It is no secret that Joey Tribbiani became increasingly dim-witted as the show went on. In the first two seasons of Friends, Joey wasn't nearly as stupid as he was in some of the season 10, with episodes like "The One Where Joey Speaks French" or "The One Where the Stripper Cries." That being said, he's always had both his dumb and smart moments, only the dumb ones really stand out in later seasons.
At times, Joey truly amazed us with his quick thinking, reasoning, knowledge, and skills, while other times, he amazed us with lack thereof. So, in honor of the highest and lowest points of Joey's wit, here are his five smartest and five dumbest moments.
10 DUMBEST: PLEH
In the season three episode "The One Without the Ski Trip," the gang (minus Ross) takes Phoebe's cab to Rachel's sister's cabin for a ski trip. Unfortunately, they get stranded in the middle of nowhere when the car runs out of gas.
While Phoebe and Monica's plan was to call Ross, tell him to get a car, and come pick them up, Joey had a different idea. He arranged some branches on the ground to spell out "pleh." When Monica asked him what it meant, Joey gave this genius explanation: "That's help spelled backwords so that the helicopters can read it from the air." This little Joey gem never fails to crack us up.
9 SMARTEST: THE REAL REASON YOUR BOSS HATES YOU
We get that Friends is a TV show, and a sitcom at that, so things aren’t supposed to be realistic and we don’t mind that at all. Like, for example, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that for a group of grown people with jobs and obligations, the friends sure spend a lot of time hanging out either at Monica’s apartment or at Central Perk.
In the season six episode “The One with Ross’s Teeth,” Rachel, Chandler, and Monica state that their bosses don’t like them and Ross thinks it’s a universal thing. However, it is Joey who actually solves the mystery: “Or maybe… it’s because you’re all hanging around here at 11:30 on a Wednesday.” The others immediately gather their stuff and head off to work.
8 DUMBEST: SPEAKING FRENCH
“The One Where Joey Speaks French” is one of those episodes that you either love or hate. What happens is Joey is supposed to audition for a play and he’s supposed to speak French, which according to his resume, he’s fluent in. Of course, that’s a lie. But, luckily, Phoebe is, indeed, fluent in French and she agrees to teach Joey.
It doesn’t take long for Phoebe to regret her decision though, because Joey is a hopeless student. No matter how many times she makes him repeat the same sentence he can’t seem to get it right. He constantly babbles gibberish and even goes to the audition with his “French.” It’s by far one of the lowest points in Joey’s career and one of his dumbest moments.
7 SMARTEST: JOEY FIXES THE RADIATOR
Joey may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but he often is the best with tools and fixing stuff. Like, in the season two episode “The One with Phoebe’s Dad,” Ross breaks the knob on the radiator in Monica’s apartment and the super can’t get another one till Tuesday, so Monica’s Christmas party turns into a sauna party.
Everyone complains about the heat, takes off all unnecessary items of clothing, and takes turns leaning against the opened fridge to cool down. They spend the whole evening basically in an oven. Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe, who were visiting Phoebe’s dad, arrive once everyone’s already left, immediately taking note of the temperature. What no one saw coming was Joey easily turning off the heat like it's no big deal.
6 DUMBEST: THE ROBBERY
But, for every smart Joey moment, there’s a dumb Joey moment. In “The One with the Cat,” Chandler forces Joey to sell his fine-Italian-craftsmanship entertainment, but Joey has a very strict screening process when it comes to deciding whom to sell it to. Apparently, “not everyone is qualified to own wood and nails.” When a guy shows up to see the entertainment unit, Joey gives him the sales pitch.
He talks up the unit’s sturdy construction, tons of storage space, and a compartment big enough to fit a grown man. To prove his point, he naively gets into the compartment. Big mistake. The guy uses a hockey stick to lock him inside (an idea that came from Joey) and steals all their stuff. All but the entertainment unit.
5 SMARTEST: MOO POINT
In the episode “The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs,” shown in the seventh season, Rachel invites her assistant Tag, whom she has a secret crush on, to Monica’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner. She debates asking Tag out because he’s her assistant and because he just broke up with his girlfriend. When asking Monica and Phoebe for advice, they didn’t yield the desired answer and Rachel took into consideration Joey’s words of wisdom.
In a surprisingly smart moment, Joey gives Rachel an important lesson about the"moo" point. To quote the great mind that is Joey Tribbiani, “It’s like a cow’s opinion. You know. It just doesn’t matter. It’s moo.” Rachel worries that living with Joey for too long is the reason his “moo” point makes sense, but she shouldn’t because he really does make sense in his own weird, adorable way.
4 DUMBEST: JOEY ON PYRAMID
Joey really isn’t the type of person you’d like on your team for trivia night. Nor is he the type of person you’d like to pair up with on Pyramid. Poor Gene Lester learned this the hard way. In the season 10 episode “The One Where the Stripper Cries,” Joey goes on Pyramid and gets paired up with Gene, a man in desperate need of money because he’s got a kid in college and has to get knee surgery.
Now, we never expected Joey to crush it and be the best Pyramid contestant in the history of the show. However, we have to admit, his stupidity astounded us. While Joey was never the smart one, he seems to have taken a level in dumbass for this episode. He gives only a few correct answers and messes up when describing pretty much everything. At one point, he gives the same brilliant guess “paper, snow, a ghost” to two different descriptions. And, in the end, fails to guess the word "supermodels."
3 SMARTEST: THE JELLYFISH
In the season four premiere, Joey, Chandler, and Monica get into a peculiar situation at the beach when Monica gets stung by a jellyfish and becomes unable to walk back home because of the pain. Joey is too tired to help carry her because he dug up a huge hole, but he does have an even better solution. Yes, that’s correct, Joey actually knew how to help Monica. He knew something neither she nor Chandler knew.
He tells them that he saw on the Discovery Channel (yes, apparently, Joey watches something other than Baywatch) that when you get stung by a jellyfish you need to pee on yourself to ease the pain. Joey's quick thinking and surprising knowledge saved the day.
2 DUMBEST: THE STAGE NAME
In this season one episode, while the girls were busy befriending the woman who stole Monica’s identity and Ross was dealing with Marcel’s sexual awakening, Chandler provided his creative services to Joey who was looking for a new and memorable stage name. Chandler proposed he went by Joseph Stalin to which Joey hilariously replied: “I’d think you’d remember that.”
Of course, people do remember and Joey soon found out exactly who Joseph Stalin was, but still didn't figure out that Chandler was yanking his chain. Which is probably why he managed to do it again. In the end, Joey is seen introducing himself at an audition as “Holden McGroin.”
1 SMARTEST: CHANDLER AND MONICA
The moment Joey figures out that Chandler and Monica are sleeping together is iconic. In the season five episode “The One with the Kips,” Chandler and Monica make up a fake conference and fake culinary fair to go to a romantic getaway. However, they end up fighting the whole time and return home visibly miserable.
Eventually, they make up, but along the way, they inadvertently leave incriminating evidence. Monica’s missing eyelash curler, which she forgot in the room, and a certain individual who shall not be named whom both Chandler and Monica said to have been seen waiting for the elevator at the hotel is all the information Joey needed to figure it all out.
Fortunately for Chandler and Monica, Joey’s brain was in too much of a shock to form words, so he didn’t get the chance to tell everyone what’s happening. Not only was Joey the first one to figure out that Monica and Chandler are dating, he was the only one because everyone else found out when they caught them in the act.