Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Friends Almost Cut These Two Main Characters

TV shows frequently go through major changes in the development process, and "Friends" was no exception. The journey from David Crane and Marta Kauffman's original idea of a show about the lives of twentysomething friends beginning to live by themselves in New York City to the premiere of "Friends" on September 22, 1994 was full of twists and turns, from structural changes to casting switcheroos to head-butting between the creators and NBC execs.

There may be a world out there in which "Friends" had Courteney Cox in the role of Rachel instead of Monica, for instance, as Crane and Kauffman originally believed that Cox's cheerful energy was better-suited to the perkiest of the girls (via NBC News). Titles the project had in its early stages before arriving at its perfect one-word chyron included "Insomnia Cafe," "Friends Like Us," and "Six of One." Instead of Ross and Rachel, the show's big romantic plans revolved around — take a breath — Joey and Monica, before Crane and Kauffman thankfully changed their minds while writing the pilot. 

However, all of that is not even getting into the biggest what-if of the "Friends" development history: Originally, it was supposed to have four main characters instead of six.

Phoebe and Chandler were originally supposed to be secondary characters

Every character on "Friends" brings something unique to the ensemble dynamic: Monica is the responsible one and acts as the "mother" of the group despite her young age, Rachel is the heart, Joey is the troublemaking but loyal id, Ross is the grounded and more grizzled sad clown, Phoebe is the wildcard, and Chandler is the snarky observer of everyone else. It's impossible to imagine the show working without any of them.

And yet, in a bonus feature titled "Friends: Final Thoughts" included in the final season's home video release, Marta Kauffman revealed that "When we first pitched the show, although we always said it was an ensemble show, we kind of thought of Phoebe and Chandler as a little more secondary — they'll provide humor when we need it." Of course, eventually, Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry proved indispensable: "They gave us much, much more than that. They became so central to the ensemble," Kauffman said.

It's almost possible to imagine a version of "Friends" with Phoebe or Chandler as minor characters if you really stretch, since, at least in the show's early going, they did have a certain outsider quality to them. Storylines with just the two of them were rare, as were pairings of Phoebe-Ross and Chandler-Rachel. But thankfully, the version of "Friends" we did get features enough of both to have made them fan-favorite characters.