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The Friends Storyline That Still Has Fans Scratching Their Head

You could forgive a show that ran for 10 seasons and had six main characters for letting a major plotline slip from memory. If you remember the entire "Friends" story, you know that all of the characters grow up a lot over that decade and go through drastic life changes. There are weddings, divorces (mainly Ross'), babies, breakups (or not), job changes, a monkey, a potential move to Paris, and a secretly purchased house in the suburbs to keep track of. However, by the time the series starts, one character has already been through enough life challenges and changes to have their own prequel series. Although judging by the theory that changes everything on "Friends," it probably wouldn't be a comedy.

When we meet Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) in the pilot, she cheerfully explains to New York newbie Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) that she moved to the city as a 14-year-old after her mother had died by suicide. She adds that her biological father had long since abandoned his family and that her stepfather is back in prison.

Over the course of the show, Phoebe learns more about her biological family and meets some of its members. But one major part of her family tree that is mentioned in that pilot episode and abandoned in later seasons still has fans scratching their heads.

What happened to Phoebe's dad?

Phoebe's quest to find her dad begins in earnest on Christmas Eve Eve in Season 2, Episode 9. When Ross (David Schwimmer) is showing off the gifts he's bought, Phoebe tells everyone that the man in the photo frame is her father. Cue awkward glances around the group. Some gentle prodding from Monica (Courteney Cox) and a conversation with her maternal grandmother Frances (Audra Marie Lindley) reveal that Phoebe's dad Frank is actually a pharmacist somewhere in Upstate New York, and not a world-renowned tree surgeon.

Accompanied by Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Phoebe drives to Frank's house, but can't bring herself to knock. Later that season (Episode 22, to be exact), she tries again, with Rachel and Joey offering their support. Again, she changes her mind at the front door. But circumstances involving a Jack Russell terrier intervene, and she instead meets her half-brother Frank Jr. (Giovanni Ribisi — which may be why the Amazon Prime Original actor looks so familiar.)

It takes three more years for Phoebe and Frank Sr. (Bob Balaban) to meet in person. After he unexpectedly turns up at Frances' funeral (in Season 5, Episode 13, for those who are keeping count), the father and daughter have an awkward conversation in Central Perk. Phoebe struggles to relate to the man who abandoned her, but it also seems like she's open to slowly building a relationship with him.

Unfortunately, he vanishes completely after that meeting, and this is disappointing. The series spent several episodes having Phoebe work up the courage to confront Frank Sr., only to finally meet him once, express openness to working on their relationship, and never see him again. This decision freed the show up to spend more time on other storylines, but it feels like another familial loss for Phoebe.