20 Times The ‘Friends’ Characters Were Actually So Toxic

Nothing will ever change the love fans feel for Friends. And while it can still make them laugh more than any other show on television (that’s right, Seinfeld), it’s suddenly easier than ever to pick out things that aren’t quite right with the show when looking back on the ‘90s sitcom as an adult in 2018.

For one thing, the characters definitely weren’t perfect. Fans may have seen them through rosy lenses as children, but now, they know the truth: their favorite six New Yorkers were sometimes a little toxic.

In real life, if anyone got up to what these six did on the show, there’d be massive consequences, and definitely no track of laughter. Seriously, the gang lied, cheated, manipulated, and even stole from each other and perfect strangers. They all had their own issues that sometimes led them to do bad things, and could even be mean to people who didn’t deserve it at all.

To be clear, fans can still watch Friends and laugh at the jokes (although some parts of the show make them grimace, understandably). But when it comes time to actually unpack these characters and judge them the way people would judge humans in the real world, things get interesting.

Remember these moments where the friends crossed the line?

20 When Everyone Is Late To Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner


Remember the episode where all the friends, except Joey, are late to Phoebe’s birthday dinner? Monica and Chandler were having an argument about smoking, and Rachel and Ross accidentally locked Emma in their apartment. It was hilarious to us, but what about poor Phoebe?

Your five closest friends should care enough about you to put their arguments on hold, and be better organized with their parenting, so they can be at your birthday dinner on time.

To make matters worse, even when they arrive at the dinner, none of them actually want to be there. Good on Phoebe for ditching them later to meet up with Mike!

19 When Monica Sabotages Fun Bobby’s Progress


Monica’s fling with Fun Bobby made for funny television, but in real life, she and the other friends were way out of line. To begin with, Monica is the one who urges Fun Bobby to get sober, since she’s worried about how much he drinks. Then when he does what she asks, he’s suddenly less fun to be around, and Chandler makes fun of him by calling him Ridiculously Dull Bobby. So because he no longer suits her, Monica then manipulates him into picking up his bad habits again, just so he’s a thrill to be around once more. Geez.

18 When Ross Can’t Handle The Male Nanny


If Ross doesn’t want the male nanny, dubbed the “manny” by Chandler, we’ll take him! Honestly, Sandy is the perfect person to watch over Emma.

He’s super qualified and has dozens of parents who want him for their children, he plays an instrument, he knows how to cook, and he genuinely loves children.

Despite all of this, Ross can’t handle him. When Sandy questions him about it, we find out that Ross is probably harboring some deep-rooted issues about his own masculinity because his father taunted him to play outside as a boy. In any case, not cool, Ross.

17 When Rachel Tricks Bonnie Into Shaving Her Head


Oh gosh, Rachel. We can all get a little jealous when someone else is hanging around the person we’re interested in, but tricking them into shaving their hair off is taking it too far. Can you imagine if someone did this in real life? The only reason we can even forgive Rachel for this is that Bonnie loves her shaved head and still looks good with it. There’s no real victim, but there could have been. Being so insecure that you have to sabotage anybody who might be your competition is pretty toxic, as far as we’re concerned.

16 When Ross Stays Married To Rachel Behind Her Back


Neither Ross nor Rachel is perfect, and there are faults on both sides when it comes to their painful relationship.

But Ross really sinks low when he avoids getting their Vegas marriage annulled and lies to Rachel about it.

Clearly, Rachel doesn’t want to actually be married to him, and at the time, he doesn’t really want her as a wife either. The only reason he doesn’t get the annulment is because he doesn’t want to be the guy with three ex-marriages. Selfish! He deserves to get yelled at in the lecture theater, in front of all his students.

15 When Joey Treats Janine’s Friends Like Objects


Throughout the course of the show, Joey treats most women like objects. At times, even the main three female characters have to deal with his advances. In that thanksgiving episode where Joey and Ross want to leave dinner to go and hang out with Janine’s dancer friends, he crosses the line and actually forgets that they’re human. All that matters to him is that they’re all having fun together. As much as Janine is an annoying character, we’re surprised she doesn’t feel creeped out by Joey when he does things with the sole purpose of getting her to do what he wants, without her realizing it.

14 When Ross Won’t Let Ben Play With A Barbie


His firing of the nanny isn’t the only time Ross proves that he has a complex with being masculine. When he catches his son Ben playing with a Barbie doll, he typically has a problem with it. “Why is my boy playing with a Barbie?” he whines, as Ross tends to do.

Then he convinces himself that his ex-wife Carol and her partner Susan forced Ben to play with dolls.

Ignoring the fact that he’s being totally unfair to Carol and Susan, he’s also stopping Ben from doing something that makes him happy because it doesn’t align with his beliefs.

13 When Phoebe Teaches Joey To Play The Guitar


Phoebe has the best intentions when she tries to teach Joey to play the guitar. But the way she goes about it is all wrong. First and foremost, is Phoebe really qualified to be teaching anybody how to play the guitar? Probably not. In the lessons she gives, she refuses to let him actually touch the instrument and later talks down to him when he does. Then she scolds him when he can’t learn fast enough, and makes him feel super guilty just for getting some normal instruction. She makes up for it later, though, when she has the patience to try and teach him a second language.

12 When Chandler And Rachel Steal The Cheesecakes


Yes, this episode was hilarious. And yes, if we were going to steal anything it would be cheesecake. Did you see how creamy it looked? But that’s what makes it such a bad crime.

Someone was sending those divine cheesecakes to Mrs. Braverman from Mama’s Little Bakery, Chicago, Illinois, and she wasn’t getting them.

She was being robbed of that heavenly cheesecake that was rightfully hers. Not to mention that the bakery had to keep churning out cakes that were disappearing. Chandler and Rachel deserved what they got in the end: such desperation that they were eating crumbs off the floor.

11 When Monica Believes Her Maid Is Stealing From Her


Monica is often highly strung, and it would probably leave you with some serious residual stress if she ever decided to target you in real life. It’s completely unfair of her to assume that her maid is stealing her jeans, just because she happens to have the same pair. Then when she notices that she’s wearing a similar bra strap, she assumes that she also stole her bra. As Chandler rightly points out, Monica seems to be noticing everything, except the fact that she’s crazy. In the end, Monica realizes that it was Rachel who took her jeans, and she’s actually wearing the bra she thought was stolen …

10 When Ross Stalks Rachel And Mark


It is no surprise that Ross isn’t the best boyfriend. He’s jealous and possessive, and just before he and Rachel have to take the notorious break, he takes his unhealthy emotions to new extremes and actually stalks Rachel. All she does is get lunch with her friend Mark.

Even though she tells Ross that they’re just friends, and they are, Ross doesn’t take her word for it.

So not only is he super jealous and threatened when he doesn’t need to be, but he also doesn’t trust her. Is it any wonder why these two are mostly off throughout the show?

9 When They Play Football And The Guys Mock The Girls


Things become a bit problematic when the gang holds a game of football. The men’s attitude toward Phoebe, Rachel, and Monica is basically that there’s no way they’ll win, because they’re girls, and girls don’t play sports. Ugh. Rachel is pretty useless on the field, but that doesn’t mean all women are. Monica’s the best player on the team, but the guys mock her for being too competitive and taking the game too seriously. Maybe she’s tired of not being taken seriously because she’s not a man? Don’t get us started on the concept of inequality on the playing field!

8 When Chandler Constantly Mistreats Janice


Monica and Chandler’s constant run-ins with Janice are funny, but when you think about, these two are being pretty mean to the ex. Just because she’s annoying doesn’t mean she deserves to be mocked behind her back.

And sometimes Monica and Chandler are plain rude to her face.

Chandler goes to extreme lengths to avoid her and manipulates her feelings for him to get what he wants. He also lets her know that nobody could ever really love her. When he finds out she’s pregnant, he says, “Who’s the unwitting human whose essence you’ve stolen.” What did she ever do to deserve all of this?

7 When Ross Tries To Hit On His First Cousin


Looking back, a lot of fans find Ross to be the creepiest of the friends. Though he has his good moments too, he seems to get it wrong over and over again. What about when he tries to flirt with his first cousin? His excuse is that he hasn’t been with anyone for a long time, and so he thinks it’s appropriate to kick it with his own cousin. Cassie is supposed to stay with Monica and Chandler while in New York but has to stay with Ross because Chandler, a grown man in a serious relationship, won’t stop gawking at her.

6 When Rachel Hires Tag Because She’s Attracted To Him


We’ve all dreamed about working with someone who’s extremely attractive, but how many people would compromise their morals and integrity to do it? Rachel would!

Though Hilda is clearly more suitable for the job, Rachel chooses to hire Tag simply because she thinks he’s cute.

She ends up dating him for a while, and Tag turns out to be a good assistant, but Rachel doesn’t know that when she hires him. If the roles were reversed, and a female was hired simply because she was attractive, a lot of people would probably have something to say. Hilda deserved better.

5 When Joey Is Unfair To Kathy And Chandler


Joey might be a charmer, but he’s not a good boyfriend. When he’s dating Kathy, he’s also dating a girl called Casey at the same time. While that isn’t necessarily so bad if Joey and Kathy haven’t agreed to be exclusive, it does show that he isn’t overly into her. Chandler, on the other hand, confesses that he’s not just into Kathy; he’s actually in love with her. And Joey has the nerve to get mad, even though Chandler’s feelings are stronger than his! Chandler does betray his trust and kisses Kathy behind his back, but still, Joey majorly overreacts.

4 When Ross Reminisces About Kissing Rachel While She Was Asleep


Ross might understand consent as an adult, but it seems like he didn’t in college. In a flashback scene at a college party, Ross talks about kissing Rachel, which is a big deal because he’s actually in love with her. Ross says she was asleep when he kissed her.

Repeat: he knew Rachel was sleeping and decided to go in and kiss her anyway.

Sorry, what? It doesn’t get much creepier! The whole lack of consent on Rachel’s part is just glossed over because everyone concentrates on the fact that it wasn’t actually Rachel, but Monica in the room.

3 When Carol And Susan Are Unfair To Ross During The Pregnancy


The dissolution of his first marriage is hard for Ross to come to terms with, and Carol and Susan don’t make it any easier for him. Especially Susan, who seems to despise everything about him. During the pregnancy, they act like he shouldn’t even be involved, even though he’s the father. In the pilot episode, they are discussing names, and Susan gets angry that Ross’s last name will be included in the baby’s name. And at this point, Susan needs to step back and realize that although Ross and Carol aren’t together, he’s still Ben’s father.

2 When Ross Dates A Student


And now for more totally awkward and questionable Ross Geller behavior. Teachers dating students might make people laugh on Friends, but in real life it usually ruins lives.

When Ross gets an anonymous letter that one of his paleontology students has a crush on him, he pursues a relationship with Elizabeth.

Though he’s an intelligent man, he believes that dating her is only frowned upon and not enough to actually get him fired. He sneaks around with her and even follows her to Florida for spring break. Elizabeth’s father doesn’t approve of Ross, and we can see why.

1 When Phoebe Actually Mugged Ross


When it comes to being completely out of line, Phoebe takes the cake. All the friends follow the devil on their shoulder and do the wrong thing every now and then, but Phoebe actually mugged Ross when she was living in the streets, and we’d say that’s a pretty toxic thing to do. We get it: Phoebe had a much harder upbringing than the rest of the group. She was driven to do some really bad things to survive. But at the same time, being mugged probably had a lasting impact on Ross. Of everyone in New York, did she really have to pick on a pre-teen science nerd?

Sources: The Independent, Buzzfeed, Glamour

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