Friends: 9 Canceled Storylines That Would Have Saved The Show (And 11 That Would Have Hurt It)

Now that we’ll be starting 2019, it will be a full 25 years since Friends began in 1994. Although the show ended in 2004 after a ten-year run, it still feels brand new because of its amazing replay value. The show has always remained relatable, with no advancements in technology denting its image. We’re confident enough in claiming that Friends will never become outdated and its popularity will remain endless.

This makes Friends a timeless show, one with fans in every generation. The reason why it’s so popular is because it had the best mix of characters. Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross all had character traits that we can find in the real world, but they all had something unique to offer. The show’s storylines made perfect use of these traits and you can barely name one or two bad Friends episodes.

Looking back now, there were several times the show could’ve turned out awful had some storylines been pursued. A few were taken forward and aren’t remembered in a good light today, but Friends managed to cut down these bad plotlines before they ruined the show. Then there were those storylines that would’ve made the show even better than it already is. There’s always room for improvement, even in seemingly perfect shows, and Friends would’ve had its quality amplified had it followed through with these missed opportunities. You might be curious what storylines would’ve made the show better and which ones would’ve sullen the experience.

So, here are 9 Cancelled Storylines That Would’ve Saved the Show (And 11 That Would’ve Hurt it)

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20 Saved: Emily Comes Back To New York

Friends Emily

You’ll remember the stark difference between Emily’s personality in Seasons 4 and 5. In the former season, she was much nicer and you could see why Ross fell in love with her; in the next season, though, she was a vindictive and manipulative woman who showed Ross no sympathy for his mistake despite several attempts on his part.

This was because the actress fell pregnant and didn’t film full appearances. Emily instead was always shown talking on the phone. Had Friends gone on and brought Emily to New York as initially planned, we could’ve had a proper closure to her character. Emily could have been more than just a jealous wife; we may even have felt some sympathy for her.

19 Hurt: Rachel and Joey

Friends Season 8 Episode 12 Joey Rachel

Thankfully, for everyone who watched the show, the Rachel and Joey storyline fizzled out just as inexplicably as it began. The cast themselves disliked the story, and made no attempts to let it be known.

The showrunners still went with the idea and we have to live with the fact that these two were involved, even for a brief time. It’s a relief the two never went all the way as this would have destroyed Rachel’s eventual reconciliation with Ross. It would have also hurt the group dynamic because Ross and Rachel were always meant for each other. Joey went back to being the lovable friend we knew him for, without any romantic intention toward Rachel.

18 Saved: Phoebe's Dad Stays On

For the few scenes we saw Phoebe’s dad in, he seemed to be an awkward person who couldn’t handle the pressures of society. It’s too bad the show never indulged us in a relationship between Phoebe and her father; it would’ve been interesting to see how she coped with finally having the presence of a father in her life.

Unfortunately, the man’s one appearance was limited to just that and we never heard from him again. Phoebe mentioned she was only in touch with her stepfather in prison, meaning that Frank Buffay Sr bailed on her once again. Friends missed a good opportunity showing Phoebe, Ursula, and Frank Jr Jr interacting with their father.

17 Hurt: Phoebe and Joey Silently Involved

Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc as Phoebe and Joey in Friends

We have no idea what possessed Matt Leblanc and Lisa Kudrow when they suggested that a throwaway line be added to the show that would’ve informed the audience that Phoebe and Joey had been getting together on a casual basis for a number of years.

It would’ve permanently shattered the image of the perfect friendship Joey and Phoebe enjoyed. Of all the characters on the show, Phoebe and Joey’s relationship was the purest; one nobody wanted to turn into a romantic or physical one. Thankfully, the idea was shot down and in canon, Phoebe and Joey were only the best of friends and nothing else.

16 Saved: Phoebe's Mom's story continued

In the same vein as Pheobe’s dad disappearing, Pheobe’s mother – also called Pheobe – vanished without a reason given. Unlike Frank Sr, Phoebe made another appearance in her daughter’s life when she lent her dog to her.

This was a random appearance, one which gave the idea that Phoebe’s mother would be making more visits to her in order to show us how they were now firmly in each other’s lives. But it wasn’t to be, as she was never in any of Phoebe’s milestone moments; not even at her wedding. Seeing Phoebe with her mother – who was a kook like her – would have given us several moments of hilarity and given Phoebe some much needed familial happiness.

15 Hurt: Chandler and Rachel As Love Interests

Chandler and Rachel barely ever interacted after Chandler’s relationship with Monica began. So you’ll be surprised to know the show initially intended for Chandler to possibly end up with Rachel!

The One with the Flashback was supposed to be a testing ground for audiences to picture Chandler being with Rachel. As you’ll recall, the episode showed Chandler hoping to date Rachel in the past, only for it to not work out, although a fantasy sequence at the end suggested there was a chance. But audiences didn’t react positively and the idea was shelved. It was a good decision, because the two never had any romantic chemistry.

14 Saved: Phoebe in England

Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe in Friends

Due to the actress becoming pregnant in real life, Phoebe was made pregnant too in the storyline. This was in the form of her carrying the children of her brother (it makes sense in context), and it prevented her from traveling to London for Ross’ wedding.

If plans had gone as originally envisioned, we’d have had Phoebe in England. She was still the most involved in hijinks even from America as she clashed with people on the phone, but imagine how hilarious it would have been seeing her in England. She would’ve definitely been a stark contrast to Emily’s uptight family and would’ve landed herself in awkward situations.

13 Hurt: Kathy moving away

Kathy ultimately turned out to be a friendship-wrecker and an awful person who was not nice to her boyfriends when things got too serious. She went with Chandler when Joey wasn’t fitting her fancy, and then was unfaithful to Chandler when he couldn’t trust her.

According to the actress herself as told by her in the Friends Season 10 DVD, she and the female actresses on the show had pitched to the producers to have Kathy written out as her going on an acting tour out the country as opposed to being unfaithful to Chandler. But it’s a good thing it wasn’t approved because that wouldn’t have been a fair enough reason for them to break up.

12 Saved: Phoebe’s roommate appears

In Season 6, Phoebe said Rachel and she couldn’t live together because she had a roommate called Denise. This seemed to be a throwaway joke as Phoebe is known to be flaky and would say anything. But, a few episodes later, Phoebe announces Rachel can live with her because Denise was moving away.

This casts doubt if Denise actually did exist. If she did, it would’ve been fun to see her on the show as someone as kooky as Phoebe was needed to tolerate living with her. Joey was already interested in the idea of Denise and having him hitting on her would’ve been a fun watch.

11 Hurt: Gunther without a speaking role

You must have noticed that in the first couple seasons Gunther didn’t do much other than lurk around the background or have a line or two about coffee. It was at the beginning of Season 3 that he went totally in love with Rachel and we’ve all loved him for it.

Originally, though, Gunther was permanently supposed to be a lurker without any lines. The actor was only hired because he was the only one who knew how to work a coffee machine. Over two decades later, we’re happy that the planned silent Gunther was turned into the crazy Rachel-obsessed one.

10 Hurt: Financial divide

Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel. Matt LeBlanc as Joey, and David Schwimmer as Ross in Friends – backup

In the first season, we had a few distinct episodes that showed the financial divide between the friends' group. Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel were the “poor” friends while the other three were better off financially. This was an issue in the one with Ross’ birthday as the matter of payment brought a rift between the friends.

After that episode, though, the financial problems never were a point of contention for the group. Some of them still had money issues, but it was never something they argued about. It’s a good thing this wasn’t expanded upon as we needed this group to stay strong through the worst times to show us just how much they loved each other.

9 Saved: Joey and Kate Having An Actual Story

Kate was hands down one of the worst characters we’ve seen on the show. She was selfish, had no respect for herself by throwing herself on the most interesting guy in the room even if that person was wrong for her, and then dumped Joey for a job just when he started falling in love with her.

It’s not known why Kate suddenly left the show, but the story really should’ve been one that showed us why Kate and Joey didn’t work out as opposed to a cheap exit. Following her departure, she was never even mentioned once ever again! A real relationship would’ve made the story feel complete.

8 Hurt: Ross and Phoebe Getting Together

Like Chandler and Rachel before, Ross and Phoebe were also on the receiving end of a potential future relationship in the flashback episode. To their credit, the short moments it seemed they would get together was charged up the right way. However, there was no way the two would have seemed like a real couple.

The same way as Joey and Rachel didn’t feel right, Ross and Phoebe were too different to be together. They were great as contrasting friends, but as a couple, it would’ve been awful. The writers never teased another thing between the two after the flashback episode didn’t pan out.

7 Hurt: Elizabeth Getting Pregnant

Season 6 of Ross’ story was dominated by his young student Rachel and his fear of her father. This made for some funny episodes and a lot of jokes at Ross’ expense for dating an immature 20-year-old.

However, you might not know that the original plan was to have Elizabeth become pregnant by Ross at the end of the season! This would’ve carried on for all of Season 7 before it was revealed Ross wasn’t the father. It was a ridiculous storyline, one that makes even less sense considering Rachel was going to be pregnant with Emma right afterward.

6 Saved: Gavin and Rachel

Gavin and Rachel had the classic tension between two people who are attracted to one another but can’t confront it until it blows up. Their banter for the first two episodes was funny and interesting, leading to Gavin making his move on her. The following episode Rachel decided she cared about Ross’ feelings more and ended things before they began.

Gavin’s introduction as just at the wrong time as the chemistry between the characters was superb. He did deserve some chance and at least we would’ve had seen more of Gavin, who was hilarious and fetching in all his scenes.

5 Hurt: Joey and Monica Ending up together

Joey and Monica never had even a ship tease on the show. The only instance we saw anything could’ve happened was in the flashback episode and that too was placed for laughs at Joey’s assumption of what Monica intended.

But, the original plan would’ve seen them end up together! That’s right, Monica and Chandler were not the couple that the showrunners were looking to bring together, and it would’ve been Joey and Monica becoming a permanent couple. Everyone saw, though, how bad that would’ve been after the characters had been on-air for a while and the plan was abandoned.

4 Saved: Ross asking Carol to move to England

Jane Sibbett as Carol Willick Bunch in Friends

Ross was hardly ever shown around Ben, leading people to believe he didn’t care much for his son. However, a deleted scene in Season 5 shows us how badly he wanted Ben to be with him when Emily was forcing Ross to move to England.

Here, Ross was frantic in trying to convince Susan and Carol to move as well so Ben could come along. That one scene would’ve done wonders in showing the audience how much Ross loved Ben and would never leave his son back. It would’ve also made us believe Ross saw his son more than a couple times a year.

3 Hurt: No "We Were on a Break" storyline

Friends Lobster

At first, the Ross and Rachel break up wasn’t going to feature the “We Were on a Break!” scenario we’ve come to love. This is now a defining moment of Friends, one that is remembered more than most of what the show has offered.

Originally, though, there was no set plan in how Ross and Rachel would break up. It could’ve been anything that tore these two apart. Imagine how that scenario would’ve been where we didn’t have a memorable break up between the two? The “We were on a break” story’s effects have lasted to this day and has kept Friends alive.

2 Saved: Chandler's Love For Sandwiches

Friends Season 6 Episode 22 Chandler Planning Proposal

Admittedly, this was a stupid story, but one that would’ve been awesome to see onscreen. Matthew Perry turned down the episode that would’ve seen Chandler regularly visit a men’s club just because he loved the sandwiches there!

This sounds way more of a Joey story, what with his love for Sandwiches and Women, but the idea was pitched for Chandler. It would’ve been memorable, that’s definitely for sure. But Matthew didn’t like the sound of the storyline, which would’ve been Chandler look kind of bad. What we feel, though, is that it would’ve been one of the more replay value episodes that Friends would’ve ever made.

1 Hurt: Chandler and Phoebe only as supporting characters

You might not have noticed this but in the first season, both Chandler and Joey were more of the supporting friends rather than the main ones. They were almost always part of the group and didn’t have any singular stories.

This was because they were originally intended to just be supporting characters. Not only that, but their characters weren’t even definitively approved at first. Friends was about to be commissioned without the characters of Chandler and Phoebe penciled in. These two are among the funniest characters there were on the show and Friends would’ve been only half as good had they not been on it.


What do you think about these canceled storylines on Friends? Let us know in the comments!

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