Gunther "CentralPerk", the bumbling, vaguely creepy guy who works at Friends hangout Central Perk, might just be the saddest character in television history. He's just so... pathetic. Between his passionate, silent hankering for Rachel, his crappy job and the way he's treated as though he's invisible by the friends on Friends, Gunther really had a hard time with happiness. Although he's not a main character, and only pops up with a few golden one liners here and there, Gunther is a Friends staple, and likely a favorite of many die-hard Friends fans. He's much more entertaining than Carol & Susan or dumb old Ben (seriously, how useless is Ben?). The only other side character worth loving as much as Gunther is Jack Gellar, father of Ross and Monica, but that's a whole other post entirely. The point is: poor Gunther. If only that character could have known how well-loved he is out here in the real world.
There really aren't any truly redeeming moments for Gunther. There's no point at which he gets a girlfriend, or a better job; We never get any insight into his life as anything other than an unbearably melancholic pile of poop. Even his loud shirts seem weirdly depressing. Gunther is always just sort of plodding around, seemingly immune to the feeling of joy, and always being painfully awkward in ways that make even awkward people cringe. Here are 12 reasons why Gunther just might be the most depressing character ever to be on TV.
1. He loves someone he can never have
Gunther's love for Rachel was forever unrequited, and he never dated anyone else during the shows ten seasons, instead, pining for someone who barely noticed him from a distance. ALL THE SADNESS FEELS!
2. And she thinks he's gay
In season 8, epsiode 6, Monica throws a Halloween party where Rachel tells Gunther, "Someday, you’re gonna make some man the luckiest guy in the world."
3. He's Charlie Brown
At that same party, he's dressed as Charlie Brown, a character famous for always suffering, never being able to catch a break, and having a bleak, pessimistic world view as a result. So basically Gunther is Charlie Brown.
4. His acting dreams were crushed (fairly literally)
In "The One Where Eddie Won't Go" Gunther confesses to Joey that he was "Bryce on All My Children" and that his career as a coffee shop server came about as the result of being killed off the show by an avalanche. Talk about a depressing fall from grace.
5. He hates his job but is always working
Gunther is never happy at work, even though his Central Perk job appears to be his sole career. What's more soul-crushing than constantly being at a job you hate?
6. And only earns $4 an hour
In another revelation to Joey, Gunther lets it slip that he only earns $4 an hour at the job he hates. In season 6, when Joey asks if his Porche is parked outside, Gunther replies (with depressing sarcasm), "Yeah, that's what I drive. I make four bucks an hour. I saved up for...350 years."
7. No one knows his last name
Even though they see him every day, the friends don't even know Gunther's last name. Chandler hilariously assumes it's "Central Perk". Surely the man who brings them coffee deserves more?
8. His talents are under-appreciated
Gunther actually speaks Dutch, which is impressive, but it's a talent that no one seems to care about, and that doesn't buy him any extra cred with the friends (or in his career/life for that matter). A wasted talent!
9. He's always on the outside looking in
I feel like this is where you cue "Hello darkness, my old friend..." as Gunther whimsically watches the Friends shenanigans from behind the coffee shop counter. He sometimes gets invited to parties, but only as a room filler or when someone needs a favor. He never engages with the friends on any meaningful level, but is always just...there.
10. Everyone pretty much ignores him when he does something weird
Ever noticed how many weird things Gunther does? Like randomly yelling "Rachel" in Joey's face when Joey tells Ross he likes Rachel? Or running through Central Perk and falling flat on his face when Rachel is looking for someone to hug? All the times he creepily stares at Rachel like a stalker? Everyone seems to blink and move on every time Gunther does anything even remotely odd. Even in his strangest moments, none of the friends care about Gunther. Poor guy.
11. He'd do anything to make people like him
My personal Gunther low point was when he bought Rachel's "cat" from her. The guy would seriously do anything, no matter how depressingly lame or demeaning, to get in.
12. He's schadenfreude personified
Gunther's miserable little life is only made marginally excusable by Friends fans because Gunther is someone who values the suffering of others above all else, even Rachel. He's the one who told her that Ross cheated on her (yeah, I'm not in the "We were on a break" camp) after all, and he absolutely delights in his sabotage of Ross (so much so that he was willing to sacrifice the happiness of his fantasy love to hurt him!). Gunther is hopelessly weird and dark forever.