Why Matthew Perry got the last laugh in “Friends” finale 20 years ago

Could the show's last line BE any more perfect for Chandler Bing?

It was the late Matthew Perry’s beloved character Chandler who uttered the last line on Friends, when the final episode of the beloved NBC show, called “The Last One,” aired May 6, 2004. And that wasn't a coincidence.

If you haven't watched the final moments of the series lately, remember that we see the besties leaving Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler’s apartment for the very last time, because the couple is moving to the suburbs with their newborn twins. After they place their keys on a table, Ross (David Schwimmer), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), and Matt LeBlanc’s Joey, who wasn’t even supposed to have one, do the same. That’s when an emotional Rachel asks if Monica and Chandler have to leave right away. Should the group get some coffee?

"Sure,” Chandler says, winding up his deadpan final line: "Where?" The audience laughs loudly, knowing that the friends spent endless hours at their local coffee shop, Central Perk, throughout the years. Could that line be any more perfect for sarcastic Chandler?

<p>NBC/Max</p> David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Courteney Cox appear in that final scene of "Friends."


David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Courteney Cox appear in that final scene of "Friends."

Perry explained in his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big, Terrible Thing, that he had deliberately sought out the honor.

"Before that final episode," he wrote, "I'd taken [cocreator] Marta Kauffman to one side. 'Nobody else will care about this except me,' I said. 'So, may I please have the last line?'"

Perry was happy with the way it turned out.

"I love the look on Schwimmer's face as I deliver that line — it's the perfect mixture of affection and amusement, exactly what the show Friends had always given to the world," he noted. "And with that, it was over."

<p>NBC/Max</p> The "Friends" hang out in the apartment for one last time.


The "Friends" hang out in the apartment for one last time.

Perry recalled that, after 10 seasons, the cast members had been ready for the sitcom to sign off.

"For a start, " he wrote, "Jennifer Aniston had decided that she didn't want to do the show anymore, and as we all made decisions as a group, that meant we all had to stop. Jennifer wanted to do movies; I had been doing movies all that time and had The Whole Ten Yards about to come out, which was sure to be a hit (insert donkey's head now), but in any case, even though it had been the greatest job in the world, the stories of Monica, Chandler, Joey, Ross, Rachel, and Phoebe had all pretty much played out by 2004."

The actors were famously close and stood together during salary negotiations. By the end of the series' first run, each of the six was earning $1 million per episode.

He added that, "all the characters were basically happy by this point, too, and no one wants to watch a bunch of happy people doing happy things — what's funny about that?"

But on that last day, especially, it was about the friendships.

Terence Patrick/HBO Max David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry share a laugh at a 2021 reunion special.
Terence Patrick/HBO Max David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry share a laugh at a 2021 reunion special.

"Aniston was sobbing — after a while, I was amazed she had any water left in her entire body," Perry wrote in his book. "Even Matt LeBlanc was crying. But I felt nothing; I couldn't tell if that was because of the opioid buprenorphine I was taking, or if I was just generally dead inside."

Perry was candid about having struggled for years with addictions to alcohol and prescription painkillers, both before and during his time on Friends. At one point, his costars even staged an intervention. It was unsuccessful, but Perry had "reportedly been clean for 19 months" before he died on Oct. 28, 2023, according to his autopsy report. His death was ruled an accident caused by "acute effects of ketamine," which Perry had been receiving through ketamine infusion therapy, although his last treatment had been more than a week before his death. The report listed drowning, coronary artery disease and effects of buprenorphine, which treats opioid addiction, as factors.

Of course, Perry’s former cast members were devastated. The five remaining Friends released a joint statement, which said they were taking time to grieve their "unfathomable loss."

When they later released personal statements, Aniston's read, "We were always the six of us. This was a chosen family that forever changed the course of who we were and what our path was going to be."

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