Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan is a fictional character on the popular US television sitcom Friends (1994–2004), played by Lisa Kudrow. She is perhaps best known for her guitar playing in Central Perk and her elaborate improbable stories about her previous lives. Phoebe was known throughout the series as the eccentric, sometimes unintelligent but street smart, friend.
Phoebe and her twin sister, Ursula, are the result of a sexual relationship between Phoebe Abbott, Frank Buffay and Lily Buffay. Phoebe Abbott wasn't ready to be a mother, so Lily and Frank adopted both twins and raised them together. Frank abandoned Lily and the twins, and then later married another woman. Her step-father went to prison, and Lily committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Phoebe was living on her own on the streets of New York City by the age of 14. At one time, she lived in a burnt-out Buick LeSabre. She never attended high school or college, but she ostensibly met behind a dumpster with a small group of three to learn French. She became fluent in French, as evidenced in "The One Where Joey Speaks French." She also speaks some Italian, and has a short conversation in Italian with Joey's grandmother, Nonnie in "The One Where Ross Can't Flirt." Her language skills are treated somewhat inconsistently. She misunderstands when one of Monica's assistants introduces himself as a sous-chef, and she does not appear to understand Rachel's Italian boyfriend, Paolo. Neither can any the other five friends.
Phoebe occasionally resorted to mugging to survive. At one point, when she was 14, she mugged Ross. (This was when these future friends were still strangers). One of the stolen items was the only existing copy of Ross's comic book, Science Boy ("The One With The Mugging").