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 settings—in 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.
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!
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!
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).
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 monkey—which was actually played by two monkeys.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
David Schwimmer directed 10 episodes of the show. Was there anything Ross couldn’t do?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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