D. F. Lovett has a rather tragic Friends theory that may shed light on a much darker side of Ross' relationship with his son Ben, explaining why he seemed to suddenly vanish from our screens.
As Friends aficionados will already know, Ben is Ross and Carol's son, born during 'The One With The Birth,' and is played by Cole Sprouse who, by the way, now looks like this!
Though born in Season 1, Ben only crops up in the occasional episode, as he lives mainly with his mother and her wife, Susan. However, fans of the show noticed that something very strange happened in the 8th season, around the time Ross's second child - this time with Rachel - was born. Ben, without explanation, simply disappeared.
Now, this could have been because of scheduling conflicts with Sprouse, or changes in the storyline's focus, but what if Ross actually lost custody of his child for being a shoddy father?
Not only does Ben never meet his new half-sister on screen, but a meeting between the two of them is never even mentioned. We never learn about if Ben has met his sister, if he likes her, if he is a good older brother. We simply never see him again.
Which raises a serious question: does Ross still see Ben? Did Ross’s insanity hit a breaking point with his ex-wife? Did she decide to take full custody of her son?
Let's take a look at the evidence.
Early series Ross, clearly a caring, loving and attentive father in his younger years...
...stands in stark contrast to the drunken wreck we see later in the show:
Despite his repeated protestations, Ross doesn't seem fine at all.
At one point, he tries to hire someone to help him attack Phoebe and Rachel.
His friends are often better parents to Ben than he is.
At Chandler and Monica's wedding Ross has to sit at the kids' table, but he completely ignores his own son and instead spends his time trying to hook up!
He drunkenly marries Rachel...
...even though she proves to be terrible at looking after Ben.
(Although Ben himself was all too happy for the female attention!)
And when his daughter Emma is born, Ben is hardly mentioned again, never even meeting his half sister.
Could it be that Carol got sick of Ross as he became increasingly more erratic and decided to file for sole custody?
It's certainly a pretty dark interpretation, but seems to add up. Though I have to say, I myself would kill to have Ross as a father - the master of Unagi would be the coolest dad ever!
But what do you think?
Did Ross lose custody over Ben?