Dr. Ross Stacey Geller, Ph.D. is a fictional character on the U.S. television sitcom Friends (1994–2004), portrayed by David Schwimmer. The character is noted for his geeky, lovable demeanor.Ross is a paleontologist and has a PhD, frequently referring to himself as “Dr. Geller” or “Dr. R. Geller”. Ross is noted for being geeky, witty, and somewhat artistic, showing an interest in the Metropolitan Museum of Art when he coaches Joey Tribbiani on the works of Monet when Joey tries to impress a date in the ninth season episode “The One With The Fertility Test”. Ross has had a crush on Rachel Green since high school, although he joined a “I Hate Rachel Green” club with his and Monica’s friend Will Colbert (played by Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston’s then-husband), who hated Rachel as she used to pick on him, mentioned in “The One with the Rumor”.
Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Ross is the elder brother of Monica Geller, and is sometimes shown to be the favored child of their parents. The two siblings are extremely competitive, as demonstrated in “The One with the Football”, where it emerged that every Thanksgiving during their childhood they had taken part in a football match called “The Geller Cup”. This family tradition ended in its sixth year, after Monica broke Ross’ nose. In their childhood, Monica and Ross were also very violent with each other. For example, in “The One with the Inappropriate Sister”, they tell Rachel that they used to wrestle when they were younger. Ross and Monica are half-Jewish, but identify themselves as at least cultural Jews, with Ross taking a more active role in wanting to teach his son about the faith, as revealed in the episode “The One with the Holiday Armadillo”.
Ross often came into conflict with his close friend Phoebe Buffay. His rationality and Phoebe’s self-devised beliefs led to conflict over the theories of evolution, gravity, and whether or not Phoebe’s dead mother was reincarnated as a cat. It was revealed in “The One with the Mugging” that Phoebe once mugged Ross during her homeless years (stealing a copy of the comic book ‘Science Boy’ that Ross had created). After Ross finds out that his first wife, Carol, is a lesbian, he and Phoebe almost have sex in the bar that was to become Central Perk but are interrupted by their friends.
Ross sometimes describes Chandler Bing as his best friend. He is shown to have had some old memories such as a band with Chandler called “Way, No Way” and also once blamed him when he was almost caught smoking marijuana. Ross is also close friends with Joey Tribbiani and helps Joey with movie and stage auditions. He kisses Joey once when practicing to help Joey practice a role as a gay man. They also briefly try to cut Chandler out of their friendship group after he ignores them both in “The One with the Ring”. Towards the end of the series, however, Ross and Joey are seen to become closer friends, often seen hanging out together after Chandler gets married. At one point, Ross tells Rachel Green that Joey is his best friend, to which Rachel replies, “I thought Chandler was your best friend?” Ross says that Chandler was his oldest friend but refuses to discuss the situation further.
After his divorce from Carol, Ross adopts a Capuchin monkey named Marcel. Their relationship was similar to that of a live-in couple. Marcel’s sexual drive eventually forces Ross to donate him to the San Diego Zoo. Ross later finds out that Marcel has become a famous mascot for a brand of beer called “Monkey Shine” and is starring in Outbreak 2: The Virus Takes Manhattan. Marcel’s favorite song is “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Later in the series, Ross admits how unusual his purchase was, saying in “The One With Unagi”, “Remember when I had a monkey… what was I thinking?”
Ross is said to be a former practitioner of karate. It is a running joke that he pronounces it “ka raa tay”, for which the others make fun of him. In “The One With Unagi”, he claims that Unagi is a state of total awareness, despite his friends repeatedly telling him (correctly) that unagi is Japanese freshwater eel. He ridicules the self-defense class that Rachel and Phoebe attend and surprises them to demonstrate that they lack Unagi. Rachel and Phoebe later surprise Ross and overpower him, however. In The One That Could Have Been, Ross is still practicing karate.
In seasons one through four, Ross lives in the same apartment. In season five, he moves from his old apartment at the insistence of his second wife. He spends a short time living with Chandler and Joey before settling into an apartment across the street from Monica’s place. The show never clarified whether this is a one-bedroom apartment or a two-bedroom, even though Rachel moves in temporarily in season 8-9 to let Ross be with his baby.
While generally sweet natured, he is often clumsy and socially awkward. Ross is sometimes shown to have a good sense of humor. He is the only member of the group of friends with a doctorate and, as such, can be arrogant. In most cases, however, his arrogance eventually backfires or gets the best of him. In later seasons, Ross is also shown to be quite irritable, often breaking into angry outbursts over minor things. For example, in “The One With Ross’s Sandwich”, Ross is forced to take a sabbatical after yelling at his boss for stealing his sandwich.
Ross dates a considerable number of women throughout the series. Most of his dates, however, were disrupted or completely ruined once his paranoia or geekiness got the best of him. His unsuccessful marriage to Carol is also the source of Ross’s fierce jealousy. Monica states that before Carol left Ross, he was never jealous, even though it was obvious to everyone except him that all his previous girlfriends were cheating on him. His jealousy often causes conflict in his relationships, and it drives Rachel away from him, after he became convinced that Rachel’s co-worker Mark was flirting with her, despite it being clear that they were just friends. Their relationship ends when Ross sleeps with a woman named Chloe. His jealousy has also been apparent during his relationship with Emily Waltham, when he feared she was growing too close to Carol’s lesbian partner, Susan; and when he dated student Elizabeth Stevens, and ultimately accompanies her on her spring break vacation to ensure she does not stray.
Despite being financially secure, Ross is notoriously cheap. He gets his hair cut at the bargain chain “Super Cuts”, steals toiletries and other amenities from hotels, and celebrates with Israeli champagne. Ross is often mocked by his friends about his annoying habits of correcting people’s grammar and avoiding straightforward dialogue when nervous.
Ross’s three divorces were a continuous joke throughout the show. He says that he loves “being too committed to someone like that”, and is shown to have real unbounded enthusiasm for proposing.
Ross divorces his first wife of eight years, Carol, when she reveals that she is a lesbian and is having an affair with Susan Bunch, whom she met at the gym. They usually get along, however, and share custody of their son, Ben, who was born in “The One with the Birth”—one of the final episodes of the first season. Ross and Carol claim to have been married in 1989, when Ross was 21. He tells his second wife, Emily, that he dated Carol for four years before marriage.
In an alternative reality storyline during the show (“The One That Could Have Been, Part 1”), Ross remains married to Carol, but their sex life is stagnant. Not realizing that she is a lesbian, Ross suggests to Carol that they have a threesome, which ends up involving Susan. Ross said it ended up a twosome. Later on, Ross is forced to accept that his wife is a lesbian and ends up consoling Rachel after she discovered that her husband, Barry, is having an affair as well with the neighborhood dogwalker.
During Season Four, Ross marries his British girlfriend Emily Waltham (played by Helen Baxendale) in London. At the ceremony, however, Ross says Rachel’s name instead of Emily’s during the vows. This leads to a breakdown of the relationship. Ross attempts to reconcile with Emily, but she insists that Ross cut off all contact with Rachel; when Ross is unable to comply, they get divorced. She later becomes engaged but calls Ross to say that she is having doubts about getting married. Rachel accidentally deletes the message and convinces Ross not to call her back.
Ross has been in love with Rachel Green during her high school days, when he was in college and Rachel was Monica’s best friend. Throughout the majority of the first season, Ross tries to admit his feelings to Rachel but is never successful. At the end of the season, Chandler convinces Ross to stop pursuing her. Ross leaves on a work trip, and while he was gone Rachel finally learns of Ross’s feelings. She meets him at the airport, but Ross arrives with his new girlfriend, Julie. Ross finds out how Rachel feels in “The One Where Ross Finds Out”, and they share a kiss. The two finally got together in “The One with the Prom Video”, and their relationship lasts for a year until Ross’s jealousy over Rachel’s co-worker Mark breaks them apart. Believing them to be “on a break”, Ross gets drunk and slept with a woman named Chloe (Angela Featherstone). When Rachel finds out, she breaks up with Ross. The scene was so emotionally intense that both David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston reportedly cried near the end of the episode and continued after it was shot.
The two share an “almost on-again, almost off-again” relationship for the rest of the series and get married after a drunken night in Las Vegas. When they cannot get an annulment, Ross is divorced for the third time. Later in the series, they sleep together again and conceive Ross’s second child, Emma. Ross and Rachel later raise Emma together until a fight causes Rachel to move back in with Joey.
In the final episodes of season ten, Rachel loses her job at Ralph Lauren but is offered a job at Louis Vuitton in Paris. Rachel tells Ross that he is the most important person in her life, and they sleep together. Ross, hoping the next morning to get back together with Rachel in “The Last One”, finds out that Rachel saw the night as “the perfect way to say goodbye”. When Ross rushes to the airport to tell Rachel that he wants her stay, Rachel is emotionally overwhelmed but boards the plane anyway. Upon returning to his apartment, Ross hears a phone message left by Rachel while she waited for the plane to leave the airport gate. While recording the message, she realizes how much she loves him and that she wants to stay in New York. The final part of the message contains her desperate effort to deplane while being resisted by a flight attendant. Ross, not knowing whether she was able to get off the plane, is happily surprised by her sudden presence in his front room. The pair kisses, promising each other that “this is it. No more fooling around.” They hold hands in the final scene of the series. In the season premiere of the spinoff series Joey, Joey mentions that all of his friends have married, settled down and started families, implying that Ross and Rachel have remarried.
Ross trained for a career in paleontology, completed his Ph.D. and later works at the New York Museum of Natural History. In one episode, Ross claims to have “given up a career in basketball” to become a paleontologist. 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”, Ross claims that he invented the phrase “Got Milk?”. He also claims to have had the original idea for Jurassic Park. In high school, he got a 1250 on his SATs, and was said to have been obsessed with dinosaurs even then.
Ross later works as a professor at New York University and causes a stir among his colleagues by dating one of his students, Elizabeth. Eventually, he is given tenure, despite that fact that his papers (including a publication on sediment flow rates) are supposedly widely discredited, forgetting a class once, boring his students to sleep and occasionally giving grades without even looking at students’ work.
Ross has two children. The elder, Ben, was Ross and Carol’s son. He was conceived before the show began, while the couple was still married, and born in “The One with the Birth”. Ben lives with Carol and her lesbian life partner Susan and was named after a janitor’s uniform name-tag seen in that episode. Ben is shy at first, but Rachel transforms him into a mischievous prankster. He was played by Cole Sprouse. He is hardly seen at all in seasons 2-6, even though he is mentioned.
Ross’ youngest child (born in the series) is Emma. She is conceived during a drunken night of intercourse between Ross and Rachel. Emma lives with Ross and Rachel until Rachel moves back in with Joey. She remains there for the rest of the series until Ross and Rachel get back together in the series finale. Emma got her name because it was what Monica wanted her daughter to be named but she gives it to Rachel (claiming Rachel was more important, and since nothing went with ‘Bing’ she was screwed anyway).