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|That '70s Show character|
|First appearance||"That '70s Pilot"|
|Last appearance||"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 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.
Being the show's main character for the first seven seasons, Eric appears 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 while 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 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 causes Hyde's downward spiral to rebellious stoner due to Eric framing Hyde for the destruction of a classmates school work. The pair end up in an argument, but all is resolved as they choose to forget it ever happened. Eric is suspended from school for smoking on school property after taking the blame but is allowed to return to school when the truth is later revealed. 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 renewal 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 worse 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, dreaming 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 insultingly 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 begins acting out due to Casey's influence, Eric becomes concerned but refuses to take her back the evening Casey breaks up with her.
Regretting it instantly, Eric goes to find her to once again reconcile, and learns that she and Michael have taken off for California where they spend the remainder of the summer. Despite his parents foreboding, Eric takes off after Donna and they reconcile instantly and continue their relationship. Later, Eric contemplates in front of his friends the idea of proposing to Donna, something they all instantly point out the idiocy. However, the two do get engaged as he proposes, somewhat awkwardly, atop the water tower. After taking the SAT's he realizes he got the lowest score of the group, even 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 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 , skips 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 to find a long-term career. It is not until a conversation with friends that he realizes his passion is in teaching. However, Red has spent Eric's college money on his muffler shop, but the guidance counselor at Eric's former high school offers him the choice of a fully paid education if he first spends a year teaching in Africa. Eric accepts, much to his mother and Donna's dismay. After a few weeks of preparation and receiving the cold treatment from Kitty and Donna, 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.
Eric's family includes his doting mother, Kitty Forman, who has 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 at least once in all 22 episodes of season eight. He makes a brief cameo appearance in the final episode titled "That '70s Finale."
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 every episode of the season. Picking up a month after the seventh season's finale, Eric is revealed to have successfully become accustomed to his job teaching in Africa. As Donna's relationship with a new character Randy begins to intensify, it becomes apparent that Eric has broken up with her yet again. Eric returns home on New Year's Eve to reconcile with Donna, welcome the new year in with his friends and continue his teaching career.
A nice guy at heart, Eric is generally geeky, physically weak and somewhat clumsy. He is not athletic 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 "incense" with his friends in his basement. Eric is also known to screw things up a lot, which is parodied 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 zit-free yearbook photo), "Scrawny Little Neighbor Boy" (by Hyde), and "Dumbass" (by Red).
His girlfriend Donna is physically stronger, smarter and larger than he is, 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, including 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 stands up to both of his parents in his insistence on marrying Donna, despite their repeated attempts to stop him. He threatens 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 insult Eric for wearing a Chicago Bears jersey; however, Eric turns to violence only when the fan insults Red for telling him to stop arguing once the game was over, 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 leaves town at the end of the first season, Eric tries to persuade his parents to do something about his best friend's living conditions and thus Hyde is invited to live with the Formans, which he does for most of the series. When Red is quick to throw Hyde out after an arrest for drug possession, Eric attempts to help 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 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," 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 is ever serious. Eric is consistent in ignoring Jackie as an object of sexual desire, but this changes in "What Is and What Should Never Be" where Hyde helps Eric realize that Jackie is "hot." After this, Eric has shown to have a sexual attraction to her, as shown in many episodes. Jackie is, at 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 bed sheets and a considerable number of comic books, most of them bearing the Marvel Comics logo with the titular character on the covers. When he fights 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, PriceMart, a dog food factory and as a waiter at the Holiday Hotel. In the beginning of the series, Red vehemently opposes Eric's attempts to get a job during the second season citing that it would interfere with his schoolwork and make it harder for him to get into a good college located far away. Kitty supports Red by saying Eric's job is being her "precious little baby boy." When Eric announces his marriage proposal to Red and Kitty, Red fires him from his job at PriceMart so he couldn't make the money to get married. Kitty costs him a potential job at a bank for the same reason. Red and Kitty even go 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 are unsuccessful. In season seven, Eric is ridiculed by his father when he takes a year off from school and work to contemplate his future and enjoy being lazy. Eric takes pleasure in the contempt Red has for this decision.
Eric is usually very supportive of his friends, even though it is very rarely reciprocated. On several occasions, when the group find 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 group (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 group on a "dine-and-dash" without telling them and the group eventually abandoning Donna and Eric at the restaurant. Eric and Donna get 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 include is 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 seems to become more selfish, babied by his mother and lazy.
Eric is also quite stubborn, which has on several occasions brings 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 is 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 is allowed to stay. Another prime example is during his first break-up with Donna: he refuses to see the signs that she is hesitant to say they will always be together, even when Hyde tries to explain it to him, and when faced with the truth chooses to end the relationship rather than accept Donna is not ready. (However, he would later on acknowledge it was unfair for him to pressure Donna.)
Eric's relationship with his parents is characterized by 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.