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.
Erik van der Woodsen is merely 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 briefly 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 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.
Eric van der Woodsen is the only son and youngest child of William and Lillian "Lily" van der Woodsen (née Rhodes) and younger brother of Serena van der Woodsen. At the beginning of season one, Eric is a patient at the Ostroff Center due to his attempted suicide by slitting his wrists. He secretly dates Asher Hornsby, while Jenny is in a relationship with Asher, serving unknowingly as a gay beard for him. Later in the season, Georgina Sparks reveals to the Van Der Woodsen family at dinner that Eric is gay, and while Lily doesn't react favorably, due to shock, she comes to accept it and supports her son.
Eric shares a close relationship with his sister and is more forgiving of his mother's mistakes than Serena is. Eric is often the voice of reason for the characters and also one of the more calm figures in the series. He rarely participates in schemes, but shows a talent for carrying them out when he does.
Eric and Jenny are close friends, although they sometimes have differences. When Jenny is dating Asher, he tells her that Asher is bad news, because he is dating Asher, although he doesnt tell her this detail. When Jenny is Queen, she is rude to Eric and his boyfriend Jonathan, putting a strain on their relationship. But when Jenny leaves town after losing her virginity to Chuck, he promises to be there for her when she returns, despite the fact that Jenny wrecked Serena and her friends' lives.
When his mother was married to Bartholomew "Bart" Bass, Eric and Chuck had a cordial brotherly relationship, although it seems to have faded away.
He leaves the show to attend Sarah Lawrence College.
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).
- William van der Woodsen (father)
- Lillian "Lily" van der Woodsen (mother; née Rhodes)
- Bartholomew "Bart" Bass (former stepfather)
- Rufus Humphrey (Ex stepfather)
- Serena van der Woodsen (older sister)
- Daniel "Dan" Humphrey (Brother-in-law)
- Scott Rosson (maternal half-brother; adopted out of family)
- Charlotte "Lola" Rhodes (paternal half-sister/maternal cousin)
- Charles "Chuck" Bass (adoptive maternal half-brother)
- Jennifer "Jenny" Humphrey (Ex maternal step-sister)
- Richard "Rick" Rhodes (maternal grandfather)
- Celia "CeCe" Rhodes (maternal grandmother; deceased)
- Carol Rhodes (maternal aunt)
- Blair Waldorf (fling)
- Asher Hornsby (ex-boyfriend; Asher dated Jenny simultaneously)
- Jonathan Whitney (ex-boyfriend)
- Eliot Garfield (ex-boyfriend)
- Damien Dalgaard (fling)
- He has gotten highlights in his hair.
- He was on the debate team at St. Jude's.