50 Amazing Skills You Can Learn on YouTube

iStock.com/Ermolenko
iStock.com/Ermolenko

We at Mental Floss are always eager to learn new things and develop new skills. If you resolved to pick up a new hobby this year or just need to finally figure out how to do some home repairs on your own, we have you covered. Here, we've collected 50 YouTube tutorials that will give you all the basics to learn both the fun (like poker or calligraphy) and the practical (like CPR or how to clean a cast iron pan). Happy learning!

1. How To Whistle With Your Fingers

This one definitely takes some practice, but it will come in handy should you ever need to hail a cab, call a dog, or get someone's attention from afar. The video shows you exactly how to position your mouth in order to get that perfect whistle.

2. How To Unclog A Kitchen Sink

For everyday clogs, you can often avoid the plumber by putting chemistry to good use. The principles Pan the Organizer uses here are the same that made your volcano bubble over at the elementary school science fair—baking soda and white vinegar, plus some heavy helpings of boiling water. It's a method that's great for people short on time, patience, or tolerance for plumber's crack.

3. How To Make Kombucha

Kombucha may seem complicated, but with a little know-how, it's actually one of the easiest drinks to make at home. All you need is a SCOBY (a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, the kombucha starter that is also sometimes called "the mother"), tea bags, sugar, water, and a big jar. Follow the recipe, set it out of the way, and watch it ferment for anywhere between one and four weeks before bottling and refrigerating it.

4. How To Speed-Read

If you made a resolution to read more books this year, then this is the tutorial for you. Memory expert Ron White highlights a few techniques you can use to double, triple, or even quadruple your reading speed. One of the tips is to stop sub-vocalizing, or reading to yourself in your head using "silent speech." A bit of Bach in the background doesn't hurt, either.

5. How To Remove A Stain From A Couch Or Carpet

Stains are a fact of life, but watching Oprah's method for removing them in this Vanity Fair video makes them a little easier to bear—and remove. Her secret involves several doses of club soda, which loosens the stain and makes it bubble up, followed by a modest application of dishwashing detergent. You'll not only learn a handy trick here, but you get to watch Oprah's face light up with glee as she watches the club soda do the job. Who doesn't love bubbles?

6. How To Build A Campfire

Grab your tinder, kindling, and fuel wood and let this video from REI show you how to build a great campfire. Along with teaching you how to build a classic "teepee-style" fire, the instructor also explains the "log cabin technique" and the "pyramid technique." These two types of long-lasting campfires require minimal attention, giving you extra time to eat an another s'more.

7. How To Do A Cartwheel

For the young at heart who want to frolick and flip in the meadows come spring (or, just teach some kids a skill you never quite mastered), a cartwheel is a far more attainable gymnastic goal than, say, a back handspring. Warm up with some stretches, and then follow these instructions on how to find your dominant side, where to place your feet and arms, and how to begin straightening your legs so there's some semblance of grace.

8. How To Remove A Red Wine Stain

First, blot as much of the liquid out of the stain as possible. Then, pour cool water on the fabric, followed by a generous pour of salt. Next, take boiling water and pour that over the stain. Let it sit for a while. If that doesn't do the trick, mix one part vinegar and two parts water, soaking the stain in that solution. Toss it in the wash to make it good as new. Then, pour yourself another glass of red.

9. How To Fix A Candle With A Buried Wick

If you can't light your favorite candle because the wick has gotten buried by wax, it's relatively easy to fix the issue. All you have to do, according to eHow Home, is heat up the candle with a torch or other heat source (a hair dryer will work, as long as you watch out for splash) so that the top layer of wax melts. Then pour off the hot wax to reveal the lost wick. Keep heating the candle until you've melted and poured out enough wax to expose a significant piece of wick. You can use tweezers or another tool to straighten out the wick and then re-light the candle.

10. How To Say "Hello" In Nearly 50 Languages

You might already know namaste and konnichiwa, but what about zdravo, ahoj, or annyeong? Let Lingualizer be your guide to cross-cultural greetings in 46 different languages. Whether you're planning a trip around the world or just want to impress at a party, this two-minute tutorial will help you make friends no matter where you go.

11. How To Change A Tire

Sometimes you need to be your own roadside assistance, which is why Howdini's quick and simple tutorial on how to get back on track after a flat tire is a must-watch. You’ll not only learn how to mount a spare, but how to do it safely and without risking injury from passing traffic.

12. How To Tie A Tie

Never fear another formal event with this guide to tying a necktie with a simple knot. Only four steps—behind, across, out, and through—need to be mastered. After only minimal practice, you should easily be able execute a knot in less than 10 seconds.

13. How To Cut An Onion (Without Crying)

There's no need to break out the industrial goggles every time you chop onions. It is possible to prepare the ingredient without weeping all over your cutting board—you just need to know which part of the pungent veggie to avoid.

14. How To Survive A Shark Attack

In the exceedingly rare, infinitesimally small chance that you could be attacked by a shark, Joe Bereta of Epic How To has a few tips. First, avoidance is key: keep out of the water at night, don't swim near river deltas where sharks like to hunt small fish, and never go swimming in Florida's open waters. If you do encounter a shark, stay calm, remain vertical in the water (it's more difficult to bite you that way), and move quickly toward shore. If the shark isn't getting the hint, bonk it on the nose with a rock or your fist and just get the hell out of there.

15. How To Clean A Cast Iron Pan

Cooking great food with a cast iron pan is easy. It's the part that comes after the meal that scares many home cooks away from owning this essential piece of kitchen equipment. Unlike some other pans, you can't stick a dirty cast iron skillet in the dishwasher. Scrubbing it with soap will damage the pan's layer of seasoning, and letting it sit around wet can cause it to rust. Fortunately, when you know how to clean and season a cast iron pan (rub it down with a mild oil, like flaxseed or vegetable oil—not olive oil!), maintaining one isn't so intimidating.

16. How To Make A Bed Properly

Ever wonder how hotels manage to make their bed sheets look so perfect? It's a skill you can easily master with this HGTV primer on creating a Four Seasons-ready bedding ensemble, including how do a proper "hospital corner" tuck at the foot of the bed. You'll even learn the secret for having crisp, wrinkle-free sheets. (Hint: It's not ironing.)

17. How To Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Have you ever tried to boil an egg and ended up with a squishy, sulfurous mess? Tasty is here to help. Place eggs in a saucepot, cover completely with water, and bring to a full boil. Then remove the pot from the heat and cover with a lid. Timing is important: For soft boiled eggs, keep the pot covered for 4 to 6 minutes; for medium-hard, 8 to 10 minutes, and for hard, 14 to 16 minutes. Then, pop them in a quick icebath to make peeling easier, and enjoy!

18. How To Make A Simple Bouquet

Want to add a personal touch to a romantic gift? Flowers are always welcome—but a gorgeous bouquet, crafted with your own two hands (and creative abilities) is even better. Prep the flower and filler greens by stripping the stems of any thorns or excess leaves, arrange in three equal bunches with the focal flowers supported by the accent greens, and then bind the three bunches together with string. This clip even shows how to wrap your bouquet in brown paper for that straight-from-the-farmers'-market look. It's a skill that will come in handy on Mother's Day, anniversaries, birthdays, and beyond.

19. How To Be A Better Dancer In Three Steps

No matter how awkward or insecure you may be (and you're not alone), there comes a time when everyone must hit the dance floor with pride, or (maybe) die trying. Thankfully, this video from The Wall Street Journal breaks down the art of dancing into three easy steps: finding the basic beat of the music; step-touching with your feet; and trying variations of the step-touch to make it your own. It's an incredibly simple way to make the terrifying task of dancing in front of your friends and relatives a bit less daunting.

20. How To Save A Burnt Cake

Have your cake and then eat it, too. It takes so much work to bake a cake, and with this easy trick using a basic cheese grater to smooth off any blackened sections, you can avoid the massive letdown of a burned-looking dessert. Even better, the same trick will also work on a loaf of bread.

21. How To Play The Piano

Even if you never took piano lessons as a child, you can learn the basics with this series of short lessons. Whether it's learning the names of each key (like in this four-minute clip) or the follow-up videos on how to play various major and minor chords, a few minutes on YouTube will certainly get you past the "Chopsticks" playing level.

22. How To Repair Drywall

Fixing a hole in drywall isn't necessarily the sexiest skill, but it is one of the most satisfying—and essential. Rather than hiring a handyman to make the fix, use this video from Lowe's, which runs you through fixes for everything from tiny holes (which require some spackle and a drywall knife) to dents from door knobs (you'll need a patch kit) to bigger holes (get yourself some drywall, furring strips, and joint tape!). They might seem intimidating, but it's surprisingly easy to DIY.

23. How To Hit A Baseball

Many people can attest to the difficulty of hitting a baseball; some have even said it's the hardest thing "in the galaxy" to do. This video by ProSwingNY, however, breaks down the basic logistics in just seven fundamental steps, from squaring up to the pitcher to, of course, breathing. It might not take you to major league level, but it'll certainly give you a major advantage!

24. How To Juggle

Juggling is one of those skills that looks hard but is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. This video will help you learn to juggle three balls at once, starting from the very basics (learn to toss one ball back and forth with your eyes closed) up until you feel comfortable adding the second and third ball.

25. How To Pack A Suitcase

This video from Heathrow Airport uses flight attendant tips to help travelers maximize space in their suitcase. First, lay out everything you're thinking of bringing, then eliminate a third of it. Shoes go first: Stuff underwear and socks inside, then pop the shoes into the suitcase heel to toe. Pack the space between them with soft items like T-shirts (roll them if you have to!). Next, layer bulkier items like jeans and dresses by putting each item half in, half out of the suitcase, alternating sides; then, fold the parts outside the suitcase back into the suitcase. The next layer is a bag for your dirty clothes, over which you'll pack items like toiletries and books (make sure they're in the middle!). Snake belts around the inside edge of your suitcase. The last layer is collared shirts.

26. How To Improve Your Handwriting

Nearly everyone's handwriting can devolve into illegible chicken scratch without some practice and upkeep. If you want to spruce up your penmanship, this tutorial will walk you through some tips that you might have forgotten over the years, like how you shouldn't over-embellish any cursive loops and that proper spacing is key.

27. How To Do Calligraphy

If you've mastered cursive and want to take your writing skills to the next level, or if you just want to be able to enhance your next handwritten invitation, this how-to on modern calligraphy gives you a broad scope of the basics. Start by practicing all of letters individually to get used to making a thin upstroke and thick downstroke—and while you're at it, you'll be able to hone in on your favorite lettering style.

28. How To Get Wax Out Of A Tablecloth

Candle wax on the tablecloth is one of those unavoidable dinner party realities. But you won't cry over spilled wax if you have this video from Real Simple, which shows how to remove the melted material from fabric in two (or less) easy steps: First, freeze the waxed fabric, then scrape the wax off with a knife and throw the item in the laundry. If there's still wax remaining, it's time to get out some wax paper and an iron.

29. How To Ride A Bike

Biking is a great way to get around town—and a fun way to stay in shape—but if you didn't learn as a kid, riding on two wheels can seem pretty intimidating. This video by Cycling UK helps makes learning to ride as an adult easy, breaking down each step to properly guide you. It also emphasizes one particularly important fact: Practice makes perfect!

30. How To Make Balloon Animals

Balloon animals are irresistible. If you want to be a hit at the next children's birthday party you attend, this video by Balloon Animals on how to make a balloon dog is the place to start. It's commonly the first animal twisters learn to make, and because it requires three "lock" twists (at the ears and each set of legs), you'll learn how to make a sturdy animal from the get-go.

31. How To Knit

Though it may seem daunting at first, knitting is one of those skills that only becomes more rewarding over time. This how-to takes a look at the very first step necessary to knit anything: casting on. Let the soothing voice of Kristen Mangus of Goodknit Kisses be your guide as you learn to make your first stitch. Once you master that skill, GoodKnit Kisses has hundreds more videos of different techniques and tutorials for you to tackle.

32. How To Make A Paper Airplane

The fun of paper airplanes is often in the customization (hint: fancy wing fins), but it's also in the satisfaction of a successful flight. This video shows you how to not just make an airplane that will fly, but one that will fly fast. One you have the hang of this particular fold, you can move on to adding more embellishments.

33. How To Perform A Magic Trick

What's a great way to make your presence felt at whatever event you're attending? Magic, obviously. This video by Troom Troom SELECT shows you how to prepare and perform not just one, but 20 wildly different magic tricks. Each bit is designed for beginner magicians, but they'll still dazzle your unsuspecting audience.

34. How To Teach Your Cat To High-Five

Cats are notorious for doing only what they want to do, but don't let that fool you: They can be trained. To teach your cat how to high-five, stock up on a treat she loves, find an area that's distraction-free, and try to get her to bat at the treat. Interrupt the batting with your hand, make a clicking noise, and give her the treat; repeat. As with any skill, practice makes perfect, so keep at it with the tips in this video from Woman's Day—your kitty will be high-fiving in no time.

35. How To Meditate

Maybe you're stressed over that final paper you have due in a week, or there's a family gathering that you have been tasked with putting together. Finding ways to help your brain relax is important—and one of those ways is meditation. Achieving serenity isn't always easy, but this video breaks down the process into five easy steps: having the right location, keeping a straight spine, pre-mediation preparation, focusing on your breath, and observing without judgment.

36. How To Code

Coding—a.k.a. computer programming—is one of the most desirable and valuable skills to have in the 21st-century workplace. The complex system of symbols, letters, and commands can be intimidating, and learning the basics will take quite a bit longer than many of the other skills on this list. But starting with this video from Clever Programmer will help you understand what to look for in an online course and how to narrow down which language makes the most sense for you and your goals. Think of it as the tutorial before you begin your tutorials.

37. How To Dive

If you ever watch the summer Olympic Games, you might have been awestruck by the ways athletes made diving look so elegant. While this video by Sikana English can't guarantee you a spot on the podium, it does show you three methods—the pencil, sitting, and standing dives—for beginner divers, which will help you make a graceful entry into the water.

38. How To Play Poker

Don't know a flush from a flop? In under 10 minutes, get schooled on Texas Hold 'Em by a couple of professional British players from PokerStars, who up your ante by helping you learn the most important terms and the hierarchy of betting hands.

39. How To Drive Stick

Driving stick is almost a lost art form these days, but the delicate dance between clutch, brake, gas pedal, and gearshift can be mastered with help from Jalopnik's six-minute video. The goal is to avoid stalling the car; to do that, push the clutch all the way down to shift gears and brake, then ease slowly off the clutch as you press down on the gas. For your maiden voyage, it might help to have someone in the passenger seat giving you instructions.

40. How To Moonwalk

Learn to mimic the moves made famous by the King of Pop with this helpful guide from DZRCK, a dancer who offers a wealth of hip-hop tutorials on his YouTube channel. In this video, he breaks the magical glide of the moonwalk into three, easy-to-understand steps (and also addresses basic mistakes regularly made by beginners).

41. How To Do Basic CPR

CPR saves lives—just ask Michael Scott. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is easy to get the hang of (especially if you keep this playlist in mind), but it's more complicated than it appears, and updated information on proper techniques has changed over the years. This quick, 2-minute guide covers basic, compression-only CPR.

42. How To Play Chess

With over 100 million different variations of possible games, chess is the antithesis of what you might call simple. This video by Triple S Games won't make you a chess wiz, but it provides a succinct explanation of the basic principles of the game, including the rules and how each separate piece can move. Who knows, you might get hooked!

43. How To Play Pool

If you've seen movies featuring characters who enjoy a good hustle, chances are there was a game of pool involved. But it's not always as easy as it looks on the screen. This video by FargoBilliards teaches you how to play pool in under 10 minutes, so next time you find yourself at a local bar, you won't embarrass yourself pretending to be Paul Newman.

44. How To Play Guitar

At one point or another, the allure of being a rock star has probably crossed your mind. This video by onlineguitarschool may not lead you down the path of eternal glory, but it will give you the steps it takes to begin your journey in under 10 minutes, including an explanation of how each part of the guitar works and the function of the chords and strings on it. There's even a helpful mnemonic, "Elephants and Donkeys Grow Big Ears," to help you remember the order of the strings!

45. How To Take Better Photos

Ever heard of the "rule of thirds"? Using the grid feature in your camera app (or by conjuring up a mental grid), you'll want to position the most interesting elements of the photo along the points where those lines intersect. This could be a person standing on one side of the frame, or a tree in the bottom left corner. The off-balance effect will make your photo all the more appealing, and in this video, landscape photographer Joshua Cripps walks you through how to make your next vacation photos the envy of your whole network.

46. How To Frost A Cake Like A Pro

If you've ever cut into a homemade layer cake and realized the tiers of frosting inside looked a bit lopsided, this video from Martha Stewart's Kitchen Conundrums is for you. As host Thomas Joseph shows, all you need is a frozen cake, a serrated knife, an ice cream scoop, and—the secret ingredient—a rotating cake stand.

47. How To Fold T-shirts To Maximize Drawer Space

Make your drawers spark joy. Though this how-to calls for a folding tool (like this one), you can still achieve the tight fold for your various shirts without one. Once you get the hang of it, your dresser drawers will seem much more spacious (not to mention pretty, if you manage to also color-code them).

48. How To Order Wine At A Restaurant

Multi-page wine menus can be intimidating, even to those who have a general idea of what they like. But with this quick tutorial from a Texan sommelier, you'll have the basics covered with food pairing, price ranges, and what to say when ordering. (Hint: If you buy by the glass, the best bet is the second-cheapest option.)

49. How To Beatbox

Do you ever find yourself trying to replicate that cool beat you heard on the radio, but your unpolished skills produce a sound reminiscent of a car malfunctioning? Have no fear; this video by Howcast teaches the basics of beatboxing in just seven steps, and all you need is your mouth and a rhythm to focus on.

50. How To Fold An Origami Crane

Folding paper planes is a satisfying endeavor, but sometimes you might have greater aspirations in the paper-folding arts. Origami, in many ways, is the next step of this hierarchy of paper machinations. This video by EzOrigami gives you a detailed guide of how to create the iconic crane model, and the only thing you'll need is one square sheet of paper.

By Colin Ainsworth, Erika Berlin, Michele Debczak, Shaunacy Ferro, Kat Long, Bess Lovejoy, Erin McCarthy, Emily Petsko, Lucas Reilly, Javier Reyes, and Jake Rossen.

Every New Movie, TV Series, and Special Coming to Netflix in October

Charles Baker as Skinny Pete in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019).
Charles Baker as Skinny Pete in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019).
Courtesy of Netflix

It has been six years since Breaking Bad fans last caught a glimpse of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), as he sped away from Albuquerque and the men who held him captive there for so long (Walter White included, at least in a metaphorical sense). While we've longed to see what happened next, and what Jesse might be up to today, that it would ever become a reality seemed unlikely ... until earlier this year, when Vince Gilligan confirmed that he had secretly shot a Breaking Bad movie titled El Camino, that will catch us up on the man formerly known as Cap'n Cook.

In addition to that October 11th premiere, Netflix has plenty of other movies, shows, and specials coming your way in October.

October 1

Carmen Sandiego: Season 2
Nikki Glaser: Bangin’
93 days
A.M.I.
Along Came a Spider
Bad Boys
Bad Boys II
Blow
Bring It On, Ghost: Season 1
Charlie’s Angels
Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
Cheese in the Trap: Season 1
Chicago Typewriter: Season 1
Crash
Exit Wounds
Good Burger
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Honey 2
House of the Witch
Lagos Real Fake Life
Men in Black II
Moms at War
No Reservations
Ocean’s Thirteen
Ocean’s Twelve
One Direction: This Is Us
Payday
Rugrats in Paris: The Movie
Scream 2
Senna
Signal: Season 1
Sin City
Sinister Circle
Supergirl
Superman Returns
Surf’s Up
The Bucket List
The Flintstones
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
The Island
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Rugrats Movie
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Tomorrow with You: Season 1
Trainspotting
Troy
Tunnel: Season 1
Unaccompanied Minors
Walking Out

October 2

Living Undocumented
Ready to Mingle (Solteras)
Rotten: Season 2

October 3

Seis Manos

October 4

Big Mouth: Season 3
Creeped Out: Season 2
In the Tall Grass
Peaky Blinders: Season 5
Raising Dion
Super Monsters: Season 3
Super Monsters: Vida’s First Halloween

October 5

Legend Quest: Masters of Myth

October 7

Match! Tennis Juniors
The Water Diviner

October 8

Deon Cole: Cole Hearted
The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants Hack-a-ween

October 9

After
Rhythm + Flow

October 10

Schitt’s Creek: Season 5
Ultramarine Magmell

October 11

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
The Forest of Love
Fractured
Haunted: Season 2
Insatiable: Season 2
La influencia
Plan Coeur: Season 2
The Awakenings of Motti Wolenbruch
YooHoo to the Rescue: Season 2

October 12

Banlieusards

October 15

Dark Crimes

October 16

Ghosts of Sugar Land
Sinister 2

October 17

The Karate Kid
The Unlisted

October 18

The Yard (Avlu)
Baby: Season 2
Eli
Interior Design Masters
The House of Flowers: Season 2
The Laundromat
Living with Yourself
MeatEater: Season 8
Mighty Little Bheem: Diwali
Seventeen
Spirit Riding Free: Pony Tales Collection 2
Tell Me Who I Am
Toon: Seasons 1-2
Unnatural Selection
Upstarts

October 19

Men in Black

October 21

Echo in the Canyon
Free Fire

October 22

Jenny Slate: Stage Fright

October 23

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Dancing with the Birds
Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy

October 24

Daybreak
Revenge of Pontianak

October 25

A Tale of Love and Darkness
Assimilate
Brigada Costa del Sol
Brotherhood
Dolemite Is My Name
Greenhouse Academy: Season 3
The Kominsky Method: Season 2
Monzon
Nailed It! France (C’est du gâteau!)
Nailed It! Spain (Niquelao!)
Prank Encounters
Rattlesnake
It Takes a Lunatic

October 28

A 3 Minute Hug
Little Miss Sumo
Shine On with Reese: Season 1

October 29

Arsenio Hall: Smart & Classy

October 30

Flavorful Origins: Yunnan Cuisine

October 31

Kengan Ashura: Part ll
Nowhere Man
Raging Bull

10 Intriguing Friends Fan Theories

Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

Friends is a classic sitcom about twentysomethings navigating life, love, and work in New York City. Or at least that’s one theory about the beloved sitcom, which premiered on September 22, 1994. Here’s another: Friends is a glimpse inside a mental ward, where six disturbed patients are working through their personality disorders. In the 25 years since it made its debut, Friends has inspired a ton of wild fan theories on Reddit and Twitter. Here are a few of the strangest (and be careful: Mr. Heckles’s murderer is still at large).

1. Rachel dreamed the whole thing.

In the summer of 2017, this photo of the Friends season four DVD box ignited a fan frenzy. The image on the box shows the titular pals snoozing side by side. Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, and Joey all have their eyes shut, but Rachel—resting right in the middle—is wide awake and looking directly at the camera. Why is she the only one with her eyes open? Some fans suggested Rachel was plotting something sinister, or secretly very “woke.” But plenty more insisted it was proof the whole show was Rachel’s dream. According to one Twitter fan, Rachel fell into an anxiety-fueled dream the night before her wedding to Barry and imagined her own group of hip New York friends to cope with her frustration and dread. Except she woke up to reality the next morning, as shown on the DVD cover, where she’s surrounded by her dream friends.

2. Phoebe hallucinated the show.

Another popular theory suggests that Friends was all in Phoebe’s head—only this take is much darker. The basic premise is that Phoebe never got off the streets. She was a lonely, homeless woman with a meth addiction who peered into the window of Central Perk one day. She noticed five friends laughing over coffee, and imagined herself as part of the gang. In this fantasy, her pals didn’t always get her weird sense of humor, but they loved her anyway. In reality, the twentysomethings in the window were wondering why that “crazy lady” was staring at them. This theory gained so much traction that a journalist asked Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman about it at a television festival. She quickly threw water on the whole thing. “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” Kauffman replied. “That’s a terrible theory. That’s insane. Someone needs a life, that’s all I’m saying."

3. It was one long promotion for Starbucks.

The cast of 'Friends'
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

According to one manic Facebook rant, Friends was not a sitcom at all. It was actually a 10-year marketing ploy, designed to make Starbucks the new go-to destination for young people. Why else do the characters spend so much time in a coffee shop? True, the shop is not called Starbucks, but the subliminal evidence lies in Rachel’s last name (Green, like the Starbucks company color) and hair (styled like the mermaid in the Starbucks logo). Then there’s Ross and Monica’s last name, Geller, which is close to the German word gellen. It means “to yell,” just like the Starbucks baristas calling out customer names. The case only gets flimsier from there, but if you really want to read about how Chandler and Moby Dick are connected, you can dive down that particular rabbit hole here.

4. Ross lost custody of Ben because he was a bad dad.

Ross’s son Ben arrives in the very first season of Friends, in the aptly titled episode “The One with the Birth.” He’s a constant character for several seasons, but as the show goes on, Ross seems to spend less and less time with his kid. Ben disappears after the eighth season, and never meets his half-sister Emma onscreen. There’s one explanation for this drop-off: Ross lost custody of his son due to increasingly disturbing behavior.

The blog What Would Bale Do lays out a bunch of examples: Ross sleeps with his students, tries to hook up with his cousin, and asks a self-defense instructor for help scaring his female friends. He’s also generally pretty jealous and possessive. According to this theory, Ross’s ex-wife Carol hit a breaking point and took full custody of their son, which is why Ben stops coming around his dad’s apartment in the later seasons.

5. Mr. Heckles was murdered.

Rachel and Monica’s mean old neighbor dies of natural causes in season 2—or at least that’s what they want you to think. By one Redditor’s account, Mr. Heckles was killed in cold blood. Moments before he dies, Mr. Heckles shows up at Monica and Rachel’s door, complaining that their noise is disturbing his birds. (He does not have birds.) Monica says they’ll try to keep it down and as Mr. Heckles leaves, he says he’s going to rejoin his “dinner party.” Minutes later, he’s dead. Ergo, his dinner party guest killed him. Of course, the likelier explanation is that Mr. Heckles was a crazy old man who wasn’t even having a dinner party. But where’s the fun in that?

6. There's a reason why the gang always got that same table at Central Perk.

The cast of 'Friends' chats with talk show host Conan O'Brien
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

How did the gang manage to snag the coveted center couch at Central Perk every single time? Simple: Gunther reserved it for them. It was all part of his ongoing campaign to win Rachel’s affections, and it explains why the group never had to fight for seating space. Well, except that one time.

7. There's a Parks & Recreation crossover.

In “The One With All the Candy,” Rachel insists she doesn’t sleep with guys on the first date, only for her friends to immediately call her out. Monica rattles off three names: Matt Wire, Mark Lynn, and Ben Wyatt. Could she be talking about the same Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation? According to Reddit, their ages check out. Ben would’ve been 26 at the time of the episode, making him a perfectly acceptable one-night stand for 29-year-old Rachel. But how does Leslie Knope feel about this?

8. Monica was the product of an extramarital affair.

Ross and Monica’s mom doesn’t even try to hide her favoritism. Judy Geller thinks Ross is a genius and Monica is, well, trying. (But could be trying harder.) One bonkers (and since-deleted) fan theory suggests Judy’s preference stems from a family secret: At some point in her marriage to Jack Geller, she had an affair, one she could never forget because it spawned Monica. Judy’s shame over this tryst is what causes her to lash out at Monica and praise Ross, her one 'legitimate' child.

9. There's all in a psych ward.

David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, and Matt Leblanc in 'Friends.'
Getty Images

What if Central Perk wasn’t a coffee shop at all, but rather the cafeteria at a mental institution? As one theory goes, all six main characters are suffering from personality disorders. They’re confined to a facility for treatment, and can only shuffle between their rooms (i.e. their “apartments”) and the cafeteria (i.e. “Central Perk”). This situation also explains why the group is so hostile toward new people. They’re not actually teasing Monica’s new boyfriend; they’re attacking anyone who tries to take one of the friends out of the mental hospital.

10. Joey really wanted some pancakes.

This very silly—but very solid—fan theory is centered on Joey’s love of food. In “The One With Ross’s Library Book,” Joey has a one-night stand with a woman named Erin. He doesn’t want to see her again, and asks Rachel to break the news to her over pancakes. Apparently Chandler used to do this when he lived in the apartment. He’d even save extra pancakes for Joey. Rachel refuses to be a part of this, but once she’s left alone with Erin, she feels bad and offers to cook. Things escalate over the episode and pretty soon, Joey is the one who’s too clingy for Erin. Rachel has to tell him and, feeling bad yet again, she offers pancakes. Reddit claims this was all just a plot for pancakes. It kind of adds up: Joey can’t cook but likes to eat, and he has enough soap opera money to pay an actor (Erin) to play a part in this conspiracy. So he cons his roommate into making pancakes, twice, in a ruse that’s both delicious and diabolical (and, yes, a little bit silly).

This story has been updated for 2019.

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