The NBC show was first broadcast in 1994 and followed the exploits of six 20-something friends living in New York’s trendy West Village.
Among them were struggling actor Joey Tribbiani, played by Matt LeBlanc, neurotic chef Monica Geller (Courtney Cox), massage therapist and musician Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) and wise-cracking businessman Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry).
For many fans central to the show was the on-again-off-again relationship between Jennifer Aniston’s fashion buyer Rachel Green and paleontologist Ross Geller, played by David Schwimmer. Despite various setbacks, including Ross marrying another woman, the finale (spoiler alert) saw the pair finally getting together.
Although the initial reception was average Friends went on to become one of the biggest TV shows of the 1990s and early 2000s. It garnered huge critical acclaim, including 62 Emmy nominations, and features on many lists of the best sitcoms.
It also drew a massive worldwide audience. In the US alone it was watched by more than 20 million people every week and 52.5 million Americans tuned in to the final episode.
The show was praised for being a truly ensemble programme that kept all six key cast members front and central. It also stood out for paying all six actors the same from season three onwards.
By the time of the finale each was being paid $1m an episode, making Kudrow, Cox and Aniston the highest-paid women in television.
Friends is also credited with various contributions to popular culture including the “Rachel” haircut and Joey’s “How you doing?” pick-up line. The group’s favourite meeting place also spawned a real-life chain of Central Perk coffee shops.
And although it may be 12 years since that finale aired fans have managed to stay in touch with their Friends thanks to seemingly endless repeats on UK television.