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Things About Friends Only Superfans Know

For 10 seasons and 236 glorious episodes, "Friends" delivers the laughs. The show is one of the most popular and beloved sitcoms ever made, and has been watched over 100 billion times, according to "Friends: The Reunion." In order to get that kind of viewership, a series has to have a loyal fanbase who watches the show over and over again. And boy, are "Friends" fans a passionate bunch.

The fandom was up in arms in 2018 when Netflix revealed they would be dropping the show. The outrage was so intense, it prompted the streamer to shell out $100 million to keep "Friends" for another year, according to The New York Times. That's what happens when you have an army of superfans at your back. There's nothing these devotees don't know about the series — and rest assured, these fans are just as familiar with what played out on screen as they are with what went on behind the scenes. 

Curious? Then you're in luck: We've compiled a list of the craziest "Friends" facts only superfans know. If you're just a casual "Friends" viewer, these revelations might change the way you watch the show from now on. If you're a hardcore "Friends" acolyte, then consider this a test of your knowledge. Either way, get ready for a deep dive into all things Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Monica, and Chandler.

Friends had several working titles

It's not unusual for a television series — or movie, for that matter — to go through several titles before landing on the final one. "Friends" is no exception: It bore a handful of working titles before it was officially dubbed.

According to a 2004 interview with NBC News, co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane came up with the title "Insomnia Cafe" shortly after deciding on the premise of their series: 20-somethings navigating life and love in New York City. At this point, they hadn't taken the story to NBC yet, and when they did, the title was changed to "Friends Like Us."

Eventually, that title was changed to "Six of One" (via Vanity Fair). As we all know, that one didn't work out either. Eventually, the show was named "Friends," shortly before it debuted on NBC in 1994. It stuck, despite the fact that some thought it was "such a snore."

Monica and Joey were going to be a thing

It's hard to imagine this one, knowing what we know now, but "Friends" was originally going to position Monica and Joey as an item. Yes, there almost existed a "Friends" in which Ross and Rachel's epic romance was a supporting story, and Monica and Chandler's didn't exist at all! Before the roles were cast, the series' creators wanted to have the neat freak and womanizer come together. But according to co-creator David Crane, once Courteney Cox and Matt LeBlanc came on board, the story didn't feel right anymore.

As Crane said in the Television Academy's oral history of "Friends," "When we pitched the show, one of our thoughts before it was cast was that one of the key romantic relationships would be Monica and Joey. When we cast it, Matt really brought his great big brother vibe. And suddenly we threw out that idea." LeBlanc also had a hand in changing his character's story. As revealed in Kelsey Miller's 2018 book "I'll Be There For You," (via Bustle), the actor suggested his character shouldn't hit on everyone, as he was originally conceived as doing, especially the three main women. "Could it be that Joey thinks of these three girls as little sisters and wants to go to bed with every other girl but these three?" LeBlanc said. "Then I'd buy that they're friends. Otherwise, I just don't think they'd even talk to him if he hits on them every single time."

Several big-name actors auditioned for Friends

Marta Kauffman, David Crane, and Kevin Bright admit just how difficult it was to cast Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross in "Friends: The Reunion." While that special offers a deep dive into the casting process for the six actors we know and love, it doesn't mention the other big names who came in to read for the parts. For example, Leah Remini, known best for her work on "The King of Queens," auditioned for Monica. While she didn't land a major role, she did land a guest spot: In Season 1, Remini played a single mom Joey befriends in the hospital while Carol (Jane Sibbett) gives birth to Ben.

Additionally, Jane Krakowski auditioned for the role of Phoebe (via People), while Hank Azaria tried to nab the part of Joey. Azaria wooed the creators just enough to land a recurring role as David, Phoebe's ongoing love interest throughout 10 seasons (via People). Before Matthew Perry was cast as Chandler, Jon Cryer and Jon Favreau auditioned to play him. Favreau was able to secure a guest spot as Monica's millionaire boyfriend Pete in Season 3, while Cryer went on to star on "Two and a Half Men." Finally, Tea Leoni vied for the role of Rachel, as did Tiffani Thiessen (via EW).

Phoebe was originally going to end up with David

Phoebe meets scientist David (Hank Azaria) in Season 1, after he and his buddy talk too loudly during her set. The two strike up a conversation, and the sparks fly instantly. Unfortunately, David has to go to Minsk for research, leaving Phoebe absolutely devastated. For the entirety of the series, David pops in and out of Phoebe's life. Love is there, but the pair just can't seem to get the timing right.

Fast forward to Season 9, and Phoebe meets Mike (Paul Rudd). The two marry the following season. While the couple is happy together, it's shocking that this is the path the writers have chosen, as up till then, it looks like Phoebe and David will eventually find each other. As it turns out, that was always the plan — until Rudd showed up. In a 2016 interview with The Huffington Post, Azaria revealed that Rudd was so charming, Phoebe's love story was rewritten.

"I think, honestly, what happened was Paul Rudd is so awesome that they sort of found a groove with him and [my character] became more of just the grist for that mill," Azaria noted, "As opposed to the other way around."

Matt LeBlanc really dislocated his shoulder in The One Where No One is Ready

"Friends: The Reunion" offers all-new insight into the series, as the six stars recount stories from their time on set. One big topic of discussion is Matt LeBlanc's shoulder dislocation, which happened during filming. In "The One Where No One is Ready," Joey and Chandler fight for the oversized chair in Monica and Rachel's apartment. At one point, both men dart for the chair at the same time, with Joey ultimately getting there first.

In one take that didn't make it into the final cut, LeBlanc lands awkwardly on the chair, resulting in the dislocation of his shoulder. The agony can be spotted on his face as he walks out of the apartment and off camera. He can be heard yelling as David Schwimmer tells the director to cut. The whole cast rewatches the scene in the reunion, cringing as they see their friend get hurt. LeBlanc ultimately needed a sling, which subsequently had to be written into the next episode, "The One With the Jam." The explanation for the injury is that Joey was jumping on his bed and fell off.

Bruce Willis agreed to guest star after losing a bet with Matthew Perry

In Season 6, Ross begins dating a student named Elizabeth (Alexandra Holden). After things get serious, he meets her father, Paul Stevens, in Episode 21 ("The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth's Dad"), who just so happens to be played by Bruce Willis. Wills appeared in two more episodes, enjoying a brief fling with Rachel. These three episodes were set to film just before Willis and Matthew Perry's movie "The Whole Nine Yards" hit theaters. As it turns out, the only reason the former actor appeared on "Friends" was because of a bet.

Perry made a bet with his co-star regarding their new movie's upcoming success (or failure). He had high hopes, but Willis thought "The Whole Nine Yards" might be a flop. Confident in their project, Perry bet that the movie would debut at number one. He was right: "The Whole Nine Yards" topped the box office in its opening weekend. Abiding by the terms of the bet, Willis had to appear in a cameo spot on "Friends."

Pat the Dog belonged to Jennifer Aniston

When Joey nabs a major role on "Days of Our Lives" in Season 2, he moves out of the apartment he shares with Chandler into swanky new digs. He dresses his new abode with tons of tacky decor, including a large ceramic dog. After receiving a bill, however, Joey realizes he has to return most of his decorations. Seeing his friend's heartbreak, Ross decides to buy the dog for Joey to keep as the rest of the items are hauled off.

The dog eventually makes its way to Chandler's apartment after Joey moves back in, and remains a running joke throughout the entirety of the series. As it turns out, this dog actually belonged to Jennifer Aniston: A friends gave it to her as a gift, in celebration of her role on "Friends." In "The One That Could Have Been" from Season 6, we learn the pooch is called Pat the Dog. It's become an iconic set element from the series.

A Friends' star's father made a cameo in Season 4

When Rachel starts dating Joshua (Tate Donovan) in Season 4, they spend one night at his parents' place, since they're out of town. After Joshua leaves the room, Rachel puts on some sexy lingerie and waits for him to come back. He does — but it's not long before his parents walk in behind him. "I like her. She seems smart," Joshua's father quips. It's an extremely brief part, but the actor playing that bemused father is none other than John Bennett Perry — Matthew Perry's father.

John was in the acting game long before his son, starting his career in 1972. Some of his most memorable credits include 1976's "Lipstick" and "Midway," in addition to several one-offs on hit series like "Nash Bridges," "3rd Rock From the Sun," and "The West Wing," among many others. Additionally, John is known for being the face of Old Spice in the '70s and '80s.

The cast didn't like the Joey and Rachel storyline either

One storyline stands out among the rest for being hated by "Friends" fans: The Joey and Rachel romance. It starts in Season 8, when Joey develops a crush on his roommate. In Season 9, Rachel starts to fall for him as well. They kiss in the Season 9 finale, and embark upon a short romance in Season 10. Suffice it to say, fans had opinions about this.

It turns out that the actors didn't like the storyline either. As is revealed in "I'll Be There for You," Matt LeBlanc felt like Joey had too much of a brotherly bond with Rachel for a coupling to work between them, rendering the romance "incestuous." Jennifer Aniston also had strong feelings about the storyline: She insisted that the romance had to be an entirely physical one, and was adamant about Rachel and Joey not falling in love.

The actors took things from the set as mementos

In "Friends: The Reunion," four of the main actors mention what they took from the set. Lisa Kudrow has many of Phoebe's rings and the famous clock cookie jar from Monica's apartment. Matthew Perry stole it for her, in fact, since he remembered his co-star thought it was an actual clock for a while. Matt LeBlanc took the first foosball table soccer ball, while Jennifer Aniston took a neon coffee mug from Central Perk. Aniston also took one of Monica's dresses, and says she still wears it to this day. David Schwimmer took a placard from his office at the museum, which reads "Professor Geller."

In contrast, Courteney Cox didn't take anything. "I'm not a person that collects things. And then I regret it. I'm actually going to steal something tonight," she jokes during the reunion special. Outside of stealing the cookie jar, Perry also doesn't seem to have taken anything for himself.

Phoebe and Chandler were initially going to be supporting cast members

Can you picture a version of "Friends" in which Chandler and Phoebe serve as second fiddle characters? Turns out, this was almost a reality. In the show's exit documentary, "Friends: Final Thoughts," showrunners Marta Kauffman, David Crane, and Kevin Bright admit that Phoebe and Chandler were originally intended to be "a little more secondary" to the four other characters. This Phoebe and Chandler would have popped in and out of the main story, while lacking significant arcs of their own.

Apparently, the idea of having Phoebe and Chandler as secondary characters changed as the premise of the show began to evolve. A seventh cast member was also cut altogether, who would have served as a third supporting character. This excised role was known as Pat the Cop, an older character meant to attract a more mature audience (via Entertainment Weekly). The writers were not on board with a seventh friend, however, and ultimately won out in a battle with the studio.

The recurring animals were not loved by all

Animals are involved in several episodes of "Friends." Critters with more major roles in the series include the chick and the duck from Season 3, and Marcel the monkey. According to The Things, their presence wasn't altogether welcome. Lisa Kudrow, who has a phobia of birds, did not love being around the avian interlopers. The actress was thankfully able to master her fear, however, and interacted with the birds as was necessary.

Similarly, David Schwimmer had a hard time working with Katie, the monkey who played Marcel. In "Friends: The Reunion," the actor notes how frustrating it was to work with the monkey, who often missed marks. Schwimmer also remembers Katie being fed live grubs while she was on his shoulder. After chowing down, she would play with his hair ... while sporting crushed bugs all over her hands.

Gunther doesn't speak for the first 33 episodes

Gunther (James Michael Tyler) is the most recurring character on "Friends," appearing in all 10 seasons. The manager of Central Perk mostly serves as a body in the background while the characters enjoy their coffee and gossip. It isn't until Season 2's "The One With Phoebe's Dad" that he speaks — and even then, he only says "yeah." Still, this utterance opened the door to him having more dialogue from there on out. And, hey, it only took 33 episodes to get there!

Eventually, in Season 3, we're made aware of Gunther's crush on Rachel, which leads to him having much more screen time and dialogue. Not only that, Gunther steals the scene fairly often, delivering some pretty hilarious punchlines. More often than not, Gunther's jokes revolve around a dig at Ross, purely based on his jealously of Ross' relationship with Rachel. He also appears at Monica's apartment for parties, proving he's more than just some random guy to the main six characters.

Lisa Kudrow wanted Phoebe to play the bongos instead of the guitar

While Phoebe Buffay isn't necessarily a great musician, she's definitely passionate about her talent. But when Lisa Kudrow found out her character was going to be a guitar player, she wasn't too thrilled about it. Kudrow hated taking guitar lessons, and suggested to the writers that Phoebe should play the bongos instead. Unfortunately, the writers were really keen on the blonde playing the guitar and refused to bend.

In time, Kudrow improved. She didn't have too far to go, of course, as Phoebe isn't supposed to be a virtuoso. In fact, she has absolutely no idea what the names of the chords are, as we learn in Season 5's "The One With All the Resolutions" — Phoebe makes up names for them based on how her fingers look. Bear claw, turkey leg, and old lady seem to be the chords that make up "Smelly Cat."

A major plot twist almost moved the entire gang to another state

Perhaps one of the best last-minute decisions the "Friends" writers ever made was nixing a plotline that would have relocated the group to Minnesota. Yep — Minnesota. This shocking potential plot twist, revealed in the book "Generation Friends" by Saul Austerlitz (via Vulture), would have seen the six pals pack up and head to the frigid state. Chandler was going to be transferred because of his job, and the rest of the group was going to blindly follow him there.

In Season 5, the season this twist would have happened within, Monica and Chandler are in love, so her moving to Minnesota with him would have made sense. But the four other friends packing up to go as well is a little too farfetched to believe. This wouldn't have been a temporary transfer either: It was going to be a permanent move that would forever change the backdrop of the series. Showrunner David Crane allegedly told the writers who proposed the idea that they were "out of [their minds]," and the idea was — thankfully — scrapped.

The live audience played a role in Monica and Chandler's story

One of the biggest reveals from "Friends: The Reunion" is that the studio audience played a major part in making Monica and Chandler a thing. The crowd's reaction to the scene in the Season 4 finale in which Monica comes out from under the covers was just so huge, the showrunners knew they needed to make Monica and Chandler a going concern.

Initially, Monica and Chandler's hook-up was going to be a one-time thing, but everything was rewritten once it was clear that fans loved the couple. Thankfully, the talent behind the scenes had plenty of time to rewrite the pair's story, since their first hookup comes in the Season 4 finale. Monica and Chandler were originally going to get together a few more times back in New York, then slowly fade out as a romantic relationship. But there was clearly a spark there that couldn't be ignored. Eventually, it was decided that Monica and Chandler were going to be a ride-or-die couple who would go on to tie the knot and have babies.

Ross was going to have a pregnancy scare with one of his girlfriends

Here's a story we're delighted didn't come to pass: Ross was, at some point, going to have a pregnancy scare with Elizabeth. This short-term girlfriend appears in Season 6, and is, very uncomfortably, Ross' student. They only start dating after the end of the semester, but it's still inappropriate as all get-out. Their age difference ends up being their downfall, thankfully: The couple breaks up after only a handful of episodes together.

Initially, however, they were going to be the focus of a much longer storyline. The plan was to have Season 6 be a cliffhanger, in which the couple finds out that Elizabeth is going to have a baby. Ross, believing he's the father the whole time, would have only found out in the Season 7 finale that he isn't. That is a hefty number of episodes — there are 24 in Season 7 — for Elizabeth to stick around. According to CBR, part of what axed this idea was that the plan was always to have Ross and Rachel have a baby, which would have conflicted with an Elizabeth-centric pregnancy plot.

David Schwimmer was the only actor to direct any episodes

It's not uncommon for a television star to direct an episode or two of the series they star on. That's just what David Schwimmer did for "Friends," though few fans know it: He directed 10 total episodes, starting in Season 6. These were his first directing credits, after the TV movie "Since You've Been Gone," and they ended up being far from his last. Notably, no other "Friends" cast member directed any episodes. The 10 episodes he directed are listed below.

  • Season 6, Episode 6: 'The One on the Last Night"
  • Season 7, Episode 4: 'The One with Rachel's Assistant"
  • Season 7, Episode 7: "The One with Ross's Library Book"
  • Season 7, Episode 9: 'The One with All the Candy
  • Season 7, Episode 16: "The One with the Truth About London"
  • Season 8, Episode 2: "The One with the Red Sweater"
  • Season 8, Episode 8: "The One with the Stripper"
  • Season 8, Episode 12: "The One Where Joey Dates Rachel"
  • Season 9, Episode 5: "The One with Phoebe's Birthday Dinner"
  • Season 10, Episode 9: "The One with the Birth Mother"

Paul Swain did the drawings on the Magna Doodle

First appearing in Season 3's "The One with the Hypnosis Tape," the Magna Doodle in Chandler and Joey's apartment is one of the most beloved apartment items on "Friends." Life & Style even catalogued every drawing seen on the Magna Doodle throughout its seven seasons, ultimately estimating the toy to have featured around 94 different drawings or sayings. These doodles always either relate to a storyline, are part of an on-set inside joke, or are references to real-life events. For instance, in Season 8's "The One With Monica's Boots," the Magna Doodle has "FDNY" written on it alongside a drawing of the Statue of Liberty, to thank the first responders of 9/11.

In a 2019 appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Matt LeBlanc revealed it was set electrician Paul Swain who was responsible for the Magna Doodle drawings. LeBlanc went on to say that he stole the Magna Doodle from the set, and ended up giving it to Swain when the show finished filming. "I could have sold it for a lot more," he joked.

Giovanni Ribisi had a three-line role on Friends before becoming Frank Jr.

Giovanni Ribisi played one of the great "Friends" recurring characters: Frank Buffay Jr. Frank is first introduced in Season 2's "The One with the Bullies," in which Phoebe looks for her birth father. While Frank appears in many more episodes, Ribisi actually made an earlier appearance on the show, as an entirely different character.

In Season 2's "The One with the Baby on the Bus," Phoebe plays guitar outside of Central Perk in the hopes of getting tips. She explains to Rachel that someone threw a condom in her guitar case, and shortly afterward, Ribisi's unnamed character comes running down the street to ask for his condom back. Once he gets it, he runs away, screaming, "Hey Christine, I got it!" The "Friends" creators must have been happy with his brief appearance, since they brought him back for a recurring role.

This sort of phenomenon actually happened twice on the show. June Gable first appeared as a nurse during the birth of Ben in Season 1's"The One with the Birth." She was later brought back as Estelle, Joey's longtime agent with a smoking habit, who appears in 10 episodes.

The frame around Monica's apartment door is the result of an accident

"Friends" set designer Greg Grande revealed to The Huffington Post in 2015 that the iconic yellow frame on the door of Monica's apartment came about by accident. "I originally had it as a picture frame that had a back on it," Grande remembered. "And while we were dressing the glass in it broke and I told one of the guys, 'Well let's see what that frame looks like around the peephole.' And they put it up there for me and that's where it lived for the next 10 years. It actually was as simple as that. Kind of a funny mistake."

Production designer John Shaffner probably played a role in this decision, as he made it clear that the back of the door had to be visually interesting. As Grande was trying to come up with something, the accident happened, resulting in one of the most famous bits of "Friends" iconography. The yellow frame has become so synonymous with the show, in fact, that fans buy their own replicas and put them on their doors.

Two actors wanted Phoebe and Joey to hook up

Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow pitched a certain surprising idea to the producers, late in the game: A big reveal in the final season that their characters had been hooking up the entire time. LeBlanc detailed the circumstances of this proposal in a 2016 interview with Entertainment Weekly. "Towards the end we actually pitched the idea that Joey and Phoebe had been having casual sex the entire time," he remembered. "We'd go back and shoot all the historical scenes and just before a moment that everyone recognizes, there's Joey and Phoebe coming out of a broom closet together."

The writers shut down the idea, however. As co-creator David Crane told Metro.co.uk in 2019, "It all would have been too tidy and too complete. When your goal is to keep the six characters' stories together, it would be really easy to go down that road but I think we all felt it would be a mistake." That hasn't stopped some members of the fandom from assuming their 10-season affair happened anyway, however!