Friends Without A Laugh Track Confirms A Terrifying Truth About Ross

If there's a show that was made to accompany a laugh track, it's "Friends."

One of the most popular and beloved sitcoms of all time, "Friends" is arguably the benchmark that contemporary sitcoms try to live up to. Despite wrapping up in 2004, "Friends" continues to be a key part of our popular culture, still mentioned in casual conversation to this day. That shouldn't be surprising considering the ensemble sitcom received over 60 Emmy nominations and pretty much dominated the airwaves since its 1994 debut.

What made "Friends" so special was its infectious, diverse, and charismatic ensemble of characters. It would be sacrilegious to say that "Friends" wasn't perfectly cast seeing as each actor effortlessly slipped into their character's quirky shoes. While the entire "Friends" roster is considered iconic and essential, it's difficult to argue against the powerful and raw energy that David Schwimmer brought to the character of Ross. Intelligent and occasionally kind-hearted, Ross has frequently emerged as one of the most deranged members of the crew, finding himself in chaotic situations because of his strange responses and mannerisms.

And while there's a still charm to his antics, his well-intentioned attitude melts away when you take away the show's laugh track. Over on TikTok and YouTube, fans are removing the laugh track from key scenes involving Ross, which reveal the character to be, well, straight-up creepy and gross. Consider this clip, posted by TikTok user ruiningmedia, where Ross attempts to flirt with a pizza delivery woman. By removing the laugh track, a greater emphasis is put on just how awkward and creepy the character is, telling the woman strange, inappropriate comments. With a laugh track, Ross is just a bumbling buffoon with just the right amount of charm. Without a laugh track, the "Friends" character is a walking red flag.

Ross is extremely weird without a laugh track

Removing a laugh track from sitcoms to show off just how peculiar certain characters are isn't a new trend. Fans have been doing it since the advent of sites like YouTube, sharing clips of their favorite characters saying the most heinous and most preposterous things, with no immediate audience reaction. When it comes to Ross, it's clear he's got some issues to deal with once the laugh track is removed. Perhaps the most notable clip of Ross without a laugh track is him bickering over "the Moistmaker."

A quick refresher: Ross loves Monica's (Courteney Cox) post-Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches, which feature a gravy-soaked piece of bread in the middle. Excited to have it for lunch, Ross is dejected to find the sandwich missing from his workplace's communal fridge, forcing him to go on a tirade. Naturally, Ross' boss calls him out on his behavior, imploring him to see a psychiatrist. While the scene from Season 5, Episode 9, titled "The One with Ross's Sandwich," is deeply hilarious when watched with a laugh track... the results are pretty much terrifying once there are no chuckles in the background.

In a viral edit from 2017 (posted above), the laugh track is removed, placing a greater emphasis on just how deranged and maniacal Ross sounds over the loss of... a sandwich. This video is just one of many instances where the character comes off as peculiar and odd once the laugh track is removed.

Consider this TikTok video, also posted by user ruiningmedia, where Ross is deemed a "predator" who assaults women. Without context and no laugh track, the David Schwimmer character is legitimately terrifying, all but confirming that Ross is not the "nice guy" that he appears to be. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Fans share their thoughts on Ross and the laugh track

While these edits of Ross' antics without a laugh track are pretty damning, some "Friends" fans are being vocal about how they lack context. Seeing as an entire subgenre of videos has emerged of "Friends" and other sitcoms without laugh tracks, many are calling out the malicious intent behind the edits. "I'm not sure why people make these; shows with audience laughter are formatted and acted in a way that accommodates the laughter to a point," said Reddit user u/Triene86. "They wouldn't be saying things in the same rhythm without an audience." 

What some naysayers may not realize is that "Friends" doesn't have a laugh track — it was filmed in front of a live studio audience, meaning the reactions are sort of genuine. Beyond that, some fans think that Ross' antics and behavior are supposed to come off as unhinged, suggesting that audiences should feel iffy about his actions regardless of there being laughter in the background. "Like, especially in this scene, the whole gag is that Ross is coming across as a creepy predator because he's not explaining himself well, so him seeming creepier almost makes it funnier," said a Reddit user discussing a similarly chaotic Ross scene. 

Take a deep dive into the 200-plus "Friends" episodes and you'll see that Ross usually deals with the consequences of his actions. In the case of the "Moistmaker" situation, Ross is forced to take a sabbatical from work because of his actions. And as YouTuber commenter @chemicalspore puts it: "I think you can actually feel the uncomfortableness of whoever Ross is talking to with out the laugh track. The laugh track softens the blow, without it you understand how that person feels." But even with the laugh track, Ross usually always leaves people uncomfortable.