Friends is packed with memorable moments, but one that even those who haven't watched the series know well is Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston) infamous "break", but in reality, this messy break-up wasn't supposed to happen, but it was necessary. Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, Friends premiered in 1994 and came to an end in 2004 after 10 successful seasons throughout which its main characters went through many ups and downs in all areas of their lives, and even though almost two decades have passed since Friends ended, it continues to be regarded as one of the greatest TV shows of all time.
Set in New York City, Friends followed a group of six very close friends as they did their best to balance their social, personal, and professional lives while also dealing with everything adulthood threw at them. Although Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, Joey, Ross, and Rachel all shared the spotlight and were given time for their stories to be developed, the series mostly focused on Ross and Rachel and their roller-coaster romance, which was marked by their infamous "break" – but this moment, while one of the series' most famous ones, originally wasn't supposed to happen, but it was ultimately good that it did.
Speaking to Metro in 2018, Friends executive producer and director Kevin S. Bright revealed that Crane and Kauffman didn't plan for Ross and Rachel to go on a break in season three. Bright explained that the idea of Ross and Rachel going on a break came "a little bit later" but it allowed them to have some fun with the show and its characters and "give people something to root for". In addition to that, even though they were all aware that viewers wanted Ross and Rachel to stay together (and understandably so after all the drama they went through with Paolo, Julie, and more), they realized that the sexual tension between them had disappeared since their first kiss, so they needed to shake things up.
After a couple of ups and downs and dating different people, Ross and Rachel finally gave their relationship a chance in the season 2 episode "The One With The Prom Video", where Phoebe also delivered her unforgettable "lobster" explanation. However, Ross' jealousy and more led to an argument that culminated with Rachel saying they should take a break, after which Ross slept with another woman. Rachel felt betrayed and they broke up, and though they briefly got back together in the first episode of Friends season 4, it wasn't until the series finale that they got back together for good, with Joey hinting at them getting married (again!) in the spinoff series Joey.
The "will-they-won't-they" situation Ross and Rachel were in during the first seasons of Friends was a big part of the show's appeal back then, as the rest of the group dealt with their own partners or lack of them, so Bright is right in saying that once they finally got together, some of their spark disappeared. However, Ross and Rachel breaking up was also necessary as their relationship was turning toxic due to Ross' jealousy and more, and it would have been boring and concerning seeing them together like that all the time. Ross and Rachel staying together since season 2 wouldn't have allowed the series to progress, either, and their break-up ultimately made way for other fun and interesting storylines and moments, such as Ross saying Rachel's name at the altar instead of Emily's, Ross and Rachel having Emma, and Rachel dating Joey. Surely, the "we were on a break" debate has become tiring now, but it was a necessary addition to Ross and Rachel's story in Friends.