Matthew Perry, beloved for his iconic Friends role as Chandler Bing, has left generations of fans devastated following the news of his death at age 54. The actor died Saturday in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home.
The Emmy-nominated actor went on to star in movies like the Whole Nine Yards franchise, Fools Rush In and 17 Again; and on television, The West Wing, The Good Wife, Go On and, most recently, The Odd Couple. But his indelible role as Chandler on the revered NBC sitcom, which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, is seared into memory for many. His lines decorate coffee mugs. His physical comedy, passed around as shareable memes. And his iconic episodes will remain forever bingeable.
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When Perry published his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, in 2022, his words and subsequent press tour shed light on what the actor was quietly experiencing while making millions laugh as must-see TV. “Everyone would ask me if I was all right, but nobody wanted to stop the Friends train because it was such a moneymaker,” he wrote about battling substance abuse for decades, including the majority of the show’s run. Season nine was the only season Perry was completely sober; it was also the season for which he got nominated for a best actor Emmy. He was also newly drug- and alcohol-free when the Friends reunion aired in May 2021.
Perry “was an expert at making viewers care for characters who used humor to mask insecurity, sadness and pain,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter’s chief TV critic Daniel Feinberg in his appreciation for the actor. “I wish that Matthew Perry had had decades more opportunities to work that uncomfortable sweet spot between mirth and melancholy that he played so well.”
Below, THR revisits some of Perry’s most memorable Friends episodes. (Keyword being “some,” as the below is a tall order among the series’ 236 episodes.)
The One With the Blackout (Season one)
“I’m trapped … in an ATM vestibule … with Jill Goodacre!”
During a New York City-wide power outage in the season one episode, “The One With the Blackout,” Chandler fumbles a chance encounter with Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre after the two are trapped in an ATM vestibule. The rest of the gang, meanwhile, is together in Monica’s apartment.
The One After the Superbowl (Season two)
In the second season’s two-part episode after Super Bowl XXX, Chandler finds himself stranded in the restroom of a crowded restaurant wearing just a pair of women’s panties when a former classmate (played by Julia Roberts) takes revenge for a childhood prank he played on her (later expanded upon in 1996’s “The One After the Superbowl”). In his memoir, Perry opened up about his brief romance with Roberts, which was sparked by her casting.
The One Where Eddie Moves In (Season two)
Also in the second season, “The One Where Eddie Movies In” captures the best friendship between Chandler and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) when the latter actor finds soap opera success and briefly moves into his own apartment. Chandler finds a new roommate in Eddie (Adam Goldberg), who refuses to leave once Chandler and Joey realize how much they miss each other and the latter wants to move back in (in the later episode, “The One Where Eddie Won’t Go.”)
The One Where No One’s Ready (Season three)
“Could I be wearing any more clothes?”
Joey gets in the above shot at Chandler in season three’s “The One Where No One’s Ready,” while wearing his entire wardrobe (and doing lunges, commando). The entire ensemble tortures Ross (David Schwimmer) with their lateness, as he is eager to get them all to an event for his museum on time. The one-set episode proved to be a challenging one when LeBlanc injured his shoulder while filming, delaying the episode’s production.
The One With the Embryos (Season four)
The nail-biting trivia game in season four’s “The One With the Embryos” — between Chandler and Joey vs. Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) to determine which pair of roommates knows the other best — ends in the iconic apartment swap, which sends the girls across the hall when they lose the quiz, run by gamemaster Ross. The determining question the girls couldn’t answer: What is Chandler’s job?
The One With Chandler in a Box (Season four)
Season four’s annual Thanksgiving episode is another spotlight on Chandler and Joey’s bond when a woman, Kathy (Paget Brewster) threatens to come between the roommates. After Joey walks in on Chandler and Kathy kissing, he threatens to leave the apartment. To get him to stay, Chandler reluctantly agrees to lock himself in a box for six hours, a similar punishment to when Joey was locked in their entertainment center by a robber. Kathy then breaks it off with Chandler — while he’s in the box — so as to not come between the best pals, and Joey is so touched, he tells Chandler to go after Kathy.
The One Where Everyone Finds Out (Season five)
“My eyes! My eyes!”
After first hooking up at Ross’ London wedding, Chandler and Monica keep their romance a secret from the group. But just as their affair seems to be getting more serious (and eventually becomes a heart of the series), first Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and then Ross (David Schwimmer) stumble upon the romance on their own. With Rachel and Joey already in the know, Ross marked the last one to find out about his sister and his best friend. (Another season five episode, “The One With All the Thanksgivings,” sees Monica memorably dancing with a turkey on her head, prompting Chandler to tell her he loves her for the first time.)
The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry (Season six)
This season six episode title says it all: Chandler claims he can’t cry, prompting Joey to tell his pal he is “dead inside,” and girlfriend Monica (Courteney Cox) — who has now been dating Chandler for two seasons and the pair are getting serious — tries her best to elicit some emotion when talking about the milestones of their future together (she ultimately agrees with Joey).
The One With Chandler’s Dad (Season seven)
The 2001 installment “The One With Chandler’s Dad” discloses that Chandler’s parents divorced when he was young after his dad came out, and now Charles Bing (Kathleen Turner) is starring as a Las Vegas drag performer named Helena Handbasket. The father-son reconciliation was one of the series’ most poignant moments.
The One With the Proposal (Season six)
The two-part finale to season six (“The One With the Proposal”) follows Chandler on his journey to propose to Monica, which ends up with Monica being the one to get down on one knee and then, when she’s too emotional, Chandler kneels down with her. “I thought that it mattered what I said or where I said it. Then, I realized, the only thing that matters is you. You make me happier than I ever thought I could be. And if you let me, I will spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel the same way.”
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