From the very beginning, we always knew that Ross Geller and Rachel Greene would end up together. Or, at least we really hoped they would, and we were trying to will it into existence. The chemistry was clearly there, and they had a long history together already.
Spoiler alert: they do end up together by the series finale!
However, Ross had a long, storied road to get there. And he didn’t just date a lot of people. He had meaningful, serious relationships and even a few marriages along the way. In fact, his penchant for marrying and divorcing becomes a running gag on Friends.
That running gag led to a lot of relationships for Ross during the show’s ten-season run. Some were good matches, and some, not so much. Let’s take a look at all of them, from worst to best.
Carol was Ross’ first wife. When the TV series began, Ross and Carol had just split, though Carol was expecting their child. They seem to get along just fine, and remain friends after the divorce. It’s an indicator that they do care about each other, despite being mismatched.
Essentially, the only reason why Carol takes the cake as the most incompatible of Ross’ relationships is because she’s a lesbian. She clearly had no interest in staying with Ross. After meeting Susan at the gym, she came out and never looked back. These two probably shouldn’t have been a couple to begin with. Carol, Susan, and Ross remain on good terms and continue to co-parent their son, Ben, so at least there’s that.
Had Ross’ first wife not come out as a lesbian, Elizabeth would have been the worst pairing throughout all ten seasons of Friends. It didn’t matter if she was sweet or nice, Elizabeth and Ross together were a big no-no.
This whole relationship was cringy. Ross was already an adult with a career and a young son, and Elizabeth was one of Ross’ students. Even if they had met another way, there was still a wide age gap and she wasn’t mature enough. It made for a weird (and frankly gross) power dynamic.
Played by guest star Reese Witherspoon, Jill was Rachel’s younger sister. On paper, that sounds like they might get along, but Jill was only in it to spite Rachel. She was self-serving and really had no interest in Ross to begin with.
Obviously, things between Ross and Jill would have never worked out. Ross still had feelings for Rachel, and Jill was a jerk. Besides, if anything happened between them, it would mean things could never happen with Rachel in the future, and Ross didn’t want to gamble that.
Janice was frequently in and out of Friends, but usually in Chandler’s dating circle. She was always a grating, annoying character that Chandler just couldn’t get rid of. But when she showed up again in season five, it was after hooking up with Ross. Apparently, she was willing to lend a sympathetic ear while Ross was having a hard time in the aftermath of Emily.
Janice ended up dumping Ross because she couldn’t handle his incessant whining. Clearly, things would have never worked out between these two. It would have just been the two of them annoying each other into eternity.
Phoebe set Ross and Bonnie up, and she was the first woman he dated after he and Rachel broke up during the third season. Rachel thought she didn’t need to be intimidated since she remembered Bonnie being bald. She shows up with a full head of hair, though, and she hits it off with Ross. Fun and outgoing, she actually had a lot in common with Rachel, which is probably why Ross really liked her.
We’ll never know if it was a relationship built on love or lust because Rachel intentionally sabotaged the whole thing. Rachel convinces Bonnie to shave her head again, and apparently, Ross isn’t a fan of the G.I. Jane look. She then admitted she still loved Ross, and Ross chose Rachel again.
Cheryl certainly had a lot going for her. She was also a paleontologist and had Ross’ same geeky sense of humor, making her instantly more compatible with Ross than some of the other women he dated. And hey, we can’t deny that she was exceptionally attractive, considering she was played by Rebecca Romijn.
Despite all that, things would have never worked between Cheryl and Ross. She was beyond messy. Her apartment was downright disgusting, covered with food scraps, dirty underwear, packaging, and more. There is a big difference between being “messy” and downright “dirty.” Look, if I saw a bag of potato chips start moving, I’d freak out, too. Deal breaker!
Related: Characters So Annoying They Nearly Ruined TV Shows
Emily as a character was fine, but their relationship never stood a chance. The entire thing felt very rushed, with Ross and Emily getting engaged really soon after Ross’ breakup with Rachel. It didn’t seem like they even took the chance to get to know each other. Maybe if they had taken it slower, Ross would have figured out she had zero coping mechanisms for difficulties or unexpected changes. And Emily would have realized they just didn’t belong together anyway.
Do I think Emily turned into a controlling and unreasonable person after the wedding? Well, yeah. But I also think that given the circumstances – Ross saying Rachel’s name instead of her’s during their wedding ceremony – her reaction is pretty understandable at least. Even still, it’s not the kind of behavior that leads to a lasting relationship. Faults all around.
Did you know? Ross Saying Rachel’s Name at the Altar Was Written in After David Schwimmer Messed Up His Lines
Like Ross, Charlie was also a paleontology professor and equally intelligent. Although she was initially dating Joey, she ended things when she realized she and Joey were worlds apart. Let’s be honest: anyone intelligent kind of seems like a mismatch for Joey (sorry, Joey fans). She ended up hitting it off with Ross who was much more like herself, and they started dating soon after. Some may say it was too soon after, but that’s a conversation for another time.
Despite the fact that she seemed like a loving and supportive girlfriend, she didn’t seem to know what she wanted. She started dating Joey when Ross wanted to ask her out, dumped Joey for Ross, and eventually dumped Ross to get back together with an ex.
If you don’t remember Mona as well as some of the other women Ross was involved with, it’s okay – Ross kept forgetting about her, too. That’s because Ross met Mona at Monica and Chandler’s wedding at the beginning of the eighth season, and it just happened to coincide with Ross learning that Rachel was pregnant.
Had things happened differently, they would have likely made a pretty good couple. She seemed just fine with all of Ross’ quirky habits, and she even seemed to enjoy all those inane facts he would always spout. The habits and behaviors that usually annoyed others seemed endearing in Mona’s eyes. Maybe if the timing had been different, things would have worked out between Ross and Mona.
Ross and Julie had first met in grad school. When Ross has to go to China on a last-minute trip for an important paleontology find, it was on this trip that he reconnected with Julie. They had started dating while abroad, and continued the relationship after returning. It’s not until Rachel finally confesses she still has feelings for Ross that he starts to second-guess his relationship with Julie.
Had Rachel never been in the picture, Julie would have been the clear winner among all of Ross’ relationships. Rachel confessing her feelings for Ross was the single event that ruined Ross and Julie’s relationship – which was going great up until then. They were very compatible with a lot in common, and she was even also a paleontologist. Not only was she sweet and fun, she even got along with all of Ross’ friends. Well, except Rachel.
From the very beginning, we always knew that Ross and Rachel were meant to be together. Or, maybe we were just hoping for it all along. But this pair definitely had a certain chemistry between them that was undeniable.
Sure, they had their ups and downs, and there was that one time they were “on a break.” They dated other people, and Ross married like a hundred other people. Ross and Rachel even impulsively got married to each other, although it was over as quickly as it started. Ultimately, though, I can’t imagine anyone was surprised that they ended up together by the finale of the series.
Ross and Rachel didn’t have as much in common as Ross and some of his other partners, but love doesn’t always have to mean being exactly the same. They seemed to complement each other pretty well, and their differences didn’t get in the way. Plus, they had known each other since they were young, giving them a long history together. There isn’t really such a thing as a “perfect” couple, but these two were about as close as you can get.