||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (July 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|First appearance||"The Pilot"
|Last appearance||"The Last One, Part 2"
|Created by||David Crane
Ross Geller, Ph.D., is a fictional character from the NBC sitcom Friends, portrayed by David Schwimmer. Ross is considered by many to be the smartest member of the group and is noted for his goofy, lovable demeanor. His relationship with Rachel Green was included in TV Guide's list of the best TV couples of all time, as well as Entertainment Weekly's "30 Best 'Will They/Won't They?' TV Couples".
Ross is a paleontologist and has a Ph.D. from Columbia University, frequently referring to himself as "Dr. Ross Geller." He is noted for being charming, lovelorn, witty, and shy. He has had a crush on Rachel Green since high school, and they have an on-again, off-again romantic relationship.
Born on October 18, 1967, and raised on Long Island, Ross is the older brother of Monica Geller. Ross and Monica are Jewish and see themselves as at least cultural Jews, with Ross taking a more active role in wanting to teach his son, Ben, about the faith.
The two siblings are extremely competitive. They tell the others that, as children, they used to take part in a football match for the Geller Cup every Thanksgiving. This ended in its sixth year after Monica "accidentally" broke Ross's nose. They also tell Rachel that they used to wrestle as children and had various complications in their relationship, such as Ross having a recurring nightmare that the then-overweight Monica would eat him. They also came up with a dance in primary school called "The Routine", which later on allowed them to perform in a New Year's Eve TV broadcast.
Ross often comes into conflict with his close friend, Phoebe Buffay. His rationality and Phoebe's eccentricity lead to conflict over evolution, gravity and whether Phoebe's mother was reincarnated as a cat. It is also revealed that Phoebe once mugged Ross (stealing a copy of the comic book Science Boy that Ross had created) when they were teenagers. The two are roommates for a few weeks when a fire forces Phoebe to move into Chandler Bing and Monica's apartment and Phoebe wants to give the newly engaged couple some privacy. In a "flashback" episode, they are alone at the bar and start kissing, but the moment quickly passes when Ross keeps bumping his head.
Ross's best friend since college is Chandler. In college, they were in a band called Way/No Way, and Ross blamed Chandler when he was caught smoking marijuana. Chandler becomes Ross's brother-in-law after he marries Monica. Ross is also close friends with Joey Tribbiani and helps him with movie and stage auditions. He kisses Joey once in order to help him practice a role as a gay man, only to find out that Joey had already done the audition and didn't get the part. They also briefly try to cut Chandler out of their friend group after he ignores them. Toward the end of the series, however, Ross and Joey are seen to become closer friends, often hanging out together after Chandler gets married.
Over the course of the show, Ross dates a considerable number of women, and was married three times and divorced three times. This became a running gag within the series. However, his most significant relationship is with the love of his life, best friend and high school crush, Rachel Green.
Ross divorces his first wife, Carol, when she reveals that she is a lesbian and is having an affair with Susan Bunch, whom she met at the gym. He, Carol, and Susan all learn to get along as Carol is expecting Ross's baby. Ross and Susan argue almost constantly right up to the birth of their son, Ben. When complaining that she has no official part in Ben's life, like Ross, Phoebe makes them realize that they would all be parents to Carol and Ross's son. Ross later helps Carol and Susan reconcile when they have an argument about Carol's parents' disapproval of their marriage. Although throughout the show Ross and Susan still have a hatred towards each other, they manage to get along throughout the show around Carol and others.
While in China, Ross meets Julie (Lauren Tom), an old graduate school colleague. She first appears in the final scene of the season 1 finale. They start dating in season 2 but break up after Ross discovers Rachel's feelings for him and he decides he wants to be with her instead.
Rachel is Ross's most significant relationship in the series. His attraction to her is established early on; Ross met Rachel through his sister Monica, who was Rachel's best friend in high school. He developed an unrequited crush on her, but never followed through on it. After leaving college, Ross married Carol, whom he had met at college, and had seemingly put his feelings for Rachel aside before he met her again in the pilot episode.
Their early relationship is marked by mutually exclusive affection for one another, with each realizing their feelings for the other at inopportune moments, usually when one of them is first dating someone new (i.e. when Ross starts dating Julie in the Season Two). Rachel finally learns about Ross's feelings for her in the first season finale, "The One Where Rachel Finds Out". She realizes that she has feelings for him too. She goes to meet him at the airport but leaves brokenhearted when she sees him returning from China with a new girlfriend: Julie, a former classmate he met while in China. She spends the first six episodes of the second season struggling with it, until admitting that she is "over him" in a drunk-dial to Ross in "The One Where Ross Finds Out". Ross is very confused at first, and they have an argument about Rachel's confession and how it was "unfair" to Ross since he is dating Julie. However, the argument ends with them kissing anyway. Later, Ross is unable to decide if he wants to stay with Julie or break up with her to date Rachel, his long-time crush. Chandler advises him to make a list of the pros and cons of dating both women. Ross dumps Julie but Rachel accidentally sees the list and is highly offended by it, she gets mad and cancels the relationship. They reconcile in "The One with the Prom Video" when Monica discovers a video from her and Rachel's prom night. On the video Rachel is seen crying because she thinks her prom date has stood her up. Wanting to comfort her, Ross's parents convince him to take Rachel to the prom himself. Ross goes to his room to dress up and get ready, only to find when he returns, that Rachel's date has arrived and is taking Rachel to the prom after all. Rachel, who had no clue of these events back then, is so moved by the romantic gesture that she kisses Ross and the two start officially dating.
Ross and Rachel argue during the third season, primarily due to Ross's insecurities that lead to a pattern of bizarre behaviors. After Rachel quits her job at the coffee house, Joey helps her get a job at a small fashion house but she is given all the menial tasks, like making coffee, and is clearly unhappy about it. While telling Monica about it at her place of work, she meets a stranger named Mark who works at Bloomingdale's, and he tells her that there is a vacancy in his office and offers to get her an interview. Rachel gets the job and works in the same office as Mark. Unfortunately this makes Ross jealous as he, Chandler and Joey are convinced that Mark has an ulterior motive. Due to working long hours, Rachel starts to become more distant which feeds Ross's insecurities even more. Consequently, he inundates Rachel with gifts, frequently calls her at work, hires people to sing for her while she works and even shows up at her office uninvited which angers Rachel. This comes to a head in "The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break". After a bitter argument about Ross' jealousy, Rachel suggests they put their relationship on hold by "taking a break" which Ross interprets as her breaking up and storms out. On the same night, while out with Chandler and Joey, Ross gets very drunk and upset and has sex with another woman, Chloe. In the next episode, "The One with the Morning After", Rachel calls Ross and admits that she loves him and she wants them to stay together. Ross agrees but fails to keep what happened with Chloe a secret when the information is passed around until it reaches Gunther, the owner of Central Perk, who doesn't hesitate to tell Rachel since he is completely in love with her. She confronts him in Monica's apartment and they talk all night, unaware that the whole gang are in Monica's bedroom and hear the whole conversation. In the end, Rachel is unable to look past the infidelity and ends the relationship altogether. This leads to a running gag about Ross' insistence that they were on break.
Despite this, Ross and Rachel continue to have an on-again off-again relationship. In season 3's final episode, Rachel, after sabotaging Ross's relationship with Bonnie by persuading her to shave her head, admits she still has feelings for Ross. In season 4's "The One with the Jellyfish", she writes him a big letter (18 pages, front and back) in which she agrees to forgive him and start dating again if Ross is willing to take the full responsibility for everything that went wrong between them. Ross initially accepts, not having read the whole letter and not wanting to confess he actually fell asleep while reading it. However, he soon finds himself unable to accept this condition and they break up again.
Also in season 4, Rachel find herself wanting to get back with Ross again. She takes a last-minute flight to London in hopes of revealing her feelings to Ross before he gets married to Emily. Upon her arrival, she notices how happy he is with Emily and decides to abstain. During his wedding vows, Ross unconsciously pronounces Rachel's name instead of Emily's, which doesn't go well with the bride and her family. After Emily runs away from the wedding, Ross decides to go on the honeymoon trip by himself. While waiting at the airport, Ross meets Rachel and asks her if she wants to join him on his honeymoon trip since he doesn't really want to be alone, which Rachel accepts. After Rachel boards the plane with Ross about to follow, Ross sees Emily, who runs away again after seeing him with Rachel. He decides to run after her, leaving Rachel to go on the trip by herself, which she is not happy about. After much pleading from Ross, Emily finally agrees to get back with him under certain conditions, the biggest one being that Ross can no longer see or talk to Rachel. Ross is conflicted but Rachel encourages him to do everything he needs to do to get his wife back without knowing what it implies. Ross is unable to find ways to tell her, but when he does she is clearly unhappy but still agrees to stop seeing him. During a gathering of the gang, Rachel means to leave but Ross insist that Rachel stays with them and have a good time as well. Emily chooses this exact moment to call Ross and finds out Rachel is in the room with him. Ross finally breaks up with her and files for divorce declaring he cannot scratch Rachel off his life. And so, they resume their friendship.
At the end of season 5, while in Vegas, a simple prank contest between Ross and Rachel leads them to spending the night together, get very drunk and get married. Both horrified by what happened, they agree to file for annulment right away but Ross is reluctant to do so because he's already been divorced twice. He lies to Rachel, making her believe their marriage is cancelled when it's not. When Rachel finds out, she attempts to avenge herself by humiliating Ross in front of the judge during their annulment encounter. This only backfires and they have to file for an official divorce.
During season 8, Rachel is revealed to be pregnant following a one-night stand with Ross after sorting out invitations for Monica and Chandlers wedding. She decides to go through with the pregnancy and they have a baby girl together, Emma Geller-Green. During Rachel's pregnancy, they argue about who started the whole thing on their one night stand, until Ross reveals that he caught it on tape by accident. Rachel is soon offered a job in Paris which she accepts, having to leave a devastated Ross in New York. At Rachel's going away party, Ross is angry when Rachel decides not to say goodbye to him. When he confronts her about it, she reveals it was because it was too hard, and the two end up sleeping together for one last time. Ross believes this means she is going to stay, but the next morning she describes the night before as "the perfect way to say goodbye". In "The Last One", shortly after Rachel leaves for Paris, Ross realizes he wants her to stay so they can be together for good, resulting in Phoebe rushing Ross to the airport in the "Death Cab" (as described by Ross) to try and stop Rachel from boarding the plane. Ultimately, Phoebe drives Ross to the wrong airport, but buys some time by creating a diversion that suggests something is wrong with the plane, resulting in everyone, including Rachel, getting off the plane. Ross finds Rachel and she is stunned by what Ross confesses, but she says that she is still getting on the plane. Upset at this, Ross goes back to his apartment, where he gets a message from Rachel on his answering machine. She admits that she loves him too and realizes that she needs to get off the plane but the message cut off. Ross turns around to find Rachel standing behind him announcing that she did get off the plane. They kiss and agree that they're getting back together for good, no more breakups. It is implied on Joey that they remarry after the show has ended.
In season 3, Phoebe sets Ross up with Bonnie, a formerly bald friend of hers (Christine Taylor) in "The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion". Phoebe asks Rachel's permission, to which Rachel agrees, assuming that Bonnie is still bald. It turns out she's not bald anymore and is indeed very attractive now that she has long hair. During the final episode of the season, Rachel convinces her to shave her hair off again out of spite for Ross in "The One at the Beach". She makes a brief appearance at the beginning of "The One with the Jellyfish", when Ross decides to dump her and get back together with Rachel.
One-night-stand during the break with Rachel Green. They have no attraction after that.
During the fourth season, Ross meets and falls in love with Emily Waltham (Helen Baxendale), a British woman who is set up with Ross by Rachel, (not realizing the possible outcome). They quickly develop a rapport, despite knowing that they will only be together while Emily is in New York, that soon evolves into a relationship. They continue for another month, only seeing each other whenever Emily visits New York, but the logistics of living on opposite sides of the Atlantic make having a relationship difficult until Ross spontaneously asks Emily to move in with him. Emily laughs it off as being too soon, saying it'd be different if it was way down the line and they were getting married. Ross considers the idea seriously and proposes which Emily accepts. They make arrangements to get married in London and invite Rachel out of courtesy. Rachel decides not to go as it would be too awkward but realizes that she still has feelings for Ross and takes a flight at the last minute, planning to tell Ross that she still loves him. She decides not to when she sees how happy Ross and Emily are. During the ceremony, Ross, upon seeing Rachel, has a slip of the tongue and says her name instead of Emily's during his vows. This makes Emily concerned that Ross has not been completely honest about his feelings for Rachel. Consequently, she tells Ross that she is prepared to try to make their marriage work, providing he cuts Rachel out of his life for good. She eventually realizes that she doesn't trust Ross to stay away from Rachel, a suspicion that proved to be true, and they divorce not long afterward.
Ross has a brief fling with Janice, Chandler's ex-girlfriend, in season 5. Phoebe said they would have very hairy children. Janice ends up dumping Ross because she thinks he whines a lot about his failed marriages. Ross, worried about how he would react, tells Chandler, who, to his surprise, laughs.
During season 6, Ross starts dating one of his students, Elizabeth (Alexandra Holden). Though he initially fears that this might jeopardize his career, they decide to resume their relationship anyway. His career is in danger again when Elizabeth's father, Paul Stevens (Bruce Willis), threatens to get Ross fired if he continues going out with his daughter. In "The One Where Paul's the Man", Ross catches Paul doing an embarrassing routine in front of his mirror and hints to Paul that he knows about it. Paul understands, and they call a truce. Despite all these efforts, at the end of this season, Ross realizes that he cannot see his relationship with Elizabeth going any further. He chooses to end his relationship with her and soon finds that he made the right choice when, Elizabeth's immature answer to breaking-up is dropping water balloons on his head.
In season 8, Ross has a relationship with Mona (Bonnie Somerville), who wants to move their relationship forward, but, since Ross is having issues, ends up breaking up with him for multiple reasons. Among them are Ross changing the locks to his apartment right after giving Mona a set of keys and not telling her that Rachel has moved in with him. She also makes an appearance in "The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding" where Ross tries to dance with her but with no success. Again she reappears in "The One With The Tea Leaves" when Ross leaves his "salmon shirt" at Mona's apartment and goes to get it but ends up hiding beside her couch while Mona and a man kiss on the couch.
Ross meets Charlie Wheeler (Aisha Tyler) in "The One With The Soap Opera Party". She is a paleontologist who has recently joined Ross' department. She first goes out with Joey until she and Ross start dating in "The One in Barbados". She breaks up with Joey because she has more things in common with Ross. She eventually reconciles with her ex-boyfriend, so she and Ross break up.
Ross studied paleontology, completed his Ph.D. and got a job at the New York Museum of Prehistoric History. In the season six episode "The One on the Last Night", Ross claims to have "given up a career in basketball" to become a paleontologist, and he mentions on several occasions that he wanted to pursue a career in music. In the series finale, Monica reveals, much to his chagrin, that he attempted to make it as a dancer one summer during college. At another point, however, he says that he picked paleontology on a dare. He thinks that he would have been good at advertising, and in "The One with the Mugging", he claims that he invented the phrase "Got Milk?". He got a 1250 on his SATs, although it is evident that he lies about his scores when he claims he received 1450, only for Monica to correct him.
Ross has been obsessed with dinosaurs since he was a child, which is a source of both amusement and terror for his friends as they mock him for his fascination and try to avoid showing too much interest in the subject lest they be invited to his lectures and seminars. As the series goes on, Ross becomes increasingly self-aware with regards to his job; after breaking his hand, Joey lists his occupation as "dinosaurs" on a hospital admission form, which Ross does not correct when he realizes that Joey probably couldn't spell paleontologist. After breaking up with his girlfriend, fellow paleontologist Charlie, in the tenth season, Ross admits that he is never going to find a partner who shares his enthusiasm for paleontology because "there was only one hot paleontologist".
In season six, Ross begins working as a professor at New York University. He is not a particularly good teacher: his papers, including a publication on sediment flow rates, are widely discredited among academics; he regularly forgets to go to class; is easily manipulated by his students into giving them higher grades; has been known to bore his students to sleep and non-attendance; receives extremely poor evaluations from his students at the end of each term; grades papers without bothering to read them so that he can have sex with his girlfriend; and once spent an entire lesson trying to explain to his students that he "had the idea for Jurassic Park first". However, he received tenure in the final season, so the college can't fire him.
Ross has two children. His son, Ben, was conceived while Ross and Carol were still married and born at the end of Season 1. Ben lives with Carol and Susan and his name came from a name tag on a janitor seen in the episode where he is born. Ben is shy at first until Rachel transforms him into a mischievous prankster. The role was played by Cole Sprouse.
Ross's daughter, Emma, was born at the end of Season 8. She is conceived during a one-night stand between Ross and his third ex-wife Rachel. They all live together until Rachel moves back in with Joey and takes Emma with her. She remains there until Ross and Rachel get back together in the series finale. Ross and Rachel chose that name after Monica said that was what she had planned to name her daughter, but let Rachel use it.
In popular culture
Ross Geller has become a well-known figure in pop culture, in particular due to his relationship with Rachel Green. He is arguably the most alienating of the Friends characters; some consider him to be an intelligent man persecuted by anti-intellectuals, while others argue that he and the other men on the show are "three of the most regressive and archaic representations of men to appear on TV these last two decades", with Ross in particular described as having "extremely traditionalist ideas of what a man/woman relationship should be".
Since the show came to Netflix in 2015, new Friends analysis and commentary has surfaced. Other recent commentary on Ross includes the suggestion that he is actually lying about his career as a paleontologist, that he may have lost custody of his son Ben, and that his relationship with Rachel would likely have ended in divorce.
In 2015, a play titled Ross & Rachel debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in which the character of Ross is portrayed as "a university professor, a bit too pleased with himself and possessive of her".
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