- „It's usually those with lofty ideals that are the first to sell them out”
- —Kelly to Brandon[src]
Kelly is the daughter of Jackie and Bill Taylor. Her father was largely absent during her childhood. Kelly met Steve Sanders and Dylan McKay when they were each children, and would know both of them well into her adult years — initially dating the former, while harboring a recurring crush on the latter. A survivor of several perils and personal challenges, Kelly is presented as a young woman who grows from self-absorbed teenage beginnings toward a gradually more sensitive and mature adulthood. Along the way, she gains the romantic attention of many, but begins to cherish a select few.
When introduced, Kelly was presented as a popular, privileged girl who placed high value on posh appearances and material possessions. However, the character's layers would become increasingly revealed throughout the progression of the continuity's first series.
Another pivotal introduction in Kelly's life came during her high school years, when she met a family that had recently moved from Minnesota to Beverly Hills. Kelly became fast friends with Brenda Walsh and felt an attraction toward Brenda's sibling Brandon, which was secretly mutual. Kelly's mother Jackie is revealed to have a drug addiction, which created an occasionally difficult home environment.
Kelly revealed that her first sexual experience occurred when she was essentially date-raped by an attractive jock named Ross Webber. This had led her into an irresponsible and promiscuous lifestyle that she would later regret, as it eventually hurt her self-esteem.
Toward the end of the first season, Kelly eagerly and confidently attempted to win Brandon's heart at the high school Spring Dance—nearly succeeding. Brandon, however, soon informed Kelly that he couldn't go through with the relationship, as he'd come to view her as a sister due to her bond with Brenda. Kelly was surprised, and even offended by the remark, but she and Brandon remained on good terms.
After Jackie kicked her drug habit, she became romantically involved with Mel Silver, the father of Kelly's schoolmate David. This irritated Kelly to no end at first, as she had always regarded David as an immature pest. Mel and Jackie became engaged, and would go on to have Kelly and David's little sister, Erin. During this time, Kelly's opinion of David began to change little by little and they eventually became good friends.
Kelly soon met Jake, a construction worker in his twenties who was an old friend and mentor of Dylan's. While she was openly drawn to him, Jake ultimately refused to embrace their attraction due to the fact that Kelly was still a teenager. When it became clear that Jake was avoiding her due to their age difference, she eventually visited him at his apartment complex. During the discussion, Kelly boldly asserted that she wasn't a mere lovesick teenager, and offered to end the relationship if he didn't take it seriously. Jake eventually responded by kissing her. In time, however, he began to vacillate once again between attraction and reluctance. Though Jake settled on wanting a platonic relationship, Kelly continued to express a romantic interest. Reluctantly, he then led Kelly to believe he was cheating, which finally prompted her to leave him. Despite his discomfort with a romance, Jake expressed an affection for Kelly's friendly demeanor, citing his fondness for her nature both during and after their relationship.
Brenda and Dylan had been romantically linked, off and on, for the first two seasons when Brenda left to spend a summer in Paris, accompanied by her and Kelly's friend Donna. During this time, an attraction developed between Dylan and Kelly at the Beverly Hills Beach Club. Kelly revealed a conscience as the fling progressed, often being the one to express guilt and reluctance, while at the same time finding it difficult to resist her nearly lifelong crush. Kelly's feelings began to progress from simple flirtation to genuine affection.
Following a comment about her figure, Kelly began to starve herself. Her eating disorder worsened when she began abusing diet pills. She was further stressed by the discovery that her mother planned on selling the home she'd grown up in. The anxiety eventually led her to be briefly hospitalized after passing out, with strict orders to eat normally upon her recoveryKelly's appearance is shown to play a noted role in her development. Along with winning the title of Spring Princess in Season 1, she was voted her school's most beautiful girl in the third-season episode "Senior Poll." Kelly is aware of her appeal, but not to the point of conceit; instead, she is sometimes shown to be troubled by it. Upon growing suspicious that she was mainly admired for her looks, she also began to feel that no one took her seriously.
This was furthered when Dylan gave his manuscript to their friend Andrea Zuckerman for review, instead of to Kelly. Dylan, however, would soon prove that his feelings were deeper than she suspected, letting her read part of his manuscript in which he described her. At her high school graduation, Kelly was reunited with her father, Bill, for the first time in years.
As the teens entered their first year in college, Kelly and Dylan continued their romance, breaking up and reconciling several times throughout the fourth season. Kelly became a stronger person throughout her senior year of high school and freshman year of college, a trend that would continue throughout the series. Kelly majored in Psychology and was a devoted student throughout her time in college.
Kelly learned that a student name Laura, she planned on falsely accusing her longtime friend Steve of sexual assault, due to his disinterest in her after a one night stand. Just before the other girl could speak, Kelly stood before the rally and revealed her shame over her promiscuous past, mentioning that she'd nearly been date-raped on one occasion. She then informed the audience that Steve was among the people who came to her defense that night. Ultimately, Kelly's act discouraged the other girl from speaking, and strengthened her friendship with Steve.
As Kelly neared and entered her 20s, she started living in a beach house apartment along with Donna and initially David. During her freshman year in college, she began helping Brandon out by serving as his date at special school-related events. As these parties progressed, romantic feelings emerged once again between Brandon and Kelly—eventually leading them to kiss. Due to her commitment to Dylan, however, Kelly and Brandon wound up acknowledging but suppressing their attraction once more. In time, Kelly's romantic relationship with Dylan reached a mutual end. She then began a relationship with Brandon. In contrast to the forwardness and confidence she'd displayed during their high school days, Kelly expressed her affections for Brandon in a more discreet and gentle manner. Brandon was touched by her actions and felt mutually drawn to her. From that point onward, their feelings evolved from mere attraction to a genuinely loving bond.
Eventually, David moved out of the beach house, and was replaced by Clare Arnold, who Kelly would also grow to love as a close friend alongside Donna. As Brandon and Kelly deepened their relationship, it was made difficult by the downfall of Dylan, who was regressing into drugs and alcohol. During a rave held by Steve Sanders and Griffin Stone, Kelly was trapped with Alison Lash and both were burned very badly, resulting in Kelly's self-esteem plummeting.
As a result, Kelly became pulled into The New Evolution, a cult led by Patrick Finley, an abnormal psychology professor at California University. He encouraged her to push everyone out of her life (including Brandon, Dylan, and the rest of the gang) in order to build herself back up. Finley even asked Kelly to break up with Brandon and date Dylan. Despite repeated attempts by Brandon and Dylan to get her to leave the cult, it wasn't until a former cult member showed her his wrist scars from attempted suicide and talked with her privately that she decided to leave the New Evolution. Dylan, following several therapy sessions, confronted Kelly with rekindled romantic feelings. He then asked her to join him on a trip around the world. Brandon later responded by proposing to her. Kelly eventually chose neither, later stating that she didn't want the matter to harm their friendship. She later tells Brandon that just because they are not married, does not mean they can not have a relationship - but he does not agree.
During Season 6, Kelly became involved with Colin Robbins, a struggling artist from New York. After she found out that Colin was being financed by Claudia Van Eyck for sexual favors, she demanded that he end it. He did, but then he started to display the habit of cocaine addiction. After her father, Bill Taylor, came to visit and promised to move back to Los Angeles, Kelly was thrilled, but when Bill no-showed the purchase of his house, she realized that he had disappointed her again. As a result, she got pulled into Colin's cocaine habit and quickly got hooked on the drug. Despite interventions by David Silver and Brandon Walsh, Kelly soon found herself attacked by an associate of Danny Five.
She later checked herself into rehab, ending her relationship with Colin in the process. While in rehab, she befriended a fellow addict named Tara Marks. She was upset to learn that Colin had begun seeing Valerie Malone, but eventually began dating med student Greg Meyer after she left rehab. However, that was short-lived when Tara, who had run away from rehab and moved in with Kelly, manipulated Greg into believing Kelly didn't want to see him.
Tara later took Kelly hostage at gunpoint and tried to perform a murder-suicide by Carbon Monoxide poisoning. However, Kelly escaped and Tara was committed to a psychiatric institution. As the year wound to an end, Kelly found herself working with Valerie Malone to find Colin, who had jumped bail after Valerie posted the Peach Pit as collateral. For the sake of Nat Bussichio, Kelly got involved, but her plan didn't work out as Danny Five was caught instead.
However, by the last episode, Kelly, Valerie, Brandon, and Steve had located Colin and he was taken to prison. Kelly was later shocked to hear Dylan and Brenda were together in London and asked a newly single Brandon if they would ever have another chance. He hinted they might as both went their separate ways for the summer.
Kelly returned home from the summer and was determined to find happiness in her life. However, at the Beverly Hills Beach Club reunion, she was caught in the middle of a fight between Steve Sanders and Clare Arnold, who was unaware of Steve and Kelly having a history together. However, Steve made a confession to Kelly that he was the one who got the ball rolling on all of the rumors about her in high school. Kelly ultimately forgave Steve for his wrongdoings, citing that they were all young and stupid back in those days. She also began working at an AIDS hospice, where she befriended a gay AIDS patient named Jimmy Gold. they shared a special bond before Jimmy passed away.
Kelly began seeing Mark Reese after he pursued her for weeks. However, after Brandon won a scholarship over Mark in which Mark thought he had in the bag, Kelly and Mark had a falling out and she broke up with him on the spot. Shortly after that, Kelly began dating Tom Miller, an old friend of Valerie's in order to spite Valerie. Although she liked Tom, her heart was still with Brandon. Eventually, Valerie made a rare desperate plea for Kelly to leave Tom alone, which Kelly did out of sympathy. After Brandon returned the engagement ring he bought Kelly two years earlier, Kelly went into the jewelry store and bought it herself, not ready to give up on him.
Kelly later encountered a young boy, Joey Evers, who had slept on the beach. After failing to locate the boy's mother, Kelly took him in and bonded with him, but ultimately had to turn the matter over to the police, despite Joey's objections. Kelly spent time with Mariah Murphy, who encouraged her to not give up on Brandon. Later, Brandon and Kelly kissed.Shortly thereafter, Brandon broke up with his girlfriend, Tracy Gaylian, and reunited with Kelly.Additionally, Kelly's constant bond with the Walsh family was shown to have progressed from the early seasons through the later ones. During her teenage years, she was presented as a familiar presence around the Walsh Family House while bonding with Brenda and the others. Following her romantic reunion with Brandon in Season 7, Kelly finally moved into the home on a permanent basis. Kelly got pregnant late in the season and considered an abortion, but ended up having a miscarriage. She later graduated college with Brandon and her friends. Her father, Bill Taylor, was briefly sent to jail for fraud and embezzlement, but made arrangements to spend time with Kelly before he was taken away.
Kelly and Brandon were fighting because he still had some of Tracy's old cards. She backed out of their planned Hawaii vacation because she thought they needed a break from each other. However, when Donna called and told her that they had run into Tracy in Hawaii, Kelly flew down immediately, only to learn that Tracy was now engaged. She spent the rest of the vacation with the gang. However, when they were leaving the airport to go home, Kelly was shot by two gang bangers after they stole a car. Brandon and the others got her to the hospital, where Dr. Sturla performed emergency surgery and saved her life. However, she later suffered complications, which left her with temporary amnesia. Kelly finally remembered her life with Brandon and went back home, but after a week or two, began to be bored by their everyday routines. She and Brandon tried to liven up their sex lives by having sex in various places, such as the kitchen table, elevators, etc.
Brandon and Kelly later came across Erica Steele, who had returned to Beverly Hills and begun working as a prostitute for a pimp named Riggs. With the help of Pam Ahern, the woman who ran the foundation where Kelly worked, they began searching for her, eventually coming into contact with Riggs, who pulled a knife on them. After Brandon and Kelly got her off the street, she and her friend Ricky robbed Brandon's house. Later, Kelly and Brandon rescued Erica once again and got her off the streets. However, once Brandon wrote an article on Erica's experience, assistant DA Debra Mills approached Brandon and tried to force him to reveal his source. When he refused, he was arrested. Kelly was not happy with his decision and opposed it, but Brandon stood his ground. Eventually, Erica got Riggs arrested on other charges.
Kelly went to work at the Wyatt Clinic, an urgent care facility where Dr. Gary Monahan was the doctor. He began sexually harassing her and after a few weeks of Kelly dodging his advances, she busted him by broadcasting his advances over the intercom system, where the boss to the clinic heard it and fired him. To make life harder, Kelly learned from Emma Bennett that she had been carrying on an affair with Brandon. She left Brandon and moved with Donna and Carly Reynolds at the Beach House. Valerie began deflecting Brandon's messages of apology and pushed Kelly towards the new doctor at the clinic, Jeff Stockmann. She later counseled an abuse victim named Leah away from her husband Lenny as she abused her authority over Valerie, who was serving community service at the clinic.
Kelly later got involved in the life of Leanne, a teenage girl who left her baby in a dumpster. When Leanne took the baby back out of homophobia, Kelly talked her into giving up to a loving home when she knew she wasn't ready to care for the baby.
The five-year high school reunion took place and Kelly had to confront her past with Ross Webber, a jerk who took her virginity and left her in the bushes when she was a freshman. With surprise help from Valerie, she got her revenge. Kelly and Brandon reunited and got engaged. However, they called off the wedding just before the ceremony, feeling that they were not ready, and danced together afterward.
The beginning of the season saw Kelly and Donna opening a new clothing store, Now Wear This, which sold Donna's designs. They hired Pia Swanson, a publicist who tried to boost their business, with mixed results. Kelly met an attorney, working in the same building named Matt Durning. As she started to form a relationship with Matt, Brandon got a job offer in Washington, D.C. and accepted it. Kelly and Brandon spent some time together and Brandon then departed Beverly Hills. Both of them began their separate paths.After learning about Valerie's home life, Kelly made an effort to reach out to her and the two of them made amends before Valerie moved back to Buffalo. However, just as Matt and Kelly really started getting close, Dylan McKay returned from London and his other travels, looking to get Kelly back. A new rivalry formed between Kelly and Donna's cousin, Gina Kincaid, over Dylan. Just as Matt and Kelly were finally beginning to have a real relationship, Matt's wife, Lauren Durning, returned after being released from a mental institution. When she needed clozapine to help with her schizophrenia, Dylan and Kelly flew to Mexico to smuggle some back to her. While there, they had sex.Tension grew between Kelly and Gina when Kelly hypnotized and asked who she'd like to be on a desert island with and she chose Dylan. Matt was angry for a while and Gina slapped her. When Gina was almost raped outside the Peach Pit After Dark, Kelly didn't believe her. However, Kelly and Matt worked things out and finally got to a good place in their relationship. One night, after Dylan had a fight with Gina, he called Kelly to stop himself from getting high. She came out to meet with him, but was attacked and brutally raped by Joe Patch. After a failed by Dylan and Matt to find the rapist, Kelly and Joe came face to face at Now Wear This, where Kelly shot Joe in self-defense and killed him.
In the aftermath of Kelly killing Joe Patch, she was arrested, and Matt defended her until the charges were eventually dropped and deemed a justifiable homicide. Kelly later was confronted by Joe Patch's parents and they asked her for forgiveness, which she wasn't able to give them at first, but eventually reached the point where she could put it behind her.
She traveled with Dylan to Ojai with Steve and Janet to plan their wedding. While there, they watch the pink sunset. However, after Gina found out they were by themselves, she made a point of busting up their good time and physically went to Ojai to see Dylan. She and Gina also quarreled over the breakup of Mel and Jackie, which she blamed on Gina for trying to blackmail Mel.
Matt and Kelly continued to argue over Dylan's intentions, but when Kelly pressed Dylan to make a commitment, Dylan back away. Matt then proposed to Kelly and she accepted. Kelly eventually quit Now Wear This and went to work for a public relations firm with Pia Swanson. Although she felt she could do the job, she was unable to voice for an opposing view and promptly quit the job. She later started her own P.R. firm. Matt's brother, Patrick, and his wife, Juliane came to visit and wanted Matt to donate sperm so that they can have children since Patrick is infertile. Kelly and Matt disagreed on whether it was a good idea, but Kelly ultimately changed her mind and let Matt make his own choice.
Later in the year, after Dylan and Steve spotted Jack McKay on television, she and Matt helped Dylan track Jack down in Arizona. Ultimately, when Dylan was unable to approach Jack, Kelly reached out and called Jack, filling him in on Dylan's life since he "died". A drugged Matt cheated on Kelly with a girl named Amy while on a road trip with Dylan. Kelly and Matt broke it off after Kelly realized she still had feelings for Dylan and Matt inadvertently confessed to sleeping with Amy. Dylan and Kelly concluded the series beginning their relationship.
Legacy: Queen of the Hills
Darren Star, creator of the series, comments on Kelly's progression in his Season 1 DVD commentary. During the episode "Spring Dance," in which Kelly revels in her Spring Princess status, Star notes that she would make a greater impression on Brandon years later, when she'd become more prone to expressing herself gently and compassionately. While pursuing Jake on Melrose Place, a confused Kelly eventually asks, "Don't you think I'm pretty?" This contrasts with her attitude one year later, when she becomes more interested in having others appreciate her for what lies beneath the surface. This development is standardized one additional year later, via her aforementioned second pursuit of Brandon Walsh, which ends in success.
Kelly was named the most beautiful girl at West Beverly in the senior polls. As noted, she expressed appreciation for the honor, but privately resented the fact that she seemed most admired for her looks. In doing so, she began to suspect that others tended to ignore what she had to offer beneath the surface. This declaration was parallel to the time in which the writers had begun to continually explore the character's hidden layers, revealing her more sensitive and compassionate sides. Ultimately, Kelly's progression since her introduction is particularly notable, as she grows from a stereotypical type and a supporting player, to a well-developed figure and the lead character of the collective franchise.
- Kelly's parents divorced in autumn 1978
- Introduced in the original series' premiere, Kelly appears prominently in a majority of the shows which compose the Beverly Hills, 90210 continuity. She was instrumental in launching the franchise's first spin-off, Melrose Place.