Lily van der Woodsen
Gossip Girl, Valley Girls character
Kelly Rutherford as Lily van der Woodsen
First appearance Book Series:
Gossip Girl
Gossip Girl TV Series:
Valley Girls:
"Valley Girls"
Created by Cecily von Ziegesar
Portrayed by Kelly Rutherford and Brittany Snow
Gender Female
Occupation CEO of Bass Industries
Controlling Shareholder of Rhodes Industries
Charity President
Family Book Series:
William van der Woodsen (husband)
Erik van der Woodsen (son)
Serena van der Woodsen (daughter)
TV Series:
Rufus Humphrey (husband)
Celia "CeCe" Rhodes (mother)
Rick Rhodes (father)
Carol Rhodes (sister)
Serena van der Woodsen (daughter)
Eric van der Woodsen (son)
Chuck Bass (step/adopted son)
Scott Ronsson (son with Rufus)
Dan Humphrey (step son)
Jenny Humphrey (step daughter)
Spouse Book Series:
William van der Woodsen (husband)
TV Series:
Rufus Humphrey (husband)
Bart Bass (husband; deceased)
Klaus (ex-husband)
Paolo (ex-husband)
Samir (ex-husband)
William van der Woodsen (ex-husband)

Lillian "Lily" van der Woodsen (née Rhodes) is a fictional character from the book series Gossip Girl and the series' television adaptation of the same name. In addition, the television series' proposed spin-off, Valley Girls, will center on her life as a teenager in the San Fernando Valley. The character is portrayed by Kelly Rutherford in Gossip Girl, and Brittany Snow in the episode "Valley Girls". In the TV series, she eventually marries Rufus Humphrey.

Book series background[]

Not much is said of Lily van der Woodsen in the book series. She is known to be married and the mother of Serena van der Woodsen and Eric van der Woodsen, as well as a socialite who serves as the chair of a number of New York City charities. Unlike the mothers of the other Constance seniors, she only indulges in harmless gossip.

Gossip Girl TV series background[]

Though much is still unknown about Lily's past, it is known that she originated from a wealthy family in California. Her father, Richard Rhodes, was a music executive, and her mother, CeCe, was from the Upper East Side. Lily's older sister, Carol, moved out of home and into San Fernando Valley when Lily was 16. A year later, after a disagreement with her parents, Lily decided to run away and join her sister. Although she originally behaved as a proper member of upper class society, the influence of Los Angeles turned Lily into a wild child.

It is mentioned that she is an alumna of Brown University.

At some point, Lily met Rufus Humphrey, whom she began dating. The two traveled across the country on his tour with his band, Lincoln Hawk. Lily was a photographer for the band, who captured the band's iconic image. Lily became pregnant during their travels. Rather than telling Rufus, she returned home, where her mother sent her to an institution in France in order to give birth to a son. She gave him up for adoption and never spoke of the baby to anyone again.

At some point she married and later divorced billionaire Dr. William van der Woodsen, the father of Serena and Eric.


When Gossip Girl begins, Lily is a multiple divorcée whose son, Eric, is in an institution after attempting to die by suicide and her daughter, Serena, is away at boarding school. Serena's return is unexpected, and though Lily admits that she is happy that Serena has returned, the two have a number of disagreements because of it. Lily is seeing Bart Bass but spends a great deal of time with her ex-lover, Rufus Humphrey. Bart proposes to Lily and she plans to say no and run off with Rufus. However, Serena discovers this and begs her mom not to go because she doesn't want things to be weird between her and Dan. Lily accepts Bart's proposal and she stays away from Rufus. On the eve of her wedding she ends up at Rufus' concert. They end up sleeping together for the first time in 20-something years. The next day Rufus tries to convince Lily not to marry Bart but she marries him anyway in the season finale.

When season 2 begins, Lily is away on her honeymoon. After about four episodes she returns and tries to be friends with Rufus. He however doesn't want to be friends and has a new girlfriend. Bart has a P.I found out everything about Lily, Eric and Serena. This upsets Lily who leaves with her kids on Thanksgiving and ends up at Rufus' loft. It is revealed that when Lily was 19 she was in a sanatorium. When the Snowflake Ball comes around Lily decides to leave Bart but before she gets the chance, Bart dies. Cece, Lily's mother, who broke up Rufus and Lily so long ago, comes for the funeral. The truth is revealed that Lily went to a sanatorium in France to give birth to her and Rufus' son, whom she gave up for adoption. Cece reveals this secret to Rufus knowing that he and Lily don't stand a chance without him knowing this and she want Lily to be happy and the only way that's possible is with Rufus. Rufus and Lily plan to go away together now that Bart is out of the picture and Serena has blessed their union but when he finds out about their child he no longer wants to be with her. They go in search of their child and while on the trip Lily tells Rufus that she loves him and they sleep together. They meet with their child's adopted father, who lies about the child being dead because they "lost one son and can't lose another." While they were gone it was revealed to their children that they shared a sibling. When they got home they were a couple. Jack Bass tried to rape Lily in a bathroom at the opera but Chuck saved her. Lily adopted Chuck and he moved back in. In the season 2 finale, Lily and Rufus became engaged and their son, Scott, came to New York looking for them.

When season 3 begins Lily is with her mother CeCe who is rumoured to have cancer. Therefore Rufus is left to look after their children while she is away. In episode 4 Lily returns unexpected and has a passionate reunion with Rufus soon learning that Serena has not gone away to Brown. Lily originally doesn't blame Rufus and says that she understands he tried and she will herself get Serena to Brown. After not winning her fight with Serena she blames Rufus and tells him that she needs to be on her own. In episode 5 we learn that Rufus has been sleeping on the couch and isn't talking to Lily still. He returns to the loft and tells Dan he will stay there for a while as their relationship is on the rocks. After their children learn this they trick them into sitting down in a restaurant for lunch where they hold hands and make up, breaking up straight away after realising the can't agree on anything at all. Later in the evening you see them both looking at pictures of each other, with them immediately realising they need to be together. Lily turns up at the loft but Rufus is at the pent house and over the phone they tell each other they love one another and decide to 'leap' and move their wedding to the next day.

The morning of the wedding arrives and Serena with the help of Blair, Jenny and her minions are organising the wedding leaving Lily to write her vows, which she is finding a struggle. Eventually the wedding is organised to be at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and we there see Lily getting ready and Jenny telling her Rufus' vows are amazing. When Jenny leaves Lily freaks out and throws her vows in the bin. When meeting Rufus to walk to the aisle she tells him they need to talk as she is unsure and couldn't write her vows, he tells her that this is what their future will be like they will argue but every marriage is like this. They are interrupted by Scott who Lily tells to leave as it is a private venue. Georgina then informs them that he is actually their 'dead' love child. They race after him and Lily tells Rufus she doesn't know what to say, he tells her to say that they are his parents and that love can fix it. Lily tells Rufus she knows this is untrue and he snaps at her telling that he thinks it is true because what Scott saw was her trying at anything to push Rufus away because she loves him like she has never loved any of her husbands and he can brake her heart which is scary. He tells her he knows this because she is breaking his. He runs off to Scott and stops him and tells him that Lily and him love their children and love each other. Lily then interrupts saying that Rufus is the best man and father and she is scared because marrying him with finally give her a real relationship, her children a real father and she will finally allow herself to truly love. She tells Scott she is sorry and emotionally says that all she has wanted to do for the past 20 years is hold their child in her arms. The reunited family embrace and return to the loft and get married making their vows on the spot and kissing passionately. Rufus tells her as they have their first dance that it took 20 years but they finally made it, Lily replies that she wouldn't have had it any other way.

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