There is no Friends character more divisive than Ross. Even nearly three decades after the show first aired, the neurotic paleontologist is still the source of endless debate, the subject of listicles and think pieces that beg the question: Is Ross Geller the greatest or worst character on Friends?
On the one hand, he’s pretty awful. He was a terrible boyfriend, not only to Rachel but to the many women he dated during the show’s ten seasons. He’s at times extremely whiny, defensive, and arrogant. He loses his cool over a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich, dramatically calling it the only good thing going on in his life before his job forces him to take a sabbatical. He has a seemingly rough time gauging basic distances, whether he’s forcing his new couch up a narrow flight of stairs or trying to inch his new red sports car out of a parallel parking spot. Most importantly, he hates ice cream!
But Ross is also the most amusing character on the show, the whimsical loser who never really stood a chance at being the most beloved. He spent his formative years pining for his best friend’s sister, making out with the high school librarian and his college maid — all before his wife left him for another woman. His five friends would continuously smart-shame him for having a PhD, rolling their eyes at his mere mention of a dinosaur or mocking him for being a grammar nazi. He was an intellectual with an extremely wounded soul, someone who slept with an air purifier and boasted about having traveler’s insurance.
It’s difficult to imagine anyone more suited for the role than David Schwimmer. Co-creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane specifically wrote the part with him in mind after he auditioned for another pilot of theirs called Couples. He had also made a name for himself in the short-lived Henry Winkler sitcom Monty and his appearance on NYPD Blue. Before taking the role of Ross, Schwimmer was about to quit television. We’re so glad he didn’t.
This list rank’s Ross’ best moments. We purposely left out his relationship milestones, focusing less on him saying the wrong name at the altar and more him on seeking revenge on a luxury hotel by stealing lightbulbs and overstocking on tampons. He’s the nutty neurotic we just can’t get enough of.
[Editor’s Note: a version of this list was originally published in September 2019]