50 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Friends

October 9, 2019 | Miles Brucker

50 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Friends

On air for 10 seasons that spanned over 10 years, the show Friends is beloved for its mix of light-hearted humor, unique characters, A-list guest stars, and comforting settingsin the hustle and bustle of New York City, what space was cozier than Central Perk or Monica's apartment? Friends became a juggernaut from the first season it aired, spawning tons of imitators and making stars out of each of its cast members.

Who could forget "The One With the Prom Dress" or "The One With All the Wedding Dresses?" Friends will live on forever in syndication and on streaming sites, always ready for a marathon on a rainy Sunday afternoon, accompanied by a big cup of coffee, of course. 

Here are 50 behind-the-scenes facts about Friends.

Friends facts

Friends Facts

50. The Many Lives of Ursula Buffay

Many people know that the character of Ursula Buffay was technically created before Phoebe—having been a recurring character on the show Mad About You, which debuted two years before Friends. The writers of Friends decided to write Ursula into the show as Phoebe’s twin and the rest is history.

For those Friends fans who never followed through with Mad About You, few might know what the future held for Ursula Buffay. The season finale of Mad About You, which aired in 1999, was set 22 years in the future. In the finale, it's shown that Ursula ended up becoming the Governor of New York. Looks like she didn’t let her career in adult films hold her back!

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

49. The Fab Four

In one of the original conceptions of the series, it would have focused on a group of four friends, relegating two of the six friends to recurring, instead of regular roles. Those two were Phoebe and Chandler. Imagine if they’d gone through with that plan? An episode without Phoebe is like a day without sunshine!

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

48. Soap Connections

Although Joey famously appeared on Days of Our Lives, the show’s creators were apparently bigger fans of another soap opera: All My Children. The names of all six friends were taken from characters on the long-running show, although with some permutations (Monique became Monica, for example).

Friends factsGetty Images

47. The Fate of Dr. Drake

Joey’s time on Days of Our Lives came to an end not long after it began, when his character, Dr. Drake Ramoray, fell into a coma that no neurosurgeon was skilled enough to get him out of—in fact, it’s said the only doctor smart enough would’ve been Dr. Drake himself.

Of course, he was then brought back to life in season 7, the recipient of a brain transplant from the character of Jessica Lockhart.

So what ultimately happened to Drake Ramoray? The character made it all the way to the spin-off Joey, where it was revealed that the character had been killed off once more—but luckily, Joey got an award for “Best Death Scene” out of it.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

46. Goth Girl

Although she ultimately turned out a bit of a hippie (or hippy-dippy), the character of Phoebe was originally supposed to be Goth! Instead of “Smelly Cat,” would she have been performing covers of The Cure or Sisters of Mercy songs at Central Perk?

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

45. Kiss And Tell

All the main cast members have kissed each other at one point or another on the show (including alternative “what if” episodes). The only two that never shared an on-screen kiss were Monica and Phoebe.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

44. Judgy

In the pilot episode, Monica forgets the name of the guy she sleeps with. The producers were so worried that audiences would dislike her for this that they did a survey to see if they should change it. Test audiences didn’t judge her for it at all, and the story wasn’t changed! And so, the iconic pilot kicked off the 10-season Friends journey.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

43. Saying Goodbye

The set of Central Perk was actually torn down so that the crew could build the airport set where Ross and Rachel say goodbye in the series finale. So, in the final scene, when Rachel asks if they want to get one last coffee, and Chandler asks “Where?” it was actually sincere, since there was nowhere for them to go!

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

42. No Sleep

The show was originally going to be titled Insomnia Cafe. Once NBC bought the pilot, the title was changed to Friends Like Us. A few other names were thrown around, and when the pilot was shot the title was Six Of One. By the time the show aired, they had landed on Friends. Sometimes simplicity is best!

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

41.  Outcasts

The cast of the show could have been very different. Jane Lynch and Kathy Griffin both auditioned for the role of Phoebe, while Jon Favreau and Jon Cryer both auditioned for the role of Chandler. We think whoever did the casting made the right choice.

Friends facts

 Jane Lynch

40. The Famous One

When the show aired, Courteney Cox was the most famous cast member, having appeared in several commercials and perhaps most memorably, in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” music video.

Fun fact: Carlton’s dance from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air was the inspired by Courteney’s dancing in the music video.

Friends facts

39. Schwinning

Executive producer Kevin Bright had worked with David Schwimmer before, and when the show was being written, the character of Ross was written with Schwimmer in mind. It came as no surprise when Schwimmer was the first actor to be cast in the show.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

38. Uncredited

The opening of the show has a fountain in it that looks like Pulitzer Fountain in Central Park, but it was actually shot on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California. Keep that in mind the next time your Central Park tour guide tries to pull a fast one on you.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

37. Unlucky

James Burrows, who had a stint as a director on the show in its early years, took the cast to Las Vegas before the show aired. He encouraged the cast to enjoy their last bit of anonymity, because he had a “good feeling” about the show.

Friends factsPixabay

36. Strings Attached

Lisa Kudrow hated playing the guitar. She was having a hard time learning to play and offered to play bongos as a replacement. Eventually, a guitar teacher was brought in, but that didn’t last long. Once Lisa knew a few chords, she declared that she was “done” and convinced the producers that Phoebe would only know a few chords anyway. Nicely done.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

35. Takes Time

An episode of Friends took roughly five hours to shoot, requiring multiple takes of each scene and 20 minutes to change sets. This was all done in front of a live audience as a way of testing the jokes before the show went to air. The only thing they didn’t shoot in front of a live audience were certain cliffhangers, so as not to spoil the story for fans watching.

Friends factsPxhere

34. Confused

Lisa Kudrow originally thought Chandler was gay, and was surprised to hear that he wasn’t at the first table read. It wasn’t just Kudrow who thought this about Chandler, as many fans speculated about his sexuality. Show creator David Crane had to clarify that Chandler was not gay in a 1997 interview.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

33. Teamwork

When Friends began in 1994, the cast started off making $22,000 an episode. By the sixth season, everyone was earning a different amount per episode, but the cast got together and demanded everyone get an equal share. Leveraging their power as a cast, they were able to successfully ensure everyone got the same amount of money, eventually earning $1 million per episode by the final season.

Friends factsPixabay

32. Numbers Game

The numbers on Monica’s and Chandler’s apartments were originally 5 and 4 respectively. After the producers realized this didn’t make sense since they both lived on a high floor, they changed the apartments to 20 and 19, respectively.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

31. Kudroppleganger

Lisa Kudrow was already playing the role of Ursula the waitress in Mad About You when she was cast as Phoebe. The producers decided to address her other role, and had Kudrow play Ursula on friends as Phoebe’s cold twin sister.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

30. Baby Trouble

When Lisa Kudrow got pregnant with her son, the writers decided to write her pregnancy into the show by having Phoebe act as a surrogate for her brother’s triplets.

Courteney Cox also got pregnant towards the end of the show with her daughter, but the writers didn’t write that into the show because they’d already established that Monica and Chandler couldn’t have kids. They hid Courteney’s pregnancy with costumes, props, and camera angles.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

29. Seventh Friend

The Magna Doodle that was on the back of Joey’s and Chandler’s door was prominently featured every time a character came through their door, and always had a different doodle on it. Fans eventually became very interested in the Magna Doodle, trying to decode the doodles for hidden meanings. Paul Swain, who was responsible for most of the doodles and also worked on set as a best boy on the electric crew said there were no hidden meanings. Bummer.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

28. Phoebe Or Not To Be

Ellen DeGeneres turned down an offer to play the role of Phoebe. Don’t worry, Ellen’s career turned out just fine despite her decision.

Friends facts

27. Animal House

Lisa Kudrow was afraid of the duck that appeared on the show.

Ross also had a monkey pet that had to be written out of the show because it became time-consuming to shoot the scenes involving the monkeywhich was actually played by two monkeys.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

26. Dada!

One of the hardest scenes to film in the entire show was the episode where Rachel hears Ben's (Ross's son) first words. When prompted to say "dada," the young actor was supposed to remain silent. Unfortunately, the kid kept actuallly saying "dada."

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

25. Flammable

In season three, Phoebe makes a cardboard model house that catches fire. To ensure that the production team got the shot they needed, they made six identical model houses, in three days. That’s two houses per day!

Friends factsPixabay

24. Tough Times

Matthew Perry had to go to rehab twice during the show’s run. He said he would often show up to work hung over, but stated that he never took drugs or alcohol while on set. Even when you’re a famous and successful actor, you sometimes need a helping hand.

Friends factsGetty Images

23. Cuddle Puddle

The cast of the show would have a group hug before filming each episode as a way to bond and feel like actual friends. Awww.

Friends facts

22. What’s In A Name

The famous manager of Central Perk, Gunther, didn’t actually have a name until the middle of the second season, despite appearing in the show regularly up until that point. He also didn't speak for 33 whole episodes! He finally said "Yeah" after all that time. Talk about gradual character development!

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

21. Central Perks

While there is no real Central Perk coffee shop in New York City, the fictitious hang out favored by the cast of Friends, there are real-life recreations of the coffee shop: one in Beijing and one in Liverpool. The Friends stars don’t hang out at either location, unfortunately.

Friends facts

20. Not Gonna Happen

Fans of the show have been very vocal in their desire to see a reunion episode, but show stars and creators have said time and time again that the show will not be getting one. For the time being, the closest thing to a reunion episode is sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Friends factsPixabay

19. Unlikely

When the show was first written, Monica and Joey were supposed to be love interests. That would have been weird for everyone. Thank goodness that’s not how things went down.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

18. Dog Sitting

Joey and Chandler’s big white ceramic dog was actually Jennifer Aniston’s. A friend gave her the dog as a good luck present when the show started.

Friends factsFriends Tv Show

17. The Simpsons Connection

Three The Simpsons cast members made guest appearances on Friends. Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer all appeared on the show at different times. You might recognize those names better as Homer, Moe, and Mr. Burns, respectively.

Friends facts

Hank Azaria

16. Time Warp

Courteney Cox, who played Monica, is actually older than David Schwimmer who played Ross, despite Monica being Ross’ younger sister on the show.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

15. True Romance

The central romantic plot of the show wasn’t intended to be Ross and Rachel, but after seeing the chemistry Schwimmer and Aniston had on the show, the producers decided to make them the leading romantic plot through the seasons.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

14. Simpsons Part 2

Hank Azaria (Moe, and many others from The Simpsons) auditioned twice for the role of Joey, before losing the role to Matt LeBlanc.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

13. Truth In Comedy

Chandler was written as awkward around women because Matthew Perry admitted to the producers that he himself was awkward around women. The best acting is no acting.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

12. Last But Not Least

Though she eventually became the show’s biggest star, Jennifer Aniston was the last actor to be cast of the six main cast members. Looks like they saved the best for last.

Friends facts

11. Diner Or Cafe

NBC originally thought Central Perk was too trendy a hang out for the Friends cast, and wanted the cast to hang out in a diner like Seinfeld. The show would go on to rival Seinfeld, so it’s a good thing they didn’t bite Seinfeld’s style.

Friends facts Getty Images

10. Rachel Or Monica

Producers originally wanted Courteney Cox to play Rachel but she asked to play Monica because the character was “so strong.” Jennifer Aniston probably had no qualms about it, as she was eventually cast to play Rachel.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

9. Time Warp Part 2

On the show, Ross was 29 years old for three seasons, even though Christmas and Thanksgiving episodes aired in those three seasons to show the passage of time. What’s your secret Ross?

Friends facts Pixabay

8. Baby Trouble Part 2

Much like Chandler and Monica, Courteney Cox and her real-life husband David Arquette had a hard time getting pregnant. Unlike the show though, Courteney and David were able to have a child, while Chandler and Monica were unable to have a child together.

Friends facts

7. Bad Luck

The frame around the peephole in Monica’s apartment originally had a mirror in it, but the production staff broke it during the early stages of filming. The producers liked the look of the frame and decided to keep it there.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

6. Directions

David Schwimmer directed 10 episodes of the show. Was there anything Ross couldn’t do?

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

5. You’d Want to Be Anonymous Too

Although he was certainly mentioned more often than he appeared, there was a real actor behind the role of “Ugly Naked Guy.” But his real name wasn’t revealed until 2016! A writer from the Huffington Post spent a year trying to find the man behind the bod, eventually discovering it to be actor Jon Haugen. Presumably, having your name appear next to the words “Ugly Naked Guy” wasn’t that appealing to Haugen, so he remained anonymous for years.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

4. Don’t Be Tardy For the Party

Jennifer Aniston had a serious tardiness problem—to the point where the cast eventually had an intervention to confront her about it, led by David Schwimmer. Imagine getting paid $1 million to do anything and being late? Sigh.

Friends facts Pxhere

3. Just Married

Before the sixth season’s premiere, Courteney Cox married David Arquette and changed her name to Courteney Cox Arquette. The rest of the cast followed suit and added Arquette to the end of their name for the opening credits of season’s premiere episode. The episode was also dedicated to the newly married couple.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

2. Gambling Man

Matthew Perry was filming The Whole Nine Yards with Bruce Willis when he bet Willis that the movie would open at number 1 in the box offices. Bruce disagreed, so when the movie opened at number 1 in the box offices, Perry had Willis donate his earnings from his guest appearance on Friends to charity.

Friends facts Friends Tv Show

1. Too Famous

Near the end of the show, Jennifer Aniston was arguably the most famous cast member thanks to several movies and then-husband Brad Pitt. Aniston said she was dealing with a couple of “issues” at the time, and nearly didn’t make it back for the show’s final season. She eventually agreed to be a part of the show’s final season.

Friends facts

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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