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 seemed a bit more permanent. Luckily for fans, he showed up for a brief stint in July 2021 and came back again in December of that year for another visit. And in April 2022, Vaughan came back for another run that’s still going (although he was temporarily recast with Jason Gerhardt in August 2023)!
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. A year later, in July 2021, Eric finally came home to Salem and reunited with Nicole, but his happiness was short-lived when he learned that she’d cheated on him with Xander! He once again left the country but returned in December to help break the devil’s hold on Marlena!
When Eric returned to Salem in April 2022, he was relieved to learn that Nicole was no longer with EJ, but not so happy to find out she was dating Rafe Hernandez. Because of the unauthorized exorcism on his mother, Eric was stripped of his priesthood. He then finally worked up the courage to confess his feelings to Nicole only to find out she had eloped with Rafe! Eric hit it off with newcomer Jada Hunter, and she asked him out on a date. They started a relationship and began sleeping together even though Eric and Nicole were still clearly in love with each other.
Finally, Eric and Nicole admitted their feelings and broke off their current relationships. But when Eric tried to split up with Jada, she revealed that she was pregnant! Eric promised that he would be there for his child, and was later heartbroken to learn she’d decided to have an abortion. Learning that she made the choice after a conversation with Nicole infuriated Eric, who blasted her and then fell off the wagon, drunkenly assaulting EJ! After spending the night in jail, Eric agreed to hire Sloan Petersen as his lawyer and then started a rebound fling with the attorney.
When Brady told Eric about Kristen blackmailing him, Eric advised him to stage Rachel’s kidnapping to force her hand, but this backfired on them. When Marlena was presumed dead, Eric went on a bender and after Sloan ended their fling, he continued to spiral, agreeing to help Brady get Rolf out of prison to deprogram Stefan. This landed him in jail and when Belle refused to represent him, Eric turned to Sloan and they quickly rekindled their relationship. However, while they were briefly broken up, Eric slept with Nicole, and when she found herself pregnant, she had to do a DNA test to see if Eric or E.J. was the babydaddy. But Sloan tampered with that test to make it appear that Eric couldn’t be the father of her child. Wanting to keep Eric close, Sloan decided they should have a baby themselves, and although wary, he was thrilled when she, too, became pregnant. Eric had to pop the question twice, though, before Sloan would accept.
Stay tuned to DAYS to see what happens next!