Here’s the rundown of what Friends had to offer:
6 main characters (Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe)
2 inter-main character relationships (Ross/Rachel, Chandler/Monica)
1 character enters the main group later in life (Rachel)
A couple attempts at other match-ups of main characters (Rachel/Joey, Joey/Phoebe)
Very distinct character profiles (princess, comedian, jock, nerd, weirdo, bitch, etc)
But Gilligan’s Island did it first:
This show had 7 characters (Gilligan, Skipper, Thurston Howell, Lovey Howell, Ginger, Professor, Mary Ann), but all the other elements are there. The character profiles are obvious, there was always sexual tension with the Professor and Mary Ann, etc.
It was the original formula for a great sit-com. Friends jacked the formula from Gilligan’s Island, and every show since then has been stealing the idea from Friends.
More examples? Sure, I have them.
Bunch of main characters, but there are tons of relationships between the main characters and they are constantly hinting at new ones. The character profiles are insanely obvious. Sam was introduced later in the show but is now just as loved as the other main characters.
6 MAIN characters (Serena, Blair, Dan, Chuck, Nate, Jenny), too many partner swaps to count, Dan was introduced to the main group in the first season (the rest of the group was already established as friends), it really is funny and dramatic at times, and character profiles I don’t need to get into.
That 70′s Show:
6 main characters (Donna, Jackie, Eric, Hyde, Kelso, Fez). There was Donna and Eric, Donna and Hyde, Jackie and Kelso, Jackie and Hyde, Jackie and Fez. Fez and Jackie both came to the group after the other 4 had established a friendship from childhood. There was a princess, hot guy, feminist, nerd, weirdo, cool guy.
6 main characters (Whitney, Alex, Roxanne, Mark, Lily, Neal) and only halfway through the first season they’ve hinted at Roxanne and Mark getting together more than once. It’s a typical sit-com but they have touched on some real emotion.
Only 5 main characters (Jess, Nick, Cece, Winston, Schmidt) but they always bring in others to fill that weird gap. Jess and Cece are introduced to the boys’ group. Nick and Jess will eventually get together, they’ve already danced around it. Schmidt and Cece, we’ll see where that goes. You’ve got your weirdo, funny guy, jock, hot girl, sex addict…
How I Met Your Mother:
Only 5 main characters (Ted, Robyn, Marshall, Lily, Barney), but there’s usually a female love interest for Ted that shows up in each episode to make 6 and even things out. Robyn is introduced to the group. Ted and Robyn obviously date but they don’t end up together. There’s down to earth guy, crazy girl, funny girl, nerdy guy, hit on everyone guy, and the 6th character whose personality generally fills in a gap.
Anyway, I think that’s enough examples. There are tons more, but you get the point. They’re all basically the same show. Where would we be if it weren’t for Gilligan’s Island?