Joey from Friends never started out an idiot. He started as a smart guy giving normal advice but at some point, the writers decided to change his personality.

Can we pinpoint the exact episode when Joey's intelligence went down?

  • 3
    This is not something specific to Joey: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Flanderization . A list of other tropes applicable to Joey can be found here: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/Friends
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:46
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    What's the savant part, anyway? Hitting on women? ;)
    – Walt
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 17:53
  • @Walt Memorization actually.
    – Andrey
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 21:53
  • 1
    @Walt I am talking about the first episode first season, the start of the whole show when Joey seemed like a normal guy. But then after some episodes the writers wrote him as a fool.
    – salil87
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 6:05
  • 3
    I fail to see why this is getting downvotes. It's not only a good question, it's also a perfectly answerable question.
    – user7812
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 20:13

3 Answers 3


Maybe not very often but Joey was stupid since the first season. In Season 1, Episode 4 "The One With George Stephanopoulos":

Monica: Hey, Joey, what would you do if you were omnipotent?
Joey: Probably kill myself!
Monica: ..Excuse me?
Joey: Hey, if Little Joey's dead, then I got no reason to live!
Ross: Joey, uh- OMnipotent.
Joey: You are? Ross, I'm sorry...


In Season 2, Episode 3 "The One Where Heckles Dies", Joey says he met a girl, great kisser, but she had a big Adam's apple

And in Season 3, Episode 1 "The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy", Joey is watching Wheel of fortune and says Count Rushmore. Chandler says there is no Count Rushmore. Then who painted the faces in the mountain, says Joey.

  • Good point. Like OP I was under impression that he became like this later, but now I think it was just more exposed. Similarly to Monica's pedanticism. It was mentioned several times in the earlier series, but later almost all jokes involving her were related to it. Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 6:08
  • @ChanandlerBong in the pilot, Joey had some good lines, like quickly responds to Ross' sad Hi, Quick reply on Ross saying Í'm gonna think about my lesbian wife' which joey had a comeback with 'Hell with hickey, lets all do that etc etc... I think after pilot and/or from second episode, writers changed their mind
    – Vishwa
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 10:23

He has been late in getting the point from the beginning. the first clue is in Season 1, episode 2 opening when They're talking about kissing being as important as the other parts of sex and after discussing, Joey gets confused and asks: "Are we still talking about sex?"

Chandler: Yeah, I think for us, kissing is pretty much like an opening act, y'know? I mean it's like the stand-up comedian you have to sit through before Pink Floyd comes out.

Ross: Yeah, and-and it's not that we don't like the comedian, it's that-that... that's not why we bought the ticket.

Chandler: The problem is, though, after the concert's over, no matter how great the show was, you girls are always looking for the comedian again, y'know? I mean, we're in the car, we're fighting traffic... basically just trying to stay awake.

Rachel: Yeah, well, word of advice: Bring back the comedian. Otherwise next time you're gonna find yourself sitting at home, listening to that album alone.

Joey: (pause)....Are we still talking about sex?


I've narrowed it down to Season 3, episode 8 (The One with the Giant Poking Device).

Before that point, Joey is relatively witty, betrays no obvious confusion about what's happening in his life and is mostly characterised as being something of a man's man, heavily into sports and food.

After Season 3, Episode 7 (The One with the Racecar Bed), the writers seem to have decided to change his character entirely. From that point onwards, he's an idiot. Although he still makes the occasional sharp comment, at least half of his lines from then on are intended to show that he's as thick as two short planks (such as not knowing who Charles Dickens is, doesn't recognise that Homo Sapiens are people, etc).

As regards the in-universe event that caused this dramatic personality change, at the end of Season 3, Episode 7 he encounters Janice kissing the Mattress King. My personal (and not entirely serious) interpretation is that it would appear that the shock of this, along with unresolved issues about his own father's affair caused him to suffer a psychotic break.

  • 1
    ...Are you being serious (especially in that last paragraph)?
    – Walt
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 10:34
  • @Walt - Not really. I was trying to come up with an un-universe reason why he became so dramatically flanderised after that specific episode. From that point onwards I could see at least one instance of "joey says something stupid" in each episode after that one.
    – user7812
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 10:39
  • Just asking because it's the internet and it's hard to know when to take outlandish theories at face value... I might have been more comfortable with that last paragraph if it was flooded with winky faces. ;)
    – Walt
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 10:44
  • 1
    @Walt - I have made it a little clearer that it's my fan-theory rather than something backed up by actual facts or evidence.
    – user7812
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 10:48
  • Urgh. I've no idea why this keeps getting downvoted.
    – user7812
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 17:05

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