Joseph Francis Tribbiani, Jr. is a fictional character on the popular U.S. television sitcom Friends (1994–2004) and the title character in the spin-off, Joey (2004–2006), portrayed by Matt LeBlanc.
Joey comes from an Italian American family of 8 children, of which he is the only male. He is 1/16th Portugese, but it isn’t known which side of the family this comes from. He has 7 sisters: Mary Therese, Mary Angela (with whom Chandler fooled around at Joey’s birthday party), Dina, Gina, Tina, Veronica, and Cookie. Joey is from, and was presumably born in, Queens, NY. As a child, he was extremely accident prone. He also had an imaginary friend, Maurice, who was a space cowboy.
He moved apartments four times in the series. The first time, he moved to his own lavish apartment away from Chandler (with whom the psychotic Eddie moved in) after he got the role as Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives, though he moved back soon afterward due to his loss of the role. The other times were when he and Chandler moved into what is usually Monica’s apartment, after winning it from her in a game in “The One with the Embryos”. They were later forced back to their own apartment by the girls.
Joey is a “stereotypical” actor: oversexed, under-educated and constantly looking for work. He was ordained as a minister in The One with the Truth About London, and officiated at both Monica and Chandler and Phoebe and Mike’s weddings. It is revealed in The One After “I Do” that Joey has size seven feet, which he is secretive and defensive about. He also has a soft toy penguin named Huggsy (his “bedtime penguin pal”), whom he is very fond of and does not like to share. He also doesn’t like sharing food and has a huge difficulty with simple mathematics (evidenced by his using a calculator to add together 500 and 500). In sports, Joey likes the New York Yankees in baseball, New York Knicks in basketball, New York Giants in football, and the New York Rangers in hockey.
Joey’s first line at the show was “Come on, you are going out with the guy! There’s gotta be something wrong with him”, when Monica refuses to give details about a guy she dates. His last line is a response to Phoebe that said “I guess this is it”. Joey answers “Yeah. I guess so.”
Joey is characterized as a simple-minded but good-natured womanizer who loves food. He particularly loves meatball sub sandwiches. When asked if he would give up sex or food he had trouble deciding and kept blurting out sex or food, eventually yelling “I want girls on bread!”. In The One with the Ride Along, he appears to be saving Ross from a putative gunshot, when it was actually his meatball sandwich that he was trying to save; it was just near Ross. He also loves the “Joey Special”—two pizzas. He is something of an idiot savant in matters of romance, often relying on his catchphrase pickup line “How you doin’?” but capable of good ideas when the situation arises. This is alluded to in the episode “The One Where Ross Dates a Student”, when Chandler, referring to Joey, says “A hot girl’s at stake and suddenly he’s Rain Man” when Joey suggested Ross work out which of students called him the ‘hottie of the paleontology department’ by comparing the handwriting of the note to the handwriting in the class essays. In another example, Joey made up an anecdote referred to as the “Europe story” or the “magic story”; apparently, anyone who hears it will immediately want to have sex with the teller. This was proven to be effective in “The One With the Videotape”, when it was discovered that Rachel successfully used the story on Ross (although, as Ross was aware of the story beforehand, the mere fact of Rachel using it would have been enough to imply that she was hitting on him). He is also clever at other times, for example, in “The One With Ross’s Teeth”, while the other five friends sat around at Central Perk pondering why their bosses don’t like them, it was Joey who pointed out, “Maybe it’s because you’re all sitting around here at 11:30 on a Wednesday.”
Joey is extremely promiscuous with women. In “The One with Monica’s Thunder”, Chandler ask Joey, “You’ve had a lot of sex, right?”, to which Joey replies, “Today? Some … not a lot.” He sleeps with many of the interns and extras on shows on which he works (Although he was prepared to decline an offer to have sex with a casting agent because he wanted to be cast for his acting skills rather than his sexual performance; his integrity prompted the agent to give him a bigger part than the one he originally auditioned for). He has apparently been sexually active for a very long time; he undid a 16-year-old girl’s bra when he was nine, slept with his teacher in the seventh grade, and he had a wild spring break when he was 13. He is very charming to all women but can never seem to get into a committed relationship.
He is also shown to be something of a Stephen King fan, stating he reads The Shining over and over again, as well as being a fan of a film adaptation of one of his novels, Cujo. He also became a fan of the classic novel, Little Women after Rachel asked him to read it to see if it was better than The Shining. Joey grew to love the novel and became grief-stricken when one of the main characters was dying.
Other known roles of Joey’s during the run of Friends include a spot in a commercial for “Lipstick for Men” that aired only in Japan, an infomercial for a device that lets you pour milk out of milk cartons, a leading role in the World War I period film Over There, and a starring role in a very short-lived cop show called Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E, which was cancelled halfway through its first series. In terms of stage work, he appeared in a play called Boxing Day in which his character of “Victor” goes to outer space, and played the leading role of Sigmund Freud in the play Freud! Monica and Chandler also once discussed having seen Joey in a version of Macbeth. In season one Chandler also states having seen Joey in a remake of “Pinocchio”.
In one episode, Joey was up for a starring role in a film in which he had to play a Catholic immigrant. The film called for a nude sex scene, but Joey didn’t realize until after he landed a casting call that he lacked an essential piece of equipment for the role. When Joey explained the situation to Monica, they frantically tried to artificially create one using Silly putty. All seemed to go well until Joey stripped nude at the casting call and his ‘foreskin’ fell off, prompting him to respond, “Well, that’s never happened before.”
In addition to the quick cancellation of Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E., Joey also had some other remarkably bad luck in terms of his acting career. He filmed a role in a Law & Order episode that was cut from the completed episode—Joey was only “seen” as a corpse in a body bag. He was also cast in the independent film Shutter Speed, but it was shut down before filming began. Also, he was fired from a Burger King commercial. Later, on the spin-off show Joey, Joey turned down a role in a sitcom called Nurses to star in a different series pilot. His pilot did not get picked up, while Nurses became a huge hit.
However, his acting career has had some better moments. In Joey, it is revealed that Joey’s character of Dr. Drake Ramoray died again on Days of our Lives when a nurse stabbed him while he was operating on her husband (“Joey and the Wrong Name”). He won a Daytime Soap Award for “Best Death Scene”. In later Joey episodes, Joey landed a starring role on the prime time soap Deep Powder. When he got fired from that job, he almost immediately bounced back by snagging a leading role in the big-budget action picture Captured.
Joey briefly mentions to the gang that Al Pacino is his idol. In Friends, Joey has the poster for the 1983 Al Pacino film Scarface in his bedroom. The same poster is seen in his house in Joey. In one episode, Joey was hired as Al Pacino’s “butt double”—a role he later lost due to overacting. He also mentioned that his favorite movie is Die Hard.
Joey was also briefly employed at Central Perk as a waiter. Facing a dry spell in his career as an actor, Joey was persuaded by Gunther, the manager, to take a job serving coffee. At first Joey tried to hide his new job from his friends, but they eventually figured it out. He did not like the work but, true to his nature, soon found a way to use his position to meet and ingratiate himself to attractive women by giving them free food, a practice to which Gunther quickly put a stop. Joey didn’t take his job very seriously and spent a lot of his working hours sitting and talking to his friends. Eventually he was fired for closing the coffeehouse in the middle of the day to go to an audition while Gunther was running a personal errand. Rachel later persuaded Gunther to give Joey back his job, but once Joey found more steady acting jobs he eventually just stopped showing up. His absence was barely noticed. In a later episode, Joey realizes he forgot to tell Gunther he quit to which Gunther replied that he would’ve eventually fired him anyway.
Another one of Joey’s jobs when he was low on money was as a sperm donor for an experiment that a hospital was conducting; at the end, the hospital would pay any donors $700. This was later mentioned when Monica was trying to get over her breakup with Richard Burke. She decided that she wanted a baby so she was looking for sperm donors and realized that one of the anonymous donors was Joey. Joey was later very offended when he learned that his sperm had not been very popular.
Some of Joey’s other jobs have included selling Christmas trees, dressing as Santa Claus and as a Christmas elf, working as a tour guide at the Museum of Natural History where Ross worked, offering perfume samples to customers at a department store, and as a Roman warrior at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
He also worked at the restaurant “Alessandro’s” where Monica was head chef, nicknaming himself “Dragon” while on the job. Monica hired him just so she could fire him to intimidate the other employees who paid Monica no respect, but he made a lot of tips and backed out of the deal, only to realize how important his getting fired was to Monica. He then set himself up to be fired the next day.
He spent one episode working with Chandler as an entry-level processor. He treated the job like another acting role where he was “Joseph the Processing Guy” and created a complex back-story for the character. Chandler began to dislike the Joseph character when he started showing up Chandler while working. Joey eventually left after Chandler pretended to sleep with Joey’s pretend wife and he realized that Chandler disliked the Joseph character.
Prior to Monica and Chandler’s wedding, when the two admitted that they were having trouble finding someone to perform the ceremony, Joey volunteered for the role, subsequently getting himself ordained over the Internet to entitle him to perform the marriage. He has apparently retained this role at least until Season Ten, when he performed the ceremony for Phoebe and Mike’s wedding, claiming that priests are allowed to ride the subway for free (Although he states that the Bible must be read very carefully to identify the passage that permits this).
Joey was originally shunned by Chandler when he came in for a roommate interview, and Joey thought Chandler was gay. However, Mr. Heckles, another building resident, interfered with Chandler’s originally selected roommate, allowing Joey to move in (In “The One with the Flashback” set in 1996, Joey moved in 3 years before although in “The One with All the Thanksgivings” it shows that the gang knew Joey was Chandler’s roommate in 1992 and he would have been his roommate for quite some time). Joey’s first couple of days involved a brief, mutual attraction with Monica. This subsided and Chandler and Joey began to grow close and become best friends, as Joey’s relaxing lifestyle began to grow on Chandler. Later in the series, they bought a chick and a duck together, whom Chandler had named Yasmine and Dick, respectively. A long-running gag depicted Joey and Chandler occasionally fighting with each other like an old married couple, with Chandler often assuming the wife role while Joey assumed the husband role—this eventually ended when Chandler became permanently paired with Monica. Joey moved out temporarily when he found success as Dr. Drake Ramoray, but soon moved back in. At the end of the series, Chandler and Monica made it clear to Joey that their new house outside of the city would have a room for him.
Joey’s relationships with the other Friends have always been very friendly. He is best friends with Chandler, and Ross is a close second (although Ross has been referred to as his best friend several times). At a time when Joey and Chandler had problems, when Chandler had kissed Joey’s girlfriend, Joey had stopped acting as Chandler’s best friend and replaced him with Ross although this only lasted until Chandler spent Thanksgiving in a box in order to show his respect and apology towards him. Joey and Chandler had remained best friends ever since.
Furthermore, Joey and Ross shared a moment in an episode after watching Die Hard all night. They fall asleep on Ross’ couch, which is eventually enjoyed by Joey who tried to coerce Ross into more nap sessions with him. Also, earlier in the series, after much persuading by Joey, Ross gives in and kisses him to help him practice kissing men. In response, Joey replies that the audition was already over, he hadn’t gotten the part, but the kiss was very well received.
Joey allowed Monica to hire and fire him to prove to her employees that she was not a pushover. When he discovered that Monica and Chandler had developed a romantic relationship, he agreed to keep it secret until the two were ready to reveal it to the rest of their group. He also called Chandler moments after suspecting Monica of having an affair with a mystery male he had heard in her apartment.
Rachel and the other women on the show have been the object of many sexist comments from Joey, especially Monica. Chandler once put it, “Your long-standing offer to have sex with my wife is much appreciated.” This apparent boorishness notwithstanding, however, he always enjoyed a close relationship with Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe; LeBlanc once speculated that Joey saw the girls as sisters more than potential romantic interests.
In one of the later episodes, Joey had a romantic dream about Monica, and thought that he might be in love with her. Things were later cleared up, and Joey has considered her a friend ever since.
Joey and Rachel share romantic feelings for each other at separate times, Joey first and later Rachel when she sees Joey perform as Dr. Drake Ramoray. Rachel and Joey also date towards the end of the series, but are unable to have a sexual relationship, owing to their friendship supposedly being closer than what Monica and Chandler shared. After Rachel gives birth to Emma, Joey finds the engagement ring Ross’s mother gave him to give to Rachel. Rachel sees Joey holding the ring after he picks it up off the floor (it fell out of Ross’s jacket pocket), and mistakenly thinks Joey is proposing to her. She is overcome with emotion after giving birth and is afraid of raising Emma alone, so she accepts. Joey is unable to correct her immediately because the pair is interrupted, so Rachel briefly believes the two to be engaged. Joey is excited about the fake proposal, but Rachel tells Monica that she doesn’t really want to marry Joey. The misunderstanding is later straightened out, and she eventually strengthens her relationship with Ross.
When Phoebe was a surrogate mother for her brother’s triplets and suddenly craved meat, Joey offered to eat no meat until the babies were born, to compensate for her consumption and, in a way, preserve her vegetarianism (no extra animals would have to be killed). In The One With All the Cheesecakes, it is shown that the two tried to meet once a month for dinner in order to discuss the other Friends. When Phoebe was upset because she’d turned thirty-one without having had the perfect kiss, Joey kissed her so that she could cross that off of her list (also adding that he was one-sixteenth Portuguese when she mentioned that she hadn’t met any Portuguese people).
Interestingly, Joey did share romantic feelings for Phoebe. Joey thinks Monica is hot and Rachel too, and is shown flipping for them at several instances. Joey dates Phoebe’s twin sister Ursula, which upsets Phoebe. According to Joey, “Phoebe is Phoebe, Ursula is Hot”.
When Monica finds out that Joey “sees a friend in a different way”, she assumes it to be Phoebe. Phoebe, overwhelmed by the news, approaches Joey, only to find that it is Rachel for ‘heaven sakes’. Phoebe also has Joey locked in as a backup for her marriage.
When the Friends believe that the group may have to split up, Phoebe and Rachel conspire to form a separate group by themselves, but Phoebe insists that Joey be invited to their new group as well. Phoebe’s loyalty is proved again when she states that she could live in Las Vegas, since it has everything she needs, “Including Joey!”. He in turn invites her to live with him in the mansion he expected to own when he becomes rich from having a hand twin. Phoebe also once says, “When the Revolution comes, I will have to destroy you all.” After a moment’s pause, she adds with a smile, “Not you, Joey”.
When Joey learned from a customer at Central Perk that Phoebe was apparently a porn star, although he subsequently rented some of ‘Phoebe’s’ movies to reveal his latest news to the others, he refused to watch the movies even when the other four decided to do so, although he showed a new interest in them when he learned that it was actually Ursula rather than Phoebe.
In The One With the Red Sweater, when Joey believed Phoebe to be pregnant, he proposed marriage, claiming the world is too scary for a single mother. This proposal was apparently made without entirely romantic intentions. Phoebe says yes and accepts his ring, but Monica tells Joey that it is Rachel who is pregnant, so Joey proposes to Rachel and must retrieve the ring from a reluctant Phoebe.
Phoebe also sets up Joey with many of her friends. On a double date, Joey sets her up with a stranger, Mike, whom she eventually marries.
After the 2003/2004 final season of Friends, Joey Tribbiani became the main character of Joey, a spin-off TV series, where he moved to L.A. to polish his acting career. His sister Gina Tribbiani and her son Michael were two other central characters of the show. Gina is a straightforward woman who proudly dresses in revealing clothing. Michael is a shy science major at Caltech who is not good at socializing with women. Joey becomes good friends with an attractive female attorney named Alex, who, along with her husband, a traveling musician named Eric, is Joey’s landlord. Joey hires a new agent named Bobbie Morgenstern, who is herself rather boorish, and not very sympathetic to Joey. Michael, wanting to get out on his own away from his mother, moves in with Joey, though Gina is still a frequent presence at Joey and Michael’s apartment (still appearing to do Michael’s laundry, for example).
Lucy Liu eventually joins the cast as the executive producer of Deep Powder. Joey also begins a romantic relationship with a neighboring photographer named Sarah (Mädchen Amick), his first ongoing relationship that lasts more than one episode since his fling with Rachel on Friends. This too, however, ends when Sarah leaves Joey for her new job in Washington DC, feeling that their relationship wasn’t serious enough for her to stay.
Following Sarah’s departure, Alex separates from Eric and finds solace in Joey’s arms, but this too does not last.
Then, after being killed off Deep Powder, for being too demanding, because he thought “America loves me”, Joey got his first real big break on the blockbuster movie Captured.
He later buys a house that burns down and sees his sister reunited with the father of her child. As the series ends, he is in a committed relationship with Alex and watches his sister marry the father of her child creating a new family.
Joey’s final line was, to Alex, “There it is, you did it”