|Runtime:||20-22 minutes (per episode)|
Courteney Cox Arquette
|Opentheme:||"I'll Be There for You"|
by The Rembrandts
|First Aired:||September 22, 1994|
|Last Aired:||May 6, 2004|
|List Episodes:||List of Friends episodes|
|Executive Producer:||David Crane|
Warner Bros. Television
|Followed By:||Joey (2004–2006)|
Friends is an American situation comedy created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which premiered on NBC (National Broadcasting Company) on September 22, 1994. The series revolves around a group of friends in the area of Manhattan, New York City, who occasionally live together and share living expenses. The series was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The original executive producers were Crane, Kauffman and Kevin Bright, with numerous others being promoted in later seasons.
Crane and Kauffman began developing Friends under the title Insomnia Cafe in November 1993. They presented the idea to Bright, with whom they had previously worked, and together they pitched a seven-page treatment of the series to NBC. After several script rewrites and changes, the series was finally named Friends and premiered on NBC's coveted Thursday 8:30 pm timeslot. Filming for the series took place at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California in front of a live audience. After ten seasons on the network, the series finale was heavily promoted by NBC, and viewing parties were organized around the U.S.. The finale, which was first aired on May 6, 2004, was watched by 52.5 million American viewers, making it the fourth most-watched series finale in television history.
Friends received positive reviews throughout its run, and became one of the most popular sitcoms of its time. The series won many awards and was nominated for 63 Primetime Emmy Awards. The series was also very successful in the ratings, consistently ranking in the top ten in the final primetime ratings. Friends has made a large cultural impact. The Central Perk coffee house that had featured prominently in the series has inspired various imitations throughout the world. Repeats of the series continue to air worldwide, while each season has been released on DVD. Following the series finale, the spin-off series Joey was created, while rumors of a film continue to circulate.
See also: List of Friends guest stars.
The series featured six main cast members throughout its run, with numerous characters recurring throughout the ten seasons. The main cast members were familiar to television viewers before their roles on Friends, but were not considered to be stars. During the series' ten season run, the actors all achieved household name celebrity status.
Series creator David Crane wanted all six characters to be equally prominent, and the series was lauded as being "the first true 'ensemble' show". The cast members made efforts to keep the ensemble format and not allow one member to dominate; they entered themselves in the same acting categories for awards, opted for collective instead of individual salary negotiations, and asked to appear together on magazine cover photos in the first season. The cast members became best friends off screen, and one guest star, Tom Selleck, reported sometimes feeling left out. The cast remained good friends after the series' run, most notably Cox and Aniston, with Aniston being godmother to Cox and David Arquette's daughter, Coco. In the official farewell commemorative book Friends 'Til The End, each separately acknowledged in their interviews that the cast had become their family.
In their original contracts for the first season, each cast member was paid $22,500 per episode. The cast members received different salaries in the second season, beginning from the $20,000 range to $40,000 per episode.  Prior to their salary negotiations for the third season, the cast decided to enter collective negotiations, despite Warner Bros. preference for individual deals. The actors were given the salary of the least paid cast member, meaning Aniston and Schwimmer had their salaries reduced. The stars were paid, per episode, $75,000 in the third season, $85,000 in the fourth, $100,000 in the fifth, and $125,000 in the sixth season. The cast members received salaries of $750,000 per episode in the seventh and eight seasons, and $1 million per episode in the ninth and tenth.
See also: List of Friends episodes. The first season introduces the six main characters: Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross. Rachel arrives in New York after leaving her fiance at the altar, and begins living with Monica in her apartment. Ross attempts to tell Rachel that he loves her, while his estranged lesbian wife is pregnant with his baby. Joey is shown to be a struggling actor, while Phoebe works as a masseuse. Chandler breaks up with girlfriend Janice (Maggie Wheeler), who frequently returns throughout the ensuing nine seasons. At the end of the season, Chandler accidentally reveals that Ross loves Rachel, who finds that she feels the same way.
The second season begins with Rachel discovering that Ross is dating Julie (Lauren Tom), someone he knew from grad school. Rachel's attempts to tell Ross she likes him mirror his own failed attempts in the first season, although the characters eventually begin a relationship that lasts into the following season. Joey gets a part in a fictionalized version of the soap opera Days of our Lives, but his character is killed off after he claims that he writes many of his own lines. Monica begins dating Richard (Tom Selleck), who is recently divorced and 21 years her senior. In the season finale, they end their relationship when they realize that unlike Monica, Richard does not want any more children.
Season three takes on a significantly greater serialized format. Rachel begins working at Bloomingdale's, an upscale department store chain, and Ross becomes jealous of her coworker, Mark. Ross and Rachel decide to take a break; however, Ross is confused with the arrangement and sleeps with someone else, causing Rachel to break up with him. After believing to have no family except for her twin sister Ursula (Lisa Kudrow), Phoebe becomes acquainted with her half-brother (Giovani Ribisi) and birth mother (Teri Garr). Joey develops a relationship with his acting partner Kate (Dina Meyer), and Monica begins a relationship with millionaire Pete Becker (Jon Favreau).
In the fourth season premiere, Ross and Rachel reconcile, but soon break up again. Phoebe becomes a surrogate mother for her brother and his wife (Debra Jo Rupp). Monica and Rachel are forced to switch apartments with Joey and Chandler after losing a bet, but manage to switch back by bribing them with Knicks season tickets and a one-minute kiss between themselves. Ross begins dating an English woman named Emily (Helen Baxendale), and the season finale features their wedding in London. Chandler and Monica sleep together, and Rachel decides to attend Ross and Emily's wedding. While saying his vows, Ross accidentally replaces Emily's name with Rachel's, to the shock of the guests.
Season five features Monica and Chandler trying to keep their new relationship a secret from their friends. Ross and Emily's marriage is called off, while Phoebe starts a relationship with police officer Gary (Michael Rapaport). Monica and Chandler go public with their relationship, to the surprise of their friends. They decide to get married on a trip to Las Vegas, but change their plans after witnessing Ross and Rachel drunkenly stumble out of the wedding chapel.
In the sixth season premiere, Ross and Rachel's marriage is established to be a drunken mistake, and they divorce several episodes later. Monica and Chandler decide to move in together in her apartment, and Rachel moves in with Phoebe. Joey lands a role on a cable television series called Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E, where he stars alongside a robot. Ross gets a job lecturing at New York University, and starts dating his college student, Elizabeth (Alexandra Holden). Phoebe and Rachel's apartment catches on fire, and Rachel is forced to move in with Joey while Phoebe moves in with Chandler and Monica. Chandler decides to propose to Monica, who considers going back to Richard. Although Richard confesses that he still loves her, Monica decides to accept Chandler's proposal.
The seventh season mainly follows various antics by Monica and Chandler, who are preparing for their wedding. Joey's television series Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E is canceled, but he is offered his old job back on Days of our Lives. Phoebe's apartment is fixed, but due to the way it is built, Rachel decides to stay with Joey. The season finale features Monica and Chandler's wedding, and Rachel is revealed to be pregnant.
The eighth season's first three episodes revolve around the identity of the baby's father, who is revealed to be Ross. Rachel and Ross decide to have the baby, but do not resume their romantic relationship. Joey develops romantic feelings for Rachel, but she does not feel the same. Rachel gives birth to baby Emma in the season finale, and Ross decides to propose. Joey finds Ross's ring on the floor, and Rachel believes he is proposing and accepts.
Season nine begins with Ross and Rachel living together as roommates with baby Emma. Monica and Chandler decide to conceive a child of their own, but discover that both of them are physically unable to conceive. Phoebe begins dating Mike Hannigan (Paul Rudd), and chooses to be with him over her friend David (Hank Azaria). Rachel and Emma move in with Joey in the middle of the season, and Rachel develops romantic feelings for him. The group travels to Barbados in the finale to hear Ross give a keynote speech at a Paleontologist conference. Joey and his girlfriend Charlie (Aisha Tyler) break up, and she begins a relationship with Ross. Joey and Rachel's feelings for each other return, and the finale ends with them kissing.
The tenth season closes several long running storylines. Joey and Rachel try to contend with Ross' feelings about them being together, and decide to remain friends. Phoebe and Mike get married, while Charlie breaks up with Ross. Monica and Chandler decide to adopt a child, and meet Erica (Anna Faris), who gives birth to twins in the series finale. Monica and Chandler move to the suburbs, and Joey becomes upset with the changes happening in his life. Rachel takes a job in Paris, but decides not to go and resumes her relationship with Ross.
|"It's about sex, love, relationships, careers, a time in your life when everything's possible. And it's about friendship because when you're single and in the city, your friends are your family."|
|—The original treatment used by Crane, Kauffman and Bright to pitch the series to NBC.|
David Crane and Marta Kauffman began developing three new television pilots—which would premiere in the Fall 1994 season—following the cancellation of their sitcom, Family Album, by CBS in November 1993. Kauffman and Crane decided to pitch the series about "six people in their 20's making their way in Manhattan" to NBC, which they felt best suited the network's style. Crane and Kauffman presented the idea to their production partner Kevin Bright, who had served as executive producer on their HBO series Dream On. The idea for the series was conceived when Crane and Kauffman began thinking about the time when they had finished college and started living by themselves in New York; Kauffman believed they were looking at a time when the future was "more of a question mark". They found the concept to be interesting, as they believed "everybody knows that feeling", and because it was also how they felt about their own lives at the time. The team titled the series Insomnia Cafe, and pitched the idea as a seven-page treatment to NBC in December 1993.
At the same time, Warren Littlefield, the then-president of NBC Entertainment, was seeking a comedy involving young people living together and sharing expenses. Littlefield wanted the group to share memorable periods of their lives with friends, who had become "new, surrogate family members". However, Littlefield found difficulty in bringing the concept to life, and found the scripts developed by NBC to be terrible. When Kauffman, Crane and Bright pitched Insomnia Cafe, Littlefield was impressed that they knew who their characters were. NBC bought the idea as a put pilot, meaning they risked financial penalties if the pilot was not filmed. Kauffman and Crane began writing a pilot script for a show now titled Friends Like Us, which took three days to write. Littlefield wanted the series to represent Generation X and explore a new kind of tribal bonding, but the trio did not share his vision. Crane argued that it was not a series for one generation, and wanted to produce a series that everyone would enjoy watching. NBC liked the pilot script and ordered the series under another title, Six of One, mainly due to the similar title it shared with the ABC sitcom These Friends of Mine.
See also: The Pilot (Friends).
Once it became apparent that the series was a favored project at NBC, Littlefield reported that he was getting calls from every agent in town, wanting their client to be a part of the series. Auditions for the lead roles took place in New York and Los Angeles. The casting director shortlisted 1,000 actors who had replied for each role down to 75. Those who received a callback read again in front of Crane, Kauffman and Bright. At the end of March, the number of potential actors had been reduced to three or four for each part, and were asked to read for Les Moonves, president of Warner Bros. Television.
Having worked with David Schwimmer before, the series creators wrote the character of Ross with him in mind, and he was the first actor cast. The producers wanted Courteney Cox to portray Rachel; however, Cox refused and asked to play Monica. Kauffman said that Cox had "this cheery, upbeat energy", which was not how they envisioned Monica. When Cox auditioned for the role, the producers were surprised by her direction of the character and she was cast. When Matt LeBlanc auditioned for Joey, he put a "different spin" on the character. The writers did not originally intend for Joey to be dim, but found it to be a major source of comedy. LeBlanc also gave the character heart, which the writers did not realize Joey had. Although Crane and Kauffman did not want LeBlanc for the role at the time, they were forced by the network to cast him. Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry and Lisa Kudrow were cast based on their auditions.
More changes occurred to the series' storylines during the casting process. The writers found that they had to adjust the characters they had written to suit the actors, and the discovery process of the characters occurred throughout the first season. Kauffman acknowledged that Joey's character became "this whole new being", and that "it wasn't until we did the first Thanksgiving episode that we realized how much fun Monica's neuroses are."
In the weeks after NBC's pick up of Friends, Crane, Kauffman and Bright reviewed sent-in scripts that writers had originally prepared for other series, mainly unproduced Seinfeld episodes. Kauffman and Crane hired a team of seven young writers because "When you're 40, you can't do it anymore. The networks and studios are looking for young people coming in out of college." The creators felt that utilizing six equal characters, rather than emphasizing one or two, would allow for "myriad story lines and give the show legs". The majority of the storyline ideas came from the writers, although the actors added ideas. The writers originally planned a big love story between Joey and Monica, as they intended them to be the most sexual of the characters in the series pitch. The idea of a romantic interest between Ross and Rachel emerged during the time when Kauffman and Crane were writing the pilot script.
During the production of the pilot, NBC requested that the script be changed to feature one dominant storyline and several minor ones, but the writers wanted to keep three story lines of equal weight and refused. NBC thought the cast was too young, and pushed for an older character who could give the young adults advice. Crane and Kauffman were forced to comply, and wrote a draft of an early episode which featured "Pat the cop". Crane found the storyline to be terrible, and Kauffman joked, "You know the kids book, Pat the Bunny? We had Pat the Cop." NBC eventually consented and dropped the idea. The producers would outline the storylines for each season early in the previous summer. Before an episode went into production, Kauffman and Crane would revise the script written by another writer, mainly if something felt foreign to either the series or a character. Unlike other storylines, the idea for a relationship between Joey and Rachel was decided on halfway through the eighth season. The creators did not want Ross and Rachel to get back together so soon, and while looking for a romantic impediment, a writer suggested Joey's romantic interest in Rachel. The storyline was incorporated into the season; however, when the actors feared that the storyline would make their characters unlikeable, the storyline was wrapped up, until it again resurfaced in the season's finale. For the ninth season, the writers were unsure about the amount of storyline to give to Rachel's baby, as they neither wanted the show to revolve around a baby nor pretend there to be none. Crane said that it took them a while to accept the idea of a tenth season, which they decided to do because they had enough stories left to tell to justify the season. Kauffman and Crane would not have signed on for an eleventh season, even if all the cast members wanted to continue.
The first season was shot on Stage 5 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. The NBC executives had worried that the coffee house setting was too hip and asked for the series to be set in a diner, but eventually consented to the coffee house concept. The opening title sequence was filmed in a fountain at the Warner Bros. Ranch at 4:00 am, while it was particularly cold for a Burbank morning. At the beginning of the second season, production moved to the larger Stage 24, which was renamed "The Friends Stage" after the series finale. Filming for the series began in the summer of 1994 in front of a live audience, who were given a summary of the series to familiarize themselves with the six main characters; a hired comedian entertained the studio audience between takes. Each 22-minute episode took six hours to film—twice the length of most sitcom tapings—mainly due to the several retakes and rewrites of the script.
Although the producers always wanted to find the right stories to take advantage of being on location, Friends was never shot in New York. Bright felt that filming outside the studio made episodes less funny, even when shooting on the lot outside, and that the live audience was an integral part of the series. When the series was criticized for incorrectly depicting New York, with the financially struggling group of friends being able to afford huge apartments, Bright noted that the set had to be big enough for the cameras, lighting, and "for the audience to be able to see what's going on"; the apartments also needed to provide a place for the actors to execute the funny scripts. The fourth season finale was shot on location in London because the producers knew of the country's large fanbase. The scenes were shot in a studio with three audiences of 500 each, the show's largest audiences throughout its run. Although most people thought the fifth season finale was filmed on location in Las Vegas, the episode was filmed at Warner Bros. Studios.
After the produced pilot lived up to NBC's hopes, the series premiered with the name Friends on September 22, 1994 on the coveted Thursday 8:30 pm timeslot. The pilot aired between Mad About You and Seinfeld, and was watched by almost 22 million American viewers. The series was a huge success throughout its run, and was a staple of NBC's Thursday night line-up, dubbed by the network as Must See TV. When Crane told reporters in 2001 that the ninth season was a possibility, critics believed that he was posturing, and that at least two of the cast members would not sign on for another season. When it was confirmed that Friends would return for a ninth season, the news was mainly about the amount of money—$7 million per episode—that it took to bring the series back for another season.
After year-long expectations that the ninth season would be the series' last, NBC signed a deal in late December 2002 to bring the series back for a final tenth season. The series' creative team did not want to extend negotiations into the next year, and wanted to start writing the rest of the ninth season episodes and a potential series finale. NBC agreed to pay $10 million to Warner Bros. for the production of each tenth season episode, the highest price in television history for a 30-minute series. Although NBC was unable to bring in enough advertising revenue from commercials to cover the costs, the series was integral to the Thursday night schedule, which brought high ratings and profits to the other television series. The cast demanded that the tenth season be reduced from the usual 22 episodes to 18 episodes to allow them to work on outside projects.
The series' creators completed the first draft of the hour-long finale in January 2004, four months before its original airing. Crane, Kauffman and Bright watched the finales of other sitcoms to prepare the episode's outline, paying attention to what worked and what did not. They liked the ones which stayed true to the series, citing the finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the gold standard. Crane, Kauffman and Bright had difficulty writing the finale, and spent several days thinking about the finale scene without being able to write a word. They did not want to do "something high concept, or take the show out of the show". The most critical parts of the finale were shot without an audience, and with a minimum amount of crew. The main cast enjoyed the finale and were confident that the fans would react similarly:
NBC heavily promoted the series finale, which was preceded by weeks of media hype. Local NBC affiliates organized viewing parties around the U.S., including an event at Universal CityWalk featuring a special broadcast of the finale on an outdoor Astrovision screen. The finale was the subject of two episodes of Dateline NBC, a weekly television newsmagazine, one of which ran for two hours. A one-hour retrospective of clips from previous episodes was shown before to the airing of the episode. Following the finale, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was filmed on the set of the Friends' Central Perk coffee house, which featured the series' cast as guests. The advertising rates for the finale averaged $2 million for 30 seconds of commercial time, breaking the record held by the Seinfeld finale at $1.7 million.
In the U.S., 52.5 million viewers watched the finale on May 6, 2004, making it the most-watched entertainment telecast in six years. Although it was not the series' most-watched episode, the finale was the fourth most-watched series finale in television history, only behind the finales of M*A*S*H, Cheers and Seinfeld, which were watched by 105, 80.4 and 76.2 million viewers respectively. The retrospective episode was watched by fewer than 36 million viewers, and the finale was the second most-watched television show of the year, only behind the Super Bowl. Following the finales of Friends and Frasier, media critics speculated about the fate of the sitcom genre. Expressed opinions varied between a signaling of the end of the sitcom genre, a small decline in the large history of the genre, and a general reduction of scripted television in favor of reality shows.
Early reviews of the series were mixed. Tom Feran of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that the series traded "vaguely and less successfully on the hanging-out style of Seinfeld", while Ann Hodges of the Houston Chronicle called it "the new Seinfeld wannabe, but it will never be as funny as Seinfeld." In the Los Angeles Daily News, Ray Richmond named the series as "one of the brighter comedies of the new season", and The Los Angeles Times called it "flat-out the best comedy series of the new season".
Chicago Sun-Times Ginny Holbert found Joey and Rachel's characteristics to be underdeveloped, while Richmond commended the cast as a "likeable, youth ensemble" with "good chemistry" Robert Bianco of USA Today was complementary of Schwimmer, calling him "terrific". He also praised the female leads, but was concerned that Perry's role as Chandler was "undefined" and that LeBlanc was "relying too much on the same brain-dead stud routine that was already tired the last two times he tried it". The authors of Friends Like Us: The Unofficial Guide to Friends thought that the cast was "trying just a little too hard", in particular Perry and Schwimmer.
As the series progressed, reviews became more positive, and Friends became one of the most popular sitcoms of its time. Critics commended the series for its consistently sharp writing and the chemistry between the main actors. Noel Holston of Newsday, who had dismissed the pilot as a "so-so Seinfeld wannabe" in 1994, reneged his review after rewatching the episode, and felt like writing an apology to the writers. Heather Havrilesky of Salon.com thought that the series "hit its stride" in the second season. Havrilesky found the character-specific jokes and situations "could reliably make you laugh out loud a few times each episode", and the quality of writing allowed the stories to be "original and innovative". Bill Carter of The New York Times called the eighth season a "truly stunning comeback". Carter found that by "generating new hot story lines and high-decibel laughs", the series made its way "back into the hearts of its fans". However, Liane Bonin of Entertainment Weekly felt that the direction of the ninth season was a "disappointing buzzkill", criticizing it for the non-stop celebrity guest spots and going into jump the shark territory. Although disappointed with the season, Bonin noted that "the writing [was] still sharp". Havrilesky thought that the tenth season was "alarmingly awful, far worse than you would ever imagine a show that was once so good could be."
|"It may have been impossible for any one episode to live up to the hype and expectations built up around the Friends finale, but this hour probably came as close as fans could have reasonably hoped. Ultimately, the two-hour package did exactly what it was supposed to do. It wrapped up the story while reminding us why we liked the show and will miss it."|
|— Robert Bianco of USA Today on the series finale.|
Reviews of the series finale were mixed to positive. USA Todays Robert Bianco described the finale as entertaining and satisfying, and praised it for deftly mixing emotion and humor while showcasing each of the stars. Sarah Rodman of the Boston Herald praised Aniston and Schwimmer for their acting, but felt that their characters' reunion was "a bit too neat, even if it was what most of the show's legions of fans wanted." Roger Catlin of The Hartford Courant felt that newcomers to the series would be "surprised at how laughless the affair could be, and how nearly every strained gag depends on the sheer stupidity of its characters." Ken Parish Perkins, writing for Fort Worth Star-Telegram, pointed out that the finale was "more touching than comical, more satisfying in terms of closure than knee-slappingly funny."
See main article: List of Friends' awards and nominations.
To maintain the series' ensemble format, the main cast members decided to enter themselves in the same acting categories for awards. Beginning with the series' eighth season, the actors decided to submit themselves in the lead actor balloting, rather than in the supporting actor fields. The series was nominated for 63 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning six. Aniston and Kudrow are the only main cast members to win an Emmy, while Cox is the only actor not to be nominated. The series won the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, with nominations in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2003. The series also won an American Comedy Award, one GLAAD Media Award, one Golden Globe Award, three Logie Awards, six People's Choice Awards, one Satellite Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
The table below indicates the ratings of Friends in the U.S., where it consistently ranked within the top ten of the final television ratings. "Rank" refers to how well Friends rated compared to other television series which aired during primetime hours of the corresponding television season. The television season tends to begin in September, and ends during the May of the following year, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. "Viewers" refers to the average number of viewers for all original episodes, broadcast during the television season in the series' regular timeslot. "Rank" is shown in relation to the total number of series airing on the then-six major English-language networks in a given season. The "season premiere" is the date that the first episode of the season aired, and the "season finale" is the date that the final episode of the season aired.
|Season||Timeslot (EDT)||Season Premiere||Season Finale||TV Season||Rank||Viewers|
|1||Thursday 8:30 P.M. (September 22, 1994 - February 23, 1995)|
Thursday 9:30 P.M.(February 23, 1995 - May 18, 1995)
|September 22, 1994||May 18, 1995||1994-1995||TBA|
|2||Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 21, 1995 - January 18, 1996)|
Sunday 10:13 P.M. (January 28, 1996)
Thursday 8:00 P.M. (February 1, 1996 - May 16, 1996)
|September 21, 1995||May 16, 1996||1995-1996||18.7|
|3||Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 19, 1996 - May 17, 2001)||September 19, 1996||May 15, 1997||1996-1997||TBA|
|4||September 25, 1997||May 7, 1998||1997-1998||16.4|
|5||September 24, 1998||May 20, 1999||1998-1999||23.5|
|6||September 23, 1999||May 18, 2000||1999-2000||21.0|
|7||October 12, 2000||May 17, 2001||2000-2001||19.7|
|8||Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 27, 2001 - October 4, 2001)|
Thursday 8:50 P.M. (October 11, 2001)
Thursday 8:00 P.M. (October 18, 2001 - May 16, 2002)
|September 27, 2001||May 16, 2002||2001-2002||24.5|
|9||Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 26, 2002 - May 15, 2003)||September 26, 2002||May 15, 2003||2002-2003||21.8|
|10||Thursday 8:00 P.M. (September 25, 2003 - April 29, 2004)|
Thursday 9:00 P.M. (May 6, 2004)
|September 25, 2003||May 6, 2004||2003-2004||21.4|
Although the producers thought of Friends as "only a TV show", numerous psychologists investigated the cultural impact of Friends during the series' run. Aniston's hairstyle was nicknamed "The Rachel", and copied around the world. Joey's catchphrase, "How you doin'?", became a popular part of Western English slang, often used as a pick-up line or when greeting friends. The series also impacted on the English language, according to a study by a linguistics professor at the University of Toronto. The professor found that the characters used the word "so" as an adjective more often than other intensifiers, such as "very" and "really". Although the preference had already made its way into the American vernacular, usage on the series may have accelerated the change. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, ratings increased 17% over the previous season as viewers tuned in for comfort.
The Central Perk coffee house, one of the principal settings of the series, has inspired various imitations worldwide. In 2006, Iranian businessman Mojtaba Asadian started a Central Perk franchise, registering the name in 32 countries. The decor of the coffee houses is inspired by Friends, featuring replica couches, counters, neon signage and bricks. The coffee houses also contain paintings of the various characters from the series, and televisions playing Friends' episodes. James Michael Tyler, who plays the Central Perk manager in the series, Gunther, attended the grand opening of the Dubai cafe, where he worked as a waiter. Central Perk was rebuilt as part of a museum exhibit at Warner Bros. Studios, and was shown on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October 2008. Lisa Kudrow revisited the set for the first time since the series finale in 2004.
Friends began airing in the UK in 1994 on the terrestrial Channel 4; however, in 1996, Sky1 bought the rights to the series. Although Channel 4 continued to air episodes several weeks after their original airing on Sky1, the series was one of the network's most popular series, averaging 2.6 million viewers per episode. In 1999, Channel 4 signed a £100 million deal to regain the rights to Friends and ER from Sky1. The three year deal allowed Channel 4 to air new episodes of the series in the UK first, and to negotiate pay-TV airings with other UK broadcasters. The final episode averaged 8.6 million viewers—more than a third of the UK's television audience at the time—and saw a peak of 8.9 million viewers. This was the highest amount of viewers for any episode of Friends, beating the June 2002 episode, which drew 6.5 million viewers. Repeats of the series are regularly shown in the UK on Channel 4 and E4. The Irish channel RTÉ Two was the first channel in Europe to air the finale on May 24, 2004. Friends debuted on Australian television in 1996 on the Seven Network. The Nine Network began airing the second season in 1997, and continued to show the series until its finale in 2004. The Network Ten announced in November 2007 that it had bought the rights to the show in Australia, and that it would air it seven nights a week at 7:00 pm. TV2 broadcast all ten seasons in New Zealand, and continues to air repeats.
All ten seasons have been released on DVD individually and as a box set. Warner Bros. has also talked about plans of a future Blu-ray release. Each season release contains special features and footage originally cut from the series. For the first season, each episode is updated with color correction and sound enhancement. A wide range of Friends merchandise has been produced by various companies. In late September 1995, WEA Records released the Friends Original TV Soundtrack, containing music featured in previous and future episodes. The soundtrack debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 46, and sold 500,000 copies in November 1995. In 1999, a second soundtrack album entitled Friends Again was released. Other merchandise include a Friends version of the DVD game "Scene It?", and a quiz computer game, entitled Friends: The One with All the Trivia.
. Friends 'Til the End: The Official Celebration of All Ten Years. David Wild. 2004. Time Warner. 1932273190.
After the series finale in 2004, LeBlanc signed on for the spin-off series, Joey, following Joey's move to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career. Kauffman and Crane were not interested in the spin-off, although Bright accepted to executive produce the series with Scott Silveri and Shana Goldberg-Meehan.
Following the series finale, rumors began to emerge of a Friends film, although all were proven to be untrue. Rumors of a film reemerged after the release of the Sex and the City film in 2008, which proved to be a success at the box office. The Daily Telegraph reported in July 2008 that the main cast members had agreed to star in the project, and that filming was going to start within the next 18 months. A source commented that "Jennifer, Courteney and the rest of the cast are [eager] to reprise their roles, under the right circumstances [...] Jennifer says she and Courteney have already talked this summer about what they want out of a Friends movie." When asked about the film, Kudrow said that she was unaware of the talks, but expressed interest in the idea. However, the director of publicity for Warner Bros. said there was "no truth in the story", and Perry's spokeswoman added that "nothing is happening in this regard, so the rumor is false."