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Eric van der Woodsen (spelled Erik in the novels) is the brother of Serena van der Woodsen and son of Lily and William van der Woodsen in the Gossip Girl series, though there are significant differences between the character displayed in the novels and the character adapted for television. In the television series, he is portrayed by Connor Paolo.
Eric appeared in 53 episodes.
Summary[edit | edit source]
Eric is the son of Lily and William van der Woodsen and the younger brother of Serena van der Woodsen. He grew up on the Upper East Side and attended St. Jude's School for Boys before moving to attend Sarah Lawrence College. He is gay.
Many of Eric's storylines surround his relationship with his family, namely Serena and Lily, and his friendship with Jenny Humphrey. Unlike many of the other characters on the show, Eric tries to stay out of the drama; except for a few notable instances.
Novel Series[edit | edit source]
Erik van der Woodsen is a minor character in the Gossip Girl novels, only making appearances on occasion. The older brother of Serena van der Woodsen, Erik is a junior at Brown University. He is not gay in the book series, and dates several different girls at a time. After moving in with Serena, Blair Waldorf discovers his diary and as a result, the two date briefly. He is very close with Serena, and threw her a giant sixteenth birthday party, and drove her up to Hanover Academy on her first day.
Aside from his brief appearances, Erik remained a relatively quiet secondary character throughout the series, however he did have a bigger part in the Gossip Girl prequel, It Had to Be You.
Television Series[edit | edit source]
Eric is first seen as a patient at the Ostroff Center. Serena vists him after a year in boarding school, and she is eager to get Eric out of the center. However, Lily disagrees, and they both end up arguing over Eric (Pilot). Eric is allowed to leave the center briefly to attend the Ivy League Mixer, where he meets Jenny. They talk and he tells her all about his problems and that Lily is lying when she says he's in Miami with Carol. Earlier, Blair had gotten photos of Serena entering the center and exposes her as a recovering drug addict. She plays along to protect Eric, but afterwards he shows Blair his scars from his suicide attempt (Poison Ivy).
At Blair's sleepover soiree, Blair dares Jenny to break into the Ostroff Center and take Eric out for the night, after he's denied being able to go home for the weekend. They break into the center and Jenny sneaks Eric out while Blair distracts the secretary by pretending to be a drug addict. Once she learns of his disappearance, Lily goes into a panic but is unable to reach Serena, who is on a date with Dan. She calls Rufus, and waits it out with him. Eventually, Serena and Dan find Eric and tell Lily he's alright. After, he confesses to Serena that he's sick of only having her and Lily to talk to and he is ready to go home. That night, Lily brings him home for good (Dare Devil). He attends the Humphrey Thanksgiving dinner along with Lily and Serena, and learns Lily and Rufus dated once upon a time (Blair Waldorf Must Pie). When Lily gets engaged to Bart Bass (School Lies), Eric begins to develop a close friendship with Chuck Bass, who he sometimes turns to for advice and sees as a brother.
When Jenny begins dating Asher Hornsby, Eric warns her that he's not sure Asher is the right guy for her. Meanwhile, Dan sees Asher with a guy and sends the tip to Gossip Girl. That evening at dinner, Georgina Sparks tells Lily and Serena that Eric is gay. The shock upsets Lily, leading Eric to believe she won't accept him for who he really is. When talking to Serena later, he reveals that he met Asher at the Ostroff Center and that's when they began dating. He also admits that Chuck already knew, as he told him earlier knowing Chuck wouldn't judge him. At Asher and Jenny's party, he comes out as gay to everyone. After Asher insults him to his face, Eric lets Blair out him on Gossip Girl to expose Asher (All About My Brother). He is a groomsmen in Lily and Bart's wedding (Much 'I Do' About Nothing).
During the summer, Eric is staying with his sister and grandmother CeCe Rhodes in the Hamptons. He receives a call from Jenny, who needs help to get in the Vitamin White party. She apologizes for the incident with Asher, and they become friends again. Eric introduces Tinsley Mortimer to Jenny to extend her contacts in the fashion industry (Summer Kind of Wonderful).
After the school year starts, although Serena complains about Lily's new marriage and their new house rules, Eric thinks they should give the marriage a chance. Later, Eric introduces Jonathan Whitney as his new boyfriend. Serena asks Jonathan if he'll be coming to the housewarming party that night. He says no, that when Eric asked Bart, he was told it's family only. Serena realizes Eric was manipulated by Bart and confronts him about it. Eric explains that Bart asked if he really wanted to come out in a major magazine and he made the choice himself. Angry, Serena starts to sabotage the party and Eric doesn't try and stop her. When asked by Lily later if she really was a bad mother, he admits that she really wasn't around and Serena raised him (Chuck In Real Life).
Him and Jonathan break up after Bart reveals that Jonathan has been cheating on him. Eric lodges Jenny secretly in the Bass-van der Woodsen penthouse and goes with her to meet with lawyers who get her emancipation papers. Eric then discovers Bart is keeping files on all of their pasts and hired a private detective to follow them. In the files, he discovered Lily was also in a rehab center like Ostroff, and asks why she never told him. She explains that she did it to be strong enough to support Eric (The Magnificent Archibalds).
At Bart's funeral, Eric gets back together with Jonathan and tries to maintain his friendship with a downward spiraling Chuck (O Brother, Where Bart Thou?). Eventually, Lily adopts Chuck and he becomes Eric's legal brother (You've Got Yale!). When Serena, Blair, Nate, and Chuck try to find the identity of Gossip Girl, he reveals along with Jonathan that over spring break, Jonathan hacked into her server and has access to all her emails. There's an email that claims Eric dyes his hair (The Goodbye Gossip Girl).
During the summer, Eric is in CeCe's Hamptons house with Jenny, Dan and Rufus while his mother is in Montecito, California taking care of CeCe. It's revealed that Serena asked him and Jenny to hide her summer exploits, which they did a good job of until she returned (Reversals of Fortune). He observes Jenny's speech to the rest of Constance that ends the school hierarchy (Dan de Fleurette).
During Jenny's transformation into an Upper East Side Queen, he falls victim to Jenny and her cronies when a battle over the steps that Jonathan inadvertently started ends with Eric being splattered with yogurt. The Halloween party that follows has Jonathan being egged at the club opening, enraging Eric, who tells Jenny he wants nothing to do with her (How to Succeed in Bassness). Eric sabotages Jenny's Cotillion by sending a text to Graham Collins, the date Jenny wants, which claims that Jonathan will be taking her to Cotillion. He joins forces with Blair and makes Kira Abernathy, a Constance student whom Jenny regularly ignores, a threat to Jenny's reign as Queen. Blair gives Kira a makeover and Eric blackmails Graham into serving as Kira's escort instead of Jenny's. Jenny endures public humiliation but gains respect by taking Nate as her escort. Jonathan breaks up with Eric, as he claims Eric has changed now that he's scheming with Blair. After Cotillion, Jenny leaves with the other Upper East Side Queen Bees, unaware that Eric was responsible for her public embarrassment (They Shoot Humphreys, Don't They?).
At Thanksgiving, Jenny discovers that Eric was behind her embarrassment and pretending to be her friend, and vows revenge (The Treasure of Serena Madre). Eric teams up with Kira and attempts to ruin Jenny by buying one of his accomplices the same bag as her and having the girls turn against her. This plan fails as Jenny reveals two identical bags, handing them over to his accomplices, falsely apologizing for her actions but claiming that one of the girls whom Erica bought a bag for spoiled her surprise. Eric and Jenny call a truce after Serena's car accident (The Debarted).
At Nate's birthday party, which is a game of Assassin, Eric meets a new guy named Eliot Garfield in Blair's building lobby (Inglourious Bassterds). The two begin to talk and he wonders if Eliot is gay. At Dorota's wedding, Eliot brings a girlfriend named Chelsea and Eric thinks he's straight. But at the reception, Eliot confesses Chelsea left because he kept talking about Eric and became jealous. He reveals that he's bisexual and likes Eric. William van der Woodsen returns to the city, and Eric isn't accepting at first. He rejects William for not being around while he was growing up, and informs him that he is gay and attempted suicide at one point (Dr. Estrangeloved). As an attempt to get closer to Eric, William sets up a date for Eric with Eliot and this causes Eric to try and forgive his father (It's a Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World). After Jenny ruins the plan to expose William for trying to break Rufus and Lily up, Eric coldly tells her that if she doesn't want to be a part of their family, she can leave, as no one is forcing her to stay (Ex-Husbands and Wives). After Jenny loses her virginity to Chuck, Eric is the first one she tells, and when she leaves for Hudson to live with Alison, Eric goes with to say goodbye and promises to always be there for her.
Lily and Rufus return home at the end of the summer and mention that they spent some of it in Italy with Eric
and Eliot (Belles de Jour). When Chuck returns to Manhattan, Eric and Rufus are not ready to welcome him back. In order to make sure Rufus doesn't forgive him, Eric lets it slip that Chuck tried to rape Jenny (Pilot) and he isn't capable of change; which signals the end of their brother bond. At Fashion's Night Out, Eric acts cold toward Chuck (The Undergraduates). When Jenny returns to the Upper East Side for an interview with Tim Gunn, Eric attempts to help her make a good impression and keep her away from Chuck and Blair (Easy J). On Rufus and Lily's anniversary, Eric schemes with Dan to find a way to get Jenny back to the city to celebrate. They initially tip off Gossip Girl that Blair and Jack Bass are sleeping together, hoping to end Chuck and Blair's newfound friendship. When that doesn't work, they set up an embarrassing video of Blair to be played at her twentieth birthday party. However, Eric decides not to participate anymore and bows out, but Dan goes through with the plan, which causes a scene. After, Eric and Dan fill the VDW penthouse with paper flowers for Rufus and Lily (War at the Roses). When Serena is committed after a drug overdose, Eric supports her finally getting help she's needed for a long time (Gaslit).
After finding out Lily forged Serena's signature on an affidavit, Eric begins to alienate Lily along with his sister. He is the one who found out Lily was secretly putting up Judge Stevens in a hotel when Serena went looking for him (The Kids Are Not Alright). Lily finds out Eric is lying about his whereabouts, when Jonathan accidentally reveals Eric and Eliot broke up a long time ago. It's revealed that Eric has been spending time with Damien Dalgaard, a known drug dealer. When Serena finds out and confronts him, Eric and Damien pretend to be a couple to cover up Eric's drug use. Later, Ben Donovan threatens Damien to stay away from the VDW's and not to cause trouble, but Damien calls Eric anyway (Damien Darko). To get back at Ben, Damien enlists Dan and Eric to help him. He has Eric punch him at a party to show that Ben is still dangerous, and it works. Eric finds out after that Damien was just using him for revenge and he tells everyone the real truth, which results in saving Ben from not having to return to jail (Panic Roommate). Nate and Dan also inform Damien's dad about his drug dealing, leading Damien to be cut off. Later, he is confronted by Damien, who knows about Lily's forgery, and is blackmailed into helping him with a drug deal (It-Girl Happened One Night). On his eighteenth birthday, he fakes being sick to have his party cancelled so he can do the deal. Serena finds out and plans to fix the problem herself. At his party, Damien arrives to collect his $100,000 check to pay off everyone who didn't get their drugs. Lily catches Eric writing the check and asks what's going on. Later, Damien leaves with his money but is stopped by Ben, who threatens him again. As a result, Damien goes to see Bass enemy Russell Thorpe and gives him info on Lily's crime (While You Weren't Sleeping). Eric graduates St. Jude's and leaves to attend Sarah Lawrence College (The Wrong Goodbye).
Rufus mentions to Dan that he spent part of his summer in London with Jenny and Eric (Yes, Then Zero). At CeCe's funeral, it's mentioned that Eric was out of the country and that's why he didn't attend (The Princess Dowry).
Eric returns for Dan and Serena's wedding, and is shown to still be close with Lily and Jenny (New York, I Love You XOXO).
Personality[edit | edit source]
Eric is oftentimes shown to be kind and friendly to almost anyone. His personality stayed relatively the same until he began to feel betrayed by Jenny and her abandonment of their friendship. However, after he schemed with Blair and lost his relationship and himself, he stopped. It's also mentioned that growing up, he was frequently on the sidelines of Serena's reckless behavior. He's shown to be wise and gives good advice when someone, namely Serena, comes to him needing someone to talk to.
Relationships (Novel)[edit | edit source]
Family[edit | edit source]
Romances[edit | edit source]
- Blair Waldorf (fling)
Relationships (TV Series)[edit | edit source]
Family[edit | edit source]
- William van der Woodsen (father)
- Lily van der Woodsen (mother)
- Serena van der Woodsen (sister)
- Scott Rosson (biological half-brother)
- Chuck Bass (adoptive brother)
- Lola Rhodes (biological half-sister/maternal cousin)
- Rick Rhodes (maternal grandfather)
- CeCe Rhodes (maternal grandmother)
- Blair Waldorf (sister-in-law)
- Henry Bass (nephew)
- Dan Humphrey (brother-in-law)
Romances[edit | edit source]
- Asher Hornsby (ex-boyfriend)
- Jonathan Whitney (ex-boyfriend)
- Eliot Garfield (ex-boyfriend)
- Damien Dalgaard (fling)
Memorable Quotes[edit | edit source]
"Well, since you're being so honest I'm going to try as well. I'm scared. Life is tough enough as it is, you know? I want the best for you. And, um, I'm worried for your safety. And your happiness." -Lily
"I have a better chance of being happy if I'm honest." -All About My Brother (1x15)
""How Well Do You Know Blair Waldorf" is kinda boring for those of us who actually know Blair Waldorf." -Summer Kind of Wonderful (2x01)
"I would say 'get a room' but yours is right above mine. Please try and remember that." -You've Got Yale! (2x16)
"Sorry, Rufus, but you can't really blame her. Our Thanksgivings tend to end with french fries in a diner and someone having been in a mental institution."
"You don't have anything to say to me?" -Jenny
"Your sweet potatoes are bland." -The Treasure of Serena Madre (3x11)
"Going through all of that without a father made me realize I don't need one." -It's a Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World (3x20)
"After five marriages the last thing I want to do is put you and Serena through another divorce." -Lily
"It might sound cold but they do get easier." -Ex-Husbands and Wives (3x21)
"What class has a test on a Saturday?" -Dan
"That would be "Fear of Chuck and Blair 101"." -War at the Roses (4x07)
"Dan vs. Nate was hard enough, I am not touching Good vs. Bad Serena." -The Witches of Bushwick (4x09)
"Mom paid someone off again. We should make this a drinking game." -Damien Darko (4x13)
"I've gotten more hugs tonight from strangers than my grandmother has doled out my entire life." It-Girl Happened One Night (4x15)
"Acting like Blair never works for anybody except Blair." The Princesses and the Frog (4x20)
"Just tell me that no one's trying to stop a wedding, runs a ponzi scheme, give anybody fake cancer or turn into a justifiably vengeful townie." -The Wrong Goodbye (4x22)
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- He has gotten highlights in his hair.
- He was on the debate team at St. Jude's.
- He's shorter than Serena, as he's only 5"6'.