Where Were You When Friends Ended?


On this day in 2004, NBC’s ten year emotional journey the network dubbed Friends ended. The world was never the same.

Historical weather data indicates that in the Greenwich Village neighborhood where most of the Friends action purportedly took place, the day was fair. The temperature averaged 56 °F. There was a bit of rain.

The front cover of the New York Post on May 6, 2004 was devoted to gossip about New York subway celebrity Dr. Zizmor. The next day the paper would tout its “critic’s view” of the Friends finale.

“The Last One” was historic in many ways. A commercial during the show cost $2 million for 30 seconds, which was the most ever for a sitcom at that time. 52.5 million people watched the finale and 36 million watched the clips episode about the series that preceded it. It was the second most watched episode of television of the year and the fourth most watched series finale ever. Most notably, the Friends finale featured the first Pearl Jam song to ever be licensed for a television show.

Content-wise, fans were mostly happy about (!!spoiler alert!!) how it ended:

Of more than 30,000 people to respond to an America Online poll, 77 percent said rekindling Ross and Rachel’s romance was the perfect ending for the show.

“It was really good (and it was funny)! But I cried at the end so anyone watching it, get a tissue!” Kimi, 13, of Reno said at the time. Johanna-Lui, 12, agreed, “It was so great!! I cried more than laughed!”

As time has passed, the legacy of the Friends finale has not dimmed. “I will cry even when i am 90……… This show IS that good….” … “Masterpiece!” … “it was just the perfect end…Friends has been funnier and funnier and the end was really well carried out…it is weird to feel like if i’m their friend everytimes i re-watch the show ?” … “Friends is the weirdest show. I still laugh at every joke, even though I know exactly when they’re coming. I don’t know how it can consistently be so funny. But hey, no complaints” … “what made this series hit forever the how many times you see it, it always make you laugh and cry just simply great” … “I can’t believe that 2014 will be 20 years since we first met Joey, Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel and Phoebe. Even more scary that it will have been 10 years since Friends ended!” … “man sniffs i miss this show so much but at least they still show re-runs on tv” … “Damn it why did this end! Stupid govement.. P.s I know why it ended so don’t hate on me” … ” How I want to live a life like them, for just a month would be enough..” … “what happened to this kind of tv.”

Some don’t even need their own words to express their love for Friends:

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but

I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I’ll be there for you
(Like I’ve been there before)
I’ll be there for you
(‘Cause you’re there for me too)

On May 6, 2004, I was watching Friends on my family’s decidedly not flatscreen television via a non-HD set of bunny ears. My passion for the show – once deemed my absolute favorite – had cooled in recent years. Thursdays were no longer my favorite day simply because Friends was on and I got to go to Girl Scouts. I had missed a few episodes and hadn’t been able to catch up because my family hadn’t gotten TiVo yet (a product that would end up fueling an unhealthy addiction to Grey’s Anatomy for one obsessive year).

And yet, when the finale was over and done, I still sat in front of the television set. Its screen was black. My father had turned it off and gone to bed, leaving me to sit there and stare for a good few minutes, as the awareness grew that the show that had seen me change from a child who laughed at jokes they didn’t get, to a teen who laughed at jokes they did get, was no more. How could it be? Life was forever changed in a moment. I couldn’t imagine moving forward.

(Eventually, with a technology called the DVD and the power of reruns, I could and did move forward.)

Where were you?

Image via NBC

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