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Vanessa Abrams is a character in Gossip Girl series of novels as well as the television adaptation. She is portrayed by Jessica Szohr. Along with Jenny Humphrey, Vanessa's character is downgraded in season four before departing the show altogether.
Vanessa appeared in 69 episodes.
Vanessa is the daughter of Arlo and Gabriela Abrams. She grew up on a commune in Vermont before moving to Brooklyn to live with her sister, Ruby. She was homeschooled her entire life until she began attending NYU.
A melancholic and darkly humorous filmmaker, Vanessa Abrams is only attending Constance Billard School for Girls through scholarship. Although Vanessa loathes having to go there, she feels it's her best bet at getting into a good college and making something of herself so she grudgingly goes. She lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with her unconventional sister, Ruby, and her only friend is Dan Humphrey, whom she happens to be in love with.
Despite her crush on Dan, Vanessa didn't dare confess her feelings for him, since his infatuation with Serena van der Woodsen had been all too apparent. When Serena broke his heart, however, Vanessa swooped in to pick up the pieces, and the two quickly embraced their love for each other. Since both of them are tormented souls and aspiring artists, Vanessa feels they're meant to be together. However, Dan eventually cheats on her with a poet named Mystery Craze and Vanessa in turn falls for sometimes-friend Blair Waldorf's stepbrother, Aaron Rose.
Vanessa eventually cheats on Aaron with Dan, and the budding artists reconcile their relationship. When she's not sleeping with her on-again-off-again boyfriend in the novels, Vanessa's taking morbid black-and-white photos and videos, shaving her head, assisting arrogant filmmaker Ken Mogul with his movies, or babysitting spoiled twins.
Vanessa is horrified when Dan announces he is gay but remains a great friend to him, and it is her who realizes he isn't when they have sex again.
By the end of the series, Vanessa and Dan are still together. They partake in a long-distance relationship as she remains in the city (attending NYU) and he moves to study literature at Evergreen.
Vanessa makes her first appearance in The Handmaiden's Tale when she comes to see Dan after moving to Brooklyn to live with her sister, Ruby. Dan, Rufus, and Jenny Humphrey are all excited for Vanessa to be back. However, she hasn't forgotten about Dan confessing his feelings for her before she left for Vermont and is saddened when she hears he's dating Serena van der Woodsen. When she confronts him about what he said before she left, he replies that he no longer has feelings for her as he's with Serena. While she's devastated at this at first, they make up later that night as they catch up.
In Seventeen Candles, Dan tries to get Vanessa and Serena to become friends by bringing Vanessa to Blair Waldorf's seventeenth birthday party. Meanwhile, Dan's mother Alison Humphrey has returned after having an affair in Hudson and only Vanessa knows the turmoil that's causing the family. She accidentally mentions it in front of Serena, who becomes sad that Dan didn't tell her. Afterwards, Dan tells Serena that Vanessa is his best friend and they will always share a special bond; and Vanessa and Serena are then able to continue trying to be friends. Soon after, Serena, Blair, Chuck Bass, and Nate Archibald break into Constance Billard's pool and have a party. Serena invites Dan and Vanessa to stop by and they do. Meanwhile, Vanessa is trying to film Dan's life to create a short film to enter in a contest for grant money. While filming, she catches Blair confessing sleeping with Chuck and then faking her virginity for Nate. After being confronted by the two, she decides to give the tape to Blair to destroy (School Lies).
Before Christmas in Roman Holiday, Vanessa secretly submits one of Dan's stories to The New Yorker and it ends up being chosen to be published. When Serena is unable to find the perfect present for Dan, Vanessa volunteers to help her create a 3D winter wonderland display for Dan at Rufus' art gallery. However, Blair sees Vanessa's enthusiasm to help and confronts Vanessa about liking Dan as more than a friend.
In Desperately Seeking Serena, Vanessa helps Dans study for the upcoming SATs. After Nate brings by some of his old SAT study materials, Vanessa discovers a practice essay he wrote; detailing his struggle to choose between his parents and dealing with his father's embezzlement scandal and subsequent arrest. This leads Vanessa to apologize to him for ever judging him before getting to know him and they go to Vanessa's sister's concert to hang out. They kiss at the end of the night and the next day Nate brings her to the SAT location, where he encourages her to take the test and keep her options open. She decides to take his advice and afterwards the two enter into a relationship. Meanwhile, Serena's frenemy Georgina Sparks has arrived back in town and as revenge for Serena icing her out, she befriends Dan and Vanessa under the alias of Sarah. In Woman on the Verge, Nate tells Vanessa who Sarah really is and Vanessa confronts her. However, Georgina takes the confrontation as a warning and leaves with Dan before Vanessa can tell him.
In the season finale Much 'I Do' About Nothing, Vanessa attends Bart Bass and Lily van der Woodsen's wedding as Nate's date. During the reception, Nate catches his father fleeing to Dominica to escape going to jail. Afterwards, Nate breaks up with Vanessa to spare her the drama of his family. Vanessa then plans to spend the summer with Dan remodeling Rufus' art gallery.
When Rufus returns to town in Never Been Marcused, he's more than impressed with Vanessa's renovation of the gallery. He then confides in Vanessa about how his band, Lincoln Hawk, was asked to go on another tour. She encourages him to do what he thinks is best and he takes her advice, deciding not to go. Meanwhile, Vanessa realizes she misses Nate and after getting advice from Jenny, decides to call him. He stops by the gallery and the two hang out. They make plans to hang out later that night after Nate attends a party hosted by Blair, but he is delayed when the older married woman he is having an affair with, Catherine Beaton, promises to give him money in exchange for his staying with her. He later cancels on Vanessa, who planned a whole romantic evening for them. Soon after, he asks Vanessa to go to another party of Blair's with him and she agrees to go. At the party, she is confronted by Catherine, who threatens to tell the FBI where Nate's dad is hiding if he leaves her. Not wanting to ruin Nate's family, Vanessa ends things with him (The Dark Night).
As a thank you for letting her keep Nate, Catherine gives Vanessa a check for ten thousand dollars. Not wanting her money, Vanessa goes to Catherine's to return the money and is shocked to find her having sex with her stepson, Marcus Beaton, who is also Blair's boyfriend. She takes photos and shows them to Blair; who says she'll handle it on her own. The next day, Vanessa tracks down Blair and sees her having a seemingly romantic brunch with Marcus. Thinking Blair double crossed her, she goes to see Catherine's husband herself and informs him of the affair. As a result, Catherine and Marcus are sent back to London. However, Blair becomes angry at Vanessa; as she worked out a deal to get Catherine to pay off the Archibald debt in exchange for her silence. Vanessa then tells Nate what happened, and he becomes upset that she never told him what was going on (The Ex-Files).
In New Haven Can Wait, Vanessa helps Jenny convince Rufus to allow her to be homeschooled and helps with setting her up. Soon after, Vanessa dedicates her time to helping save an old bar in Brooklyn and blackmails Blair into helping her. Annoyed at being blackmailed, Blair enlists Chuck to seduce and humiliate Vanessa. He plans to pretend to buy and save the bar but after visiting the place he decides to buy it for real. However, Blair quickly realizes that Chuck isn't going to deliver on his end of the deal and calls off their arrangement before informing Vanessa that they were just toying with her. Meanwhile, Nate has moved into the Humphrey loft and gets closer to Dan and Jenny. After Dan sees him kissing Jenny, he gets kicked out of the loft but sends Jenny a letter confessing his feelings for her (There Might be Blood). On Thanksgiving, Vanessa discovers the letter and steals it before Jenny has a chance to see it (The Magnificent Archibalds).
Before The Snowflake Ball, Nate calls Vanessa and asks her to be his date. However, Jenny still has no idea why Nate never talked to her again since he left their loft and is shocked when she learns it's because he's been with Vanessa. As revenge, she teams with Penelope Shafai, Hazel Williams, and Isabel Coates to embarrass her at the ball. She creates a dress with no lining so Vanessa's undergarments will be exposed to everyone and gives it to her. Meanwhile, Vanessa feels guilty for stealing Nate's letter and plans to tell him at the ball; but doesn't get a chance before she is exposed in the dress. She leaves, humiliated, and Nate follows. She tells him what she did and he decides he wants to be with her, and tells Jenny that after what he saw her do he has no interest in her anymore. Nate and Vanessa then enter into a relationship (It's a Wonderful Lie).
In Remains of the J, Vanessa becomes suspicious of how much time Nate is spending with Blair. Her suspicions are confirmed by Chuck and the two conspire to ruin their newfound friendship. Soon after, Nate breaks up with Vanessa, citing that things have come to a natural end. At Jenny's Sweet Sixteen, Chuck and Vanessa kiss in front of Nate and Blair. They later end up sleeping together twice. In the season finale The Goodbye Gossip Girl, Vanessa and Nate begin speaking again and they make plans to go on a backpacking trek through Europe.
In the season premiere Reversals of Fortune, it's revealed that Vanessa has been spending a lot of time with Scott Rosson, a new friend who will be at NYU with her and Dan. She also becomes angry at Dan when she discovers that he spent his summer in the Hamptons and is living the life of luxury with the VDW's. She later confronts him at the annual van der Bilt polo match and then enters into a relationship with Scott. In The Freshmen, Vanessa discovers that her dorm is in the same hall as Blair and Georgina. Despite Georgina's past wrongdoings, Vanessa chooses to forgive her and becomes friends with her again. In The Lost Boy, Vanessa discovers that Scott is really the lovechild of Rufus and Lily, a secret she chooses to let Scott reveal on his own. Before he can, his adoptive mother comes to town to support him and he decides to instead tell Rufus he's their son's brother. The next day, he informs Vanessa that he is going back to Boston. She asks him to come back one day and tell them because she can't keep his secret forever. He says he can't promise that before kissing her one last time.
Soon after, famous actress Olivia Burke comes to NYU to go to school and becomes roommates with Vanessa. She also begins a relationship with Dan (Dan de Fleurette). In Enough About Eve, Vanessa begins a power struggle with Blair over who will get to give The Freshman Toast during Parent's Weekend. Knowing her mother, Gabriela, doesn't understand why she's at a private university, Vanessa invites her to come and hear her toast. However, Blair pairs with the decision maker, Josh Ellis, and is able to nag the toast for herself. At the dinner, she humiliates Vanessa and herself. The same night, Gabriela overhears Vanessa expressing how she wishes Rufus and Lily were her parents and she leaves town.
After that, Georgina returns to town and jealously discovers that Dan and Olivia are dating. As she knows Vanessa knows who Scott is, she blackmails her into trying to split them up. Vanessa eventually just tells Dan what he knows but their plan to deal with it fails when Georgina outs Scott at Rufus and Lily's wedding (Rufus Getting Married). In They Shoot Humphreys, Don't They?, Dan and Vanessa learn that Olivia is planning to leave school to film a movie. They try to stop her by taking her on a bucket list of things to do in college, which ends in the three engaging in a threesome. The next day, Vanessa and Olivia each begin to become possessive over Dan. They end up in a huge argument which leads to Olivia saying that she and everyone else knows that Vanessa is in love with Dan. Later that evening, Vanessa admits that a drama student at NYU, Paul Hoffman, likes her and she's going to see where that goes. Dan and Olivia also break up.
On Thanksgiving in The Treasure of Serena Madre, Vanessa gets into a fight with her mother and asks Dan if she can stay with him through the weekend. Wanting to help, Dan invites Gabriela to come so she can talk to Vanessa. At a dinner hosted by Lily and Rufus, they get into another fight, which follows them back to the loft. Afterwards, they talk things out and make amends. When their conversation is over, Gabriela thanks Dan for bringing them together and confesses that he is clearly in love with Vanessa. She advises him not to act on his feelings unless he's sure she is the one he wants to be with because their friendship won't survive another heartbreak. Vanessa then invites Gabriela to meet Paul, and Dan encourages her to go. The next day, Serena is involved in a serious car accident and Dan and Vanessa go to the hospital for support. While there, Dan confesses his feelings to Vanessa (The Debarted). In The Lady Vanished, they try to avoid talking about it but end up kissing at a dorm party. They then begin a friends with benefits relationship and begin dating in The Sixteen Year Old Virgin.
In Dr. Estrangeloved, Dan learns he was rejected by Tisch's playwriting program because Vanessa got the one transfer spot from NYU. He vents his feelings to Willa Weinstein and accidentally tells her that the piece Vanessa submitted was based on one of his writings. Willa calls her father to tell him about the snafu and is able to get the committee to review their applications. When Dan discovers that Vanessa submitted an original piece, he tells Willa; who then tells Vanessa about the whole thing. Soon after, Rufus reveals to Dan that Vanessa applied for an internship with CNN to do documentary work in Haiti for a few months. Vanessa insists on not going because she doesn't want to ruin their relationship but Dan encourages her to go. She leaves and the two begin a long distance relationship (It's a Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World).
In the season finale Last Tango, Then Paris, Jenny sees Dan and Serena sleeping in his bed together and sends a photo to Gossip Girl. When Nate, who is dating Serena, finds out, he sends a copy of the blast to Vanessa, who breaks up with Dan over it.
In Double Identity, Vanessa goes to see Dan as she's angry he didn't try to contact her all summer. When she arrives at the loft, she discovers he's been living there with Georgina and their son, Milo Humphrey. She is instantly suspicious of Georgina and her story but decides to support Dan's decision to raise Milo. Meanwhile, Nate has begun a friendship with Juliet Sharp, who tries to end the love triangle between Nate, Dan, and Serena. She lies to Vanessa that Dan told Nate he still has feelings for her, and Vanessa and Dan end up having sex. Dan then realizes Nate told Vanessa he still had feelings for her and confronts him about it, but then figures out that he still does. They then reconcile their relationship. In The Undergraduates, Georgina explains that Milo isn't Dan's son to him and leaves with him. Afterwards, Vanessa moves in to the loft with Dan.
In Touch of Eva, Vanessa tries to get Dan to talk about his feelings over Georgina leaving with Milo. He avoids the conversation by hanging out all day with Serena, which infuriates Vanessa. Soon after, a rumor about Serena possibly having an STD spreads on Gossip Girl. Worried that Dan might have caught it, Vanessa agrees to look through Serena's phone with Juliet. Juliet takes the opportunity to frame Vanessa for stealing the phone and starting the rumor in the first place. Everyone falls for the ploy and begins to ice Vanessa out, Dan included. Later that night, she goes to Vermont to stay with her parents for awhile (Goodbye, Columbia).
In Juliet Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Nate discovers that Juliet lied about some major things while dating him. He then goes to see Vanessa, who has returned to the loft, and asks for her help in finding the truth. While Nate takes Juliet out for coffee, he sends Vanessa to search her apartment for anything telling. During her search, Vanessa finds photos Juliet took of her professor cousin, Colin Forrester, kissing Serena. She advises Juliet to release them to destroy Serena but Juliet, worried about losing Nate, deletes them instead. Vanessa then steals the USB they're stored on and plans to tell Dean Reuther about them at the ballet. Once there, she is able to convince Juliet to go along with her but Blair is able to drown the evidence before the dean sees the photos. Afterwards, Juliet is banned from Columbia University and Manhattan by Blair, Chuck, Nate, and Serena. She then teams up with Vanessa and Jenny to destroy Serena. In The Witches of Bushwick, the three plot to ruin Serena's relationships with Blair, Nate, and Dan. They successfully do so, but unbeknownst to Jenny and Vanessa, Juliet drugs Serena into an overdose and leaves her alone in a motel room.
When she's discovered and taken to the hospital, Lily has her sent to The Ostroff Center for rehab. Vanessa and Jenny realize what Juliet did and both try to convince her to come clean. However, Juliet tells Vanessa that if she reveals what they did, the entire Humphrey/VDW family, especially Dan, will never forgive her. Knowing this is true, Vanessa pins the whole thing on Jenny. Afterwards, Jenny finds proof of what Juliet did and informs Blair. She then texts Vanessa to try and lie her way out of it and Vanessa goes home to Vermont to avoid confrontation (Gaslit).
Vanessa returns in While You Weren't Sleeping and tries to make amends with Dan for everything. However, Dan isn't interested in fixing things and tells her so. He completely rejects her and Vanessa leaves. On her way out, she overhears Ben Donovan, Serena's new boyfriend, threaten Damien Dalgaard with physical harm if he reveals Lily's crime of perjury. Later on, she attends a photoshoot for a book of modern royalty, in which Serena and her family will be photographed. While there, she overhears that Dan and Blair kissed. She calls Serena and leaves her a message about what she heard (The Kids Stay in the Picture). The next day, she is able to get in contact with Serena, who still doesn't believe her (Petty in Pink).
In The Princesses and the Frog, Vanessa explains to Serena's cousin Charlie Rhodes (Ivy Dickens) that she's moving away but needs to make sure Dan will be okay before she goes. She tries to help her plan a dinner for Rufus and his colleagues but Charlie sabotages it on purpose to blame Vanessa. When she explains to Dan what Vanessa did, he is willing to confront her himself but she asks to do it instead. While doing so, she explains that her way of "getting" Dan is to take her out of the picture completely. Later that night, Vanessa goes to see Dan, who tells her that their friendship is over forever.
In the season finale The Wrong Goodbye, Rufus finds that Charlie isn't taking her mental health medication and enlists Serena and Vanessa to find her. Vanessa goes to the loft to see if she shows up there and while there, finds Dan's novel, Inside. She tells him that the book is incredible and he needs to get it published. He tells her that he can't because it will ruin his friendships, and she advises him to do it anyway. He then orders her to leave and reminds her that his life was better before she ever came back to New York. Angry, Vanessa steals the book and sells it to a publisher for ten thousand dollars. She asks the editor to send her the check at her new home in Barcelona, promising that she will forward it to Dan.
In the season premiere, Yes, Then Zero, Dan receives the check from Vanessa along with a note congratulating him on his first novel.
In the series finale New York, I Love You XOXO, Vanessa is seen in Barcelona shocked at the reveal of Gossip Girl.
Appearance and Style
Vanessa usually wears casual clothes like jeans and leather jackets but sometimes wears dresses when the ocasion calls. She has long black hair and wears wigs in some episodes. For a complete list about her style see here.
Vanessa is regarded by everyone (and, notably, herself) as a moral person, and therefore holds morality in very high regard. Though she has been known to scheme on occasion, and sometimes even to the detriment of those she loves most, she generally abstains from this behavior and has a great disdain for others (particularly Blair) who partake in it. It should also be noted that generally Vanessa seems to feel great guilt and regret for her involvement in schemes - especially if they've hurt others. She also does not bother to try change herself just for others and says what she truly thinks. However, as the series progressed, she also became increasingly vindictive and scheming because of her bitterness towards wealthy people.
She is a filmmaker, and is passionate about this endeavor, but also places great importance on academic achievement (much to the displeasure of her non-conformist parents). Despite the pressure to assimilate to her family's dislike for a formalized college education, Vanessa secretly yearned to attend, and at Nate's encouragement, took the SATs and later enrolled as a student at NYU.
Vanessa is also a political and social activist, and believes in helping people through whatever means possible. This has often shown to be a trait admired by other characters, especially those less similarly inclined (notably Chuck). She has a disdain for wealth and conformity, and as such, most of the characters that she regularly interacts with (and, for a brief time following the marriage of his father to the wealthy Lily van der Woodsen, Dan). She especially dislikes Blair, but there are moments when the two formed a truce.
In regards to her love life, Vanessa generally seems to be faithful and committed to her boyfriends (it is unclear if she identifies herself as lesbian, though she engaged physical intimacy on one occasion with Olivia Burke during a mutual tryst with Dan). Her two most important relationships on the show, with Nate and Dan, both ended at the behest of her partners. She is not entirely above scheming to protect her romantic interests, but is always honest with her boyfriends about her feelings, and doesn't seem to be very guarded emotionally.
- Arlo Abrams (Father)
- Gabriela Abrams (Mother)
- Clark (ex-boyfriend, bartender, lost her virginity to)
- Dan Humphrey (ex-boyfriend)
- Chuck Bass (ex-boyfriend)
- Nate Archibald (ex-boyfriend)
Relationships (TV Series)
- Arlo Abrams (Father)
- Gabriela Abrams (Mother)
- Ruby Abrams (Sister)
- Nate Archibald (ex-boyfriend)
- Dan Humphrey (ex-boyfriend)
- Scott Rosson (ex-boyfriend)
- Chuck Bass (fling)
This character has a Photo Gallery!
"I'm not a big fan of liars and neither is Dan." -Woman on the Verge (1x17)
"Oh, hello, weird documentary girl." -Penelope
"Bye, sad Blair wannabe." -It's a Wonderful Lie (2x12)
"You're at a polo match, in a $3,000 suit and your name's in the program. And after I take a bus across the state line to apologize, you ditch me for Blair Waldorf and totally disappear!" -Vanessa
"CeCe set me up with this suit, alright, and Jenny got a dress too, if you'd also like to make her feel bad about it. As for Blair, it's not like we're shoe shopping or sipping martini's, there was something going on with Serena." -Dan
"And what is that?" -Vanessa
"I wish I knew. All I do know is that Lily's mother is very sick, my dad is struggling to keep it together, not to mention my family is just generally in the middle of a massive transition so please, please, give me a break with the "rich people suck" thing." -Dan
"I don't care if you're rich, which you aren't by the way. Ride in a limo, break a hundred, that's fine. But if you're gonna be in this world, be yourself in this world because I actually like that guy. And I hope he's the one who turns up at NYU." -Reversals of Fortune (3x01)
"Dan didn't write you back because A. he broke up with you, B. he's seeing someone else, and C. even though I tried to defend you, you're a full on crazy person." -Rufus Getting Married (3x05)
"We're talking about Georgina Sparks! Her hair lies! You can't trust anything that comes out of her mouth.. let alone, anywhere else." -Belles de Jour (3x01)
"I've always only wanted you, Dan. But even I have my limits." -Touch of Eva (4x04)
"I'm not gonna chase after you, Vanessa." -Dan
"And I wouldn't stop for you if you did." -While You Weren't Sleeping (4x16)
"Be a great man instead of always being a good boy." -The Wrong Goodbye (4x22)
- She used to babysit a lot.
- While it's mentioned in the first season that she lives with her sister, Ruby, she is never actually seen on screen.
- Her landlord only speaks Ukranian.