Joe Penhale is the local police officer in the town. He suffers from agoraphobia, which causes him to become nervous in crowds, and narcolepsy, which means he falls asleep at random times. He has a weak voice, is clumsy, and often interrupts important events. As an example, during the funeral service of Martin’s aunt, Joan Norton, while everyone was singing a hymn, Joe asked for the person who owned a navy blue Mercedes, which was parked wrongly.

Joe has been married once before, to a woman named Maggie. In Season 8, Joe prepares for a wedding to marry Janice, whom he had known for a few days. During his supposed wedding ceremony, the new vicar starts to talk bluntly to Janice and Joe about their impulse, and she tells them that they needed to get to know each other better before deciding to marry. Joe then hollers and passes a kidney stone in the belfry, and then insists that the ceremony be resumed. Janice leaves him at the altar.