A scheduling conflict all the way back in 1994 almost led to Jennifer Aniston never being cast as Rachel Green in Friends.
Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Office. All three shows have a claim to being the most popular of all time. However, it can also be argued that all three pale in comparison to Friends. The sitcom was quite the cultural hit, and despite the majority of it taking place during the 1990s, most of its episodes are still relevant and thus enjoyed by fans to this day.
The show's six main characters are instantly recognizable to most in the western world and have all gone on to have successful careers elsewhere. However, the most successful post-Friends has been Jennifer Aniston. Aniston continues to star in major Hollywood movies and is currently the fifth highest-earning actress in the world.
However, all the way back in 1994, Aniston's career nearly went in a very different direction. According to Entertainment Weekly, NBC had decided they wanted Aniston to play Rachel Green, but there was a problem. The actress had already starred on then-unaired CBS comedy Muddling Through. NBC knew if they cast Aniston as Rachel, she would need to return to Muddling Through midway through Friends' first season.
NBC then went about hatching its evil plan. Since Muddling Through wasn't expected to perform well, CBS scheduled it to air on Saturday evenings through the summer. NBC reacted to this by scheduling blockbuster TV movies on its own network at the same time, stealing away a large chunk of the relatively low viewership watching TV at that time. The tactic worked, and Muddling Through was canceled.
That meant Aniston's schedule was completely freed up and she was able to play Rachel as planned. If NBC's plan had not worked, we wonder who the second choice was to play Rachel. Perhaps there was no second choice, hence NBC's desperation to get Aniston. As Friends fans, we are glad everything worked out. We're sure that Aniston is too considering the success of the show and where her career has gone since.