What Years Did 'Friends' Run?

Friends has been on for so long that entire generations have grown up with the show always existing. The sitcom gained new fans when it streamed on Netflix and new viewers binged the whole series. Now, HBO Max is the home of Friends, with its WarnerMedia subsidiary TBS still syndicating reruns. 

HBO Max also has Friends: The Reunion now streaming. You can catch up with the cast of Friends there, but if you want to know what years the show originally ran, Showbiz Cheat Sheet is here to help. 

‘Friends’ premiered in 1994

The 1994 – 1995 TV season was a big one for NBC. Seinfeld and Wings were entering their sixth seasons, Frasier its second and Mad About You its third. ER debuted making George Clooney an instant sensation. The hospital drama from Michael Crichton, then a year after the Jurassic Park movie, would run for 15 seasons. That was also the season Friends premiered.

The cast of Friends was relatively known in the television world. Courteney Cox had an arc on Family Ties as Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox)’s girlfriend. Lisa Kudrow was a recurring player on Mad About You. Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry had each appeared on a slew of canceled shows. David Schwimmer may have been the biggest unknown to television, but had a thriving stage career. 

There was something magic about the six of them together. Friends became the anchor of NBC’s Thursday night “Must See TV,” a slogan they’d introduced the season before. Friends proved they weren’t lying.

‘Friends’ almost ended in 2003

As Friends became a phenomenon, the cast made an innovative act of solidarity. They agreed that they would all make the same salary, so that the network could never play them against one another in contract renegotiations. They negotiated as a group for the remainder of the show. 

By season 9, there was a strong feeling among some cast members that Friends had run its course. Nine years was a long time and the cast salary was getting pricey. It still remained profitable to keep Friends on the air, though. The cast were all doing movies by that point, but they were movies like The Pallbearer, Picture Perfect and Lost In Space.

The show really ended in its 10th season in 2004

The cast agreed to one more season, but fewer than 20 episodes. Back then, network TV series usually ran 24 episodes per season. Season 10 of Friends was only 17 episodes, but each one was a gift of more time with Chandler, Monica, Rachel, Ross, Joey and Phoebe. 

LeBlanc actually continued to play Joey for two more seasons on a spinoff. Joey ran from 2004 – 2006 and say Joey leave New York to try to make it in Hollywood. It was a funny continuation of at least one character, but Joey and his new TV family (including Drea de Matteo and Paulo Costanzo) never caught on like Friends

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