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'Friends": Why Phoebe and Joey didn't end up together

It has now been 18 years since the airing of the final episode of America’s most-loved sitcom, Friends. After spending ten years with the six main cast members, many of us felt a strong connection to the amiable personalities cleverly devised by creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman. 

While it was sad to see the show come to a close, there was a sense that Friends had run its course. We had watched Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) grow from her naive youth of materialistic brat-hood into a well-principled and caring personality. Her on-off relationship with Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer) takes us through emotional turmoil over the decade but reaches a satisfactory conclusion by the final episode, where the two finally get back together.

In the fourth series, which aired between 1997 and 1998, wise-cracker Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) couples off with Ross’ sister Monica. The pair first show a sexual attraction to one another while abroad in London for Ross’ second marriage, much to their surprise and the audience’s. After keeping things furtively sexual for a while, the couple soon realises a deeper bond and reluctantly lets the rest of the group in on their secret.

After three seasons together, Chandler and Monica marry, with Joey as their ordained minister. Throughout the final three seasons, while assuming that Ross and Rachel would eventually patch things up, most of us were hoping that perhaps Joey and Phoebe would hook up and complete the puzzle to tie off loose ends. 

However, by the time the curtain fell, Phoebe was happily married to Mike Hannigan (Paul Rudd), leaving Joey the last remaining bachelor. So why did Crane and Kauffman leave the jigsaw incomplete?

In an interview with Metro, David Crane shone some light on the matter. “It all would have been too tidy and too complete,” Crane explained. “When your goal is to keep the six characters’ stories together, it would be really easy to go down that road but I think we all felt it would be a mistake.”

Crane continued addressing the impact of the two extant couples on the ongoing narrative. “Because we’d done Ross and Rachel, we had to give Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) another set of challenges,” he said. “And so their whole journey of how they ended up together and having babies it needed to be different. I think that’s the biggest challenge of doing a show for 10 years.” 

In summary, it appears that, had Phoebe and Joey lived happily ever after, the story would lose touch with reality. Additionally, it seems that the writers had already met a challenge in keeping the narratives of the other two relationships fresh. If they were to add another into the equation, it might have come across as forced or uninspired.

Revisit the emotional final scene of Friends below.