Eric McGowen is the tritagonist in The Next Karate Kid. He is portrayed by Chris Conrad.
Eric's family suffers from financial problems. Since he was about ten, his father left him and his mother, but sent money to them. After a while, though, he stopped, which forced Eric to get a job. He chose to be a train yard security guard, which was his only connection to his grandfather. Once he entered high school, he joined the Alpha Elite, which ensured him a recommendation at the Air Force Academy.
Julie is Eric's classmate and love interest. Since he was involved in the Alpha Elite, Julie both liked and despised him. However, after they spent some time together, Julie started to openly show her feelings for him. Eventually, when she was suspended from school, she asked him to take care of Angel, an injured hawk Julie was taking care of at the time. When she gets back from her stay at the monastery, they start spending more time together and eventually go to the school dance.
Ned is Eric's classmate, rival, and fellow Alpha Elite member. Both like Julie and dislike each other for different reasons. Ned doesn't like Eric mainly because he's threatened by Julie's interest in him and Eric doesn't like Ned because he keeps harassing Julie and even sent Angel to an animal shelter. Their rivalry gets so intense that Ned follows Eric and Julie to her house, smashes in Eric's car windows and challenges him to a fight. Naturally, since Eric is tired of Ned bothering him and Julie, he drives to the docks and gets beaten up. However, even though Ned was jealous of Eric for having all of Julie's attention, he refuses to kill him when Col. Dugan orders him and the rest of the Alpha Elite to comply. After Dugan's defeat, it's possible that Ned gains some respect for Eric in the end.
Col. Dugan is Eric's former instructor. Although Eric joined Alpha Elite for a future career in the Air Force, Dugan tried to mold Eric to be just like the other members. He usually got angry when Eric refused to participate in the same activities and showed more restraint than the rest of his students. Eventually, when Eric decided to choose a fake call from his mother over the Alpha Elite, he develops a grudge against him. On the night of the school dance, when he sees Eric and Julie dancing together, he has his students infiltrate and interrupt the dance. Later that same night, he allows the Alpha Elite to beat him up and tries to force them to kill him.