Friends season 3 saw Joey wearing a sling in a couple of episodes, and that wasn’t something the writers had planned – here’s what happened.
There was a time in Friends where Joey appeared wearing a sling, but why was that? Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, Friends premiered on NBC in 1994 and came to an end in 2004 after 10 successful seasons. Friends is often regarded as one of the best TV shows ever, and even though over a decade has passed since it came to an end, its fanbase has recently expanded thanks to its arrival to the world of streaming through HBO Max, which has also allowed long-time fans to revisit the series and notice some details they never caught before, as well as wonder about some of the actions of the characters.
Friends is all about a group of six young adults living in New York City and dealing with adulthood as best as they can, juggling their social, personal, and professional lives, which more often than not end up clashing. Over the course of 10 seasons, viewers got to know Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, Joey, Rachel, and Ross quite well and saw them grow in all aspects of their lives, but they never lost their essence. Such is the case of Joey (Matt LeBlanc), who got involved in all types of fun though sometimes dumb situations throughout Friends, and on one occasion, he ended up wearing a sling for a couple of episodes, and that wasn’t exactly a decision taken by the writers of the show.
Season 3’s episode “The One with the Jam” opens with Chandler and Joey at their apartment, and while Chandler is just chilling, Joey can be heard jumping on the bed. Seconds later, it’s heard that Joey falls, and the next time viewers see him, his arm is in a sling. The episode carries on without much acknowledgment of Joey’s injury, and he was finally able to free himself from it a couple of episodes later. Joey’s injury wasn’t scripted, and it was a real injury that, as told by Matt LeBlanc, happened while filming the previous episode, “The One Where No One’s Ready”, one of Friends’ few bottle episodes.
Matt LeBlanc shared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2017 that when they were filming “The One Where No One’s Ready” he dislocated his shoulder during the scene where he and Chandler are fighting over the chair. LeBlanc had to jump over the coffee table to sit on the chair, as seen in the episode, but while trying to do so he landed between the table and the chair, upside down, and in order to break the fall as he was going to land on his head, he put his arm up and his shoulder “exploded”. The audience thought it was part of the show and laughed, while LeBlanc went backstage in pain. He added that once he was there, Anthony Edwards from E.R. happened to be watching how the episode was being shot, and he thought he was hallucinating as he wasn’t a real doctor.
As a result of Matt LeBlanc’s dislocated shoulder, the writers added the scene of Joey jumping on the bed and falling to justify him wearing a sling, and it was such a Joey thing to do that viewers didn’t really question it at the time. Joey’s injury in Friends season 3 is yet another fun story the cast has to tell, and it was added so subtly that fans didn’t really wonder about it for years until the true story behind it was shared.
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