- ❝ Grandma says I shouldn't be afraid to change my mind. To me, those are words to live by ❞
- —Brenda, to her parents[src]
Brenda is a smart, driven, fierce and passionate woman, already cemented in her teen years, who is bold in her choices and is not afraid to stand up for herself and what she believes in, whether it's to her friends or family. However, she is still a teenager who also cares about fitting in high school and not being an outcast. Even in foreign territory when she arrives in Beverly Hills, she immediately seeks out adventures and new experiences. As she adjusts to life in California, she becomes more settled and spends her time figuring out her interests and what Beverly Hills can offer her. Brenda is the daughter of Jim and Cindy Walsh, and the fraternal twin sister of Brandon Walsh. She lived in Minnesota until her father got a job promotion, prompting the family to move to Beverly Hills in 1990.
Upon arrival in Beverly Hills, Brenda feels overwhelmed by the social pressures and the high upkeep the rich teens maintain in terms of expensive clothes and the importance they give to their image. When heading to a club with Kelly and her friends, Brenda is the only one who gets in and she meets a guy named Jason. Brenda pretends to be a college student and starts dating Jason, who is a twenty-something lawyer, until she decides to be honest with him to strengthen their relationship and he takes it badly, humiliating her in public. Brenda tells him she liked him so much she had thought of sleeping with him and he tries to apologize to her, but Brenda tells him off and says she never wants to see him again.
Her first few months in Beverly Hills, Brenda attempts to make a good impression on Kelly, wanting to fit in while also being impressed by Kelly, who is the most popular girl at West Beverly. Brenda finds herself in situations where she doesn't agree with Kelly's behavior or where Kelly doesn't consider other people and Brenda stands up to Kelly, showing respect for herself. All the while, Brenda doesn't realise that Kelly wishes she could be more like Brenda, who has a safe family life. Brenda and Kelly grow closer and find more equal footing with one another, once Brenda meets Kelly's former model mother, who Brenda doesn't know is an addict and alcoholic. Brenda and her family support Kelly and their friendship becomes deeper and stronger.
After a while, Brenda finds herself uninspired by the constant shopping trips Kelly and Donna focus their time on, and decides she wants something valuable to spend her time on, outside of school. Brandon sets her up with Andrea, who volunteers for a rape crisis center and, although they clash at first with both having presumptions about who the other is as well as strong convictions and personalities, the girls get to know each other better through the work. In one of her first sessions, Brenda inadvertently talks to a West Beverly student, who is experiencing continuous date-rape and Brenda figures out how to save the girl and have the attackers arrested. The intense experience creates a strong bond and mutual respect between Andrea and Brenda.
Brenda meets and develops a crush on Beverly Hills bad-boy legend, Dylan McKay. She feels insecure at first, thinking she can't compete with all the glamourous rich blondes at her school, but soon comes to find that Dylan is not that kind of guy. They fall into each other's orbit when Dylan hangs out with Brandon and invites Brenda along. They flirt and go on an explosive first date where Brenda meets Dylan's negligent father. He is vulnerable and opens up to Brenda, who comforts him and their intense relationship begins. Brenda stands up for herself and Dylan is honest with her, making their connection strong. Dylan is also there for a panicked Brenda when the twins throw a house party that gets out of control and Brandon gets in an accident while DUI.
When Brenda throws a slumber party at her house, she decides to invite Andrea so she can get to know the other girls better. Unexpectedly, the girls all become closer as they share intimate truths and reveal some secrets. Brenda and Kelly fight over Kelly having tried to get a date with Dylan after he and Brenda started going out, but they make up with help from Andrea and Brenda forgives Kelly. Brenda becomes insecure about her relationship with Dylan as he wants to take 'the next step', but stands her ground and lets him know that it's about their relationship, not just sex. They move on from there and their relationship deepens, with Dylan supporting Brenda when she discovers a lump in her breast and has to have a biopsy done. Brenda explores her interest in acting with both a temp stint at the Peach Pit as 'Laverne' and a spoken word coffeehouse performance, where she meets some likeminded people. She also tries her hand at what life will be like as an adult, living on her own for a few days and comes to appreciate her parents all the more for this. She decides that she's ready to have sex for the first time when she and Dylan attend the Spring Dance together, after having been together six months. She is really happy to have taken the step, but devastated when her father decides to take a lucrative promotion that will mean moving back to Minneapolis, away from Dylan. Although she breaks up with him, they reconcile once her father decides the family should stay in California.
Brenda's discovery that she's late sends her into an understandable panic as she grapples with having to visit a gynaecologist without alerting her parents. She gets her period and finds out that she's not pregnant, but the experience leaves her wanting to take a step back and take a breath. Brenda decides to break up with a devastated Dylan. To get back to focusing on her life and distract herself from the break-up, Brenda signs up for summer drama classes with Donna and is surprised, but happy to find Andrea in the class too. Brenda bonds with Andrea over being wary of going to the beach as they might run into Dylan and Brandon, respectively. Although her relationship with Dylan is over, he's not far from her orbit as he recuperates with the Walsh family after a surfing accident, much to Brenda's alarm. They share a kiss and she feels confused, but remains firm that they should stay apart.
Brenda spends her summer in drama class, hanging out with Donna at the Beach Club and attending an after hours poker party where they dress up in period clothes and with Kelly at the beach, having lunch with Kelly and her mother Jackie. Brenda alone stands by Dylan when everyone thinks he's robbed the Beach Club and once Dylan leaves to visit his mother in Hawaii, Brenda finds herself daydreaming of and missing him. Brenda's drama classes excite her, but a crush on her teacher, Chris, temporarily drive her and Andrea apart when he chooses Andrea. They end up becoming closer after Chris turns out to be a horrible person. Dylan keeps at wanting Brenda back and they fight when Dylan is feeling neglected by his mother, exacerbating his loneliness and lack of support. Brenda continues to try and be there for Dylan.
At the beginning of the school year, Brenda becomes jealous when Dylan goes on a date with the new transfer student, Emily Valentine, who also has eyes for Brandon. Out of jealousy Brenda lashes out at Emily and calls her a slut in front of everyone. She later regrets her actions and apologizes to Emily, the two making amends. She realises that she misses and loves Dylan and they get back together. Brenda feels a lot of anger towards Dylan's mother, Iris McKay, when she arrives in town and upsets Dylan. Although Brenda initially doesn't like Iris, they find common ground in their love for Dylan and passionate dispositions. Brenda finds her friendship with Kelly tested when her cousin Bobby visits the family and he starts dating Kelly. Brenda becomes overprotective of him, as Bobby's in a wheelchair, but Kelly handles the situation well and their friendship is strengthened.
The girl group as a whole grows stronger when Andrea deals with possibly being exposed for living out of district and the girls come to her aid and support her. Brenda and the gang also deal with the death of Scott Scanlon, which brings them all closer yet. Brenda's previous ire with Emily Valentine resurfaces when Emily drugs Brandon without his knowledge, but Brenda actually ends up being the one to help out Emily, when Emily experiences a depressive episode, using her experience from the Teen Rap Line. Brenda starts working at a posh boutique where her boss (whom she once thought was a mentor) starts mistreating her (and a mysterious old homeless man dressed as Santa Claus). To get back at her boss, her mother dresses as a rich woman who pretends that she's about to buy a lot of stuff only to dress down Brenda's boss, after which Brenda quits. She also deals with her furtiveness regarding her driving skills, first having trouble passing her driver's test, and then being nervous about actually driving – although her cousin Bobby encourages her to try. In the spring Brenda is in a minor accident, and her parents question her driving skills yet again, but are stifled once Brenda and Dylan discover the other driver is a con artist trying to scam Brenda.
Brenda also starts attending an exercise class with Kelly, where she is tempted to cheat on Dylan when a college guy named Tim starts hitting on her. She doesn't know that at the same time, Dylan is also tempted by his old friend Sarah whom he meets at an AA meeting, but they both confess and stay together. Brenda becomes a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being held at gunpoint by an armed robber during an after-hours hold up at the Peach Pit, which incurs nightmares. With help from a psychiatrist and support from Dylan and her family, Brenda gets better. Along with Kelly, Donna and David, Brenda spends a rainy day tracking down Color Me Badd, which culminates in their private impromptu a capella show at the Peach Pit in the Spring of 1992.
Brenda's parents start to think that Brenda's a bit too invested in her romance with Dylan, which culminates in stricter rules when she comes home from Dylan's house late. Dylan invites Brenda to come surfing with him in Baja, a seminal moment for Brenda in their relationship. She asks her parents, who agree that she can go if she can demonstrate her commitment to abiding by their rules. Unfortunately, Brenda and Dylan fall asleep studying and Brenda's banned for the trip. Her decision to go anyway, asking Brandon and Kelly to lie to her parents for her, has a ripple affect on her life until she moves to London two years later.
Brenda doesn't tell Dylan that she wasn't allowed to go before they cross the border, and on their way back they're stopped as she's forgotten her passport. This starts an all-out war between Jim and Dylan, although Brenda is the culprit. Jim overreacts and blames Dylan for Brenda's decisions and ends up effectively excommunicating him from the family. While Brandon and Dylan's friendship somewhat survives, it is never as close as it was and, although Brenda knows that they are Dylan's sole family, she cannot stop her father from severing that bond. The result is Dylan starting to withdraw from her, although Brenda fights her parents on the issue.
Brenda defies her parents and continues to secretly see Dylan behind everyone's back with help from Kelly and Donna. Brenda's caught in the act when Jim and Cindy run into Brenda with Dylan at the beach club, and she runs away to Dylan's house. Brenda learns that living with Dylan isn't all it's cracked up to be and once Brandon and Cindy discover that Brenda is unhappy living with Dylan, Jim immediately takes advantage of it to play hardball with Dylan by canceling his trust fund without Brenda knowing about it. Meanwhile, Kelly and Donna plan a trip to Paris, but Kelly's loss of not going, due to her decision to stay and care for her mother's newborn baby girl, is Brenda's gain when Jim, using a little influence and blackmail, gets Kelly's visa for Brenda who agrees to accompany Donna to Paris for the summer.
When Brenda and Donna arrive in Paris, they get a less than dazzling welcome to the City of Light and miss their boyfriends, but they soon move past it. Brenda has a good time, quickly learning French and finding herself comfortable with the Parisian lifestyle, taking up smoking with Maggie. While in Paris, Brenda pretends to be a French tour guide to a young, attractive Wisconsin native named Rick. They spend time together in Paris and eventually develop feelings for one another. Although Brenda tells Rick she has a boyfriend, she can't resist and they share a passionate kiss. Rick asks her to go with him on his travels around the world and Brenda decides to go, only to miss him as he leaves. Donna and Brenda return from Paris, both with a more independent spirit, but happy to see their boyfriends. Brenda feels guilty and confesses to Dylan that she was seeing Rick in Paris, but they stay together.
Starting senior year, Brenda volunteers to become a senior buddy to a freshman, who turns out to be the late Scott's younger sister, Sue. Brenda finds it difficult to reach Sue and suspects that something is wrong at home, stemming from something other than the loss of her brother. Donna helps Brenda uncover the truth and Sue gets help. Brenda is also worried about Kelly, who seems down, but Brenda doesn't know why and she tries to be there for Kelly. Brandon and Brenda fight over who gets to attend college out of state, only to realise that they both want to stay in California. Brenda keeps very active in school activities, arranging the annual "Pig Skin Prom" for West Beverly.
Brenda feels increasingly distant from Dylan because of their differing views on their futures. She wants the relationship to work and is of course unaware that his distancing is due to his lying to and cheating on Brenda. At this uncertain stage, Brenda randomly bumps in to Rick at a video store and carries on the charade that she's French and living with her distant American relatives, the Walshes. After a while Brenda can't take it and tells Rick the truth. Although he's surprised, he's still interested and they start dating. Brenda's shocked and hurt when Rick brings her to a restaurant where they bump into Kelly and Dylan on a date. Brenda realises that she and Rick may not have that much in common and, although she cares about him, she's not truly over Dylan and therefore not ready to start anything new.
Dylan decides to skip town after the confrontation, while Brenda and Kelly start feuding. She and Brenda both heed Donna's words and mend fences, but are put on unsteady ground when Dylan returns. Brenda agrees to try just friendship with the two of them, but Dylan soon ends up kissing both girls, hurting people all over again. Brenda and Kelly decide that Dylan has to choose who he wants to be with on New Year's Eve. The girls start hanging out again, going on dates and being a united front again's their one-time lover. Dylan invites Brenda to a party for his father at the Bel Age Hotel after Jack is released from prison, but Brenda decides not to go, following a decree from her father but also on her own, as Jack McKay has mob connections.
Brenda tries to spend time with Dylan, but he rejects her and soon brings Kelly to meet up with Brenda and tell her they are together and the truth about their affair. Brenda is heartbroken and feels betrayed all at once and cuts them out of her life. Iris McKay shows up in Beverly Hills and helps Brenda find a path to feeling better by meeting her opponent halfway. Brenda and Iris's bond stays strong, in spite of Dylan being with someone else. To distract herself, Brenda takes up self-defence classes with her mother, Cindy, and Donna.
Following the sudden murder of Dylan's father, Brenda, in spite of feeling conflicted, decides to do the right thing and asks her father to bring Dylan to the safety of their home, which Dylan gladly accepts. Brenda is there for Dylan and consoles him, while Dylan assures her how much she means to him. The Walshes also insist on having Dylan over for dinner to keep tabs on his well-being, which Dylan is grateful for and which heals the former rift between Brenda's parents and Dylan. When Donna plans to throw Kelly a surprise 18th birthday party at the Peach Pit, Kelly collapses from overdose of diet pills. Brenda finds her unconscious in the bathroom and, as Kelly recovers in the hospital, the two have a heart to heart about their friendship and Brenda tells Kelly that she loves her. Brenda starts to feel like she doesn't belong in Beverly Hills. This is exacerbated by the Senior Polls, where Brenda had hoped to win 'Done Most For Class', which goes to a girl everyone's known since 2nd grade. Even though college could open up that world for Brenda, she feels excluded by her heartbreak over Dylan as well, and begins considering applying to college in Minneapolis. She does have a fun Senior Ditch Day with Andrea, David, Kelly and Donna at Magic Mountain.
West Beverly football star Tony Miller asks her to Senior Prom and, although she says yes, she's not really excited about going with Tony, but rather wouldn't want to miss out on Prom altogether. She spends the night trying to hide how much she misses Dylan and how hard it is for her to see him with Kelly. Dylan asks her to dance and Brenda admits to him she's not sure she'll ever get over him. Brenda applies to University of Minnesota and is accepted, and she struggles with how to tell the gang that she'll be leaving L.A. at the end of summer. On the day of graduation, the gang thinks back about their most memorable moments from the past three years. Brenda graduates with honours. On the night of graduation, they all meet in the Hollywood Hills, near the big Hollywood sign, to create their logo on the sign for the whole city to see, to commemorate their years at West Beverly Hills High School.
California University Edit
Brenda spends her summer before college working as a camp counsellor with Andrea at the Beverly Hills Beach Club. Still heartbroken over Dylan's betrayal, Brenda departs for Minnesota University. Steve's lucked out staying for free at a Malibu beach house and, together with Brandon, hosts a goodbye party for Brenda. Brenda's prom date Tony attends and still pines for Brenda. The following morning, Brandon takes her to breakfast at the Peach Pit to bid Nat farewell, who introduces his newest special: Laverne's honey pie. Arriving in Minneapolis, Brenda visits their old house with her mother, grandmother and cousin, who's constantly badgering Brenda about the glitz of Beverly Hills. It turns out to be subject to fascination and prejudice with her old friends as well, including her roommate Darla, which Brenda tires of and lets them know. After they make up and go off to a party, Brenda's phone rings and its Dylan, calling from Paris but just missing her.
Brenda has trouble readjusting to life in Minnesota, realising that, while she may have felt alienated by her friend group in L.A. following her break-up with Dylan, her true home is not in Minnesota either. Brenda comes to terms with the fact that she will walk a different life path from the people she knows, on her own at times, but that staying true to herself is what is most important. She tells Darla this, after confronting Darla with her and their Minnesota 'friends' making fun of Brenda, and decides to return to her family in Beverly Hills. Donna is surprised to see Dylan and Kelly reunited, as she had told Brenda that they broke up. Wary from her overwhelming experience of solemnity, Brenda's knee-jerk reaction to her parents' incessant questioning about why she left Minneapolis is that college may not suit her after all. In the face of her parents vehement disapproval, she doesn't budge but goes to the Peach Pit to get a break. While there, she finds a future-weary compatriot in Dylan and the two jump in his car and speed off on adventure. They go to the pier and decide to fish, having a lot of fun just talking about life. They reconnect and mend fences after how Dylan broke Brenda's heart, but Dylan wants to get back together and Brenda declines. She admits she likes that they're on good terms, seemingly not wanting to risk having her heart broken again and Dylan accepts it.
When Brenda returns, she meets a wealthy young-man named Stuart (whom Dylan knew as a drug-dealer in times past), and quickly falls in love with him. The couple would get engaged within weeks of their meeting and elope to Las Vegas, causing Dylan and her friends to come and attempt to stop it. Brenda's non-romantic life also took some hits over the season.
When Donna Martin took in a puppy she and Brenda found, they learned it had escaped from an animal-testing lab and were both distraught when the puppy died. Brenda fell in with a group of animal-rights activists and ended up going along with them when they trashed a number of labs, and she got arrested (Donna decided at the last minute not to join the group). After her arrest, the only person in the group to show support for her was Dylan: David Silver questioned her judgment, Andrea angrily accused her of causing damage to labs that didn't test on animals, and Kelly told her that Dylan wasn't her boyfriend anymore and Brenda couldn't go running to him every time she had a problem. It turned out one of the activists was an undercover FBI agent who offered Brenda a deal for no prison time, because she had not known about nor supported the vandalism. All of Brenda's friends were apologetic for their shoddy treatment of her afterwards.
Brenda would also explore acting during the fourth-season, but this also led to problems: She bungled her first audition and then went over to the director's house to try again. She then got the part, but an unstable student implied she'd slept her way to the role. Unfortunately, this student was also dating Steve Sanders and he believed her claims, with everyone else more or less refusing to believe Brenda's denials. Steve realized his mistake when the student asked him to attack Brenda so she'd have to miss rehearsals. The student later tried to kill herself, but Brenda and Steve teamed up to save her, and Steve finally made amends by attending Brenda's well-received acting debut. The director's praise ended up leading to her accepting a position at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London for a year. Following Kelly and Dylan's latest break-up, Brenda eventually learned of a possible romance between Kelly and Brandon, and expressed her blessing.
Another significant event that occurred in the season finale was when Brenda, Jim, and Cindy watched Brandon's meeting with the President. Brenda watched with pride, which Jim and Cindy later said they had never looked at her in that way; this also strengthened her resolve to move to London and pursue acting. She later spent her last night with Dylan, telling him that she wouldn't be gone forever. The couple would briefly reconcile in the final scene of the fourth season, although (because of Doherty's departure), the Brenda character was written out, and Brenda would never again appear.
- Main article: Brenda and Andrea
Brenda probably has the most in common with Andrea, but the two meet through Brandon and therefore develop a friendship over a longer period of time. In many ways, it's a very intense relationship as they first get close while Brenda tries to save a girl from being raped at West Beverly, leaving Andrea and Brenda with a very mature and intense shared experience. Brenda makes an effort to include Andrea in the girl group and after about a year Donna, Brenda, Kelly and Andrea are all friends. Brenda and Andrea share their interest in academia, their passion for their interest and futures as well as strong wills and dispositions.
- Main article: Brenda and Kelly
Brenda and Kelly's friendship is one of the most explored on the series, as they both served as female protagonists (Kelly being 'upgraded' after Doherty left the series). While the two are very different, they quickly form a kind of 'survival' bond as Brenda is the most grounded person Kelly has ever met in an otherwise over the top life and Kelly is at the center of this new world Brenda finds herself in and can offer advice and direction. Their differences become apparent to both quickly, but they remain supportive and talk out their conflicts. That is, until Dylan McKay becomes a love interest for both girls. Kelly even admits to Brenda that she asked Dylan out after he and Brenda first started dating. The affair and relationship Kelly and Dylan start two years later changes the girls' friendship permanently, but Brenda makes an effort to have a relationship with Kelly, who most remains jealous of Dylan's strong feelings for Brenda.
- Main article: Donna and Brenda
For a long time Donna is more of a tag-along who consequently sides with Kelly if Kelly and Brenda fight. It's only once the group comes together that Donna and Brenda get to know each other, but they don't really become close until they spent the summer between their junior and senior year in Paris together. Donna even refers to Brenda as her best friend at the end of their first year at California University and she is the one Brenda spends most of her time with during her freshman year at college.
- Main article: Brenda and Dylan
Dylan is Brenda's first love. They met when Dylan and Brandon become friends. They had a great relationship throughout season 1, however after a pregnancy scare, she broke up with Dylan. Then later on getting back together with him for the rest of season 2. During the summer, Dylan began a short-lived affair with Kelly Taylor and didn't tell Brenda about it. When Brenda discovered what went on between her best friend and boyfriend, it develops into the most popular love triangle on the show with Dylan ultimately choosing Kelly. At the end of season 4 (after Kelly and Dylan break up) Brenda asks Dylan to give her a reason to come back, their scene ending with the two of them kissing. Alas, Brenda doesn't come back and even though it's mentioned that Dylan is living with Brenda in London (after Perry leaves the show) the two are never onscreen at the same time again.
Brenda meets Rick while in Paris with Donna and pretends to be a native Parisian, keeping the ruse going for her entire stay there, though disclosing to Rick that she has a boyfriend. Back in Beverly Hills a few months later she runs into Rick at a video store. While she tries to keep pretending she's visiting her 'American relatives' the Walshes, she can't keep up the charade. She breaks up with Rick after realizing she still has feelings for Dylan and also realizing that Rick reminds her way too much of her father, and is also much more invested in a serious relationship with Brenda which Rick views as destined to be.
Stuart and Brenda were set up by Jim Walsh - a skeptical Brenda didn't want to date a man named Stuart who had to have his father and her father find a date for him. The two hit it off and begin a whirlwind romance and eventual engagement. Overwhelmed with their families opinions on the wedding (Brenda's parents wanting them to wait several months or years and Stuart's family wanting to invite hundreds of people and control every aspect of it) the two decide to elope to Las Vegas, only telling Brandon of their plans. Word gets out and Brandon and their friends follow them to Vegas, hoping to stop the wedding with the men taking Stuart out for his last night as a single man and making married life sound awful and the girls taking Brenda out and doing the same.
None of the friends stop the wedding, but Brenda herself has second thoughts and after hearing the Justice of the Peace ask if any man or women objects to the reunion, she responds, "I do." She and Stuart decide they are rushing into the decision and the episode ends with them dancing at what would've been their reception. Stuart disappears for several episodes, reappearing in time for Valentines Day and an excuse for his absence, but the two start noticing cracks in their relationship when they begin bickering all the time and seeing their differences. After a final fight when Brenda throws her engagement ring in his pool, Dylan picks her up and Stuart is never seen again.
- ❝Friend of Jason – So, what exactly is a Black Hole?
- Brenda – Well, I guess the easiest way to explain it, without a working knowledge of fourth dimensional geometry, is that it’s just… A hole… That’s black❞
- ❝ How many days in a row can you go shopping before you're officially declared brain dead? ❞
- ❝ I like your butt... I mean your bike ❞
- —Brenda to Dylan[src]
- ❝ Those nice boys may be mild-mannered on the outside, but mostly all they think about is sex ❞
- —Brenda to her father[src]
- ❝Kelly – Brenda, I am a Spring Princess!
- Brenda – Kelly... I don't give a damn❞
- ❝ To be a bitch or not to be a bitch, that is the question ❞
- —Brenda post-breakup[src]
- ❝ The only time I ever felt that proud was when I was on stage. And it wasn't just my parents, you know, it was like a whole audience applauding me. I want it, Dylan. That's why I'm going to London ❞
- —Brenda's goodbye[src]
- Brenda was the female protagonist for the first four seasons.
- After her departure the character did not return to the screen until the 2008 reboot 90210.
- Before moving to Beverly Hills, her best friends are Marjorie and Sarah.
- When she decides to attend university in Minnesota, Brenda reconnects with Darla Hansen, Katie Destable and Jan Myler, her friends from junior high.
- She's a Scorpio.