TV URBAN LEGEND: Originally “Friends” was going to have a season-long story in which one of Ross’ girlfriends became pregnant.
A curious challenge that long-running television series often encounter is giving characters forward momentum without feeling as if they’re simply recycling plotlines. For instance, “How I Met Your Mother” managed to stretch out the seemingly simple story of the lead character meeting the mother of his children for nine seasons (including the final season, which took place over a single three-day weekend). One of the ways that series handled that was to keep giving lead character Ted Mosby different long-term girlfriends who could be the mother (in fact, as I detailed in an old TV Legends Revealed, a couple of them even were going to be the mother, had the show ended earlier). Still, continuing to offer up new possible mothers could certainly get repetitive after time (something even “How I Met Your Mother” co-star Jason Segel felt, leading to an interesting mocking insult of the series).
“Friends” faced a similar problem with its central romantic couple, Ross and Rachel (portrayed by David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston). The producers played the “will they or won’t they?” game for the first season before getting the two together in Season 2 and breaking them up in Season 3. However, creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane always intended for Ross and Rachel to be together at the end of the series. The problem was they had no idea how long “Friends” would run (it eventually aired for 10 seasons), so they didn’t want to have them break up, get back together and then break up again. That meant they had to come up with long-running plots that would serve to keep the pair apart until they ultimately get together in the show’s finale.
One of those plots was Rachel’s pregnancy in Season 8 (with Ross’ baby from a one-night stand). However, interestingly enough, the writers had another pregnancy plot planned for Season 7 involving a surprising character.
One of the best decisions the producers made came at the end of Season 4, when they brought together Chandler and Monica (Matthew Perry and Courtney Cox). That provided a nice distraction from the Ross/Rachel drama and gave the show a creative boost (after being nominated for Best Comedy Series at the Emmys during its first two seasons, “Friends” wasn’t recognized for seasons 3 and 4 but was back in the spotlight with the revitalized Season 5). After the they were together for two seasons, the Season 6 finale saw Chandler try to propose to Monica, only to have Monica propose to Chandler instead. (Well, they sort of proposed to each other.)
Although the show’s seasons often ended with cliffhangers, that one didn’t, because they had one planned but decided to move away from it. During Season 6, Ross began dating one of his former college students, Elizabeth (played by Alexandra Holden), who only appeared in five episodes before they broke up in the finale. Originally, however, the show intended the Season 6 cliffhanger be that Ross discovered Elizabeth was pregnant!
Season 7, then, would have Ross deal with Elizabeth’s pregnancy before discovering, in the Season 7 finale, that the baby isn’t his. The producers obviously decided against that, and they had a particularly interesting reason for doing so. You see, the writers planned things well in advance and they already knew what their cliffhanger for Season 7 was going to be, with Rachel becoming pregnant with Ross’ child. Therefore, they believed the Elizabeth pregnancy plot would conflict with their plans for Rachel, so they dropped it and instead of having a season-long plot, Elizabeth was written out of the series.
The legend is…
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