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Out Of Every Breakup On Friends, This One Stands Above The Rest

Over the course of 10 seasons, the characters on "Friends" had quite a few romances, both within and outside of their tight-knit circle. Monica dated billionaire Pete and cigar-aficionado Richard and would go to marry Chandler. Before settling down with Monica, Chandler had an on-again, off-again relationship with Janice, and he also dated Kathy, who previously was involved with Joey. Joey had a long list of dalliances, including an ill-received and short-lived romance with Rachel.

As for Rachel, before she dated Joey, she was involved with Joshua, Tag, and, of course, Ross. Ross and Rachel would eventually put their differences aside, but not before the paleontologist dated, married, and divorced Carol, Emily, and Rachel; he also dated Julie, Elizabeth, Janice (Chandler's ex), and Charlie (Joey's ex). Finally, there's Phoebe, who was secretly married to Duncan, then dated Gary, Parker, David, and Mike (her eventual husband).

With so many relationships there were also a hefty number of breakups. Tears were shed when Monica and Richard called it quits. Cheers were shouted when Rachel and Joey (and the show's writers) came to their senses. But, only one relationship created an iconic line that still remains in the pop-culture lexicon, nearly 25 years after it was first uttered.

The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break

The Ross and Rachel dynamic was established in the first minutes of the series' first episode, when a recently dumped Ross says, "I just want to be married again," and a wedding-dress-clad Rachel bursts into Central Perk. The show teased the "will they, won't they" idea throughout Season 1 and into Season 2 before finally rewarding audiences. That reward, however, was short-lived as Ross and Rachel would break up in Season 3, Episode 16. For a sitcom, the scenes in which Ross and Rachel dissolve their relationship are surprisingly heartbreaking. If not for the antics of the rest of the gang eavesdropping from Monica's bedroom, the episode could easily have passed as a drama.

As fans know, the breakup was due to Ross sleeping with Chloe from the copy place in the previous episode, "The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break." Earlier in that episode, a frustrated Rachel tells Ross she needs a break from their relationship. When Ross' night with Chloe is revealed, Rachel accuses him of cheating, though Ross defends himself, saying, "We were on a break."

The breakup of Ross and Rachel created an iconic debate

With the exception of Joey's somewhat lecherous pickup line "How you doin?," "We were on a break" is easily the most famous line from the series' entire run. The line would become a running gag on the show, even making it into the last episode. Moreso, the line made its way into pop culture history. Viewers debated the merits of Ross' defense and Rachel's outrage. Media outlets weighed in, as well, and still do all these years later, via The A.V. Club. Even the cast of "Friends" themselves revisited the question during their recent reunion.

While "Friends" featured many breakups — some comical, some heartbreaking — none have become as iconic as the first demise of Ross and Rachel. As new generations discover "Friends" on streaming platforms, the nearly 25-year-old "We were on a break" debate is sure to remain a pop-culture touchstone, with Team Rachel and Team Ross squaring off for years to come.