Friends Central

"The One That Could Have Been" is a non-canon, two part episode of the sixth season of Friends. It's a "what if" scenario, of what the Friends group would have looked like if things didn't go exactly as they had. Both parts aired on February 17, 2000.



Rachel comes into Central Perk to announce to her friends that Barry (her ex-fiancé) and Mindy (her ex-maid of honor) are getting divorced, because apparently, Mindy caught him cheating on her. Rachel begins to wonder what life might be if she didn't run out on her wedding and actually married Barry. Ross begins to imagine what life would be if he was still married to Carol. Monica asks what would happen if she was still overweight (She notes that she and Chandler wouldn't be dating in that scenario; Chandler is offended that everyone thinks he's that shallow, but Ross clarifies that they actually think that Monica was that fat). Joey wonders what if he never got fired from Days of our Lives, Chandler imagines what if he had quit his job & wrote stories for The New Yorker, and Phoebe wonders what if she had taken a job offer at 'Merrill Lynch' (A massage client said that she had a knack for stocks, but at the time she thought that everything that rhymed was true and so thought she would need to live in a box, eat lox, and have a pet fox). The six friends imagine if these alternate realities occurred at the same time, and wonder if they would still hang out together occasionally.

Alternate Universe[]

The alternate reality begins with Ross reading a home decor magazine from a newspaper stand and taking a porn magazine (that he claims a boy paid Ross to buy for him). As he waits in line, he notices Rachel standing in front of him. Rachel barely recognizes Ross until she remembers that he is Monica's brother. Ross and Rachel go off to see Monica at Central Perk (before this, Ross returns the porn magazine).

At Central Perk, Monica has coffee with her new boyfriend, Roger (a doctor who Joey and Chandler think is boring). Chandler comes in with a rejection letter (because the company thought he wasn't "Archie Comics" funny). After Roger leaves for work, Joey appoints Chandler as his assistant since Chandler needs extra money, but does not want to just take it from his friend (whereas in normal episodes, it is Chandler who often lends Joey money). After Joey leaves to go to the bathroom, Phoebe (who smokes whenever work calls, referencing Chandler's smoking addiction in normal episodes) comes in and fires someone she started to like via phone for selling at 49 instead of 50. Ross and Rachel enter and Monica and Rachel are happy to see each other for the first time in 13 years after Sean McMahan's party (in which Ross played a song). When Joey comes back, Rachel, a big fan of him and his show is excited to meet him for the very first time.

Later, at Monica's apartment, an applicant calls, and Phoebe hires her and changes the applicant's name from "Brindy" to "Joan". Joey comes over and gives Chandler a list of things to do before heading off to work (some of which include dropping off his dry cleaning, picking up his vitamins, teaching him how to spell "vitamins" and wearing his new jeans). Phoebe learns that there was a drop of sales in the market and loses $13 million, resulting in a heart attack.

Ross, Monica and Chandler come to visit Phoebe (who is given two weeks off work due to her heart attack) in hospital. Phoebe, a workaholic, is unsettled for not working for three hours straight. After Monica and Chandler leave the room, it is quickly learned that Ross' sex life with Carol isn't what it used to be 2 months ago before he stopped trying. Phoebe encourages him to spice things up a little and gives him weird examples on how to do this.

Chandler tells Monica that most of the tasks Joey gives him are food-related. Joey comes by and, before he goes in her room to visit her, asks Chandler to take his jeans off (as they were ready).

Later, after Joey shows Rachel around the set that he works in, he invites her to his apartment and says two lines of dialogue from the show to get her to say yes. Rachel doesn't think it is a good idea, although she wants to go. Chandler brings a glass of orange juice with pulp to Joey. As Joey doesn't like pulp, he becomes angry. Joey asks Rachel if she wants anything, and she says she would like iced tea from Chandler, who is told by Joey to "listen" in order to keep his job. It is immediately after he insults him that Joey realizes that he had offended Chandler.

The next morning, Ross asks Carol if he can spice things up a little to improve their sex life. He summarizes Phoebe's examples and eventually mentions having a threesome. Carol agrees to this right away and with much enthusiasm at the idea of bringing another woman into the bedroom.

Chandler comes to Monica's to announce that he finally sold a story (involving Archie needing money and being hired as Reggie's assistant and Reggie making him do chores such as bringing him lumpless milkshakes) to Archie Comics. Joey visits and apologizes for being a jerk and for a make-up present, gives Chandler orange juice (with pulp). Monica tells Joey about Chandler selling his story and Chandler summarizes his story. Joey thinks that it sounds familiar, but shrugs it off as he thinks that he read an Archie comic similar to Chandler's story.

Rachel comes into Central Perk to tell Monica of her invitation to Joey's apartment despite being married and learns from her that he does this with a lot of women, her being one of them. Rachel wishes she was on a break with Barry for just some time and discovers that Monica is a 30-year old virgin. Monica is just waiting for the perfect guy to have sex with. Her boyfriend Roger is not perfect, but maybe, she should just "get it over with." Rachel tells her she should do it, as sex shouldn't be a big deal.

While visiting Phoebe in hospital, Ross and Monica discover smoke coming from her in the bathroom, which Phoebe claims is just a side-effect. Ross answers a phone call that is for Phoebe. After he finishes, he says that Jack called to make sure Phoebe was getting better, but he tells Monica that she has actually been fired.

Meanwhile, Rachel, at home, is watching Days Of Our Lives and decides to see Joey the next night and calls to tell him that she will be coming to his apartment, along with a few sandwiches she will bring from home.

Cast and Crew[]

Main Cast[]

Jennifer Aniston - Rachel Greene
Courteney Cox - Monica Geller
Lisa Kudrow - Phoebe Buffay
Matt LeBlanc - Joey Tribbiani
Matthew Perry - Chandler Bing
David Schwimmer - Ross Geller

Supporting Cast[]

Kristian Alfonso - Hope Brady
Pat Finn - Dr. Roger
Paul Gleason - Jack
Jane Sibbett - Carol Willick
Jessica Hecht - Susan Bunch (credit only)
Kevin Spirtas - Dr. Wesley
Cole Sprouse - Ben Geller
James Michael Tyler - Gunther
Mitchell Whitfield - Barry Farber (credit only)


Directed By:
Michael Lembeck

Written By:
David Crane & Marta Kauffman


  • On Days of our Lives, Dr. Ramoray is conversing with Hope and Dr. Wesley. These two characters are from the real Days of our Lives.
  • When Rachel and Joey are walking on the set of Days of Our Lives, it's actually behind the scenes of the normal Friends sets and the old man Joey mentions to Rachel had actually retired a few days before the episode was shot. Other Friends crew are also seen in the shot.
  • Among the scenery, the daytime backdrop for the view from Monica's apartment can be seen at the start of the scene with Joey and Rachel on the Days of Our Lives set.
  • When Rachel and Monica are talking about sex, the guy at the back of the coffeehouse is one of the Friends writers.
  • Along with the part two, this is the only episode in the entire sixth season where the chorus of the theme song isn't cut.
  • This episode is one of the few titles that doesn't begin with "The One Where..." or "The One With..."
  • Phoebe's hair in this episode is actually Lisa Kudrow's real hair. For most of season six she had to wear a wig because they thought her hair was too short for Phoebe's character.
  • In this episode, the opening credits have been changed: you see the cast members in their "alternate reality." For example, Monica is still fat, Joey as a famous actor, etc. This is the only episode in the entire series to feature changed fountain shots in the credits. The TV version has the normal opening credits but closes with Monica dancing.
  • In this episode Rachel says that she wishes that she and Barry "were on a break", an ironic reference to the fact that she and Ross broke up after she said they should take a break and he slept with Chloe.
  • When Chandler announces to Monica that he sold a story to Archie Comics, Monica agrees to share her Kit-Kat bar with him after refusing to loosen her grip on it. When Joey enters to apologize to Chandler, Monica has her mouth full and is holding the other half of the chocolate bar, presumably getting ready to eat it as well. 
  • The unique nature of this episode is most likely due to the producers' need to write it on short notice; previous plans for the season included a six-episode arc involving Rachel's sister Jill, but reputed on-set tensions between Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon - the actress playing Jill - meant that Jill left after only two episodes. Both actresses denied any animosity.
  • Ross and Carol decided to name their son Ben in "The One With The Birth" because Susan and Ross were locked in a closet with Phoebe wearing janitor Ben's uniform. However, in this episode their son is still named Ben, most likely to not confuse the audience. It's worth noting though that Ben is never named in the actual episode (although his name does appear in the end credits).
  • This is the first appearance of Cole Sprouse as Ben Geller.
  • Rachel's feelings for Dr. Drake Ramoray is a play on Rachel's obsession with doctors in the normal Friends universe. 
  • Joey mentions low fat mayonnaise. In the normal Friends universe, Joey makes a list of reasons for not dating Rachel but can only come up with low fat mayonnaise, which he actually prefers.
  • Monica refers to giving up your "flower" as losing one's virginity. She used this term before in "The One With All The Thanksgivings" when she mentions, as in this episode, to Rachel that she hasn't given up her flower.
  • Phoebe says "I miss Joan". This is a callback to "The One With The Lesbian Wedding" when she said a similar thing ("I miss Rose") to Chandler.
  • Unlike in the real Friends universe, Joey's chat-up line works on Rachel. (The one time she did respond was when she and Ross were drunk in Las Vegas.)
  • David Schwimmer came up with the pronunciation of "karate".
  • The scenes with Ross and Carol take place in their previously unseen apartment where they lived prior to The Pilot.
  • Joey tells Chandler that he's sorry for "crossing the line". Joey accused Chandler of crossing the line after Chandler kissed Kathy.
  • The "Fat Monica Dance" during the closing credits is the song "Do the Saturday Night" by the Stalkers, though it sounds a little slower on the show.
  • Ross suggests playing his keyboard in Central Perk. In the real Friends universe, Ross did just that in "The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line".
  • The credits for Part One include Mitchell Whitfield as Rachel's husband, Barry Farber, even though he only appears in Part Two.


  • When Joey brings Chandler orange juice to apologize, the logo on the cup changes positions and the cup switches hands between shots
  • During this scene you can see an extra (wearing a black t-shirt) in the background behind Rachel. Casually waiting for her queue to pick a vase up off the table. She stands there for some time before eventually walking off with the flowers. As The Days Of Our Lives set is actually the Friends set, it's likely she was a crew member with little on camera experience or she was out of shot before wide-screen was introduced.
  • In the beginning of the alternate reality when Joey, Chandler, and Monica are talking about money in the coffeehouse, Chandler's feet constantly change positions between shots.
  • In the opening credits when fat Monica sits on the couch, you can see Chandler and Joey helping lift the couch with their feet.
  • In the commentary (only on DVD) David Crane mistakenly says Ross' first wife was Susan, when it was Carol. The same commentary gets Cole Sprouse's surname wrong.
  • On television and the Region 4 version of the DVD, the closing credits for Part 1 is fat Monica dancing on the table, which could be seen in the fake universe credits; on the Region 1 version of the DVD the closing credits are Rachel deciding to call Joey.
  • As Monica holds the Rice Krispies treats in the beginning, she is seen putting one up to take a bite but when the shot changes it's back in a stack on the plate.
  • When Phoebe is in the hospital and she and Ross are alone in the hospital room, the position of the Money magazine keeps moving between shots. In the same scene, Ross goes from having his hands together to his arms being folded between shots, changing with each shot.
  • Dr. Roger presents a trivia question about a "nut masquerading as a seed," when in actuality, all nuts are seeds.

External links[]

Episode Navigation[]

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Preceded by
"The One Where Chandler Can't Cry"
Series Six Episodes Followed by
"The One That Could Have Been, Part 2"