One of the most memorable and thereafter infuriating couples on TV, Ross and Rachel brought the phrase "Will they/won't they?" into daily use, and completely recontextualized the concept behind going on a relationship break. But it turns out viewers could have avoided all the weirdly awkward moments with Emily, Paolo, Bruce Willis and more, because Ross and Rachel weren't even originally supposed to split up on the hit sitcom. Executive producer Kevin S. Bright explained that the couple's break-up wasn't part of the original blueprints.
I would say initially when [Ross and Rachel] was planned it wasn't planned that way, that came a little bit later. It allowed us to have fun with the show and give people something to root for. We were well aware the audience wanted to keep them together but everything that was keeping them apart -- we realized when we got them together when the first kiss happened we go, 'Wow, the air has kind of gone out of the balloon.' There wasn't that sexual tension anymore. I thought what Marta and David did, which was such a brilliant and brave move with their relationship, as soon as everyone got their wish the wish was taken away. It made it so much better when they did get together.
There's a bit to unpack there, though Kevin S. Bright's comments to Metro basically say that the Friends team fell into the same trap that many TV staffs get into when romance is on the table. Because it's generally more fun to go through the flirtatious and surprise-filled first stages of a relationship, that is generally the time-span that TV shows depict between potential lovers, while longterm small screen marriages are often seen as less exciting. Exceptions exist, like The Americans, but comedies are usually more guilty for complicating couples' lives for the sake of the laughs. (You're the Worst has successfully kept that conceit going for what'll be four seasons.) As such, the producers apparently thought Ross and Rachel's status quo was a snoozer.
It's totally arguable that Ross and Rachel's worth as a couple dropped tremendously just because they became an actual couple. I'm not one who needs constant chaos to find a couple interesting or worth rooting for. And so I don't think creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane necessarily had to throw a wrench in the works as quickly as they did, but it's hard to deny the universally felt power of the "We were on a break!" storyline. Had Ross and Rachel stayed together another year or two, it s possible Kauffman and Crane would have never conceived of this never-winnable argument that no doubt played a part in real relationships over the past 20 years.
In the end, the couple did get together, after already having conceived a child. And while it's mostly true that it felt all the more powerful due to their years of being broken up, there are many fans out there who wish Rachel hadn't rekindled things with Ross for the finale. Some wish she'd have figured out a future with Joey, while others have had hopes for other past boyfriends. Not that there's anything wrong with her raising Emma as a single mother.
Speaking of breaks, though, it doesn't sound like Friends will be coming back from its break at any point. Rumors about a big reunion have floated around over the years, and have mostly fallen flat due to a lack of interest from everyone involved. In the relatively recent past, there has been more positivity about Friends' potential return, but Kevin S. Bright revealed that a fairly serious conversation about a Friends revival went down this summer, and that it ultimately ended with the decision to refrain from bringing the hit comedy back.
Even though new Friends episodes aren't on the horizon, you can still watch repeats of all the classics on Netflix. And if you want to know what the best new romantic comedy shows are, our fall TV premiere schedule has you covered.