there is an episode where Ross breaks his hand, and he and Joey have a conversation about Ross’s birthday. Ross says that Joey knows his birthday, and he responds “May...tember.” Ross sets him straight by saying his birthday is October 18th.
Then there is the issue of Ross’s history with women. One of the main plot points in the early seasons of Friends is the fact that Ross has only slept with one woman – his first ex-wife, Carol. That doesn’t seem to be something you would lie about. But, in season seven, we find out that Ross slept with a cleaning lady when he was in college. This means that he was making up the fact that he had lost his virginity to Carol.
17 Joey's Agent
Any Friends fan would recognize June Gable as the actress who played Joey’s agent, Estelle Leonard. But, that isn’t the only role she played in the hit series. If you scroll through Gable’s IMDB page, you will find out that she appeared as Estelle in the season one episode, "The One With the Butt," where Joey lands the part of Al Pacino’s butt double. But apparently, her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
However, the weirdness comes into play when Gable plays the nurse who helps deliver Ross and Carol’s baby later in the first season. Producers probably didn’t think it would matter since they had deleted her as Estelle in the "Butt" episode, and at first, it didn’t.
But then she came back in season two as Estelle, making her the most recognizable actress on the show to play two roles.
Giovanni Ribisi also appeared in two different roles during the show’s ten seasons. He first appeared in a minor role in the episode, "The One With The Baby On The Bus," as a guy who dropped a condom in Phoebe’s guitar case. Then, he later returns as Phoebe’s brother Frank, who asks her to be a surrogate for him and his wife.
16 Phoebe's Father
To say the least, each Friends character has some interesting family members. But, when it comes to a colorful past with unusual characters, Phoebe’s family definitely wins. Everyone is estranged, or simply just strange.
Phoebe often mentions that she never knew her dad because he left before her mom gave birth to her and her twin sister, Ursula. But, then there is an episode where she meets her real father, Frank Buffay, at her grandmother’s funeral.
When Phoebe and Frank talk, he mentions singing to Phoebe as a baby, and the funny part comes when he starts singing a song with a tune like the infamous, "Smelly Cat." So, if Phoebe remembers that tune, she would have been old enough to remember the song, and that means she would have had to know her dad.
Speaking of Phoebe’s music, when she tries to teach Joey how to play the guitar in season five she says that she doesn’t know the names of any chords. But, there is an episode in season two when she gets mad at a guitarist named Stephanie for stealing her spot outside of Central Perk. At that moment, she seems to know all of her chords when she talks to Stephanie.
15 Slipping Money
In the season seven episode, "The One With the Holiday Armadillo," Ross is busy trying to teach his son Ben about Hanukkah while dressed as a giant armadillo. At the same time, Monica and Chandler go to dinner, and she encourages him to shake the host’s hand and slip him some money, so they could get a table faster.
In his special, sarcastic way, Chandler asks Monica if Richard used to do that. Then, he does it himself in the most awkward and unsmooth way possible. Even though it was funny, it simply didn’t make sense.
Back in season two in the episode, "The One Where Old Yeller Dies," Chandler excitedly slipped money to Joey like a pro. And, they also were fully aware that Richard slipped money because the two impersonated him while they did it. Richard even walks up to them while they are mocking him and makes the comment that they are getting better.
So, it appears that Richard is implying that he has been giving them pointers on how to slip money and that is how Chandler learned. This means Chandler’s question to Monica about Richard slipping money makes absolutely no sense. Plus, Chandler’s money slipping skills seemed to have disappeared.
14 The Disappearance Of Ben
It happens in a lot of shows, but when a recurring character disappears without explanation, it can be quite frustrating. Fans get to know a character, and then for no reason, episodes start to come and go, and before you know it, full seasons have gone by with no mention of that character.
This happened with Ben (Cole Sprouse), and it was strange because he was Ross’ son that he had with his first wife, Carol. Of course, kid actors grow up and move on to other acting jobs, but the fact that there was virtually no mention of Ben in the last two seasons is odd.
He could have made at least one appearance during a significant event in Ross’ life. But, he didn’t make the trip to London when Ross married Emily, and he didn’t show up when Rachel gave birth to his half-sister, Emma.
We never see him again, and he only gets a few mentions. Plus, some characters seem to forget he exists. When Emma is born, Ross’ dad talks about how she is his first grandchild. They never explain where Ben went, and his disappearance has led to multiple fan theories.
13 Chandler's Tears
Even the most casual fan of Friends knows that Chandler jokes around all the time. So, it isn’t much of a surprise that he doesn’t have a lot of sentimental feelings and he isn’t much of a crier.
The show dedicated an entire episode in season six to Chandler’s issues with emotions called "The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry." Joey, Phoebe, and Monica discover that Chandler can’t cry no matter what the circumstances. Joey responds by saying Chandler must be dead inside, while Monica makes repeated attempts to elicit any kind of emotion.
It’s not until Ross admits to Rachel that he stopped her sister Jill from kissing him because he doesn’t want to ruin the chance of them getting back together someday that Chandler is able to shed some tears while asking Ross and Rachel why they can’t work it out.
But, the problem is that the producers and writers must have forgotten about an episode in season three where Phoebe mentions the time when she made Chandler cry so hard that he cried like a baby. That one little memory totally disproves the entire “Chandler can’t cry” premise.
On top of that, we also actually see Chandler cry in season four’s, "The One With the Worst Best Man Ever."
12 Rachel Finkle?
A pilot is often very different from the rest of the episodes in a series. This happens more often than not because producers are testing the waters and mapping everything out. The original title of Friends was Friends Like Us when it premiered. And, we already talked about the odd “introduction” of Chandler and Rachel.
Throughout the series, we hear quite a few mentions of Rachel’s ex-fiancé Barry Farber, or Dr. Farber, since he was a dentist. But, in the pilot, when Rachel is running out on her wedding, there is no mention of the name, Barry Farber.
Instead, Rachel has run out on her wedding to a guy called “Finkle,” who she abandons because she realizes “how much he looks like Mr. Potato Head.” She tries to call him to explain why she ran, but she keeps getting cut off by the answering machine (AKA, '90s problems). When she calls back, she says that some girl is going to be incredibly lucky to be Mrs. Barry Finkle.
This is just one of those minor goofs like June Gable playing both a nurse and Joey’s agent, Estelle, and it is easy to forget since it only happened once. But, it still happened.
11 Chandler And Monica's Wedding Date
When Chandler and Monica got married, it was a Saturday – the most popular day of the week to get married. Or did they? They made a lot references to their wedding being on a Saturday, the most memorable one being on Monica’s answering machine in "The One With Monica and Chandler's Wedding (Part 1)."
"Hi! If you're calling before Saturday, you've reached Monica and Chandler. But if you're calling after Saturday, you've reached Mr. and Mrs. Bing! Please leave a message for the Bings!"
But, a few episodes earlier, Monica takes Rachel and Phoebe with her, so they can find the perfect wedding dress, and she proudly tells the sales lady that her wedding date is May 15th. But, the problem is, back in 2001, May 15th fell on a Tuesday, not a Saturday.
It is, of course, a minor thing. But, it wouldn’t have been difficult for someone to check a calendar before writing that detail in the script.
They also decided that the museum would be a perfect wedding venue and signed up for the waiting list. And, when they called about a cancellation, Chandler freaked out before proposing. They went through all that fuss but ended up getting married at another location.
10 What City Do They Live In?
Friends was obviously set in New York City, but there were details in the show that made it look like they lived in Los Angeles, which is where they filmed the show. If you live on the West Coast, you might notice that the cast sometimes uses Safeway Select products. Those are available in California, but not in New York. And since this is before the days of online shopping, cross-country shipping doesn’t seem logical.
But, the bigger problem is the fact that Joey had the major part of Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days Of Our Lives, which is shot in Los Angeles. One of the explanations is that none of the storylines on the Friends version of Days of Our Lives were on the real version, so in the Friends-verse, maybe they shot the soap in New York.
Joey’s stint on Days of Our Lives ended when he angered writers, and they killed him off by having him fall down an elevator shaft. Later, they brought his character back (further spoofing the show that has brought back more than three dozen characters from the dead) as Drake Ramoray with a brain transplant. His new brain came from the character, Jessica Lockhart, played by Susan Sarandon.
9 Rachel And Carol Are Pregnant Forever
There seems to be a lot of Ross-related errors on this list, and it makes you think that the writers just gave up trying to give him any kind of coherent backstory.
In the pilot, the gang talks about Carol being a lesbian as though they all just found out about it. But then, in season three, during "The One With The Flashback," they go back to one year before the pilot and Carol tells Ross that she is a lesbian. This makes absolutely no sense since Carol gives birth to Ben at the end of season one. If that timeline were right, it would mean Carol was pregnant for almost three years.
As for Rachel, we all know the story of how she got pregnant. Ross was helping her send out Chandler and Monica’s wedding invitations, and she told him “the story” about backpacking across Western Europe. It’s a story that is guaranteed to get you laid, and the rest is history.
But, the thing is, Chandler and Monica get married in May, and we find out at their wedding that Rachel is expecting and is six weeks along. But, then later in the next season, we go through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day – and Rachel is still pregnant.
Emma doesn’t end up arriving until the following May, which means Rachel was pregnant for over a year before giving birth to her daughter.
8 Ross' Job
It was a running joke in the series that no one knew what Chandler’s job was. In the episode, "The One With The Embryos,"25 Rachel and Monica go up against Chandler and Joey in a trivia contest to find out who knows more about the other. They all know so much about the others in the group that the game ends up going into a lightning round. But, Monica and Rachel lose the game on the question, “What is Chandler Bing’s job?”
However, when it comes to Ross and his career, the show is unclear if he is a paleontologist or an anthropologist. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies fossils, while anthropology is the study of humans. We all know Ross loves dinosaurs, and his work at the museum revolves around that. So, you would think he is a paleontologist.
However, the show makes it appear that he is an anthropologist. For example, in the season two episode, "The One Where Ross and Rachel...You Know," Ross and Rachel sleep together for the first time at the museum because he had a work emergency regarding a cavemen exhibit, not dinosaurs. That doesn’t really make much sense.
7 Character Stand-Ins
We know that the cast had long days of shooting and they would occasionally use stand-ins for certain scenes. But, you would think that the folks in the editing booth would make sure that the imposters didn’t make an episode’s final cut.
But, there was a mistake when it came to a character stand-in. In the season eight episode, "The One With Rachel’s Date," we see a girl playing Monica who is not Courteney Cox, and it all takes place when Monica and Phoebe are on the couch at Central Perk.
But, this wasn’t a one-off mistake.
In "The One With the Mugging," we see a girl playing Rachel who is not Jennifer Aniston. It happens in a scene near the beginning of the episode when Rachel rushes over to Monica’s apartment to tell Joey about an audition. It is at this moment that the fake arrives.
These editing mistakes happen quickly, and if you blink, you will miss them. So, they aren’t as mind-blowing as say – finding out that the friends reserved their Central Perk table, which explains why they always had the best spot in the place (There was a reserved sign on the table, and it’s in every episode).
6 Double Love
We saw earlier on this list that Chandler and Rachel had problems with memory loss, but apparently, they aren’t the only ones. It seems that Monica forgot the moment that Chandler told her he loved her for the very first time.
In "The One With All The Thanksgivings," Chandler originally says the L word when Monica is dancing around with a turkey on her head. It was her way of apologizing for dropping a knife on his foot a few Thanksgivings prior.
He says, “You’re so great. I love you.”
“I can’t believe it...You love me!” she says with the bird still on her head.
But, in the later episode, "The One Where They All Find Out," Phoebe tries to seduce Chandler to make him declare his true feelings for Monica.
Chandler finally tells the group that he is in love with Monica when she is hiding in the bathroom, and she appears to be just as shocked as she was the first time she heard the words. Is it because she didn’t think he would tell everyone? Or did she just forget he had already said it?
5 Disappearing Ink
In the season five finale, "The One In Vegas," Ross and Rachel get drunk and then get married with ink from a permanent marker all over their faces. They literally stumble out of a chapel – with Ross throwing rice and Rachel holding a white bouquet.
“Hello, Mrs. Ross!”
“Hello, Mr. Rachel!”
The whole point of the episode is that they can’t get the ink off. Ross even calls the marker company to tell them they can’t remove the ink. And, Rachel makes them stay in the hotel room because it won’t wash off. That is why they get drunk in the first place.
They even wake up the next morning with the marker ink still on their faces. But, in the next scene of the season six premiere, "The One After Vegas," the whole gang was having breakfast the next morning, and the ink was gone.
It had magically disappeared.
In a behind-the-scenes video about the episode, some of the staff argued that it should have still been there the next morning. But others reasoned that by the next morning, after a wash, the ink would be gone.
4 The Foosball Table
In "The Last One," Chandler and Joey must break open their precious foosball table, so they can free Chick Jr. and Duck Jr. But, it was a sad scene the writers created simply to manipulate your feelings because it lacked continuity.
So how were they supposed to free the animals? Breaking it wasn’t the only way. When Chandler and Joey switch apartments with Monica and Rachel in "The One With the Embryos," the boys easily move their foosball table by simply separating it into two parts.
Another inconsistency in the series finale came with the names of Chandler and Monica’s twins. The couple ends up settling on the name Jack (after Monica’s dad) for their son. But, in "The One With The Blind Dates," they told Joey that they would name their son after him.
Also, in "The One Where Rachel Has A Baby," Monica says that she wants to name her first son, Daniel.
3 Phoebe's French
Does Phoebe speak French or not? In the hilarious episode, "The One Where Joey Speaks French," Phoebe appears to be fluent in the language and attempts to teach it to Joey for an upcoming audition.
When she tells him to repeat the phrase “Je m’appelle Claude” (my name is Claude) it comes out in gibberish, sounding more like “Dja bu bu Claude.” But, he thinks he is doing a great job. Who can forget the phrase, “Toute de le fruit?”
She eventually quits, but she then goes down to the audition and explains to the director in French that Joey is her mentally disabled brother, so he would take pity on him.
But, in an earlier episode, she doesn’t know a word of French. She has no idea what the word “sous” means when asking about a Sous Chef. It’s a simple French word that means under, and someone who speaks fluent French would know that.
2 Adam's Apple And Air Quotes
Does Joey really know what an Adam’s Apple is? In the season two episode, "The One Where Heckles Dies," Joey makes a comment about a woman he dated.
“I went out a couple of times with this girl – really hot, great kisser. But she had the biggest Adam’s apple!” he says.
But later in the season seven episode, "The One Where They All Turn Thirty," Joey tells Chandler that he has to take off his bowtie because it’s hurting his “Joey’s Apple.”
Chandler responds, “For the last time, it’s not named after each individual man.”
Then, there is the episode in season nine when we are told that Joey doesn’t know how to use air quotes. But, back in season five, he does use air quotes to correct himself after Rachel finds out about Monica and Chandler’s secret relationship.
Joey says, “Look, it’s not that big of a deal, so Monica and Chandler are doing it.” And then corrects himself when Rachel gets frustrated, “Sorry, Monica and Chandler are ‘making love.'”
1 Joey's Fridge
So, here’s a fun game to play when you decide to binge Friends all over again from start to finish. Throughout the ten seasons, Joey’s fridge has provided fans with many different amusing plot lines. There is even an episode in season six named for it – "The One With Joey’s Fridge."
In the episode, Joey’s fridge is broken, and he tries to get everyone to help pay for a new one because of his financial struggles. He decides to eat all the food in it, while asking the others to put up some cash. First, he asks Rachel, but she refuses because she just moved in. Then, he asks Chandler, but he turns him down because he just moved in with Monica.
Eventually, he gets desperate and tries to shove Ross inside of it and accuses him of breaking it.
It made for a fun episode, but the inconsistency with the appliance lasts throughout the entire series.
Next time you watch an episode, take the time to notice which direction Joey’s fridge door opens from. Between episodes, it randomly changes without explanation. It appears that he just keeps getting new refrigerators all the time.
It is a huge continuity error, but it does give you a valid reason to watch every episode all over again. But really, who needs a valid reason?