‘Friends’: Matt LeBlance Stole the Magna Doodle to Gift It to a Special Coworker

TV shows are brought to life through the hard work of many different creative teams. The makeup crew is able to transform characters into their fictional selves. Set design is able to transform the backdrops into the specific atmosphere needed to bring the show to life.

Of course, the actors, directors, and writers bring the story to life as it unfolds on the screen. One element that’s sometimes overlooked is prop selection. These little details help make the show seem real and sometimes the props become an iconic part of an important scene. 

Some actors are so enamored with their time on the set that they’ve even swiped a prop or two as a souvenir. When it comes to Friends, one stolen prop was the Magna Doodle — but its theft had a sweet story behind it. 

‘Friends’ is one of TV’s classic sitcom successes

Matt LeBlanc who plays Joey on the hit NBC series "Friends" makes a funny face on the set during one of their last shows on the Warner Bros lot Sept. 12, 2003 in Burbank, CA.
Matt LeBlanc played Joey on the hit NBC series “Friends.” | David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

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Today, Friends enjoys the kind of legendary status that few television shows reach, and the magic combination of factors that launched it into such renown are a little bit of a mystery. The NBC sitcom premiered in 1994 and certainly didn’t rock the boat in terms of content.

A story about six twenty-somethings trying to find their way in New York City didn’t seem particularly groundbreaking, but it captured the hearts and minds of a generation and became one of the most beloved television series of all time. The series follows Ross (David Schwimmer), Monica (Courtney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), and Chandler (Matthew Perry) as they experience the ups and downs of early adulthood.

There are some serious moments as the characters navigate relationship and career woes, but mostly the show is known for its witty banter between the ensemble cast and its delightfully quotable one-liners. The show ran for 10 seasons and wrapped up in 2004, but the old episodes have since enjoyed a bustling revival with several streaming platforms battling over who will earn the rights to carry the series. 

Matt LeBlanc played Joey Tribbiani

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When the series premiered, none of the cast members was particularly famous. The show served as a launchpad of sorts, though some saw more success post-Friends than others.

It was Matt LeBlanc, though, who was arguably in the most vulnerable position when the series began. LeBlanc had headed from Massachusetts to New York when he was just 17 with dreams of making modeling and acting his career. Things weren’t taking off for him, however. He had struggled to gain consistent work and was down to the last $11 in his bank account when he landed the role of Joey. 

LeBlanc would go on to make over $1 million per episode by the time the final season aired. His character Joey, however, didn’t fare quite so well. At the end of the show, Joey is the only one who hasn’t moved on to the next stage of his grown-up life.

The 20-somethings turned into 30-somethings, and for most of the characters that meant making the leap into marriage, parenthood, and exciting new careers. Joey, however, finishes the show up more or less stuck where he was when it began. A two-season spinoff focusing on Joey didn’t really take off, either. 

Matt LeBlanc stole a prop from the set of ‘Friends’

LeBlanc has gone on to other work, but he has never quite left his time on Friends behind. He went on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to talk about his time on the series and revealed that he’d kept some mementos from his work on the Friends set. One item he kept was the foosball from the foosball table in Joey and Chandler’s apartment. 

He did take another important item from the set as well. The Magna Doodle board that hung on the back of the apartment door became something of a running joke. As Ranker demonstrates, the Magna Doodle frequently had inside jokes sketched onto it — references to something happening on the show that episode. LeBlanc admitted to Fallon that he swiped it when the show ended, but he didn’t keep it.

Instead, he made sure to get it into the hands of a crew member named Paul — an electrician on the set — who drew most of the Magna Doodle sketches for the show. LeBlanc jokes that he “could have sold it for a lot more,” but it’s sweet to think of Paul the electrician getting a piece of memorabilia connected to his time on the popular series.