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The Friends Fan Theory That Will Change The Way You Look At Jason Alexander's Cameo

"Friends" typically functioned as a grounded, realistic sitcom about young people in New York City during its 10-season run on NBC. From 1994 to 2004, Chandler (Matthew Perry), Monica (Courteney Cox), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) got into all sorts of hijinks across the city — but the show rarely passed into the realm of the supernatural.

In Season 7, Episode 13, "The One Where Rosita Dies," Phoebe's solo plotline sees her start a new temporary job at a telecenter, selling print toner to businesses. Surprisingly, the first call she makes is to disgruntled office worker Earl (Jason Alexander), who rebuffs Phoebe's sales attempts and tells her he does not need toner because he plans to die by suicide later that day. Though these scenes are largely played for laughs, Phoebe takes it upon herself to visit Earl at his office and help him, explaining to him that her mother died by suicide and she feels their meeting was fate's work. 

While it appears that Phoebe successfully talks Earl out of his negative thoughts by the end of the episode, some "Friends" fans have crafted theories over the years that change the entire scope of Phoebe and Earl's interaction.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Friends fans think Earl is already dead when Phoebe meets him

Reddit user u/charpie86 posted an interesting theory about this particular "Friends" episode on Reddit's Fan Theories community. Their idea? Jason Alexander's character, Earl, is already dead by the time he tells Phoebe — first over the phone, and then in person — that he plans to take his own life.

"Phoebe throughout the series has communicated with the dead," u/charpie86 wrote. "She's the only person that talks to, or even looks at Earl. What sort of people don't react to someone saying he's going to kill himself? They didn't acknowledge him because he's a ghost... Phoebe was sent to ease Dead Earl's pain."

Surprisingly, there's quite a bit of evidence to support this theory. Earl claims to Phoebe over the phone that nobody at his job "even knows [he] exists," and yells to his co-workers that he is going to die by suicide to absolutely zero reaction — suggesting perhaps a bit more is at work here than a zany sitcom bit. After all, Phoebe is the most spiritual of the "Friends" gang and seemingly communicates with the dead on at least one other occasion. In the Season 2 episode "The One With The Lesbian Wedding," she grows convinced that she is possessed by a woman who died on her massage table and needs to stay on Earth until she takes care of some unfinished business.

While Phoebe seems to talk Earl out of suicide, nobody at his office ever reacts to anything he says in the episode — perhaps Earl really was dead this whole time.