I love a good theory. And I’m not talking about those cop-out “they’re in a coma” or “they’re all in a mental hospital” theories—which fundamentally misunderstand how mental illness and inpatient facilities work, and which it so happens Community rightfully mocks. Friends does have such a “they’re all in an asylum” theory, but that’s not what I’ll be talking about today.
No, I love fan theories which add something to the story and give us that little bit of explanation that, for chronic overthinkers like me, give the story new levels that can totally be believed. Like how Courage in Courage the Cowardly Dog sees so many monsters, because that’s how dogs see the world.
So, without further ado, here are five fan theories about Friends that don’t totally suck. If you know any more or have any thoughts about the theories here, then tell me about them in the comments! I’m obsessed with this show.
5. Ross Lost Custody of Ben
This one is first because I’ve mentioned it before. But I’ll still cover it quickly, and in a little more detail this time around.
Friends veterans might have noticed that Ben vanishes halfway through season eight, and is only occasionally mentioned during the next two and a half seasons. He never meets his half-sister, Emma. According to this theory, this is because Carol became so sick of Ross’s antics that she got sole custody of Ben.
And really, if you think about it, can you blame her? Ross wouldn’t let Ben play with a Barbie, he left him with friends who forgot him on a bus, and he ignored him at a wedding (though acknowledges him in a deleted scene). Ross is also pretty emotionally unstable, shitty to his partners, and I implore you to watch the video of Ross asking for help with attacking Rachel and Phoebe with the laugh track cut out. It’s really something.
Honestly, I don’t think I would want Ross anywhere near my kids.
4. Gunther Constantly Reserves the Friends’ Table
Not only do the friends almost always seem to have that great seat in Central Perk, they’re also openly upset when they don’t have it.
You might notice, as the above tweet shows, that there’s a “Reserved” sign on the table. And who’s most likely to have put it there? Why, Gunther, of course. He’s in love with Rachel, and if he makes sure that she always gets her table then he’ll a) make her happy and b) have a pretty good view of her.
3. Joey Went on a Second Date to Get Rachel to Make Him Pancakes
This is about “The One With Ross’s Library Book,” the season seven episode. In this episode, Joey asks Rachel to let down Erin (a woman he just slept with) gently. He also tells her that Chandler used to do this for him—and that he would make the woman pancakes, leaving extras for Joey.
Rachel refuses to facilitate Joey’s emotional constipation, but she does make the pancakes regardless. She leads Erin to think that Joey likes her, and forces Joey into a second date. This date results in Erin telling Joey that she’s not interested, and Joey looks upset … until, that is, Rachel offers to make him pancakes. Interesting.
2. Joey and Phoebe Were Sleeping Together the Entire Time
We can thank Matt Le Blanc himself for this theory. In an interview with People in 2015, he said:
Towards the end we actually pitched the idea that Joey and Phoebe had been having casual sex the entire time. We’d go back and shoot all the historical scenes and just before a moment that everyone recognizes, there’s Joey and Phoebe coming out of a broom closet together. But they were like, “Nah.”
And, well, prior to Mike’s entrance, it’s not the worst theory. We support plenty of theories that writers deny, right? (Lookin’ at you, Zelda timeline.)
1. The Sitcom Cinematic Universe
If you’ve read any of my content before, you should know that I love me a good crossover. (That’s why I didn’t like Justice League.) So when I noticed a little crossover with a few sitcoms, I exploded in a mess of fangirl. SO.
This theory is about three New York sitcoms: Friends, Mad About You, and Seinfeld.
Let’s start with Friends and Mad About You. Lisa Kudrow, who plays Phoebe, also plays Phoebe’s identical twin sister, Ursula. Ursula is a waitress and she appears in Mad About You as such. Then, in an episode of Friends, Mad About You characters show up and mistake Phoebe for Ursula.
Also, in an episode of Seinfeld, George and his wife watch an episode of Mad About You. So, does that connect all three series into one universe? Well… let’s say yes, because that’s more fun.
Unfortunately, there is one problem with this theory: Courtney Cox, who plays Monica, is in an episode of Seinfeld as a different character. But hey, crossovers are still a lot of fun, so take this one as you will.
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