You just can't rebound from a trip to Minsk. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Hank Azaria said that he was under the impression that his Friends character, David, would end up with Phoebe at the end of the show, but that the show's writers settled on Paul Rudd's Mike. "No, I didn't know that was the end of David," Azaria said of his character being sent off
Russia to Belarus. "The plan always was kind of to bring him back."
David did return to the show in season nine, but his romance with Phoebe was only barely rekindled. Instead, Rudd took center stage, to Azaria's frustration. "I think, honestly, what happened was Paul Rudd is so awesome that they sort of found a groove with him and [my character] became more of just the grist for that mill," he said. "It actually did sting a little bit. Whatever part of me is David the science guy who went to Minsk, which admittedly is probably a small part of me, but that part of me wanted to end up with Phoebe. So I was sort of sad when I didn't." What a day for actors wishing their characters got a real chance at love.