Ross is one of the most controversial characters in the Friends universe and a lot of it has to with where you fall on the whole "They were on a break" argument. People arguing against Ross will say that he had every right to have sleep with someone else because they were broken up. Those arguing against him will say that "a break" doesn't mean a break up so he shouldn't have done what he did. I would argue that it doesn't really matter because Ross is a massive boner either way.
Whether the couple was actually broken up is inconsequential because in either scenario, Ross's intent was the same and that was to hurt Rachel. The way that the show talks about Ross's infidelity makes it seem like it was meant to be a rebound, but if you actually watch the episode where it takes place, you come to realize that it was really more of a revenge hook up. Ross doesn't seem to want to do anything with the girl with whom he eventually cheats on Rachel. It's only when he thinks that Rachel is sleeping with one of her coworkers that Ross decides that it's time to do the nasty. Ross knew he was being a dick from the get go, and he did it anyway because he is a petty child.
While we're on the subject, let's take a second to talk about why the couple took a break in the first place: It was 100% Ross's fault. When Rachel starts working long hours and develops a friendship with the aforementioned coworker Mark, Ross becomes jealous and possessive of his girlfriend. He seems genuinely upset at the idea that Rachel could possibly have a life outside of him, and if that doesn't sound healthy it's because it's not! For as cute as the show tries to portray the couple's relationship, the truth is that Ross doesn't seem to love Rachel so much as he seems to desire her, and that's an important distinction.
The part that people often seem to skip over when discussing the Ross/Rachel relationship is just how stupid they are as a couple. Honestly, Rachel is enough of a shitty person that I could, and probably will, do an entirely separate list on why she sucks too. She gets better as the series progresses, but starting out she's just kinda a whiney, spoiled rich girl. On a personal level the two have very little in common, and it seems very odd that Ross would harbor such deep-seated feelings for Rachel....or it would if she didn't happen to look like Jennifer Aniston.
The show flashes back multiple times to show a young Ross secretly pining after a young Rachel, and while the underlying message of a lot of those flashbacks seems to be "Look how long he's loved her," the real takeaway for me is usually, "Look at how creepy he is" because, good lord, he's a creep. Though they often depict young Ross pining after young Rachel, they very rarely depict the two of them talking which I'm told is actually a very important aspect of a relationship. Honestly, by the logic of the show it seems like Ross is a nerdy dude who became enamored with his sister's hot friend to the point that he developed a lifelong obsession with her.
When looking at it through this lense, a lot of Ross's behavior starts to make a little bit more sense. This explains why he's so possessive of her, it explains why he continues to go back to her (which I'll discuss more further down) and it explains why he started that rumor about her in highschool? What? You don't remember that? Well, it turns out that Ross once created an "I Hate Rachel Green Club" in which he spread rumors about Rachel because she had the AUDACITY to not date him? Sounds like a cute story they can tell their kid one day, huh?
I've talked a lot about his relationship with Rachel, but don't let you think for a second that that means he wasn't an asshole in his other relationships as well. He totally was. Ross basically divides women into two camps:
That may sound like an outlandish claim but I swear to god it's canon. At one point, Ross is trying to decide between Rachel and a girl he was dating named Julie, and like the stand up guy he is, he decides to make a pros and cons list of the two women. He lists a bunch of reasons why he is compatible with Julie, alongside an extensive of all of Rachel's many flaws. In the end, Ross can only come up with one thing that Julie has going against her, and it's that she's not Rachel. He, of course, dumps her.
The moment is meant to be romantic, but if you think about it for more than a second you come to realize it's mostly just creepy. As a character, Ross is defined by his many, MANY, failed relationships, and the way a lot of them ended can be traced directly back to his relationship with Rachel. If Ross were a decent person he'd do one of two things:
Instead, Ross drags other women into his life, forging long term relationships that he'll destroy the second Rachel says she wants to try and make it work again. I don't care what your excuse is, there's no situation in which saying your ex's name at the altar doesn't get you branded an asshole for life.
I've been going on a lot about Ross's romantic life, so I'll try to move on. That said, I can't move forward until I call out the time he dated one of his students, because it was icky as hell. In his defense the student, Elizabeth, was of the legal age of consent and she wasn't in his class by the time the two started dating, but once I establish that, there's not a whole else good that I can say about the relationship.You should know why this is a no no, and if you don't literally read anything in the news right now. To make matters worse is the fact that Elizabeth's father eventually shows his disapproval for the relationship because of course he does, but Ross keeps dating Elizabeth anyway. Don't worry though, the father eventually comes to accept the relationship......when Ross catches him doing something embarrassing and blackmails him with it!
One of Ross's more notable quirks is his relationship with his monkey Marcel, and, like most of the character's traits, it's not as cute as he thinks it is. I live in New York, and I can tell you that it is no place for a monkey. Honestly, it's just an attack waiting to happen. Not only would the monkey hate it, but the second the monkey realized he hated it, he'd no doubt take on the large number of people around him at any given moment. Though Ross eventually does the right thing and gives Marcel to a zoo, it was irresponsible for him to have the monkey in the first place. I mean, there's a reason they're illegal to keep as pets, and I know they're illegal to keep as pets because Ross acknowledges as such.
In the season 1 episode, "The One Where The Monkey Gets Away", Marcel escapes and Rachel unknowingly calls animal control to try and get him back. Ross and the gang then spend the rest of the episode trying to find Marcel, not because he released a potentially dangerous wild animal into a densely populated urban area, but because he doesn't want his illegal pet to be released back into its natural habitat. Don't worry though: Ross eventually gets to keep the monkey.....by blackmailing the animal control agent for accidentally shooting Phoebe with a tranquilizer dart.
There were 236 episodes of Friends. Of those, Ross's son Ben only appears in 24 of them. Of those 24, one of them involves Ross entrusting the care of a then infant Ben to Joey and Chandler, who leave him on the bus. When he has a second child with Rachel, Ben never appears again and I don't know for sure that he and his baby sister ever meet. Maybe there's more to their relationship than I'm seeing but from I honestly think that's not the case. Think about all the times Ross spends lounging around his friend's apartment or jetting off to Los Vegas for the weekend. The character is written as though he doesn't have children when the reality is that he has two of them....he just kinda ignores them.
Speaking of Ross's poor parenting skills, let's talk about the episode where Ben plays with a Barbie doll and Ross goes into a full on gay panic. He spends the episode trying to get his son to play with "Manly" toys in the most close minded way imaginable. It's not a standalone incident. It's surprising, since he's hardly the exemplar of masculinity, but Ross is sexist as hell.
Perhaps the most upsetting instance of this unfortunate quirk comes in the episode "The One With The Male Nanny." In it, Rachel hires a male nanny to take care of Emma who's perfect in every way. The only problem is that he is a man and Ross has problems with it. Mind you, there are legitimate reasons for not wanting a male nanny, but Ross doesn't seem to care about it. He, instead, just finds it weird that a man would want to take on the traditional female role. He ends up firing the guy just because it feels hinky to him that he's a man who wants to be a nanny despite the fact that the only masculine trait Ross has is his rampant sexism....Yeah.
Aside from everything that sucks about Ross on the large scale, he's also just an unpleasant human being. He's guilty of every annoying little trait you can think of. Mansplaining? Check. Correcting grammar? Check. Having boring conversations that nobody cares about? Check, check, and check. If you can think of it and it sucks, Ross has probably done it...Because he's the worst.