- NBC’s “Friends” first aired in 1994 and even though it’s famous, there are a lot of things you may not know about the show.
- Jennifer Aniston was the last of the main six to officially join the cast. She also hated her haircut, “The Rachel.”
- The character Ross was created with David Schwimmer in mind, though he almost passed on reading for the part.
- Monica and Joey were originally meant to end up together, but the actors’ on-set chemistry changed the entire course of the show.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Even decades years later, NBC’s sitcom “Friends” (1994 – 2004) remains a touchstone in television history.
But whether you’ve recently discovered it on streaming services or you’ve been quoting it your entire life, there are a few things you may not know about the iconic series.
Here are 17 surprising things you never knew about “Friends.”
Monica and Joey were originally meant to end up together, but the actors’ on-set chemistry changed the course of the show.
“Friends” co-creator and executive producer Marta Kauffman explained to The Hollywood Reporter that a lot of aspects of the show changed as natural chemistry developed between cast members.
“You set out to do things, and then actors come in and they breathe life into it, and it’s not quite what you imagined it was going to be,” said Kauffman.
For instance, Monica (Courtney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) were only supposed to get together briefly before she was slated to end up with Joey (Matthew LeBlanc).
But when Monica and Chandler did get together on screen, viewers had such an enthusiastic response to the pairing that the Joey and Monica plotline was discarded.
“We were stunned,” said Kauffman. “So that’s when we sort of went, ‘Huh, guess this is going in a different direction.'”
Ross and Rachel were always going to end up together, even if it didn’t seem like it.
Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) may have become the quintessential will-they-won’t-they couple, but the show’s co-creator David Crane always knew the two would end up together.
Even when looking at alternative endings, he said it seemed impossible for him and Kauffman to end the show with Ross and Rachel completely broken up.
“We did talk about, with Ross and Rachel, a grey area of where they aren’t together, but we hint there’s a sense that they might be down the road,” Crane explained to Entertainment Weekly.
“But we thought, ‘No, if we’re going to do it, let’s do it.’ It’s the nature of our show. It’s not a show about grays. Let’s deliver not just what the audience wants, but what we want, which was to see them finally together,” he added.
Jennifer Aniston was the last of the main six to officially join the cast.
Now one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood, Aniston was still new to acting when the pilot of “Friends” was filmed.
In 2013, Aniston told Us Weekly that she was the last of the six main cast members to be added onto the series.
Unsure of her longevity on the show, she said she was asked to sit out of the main cast photos for the majority of the shoot because producers did not know if she would stay on as Rachel.
The entire cast went on a trip to Las Vegas before the show premiered.
“Friends” director James Burrows had such a good feeling about the show’s success before it premiered that he decided to take the cast to Las Vegas before their careers took off.
“I took them to Vegas,” Burrows told Us Weekly. “I had me and six of them and I said – I don’t know why I said this – I said, ‘This is your last shot at anonymity. Once the show comes on the air, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded.’ I knew the show had a chance to really take off.”
Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc wanted Phoebe and Joey to have a secret long-running affair.
In a joint interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kudrow (who played Phoebe Buffay) and LeBlanc shared that they had pitched an ending to the producers where Phoebe and Joey were revealed to have been sleeping together throughout the series.
“Towards the end we actually pitched the idea that Joey and Phoebe had been having casual sex the entire time,” said LeBlanc. “We’d go back and shoot all the historical scenes and just before a moment that everyone recognises, there’s Joey and Phoebe coming out of a broom closet together.”
He said producers passed on this plotline.
Like Monica, Cox was apparently quite a neat freak on set.
Kauffman spoke about working with Cox in a 1995 issue of The Los Angeles Times, noting the similarities Cox shared with her character, Monica.
“Let’s face it, she’s adorable and intelligent and really together. She is Monica,” said Kauffman.
“She has the neatest dressing room. She even cleans up the other actors’ dressing rooms because she won’t go in there if they are too messy,” she added.
Budget cuts led to the famed “The One Where No One’s Ready” episode.
The famous episode “The One Where No One’s Ready” is filmed entirely in Monica’s apartment as the friends struggle to make it out the door to Ross’ museum function.
And, on the television special “Friends: Final Thoughts,” the producers revealed that the episode was restricted to Monica’s apartment due to budget cuts. They couldn’t afford multiple filming locations.
Bonus: The episode is so notable that Jay-Z later parodied it in his “Moonlight” music video.
NBC’s broadcast standards kept changing throughout the show’s run.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the show’s co-creators Crane and Kauffman expressed their struggle to keep up with the network’s constantly changing rules.
“For a long time, we couldn’t show a condom wrapper,” said Kauffman.
“The rules kept changing,” added Crane. “For the first three years, we could say ‘penis.’ Then we couldn’t say ‘penis.’ Then we could say ‘penis’ again.”
In what seems like a simple writing goof, Ross didn’t age for three years.
During seasons three, four, and five of “Friends” Ross (David Schwimmer) references being 29 years old, which means that he did not age for three years on the show.
Although it’s probably just a writing goof that was overlooked, perhaps Ross just lied about his age because he was insecure about turning 30.
Justin Timberlake wanted to guest-star on the show.
Despite getting big names like Bruce Willis, Robin Williams, and Julia Roberts to guest-star on the show, Kauffman and Crane still regret the fact that they couldn’t find a way to fit Justin Timberlake into “Friends.”
“We got a call that Justin Timberlake wanted to do the show,” said Kauffman. Crane said Timberlake was “lovely” to meet, but the two couldn’t think of a good part for him.
“My kids were furious,” Kauffman said. “They wanted to kill me.”
Jennifer Aniston hated her iconic haircut.
Often dubbed “The Rachel,” a short haircut with full-bodied layers became a huge trend after Aniston styled her hair that way on “Friends.”
“I was not a fan of the ‘Rachel.'” Aniston told Glamour in 2015. “That was kind of cringe-y for me.”
The actress said she wasn’t even able to style her hair on her own – she had to rely on her hairstylist to do it for her.
The character Ross was created with David Schwimmer in mind.
Warren Littlefield, the president of NBC from 1990 until 1998, said that the character of Ross was created specifically for Schwimmer.
“Marta and David early on were big fans of David Schwimmer and really wrote the character of Ross with Schwimmer in mind,” Littlefield told the Emmys.
But, Schwimmer almost skipped on reading for the part.
“At the time, David was thinking, ‘You know what. I’m just going to go back and do theatre.’ But his agent doggedly pursued him to read the script and come back from Chicago to read for the role,” he added.
By season three, the cast began to leverage their pay as a group, a first in TV history.
By the end of the series, they reportedly each earned $US1 million per episode.
Aniston still remembers what Kudrow was wearing when they met at the show’s table read.
“You were wearing an appropriate Phoebe Buffay – like a white linen, hippie shirt, and you had a bunch of seashells and necklaces on,” Aniston recalled to Kudrow in a feature with Variety. “And you had your hair pulled up in two little clips, and you had these little blond tendrils.”
Kudrow said she was still trying to get into character even though she already had the role.
Aniston said she also remembers Cox’s table-read outfit, “a pink baby tee with a white trim.”
LeBlanc’s dislocated shoulder had to be written into the show.
In an interview with Glamour, LeBlanc said he once injured his shoulder on set and it had to be written into the show.
“The commando episode [“The One Where No One is Ready”] was the week I dislocated my shoulder and I had to go to the hospital,” said LeBlanc. “They wrote that in, I remember, as Joey jumping on the bed.”
Kudrow once asked Perry’s permission to have her character mimic Chandler’s iconic cadence.
On “The One Where Everybody Finds Out,” when Phoebe sees Monica and Chandler undressing each other, Phoebe says, “My eyes! My eyes!”
Kudrow actually asked for Perry’s permission before mimicking his character’s style with that line.
“That’s how Matthew Perry said things. I actually asked his permission before we shot it,” the actress said in the Variety feature, speaking of that scene. “I was like, ‘I don’t know if you’ve seen the rehearsals, but I’m saying ‘My eyes! My eyes!’ the way you do. So I just need to know that that’s OK with you. If not, I’ll say it a different way. And he was like, ‘Yeah, go for it.'”
Aniston added that she felt that “Matthew required us to ask permission when we borrowed Chandler’s cadence.”
Kauffman doesn’t want the show to be rebooted or revived.
Although there are reports of a “Friends” reunion constantly swirling around the internet, Kauffman has frequently dispelled the idea of doing a continuation of the show she helped create.
“The show is about that time in your life when your friends are your family – that’s what the show was about,” said Kauffman.
She said she felt that once Monica and Chandler started their own family and left the apartment during the finale, the story had finally moved on beyond the characters.
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