Monica Elizabeth Geller is a fictional character on the popular US television sitcom Friends (1994–2004), portrayed by Courteney Cox Arquette. Monica is known as the “Mother Hen” of the group and her Greenwich Village apartment was one of the group’s main gathering places. She was also known for her obsessive personality and competitive nature.
Monica (b. March 1969) is the younger sister of Ross Geller, knew Rachel Green in high school, was roommates with Phoebe Buffay, and married Ross’s college roommate, Chandler Bing.
During the series, it is revealed that Monica had been obese, weighing 255 pounds in high school. Monica was seen when she was fat in flashback scenes in a few episodes.
Monica met Ross’s friend, Chandler, when he and Ross were in college. After hearing Chandler call her fat, Monica lost weight and in a flashback episode, tried to get revenge by seducing him but accidentally cut off Chandler’s toe. It was Chandler’s suggestion that she become a chef, which she did. Monica and Chandler got together in London during the Season 4 finale and married in the Season 7 finale. They also adopted two children, twins named Jack and Erica.
Monica initially shared her New York City apartment with Phoebe but she moved out, worried that their friendship would suffer, due to Monica’s obsessive tidiness. For most of the series, Monica shared with Rachel. In the pilot episode, Rachel left her fiancé, Barry Farber, at the altar and moved in with Monica. Monica met Joey Tribbiani when he moved in with Chandler, who lived across the hall from Monica. It is revealed that upon first meeting, Monica had a crush on Joey.
Her catchphrase is a loud, excited and exaggerated “I KNOW!” which some of the friends are known to use in the same way during the series.
It is also shown in at least two episodes that Monica can knit.
Monica and Ross are usually quite affectionate although there is a lot of sibling rivalry. As children, Ross’s pranks on Monica often went too far, and he was very mean. Although she forgave him, they often have childish brother/sister arguments. In many episodes, Ross and Monica used an odd childhood gesture – knocking their fists together with their thumbs pointing outward (as an alternative to “the finger”). Monica and Ross are particularly competitive around their parents and Monica feels her parents favour Ross. Judy Geller makes no secret of preferring Ross and is highly critical of Monica, constantly telling her to get married.
Jack Geller is Jewish. In “The One with the Holiday Armadillo”, Ross introduces Ben to Hanukkah and talks about getting Monica a Hanukkah present several times. Monica also mentions her Bat Mitzvah. Chandler also reminds her of this when Erica, the twins’ birth mother, mistakenly thinks she’s a vicar.
In season 3 episode 25 (The One at the Beach), Monica and Chandler are at the beach when it is revealed that if Chandler was the last guy on earth, Monica would still be unsure about dating him.Chandler offers to be her boyfriend after Monica is worried about dying as an old maid but Monica just laughs at him.
Monica began a secret relationship with Chandler in London, at Ross’s wedding to Emily Waltham at the end of Season 4. After Monica was mistaken for Ross’s mother, Chandler comforted her and they slept together the night before Ross’s wedding.
As their relationship deepened, Monica and Chandler tried keeping it secret but their friends found out. Chandler moved in with Monica in Season 6 and got engaged in the season finale, marrying in the Season 7 finale. In the Series finale, they supported Erica as she gave birth to the twins they adopted, Jack and Erica.
“Neat Freak” Monica is comically obsessive about her apartment and loves cleaning (describing the dry cleaner as her Disneyland). This personality trait becomes exaggerated as the series progresses. Examples include:
- She categorizes towels into 11 sections, examples being “everyday use”, “fancy”, “guest”, and “fancy guest”.
- She labels everything from dishes to photographs.
- In Season 1, she tried acting like a “kook” and didn’t care that she left her shoes in the living room but couldn’t sleep, wondering if she should go and get them. Also, Rachel moves the green ottoman when cleaning the apartment, making Monica anxious. Chandler exclaims to Rachel, “Thank God you didn’t try to fan out the magazines — I mean she’ll scratch your eyes right out”.
- In another episode, it is learned that she has supplies for cleaning cars because there was a dirty car parked out front of the building. She washed it, and six others.
- In season 5, Rachel didn’t want to go to an eye appointment and tried stopping Monica by knocking over a box of cereal. Monica pretends she isn’t bothered and they leave but Monica gets Chandler to clean it up.
- In season 3, after Pete comes back from a conference, the present he got for Monica was Japanese cleaning products.
- In Season 6, Rachel doesn’t pack when she is supposed to but Rachel defends herself, claiming its a gift for Monica.
- She is obsessive to the point that she cleans her cleaning supplies, using a Dustbuster to remove dirt from a vacuum cleaner and wishing there was a smaller vacuum to clean the Dustbuster.
- In Season 10, when Phoebe says they couldn’t meet because she was “cleaning and organizing” her apartment before Mike moves in, Monica “forgets” and goes to Phoebe’s apartment with her label-maker.
- In Season 3, when Mark asks Rachel why all the cups have numbers, Rachel claims that Monica labels the cups so she knows which one is missing.
- After Rachel’s birthday party in “The One With Phoebe’s Rats”, Rachel offers to help Monica clean up to which Monica replies, “Are you kidding? You had your party, now I’ll have mine!”
- In The One Where Monica Sings, Rachel is telling Phoebe about her kiss with Gavin. Monica asks how she didn’t see it when it was on her balcony, Phoebe replies “It was after the party — you were probably ironing the wrapping paper.” Monica looks offended, but then replies “Oh, yeah”, reminiscing happily.
- In another episode, Chandler cleans the apartment as a surprise. Ross sees him doing this and explains that she will “kill” him if everything is not back in exactly the same place. She returns home after a hard day at work and notices that the apartment is different (even though it appears the same).
- While Monica and Chandler are together, Monica discovers that none of Chandler’s CDs are in the right cases when he states “If I can’t find the right case, I just put it in the nearest one.” Monica responds nervously, “OK, no need to panic… deep breaths everyone, I’ll just have to spend some time putting them back in the right cases.”
- In The One with the Stain Monica comes home to find that the apartment has been cleaned. After finding out that Chandler didn’t clean, Monica asks, “Oh no, was I cleaning in my sleep again?” to which Chandler replies “I got a maid”. Monica nervously replies, “I hope that by maid you mean mistress, ’cause if some other woman was here cleaning, then…!”. Chandler tells her, “Honey, I know you don’t like to relinquish control…”, to which Monica replies, “Relinquish is just a fancy word for lose!”
- Also in The One with the Stain Monica becomes anxious when she discovers that Chandler had hired a maid. When Chandler asks her: “What’s wrong”, she replies: “Usually when I’m this anxious, I clean!”
- In The One with Rachel’s Other Sister, Rachel and her sister, Amy, had a fight and Rachel accidentally breaks a plate from Monica’s and Chandler’s wedding china and Monica nearly fainted.
- In Season 10, The One Where Ross is Fine Monica and Chandler are given a binder about adoption which is perfectly neat and organized from another couple. Monica whispers to Chandler “I think I just had a tiny orgasm.” Not only this, but Monica makes Chandler wash his hands before he touches the binder because “It’s so pretty and white.”
Monica also has an unfortunate, but funny, tendency to express happiness about sad events, especially death. When Ross delivered the news that their Aunt Sylvia has died, Monica was overjoyed and described her deceased aunt as “a cruel, cranky old bitch.” Throughout the series, she often says the wrong thing at the wrong time and doesn’t realize how it sounds until she has already said it.
Monica is highly competitive, allegedly throwing a plate in a fit of rage during a game of Pictionary, and claiming “rules help control the fun!”
When Joey and Ross were casually tossing a ball back and forth, Monica joined in and threw the ball too hard at Ross to which he exclaimed “Monica, stop throwing the ball so hard! We’re on the same team”. Sometimes, however, she takes her competitive nature too far. One dramatic example of this was when Monica impulsively gambled her and Rachel’s apartment during a trivia game created by Ross. When she and Rachel then lost the final question, they were forced to swap apartments with Chandler and Joey. However, they won their apartment back by agreeing to kiss for one minute.
Monica also demonstrates athletic prowess, which, coupled with her competitive streak, makes her formidable, especially in foosball. During the group’s trip to Barbados, Monica became obsessed with beating Phoebe’s boyfriend, Mike, at table tennis, and the two became engaged in a marathon match, lasting hours. Sometimes, however, Monica becomes too rough. While attempting to give Chandler a sensuous massage, she hurts him to the point of his crying out. Moreover, she held firm in an arm wrestle against Chandler in “The One with the Halloween Party”. Also, in their youth, Monica broke Ross’s nose when a game of touch football turned ugly in an attempt to win the “Geller Cup.” The cup was thrown into a nearby lake. What Ross didn’t know until “The One with the Football” was that Monica jumped into the lake to retrieve it. In the last episode, while trying to rescue the birds Joey bought, she managed to destroy the foosball table, without using tools for most of it.
Monica’s competitiveness could stem from her constant attempts to make her parents proud of her, and for her to be praised, as opposed to living in Ross’s shadow all the time. It could also stem from her childhood and teenage insecurities, particularly as her best friend, Rachel, was a popular school diva with several boyfriends, whereas Monica was obese and relatively unliked.
Monica is notoriously bossy. She is often referred to as such by her friends. Her bossiness is best seen in her relationship with Chandler, where she frequently wins the upper hand in their disputes. After becoming a couple, Chandler says “so I really don’t get to win [arguments] any more?”, to which Monica replies “how often did you ever really win anyway?”
However Chandler has notably won a dispute with Monica. After finding that her parents squandered her wedding fund, Monica turned to Chandler for help. Chandler revealed he had a considerable amount of money, and was outraged when Monica wanted to spend the entire fortune on the wedding. Chandler refused, and Monica later apologised.
- When Monica becomes Phoebe’s wedding planner, she orders the events run on “military time”.
- In Season 5, she and Phoebe co-ordinate Rachel’s surprise birthday party, and Monica takes charge of everything except cups and ice, for which she gives Phoebe responsibility. In reaction to this, Phoebe surprises Monica by bringing hundreds of cups (which she even decorates with) and various types of ice, including crushed, cubed, and dry.’mystical’.
- While Monica and Phoebe are living together, Monica once apologizes to Phoebe for leaving lipstick on the phone. When Phoebe tells her that she didn’t, Monica replies “Oh, well, then it must have been you!”
Monica is repeatedly depicted as wanting to be in a relationship and have children. Before and after her relationship with Richard, she worries about not having a boyfriend.
Early in the series, Monica broke up with Richard because he did not want children. After Richard, Monica seriously considers becoming a single mother through artificial insemination. Interestingly before she and Chandler began dating, the two talked about getting together and having a baby if both were single at the age of 40. Finally, after marrying Chandler, they try having children but fail. They are chosen by a pregnant teenager named Erica to adopt her baby. They are chosen, initially, because the adoption agency tell Erica that Chandler is a doctor and Monica is a reverend. After a long conversation, Chandler convinces Erica to give them the baby.
In the last episode, during the birth, it is announced that she is having twins, a boy named Jack after Monica and Ross’s father and a girl named Erica after the children’s biological mother.
It is revealed early in the series that she had been overweight while growing up. Monica lost the weight when she was 18 after she overheard Chandler call her “fat” at Thanksgiving.
The writers of the series often used flashbacks to show the overweight Monica (with Courteney Cox Arquette wearing a fat suit). In one episode, when the group watched an old prom video and were surprised to see her weight, Joey yelled “Some girl ate Monica!”. This was also the first episode where we saw “big-nosed Rachel.” Monica tried to stick up for herself, claiming the camera adds ten pounds. Chandler was quick to retort, “So how many cameras are actually on you?” In another episode where the group remember past Thanksgivings, one flashback reveals why Monica lost all the weight. She heard Chandler tell Ross he didn’t want to be stuck in all night with his fat sister, prompting Monica to break down and refuse the food offered to her by her mother. She lost the weight by Thanksgiving of 1988, Rachel also lost the big nose. In almost every episode that features “Fat Monica”, the episode ends with Monica dancing.
In an alternate reality storyline during the show (“The One That Could Have Been”), Monica was overweight but was still a professional chef and ended up with Chandler, who was a freelance writer, at the end of the episode, having just lost her virginity to him as a favor he offered her. During the episode when her current boyfriend, a doctor, asks her to save him some of the dinner after he is paged, she replies “I can’t promise anything,” as she starts to eat.
As revealed in another episode, Monica’s weight meant a junior high school member had to play with her on the see-saw rather than someone her own age, and her marching band outfit had to be custom made. Her fatness also explains Ross’s hastened eating when he explains to Rachel “I grew up with Monica! If you didn’t eat fast, you didn’t eat!” In “The One With the Pediatrician”, Monica reveals that Ross had a therapist due to a recurring bad dream, which was that Monica was going to eat him. Monica’s weight is reported in another episode to have been the reason for their dog’s knee surgery, after she tried to ride him as an eleven year old, and in a different episode Ross reveals that she caused their parents’ porch swing to break; it had been previously thought that a hurricane had broken it. In the same episode Ross also reveals that after being sent to bed without dinner one night, Monica tried to eat the macaroni glued to her jewelry box.
Another episode reveals that Monica attended fat camp as a child, and was found caught in the barbed wire after trying to catch and eat a squirrel, which she claimed she had been trying to help out.
Monica is a chef, and, as with most areas of her life, she is obsessive and competitive. Monica uses Chantal cookware in blue. Originally, she was a poorly paid chef at a restaurant called Iridium. After accepting a promotion at a restaurant called Café des Artistes, she was fired for accepting a gift from a food distributor. Monica remained unemployed for a while before getting offered a job at a 1950s-themed restaurant called the Moondance Diner. At this time, Monica reveals that she worked at the famous Cafe des Artistes when she said “I was a sous-chef at Cafe des Artistes. How can I take a job where I have to make something called Laverne and Curly fries?” At the Moondance Diner, Monica wears a blond wig, roller skates and massive fake breasts. While working at the diner, she met millionaire Pete Becker (played by Jon Favreau), who used his money to open a restaurant and appoint Monica as head chef. After the relationship failed due to the consequences of Pete’s desire to become the “Ultimate Fighting Champion”, Monica began a short-lived catering business with Phoebe. Also during her unemployed days, Monica worked for an unnamed food company, thinking up recipes and then making them, using substitute food products, such as ‘Mocolate’, a chocolate substitute which never took off due to its repulsive taste (Phoebe said “this must be what evil tastes like”) and side effect of causing urination to become painful if a large amount was eaten. Also during this time, to avoid taking a job in the aforementioned Moondance Diner, she temporarily bought shares in the stock market using the few savings left in her bank account ($127), despite not knowing anything about how it works, only buying shares from companies only because of the names, not knowing what the companies did or how successful they were.
Monica was eventually hired as head chef at a local restaurant, Alessandro’s, putting an end to the catering business. At first, her employees disliked Monica because three of them were the children of the previous head chef, coupled with a fairly vicious review she had published in a local newspaper about the restaurant. However, Monica hired Joey as a waiter, solely to fire him, thereby appearing to be a tough boss. It apparently worked, as her problems with her employees were reduced. She left Alessandro’s when Chandler’s firm required him to relocate to Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, when she contacted a job-hunter about Tulsa restaurant openings, she got a job as head chef at Javu, an upscale restaurant in Manhattan, forcing her to stay in New York.