|That '70s Show character|
|First appearance||"That '70s Pilot"
|Last appearance||"Til the Next Goodbye"
(as a regular cast member)
"That '70s Finale"
|Portrayed by||Topher Grace, Broc Benedict (Eric at 13), Brett Buford (Eric at 7)|
|Occupation||Fatso Burger employee
|Significant other(s)||Donna Pinciotti (girlfriend), Chloe/"Girl Who Sells Slurpees" (ex-girlfriend)|
Eric Albert Forman (born March 5, 1960) is a fictional character in the Fox Network's That '70s Show, portrayed by Topher Grace. Eric is based on the adolescence of show creator Mark Brazill. Most of the show takes place at the Formans' home, particularly in the basement, where he and his five friends hang out. Eric's family includes his doting mother, Kitty Forman, who had impending separation anxiety and menopause, his crabby father, Red Forman, who is a strict Korean War military veteran, and his older sister, Laurie Forman, who is a promiscuous blonde who uses her looks to get what she wants. Eric's best friend, Steven Hyde, who was essentially abandoned by his parents, later becomes his foster brother. Eric was the show's protagonist from seasons one through seven until he was written out due to Grace's departure from the series. However, despite Eric's absence, he is mentioned in every episode of season eight. He makes a brief cameo appearance in the final episode titled "That '70s Finale".
Being the show's main character for the first seven seasons, Eric appeared in many storylines. The show opens with Eric, a scrawny, socially awkward 16-year-old, dealing with his ever-evident and growing crush on the girl next door, Donna Pinciotti. During this time, Eric obtains the signature 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, and takes it out of town, despite his father's warnings not to. This, evidently, impresses Donna and leads to the pair's first kiss. The next episode, Eric's Birthday set on May 18, 1976 (originally making him born in 1959), sees the pair dealing with their kiss as well as Eric's long awaited 17th birthday. As the series progresses, Eric's friends influence over him begins to surface as he finds himself arrested, due to Kelso being caught driving a stolen car whilst he was a passenger, due to an earlier ban on his Vista Cruiser. Eric and Donna soon share a first date, but all goes awry as Donna accidentally becomes intoxicated due to a mix-up with the drink order, causing an awkward and uncomfortable experience for Eric. During the high school prom, the two decide to rent a nearby motel room for after, though ultimately decide not to engage in intercourse after receiving the attention of fellow students.
Coinciding with the beginning of his relationship with Donna,(he secretly has a crush on Veronica Russell) Eric must deal with the death of his grandmother, sharing a rare bonding moment with his father Red and his best friend, Hyde's abandonment. It is Eric who ultimately decides that Hyde should move in with them. Season 2's episode, "Halloween" revealed that it was Eric who began Hyde's downward spiral to rebellious stoner due to him framing Hyde for the destruction of a class mates school work. The pair end up in an argument, but all is resolved as they choose to forget it ever happened. Taking the blame from Donna for smoking on school property, Eric is suspended from school but is swiftly re-entered as the truth is later told. He also received his first steady job from his father at PriceMart and Donna and Eric lose their virginity to each other at Midge and Bob's revised wedding vows.
Throughout season three, the pair's relationship holds a steady foundation despite Eric's constant awkward antics, such as accidental sexism and pantsing Donna. However, things take a turn for the worst as Eric's offer for a promise ring is rejected by Donna and he decides that if she doesn't see a future with him, they should break up. Despite it being his decision, this leads him to spiral into depression, hallucinating at one point what it would be like if he had never dated Donna. He is angered on several occasions as Donna deals with their breakup and the downfall of her parents' marriage by acting insulting toward him, even publishing in the school's newspaper a story that parallels their relationship. He is also resentful of her relationship with Michael Kelso's older brother, Casey, who is offensive and smug. When Donna began acting out due to Casey's influence, Eric was concerned but refused to take her back upon the evening Casey flamboyantly threw Donna aside due to embarrassment.
Regretting it instantly, Eric went to find her to once again reconcile, however, he learns that she and Michael had taken off for California where they spend the remainder of the summer. Despite his parents foreboding, Eric takes off after Donna and reconciles instantly and the two continue their relationship. Later on, Eric contemplates in front of his friends the idea of proposing to Donna, something they all instantly pick out the idiocy. However, the two do get engaged as he proposes, somewhat awkwardly, atop the water tower. He then realises that he is in fact failing his test scores, getting a worse score than Kelso, prompting him to work harder in order to marry Donna. Eric also thinks hard about his future, choosing to move out to Madison with Donna. In the fifth season, Eric and Donna become engaged, despite widespread 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. Eventually, they both begin to experience pre-wedding jitters and Eric, acting upon these feelings, abandons his wedding rehearsal. He then returns in the next episode and Donna forgives him.
After spending much of 1978-79 lazing around, Eric eventually decides he needs to do something with his life. This prompts many attempts for him to find a longterm career. It is not until a conversation with friends that he realises his passion is in teaching. With this, he visits a guidance counsellor who informs him that it is a very expensive studying experience. However, he offers a choice of reduced costs, if he takes it up in Africa. Eric accepts, much to his mother and Donna's dismay. After a few weeks of preparation and receiving cold treatment from Kitty and his girlfriend, Eric packs his bags and prepares to leave. With the blessing from Red and forgiveness from his mother and Donna, he drives off with the Vista Cruiser to a hearty farewell.
Due to Grace's departure from the show at the beginning of its eighth season, Eric was no longer the central focus of the show, though his character was still heavily used to influence elements of it, and he's mentioned in literally every episode of the season. Picking up a month after the seventh season's finale, Eric is revealed to have successfully accustomed to his African teachings by his mother. As Donna's relationship with a new character Randy begins to intensify, it becomes apparent that Eric had broken up with her yet again. Eric returns home on New Year's Eve, via an uncredited cameo from Topher Grace, to reconcile with Donna, welcome the new year in with his friends and continue his teaching ambition.
A nice guy at heart, Eric is generally geeky, physically weak, and somewhat clumsy. He is nonathletic and shows little interest in sports. He is a smart-aleck teenager with a lightning-fast wit and a sarcastic and deadpan sense of humor. He also lights "incenses" with his friends in his basement. Eric is also known to "screw" things up a lot, which is parodized throughout the series.
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. Other unfortunate nicknames 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, smarter, and larger than he, 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 courage and even physical power when necessary. When incensed enough he will stand up to anyone, even his father, and during these moments he can be surprisingly eloquent. He stood up to Red when he was troubled about Kitty's apparent pregnancy and told him to be a man for her. He also stood up to 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 by punching another teenager (David Milbank) who had 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 the fan (along with Red) repeatedly insulted Eric for wearing a Chicago Bears jersey; however, Eric turned to violence only when the fan insulted Red for telling him to stop arguing once the game had finished, as Red only saw the argument as being appropriate banter between opposing fans during the game. This made Red proud enough to remark 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. When Red was quick to throw Hyde out, after an arrest for possession of drugs, Eric attempts to rescue him by proving Red's hypocrisy.
Of his group of friends, Eric seemed to dislike Jackie the most in the beginning, though as the series progresses, they develop a friendship. Throughout, the two have a clear "frenemy" relationship. They demonstrate their annoyance with each other, but show compassion for each other at many times, and through it all, are close. At the series' beginning, Jackie admits to trusting and liking Eric, confiding in him that she might be pregnant. In "The Pill" (117), for example, she says to Eric's surprise, "Look, I've always been able to trust you--and, God, you are such a nice guy." Later in the episode, once Kelso threatens to break up with Jackie, Eric yells at him, having developed protective feelings towards her. This proves that their burning of each other throughout the show is only for laughs, and friendly bickering, as none of their hostility was ever serious. Eric was consistent in ignoring Jackie as an object of sexual desire, but this changes in "What Is and What Should Never Be" (503) where Hyde helps Eric realize that Jackie is, indeed, "hot". After this, Eric has shown to have a sexual attraction to her, as shown in many episodes. Jackie is, at many times, demeaning towards Eric due to his effeminate qualities, dorkiness and physical weakness. 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 seven finale, Jackie calls Eric from Chicago and admits that she's always cared for him, and that he was always very special to her.
Eric is a well-known fan of science fiction, such as Star Trek and especially Star Wars, in which he compares himself to Luke Skywalker. This 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 listens to artists such as Led Zeppelin, KISS, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple, 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 (calling her Yoko, in reference to Yoko Ono). It is also hinted that he is both a Batman and Spider-Man fan, having Spider-Man bedsheets and a considerable number of comic books, most of them bearing the Marvel Comics logo with the titular character on the covers. 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 teenage jobs over the series. He has worked at Fatso Burger, Price Mart, a dog food factory, and as a waiter at the Holiday Hotel (all of the business names were fictitious). At the beginning of the series, Red vehemently opposed Eric's attempts to get a 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 located far away. Kitty supported Red by designating Eric's job as being her "precious little baby boy". When Eric announced his marriage proposal to Red and Kitty, Red fired him from his job at Price Mart so he couldn't make the money to get married. Kitty cost him a potential job at a bank for the same reason. Red and Kitty even went so far as to revoke their offer to pay for Eric's college tuition in a final act of desperation to put a stop to the wedding but were unsuccessful. In season seven Eric 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 took pleasure in the contempt Red had for this decision.
Eric is usually very supportive of his friends, even though it is very rarely 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 would take off, leaving Eric to absorb the brunt of the trouble, after which the gang (mainly Hyde) would 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 the group eventually abandoned Donna and Eric at the restaurant. Eric and Donna exacted their revenge by serving a batch of brownies which they referred to as "special" brownies. However, in this case, the "special" ingredient that Eric and Donna had included was a chocolate-flavored laxative. This was a particular problem for Fez, whose girlfriend had arrived to make amends with him, just as he was running 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 him and sometimes take his willingness to help them for granted. However, Eric is also quick to stand up for himself whenever he feels he has been wronged by his friends' actions. Although in later episodes, he seemed to become more selfish, babied by his mother, and lazy.
Eric is also quite stubborn, which has on several occasions brought bad luck to himself. For example, when Donna calls from California and when Kitty tries to tell him, Eric refuses to even listen to his mother and (when he finds out the call) later scolds her for not telling him. Also, when Hyde was about to get kicked out of the Forman's house for his drug use, Eric tells Red that he also does drugs (despite Donna telling him not to), only to find out that Hyde gets to stay.
Eric's relationship with his parents centers around his attempts to prove to them that he is mature and independent. Eric's father, Red, is a notorious 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 the qualities which he feels a grown man should possess, including physical strength, sportsmanship, and interest in manly pursuits, like hunting and fishing. Despite the fact that Red's strict parenting often prevents intimate father-son moments, Red truly cares for his son. On rare occasions, Red displays genuine fatherly love such as in "That Wresting Show" and "Street Fighting Man", as well as when he learns that Eric is a good hunter and chose not to shoot a 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 the wishes of her husband and she often scolds Red for being too hard on him. However, she also does not consider Eric to be a man and often refers to him as her "precious little 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 problematic). In theory, she's okay with a sexual relationship between Donna and Eric (even pressing the two to discuss it with her); however, in reality, she goes into a depression after learning that Eric and Donna had sex and considers Donna a harlot who has stolen her baby boy away from her. Eric reassured Kitty that he would always need her because, "[Red]'s going to be riding [his] ass for the rest of [his] life". When Eric tells his parents about his plan to spend a year teaching in Africa, 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 he can leave. Eric protests his mom's actions but she still tries to dissuade him, stating that the needles used for the vaccinations are "as big as sausages" and "will hurt a lot".
In the episode "Eric's Birthday", the gang is acutely aware that Kitty has planned a surprise party for Eric, despite her claims to the contrary. This annoys Eric because he believes that surprise parties are for kids, which indicates that Kitty won't accept the fact that he is becoming a man. However, throughout the episode "Magic Bus", Eric expects Kitty to throw him a surprise party even though she and the gang constantly tell him that there is no surprise party. He becomes upset when he realizes that his mother is telling the truth. After Eric disobeys his parents' orders not to go forward with his plans to marry 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 contempt. Eric repeatedly mocks Laurie 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 have even shown a brother-sister bond. When Eric saw his parents having sex, Laurie tried to comfort him, which included 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 other's insults. Eric once even defended Laurie from Red. After discovering that Laurie moved out and was living with a man, Red, having been forced to face reality about his daughter's behavior and reputation, attempted to alienate her. Sympathizing with her, Eric attempted to defend Laurie, 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 tasted the tear and, having deemed it legitimate, replied "I have a sister!" and hugged her. Laurie appeared to have turned a new leaf but soon regressed back to her old habits of mean-spirited and lascivious behavior.
- Topher Grace briefly reprised the role in a Robot Chicken skit, featuring the That '70s Show characters. The skit was titled "That '00s Show".
- Eric Forman was portrayed by Max Wrottesley in the short-lived British adaption, Days Like These.