There's no denying that Friends became the lasting success that it is because the six main stars had both strong comedic chops and a natural chemistry together, but it was the supporting characters who often proved to be scene stealers.
From Janice's (Maggie Wheeler) over-the-top laugh and her exclamations of "Oh my God!', to Richard's suave style (and that mustache), to Gunther's (James Michael Tyler) under-the-breath comments about hating Ross (David Schwimmer) and loving Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), the recurring stars kept the friends themselves on their toes.
Tragically, James died on Oct. 24, 2021, from prostate cancer. He had previously announced on Today in June of 2021 that the cancer had spread throughout his body, and that it was at that time classified as Stage 4.
As we mourn James Michael Tyler's loss, we also look back on his sparkling career and celebrate some of the best quotes he shared during his time as Gunther on Friends.
"What does Rachel see in this guy? I love Rachel. I wish she was my wife." (Season 3, Episode 7)
This episode, which is entitled "The One with the Race Car Bed," begins with each character's internal dialogue. When Gunther goes to drop coffee off for the friends, he marvels at the fact that Ross is dating Rachel.
"What does Rachel see in this guy?" Gunther thinks. "I love Rachel. I wish she was my wife."
Later on in the episode, Rachel asks Ross to meet her dad. After Ross agrees, he and Rachel kiss. Ross notices that Gunther had been looking at them, so he says "hi."
Gunther is still stuck on the fact that Ross gets to meet Rachel's dad, so he responds, "Yeah, we'll see!"
The episode perfectly highlights Gunther's feelings toward Ross, which are solely rooted in his jealousy. Though Ross tries to be nice to Gunther, it's never enough to avoid the manager's snarky comments.
"Oh, like you don't already have everything?" (Season 3, Episode 8)
At the beginning of "The One with the Giant Poking Device," Ross and Rachel embrace while getting their coffee orders at the counter. When Ross asks Gunther for a napkin, he can't help but say something about his romance with Rachel.
"Oh, like you don't have everything?" Gunther asks before aggressively putting one tiny napkin on the counter.
"Hey, buddy, this is a family place. Put the mouse back in the house." (Season 3, Episode 13)
As the manager at Central Perk, it's Gunther's job to make sure that all of the patrons are following the rules. When Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) introduces the gang to her new beau, Robert (Markus Flanagan), Chandler (Matthew Perry) immediately notices that his athletic shorts are a bit... revealing.
He immediately tells Ross, and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) later sees the problem for himself. Once Phoebe learns about her boyfriend's issue, she decides to break it off.
Robert has no idea why women keep breaking up with him, but Phoebe doesn't know how to tell him the *naked* truth. Enter Gunther, who utters the infamous line: "Hey, buddy, this is a family place. Put the mouse back in the house."
In the end, Gunther is the one to tell Robert about his shorts. Though Robert knows the truth by the end — and he's clearly embarrassed by the realization — we never see him again.
"I dropped a cup." (Season 3, Episode 19)
In the cold open of "The One with the Tiny T-Shirt," Gunther fantasizes in his head about asking a newly-single Rachel out.
"Say, Rachel, I was wondering if you'd like to go to a movie with me sometime. As my lover," he thinks. "Too out there. Maybe just get something to eat with me sometime. As my lover."
Her co-worker Mark (Steven Eckholdt) then enters and admits that he's had a crush on her. He asks her out, and she accepts. An upset Gunther then retreats to the back of the coffee shop, and a loud crash can be heard.
When he comes back to the front, everyone is staring at him.
"I dropped a cup," he says as an excuse.
"You idiot!" (Season 4, Episode 20)
As fans know, one of the main running minor storylines on Friends is that Gunther has a huge crush on Rachel. This makes him detest Ross, and he often offers sub-par service to her other boyfriends when they join her at Central Perk. In "The One with All the Wedding Dresses," Rachel wants to get more serious with Joshua (Tate Donovan) because Ross is getting married to Emily (Helen Baxendale).
After she proposes that they do something "crazy" and get married, Joshua says that he wants to finalize his divorce and go on more than four dates with her.
Gunther is unable to keep his emotions in and he shouts "You idiot!" at Joshua.
"So, what is this? Some kind of snake or something?" (Season 5, Episode 21)
This quote is another instance in which Gunther is showing just how obsessed with Rachel he is. After she buys an expensive sphynx cat (like the one her grandmother had) in "The One with the Ball," she has buyer's remorse. She looks to sell the feline, but she doesn't have any takers.
Naturally, Gunther decies to buy the cat because he hopes that Rachel will want to visit her former pet.
When Rachel isn't too interested, he asks Ross what kind of animal he just purchased.
"So, what is this? Some kind of snake or something?" he asks, and it's clear that he only bought the cat because he thought it would bring him closer to his crush.
"Jij hebt seks met ezels." (Season 8, Episode 7)
Ross decides to learn some Dutch so he can impress an elderly apartment owner in order to snag her living space once she passes. In "The One with the Stain," he calls Gunther an "ezel," which means donkey (aka an a--). He's thinking that he can get one over on the manager and finally get back at him for all of his snide remarks over the years.
"Hey, Gunther, you're an ezel."
Unfortunately, what Ross doesn't know is that Gunther is fluent in Dutch.
"Jij hebt seks met ezels," he responds, which is about Ross having relations with donkeys.
"Damn it!" Ross exclaims.
"I love you. Now, I don't know if that changes your plans at all." (Season 10, Episode 17)
The final episode of Friends wouldn't have been complete without Gunther getting one last opportunity to annoy Ross. As Rachel is about to leave for Paris, Ross decides to finally admit that he's still in love with her.
He is about to tell her at Central Perk when Gunther beats him to it.
"Rachel, I know that you're leaving tonight, but I just have to tell you. I love you," Gunther says. "Now, I don't know if that changes your plans at all, but I thought you should know."
Rachel tells Gunther that she loves him too, but "probably not in the same way."
She then walks out, and Ross has to rethink his entire plan.
It's the last time that we get to see Gunther on the show. Because he acknowledges his love for Rachel and gets another chance to deter Ross in the same breath, it's an entirely appropriate send-off for the beloved Central Perk employee.
All 10 seasons of Friends are available to stream on HBO Max now, as is Friends: The Reunion.