It’s sweet that Phoebe got her happy ending, but Paul Rudd wasn’t wrong when he noted that his character Mike was out of place in the Friends finale.
While it makes sense that Paul Rudd’s Mike ended up in the Friends finale in terms of Phoebe’s story, it also adds up that the star felt his character was more than a little out-of-place in the show’s closing scene. It is never easy to wrap up a long-running sitcom, but this is a particularly tricky thing for hang-out shows to pull off successfully. The primary appeal of shows like Friends, New Girl, or How I Met Your Mother is seeing gangs of friends navigate life’s ups and downs together as a unit, and no friend group can stay together forever.
While some finales, like How I Met Your Mother’s divisive last episode, split their fan base due to big twists, even safer endings can still leave viewers divided. While everyone knew Friends would reunite Ross and Rachel in the series finale, this didn’t stop some viewers from wishing that the pair didn’t end up together. Similarly, while many viewers were happy that Phoebe found her lobster in the show’s final seasons, Paul Rudd’s Mike had a comparatively short-lived role in the series. As such, some Friends viewers found it jarring when he appeared in the show’s final scene, as did the actor himself.
Why The Friends Finale Didn’t Need Paul Rudd’s Mike
According to the actor’s comments during an interview with Heart Radio’s breakfast show, Paul Rudd said that thought he didn’t belong in the Friends finale. Per Rudd, “I was in that last episode, and I just thought, ‘I shouldn’t be here. I’m getting a front-row seat to things I’m not supposed to see.’ They were all crying, it was all emotional, and I was just like, ‘woah!” This energy makes it onscreen in the finale’s closing scene. Much like it was strange when none of Phoebe’s family attended her wedding, it was bizarre to see Mike present in the finale when his character had so little to do with the group’s big goodbyes.
Despite Rudd being as likable as a screen presence as ever, Mike effectively has no role in the last episode of the series. This is particularly noticeable because Phoebe is instrumental in reuniting Ross and Rachel, making her husband’s background status harder to ignore. Mike could reasonably have been off running any number of errands during the finale and didn’t need to be in the room with the central characters in the final scenes. However, while Rudd’s character feels weirdly out of place in the scene, his presence does give Phoebe’s dark Friends history a necessary happy ending.
Phoebe’s Friends Ending Needed Paul Rudd
It made sense for Rudd to appear in the Friends finale since the actor was a rising star at the time, but the real reason the episode needed him had little to do with the character of Mike. Rather, Mike’s presence reaffirmed that Phoebe got her well-earned happy ending, which justified his awkward role in the finale’s closing scenes. Phoebe went through a lot throughout the ten seasons (and had arguably the hardest pre-series backstory of any character on the show), so it does make sense that the Friends finale did all that it could to reassure viewers about her stable, happy future.