The world was shocked Saturday night with the news that one of our friends will no longer be there for you, as TMZ reported "Friends" co-star Matthew Perry passed away at the shocking age of 54.
Not many people can accurately state that they portrayed an iconic character, that their line readings are cemented into the minds of people young and old, fans and those unfamiliar. Matthew Perry could, as his role on the hit NBC sitcom has maintained its status as a cultural staple across generations. The show continues to be omnipresent – and we assumed the actors who made it so would be too, at least for several decades to come. We tragically assumed wrong, as we lost a pop culture superstar on Saturday night all too soon.
If you're looking for a way to pay tribute to the on-screen sitcom legend, listen to the man himself and read about his work battling his own addiction demons and how he turned his fight into a way to help others struggling with addiction – including opening and running a sober house in Malibu through 2015. Then, after that, celebrate Perry's life with the most famous gifts he gave the world: laughter and stories, whether as Chandler Bing on "Friends" or via some of his lesser-known shows and movies. (You can also pay tribute by watching Nick At Nite's special dedicated to the actor, airing at 9 p.m. on Sunday night.)
Here are a few of the best and most famous of the bunch available on streaming, or at least to rent digitally. And here's to you, Matthew Perry. Thank you for being a friend to so many, both on screen and off.
Could the first item on this list BE any more obvious? Any Matthew Perry career retrospective must begin with his most iconic role: the patron saint of sarcasm, Chandler Bing. The fact that you could hear the exact line delivery of this blurb's opening is a tribute to Perry's performance. Some elements of "Friends" haven't exactly stood the test of time – but Perry's way around a self-effacing remark or snarky dig has remained timeless. After bingeing your way through his Bing era, stay on Max to watch the "Friends" reunion special – which is only going to be more meaningful and moving now, watching the cast reconnect and hearing Perry openly discuss the stress of being in such a monolithic comedy.
Where to stream: All ten seasons are on Max
"The Whole Nine Yards"
For all of his small screen success, the big screen was a harder place for Perry to break through. Some of that was due to the classic problem of audiences having a hard time seeing a beloved sitcom actor beyond their most familiar role ... and some of that was because the movies kind of stunk. (There are some "Fools Rush In" fans out there, though – which, if so, check out Tubi and Prime Video.) But Perry found a solid hit with this 2000 dark comedy about an unassuming guy who discovers his new neighbor (Bruce Willis) is a mobster. Willis made for a fun dry foil for Perry's cutting charisma – and so did the prickly darker brand of goofball comedy.
Where to stream: Available to rent on Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube
"The West Wing"
Unfortunately Matthew Perry's most recognized team-up with Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," isn't available to stream or even to rent. But there is his brief term on Sorkin's "West Wing," now available on Max. Playing the conservative lawyer Joe Quincy, Perry only appeared in three episodes across seasons four and five, but his flair for sharp and snappy dialogue made him a perfect fit with Sorkinese – so much so many "West Wing" fans were sad he didn't get more opportunities to spar with the likes of C.J. Cregg, Toby Ziegler and the rest of the Bartlet administration. But we'll take these rare chances to see Perry flex his more dramatic muscles – ones that earned him two of his five Emmy nominations.
Where to stream: All seven seasons are on Max
It wasn't rare to see Perry pop up on other TV shows – such as the aforementioned "West Wing," "Ally McBeal," "The Good Wife" as well as "The Good Fight," and "Cougar Town" with his partner-in-comedy Courtney Cox. What was far more rare, however, was Perry popping into the director's chair. He only did it once during his entire career: for "Scrubs," both hopping on and behind the camera for the season four episode "My Unicorn" about trying to convince Perry's grumpy airport worker to donate a kidney to his father. It's not surprising Perry's a hoot playing off the cartoonish intern goofs of Sacred Heart Hospital; it's more surprising how adept Perry seemed as director, capturing laughs within the comedy's unique comedic tone. It's a shame he didn't get to take the helm a few more times.
Where to stream: All nine seasons are on Hulu and Peacock
"The Ron Clark Story"
When perusing the awards section of Perry's filmography, you find the usual names – "Friends," "The West Wing" – but the most common title beyond those icons is a fairly unfamiliar one: "The Ron Clark Story," an acclaimed 2006 TNT original movie starring Perry as a teacher who moves into a tough New York City school. The TV movie includes most of your classic outdated white savior teacher feature cliches, but Perry – even his prescence alone in a more dramatic role – makes it feel a little more unique, interesting and lively than the subgenre's more rote entries. (Plus: Ernie Hudson!)
Where to stream: Available to stream on Peacock, The Roku Channel and Tubi
After "Friends," Perry took some more swings at hitting a TV grand slam – none as successful as "Friends," but what could be? They weren't home runs, but the likes of "Studio 60" and "Mr. Sunshine" (about a sports arena manager, co-starring his "West Wing" co-star Allison Janney) still had their charms. Again, unfortunately, none of these are available to stream and revisit ... except for "Go On," a short-lived 2012 NBC dramedy about Perry's radio host dealing with the loss of his wife with the help of the many friendly oddballs in his life. (And Terrell Owens?) The show only lasted a full season, but it featured promise and an impressive cast – featuring John Cho, Broadway favorite Laura Benanti, "Abbott Elementary" star Tyler James Williams and comedic actor Brett Gelman. (And – again – Terrell Owens!?) It's definitely worth rediscovering – something sadly difficult for much of the rest of Perry's non-"Friends" TV work.
Where to stream: Available to stream on The Roku Channel
"The Odd Couple"
One of Perry's last major on-screen comedic ventures was taking on some major shoes: CBS's "The Odd Couple," previously made iconic across stage and screens big and small by the likes of Neil Simon, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Garry Marshall, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. This modern rendition, lasting three seasons on CBS, didn't quite reach those heights – but it did have its share of sitcom-y laughs courtesy of a cast loaded with Thomas Lennon, Yvette Nicole Brown, Wendell Pierce and, of course, Perry in what would turn out to be one of his final comedic bows. The update may not have seemed all that special then, but now that it's unexpectedly turned out to be one of Perry's final comedic bows – one that he both developed and executive produced, so clearly it was a project that hit close to home for him – the slight sitcom's laughs and charms may hit a little more significant.
Where to stream: Available to stream on Paramount+
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.