Brenda Walsh

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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 says goodbye[src]
Brenda Walsh is one of the main characters of Beverly Hills, 90210. She is portrayed by Shannen Doherty.


Brenda is a fierce, passionate woman, even in her teen years, who is bold in her choices[1] and is not afraid to stand up for herself and what she believes in, whether it's to her friends or family.[2] However, she is 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 seeks out adventures and new experiences[3]. As she adjusts to life in California, she becomes more settled and spends her time figuring out her interests[4] 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, Jim Walsh, got a job promotion, prompting the family to move to Beverly Hills in 1990. The show initially focused on the struggles of the twins, how they both adjusted to their new lives in Beverly Hills with culture shock and their relationships with their new Beverly Hills friends, Dylan McKay, Andrea Zuckerman, Steve Sanders, Kelly Taylor, Donna Martin, and David Silver. She was the show's female protagonist from seasons 1 to 4. Brenda returned in the franchise's fourth spin-off, 90210.

Beverly Hills

Upon arrival in Beverly Hills, Brenda feels overwhelmed by the social pressures and the high upkeep teens maintain in terms of expensive clothes and the importance they give to their image. Brenda pretends to be a college student to romance a lawyer named Jason, who is older than she is, who ends their relationship after he finds out the truth about her age.

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Brenda's first appearance

Feeling that she has no means compared to her rich friends, Brenda suddenly gets implicated in shoplifting when she meets a new friend, Tiffany. She dyes her hair to get Dylan's attention after hearing he has a preference for blondes, to disastrous results. When Brenda meets Kelly's hip mother, Jackie, she is very impressed by her, but completely unaware of her alcoholism and drug use, and the effect it has on Kelly. She volunteers for a rape crisis center with Andrea and gets to know an unseen student date-rape victim and saves her from an attempted rape.

Brenda starts falling for Dylan McKay, which stirs differing reactions from her family: Brandon is wary, and her father vehemently opposes the union because of Dylan's father Jack McKay, who is in jail for corporate financial fraud. Eventually Jim realises Dylan should not be judged by his father and allows Brenda to date him. Brenda and Brandon throw a party at their house and Brandon falls victim to the West Beverly High party scene when he ends up drinking a few too many tequilas, gets into a car accident, and is arrested for drunk driving, which Brenda helps him cover up. Kelly and Brenda win free skydiving lessons on a radio call-in show.


Brenda as Laverne

Brenda throws a slumber party and invites Kelly, Donna and Andrea over for the night, with an unexpected and not so nice friend of Kelly's, Amanda Pacer, crashing the party. She and Dylan plan to meet at a hotel at Palm Springs during Presidents' Weekend, but Brenda forgets the name of the hotel where they're supposed to meet. She later finds Dylan but is suspicious of the girl who is already in his bedroom. She takes over Brandon's job at the Peach Pit and dresses up as Laverne. She moves into a single apartment owned by a hippie stand-up comedienne. She discovers a lump in her breast, and has a biopsy.

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Brenda and Dylan at Prom

One of the most important events in terms of Brenda's growth as a character is her romance with Brandon's loner friend, Dylan McKay. Brenda and Dylan date for two years, and their relationship becomes serious very fast. Their relationship starts when, after an intense argument with his father, Dylan shares a passionate kiss with Brenda. On a trip to Palm Springs, Brenda goes to meet Dylan in a hotel room, but sees him with someone else and jumps to the conclusion that they had sex. Brenda and Dylan fight but make up after talking it out. After Brenda and Dylan date for two months, Dylan wants to have sex, but Brenda isn't ready. Dylan agrees to wait until Brenda is ready to take their relationship to the next level and she has sex for the first time with him at a sophomore dance. Shortly afterwards, Brenda worries that she may be pregnant. Season 1 ends with Brenda's uncertainty about her situation.

West Beverly

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Brenda breaks up with Dylan

With school out for the summer, Brenda deals with her breakup with Dylan by taking a drama class with Donna, Andrea and David by Chris Sutler. It doesn't help that her mother invites Dylan to stay at their house after he has an accident while surfing in dangerous conditions. Much to Brenda's father's relief, Dylan finally agrees to go to Hawaii to visit his mother. Brenda, however, still can't stop thinking of Dylan even when he's away.


Brenda comforts Andrea

As the summer draws to a close, Andrea and Brenda compete for the attention of their drama teacher, Chris. Brenda loses out to Andrea, and this puts a strain on their unique friendship. Their competing climaxes in their dramatic presentation at the end of class, where Brenda slaps Andrea out of jealousy. Eventually, Chris shows his true colors and treats Andrea carelessly, and Brenda and Andrea make up as Brenda comforts a heartbroken Andrea.

At the beginning of the school year, Brenda becomes jealous when Dylan starts spending time 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 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 say she wasn't interested in them anymore.

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Brenda being held at gunpoint during an after-hours hold up at the The Peach Pit

Brenda also starts attending an exercise class, 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. 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. Brenda then has waking nightmares of the event and sees a psychiatrist.


Dylan serenades Brenda in Baja

The most climactic event for Brenda for the second season is when she incurs the wrath of her parents when she goes to Mexico on the sly with Dylan even after her father explicitly tells her not to. She gets caught when she realizes that she doesn't have her passport when they get to the Mexican border. Jim then bans Dylan from coming over to their house which only alienates Brenda even more, especially when Brandon and Kelly get mad at Brenda for asking them to lie for her during her surfing trip.

Brenda defies her parents and continues to secretly see Dylan behind everyone's back with help from Kelly and Donna. When Brenda's caught in the act when Jim and Cindy run into Brenda with Dylan at the beach club, she runs away to Dylan's house. Brenda learns that living with Dylan isn't all it's cracked up to be. When Brandon and Cindy discover that Brenda is unhappy living with Dylan, Jim immediately takes advantage of this to play hardball with him by canceling his trust fund without Brenda knowing about it.

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Brenda and Donna in Paris

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, gives Kelly's visa to Brenda and sends her off to Paris in order to keep her away from Dylan. Brenda and Donna arrive in Paris and they get a less than dazzling welcome to the City of Light after meeting brash student name Marie, as well as eating at a local restaurant. In Paris, a French photographer persuades Donna to start modeling for him, while Brenda tries to fit in more with the Paris crowd when she begins to take up smoking with Marie. While in Paris, Brenda pretends to be a French tour guide to a young, attractive Wisconsin native named Rick. Rick asks Brenda come with him in an around the world trip, but Brenda, although attracted to Rick, declines.

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Rick and Brenda

The gang must consider their future and meet with their guidance counselor, except for Kelly and Dylan who agree that college is not for everyone. Meanwhile, Jim and Cindy announce to Brenda and Brandon that they can afford a private college for only one of them. Brandon is angry with Brenda because he feels that Brenda always gets whatever she wants. Brenda and Brandon decide to stay in Beverly hills to attend college. When Brenda suddenly bumps into Rick, she starts to question her relationship with Dylan. Rick and Brenda date briefly, but break up after Brenda realizes that he has more in common with her father than her. The triangle between Dylan, Brenda, and Kelly became a series milestone that helped to boost the show's popularity. As Christmas rolls around, Brenda and Kelly decide to try a mature route in their love triangle with Dylan, which falls apart.

Taking a Dylan break, Brenda and Kelly decide to go out on a blind double-date with Princeton guys until they find out it's two kids from Princeton Junior High. Brenda, Kelly, and their mothers Cindy and Jackie, as well as Donna and Andrea enjoy a good life for the weekend at a posh health spa, until Brenda overhears a conversation about Kelly's step dad's unfaithfulness to Jackie. Dylan chooses Kelly over Brenda and they tell her about the summer fling they had while she was in Paris. Brenda cuts both Dylan and Kelly out of her life and spends the entire weekend in her bedroom devastated over her break-up with Dylan. When David and Donna plan to throw Kelly a surprise 18th Birthday party at the Peach Pit, Kelly collapses from overdose of diet pills. Brenda finds her 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 is asked to prom by the school football star Tony Miller, but she is not really interested in him and shares a melancholy dance with Dylan, where she tells 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. 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

Brenda, still heartbroken over Dylan choosing Kelly, started the fourth season in Minnesota, where she had decided to go to college. However, upon hearing about Kelly and Dylan's break-up and also realizing that she and her old friends no longer shared anything in common, she decided to return home and attend California University. 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 the President and Brenda watched the pride with which Jim and Cindy watched her brother, later saying that 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 on-screen in the franchise's first series.


Brenda returned to Beverly Hills in 90210, the fourth series in the franchise. At the Peach Pit, she reunited with Nat (the restaurant's owner) and her old friend Kelly who had become a guidance counsellor at West Beverly. Additionally, she was reunited with Kelly's younger half sister Erin. She also learned that her old friend Donna, like Kelly, had become a mother. Brenda was soon given the chance to direct the musical, "Spring Awakening" at her old school which she accepted. Shortly afterward, she offered motherly advice to troubled student actress, Adrianna. It was also revealed that Brenda had been in touch with Dylan who, separated from Kelly, had since gone off to travel the world in support of various causes. Brenda suspected that Kelly was not over Dylan. Conversely, Kelly began to suspect that Brenda was also still interested in her old boyfriend.

While Brenda took offense to the suggestion, the women quickly reconciled before going their separate ways again. Soon after in private, Brenda deleted Dylan's number from her cell phone. Later she spends time at a party with West Beverly teacher Ryan Matthews (who Kelly had held a brief romantic interest in). Brenda then leaves the party with him before departing town. Brenda became mysteriously distant from Kelly. When Kelly became confused and upset, Brenda eventually revealed that she'd slept with Ryan, and had become ashamed. Kelly then walked away in silence. Following a physical examination, Brenda learned that she couldn't have children. When Adrianna completed rehab for drug use, she asked Kelly to invite Brenda to a celebration for herself and others.

Distraught, Brenda initially declined, but later changed her mind and attended the event along with Kelly. This eventually led Kelly, Brenda, and Adrianna to discover that Adrianna had become pregnant. During a private discussion with Kelly afterwords, Brenda revealed what she'd learned from her doctor that she couldn't have children. Kelly provided comfort, and the two made amends once again. Brenda later departed for China and adopted a little girl, who she temporarily left in Jim and Cindy's care. She returned shortly after Adrianna had given birth, helping to comfort her as she gave the baby up for adoption telling her that it was the right thing to do and that she also adopted a little girl from China.


Kelly Taylor

Main page: Brenda & 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.

Andrea Zuckerman

Main page: Andrea & Brenda

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.

Donna Martin

Main page: Brenda & Donna

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.


Dylan McKay

Main page: Brenda & 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.


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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 Carson


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[5]. The two hit it off and begin a whirlwind romance and eventual engagement[6]. 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[7]. 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.


How many days in a row can you go shopping before you're officially declared brain dead?
—Brenda seeking fulfillment in Beverly Hills[src]
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]
KellyBrenda, I am a Spring Princess!
BrendaKelly... I don't give a damn
―The infamous dress debacle[src]
To be a bitch or not to be a bitch, that is the question
—Brenda post-breakup[src]


  • Brenda was the female protagonist for the first four seasons.
  • After her departure the character did not return until 90210.
  • Before moving to Beverly Hills, her best friends are Marjorie and Sarah.[3]
  • 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[8]


Brenda Walsh/Gallery

Notes and references

  1. A Pig Is A Boy Is A Dog
  2. Otherwise Engaged
  3. 3.0 3.1 Class of Beverly Hills
  4. The Gentle Art of Listening
  5. Strangers In The Night
  6. Twenty Years Ago Today
  7. And Did It... My Way
  8. Necessity Is a Mother

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