From “How you doin’?” to “Smelly Cat”, we wanted to find out exactly how many times our favourite Friends catchphrases and gags appeared throughout the show’s ten seasons and 236 episodes.
We spent days scouring fan-generated transcripts to find out. We’re there for you, Friends fans…
Oh. My. God.
Oh my god appears an astonishing 1,027 times. Just oh my god, not oh god, good god or any other variants, of which there were many.
That’s an average of over four times per episode.
Of those 1,027, only 11, surprisingly, were said by Chandler’s ex, Janice, whose delivery is easily the most iconic, and the most imitated:
The two-part finale takes the trophy for the most OMGs at 21, while multiple episodes tied for the single-episode record of 11.
These just narrowly beat out episode 204, The One With Phoebe’s Husband, with ten Oh my gods —all uttered by Rachel in the first line:
“I look a woman up and down and I say, ‘Hey, how you doin’?’” – Joey Tribbiani
The sultry look, the head-nod, the sly smile – the iconic catchphrase.
Surprisingly, Joey doesn’t introduce his pick-up line until the middle of series four, and it only appears 25 times – including as part of flashbacks.
It’s enough to worry pregnant Rachel, who moans, “I can’t live with Joey once the baby comes. I don’t want my child’s first words to be ‘How you doin’?’”.
In The One with the Unagi (series six), a hired ‘fake Joey’ gets the line not-quite-right:
Though most commonly directed at women, including Rachel and Phoebe, Joey also says “How you doin’?” to food, Chandler, and his own reflection – twice.
They were ON A BREAK!
Twenty-two years after The One Where Ross and Rachel Take A Break first aired, people are still debating whether or not Ross should have slept with someone else – and if the pair really were on a break.
The infamous split happens in series three, but “on a break” is said 18 times during the rest of the show’s run, at least once per series.
Rachel even tries to get Ross’s son, Ben, on her side of the debate (skip to 1:16):
(And, yes, that’s a very young Cole Sprouse, aka Riverdale’s Jughead Jones, as Ben!)
Ross gets his own back, convincing their new baby, Emma, that “no matter what mommy says, we really were on a break”:
And, of course, Ross nearly ruins his long-awaited reunion with Rachel in the series finale (skip to 2:42):
Could he BE any more sarcastic?
If sarcasm really is the lowest form of wit, Chandler Bing is an idiot.
His famous expression, though? Actually only used by him four times.
Like Janice’s “Oh my God!” and Joey’s “How you doin’?”, we might think it’s said more because other people love to mock him for it:
Even Monica does a Chandler impression in series nine:
“I can’t get enough dinosaurs!” – Ross Geller
Ross gave up a career in basketball to become a palaeontologist. It’s a good thing he did, too – we don’t think 57 episodes’ worth of hoops references would be nearly as funny.
That’s right: nearly a quarter of Friends episodes feature the words dinosaur(s), palaeontology or palaeontologist.
The first reference is in series two, when Ross rushes in saying, “Sorry I’m late, I was stuck at work. There was this big dinosaur… thing… anyway”.
In the series finale, Joey tries to convince Ross to confess his feelings to Rachel, exclaiming, “You can’t just give up! Is that what a dinosaur would do?”
According to Ross, this is, in fact, what a dinosaur does:
Ross’s career is also fodder for some of the series’ best one-liners, like the time Phoebe snaps, “Come on, Ross, you’re a palaeontologist! Dig a little deeper.”
Smelly cat, smelly cat, you premiered in series two
Arguably Phoebe Buffay’s crowning achievement, snippets and renditions of Smelly Cat – sung by Phoebe and others –appear nine times throughout the series.
In season five, when we meet Phoebe’s estranged father – Frank Buffay – for the second time, he sings her a lullaby, “Sleepy Girl”, he made up when Phoebe was a child. The melody is immediately recognisable as the same as “Smelly Cat”.
While Frank may be the fictional source of the tune, according to a reddit Q&A, the real-life music can be credited to the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde and Phoebe herself, aka actor Lisa Kudrow, who once gave Taylor Swift an on-stage “Smelly Cat” lesson:
A note on numbers: if something appeared in a flashback, it was counted twice – once per episode. We also didn’t include the outtakes special, as we didn’t feel it counted as a unique storyline/episode.