Eric van der Woodsen (spelled Erik in the novels) is the brother of Serena van der Woodsen and son of Lily 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.
Eric van der Woodsen is merely a minor character in the Gossip Girl novels, only making appearances on occasion. The younger brother of Serena van der Woodsen, Eric is a junior at Brown University. Eric does not date girls because he is gay. Very close to his sister, Eric threw her a giant sixteenth birthday bash.
Aside from his brief appearances, Eric remained a relatively quiet secondary character throughout the series, however he did have a bigger part in the Gossip Girl prequel.
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 Season 1, 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.
Eric and Jenny Humphrey 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.
In the episode "Damien Darko," Eric pretends to be seeing Damien Dalgaard as a cover for using drugs from Damien. Damien later uses Eric and pretends to want a friendship but is just trying to get back at Ben for threatening him.
- Pilot - 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.
- A Thin Line Between Chuck and Nate - Eric gives Serena advice when she tells him about when Dan confessed his love to her, and she didn't say anything back. Serena claims that Eric nearly sounds as smart as her when it comes to life.
Bass, Eric develops a close friendship with Chuck Bass, whom he sees as a brother.
He tries to warn Jenny about her new boyfriend Asher Hornsby but she thinks he is falling in love with her. In the same episode, Dan Humphrey and Georgina Sparks see Asher making out with someone the audience can't see. During a dinner with his family, Georgina unknowingly outs Eric. Eric's homosexuality upsets Lily and Serena, who blame themselves for Eric getting institutionalized. Serena learns that Eric told Chuck about his homosexuality before her because he knew Chuck wouldn't judge him.
At Asher and Jenny's party, Eric helps Blair to confront Asher, who has been lying about having a sexual relationship with Jenny. In front of everyone, Eric proclaims his homosexuality and lets Blair send the messages they have been sending each other to Gossip Girl, causing Asher's coming out and Jenny's dethroning.
Along with Chuck, he is a best man in the van der Bass wedding.
During summer 2008, Eric is staying with his sister and grandmother 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.
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. They break up after Bart tells Eric that Jonathan has been cheating on him. Eric lodges Jenny secretly in the Bass-van der Woodsen penthouse and goes with her to make the paperwork to divorce her parents.Eric then discovers that Bart hired his private detective, Andrew Taylor, to research his, Lily's and Serena's pasts. He discovers that Lily was also institutionalized at a French sanatorium and that she didn't tell him so that she could be strong for him. Bart's actions convince Lily to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Humphreys.
After Bart's death, Eric comes back with Jonathan and tries to convince Chuck to go back to their penthouse. Chuck and Eric officially go from close friends to brothers after Lily adopts her former husband's son.
During summer 2009, Eric is in his grandma's house with Jenny, Dan and Rufus while his mother is in Montecito taking care of CeCe. He observes Jenny's speech to the rest of Constance that ends the school hierarchy.
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. 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.
At Thanksgiving, Jenny discovers that Eric was behind her embarrassment and vows revenge. 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.
It is revealed in "The Inglourious Bassterds" that Eric was in Japan and meets a potential love-interest named Elliot (portrayed by Luke Kleintank) during a game of assassin on Nate's birthday. On the day of Dorota's wedding, Eric wonders if Elliot is gay and discovers that he has a girlfriend. Elliot then confides in Eric that he is bisexual and his girlfriend left out of jealousy.
Eric's relationship with his father, William van der Woodsen, is also observed when he coldly rejects him for not being there for him. He informs him that he is gay and had been institutionalized.
His friendship with Jenny is again tested when she reveals that she aided his father's escape from the police. He coldly states that no one is forcing Jenny to stay and that she can leave if she wants.
In the "The Undergraduates" episode, Chuck tries to make amends with Rufus and Eric by coming to Fashion Week with his new girlfriend, Eva. Eric, however, informs Rufus of Chuck's season 1 assault of Jenny and says that his brother has been given too many chances to redeem himself, signaling the end of their once-close bond.
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.
It is later revealed that in Damien Darko, Eric and Elliot broke up and that he has been lying to Lily all along. Eric has been spending his time with the drug-dealing Damien. Eric punches Damien at a party and they pretend that Ben did it so that Serena will no longer trust Ben. But Damien tells Eric that he was using him to hurt Ben, so Eric tells the truth and Ben is saved from returning to jail.
At the end of season 4, Eric is said to be going to Sarah Lawrence College, which is in Bronxville, NY. This is the last time we see him until season 6 for the final episode.
- William van der Woodsen (father)
- Lillian "Lily" Humphrey (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)