‘Friends’: 3 Times Joey Tribbiani Proved He Was Actually Pretty Smart

Each character on Friends fulfilled a specific role. Phoebe Buffay was the delightfully quirky soul, while Rachel Green was the spoiled princess who eventually came into her own. Chandler Bing’s sarcastic wit, Ross Geller’s nerdy persona, and Monica Geller’s controlling behaviors each fulfilled a need in the group. Joey Tribbiani was the dim but charismatic one. However, there were moments when it was clear that Joey might have been a lot smarter than his friends gave him credit for.

Joey figured out Monica and Chandler were hooking up through just a few clues

Joey was the first person tasked with keeping Monica and Chandler’s relationship a secret in season 5. He knew for a while before the rest of the friends found out, but not because Monica and Chandler trusted him with their secret. Joey figured out the couple’s secret relationship because of an eyelash curler and a Donald Trump sighting.  

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After a weekend away, Joey let Chandler know that his hotel had called, and someone left an eyelash curler behind. Chandler revealed that he had spotted Trump waiting for an elevator. Later in the day, Monica mentioned that she lost her eyelash curler and had seen Trump waiting for an elevator. Joey connected the two incidents and knew something was going on. Sure, it may seem obvious now, but at the time, his quick thinking helped him figure out a pretty big secret.

Joey helped Ross locate his secret admire with a genius strategy

If you look closely at Friends, there are many moments when Joey was smarter than his pals, but he had a true stroke of genius in season 6. In the episode, “The One Where Ross Dates a Student”, Ross found out one of his students had a crush on him when they revealed their feelings on an anonymous evaluation form. Ross was desperate to find out who in his class liked him but couldn’t fathom how he could get the job done.

Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller and Lauren Tom as Julie
Joey Tribbiani, Monica Geller and Julie in ‘Friends’ | Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Joey saved the day with a straightforward but genius solution. He suggested that Ross could find out his secret admirer’s identity by comparing the handwriting from the evaluation to the script on a recent exam. His strategy was simple; the person whose exam matched the handwriting on the assessment must have been the admirer.

Joey knew that Chandler would end up hurt if he stayed with Janice

Joey couldn’t stand Janice, Chandler’s on-again-off-again girlfriend. When she reemerged in season 3, she brought some complications to the table. Janice had gotten married, had a baby, and separated from her husband.  Chandler was crazy about Janice until Joey and Monica caught her kissing her ex-husband at his store. Chandler eventually confronted Janice, and she insisted she didn’t know which person to choose. He desperately wanted Janice to pick him, but Joey proved he was a lot wiser than people gave him credit for.

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Joey told Chandler that since Janice had a family, he needed to bow out and let them work things out. Chandler was initially reluctant, but Joey reminded him that the family deserved a shot at being together and that Chandler most likely would wind up hurt. It wasn’t what Chandler wanted to hear, but it was exactly what he needed to realize.