||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (July 2015)|
Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan
|First appearance||"The Pilot"
|Last appearance||"The Last One, Part 2"
|Created by||David Crane
Kevin S. Bright
|Portrayed by||Lisa Kudrow|
|Nickname(s)||Pheebs, Pheeb, phee phee|
|Aliases||Regina Phalange, Princess Consuela Bananahammock, Phyllis, Glenda, Ben|
|Family||Frank Buffay (father)
Phoebe Abbott (mother)
Lily Buffay (adoptive mother, deceased)
Frances (grandmother, deceased)
Ursula Buffay (twin sister)
Frank Buffay Jr. (half-brother)
(m. 1988–1995; green card marriage)
Michael "Mike" Hannigan
|Relatives||Frank Buffay Jr. Jr. (nephew)
Leslie Buffay (niece)
Chandler Buffay (niece)
Alice Buffay (sister-in-law)
Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan is a fictional character from the NBC sitcom Friends, portrayed by Lisa Kudrow. For her portrayal of Phoebe Buffay, Kudrow received a Golden Globe Award nomination, as well as winning the Primetime Emmy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Satellite Award, and American Comedy Award.
Phoebe Buffay is the younger twin daughter born to Phoebe Abbott (Teri Garr) and Frank Buffay (Bob Balaban), February 16, 1965; her identical twin sister Ursula (also portrayed by Lisa Kudrow, and spun off from the character of the same name whom Kudrow portrayed on Mad About You), was born one minute earlier. Frank was married to Abbott's best friend, the unstable Lily, at the time; Lily adopted Phoebe and Ursula. She is from upstate New York, her father abandoned the family when she was very young, and Lily remarried an unnamed man. She mentions that her family was very poor (her stepfather sold his blood on her birthday to buy them food) and claims that her mother was a drug dealer. Lily committed suicide when Phoebe and Ursula were thirteen, by carbon monoxide poisoning; afterward their stepfather went to prison. She occasionally mentions Lily's strange behavior and methods of raising her children. By age 14, Phoebe was living on the streets, although Ursula apparently was not; no explanation for why one twin became homeless while the other apparently grew up under adult supervision of some kind was ever provided.
Phoebe quickly found herself resorting to mugging to survive. While still 14, she, armed with a pipe, mugged her later good friend Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) near St. Mark's Comics, acquiring, among other items, the only copy of Ross' homemade comic book Science Boy, which she kept for years before returning it to Ross, claiming that it "taught [her] well." Throughout her life on the street, Phoebe occasionally reverted to mugging, with St. Mark's as her preferred territory and "pre-teen comic book nerds" her preferred victims, but did her best to lead an honest life. She initially lived in a burned out Buick LeSabre, during which time she contracted hepatitis when a pimp spat in her mouth. By age 18, she lived in an AMC Gremlin with "a guy named Cindy who talked to his hand." On her sixteenth birthday, she was chased around a tire yard by an escaped mental patient who, in his own words, wanted to "kill [her], or whatever." She subsequently lived with Albino Bob, an albino and "cowboy" who washed and licked windows outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal; Bob died soon after Phoebe, having re-entered conventional society, visited a dentist, contributing to her belief that "every time [she] goes to the dentist, somebody dies." Phoebe's other known friends during her homeless years include an older man named Lowell (played by Stuart Fratkin in "The One with the Mugging"), who sometimes also resorted to mugging, and Stabby Joe, who "works" on Jane Street, which she thus warns people to avoid.
At some point, Phoebe resided at a YMCA, where she became an accomplished boxer to fend off unwanted advances from young men who "weren't being Christian enough." Because she spent most of her adolescence homeless, Phoebe attended neither high school nor college, but she allegedly met with two other homeless people behind a dumpster to learn French, in which she is indeed fluent. Other details of her life on the streets include that she has been stabbed by a police officer whom she stabbed in return, undergone torture under unknown circumstances, and resided in Prague, Czech Republic (or possibly Czechoslovakia, depending on the timeframe). She credits "[finding] aromatherapy" as the turning point in her life which finally allowed her to reintegrate into conventional society.
Phoebe's first job, or at least her first job where she was paid by check, was at a Dairy Queen. She has also worked as a phone sex operator and as a maker of sombreros, possibly at a sweatshop, where her employer once called her "bad little white girl" for not making them big enough. She eventually became a licensed masseuse, a job she held throughout most of the series. Phoebe took her masseuse position so seriously that she vowed to uphold a "masseuse's oath" which she made up herself.
Phoebe moved in with Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) after answering a roommate want ad, which began their close friendship. While living with Monica, she married a man named Duncan Sullivan (Steve Zahn), a gay Canadian ice dancer, in order to help him obtain a green card. He later revealed that he is straight, and was just pretending to be gay "to fit in", resulting in a divorce during the second season, although Phoebe had genuine feelings for him. She moved out when she could no longer handle Monica's controlling tendencies, choosing to live with her grandmother in her apartment. After her grandmother's death in the fifth season, Phoebe inherited the apartment and her yellow taxicab. Phoebe's relationship with Ursula was revealed to be strained, ostensibly due to the latter's personality, which is portrayed as markedly aloof by comparison.
In season 2, Phoebe learns that she has a younger half-brother, Frank Buffay Jr., played by Giovanni Ribisi. Their relationship develops over the course of the series, and a multi-episode story arc revolves around her decision to serve as a surrogate mother for Frank and his older wife Alice (Debra Jo Rupp), who is also his former schoolteacher. Phoebe eventually gives birth to their triplets. Frank makes appearances through the show's final season.
Phoebe is an animal lover and vegetarian. She hates fur clothing (although ends up wearing a fur coat for part of an episode because she likes it too much). Having not experienced a normal childhood, Phoebe is sometimes childlike, innocent, and considered the "weird one" of the group. But she is also known in the group for having the best street smarts. Although usually friendly, Phoebe, when sufficiently exasperated, reverts to a harsher persona, noting that "Street Phoebe" would never have befriended the others. In later seasons, Phoebe can often be seen good-naturedly ridiculing the other friends (especially Monica and Chandler), and doing things for self-gain but always maintains her good heart. Phoebe is the most promiscuous girl of the show, highly preferring casual sex (and it is hinted that she enjoys very kinky sex). When she first met Mike, she was in her very early thirties and had never been in a relationship that lasted longer than a month. Although she and Joey are debatably equally promiscuous, Phoebe will not avoid monogamous dating and was very eager to get married after Ross pointed out that she has never had a serious relationship. It is revealed in episode 7.18 that due to her mother's dreadful dating advice, Phoebe believed that "putting out" got you love and that you should never share your doubts or fears with your partner.
Phoebe's spiritual beliefs are unique and not always mutually consistent. She believes in reincarnation, psychic powers, and similar "new age" concepts while refusing to unhesitatingly believe in such concepts as evolution and gravity, a habit which often irritates her friend Ross Geller. Phoebe believes in several gods, including Lucifer. She retained a belief in Santa Claus until well into adulthood. She seems to believe that even wild animals are capable of understanding human speech, since she has argued with a squirrel about her mink coat and once briefly believed that she had received a phone call from a mouse or opossum. Her love for animals even extends to household pests, since for some time she allowed a rat that she'd named "Bob" and a mouse that she'd named "Suzie" to remain in her apartment undisturbed.
Phoebe is quite odd, to such extent that her friends do not hesitate to say it out loud. Even her husband Mike acknowledged that in his wedding vow. Phoebe herself is aware of it. On occasions, when Phoebe has offered to help her friends in their business, they saw it necessary to remind her that it entails her being "normal". Phoebe's unusual mannerisms is chiefly a comical device.
Of the show’s six main characters, Phoebe is the one who most often mentions friends outside their circle of friends, some of whom sound at least as eccentric as she is. Aside from her friends from her street life, Phoebe's known acquaintances include:
- Abby, a woman who shaves her head;
- Bill and Colleen, a married couple with an adopted son, Owen; when Chandler and Monica visited the couple for insight about adoption (at Phoebe's recommendation), Chandler mentioned Owen's adopted status to Owen, whose parents hadn't yet told him he was adopted and who thus reacted with confusion and anguish; it seems likely that Phoebe's friendship with Bill and Colleen was strained by the incident; played by Jim Meskimen and Kellie Waymire in "The One Where Ross Is Fine";
- Carl, an ex-boyfriend who eats chalk;
- Betty, whom Phoebe was delighted that Monica and Rachel had "found" to attend a surprise birthday party for Phoebe; played by an uncredited actress in "The One with Two Parts";
- Bonnie, another woman who shaves her head, who briefly dated Ross; played by Christine Taylor in three episodes;
- Cookie and Candy, a man and woman whose young daughter is also named Cookie;
- Crematorium Chris, who, as his nickname implies, owns a crematorium;
- Denise, Phoebe's supposed roommate before Rachel became her roommate, whom she supposedly talked about quite often but whom none of the other five friends remembered her ever mentioning;
- Pablo Diaz, an ex-boyfriend about whom nothing is known;
- Ethel, whose baby was born with a “teeny, tiny beard”;
- Bob Greenmore, an ex-boyfriend old enough to have been part of the first wave at Omaha Beach in 1944, deceased;
- Phil Huntley, an ex-boyfriend whose embrace was, aside from a mink coat, “the best thing [Phoebe] ever had wrapped around [her]”;
- Jane, who can accurately be described as “a real-live furry playmate” (at least, according to Joey, who once slept with her);
- Mary Ellen Jenkins, who spent time in rehab; Phoebe describes her as "really smart and cute and funny...and loose"; played by Dedee Pfeiffer in "The One with the Pediatrician";
- Lizzie, an aluminum foil hat-wearing homeless woman who addresses Phoebe as "Weird Girl"; played by Beth Grant in "The One with the Thumb";
- Mandy, whom Phoebe fixed up with Joey, who only dated her once;
- Marjorie, a steel drum player who has resolved not to bathe until Tibet is free, resulting in body odor which Monica found offensive; however, Marjorie may have set her resolve aside to remove said odor, since she attended Phoebe's wedding to Mike (and performed with other musicians) without incident; played by an uncredited actress in "The One with Phoebe's Wedding";
- Nokulu Oon Ah Ah, a (presumably) Hawaiian man whom Phoebe dated at least once;
- “the puppet guy,” an otherwise unnamed ex-boyfriend;
- Sarah, whom Phoebe fixed up with Joey, who only dated her once; played by Molly Hagan in "The One with the Birth Mother";
- Brady Smith, an ex-boyfriend about whom nothing is known;
- Spackle-Back Harry, a man whom Phoebe fixed up with Monica, much to Monica's later regret; his nickname implies that he suffers from a skin condition of some kind;
- Suzanne, whose baby Phoebe describes as “a real dog” in comparison to Ross and Rachel’s daughter Emma;
- Sylvie, who, when her husband said another woman’s name in bed, put a curse on him, allegedly turning his “thingy” green;
- Tony, an ex-boyfriend who is on a hunger strike; played by an uncredited actor in "The One with the East German Laundry Detergent";
- Wendy, who owns a relentlessly happy and playful dog;
- Willie, known for licking people’s necks on the subway; for a time, Phoebe thought he was dead, but she learned otherwise when Chandler complained about being licked on the neck on the subway.
As of the Season 10 episode “The One With Ross's Grant”, Rachel was Phoebe’s last remaining unmarried female friend.
Jokes and sarcasm
The show's running gag and one of Phoebe's trademark characteristics is her song "Smelly Cat," which she performs at Central Perk. The song is about a cat who is shunned by society because of its foul stench as a result of flatulence ("what are they feeding you?"). However Phoebe sympathizes with it because she can relate to being an outcast. The verses consist of Phoebe rattling off a list of ways in which the cat is disliked ("They won't take you to the vet", "you're obviously not their favorite pet", etc.) while the chorus ends with the uplifting message to anyone who is different or unique that "it's not your fault". In the episode, "The One Where Eddie Moves In," Phoebe is discovered by a record producer who wants to make a music video for "Smelly Cat". After finding out that the voice used in the video belongs to another woman, however, she turns the idea down because she feels bad for the woman who will not get any recognition for her voice because she does not have the "right look." Later on in the episode, "The One With Phoebe's Ex-Partner," Phoebe's former singing partner, Leslie, portrayed by E.G. Daily, shows up so the two of them can get back together. The partnership fails again, though, when Leslie sells the song "Smelly Cat" to a commercial agency against Phoebe's wishes. She teaches the song to Chrissie Hynde in one episode, which was released in a 1999 album. On August 26, 2015, Kudrow performed the song as a duet with Taylor Swift during Swift's concert in Los Angeles as a part of her 1989 World Tour.
Phoebe, in addition to being a musical performer at Central Perk, worked as a masseuse. Except on a few occasions, she kept professional relationships with her customers. She worked at many different spas, including a place called Healing Hands, but was fired for kissing a client. She went on to work at a more upscale massage clinic for the benefits and higher pay, despite it clashing with her liberal ideals. In the first season, she reveals that her first job was at a Dairy Queen.
Her age seemed to have differed throughout the series. In "The One with the Mugging", it is implied that Phoebe is older than Ross, seeing as she was fourteen when he was 12. This episode made her possibly the oldest in the group. In "The One with the Jellyfish" (Season 4), Phoebe states that she is twenty-nine, placing her birth in approximately 1968. However, in "The One Where they're going to Party," (Season 4), Ross states he is also 29, which does not work with the previously mentioned two-year age gap. According to "The One With Frank Jr.", Phoebe was born on February 16; however, in Season 9 ("The One with Phoebe's Birthday Dinner") Phoebe's birthday is sometime in early November, since they could not make the reservations and the dinner had to be moved back to October 31. In "The One Where They All Turn Thirty" (Season 7), it is revealed that Phoebe was born a year earlier than she thought, believing she was 30 but was truly 31, which further adds to the inconsistency of her age throughout the show's run.
Phoebe occasionally uses the alter ego Regina Phalange (phalanges are bones in the fingers and toes.) The first reference to Regina Phalange is during season 5, when she pretends to be Dr. Regina Phalange, Ross' brain doctor, claiming that names are interchangeable in his mind. When the friends go to Vegas, Phoebe introduces herself to the blackjack dealer as Regina Phalange. When Phoebe, Rachel, and Melissa go out to lunch (The One With Rachel's Big Kiss), and Melissa asks if she was in a sorority, she pretends to be a member of "Thigh Mega Tampon", a fictional sorority that was allegedly shut down when Regina Phalange died of alcohol poisoning. She also used her fake name to show Chandler and Monica how easily people lie about their names and to help Chandler with his interviewing skills in season 8. In the season 10 episode "The One Where Joey Speaks French," Phoebe attempts to spare Joey from humiliation by introducing herself as "Régine Philangè" and stating that Joey is speaking an obscure regional dialect from her "hometown" of "Estée Lauder". She immediately switches to French and claims that Joey is her younger brother who is "un peu retardé" (a little retarded), and requesting that the casting director humor Joey's French-speaking abilities. The last reference is in the series finale when Phoebe successfully stalls Rachel's plane to Paris by saying there is a problem with the "left phalange", causing everyone on the plane to evacuate. The passengers are eventually convinced to return to the plane. When a woman skeptically asks an airport employee if "the phalange" was fixed, he replies, "Yes, the phalange is fixed! As a matter of fact, we put a whole lot of extra phalanges onboard, just in case!"
Phoebe dates different men through the series. She married a friend who is an ice skater so he could get a green card and eventually marries Mike Hannigan in Season 10, episode 12: The One With Phoebe's Wedding.
Chandler Bing and Phoebe are very good friends, and sometimes they are goofy and have fun with one another. In "The One with the Metaphorical Tunnel", Phoebe and Chandler play hide and seek. They also play games, like coming up with Superhero names and reclining the Barcaloungers like cowboys. They share a duet of "Endless Love" at the end of one episode, when Chandler is sad after a breakup with Janice. They spend a Thanksgiving pretending to watch football together to get out of helping to cook dinner, that Monica is preparing. They share a distaste for Monica's aggressive side, and instead of being angry at Phoebe for firing Monica as her wedding planner during the rehearsal dinner, he chuckles and raises his glass. Chandler jokes about everyone including Phoebe, making references to her being an alien from outer space in "The One with All the Resolutions" in Season 5. ("A plane? Better make it a space ship so you can get back to your home planet.") She seems to enjoy toying with him more as the seasons progress. In "The One Where Everyone Finds Out", she tries to trick him into believing that she is attracted to him, but Monica tells him that Phoebe finds him charming in a "sexless" way, indicating that any hints towards romance are jokes. She and Chandler face off in a seduction match they both know is a farce, with Chandler visibly more shaken, though Phoebe is also uncomfortable. They share an awkward kiss and Chandler almost touches her breast but awkwardly moves his hand to her shoulder. He pulls away, saying that Phoebe has won and he is in love with Monica.
On some occasions, Phoebe jokes that she has romantic feelings for Chandler, as in "The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth's Dad" when Phoebe tells Chandler that she will be waiting for him to make a move on her. In "The One with the Tea Leaves", Phoebe reads her tea leaves and learns that she will soon meet the man of her dreams. She says, "Probably not the guy I had a dream about last night" and then points towards Chandler and mouths the word "you". In "The One With All the Football" she throws Chandler off guard by flashing him. Chandler also asks Phoebe to help him select an engagement ring for Monica after she walks in on him looking at ring brochures. Chandler gives Phoebe away when she marries Mike, although Chandler is the only member of the group available; originally, Joey would have given her away but he is called on to perform the ceremony (he was ordained online for Monica and Chandler's wedding in season 7). Chandler tells her that she looks "beautiful", and she seems happy, waving and saying "Hi, new dad!". He and Monica play a role in getting Mike and Phoebe back together in Barbados. They also spend time together in "The One with the East German Laundry Detergent", both trying to dump their significant others; Phoebe points out that they should spend more time together. He responds that maybe later they can run over puppies, which she tells him she does not want to do. However, she breaks up with Janice on his behalf, and he states that they should always break up together, to which she responds, "I'd like that!". She also decides that she would name one of the surrogate children of her brother after Chandler after trying to decide between the name Chandler or Joey. Much to Chandler's embarrassment, the baby named Chandler turns out to be a girl, whom Alice calls "Channy Fanny".
Phoebe is the initial reason that Chandler quit smoking in "The One With the Thumb", after an argument between the group about his smoking he is leaving the apartment when she offers him $7,000 never to smoke again. Whether she actually does or not remains unspecified. Throughout the series Chandler is seen smoking several more times.
Phoebe and Joey Tribbiani appear to understand each other. They are the only members of the group who lack a college education. Joey is Phoebe's best male friend; they have dinner together once a month to talk about the rest of the group. Both characters show a softness for each other, even when joking or when they are upset with the others. In "The One with the Race Car Bed", it is implied that Phoebe can hear Joey's thoughts. In "The One With the Ride Along", she explains that "when the revolution comes, I will have to destroy you all...not you, Joey". When Rachel and Phoebe conspire to split up the group, Phoebe vigorously suggests to add Joey. In "The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel", when Ross makes a small pass at Joey, Phoebe responds with anger, "Hey! You could do a lot worse than Joey Tribbiani!" Joey is angered when Ross does not support his "identical hand twin" idea, and Joey says that none of the group can live in his hand-shaped mansion "except for you, Pheebs, you can live in the thumb". Later, she helps Joey by pretending to be Regina Phalange, a businesswoman interested in hiring identical hand twins. However, she says that she does not want her surrogate kids to "grow up in a world where Joey is right" after an argument in which Joey insisted all good deeds are selfish.
In The One with the Proposal, when Rachel and Phoebe decide to have back-ups (once they are forty, they will marry their back-ups) Phoebe has Ross and Joey as a back-up. Rachel writes Joey's and Ross' name on a napkin and which ever one they get is their back-up. Rachel gets Joey and Phoebe get Ross, but then they immediately switch. Joey respects Phoebe's knowledge of such things as reincarnation. Phoebe unsuccessfully tries to teach Joey how to speak French because he claims fluency on his résumé. She also tries to teach him the guitar, but forbids him to touch one, and they have a brief falling out when he seeks out a qualified teacher. Phoebe reportedly had a crush on Joey, and was jealous of his relationship with Ursula. Phoebe and Joey's relationship never goes past a kiss (which happens five times during the course of the show). Joey proposes to Phoebe in the episode "The One with the Red Sweater" thinking that she is pregnant and doesn't want her to 'go through it alone'. She responds with "Hell yeah, I'll marry you!", but before anything actually happens, Monica steps in and tells him that Rachel is the one who is actually pregnant, and that Phoebe was only covering for her. He takes back the proposal and asks for the ring back from Phoebe. In "The One Where They All Turn Thirty", Phoebe laments all the things she has failed to do before turning 31, including having "the perfect kiss" and meeting a Portuguese person. Joey kisses her and says, "Oh, I'm 1/16 Portuguese". Phoebe frequently hits on Joey. On two separate occasions Joey suggested that, since Ross and Rachel and Chandler and Monica had become couples, the two of them should do the same. She tells him that they will get married because she thinks that Chandler and Monica's marriage will fail. In her prediction, Joey marries Rachel for her children and Phoebe marries Chandler for his money, then they both get divorced and marry each other with Chandler's money and Rachel's children.
When Phoebe's identical twin sister, Ursula, breaks up with Joey without telling him, Phoebe poses as Ursula to give Joey some closure. Joey kisses the woman he believes to be Ursula, at which point he realizes it's actually Phoebe.
In spite of their usual friendship, Phoebe has occasionally disagreed with Joey, for example, when he tells her that no good deed is totally selfless, Phoebe becomes obsessed with proving him wrong: "I just gave birth to my brother's triplets and I will not let them be raised in a world where Joey is right!".
Kudrow later revealed in an interview that she and LeBlanc had pitched an idea to the writers involving Joey and Phoebe having casual sex all along, but the pitch was rejected. David Crane and Marta Kauffman have also said that they "always assumed Joey and Phoebe were having a secret affair".
In "The One With The Girl Who Hits Joey," Phoebe admits that she disliked Ross Geller when they first met but, as they got to know each other, she recognized him to be "really sweet and caring and very generous." Phoebe and Ross have very different ways of seeing the world and Ross is often excessively frustrated with her beliefs (or lack of them). His rationality and Phoebe's mannerisms led to conflict over the theories of evolution, gravity, and whether or not Phoebe's dead mother was reincarnated as a cat. It is revealed that Phoebe mugged Ross during her homeless years (stealing a copy of the comic book "Science Boy" that Ross had created) when they were teenagers, although Phoebe was slightly cheered about the discovery as she had always felt like an outsider to the group as she lacked the longer-term connections of the others. She mollified Ross by returning "Science Boy" to him, revealing that she had found it memorable enough to retain throughout the intervening years. The two were also roommates for a few weeks when a fire forced Phoebe to move into Chandler and Monica's apartment as Phoebe wanted to give the newly engaged couple some privacy.
In "The One with the Flashback", which is the sixth episode of the third season, the friends are sitting in the coffeehouse talking to Janice. Janice asks whether any of the group have slept together, and if so, who. When they deny that any of them have, she asks if any of them have "almost...", leading to the flashbacks. Ross meets up with Phoebe at a bar that later became Central Perk. where they are the only two people there, Phoebe having promised the manager that she would lock up when she leaves. Ross reveals to Phoebe that Carol is a lesbian. Phoebe consoles him, and they start kissing which leads to them attempting to have sex on the pool table. After a few obstacles (Ross hitting his head on the hanging lights, the pool balls getting in the way, Ross' foot getting stuck in one of the pockets) they realize that it would be a bad idea and laugh about it. The gang then walks in and they act like nothing had gone on.
She hits on Ross a couple of times, some in jest, others in an effort to get what she wants, like when she and Rachel compete to be maid of honor for Monica and Chandler's wedding. He sometimes returns the flirtations, as they boost his ego, but she usually makes him uncomfortable with her sexuality, like when she calls him "daddy" and asks him if he is going to spank her in the episode "The One with the Lottery". In "The One with George Stephanopoulos", she declares that she thinks Ross is "kind of cute". They kiss in "The One with All the Resolutions", and when Joey lies and says that Ross wanted to kiss her, she smirks and says it is obvious.
They debate the theories of evolution and gravity, and whether Phoebe's dead mother had been reincarnated as a cat. Phoebe suggests that, at some point in the future, she and Ross will have a disagreement that ends with her killing him. In "The One With Joey's Big Break", Phoebe claims to be mad at Ross but "can't remember" why. She remembers that he called her boring, but this turned out to be merely a dream. When she is getting ready to celebrate her birthday during the 9th season, Ross and Rachel say that only one of them can attend a dinner with her, she quickly chooses Rachel, leaving Ross to sarcastically comment – "Gee, thanks. I'll make sure to put a lot of thought into your gift". She finds it amusing to argue with Ross and get him riled up. Despite their differences, both always turn to one another for advice or help.
When Ross discovers that Phoebe has never ridden or owned a bike, he buys her an exact copy of a neighbor's bike that she used to envy. Phoebe loves the gift but is afraid to ride it until Ross, well aware of her habit of anthropomorphizing animals and objects, convinces her the bike will die unless she rides it. She scoffs at this, but when he leaves, she whispers to the bike, "Please don't die!" She ultimately rides the bike with training wheels. When Ross realizes that he is in love with Rachel, Phoebe pushes him to tell Rachel how he feels. She is also the one he chooses to tell that he did not annul his marriage to Rachel in season 6, and Phoebe stays loyal to his confidence. Ross and Phoebe sometimes turn to one another when they need emotional or sexual advice. Ross asks Phoebe for advice about telling Monica about Rachel moving in, and Phoebe turns to Ross for advice about Mike. Ross upsets Phoebe by telling her that he thought marriage was "too normal" for her, although it was okay for "a guy like him". He upsets her when discussing the fact that she had never had a long-term relationship, and then makes things worse by revealing that fact to Mike.
The two also bond over Ross's supposed musical talent. Despite the fact that Ross's music is rudimentary and reliant on sound effects such as doorbells, cow sounds and whistles, Phoebe is the only friend who thinks he's a genius that is "not appreciated in his own time", even going so far as to say she feels "dwarfed" by his "gift". She eventually hears it for what it is, although Ross feels that he intentionally plays poorly just once in order to make sure Phoebe continues to play. She also enjoys hearing him play the bagpipes, like in Season 7.
In the last episode of Friends, Phoebe drives Ross to the airport in her taxi, and delays Rachel's flight so that Ross can declare his love to Rachel. When they realize they have gone to the wrong airport, Phoebe calls Rachel and causes a commotion that delays the flight. Rachel initially turns him down, and Phoebe comforts him as he cries.
Although Phoebe and Monica Geller are close, Phoebe often finds her competitive and compulsive behavior bothersome. During one of Monica's outbursts Phoebe jokes about how she "woke the beast". When explaining why she is moving out of Monica's apartment, Phoebe says, "I need to live in a world where people can spill!" She moves out surreptitiously, taking one possession at a time to avoid discovery. Once she is discovered, she states that she still wishes to be Monica's friend. Before the first episode, she attempted to "cut Monica out" of her life. This is revealed in "The One With Ross's Tan" (Season 10) and causes a brief rift between them. They also clash when Monica becomes Phoebe's wedding planner and annoys Phoebe with her demanding behavior. Monica is annoyed and embarrassed when Phoebe sings outside of her restaurant; Phoebe responds by insulting Monica's cooking and restaurant.
During Monica and Chandler's engagement, Monica tells Rachel and Phoebe that she cannot decide who to pick to be her maid of honor at the wedding, so leaves the decision to them. Initially, it is decided that Phoebe could be Monica's maid of honor, as Phoebe says that she has never been a maid of honor for anyone before. When Rachel discovers that this is not true, Joey and Ross hold a competition in which Rachel and Phoebe act out potential maid of honor scenarios. Phoebe wins, but later tells Rachel that she can be Monica's maid of honor since it means more to her. Phoebe is soon glad, however, that she does not have to put up with Monica's controlling nature during the planning. When Monica takes control of Phoebe's wedding, Phoebe tells Monica that she is tired of her bossiness and fires her, though she later becomes overwhelmed with the wedding duties and asks for Monica's help again.
Phoebe and Rachel Green are roommates for a time in season six, although this leads to some minor clashes. Rachel becomes embarrassed at Phoebe's jogging style but then runs like Phoebe after realizing that she hurt her feelings. Phoebe admits that, if she had to choose which of her two female friends to have a lesbian relationship with, she would pick Rachel because she is not as high-maintenance as Monica. At the end of the episode, Rachel tells Phoebe that she would pick her above Monica to have a relationship. At one point, Phoebe insults Rachel's waitressing, saying to her, "Yeah, otherwise someone might actually get what they ordered". This sparks a huge fight between some of the other friends.
In season 2, episode 16, "The One Where Joey Moves Out", Phoebe talks Rachel into getting tattoos together. Rachel has a heart tattooed on her hip, but Phoebe ends up getting only a tiny blue dot because she can't stand the pain of the needles. She rationalizes it by saying the blue dot is what Earth looks like from where her mother would see it, in heaven.
When Emily and Ross are together, Rachel offends Phoebe by saying she thought Phoebe would be "the first to leave the group". When trying to comfort Phoebe, Rachel says that they should leave and make their own group because they are "the best ones". Phoebe agrees and says, "Alright, but let's try to get Joey".
The pair get closer as the show goes on, but Rachel is forced to move out when a fire destroys their home. When it is rebuilt, Phoebe thinks Rachel would rather live with Joey. She tries to make life miserable for Rachel in Joey's apartment so that Rachel will move back in with her. After it is apparent that the two can no longer share an apartment due to the rebuilding, Rachel lives with Joey. In the seventh season, Rachel claims that she had kissed a girl (her old college friend Melissa played by Winona Ryder) but Phoebe does not believe her. So, Rachel brings Phoebe to dinner with Melissa, who denies it at first but later states that she is a lesbian and has never forgotten the kiss. When Melissa leaves, Phoebe kisses Rachel to find out "what all the fuss was about". Rachel, looking shocked asks, "And?" Phoebe shrugs and says, "I've had better".
In Season 9, Joey introduces Phoebe to Mike Hannigan by randomly selecting him for a date with Phoebe. Phoebe and Mike begin a long relationship, which temporarily ends after Phoebe learns that Mike, having already been through one failed marriage, never wants to marry again. Mike then learns that Phoebe's first boyfriend, David, is planning to propose to her; he changes his mind about marriage and proposes to Phoebe before David can. Phoebe rejects the proposal because she only wanted to know that marriage was a possibility; she and Mike become a couple again. They become officially engaged in "The One Where Rachel's Sister Baby-Sits". In "The One with Phoebe's Wedding" during the final season, they are married in the street outside Central Perk, with Monica as matron of honor, Rachel as a bridesmaid, Joey officiating, Chandler giving Phoebe away, and Ross holding Mike's childhood dog as a groomsman.
When she changes her name after the wedding, Phoebe learns she can change it to anything. She briefly becomes "Princess Consuela Bananahammock" but requests that the friends call her "Valerie". To show her how ridiculous it sounds, Mike suggests changing his name to "Crap Bag". Phoebe relents but wants to keep the name "Bananahammock" until learning that it is slang for a Speedo. She changes her name to Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan.
Despite her first marriage to Duncan Sullivan, it was once indicated that Phoebe was previously married in Las Vegas at some point in the past. She indicates her belief that people married in Las Vegas are only married within the city limits, and is surprised when Monica informs her such a union is legal all over the world. After a moment of mild distress, she shrugs off the revelation.
Phoebe's pregnancy during Season 4 was to account for Lisa Kudrow's actual pregnancy. Kudrow gave birth to a boy after production ended for the season.
Phoebe's first line on the show was "Wait, does he eat chalk? Just, 'cause, I don't want her to go through what I went through with Carl". Phoebe's last line is "So, I guess this is it" before everyone leaves Monica and Chandler's apartment.
Kathy Griffin, Jane Lynch, and Megan Mullally all auditioned for the role of Phoebe. Lisa Kudrow won the role because the producers liked her recurring role as Ursula, the waitress in Mad About You. The characters were connected to make them twin sisters. The producers said they liked the elements of Lisa in Ursula, but they needed Phoebe to be a lot more humorous.
Kudrow received praise for her performance of her performance of Phoebe Buffay. TV Guide ranked her #11 on their list of "TV's Top 100 Characters". Entertainment Weekly voted Phoebe Buffay on Friends as Lisa Kudrow's best performance.
- "The One With Joey's Bag"
- "Lisa Kudrow – Biography". TV.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
- As said in "The One with the Halloween Party".
- As shown in The One with the Flashback".
- Season 2, Episode 18, The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies, 05:00, "Monica: Phoebe is crazy."
- Season 5, Episode 6, The One With The Yeti, 09:06, "Rachel: Phoebe? Honey? Honey, I know you are quirky and I get a big kick out of it. We all do, actually. But..."
- Season 7, Episode 10, The One With the Holiday Armadillo, 01:09, "Rachel: You may need to use this year to teach Ben about Phoebe."
- Season 10, Episode 12, The One With Phoebe's Wedding, 26:14, "Mike: Phoebe, you are so beautiful; you're so kind, you're so generous; you're so wonderfully weird. Every day with you is an adventure."
- Season 6, Episode 12, The One With The Joke, "Rachel: ...but you, Phoebe, are flaky. Monica: Ha! Phoebe: That's true, I am flaky. Rachel: So, you're just okay with being flaky?"
- Season 1, Episode 22, The One With the Ick Factor, 02:50, "Chandler: Well, Pheebs, I don't know if it is your kind of thing because It involves a lot of being normal for a large portion of the day. Phoebe: I could do that."
- Season 2, Episode 15, The One Where Ross and Rachel... You Know,03:20, "Phoebe: Okay, I can be a waitress! I can be a waitress! [...] Monica: Really, Pheebs? Because, you know, you'd have to be an actual waitress. This can't be like your 'I can be a bear cub' thing."
- Season 3, Episode 1, The One With the Princess Leia Fantasy, 01:50, "Phoebe: Okay! That explains it! I got a call at 2 in the morning and all I could hear was this high squeaky sound. So, I thought it's like a mouse or a possum. Then I realized, like, okay, where would a mouse or possum get the money to make the phone call?"
- Season 5, Episode 22, The One With Joey's Big Break, 17:47, "Ross: Why are you mad at me? [...] Phoebe: Remember that time on the frozen lake? We were playing chess. You said I was boring. Then you took off your energy mask and you were Cameron Diaz – Okay, this may have been a dream."
- Season 6, Episode 2, The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel, 01:13, "Phoebe: [...] Your tombstone could say whatever you want it to say. [...] Mine's gonna say 'Phoebe Buffay: Buried alive!'"
- Season 6, Episode 15, The One That Could Have Been 1, 01:01, "Phoebe: At that time, I thought everything that rhymed was true. So, I thought if I worked with stocks, I'd have to live in a box and only eat lox and have a pet fox." Phoebe eventually abandons most of her strange personality in the last few seasons.
- Bob Leszczak (25 June 2015). From Small Screen to Vinyl: A Guide to Television Stars Who Made Records, 1950-2000. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 269. ISBN 978-1-4422-4274-6.
- "Taylor Swift sang Smelly Cat with Lisa Kudrow on stage". BBC. 2015-08-27. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
- Bright, Kevin S. (November 15, 2005). Friends: Final Thoughts. New Wave Entertainment.
- Wild, David (2004). Friends ...'Til the End. London: Headline. p. 209. ISBN 0-7553-1321-6.
- "Lisa Kudrow Dishes It Out". Entertainment Weekly (1026). December 19, 2008. Retrieved November 25, 2011.