There is a fascinating discourse in the wake of Breaking Bad’s re-entry into the pop culture conversation after Better Call Saul, as fans reflect on how terrible Walter White was. But long before Walter White was doing terrible things as a protagonist, there was Ross Geller, arguably Friends’ funniest character, but also a bit of a bad guy – albeit not in the same stratosphere as White.
Ross is consistently hilarious throughout Friends despite his many flaws, and with David Schwimmer’s iconic delivery, many of his amazing quotes act as evidence of the opinion that he is the series’ funniest character.
“Get Off My Sister!”
“The One Where Everybody Finds Out” – Season 5, Episode 14
One of the life lessons Ross teaches fans is to deal with their anger, with one of the funniest recurring jokes in the show being his rage which rarely fails in producing all-time hilarious Friends moments. An example is when he sees Monica and Chandler hooking up from his apartment and cannot contain his emotion.
As is usually the case with Ross, the delivery is on point here. Arguably no other character can repeatedly make fans laugh with their anger – or with any single emotion, really – the way Ross does. This moment, from his point of view, is shocking and disgusting, but for fans watching him it is side-splittingly funny and a testament to how hilarious Ross really is.
“If You’re Gong To Call Me Names, I Would Prefer Ross, The Divorce Force. It’s Just Cooler.”
“The One With The Boob Job” – Season 9, Episode 16
While others in the group occupy personality types such as ladies man, quirky free spirit, and joker, Ross is the resident nerd of the group, and it makes for such naturally funny moments.
Here, that nerdiness gets combined with another of Ross’ funniest features – his propensity for divorce – to craft one of the silliest but most hilarious of Ross’ quotes. Ross does not always need to be in a rage or be sad or have a breakdown to be hilarious; he has versatility and can be utterly hilarious with his natural nerdiness alone.
‘”Because Carol’s A Lesbian … And I’m Not One.”
“The One With The Flashback” – Season 3, Episode 6
Ross’ first divorce was obviously hard for him to take, but for audiences, it produced some of David Schwimmer’s funniest lines, like this one in which he first reveals his divorce to Phoebe.
The comedic timing here is on point. Simply saying that Carol is a lesbian in that down-in-the-dumps voice may have been enough to garner some laughs, but that extra “and I’m not one” is just that bit extra, proving how great Schwimmer is and how inadvertently hilarious Ross is.
“Just Three? I’m Dilated Three!”
“The One Where Rachel Has A Baby” – Season 8, Episode 23
Arguably the funniest Ross scenes come when he is with Rachel. They are one of the best relationships in Friends, but both of them are at their most frustrated when the other annoys them, or when they are placed under stress with one another, such as when Rachel is nearly in labor.
Ross’ exasperation here, with him almost in tears at the three-inches reveal, is something nobody else in the show could pull off with this quality of levity. It is very typical of Ross to complain so much while Rachel is giving birth to his child, but there is no doubting his comedy distracts from that.
“You And Those Vegetables Have A Real Thing Going On, Huh?”
“The One Where Ross Can’t Flirt” – Season 5, Episode 19
Chandler may be the king of awkward humor in Friends, but in certain situations, Ross proves how painfully cringeworthy he can be, and it is a total joy to watch.
Everything he does in the flirting episode flows between awkward, hilarious, and a wonderful combination of the two, but this, where he practices flirting with Phoebe, is the peak of his role in the episode. The fact Ross can believe himself to be good at flirting and then attempt to woo Phoebe with a flailing leg and talk of vegetables is absurd but great.
“I’m Sorry, It Must Be The Pressure Of Entertaining.”
“The One Where Ross Is Fine” – Season 10, Episode 2
Drunk acting is obviously a hard thing for actors to pull off convincingly. When the performer is talented enough, however, it can lead to tremendous scenes like this.
Most of what Ross does in this sequence as he freaks out and gets drunk is comedy gold. This, though, has a bit extra, as it sees Ross slightly break in his freakout, going from overly enthused to a bit of a teary mess. This line is just terrific and done in a manner that would be hard for many sitcom actors to pull off as effectively.
Right from the audience’s introduction to Ross, he gave the most depressing hi’s in TV, and it never fails to be funny and would have been his most famous catchphrase had “We were on a break” ceased to exist.
Angry, dorky, drunk, tired, sad, few if any characters are as able to be as funny as Ross with such a variety of moods, and few other characters would be able to take one solitary word and turn it into one of the show’s funniest running gags. Ross is so often funny with loudness or more energetic emotions, but here he showcases his ability to be just as funny when he is downtrodden and somber.
“They’re Still Not Coming On, Man, And The Lotion And The Powder Have Made A Paste.”
“The One With All The Resolutions” – Season 5, Episode 11
‘The One With All The Resolutions’ is a Friends episode stolen by Ross as the funny man and his leather pants, making for one of the most glorious scenes of physical comedy in the entire show.
That is what makes just about every line Ross speaks on the phone to Joey so great, that balance of verbal delivery and physical comedy that is rarely matched in the series. The pain and whining on Ross’ voice and the sidesplitting image of him covered in powder/paste and leather pants will live long in the memory of Friends fans.
“The One Where Ross Is Fine” – Season 10, Episode 2
The Rachel and Joey romance may be one of the most hated creative decisions made in the show, although most fans remain thankful for seeing the breakdown that ensues in “The One Where Ross Is Fine.”
The descent into madness at the fajitas/margarita party is simply wonderful, but this initial bombardment of “I’m fine,” with the switches in pitch and the facial expressions, is burned into the minds of longtime fans as one of Friends’ best quotes. A full range of comedic talent is displayed from Ross and David Schwimmer here.
“The One With The Cop” – Season 5, Episode 16
When debating who the funniest character in Friends is, the funniest scenes in the show have to be brought up, and there are few, if any, funnier than Ross’ attempts to get his couch up the stairs.
Even now, the words repeated by Ross are etched into fans’ brains, and they can hear every shift in pitch, every inflection on the word “Pivot!” It is a moment that has left millions of fans in tears over the years, and with a different character or a lesser performer, this scene would be unlikely to have its hard-earned reputation.