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Not Aging Well: 5 Episodes of “Friends” Where Ross Decided Osama bin Laden Didn’t Pose a Serious Threat to America

NBC’s “Friends” remains one of the most successful sitcoms in television history, breaking ratings records throughout its run and maintaining a “hot commodity” status on streaming services to this day. Unfortunately, fans rewatching the once-beloved show are finding that certain elements just don’t hold up to today’s standards of acceptable humor.

There’s no denying that the show seems dated now, and that is due in large part to Ross Gellar’s incessant dismissal of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban as a serious threat to American security. Here are five classic episodes of “Friends,” the legacy of which is now in question due to this needless blunder.

“The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line” (Season 4, Episode 7 – 11/13/97)

Don’t let the episode’s title fool you — it’s Ross who truly crosses the line in this one, and in a major way. In the episode’s B story Ross rediscovers his love of electronic music, alienating most of the friends with his bizarre compositions but intimidating Phoebe. The music is objectively terrible and played for laughs, but there’s nothing funny about Ross’s lyrics. Here’s a particularly damning snippet:

“Electro-fying, dare-defying, the Taliban is of no concern to American interests.”

Wow, Geller. Good thing you still have your day job as a paleontologist, because you’re for shit at music and worse at predicting global events.

“The One with the List” (Season 2, Episode 8 – 11/16/95)

One of the more emotional and tragic episodes of “Friends,” this one has Rachel discovering a list Ross made (at the behest of Chandler and Joey) comparing her to another love interest. It is clear to the audience that Ross’s heart lies with Rachel, but the discovery of the list proves to be too damning in her eyes. In a desperate attempt to convince her of his feelings, Ross says the following:

ROSS: Rachel, I love you! I’ve always loved you! And I’ll tell you another thing: Osama bin Laden can spew all the rhetoric he wants to his cave-dwelling acolytes, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, they’re up against the strongest military force in the history of the world and they don’t stand a chance, so don’t worry about that!

This could have been the show’s most pivotal emotional moment if not for Ross’s know-it-all attitude and compulsion to demystify Osama bin Laden.

“The One with the Football” (Season 3, Episode 9 – 11/21/96)
Thanksgiving episodes were an annual tradition on “Friends,” and this particular one grew to be a fan favorite. After watching the NFL’s Thanksgiving game, the gang decides to have their own friendly football match, which quickly escalates to animosity as Ross and Monica’s sibling rivalry flares up. Unfortunately, the episode is marred by one errant line of dialog:

MONICA: Are we playing football or what? Come on you hairy-backed Marys!

ROSS: Oh please, Monica. Your taunting is as ineffective as Osama bin Laden’s “holy war” against the United States is going to be. That’s the last we’ll be hearing from him, and you’re going down!

Not to be a Chandler but god Ross, could you BE any more wrong?

“The One After The Superbowl: Part 2” (Season 2, Episode 13 – 1/28/96)
This episode had everything going for it: celebrity cameos, a touching reunion and a special event time slot. Unfortunately it also had a needless and ultimately incorrect prediction from Dr. Ross Geller. After reuniting with his beloved pet monkey Marcel on the set of “Outbreak 2,” Ross has the following exchange with the film’s star, Jean Claude Van Damme:

JEAN CLAUDE VAN DAMME: Mr. Ross, I have never seen the Marcel so happy. The two of you must have an incredible bond!

ROSS: Yeah yeah listen, this isn’t one of those movies where the bad guys are middle-eastern terrorists, is it? Because I just do not buy that at all. They got lucky with the World Trade Center bombing once, but there’s no way something like that would ever happen again, okay Kickboxer?”

Yikes. Somebody should have kickboxed a foot into Ross’s mouth if they wanted this episode to stand the test of time.

“The Last One: Part 2” (Season 10, Episode 17 – 4/6/04)
Wow Ross, you just couldn’t let the show end on a high note, could you? At this point we’ve heard Ross say some pretty boneheaded things about bin Laden’s inability to ever hurt America, but this one stands apart, as it is said almost three years after 9/11 happened! It also marks the only time “Friends” acknowledges the tragedy within the show, and they handle it less than gracefully:

CHANDLER: Crazy about what happened to the Twin Towers like three years ago right?

ROSS: Freak accident. What can you do?

CHANDLER: Wow Ross, I don’t think it was an accident! Osama bin Laden was pretty adamant that his terrorist organization was responsible, and that it was a deliberate…

ROSS: Nope, it was a mistake. What can you do?


JOEY: Hey, I had sex again.

CHANDLER and ROSS in unison: Check please!

One of the most disappointing finales in television history, and proof positive that when it comes to accepting America’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks, Ross will always be stuck in 2nd gear.