Inside Shannen Doherty's Close Relationship With 90210 Co-Star Luke Perry

"Beverly Hills, 90210," also known affectionately by fans simply as "90210," was one of the defining TV shows of the 1990s, which had an enormous cultural impact on how shows were made in its wake. Based on a group of rich and glamorous teenagers attempting to negotiate school, friendship, love, and life in the California sun, the original show ran for 10 seasons and has been revived and rebooted in various forms, while it still maintains a sizeable fandom through streaming services.

The show starred an enormous ensemble cast, but central to its success in its early run was the central trio of brother and sister Brandon and Brenda — portrayed by Jason Priestley and Shannen Doherty respectively — whose family relocates to Beverley Hills at the start of the show, and Dylan, a bad boy and love interest of Brenda played by newcomer Luke Perry. The show made household names of its stars, and Doherty and Perry remained lifelong friends.

On-set fireworks

The chemistry between Shannen Doherty's Brenda and Luke Perry's Dylan made "Beverly Hills, 90210" a viewers' favorite, and the couple's story dominated the show in the early seasons and helped make the show a sensation. Perry was effusive in his praise of his co-stars, calling Doherty a "really good technician" as an actor, according to the 1991 book "Loving Luke." Due to the romance between the two characters, fans of the show were dying to know if there was any romance on set between the actors. But per the same source, Doherty denied that she felt a spark with Perry, describing her feelings toward him as those of a sibling. Doherty famously lost her place in the show after four seasons, during which time rumors flew of bust-ups on set between the actress and her co-stars, one of whom, actress Tori Spelling, admitted years later on an episode of "Celebrity Lie Detector" that she had a hand in getting Doherty fired from the show, per

But in 2016, Perry made headlines when he came to his former co-star's defense during a reunion panel of "90210" stars, per CNN. The event, which took place at the Rewind Convention in Illinois, saw Perry hail Doherty despite her reputation for having been difficult on the show and saying that he learned a lot from her. More strikingly, he said that neither he nor his fellow panelists would have been at the convention talking about "90210" without Doherty having played her part and been instrumental to the show's success.

Declining health and heartbreak

Luke Perry's touching comments concerning his "Beverley Hills, 90210" co-star came after Shannen Doherty announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. As she was undergoing treatment, many of her former co-stars spoke out to offer their support. In a 2017 interview with Us Weekly, Perry claimed that he had yet to speak to his Doherty about her illness, indicating that they were not as close as they used to be. "When it's good for Shannen, I'm sure we'll talk. She's brave, she's a fighter. She's in my heart and I think about it ... Shannen has taken the opportunity to raise awareness and let everybody know breast cancer is still a problem. I'll take this opportunity to send her my love."

But Perry was facing his own health problems. In 2016 he was screened for colorectal cancer and had precancerous polyps surgically removed. While that's a relatively common procedure, three years later in 2019 Perry's friends and fans were shocked to learn that Perry, 52 suffered a stroke and died. Doherty was left bereft by the loss of Perry and took to Instagram, saying, "I'm struggling with this loss and am having a hard time with my thoughts," and calling Perry "a light" in her life.

In November 2023, Doherty, 52, announced on social media that her cancer was now terminal but remains optimistic that she can continue living well despite her illness, telling People of those living with metastatic breast cancer: "We're vibrant, and we have such a different outlook on life. We are people who want to work and embrace life and keep moving forward."