There are a lot of standout moments from the hit sitcom “Friends” — the “Pivot!” scene demands a laugh every single time, that holiday armadillo moment is gold, and the episode where Joey and Chandler refuse to move from their recliner chairs is always a hit. But what you may not have noticed while watching “Friends” is that one of the funniest characters in the show isn’t one of the six main characters, but is actually the man with “hair brighter than the sun,” Gunther.
Gunther worked at the Central Perk coffeehouse, and for a lot of the show, he was seen making coffee in the background or staring at Rachel with love in his eyes. But when he was on camera, Gunther — who was brought to life by James Michael Tyler — knew how to deliver a line and deliver it well. His quick quips prompted some of the most hearty laughs from the audience, as his dry sense of humor and blunt facial expressions typically did most of the talking.
But as he was a secondary character, a lot of Gunther’s best moments flew under the radar. But don’t worry because here are the best Gunther moments you may have missed on “Friends.”
Gunther's 'I dropped a cup' scene was a totally unexpected moment on Friends
We all know that Gunther had a huge crush on Rachel Green throughout “Friends.” Like a lot of unrequited love stories, Gunther didn’t pluck up the courage to ask Rachel out. So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to learn that Gunther wasn’t a fan when Rachel got asked out by other men, especially when he was within earshot — and one such moment led to one of the funniest Gunther scenes.
In Season 3, Episode 19, “The One with the Tiny T-Shirt,” Gunther waits on Rachel in the coffeehouse. After pouring her a cup, he thinks to himself (with his thoughts audible for the audience), “Say Rachel, I was wondering if you’d like to go to a movie with me sometime. As my lover.” But, of course, Rachel is soon approached by Mark (a recurring character), who asks her out. Gunther immediately leaves the main area of the coffeehouse, and a couple seconds later, staff and customers are treated to a chorus of breaking dishes in the back. Gunther emerges a few seconds later and delivers the line, “I dropped a cup,” to a rather concerned public.
The moment that Gunther told Phoebe's crush to cover up was truly funny
The cast of “Friends” all dated a number of people throughout the series, but few made an impression like Phoebe’s boyfriend Robert, who refused to wear underwear under his very short gym shorts. Phoebe spent an entire episode trying to subtly tell Robert that he needed to cover up, and she even tried to enlist the guys for help. Gunther ended up delivering the message though, telling Robert, “Hey, buddy. This is a family place. Put the mouse back in the house.” This scene also happens to be one of James Michael Tyler’s favorite Gunther moments.
The actor told Insider that it was one of his most memorable episodes. “I love that line, I thought it was brilliant,” Tyler said, adding, “Gunther doesn’t mince words.” After the beautiful delivery on Gunther’s part, Robert quickly takes his leg off of the coffeehouse’s table (yes, everything was on display). Fans of “Friends” never saw Robert again, but the line that Gunther so beautifully delivered remains one of the best moments in “Friends” history.
Gunther survived Phoebe's health inspector boyfriend by the skin of his teeth
We have yet another standout Gunther moment thanks to Phoebe and her dating habits, but this funny exchange left the fate of the coffeehouse in the hands of an overzealous health inspector. In Season 5, Episode 7, Phoebe goes out with a health inspector who slowly but surely starts to close down all her favorite food spots due to health code violations. When she takes him to the coffeehouse, the inspector spots Gunther taking the trash out through the coffeehouse rather than out and around the back — and unfortunately for Gunther, he was caught red-handed.
After awkwardly standing at attention while Phoebe talks her health inspector boyfriend down, Gunther’s facial expressions go from anxious to tense to confused in a matter of seconds. Our beloved Phoebe finally talks Larry the Health Inspector out of shutting the coffeehouse down, and Gunther is luckily let off with a warning, though Phoebe has to tell him, “Okay, go go go,” before the paralyzed Gunther moves from his spot. The exchange was a perfect example of James Michael Tyler’s ability to convey emotions with just his facial features, and we felt lucky to watch Gunther’s emotional journey throughout this hilarious scene!
Gunther threw some shade at this character during a coffeehouse exchange
One of the best aspects of James Michael Tyler’s Gunther was his ability to throw so much shade at the characters in a few words. Gunther was always in the background, listening in on coffeehouse chatter and picking up on tidbits about the six main characters, so when Joey asked him a ridiculous question, Gunther knew how to respond with an equally ridiculous answer. In Season 6, Episode 5, “The One with Joey’s Porsche,” Joey finds a set of keys belonging to a Porsche on the coffeehouse’s bar. He picks them up, looks at Gunther, and says, “Hey Gunther, these yours?”
Without missing a beat, the coffeehouse worker looks at Joey and says, “Yeah, that’s what I drive. I make four bucks an hour. I have saved up for 350 years.” While Gunther’s line is clearly sarcastic, it went straight over Joey’s head, who ends up taking him seriously for a second. The “Days of Our Lives” actor (within the show, don’t forget) finally realizes that Gunther’s pulling his leg, but the exchange is one of Gunther’s best standout lines.
Phoebe helped Gunther escape from this friend's awful birthday party
This has to be one of the best Gunther moments maybe ever. When Monica tries to throw Rachel a surprise birthday party, she and the gang end up having to throw two parties in order to keep Rachel’s divorced parents away from each other. One party takes place at Monica’s apartment, the other at Chandler’s, and as you can guess, the latter is a far better time. Gunther found himself at the original party at Monica’s, but Monica spots him trying to sneak away. “I, um, was sorta thinking about maybe going…” he starts saying, before Monica wrangles him back to the party. When Phoebe encourages him to just leave, a scared Gunther says, “No, she’ll yell at me again.” Fortunately, Phoebe takes pity on him and helps him escape to Chandler’s by creating a diversion.
The episode in question is one of James Michael Tyler’s favorites for Gunther, as it showed the coffeehouse employee in a tricky position. “It was [fun] having Phoebe’s character help Gunther escape and [seeing] that he was very, very, very unhappy — and terrified of Monica,” Tyler told Entertainment Weekly. “I think Gunther was always kind of frightened of Monica. I think she was the one who truly intimidated him.”
Gunther's crush on Rachel caused him to lose some customers at Central Perk
Ah, yet another amazing Gunther moment brought on by his undying love for Rachel. After Ross says Rachel’s name at his wedding to Emily, Monica encourages Rachel to find a new guy and move on. While at the coffeehouse in Season 5, Episode 2, “The One with All the Kissing,” Monica points at and suggests Gunther as a guy for Rachel to date, saying, “He’s nice, he’s cute.” Obviously fans’ favorite barista is more than pleased to hear this, but the moment ends quickly when Monica spots a very cute guy across the room with whom Rachel had once flirted. Since Monica was controlling Rachel’s love life at the time, she tells Rachel to go get herself a date — Rachel did just that, but it was what happened afterward that made the scene that much funnier.
Gunther is clearly upset by the exchange that led to Rachel seeing someone who isn’t him, so shortly after Rachel scores her date, Gunther goes up to the handsome patron with a sign that reads, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Then he simply says, “Get out,” to Rachel’s date. Two words, and Gunther stole the show.
This moment between Gunther and a famous guest star is still one of the best
Throughout its time on the air, “Friends” featured a number of high-profile guest stars, and one such star was Winona Ryder. She appeared on an episode in Season 7 as one of Rachel’s former sorority sisters, and her scene with Gunther gave us one of the best scenes with the coffeehouse king.
During the scene in question, Ryder’s character goes up to Gunther, hands him some cash, and asks for a pack of cigarettes. “Oh, we don’t sell cigarettes, but they have them at the newsstand across the street,” he tells her, handing her money back. Rather than take her cash, Ryder thanks him, presuming he will go get her the cigarettes himself, and his confused facial expression is pure gold. And then being the nice guy he is, Gunther goes out to get the cigarettes.
But what makes the scene that much better is knowing that James Michael Tyler had a little crush on Ryder. “I had kind of a crush on her so it was great to [have] her come in,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “[But] she was fantastic, and I’ve always appreciated her as an actor.” We love to see it.
The friends spent so much time in Central Perk, but Gunther still didn't know Joey's name
If you know anything about Gunther, it’s that he was pretty good at throwing shade when he wanted to. Even James Michael Tyler acknowledged to TV and City that his character “didn’t take any gruff,” and that was pretty apparent during this Gunther moment. In Season 4, Episode 8, “The One with Chandler in a Box,” Joey is on the hunt for Chandler — they were fighting about a girl, go figure — and Joey asks Gunther if he’d seen Chandler in the coffeehouse. Without pausing, Gunther looks at Joey and says, “I thought you were Chandler.” Five words — that’s all Tyler had to utter to give the audience one of the best Gunther moments on “Friends.”
Joey, of course, looks startled by Gunther’s response, and if you think that the scene couldn’t get any better, you’re wrong. After a brief pause, Gunther follows up his hilarious comment by pointing and saying, “But, um, one of you is over there,” which seriously just sweetens the gift that is this scene. Let’s be real: Gunther just has the best one-liners in the show.
Gunther didn't even need to utter a sound to make this moment one of the funniest on the show
We all know that after Rachel gives birth to her and Ross’ daughter, Emma, Joey — in a way — proposes to her, much to Ross’ dismay. In the aftermath, Joey tells Ross to hit him, and the whole exchange takes place in the coffeehouse. Fans of “Friends” know that Gunther never really took a liking to Ross, presumably because of his romantic relationship with Rachel, so when Ross accidentally punches a pole in the coffeehouse instead of Joey, Gunther’s reaction is priceless. All he does, without uttering a word, is smile — it is possibly the funniest Gunther moment in “Friends,” and it’s one of James Michael Tyler’s favorite moments.
“This was David Schwimmer’s idea in the spur of the moment, actually,” Tyler told Entertainment Weekly. “The way the camera was set up, I was in the background and originally, I was expressing ‘Oh, what just happened?’ shock. Then David turned to me and said, ‘Oh my gosh, you should grin ear-to-ear because you hate me.’ I thought it was brilliant.” What a classic Gunther moment.
Phoebe kissing Gunther has to be one of the funniest scenes in Friends
We all know that Phoebe would do anything to promote her music, but what does kissing Gunther have to do with it? Quite a lot. In Season 4, Episode 5, Phoebe gets sick and as a result, gets an extremely raspy voice that she ends up loving for her singing. But, of course, she eventually gets better — so when Gunther sneezes in the coffeehouse, Phoebe doesn’t miss a beat. “Kiss me, Gunther,” she says before pulling him in to lock lips, hoping to catch a cold again. Gunther then falls back against the couch in shock.
This moment even stood out to James Michael Tyler as one of his favorites. He told Metro that it was “memorable and fun.”
Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed over the course of “Friends” that Phoebe often had nice things to say about Gunther. One time she was talking about the coffeehouse employee and said, “Sure, Gunther is sexy in an obvious way.” She later went on to say that Paris — known for its attractive men — was “like a city of Gunthers.” Nothing ever happened between Gunther and Phoebe — except for this one kiss — but her appreciation for him cannot be missed.
Remember when Gunther broke out perfect Dutch?
Oh Ross … he tries so hard, but often comes up short (just think of that sandwich episode). But when he tries to learn Dutch so he can communicate with an old (potentially dying) woman whose apartment he wants to get for Rachel (yes, it’s just as messed up as it sounds), he and Gunther end up having one of the funniest exchanges in the series. Ross comes into the coffeehouse with a Dutch translation book and says a couple words to Gunther, thanking him for the coffee he serves him. Gunther immediately responds with natural ease, but Ross quickly gives up, prompting Gunther to call him an “ezel,” which means donkey. Ross looks up the word and gets offended, which only prompts Gunther to take the insult in Dutch a step further.
“When Ross called Gunther an ‘ezel’ back, Gunther responded, ‘Jij hebt seks met ezels,'” James Michael Tyler told Parade. “That translates, literally, into ‘you have sex with donkeys.’ It really surprised me that it made it to primetime. Fantastic.” The moment stood out to Tyler as one of his favorite interactions on the show, and it’s pretty easy to understand why.
Gunther put himself in the line of fire when he took Rachel's horrific cat off her hands
Gunther, for all of his snarky comments, had a heart of gold when it came to Rachel. So when she buys a horrific hairless Sphinx cat and spends an entire episode trying to sell it and get her money back, she turns to Gunther. Gunther buys the cat from Rachel for $1,500 in hopes that she’d come visit Mrs. Whiskerson often. The exchange in Rachel’s apartment when Gunther comes to collect that cat and the red velvet pillow it sits on still stands out as one of the funniest Gunther moments, both to viewers and to James Michael Tyler. After Rachel hands him the pillow and walks away, Gunther nudges Ross and asks, “So, what is this? Some kind of snake or something?”
Talking about the scene, Tyler told Parade, “Gunther doesn’t have that kind of money. He makes something like $4 an hour and has 18 stops in New Jersey on his commute. … But he bought this cat just because he didn’t want Rachel to get scratched.” So why did Gunther go to such lengths? Tyler mused that Gunther didn’t have “a lot of patience” for other people, but he’d do pretty much anything for Rachel. “I would try to put myself in Gunther’s mindset — basically he hates everything except Rachel,” Tyler told Entertainment Weekly. Hopefully, Gunther figured out he bought a cat sooner rather than later.
This final moment between Gunther and Rachel on Friends was so heartfelt
We all know that Ross and Rachel needed to end up together — it was a series-long journey that only wrapped up right at the end — but their love story wasn’t the only one that received some closure. In the last episode of the series, Gunther finally tells Rachel that he loves her in one of the most heartfelt ways possible, shortly before she leaves for Paris. “Rachel, I know you’re leaving tonight, but I just have to tell you: I love you,” he tells her, right before Ross has the chance to tell Rachel about his own feelings. “I don’t know if that changes your plans at all, but I thought you should know.” Rachel replies, “Gunther, I love you too, probably not in the same way,” noting that she’ll thinking of him every time she goes to a café or sees “a man with hair brighter than the sun.”
The sweet Gunther moment is not one to miss, and filming the emotional scene really took it out of both James Michael Tyler and Jennifer Aniston, with Tyler calling it “bittersweet.”
“[The producers and writers] didn’t have to add that but it was a nice thing for them to do to close out that character,” Tyler told Entertainment Weekly. He went on to share that the scene was “really difficult” for him and Aniston, as they kept crying during the take.
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