Eric van der Woodsen (Connor Paolo) is the precocious younger brother of "it" girl Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) on the teen hit "Gossip Girl." Eric's upbringing has been very lonely and emotionally unstable. His mother, Lily (Kelly Rutherford), has been married and divorced several times and his father was mostly absent from his life. Eric relies on Serena, but she has been away at boarding school. Eric is also a closeted gay. He fears that his sister and mother will not accept his sexuality and worries about the backlash from his peers. He does, however, confide in his step-brother, Chuck Bass (Ed Westfield), who he knows will not judge him.
When the series begins, Eric is living in an institution after trying to kill himself by slitting his wrists. Even after he's released, his family and friends treat him with kid gloves, because they are afraid he's still in a fragile state and might attempt suicide again. Eric becomes friendly with Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) and he ends up coming out publicly to protect Jenny from a boyfriend who is a jerk. Unfortunately, as Jenny becomes more popular, she becomes a mean girl and Eric is often on the receiving end of her reign of terror. Because of this, their relationship evolves from friends to "frenemies."
Although Eric starts out as a fragile, emotionally unstable kid, he comes into his own. He is comfortable with his sexual orientation and has a couple of steady boyfriends. He maintains his sense of humor, is very protective of his family and doesn't let anyone push him around. Despite his dysfunctional upbringing, he strives to live a normal and happy life. Even with occasional lapses of bad behavior, he does his best as a good brother, son, boyfriend and friend. Ultimately, Eric's heart is in the right place.
"I would say get a room, but yours is right above mine. Please try to remember that."
"I figured I'd let Bart, Chuck, and Prince Albert have their fun - ah, that didn't come out like I meant it."
"I know that face. That face is not your friend."