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The One Line In Friends That Molded The Entire Series According To A Fan Theory

In the early 1990s, the creative duo of David Crane and Marta Kauffman were hard at work trying to develop a new sitcom for the small screen. Their brainstorming eventually brought them to a series known as "Insomnia Cafe" in late 1993, and while the show went ahead with production, the name didn't stick. They tried out a handful of other potential candidates, but all of those efforts wound up on the cutting room floor too. With time running out, Crane and Kauffman finally settled on "Friends," and the rest is television history.

"Friends" made its NBC debut in September of 1994, and it became clear soon enough that it was a TV classic in the making. Fans couldn't get enough of Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Ross (David Schwimmer), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Monica (Courteney Cox), and Chandler (Matthew Perry), as well as the laughs, tears, and unforgettable moments that came with their day-to-day lives. This adoration propelled the program to 10 seasons encompassing over 200 episodes, keeping it on the air until 2004.

There's no denying how influential and globally adored "Friends" is after all these years. According to this fan theory, though, without a fairly inconspicuous line from early in the show's tenure, the story wouldn't have unfolded in quite the same way.

It all started with a crystal duck

A simple line of dialog from Season 1's "The One Where Rachel Finds Out" is what Reddit user Adam657 believes is the key to the entire "Friends" timeline. In the episode, Chandler compares a gift Rachel received for her birthday from Ross to a crystal duck he once gave to his old crush, Carol Willick (Jane Sibbett), as a gift, inadvertently revealing to Rachel that Ross is in love with her. As the theory states, had Chandler not relayed this information to Rachel, "Friends" as we know it today could have turned out drastically different.

According to the post, without knowledge of Ross' strong love for her, Rachel would've likely only seen Ross as a friend. He would've then never met and fallen in love with Emily Waltham (Helen Baxendale), — instead staying with Julie (Lauren Tom) — meaning that the vacation where Monica and Chandler first got together wouldn't have happened. Thus, Rachel would end up with Mark Robinson (Steven Eckholdt) and Monica with Richard Burke (Tom Selleck). With three of the main cast members in committed relationships with "outsiders," the core group could fall apart with Joey and Phoebe falling by the wayside and Chandler becoming Mr. Heckles.

In the comments section, many in the "Friends" fandom expressed their approval in such a well-thought-out theory. "You can assume if it all went down like this, the series would've ended around season 5 before the gang would go through a bittersweet parting and the friendship would fade," wrote notoriousnab, agreeing with the original post's prediction that the friend group would disband in time. Redditor meloiseb said, "That was a wild ride and I'm here for it," and musicismypotato replied, "The end Mr. Heckles part is the cherry on top to this dystopia."

On the other hand, several other "Friends" die-hards weren't so certain that this alternate timeline is as plausible as it may seem. For instance, WintersbaneGDX claimed, "It's ultimately way more likely that Rachel would have clued in, or Ross would have worked up the courage to tell her." Numerous other folks pointed out that there was still a chance for the romance between Chandler and Monica to come to fruition, given their consistent shared romantic energy and the fact that they're even together in the alternate-universe two-part story, "The One That Could Have Been."

Who would've thought that a throwaway line from "Friends" Season 1 was so important?