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20 Essential Beverly Hills, 90210 Episodes to Watch Before BH90210

Donna Martin graduates and so much more

Maggie Fremont

Friends who also grew up in the '90s: It is upon us. BH90210, the meta Beverly Hills, 90210 revival in which the original cast (with the devastating exception of the late Luke Perry) of the seminal teen drama-turned primetime soap is reuniting to play heightened versions of themselves as they attempt to put together a Beverly Hills, 90210 revival series will debut on FOX, the network where it all began back in 1990. Reading that sentence, you're probably thinking two things. First: What? Second: What happened on that show again? I can't help you with the former, but I am here to offer some assistance with the latter.

Beverly Hills, 90210 ran for 10 seasons -- many with 32 episodes apiece! -- and ended almost 20 years ago in 2000, so it's not your fault that your memory may be a little hazy. It's pretty much impossible to fit in a full rewatch ahead of BH90210's Aug. 7 premiere (though, if you're feeling lucky: most episodes can be found on Hulu, although many are missing due to music licensing issues, so you'll have to pull out your old DVDs), so instead we offer you 20 episodes that should fill you in on the who's who and what's what and the holy hell that happened from the original run. These aren't necessarily the 20 best episodes of the show, but rather episodes that contain either quintessential Beverly Hills moments or important developments for the show that could be referenced in the meta-revival. Since BH90210 looks like it's focusing on the original cast, this list is heavy on the early seasons (it's more Peach Pit than Peach Pit After Dark, is what I'm saying). So, get out your favorite floral babydoll dress and choker, it's time to head back to Beverly Hills.

Beverly Hills 90210
Getty Images

"Class of Beverly Hills" (Season 1, Episode 1)

Ah, the two-hour pilot where it all began. If you haven't watched Beverly Hills, 90210 in a while (or ever), this pilot might feel a little different than the melodramatic sudser you remember and cherish. (There's not one stalker in this episode. Not one!) Still, it's a nice reminder of the humble beginnings of this journey. Having the wholesome Walshes -- parents Jim (James Eckhouse) and Cindy (Carol Potter) and their teen twins Brandon (Jason Priestley) and Brenda (Shannen Doherty) -- act as our Minnesota-bred fishes out of water was the perfect way to introduce us to the high-drama and high-fashion world of Beverly Hills. The original West Beverly Hills High gang is pretty set from this first episode (minus Luke Perry's bad boy Dylan McKay who is saved for the next episode): Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) is already popular and snobby, Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering) is King of the School and obsessed with his ex Kelly, Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) is the comedic sidekick (no, really!), Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris) is the overachieving, tightly-wound editor of The Blaze, and David Silver (Brian Austin Green) is the dorky freshman who will get a glow up in a few seasons. See? Just as you remember them. The ill-advised hookups and haircuts will come later!

"Perfect Mom" (Season 1, Episode 7)

Our first true taste of some edgier Beverly Hills drama: Kelly's mom Jackie (Ann Gillespie) is high on coke at the mother-daughter fashion show! Aside from some truly glorious '90s fashion and giving beloved nerd Andrea Zukerman her day in the sun (er, on the fashion show stage), it also provides some much-needed depth for Kelly and sets up her complicated relationship with her mom, which comes up a lot throughout the next 10 seasons. Watching Jackie basically meltdown on stage also helps Brenda realize her mom is an angel. The sentiment doesn't last long -- this is drama queen Brenda Walsh we're talking about -- but it's nice in the moment!

"Spring Dance" (Season 1, Episode 21)

Bless this episode! It's no "Donna Martin gets wasted off of four glasses of champagne and passes out in front of Mrs. Teasley (Denise Dowse) at prom" but it is full of some big 90210 moments. Kelly and Brenda show up wearing the same dress to the dance! After an entire season of discussion, Brenda finally loses her virginity to Dylan (don't even get me started on the double-standards of how Brandon and Brenda's respective first times were treated, DO NOT GET ME STARTED)! Kelly and Brandon kiss for the first time and then he tells her he thinks of her as a sister! DAVID! SILVER! DANCES! It's a true treasure trove of show folklore.

"The Next 50 Years" (Season 2, Episode 14)

If you ask Beverly Hills, 90210 fans to name a few of the most memorable episodes of the entire series, the one where David's dorky friend Scott Scanlon (Douglas Emerson) accidentally shoots himself during his own birthday party will surely be on that list. For the uninitiated, Scott was David's best friend in Season 1, until David dropped him to become friends with the popular kids. A tale as old as time! They bring Scott back and promptly have him die right in front of David's eyes to both remind David that he was a terrible friend and have him finally become a member of the group. The true standout moment of this Very Special Episode, however, is Dylan McKay admitting to Brenda that he has no idea who Scott is at SCOTT'S MEMORIAL SERVICE. Oh, Scott, you deserved better little buddy.

"My Desperate Valentine" (Season 2, Episode 16)

BH90210 has already announced that Christine Elise will be back to play herself and her infamous Beverly Hills, 90210 character, Emily Valentine, so it's best you get acquainted (or reacquainted) with Emily's antics. Emily is one of Brandon's numerous girlfriends (seriously, that dude dates), whom he dumps shortly after she drugs his drink at an underground club which they only found via egg exchange (I'm providing no context for that because it is so much better that way, you guys I love this show). Emily, bless her heart, does not take the hint, and proceeds to: stalk Brandon, call his house and hang up repeatedly, call his house and leave dozens of lengthy messages, send anonymous threatening notes to the school newspaper, slash her own motorcycle tire so that she has to sleepover at the Walshes, and then, finally pour gasoline on the parade float the gang has just built. She's stopped before she sets that thing on fire and is checked into a psychiatric hospital. Don't worry, she pops up a few other times in the series because Brandon Walsh just can't help himself.

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"Castles in the Sand" (Season 3, Episode 6)

It's the end of the summer in Beverly Hills, but things are just starting to heat up (you're welcome). This is where the big Brenda-Dylan-Kelly love triangle that would dominate the next two seasons really starts to get going. Brenda (and Donna!) has just returned after a summer in Paris, which makes all the feelings Dylan and Kelly have been having for one another back at the Beverly Hills Beach Club super awkward. They vow to never speak of their summer canoodling again, but the heart wants what the heart wants! If that's not hot enough for you, Steve becomes David's music manager and gets him a gig at the end of the summer party and the performance, complete with so much dancing and very little singing, is not to be missed. Oh, also, Brandon dates a racist.

"Dead End" (Season 3, Episode 21)

Hey, remember that time Dylan's dad Jack McKay (Josh Taylor) got out of prison and lived on a yacht and then got blown up in his car while Dylan watched? If not, you should revisit this episode. Aside from Dylan's dad "dying" (in Season 9 we learn he's not dead -- he went into Witness Protection!), which begins yet another spiral for dear Dylan, this episode also features him and Kelly getting it on for the first time, Brenda and her mom taking a very motivating self-defense class, and Brandon's gambling habits becoming less of a fun little hobby and more of a life-threatening addiction. Very cool!

Luke Perry, Beverly Hills 90210​

Luke Perry, Beverly Hills 90210

mikel roberts, Sygma via Getty Images

"Something in the Air" (Season 3, Episode 28)

Another quintessential Beverly Hills, 90210 episode: yell "Donna Martin" in any fan's face and it will be met with a resounding "Graduates!" In the previous episode, good girl Donna has four glasses of champagne before senior prom and ends up barfing her guts up before passing out in front of the principal. She's suspended and forbidden from graduating with her class -- until Brandon Walsh gets word of the injustice and rallies his entire class to walk out on finals and march to the school board meeting chanting "Donna Martin graduates!" until they agree to lift her sentence. Several times, this march is likened to protesting the Vietnam War, which is A LOT even for Beverly Hills, 90210. I mean, I'm glad Donna gets to graduate with her friends, but yeesh.

"Twenty Years Ago Today" (Season 4, Episode 8)

Can't Cindy and Jim Walsh have one nice party without Brenda ruining it with her drama? I mean, no. "Twenty Years Ago Today" isn't the most exciting episode, but a few important events take place around the Walshes' 20th wedding anniversary party: Brenda and Richie McRich Stuart Carson (David Gail) get engaged after two weeks of dating which is just so Brenda; Brandon meets Lucinda Nicholson (Dina Meyer), the older woman married to his professor with whom he'll start an affair -- she'll cause him a lot of trouble, but ultimately pushes him back into Kelly's arms; Andrea meets Jesse Vasquez (Mark Damon Espinoza), oh you know, her future baby daddy and husband; and Brenda and Brandon get a puzzle made out of Jim and Cindy's wedding portrait which has no future bearing on anything, but it is hilarious and should never be forgotten.

"Mr. Walsh Goes to Washington Part 2" (Season 4, Episode 32)

Beverly Hills, 90210 was not messing around with its season 4 finale. Yes, it is Brenda's last episode before she runs off to join the London theater scene, but there's a whole slew of other developments that reverberate throughout the series. It's a tough one for any diehard Kelly-Dylan 'shippers, since not only do Dylan and Brenda reunite one last time, but Kelly, finally realizing her feelings for Brandon, surprises him at a conference in Washington, D.C. and they make things official (as a Kelly-Brandon 'shipper, I am alive). Alas, not everyone is feeling the romance: After getting to play with Babyface at the local fair (!!) David is caught cheating on Donna. The man has no time for Donna's virginity! Be gone with him, Donna! Elsewhere, Andrea and Jesse are dealing with some heavy stuff as their premature baby Hannah struggles. Oh, and super casual but Dylan loses his entire fortune after being duped by his half-sister's mother and her new husband who run off to Brazil. You just can't trust anyone in Beverly Hills.

Beverly Hills, 90210 Cast: Then and Now

"What I Did on My Summer Vacation and Other Stories" (Season 5, Episode 1)

Welcome to the club, Valerie Malone (Tiffani Thiessen)! It doesn't looks like Thiessen will be joining BH90210, but you should get to know Val. She's the daughter of the Walshes friends and after her father dies by suicide, she moves into Brenda's room and goes full on bad girl -- we know this because she smokes pot, so, obviously. Other than that, it's a good news/bad news situation in Beverly Hills: Kelly and Brandon are happy and go public with their relationship, which is nice, but Dylan's drinking problem is back, which isn't great.

"Rave On" (Season 5, Episode 5)

So you want to know how "bad" Val is? Watch this episode. She's manipulating Steve (who hasn't?!) while sneaking around with Dylan on the side. And, if you can even believe it, she's smoking pot again. Clutch your pearls! Kelly has no time for potheads, you guys. She calls Val out, but no one wants to believe her, thus setting off the great Kelly-Val rivalry for the rest of time. There is another momentous occasion in this episode, too: The creation of the Peach Pit After Dark! Steve convinces long-time Peach Pit owner and boss and mentor to Brandon, Nat (Joe E. Tata) and Dylan (now a co-owner) to start a nightclub in the back of the restaurant to make more money. It's a hit. The amount of drama (and '90s musical acts) that place will see knows no bounds!

"Hello Life, Goodbye Beverly Hills" (Season 5, Episode 30)

This classic episode is remembered for several things. It's Andrea Zuckerman's farewell to Beverly Hills -- goodbye my sweet nerd queen, why you and Brandon never fully became a couple is one of the greatest mysteries of this show! But it's also the episode in which Kelly Taylor provides a third option for all women trapped in a love triangle: Instead of deciding between a trip around the world with Dylan or marrying her boyfriend Brandon, Kelly chooses herself. I may be a Kelly & Brandon 4Eva type of girl, but I still want to applaud every time I hear Kelly say "I made a choice and I choose me." GET YOURS, GIRL. Oh, this is also the episode in which Ray Pruit (Jamie Walters), The Actual Worst, reams out Donna for attending Andrea's going away party (he'll later push her down a flight of stairs).

"One Wedding and a Funeral" (Season 6, Episode 10)

This one hurts. "One Wedding and a Funeral" is another oft-name-checked Beverly Hills, 90210 episode, mainly because you just don't get over Dylan McKay weeping in the middle of the street in the pouring rain over the body of his murdered wife. You just don't! This was Luke Perry's last episode as Dylan until he returned in season 9, and for a hot second there we thought he'd get a happy ending. He marries Antonia (Rebecca Gayheart), the daughter of mobster Anthony Marchette (Stanley Kamel) who Dylan believes murdered his father back in Season 3, and multiple characters literally say that this is the first time Dylan has ever seemed happy in his entire life. Too bad the hit that Anthony puts out on Dylan gets messed up and Antonia is accidentally shot instead. Truly gutting! Silver lining: Anthony Marchette utters the line "this marriage was made in hell" and dear lord I hope that someone has made that their wedding hashtag.

"The Big Hurt" (Season 6, Episode 28)

This is what I'm talking about, people. In "The Big Hurt," Beverly Hills, 90210 learns hard into the soap opera of it all when Kelly's "friend" from rehab (Kelly hit rock bottom with a coke addiction a few episodes prior), Tara (Paige Moss), makes her final move from the Single White Female playbook and kidnaps Kelly in an attempt to kill her with carbon monoxide poisoning as they take in the ocean view from Kelly's car. Don't fret, it's a happy ending for all: Kelly frees herself, Tara gets the psychiatric help she needs, and we get to add yet another stalker to the ever-growing list of stalkers on this show. Seriously, this show hands out stalkers like some evil version of Oprah: You get a stalker! You get a stalker! Everybody gets a stalker!

"Graduation Day Part 2" (Season 7, Episode 32)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the whole gang finally graduates college and sets forth into the real world (terrifying, I know), and Brandon saves Val's life, and the beloved Steve Sanders-Clare Arnold (Kathleen Robertson) pairing ends for good, but we're all here for one reason: Donna Martin finally loses her virginity to David Silver! It was good for all of us.

"The Way We Weren't" (Season 8, Episode 4)

I mean, you knew someone had to get amnesia on this show at least once. And here it is! Kelly is shot in the stomach when, fresh from their trip to Hawaii, Brandon tries to stop a car theft. After surgery, Kelly doesn't remember Brandon or their relationship, but she does start to develop feelings for Noah (Vincent Young), who gave her a blood donation. Noah is basically a poor man's Dylan McKay--rich and brooding with secrets. Kelly eventually gets her memory back, so don't worry, Kelly & Brandon stans. This episode is also important because Steve's dad, Rush (Jed Allan), gives him his defunct newspaper business and Steve and Brandon start their own publication: Welcome to The Beverly Beat years!

"The Wedding Part 2" (Season 8, Episode 32)

Perhaps it's true what that say, that no one can have nice things. Certainly not on Beverly Hills, 90210. After years of on-again, off-again shenanigans including but not limited to cocaine addiction, gambling addiction, infidelity, Valerie, brief cult stints, amnesia, and the whole "it's like kissing my sister thing," it seemed like Brandon and Kelly were poised to commit to each other forever and ever amen, but they both decide it's not what they really want and call off their wedding moments before it's about to start. Sure, it's amicable for them (like, really amicable: they sleep together that night), but what about the rest of us? Think of the rest of us!

"Brandon Leaves" (Season 9, Episode 5)

One has to believe that the writers were so devastated by Jason Priestley's departure in season 9 they simply could not come up with a real title for this episode. So yes, as you may have surmised, this is the episode in which original cast member Priestley bids adieu to Beverly Hills, 90210 as Brandon Walsh takes a job with the New York Chronicle's Washington Bureau, leaving The Beverly Beat with Steve and Janet (Lindsay Price), in hopes of doing something great with his life. No offense. Kelly doesn't seem too broken up about it -- she and Donna are opening a clothing boutique and she starts things up with Matt Durning (Daniel Cosgrove) who is a big ol' snoozefest, but he is a lawyer. And let's be honest: this group needs to get intimate with a lawyer.

"Ode to Joy" (Season 10, Episode 27)

Well, you should know how they all ended up, shouldn't you? Kelly and Dylan rekindle their romance! Steve and Janet (who have a daughter, Maddie!) decide to start their own newspaper! Andrea, who has divorced Jesse, comes back for Donna's weird bachelorette party with their high school principal because sure why not! And after breakups, makeups, so many significant others, lots of talk about Donna's virginity, drug addictions, and stalkers, Donna and David finally get married. And no, I will never consider what that CW 90210 reboot did as canon. Not ever, Shenae Grimes. You can't make me!

BH90210 premieres Aug. 7 on FOX.