Remembering Luke Perry: Our favorite roles throughout his career


Luke Perry passed away after suffering a massive stroke at the far-too-young age of 52.

Luke Perry has been a part of the pop culture landscape since his breakout role on Beverly Hills, 90210  in 1990. That means he was part of our lives for almost 30 years. By all accounts a great guy, he was also a talented actor.

Perry became a teen idol on the first iteration of 90210 and ended his career playing the father of a teen idol as Fred Andrews in Riverdale. In between, he made some interesting choices that demonstrated his range as an actor. Here are some of our favorite Luke Perry roles.

Beverly Hills, 90210

Promotional studio portrait of American actor Luke Perry from the television series, ‘Beverly Hills, 90210,’ 1994. (Photo by Fox Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)

For people who grew up in the 1990s, Perry will always be 90210‘s bad boy Dylan McKay. From its start in the first year of the decade, the series was a sensation. It catapulted its young cast to fame and perhaps none of the actors became more famous than Perry.

Perry set hearts fluttering, first by romancing Shannen Doherty’s Brenda, and then Jennie Garth’s Kelly. In fact, his character was the subject of a ship war before there was such a thing when his character and Jason Priestley’s Brandon were rivals for Kelly’s affections.

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Although Perry wasn’t on the show for its entire run, it remains his most well-known character. While Perry seemed to chafe a bit against the constraints of the role during 90210‘s run, later his perspective shifted. In a 2008 interview, he declared of Dylan McKay:

"I’m going to be linked with him until I die, but that’s actually just fine. I created Dylan McKay. He’s mine.’"

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Before there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the television series, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the 1992 movie — and before there was the TV show’s Spike, there was the movie’s Pike, played by Perry. Perry was the perfect rebel to capture the heart of Kristy Swanson’s newly awakened vampire slayer.

While many remember the movie far less fondly than the TV show, the movie had charms of its own. One of them was Perry’s portrayal of a civilian who learns that vampires are among us and joins Buffy in the fight against them.

Perry was funny, tough, and charismatic in a role that didn’t take him too far from his 90210 roots, but put him firmly in fantasy genre territory.


Dean Winters and Luke Perry at the premiere of Oz on 6/28/2000 at Chelsea Cinemas in New York City. Photo: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Perry had a 10-episode arc in the fourth season of the gritty HBO series Oz as an imprisoned televangelist, Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier.

Although the character was locked up for embezzling from his church, he never lost his religious fervor. He gave sermons and worked to convert other inmates while doing his best to stay out of the violence surrounding him.

The role was the antithesis of Dylan McKay and showed just how versatile Perry was.


NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 07: Luke Perry and KJ Apa speak onstage at the Riverdale Sneak Peek and Q&A during New York Comic Con at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on October 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for New York Comic Con)

Recently, Perry was enjoying a career renaissance starring on The CW’s Riverdale as Fred Andrews, the father of K.J. Apa’s Archie Andrews. The role took Perry full circle back to a teen-oriented show. But this time he was the wise parent who attempted to protect his wayward son.

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Perry portrayed Fred Andrews as the father we all want to have — warm and understanding, supportive and proud. Perry perfectly embodied the character.

His grounding presence will be very much missed on the often-heightened series.