The ‘Friends’ Callback Line That Even the Biggest Fans Missed

Many TV viewers consider themselves to be huge fans of the popular U.S. series Friends. They can answer all kinds of trivia about each of the show’s 236 episodes and even keep abreast of when the former co-stars get together. But there’s one line from the show that audiences may not know the true meaning of, despite what they think.

‘Friends’ aired from 1994-2004

(l-r) Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Jennifer Aniston in 'Friends'
(l-r) Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Jennifer Aniston in ‘Friends’ | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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Friends began airing in 1994 on NBC. The sitcom starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer as Rachel Green, Monica Gellar, Phoebe Buffay, Joey Tribbiani, Chandler Bing, and Ross Gellar, six young adults living at working in Manhattan.

The series, which ran for 10 seasons, was a massive success for the network. When it came to an end in 2004, the cast was making more money per episode than nearly every other actor on TV. The show’s popularity has barely waned in the years since, and the actors are set to reunite for a TV special airing on HBO Max soon.

‘The One With the Jellyfish’ featured a notable line

Ross and Rachel’s relationship is a central focus of Friends. They get together in season 2, only to break up in season 3. The season 3 finale features a cliffhanger, in which Ross chooses to get back to Rachel after she writes him a letter. The season 4 premiere, “The One With the Jellyfish,” begins there.

Ross fell asleep reading Rachel’s letter, and so the two begin an all-about battle in front in which they argue over whether or not they were technically together when Ross slept with someone else months earlier. The “we were on a break” line screamed by Ross has gone down in Friends history as one of the most memorable of the series.

Another line was actually a Season 2 callback

During the aforementioned argument (which stretches on for a good portion of the episode), Rachel lands a punch that is another oft-quotes line from the show: “It’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy, and it is a big deal” she yells as Ross walks out the door. “I knew it!” shouts Chandler.

But the audience never gets confirmation as to what exactly they’re talking about. That is, until 23 years later, when Entertainment Weekly published an article with Friends writers Greg Malins and Adam Chase about the “wildly collaborative” set, revealing the origins of the joke date back to season 2.

Here’s what the joke was referring to 

“They were insulting each other back and forth,” Malins said of season 4 episode. “I had this idea in my head, [Rachel] says, ‘Well one time, when you prematurely ejaculated, I told you it was okay and it wasn’t.'” This references the episode where Ross and Rachel first sleep together, and she mistakes a broken juice box for something else.

“We all knew exactly what he meant, and we loved that it called back to an iconic moment without ever being explicit,” Chase told the publication of the callback. While this may be news to some, they believe viewers at the time were aware of the in-joke. “The studio audience erupted with a clear laughter of recognition the night we shot it,” he said.