Throughout the ’90s, Brandon, Dylan, Kelly, Brenda, Donna, and the rest of the gang ruled the airwaves. Beverly Hills, 90210 captivated an entire generation with the soupy drama of the lives of a group of teenages at West Beverly Hills High School, and then California University. To get the real scoop on what went on in 90210, check out these little-known facts about the show.
The world’s most recognized zip code was almost 20854
Well, not really. But rumor has it that in order to pay homage to his hometown of Potomac, Maryland, creator Darren Star used the working title Potomac 20854 at one point during development.
The network didn’t want Dylan as a regular
Troubled loner Dylan McKay is a fan favorite, and made Luke Perry a ‘90s teen idol. However, if it were up to the Fox network, he would have been off the show after his initial two-episode arc. The network was reluctant to keep Perry on, but series creator Aaron Spelling loved the character of Dylan so much that he fought for him to become a regular.
Hilary Swank’s fortunate firing
Swank signed on for two seasons of 90210 as single mother Carly Reynolds, but she was written off after only 16 episodes. Swank said she was upset at the time, but that it later turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as she got the lead role in Boys Don’t Cry just months later and won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance.
Why Scott had to die
Scott Scanlon was the quiet, unpopular friend of David Silver during the first two seasons of the show. He died after misfiring a gun at his birthday party. The real reason the show offed Scott was because actor Douglas Emerson decided to quit acting, and left the show to enroll in junior college. He then joined the U.S. Air Force.
Finding a father
Dylan’s dad, Jack McKay, was most famously played by Josh Taylor, but two other actors had actually assumed the role before Taylor. Both Terence Ford and Arthur Brooks played the wealthy criminal.
Age of Andrea
Gabrielle Carteris played the ambitious school newspaper editor Andrea Zuckerman. Andrea was 16 years old, but Carteris was actually 29 at the time. Making matters worse, Carteris got pregnant in the show’s fifth season, forcing the reluctant writers to create a story in which Andrea gets pregnant. After that season, her character was written off.
The Ferris Bueller connection that almost was
In the show’s original pilot, Brendon and Brenda’s father Jim Walsh is played by Lyman Ward, famous for playing Ferris Bueller’s father in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However the studio recast the role with James Eckhouse, and the scenes with Jim Walsh in the pilot were cut and reshot.
Nobody got the perfect attendance award
With new cast members constantly leaving or being introduced, only four actors appeared in every season: Jennie Garth, Tori Spelling, Brian Austin Green, and Ian Ziering. However, no actor has appeared in all 296 episodes of 90210.
The Gulf War helped the show succeed
90210’s success is the ending of the Gulf War. The teen drama actually began as a family show centered around the Walsh family, but shifted focus on Brandon and Brenda’s high school friends halfway through season one. The first of these teen-centered episodes aired in Feb. 1991, on the same day that every other network had suspended programming to report on the Gulf War. Fox didn’t have a news department at the time, so it aired 90210and got a ratings spike due to the lack of competition.
What really got Shannen fired
Most people are aware that Shannen Doherty was going through some highly publicized personal troubles while filming 90210, and she was known to fight with the cast and crew on set. Many believe she was fired after season four because of this, but the thing that really got her kicked off was that she cut her hair halfway through shooting the season finale without telling anyone, thus throwing off the continuity of the episode. Writer-producer Larry Mollin said that Doherty’s surprise haircut is what really angered the producers.
The Valerie debacle
After Doherty left the show, producers introduced the character of Valerie Malone. The role was offered to Drew Barrymore, Alicia Silverstone, and Alyssa Milano, but it was Tiffani Amber Thiessen who landed the part. Mollin revealed that the casting was not a happy one for Brian Austin Green, who was dating Thiessen at the time and wasn’t excited about the character of Valerie hooking up with many of 90210’s male cast.
Daddy’s little girl
Aaron Spelling apparently couldn’t check his fatherly protection of his daughter at the studio door. According to Mollin, Spelling made sure that his daughter Tori’s character of Donna remained a virgin until after her college graduation. Additionally, when fans began to criticize Donna for staying with her abusive boyfriend Ray, Spelling demanded that Ray be written off the show as soon as possible, despite breach of contract.
CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that 90210 being originally titled Potomac 20854 is a rumor.