Robert Ford, going by his last name, showed up in Llanview in August 2009 as the young producer of a reality television show David Vickers was trying to film. After being rejected by Dorian at La Boulaie, the film crew went to Llanfair and tried to secretly tape David's interactions with Viki. But when Jessica Brennan saw someone hiding in the bushes, she assumed it was the stalker who had been following her and bashed the person over the head, only to find out that the person was Ford. After Viki kicked David out, the film crew moved on to the Buchanan mansion and took up temporary residence in the horse stables. Langston Wilde went looking for her boyfriend Markko Rivera, who was working as the cameraman, when she spied Ford trying to beat the heat by pouring a bucket of water over his head and bare chest. Langston liked what she saw but was embarrassed when Ford saw her watching him. They chatted about the reality show and seemed to hit it off, but then Markko interrupted and Ford took off. Later, Ford quit and left town after realizing the reality show idea was a flop.
On New Year's Eve, Ford surprised Langston by showing up at Ultraviolet. Langston had thought about Ford often since their encounter in the stables, and Ford said he had been thinking about her too. When Markko interrupted them, he was dismayed to learn that Ford had taken a job at Llanview University as a teaching assistant in the very class that Markko would be taking. Ford hit on Layla Williamson while working out at the gym but backed off after learning she was dating Cristian Vega. When Ford needed a place to stay, Layla, Cris and Fish invited him to move in with them.
Ford told Cris that he was pursuing an attractive younger woman, and Cris assumed she was a college student. But Ford actually was after Langston, who was having the same desires. Langston confided in Blair that she had fantasized about Ford while having sex with Markko, and Blair urged Langston to stay away from Ford. But when Ford showed up at Langston's 18th birthday party, she secretly made out with Ford. After interrupting them, Blair told Ford to go after someone his own age and planted a wet kiss on Ford. Later, Blair called Ford to La Boulaie to prove to Langston that Ford was only interested in sex; when Ford arrived, he pretended that he only came there to tell Blair to back off, and Langston believed him. Ford accused Langston of playing it safe with Markko and eventually got Langston into bed. Langston and Ford began a torrid affair, although Langston was unaware of Ford's other pursuits. Llanview University student Hannah O'Connor, who had been paired up with Cole Thornhart on a class project, confided in Cole that she had recently broken up with her boyfriend and then gotten involved with an older man, a teaching assistant at Llanview University who dumped her after they had sex. After Hannah nearly overdosed on pills, Cole learned that the man was Ford. Ford also was having casual sex with Karen, the pizza delivery girl. Hannah confronted Ford at the diner, in front of Cole and Markko, about dumping her after they had sex. But Ford convincingly accused her of stalking him after he told her he wasn't interested in pursuing a relationship.
When Langston's best friend and roommate Starr came home to find Langston and Ford together, with an open condom wrapper on the floor, Langston admitted she was having sex with Ford. But Langston refused to break it off with Ford, going so far as to lie to Starr and Cole that she had broken up with him. Langston briefly considered actually breaking up with Ford when Markko nearly caught them together at the Palace Hotel and Ford made Markko look like a fool. But Ford told Langston that she was the one who was making Markko look like a fool, and then Ford told Langston that he was falling in love with her.
Ford hit on Jessica Brennan, who was suffering from memory loss and believed she was a teenager, but Cris told him to back off and warned Jessica that Ford was a player. Ford pressured Langston to get together with him during her prom, but Langston turned him down to stay with Markko. Ford then called over his favorite pizza girl, Karen. Langston, having overheard Layla and Cris talking about Ford's casual romps with Karen, showed up at Ford's apartment and caught Ford and Karen having sex. Ford spun the story to make himself look good, telling Langston he only used Karen as a substitute for her, and Langston ended up kissing him after Karen walked out. Then Markko walked in and saw them together, having just discovered Langston was cheating on him. Markko lashed out at Ford, punching him in the face and preparing to attack him further until Langston broke it up. After Markko stormed out, Ford told a devastated Langston that the thrill was gone and he didn't want to see her anymore. Ford was nursing his bruised face when Jessica knocked on the door, looking for Cristian. Jessica was upset that her plans to win over Cristian on prom night had failed, explaining to Ford that she still viewed herself as a virgin and wanted her first time to be with Cris. Ford told Jessica he could still make her night special and led her into his bedroom, where they began to make out. When Ford got on top of Jessica in bed, however, she flashed back to her near-rape by her father, Mitch Laurence. She screamed at Ford to get off of her, jumped out of bed and ran out of the apartment, leaving Ford perplexed. Early the next morning, Cris and Layla returned to the apartment to find Ford nearly bludgeoned to death in his bed. Ford was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The police arrested Markko for the crime after recovering his bloody shoes in a dumpster behind the Buenos Dias Café and a witness who had seen Markko throw them out.
Ford regained consciousness to see his younger brother James standing over him, explaining he had been attacked. Ford then got a note secretly delivered to him from his attacker, who warned him to follow instructions. Ford named Hannah O'Connor as his attacker and she was ultimately arrested. But Ford had been told to falsely name Hannah by attorney Eli Clarke, who as it turned was Ford's real attacker. Ford had attempted to blackmail Eli with proof that Eli had another identity -- Bennett Thompson -- and Eli had nearly killed Ford to keep him quiet. Ford healed quickly from his injuries and tried to make another go at it with Langston, but she threw him in a pool and told him they were over.
It was Ford's turn to stand vigil over his brother when James was accidentally shot by Starr Manning during a botched ransom negotiation stemming from James having stolen $50,000 from his father, who owned an illegal chop shop in Ohio. James survived the shooting, but while in the hospital Ford was stunned when their mother Inez showed up. Inez had left her two sons behind when James was very young -- so young he had no memory of her. Inez earlier had moved to Llanview to try to reconnect with Ford, but he had told her he wanted nothing to do with her and assumed she had left town. Inez didn't even realize James was in town, and was shocked when she found out he had been shot after stealing $50,000 from his father. Inez then realized that the $50,000 her other son Nate had found belonged to James. Inez used the money to pay for James' medical bills. When James told Bobby that Nate's mother Inez had paid for his bills, Bobby realized that they both had a brother they knew nothing about.
After Jessica learned she was pregnant, she feared that she may have had sex with Ford because she couldn't remember what had happened between freaking out in his apartment and arriving at the Buchanan mansion. Kelly mentioned to Ford that Jessica had Hepatitis C, which could be transmitted through sex, and said he should get tested if they had sex that night. Ford assured Kelly they didn't have sex, leaving a relieved Jessica to assume that the baby she was carrying was Brody's. However, Ford later went to the hospital to get tested. Kelly overheard Langston mention that Ford had been tested for an STD and told Jessica, who realized that she and Ford must have had sex. Jessica confronted Ford, who admitted that they had slept together that night. Ford was stunned to learn that Jessica was pregnant and didn't argue when Jessica told him that she was going to raise the baby as Brody's, even if it turned out to be his.
As the police closed in on Elijah Clarke, Ford confessed his ties to Eli, admitting that he had blackmailed Eli with the knowledge that Eli's alias was Bennett Thompson. Ford explained that he met Eli in Llanview and recognized him as Bennett Thompson. Ford had had an affair with Bennett's wife, Olivia, while he was living in Los Angeles a few years earlier. Olivia was very rich and told Ford that her husband had married her for her money. Soon after, Olivia disappeared and Ford assumed she had skipped town after her husband found out about their affair. Ford told John that he has falsely accused Hannah O'Connor of bludgeoning him because Eli had threatened his family.
Ford moved him and his brother into a new apartment and got a job teaching film at Llanview University. He encouraged James to get his GED and enroll at LU, explaining that his tuition would be covered for free because Bobby was a professor. When Inez and Nate showed up at his apartment, Ford tried to silence Inez but she admitted to James that she was his mother, a revelation that stunned Nate. Ford resisted attempts by Inez and Nate to get closer, while James encouraged his brother to get to know them.
As classes began in the fall of 2010, Ford pursued Langston and told her that he was trying to learn from his past mistakes. Langston agreed to give him a second chance, but then Brody Lovett showed up at the college and beat up Ford for sleeping with Jessica while she wasn't in her right mind. Langston told Ford she wanted nothing to do with him, but later seemed to change her mind when she came over to Ford's place and began making out with him. They agreed to keep their relationship a secret because Ford could get in trouble for being involved with Langston, who was taking his film class. Ford was soon fired when the dean received photos of him kissing Langston, and Ford was stunned when Langston admitted she had set him up. Ford took a job waiting tables at the country club after Nate vouched for him.
Ford was suspicious when Clint Buchanan offered to help him get his job back at the university, but Clint said all he wanted in return was his mother's company. Clint called the university dean, and Ford had his old job back. Brody showed up at Ford's apartment and warned him not to make any claims for Jessica's baby if it turned out to be his. James overheard and questioned why Ford would want nothing to do with the baby, saying he would be no better than their mother if he turned his back on his child. After Jessica told her parents that the baby she was carrying could be Ford's, Clint showed up at Ford's place with hired goons who beat Ford up. But Clint told Ford he could keep his job for the time being, if only because it would break his mother's heart to know that he had taken advantage of his mentally impaired daughter.
James told Ford he suspected that Hannah was involved in Starr and Hope's kidnapping by Elijah Clarke. Ford and Langston agreed to help James stake out Marty's home, hoping that Hannah would lead them to Starr and Hope. But when Ford began coughing up blood from his beating, Langston took him to the hospital and left James behind. When Langston learned from the doctor that Ford had been beaten up, she called the hospital and unknowingly told Ford's mother Inez about his beating. As Clint hovered nearby, Ford told Inez he didn't know who attacked him. When Inez told Langston that Starr and Hope weren't being held by Eli, she and Ford realized that Hannah had them. It turned out that James also had been taken hostage by Hannah, but Ford was relieved when his brother emerged from the escaped unharmed.
Langston agreed to begin dating Bobby again, but only on the condition that they abstain from sex for six months so Bobby could prove to Langston that he was serious about their relationship. Bobby reluctantly agreed, although Langston seemed to be the one who had a harder time staying true to their agreement. Bobby was surprised to find a former flame, Aubrey Wentworth, in Llanview. They reminisced about having met at a film festival in Milan in 2008. Bobby told Aubrey he thought they had a connection, but Aubrey chided him for not being honest with her. Bobby told her that he had changed, but Aubrey thought he was joking when he told her that he was abstaining from sex with the woman he was currently seeing.
In November 2010, Bobby was shocked when his abusive father Eddie Ford showed up at the apartment Bobby shared with James. Eddie had come to town looking for the $50,000 that James had stolen from him earlier that year, but James and Bobby said the money was gone. Eddie threatened to have James sent to jail unless they agreed to let him stay at their apartment, which they reluctantly did. When Inez learned that Eddie was in town, she vowed to protect her sons from her ex-husband. Eddie was arrested on Thanksgiving Day after getting into a brawl with James. When Bobby learned the charges wouldn't stick, he went to Clint and tried to blackmail Clint into giving him $50,000 in exchange for him keeping quiet to his mother about Clint hiring thugs to beat him up. Clint told Bobby that he and Inez were threw, but he would give Bobby the money anyway to help him out. Bobby was disheartened when Eddie took the money but refused to leave town. Bobby challenged Eddie to a boxing match on the condition that Eddie would leave town if he lost, but Eddie quickly knocked Bobby out. The next morning, Eddie was discovered dead in his motel room from a gunshot wound to the chest. Bobby had disappeared from the hospital room on the night his father was killed, but Langston told police that she was with him the entire time.
Nate was arrested after police found the murder weapon in Inez's apartment and was nearly convicted when he pleaded guilty, but then he admitted he lied because he thought Inez had killed Eddie. After Inez admitted to Bo and Nora that Clint had forced her to pretend that she has slept with Bo to break up their marriage, Clint retaliated by having Robert Ford fired from his teaching job and rescinding James' scholarship. Ford threatened to tell the cops that Clint had had him beaten up, but then Clint retaliated by having the $50,000 that had gone missing from Eddie's hotel room the night he was murdered planted in Ford's university office. Ford told Bo that Clint had had him beaten up for sleeping with Jessica while she suffering from memory loss and they realized that Clint planted the money to frame Ford. Ford got a job as a hot dog vendor and planned for his big date with Langston on Valentine's Day, when she promised to lift the sex ban. But before his date, Ford learned from Danielle and Nate that the DNA tests had been switched and he was the father of Jessica's baby, not Brody. Ford went to Llanfair to see his son, but Brody found him and threw him out. Before Ford could meet Langston, he ran into Jessica outside Capricorn and realized that she had split into her alternate personality, Tess. Tess told Ford that she knew all about his seduction of Jessica on prom night, revealing that she was the one who actually had sex with Ford. Tess told Ford that the only way he could be guaranteed access to his son was if he married her, so they flew to Las Vegas to tie the knot.
Brody and Langston arrived to discover that Tess had married Ford using her legal name, Jessica. Brody arrested Tess for assaulting him and brought Tess and Ford back to Llanview, where Ford sided with his new wife against Viki and Clint. Ford confessed to a devastated Langston that he had married Tess so he could be a father to Ryder and that he and Tess were living together. Ford promised to have Tess committed to St. Ann's, but he was forced to renege after Tess caught wind of his plan. Langston then dumped him. As Ford became emotionally connected to his son, Tess proved to be a challenge as she tried to hit on James and quickly took an interest in young stud Cutter Wentworth. Viki tried to convince Ford to give her custody of Ryder in exchange for liberal visitation, but Ford turned her down because of his past run-ins with Clint. Viki and Clint then sued for custody of Ryder. Ford was ambushed when Brody appeared at his apartment with Jessica, who had emerged after Tess nearly had sex with Cutter, and demanded to take Ryder to Llanfair. Ford refused to hand over his son and reminded Jessica about Brody's affair with Natalie, bringing Tess back to the surface.
Tess sent a photo of Charlie and Echo kissing to Access Llanview, hoping to destroy Viki's chance of winning custody of Ryder. When Ford questioned how he could do that to Viki, Tess explained that Viki's alter Niki Smith had taken Jessica to a bar where she was raped as a child. Ford felt sympathy for Tess, but she wouldn't allow herself to feel anything for Ford. Before the custody trial began, Tess told Ford that her mother had reverted back to Niki Smith and would help them secure custody of Ryder. But after Viki emerged and Niki was exposed as a fraud, the judge refused to give custody of Ryder to either Viki or Tess and Ford. Aubrey and Joey stepped up to take temporary custody of Ryder. An angry Ford told Tess that their sham of a marriage was over. When Joey and Aubrey came to collect Ryder, Ford offered to have Tess committed if Ryder could stay with him. Joey and Aubrey said that wasn't an option and took Ryder to the Buchanan mansion. Tess was livid that Ford would betray her. As Ford picked up the phone to call St. Anne's, Tess hit him over the head with a vase. Ford awoke and called the cops. When Ford and Brody arrived at the Minute Man Motel, Tess informed them that she had had her marriage to Ford annulled and had married Cutter so she could stay out of St. Anne's.
Ford tried to move on with his life but found it hard to forget Tess. While Ford was on a date at Capricorn, Tess showed up and disrupted his date by bringing up Ford's past indiscretions. Tess' sour mood quickly changed when she realized she had been double crossed by Cutter and was going to be committed to St. Anne's. She begged Ford to stop them, but all he could do was watch helplessly as orderlies dragged her away. Ford realized he was in love with Tess and hatched a plan to break her out of St. Anne's. Disguised as a nun, he and Tess overtook another nun and they escaped to the Minute Man Motel, where they had sex for the first time. The next morning, Ford went to ask Cutter for a divorce so he and Tess could be together. But when he returned, Tess was gone, and Ford later learned that Jessica had resurfaced. Frustrated, Ford kidnapped Jessica and dragged her back to the Minute Man Motel, where he tried to get Tess to come back. But Jessica assured Ford that Tess was gone for good, and she sympathized with him for having loss someone he loved. Ford decided to concentrate on being a good father to Ryder, and Jessica agreed to give him plenty of visits with his son.
Jessica and Ford grew closer, especially after Natalie and Brody announced they were getting married. Jessica found what appeared to be a copy of Liam's DNA test results in the carrier bag for Tina's dog David Vickers. The results indicated that Liam was actually John's son, not Brody's. She confided in Robert about the test results and was torn about what to do. Ford told Jessica he was sure that John deserved to know the truth, but Jessica couldn't bear to break Brody's heart. The day before Natalie's wedding, Jessica decided to tell her the truth but then the results went missing. Ford told her to go tell Natalie anyway, but Natalie refused to believe Jessica without the proof. Jessica tried to call John on the day of the wedding, but John had already gone to the airport, planning to leave town. Ford told Jessica that she had done all she could do, and then Jessica and Ford consummated their relationship. Jessica later learned that the truth about Liam's paternity had come out before Natalie and Brody could get married and that Brody had known for months that Liam wasn't his son. Natalie and Brody broke up, and John accepted Liam as his son.
Jessica and Ford continued to pursue a relationship as 2012 dawned. The family faced another crisis when Mitch Laurence escaped from jail during a mass prison break and kidnapped Natalie. Mitch demanded to see Jessica in exchange for releasing Natalie, and Jessica agreed to go since she knew that Natalie would do the same for her. When Ford heard about the exchange, he raced to the church where Mitch was holding Jessica. As Mitch planned to shoot Jessica for disobeying him, Ford suddenly ran into the room and tackled Mitch. During a struggle, the gun went off and struck a chandelier that came plummeting to the ground, pinning Ford underneath. Paramedics arrived and Jessica accompanied Ford to the hospital. Ford hovered between life and death and was paid an otherworldly visit by his dead father, Eddie, who told Ford that he was destined to live eternity in hell for what he had done to Jessica when she was ill. Ford was sure he had changed since then, however, and raced toward Heaven where he hoped he could be saved. His injuries were too severe, however, and Ford died before he could get into surgery.