Why The Friends Cast Went To Vegas Before The Show Premiered

Friends was a phenomenally popular show over its ten-year run on NBC, and one plot that no fan could possibly forget was when the six main characters took their shenanigans on the road from New York City to Las Vegas. A story that most fans probably do not know, however, is of the Vegas trip taken by the six cast members before Friends even premiered back in 1994. Legendary director James Burrows recalls the pre-fame trip in great detail.

I took them to Vegas. We ate at Caesar’s Palace in Spago. I had me and six of them and I said – I don’t know why I said this – I said, ‘This is your last shot at anonymity.’ I said, ‘Once the show comes on the air, you guys will never be able to go anywhere without being hounded.’ I knew the show had a chance to really take off. So I did that and then I said, ‘Do you want to gamble?’ and they said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Okay, go ahead.’ And all six of them didn’t have any money so they each wrote me checks for $200 and I cashed them. And that was it. They came back and premiered and they don’t have a shot at anonymity anymore.

Considering I’m not 100% sure what I had breakfast yesterday, I have to commend James Burrows on his memory for being able to recount the details of that early '90s trip during a past special (via US Weekly). Still, all things considered, an evening on the town in Vegas with the cast of Friends is definitely something worth burning into memory. Burrows was certainly right in his prediction that the stars would have no chances of anonymity if the show took off, and he's a pretty awesome gent for getting them out there while they could still do things without being hounded for autographs. And it’s only fitting that the show would take the characters on a trip to Vegas that would change the series forever.

The Season 5 two-parter that featured the friends' trip to Vegas didn’t give Joey and Phoebe much to do outside of Joey finding his “identical hand twin” and Phoebe finding a “lurker” making bank off her slot machines, but the duos of Chandler/Monica and Rachel/Ross had plenty to do. Instead of breaking up after a major fight, Chandler and Monica decided to trust their luck and have a quickie Vegas wedding. Their plans were derailed when they discovered Rachel and Ross stumbling out of the chapel, very drunk and very married. While this particular wrinkle in the Rachel/Ross saga has become infamous, it was a huge shocker when the episode aired in 1999. Check the moment out!

James Burrows didn’t dish on any impromptu weddings among the cast in Vegas, so we can assume that the actors had a slightly tamer trip than their characters would in Season 5 - not that $1,200 couldn't fund some major tomfoolery - but they may well look back with fond memories on one of their last public adventures before they all became household names. The crew (mostly) came together again for another James Burrow special that will air on Monday, February 21, so we’ll soon being seeing the friends of Friends on screen once more.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).