5 Differences Between the ‘Friends’ Unaired Pilot and the Actual First Episode

TV Nostalgia

5 Differences Between the ‘Friends’ Unaired Pilot and the Actual First Episode


Grab some champagne because Friends can officially drink — the classic NBC sitcom is celebrating its 21st birthday today! It’s pretty crazy to realize it’s been that long since we first met those six pals, but what’s crazier is to imagine how different the show could have been.


PHOTOS: See The Friends Cast Then and Now


As with many series, a lot changed between the Friends original pilot script and the first episode that eventually made it to air in 1994. From the theme song to the character descriptions, here are five pretty major disparities:

The Title


Before Friends came to be, creators toyed with two other potential titles: Friends Like Us and Six of One. Producer Marta Kauffman later revealed the title Friends felt “too Gen X” at the time but hey, we’re pretty glad it stuck!

The Theme Song

R.E.M’s “Shiny Happy People” was going to be the show’s theme song when it was still known as Friends Like Us, but the band reportedly declined the offer. Of course, the gig ultimately went to one-hit-wonders The Rembrandts instead, and now “I’ll Be There For You” is one of the most recognized (but also overplayed?) TV theme songs ever.

Rachel Had a Different Last Name

It’s weird to imagine her as anything but Rachel Green, but Jennifer Aniston’s character’s surname was Robbins in the very first script.

VIDEO: Friends’ Gunther Somberly Recites the Theme Song

Phoebe Was a Subway Singer

Before she was belting out “Smelly Cat” at Central Perk (or, you know, on stage with Taylor Swift), Pheebs was just trying to make ends meet by “playing guitar in the subway,” according to her original character description. In the real first episode, her career path isn't acknowledged.

Chandler Was a Nobody

Both Phoebe and Chandler were at first written as supporting characters, and Mr. Bing was even described in the OG script as “an observer of other people's lives.” Once Lisa Kudrow and Matthew Perry were cast, they nailed their roles so much the writers gave them their very own storylines. Good thinking, guys!

NEWS: Lisa Kudrow & Matt LeBlanc Wanted Phoebe and Joey to Hook Up


Stay tuned to Wetpaint for even more fun Friends stuff, and rewatch the Friends pilot, aka “The One Where It All Began,” below.