Dr. William van der Woodsen is a recurring character in the Gossip Girl television adaption. William is Lily's first husband and the father of Eric and Serena van der Woodsen. He is also the father of Lola by Lily's sister, Carol Rhodes. William is largely absent half of the series until his appearance as Lily's physician in season three. He is portrayed by William Baldwin.
William appeared in ten episodes.
Not much is known about William other than he has known Lily and Carol since they were all in high school together. In Poison Ivy, Serena reveals that he attended Columbia University, although she later clarifies in Belles de Jour that he attended medical school there.
Similar to the television adaptation, William is absent during much of the series. It is mentioned that he is married to Lily and the father of Serena and Erik.
He is a billionaire doctor and lives with his family in the penthouse of a building that faces The Met.
In the season premiere, Reversals of Fortune, it's revealed by Carter that William had no interest in seeing Serena when she tracked him down. Still upset at this, Serena sabotages the van der Bilt's annual polo match and steals one of their horses; hoping a photographer would capture the whole thing and the photos would get back to William. In They Shoot Humphreys, Don't They?, Serena tells Blair Waldorf about her failed attempt to see William. Later that night, Lily finds a letter addressed to Serena from William. Not knowing why he's trying to contact her, she steals the letter and puts it in her safe.
On Thanksgiving in The Treasure of Serena Madre, Lily discovers that Serena is having an affair with Nate Archibald's married Congressman cousin Tripp van der Bilt. She orders Serena to end the affair or risk being kicked out of the apartment. Serena is prepared to end the relationship until she discovers the letter from William that Lily stole. She confronts Lily about it and leaves with Tripp. Later, Lily stashes it in the pocket of one of her coats. However, Tripp's wife Maureen van der Bilt owns the same coat and accidentally takes Lily's, leading to her finding the letter. The next day, Maureen gives the letter to Rufus Humphrey; and he discovers that the reason William wouldn't see Serena is because he was with Lily. In The Lady Vanished, Serena meets Chuck Bass' mother, Elizabeth Fisher, and after hearing her story on why she left; realizes maybe William doesn't want to be found. That night, she tells the whole story to Nate Archibald and calls the number she has for William one last time to say she no longer wants to find him. Meanwhile, Lily admits to Rufus that she did see William and kissed him, but didn't do anything else. In The Unblairable Lightness of Being, Carter stops Serena on her way into Vanya and Dorota Kishlovsky's wedding to say he has William's exact location, in Florida. Serena chooses to abandon Nate and the wedding in favor of leaving with Carter, although she ditches Carter before she gets to the airport when she finds out he lied about when he knew William's location. Upon arriving in Florida at his hotel, Serena discovers that William is not in the room; but Lily is.
Serena and Lily return to Manhattan in Dr. Estrangeloved to find William in the penthouse with Rufus. They all sit down together and Lily explains the whole story: that last summer, she was diagnosed with cancer and has been seeing William for treatments ever since. After hearing her out, Rufus advises that she find another doctor. He then asks William to leave, which he does, but not before asking Serena to come by his hotel to talk. She goes, and they sit down together. William explains that after he went on long business trips that left Lily with no stability, she asked for a divorce. After they divorced, he became unsure on how to come back to Serena and Eric and so he just chose to stay away. During their talk, Rufus shows up at the hotel to confront William. However, he decides not to at the last minute and leaves with Serena; who tells William she needs some time to think. Later that day, William calls Lily to tell her that her latest round of test results isn't looking too good. He recommends she begin another round of treatment, and Rufus again suggests she find a new doctor. Serena argues that they shouldn't, and Lily agrees. After they all talk, William tells Serena that he thinks there is purpose in Lily asking for his help; then says he has followed her journey growing up from afar. However, after he leaves, he calls someone and informs them that their plan isn't working and he needs another prescription. He then warns them that they better cooperate because the police wouldn't be pleased to hear what they've been up to.
In It's a Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World, William reveals to everyone that he is planning to move into the VDW's building. Serena also announces that she wants to move back into the penthouse, much to Jenny Humphrey's dismay. She also begins lying to William about her past; saying she was never into partying and was very academic. Meanwhile, Eric makes it clear to William that he doesn't forgive him for not being around and that he isn't interested in pursuing a relationship with him. The next day, William finds out that he will not be approved to move into the building. Serena blames Rufus, who accepts responsibility. When Lily finds out, she leaves Rufus behind to attend a gala with Serena and William. When they're gone, Eric supports Rufus' decision to keep William out; but is surprised when his new love interest, Eliot Garfield, shows up after being invited by William. Rufus then decides to go to the gala and arrives in time to hear William make a public pass at Lily. She then realizes that Rufus was right about William's intentions. Meanwhile, Serena admits to William that she lied about her past and he forgives her. At the end of the night, Serena runs into her downstairs neighbor, Holland Kemble, who confesses that she had sex with Rufus. When Serena learns that Rufus cheated on Lily, she goes to William and tells him to fight for her mother.
In Ex-Husbands and Wives, Serena tells Blair about Rufus cheating on Lily. Later that day, Holland tells everyone, Lily included, that she and Rufus slept together. Rufus adamantly denies doing so, but William offers to diffuse the situation so Lily can lie down. However, Dan Humphrey, Nate, Blair, Chuck, and Jenny don't buy Holland's story. They band together and find the whole truth: that William and Holland were working together to split up Rufus and Lily. William drug out Lily's illness by giving her medication (prescribed by Holland) that had side effects that mimicked the symptoms. Despite this, Jenny wants to return to her life pre UES and tips William off that everyone knows what he did. On his way out of town, he asks Serena, Lily, and Eric to go with him. They're all about to leave when everyone shows up and shares the story. While they talk, William sneaks out of the building to get out of town. Serena follows and asks for an explanation. William says that Lily really was sick during the summer but while he was curing her, he fell in love with her again. After hearing him out, Serena tells him that while she doesn't forgive him, she also doesn't need to punish him so she lets him leave town before the police arrive.
William appears next in Empire of the Son when Lily turns herself in for perjury. He tells Rufus that CeCe Rhodes asked him to come to town, as Lily doesn't have a clear idea yet of what she's in for. In The Kids Stay in the Picture, Lily is excited about having her family appear in a book of modern royalty. However, the editors cancel the photo due to the scandal surrounding Lily's arrest. Being a friend of the editor's, William offers to call and fix the whole thing. But when everyone arrives for the photo, they learn the editor changed the content to now feature William, Serena, and Eric. Rufus instantly blames William for sabotaging the photo, although later backtracks when it's revealed it was the editor's idea. They all decide to leave the shoot together.
After the CeCe's death, William returns to town for her wake. When he arrives, he reveals that he is the executor for her estate. At the reading of her will, he reveals that she left everything to Ivy Dickens, the girl Carol Rhodes paid to impersonate her daughter, Charlie Rhodes (Lola Rhodes). Disappointed at not being left anything, Carol reveals to William that Lola is his daughter too; and that she was conceived while there were having an affair during his marriage to Lily. She tells him to get her her money or she'll tell Lily. Later that day, William reaches out to Lola and tells her that if she ever wants to talk, they can (The Princess Dowry). In Con-Heir, William, Lily, and Rufus search for a way to invalidate the will. When they cannot find a way legally, they plan to con Ivy into breaking the terms to invalidate it. However, Serena is unaware of their plan and accidentally ruins it.
In Despicable B, Serena invites William to a dinner hosted by Lily. He declines her offer, saying he is out of town. However, she sees him having breakfast with Lola and realizes he lied to her. She goes to confront him later, and he agrees to come. Later that day, Nate tells Serena that Lola has had a tough day because she had breakfast with her father. Serena quickly pieces the situation together and tells Lily about William and Carol's affair. As a result, Lily sets up Carol to be arrested for what she did with Ivy.
In Save the Last Chance, it's revealed that Ivy is in a relationship with William and they're working together to ruin Lily's life. When Ivy receives records of Bart Bass' illegal oil trading, she holds it over Chuck and Bart's head until they discover she no longer has the film. She tries to contact William but fails each time. When she gets out later, he apologizes for keeping her waiting.
In the series finale New York, I Love You XOXO, William explains to Ivy that he was just using her to get back together with Lily, which worked, as she's single now that Bart is dead. He sends her away and comforts Lily. In the time jump, it's revealed that he and Lily got back together.
"Serena, I just don't want you to think I woke up one day and decided I was going to leave you and never come back. After awhile I just didn't know how." -Dr. Estrangeloved ( 3x19)
"Well, Rufus does make a point. For once." -The Kids Stay in the Picture (4x18)
"If you can't find a way to make this right, I'm going to be forced to resort to other ways to get my money." -Carol
"Like getting a real job?" -The Princess Dowry (5x18)
"You're a Lifetime movie called No One Gives a Damn: The Ivy Dickens Story. I don't know what you have to complain about. You got Lola's money, now go back to Florida, run along, and be the queen of the swamp people." -New York, I Love You XOXO (6x10)
- He's known Lily and Carol since high school.
- When Lily was pregnant with Serena, she would force him to go to the village to get a specific kind of apple juice.
- He used to take Serena to Serendipity for banana splits when she was little.