Movie Reviews

The Saddest Moment In Each Season Of Beverly Hills 90210

Warning: This article contains discussions of sexual assault and drug use.


  • Beverly Hills 90210 tackled serious issues like sexual assault and drug use, showing how teenagers dealt with real-world situations.
  • The saddest moments in the series included Kelly talking about her rape, Scott dying, Brenda learning about Dylan’s affair, and Dylan losing his wife Toni.
  • The characters faced grief, trauma, and survivor’s guilt, leaving a lasting impact on viewers, many of whom were teenagers themselves when watching.

Beverly Hills 90210 was a teen drama series that dealt with many serious issues, and 90210 had some very sad storylines in its series run. While the likable 90210 core friend group was incredibly close-knit, and could always counted on to crack jokes and share a laugh, Brandon (Jason Priestley), Kelly (Jennie Garth) and co. experience grief and tragedy at every turn. This show is about a lot more than teen drama and angst; it’s about how young people deal with real-world situations, although many more than would happen to the average teen.

Beverly Hills 90210 sadly deals with teen tragedies like death, drug addiction, sexual abuse and more. The kicker is that it is then time for teenagers who should be coping with no greater hardships than first breakups and bad grades must contend with depression, trauma, and survivor’s guilt. What makes it even more challenging is that viewers at home, often teenagers themselves, have to process these feelings, witnessing situations that they could never imagine could happen. Many of these sad Beverly Hills 90210 moments still resonate today, with at least one in every season.


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Kelly Talks About Her Rape For The First Time

Season 1, Episode 13: “Slumber Party”

Kelly and Donna outside smiling on Beverly Hills 90210.

At the beginning of Beverly Hills, 90210, Kelly Taylor is a cool popular girl who doesn’t exactly wear her heart on her sleeve, but she has a very moving scene where she is raw and vulnerable. The saddest moment in season 1 of Beverly Hills 90210 happens in “Slumber Party” whenKelly talks about her rape for the first time. At Brenda’s sleepover, she tells her girlfriends that Ross Webber date-raped her, and they are understandably horrified and devastated for her.

This admission is the first sign that Kelly has had a tough life, and it marks the first time that the series tackled something so serious. It is also something that would come back to haunt Kelly years later. Kelly has one of the most dramatic character arcs on 90210, and her story is one that no person, particularly a young teenager, should have to endure. Sadly, things don’t get easier for Kelly throughout the course of the series.

Scott Dies At His Birthday Party

Season 2, Episode 14: “The Next Fifty Years”

A closeup of Scott holding a gun in Beverly Hills 90210's "The Next Fifty Years" episode

One of the Beverly Hills 90210‘s most disturbing moments is when Scott Scanlon (Douglas Emerson) dies while celebrating his 16th birthday party. In the episode, Scott is playing around with his father’s gun, when he accidentally shoots and kills himself.

Any teen death is tragic, but Scott’s was made even more so by his best friend David Silver (Brian Austin Green) witnessing the horrific fatality. This is the point where David’s depression issues increase, which eventually leads to his substance abuse problems down the line. This Beverly Hills 90210 episode is not only the saddest one of season 2 (by far), but “The Next Fifty Years” is also the show’s most controversial, as it has been removed from streaming services (via Collider) airing the show due to the tragic increase of school shootings across the United States.


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Brenda Discovers That Dylan Cheated With Kelly

Season 3, Episode 19: “Back In The High Life Again”

Kelly and Dylan looking at someone at a party on Beverly Hills 90210.

Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) seemed like the best boyfriend a girl could have until the pivotal moment when Dylan cheated on Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) with her best friend Kelly. Suddenly, the reformed bad boy didn’t seem like such a good guy. In season 3, Brenda learns about this affair, and it’s an understandably heartbreaking moment for her. It’s also the most tragic episode of the entire season, as it had significant repercussions, not just in the show but in the entire pop culture landscape, creating a huge divide among fans.

Brenda has to face fact that her romance with Dylan isn’t picture-perfect, and she can no longer trust her best friend either. After this reveal, Brenda finds it hard to date anyone else, as Dylan broke her heart so badly, and she eventually returns to Minnesota. Brenda and Kelly eventually make up and mend their friendship, but this moment also ruins Dylan’s love life, and he struggles in every relationship after the one he had with his high school sweetheart.

Nat Needs Heart Surgery

Season 4, Episode 19: “The Labors Of Love”

A closeup of Nat (Joe E. Tata) looking serious in Beverly Hills 90210

Having a regular hangout spot is a popular teen drama trope, as teen viewers dream about having a place like the Peach Pit to unwind with their friends. In the season 4 episode “The Labors of Love,” the gang’s beloved Nat (Joe E. Tata), owner of the Peach Pit, has to have heart surgery, and it’s the saddest moment of the Beverly Hills 90210 season.

The teens have looked up to Nat like a father figure for so long, and Brandon especially loves him, as he worked there in high school. It’s hard for the gang to face the possibility of losing him, but thankfully, Nat survives. Brandon helps save the Peach Pit while Nat recovers by running it with his friends. And even better, Nat makes it to the end of the series. However, seeing how his brush with death affected the kids proves how important he is in their lives, and was enough to rattle any viewer.


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Dylan Goes To Rehab And Then Flees

Season 5, Episode 9: “Intervention”

Dylan looking into the distance n Beverly Hills 90210.

In the season 5 episode “Intervention,” Dylan’s addiction issues come to a head when the gang gets together to tell Dylan that he needs to go to rehab. It’s an upsetting situation for everyone, and something all too relatable for viewers who may also have loved ones struggling. But the absolute saddest moment in Beverly Hills 90210 season 5 sees Dylan agreeing to go to rehab but then running away. It’s so tough to watch him make that choice, as he seemingly doesn’t want to get help.

If someone doesn’t want to get assistance with a problem that they’re having, there is really nothing for their friends and family to do, as they have to be ready to accept help. This decision is further proof of how deep Dylan was into his addiction. Luckily, he finally realized he was heading down a dark and deadly path and went back to seek treatment and get better.

Dylan Loses His New Wife Toni

Season 6, Episode 10: “One Wedding And A Funeral”

Toni (Rebecca Gayheart) dies in Dylan's (Luke Perry) arms on 90210.

Dylan married Toni (Rebecca Gayheart) in Beverly Hills, 90210 season 6, and it seemed like he finally got another big chance at love. However, things were complicated by the fact that Toni was the daughter of a criminal named Anthony Marchette, who tried to kill Dylan’s father in the past. In the season 6 episode “One Wedding and a Funeral,” Anthony sends a hitman to murder Dylan. However, the plan backfires, and the hitman kills Toni instead.

This murder was a tragic moment for Dylan, who had finally seen a future for himself after years of struggles with relationships and addiction issues. The death also destroys Toni’s dad, realizing he is responsible for killing his daughter through his vendetta. Toni’s death was enough to make Dylan realize that Beverly Hills brings him nothing but pain, so he left to discover himself, not to return again until season 9.

David Struggles With His Mental Health

Season 7, Episode 11: “If I Had a Hammer”

David Silver (Brian Austin Green) in a hospital bed being monitored by a doctor in Beverly Hills 90210

Now called bipolar disorder, David receives a diagnosis of “manic depression” in the season 7 episode “If I Had a Hammer.” This diagnosis happened after he hurt his hand and fought with the employees at the hospital. It’s especially tough for Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) to see David struggling with his mental health, and it took a toll on her more than any one else.

David is the youngest character of the original main Beverly Hills, 90210 cast, which makes all the hardship he endures especially heartbreaking. For years, he struggles with depression, addiction issues, and undiagnosed mental health issues, becoming verbally abusive to Donna and treating his friends poorly. It wasn’t until David faced his problems and understood what was wrong that he could finally heal his relationships and work to get help for himself.

Kelly Is Shot And Brandon Struggles With It

Season 8, Episode 1: “Aloha Beverly Hills”

Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) and Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) holding each other and posing for a picture in Beverly Hills, 90210

Kelly and Brandon are one of Beverly Hills, 90210‘s best couples, so it’s especially upsetting to watch their hardship in season 8, episode 1, “Aloha Beverly Hills”, when Kelly gets shot. Kelly is often at the center of Beverly Hills, 90210‘s most unnecessary storylines, and it’s almost cartoonish how much the show puts her through. In this episode, it’s also tough watching Brandon struggle with her recovery process.

Brandon gets upset whenever the smallest thing happens, spiraling out of control and thinking about all the bad things that could happen next. Another sad moment this season is in the episode “Pride and Prejudice,” when the couple goes to the movies, and Brandon hits a man for bumping into Kelly accidentally. Kelly goes through a lot of pain, and Brandon makes it worse by dealing with it in problematic ways.

Kelly Is Raped In An Alley By A Stranger

Season 9, Episode 25: “Dog’s Best Friend”

Dylan hugging a crying Kelly on Beverly Hills 90210.

All the Beverly Hills 90210 characters have been through awful times, but Kelly’s bad experiences are on a whole other level. The saddest season 9 moment was in “Dog’s Best Friend” when Kelly was sexually assaulted in an alley by a stranger. This attack was the second time she was raped, as her first sexual encounter was a date rape. While that was also tragic, it pre-dated the events of the show, but this second time happens in season 9, making it all the more harrowing for viewers.

Things got even worse when the rapist found Kelly again, and she shot and killed him in self-defense, only to end up arrested for murder. She got off the charges, but it was another instance of a sad and traumatic moment in Kelly’s life. Seeing her arrested and persecuted for defending herself made this original attack even harder to take.

Donna’s Dad Passes Away

Season 10, Episode 17: “Doc Martin”

Donna crying with family at her dad's funeral in Beverly Hills, 90210

The saddest moment in the tenth and final season of Beverly Hills 90210 is in the episode “Doc Martin” when Donna’s dad (Michael Durrell) passes away following a massive stroke. It was hard for Donna to say goodbye to her dad, especially as she learned that Gina (Vanessa Marcil) not her half-cousin, but actually her half-sister from one of her father’s indiscretions. Donna was also planning on getting married, and now her dad would miss it.

Much of Donna’s screen time focused on her romance with David, so this was not only a tragic time for her but a more dramatic storyline than she usually gets. Luckily, in Beverly Hills 90210, Donna was able to get past the tragedy enough to pursue her happily ever after, and ended up marrying David in the end. The wedding was made even sweeter with Nat walking her down the aisle in her dad’s place.

Beverly Hills 90210 TV Show Poster

Beverly Hills 90210

Beverly Hills 90210 is a teen-centric drama series that ran on Fox from 1990 to 2000. The show focuses on twins Brandon and Brenda Walsh, two teens forced to move from Minnesota to the progressive and wildly different Beverly Hills in California. 90210 explores significant and controversial topics for teens that have remained prevalent over time, such as sex, racism, and drug abuse, and became a global sensation in the early 90s.

Jennie Garth , Jason Priestley , Luke Perry

Release Date
October 4, 1990



Darren Star

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