It’s been well over a decade since Friends went off the air after 10 seasons and some 236 episodes, but it’s a show that continues to not only delight fans the world over, but also spark some very interesting discussions online.
The internet has given rise to any number of fan theories concerning the Central Perk Six. From the sublime to the ridiculous, they not only offer up a fresh and often very unique perspective on the show, but also serve as shining examples of the imagination and ingenuity of its fans, many of whom have spent countless hours rewatching the series to put these crazed theories together.
Not that every theory will leave Friends fans all that happy. Far from it, in fact, as a number of dark and depressing scenarios have been dreamed up and presented online over the years. In fact, some of these theories are so out there, yet seemingly so logical, that they may end up ruining the way some viewers watch the show forever.
Here are 18 Of the Most Insane Fan Theories Ever.
18 Friends Exists In The Same Universe As Home Alone
This crazy Friends fan theory arrives via 22 Vision, and only came to light in December 2016. It emerged after they noticed that, in "The One With Princess Consuela", the view of the street from inside the house Chandler and Monica move to at the end of the series is the same view as the one from inside the McCallister residence in Home Alone. You can even spot the the Murphy family’s blue garage across the street.
Did they move into the house once owned by the McCallisters? Will their baby son, Jack, ended up being a hell raiser of Kevin McCallister proportions? Or is it just that they ended up using the same stock footage, given that Monica and Chandler moved just outside of New York and the McCallisters lived in Chicago? Hmmm.
17 Friends Existed In Phoebe’s Mind
Possibly the darkest fan theory to ever grace the internet came from Twitter user @strnks. He suggested an ending to the series in which it turned out that Phoebe was still homeless, and that the entire show had been a product of her meth-addled mind.
The final scene would see her going past Central Perk and seeing Ross, Rachel, Joey, Chandler, and Monica inside. Except they all have different names and personalities and refer to her as "the crazy lady who always stares at us".
Friends would then end with her taking shelter from the rain in the park by setting up six brightly colored umbrellas on a bench. All this poor version of Phoebe wanted was friends – so she invented them from scratch. When told of the theory, co-creator Marta Kauffman said: "That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard." She’s right. It really is.
16 Ross Eventually Lost Custody Of Ben
It’s a common complaint of Friends fans that Ross’ son Ben essentially disappears after season eight of the show. In reality, that was because the child actor that played Ben, Cole Sprouse, had just been cast alongside his twin brother Dylan In The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody, and the Friends producers didn’t bother to recast him.
Reddit user smokingcage has another theory, though: Ross lost custody of his son. The weird thing is, it kind of makes sense. In latter episodes, Ross becomes an increasingly anxious figure, and when Emma is born, her half brother is never mentioned by Ross and never visits. Did Ross lose custody of his son to his ex-wife Carol as a result of his fragile mental state and many missteps as a dad? It certainly appears that way to some fans.
15 Gunther Always Reserved The Couch/Table
It was one of the great mysteries that ran throughout Friends: how were the gang able to sit in the same prime set of couches in the middle of Central Perk, pretty much day in, day out? How come no one else ever got a look in?
The answer might be a simple but creepy one: the table was reserved for the gang by Gunther, according to Reddit's Theluckygal. But before you start applauding the Central Perk manager’s kindness, it’s important to know the likely reason for this was so he could keep a close eye on Rachel.
Friends fans know only too well of Gunther’s crush on Rachel, but reserving a table for her and her friends just so he could look at her all day? Dude, that’s creepy at hell.
14 Ross And Monica Were Actually Half Siblings
Monica was always given a tough time of things by her mother, Judy, on Friends, who was often quick to criticize her daughter with some cutting and pretty harsh comments. But there may have been more to that story - like maybe Judy was feeling guilty about a dark secret she was keeping concerning her daughter?
According to some Friends fan theorists, the suggestion is that Judy may have been quietly aware that Monica was not Jack Geller’s daughter, but actually the product of a secret affair she had been having with another man. The harsh treatment dolled out to Monica is merely Judy acting out at the shame she felt over the situation. It would also explain why Ross is otherwise inexplicably regarded as the favorite, despite being a tool.
It doesn't make their creepy-close relationship any less disconcerting, though.
13 Joey and Phoebe Were Secretly Banging
Throughout Friends’ 10-season run, there was always a sneaking suspicion among a sub-section of fans that the show would eventually jump the shark and have Joey and Phoebe get together romantically.
In the end, however, it was the show’s two stars, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow, who put the idea forward. They felt that the pair had enjoyed enough flirty banter and emotional moments to pitch a rather unique idea to the show’s writers.
They posited a twist where it would be revealed that the two characters had been secretly hooking up for years behind closed doors. It was ultimately rejected, not just because it would have sucked, but also because it would have made their shocked reaction to Monica and Chandler getting together a touch hypocritical.
12 Phoebe Is On The Run From Porn Barons
This theory comes courtesy of Cracked and dates back to the season six episode, "The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry". In the episode, Phoebe is shocked to discover that her twin Ursula has embarked on a career in porn, using her name as a screen alias.
Phoebe eventually gets her revenge, making off with Ursula’s porn checks, which have been made out in her name. Four episodes later, though, Rachel and Phoebe find themselves homeless after their apartment is gutted by a fire. At the time, Rachel’s curling iron is blamed for the blaze, but what if the porn barons Ursula were working for were behind the fire after hearing about Phoebe stealing her sister's hard-earned pay?
It’s certainly odd that, over the next two seasons, Phoebe moves three times. Who is she running from? And why does she really want to change her name to Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock?
11 Ross Secretly Has Aspergers
Few would dispute Ross’ status as the most intelligent of the Friends gang – he is a palaeontologist, after all. However, he also has a habit for doing some pretty dumb things every now and then, and is arguably the most socially awkward of the group.
From his strange shouts of "pivot!" while moving that couch to his inability to operate a spray-tan machine, Ross regularly comes across as a little bit different – so what gives? One possible explanation could be that Ross actually has Asperger’s Syndrome. Several fans with autism have already pointed out that the character shares plenty of the known traits associated with it.
His interest in science and his generally awkward presence seems to fit the bill. He’s also been known to suffer sensory issues – he thinks ice cream is too cold, remember? So there’s certainly enough evidence to suggest he’s on the spectrum.
10 Friends Exists In The Same Universe as Seinfeld
Not so much a fan theory as fan fact, it turns out that Friends and Seinfeld both exist in the same fictionalized version of New York, and it’s all thanks to another '90s sitcom favorite, Mad About You. The connection between Mad About You and Friends is already established – Lisa Kudrow regularly appeared as Ursula Buffay, Phoebe’s twin sister, working at a diner Paul and Jamie Buchman regularly frequent on Mad About You. Helen Hunt also cameoed as Jamie in Friends, mistaking Phoebe for her rude sister in one scene.
But here’s where things get complicated: Michael Richards appeared as Kramer from Seinfeld on Mad About You. In the show, Kramer takes over Paul’s old apartment, with Paul Reiser’s character even mentioning Jerry, the comedian across the hall.
There are some holes in the theory too, however. Like the fact Courtney Cox actually appeared as one of Jerry’s short-lived girlfriends on Seinfeld. Or the time that George watched an episode of Mad About You in Seinfeld. But other than that, it’s fine.
9 Joey Is A Master Manipulator
Anyone who has ever watched Friends will know two things about Joey and food: he loves it, and he’s really not keen on sharing it. But did you know he is also master manipulator when it comes to food?
In the episode "The One With Ross’s Library Book", viewers learn that Chandler used to help Joey dispose of one night stands the next day by making them pancakes and kindly telling them to move on. But after initially wanting to get rid of his latest conquest, Erin, Joey decides to go for a rare second date. However, Erin soon reveals that she's not looking for anything serious, and promptly breaks things off.
Left feeling blue, Rachel agrees to make Joey pancakes to cheer him up. Suddenly, Joey is fine again – but was that the plan all along? According to one Redditor, Joey may have actually hired Erin to pretend to sleep with him so he could get some delicious pancakes for free. He can’t cook and he’s got the money – is he that dumb and manipulative, though? Quite possibly.
8 Friends Is One Big Starbucks Advert
Radio and television presenter Alex Baker put forward this most cynical of fan theories via Twitter, and it may just ruin the way you watch the show forever. According to Baker, Friends isn’t so much a sitcom as it is a simple a clever vehicle created by Starbucks to brainwash people into spending money on all of their coffee related products.
In a general sense, it works, as the series is set in and around a popular New York coffee shop, but it goes deeper than that – the Starbucks logo is green, which also happens to be the surname of one of the show’s characters, Rachel. There’s also the fact that Rachel’s hair looks a lot like the do sported by the lady in the Starbucks logo.
And it gets deeper still; the surname Geller is actually derived from the German word “gellen”, which means “one who yells” – something people often do in Starbucks. Coincidence? Most likely, but full marks to Baker for presentation.
7 The Whole Show Was A Dream Rachel Had
Much like the theory that suggests all of Friends existed in Phoebe’s meth-addled mind, this theory puts forward the idea that Joey, Phoebe, Ross, Monica and Chandler are not real, but simply exist within Rachel’s dreams.
It all started when one eagle-eyed fan noticed that Rachel is the only character with her eyes open on the DVD cover for the fourth season box set. Asking fellow fans why Rachel is the only one, one fan put forward an interesting theory.
It goes that Rachel had an anxiety dream on the eve of her wedding to Barry and created a fantasy in her mind of an alternative life alongside the five other friends, as a means of escaping her spoiled, empty life and the wedding ahead. When the series ends, she returns to her future with Barry. Pretty bleak, right?
6 Rachel Slept With Ben Wyatt From Parks and Recreation
Bustle first brought attention to this little-known theory which suggests that the small fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, actually exists alongside the version of New York depicted in Friends, and that those two worlds once collided in a very rude way.
It all dates back to the Season 7 episode "The One With All The Candy" where Rachel finally gets romantically involved with her assistant Tag. The pair spend much of their first date working out a way of ensuring that their blossoming romance doesn’t get in the way of their work. Telling Monica about what they have been up to, Rachel says, "You know I don't sleep with men on the first date," to which Monica quickly replies: "Matt Wire, Mark Lynn, Ben Wyatt ... "
Hang on, Ben Wyatt? As in Leslie Knope’s Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation? The theory goes that the pair either got together on a Minnesota ski trip in the 1990s or back in New York, during one of Ben’s forays to the city's annual Comic Con. Either way, you’ll never look at Ben the same way again.
5 Phoebe Is A Laid-Back Genius
Ross may have book smarts, but Phoebe has always been the one with street smarts -- and perhaps a bit more. That’s one theory put forward by the good folk over on Reddit who reckon there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that Pheebs is a secret genius.
In one episode, for example, she actually manages to convince Ross that evolution is flawed, leaving him totally confused before laughingly saying “That was fun…who’s hungry?” She also had to be pretty smart to survive (thrive, even) on the streets, and she can speak both French and Italian.
And if you are wondering what a more straight-laced Phoebe might have been like, look no further than "The One That Could Have Been", which presents an alternate reality in which she has become a very successful and ruthless business woman.
4 Monica Was A Guinea Pig For Drug Testing
During several flashbacks throughout Friends, Monica is shown to have been seriously overweight in her younger years. One thing she’s not shown being, however, is obsessed with cleanliness and organizing. And when both Rachel and Ross talk about the past on the show, they might mention Monica’s size or her competitive nature, but they never make any comment on her OCD.
So here’s the theory: Monica was sent to a special fat camp by the Gellers, where they tested an experimental weight loss drug on her. It worked, but it came with some drawbacks. It ended up seriously messing with her hormones, resulting in OCD and, worse still, infertility.
It’s seriously dark, but there is some evidence to back it up. In the aforementioned "The One That Could Have Been", alt-reality Monica is shown to be as big as she was when she was young, and in no way obsessed by cleaning.
3 The Friends Gang Are Patients In A Mental Asylum
This theory claims that our beloved Central Perk Six are actually living a far darker existence, together, inside the confines of a mental asylum. Ross has abandonment issues, Rachel is a borderline sociopath, Joey cracked under the pressure of living in a family of girls, Chandler's parents left him scarred, and Monica has an eating disorder.
Phoebe, though suffering the trauma of her mother’s suicide and her own homelessness, is actually the sanest one out of the bunch. Together, they suffer from a shared psychosis, brought about by their various mental disorders, which results in the group regularly indulging in fantasy adventures together in a bid to distract themselves from the realities of asylum life.
Given that flights of fancy are common in psychiatry when a patient experiences a stressful event, it’s definitely possible, with each member of the group having suffered a significant personal trauma, whether it’s Ross’ divorce or Rachel ditching Barry at the altar.
2 Ben Geller can predict the future
Reddit user GhandiHadAGrapeHead first hit upon this most extraordinary of fan theories. It concerns Ross’ son Ben and the season 3 episode "The One With The Giant Poking Device".
The outing saw Ross leave Ben in the care of Monica and Rachel for the day. Everything is going fine until Monica ends up bumping Ben’s head on the ceiling during a game of airplane. Keen to cover their tracks, the pair dress Ben in a teddy bear’s hat. However, their cover is apparently blown when Ben starts repeating the words “Monica bang.”
Or is it? GhandiHadAGrapeHead put forward the suggestion that Ben may have actually been saying “Monica Bing” rather than “Monica Bang” – as in Monica’s name once she marries Chandler. The pair have yet to get together at this point in the series, though, making Ben’s comment all the more extraordinary -- or a sign of some otherworldly power to look into the future.
1 Ross is a men’s rights activist
Beejoli Shah put forward the case for Ross being a Men's Rights Activist for The Frisky and it’s possibly the strongest fan theory on this list.
There’s plenty of evidence to back up the idea of Ross being a Meninist: he’s been known to objectify women in the past, with his reference to the woman he cheated on Rachel with as “the hot girl from the copy place” serving as a case in point. He’s also rather fond of mansplaining, like in "The One With The Cat" where he goes to great lengths to dissuade Phoebe from believing that the spirit of her dead mother inhabits a stray feline. There’s also his weird possessive jealousy around Rachel and his habit of feeling threatened by women in the workplace. Seriously, this guy is a douche.
Did we forget any crazy Friends fan theories? Have your say in the comment section!