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Established IP Is All the Rage, But a Friends Reboot Is Still Off the Table

Warner Bros. TV Group chairman Channing Dungey said there needs to be a "reason" for reviving a show.
  • Friends: The Reunion (Photo: HBO/Max)
    Friends: The Reunion (Photo: HBO/Max)

    Central Perk isn’t reopening its doors any time soon. At the Banff World Media Festival on Monday, Warner Bros. TV Group chairman Channing Dungey explained why a Friends reboot still remains highly unlikely even as Hollywood continues to lean into established I.P.

    “I think it would be very difficult to do another Friends and call it Friends,” Dungey said. “There have been so many shows that have been inspired by Friends. That is such an iconic series and is constantly still running, so the idea that you would try to introduce a new Monica, a new Rachel and a new Ross, I don’t think that that would work.”

    The classic sitcom, which starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, and the late Matthew Perry, aired on NBC from 1994 to 2004. Its popularity hasn’t receded at all in today’s streaming age — per Nielsen, the series amassed a whopping 25 billion minutes of viewing on Max in 2023. A special, Friends: The Reunion, streamed on Max in 2021.

    The show’s cultural influence also remains strong 30 years later. “[Friends] continues to be one of the best shows on television,” Abbott Elementary creator and star Quinta Brunson recently said to Aniston in Variety’s Actors on Actors. “I just want you to know, I learned about the beauty of an ensemble through watching Friends.”

    To Dungey, the sitcom’s continued popularity alone isn’t a compelling enough reason to bring Friends back in some way. “You have to think about, why are you doing it? What’s the reason to do a new version?” she said in regards to reboots. “Is there something about the world that has changed in a way that makes tackling it again fresh and interesting?”

    However, one show that apparently could make a comeback down the line is NBC’s political drama The West Wing, which aired from 1999 to 2006. The cast reunited in 2020 for Max’s A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, producing a stage version of Season 3 episode "Hartsfield's Landing."

    “Perhaps there would be a point in the future when you might want to try to do that [another West Wing],” Dungey told the Banff World Media Festival audience. She also teased the possibility of adapting the Ocean’s 11 franchise into a limited series, commenting that it could be “kind of fun.”

    However, Dungey cautioned against rebooting a title “just for the sake of” rebooting it, adding, “I’ve definitely worked over the course of my career on reboots and reinventions that absolutely did not work, and probably have no reason to be done in the first place.”

    The WB TV boss’ comments come at an interesting time, given how much Hollywood is focusing on reboots, spin-offs, and sequels these days. Max certainly isn’t immune to the established IP craze — aside from And Just Like That… and Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, the streamer is (whether we asked for it or not) currently prioritizing a Harry Potter TV series slated to debut in 2026. 

    Amid industry-wide contractions and a shift towards “quality or quantity,” studios are increasingly turning to what they consider to be safe bets. In May, Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company would “lean on sequels for a bit.” Many of today’s most popular shows are based on some kind of existing material, from HBO’s House of the Dragon to Netflix’s 3 Body Problem

    We’ll just have to wait and see which titles Warner Bros. decides to revive and which ones will get the Friends treatment. In the meantime, we’ll be scratching our heads trying to picture what an Ocean’s 11 limited series could possibly look like. 

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: Friends, And Just Like That, Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, The West Wing, Harry Potter, Reboots