- „ I think my Dead Poet's Society days are over. I just gotta do a job and cash a pay check.”
- —Ryan Mathews[src]
Ryan is an English literature teacher at West Beverly High. He has a son Jack Clark-Matthews with Jen Clark. He is seen as a young, cool teacher with an easy-going personality. Although he can be strict, it is only because he can see the full potential of his students and only wants what's best for them. During season one, he says it's difficult being friendly with his students without really becoming their friend, however he is shown to be on good terms with Annie, Liam, Navid, Silver, Adrianna, Ivy and Naomi during school or at the Beach Club.
In the series premiere Ryan introduces Annie to the class, and asks that Naomi show her around. Mr. Matthews also reminds Naomi that she has a paper due tomorrow, or she’ll get an F. Principal Wilson is in his office with Kelly, Mr. Matthews and Naomi's parents to discuss the paper that is due the following day. Dixon is trying out for the lacrosse team, and the coach Mr. Matthews tells Dixon he’s on the first team, and demotes another player named George. As everybody is walking off the field George pushes Dixon, and Dixon pushes him back, and they start fighting. Mr. Matthews wasn’t looking at the time, so he has no idea who started it, but the guys on the team saw who started it. That night, Naomi runs into Mr. Matthews at the bar, and he mentions she should be home since she has a paper due. She says that she has already finished it, and as Mr. Matthews is walking away he tells the bartender not to serve Naomi since she is underage.
The next day Ethan goes to Mr. Wilson’s office and tells him and Mr. Matthews that Dixon started the fight with George. Later, Adrianna makes a scene by randomly singing in the middle of Mr. Matthews' lecture. Afterwards, Ryan asks what's going on with her. She tells him that she is distracted because she has a major audition coming up. He asks what that will mean if she gets the part. She tells him that she'll be making lots of money. He makes fun of her for that, asking what she'll spend it on; shoes, clothes, perhaps an expensive car she doesn't need. She tells him that she'll pay the mortgage because her Mom can't.
Sparks are flying between the guidance counsellor Kelly and Ryan. After school, he asks if she wants to go to dinner. Kelly tells him that she would have to get a babysitter, which takes him a little by surprise since he didn't know that she had a kid in the first place. Kelly is prepared to let him off the hook but he bungles the whole thing trying to assure that's it is okay because "everyone comes with some baggage." It doesn't bode well with Kelly, because she doesn't consider her child 'baggage', as he had implied. He tries to redeem himself but continues to have his foot in his mouth, and they leave it at that. Back at school, Adrianna tells everyone that she did the audition and that she's in the top two for the part. Mr. Matthews tells her to keep her fingers crossed.
Ryan goes to Kelly's house, but Brenda answers the door. She and Kelly were drinking some wine and catching up. Kelly comes out and Ryan hands her flowers, and a hat for her son. He says he'll leave now since she has company, but just then Brenda offers to babysit so that Kelly and Ryan can go out.
Kelly is walking with Ryan, talking his ear off about her four-year-old son, Sammy, and his extraordinary reading ability. Ryan mentions that he does quite a bit of work at a juvenile detention center. Neither can talk long but they do agree on dinner later on in the evening. Kelly and Ryan meet at a restaurant, with him rambling on about wanting to meet her son, which causes Kelly to explain that she hasn't introduced her son to anyone except his father. Ryan wonders aloud what this means for Kelly's relationship with her ex. Kelly and Ryan finish their date inside his truck outside her house. Ryan brings up their dating status, to which she replies that they are just colleagues "hanging out". He leans in for a kiss, asking if it changes anything. She says, "Oh, what the hell. We're dating."
In the teachers lounge, Brenda, Kelly, and Ryan are discussing Adrianna's behavior. All of them are worried about how distant, aloof and distracted she's been. Ryan wonders if she's using drugs and Kelly wants to pull her from the play. Brenda's phone rings and it's Dylan. Kelly looks annoyed and Brenda hands her the phone. Kelly walks away to talk privately, while Ryan wants to know what is going on.
Mr. Matthews gives the class a homework assignment. He asks Annie to let Adrianna work with her and she reluctantly agrees. Ryan pays a visit to Kelly's office to talk about their relationship. He tells her that she has to try to work things out with Dylan, much to his dismay. He asks her if she wants him to wait for her, but she tells him not to. Over by the bar with Brenda, Ryan comments on how the night is not like any other high school weeknight that he remebers. Ryan tells her it is nice to have a veteran by side, to which Brenda responds by telling him that she knows that she wasn't his first choice for evening company. They talk about where Kelly is emotionally, and Brenda tells him that he had doged a bullet by getting out of the relationship when he did. Even with the alleged consolation by Brenda, Ryan is not comforted in the slightest. She tells Ryan that she is thinking of leaving for a while, to visit her brother and Brandon and his family. Ryan is surprised to hear that she has a brother and she tells him that there is a lot that he doesn't know about her, asserting the fact that it is better if it stays that way between them. Ryan asks her if she's heading in his direction, offering her a ride in the process. Brenda asks how he knows where she is heading, to which he replies "I don't." His charismatic nature makes her agree to go with him.
New "student" Kimberly McIntyre 'flirts' with Ryan, who in turn tells her to keep her distance. At Homecoming, Ryan believes that the new alleged student Kimberly, is a Narcostics officer after he sees her purcashing drugs in Secrets and Lies. Now that Ryan is in on Kimberly's secret, the two can no longer control their desire for each other but are oblivious when George observes their action and blackmails Ryan.
The school is buzzing with the news about Ryan's inappropriate relationship with Kim. George has texted everyone about seeing Kim getting into Ryan's car. Harry walks in and tells Ryan's class that he will be taking over until they hire a permanent replacement. At home Ryan packs up and is about to leave his apartment but Kelly finds him time in his apartment lobby and asks where he is going. She says that Harry told her about Kim being an undercover cop. Ryan is upset at his reputation of supposedly having an inappropriate relationship. Ryan says that he is going to take a flight out to clear his head. Kelly tells him that when he gets back, he should give her a call. Kim walks in and asks if she is interrupting anything, to which Kelly says that she was just leaving. Kim asks how Ryan is doing, he says that he is fine and then they kiss.
Months later Ryan Matthews returns to his job at West Beverly High which causes a mixed reaction for both Kelly, as well as Silver who he rejects from his class. In Life's a Drag Ryan assigns a poetry presentation and Silver wants to show a film with her love poem. Since Ryan just thinks that she's just excited about her project, he agrees. At the screening, it turns out to be a sex tape with Dixon. After the incident, Ryan leaves Kelly a voicemail about the film. Silver is waiting for him in his apartment. She blames him for all her problems, saying he set her up in order to have revenge against the nasty blog that she wrote which almost got him fired. She says he ruined her relationship and she wants him to fix everything, Ryan attempts to calm Silver down after reactions to her video but she disappears before he can help.
Kelly heads out to pick up some snacks and runs into Ryan. He tells her that he was just picking up a six-pack. Kelly suggests that she help him drink them. She then texts Donna to keep an eye on Silver while she hangs out with Ryan. Kelly and Ryan then go back to his place and make out. Naomi introduces sister Jen to Ryan. Jen and Ryan bump into each other at the Peach Pit and get wrapped up in a conversation of lies before deciding to have dinner together. Kelly attempts to warn Ryan about Jen's devious personality, which he interprets as Kelly's jealousy.
At the end of Season 2 Jen comes back revealing that she is pregnant to her sister Naomi. Naomi finds a paternity test in Jen's bag, first you don't see anything but then it's revealed that Ryan is the father when Naomi sent balloons where it says "Congratulations daddy" and the test is there. He goes to see Jen and tells her that he wants to help out but she says that she doesn't want a school teacher to take care of her child. He gets so upset that he drinks and drives by the school where he sees Naomi and a teacher in the school (it's later revealed that the teacher rapes Naomi) and hits a large sign by the school.
Ryan does not make many appearances throughout season 3. He encourages Annie to apply for an internship at The Abbott Playhouse as he is her career adviser. He is currently in a secret relationship with Debbie Wilson, once they get caught by Annie's cousin Emily they come out in the open and continue dating. Ryan is willing to risk losing his job to come forward and give evidence for Naomi's rape. He is suspended in the process, but knows he did the right thing. Ryan was left to look after his son, Jacques, when his Mother, Jen, abandoned them. In Blue Naomi he becomes concerned after Ivy is slacking off in class and tries to reach out to her. In Women on the Verge, Jen comes back and tries to take Jacques to Paris with her, but she is told by Ryan and Deb that the only way she will be part of Jacques life is on their terms. He is not seen again, nor does he make an appearance at the graduation. Ryan and Debbie decided to move to Paris to be closer to Jack. Ryan runs into Campbell Price, a senior High School student, at the grocery store. They run into each other a few more times, the last time they run into each other, Ryan was going to give Kelly a couple of folders but ends up messing them up by running into Campbell. Campbell helps him clean up the mess and unexpectedly kisses Ryan, shocking him. Ryan quickly pulls away and grabs all the papers and walks away quickly. That's the last time they ever saw each other.
- What is that girl? Like, 30? [First line]
- Jen, it's not going to happen any other way. I mean, it takes a village. [Final line]
"We're Not in Kansas Anymore"
- Ryan: Four and a half. That is a wonderful age... I don't know if that's true. I just hear people say it.
- Ryan: Everyone comes with some baggage.
Kelly: I don't really consider my son baggage.
Ryan: Youre too easy. Anyone ever tell you that?
- Naomi: Why are you always so mean to me?
Ryan: Who said I was mean? [to bartender} She's underage. Don't serve. I guess that was mean. Oops.
- Ryan: Looks like principal's kid has some game
- Ryan: I think my Dead Poet's Society days are over. I just gotta do a job and cash a pay check.
- Ryan: This isn't cool, Harry.
Harry: Not interested in being cool. Or your opinion, Mr. Matthews.
Ryan: The old new girl is from Kansas and it just doesn't get any better than that.
Annie: There's no place like home!
- Ryan [to Kelly]: Are you asking me to wait? Because I got nothing but time and the distinct feeling women like you don't come around very often.
Brenda: So, what happens next to Adrianna?
Ryan: Maybe a mug shot on Perez Hilton, I don't know.
"Wide Awake and Dreaming"
- Ryan: The tricky part of teaching is being friendly, without being their friend.
- Ryan: Spring Awakening is about kids discovering their sexuality and fighting the oppressive morals of society in 1891. But, you know, with rock music.
- Ryan: I don't know what the story is with you and Sammy's dad. And it feels like there's unfinished business.
- Kelly: Doesn't it freak you out that I have a child?
Ryan: Doesn't it freak you out at all that I am a child?
Kelly: How many of your friends have kids?
Ryan: Let me count... zero.
"And Away They Go"
- Jen: I thought you said if I was honest with you, there was nothing I could do to scare you off.
Ryan: I was wrong.
"To Thine Own Self Be True"
- Ryan: I would never cheat on you.
- Ryan: How did you start a fire?
Jen: The Styles section.
- Jen: What about the fondue set?
Ryan: I think we can manage without it.
- Ryan: You introduce me to cool musicians and I'll introduce you to high school students.
- Ryan: Are we fighting or dating?
Jen: It's both, I think.
- Ryan: Liam, you're a smart kid. Is it just not cool to care?
"The Party's Over"
- Ryan: You're Naomi's sister, right? She never mentioned you were so violent.
- Kelly: This is not the Ryan Matthews I know.
Ryan: Maybe you don't me.
Kelly: Maybe I don't want to.
- Silver: You're not like the other teachers.
Ryan: Maybe that was the problem.
"Best Lei'd Plans"
- Ryan: She is frightening. I think it's because she looks so much like Christopher Walken.
Deb: It's uncanny.
"They're Playing Her Song"
- Debbie: Did you forget something?
Ryan: Just my son.
Debbie: What can we do to bring you down to mildly panicked?
Ryan: Rub a little whiskey on my gums?
"Catch Me If You Cannon"
- Ryan: I'm not calling our kid Jacques. I can already hear the kids at school calling him Jacques Strap.
- Ryan: The last three weeks are all about the baby putting on weight.
Jen: Eww. Yuck. Who wants a chubby baby?
- Ryan: I wanna do whatever I can to help raise this baby. Our baby.
Jen: I'll have nannies for that kind of thing.
"Meet the Parent"
- Ryan: I got into a little tussle with this chili dog and I have to admit defeat.
- Ryan: We're getting a little old for vomit and hangovers, aren't we?
Laurel: No, you're never too old for vomit and hangover.
"Another Another Chance"
- Laurel: Don't get your panties in a bunch.
Ryan: My panties are very much bunched right now.
- Ryan: They used to call me "wake and bake."
- In Season 4, Annie mentions that Ryan moved to Paris with Debbie. It is unknown if he continued teaching while overseas.
- Ryan has been romantically involved with the sisters / mother's of four of his former students:
- Brenda Walsh at the
- Kelly Taylor at the
- Dylan McKay at the
- Donna Martin at the
- Beverly Hills, 90210 at the