In the final season of the hit NBC sitcom Friends, Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) officiated the wedding of his close friend Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) and her fiancé Mike Hannigan (Paul Rudd). But do you know that Joey and Phoebe almost ended up becoming long-term casual sex partners?
LeBlanc previously revealed that he and Kudrow actually pitched the idea of revealing a secret friends-with-benefits relationship between Joey and Phoebe towards the end of the series. LeBlanc said that the idea was not to make Joey and Phoebe an official couple, but rather, to surprise viewers by revealing that the two characters had actually been hooking up for the entirety of the series when they weren’t dating other people.
LeBlanc and Kudrow suggested to refilm key scenes from the show to reveal that Joey and Phoebe were secretly hooking up the entire 10 seasons. “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,” LeBlanc told People back in 2015. “But they were like, ‘Nah.’”
Though the writers ditched the idea, the groundwork was there for them to move in that direction. For one, at some point in the series, Joey and Phoebe once noted that they would meet weekly for lunch without the rest of the group. And in the episode The One with the Proposal, Joey and Phoebe officially became each other’s “backup,” agreeing to marry each other when both of them were still single by the time they reach 40.
It’s unclear why the writers ultimately disregarded the idea. But since Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) love affair and Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica’s (Courteney Cox) relationship were already well established towards the end of the series, a third romance among the show’s main characters would have been too much. Also, it seems that a sexual relationship between Joey and Phoebe would have ruined the best parts of their dynamic.
All episodes of Friends became available on Netflix on January 1st, 2015, but was removed from the streaming service in the U.S. in January of this year. The series will be available for streaming in WarnerMedia’s new video-streaming service, HBO Max, starting this May.