This heartbreaking ‘Friends’ theory might explain what happened to this beloved character

Friends is a perfect show (IMHO). Throughout all 10 seasons we laughed, cried and formed inside jokes with six of the greatest characters to ever be on TV. And after the finale, we said goodbye knowing all of them would be happy and taken care of. Right? Well, maybe not.

Ever since Friends was released on Netflix, fans have been noticing things nobody ever saw before. Maybe it’s because the show pre-dated the Internet: Nobody really dissected each episode scene-by-scene (at least, not the way we do now), and you couldn’t just pull up a clip to re-live a funny moment. But since we live in the age of Internet and comment boards, plenty of observations and theories have been made. Including this one. Get your tissues ready, because it gets pretty emotional.

The theory comes from D. F. Lovett and seriously has our heads spinning: Is it possible that Ross lost custody of Ben? If you need a little memory jump-start, Ross and his first wife Carol had a son named Ben, and he appears from time to time through most season of Friends — except when he vanishes during season 8. According to this theory, there’s a very logical explanation behind this mysterious vanishing.

Wow. Mind=blown. Lovett points out that as the show progresses, Ross’s behavior gets… well, weird. If you remember (and of course you do), he sleeps with one of his students. He tries to kiss his cousin. He absolutely loses his mind over a sandwich. At one point, he becomes obsessed with using Unagi to scare Rachel and Phoebe. Could actions like these be the mounting evidence Carol needed to gain sole custody of Ben?

From a production standpoint, the absence of Ben makes sense. Cole Sprouse, the actor who portrayed Ben in later seasons, makes his last appearance midway through season eight. Cole was likely hard to schedule as time went on, as he and his twin brother Dylan found fame with The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. So the real world logistics of it make sense, but still, it doesn’t explain why Ben is only mentioned six times in the last two and a half seasons.

So, after Ben disappears, Ross and Rachel have a daughter, Emma. Ross’s two kids never meet on screen—in fact, the two meeting is not even mentioned. Is this because Ross isn’t allowed to see Ben? Do they still communicate at all? Are the fleeting references to Ben half-hearted references to his former life?

“Perhaps his children met but the audience never saw,” Lovett proposed. “The more likely answer is that he was such a deadbeat father that he completely faded away from his son’s life, pretending to his family and so-called friends that he still saw a boy he barely knew.”

Poor Ross. As much sense as this theory makes, we hope Ross saw plenty of Ben when the audience wasn’t looking!

(Image via NBC)

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