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Everybody Loves Raymond Almost Had A Way Different Title

Everybody Loves Raymond was one of the last big network sitcoms, and it was such a cozy, funny series that it now sits comfortably alongside The Andy Griffith Show and Golden Girls reruns on TV Land. Clearly, almost everybody really does love Raymond — but that doesn't change the fact that the show's title is a bold choice. Consider, for a minute, how Everybody Loves Raymond is the kind of title that's just begging critics to take a swing at it.

Luckily for star Ray Romano, the show became a major hit. Although, if you ask Romano, he might say the show's success was also a bit of a curse, because he was adamantly against a title he knew would haunt him for the rest of his days. 

For one, fans of the comedy know that there's an element of sarcasm built into the name. On the show, sports writer Ray is doted on by his mother, in particular, and his dad is also proud of his youngest son's successful career. This leads to his cop brother, Robert (Brad Garrett), feeling a sense of bitterness that causes him to bemoan, in the pilot, how "Everybody loves Raymond." Still, at its heart, Everybody Loves Raymond is a simple family sitcom that orbits around Ray and his interactions with his parents, wife, and brother, so on that level, the title is both fitting, and a clever nod to how often Ray finds himself stuck in the middle of family spats. 

However, poor Romano just knew he was inviting a lifetime of jokes by allowing a show loosely based on his life to have such a presumptive title, and he was willing to do almost anything to ensure Everybody Loves Raymond was called literally anything else.

Everybody Loves Raymond series creator Phil Rosenthal came up with the divisive title

Despite Romano's fervent protests, Rosenthal knew Everybody Loves Raymond was the perfect title. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he revealed that he sold the script with the title attached, making it clear there was never a second choice for him. Romano, on the other hand, had a long list of alternative titles ready to go, if only anyone would listen.

"I put Everybody Loves Raymond on the original script," Rosenthal explained. "What I loved about it was that it was like I Love Lucy, and I was trying to do an old-fashioned show — a traditional sitcom to break out from everything hip and edgy at the time. Plus, it had that specificity: Once you knew the show, you got that the title spoke to sibling rivalries, problems with parents, problems with your wife."

But when Rosenthal presented the title to Romano, the star could only see all the ways the show's name could backfire. According to Rosenthal, the actor pointed out that giving the show a name with adulation built in was like asking critics to dump on it. More importantly, it meant painting a target on his own back. "Even though you love and hate yourself, you hate yourself more, so the last thing you want is the show to be called Everybody Loves You," Romano said to Entertainment Weekly in 2005. 

Still, what else did Romano see as an alternative? Well, he a few.

Romano made a list of truly terrible list of alternate Everybody Loves Raymond titles

Unwilling to march willingly into a future where everyone joked about how lovable he was, Romano got to work making a list of potential titles to present to Rosenthal and the head honchos at CBS. The list, which was written on a piece of notebook paper, included these suggestions: That Raymond Guy, Raymond's Way, What's With Raymond?, I'm Raymond, Raymond's House, Raymond's Game, and Relating to Raymond

Every single one of the actor's suggestions were shot down — and it's easy to see why. I'm Raymond doesn't exactly scream hit comedy, although the image of Romano desperately scribbling a list of the most inoffensive show titles ever to present to the former head of CBS, Les Moonves, is hilarious. Even though Moonves rejected all of Romano's pitches, he did promise that if the show became a top 15 hit, then the actor could change the title to whatever he wanted to. Sure enough, when Everybody Loves Raymond achieved that feat in its third season, Romano immediately called up his boss and asked him to make good on his promise. "The moment we crossed the threshold, Ray calls Les and says, 'Can we change the title now?'" Rosenthal told THR. "And, of course, Les says, 'You can't change the title now. You're a top 15 show!'"

Even though Romano's efforts to change the show's name failed, his list of suggestions live on as a reminder that sometimes you just have to take one for the team. And hey, there are worse ways to be remembered than as the guy that everyone loves — well, everyone except poor Robert, anyway.