If for some reason you’re feeling a bit nostalgic today for NBC’s “Must See TV” glory days, it’s probably because today marks the 10th anniversary of the Friends finale. Yes, it’s shockingly been a full decade since we bid farewell. It’s really a testament to the show’s cultural relevance that ranking the male characters is something we can all still get behind.
I didn’t stick it out with with the friends in apartment 20 for the show’s entire 10 season run, but I do remember watching the final episode when it aired on May 6, 2004 and being surrounded by teary-eyed friends who didn’t want the show to end.
David Crane and Marta Kauffman looked to Newhart and The Mary Tyler Moore Show as inspiration on how to do a series finale right, and in the end, gave fans an episode that brought the feels and brought them hard. Here are 10 facts you might not know about the final episode of Friends.
1. The final taping was a bit like high school graduation. Nobody wore caps and gowns, but the production staff had Friends yearbooks made that were given out to the cast just before taping the final episode. After taping had wrapped, the cast and crew were each given a piece of the sidewalk from outside the Central Perk as a keepsake.
2. There were multiple wrap parties to celebrate the show’s sendoff. The final episode may have aired in May of 2004, but final taping concluded with wrap parties in January — three of them to be exact. Jennifer Aniston and then-husband, Brad Pitt, had a dinner party at their home on January 19th with bottles of wine that producer Kevin Bright had saved from season one. The cast and crew got together again on January 22nd at Sole in West Hollywood before the big sendoff that took place January 24th. Over 1,000 guest attended a Friends party at the Park Plaza Hotel with The Rembrandts performing the show’s theme song and the cast giving a re-enactment of the pilot episode’s first scene.
3. The last episode is one of the few times we see Ross’ bedroom. We first see Ross’ bedroom in “The One with the Morning After”, but after that the only glimpses we see until the finale are in “The One With the Princess Leia Fantasy” and a couple of times when Ross and Emily are in bed.
4. Chandler’s idea about splitting the twins up is a reference to The Parent Trap. Chandler’s joke of splitting the twins up and giving them each a medallion, is a reference to the Disney movie, The Parent Trap, about two identical twins with the same medallion who reunite at summer camp.
And in case you didn’t have your stopwatch handy, Monica and Chandler’s twins are born three minutes and 46 seconds apart.
5. The friends reminisce over Monica’s apartment, but not Joey’s. In “The Last One, Part 2” it’s mentioned that all six members of the group have lived in Monica’s apartment at some point. All six friends have also lived in Joey’s apartment at one point, but for whatever reason, this fact wasn’t nostalgic enough to be written in.
6. Jennifer Aniston’s movie schedule cheated fans out of six episodes. The 10th season was originally supposed to run 24 episodes, but had to be cut down to 18 to accompany several movies Jennifer Aniston was shooting.
7. NBC wasted no time on cashing in on fans’ grief the show was over. Grief-stricken fans of the show didn’t have to wait long to relive the finale, as NBC pushed out a DVD of the series finale the Tuesday after the show’s final episode. The DVD included the broadcast version of the finale as well as an extended version and the series’ pilot.
8. The series finale was NOT the show’s most watched episode. The Friends finale stands at #4 of the most watched series finales, behind M*A*S*H, Cheers and Seinfeld, but even with 52.5 million viewers, it still didn’t break its own record of 52.9 million viewers that “The One After The Superbowl” generated in 1996.
9. Friends and former cast members were backstage during the final taping. Hank Azaria, Phoebe’s scientist boyfriend, was at the show’s final taping as was Courtney Cox’s then-husband, David Arquette, who filmed the cast backstage before the taping began.
10. Friends took a cue from Pearl Jam. If you’ve ever been to a Pearl Jam concert, chances are the last song of the night was “Yellow Ledbetter,” this isn’t always the case, but more often than not, it’s the band’s closing number. Which could be why showrunners , David Crane and Marta Kauffman, chose to use it in the finale’s second half when Rachel goes through the gate at the airport. This was also the first time the band had licensed out a song for a television show.
Sources: IMDB, People, EW, Friends Wikia