Twenty-five years ago today, a little show called
Friends premiered on NBC. But Friends almost didn't happen. The show tested poorly with early viewers, and some NBC executives were concerned about its morals. (read: Monica sleeping with someone on the first date). It almost didn't look like the Friends that became a show of unparalleled popularity. Phoebe was written as a goth girl. Joey wasn't supposed to be so daft, but after Matt LeBlanc came into an audition straight from a drinking bender, the creators rethought the character. Courteney Cox was originally cast as Rachel. Here are some of the most surprising things that make Friends the show that will always be there for you (when the rain starts to pour). The characters were all named after characters from the soap opera Inspiration needs to come from somewhere, right? Chandler's name comes from the All My Children. All My Children's Chandler family. Rachel Green, from Janet Green. It goes on. Other All My Children characters include Ross Chandler (really!), Monique (who would become Monica) Cortland, Joey Martin, and Phoebe Taylor Wallingford. Photo: Reisig & Taylor/NBC/Getty Images. More Friends almost wasn’t called Friends.
over 100 titles
in the running, including
Six of One
Across the Hall
. Friends was the shortened version of another frontrunner,
Friends Like Us
Photo: Reisig & Taylor/NBC/Getty Images. More The theme song was a team effort.Creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane co-wrote the Rembrandts' “I'll Be There For You,” which eventually hit number 1 on the U.S. top 40 and was an international hit. Photo: Alice S. Hall/NBC/Getty Images. More Ross was 29 years old for three seasons.While other characters aged, Ross’ age remained static for 60 episodes. Ross also doesn’t seem to know his birthday. At one point, he says his birth month is October; another time, December. Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images. More Jennifer Aniston almost left Friends midway through the first season.
Aniston wanted to be on
— but she was already committed to another project. She filmed six episodes of a CBS sitcom called
. She filmed
with the understanding that if
was picked up, then she would leave
When CBS aired
in the summer, NBC retaliated by releasin
g TV films adapted from Danielle Steele novels
at the exact same time as the CBS show, stealing any potential competition.
Photo: Gary Null/NBC/Getty Images. More There was supposed to be a seventh friend to attract an older audience
In his book
, Saul Austerlitz reveals that NBC executives wanted showrunners Marta Kauffman and David Crane to add a seventh friend called Pat the Cop or Coffee Joe to attract a Boomer audience. But while writing, all Kauffman could think wa
s how “terrible” Pat the Cop was
“If only NBC would kill Pat the Cop, they promised, they would give their six protagonists parents in notable supporting roles, and find older guest stars to attract a more mature audience,” Austerlitz wrote. NBC agreed.
More Jennifer Aniston couldn’t style the Rachel haircut on her own.
The Rachel haircut ignited a movement. But Jennifer Aniston
the haircut. According to Michael Canalé, the colorist who created the look with stylist Chris McMillan, it was her least favorite hairstyle. She
didn't know how to recreate the look. Photo: NBC/Getty Images. More The cast negotiated their historically high salaries as a unit.
The cast all earned the same amount in season 1, but come season 2, the salaries differed significantly.
Before season 3, David Schwimmer convinced his co-stars to
bargain for salaries as a unit
. The show couldn’t afford to lose any one member of
, and would have to give in to their demands. Schwimmer and Aniston took pay cuts. The castmembers' salaries continued to increase each season. By seasons 9 and 10, they had made it up to $1 million an episode, or about $20 million a season.
Photo: Gary Null/NBC/Getty Images. More Matthew Perry struggled with addiction throughout Friends.
Perry was addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs while filming, often arriving to set with a terrible hangover. He was drinking a
quart of vodka a day
. In an
interview with the BBC years later,
Perry said he has forgotten three seasons of
entirely. Now, he's outspoken about the recovery process.
Photo: Reisig & Taylor/NBC/Getty Images. More Believe it or not, the central couple was supposed to be Joey and Monica.
“Initially we thought the big love interest was Joey-Monica. This is before we wrote the script, when we were just pitching the series,”
Kauffman told NBC
in 2004. Ross and Rachel getting together never occurred to them.
Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images. More Gunther was really a barista.
James Michael Tyler got the part because he was the only extra to know how to use an espresso mchine. His
hair was bleached every week
. Tyler created a whole backstory for him – he was a former soap star who slept in the back room of Central Perk.
Photo: NBC/Getty Images. More The show was filmed in front of a live audience.Aside from major cliffhanger episodes, everything was filmed in front of an audience of 300 people. Most episodes took six hours to film, so the audience was treated to pizza and freebies. Photo: Gary Null/NBC/Getty Images. More After the pilot, the studio audience was actually asked to slut-shame Monica.
In the first episode, Monica is dumped by a guy after sleeping with him on the first date. The network was worried viewers would judge her.
The studio audience got to make the final call. A survey was
handed out with these options
: “Do you think for sleeping with a man on the first date Monica is a) a whore, b) a slut, c) a tramp, or d) your dream date?”
People liked her. The plotline stayed.
Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images. More Bruce Willis guest-starred on friends because he lost a bet.
Willis ended up winning an Emmy Award for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy for his work as Paul Stevens, the father of Ross's girlfriend Elizabeth — and Rachel's boyfriend.
But his intentions were never to win Emmy.
Willis appeared on Friends for free,
the result of a dare with Matthew Perry. He donated all the money he made to AIDs foundations.
Photo: NBC/Getty Images. More Joey’s huge white dog statue was really Jennifer Aniston’s.Aniston’s friend bought her the statue when she started acting. Then, after she was starring in one of the most successful shows ever, Aniston donated it to the set for the episode where Joey comes into a financial windfall. Photo: Photo: J. Delvalle/NBC/Getty Images.. More Before being cast in Friends, Matt LeBlanc was dangerously broke.
At the time of the audition, LeBlanc was down to his last $11. At some point, a dentist was going to charge $80 to file down an uneven tooth, but LeBlanc didn’t have the money — so he bought an emory board and
filed it down himself
. At his
' audition, LeBlanc revealed a sweeter, goofier side to Joey than originally intended — but producers loved it. Nabbing a spot on
the acting equivalent of winning the lottery.
Photo: J. Delvalle/NBC/Getty Images. More Rachel is a massive Days of Our Lives fan for a funny reason.
Jenifer Aniston’s father, John Aniston, has been an
actor on Days of Our Lives
since 1985. Aniston herself wants to make a guest appearance on the soap before her dad retires. Now
Photo: NBC/Getty Images. More Courteney Cox was originally offered the part of Rachel.
But Cox had another role in mind: Monica. “For some reason, I thought I related more to Monica, which maybe it’s because I do,” Cox said on
the Today show in 2017
. “I’m very similar to her...I’m not as clean as Monica, but I am neat.”
Cox made Monica her own. She
was written be
“tough, defended, cynical, sarcastic” with the “the attitude of Sandra Bernhard or Rosie O’Donnell and the looks of [MTV VJ] Karen Duffy,” according to Saul Austerliz’
More She campaigned to have Phoebe learn to play the bongos instead. Lisa Kudrow didn't know how to play the guitar. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images More Eric McCormack, who starred as Will in the ground-breaking NBC comedy Imagine a Friends and Will & Grace mash-up. Will and Grace, was one of the actors who made it to the final rounds of auditions for the role of Ross Gellar. Ultimately, though, the role was Schwimmer’s. He didn’t even have to audition. Photo: Danny Feld/NBC/Getty Images. More When Kudrow got pregnant, writers had Phoebe volunteer to be a surrogate for her brother. She ended up having triplets. They added padding to make it look realistic. Lisa Kudrow's pregnancy was woven into the story. Courteney Cox's was not. Monica wasn’t supposed to be able to have children. So, when she got pregnant, they dressed Cox in baggy clothing. Photo: J. Delvalle/NBC/Getty Images. More Jane Lynch and Kathy Griffin were also in the mix for the part. Phoebe was originally supposed to be goth. Ellen DeGeneres turned down the role of Phoebe. More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? Friends: Were Ross & Rachel Really "On A Break?" What The Cast Of Friends Is Up To Now The Set Designer Of 'Friends' On Its Iconic Decor