Friends is an American television sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004, lasting ten seasons. With an ensemble cast starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, the show revolves around six friends in their 20s and 30s who live in Manhattan, New York City. The series was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The original executive producers were Kevin S. Bright, Kauffman, and Crane.
Kauffman and Crane began developing Friends under the working title Insomnia Cafe between November and December 1993. They presented the idea to Bright, and together they pitched a seven-page treatment of the show to NBC. After several script rewrites and changes, including title changes to Six of One and Friends Like Us, the series was finally named Friends.
Filming took place at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. The show ranked within the top ten of the final television season ratings; it ultimately reached the number-one spot in its eighth season. The series finale aired on May 6, 2004, and was watched by around 52.5 million American viewers, making it the fifth-most-watched series finale in television history and the most-watched television episode of the 2000s.
Friends received acclaim throughout its run, becoming one of the most popular television shows of all time. The series was nominated for 62 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning the Outstanding Comedy Series award in 2002 for its eighth season. The show ranked no. 21 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and no. 5 on Empire magazine's The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 1997, the episode \"The One with the Prom Video\" was ranked no. 100 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time. In 2013, Friends ranked no. 24 on the Writers Guild of America's 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time, and no. 28 on TV Guide's 60 Best TV Series of All Time. The sitcom's cast members returned for a reunion special aired on HBO Max on May 27, 2021.
Episodes depict the friends' comedic and romantic adventures and career issues, such as Joey auditioning for roles or Rachel seeking jobs in the fashion industry. The six characters each have many dates and serious relationships, such as Monica with Richard Burke (Tom Selleck) and Ross with Emily Waltham (Helen Baxendale). Ross and Rachel's intermittent relationship is the most often-recurring storyline. During the ten seasons of the show, they repeatedly date and break up.
James Michael Tyler appears as Gunther, a barista at Central Perk, in every season of the show, but is only ever credited as a guest star. Gunther has a mostly secret profound love for Rachel throughout the entire series. At one point he becomes the manager of the coffee house. It is revealed that Gunther speaks Dutch in addition to English, as well as being a former soap opera actor.
In their original contracts for the first season, cast members were 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. Before 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. The stars were paid $75,000 per episode in season three, $85,000 in season four, $100,000 in season five, $125,000 in season six, $750,000 in seasons seven and eight, and $1 million in seasons nine and ten, making Aniston, Cox, and Kudrow the highest-paid TV actresses of all time. The cast also received syndication royalties beginning in 2000 after renegotiations. At the time, that financial benefit of a piece of the show's lucrative back-end profits had only been given out to stars who had ownership rights in a show, like Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby.
Series creator David Crane wanted all six actors 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 salary negotiations, and asked to appear together on magazine cover photos in the first season. The cast members also became best friends off-screen, so much so that recurring guest star Tom Selleck reported that he sometimes felt left out.
However, Eddie is annoying and somewhat deranged. When Joey claims in a soap opera magazine interview that he writes many of his own lines, offending the show's writer, his character is killed off. No longer able to afford his expensive new apartment, Joey moves back in with Chandler, kicking Eddie out in the process. In the season finale, Chandler talks to an anonymous woman in an online chat room. When they agree to meet in person, the woman turns out to be Janice.
Ross and Emily marry, but an angry and humiliated Emily flees the reception. Rachel soon admits her love for Ross, but realizing how ridiculous this is, advises him to work on his marriage to Emily. She develops a crush on her neighbor Danny and they date briefly, until she realizes that he is too close with his sister. Monica and Chandler try to keep their new relationship a secret from their friends. Phoebe gives birth to triplets in the show's 100th episode. She gives birth to a boy, Frank Jr. Jr., and two girls, Leslie and Chandler, the latter of whom was supposed to be a boy, but was later revealed to be a girl.
While dining at a fancy restaurant, Chandler's planned proposal is subverted by Monica's ex-boyfriend Richard Burke, who unexpectedly shows up. Richard later tells Monica he wants to marry her and have children. Monica becomes upset at Chandler, believing his ruse about not wanting to marry. Chandler believes Monica has left him until he comes home to find their apartment decorated with candles and her waiting to propose to him. When she becomes too emotional to continue, Chandler proposes and she accepts.
The seventh season mainly follows Monica and Chandler as they plan their wedding amid various problems. Joey's television series, Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E is canceled, but he is offered his old role on Days of Our Lives; the show is retconned with the revelation that Dr. Drake Ramoray has been in a four-year coma and is revived with a brain transplant from another character. Phoebe's repaired apartment now has one large bedroom instead of the original two, so Rachel permanently stays at Joey's. Rachel is promoted at Ralph Lauren and impulsively hires a young assistant, Tag Jones (Eddie Cahill), based on his looks, passing over a more qualified woman. Tag discovers her feelings about him at Thanksgiving dinner, and they begin dating, hiding it from co-workers. However, on her 30th birthday, Rachel ends their relationship, realizing Tag is too young and immature, particularly if she intends to follow her marriage schedule.
David Crane and Marta Kauffman began developing three new television pilots that would premiere in 1994 after their sitcom Family Album was cancelled by CBS in 1993. Kauffman and Crane decided to pitch the series about \"six people in their 20s making their way in Manhattan\" to NBC since they thought it would fit best there. 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.
Kauffman and Crane took three days to write the pilot script for a show they titled Friends Like Us. Littlefield wanted the series to \"represent Generation X and explore a new kind of tribal bonding\", but the rest disagreed. 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 script and ordered the series. They changed the title to Six of One, mainly because they felt Friends Like Us was too similar to the ABC sitcom These Friends of Mine.
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 using six equal characters, rather than emphasizing one or two, would allow for \"myriad storylines and give the show legs.\" The majority of the storyline ideas came from the writers, although the actors added ideas. Although the writers originally planned the big love story to be between Joey and Monica, the idea of a romantic interest between Ross and Rachel emerged during the period when Kauffman and Crane wrote the pilot script.
The storyline was incorporated into the season; however, when the actors feared that the storyline would make their characters unlikable, 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 wanted the show neither