While the ending was happy for everyone involved, the original plan for the finale didn't see Ross and Rachel end up together. It's been nearly two decades since the hit sitcom capped off its 10-year-run; yet, still maintains its massive cultural hold on audiences, as proven by the successful . While there are a lot of iconic moments that made the show great, one of the most popular elements of was Ross and Rachel's 10-season will-they-won't-they romantic arc.
Unlike Monica and Chandler's love story, which lasted the remainder of the series once they got together in ' season 4 finale, Ross and Rachel's romance in was tumultuous. While Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer's characters were clearly in love with each other, getting and staying together proved difficult for the pair. After their proper break-up in season 3, they never properly reunited, instead only revisiting their mutual affection briefly through hook-ups and an accidental wedding. Even though a one-night relapse led to the two conceiving their daughter Emma, Ross and Rachel spent much of ' 10 seasonsplatonically, until the very end of the sitcom where they finally rekindled their romantic relationship.
However, wasn't originally going to be their final fate. As revealed in the reunion — officially titled "The One Where They Got Back Together" by co-creator David Crane — there were talks in the writers' room about whether or not they'd really want Ross and Rachel to get back together before the sitcom wrapped up. ' writers discussed the possibility of an ambivalent ending where it's implied that they may have eventually reunited in the future instead of before the show bid goodbye. However, they realized that they needed to give a satisfactory send-off to 'Ross and Rachel as viewers invested in them and their relationship, as draining as it was, for a decade. Ultimately, Crane and his team landed on the idea that the couple will be together, but much like their whole relationship, it wouldn't come easy in . Hence, the dramatic airport sequence that led to Rachel getting off the plane.
Considering Ross and Rachel had been set up as ' core couple in its premiere episode and always found a way back to each other thereafter, it would have been remiss for the pair to not end up together in ' ending. While the two had been amicably raising their daughter Emma for two years, Ross and Rachel's season 10 story has them reconcile their romantic feelings in ' penultimate episode. Rachel never said goodbye to Ross before preparing to leave for Paris, leading to a confrontation in which they both admitted they still loved each other and slept together. Ross and Rachel felt it would be worth it to try to be together again, even if that meant risking Emma's parents breaking up yet another time. get off of the plane to Paris after Ross confesses his love, with the two officially reconciling and breaking the 10-year will-they-won't-they dynamic for good.
It's difficult to imagine what would've been the general reaction if Ross and Rachel's story was never given a proper ending in . As Crane said, viewers were invested in the characters throughout ' run and it would be a massive disappointment for some if they didn't clearly end up back together. Nevertheless, it's curious how ' ending intended to go about Ross and Rachels' alternate season 10 plan and how it would've changed the whole atmosphere of the finale. As such, everyone in ' ending got definitive closure (except for Joey who went to do his spin-off) — Monica and Chandler moved to the suburbs, Phoebe and Mike decided to start a family, and Ross and Rachel got back together. Additionally, were all present during the final scene, which suggests that it would've been without Rachel since she pushed through with her plan to relocate to Paris.
If Crane and the writers decided to not reveal if Ross and Rachel got back together, there would undoubtedly be more clamor for a proper revival. This way, the looming Ross and Rachel season 10 question could've been properly addressed. Unfortunately, this is something that the actors and the show makers don't want to do hence why the HBO Max reunion project was unscripted. So in hindsight, it's for the best to give in to what the fans wanted and provide a happy send-off to ' iconic Ross and Rachel couple.