Has it really been nearly 15 years since the final episode of Friends aired? At some point, we knew that the hip, young, single group of friends that we grew to love would not remain young, nor single, nor hip forever. Saying goodbye to Friends was like saying goodbye to our youths, and those special bonds we all forge when we are reckless and full of hopes and dreams.
Creators of the series David Krane and Marta Kauffman originally pitched the show as a series "about six people in their 20s, who hang out at this coffee house. It’s about... 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 it’s about friendship, because when you’re young and single and in the city, your friends are your family."
By the end of the series, the fictional friendships of the characters had created close bonds between the actors who played them. Since they all worked every week together for ten years, they became a family. Naturally, ending the show wasn't easy. However, a few of the captured candid moments highlighted just how special and emotional their collective experience was.
With that said, here are the 20 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change The Last Season Of Friends.
20 Curtain Call After The Final Episode
Though the final episode of Friends aired in May of 2004, it was actually taped in January of 2004. January 23rd was the last day that the cast would appear as their internationally famous characters. The characters were moving out of the apartment, and of course, so were the actors. All of the furniture was removed and suddenly the (obviously) rent-controlled apartment looked much bigger and emptier than it had ever looked before.
There's no doubt that there was a rush of joy, sadness, and bittersweet memories that accompanied this curtain call. This particularly crazy ride was finally over, but they would all go on to star in other projects in the years that followed. Only Matt LeBlanc would reprise his role as Joey in the spinoff Joey, which sadly did not find the audience that producers hoped it would.
19 Jennifer Aniston and Christina Applegate
Though Rachel had said that she had three sisters throughout the course of the series, we only get to see two of them. The first was her younger sister, played by Reese Witherspoon. The second was her older sister, Amy, played by Christina Applegate, who appeared a second time in the last season.
Like many of the other Greens, Amy was spoiled and materialistic, but she was much worse than either Rachel or even Jill. In episode five of the final season, "The One Where Rachel's Sister-Babysits", Amy makes a bad impression by consistently forgetting her niece Emma's name. Worse, while babysitting, she pierces Emma's ears without asking Rachel or Ross for permission. In this candid shot, Jennifer Aniston and Christina Applegate are receiving direction for a scene.
18 Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc Pose for the Camera
Rachel and Joey had a short-lived romance in the final season, a development that was somewhat controversial and mostly rejected by fans. Even Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc objected to the twist, agreeing with fans that it was Ross and Rachel who should be together. Of course, actors have little say about how the stories are created, so they played the parts as written.
This candid moment was captured between takes in the first episode of the final season, "The One After Joey and Rachel Kiss". Though Rachel and Joey try to come clean about kissing each other to Ross, Ross finds out before they can tell him. This leads directly to the next episode, "The One Where Ross is Fine". As you might remember from watching, Ross was definitely not fine.
17 The Empty Set of Central Perk
The set of Central Perk is simply iconic. This coffee shop is where most the series takes place whenever the main characters aren't in their apartments. However, it is strange to see it without the Friends gang occupying it. It is bittersweet with them gone, like a beloved family home that was left abandoned. Some fans may have spent more time in Central Perk (or at least watching it) than any other coffee shop.
The set is so familiar to fans around the world that Warner Bros. even offers a studio tour for paying customers who want to visit a replica of the set. Attractions include real coffee and treats from the Central Perk cafe, as well as plenty of photo ops. For most fans, this is as close they will get to being on the set of the show.
16 Paul Rudd and Lisa Kudrow
From a casting perspective, it was a stroke of genius to cast Paul Rudd as Mike Hannigan, Phoebe's boyfriend-turned-groom. Mike met Phoebe by total happenstance, as he happened to fit the bill of a blind date that Joey had forgotten to set up. Fans soon found out that the two were perfect together, and Rudd played the perfect goofy character who loved Phoebe for who she was.
Mike and Phoebe get married in episode 12 of the final season, "The One Where Phoebe Gets Married". Of course, things don't go very smoothly, as Monica almost ruins is by overplanning and a freak snowstorm almost derails the proceedings. However, it's still somehow perfect for Phoebe and Mike. This photo was taken while Rudd and Lisa Kudrow filmed the wedding scene.
15 Another Curtain Call
This curtain call is from episode 16 of the final season, "The One With Rachel's Going Away Party". It's the last regular episode before the two-part finale.
The episode proved to be an emotional roller-coaster for fans. Monica and Chandler are packing up to move, and Rachel says goodbye one by one to the gang -- except to Ross. By the end, Ross is angry that Rachel has left him out. She returns to confront him, but this soon ends with them kissing. Since their relationship was still uncertain, this gave fans a lot to talk about. The taped areas you can see on the floor are marks that the camera crew and the actors use for placement during shooting.
14 Emma and the Girls
In "The One With the Cake", Rachel, Ross, and the rest of the Friends gang celebrate Emma's first birthday. Of course, Emma was played by a real toddler (twins Cali and Noelle Sheldon) so naturally, the twins who played her became the centers of attention between the scenes.
In the episode, hijinks occur when the cake that was supposed to look like a bunny with Emma's face ends up looking like a reproductive organ. Rachel races to fix the cake at the bakery, but this sets off a chain reaction, with the gang coming and going to the party. Ross eventually fixes the cake himself, Emma announces how old she is, and the party ends up being weirdly perfect. Though some actors have complained that working with kids on set can be difficult, it looks like the cast of Friends loved every moment.
13 Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston Laughing
Taken from "The One With the Cake", this candid shot captures Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox sharing a lighthearted moment and laughing between shots. The entire run of the show is filled with little moments like these, as the cast and crew constantly crack each other up, even though they worked on a tight schedule. As the episodes starting counting down to the finale, it seemed like the cast tried to enjoy the last moments as much as possible.
Though this was only the fourth episode of the final season, it also marks the last appearance of Jack and Judy Gellar, as well as the last appearance of Joey's agent, Estelle Leonard.
12 Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer Working
A lot of work goes into the filming of a sitcom in front of a live studio audience. Even after the episode is already written, it takes the cast and crew a week to produce what the television audience experiences, which is approximately 20 minutes without commercials. The filming itself can take up to five hours, with a warm-up comedian usually keeping the audience entertained between takes.
Though we don't know exactly what was being discussed in this shot, it could be anything from last minute changes to standard direction. Jokes are sometimes re-written on the spot if they aren't getting any laughs, and the actors have to stay sharp so that they can change anything they've already been working on for a week.
11 The Last Curtain Call
This is the curtain call from "The Last One: Part 1". By this point, the reality must have been dawning on the cast that their time together was drawing to a close and, because of this, every moment was special.
This episode is another emotional ride for fans. Monica and Chandler witness the birth of their (surprise) twins and spend some emotional moments with Erica, the woman whom they adopt the babies from. Phoebe and Mike, seeing the twins for the first time, decide that it's time to start a family of their own. Meanwhile, Rachel spends one last night with Ross — which finally gives him the courage to try to chase her down and tell her that he loves her.
10 Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc Get Goofy
Though it may seem hard to believe, Friends rescued Matt LeBlanc from the poorhouse. When he first auditioned for the show, he had only $11 left in his bank account. This is a huge contrast to the heady days when the series ended, when he was getting $1 million per episode, along with the rest of the cast.
What's better than earning a lot of money with people you've come to regard as your closest real-life friends? In this image, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc share a goofy moment, hamming it up for the camera while the cast and crew works around them. This shot was taken during the final season when Rachel and Joey try to keep things light and breezy.
9 Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow Cracking Up
Joey and Phoebe had a bit of a special relationship. Since his character was "the dumb one" and Phoebe's character was "the weird one," this often meant that they were paired together, though they never really got together. Here, Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow can be seen laughing together between a take.
In an interview, LeBlanc confessed that the laughs were abundant on set and that Kudrow had infectious laughter. "It feels like so long ago. But what sticks out in my mind was sometimes we couldn’t get through a scene without laughing. It’s the gag reel stuff... It was so funny."
8 Aisha Tyler, Greg Kinnear, David Schwimmer Pose for the Camera
Everything falls apart for Ross in "The One With Ross' Grant". Ross is hoping to get a grant from Benjamin Hobart, a prominent palaeontologist, played by Greg Kinnear, but there's a slight hiccup. Hobart still has feelings for his ex Charlie, played by Aisha Tyler, and he resents Ross for being with Charlie. Ross tries to smooth things over in a meeting with both of them, but Charlie falls for her former flame and breaks it off with Ross.
There's a famous blooper reel where the three of them can't get through a highly uncomfortable scene, with each of the actors losing it each time they try to get through the lines. This image was taken behind the scenes during this episode.
7 All Dressed Up
Though this has become a famous image of the Friends cast, there isn't much information about the specifics of what is going on here. Needless to say, the cast looks terrific as always and are camera-ready.
There are only 18 episodes in the 10th season, which is less than the usual 24 episodes per season. This was reportedly due to Jennifer Aniston's filming schedule. Because of this, the cast and crew had less time than usual to film and finish the last season of Friends, which makes moments like the one we see in this photo all the more emotional and memorable.
6 Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, and David Schwimmer Between Takes
Taken during "The One With the Cake", this photo depicts Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, and David Schwimmer reacting to something between takes. The episode focused on Emma's first birthday part. For a while, it looks like the party is about to become a total disaster. However, at the end of the episode, Emma says her age and the whole gang is smitten.
At one point in the episode, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, and Chandler use Emma's wind-up toys to a race against one another. The winner gets to decide who has to stay at the party and who can go while they are waiting for Rachel to fix Emma's birthday cake.
5 Just One Take
Though a day on the set of Friends can be long for the actors, it can be even longer for the crew. During filming days, the crew can be on set anywhere from 12 to 16 hours, and their pay scale that is much lower than what the actors receive.
Production assistants are at the bottom of the totem pole, earning very little for the hard work they put in. Still, there are some pros when it comes to the job. For example, some former production assistants have ended up becoming showrunners or have even obtained higher-end jobs on set. It is usually the production assistant who operates the clapper, which states which scene is being shot from which episode and which take. Here, we can see someone, likely a production assistant, holding up a clapper before a scene from "The One With the Cake".
4 The Last Hug
In the "The One With the Late Thanksgiving", the Friends gang attempts to celebrate Thanksgiving together. However, this really means that they task Monica with the job of making the best Thanksgiving dinner. However, naturally, nothing goes according to plan.
While Monica and Chandler are making dinner, the rest of the gang is on separate adventures, which cause them all to be an hour late for dinner. Furious, Monica and Chandler lock them out. Joey gets his head stuck in the door before both Joey and the door come crashing onto the Thanksgiving day feast. However, the episode ends on a happy note, with Monica and Chandler receiving a call that tells them they have been selected to adopt a baby. In this photo, we can see the cast's genuine joy and happiness.
3 Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, and Matthew Perry Listening to the Director
In this photo, which was taking behind-the-scenes of "The One With the Cake", Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, and Matthew Perry can be seen listening to director Gary Halvorson. In the episode, the gang films individual messages for Emma to listen to on her 18th birthday. When it is Rachel and Ross' turn, they are interrupted by the rest of the gang, since they are playing with Emma's wind-up toys.
Jack and Judy Gellar also appear in the episode to wish Emma a happy first birthday. At one point, Jack mentions that he doesn't like to drive at night, explaining that he once accidentally drove through a nativity scene. The newspapers accused him of being a perpetrator of a hate crime because he was Jewish. Because of Jack's poor eyesight at night, Ross and Monica's parents leave Emma's party early.
2 Behind The Camera
Friends' crew members are the unsung heroes who put in a lot of time and effort behind the camera. Without them, none of Friends would be possible.
It usually takes a full half-day to shoot a sitcom, and that's only after a week of preparation. On top of the camera crew, director, lighting workers, and assistants, there's a whole legion of workers behind the scenes. There are full-time caterers to feed everyone, carpenters, electricians, sound engineers, script supervisors, writers, production supervisors, and so on who work hard to get each episode produced and filmed. This image shows a few of these behind-the-scenes workers who many fans often forget about.
1 Turning in the Keys
It was an emotional moment for cast, crew, audience, and fans alike when the gang finally handed in their keys for Monica and Chandler's apartment. Monica and Chandler now had their twins and were moving into a house, which, of course, had a room in which Joey could grow old. However, this meant that the cast's time together had finally come to an end.
When the show first aired in 1994, the cast and crew had no idea that the show would become a cult classic and would still be watched decades later. We bet no one ever told them it was going to be this way.
Which scene from Friends' last season is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!