Friends & Parks And Recreation In The Same Universe According To One Theory

"Friends" is one of those cultural phenomenons that permeated society to the point that it spans generations. Parents and children alike can sit down and binge the series and never miss a quote. You could say it has the ability to bring us together like few other shows can. According to one Reddit theory, it may also not be a standalone series, as it very well could have sparked a spin-off on NBC years later with "Parks and Recreation."

One fan, u/Phefflin, noticed something compelling on a rewatch and posted their theory that connects Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) directly to "Parks and Recreation." "So I was watching 'Friends' on Netflix a few days ago. Season 7, episode 9. The bit starts at around 3:20. Rachel is saying that she doesn't sleep with guys on the first date when Monica brings up a few names, including Ben Wyatt. Both shows were on NBC, so it wouldn't be too difficult to imagine they're in the same universe. After doing the math, at the time of season 7 of 'Friends' (2000), Rachel is 29 years old. At the same time, Ben would be 26, slightly younger but still within the range of a relationship."

To actually dive into this theory, we would have to ignore Leslie Knope' (Amy Poehler) mentioning Jennifer Aniston the actor. And obviously, Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) didn't physically appear in the series, but the idea that he could be the missing link connecting two of the world's best sitcoms fills us with the desire to scour both shows to find more evidence and maybe even more connections to give us the excuse to do our fiftieth rewatch of both. 

Ben Wyatt could make Friends a spin-off

There isn't a lot of evidence for the crossover to be solid enough to take this from theory to verifiable spin-off, but the characters' personalities and tendencies could support the notion that the two could have had a fling. Whether it was during the airing of the series or before the series began, we can look at the character of Ben Wyatt and see how Rachel Green could get caught up in his charm. 

First things first, as a mayor of a town at the young age of 18, he is exactly the kind of guy the Green family would have pushed on Rachel. A politician with a star rising fast enough to put him in high office by the time he graduates high school could almost certainly carry on the lifestyle Rachel is accustomed to. One further part of his character is his history with money. After bankrupting his town, he became an auditor to help others avoid the stress and embarrassment of bankruptcy. "So in conclusion, I think at some point after Ben left Partridge, Minnesota in shame after his failure as mayor, he went to NYC for a brief time, met Rachel, and either had a one night stand, or a relationship," u/Phefflin states.

With Rachel cutting herself off from her family's money, she dove deep into debt, something Ben could effectively coach her out of. Aside from the mere mention of his very run-of-the-mill name, Ben Wyatt doesn't appear in "Friends," but there could also be one other person's actual appearance in both series that lends this theory of little support for the spin-off idea. 

Paul Rudd offers another connection

Paul Rudd ("I Love You, Man," "Ant-Man") showed up in Season 9 of "Friends" as Mike Hannigan. The former lawyer-turned-pianist met the "Friends" gang when he agrees to go on a blind date with Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow). He ended up marrying her and becoming her third husband, providing a solid love interest for the aloof Phoebe until the series ended a season later. 

Paul Rudd also appeared in "Parks and Recreation" as Bobby Newport. He is a rival to Leslie Knope in the run for city council. He is unintelligent and entitled, thanks to his family's money, and his campaign is well-funded. While he is the frontrunner in the 5-episode run during the campaign, he ultimately loses the seat to Knope. 

One Redditor, u/thecoletrain, offers his theory of how this connection would work, "They're estranged twin brothers. Mike Hannigan was cut off from his rich family when he quit being a lawyer to play the piano professionally. Between that and his messy divorce, he changed his name in an attempt to start over." The idea that both Mike and Phoebe could be estranged from the only family they have left is a great connection and bonding characteristic. Real or not, this theory of the two series being connected makes you see both of them in a fun new light.