Like basically any lady (and a few gents) who were alive for the original run of Beverly Hills 90210, Luke Perry’s Dylan McKay was my first crush, and the news of his death today hit very hard. Somewhere out there, there is a picture of me in my 2nd grade class photo, taken in 1992, where I’m wearing a black sweatshirt with Dylan and Brandon Walsh on it, demonstrating the great love for the show (and both of the boys of West Beverly High) and how ubiquitous it was at the time. Dylan may have been Luke’s best-known role, but we can’t forget Pike, Buffy’s best boyfriend, from the original film.
Yes friends, before there was Angel, Spike, and god forbid, Riley, there was Pike.
So what was it about Pike that made him so special?
Well, for starters, he was age appropriate (looking straight at you undead 200+ years-old vampires trying to date a teenager…) and clearly didn’t have the baggage that came with being an undead monster who killed a lot of people until they regained their soul, or got a chip implanted in their brains that made them act good. He was also a much more interesting person than Riley, who was the human equivalent of mildly toasted bread.
Additionally, Pike never talked down to Buffy or tried to hold her back from her chosen one status. He accepted her for who she was and was beyond ok being her sidekick when it came down to fighting vampires. To contrast, how many times did Angel or Spike try to keep Buffy out of harm’s way in some misguided notion that they were better equipped to handle a situation than the literal chosen one!?
The best part about Pike is that he encourages Buffy to take control of her destiny and fight for what’s right, and never tries to hold her back from that. Even after becoming disillusioned with Buffy’s insistence on going to the school dance instead of going after the vampire that just killed her watcher (which, an understandable reaction on both people’s parts), Pike met Buffy at her level. He came to the dance, prepared for a fight, but also to support Buffy regardless. (As a bonus, he shaved his unfortunate soul patch, and we all know Luke Perry cleaned up very well.) He even asked her to dance, and they shared a nice moment before all hell broke loose and vampires attacked the dance. Even as that happened, Buffy shielded Pike with her body, and he didn’t try any macho bullsh*t to posture. He knew she was stronger, and he was ok with it. Better yet, he came prepared for it. Let’s not forget that Pike was the one who brought the bag full of stakes to the dance in order to help Buffy do her thing.
“We got a problem, I have a bag full of solutions. What are you going to do about it?”
Pike is great because Pike never tried to pigeon hole Buffy into something she wasn’t. He accepted her fully for who she was, and sure, sometimes that meant some tough love on his part:
“I’m not disappointed, just angry!”
Even when he’s mad at Buffy, he doesn’t attack her, he simply shared his feeling. He never tried to punish Buffy for having a difference of opinion—and when it turned out that trouble was going to find her anyway, he was simply there to support her, and try to kick a little ass himself in the process.
Pike was the best, and I like to think that Buffy, after leaving Sunnydale, reconnected with Pike at some point because she got sick and tired of dating men who treated her poorly. In my mind, they’re now older, wiser, but still in a healthy relationship, living somewhere in Southern California and kicking ass and taking names.
I will always appreciate how he and Buffy drove off into the sunrise—something neither Angel or Spike could do, and undoubtedly Riley wouldn’t want to do, because motorcycles aren’t sensible enough for him.
Pike is, and always will be, Buffy’s best boyfriend because more than the rest, he was a partner.
The empathy, support, and warmth of Pike are all a credit to the way Luke Perry portrayed him, and his sudden death today is a loss to us all.
So thank you Luke, you will be sorely missed.
Header Image Source: 20th Century Fox (All Images)