Friends is considered one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. It’s no surprise that the series often made fans cry. However, it is also one of the most cringe-worthy series. Despite being critically acclaimed, there are aspects of the series that have not aged well. Friends aired for 10 seasons from September 22, 1994 to May 6, 2000. The series would quickly become a cultural phenomenon. The cast members went from relative unknowns to becoming the most famous faces in the world. They became one of the most recognizable ensemble casts on television. The show won several awards, including the Prime-Time Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. Friends was universally praised and one of the most beloved series.
In addition to being one of the funniest shows, Friends is also known for its heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. The series has made grown men and women cry like newborn babies. However, it’s not without its cringe-worthy and controversial moments. Some of the storylines and jokes crossed the line. Additionally, some of the plot lines and humor were acceptable then but are considered inappropriate by today’s standards. Here is a look at 8 Times Friends Made Us Cringe and 8 Times It Made Us Cry.
15 Ross Infatuated With His Cousin (Cringe)
Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) often found himself in some of the more interesting and cringe-worthy storylines. To paraphrase Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), Ross has crossed the line so many times and has gone so far past it that it’s just a dot to him. One of those times is when he decided to make a move on his own cousin. Denise Richards guest-starred as Cassie in the season 7 episode “The One With Ross and Monica’s Cousin.” Ross is immediately attracted to Cassie but it’s hard to blame him since it is Denise Richards. However, he soon starts to believe that Cassie is attracted to him and is flirting. He completely misreads the situation and makes a move on his cousin but gets rejected. Regardless, it didn’t really help with Ross’ image among the fans.
14 Ross And Rachel Break Up (Cry)
Not one couple ever made fans cry like Ross and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) did. Their intense relationship made grown adults sob for days. Their series-long love story was at the core of the show. They made fans cry tears of happiness and tears of sadness. Their relationship was exhausting at times for them and for fans. They first made fans cry with the season 2 episode “The One with the Prom Video.” In the episode, Rachel and Ross finally end up together. However, that was only the beginning of their on-and-off relationship. The season 4 episode, “The One With The Morning After,” was one of the first truly heartbreaking breakups. Ross and Rachel spend the episode breaking up, with the other friends listening in the next room. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
13 Ross Dates A Student (Cringe)
It might just be a coincidence but Ross is often at the center of some very uncomfortable storylines. Ross was involved with Rachel for most of the series, but when they weren’t together, he was stirring up controversy. One of the most controversial story lines revolved around Ross dating one of his students. Fans have argued for years if it was inappropriate for Ross to date his pupil. In the season 6 episode, “The One Where Ross Dates a Student,” Ross begins dating Elizabeth, a student in his class. His friends brutally mock him for dating a student and someone that is much younger than him. She wasn’t underage but it’s still questionable if a teacher should be dating his student that is 12 years his junior.
12 Mike And Phoebe Break Up (Cry)
The series featured some of the most unforgettable and gut-wrenching breakups. Most famously, Ross and Rachel took a break—or they didn’t take a break, depending on who you ask. However, this was one of the most surprising breakups. The season nine episode “The One with the Boob Job” might have a funny title but the ending is heartbreaking. Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) had finally found her soulmate when she met Mike Hannigan, portrayed by Paul Rudd. There was instant chemistry, and eventually, they decided to move in together. However, in the middle of the move, Mike reveals that he never wants to get married or start a family, which are both things that Phoebe wants. They break up before they can finish the move, leaving fans in tears. Later, they make up and eventually marry.
11 Ben Plays With A Barbie Doll (Cringe)
Ross has always had difficulty in relationships. The very first relationship that didn’t work out was with his ex-wife, Carol, who left him for Susan. Initially, Ross struggled with the idea of not being in his son Ben’s life every day. He also struggled with the idea of Ben being raised by a lesbian couple. In the season 3 episode, “The One With The Metaphorical Tunnel,” Ross is bothered when Ben plays with a Barbie doll. He believes that boys should be playing with toys like dinosaurs and G.I. Joe. He becomes very concerned that Ben is displaying a feminine attitude because two women are raising him. Ross then goes out of his way to get Ben to like more manly toys. Some fans have criticized the plot for being homophobic.
10 Chandler And Monica Can’t Have Kids (Cry)
Chandler and Monica’s relationship was immensely popular with audiences. They had the perfect love story. They had known each other for years and finally hooked up in London. They carried on a secret and causal relationship, but it soon became public and serious. They moved in together and married in a grand event. They soon decided it was time to start a family. After putting in a great deal of effort, they’re unable to become pregnant. They undergo a series of fertility tests and conclude that they can’t conceive. The heartbreaking reveal left Chandler, Monica, and fans all over the world sobbing. They instead decide to adopt and meet a young pregnant mother, Erica, portrayed by Anna Faris. She allows them to adopt her baby, although she ends up having twins. In the end, Chandler and Monica leave to start their family.
9 Ross And Monica’s Passionate Kiss (Cringe)
There are many cringe-worthy moments that have fans fiercely debating for years. This is not one of those times because there isn’t a person that didn’t cringe with this plot. Monica (Courteney Cox) and Ross are like a typical brother and sister, although they might be a little bit too close for comfort. In the season 10 episode, “The One Where The Stripper Cries,” Ross and Monica crossed a boundary that most siblings avoid. A flashback reveals that Monica had her very first kiss at a college party and Ross reveals he and Rachel had their first hot make-out session at that same party. However, it turns out that they had actually kissed each other in the dark. They’re both disgusted when they realize it, although it’s never revealed how far it went.
8 Monica And Chandler Engaged (Cry)
Friends made us cry a lot but it wasn’t always tears of sadness. Sometimes, it was tears of joy as characters found happiness. Both Monica and Chandler (Matthew Perry) struggled in relationships. They came close to finding their soulmates, but it never worked out for them. They both greatly feared that they would be alone forever. Turns out, they already met their soulmate in each other. They eventually hooked up, started dating, and moved in together. Chandler wanted the proposal to be a surprise so he pretended to be anti-marriage. The trick backfires and Monica visits her ex, Richard (Tom Selleck). It appears that Chandler is too late and has lost Monica forever, until he walks into his apartment and sees Monica surrounded by candles. Fans all over the world were in tears as they finally proposed to each other.
7 Thanksgiving Football (Cringe)
The season 3 episode, “The One with the Football,” is one of the most popular episodes. It revolves around all six friends playing a game of football on Thanksgiving. The beloved episode has always been praised but now receives a great deal of criticism for being s*xist. The portrayal of the women has caused a bit of controversy. Both Rachel and Phoebe are portrayed as helpless “girly girls” that know nothing about sports. On the other hand, Monica is a highly competitive and skilled player but is mocked for thinking she can beat the guys. All three guys are football experts that know all the ins and outs. Additionally, the women only gain the advantage in part by using their feminine qualities, such as Phoebe flashing Chandler to steal the ball.
6 Rachel Gets Off The Plane (Cry)
The heart of the series was the intense love story between Ross and Rachel. They are one of the most famous couples in sitcom history. They made fans cry tears of pure joy when they first kissed and made them sob when they broke up. As the series was coming to an end, the burning question of: 'will they get back together?' was intense. In the final episode, Rachel was leaving for Paris after receiving a huge job offer. Ross runs to the airport to confess his love for her but she gets on the plane anyway. However, once he returns home, he hears a message from Rachel as she pleads to be allowed off the plane. Seconds later, she appears in his doorway, and the tears start flowing.
5 Fat Monica (Cringe)
Throughout the series, there are numerous references to Monica once being very overweight in her younger days. Later, flashbacks confirm that she often overindulged in food, which lead to her weight gain. Of course, she eventually lost all the weight prior to the events in the show. Courteney Cox would wear a fat suit for all the flashback scenes. Her “Fat Monica” days are usually played up for laughs with her friends and family mocking her. In fact, it’s revealed that she loses all the weight after hearing Chandler make a harsh fat joke. It’s safe to say that if a show did a similar subplot today, they would be heavily criticized and become a trending topic. Many fans and critics describe “Fat Monica” storylines as fat-shaming.
4 Phoebe’s Goodbye To The Triplets (Cry)
Throughout the series, there were many heartbreaking goodbyes that left fans in tears. However, no goodbye was as heartbreaking as this one. One of the most heart-wrenching moments occurs in the season 5 episode, “The One Hundredth” or “The One With The Triplets.” It’s one of the most memorable episodes but has one of the saddest endings. During season 4, Phoebe became a surrogate for her brother and wife because they’re unable to have kids. Prior to giving birth, Phoebe decides she wants to keep one of the triplets. In the end, she knows she can’t keep one and gives a heartfelt goodbye to all three. She breaks down into tears as the episode comes to an end. Lisa Kudrow was widely praised for her performance in the episode.
3 Ross Fires Male Nanny Because He’s “Too Sensitive” (Cringe)
Fans of the series often point out that Ross usually came across as a bit of a jerk. Despite many of his views being played up for laughs, they were often playing off of offensive stereotypes. A good example of this is in the season nine episode, “The One with the Male Nanny.” It featured Freddie Prince Jr. playing an overly sensitive nanny, Sandy, that is hired to take care of Ross’ daughter, Emma. Ross has a huge problem with a sensitive male nanny and assumes he must be gay. In fact, Ross asks Sandy if he’s gay during the interview. Despite Sandy being excellent at taking care of Emma and everyone loving him, Ross fires him for being “too sensitive.” The episode was pretty questionable back then but would cause outrage by today’s standards.
2 The End (Cry)
The series finale, “The Last One,” aired on May 6, 2004. It is the fourth most-watched series finale of all time. It is also the most heartbreaking moment that left the cast, crew, and fans crying their eyes out. The finale was a sad moment for fans that had followed the show since the very beginning. However, the final scene of the show had every person crying on set. The six friends meet for the final time in Monica and Chandler’s now-empty apartment. They’re all about to go their separate ways. The moment is twice as emotional because it’s clear that the cast members are fighting back real tears. In particular, Jennifer Aniston had a very difficult time shooting the final scene and hides her face behind David Schwimmer in a failed attempt to hide her emotions.
1 The Attitude Towards Chandler’s Dad (Cringe)
In the 90’s, there was a certain sense of humor that was viewed as harmless. However, over time, many views changed and a lot of that humor isn’t as acceptable. Friends has always been praised for being a progressive show. The series included a lesbian couple and a transgender character. At the same time, the series often featured many jokes that would be considered homophobic and transphobic. In particular, critics point to Chandler’s attitude towards his father. His father, Charles Bing, left Chandler and his mother when he was young to become a drag queen performer, Helena Handbasket (Kathleen Turner), in Las Vegas. Chandler reveals that he was incredibly embarrassed by his father and they became estranged for several years. Helena’s character is played up for laughs, but today, much of the humor would be regarded as insensitive to the LGBTQ community.