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Characters from the original series
Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley)
- The Ace: Successful, book smart, liked by everyone, and popular with girls.
- Betty and Veronica: The Nice Guy Betty to Dylan's Troubled, but Cute Veronica for Kelly's Archie.
- Big Man on Campus: After his initial difficulties with Beverly Hills, he becomes just as popular as Kelly and Steve.
- Chick Magnet: To a ridiculous degree and lampshaded many times. According to his sister, no girl is immune to his charm since when he was 12.
- '80s Hair: In the first couple seasons. The guy even sported a freaking mullet in The Pilot!
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The responsible to Brenda's foolish. Flip-flopped. HE is the one who got drunk and almost drove as such and he's the one whose car got trashed after he left it outside a seedy nightclub (he was again impaired, though unwittingly; his drink had been spiked with Ectasy)
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic, though not depressive. (shares this with Kelly)
- Gentleman and a Scholar: A very smart student, but also friendly, socially active, and an all-around pleasant person.
- The Heart: The moral center of the show and the glue that holds the gang together.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He's best friend with both Steve and Dylan.
- New Transfer Student: In season 1.
- Nice Guy: Known for being a largely virtuous and morally good guy. Most of the time, anyway.
- Only Sane Man: More level-headed and reasonable than most of his friends.
- Platonic Life Partners: How he sees his friendship with Andrea, although she has a crush on him in early seasons.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The mature and serious Blue Oni to Steve's Hot-Blooded Red Oni.
- Serial Romeo: With shades of The Casanova. He has many love interests throughout the series.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The sensitive guy to Dylan's manly man.
Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty)
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Her attraction to Troubled, but Cute Dylan.
- Betty and Veronica: The Betty to Kelly's Veronica for Dylan's Archie. She was Dylan's first (and stable for a while) girlfriend on the show, while Kelly and Dylan's relationship was more complicated.
- Brainy Brunette: It's mentioned that she gets good grades.
- Daddy's Girl: Sometimes her father was protective of her.
- Deuteragonist: In the first four seasons, she was the female lead character, but she gets slightly less focus than her brother.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The foolish to Brandon's responsible. To some exent, she was the more rebellious twin, especially later on.
- Girl Next Door: In the first season, before her character begins to progress into being more rebellious and devious.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Has a close friendship with Kelly, at least before the love triangle with Dylan.
- Na´ve Newcomer: In the early episodes of the first season, when she starts befriending Kelly and the others.
- New Transfer Student: Along with her brother in the first season, since the show starts with their family moving to Beverly Hills.
- Put on a Bus: In season 5 via Real Life Writes the Plot
Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth)
- Alcoholic Parent: Her mother.
- Better as Friends: How she feels about Steve, although he disagrees (at least in early seasons).
- Betty and Veronica:
- Breakout Character: She became the female lead after Brenda left.
- Broken Bird: In later seasons. She goes through a lot on the show, both physically and emotionally.
- Damsel in Distress: Raped, burned, placed in a cult, pregnant/miscarried, addicted to cocaine, shot, and so on.
- Deadpan Snarker: She can be very snide, towards Steve or her other friends.
- Disappeared Dad: Her father was a business man who left his ex-wife, Jackie, when Kelly was two years old.
- Dude Magnet: The only one who can compete with Brandon in terms of popularity with the opposite sex. She was loved by pretty much every male character, at different times.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Rich, beautiful, blonde Kelly was the most popular girl in high school.
- Good Bad Girl: Sleeping with pretty much everyone (but David), but still (generally) sympathetic.
- Hidden Depths: She is more than the typical spoiled rich girl she appears at first (especially in the first season).
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Initially portrayed as a popular, stuck up snob but over the years she grows into a much more likable person.
- Really Gets Around: One of the most infamous examples from this show, due to her promiscuous lifestyle.
- Trauma Conga Line: She probably had the worst luck of all the characters.
Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering)
- Alliterative Name: Steve Sanders
- Better as Friends: From Kelly's perspective, though he doesn't agree.
- Big Man on Campus: He has money, popularity, and a cool car.
- Book Dumb: Not very academically focused, unlike his friend Brandon.
- Butt Monkey: Sometimes, but it's usually Played for Laughs
- Casanova Wannabe: Played with, he can be quite the ladies man but not nearly as much as he thinks, since Brandon gets more girls than him.
- Dumb Blonde: He has blonde hair but he's more shallow and Book Dumb than stupid.
- Happily Adopted: The rich, adopted son of a famous TV star.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He's probably Brandon's closest friend.
- Hopeless Suitor: When he was pining over Kelly in early seasons.
- Hot-Blooded: Can be very impulsive.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Immature, brash, and cocky but also a loyal friend for everyone.
- Lovable Jock: A muscular, athletic, fun-loving student.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Hot-Blooded Red to Brandon's serious and mature Blue.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He tends to overestimate himself many times.
Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris)
- Brainy Brunette: Has brown hair and is very book-smart.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Concerning Brandon. She doesn't like to see him with other girls.
- Holier Than Thou: Like Brandon, she has her self-righteous moments.
- Hollywood Nerd: She's supposed to be the nerdy newspaper editor of the school, despite being quite pretty.
- Hopeless Suitor: To Brandon, in early seasons. She has a hopeless unrequited crush on him.
- Go-Getter Girl: While coming from a poor background, she's extremely ambitious and driven to succeed academically.
- Jewish and Nerdy: A Jewish girl who is also very studious.
- Meganekko: Probably because Smart People Wear Glasses.
- Naked People Are Funny: She once has a nightmare about forgetting to put on her clothes and going to school naked, without noticing until dream!Brandon points it out.
- Platonic Life Partners: Her friendship with Brandon is this. Despite her initial crush on him, he only sees her as his best female friend.
- Put on a Bus: To Yale, after season 5. She only makes rare appearances after that.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Her crush on Nice Guy Brandon.
Dylan McKay (Luke Perry)
- The Alcoholic: In season 5, Dylan's problems with alcohol and drugs come back after the events of the season 4 finale.
- Betty and Veronica:
- Breakout Character: He doesn't even appear in the pilot and ends up being one of the most popular and iconic characters of the series, involved in a love triangle with two of the female protagonists.
- The Bus Came Back: He comes back to Beverly Hills in season 9 and 10.
- The Charmer: Part of Dylan's charismatic bad boy appeal.
- Chick Magnet: Not as much as Brandon, but he's definitely good at attracting many women. It has also been said that he was target of affection for most girls in high school.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has no problem showing his snarky side and telling people what he thinks about them.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Has this relationship with Brandon for most of the series.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may act tough, but he really cares for his friends.
- Lonely Rich Kid: He's a brooding loner and his parents are never around.
- Parental Abandonment: His family grew divided during Dylan's childhood; his parents separated, and Dylan developed strained relationships with both of them.
- Put on a Bus: In season 6, after the death of his wife Toni.
- Second Episode Introduction: He doesn't appear in the pilot.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Troubled, but Cute Manly Man to Brandon's Sensitive Guy.
- Troubled, but Cute: One of the original and most famous examples. He's portrayed as a a brooding, tough, super-cool bad boy with abandonment issues, and very popular with girls (both in-universe and out).
David Silver (Brian Austin Green)
- Ascended Extra: He was a relatively minor character in season 1, but from season 2 onwards he becomes part of the group and Donna's boyfriend.
- Beta Couple: With Donna in early seasons. They also have the longest-lasting relationship on the show.
- Chick Magnet: In later seasons he becomes popular with girls.
- Cool Loser: In season 1 he was looked down on by Kelly, Steve, and the others just because he was one year younger.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Initially. In season 1 the others weren't too fond of him (especially Kelly) and he was hardly considered a friend. He gradually grows out of this in season 2, especially after he starts dating Donna.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: He goes from dorky and awkward to a handsome Chick Magnet over the years.
- Hopeless Suitor: To Kelly in season 1. He has a crush on her but she can't stand him. Ironically he and Kelly become step siblings later on.
- In with the In Crowd: Starting in season 2 to the point he stops hanging out with his other unpopular friend Scott (his best friend in season 1).
- Jewish and Nerdy: He was definitely geeky in the beginning.
- Missing Mom: His mother was mostly absent from his life.
- Nice Jewish Boy: He's quite easygoing.
- Tagalong Kid: Initially he was seen as an annoying younger kid by the popular crowd.
- Those Two Guys: With Scott in season 1. Usually appearing together (though David gets more screentime), even in the opening credits. Both were just comic relief minor characters and not part of the main group.
Donna Martin (Tori Spelling)
- Character Development: She started as Kelly's shallow, ditzy sidekick but later the character's depth was more explored.
- Domestic Abuse: She was repeatedly abused by her boyfriend Ray Pruitt.
Scott Scanlon (Douglas Emerson)
Jim and Cindy Walsh (James Eckhouse and Carol Potter)
Nat Bussichio (Joe E. Tata)
- Team Dad: Especially after Jim and Cindy leave the show.
Valerie Malone (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen)
- Really Gets Around: All characters qualify to an extent, but Valerie more than everyone else.
- Remember the New Guy: We were supposed to always know she was Brandon and Brenda's cousin.
Clare Arnold (Kathleen Robertson)
Jesse Vasquez (Mark Damon Espinoza)
Ray Pruit (Jamie Walters)
Noah Hunter (Vincent Young)
Carly Reynolds (Hilary Swank)
Janet Sosna (Lindsay Price)
Matt Durning (Daniel Cosgrove)
Gina Kincaid (Vanessa Marcil)
Characters from the sequel series
Annie Wilson (Shenae Grimes)
- Beneath the Mask: Pointed out by Liam saying that the whole good-girl routine that she was displaying in front of him was just a mask covering the frustration, jealousy, rage and anger that she's hiding.
- Break the Cutie: At the end of season 1, she suffers a major fallout from her peers after Naomi falsely accuses her of sleeping with Liam and narcing out to the police about the after-prom party at Naomi's house. Even getting into a hit-and-run accident, resulting in the death of a homeless man who happens to be the uncle of her then-boyfriend Jasper.
- Broken Bird: Slides into this in the beginning of season 2 while still suffering a falling out with her friends, popularity, getting into a hit-and-run accident and having a naked photo of her surfacing around the school in the process.
- Dude Magnet: According to Dixon, almost every guy at their old school in Kansas had a crush on Annie.
- Expy: Of Brenda Walsh.
- Good Bad Girl: Apparently, she claims that she's not the good girl that she appears to be.
Dixon Wilson (Tristan Wilds)
Erin Silver (Jessica Stroup)
- Ambiguously Jewish: She's half-Jewish on her father's side, though it's never brought up.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Silver is a nice girl, but if anyone ever offends her, she would intentionally insult people on her blog call The Vicious Circle by posting mean videos, animated shorts or comments for everyone to see.
- Break the Cutie: In season 1 with her bipolar disorder. Made even worse in the series finale when she's diagnosed with cancer.
- Dude Magnet: She's been romantically involved with the five main men on the show.
- Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Her and Naomi were best friends up until middle school when Naomi betrayed her by telling everyone about her parents' sex tape. Thankfully, they've patched things up at the end of the first season.
- Last Name Basis: She prefers to be called by her last name Silver, but she doesn't seem to mind when her mother calls her by her first name Erin.
Naomi Clark (Annalynne McCord)
- Alpha Bitch: Naomi's not that bad. She genuinely has a nicer side, but would still act like a bitch if anyone has ever hurt or betrayed her in anyway.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Slides into this in the later seasons.
- Character Development: She developed into a more nicer person during the course of the show, despite having cruel tendencies.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Towards Ethan when he was dating Annie in season 1.
- Evil Former Friend: Of Silver's, but the two finally patch things up at the end of the first season.
- Hidden Depths: Although she comes across as a snobby airhead, she's a good person at heart and very protective of her friends.
- The Millstone: She has a bad habit of making things worse whenever she tries to help.
Ethan Ward (Dustin Milligan)
- Put on a Bus: He moves to Montana in season 2.
- Satellite Character: Besides having an autistic brother, the show never really delved into Ethan's background.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: He only lasted only one season without having any character development at all and is never mentioned again throughout the show's run.
- Your Cheating Heart: He was cheating on Naomi with someone else in the first season.
Adrianna Tate-Duncan (Jessica Lowndes)
- Ascended Extra: She was billed as a recurring character in season 1, but became a series regular in the second season.
- Bi the Way: She enters in a bisexual relationship with Gia in the second season, though the relationship doesn't last.
- Broken Ace: In the first season, she was on top of the popularity food chain with her career as an actress, but dealt with a lot of drama with her drug addiction and her unplanned pregnancy.
- Character Development: She started off as a troubled actress in the first season who struggled with her drug addiction and her pregnancy, but in the later seasons, she gotten better and is no longer the "Drama Adrianna" we knew before.
- Give Her A Normal Life: She gave her daughter Maisie up for adoption after giving birth to her.
- Manipulative Bitch: She was called this by Silver after she leaked a demo of Michaela's song and says that she hasn't changed a bit since high school.
- Prom Baby: She gives birth to her daughter Maisie on prom night.
- Reformed, but Rejected: Despite saying that she's changed her ways, she's coldly rejected by her friends in season 4 after her fallout with fame and swapping Silver's bipolar medication with unknown meds.
- Suddenly Sexuality: In season 2, though it didn't last very long.
- Teen Pregnancy: In season 1, she becomes pregnant with her daughter Maisie after a one-night stand with Ty.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In season 3 with her newfound fame.
Navid Shirazi (Michael Steger)
- School Newspaper News Hound: He was the head of The Blaze at West Bev High.
Liam Court (Matt Lanter)
- Freudian Excuse: He's been abused by his stepfather so many times, which could be the reason for his bad boy behavior.
Teddy Montgomery (Trevor Donovan)
- Missing Mom: Like Silver, he also lost his mother to cancer to the show's prior.
- Remember the New Guy: He was first introduced in season 2 as Adrianna's first boyfriend from her past.
Ivy Sullivan (Gillian Zinser)
- Broken Bird: Right after Raj's death in season 4.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: She disappeared in season 5 without explanation.
Harry Wilson (Rob Estes)
- Happily Married: To Debbie until season 3 when they file for divorce.
- Put on a Bus: In season 3 after his divorce from Debbie.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Is the princial of West Bev High in seasons 1-2.
- Remember the New Guy: We're told that he was Kelly Taylor's neighbor and longtime friend, but was never mentioned or seen in the original series.
Debbie Wilson (Lori Loughlin)
- Happily Married: To Harry until season 3 when they file for divorce.
- Mama Bear: Towards Dixon when he was dating Sasha.
- Put on a Bus: In season 4, she moves to Paris with Ryan Matthews.
Ryan Matthews (Ryan Eggold)
Jen Clark (Sara Foster)
Jasper Herman (Zachary Ray Sherman)
- Yandere: Has shades of this over Annie.