Central Perk or bust! Friends premiered on NBC in September 1994, introducing viewers to six characters who would quickly become fans’ lifelong pals.
The comedy, which ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004, has become a multigenerational hit. Creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman managed to make everyday life in New York City relatable to the masses through their quirky and lovable characters, beginning with siblings Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) and Ross Geller (David Schwimmer).
Although Ross was older than Monica, the two had a strong bond that united the rest of their crew, including Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) — who Monica knew in high school and Ross swooned over from afar — and Ross’ college buddy Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry).
Monica befriended Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) while living in the Big Apple before Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) joined the group when he moved into Chandler’s apartment across the hall.
Throughout the series, all six friends manage to reside in Monica’s purple-doored apartment at one point or another — if you include the time Ross lived there with their grandmother one summer while trying to make it as a dancer.
Friends’ final episode, “The Last One,” aired in May 2004. As one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, the series was nominated for 62 Primetime Emmy Awards (with four wins), 10 Golden Globe Awards (one win), 14 Screen Actors Guild Awards (two wins) and 11 People’s Choice Awards (11 wins). It made a lasting impression on both the fans and the actors themselves, who have remained close for decades.
“We all loved — and love — each other. And genuinely had so much fun. And laughed for 10 years every day. We’re just really grateful,” Kudrow told Entertainment Weekly in May 2020, reflecting on her time on the show. “When we have been able to get together — I think that’s maybe twice and not even all of us — some people remember stuff the rest of us don’t remember at all. And then it’s fantastic. It’s like you’re being introduced to something that everybody else knows that you forgot.”
In February 2020, HBO Max announced that the six best friends would be reuniting for a TV special. It was originally set to premiere in May 2020 but was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Friends reunion was eventually rescheduled, set to premiere on the streaming service in May 2021. The special marks the first time the original six stars would be back together on screen since the show wrapped — and it all took place on the iconic Stage 24 on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank, California, the same stage where it all began.
“It was unbelievable. It was so emotional,” Cox said of the reunion on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May 2021. “It’s an unscripted reunion, but we got to be on Stage 24 for the first time, all of us, in 17 years. … We had a lot of special surprises, and it was fantastic. It really was.”
Sign up for Us Weekly's free, daily newsletter and never miss breaking news or exclusive stories about your favorite celebrities, TV shows and more!
Scroll through the gallery below to see the cast from season 1 to now: