I’ve binge watched both HIMYM and Friends more times than I can count. In a Friends-like coincidence, I happen to live in the same apartment complex as my childhood best friend who watches both series every day as well. One night, while laughing over a favorite HIMYM episode, I got a text from my friend with a single question that has since haunted me:
“Who’s worse? Ted or Ross?”
At first I thought, OF COURSE IT’S ROSS. Then I was like, BUT TED THO. I ran through a list of their worst moments in attempts to see who is who is truly the worst and flat out couldn’t decide. My friend and I took to Facebook where we found out people had seriously passionate opinions on the subject. My fellow Netflixers brought up great points arguing for both sides, but overall were pretty split. Because Netflix is my life and fictional characters are more important to me than some people I actually know, I’ve decided to pit Ted and Ross against each other in a series of five rounds. In the end, best three out of five will win my official award for being just the absolute WORST.
LOOKS & CLOTHES
Ted and Ross are both attractive guys, if you’re into the tall, dark and dorky kind of thing. They’ve both got hair issues in that Ted takes far too long to achieve his signature messy, just rolled out of bed look and Ross ranges anywhere from too crunchy to too wet looking. In terms of everyday wear, I think they cancel each other out for the most part, as their wardrobes are mostly pretty casual, speckled with a few too many jackets with suede elbow pads. So to make a determination, we have to focus on iconic clothing moments such as Ross’ leather pants and Ted’s red cowboy boots. Sorry, GCWK’s, but Ted was not “Pulling. Them. Off.” at all. A man with his jeans tucked into his boots? No… just, no. As for Ross and the infamous leather pants… sure it was a disaster but at least he figured out that they weren’t working for him and never wore them again. Whereas Ted still thinks he can pull those red cowboy boots off. That and TED HAS A BUTTERFLY TRAMP STAMP. Case closed.
We don’t get to see much of either of these guys’ parenting skills in either series, and given that Ross has a son in the first year of the show that doesn’t bode well for Dr. Gellar. We see him interact with his kids like 10 times of the course of 10 years, so it seems that for a single dad he’s pretty distant. There are a ton of instances where we see how he is as a father—not moving to London for Emily because he can’t leave Ben, leaving a lot of scenes because he “has to go pick up Ben/Emma,” teaching Ben to ride a bike, taking Emma to the park, wanting Rachel to have a relationship with Ben—so I can’t say the rep he gets as a bad father is 100-percent warranted, but his priorities seem to be on other things most of the time. As for Ted, my big beef with him is this: Isn’t the whole premise of the show supposed to be that he’s telling his kids about how he met their mother and yet all of it is about Robin? Telling your kids about all the women you’ve been in a relationship with, slept with, screwed over, dumped, pined over and focusing the whole story primarily on your all consuming love for their “aunt” Robin? C’mon Ted. C’mon. Regardless I will give Ted the benefit of the doubt, as he was great with baby Marvin and since we don’t get to see him as a father in action, I’m calling Ross out on his lack of quality time with his kids and giving him the belt this round.
CAREER & INTELLIGENCE
Ted and Ross are both successful guys and obviously super passionate and educated in their respective fields. I think the fact that Ted is an architect and Ross is a paleontologist shows that each are very intelligent men (despite the fact that they have, like, zero intelligence when it comes to women). What I think it comes down to is how humble are they about their success and intelligence, which is not humble at all. They equally inundate their friends with stats and facts about things that only Ted & Ross give a shit about. They are both SO pretentious I can’t handle it, but who is the most pretentious? Let’s look at the facts… Ross’ correcting people in the show about things regarding intellect and grammar are usually universally understood. Things like when to use “who” vs. “whom,” historical references and whether Phoebe’s theories on reincarnation and evolution are accurate. Sure it’s annoying but he’s not usually wrong, and once he corrects them he’s over it by the next episode. Plus, he’s totally right, Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E means “you are,” Y-O-U-R means “your.” Ted, on the other hand can’t pronounce “Renaissance” or “encyclopedia” like all other fucking humans in America and won’t let it go, ever. If we factor in the college years I think Ted is a landslide winner because while College Ross is just a geek in a “band,” College Ted is even more pretentious than adult Ted. (One word: Karen.) It seems to me that Ted’s more pompous overall, so ding ding we have a winner!
We’ve arrived to the big one. The category that both these characters get the most hate about. Where to begin? Both make huge, horrible decisions in the name of hopeless romanticism. Ted gets engaged to Stella way too fast, as Ross did with Emily. Both relationships were disasters, obviously, and each guy paid the price for them. Both are suuuuper desperate—Ted made a doctor’s appointment to hit on an engaged woman and Ross dates a 20-year-old student in his class. Both are geeky and don’t have a lot of game. Both had moments where cheating was an issue—Ted cheated on Victoria with Robin, Ross cheated on Rachel with Chloe (debatably, depending on which side of the “We were on a break!” argument you’re on). So it seems pretty 50/50.
Ted, despite seeming like a romance-loving sweetheart, is actually pretty horrible. He breaks up with a girl on her birthday (TWICE,) assumes Mary the paralegal is a prostitute and abandons his morals to try and sleep with her anyway, thinks Stella will move her child to Manhattan when they get married without even asking her, doesn’t remember “blah blah”s name and tries to date a woman who is actively protesting his career. He runs off with Victoria on her wedding day, which I think is horrible too, but I give him points for making sure she leaves a note.
They’re both just awful, awful humans when it comes to love, but I have to say Ross takes the cake with all the things he’s done to Rachel. He stays married to her and doesn’t tell her, basically fucks his entire relationship with Mona up because he’s still in love with Rachel, gets Rachel pregnant then gets mad when she won’t immediately marry him, says Rachel’s name at his wedding instead of his soon-to-be wife’s, gets irrationally angry and jealous when any guy tries to come near her and even tries to date her sister (ew) to spite her. How these two ended up together I will never know. Oh my God, and there was that time he tried to hook up with his COUSIN. You win, Ross, you’re horrible.
Both HIMYM and Friends are about, you guessed it, friends. So this round gives us a lot to work with. I’d say Ted’s commitment to his friendships seems weaker than Ross’s. Ted bails out pretty fast when things get rough, i.e. blaming only Barney when he hooks up with Robin (uh, hello Ted, takes two to tango,) calling Lily a horrible name when she runs off to San Francisco and then harboring that anger toward her for months after she’s returned and thinks all is well, making Robin’s breakup with Kevin about himself and not telling Marshall that Lily was planning on interviewing for the art fellowship in the first place. Ted has redeeming moments though, specifically the time he remembered Lily’s childhood wish for an Easy Bake Oven, telling Marshall and Lily that he didn’t actually make out with Lily in college, thus keeping their first meeting story much more romantic and letting Barney give Robin the locket on her wedding day. With Ross, he’s overall a super reliable friend (unless you’re Rachel, in which case, see the last category.) He buys Phoebe her first bike, kisses Joey before his guy-on-guy kiss audition and walks his ex-wife down the aisle because her parents refuse to show up to her wedding to Susan. On the downside, he gets unreasonably mad at Joey for having feelings for Rachel years after Ross and Rachel were no more and is quick to assume Chandler is just fooling around with Monica when he sees them hooking up. Way to assume the worst, bro. What I believe it comes down to for me however is Ted’s selfishness. He makes every situation about him, which I suppose makes sense since he’s the narrator of the series, but still, I personally can’t stand it. Sorry Ted, you win this one.
My final verdict is this… TED MOSBY IS THE WORST. I know I’m going against a lot of popular opinions on this one, but overall I find Ross’ character flaws more annoying than actually terrible. Ted is well aware of his negative actions and chooses not to change them, whereas Ross seems just clueless. When he’s not clueless he eventually owns up to it and does his best to rectify the situation. Ted makes it through on his “hopeless romantic” vibe, but I’m not buying it. The next time you open up an encycloPEEdia, Ted, your name will be listed under “The Worst.”