We all have our favorite TV series. We know them by name, and some have become so iconic that their names are recognized worldwide, and across generations as they air in different countries and languages, and in syndication or are available through streaming services. But did you know that some of the most popular TV series, including sitcoms, dramas, and sci-fi thrillers, were almost named something completely different? In most cases, we’re glad that the names were changed because the original titles were terrible, not as catchy, or even downright hilarious.
Some you might have heard of, like the first series on the list. But others might surprise you. Here are 11 popular TV series that were almost named something completely different.
11 Friends (Six of One)
The most well-known original title on this list, any fan of Friends knows that the series was almost called Six of One, referencing the six main characters and their tight bonds with one another.
Six of One, however, is totally confusing, and it doesn't really have a nice ring to it. That was later changed to Friends Like Us until the network eventually settled on the very simple title we know today, Friends. And we all thank them for that.
10 That ‘70s Show (Teenage Wasteland)
Teenage Wasteland has a nice ring to it, but it seems far more ominous and depressing than what this upbeat sitcom is all about. The idea was originally to name this series, set in the ‘70s, after the popular song by the ‘70s band The Who.
It seems that because The Who would not give clearance to the name, the network ended up settling on That ‘70s Show. It’s certainly descriptive of the series, though vague. Nonetheless, the name has stuck, and the series aired for a good eight seasons while also inspiring other series based on specific decades that followed.
9 The Big Bang Theory (Lenny, Penny, and Kenny)
We’re so glad that network opted for this much more scientifically-inspired title than the corny one they almost went with. Not only would that title have told us little about the series and what it was all about (other than that it was focused on three people by these names), but it would have left little room for expansion.
As fans of the long-running series, which just wrapped up its final season, know, the supporting characters became just as integral to the show, along with additional characters that joined in later seasons. Plus, Sheldon has a much better ring to it than Kenny.
8 New Girl (Chicks and Dicks)
You might have just spit out your coffee or water after reading what this show was almost called. The original title is definitely accurate since the series followed the life of a young woman who, angered after being cheated on, answered an ad to move in with three single men who she later became close friends with.
But Jessica Day, the lead character, was sweet and corny. And the guys were cute, funny, and sweet, too, in their own ways. New Girl doesn’t really say much, but the show became popular enough that the title didn’t really matter. Had they gone with Chicks and Dicks, however, it might have overshadowed the awesomeness of the actual show (and actor Zooey Deschanel might not even have signed on given that she reportedly refused to read the original script when she saw the title.) Not surprisingly, the proposed title was far too risqué for the network’s liking and it was changed to something more family-friendly.
7 Married...With Children (Not the Cosby Show)
This original title certainly encapsulated what the series was about (or rather wasn't): the Bundys couldn’t be farther from the Cosbys as a highly dysfunctional lower-middle class family that lacked a lot of values and morals. It definitely was not The Cosby Show, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have a unique title of its own that didn’t reference that sitcom.
We’re not surprised this title didn’t fly, and eventually, the new title was created and it was simplistically perfect. The actual title contains the three dots after “married” which perfectly illustrates Al Bundy’s dejected pause and sigh when he describes his married status, with (ugh) children.
6 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Jerks)
We’re all for quick and punchy titles; it worked for Friends, after all. But Jerks just seems far too crass and vague. Plus, the show is about far more than just a bunch of jerks.
The title they landed on is much longer, but it better describes the concept, and that the series is loosely based on the show’s creator and co-star Rob McElhenney and his time growing up in Philadelphia. The show has been running now for an impressive 14 seasons. Who knows if the same show called Jerks would have enjoyed similar success.
5 Roseanne (Life and Stuff)
We’ll have to admit that of all of the titles on this list, we kind of like the idea of Life and Stuff. But as actors like Ellen have proven, sometimes series about basic life or your average family are best left to interpretation, with a single name title.
Of course this one is named after the original star, Roseanne Barr, and was selected to capitalize on the success that Barr was experiencing at the time due to her stand-up comedy and other work. Life and Stuff was still used, however, as the title for the pilot episode.
4 The Good Wife (Leave the Bastard)
It’s a hilariously clear title that suggests the premise of the show: a woman is with a man who is a bastard, and she should leave him. But viewers don’t need titles that are so specific, and it’s always good not to be so in case a series becomes successful and continues on for seasons to come.
In this case, the network encouraged the show’s creators to change the title, though it almost went forward. Other options considered included The Whole Truth, but they ultimately landed on The Good Wife, which shifted the attention to the lead female character instead of the bastard man.
3 LOST (Nowhere)
Both titles are snappy and perfectly describe the series about a group of survivors from a plane crash who end up on a mysterious island where mysterious things keep happening. Nowhere would have been just as good, in our opinion, but producers J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof liked LOST much better.
Those who have watched the series might appreciate the hilarity in a potential title Nowhere, but LOST still worked perfectly, and has become one of the most iconic and frequently discussed and debated series of our generation.
2 This Is Us (36)
Into more recent times, series name changes still happen all the time. One of the most recent ones is the widely popular This Is Us, which was originally going to be named 36, presumably relating to the age of the three Pearson children when the pilot episode began.
Dan Fogelman, creator, pitched the series as a show about “us” and, well, the rest is history. Now the series, which follows the Pearson family, flipping back and forth through different times in their lives, from childhood to being adults with their own families, has viewers crying and emotional after every episode.
1 Stranger Things (Montauk)
Montauk, a place in the town of East Hampton in Suffolk County, New York, was almost going to be the name for the popular sci-fi series Stranger Things, which was originally going to be set there. There’s also a well-known conspiracy theory called the Montauk Project that alleges secret U.S. government projects occurred there pertaining to psychological warfare and time travel.
So it’s no surprise that the creators of the series were intrigued and inspired by Montauk, and wanted to use the name. In fact, Montauk was used as a working title for the Netflix show before it was eventually renamed to its more cryptic but still catchy title.