Friends’ secondary characters often stole the show. There was Janice, whose laugh and catchphrase became iconic. There was Gunther, whose unrequited crush on Rachel from afar became a running gag throughout Friends' 10 seasons. And there was The Ugly Naked Guy, who was practically the seventh friend even though he never appeared onscreen. But one minor character in particular never got enough credit: Mr. Heckles, who stole the show in Friends time and time again.
In case you don’t remember Mr. Heckles, he was the eccentric robed man who lived in the gang’s building. What made him so memorable to fans was how outlandish everything he said and did felt. He first appeared in “The One with the Blackout,” when Rachel and Phoebe knocked on his door to ask if he was the owner of the cat they found. He lied and said it was his cat “Bob…Buttons”, but the cat fled, making the ladies realize that the cat was definitely not his. When Phoebe called him out on trying to steal it, Mr. Heckles defeatedly said, “You owe me a cat.” The scene is one of the highlights of the episode — besides Rachel meeting her Italian love interest Paolo, the real owner of the cat.
But just when it seemed like Mr. Heckles was never going to be seen in Friends again, he began to pop up all throughout the first season. Most of his screen time consisted of him interrupting whatever crisis the friends were going through to ask them to keep the noise down, allegedly being able to hear them from the floor above. Each time, he’d come up with a ludicrous thing that the friends were apparently interrupting, including his cats’ sleep, his birds, and his oboe playing. Whenever Monica or Rachel called him out on his lies, his reply was always, “I could…”
That’s nowhere near the wildest things Mr. Heckles said or did, though. When Rachel lost Ross’ monkey Marcel, Mr. Heckles stole him and dressed him up as a ballerina, renaming him Patty. It’s not until an animal control officer went into the apartment and said he’d have to take it up with a judge to keep the monkey that he surrendered Marcel.
Even though Mr. Heckles was clearly not in a good mental state and was a nuisance to the friends, he actually caused some life-changing things for the gang. In Season 2, Mr. Heckles died, but he left his belongings to “the two noisy girls upstairs,” showing that even though he annoyed them regularly, he considered them to be his friends. The friends weren't too enthused at first to have to deal with the crap he left behind, but they then realized how sweet it was for him to do it. Plus, who could forget his iconic naked doll alarm clock that Rachel ended up keeping?
That experience, though, made Chandler wonder whether he was going to turn into a lonely hermit like Mr. Heckles because he was too picky when it came to dating. Chandler ultimately came to the realization that while he needed to work on being less shallow, he wouldn't have the same fate as his neighbor.
But the best thing Mr. Heckles did for the friends was due to all his ridiculous lies and scheming. In Season 3's “The One with The Flashback,” it was revealed that thanks to Mr. Heckles lying to Chandler’s potential roommate saying he was actually the new roommate, Joey was able to move in and form a lifelong friendship with the gang. Come to think of it, there’s a high chance the friends wouldn’t have been the close-knit group we all grew to love without Mr. Heckles’ meddling.
Mr. Heckles only appeared sporadically in the first three seasons of Friends, but he was the ultimate scene-stealer.