‘Friends’: Network Execs Insisted on Adding 7th Cast Member ‘Pat the Cop’ Until Writers Convinced Them to Kill the Role
Friends is one of the most iconic television comedies of all time, but it almost looked very different. From the name of the series to the actors playing the six main characters, so many tiny details about Friends got changed around at the last minute, turning it into the show we know and love today.
The tell-all book Generation Friends revealed plenty of secrets about the series, including the potential addition of a seventh recurring role that writers begged to ditch. That person was Pat the Cop whose story arc never saw the light of day.
Who was Pat the Cop on ‘Friends’?
There were several cast changes on Friends, like Chandler almost having a different roommate and Courteney Cox almost playing the role of Rachel Green instead of Monica Geller. But perhaps the strangest addition is another character studio executives tried to add.
“The one major suggestion the network has was the addition of an older secondary character,” Generation Friends author Saul Austerlitz wrote, according to The Sun.
That person was a police officer who would have frequently interacted with all six main characters so much that they’d be considered the honorary seventh Friends castmate.
“The writers made a good-faith attempt, even casting the role, but hated the resulting script so much that they pleaded with NBC to drop the idea,” reveals the book. “NBC gave its permission and Pat the Cop was no longer.”
The six main characters almost looked completely different
After a decade on the air, it’s hard to imagine Monica, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe acting or sounding any other way. But according to behind-the-scenes information, the casting almost changed the course of Friends dramatically.
Austerlitz wrote that executives envisioned a more diverse cast, a criticism that’s still plaguing Friends to this day. Plus, the character of Joey was meant to be “less dim-witted” than he turned out. That would have meant sacrificing lots of jokes, though (and where would we be without the classic, “It’s a moo point?”).
The character Monica almost went to actor Janeane Garofolo. The book says Monica was meant to be a “tough, cynical, sarcastic” role that’s a far cry from the person we see in the series.
‘Friends’ would be a totally unique show in today’s climate
The pilot episode of Friends premiered on Sept. 22, 1994 and ended 10 years later on May 6, 2004. More than a decade has passed since that last episode and over time, public taste and social customs have changed dramatically.
Show creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane went on record saying they would change many of the storylines and jokes they thought were perfectly acceptable at the time. For example, their treatment of transgenderism would be more sensitive.
“I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the appropriate terms,” Kauffman told USA Today. “I don’t know if I would have known those terms back then. I think that’s the biggest [regret].”
Plus, as Kauffman already mentioned, the casting agents would work harder to incorporate diversity among the cast. But even now in modern times, there’s little chance that Pat the Cop would get added to the crew.