Friends wrapped up 14 years ago(!) with a heart-warming finale that ticked all the right boxes, bringing the stories of the Central Perk gang to a satisfying close.

From Monica and Chandler adopting twins to Ross and Rachel getting back together (“I got off the plane!”), ‘The Last One’ was about as perfect a last episode as fans could’ve hoped for.

But it almost didn’t happen at all.

Friends executive producer / director Kevin S Bright revealed to Digital Spy that the sitcom’s 9th season was originally going to be its last. But because a 10th season couldn’t be entirely ruled out, the writers were “frozen” and weren’t able to craft a proper ending to the series.

“We started out on season 9 thinking that that would be the last season,” Bright said. “We were prepared to end the series in season 9. But at the last minute, things fortunately happened, and there was a season 10.

“In season 9, basically, we were frozen. We didn’t know what to do, because we didn’t know how it was going to turn out. So no, there wasn’t another version of the ending of season 9.”

The two-part season 9 finale saw the gang take a trip to Barbados and closed with Joey and Rachel finally giving into their feelings for each other and sharing a kiss. (Imagine if that had been how Friends had ended! We’d never have got ‘The One Where Ross Is Fine’, for one thing.)

Bright – who directed the Barbados two-parter and also the eventual series finale a year later – admitted that it “was hard” working on the last ever episodes of the long-running US comedy.

“Everybody was just trying to get that last bit of Friends delight, but almost all of the actors broke down and cried in one scene or another,” he disclosed. “So there was a lot of stopping to mop up, and get the redness out of the eyes!

“The mood on the set was a feeling of great accomplishment on one hand, but [also] a feeling of real sadness. We had spent the last 10 years with this group of people. There were over 120 people working on the show, and we saw them for those 10 years far more than we saw our own families.

“[So] there was a real sadness at the end of it, from just knowing that probably there’s never going to be something like this again in our lives. We’ll do other television shows, but it’s not going to be like this.”

Friends airs daily on Comedy Central.

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