- ❝ I loved you more than I ever thought I could love anybody ❞
The story of Brenda and Dylan is an intense, passionate, whirlwind love – a deep and powerful connection between two young romantics. Their love inspired them and saved Dylan's life in his struggle with alcohol and parental abandonment. Eventually, they grew into a Romeo & Juliet story as Brenda's parents started a war against Dylan. This abandonment by his surrogate parents broke Dylan's heart and he drifted away from the Walshes towards something more simple, and broke Brenda's heart by cheating with her supposed best friend. Brenda eventually forgave them both, but she never stopped loving Dylan – and he never stopped loving her. Slowly, during their freshman year in college, they found their way back to each other and reconciled a week before Brenda moved to London. Dylan's loss of his money and Brenda combined broke him and his addiction resurfaced tenfold, but the support of his friends helped him get clean. After Toni died tragically, Dylan left Beverly Hills for good and went to the only home he had ever truly known – Brenda.
Brenda and Dylan first meet briefly at the Walshes', when Brandon's old girlfriend Sheryl's in town and Brenda's heading to her teacher's house to babysit. They don't really talk, but Dylan has his eye on Brenda. He later flirts with Brenda at school and she decides to dye her hair blonde as she thinks Dylan prefers blondes. Her hair comes out looking orange and, embarrassingly, she happens upon Dylan while out for a run in the neighbourhood, where he assures her that the hair color doesn't matter to him. This is the first time the two are seen flirting.
They don't really reconnect until Brenda tags along on a hangout with Brandon and Dylan, and when Brandon gets sick, Brenda and Dylan hang out alone. This is the episode where they actually end up kissing and embarking on possibly the most iconic relationship of the series. The same episode also sees the beginning divide of the Walsh household where Dylan is concerned, notably Jim's prejudices that Dylan is like his imprisoned father.
Brenda learns that Dylan is a recovering addict when Dylan helps Brandon, after the latter gets into a car accident while intoxicated. This does not seem to faze Brenda as she and Dylan continue their relationship throughout the remainder of the season. Aside from the common teen relationship hurdles, such as whether both Dylan and Brenda become attracted to other people while together and how they handle that, they also experience some true difficulties, like when Brenda fears she has a malignant tumor.
A pivotal moment in their relationship occurs at the 1991 Spring Fling, when they sleep together for the first time. When Jim gets offered double the fees and a promotion back in Minnesota, he takes it and Dylan and Brenda are faced with separation. At the last moment, Jim decides against moving, after seeing the impact the presence of the Walsh family has had on their community.
Intensity and family Edit
Brenda feels overwhelmed by the maturity of her relationship with Dylan after a pregnancy scare and decides to end things with him. Dylan is devastated and has a tough time following the break-up, but briefly reconciles with Brenda when he's injured and offered hospitality at the Walsh house. Brenda is adamant about her decision, though, and the couple does not get back together.
Dylan is tempted to drink again and does so on a group camping trip where he is very mean to Brenda as he feels rejected by her, while she tries to reassure him that they can be friends and that she is there for him. Brenda doesn't know Dylan is drinking again, but Brandon helps out his friend and Dylan's drinking is abated. Once the group starts up school again and enter their junior year, Dylan's attracted to a biker girl, who just transferred and they go on a date. Brenda is furious and lashes out at the girl for dating more than one guy. This provides a catalyst for Brenda to realise that she is still in love with Dylan and they get back together.
The couple are happily reunited, but hit a snag when Dylan begins drinking upon his estranged mother's arrival in town, and Brandon reluctantly admits to Brenda that Dylan was drinking on their camping trip. Brenda is frustrated and hurt that Dylan didn't confide in her, but adamant that she support and stand by him. Brenda also gives Iris McKay a talking to regarding her abandonment of her wayward son, and the two women eventually find common ground.
Brenda and Dylan continue their romance, with Dylan doing better and handling being a recovering alcoholic, with the support of Brenda and her family. They spend time hanging out with their friends and going to parties, like when Brenda's cousin visits and even dress up together for Halloween, which is unusual for Dylan, who otherwise isn't much for group activities. They support each other through Scott dying, when Brandon is drugged by Emily and, worried, Dylan watches as Brenda is able to reach out to Emily and save Emily from herself when she is going through something.
Brenda suggests the two try to imbue their relationship with cultural exploits as she finds things are a little too focused on "one area" of their relationship and they attend classical violin concerts, as they share an interest in arts. Brenda supports Dylan when he decides to visit his father in prison at Christmas time, and Dylan's Dad encourages him to spend the holidays with Brenda, sensing that Dylan finally has someone who cares about him in his life.
Dylan supports Brenda when she gets in a minor accident with what turns out to be a con-woman. At the same time he is somewhat flustered by her sudden salesperson enthusiasm when Brenda starts working at a high end boutique. Although Brenda and Dylan share a deep, soulful connection it's much older than they, which comes to light in some of their conflicts. Brenda, being brave and open, wants to share the experience of her first time when sexual education is censored at West Beverly, but she doesn't ask Dylan, who feels his privacy would be invaded by the publication of such a personal account. Dylan plans an incredibly romantic first Valentine's Day celebration for he and Brenda. They go to see a play but as the main event donate blood, which has Dylan open up and share why he got his scar.
The return of alcoholic Sarah, who needs a friend and more emotional support than a teen is able to provide, has Dylan and Brenda temporarily feeling distanced from one another and drawn to other people, as Brenda flirts with a guy she meets in aerobics class. However uncertain it makes them feel about their future together, they stay close as Brenda faces PTSD after being held at gunpoint alone at the Peach Pit. Brenda starts to spend a lot of time at Dylan's house late, on school nights too, which her parents are concerned about.
They don't want Brenda to become too focused on Dylan and neglect her school work. This mounts to a situation when Brenda comes home late after promising not to and is denied a trip to Baja with Dylan. After she sneaks out and goes after all, her parents find out and are livid. They want to end Brenda's relationship with Dylan, which also hurts Dylan who relies on the Walshes as a surrogate family. Although Brenda tries to mend fences with her father, he and Dylan get into a fight as Jim metaphorically rejects Dylan as his surrogate son and something is permanently severed for Dylan.
- ❝ My fault alright. I just got too close to all of you — I won't make that mistake again ❞
- —Dylan to Brenda
Dylan's nonchalance Edit
The destruction of Dylan's feeling of home with the Walsh family hurts his strong bond with both Brenda and Brandon, and he begins to pull away and closer to a superficial way of life. This cements itself in his willingness to trick Brenda into going to Paris by making a deal with Jim behind her back, and Dylan carelessly taking advice from Kelly to lie about his father's ineptitude as a parent. Brenda, while the ordeal with her parents has been very harsh for her, remains somewhat unaware that Dylan is essentially pulling away from her family and, by extension, her. Dylan starts flirting with Kelly and spending time with her at the beach, which she quickly reciprocates.
Meanwhile, Brenda, possibly feeling this distance and weary following the issues with her parents, finds herself swept up by the charm, wonder and freedom of Paris and she meets an American college student, who thinks she's French. To have a bit of fun, Brenda pretends to be French, but the random flirtation turns into more as she gets to know Rick and develops feelings for him. Brenda feels caught off guard, as Paris is a sort of dreamscape and she seems to not have been expecting to feel anything real — and for another guy. Dylan squashes all of Kelly's qualms with her friendship with Brenda, furthering the notion that he's done with those ties, possibly even subconsciously wishing to hurt Brenda and her family. Rick asks Brenda to go away with him and she decides to, but misses him by seconds as he leaves Paris. All the same, Brenda returns refreshed by Paris and when she sees Dylan, she's happy and he seems to be conflicted as he still loves her. Brenda now senses this in him, possibly due to her own experience.
As they get back to school, they are in the same class as Kelly, which Brenda's thrilled about in a cruel twist, while Dylan is bemused. Dylan hosts a back-to-school barbecue at his house where he and Brenda are having fun and are happy together. They have a bit of conflict over Brenda's smoking habit, but it's quickly resolved as she decides to quit. When the topic of college rolls around, Brenda and Brandon fight over who gets to study out of state with Dylan trying to calm the twins down. Dylan's not particularly invested in the idea of college and finally tells Brenda he's not going. Brenda's in disbelief at this and Dylan tells her not to plan her life around whether they're together. She feels them starting to walk down separate paths and, when talking with her parents, Brenda calls her Dad out on being happy about this. He assures her that he isn't, but that it's realistic that they're very different and states that Dylan isn't ambitious on his own behalf. This seems to have Brenda considering their relationship from a new perspective.
Brenda delves into school spirit while Dylan remains apathetic about his future. Although he's unenthusiastic, Dylan attends the dance Brenda organises with her. They celebrate Dylan's 18th birthday at the Peach Pit with cake and their friends, but Dylan gets sick after surfing in polluted water and gets into environmental activism. Brenda runs into Rick at the video store with Donna and Kelly, and is thrown for a loop. Between her growing more distant from Dylan and her time with Rick in Paris, she finds herself drawn towards him. Keeping up the fake accent, they go on a date until Brenda can't lie any longer and apologises. Rick isn't mad, but interested to get to know Brenda Walsh. In spite of herself, Brenda sees Rick and they kiss. She makes the decision to break up with Dylan, who seems hurt, but not surprised and somewhat indifferently hostile to Brenda and their relationship. Immediately after Brenda leaves, Dylan goes to see Kelly and makes out with her.
While Kelly feels uncertain starting to date because of Brenda, Dylan keeps pursuing it until she agrees to go on a date with him. Brenda goes on a real date with Rick and is livid when they happen upon Dylan and Kelly on a date, interrupting them as they plan to go to Dylan's to have sex. Rick, as the outsider, tries to call for decorum and maturity to no avail. Brenda implicitly calls Kelly a slut and Dylan gets angry with Brenda, saying that she dumped him, which Kelly notices. Back at Dylan's house, Kelly rejects being with him and Dylan leaves town. Brenda sees the similarities between Rick and her father and maybe feels like they're not a match, or at least that it's too soon to start something serious again. Dylan meets an older woman and has a fling with her, trying to put his real life on hold for a bit. Brenda's not certain of anything other than she wants to talk with him, and that she's cold to and feels betrayed by Kelly. After his sojourn with someone who only cares about money, Dylan sobers to his life back home and returns.
Dylan and Brenda spend Thanksgiving 1992 apart as Dylan's hosting his father on a visit from prison and Brenda spends the holidays with her family. As the holidays roll around, Brenda agrees to an arrangement with Kelly where they both tell Dylan that they want him and should thus remain only friends. It quickly falls apart as Brenda and Dylan kiss, and Brenda later catches him kissing Kelly at his house. The three of them get into a fight and stop talking as they're going to hand out presents to kids in a poor school district. Donna manages to get everyone to make up by pointing out this event is about something real and the three make up. Brenda and Kelly decide to ask Dylan to choose who he will spend New Year's Eve with.
Dylan has a hard time making his choice and tells Brandon that he feels trapped, while Brenda and Kelly have reconciled their friendship and spend a lot of time hanging out. The girls get increasingly weary with Dylan as he's yet to make his decision and Brenda agrees when her mother offers them a blind double date with Princeton guys. They turn out to be from the Princeton School and 14 years old. Cindy makes Brenda and Kelly go on the dates so as to not be rude to the boys, while Dylan tries to decide and is distracted by Brandon and Steve's drag racing, where he saves Steve's life. They hang out at the Peach Pit afterwards as Brenda and Kelly enter with their dates. While Dylan continues trying to decide whom he wants to be with, Brenda and Kelly spend a spa weekend with their mothers and the other girls. They enjoy themselves despite the circumstances with Dylan, while he has daydreams of what his life would be like with either girls.
- ❝ I hate you both, never talk to me again! ❞
- —Brenda, to Dylan and Kelly
When Dylan's father is released from prison, Jack McKay decides to host a return party and Dylan invites his friends, out of whom only Kelly shows up. Brenda wants to go at first, but agrees not to when Jim tells her that McKay senior has mob connections. Although she blames it on her father, Brenda confides in Brandon that she was relieved she wasn't allowed to go, a relief Brandon echoes as he had to work. Brenda tries to talk to Dylan the following day, but Dylan's indifferent. After Brenda tries to make plans to see a film with Dylan and gets the brush-off again, Dylan and Kelly show up at Brenda's door, asking to go for a walk. Dylan tells Brenda that he chooses Kelly and Brenda wants to go home, but they tell her that Kelly was the one Dylan cheated with over the summer. Brenda's heartbroken and starts crying, saying she trusted them and thought they were her friends. She also asks if they slept together, which they deny but Brenda's in disbelief, not trusting their word. Pained, Brenda tells them to stay away from her and walks away.
Brenda stays home and listens to the song that was playing on the radio when she broke up with Dylan in summer 1991. None of her friends talk to her or comfort her, but her parents check in with her and she says she's fine. She keeps having daymares of confronting the two of them, or just Kelly, while throwing away memories of her relationship with Dylan and her friendship with Kelly. Dylan, meanwhile, just spends his time making out with Kelly, which is interrupted when Iris surprises them by showing up at his Dylan's house unannounced. Iris is shocked that Dylan's not with Brenda anymore and actually talks about Brenda in front of Kelly, when the two are introduced by Dylan. Brandon brings home news that the gang was asking about her, including Kelly, but Brenda's uninterested in the latter and Brandon asks her if she's okay. Iris later drops by the Walshes to see Cindy and visits with Brenda. Iris assures Brenda that her story with Dylan is far from over, and gives her a crystal for positive energy and strength to guide her through the heartache.
After a neighbour's mugged, Brenda channels some of her heartbreak into a self-defence class she attends with her mother and Donna. Dylan spends time with Jim Walsh, trying to speed up the process of having his trust fund released to him. When Brenda learns from her father that Dylan got his trust fund, she and Brandon talk about how rich Dylan is now and whether money changes people. Dylan spends time with his father and wonders whether Kelly likes him for him or his money. Following the murder of Dylan's father, he's hounded by paparazzi at his house. He doesn't know what to do with himself amidst the chaos and is not feeling well. Jim comes over to check up on Dylan and to offer that he can stay with the Walshes. Dylan doesn't think Brenda would want to see him, but Jim assures him of the contrary, revealing that Brenda was the one who insisted Jim bring Dylan home.
- ❝ Brenda, I love it that you think. Not a lot of people do ❞
- —Dylan to Brenda[src]
- ❝Brenda – Do you know how lucky I feel that I met someone like you?
- Dylan – I feel lucky too❞
- ❝Brenda – What we've got is much more than just physical
- Dylan – Bren, I'm not here because of that. I never was. I'm here because I love you❞
- ❝Dylan – I guess you just gotta find the right guy
- Brenda – Well I had the right guy. And I lost him❞
- ―Dylan and Brenda[src]
- ❝ I've never really gotten over you, Dylan. How can I fall in love with someone else when I'm still in love with you? ❞
- Following Perry's death in March 2019, an entertainment reporter thanked Perry and Doherty for their work together on the show
- Following Perry's stroke in late February 2019, Doherty was asked about him and said:
- I can't talk about it cause I will literally start crying, but I love him and he knows I love him and I'm in contact. It's Luke and he's my Dylan
- Luke Perry's favourite couple on the series is Brenda and Dylan
- Shannen Doherty and Luke Perry never dated off-screen
- Showrunner for 4 seasons and Executive Producer Charles Rosin would, had he and the original writing team done the series finale, have had Brenda and Dylan end up together
- Executive Producer Charles Rosin said this in a 2010 interview regarding Brenda and Dylan's Season 2 break-up:
- "90210 was a show that not only celebrated girl-empowerment but had this wonderful character named Brenda Walsh [Shannen Doherty] who represented the notion that a teenager could be sexually active and not be careless, but actually a role model. Unfortunately, my first set of network executives did not see the world as I did. Someday I will write a long article about the censorship that occurred after Brenda lost her virginity at the Spring Dance to her boyfriend (who had been AIDS tested) because she was happy and not full of remorse."
- In a 2012 interview with Glamour, Doherty had this to say about the love triangle:
- "I actually remember getting that storyline and being incredibly upset about it. And it wasn't because Brenda was losing Dylan. I thought that it was really wrong that we were putting that out there, that we were saying, 'Yes, it's okay for a best friend to fall in love with her best friend's boyfriend and cheat with him.' Where's loyalty, where's friendship?"