Friends Fan Theories That Might Just Be True

Some Friends debates are eternal, like whether Ross Geller (David Schwimmerand Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) were really "on a break," who actually wrote the "Dr. Monkey" joke, and if Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) was actually charming or just a massive misogynist the whole time. While matters like those may never get settled, the Friends fan community has managed to put together some very workable theories about other unresolved elements of the series. 

While some ideas — like the notion that every episode was purely the imagination of a meth-addled Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) or that Rachel and Joey were the real lobsters — have been thoroughly rebuffed by the showrunners and cast, there are others that could very well be legitimate, based on the evidence.

Let's take a look at some of the wildest Friends theories that might actually be true, based on what happens throughout the show's ten seasons.  

Secret lovers

There was never any question that Phoebe and Joey had a special bond. They enjoyed each other's company, no matter how weird the activities, they always kept an eye out for one another, and they were also known to flirt quite often (cue Phoebe's kitten growl.) Despite the others pairing off into convenient couples, these two wild cards never quite took it there, apart from sharing a few stray kisses along the way.

However, there's a very good chance that between their many other on-screen dalliances, the two took comfort in each other's arms when no one else was looking. Every time they kissed there was a lot of authentic heat between them, and they always seemed to have a running inside joke in play that the others (and by extension, audiences) weren't privy to. Plus, Phoebe seems to get especially offended whenever it looks like Joey might be entangled with someone else in the group, but they're both otherwise very relaxed about hearing of each other's lovers.

As it turns out, actor Matt LeBlanc even pitched the idea of exposing a secret sexual history during the show's run, telling People, "Towards the end we actually pitched the idea that Joey and Phoebe had been having casual sex the entire time. We'd go back and shoot all the historical scenes and just before a moment that everyone recognizes, there's Joey and Phoebe coming out of a broom closet together. But they were like, 'Nah.'" 

Hey, just because we didn't see it play out in an episode doesn't mean we can't figure out where such scenes would belong in the next binge session.

Low-key hero

Another theory that seemingly checks out is that bleach-haired barista Gunther (James Michael Tyler) was the one who made sure all of Rachel's friends had prime seating at Central Perk every single time they came in. Recall, it was an unusual day indeed when this sextet didn't have the big orange couch to call their own, and the early episodes showed a visible "reserved" sign posted on the coffee table to explain away their constant domination of the comfy spot.

One Redditor posited that it was Gunther who, as a gesture of his affection for Rachel, made sure that the spot was always ready for her friends when she wasn't working to save it for them. Of course, that doesn't explain how they managed to snag it in the pilot episode in the scene prior to Rachel showing up in her rain-soaked white wedding dress to take refuge with her old friend, Monica Geller (Courteney Cox). Given that we're talking about a bustling coffee shop in New York City, that prime seating might've just been a matter of luck.

Secret genius

One of the all-time best moments on Friends is when Phoebe masterfully corners the obstinate Ross into walking back on his claim that evolution was a scientifically-proven fact rather than a working theory. Of course, it doesn't bode well for her that she's totally willing to entertain the idea that alien overlords planted fossils to trick us into believing said theory, but her handling of the debate is inspired all the same. There are a few other moments like this wherein Phoebe makes good on her suggestion that she's the true "puppet master of the group," so some fans have come to the conclusion that she's a secret genius.

It's not a bad thought, and there are ample facts to back it up. For one thing, she speaks French and Italian on command. She also has very astute observations about classic literature, despite her lack of formal education, and she has an appreciation for very eccentric forms of art and music. She is also intuitive about people's feelings and true intentions and is self-taught in activities such as guitar and, in general, making a living on her own. In her own words: "I may play the fool at times, but I'm a little more than just a pretty blonde girl with an a** that won't quit."

Long Island butcher

Rachel's lifelong obsession with ending up with a doctor certainly stems from her overbearing father, Dr. Leonard Green (Ron Leibman). The "frightening man," as she calls him, constantly antagonizes her about finding someone stable, and he's mightily disappointed when she doesn't marry Barry "Finkle" Farber (Mitchell Whitfield). Papa Green is even more upset when she refuses to wed Ross after they get pregnant with Emma, and he lectures Rachel for hours about how reckless she is. However, adding up the many clues we have about his practice and personal history, it would appear that Dr. Green isn't just a tough cookie; he's also a potentially negligent physician.

He claims to be a successful cardiologist but still freely admits that he lost a patient on his table before taking Rachel and Ross out to dinner — and taking out his frustration on the poor waiter. In those scenes, he seems more upset about his boat getting cancer than someone dying on his watch. Then, we learn that even though he supposedly taught Rachel that smoking is terrible and should be avoided at all costs (except if a work trip to Paris is at stake, apparently), he's notorious for smoking cigarettes while drinking his scotches neat. That doesn't seem to be behavior which is in line with good medical advice, and it costs him in the end, as he suffers a non-fatal heart attack before the series is over.

Cold feet fever dream

Rachel's decision to leave Barry at the altar is the catalyst that ultimately brings the friends together, so there are some who believe she may have simply imagined everything that happened to the six of them — including her own happy ending with Ross — in a moment of all-consuming doubt over her pending nuptials to "the orthodontist guy."

She's certainly been known to daydream in the past, like when throwback Rachel imagined herself hooking up with Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) before her wedding day and when she had a series of naughty dreams with all the guys. In those instances, her imagination was vivid, so it stands to reason, she could've easily foreseen a whole decade of life without Barry in it (much). After all, she did know Monica, Ross, and Chandler from before, and she certainly knew that Ross had a major crush on her back in high school, so their whole star-crossed lovers routine was pretty much already written before she ever stepped foot in that coffee house. If true, that must've been some gravy boat she was looking at before her wedding.

Looney toons

Phoebe Buffay might seem like the only one of the four who is, to quote Rachel, "a bit of a question mark," but if you look closely enough, each and every one of the six friends has some particular emotional and/or mental affliction that they have to work through on the show. 

Monica has major insecurity issues stemming from her relationship with her parents and that later manifests in a mild form of obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Ross, seems to exist in a perpetual state of depression after Carol leaves him, resulting in unbridled jealousy and massive relationship troubles — not to mention, there's his whole rage-out at work episode that lands him in therapy. Rachel's a little narcissistic and materialistic at times, but more often seems to have commitment issues, as she runs away from relationships as soon as she gets into them, especially with Ross. Chandler has such severe social anxiety that even Dr. Roger warns that it'll be ugly "when the laughter stops" and his defensive jokes run out. Joey might just be a nymphomaniac, given his insatiable sexual appetite, and, last but not least, Phoebe has some moments of obvious delusion and freely admits to hearing voices in her head. 

If the theory holds, apartments 20 and 21 may very well have been the unit numbers of their group hall at the asylum, which would certainly explain the giant community-sized apartment space!

Deadbeat dad

After Friends' eighth season, we never get to see Ben Geller again. As far as we know, no harm has come to Ross' eldest child, whom he co-parents with ex-wife Carol and her wife, Susan, but once Ross' daughter Emma comes into the picture, Ben disappears from the show. 

The actresses portraying Ben's moms told Comedy Central UK they think the pair simply moved the family to England and raised Ben with some new adoptive siblings across the pond, but some fans believe there's a more sinister story afoot.

The theory is that, at some point after Ross and "fun Aunt Rachel" taught Ben all of those pranks, Carol and Susan had enough and filed to have Ross' parental rights reduced or perhaps even eliminated. The subplot of Ross' nervous breakdown at the workplace certainly seems relevant, as does his history of absentee parenting. The fact that Ross is also constantly getting married and divorced may be ammunition for the pair to prove he provides an unstable home life, and when he impregnates Rachel and has her move into his apartment while he's dating someone else (poor Mona!), that may very well be the last straw.

That fire was no accident

The firefighters who investigate the blaze at Rachel and Phoebe's apartment ultimately conclude that it was Rachel's hair straightener that sparks the fire, but some Friends fans believe the blaze may not be accidental

After all, Phoebe makes the bold decision to start stealing her twin sister's paychecks from doing adult films as payback for Ursula Buffay using Phoebe's name, and in doing so, she may have messed with some dark and twisted individuals — miscreants who knew her home address. By turning on the straightener and positioning it in such a way as to start a fire, did some shady characters successfully make the blaze look like an accident to get revenge on Phoebe? The fact that both events happen within the span of two episodes certainly seems to support this sinister theory.

Black sheep

It may seem a little curious that while Ross is often referred to as a "medical marvel" by his folks, his younger sister Monica's birth doesn't strike anyone as significant. The story goes: Judy Geller (Christina Pickles) thought she was barren but miraculously conceived her beloved son. Then Monica happened, without much fanfare. Throughout the series, Monica's mother is cruel to her, criticizing her for everything from her looks to her career to her relationship choices and beyond.

At least one theory might very well explain why Monica's mom seems to harbor so much animosity toward her daughter: Monica is the product of a torrid affair. While Ross is the spitting image of his father, Jack Geller (Elliott Gould), Monica looks nothing like her dad. Considering Judy and Jack have a reputation for trying new things to keep the fire alive in their marriage, perhaps Monica's very presence threatens to undermine everything they've built together and to expose Judy's terrible secret. Judy has always been tough to take, but this theory would make her downright diabolical.