In case you missed it, Friends is turning the big ol’ 2-5 this year (we’re not even gonna talk about how old that makes me feel). To celebrate, Fathom Events is having a special, three-night event in theaters all across the country. Each night of the event will feature four different episodes from the show, as well as interviews with the cast and never-before-seen footage. It’s bound to reveal some new secrets and fun facts about the beloved show.
In the meantime, we’ve rounded up 25 fun facts about Friends to whet your appetite for the special event. Could we BE any more excited?
Central Perk Evolved In Surprising Ways Over The Years
1. The artwork in Central Perk was changed every three episodes.
Central Perk was the iconic coffee shop hangout for the Friends gang. It was the coffee shop that made coffee shops cool, and part of what made it seem so real was the artwork on the walls. What you might not have noticed, however, is that the artwork changed every three episodes. Just like a real neighborhood coffee shop featuring local artists.
2. The famous orange couch was a Warner Bros. castoff.
For ten seasons, the friends sat on the velvet, burnt orange couch of Central Perk. The couch that would become known to millions of viewers was actually found in the basement of the Warner Bros. studio. The prop department decided to salvage the couch and use it for the show.
3. There was no street set outside for the first season.
Due to budgetary reasons, there was no actual street set outside Central Perk for the first year. Instead, they used a painted backdrop. The window in front of it was intentionally tinted and they also used a number of potted plants to hide the fact the backdrop was fake. In the second season, the set was added and the window made clear.
4. The exact location of Central Perk is never revealed.
Many fans assumed the coffee shop was on the first floor of their apartment building, since some of them referred to it as “downstairs.” But exterior shots of the front of their building show it’s taken up by a restaurant with red awnings. And Joey once mentioned Central Perk was exactly 97 steps away from his apartment. So in reality, no one knows exactly where on their block Central Perk is located.
5. Central Perk helped make coffee culture is what it is today.
In the early ’90s, coffee shops weren’t a thing like they are now. Starbucks, for example, had only just had its IPO two years before and was largely still seen as a regional chain in the Pacific Northwest. The first international Starbucks location didn’t even open until 1996, two years after Friends premiered. So the network suggested the Friends‘ hangout be a diner like in Seinfeld, but the show creators were adamant about keeping it in Central Perk. The coffee shop became iconic and helped usher in the concept of coffee shops as a destination and a cool place to hang out.
The Guest Stars Were Legendary
6. The number of famous guest stars it had was mind-blowing.
Friends ran for 10 years, and over that time, it was blessed with an amazing lineup of guest stars. That list included (but is not limited to): Brad Pitt, Paul Rudd, Jon Favreau, Kathleen Turner, Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Christina Applegate, Tom Selleck, David Arquette, Giovanni Ribisi, Hank Azaria, Reese Witherspoon, Tate Donovan, Teri Garr, Elliott Gould, Cole Sprouse, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Helen Hunt, Jeff Goldblum, Jane Lynch, Hugh Laurie, Debra Jo Rupp, Ellen Pompeo, Billy Crystal, Julia Roberts, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Robin Williams, Dakota Fanning, Danny DeVito, Anna Faris, Ben Stiller, Winona Ryder, Christine Taylor, Morgan Fairchild, Richard Branson, Sarah Ferguson (Duchess of York) and George Clooney.
7. They had to get rid of the studio audience for Tom Selleck’s episodes.
Tom Selleck was so popular that every time he guest-starred on an episode, his entrances would get standing ovations from the audience. It’s a nice ego booster, but terrible for sound. The footage was unusable and they’d have to reshoot after asking the audience to please be quiet. They eventually had to re-shoot his entrance scenes without an audience.
8. Jon Favreau almost played Chandler Bing.
These days, Jon Favreau is better-known for his directing gigs with Marvel and Disney, aside from the occasional stint playing Happy Hogan in the MCU. But he was just a struggling actor in those days. He was initially offered the role of Chandler Bing, but it didn’t work out. He later returned in a recurring role as Pete Becker, Monica’s millionaire boyfriend. Two years after Friends premiered, Favreau’s breakout movie, Swingers, hit the big screen. He was so money, baby, and he didn’t even know it!
9. James Michael Tyler (Gunther) was an actual barista before being cast.
Actor James Michael Tyler was, coincidentally, working at the Bourgeois Pig, a coffee shop in LA, when he auditioned for Friends (and he kept working there for four more seasons even after he was cast). He ended up getting the role of Gunther because he was the only extra who knew how to work a coffee machine correctly. Originally, it wasn’t supposed to be a speaking role – he didn’t even get a name until 1995! But he fit in so well that his role expanded, and, outside of the six main cast members, Tyler is the only other cast member to appear in over 100 episodes. He appeared in 151.
10. Paul Rudd got the part after the casting director wrote a one-word note about his audition.
That one word? “Dreamy.” Rudd landed the role of Mike, Phoebe’s wealthy and insanely friendly boyfriend who would go on to become her husband in the final season.
The Animals Were Pretty Legendary, Too
11. 54 dogs appeared on the show, either visually or mentioned.
They are – takes a deep breath – the Threshold Guardian dog Phoebe ran over; Ross’ childhood dog Cheechi; the Happiest Dog in the World that Joey broke; Margha’s dog; a pitbull that appeared when Chandler was moving Mike’s sofa; the bloodhound that had a nose like Monica’s; Phoebe’s former neighbor’s dog, “Satan”; the dog in the street when Monica goes shopping with Julie; Ginger’s annoying dog Pepper that Joey wishes he’d burned instead of her artificial leg; the talking dog from Joey’s dog food commercial; Ugly Naked Guy’s dog that wears a sweater; a blue dog on some Central Perk pop art; two dogs Chandler sees having sex when visiting a house that’s for sale; Mischa’s dog that he has too leave; the four dogs in Ohio that Joey dressed up in Chandler’s sweater vests; the puppy Phoebe’s given in Montauk; LaPooh, the Green family dog that got hit by an ice cream truck; the yapping dog from the toy race; Cujo; the purebred Phoebe thinks Mike’s (Paul Rudd’s) girlfriend Precious might be; Cash’s dog Wally; Chandler’s incontinent dog Molly; the dog who mauled the actor who was going to audition for Mac & Cheese; the five dogs Chandler runs into while trying to say hi to Kathy; Old Yeller; the three puppies that Chandler and Monica have to babysit; Jill Goodacre’s dog Dexter; Frank Jr.’s old dog Tumor; the St. Bernard from Rachel’s vivid birthing metaphor; the seeing-eye dog that Cliff decides not to eat; the dog that was too big for the dollhouse; the rabid dog that was nearly feasting on Ross’ danglers; the lost puppy Monica used to follow Rachel around like; the dog Mike has to knock off Monica’s head playing ping-pong in Barbados; the dog that keeps running off with Rachel’s presents; the ornamental Big White dog in their apartment; the three puppies Joey uses to cover up the director’s swearing; Chandler’s barking slippers; Clunkers, the dog that terrifies Chandler; a dog Joey pretends to see to get out of answering Janice’s questions; and Mike’s family dog, Chappy, who he uses as his third groomsman. At one point, Chandler also mentions an unspecified number of puppies he says would be easier to run over than dumping Janice.
12. 16 chickens appeared or were mentioned on the show.
While not nearly as ubiquitous as dogs, chickens were still a recurring theme on the show. There was Little Yasmine; the chicken that pooped on Julie in China; the traumatizing plastic chicken hopper Paul’s parents got him instead of a Big Wheel; nine chickens on a piece of Central Perk pop art; Rooster (the other member of the Band Numbnuts); the chicken suit that won’t go with Monica’s new boots; the chicken suit Chandler might have to wear to get a new job; and Chick Jr.
13. And 16 cats appeared or were mentioned on the show, as well.
Those include two different Smelly Cats; the cat Phoebe thinks is a reincarnation of her mom; Phoebe’s cat skull she found while mugging people; Chandler’s secretary’s cats Mittens, Fitzhugh, and Chinkies; Ugly Naked Guy’s cat that got squashed; Rachel’s cat that died when it ate her tarantula; the cat Sebastian was named after; Rachel’s ex-boyfriend’s cat (which hated her); Fluffy Meowington; the Geller family cat; Mrs. Whiskers, a Minion of the Antichrist; Paolo’s cat; Monica dressed as Catwoman; and the cat Ross and Julie almost got together. There were also the cats Mr. Heckles could have, and the kittens that licked on Rachel’s tattoo.
14. Friends invented the term “dropping the monkey,” which is the opposite of “jumping the shark.”
In the first season, Ross had a pet monkey named Marcel. It was a gimmicky stunt that never quite worked. In the second season, Marcel was dropped, and critics and fans alike agree the show got 100% better from that point on. Hence, the term “dropping the monkey,” was coined, used to describe when a show makes a change that drastically improves or even saves it. This is in contrast to “jumping the shark,” the term coined by Happy Days, which indicates the point at which it’s all downhill for a show.
15. It was fine, though. Marcel went on to be a movie star.
The following year, Marcel (real name Katie) was cast in Outbreak. She was the first cast member to star in a movie role, as a matter of fact.
There Were So…Many…Props
16. Joey’s statue of the white dog was actually Jennifer Aniston’s.
The famous white dog Joey has in his apartment was originally a gift that had been given to Jennifer Aniston by her best friend as a good luck present. In the episode where Joey got rich and impulsively bought a lot of random stuff, they needed weird props so Aniston lent it to the show. The producers liked it so much, it stayed.
17. The gold frame around the peephole in Monica’s apartment happened by accident.
Throughout the show, the door to Monica’s apartment featured an ornate gold frame around the peephole. It was originally supposed to be a mirror, but one of the crew members accidentally smashed it. They decided it looked good and fit the eclectic, bohemian vibe of the apartment set, so they just left it there.
18. The fridges in their apartments actually worked.
The fridge in Monica’s apartment was always filled with water and drinks for the crew. Joey’s fridge was usually left empty unless they needed a specific interior shot.
19. In the Friends universe, the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001 did not happen.
However, that didn’t stop the show from honoring the tragedy through various props. On the doodle board in Joey’s apartment, there were several messages of support for the FDNY. Several cast members also wore FDNY t-shirts. Later in the season, in “The One Where Chandler Takes A Bath,” Joey can be seen wearing a t-shirt that says “Captain Billy Burke,” a tribute to a real-life firefighter who died battling the blaze on September 11.
20. Rachel wears a total of 703 outfits throughout the series.
Known as the fashionista of the group, Rachel Green inspired a number of real-life trends, from her shaggy bob to her outfits. Throughout the ten seasons of the show, she wore 703 different outfits, an average of just under three outfits per show.
And Finally, Some Fun General Factoids About The Characters
21. The characters were named after characters from All My Children.
That’s right. The Friends gang was all named after characters from the long-running daytime soap. Monica for Monique/Daisy Cortland, Rachel Green for Janet Green, Phoebe for Phoebe Tyler Wallingford, Ross for Ross Chandler, Joey for Joey Martin, and Chandler for the Chandler family.
22. Lisa Kudrow based Phoebe on Jennifer Aniston.
Phoebie was a spiritual, hippie character and free spirit. She actually based Phoebe partly on Aniston, as Aniston was very into spiritual and New Age subjects.
23. One fan totaled up how much debt Joey owes to Chandler.
The ever-broke Joey was constantly bumming money off of Chandler. The long-running joke on the show was that everyone knew he’d never pay it back. One fan totaled up all the money Joey owed Chandler over the years and came up with the eye-popping total of $119,760. And we thought student loans were bad.
24. Joey was originally supposed to be a jerk.
In the original pitch, Joey Tribbiani was written as a jerk. But when Matt LeBlanc pointed out it didn’t make sense and asked why the other characters would be friends with him, the character was changed and became the sweet-natured but dim-witted Joey we know and love.
25. Jokes and lines were tracked obsessively.
It’s hard juggling an ensemble show where the six main characters are all leads and not supporting. So the writers used pie charts to track the number of lines and jokes each character had to ensure they balanced out to the same amount.
If this walk down Friends memory lane made you nostalgic, snag a ticket for the Fathom special event!