‘Friends’ Always Kept This 1 Character’s Appearance a Giant Secret

Friends is one of the most iconic television shows of all time, the sitcom that is responsible for Jennifer Aniston’s stardom and the popularity of catchphrases like “pivot!” Running for 10 seasons, Friends was hugely popular with viewers of all ages, and it remains a staple of network programming for original fans as well as those who are just discovering the hilarity of the show for the first time.

From Rachel to Ross, everyone has their own favorite member of the cast — and one of the recurring guest characters, Janice, became a fan-favorite over the years. Recently, the actress who played Janice opened up, revealing the surprising way that she was treated by showrunners. 

What is ‘Friends’ about?

Friends - Season 1
(l-r) Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing | NBCU Photo Bank

Friends debuted on television in 1994. At the time, Aniston was not well known, and the series was her big attempt to make it in Hollywood. Other young actors on the show, like Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc, were relatively new to the world of television.

The show became a big hit almost instantly, and all the stars would achieve immortality for their work in the hilarious, heartfelt series.

The show follows the daily misadventures of a circle of friends who live and work in New York City. From eccentric Phoebe to stylish Rachel, everyone brought something unique and entertaining to the group, and over the years, romances were formed and partnerships were established that moved millions of viewers. In addition to the regular cast, there were a number of recurring characters who came and went over the years — and of those guests, few were as entertaining as Janice. 

Who portrayed Janice on ‘Friends’?

Janice Litman-Goralnik, as played by Maggie Wheeler, was Chandler Bing’s on-again, off-again girlfriend. Janice was known for her nasal voice and outrageously loud laugh, as well as a thick New York accent that often drove neurotic Chandler to distraction.

While Janice enjoys being around Chandler and his friends, most of them can’t stand her and spend the majority of their encounters doing everything possible to avoid talking to her.

Janice became one of the most popular recurring characters on Friends and ended up appearing on every single season of the show, from 1994 until 2004. Much of her popularity can be attributed to Wheeler’s expert acting, and her ability to make even the irritating Janice somewhat charming — or at least, devastatingly entertaining.

Wheeler has gone on to act in many other projects, but many fans still love her best for her work as Janice. 

Maggie Wheeler revealed that Janice’s appearances on ‘Friends’ were kept secret

After a while, many viewers grew accustomed to seeing Janice irritate and amuse Chandler. But showrunners were determined to keep her appearances under wraps until the last few minutes.

Wheeler told DigitalSpy: “They would keep me hidden–I could barely come down to get a doughnut. I had to stay in my dressing room until the last moment and then they’d secretly move me from behind the set to the right spot and they’d keep a black screen so the audience couldn’t see me until I made my first entrance.”

Since Friends was shot in front of a live studio audience, this secrecy ensured that fans in the audience were always shocked and delighted when Janice made her big appearance. These days, the character of Janice remains as popular as ever, although those viewers who regularly binge-watch the show are much better prepared for when she pops up onscreen.