There are plenty of sitcoms today that all compete for our attention, but it is an undeniable fact of the 1990s that most of us were watching Friends. Coming straight after Seinfeld and before some modern hits like The Big Bang Theory, the group of six 20-something New Yorkers had the hearts of millions around the world.
You may think you know everything about this staple of your childhood. You may believe you have all the trivia stored in your head ready for your next quiz night. What you don’t know is that a lot of behind-the-scenes drama that took place, and stories that made it onto the small screen straight from the actors’ trailers. Check out our list of definitive Friends facts that will surprise even the biggest fans out there.
The Working Title
Originally, the sitcom was referred to as Friends Like These. When the script was being written, it took on a few more titles such as Insomnia Cafe, Six of One, and Friends Like Us. Creators Matha Kauffman and David Crane couldn’t quite work out the best name for their new show.
Ultimately, the creators found Friends more punchy as a title. They realized that the characters could carry the show enough and they didn’t need to rely on gimmick names. 25 years later, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
They Never Went To New York
Even though it’s common knowledge Friends was shot in California, fans might be surprised that even the famous opening sequence was filmed at Warner Brothers Studios. Never during the 10 years did the cast step foot in the Empire State for filming.
This isn’t to say that they never traveled. In 1998, five of the cast members flew all the way to London, UK, to film the season four finale. Lisa Kudrow, who plays Phoebe, stayed in America due to her pregnancy.
A Last Supper
The night before the pilot episode aired in 1994, producers took our six leading actors to dinner in Caesar’s Palace Hotel. According to Jennifer Aniston, they were told to enjoy their last night of anonymity
Well, the producers were right! From the moment the show aired, these six unknowns were thrown into the international limelight. Within a year, they appeared on every magazine in the country and even starred in TV adverts as their characters. Today, their fame has hardly dwindled!
Originally, the core group of friends was restricted to Ross, Monica, Rachel, and Joey – Phoebe and Chandler were only supporting roles. It was later in the writing process that Kauffman and Crane decided that the show would work better as an ensemble of six main characters.
Amazing to think how that would have changed things – particular when you consider Chandler and Monica’s marriage in later seasons! Can you imagine Chandler and Phoebe just popping in every so often?
Monica and Joey Were The Original Ross and Rachel
The initial will-they-won’t-they couple was intended to be Type-A Monica with her Type-B counterpart, Joey. Soon after they started writing, they realized that the Ross and Rachel dynamic was a lot more interesting and so they decided to pursue it.
Eventually, Monica hooked up with Chandler in a later season finale. It was supposed to be a one-off event, but the audience reaction was positive. They kept their relationship going afterward and it changed the direction of the whole show. that they changed the direction of the entire show after.
Not All Hook-Ups Were Encouraged
Putting Rachel and Joey together can often be described as the show’s biggest mistake by fans. These two characters ‘finally’ kissed at the end of season nine but broke up soon into the 10th season. It seems the response wasn’t as well-received over the break, and it wasn’t just audiences that felt strongly, either.
Matt LeBlanc explains that the cast actually went to the writers with complaints, calling it ‘wildly inappropriate’. As we know, three episodes into the final season, Rachel and Joey decided to stay friends and the topic was never addressed again.
Ross is 29 for Three Years
We know sitcoms don’t always stick to continuity, but this was a huge mistake from the writers! In seasons three, four, and five, Ross refers to himself being 29. While time in sitcoms doesn’t always move in a straight and constant line, we can assume that this was an oversight by the writing team.
This anti-aging effect is particularly strange since he says he has two birthdays – October 18 and an unconfirmed date in December. Friends might have been funny and ahead of its time, but continuity wasn’t its strongest quality.
A Post-9/11 Episode
The One With The Halloween Party was the first episode of Friends to be filmed after 9/11. Of course, the tragic attack fundamentally changed the attitudes of Americans who weren’t sure if they were ready to laugh so soon after a terrorist attack.
According to Lisa Kudrow, people would walk up to the cast members and thank them for helping them laugh again. In some of the older episodes, you can still see establishing shots of the Twin Towers.
Upon filming the last few episodes of Friends, the cast was hit with what they knew was an end to an era. LeBlanc said the anxiety it caused him actually resulted in picking up smoking again.
According to Jennifer Aniston, it was almost impossible for her to recite her lines without tearing up. After Courtney Cox fluffed her lines a few times due to anxieties, Matthew Perry broke the ice by suggesting she was about to get fired.
She Was Always Getting Off The Plane
Writers knew from the very beginning that Ross and Rachel would end up together, even if it took a few years to get there! The first time they paired the two of them up, Kauffman and Crane knew that they would have to tear them apart before the romantic reunion.
Over the show’s run, the couple got together, broke up, got together, broke up, got married, got divorced, kissed, had a baby, lived together, and somehow still remained friends along the way.
The One With All The Cameos
Friends attracted multi-generational guests over its 10-year run, with actors appearing from film and TV careers. Even from the first season, the show attracted the likes of supermodels, comedians, actors, family members, and romantic partners.
Some noteworthy guest appearances include Julia Roberts, Danny DeVito, and Robin Williams. One star who never got to know the friends, however, was Justin Timberlake. I guess he said bye, bye, bye to that opportunity once the show ended.
Joey And Phoebe – The Couple That Wasn’t
There was always a certain chemistry between Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow, which might explain one of the initial ideas for the finale. Speaking to People, LeBlanc explains: “Towards the end, we actually pitched the idea that Joey and Phoebe had been having casual sex the entire time.”
“We’d go back and shoot all the historical scenes and just before a moment that everyone recognizes, there are Joey and Phoebe coming out of a broom closet together. But they were like, ‘Nah.’”
The Kept Janice’s Appearances A Secret
The writers of Friends always wanted to surprise their audience, so they made sure to bring back fan-favorite Janice back at least once a season. If you look back at her time on the show, you’ll see how Janice always appears at surprising or intimate times in our characters’ lives.
Maggie Wheeler explains that they would keep the actress backstage and hide parts of her under a black screen so the audience wouldn’t see her before she appeared.
The Finales Were Never Filmed Live
Of course, it makes sense to think about it, but the final moments of each episode were never filmed in front of an audience. This way, the cast and crew could make sure there were no spoilers and that the endings were always a hit. This is particularly careful planning considering that it was the time before social media!
Perhaps the biggest cliffhanger is when Ross says Rachel’s name at the altar to his wedding with Emily, or when Ross and Rachel got married in Vegas! What was your favorite season finale?
The One Who Never Received An Emmy Nomination…
Courtney Cox is the only actor over the 10-year period to never receive an Emmy nomination for her work. Hard to believe, when you consider her performance in the famous ‘Seven’ scene.
David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow received the first nominations in 1995. This was followed by Jennifer Aniston in 2000 and then Matt Le Blanc and Matthew Perry in 2002. Out of all the nominations, only Kudrow and Aniston won their awards over the 10-year run.
Before he played Phoebe’s half-brother Frank Junior, Giovanni Ribisi had an uncredited role as ‘Condom Boy’ in season two. Eager fans will spot him at the end of the episode going up to Phoebe and asking for it back after accidentally throwing it in her guitar case.
It’s not the only time there are continuity errors with guest stars. Another example is when Bruce Willis appeared towards the end of season six. However, Ross and Joey would clearly recognize him since their favorite film is Die Hard!
Matthew Perry’s Dad Guest Starred
Matthew Perry’s father, John Bennet Perry, guest-starred in season four as Joshua’s dad in The One With Rachel’s New Dress. Both stars share the same cheeky humor and delivery in the short but memorable appearance.
It’s not the only time a family member has guest-starred. In fact, Joshua was played by Aniston’s real-life boyfriend at the time, Tate Donovan. Later, her then-husband Brad Pitt appeared in a season eight episode. What was your favorite guest appearance on the show?
Marcel Was Played By Two Monkeys
Similar to how productions often use identical twins for children in roles, the part of Marcel was split between two monkeys in Friends’ freshman season. They both went on to ‘star’ in other productions like Bruce Almighty, 30 Rock, and more.
The first two seasons of Friends had frequent guest appearances by animals and children, making it tricky for the actors. As time went on, fewer children appeared on the show until later seasons when Ben grew up.
Matt LeBlanc Actually Broke His Arm
In the opening episode of season three’s The One With The Jam, we hear Joey dislocate his arm. It turns out the injury was real – and occurred while filming the previous episode The One Where No One’s Ready.
Joey then wore a cast for a few episodes without addressing it or incorporating it into any of the storylines. Usually, when actors get injured or pregnant, writers find imaginative ways to facilitate any new circumstances.
Phoebe Doesn’t Swear When She Loses At Ms. Pac-Man
In the famous few moments in season eight’s The One Where Joey Dates Rachel, Phoebe swears in front of Ben, Ross’ son. In a dramatic turn, the sound is removed and music is placed over the scene for comedic effect.
Despite the scene being silent, Lisa Kudrow revealed that she’s not saying anything too dirty just in case anyone read her lips. She admits she can’t remember what she was yelling at the time, so maybe someone can read her lips and tell us?
Cole Sprouse Had A Crush on Jennifer Aniston
Like father, like son! Apparently, during filming for the sitcom, one-half of the Sprouse twins admits his love for Rachel got him a little too distracted when filming his scenes. He admitted to being in love with Aniston during his appearances in seasons seven and eight.
Today, Dylan and Cole Sprouse have enjoyed strong careers starring in Big Daddy, as well as their own sitcom, The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. They attended NYU and can still be seen acting today.