'Friends' at 25: How the Comedy Created a New Generation of Prolific Showrunners

Friends - Photofest - H 2019

Twenty-five years ago this week, NBC ushered in one of the most beloved comedies of all time — Friends — and with it, launched the careers of not only its six core stars, but also a wave of writers and eventual showrunners. 

During the course of a decade, many people cycled through the Friends writers room. And since their time on the sitcom, the people responsible for some of TV's most quotable lines have gone on to create shows of their own.

They're also responsible for taking over the showrunning duties on plenty of other successful series, though this list is dedicated to the mostly sitcoms and occasional children's series that the veterans of Friends are credited with creating. It includes writers with at least one credited episode of the long-running series, plus another whose time in the room has been well-documented (and whose TV output has been prolific).

Marta Kauffman and David Crane: Veronica's Closet, The Class, Episodes, Grace and Frankie

The co-creators of the series went on to create the Kirstie Alley sitcom Veronica's Closet (1997-2000) before splitting up for their next projects. Kauffman is responsible for Netflix's longest-running series, Grace and Frankie (2015-20), while Crane created the short-lived drama The Class (2006-07) and reunited with Matt LeBlanc on Episodes (2011-17).

Bill Lawrence: Spin City, Scrubs, Clone High, Cougar Town, Ground Floor

The prolific producer wrote for Friends in its first season, and went on to create or co-create Michael J. Fox sitcom Spin City (1996-2002), animated cult classic Clone High (2002-03), hospital comedy Scrubs (2001-10), unfortunately named Cougar Town (2009-15), and Ground Floor (2013-15), with fellow Friends writer Greg Malins.

Jenji Kohan: The Stones, Weeds, Orange Is the New Black

Though not officially credited with an episode, Kohan worked in the Friends writers room before going on to create the short-lived sitcom The Stones (2004), Showtime's dark comedy Weeds (2005-12) and Netflix's groundbreaking Orange Is the New Black (2013-19).

Jeff Astrof: Trial & Error

The true crime spoof (2017-18) amassed a small but passionate fan base over its two seasons, which skewered the true crime drama by following a lawyer who heads to a small town populated by an eccentric group of people to defend a man accused of murdering his wife.

Scott Silveri and Shana Goldberg-Meehan: Joey, Better With You, Perfect Couples, Go On, Speechless

The married college sweethearts wrote on Friends together before creating Matt LeBlanc-led spinoff Joey. Separately, they went on to create several more series. Goldberg-Meehan helmed the one-season Better With You (2010-11), while Silveri created Perfect Couples (2011), the Matthew Perry series Go On (2012-13) and the recently canceled but critically praised family comedy Speechless (2016-19).

Dana Klein: 9JKL, Friends With Better Lives

Klein's post-Friends credits include the short-lived 2011 relationship comedy Friends With Better Lives and the semiautobiographical 2017-18 CBS sitcom 9JKL, starring Klein's real-life husband Mark Feuerstein as a divorced man who moves into an apartment building next door to his parents on one side and his brother and sister-in-law (and their newborn) on the other side.

Robert Carlock: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

After teaming up with Tina Fey to help run 30 Rock, Carlock and Fey co-created Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (which ran from 2015 to 2019, and will return with an interactive special in 2020).

Gigi McCreery, Perry M. Rein: Haters Back Off!

Popular YouTube character Miranda Sings moved to Netflix with the two-season comedy that ran from 2016 to 2017.

R. Lee Fleming Jr.: Light as a Feather

Hulu's spooky series is based on a book about a group of teen girls who play the game "light as a feather, stiff as a board" at a sleepover — then start dying in the way the game predicted. The second half of season two premieres Oct. 4.

Ira Ungerleider: Jesse

Christina Applegate starred as the titular single mom in this two-season sitcom that ran from 1998 to 2000. (Ungerleider is also an exec producer on Hulu's upcoming Kat Dennings series Dollface.)

Andrew Reich, Ted Cohen: Work It

The short-lived but memorably terrible 2012 sitcom followed two men who dress as women in the hopes of finding a job in a poor economy. Yes, really.

Jeff Astrof and Mike Sikowitz: The Wild Thornberrys

Astrof teamed up with fellow Friends vet Sikowitz to help develop the animated Nickelodeon kids' series about a family of wildlife documentarians that ran from 1998 to 2004.

Greg Malins: Come to Papa, Ground Floor

The short-lived Come to Papa ran for just four episodes in 2004 and starred comedian Tom Papa as a New Jersey newspaper employee. Ground Floor, created with fellow Friends veteran Bill Lawrence, followed a banker who fell in love with the maintenance supervisor of his office building and ran from 2013 to 2015.

Betsy Borns: All of Us

The UPN sitcom was loosely based on the life of Borns' co-creators Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and starred Duane Martin as divorced entertainment reporter navigating relationships with his new fiancee, who helped him through his breakup, and his ex-wife, with whom he remains close as they raise their son together.

Sherry Bilsing, Ellen Kreamer: I Hate My Teenage Daughter

The sitcom, which followed two mothers who feared their daughters were turning into the mean girls they hated in high school, ran for one season on Fox from 2011 to 2012.

Michael Curtis: Jonas

The Jonas Brothers' Disney Channel series ran for two seasons from 2009 to 2010, and followed the titular brothers' adventures as high school students/rock stars/secret government agents.

Wil Calhoun: What I Like About You

The WB sitcom (2002-06) starred Jennie Garth as a straitlaced New York City woman forced to take in her younger, troublemaker teenage sister (Amanda Bynes) when their dad moves to Japan.

Jeff Greenstein: State of Georgia, Partners

Greenstein and author Jennifer Weiner created the 2011 ABC Family sitcom starring Raven-Symoné, State of Georgia. He also created, with fellow Friends writer Jeff Strauss, the 1995 sitcom Partners, starring Jon Cryer and Tate Donovan as young architects.

Adam Chase: Clone

Chase created the sci-fi comedy Clone, which ran for one season on BBC3. The series starred Jonathan Pryce as the creator of the world's first human clone, and Mark Gattis as the government agent out to catch both of them when they escape a government facility and go on the run.