With most of them coming from wealthy families or having strong connections, there are plenty of powerful characters in Gossip Girl.
“I just adore a penthouse view, darling I love you but give me Park Avenue,” sang Lisa Douglas (Ava Gabor) in the theme song of the classic TV show Green Acres. Who would have thought it was the writing on the wall for Gossip Girl?
At first blush, it was yet another teen drama; this one set in NYC, where it followed privileged high schoolers – who we never actually saw attend class – around the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in fabulous outfits, going to events with the word “gala” tacked on to them.
But it was really about so much more, like power. The kind that comes with money, social status, and having a last name that opens doors for one’s self, relatives and friends (and slams them in the faces of enemies.) But even among those who have it, there is a hierarchy.
10 Lily van der Woodsen/Bart Bass/Eleanor Waldorf/William Van der Bilt
Bart, Lily, William, Eleanor, Rufus. These were just a few of the adults on the show. They had their names attached to conglomerates (Bass Industries, Waldorf Designs), as well as on deeds for New York penthouses and townhouses, plus Hamptons manses. They controlled politicians and the newspapers that covered them. They actually made the money their kids inherited and spent.
Yet, they had their power appropriated by the younger generation. Sometimes they even just relinquished their clout to their scions, who literally and figuratively were actually running the show.
9 Eric van der Woodsen
Of all the GG crew, Eric (Connor Paolo) had the least power and it seemed as though that’s exactly how he wanted it. If there was anyone who just wanted to be left alone to live his life in peace it was the younger van der Woodsen sibling.
With very few exceptions, Eric distanced himself from the drama – sometimes in the negative, like his when he tried to take his life; sometimes in positive ways, such as laying low at St. Judes, having a comforting friendship with Jenny, and getting out of there by heading off to Sarah Lawrence.
8 Ivy Dickens/Georgina Sparks/Juliet Sharp
Macbeth’s three witches: Kaylee DeFer, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Katie Cassidy played supporting characters who wanted the power they beheld in the main stars. They even got a taste of it via their conniving, which included but was not limited to: assuming a false identity (as Charlie Rhodes), passing off son Milo as Dan’s baby, and avenging her educator brother’s imprisonment for being accused falsely of seducing Serena when she was his student, respectively.
Alas, their plotting, planning, and participating in conspiracies were no match for the real schemers who had the money and connections to really wreak some havoc.
7 Vanessa Abrams
Even though Dan’s BFF Vanessa (Jessica Szohr) was powerless in the Upper East Side world, in the real world she had the leverage one has when one doesn’t want/need what others have.
Vanessa couldn’t be controlled because there wasn’t anything the others could hold over her head. “Do what we want or…” Or what? The hippie chick wouldn’t be invited to a Park Ave. party, a Hampton’s weekend, a cotillion that she didn’t want to go to in the first place. Vanessa’s strength lied in that she was her own person and intended to stay that way.
6 Jenny Humphrey
Jenny from the BK (Taylor Momsen) social climbed her way into becoming Little J, protege of Blair. This got her in with the gang, plus an internship at Waldorf Designs where she killed it as a young designer. Then turned into a leather-clad badass before taking off for boarding school. It shows a personal power that even Bass money can’t buy.
Even though she never achieved the kind of power her headbanded idol wielded, she garnered more than the average outer-borough could ever dream of having on The Upper East Side.
5 Nate Archibald
Of the five core GG stars, what puts Nate (Chase Crawford) last on the list? Well, he had power, then he lost it when his dad embezzled money and went to jail, leaving Nate to live alone in an empty townhouse with no dough. Then, he got it back when Grandfather van der Bilt stepped back in.
Nate’s power was too tied up in pleasing his family, his dapper grandpa in particular. One false move and he would have lost it all again. You don’t have much power when someone else owns you.
4 Serena van der Woodsen
Beauty, charm, and social standing. Serena (Blake Lively) was anything but the stereotype of the dumb blonde. The bohemian heiress had it all and always got who (from scion Carter Baizen (Sebastian Stan) to Tripp (Aaron Tveit) the married politician and all the lovers in between) and what (a movie publicist job fell in her lap as well as entry to Columbia University after the whole job thing didn’t work out) she wanted.
Serena clocks in at number 4 because of her substance abuse issues. One loses power points when one is powerless over alcohol and drugs.
3 Blair Waldorf
No one could work a room or work up a scheme to get the entire room to do her bidding like Blair (Leighton Meester). She said what she had to say and did what she had to do to help herself, like when she sold Nate out so his grandfather would get her on the Whitney Committee. Of course, Blair then uses her powers of persuasion to get back into the hearts of those she screwed over.
Even though she lived in a magnificent duplex penthouse, had more bags, shoes, and clothes than a department store, and had two brushes with royal romance, Marcus and Prince Louis. The latter turned her headband into a tiara when he married her, but during her divorce we discovered the Waldorfs were not as in the money as we thought. Apparently, if they paid Blair dowry in exchange for the dissolution of the marriage, the family would be in ruins. Chuck and his bottomless checkbook saved the day.
2 Chuck Bass
Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) needed no introduction, although he liked the sound of his name so he introduced himself every chance he got. The heir to Bass Industries was famous for being famously rich thanks to billionaire Bart. He lived in one of the family’s hotels, and used his inherited wealth to buy a night club, as well as people. He did wield his power for good (such as the aforementioned bailout of Blair) but also for evil (the assault on Jenny Humphrey) for which he was always sure he’d get away because he was, indeed, Chuck Bass.
Aside from all the black ink on his balance sheet, his other power was that he was rather heartless, so others couldn’t play on his emotions. Eventually, Blair changes.
1 Dan Humphrey
And the most powerful of all is Penn Badgley’s Dan the man from Brooklyn, who rode the subway and a bus to get to high school, and whose classmates considered him the poor relation. Why? Because he was Gossip Girl – the person who told all because “she” knew all, and as the saying goes: knowledge is power.
From his first post giving all the heads up that Serena had gotten off the train in Grand Central, Dan had the Upper East Side running scared, running to tell others of the just-posted dirt, and running out to buy his book “Inside,” all about the in-crowd he weaseled his way into.