Friends Central

"The One That Could Have Been" is an alternate reality, two part episode of the sixth season of Friends. Both parts aired on February 17, 2000.


In the Friends' continuing imagination, Carol shows Ross a list of women who might interested in the threesome and, when he mentions that just talking about it is putting him in the mood, tells him that it would be better if they hold off on sex until the night of the threesome.

Monica and Chandler are visiting Phoebe in the hospital when Ross comes over. It is revealed that Phoebe was, in fact, fired, without her knowing. The three tell her that she should think about getting a new job, such as playing the guitar or massaging people which Phoebe expresses disgust at (whereas in normal episodes she loves doing both).

Joey is showing Rachel around his apartment and the realistic sculptures he has. Rachel decides to go to the bathroom, but not before saying she is happy and glad she is in Joey's apartment. 

Monica's date with Roger is a romantic dinner at her apartment . She shares a passionate kiss with him after talking to him about oysters being "aphrodisiacs." She decides that she and Roger should eat couscous with their hands. However, the date is halted when Roger is called to tend to an emergency at the hospital.

Meanwhile, Ross and Carol are on the couch anticipating the arranged threesome. While Ross explains that Carol can back out any time she wants, there is a knock at the door and Carol eagerly answers it. Susan, who she met at a gym, steps in and there is instant electricity between her and Carol. Susan barely acknowledges Ross' presence as the two of them proceed hastily into the bedroom.

Chandler comes over to have dinner with Monica and tries to act like Roger to make it better for her, with useless results. Monica says that the date was supposed to be the first time that she could have sex with Roger (although she subsequently embarrassingly admits that she has actually never had sex). Chandler (who had sex with women 9 times) decides it could happen to her someday. Monica inadvertently asks him to have sex with her and he says yes, much to her embarrassment.

Rachel is fascinated about how Joey can change between being Dr. Drake Ramoray and being himself. Joey tells her that she is beautiful, and he kisses her hands. Both of them share a passionate kiss, until Rachel has to throw up in Joey's bathroom.

Back at Monica's apartment, she and Chandler decide against having sex with each other because there would be pressure between the two (although Monica points out that Chandler is under no pressure as she wouldn't know if he was terrible as it would be her first time). They change their minds and go for a one-night stand, but not before Chandler apparently ends up caressing the couch in the dark. After they have sex, they decide to do it again.

The next morning, Rachel wakes up on the couch, and feels terrible about having come to have an affair with a famous person when she is, in fact, married. To cheer her up before she returns home, Joey gives her a ring from the show to remind her that she is a good person and that she didn't cheat on her husband when she had the chance.

Joey and Ross come to visit Phoebe and she just pretends to be going out for a walk. However, after she leaves the room, she dumps the robe and it is revealed that she is actually going to work.

Ross tells Joey about the threesome he had with Carol the previous night, but doesn't feel too good about it as it mainly consisted of him watching Carol and Susan have sex without him actively participating for most of it; at the times he tried, he was kicked away instead. He even went for a snack, and Joey agrees that the sandwich Ross ended up making sounds quite delicious.

Chandler comes over to Monica's apartment and jokingly gloats over the fact that he had sex with Monica. But Monica has another date with Roger, much to Chandler's dismay.

Rachel comes back home and sees Barry having sex with the neighbor's dog-walker and is angry.

Phoebe comes back to work, only to find out that she was fired because of the drop of sales before the heart attack. This causes her to have another heart attack.

At Central Perk, Ross is getting coffee and Rachel enters, looking for Joey, because she wants to have an affair with him and is not going to throw up again. She shouts at Ross about men being horrible because Barry did not follow his wedding vows and had sex with the dog-walker. Ross argues that there are men who are trying to make their marriages work and watch as their wives have sex with women they barely know from gyms, including him. Rachel finally guesses that Carol is, in fact, gay. Ross realizes that she is right. The two realize that neither of their marriages are working and that some people are not as good as they seem.

Chandler comes over to Monica's apartment, as Monica's date has been cancelled because Roger has to tend to yet another emergency at the hospital. Chandler reveals that the "emergency" was a fake one planted by him to lure Roger away from Monica, who he is attracted to. He tells Monica that usually when he has sex, he wakes up the next day and all he wants to do is hang out with friends, but while they had sex, he was with a friend. He reveals that he has never been in a serious relationship and Monica may not want to go out with him because he is not a "doctor." Monica is touched by this that she kisses him, marking the beginning of a new relationship.

The tag scene at the end of the episode shows that, despite all the differences in their lives in this fantasy, a lot would end up remaining the same as Phoebe plays, performing songs in front of her friends at Central Perk. Her song is linked to the two heart attacks she had earlier and her anger at being fired from the stock company.

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

Jane Sibbett - Carol Willick
Jessica Hecht - Susan Bunch
Mitchell Whitfield - Barry Farber
Paul Gleason - Jack
Pat Finn - Dr. Roger
James Michael Tyler - Gunther
Larry Cox - Arthur
Lisa Calderon - Phoebe's Co-worker (Lisa Avery)


Directed By:
Michael Lembeck

Written By:
David Crane & Marta Kauffman


  • This is the last episode to have the laugh track (along with audience reactions) that has been heard in season 6 ep 2-16.
  • In the alternate reality, Joey's apartment is the same apartment he lived in for part of season 2. It can be assumed that he first lived with Chandler, then his job started going well so he moved out also like in season 2.
  • The credits at the start of this episode shows the gang in their alternative reality clothes along with fat Monica.
  • The unusual chair in Joey's apartment is borrowed from the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation and can be normally seen in Lt. Worf's quarters.
  • This is the first and only episode in which the white dog is named (Pat). It's also in original plain white while by the sixth season in the normal Friends universe the dog has gained red lips.
  • At the end of the episode, the outcome of the alternate reality is, for the most part, the same as the friends' reality, though it is implied that the past six years of their lives have been far more miserable in comparison to the happier lives shown in the real timeline. Ross' wife becomes gay with Susan, Monica & Chandler end up together, Rachel finds out her husband Barry is cheating on her, and Phoebe ends up playing at Central Perk
  • This episode is one of the few titles that doesn't begin with "The One Where..." or "The One With..."
  • One of they ways in which Carol and Susan are displayed as alternate personalities is that they have swapped hairstyles; Susan's hair has been straightened while Carol's hair is very curly, both in the same style that the other character wears in the normal timeline.
  • Chandler never wears glasses again on the show until the 7th Season. However while the glasses in this episode are merely props, those worn from the 7th Season are corrective glasses.
  • In the alternate reality, the hair clip that Monica is wearing when Chandler tells her that he wants to be her boyfriend is the same one that she wears in "The One With Ross' Wedding, Part 2", after they have sex for the first time in London.
  • This episode makes the final appearance of Susan Bunch and Barry Farber.
  • The ring which Rachel has on her right hand is the same one she wears in the normal Friends universe.
  • Rachel falling off the couch while drunk was Jennifer's idea.
  • This is the second time Rachel has been seen drunk in this season. She was previously shown drunk after waking up in bed with Ross in Vegas.
  • The woman who says hello to Phoebe at work is one of the stand-ins used for camera blocking.
  • Prior to them having sex, Monica says she has no moves while Chandler says he has a few. In the normal Friends universe, Monica taught Chandler the seven points of seduction which improved the sex he had with Kathy and subsequently Monica herself.
  • This is the first time Joey and Rachel kiss as a possible couple. The next is when they actually date for a week at the start of Season 10.


  • Rachel's. bra strap keeps moving and disappearing during the scenes in Joey's apt.
  • When Monica brings Phoebe tea in the hospital, the red spoon keeps changing positions in between shots.
  • When Chandler rolls over in bed to have sex with Monica for the second time, the sheets pull up and you can clearly see a ball point pen lying on the mattress.
  • When Monica runs and kisses Chandler, you can see her fat suit in her sleeve.
  • When Phoebe leaves the hospital room, she closes the door but when the scene changes to that of Joey and Ross, the door can be seen open.
  • In some TV broadcasts, when Phoebe sings her song at the end, the word "bastards" is edited out.

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 That Could Have Been, Part 1"
Series Six Episodes Followed by
"The One With Unagi"