Hidden Friends details almost no one notices

Let's be honest, you've probably watched the iconic television show Friends more times than you can count, right? The sitcom was must watch viewing during its original run from 1994 to 2004, and reached even more fans after the entire series began streaming on Netflix. It's one of those feel-good shows that demands to be watched over and over again, but even those who have watched the series repeatedly over the decades might not have spotted all of the hidden details in the show. 

It's so easy to be distracted by all the shenanigans that Rachel, Ross, Joey, Monica, Chandler, and Phoebe get up to that die-hard fans can still miss some of these Easter eggs, even after repeated viewings. Don't feel bad if you didn't catch all of these well-concealed details. After all, this will give you another excuse to watch the show again (not that you really need one).  

Bruce Willis makes an appearance

The show certainly transformed the six major cast members — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer — into A-list celeb status, but there were many other celebrities who made an appearance on the show.

In season six, episode 21, "The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth's Dad," Bruce WIllis plays the part of Paul Stevens (starting at the 2-minute mark in the video above). He also made an appearance in episode 22, "The One Where Paul's the Man," and episode 23, "The One with the Ring." The character is Elizabeth's father. He strongly dislikes Ross but has a brief romance with Rachel.

Julia Roberts makes an appearance

Julia Roberts is another major celebrity who appeared on Friends. In season two, episode 13, "The One After the Superbowl: Part 2," Julia plays the role of Susie Moss. Susie was a former classmate of Chandler's. He humiliated her and she got the nickname "Susie Underpants." They wind up in the bathroom and she entices Chandler to wear her panties. Then she ditches him and steals all his clothes.

Many more celebrities made appearances

The list could go on an on. A few favorite celebrities to grace the set include Tom Selleck, who played Dr. Richard Burke for ten episodes, and Morgan Fairchild, who guest-starred as Nora Tyler Bing in five episodes over several seasons. 

Christina Applegate played Amy Green, one of Rachel's sisters, in two episodes on seasons 9 and 10 — and even won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy. Reese Witherspoon guest-starred as Rachel's other sister, Jill Green, in two episodes in season six. 

Brad Pitt, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Jeff Goldblum, Danny DeVito, Ellen Pompeo, and Jon Lovitz each make a cameo appearance in various episodes of the show, per the Friends IMDb page.

Executive producers make an appearance

Marta Kauffman, Kevin Bright and David Crane formed Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions and began a development deal with Warner Bros. Television to produce Friends. Bright directed 54 episodes, while Kauffman and Crane are both uncredited for directing three and two episodes respectively. The trio also made several cameos during the run.

In the very first episode, "The One with Fake Monica," Joey Holden McGroin auditions at the very end, onstage. The executive producers are all seen (the back of their heads anyway) in the audience as seen in this video clip. In Season 2, Episode 13, "The One After the Super Bowl (Part 2)", the executive producers are seen near the director after Joey shakes Phoebe and screams to get away from a "horrible flesh-eating virus" as seen in the photo above. 

In Season 3, Episode 1, "The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy," as the gang enters Central Perk, the executive producers are sitting on the couch at :09 in this video clip. In Season 4, Episode 23, "The One with Ross's Wedding," Kauffman and a writer for the show, Adam Chase, are on the double-decker bus sitting behind Chandler and Joey at the end of the episode as seen starting at 4:02 in this video clip.

Family members make an appearance

A-list celebrities and the executive producers weren't the only ones to make cameos on the show. Some of the cast's family members did too! In season seven, episode 22, "The One with Chandler's Dad," Chandler and Monica travel to Vegas to meet Chandler's dad. When sitting at a club, a cocktail waitress appears. It's Alexis Arquette, Courteney Arquette's sister-in-law. And in season four, episode 18, "The One with Rachel's New Dress," the actor who plays Mr. Burgin was John Bennett Perry, Matthew Perry's real-life father.

The Magna Doodle changes

In Season 3, Episode 18, "The One With the Hypnosis Tape," The Magna Doodle made its debut as a message board on the wall in Joey and Chandler's apartment. At first glance, the doodle features a grocery list (eggs and milk) and the column on the right says, "Joey call your dad." A couple episodes later, it changes to a cartoon face.

Some funny messages over the seasons include: "Clean up the duck feathers in the hallway! Treager," "Clean bathroom," "Knock, knock, who's there? PORN!" and "No girls allowed." By the end of season five, there were various drawings added. Favorites include: a spaceship, a unicorn, an astronaut, a wizard, a train, a deep sea diver and more.

The Central Perk chalkboard

The chalkboard menu at Central Perk has become a bit famous in its own right. It has changed on occasion but the original menu as seen in this image from the Warner Bros. Studios set of Friends is revealed as:

  • Long Island Cream: A moovingly rich and creaming coffee straight from the mutter's utter.
  • Central Jolt: Loaded with caffeine we don't recommend doing needlepoint after a cup of this joe.
  • 5th Avenue: Going shopping you'll need some fuel. Try this trendy blend while you spend.
  • Empire Roast: Bursting w/flavor & energy. You won't be hanging around after drinking this stuff.
  • Ms. Liberty Blend: A liberating blend, light & sweet. You'll be crying "freedom"! When you taste it.
  • N.Y. Classico: The classic coffee taste you'd expect on a classic New York morning.
  • Tin Pan Java: Filtered through the finest skid row hankies we get a brew so thin you'd think it's tea.
  • Manhattan Mocha: A stimulating brew guaranteed to keep your eyes open until the wee hours.
  • Mocha Quartet: A symphony of flavours blended together to make your day sing.
  • Urban: Robust and raw this coffee will have you swinging from the lamposts.

Everyone's last name is Arquette

Between seasons five and six, during the summer of 1999, Courteney Cox married David Arquette. As a congratulations, the opening credits were changed on the first episode of season six. The cast and executive producers had the name "Arquette" appended to their names.

The reserved Central Perk table

Did you ever wonder how the group of friends always had access to their favorite table at Central Perk, no matter how crowded the coffee shop was? You may glimpse a "Reserved" sign on some of the episodes! Once you see the sign, you can't unsee it. I dare you to rewatch the series and you'll find it all the time.

The apartment number switcheroo

In the first season of Friends, Monica lived in apartment number 5. It was later changed to apartment number 20, to reflect the fact that she lived on a higher floor. Oops!

The original character choices

Could you imagine if the cast had been made up of different actors? Executive producer and co-creator Marta Kauffman revealed to Vanity Fair that they originally offered the role of Rachel to Courtney Cox, but she asked to play Monica instead. Kauffman and her writing partner, David Crane, initially had a different vision for Monica. "We had Janeane Garofalo's voice in our head. Darker and edgier and snarkier," but Cox brought dimension to the role that they hadn't even imagined.

And what of the other actors? Executive producer Kevin Bright revealed to USA Today that they auditioned 500 actors for the show. He also revealed that they knew David Schwimmer and had him in mind for Ross, while "Lisa and Jennifer and Matthew and Matt we cast from auditions." Kauffman told Vanity Fair that Matthew Perry was one of the first actors they wanted to hire, but he was already doing another pilot. They nearly hired Craig Bierko, but he passed on the role after reading the script. Luckily, Matthew Perry became available, and the rest is history.

In a 2015 during an interview with Howard Stern, Ellen DeGeneres cleared up the rumor that she was asked to play Phoebe — she explained that her sitcom Ellen premiered around the same time as Friends — except that her show was initially called These Friends of Mine for the first season, so the similar names caused the confusion.

Original title change

According to MSN, "Friends was almost called "Insomnia Café" on account of the fact the six lead characters pretty much spend their entire lives at their local coffee shop, Central Perk." Other possible names thrown out there were Six of One, Across the Hall, Friends Like Us and Once Upon a Time in the West Village. "Six of One was the name of the show during the pilot," Karey Burke, former prime-time executive at NBC, explained to Vanity Fair. "Then Kauffman and Crane came back with Friends, which we thought was such a snore. Some people thought the show was too Gen X, way too narrow."

As for the original pitch, Kauffman and Crane wrote it out as: "This show is about six people in their 20's who hang out at this coffee house. An after hours insomnia café. It's about sex, love, relationship, careers… a time in your life when everything is possible, which is really exciting and really scary. It's about searching for love and commitment and security… and a fear of love and commitment and security. And it's about friendship, because when you're young and single and in the city, your friends are your family."

There was never going to be a spinoff

The creators knew a couple of things as the series began to wind down. Rachel and Ross had to get together, and they never wanted the show to have a spinoff. Kauffman revealed to Dan Snierson of Entertainment Weekly, "Never. We never, ever from the beginning ever wanted to do a spin-off or Grown-Up Friends or Friends Kids or Baby Friends. We always knew and felt very strongly that not only would it never happen, we never wanted to be part of that, because it so rarely works. We just felt like this show is about a certain time in your life, and once you're past that time in your life, the show is over."

And when it came to the Season 10 finale, Crane says, "We said, 'We can't keep stopping and starting and rethinking everything.' And that also jived with what some of the cast was thinking. The only thing we absolutely knew from very early on was that we had to get Ross and Rachel together. We had dicked the audience around for 10 years with their 'will they or won't they,' and we didn't see any advantage in frustrating them."

No New York (or Vegas) filming

The producers wanted to film on location for New York (and Vegas) but Friends was never actually shot in those places. Executive producer Kevin Bright felt the live audience was an important factor and that didn't quite work outside. "We find that taking the show out of the studio makes it less funny, even when we shoot on the lot outside. The live audience is such an integral part of the show."

Bright also admitted the apartments are large, but adequate space was needed for filming. "In the reality of life in New York for people of this age, yes, they are rather large apartments. But in the process of making a TV show, the space has to be big enough for cameras, lighting, and for the audience to be able to see what's going on. It's to provide a place for the talented actors to execute the funny scripts. That's what you're supposed to be looking at, not the size of the apartment."

Phoebe met her brother without even realizing it

It's hard to forget Frank Buffay Jr., Phoebe's half-brother. Phoebe grew up not knowing about her little brother, as her dad abandoned her family. Once the two finally meet, in Season 2, Episode 21, Frank is close to graduating from high school. The two get off to an awkward start, but eventually develop an affectionate sibling relationship. After Frank graduates from high school, he marries his (much older) former teacher. Phoebe acts as a surrogate for the couple, giving birth to triplets in Season 5.

Even if you're the most dedicated fan, you probably didn't realize that you actually saw Giovanni Ribisi, the actor who played Frank, in an earlier episode. Ribisi appears in Season 2, Episode 6, as the guy who accidentally drops a condom in Phoebe's guitar case when she's performing on the sidewalk outside of Central Perk. Alas, the condom guy was not actually intended to be Phoebe's brother. Ribisi was initially supposed to be an extra on the show, but the producers liked him so much that they decided to write him into the supporting cast.

The pregnancy that never ends

The on-again-off-again relationship between Ross and Rachel is, depending on who you ask, either one of the show's best qualities or one of the most obnoxious. Whether or not you believe the two were on a break, you probably didn't notice that Rachel's pregnancy goes on for a really, really long time. Rachel and Ross briefly rekindle their romance before Monica and Chandler get married. While they aren't quite back together (yet), Rachel finds out at Monica and Chandler's wedding that she's pregnant with his baby.

This is the part where we need to do some math. Even assuming that Rachel is only a couple weeks pregnant when she takes the pregnancy test (she'd need to be at least that for the test to work), she's seemingly pregnant for nearly a year. We know that Monica's wedding date is May 15, which means Rachel was pregnant by early May at the latest. You'd think that by the time Valentine's Day rolled around nine months later, she'd be ready to give birth, but Ross mentions that the baby recently started kicking — something that usually happens much earlier in a pregnancy. Rachel doesn't give birth until the season finale, which, judging by the lightweight clothes everyone is wearing, takes place in the spring. That's a long pregnancy!

Gunther didn't have a single line until halfway through Season 2

Ah, Gunther. While he isn't one of the main characters of the show, his presence throughout the series adds a lot of hilarity. Gunther first appears on the show in Season 1, but you might not have noticed him because he doesn't talk until halfway through Season 2. James Michael Tyler, the actor who played Gunther, was a real-life barista when he was hired to be an extra on Friends to help Central Perk look more "authentic" by pretending to work the espresso machine. Tyler had been on the show for a while when one of the creators, Marta Kauffman, asked if he had acting experience.

"I said, 'Yeah, I have a Master of Fine Arts in acting, actually,'" Tyler told BuzzFeed. "'I've done a lot of stage, theater stuff, and things like that.' And she said, 'That's really good to know.' With no explanation! But the next week, I came in and she said, 'Your name is Gunther.' I said, 'Excuse me? What?' And she said, 'Your name is Gunther now.' I still didn't get it. Then, she said, 'Oh, that's your character name. And you get to say, 'Yeah' today. So, we're giving you a line.'" That one line turned out to be the start of bigger things to come, and Gunther ended up becoming a memorable part of the series.  

Estelle moonlights as a nurse?

Estelle Leonard, Joey's talent agent, might not be a huge character on Friends, but she is certainly pretty unforgettable. While we love her, we can't help but blame her for the rough state of Joey's acting career. She isn't exactly the most professional of agents, and you can't help but wonder just how successful Joey could have been if he had an agent who worked just a little bit harder. Even Phoebe, who has no experience in the industry, does a better job getting Joey acting gigs when she briefly acts as his agent.

If you look closely, there's actually a reason Estelle is such a lousy agent: she's working two jobs! Or at least, the actress who played her is. June Gable, the actress who played Estelle, appears in a Season 1 episode as a nurse in the hospital when Ross' son, Ben, is born. Gable first played Estelle in an earlier Season 1 episode, but her scenes were deleted, so the first time we officially meet her as Estelle is in Season 2.

Joey's PIN number is… Joey

Joey is the loveable but not-too-bright member of the group. His innocence is endearing, and also makes for a lot of hilarious moments. Remember the time he thought that women have Adam's apples? Or the time he thought there were 56 states? It kind of makes you wonder how Joey manages to remember all his lines for his acting jobs. The guy can't even remember his own pin number! When he's in Las Vegas for an acting job that falls through, he has to ask Phoebe to go to the ATM near his apartment and look for his pin number, which he had scratched into the machine.

The pin number, 5639, holds special significance for Joey, which makes it even funnier that he can't remember it. When you punch the numbers into a phone, the digits actually spell out Joey. All Joey has to do to type in his PIN number is spell his name, and he can't even remember it! Poor Joey.