Oh, like you don’t already have everything.
|Portrayed by||James Michael Tyler|
|Occupation|| Actor (formerly) |
Central Perk Barista
Gunther is the manager of Central Perk, where the six main characters spent a great deal of their free time. He is portrayed by James Michael Tyler. He's the character with most appearances after the main cast, with 185 episodes, though the majority of these are non-speaking and uncredited as he is simply behind the bar during scenes with the main cast interacting in the coffeehouse.
Life before Central Perk
Gunther used to be an actor, having played a character called Bryce in All My Children. Being killed off by getting buried in an avalanche is how he ends up being a waiter at Central Perk. He confesses this to Joey in The One Where Eddie Won't Go, after Joey confides in him that his character, Dr. Drake Ramoray, was thrown down a shaft in daytime show Days of our Lives.
Relationship with Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Monica and Chandler
Although Gunther is a permanent fixture in the everyday lives of the friends, he never penetrates the inner circle. This becomes a running joke. At Ross' bachelor party, Chandler announces Gunther as his best man, to which Gunther immediately replies: "What's my last name?". Chandler defeatedly answers "Centralperk?". Another example of this is when Ross is celebrating getting tenure. Ross asks Gunther for six glasses, to which Gunther asks hopefully "You want me to join you?". Ross replies "Oh, I thought Joey was here - five is good."
Although he is often invited to the friends' informal parties, such as Phoebe's birthday party, Rachel's birthday party, Emily's farewell party, Ross' bachelor party, Rachel's premature surprise birthday party and Chandler and Monica's Halloween party. He is, however, left out of the official formalities, like Ross' London wedding and Monica and Chandler's wedding.
Gunther is fluent in Dutch, once calling Ross an 'ezel' (literally: donkey). Ross looks up the word 'ezel' in the dictionary and retorts to Gunther "You're an 'ezel!'". Gunther easily overrules Ross by saying "Jij hebt seks met ezels" (literally: You have sex with donkeys), leaving Ross baffled, not knowing what the sentence meant.
Gunther's peroxide blonde hair is a source of much entertainment. Tyler had his hair dyed the day before his audition - one of the actor's friends, who had studied to become a hairdresser, experimented on his hair. When Tyler showed up, the producer liked it so much that they decided to keep it.
Rachel describes it as being "as bright as the sun," and when Gunther tells Joey he has an appointment to have it dyed, Joey says: "But I love your natural color." When guessing the identity of the father of Rachel's baby, Phoebe asks: "Is it Gunther?" Rachel denies this, to which Phoebe says: "Thank God, because that hair on a baby?"
Gunther is commonly used as an unattractive alternative to the main friends, but confusingly, is sometimes seen as somewhat of a sex symbol towards the end of the show. In Season 5, when helping Rachel get over Ross, Monica includes Gunther in the list of prospective dates for Rachel, which he overhears and shows off his posture in reply. Rachel begins to say "I guess he is kind of cute" only to be thrown off course by an old flirt of hers, which Gunther identifies and throws out of Central Perk. Ross and Monica's mother remarks how Gunther is a "sexy blond" and prominently adds him to her "list" of people she can sleep with without cheating. Phoebe also gives small impressions that she may secretly be attracted to Gunther, despite often mocking him before ("That hair on a baby!"). She once remarked "Sure, Gunther is sexy in an obvious way...", and when referring to the number of attractive men in Paris, says that "it's like a whole city full of Gunthers". She also does not hesitate at all to kiss Gunther in The One With Joey's New Girlfriend, although her main objective is that of catching a cold, and she does not kiss him until she hears him sneeze.
Love for Rachel
Over the course of the series it emerged that Gunther had a crush on Rachel. He often fantasized about marrying her and let it slip to Joey that one of the perks of his job was being able to stare at her all day. He also dislikes Ross for being Rachel's boyfriend and the father of her daughter up to the point of banning him from hanging flyers in the coffee-house, even though everyone else does so, or giving him a big smile of happiness when he hurt his hand at Central Perk. At Ross's bachelor party before his marriage to Emily Waltham he thanks Ross for not marrying Rachel and on the same night, he whispers to Emily that "Rachel is my girlfriend".
Gunther would give Rachel anything she wants. This is shown, for instance, in The One With The Joke, Rachel was angry with Gunther for firing Joey after Joey left work to go to an audition, even though Joey was new and shouldn't have been left in charge. She then demanded that Gunther give Joey his job back, which he immediately agreed to, without question, showing that all Rachel has to do to get something from Gunther is ask for it.
When Rachel wants to have a relationship like Emily and Ross', she proposes to Joshua, but he refuses. Gunther comes up to him and screams "YOU IDIOT!". When Phoebe kisses him to get her cold back, he apologizes to Rachel for not stopping the kiss. Ironically, Rachel mistakenly assumes that Gunther is gay, arriving to the point that in one episode, in what she thought was an encouraging remark, tells him one day he would make "some guy the luckiest man in the world".
Also, when Rachel buys a weird cat that has no fur and decides she has to sell it, the only person who wants to buy it is Gunther, and Rachel even gets a profit on it. The only reason he buys it is so Rachel will come visit it but that doesn't work out.
In Season 8, when Joey tells Ross about how he loves Rachel, Gunther sneaks up behind him and screams "Rachel?!". In the series finale, he confesses his love for Rachel and she tells him she loves him too but not in the same way and then tells him she'll think of him whenever she sees someone "with hair brighter than the sun".
Gunther in the Friends game
In the board game Friends: Scene It?, Gunther is also the narrator. During the Final Cut turns and sometimes the end, when the winner is congratulated, Gunther will tell the player(s) what to do or congratulate the winner. Before leaving, he says, "Rachel is my girlfriend."
Behind the scenes
James Michael Tyler was cast as Gunther because he was the only extra who knew how to operate an espresso machine - imperative for a worker in a coffee house. Gunther didn't have a line until the 33rd episode he was in, in which he only had one word to say: "Yeah".