As a member of one of the core families, Eric Brady has quite a history on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Born in 1984, the character was played by a series of child actors until SORAS struck and the newly-teenaged Eric was played by Jensen Ackles starting in 1997. After his departure in 2000, the character wasn’t seen again until Greg Vaughan stepped into the role in 2012. The actor has stepped away temporarily in the years since to do other work but in July 2020, announced an exit that seems a bit more permanent.
Eric and his twin sister, Sami Brady are the children of Roman Brady and Marlena Evans, and after their mother’s presumed death in 1987, the twins were sent to live with their grandparents in Colorado. While Sami returned to Salem a teen in 1993, Eric didn’t come home until 1997. He was not happy about his mother’s relationship with John Black and disrupted Sami’s scheme to trick Austin into marrying her. Eric began working as a photographer for Countess Wilhelmina Cosmetics and began dating Nicole Walker. But their relationship was strained by her checkered past and when she fell for Lucas Horton, Eric turned to Greta Von Amberg, but he still had feelings for Nicole. Realizing this, Greta dumped him, and Eric left town in 2000 after informing Nicole he would always love her.
When Eric returned to Salem in 2012, he had become a priest and was working at St. Luke’s. He hired Nicole to work as the church secretary, and the lingering feelings between them began to resurface. He tried to play peacemaker in the family when his stepbrother, Brady Black, began dating Kristen DiMera. When Marlena exposed Kristen’s lies, she sought revenge by drugging and raping Eric! Although he had no memories of what happened, over time he slowly began to put the pieces back together but believed Nicole had been the one who raped him. She swore she didn’t do it and admitted she still loved him, but he didn’t believe her. It wasn’t until the day of Brady and Kristen’s wedding when a videotape of the rape was played during the ceremony that the truth finally came out.
Due to the scandal, Eric was stripped of his collar, and he struggled with whether to try and return to the priesthood or pursue a relationship with Nicole. Ultimately, he chose to leave the church and return to civilian life. However, he and Nicole were still on the outs, so he got involved with his ex, Serena Mason, who had come to Salem to see if now that Eric had left the priesthood there might be a chance to reunite. But she was really just after some artwork containing smuggled diamonds from their time in Africa. While kidnapped together, Eric and Nicole admitted their feelings for each other, but she was engaged to Daniel Jonas, so after their rescue, Eric was again pushed aside. After Serena was murdered by The Necktie Killer, Eric began drinking heavily and while driving drunk on New Year’s, caused a car accident that injured himself, Brady, and Jennifer Horton, while killing Daniel. Guilt-ridden, Eric turned himself in to the police and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Eric was released for good behavior in January 2017, but he struggled to find a home in Salem, given what he’d done. Nicole, in particular, struggled to forgive him after he’d killed her fiancé. When Nicole was kidnapped, Eric rescued her with Brady’s help but she still couldn’t forgive him. Although after Nicole was sentenced to community service for kidnapping Holly from Chloe, she worked with Eric at the Horton Center and they finally reconciled. Although they gave in to passion, Nicole was in a relationship with Brady, and when he found out, he angrily blackmailed her into telling Eric she didn’t love him and leaving town.
Eric was crushed but found solace with Jennifer, and the two became very close. But when Eric learned of Nicole’s whereabouts he went to track her down and discovered she’d been blackmailed into marrying Xander Kiriakis. Before he could figure out a way to free her, Nicole was killed in a warehouse explosion and Eric was devastated once again. Next, he found himself developing strong feelings for Sarah Horton, but she was engaged to Rex Brady. Things got even more difficult when Nicole returned from the dead, but showed no interest in Eric, instead eagerly pursuing Brady. (Which was because she was really Kristen in an elaborate disguise!)
Eric performed Sarah and Rex’s wedding, but she remained in love with Eric so naturally, her marriage fell apart. Then Eric found the real Nicole very much alive, and they reunited, leaving Sarah feeling like a third wheel. Xander stepped in to pose as a pregnant Sarah’s babydaddy, but a year later, Nicole found out the truth and felt she owed it to Eric to tell him before they got married.
But things got even more complicated when Mackenzie became ill and neither Sarah nor Eric were bone marrow matches with their daughter. Nicole put the pieces together and discovered that Kristen and Sarah’s babies had been switched at birth! Eric was heartbroken that his daughter was really dead but found comfort in Nicole’s arms. They eventually were married and got caught up in a battle against Sami for custody of Allie Horton‘s baby.
Eric and Nicole didn’t win custody but were planning their future together when his old friend, Angie, showed up and asked him to return to Africa to continue his work. Although he was reluctant, Nicole urged him to follow his heart. They have remained in contact, but so far, Eric has chosen to remain in Africa.
Stay tuned to DAYS to see if Eric ever returns to Salem again!