The show premiered in 1994 and remained on the air for ten years. The show became one of the most successful and iconic sitcoms in television history. Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, , Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer became household names.
The cast even made history for demanding equal pay among all of them. This was unheard of back then and they were ahead of their time.
When the series finale aired in 2004, many viewers felt it was the end of an era. The final episode was very emotional, because this is a show that became part of people's lives. The cast similarly felt emotional when it ended, as they've described over the years.
During the HBO Max special , from their time on the sitcom. Among other things, the cast spoke about their time shooting the final episode, particularly their last day on set.
The show's finale concludes with the cast leaving what was once Monica and Rachel's apartment, before heading to Central Perk. Monica and Chandler will then head to their new home outside the city.
During the reunion special, behind-the-scenes footage from the finale showed the cast embracing one another after leaving the shot. It was a very emotional moment. After composing themselves, they all gathered in front of the studio audience to take one final bow.
"There was a lot of crying that night," said LeBlanc, as the cast sat and watched the footage from the final day. Kudrow added, "I don't know how we got through actual scenes." As they watched the footage, the cast started tearing up once again.
"I feel emotional about it now that I think about it," said co-creator Marta Kauffman in a talking head interview. " It was not just the end of a series, it was the end of 10 years of relationships. I mean we were really proud of this show, but like anything good we were sad when it was over."
Perry recently released his memoir, "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing." In the book, Perry details his struggles with addiction and sobriety. He wrote that his addiction began when he was 24 years old, just as his time on was kicking off.
One of the most shocking accounts to fans of the show was when . He wrote that while his cast mates were crying and feeling emotional, he wasn't experiencing any emotion at all.
"Jennifer Aniston was sobbing — after a while, I was amazed she had any water left in her entire body. Even Matt LeBlanc was crying. But I felt nothing. I couldn't tell if that was because of the opioid buprenorphine I was taking, or if I was just generally dead inside," he wrote.
Perry continued, "So, instead of sobbing, I took a slow walk around the stage with my then-girlfriend — also appropriately called Rachel — stage 24 at Warner Bros. in Burbank (a stage that after the show ended would be renamed 'The Stage.' We said our various goodbyes, agreeing to see each other soon in the way that people do when they know it's not true, and then we headed out to my car."
During the finale of , Aniston was heading into a very difficult chapter in her life. Her marriage to actor Brad Pitt seemed to be the ideal romance to the public. They were both extremely successful actors at their career peak. Their marriage broke up, however, following the filming of Pitt's film . The film starred Angelina Jolie, whom Pitt became involved with shortly after.
Aniston headed into a film career, starring in a movie with Vince Vaughn titled . Her life and relationships became tabloid fodder. It can't be easy to leave a long-running television series and go through a divorce in front of the public eye.
While on, Aniston was asked how she coped with the show ending. , which caused her to "lean into" the finale.
"I just was like, you know what guys, let’s just put this… let’s make this a completely new chapter," she said. "Let’s end everything. Let’s just end everything and then start new. And I mean, it worked great."
Aniston also spoke with Howard Stern .
"There's an idea where if there's a reboot of the show, it won't be even close to as good as what it was, so why do it?" she said.
Stern suggested that any potential reboot of the show would "ruin" the series and Aniston agreed.
"It would ruin it," Aniston said, also agreeing with Stern when he said that the "legacy" of the show "is everything."