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Updated on Sep 20, 2019. Posted on Aug 23, 2019

Jennifer Aniston Was Almost Written Off Of "Friends," But NBC Found A Sneaky Way To Make Sure She Stayed On

The one where they could have said bye to Rachel!

It may be hard to believe, but next month marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most iconic TV shows of all time, Friends!

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And, of course, one of the biggest appeals of the show (whether you loved or hated them) was the whole Rachel and Ross storyline...

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...but according to a new book, Generation Friends, the show might never had that storyline at all....or even Jennifer Aniston!!!

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So how did Friends almost lose Jennifer?! Well, it's actually a pretty interesting story! Jennifer had been cast on a brand-new CBS sitcom called Muddling Through and had shot six episodes for it.

Elp Communications / Everett Collection / Everett Collection

CBS decided to air Muddling Through in the summer of 1994 (a few months before Friends would debut), and since the show hadn't been picked up for a full season it allowed Jennifer to audition for the role of Rachel.

Elp Communications / ELP Communications / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Just in case you don't know, TV shows film a pilot and if that's picked up they then film several episodes (and based on how those perform in the ratings, networks then decided whether to pick it up for an entire season or not).

Of course Jennifer got the role. She then taped the first few episodes of Friends in the summer of 1994.

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This created one big conflict, because if Muddling became a hit and got picked up for a whole season, Jennifer would’ve been contractually obligated to stay on the show and the role of Rachel would’ve been written off the show mid-way through Season 1!!!

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YUP...RACHEL WOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN OFF!!!

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In fact, the producers were so concerned that she wouldn't be on the show that there are a series of these fountain cast photos that don't feature Jennifer in them.

NBC / Getty Images

According to Jennifer, she was asked to step out of the cast photos 'cause they didn't know if she would still be playing Rachel.

Luckily for Jennifer, NBC and the producers of the Friends liked her character and wanted to keep her on the show, so they came up with a very sneaky plan to cancel Muddling Through!

Nbc / Getty Images

Then-president of NBC, Warren Littlefield, gave an order to "kill it" [Muddling] to Preston Beckman, who was then in charge of the network’s scheduling.

Muddling aired on Saturday nights, so NBC decided to counter it by airing a bunch of unreleased original Danielle Steel made-for-TV movies during the same time slot. The movies would pull the female demo that the show targeted away from CBS.

Nbc / ©NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

As luck would have it, NBC was just sitting on a bunch of Danielle Steel made-for-TV movies that they had never aired.

Well it worked, 'cause Muddling Through was cancelled...

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...and Jennifer got to stay on Friends, and the rest, as they say, is history!!!

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