Ross Geller has routinely ranked as the least liked character on Friends. Fans point out that Ross was easy to anger, a bit misogynistic, and prone to outbursts. None of that is a lie. Ross, however, wasn’t always that way. While he was painfully awkward in season 1, he wasn’t a terrible person. In fact, he was downright sweet in certain moments. So, what exactly happened to Ross? You could argue that he peaked too early and didn’t know how to deal with failure.
Ross Geller was an academic standout and succeeded in college
Jack and Judy Geller, Ross and Monica’s parents, had no issue reminding everyone that Ross was a science prodigy. The Ph.D. was such a science wiz that he had earned his doctorate before the age of 26. According to CBS News, that means Ross was about seven years younger than most people when they earn their Ph.D.
Phoebe Buffay and Ross Geller | Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Ross’ early academic success is impressive, but it could easily explain why he appeared to have such a difficult time socially. Sure, he had his core group of pals, but Ross’ connection to each of his friends was not nearly as tight as their connection to each other. For example, Ross and Chandler were friends for longer than Chandler and Joey, but Chandler and Joey were closer. Perhaps Ross was too busy succeeding in school to form deep bonds.
He was the first of his friends to get married
While a bit socially awkward, Ross wasn’t just academically successful. He was the first of his friends to commit to marriage. When fans first meet Ross on Friends, he is in the middle of a painful divorce. While that’s not exactly a successful relationship, the fact that he found someone, got married, and had a seemingly happy marriage for several years, can be considered a positive.
Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
After he and Carol end their marriage, he does find love again. First, he seriously dates Julie and then later finds his “lobster” in Rachel Green. The wheels started to come off when he sleeps with Chloe while on a break from Rachel. From there, Ross begins to devolve into an insecure mess. Eventually, he doesn’t seem to know how to deal with pretty much anything.
Maybe Ross Geller peaked too early
Latter seasons of Friends showed Ross devolving over time. He made odd fashion choices, showed his arrogance regularly, and freaked out over things that shouldn’t have been an issue. These traits are what made him so unlikeable, according to Friends fans. What if Ross peaked too early, though?
David Schwimmer as Ross Geller | Dave Bjerke/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
Unlikely his pals, Ross’ adult life was set when fans first met him. He was working in his intended career path, he was having a baby, and while his love life was a bit of a mess, he seemed to have a mature view of things. His pals, in contrast, were not as far along in life as him, but they were making strides. In theory, you could argue that Ross acted out because he felt like he had worked hard to succeed and was hitting a rough patch, just as his friends were figuring it all out. Does that make him likable? No, not really, but it could explain his sharp descent into some seriously troubling behavior.
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