I love this show. Even though it ended fourteen years ago now and I’ve watched it start to finish at least a dozen times, I’m still always happy to return to that coffee house and share a few laughs with my favorite friends from the nineties. There are so many iconic moments from this series! So many quotable lines and so many memorable characters. Fans of the show are forever grateful for everything Friends has given us.
But for as long as humans have been obsessed with things, fan theories have existed. With a series like Friends that has so many unanswered questions and so many small moments that could be something bigger, it’s very easy to come up with your own theories for why some things are the way they are.
You can be thankful to the internet for letting others throw their theories out there for anyone in the world to find. While a lot of fan theories raise eyebrows, there are a few that, after a certain amount of thought, begin to make sense. As we’re unlikely to see a Friends reunion, these theories might be the best answers that fans can get. Some of them are a little depressing, some might be wishful thinking, and some could well be what was really going on. We certainly didn’t see every aspect of their lives! So, keep an open mind going forward and enjoy these examples of Friends fan theories!
25 A Reason For Ross
Over the course of the show's ten-year run, Ross got himself into quite a few awkward situations. He has a lot of trouble in social situations and has his fair share of silly moments. While they could have just been humorous moments in the life of an unfortunate, some fans believe that there is a deeper reason for this.
It’s been theorized that Ross Geller has shown several characteristics for Asperger’s Syndrome.
These include his love of science, his love of puzzles, his repetitive behavior and not liking ice cream because “it’s too cold.” It’s never addressed or suggested on the show, but his behavior could certainly place him somewhere on the autistic spectrum.
24 What Really Happened To Judy
Being parents of two members of the gang, Jack and Judy are often bringing embarrassing stories and awkward situations with them. During a dinner with Monica and Chandler, the couple mention that they got engaged after they found out Judy was pregnant.
Trouble is, a few series later Jack claims that Ross was a medical marvel! Because of this, fans have suggested that Judy miscarried her first and discovered that she couldn’t actually have children. This makes sense, as the Gellers celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary in season eight, when Ross was around thirty-three.
23 Monica Isn’t Jack’s Daughter
Judy’s treatment of her daughter throughout the series is downright terrible! More than once in the series she dismisses the idea of Monica ever having a family, which is especially wounding since a family is something Monica has always wanted.
While Judy could just be a terrible person, it’s been suggested that her mistreatment of her daughter actually comes from her own regrets.
That Monica is the result of Judy stepping out on her husband! Because of this, Judy resented Monica as she was a constant reminder of her betrayal. Her constant harassment is her taking out her anger towards her decisions on Monica.
22 Ross Dyes His Hair
Did you ever wonder why dark-haired Ross managed to produce two incredibly fair-haired children? Both Emma and Ben are strikingly blond, and as Ned Stark will tell you, dark hair does not lead to fair hair!
Well, the reason for this could be incredibly simple. In the early series of the show, Ross isn’t above styling his hair, wearing a notable amount of gel. Maybe he paid more attention to his hair than we thought, dying it black. Perhaps because he was going grey or maybe he just liked it. It’s still a little questionable since Monica also has dark hair, as does their father Jack, but it certainly explains his children!
21 Emily Had Ross’ Baby
During season five, we see a lot less of Emily. Emily appeared in only fourteen episodes of the show and in season five, after the wedding episode, was seen only on a bed or with a suspicious pillow on her lap…
The reason for this is that actor Helen Baxendale was written out sooner than planned due to her real-life pregnancy. But it’s because of this that some fans think that Emily knew she was pregnant with Ross’ baby. She planned on telling him after the wedding but was too devastated by him saying Rachel. After trying to make her relationship with Ross work, she eventually decided not to tell him.
20 Gunther Reserved The Couch (For Rachel…)
Isn’t it suspicious that the group of Friends were able to get the same couch almost every day for ten years? In a busy coffee house in the middle of New York City! Sure, four of them living less than one hundred steps away from the coffee shop, but it’s still amazing that they claim it as much as they do.
It can be explained by a “Reserved” sign a few fans noticed on the coffee table in some of the episodes. Since manager Gunther appears so close to the group, fans suspect that he may be behind it all! Maybe he liked them enough to reserve the couch. Or maybe this way he gets to stare at Rachel as much as he likes!
19 “Eddie” and “Jimmy” Are Split Personalities Of The Same Person
During season two, when Joey moved out, Chandler replaced him with “Crazy Eddie.” It’s made pretty clear that Eddie is unstable. Eventually, Chandler tricks Eddie into thinking he never lived there.
Things get interesting later in the spin-off Joey, when Eddie’s actor Adam Goldberg reappeared as Joey’s childhood friend Jimmy.
To make things more interesting, Jimmy is shown to have anger issues and threatens to skip town several times. So, is it possible that Eddie and Jimmy are just two people in one body? It doesn’t explain why Joey didn’t recognize him, but maybe he just didn’t get a good enough look.
18 The Thing About Chandler...
Chandler is a poor soul with a lot of unresolved issues. While we don’t delve too deep into his head when he's on screen, it’s thought that the reason for a lot of his actions could be that he's bipolar.
Chandler shows many symptoms of the disorder. He goes through periods of depression and elevation, can be restless or irritable, often expresses feelings of worthlessness, his weight changes frequently, and his memory has a few obvious faults. He forgets that Monica was overweight, forgot that he was in a band with Ross, and doesn’t recall his various meetings with Rachel.
17 Phoebe Was A Genius
At first glance, Phoebe might seem like an airheaded, innocent blond. But while she might be the least educated of the group, she has smarts that Ross and his Ph.D. lack. She speaks two foreign languages fluently and can wrap anybody around her fingers with just a few words.
A great example of this is when she questions the theory of evolution, which obviously bothered Ross.
She rejects all his explanation until he finally admits he might be wrong. But all of this was just done to mess with him! Throughout the series, she proves her ability to convince anyone of anything and even describes herself as the “puppet master of the group.”
16 It Was All A Delusion In Phoebe’s Mind
Maybe Phoebe was the smartest member of the group, but maybe she also came up with the whole thing in her head!
One of the more depressing theories of the series is that none of it actually happened. A homeless Phoebe was just looking through the window of the coffee house and making up stories about the five people who sat there (who thought of her as “the lady who stares at us.”) All of their lives and relationships were just part of the personas that Phoebe created.
Afterward, she walks away, sees her reflection in a restaurant called “Ursula” before walking back to her park bench. It starts to rain, and she puts up a brightly colored umbrella. All the poor woman ever wanted was friends.
15 Mark Wanted To Break Rachel And Ross Up
Opinions of Mark range wildly amongst Ross and Rachel shippers. Mark waits until after Rachel breaks up with Ross to ask Rachel out, knowing that she wouldn’t say yes while she was in a relationship. But what if the break up was all his doing?
Perhaps all of Rachel’s late nights at the office were caused by Mark, either giving her extra work or making deliberate mistakes.
He strained their relationship then swooped in to comfort Rachel. Maybe even deliberately speaking up when Rachel was on the phone to let Ross know he was there. Perhaps Joey was right about men!
14 Rachel Wanted To Have Emma
Rachel doesn’t take her thirtieth birthday well, realizing that she is behind on her plan to have a husband and three kids. As a result, she breaks up with her younger boyfriend Tag and decides to start looking for a serious relationship. But what if instead, she decided to skip straight to becoming a mom?
Earlier in the series, she thought of spending time with Ross as she was depressed over Monica’s engagement... maybe the same thought occurred to her when she realized she wanted a baby? Knowing that she could easily convince Ross to spend time with her, she took this as her chance to have her first child.
13 They’re All Just Day-Dreaming High Schoolers
Going again on the “it was all in someone’s head” theme, this idea suggests that the lives of the Friends that we see are just the daydreams of six high schoolers.
The reasoning for this is that the six of them, despite going through several ups and downs, all end up achieving their goals in adult life. They all have family, romance, and jobs (except for Rachel who gave up her dream job for romance, but I suppose they can’t all be winners).
While there isn’t a lot of evidence to support this, especially as Phoebe didn’t attend high school, it does explain the wishful thinking of the friends and the way it all works out in the end.
12 Chandler Is In Love With Joey
Joey and Chandler have the bromance of the century. While they could just be close friends, some think that Chandler’s feelings go a little deeper than that.
While it’s Joey who cries when Chandler goes to Tulsa and doesn’t want him to move out of the city, Joey is the one who lives on Chandler’s dime for most of the show’s run. They meet when Joey applied to be his roommate and it’s implied that for most of his stay Chandler paid his rent. Why would Chandler keep a roommate like that around unless his feelings went a little deeper? As much as Chandler loved Monica, maybe he had feelings for Joey he didn’t understand.
11 Monica Was Pregnant In Season Ten
In the series finale, Monica finally becomes a mother when she adopts twins Erica and Jack. But perhaps her third baby was already on the way!
Actor Courtney Cox was pregnant herself during the final season of the show.
However, the creators made no attempt to hide this; no large bags, large objects, or overcoats to cover the bump! So maybe they meant for Monica to have a bump too.
Maybe knowing she couldn’t have children, Monica thought her weight gain and lack of periods was due to the stress of adoption. Then shortly after the series ended realized that she was having another baby. After all, the doctors said that it was unlikely that they could conceive naturally, but that anything was possible.
10 They’re All Patients In An Asylum
Time for one last trip down “it was all a dream” avenue, and this time things get a little dark.
Perhaps instead of being six single adults living in New York, the friends are simply six patients in a psychiatric ward living out their dream lives together. Each of them has a trigger incident that lead to their admission: Monica’s damage from her mother, Ross’ trust and abandonment issues, Chandler's parents’ divorce and their bitter relationship, Joey’s unhealthy relationship with women, Phoebe’s troubling childhood, and Rachel’s realizations and running out on her wedding.
It certainly explains why they spent more of their time sat talking in a coffee house than actually at their cushy jobs!
9 Monica Reason For Becoming An Obsessive Cleaner
Monica’s OCD is made clear at the very beginning. If everything in her house isn’t in place or clean, then she loses sleep, becomes anxious and can’t think of anything else. It’s also implied that her OCD is triggered by her parents' favoritism over Ross.
However, in flashbacks and The One That Could Have Been, when Monica is still overweight, she isn’t quite the clean freak fans know her as.
She’s a lot more relaxed and not as obsessed with everything being in place.
This has led some to suggest she became an obsessive cleaner after losing weight. Before the OCD shows its self in Monica’s eating. After she loses the weight, cleaning takes the place of food.
8 Erica Knew She Was Having Twins
One of the biggest unanswered questions of the series is how Monica and Chandler were never told about the twins. Surely the adoption agency would have contacted them. At the very least Erica would have been told.
She has a sonogram of the babies. There is no way she wouldn’t have seen them in a sonogram and, once again, the doctors would have told her! So, what if she was told, but decided not to tell anyone else?
Perhaps she was worried, having gone through all the emotions of picking Monica and Chandler, that they would change their minds knowing that there would be two babies. After all, Chandler was quite freaked when he found out.
7 Frank’s Triplets Are Phoebe’s Children
It’s been made clear that none of the creators of Friends know how long pregnancy takes. Rachel is pregnant for over a year and Carol was pregnant for about two. Phoebe’s pregnancy, however, was incredibly short!
Phoebe becomes pregnant with Frank’s triplets in January (resulting in a positive pregnancy test the same day as her in vitro.) Phoebe, however, gives birth shortly after Ross’ wedding four months later when Rachel returns from his honeymoon. She must have been pregnant for months before Frank asked her to be her surrogate. Those triplets are biologically Phoebe’s, but she gave them up for Frank and Alice. She really is the best sister.
6 The Other Five Deliberately Take Advantage Of Monica
Yep, sometimes you think people are your friends, turns out they’re just five jerks who come over and eat your food. Monica is the nineties equivalent of a saint. She feeds all five of her friends for ten years and never complains about it.
But really, she should!
In their first Thanksgiving episode, she tries to cook the dinner that everyone wants, and the gang doesn’t even say please! Over the series, she continues to cook Thanksgiving dinner and is even manipulated by Phoebe into doing it in the last Thanksgiving episode. They all know that they can get Monica to cook and clean for them, taking advantage of her OCD and her need to please.
5 Ross Lost Custody Of Ben
Ben is Ross’ son who his ex-wife Carol gives birth at the end of series one. Despite playing a big part in the early seasons of the show, he appears less and less as time passes. After the twelfth episode of season eight, The One Where Joey Dates Rachel, he is never seen again and mentioned rarely.
Ross certainly isn’t father of the year. When looking after Ben, he often leaves him in the care of his friends (who do things like leave him on the bus and teach him pranks.) Even when he sticks around, he does things like trying to stop Ben playing with his favorite Barbie! With that and his rage issues and his treatment of women, I’m pretty sure Carol could have won full custody.
4 Phoebe And Joey Were Seeing Each Other
A question Friends fans ask every now and then: Why didn’t Phoebe and Joey get together? The rest of the gang seems to pair off and the two seem perfect for one another in many ways.
Well, in this theory put forward by Matt LeBlanc himself, the two had been together over the whole run!
It makes sense; the two of them often have casual relationships rather than committed ones. They’re never bothered by the other looking at them in a manner and they could easily have hidden it from the rest of the gang. It also adds another layer to Phoebe asking Joey to give her away at her wedding, as if she were closing the door on their relationship.
3 Friends, Seinfeld, And Mad About You Are In A Shared Universe
Due to some guest stars in each of these NBC shows, it’s been theorized that all shows take place in the same universe.
Evidence that Mad About You is in the same universe as Friends comes in The One With Two Parts, when characters from the former show (Jamie and Fran) enter Central Perk, mistaking Phoebe for her sister Ursula, thinking she was now a waitress at the coffee house. Kudrow also appears as Ursula in Mad About You, where her character is a terrible waitress at Riffs.
But Mad About You and Seinfeld are also implied to be in the same universe, as Paul (Mad About You) sublets his apartment to Kramer from Seinfeld and mentions that he doesn’t like his neighbor (Seinfeld himself!)
2 Why They Had To Be Siblings
There are a lot of difficult decisions when it comes to divorce. Pretty much everything in the couple’s lives has to be decided upon, including your friends! After Ross and Carol split up, Ross gets to keep the gang of friends. He even mentions in the pilot that Carol got most of their possessions after they separated, but his prize was “you guys.”
So why did all the friends choose Ross instead of Carol? Well, the obvious answer is that Ross is Monica’s brother. If he wasn’t, then Monica would have stuck with Carol, causing her neighbor Chandler and then-roommate Phoebe to stick with her, bringing Rachel and Joey along with them.
1 Emma And Ben Aren’t Ross’ Biological Children
Maybe Ross dyes his hair. Maybe it’s something a lot more interesting than that! Some fans have suggested that the reason why Ross looks nothing like either of his children is that he isn’t really their father.
It certainly makes sense.
It’s thought (by some) that Carol and Susan tricked Ross into thinking he was Ben’s father, possible for his money or possibly to make keeping custody of a child easier, due to the lack of gay rights in the nineties.
As for Emma, maybe Rachel really believed that Ross was the father and was just wrong. Either that or she didn’t know who the real father was and thought it would be easier on Emma.