Phrase heard on the episode “The One with the Blackout” on the sitcom FRIENDS/NBC/1994-2004 when Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) informed his friend Ross (David Schwimmer) that he’d been in the “Friend Zone” too long to ask out his friend Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) on a date.
During the episode, Joey and Ross are sitting in Rachel’s apartment surrounded by candles because of a power failure, and Joey tries to explain to Ross why Rachel won’t ever connect with him romantically.
“Never gonna happen,” Joey says. “You and Rachel. You waited too long to make your move and now you’re in The Friend Zone. Ross objects, “I’m not in the zone.” To which Joey replies, “No, Ross, you’re mayor of the zone. I’m telling you, she has no idea what you’re thinking. If you don’t ask her out soon, you’re gonna end up stuck in the zone forever.”
Happily, Ross and Rachel do get together and marry.