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Eric is a nice guy at heart. He is also generally geeky, physically weak, and somewhat clumsy. He is a smart-aleck teenager with a lightning-fast wit and a sarcastic and deadpan sense of humor.
Eric is often picked on for his slight stature and other characters have likened him to "Opie" (for the character Opie Taylor, from The Andy Griffith Show), and Archie Andrews (comics). Other unfortunate nick names include "Foreplay" (by Casey Kelso), "Foreskin" (by Donna), "Zitty Stardust" (in reference to him being unable to take a pimple-free yearbook photo), "Scrawny Little Neighbor Boy" (by Hyde), and "Dumbass" (by Red).
His girlfriend Donna is physically stronger than him (or anyone else in the group, really), a fact which is cause for many jokes by all who know them. Donna is seen beating everyone individually on more than one occasion.
Though physically weak, Eric can show a surprising amount of spine and even physical power when necessary. When incensed enough he will stand up to anyone, even his father, at which moments he can be surprisingly eloquent. He stood up to Red when he was troubled at Kitty's apparent pregnancy and told him to be a man for her and stood up against both of his parents in his insistence on marrying Donna, despite their repeated attempts to stop him. He threatened Casey Kelso with serious injury if he hurt Donna, and even defended his father when he punched another teen who informed him that Red will eventually lose his job at the auto parts plant. He also beat a Green Bay Packers fan up during a game, after he (along with Red) repeatedly insulted Eric for wearing a Chicago Bears jersey, however Eric only turned to violence when the fan insulted Red for telling to stop after the game finished, as Red only saw it as banter between opposing fans during the game. This made Red proud enough to compliment that his son had the "Forman Rage".
Eric's best friend is rebel Steven Hyde. When Hyde's mother left town at the end of the first season, Eric tried to persuade his parents to do something about his best friend's living conditions and thus Hyde was invited to live with the Formans, which he does for most of the series. And when Red was quick to throw Hyde out after an arrest for possession of drugs, Eric actually attempts to come to his rescue.
Eric seems to dislike Jackie the most out of the gang—mostly because she isn't really a member of the gang. This is duly noted when, in an early episode, Red says to Eric that Jackie is his favorite out of his friends because she can fix cars (surprising because Jackie is a very petite and self-involved girly girl), and Eric points out that she's not one of his friends. Eric finds Jackie boring, shallow, obnoxious, long-winded and utterly useless. Conversely, Eric only seems to find Jackie attractive when not hearing her voice in any way, stating at one point: "Oh my god, she IS hot!" (after picturing her in a bikini and, at the advice of Hyde, silent.) She believes she gets a free pass into The Circle because she happens to be dating someone in the group, prompting him to refer to her as "Yoko." Jackie is generally demeaning towards Eric due to his effeminate qualities, dorkiness and physical weakness, and believes him to be unworthy of Donna (although she doesn't think much of Donna to begin with), leading to even further dislike of her.
However, as the series progresses, it is shown that they develop a tolerance for and eventually a friendship with each other. As early as season 2, after Jackie breaks up with Michael Kelso, Eric stands up to comfort her. Eric is the first person Jackie told when she suspected she was pregnant in the first season, and they have been known to occasionally help each other out. In the episode "Jackie's Cheese Squeeze," Eric admits that they are "friends," as long as they don't refer to each other as such in public, and in the season 7 finale, Jackie calls Eric from Chicago and admits that she's always cared for him and considers him a good friend.
Eric is a well-known fan of sci-fi, such as Star Trek and especially when it comes to Star Wars, in which he wishes he was Luke Skywalker, which is cause for much ridicule at the hands of his exasperated family and friends. He is known to keep a collection of Star Wars models and figurines. He is also known to have a large, beloved collection of G.I. Joe. He likes bands such as Led Zeppelin, KISS, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Queen, Styx and Rush. He is also a Beatles fan and has been known to liken his group of friends to them, accusing Jackie of "breaking up the band" with her romantic entanglements with Kelso and Hyde. It is also hinted that he is a Spider-Man fan, having Spider-Man bedsheets and a considerable amount of comic books, most of them bearing the Marvel Comics logo with the titular character on the covers, and when he fought a fan at the Packers game, he tells Red that he learned his moves from Spider-Man (coincidentally, Topher Grace starred as Eddie Brock, a character who obtains powers very similar to Spider-Man, thus transforming him into the monstrous Venom in Spider-Man 3 in 2007).
Eric has had many typical teen-age jobs over the series. He has worked at the fictional Fatso Burger, Price Mart, a dog food factory, and at the Holiday Hotel as a waiter. At the beginning of the series, Red vehemently opposed Eric's trying to get another job during the second season citing that it would interfere with his school work and make it harder for him to get into a good college far away. Kitty supported Red by designating Eric's job as being her "precious baby boy." When Eric announced his marriage proposal to Red and Kitty, Red fired him from his job at Pricemart so he couldn't make the money to get married, Kitty cost him his job at a bank for the same reason, and this went on as they even took away their offer to pay for his college in a desperate last act to call off the wedding, but all were unsuccessful. In season seven he was much ridiculed by his father when he took a year off from school and work to contemplate his future and enjoy being lazy. Eric enjoyed this being another one of many thorns in Red's side.
Eric is usually very supportive of his friends, even though it is not always reciprocal. On several occasions when the gang found themselves in a predicament as the result of a prank gone awry or some other unforeseen circumstance, the rest of the group take off, leaving Eric to absorb the brunt of the trouble, after which the gang (mainly Hyde) hassle and tease Eric for getting into trouble (as in Stolen Car, Eric Gets Suspended, Eric's Hot Cousin and Rip This Joint). This has much to do with Eric's trusting nature and indicates that what he lacks in physical strength and courage, he more than makes up for in strength of character. Eric however, has been known to get his revenge on his backstabbing friends from time to time, such as when Kelso took the gang on a Dine and Dash without telling them, and eventually stranding Donna and Eric alone. They garnered revenge by making some "Special Brownies" which the group occasionally enjoyed, however in this case, Eric had made them with laxatives. This was a huge hindrance for Fez, whose girlfriend had arrived to make amends just as he ran for the bathroom. At times, however, Eric's friends will come to his aid when he's truly at the end of his rope. His less morally-inclined friends are quick to take advantage of this and also take it for granted, however Eric is also quick to stand up for himself to them and set things straight whenever he feels wronged by his friends' actions.
Relationship with familyEdit
Eric's relationship with his parents centers around his trying to prove his maturity and independence to them. Eric's father Red is a well-known authoritarian and often refers to Eric as "dumbass" and "boy." He frequently threatens 'to put his foot in Eric's ass.' Red finds Eric lacking qualities he feels a grown man should possess including physical strength, sportsmanship, and interest in manly pursuits like hunting, fishing, etc. Despite Red's strict parenting often preventing father-to-son moments, there are those rare occasions when Red displays genuine fatherly love such as in That Wresting Show and Street Fighting Man and when he learns that Eric is a good shooter and didn't shoot the deer because he didn't want to. Oddly, Eric is in many ways a younger version of his father. Both display a dry sense of humor and tend to be the sanest people in their circle of friends.
Eric's mother Kitty typically supports Eric against Red and often scolds Red for being too hard on Eric. However, she also does not consider Eric to be a man and often refers to him as her "precious baby boy." Eric appreciates his mom's support but her overblown displays of affection often leave him feeling embarrassed. At times, Kitty's love for Eric borders on Hitchcockian. His mother is often insecure about being replaced by Donna as the woman in Eric's life. Their rivalry is played up in many episodes (often comically, but sometimes to the point of it being a problem). In theory, she's okay with a sexual relationship between Donna and Eric, even pressing the two to discuss it with her, but in reality she goes into a depression after learning that Eric and Donna had sex and considers Donna a harlot who stole her baby boy away from her. Eric assured Kitty he would always need her because, "Dad's going to be riding my ass for the rest of my life!" When Eric tells his parents about his plan to teach in Africa for a year, his mother is less than thrilled. This is most notably, and comically presented when, the morning after his announcement, Kitty fixes everyone at the breakfast table a smiley-face breakfast with eggs and bacon and then hands Eric a plain pancake and says, "nothing smiling up at you, nothing." Even with a couple of days before his departure, Kitty reveals that she hid mailed notifications that Eric must receive certain vaccinations before his departure. Eric protests his mom's actions but she still tries to dissuade him, stating that the needles used for the vaccinations are really large and will hurt a lot.
In the episode "Eric's Birthday" Kitty insists that there is no surprise party (but it's already obvious to the gang) for Eric which annoys Eric because he believes surprise parties are for kids, which Kitty won't accept that Eric is almost a man. After Eric disobeys his parents' orders not to go forward with his marriage to Donna, Red finally deems Eric a man and offers his blessing while a devastated Kitty turns on Red for allowing her "precious baby boy" to get married. Though Eric and Donna call off the wedding they decide to move, which causes Kitty even more grief. She's even less pleased when she learns that Red is fine with it.
Eric's relationship with his older sister Laurie is based on mutual ridicule and compliment or more ridicule based on the execution and content of their mutual mockery. Eric is continually on her case for being a whore while she chides him for being weak and less favored by their father. On several occasions, Eric and Laurie have tolerated each other and shown a brother-sister bond. When Eric saw his parents having sex, Laurie tried to comfort him, including hugging him and stroking his hand. In the middle of a fight between the two, Hyde tried to break it up, and the two teamed up on him, complimenting each others insults. Eric once even defended Laurie from Red. After discovering that Laurie moved out and was living with a man, Red started insulting her and pushing her away (now that he had to see her for what she was), to which Eric defended her saying that Red was being too hard on her. Laurie once told Eric and Donna to move away after they got married and even cried during her apology. Eric first had to taste the tear, and, deeming it legitimate, Eric replied "I have a sister!" and hugged her. She somewhat cleaned up her act, but then sunk back into her old patterns of screwing around.
Relationship with DonnaEdit
Eric's first love is Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), the girl next door. Through thick and thin, their relationship has been one of the show's main storylines. They have been friends since they were children and in the first season, their friendship evolves into a relationship. In early episodes, a jealous Hyde tries to steal Donna from Eric. This plotline was discarded until the It's a Wonderful Life episode, where it is revealed that Hyde was waiting for Donna after the Todd Rundgren concert the gang went to in the pilot. This episode suggests that had Eric and Donna not kissed, Donna would have ended up with Hyde and Eric with Big Rhonda. Eric would have spent the rest of his childhood trying to win his father's approval, even kowtowing to him and he, Donna, Jackie, Kelso and Hyde would have all ended up a lot worse (although Fez seems more or less at ease with his situation).
In "That 70's Pilot", Donna kisses Eric on the hood of the Vista Cruiser. The next few episodes deal with the aftermath of the kiss. Apparently, Eric and Donna are not dating. Eric and Donna almost kiss after a fight in "Battle of the Sexists". In "The Keg", they kiss again, in the same location. Two episodes later, in "Drive In", they make out in the same place, and officially begin dating.
In "The Promise Ring", Donna is put off by Eric's gift of a promise ring, feeling trapped in the relationship. She confesses to Eric that she was unsure their relationship would last forever, sometimes seeing herself alone and not always with him. Eric, distraught, angry, and realizing how different he and Donna actually are he breaks up with her.
After this, Eric does his best to get over her—usually to no avail. He tries to get another girlfriend, but often fails. The rest of the group is quick to kick Eric when he's down after striking out—Donna especially. Donna herself begins dating Casey Kelso, Michael Kelso's older brother. He has a "bad boy" persona, and although unreliable and occasionally immature, Casey manages to impress Donna and Eric's family. Later on, however, Donna ends up skipping school to get drunk with Casey. Eric and Kitty witness this, decide to intervene, and, in a large discussion in the Formans' living room, Casey dumps Donna, deciding she isn't worth the trouble. Donna realizes Eric was right for her all along, but Eric rejects her, feeling that he, "can't be her second choice". But his actual reason may have been that he was still bitter about the way Donna kept on treating him and decided that being with her would only make him feel worse.
Unable to handle Eric's (and Casey's) rejections, Donna runs away to California with Kelso, who was running away from Jackie (Jackie thinks that Michael said yes to marriage, but he did not). Donna decides that she does love Eric and tries to call him, but can't get a hold of him because he is "busy". When Eric finally finds out about her calls, he tries to call her back but can't work up the courage. Hyde resolves this by stealing some of Eric's money to buy him a plane ticket and then sending him on his way. Eric shows up in California and finds Donna on the beach, reuniting and reconciling with her. They then return to Point Place.
In the fifth season, Eric and Donna become engaged, despite literally everyone else's discouragement (and anger, in the case of Kitty, Red and Bob). However, they refuse to call off the engagement, and remain engaged until the end of the sixth season. They both begin to experience pre-wedding jitters (cold feet), and Eric acts upon these feelings and skips out on his wedding rehearsal.
Eric returns in the next episode, and Donna forgives him. Their relationship later becomes strained in the seventh season. In one episode, Kelso even openly questions what is going on with them.
In the season seven finale, Eric leaves Point Place to teach in Africa, in order to earn a scholarship for his college education (Grace left to appear in Spider-Man 3). Eric breaks up off screen with Donna during the eighth season.
In the shows finale, Eric returns from Africa on New Year's Eve to find Donna sitting on the hood of the Vista Cruiser. Eric confesses he thought about her every day he was gone, and that he was a "dumbass" for leaving. Donna, in tears, kisses Eric. They are back together shortly before the transition into the next decade.