While your Friends knowledge may have rusted over a bit now that E4 no longer airs episodes 24/7 – we’re still not over that, FYI – we’re betting you still know Rachel, Ross and the gang reasonably well. We were pretty sure we knew everything there was to know, but in the course of researching this feature we uncovered a few real surprises.
1. The cast didn’t want Rachel and Joey to get together any more than you did.
“It felt wildly inappropriate,” Matt LeBlanc admitted to Vanity Fair in 2012. “Everybody got super-defensive about the whole thing. We went to David and Marta as a group and said, ‘We’re really concerned about this. It doesn’t feel right. We have a problem with it.'” Right there with you, Matt.
2. The cast of six was originally meant to be four.
In the early stages, Friends was going to focus on Monica, Rachel, Ross and Joey, with Phoebe and Chandler conceived only as supporting characters.
3. Courteney Cox is the only regular cast member who never got an Emmy nomination for the show.
Which just goes to show once again that the Emmys are stupid.
4. Friends‘ Thanksgiving episodes are iconic, but surprisingly season two didn’t include a dedicated Thanksgiving show.
‘The One With The List’ was the episode that aired closest to the holiday – not exactly a feel-good one!
5. Having been turned down twice for the role of Joey, Hank Azaria ended up playing Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend David.
The one who she should really have ended up with instead of Mike. #stillbitter
6. Before the show had been cast, Monica and Joey were intended to be the central couple.
Although that was swiftly abandoned after the pilot, we got a glimpse of their dynamic in ‘The One With The Flashback’ where Joey mistakes Monica’s offer of lemonade for an invitation to sex.
7. The real address of the Friends’ apartment, as used in the exterior shots, is 90 Bedford Street in Manhattan’s West Village.
If you visit today, you’ll find an adorable restaurant called The Little Owl and lots of apartments you can’t afford.
8. James Michael Tyler, aka Gunther, really did work as a barista when he was cast.
He was initially cast as an extra in what was then a nameless role. He kept up the day job for the show’s first four seasons, “but once Gunther was more established and they would have me on all week… I thought, OK, I don’t really have time for this,” Tyler told Buzzfeed.
9. Remember that guy who accidentally threw a condom into Phoebe’s guitar case and then ran back to get it?
He seemed familiar, right? That was Giovanni Ribisi, who later starred as Phoebe’s half-brother Frank – we like to think it was Frank with the condom too, but he and Phoebe had no reason to recognise each other at the time.
10. The only person who wasn’t a fan of the show’s iconic ‘The Rachel’ haircut was Jennifer Aniston herself.
“How do I say this? I think it was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen. What I really want to know is, how did that thing have legs? Let’s just say I’m not a fan of short, layered cuts on me personally, so I don’t love revisiting that particular era,” Aniston told Allure.
11. Phoebe was originally conceived as a goth girl.
That version of the role was offered to Janeane Garofalo, who passed.
12. Phoebe thinking her dead mother has been reincarnated as a cat is one of the weirdest storylines ever, and there’s a reason.
The idea was pitched by co-creator Marta Kauffman soon after the death of her own mother, and according to a later interview with the writers it should have been shot down at the table read, but nobody felt comfortable saying no under the circumstances. Although this has been widely reported online we can’t find the original source, so take it with a pinch of salt – but it does explain a lot.
13. Right before the show premiered, the cast took a group trip to Vegas for one last taste of anonymity.
“Once the show comes on the air, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded,” director James Burrows told them, not inaccurately. The gang headed to Caesars Palace, a location which later became central to Friends‘ Vegas-centric episodes.
14. The refrigerators in both apartments really worked.
Fittingly, Monica’s was always well stocked with drinks for the cast and crew, while Joey’s was generally empty.
15. Courteney Cox was rooting for Monica and Chandler from the start.
Long before they got together on the show, Courteney Cox named Chandler as the Friend she’d “do” if forced to pick, in a revealing 1997 profile with Elle.
16. While we’re on the subject of couples, did you ever wonder why Phoebe and Joey never became a thing?
You’re not alone, if so – early on, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc even suggested to the writers that it be revealed the pair had been occasionally hooking up for years. While you can see how this idea was shot down for being out-of-step with the show’s tone, it really would have made a whole lot of sense for both characters.
17. A subplot involving Monica and Chandler being interrogated by airport security was pulled at the last minute.
The scenes were pulled from season eight’s The One Where Rachel Tells Ross’, because the episode was due to air a few weeks after 9/11. The episode aired with a hastily filmed replacement plot involving the pair trying to get an upgrade. The scenes have now been made available to watch on YouTube, and while they’re really funny, you can definitely see how badly they would have played at the time.
18. The Friends have pretty much all kissed each other.
One hard-working Tumblr fan did some serious research on this, confirming that the only two characters who have never locked lips in any way are Monica and Phoebe – everyone else has, if you include off-screen moments and hypothetical “what if?” episodes.