Hidden Friends details almost no one notices

If you haven't seen Friends, stop reading now and go watch the series on Netflix! If you have seen this favorite American television sitcom, I imagine there's a chance you missed a few things on the first (second, third?) time watching. I get it, there's a lot to watch in those ten seasons! So here are a few things you missed, or may not have known, about Friends.If you haven't seen Friends, stop reading now and go watch the series on Netflix! If you have seen this favorite American television sitcom, I imagine there's a chance you missed a few things on the first (second, third?) time watching. I get it, there's a lot to watch in those ten seasons!

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. 

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 two, 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 three, episode one, "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 four, 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 three, 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. Former head of casting at NBC, Lori Openden, also told Vanity Fair that Cox had competition for the role: "Nancy McKeon, from The Facts of Life, also read for Courteney's part. She gave a terrific performance." As we now know, not as good as Cox.

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. "Thank God! There was something Snidely Whiplash about [him]," said Warren Littlefield, the former president of NBC Entertainment. 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."

Hard to say good-bye

Friends was such an iconic show and the chemistry between all the actors was perfect, unique, and amazing. It's no wonder that teens now are watching the show and completely identify with the characters. I hope these new glimpses into the show give you a reason to watch it again sometime soon. After all, it's so hard to say good-bye.