Monica E. Geller-Bing (born April 22, 1970) is a fictional character on the popular US television sitcom Friends (1994-2004), played by Courteney Cox Arquette. Monica is known as the "Mother Hen" of the group and her Greenwich Village apartment(apartment 5 in the first six episodes and then more respectively apartment 20) was one of the group's main gathering places. She tended to look after her friends and was known for her obsessive personality and competitive nature.
Monica is the younger sister of Ross Geller
, the high school friend of Rachel Green
, the former roommate of Phoebe Buffay
, and eventually, the wife of Ross' college friend Chandler Bing
. Over the course of Friends,
it was revealed Monica began life as an extremely overweight child, ballooning up to 255 pounds by high school. Monica was shown in her earlier "fat" stage in flashback scenes in a few episodes, with Courteney Cox Arquette wearing a fat suit
Monica met Ross' friend Chandler when he and Ross were in college. After overhearing Chandler call her fat, Monica lost the excess weight sometime during her freshman year of college, (which is when she accidentally cuts off Chandler's toe). Chandler originally suggested that she should become a chef, which she eventually did. Monica and Chandler got together in London during the Season 4 finale; they were married in the Season 7 finale.
Monica initially shared her New York City apartment with Phoebe, who moved out before the series actually began, fearing their relationship would be strained because of Monica's obsessive neatness. For most of the series, Monica's roommate was Rachel, her friend from Lincoln High School. 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.
Her catchphrase is a loud excited and exaggerated "I KNOW!" which some of the friends are known to use in the same way one time or another throughout the series.
Although Monica and Ross are usually quite affectionate towards each other, a great deal of competition exists between them. When they were children, Ross often took his pranks on Monica too far, and was very mean to her. Although she has since forgiven him, they often fall back into childish brother/sister arguments. In many episodes, Ross and Monica resorted to an odd childhood gesture whereby they would knock their fists together with their thumbs pointing outward (as an alternative to "the finger
"). Joey and Rachel started picking up this habit.
In Season 10 Monica and Ross shockingly find out that they have kissed each other at a party back in their teenage years (Ross was in college at the time). Ross explains that he went to his bed in the dark and kissed Rachel (who was buried under a pile of coats) while she was passed out on his bed. Chandler then explained that he left Rachel on his bed, which meant Monica was the one asleep on Ross's bed. Ross was confused and said that Rachel was buried under a bunch of coats, then Monica replied "I WAS the pile of coats!" Ross was very disappointed that Monica was his "first kiss with Rachel" while Monica was even more disappointed that Ross was her "midnight mystery kisser", as well as her very first kiss.
Monica and Ross are especially competitive when their parents are around, and Monica feels her parents favor Ross. Judy Geller tends to be very critical of Monica and sometimes forgets (seemingly) that she has two children. In one episode, Ross and Chandler each place fake entries on their internet college forum about one another. Chandler states that Ross has died, and during a phone call between Ross and his mother, while trying to reassure her that he is not dead, he says, "Even if I had died you wouldn't be left childless." His mother seemingly forgets about her daughter as Ross looks up to the camera and sharply states "Monica?", reminding her of her daughter's existence. Similarly, when Rachel and Monica are trying to help Phoebe get ready to meet Mike's parents, Rachel says that Ross' mom once referred to her as "the daughter she never had".
Other examples of Monica feeling neglected by her family include:
- Her parents not wanting her to make the main toast at their 35th wedding anniversary party after which they force Ross to make a speech as well (they prefer Ross's speeches because they make people cry). Although she was given a chance to make a speech, it wasn't as moving since it was planned and written on index cards. When Ross tries to comfort her with another speech the next day, she becomes touched and starts crying.
- Having her childhood room turned into a gym while Ross's was untouched.
- Having all of her old mementos destroyed by water damage in her parents garage, while Ross' all remained in perfect condition (although her dad gave her his Porsche 911 to make it up to her, much to Ross's jealousy).
- In the episode, 'The One With Phoebe's Birthday Dinner', Monica states, in surprise, 'Mom's here!', explaining that she wanted to lunch with her but she said she was out of town.
- Her father having used her wedding fund for the purchase of a beach house.
Judy Geller is always telling Monica to get married. Jack Geller, Monica's father is Jewish, while her mother Judy is not (so, technically, neither her or Ross are Jewish as Judaism comes through the mother's side). In "The One with the Holiday Armadillo", Ross goes over to Monica's apartment, and introduces Ben to Hanukkah. Also, Ross talks about getting Monica a Hanukkah present several times. Monica also mentions that she had a Bat Mitzvah.
During the Season 8 finale in the hospital, Judy ignores Monica when she waves to her. Her relationship with her father is somewhat closer, however. After her breakup with Richard, Jack visits Monica just to check on her. In season one's second episode The One with the Sonogram at the End Jack tells Monica not to listen to her mother and that he is proud that she is independent. He also praises her being clever as he talks of how much she used to read and enjoy doing puzzles. He often refers to her as his "little Harmonica." Monica and Chandler name their son Jack after her father.
Chandler and Monica
Monica began a secret relationship with her close friend Chandler in London, at Ross' disastrous wedding to second wife Emily Waltham
at the end of Season 4; after a drunken party guest mistook Monica as Ross' mother, Chandler provided emotional support for Monica. At one point he tells her that she is often "the most beautiful thing in the room." This eventually led to the two having sex on the night before Ross' wedding. As their affair turned into a deeper relationship, Monica and Chandler attempted to keep it secret from their friends, with Ross being the last to find out in the middle of Season 5 when he looked out of his new apartment window and saw them kissing. After nearly getting married in Las Vegas in the Season 5 finale, Chandler moved in with Monica when they returned to New York (Season 6), causing Rachel to have to move out of Monica's apartment. Following a year-long engagement which took place during the Season 6 finale, the two married and in the Season 7 finale. In the Series Finale, they watched as their adopted twins, Jack and Erica
, were born.
Monica and Chandler almost didn't get engaged because one of Monica's ex-boyfriends, Richard Burke (played by Tom Selleck), came back into her life. Richard was significantly older than Monica (21 years) but the two fell in love during Season 2. They broke up at the end of that season because Monica wanted marriage and children, and Richard was not interested in having children again. A chance meeting with Monica during Season 6 rekindled Richard's passion, and he told her that he was willing to have kids if it meant he could be with her. However, Monica only thought about what he had to say because she believed Chandler never wanted to get married (Chandler tried to convince Monica of this so that his proposal would be a complete surprise). Monica realized this and did not pursue anything with Richard. Richard also chose not to pursue a relationship when he discovered that Chandler was going to propose to Monica; instead he stepped aside so the two of them could be together. Monica and Chandler had a romantic wedding - aside from Joey's questionable attire (and his marrying them), and discovering that Rachel was pregnant.
"Neat Freak" Monica is comically obsessive
about the state of her apartment and loves cleaning (she described the dry cleaner as her Disneyland
). This personality trait became progressively exaggerated as the series progressed. Examples of this tendency include:
- She categorizes her towels into 11 sections, with examples being "Everyday use," "Fancy," "Guest," and "Fancy Guest." ('The One with the Embryos')
- She labels everything from dishes to photographs.
- Chandler was able to wake her up by announcing that he "probably won't spill coffee grounds all over the kitchen floor."
- When Ross tells her that an ex-girlfriend has an incredibly messy apartment, Monica is unable to sleep knowing about it; at the end of the episode (after Ross has broken up with the girl) Monica shows up to clean for her.
- In Season 1, she tried to act like she was a "kook" and didn't care about organization when she left her shoes out in the living room, but stayed up wondering if she should go and get them.
- In another episode it is learned that she has supplies for cleaning cars, when she doesn't even have a car, because there was a dirty car parked out front of the building. She went ahead and washed it, along with six others.
- In season 5, Rachel didn't want to go to an eye doctor appointment, and tried to stop Monica by knocking over a box of cereal making a mess. Monica at first pretends not to be bothered by it and they leave the apartment. However, Monica then re-enters seconds later, yelling "Chandler!" causing Chandler to clean it up.
- In Season 6, it's revealed that Rachel has not even begun packing when she is supposed to have finished already. Rachel defends herself, saying it was a gift to Monica. Monica begins by choosing herself as coordinator and says "I'm so sorry, I didn't get you anything!"
- She is obsessive to the point that she even cleans her cleaning supplies, using a Dustbuster to remove dirt from a vacuum cleaner and wishing there were an even smaller vacuum to clean the Dustbuster.
- In Season 10, when Phoebe tells her that they couldn't meet up because she was "cleaning and organizing" her apartment for Mike to move in, Monica "forgets" this and goes to Phoebe's apartment with her label-maker
- In Season 3, when Mark asks Rachel why all the numbers in the cups are labeled, Rachel claims that Monica labels the cups to know which one is missing.
- After Rachel's birthday party, Rachel offered help to Monica for cleaning up to which Monica replies, "Are you kidding? You had your party, now I'll have mine!"
- In one episode, Rachel is talking to Phoebe about her kiss with Gavin, when 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"
- In another episode, Chandler cleans and the entire apartment (after moving in) as a surprise to Monica, Ross discovers him doing this and explains to him that she will "kill" him if everything is not back in the exact place it was originally in. She returns home after a hard day at work and notices that the house is different (even though it appears to be the same). Also, Rachel also cleans the apartment during the first season (the "Kook" episode), and moves the green ottoman, which makes Monica very 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"
- During the time when 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 to this nervously that "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 replies, "Oh no, was I cleaning in my sleep again?"
Monica is highly competitive, once allegedly throwing a plate in a fit of rage during a game of Pictionary
, and once declaring that "rules help control the fun!" When Joey and Ross were once just casually tossing a ball back and forth in Joey's apartment, Monica joined in and turned it into a super-competitive challenge to see how long they could go without dropping it. She also 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 of the most dramatic examples 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 later won their apartment back when they agreed to kiss for one minute.
Monica also demonstrates athletic prowess, which, coupled with her competitive streak, makes her formidable against the guys, 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. Also, in their youth, Monica broke Ross's nose when a game of touch American football turned ugly in an attempt to win the "Geller Cup." The said cup was then thrown into a nearby lake. What Ross didn't know until "The One with the Football" was that Monica dove in the lake to retrieve the cup.
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 won the upper hand in their disputes. After they got together, she explained to him that "You don't get to win anymore."
- When Monica became Phoebe's wedding planner, she ordered the events run on "military time". She also angrily tapped her watch and cleared her throat when Phoebe's speech ran too long, disguising it when the other friends looked at her.
- In Season 5, she and Phoebe co-coordinated Rachel's surprise birthday party, and Monica put herself in charge of everything except for the cups and ice, which she gave Phoebe responsibility for. Out of spite, Phoebe goes all out and surprises Monica by bringing hundreds of cups (which she even decorates with) and various types of ice, including crushed, cubed, and dry.
- While Monica and Phoebe were living together, Monica once apologized to Phoebe for leaving lipstick all over the phone. When Phoebe told her that she didn't, Monica replied "Oh, well, then it must have been you!"
Relationships and children
Monica is repeatedly depicted as wanting to be in a relationship and have children. Before and after her relationship with Richard, she frequently worries about not having a boyfriend. Early in the series, Monica longed to have a child and broke up with Richard explicitly due to his refusal to have children. After Richard, Monica seriously considered bearing a child as a single mother
through artificial insemination
. Interestingly, even 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 she married Chandler they attempted to conceive children, but failed. They then considered adoption and finally were chosen by a pregnant teenager named Erica. They were chosen because the adoption agency made an error and said Chandler was a doctor and that Monica was a minister. After a long conversation Chandler convinced Erica to still give them a baby. She agreed and in the last episode of friends it was announced that she was having twins. After the birth Monica and Chandler decided to name them Erica Bing after the birth mother and Jack Bing after Monica's father.
It is revealed early in the series that she had been obese
as a child and teenager. Monica kept the weight until she was 18, then lost it after she overheard Chandler call her "fat" at a past Thanksgiving and lost the weight by dancing non-stop of a dancefloor for several hours continuosly for several weeks. 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!" 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 remembers their past Thanksgivings, one flashback reveals why Monica lost all the weight. In an alternate reality
storyline during the show ("The One That Could Have Been
"), Monica was still overweight, but nonetheless kept her occupation as a chef and still ended up in love with Chandler, who was a freelance writer. Alternate Monica's weight makes it difficult to meet interested men, and she reveals that she is still a virgin before she and Chandler have sex. As revealed in another episode, a junior high school member was needed to play with her on the see-saw. 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."
Monica is a chef
, and, as with most areas of her life, she is obsessive and competitive about it. Monica uses Chantal
cookware in blue. Originally, she merely worked as a poorly paid chef at a restaurant called Iridium. After accepting a promotion, 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 blonde wig, rollerskates and massive fake breasts. While working at the diner, she met millionaire Pete Becker 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.
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 due to the fact that 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 found out about, and accepted, her new job as head chef at Javu, an upscale restaurant in Manhattan, forcing her to remain in New York.
When Courteney Cox Arquette
landed on the cast of Friends, she was asked to play the role of Rachel Green
but she thought she should take the role of Monica Geller instead. Maggie Wheeler
also auditioned for the part but ended up playing recurring character Janice Litman Goralnik (née Hosenstein) instead. Actress Jami Gertz
was offered and declined the role of Monica before Friends
went into production.
The role of Monica was originally conceived as the oldest of the friends, but was changed after Cox Arquette was cast. This is ironic because Cox is older than the rest of the Friends actors except Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe.
Monica's apartment was one of the main focal points of the series. Many critics of the show began to question how Monica could ever afford the apartment on a chef's salary, so the writers of Friends came up with the explanation that she illegally sublet the apartment from her grandmother, who had moved to Florida. In the series finale, Chandler remarks to his newborn child, "Thanks to rent control, it was a friggin' steal."
Early in the series, the writers were going to have a relationship between Monica and Joey rather than Chandler. This can be picked up on the fact that she had a crush on Joey when he first moves in and is even sneaked in when it's revealed that Monica was looking for Joey on the eve of Ross' wedding, not Chandler.
Monica utters the first line in the show: "there's nothing to tell, he's just some guy I work with."