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The Surprising Original Titles That We Almost Had For Friends

Nearly 20 years have elapsed since the series finale of "Friends" hit the airwaves, but the legendary program refuses to become a thing of the past. Thanks in large part to streaming services becoming a premier way of consuming media and HBO Max's once-in-a-lifetime cast reunion special, it has kept itself just as relevant today as it was when it arrived on the small screen in 1994. Its enduring presence in the digital age has allowed fans new and old to learn more about how it came to be behind the scenes, finding a new level of appreciation for it as a result.

One element of the show that is worthy of recognition is the brilliant simplicity of its title: "Friends." For a show dedicated to following the lives of six young adults — Ross (David Schwimmer), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Monica (Courteney Cox), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Chandler (Matthew Perry) — and the urban adventures they find themselves embarking on, the succinct, one-word label designated to it was highly effective. It tells viewers all they need to know about the plot without overexplaining what they're in for.

Though "Friends" is arguably the perfect title for the series, it wasn't the first choice those behind it came up with back in the mid-1990s. Here are the surprising alternate ones they had in mind and why they didn't make the cut.

Friends' title underwent a significant number of changes

"Friends" is the brainchild of creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, who reworked just about every aspect of it in some way or another ahead of its premiere. The title of the show was no exception, originally pitched as "Insomnia Cafe," according to Factinate. In hindsight, this isn't the most inappropriate choice in the world, especially considering the importance of the Central Perk coffeehouse as a common setting. However, when NBC bought the pilot, Crane and Kauffman wound up changing the name to "Friends Like Us." On paper, this idea made sense, but it sounded far too similar to another sitcom that was airing on ABC at the time, "These Friends of Mine." 

By this point, the pilot was in the process of being shot, and everyone was under the impression that "Six of One" was the final choice. As one could imagine, it didn't quite stick either, sending everyone back to the drawing board yet again. As mentioned by Screen Rant, then-NBC president Warren Littlefield recommended "Across the Hall" as a replacement, but with its debut drawing closer, it was decided that "Friends" would be the official title. Sure enough, this is the option Crane, Kauffman, and the folks at NBC went with for good, and the rest is history.

Looking back, one has to wonder if the program would have taken off without the "Friends" name. Perhaps it would have still found tremendous success thanks to the talented cast it assembled, or maybe it would have failed to catch on and end up stranded in the short-lived sitcom graveyard. We'll never truly know for certain, but suffice to say, all of the back and forth worked out for the best.