The Butterfly Effect Friends Edition: This Small Moment Changed the Course of the Entire Show

The Butterfly Effect Friends Edition: This Small Moment Changed the Course of the Entire Show
Image credit: NBC

It rippled through the remaining seasons.


  • A small event in Season 4 of Friends set off a chain reaction that defined the show.
  • The consequences of this event are much bigger than it may seem at first.
  • It deeply affected the personal lives of all the main characters.

If you're not familiar with the Butterfly effect, it refers to the theory that a small and fragile butterfly flapping its wings somewhere can cause devastating events somewhere else. Originally used in meteorology, the term has taken on a more general meaning that a seemingly insignificant event can have serious consequences. And that's exactly what happened on Friends.

Like many other sitcoms, Friends didn't really have a plot. The writers just developed the story as they went along, based on the audience's reaction to the show. And in that light, it's hard to say that the consequences of something as minor as getting opera tickets were thought through to have such a profound effect on the characters' lives.

A Favor That Cannot Be Refused

In Episode 14, Season 4, Rachel's boss at Bloomingdale's, Mr. Waltham, asks her for a favor that she can't really refuse. His niece Emily is on vacation in New York and he wants her to see the local opera before she returns to England. Since he can't go himself, he asks Rachel to accompany Emily and gives her the tickets he bought.

Later that day, Joshua, Rachel's younger assistant, whom she has a crush on, finally asks her out to the opening of the nightclub he co-owns. But alas, it was the same night as the opera concert. Fortunately, Rachel found a way out – she convinced Ross to take Emily to the concert, which resulted in the two falling in love, hastily getting married, and breaking up just as quickly. But those weren't the only consequences of Mr. Waltham asking Rachel for a favor.

The Butterfly Effect

This seemingly insignificant event sets off a chain reaction. Mr. Waltham gives the tickets to Rachel. She gives them to Ross. Ross and Emily spend the night and fall in love. They soon get married. Chandler and Monica spend the night together at Ross and Emily's wedding in London and start dating. Chandler and Monica get married. Rachel and Ross hook up while helping them with the wedding planning. Rachel becomes pregnant with Emma. Seeing that their friends have settled down, Joey and Phoebe agree to help each other out, and he sets her up with Mike, who she ends up marrying.

As you can see, this favor to Mr. Waltham turned out to be fateful for the entire gang. The funny thing is, the writers of Friends probably did not foresee these consequences. But that just makes the whole situation all the more amazing, doesn't it?