Now that Friends is on Netflix, fans can re-live every Thanksgiving, every love triangle, and every Phoebe Buffay original song. After watching the show innumerable times, I feel like I know everything there is to know about Rachel, Monica, Joey, Chandler, Ross, and Phoebe. However, like every great television series, its history is as fascinating and captivating as the show itself. It's been 21 years since the first episode aired, and I still can't get enough of the Central Perk gang. It started as a little sitcom about twentysomethings trying to figure it all out in New York and became NBC's powerhouse series that catapulted its cast into mega fame... and a million dollar paycheck per episode. And yet, even know, there are plenty of surprising facts about Friends that even the most diehard fan might not know.
Had NBC not taken a chance on Friends, we wouldn't have iconic pick up lines like, "How you doin'?," or know the joy and wonder that is "Smelly Cat." Friends lasted for a whopping 10 seasons and is still a show I talk about with my friends all these years later. Even though I may never get to the bottom of the lingering mysteries that live on even after the Friends series finale, here are a few lesser known facts about the classic comedy.
1. Courteney Cox Was Asked To Play Rachel
The creators had a more Janeane Garofalo-type character in their vision for Monica according to Vanity Fair's Oral History, but, when Cox asked to read for that part, they changed their minds.
2. Monica And Joey Were Supposed To Be The Show's Main Couple
Before casting, Monica and Joey were the intended central couple. It's hard to imagine what the show would have been like if that had been the case.
3. Monica And Chandler's Relationship Was Pitched In Season 3
Even though it didn't actually happen until the very end of Season 4. The show's writers wanted to take time to really make the idea work, according to an interview with Vulture.
4. It Was Also the Reason Why The Show Lasted So Long
Fans wouldn't have been emotionally ready to handle Ross and Rachel's will they/won't they for as long as they did were it not for the palate cleanser that was Monica and Chandler. According to Executive Producer Scott Silveri in his Vulture interview, "Without Monica and Chandler, it ends three years earlier. I don't owe my whole house to them, but at least two bedrooms and a bath are because of them."
5. The Name Of The Show During The Pilot Was Friends Like Us
That's worse than imagining what Ugly Naked Guy really looked like. Producers also toyed with the name Six of One. Oddly enough, NBC execs at the time simply thought Friends was a boring title, according to the Vanity Fair oral history.
6. Matthew Perry Was Filming A Pilot For Fox When He Auditioned For Chandler
The show was called LAX2194 — a series about baggage handlers in LAX during the year 2194. Perry almost gave up his role on Friends to do it, he told Seth Meyers during an interview (above).
7. Jennifer Aniston Also Almost Lost The Role Of Rachel Because Of Another Series
While starting Friends, Aniston was filming a series called Muddling Through . Her commitments were becoming too complicated, and the execs almost pulled her off of the show, according to Aniston, who spoke about the show at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival press conference in January. Thankfully Muddling Through only lasted a few months, and Aniston could give her all to Friends.
8. Ellen DeGeneres Turned Down The Role Of Phoebe Buffay
It all turned out for the best considering how stellar Lisa Kudrow was and how successful DeGeneres became despite turning down one of the biggest sitcoms of all time.
9. "Shiny Happy People" By R.E.M. Was Almost The Theme Song
It doesn't make you want to swim in a fountain quite like The Rembrandts' "I'll Be There For You" does. Although Michael Stipe really would have made the show the ultimate '90s treat.
10. Bruce Willis Appeared On The Show For Free
While working on The Whole Nine Yards together, Matthew Perry and Bruce Willis made a bet over whether or not their film would debut in first place at the box office. It did, and Willis lost. The "punishment" was to appear on Friends for free. He ended up doing three episodes, and won an Emmy for his guest appearance. As Comic Book Resources has pointed out, this story might not be true, but it's more fun to think that it is.
11. The Frame On The Peephole Was Originally A Mirror
It was broken by a crew member, but the set designer decided to keep it as-is, according to an oft told Friends tale. Now, it's the most iconic picture frame in television history.
Images: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy (7)