Tyler Brennan is a fictional character from the Australian television soap opera Neighbours, played by Travis Burns. The actor was asked to audition for the role in 2014, while he was working in the United States. After winning the role, Burns relocated to Australia. Neighbours marks Burns‘ first Australian television acting job. He made his first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 6 February 2015.
Tyler was introduced as the younger brother of established character Mark Brennan (Scott McGregor). He is portrayed as an impulsive, cocky „badboy-with-a-heart“. Burns said that Tyler was untidy and relaxed, which was the exact opposite of Mark. Tyler had a short-lived romance with Imogen Willis (Ariel Kaplan), before switching his attentions to her half-sister Paige Smith (Olympia Valance).
One of Tyler’s longest running story arcs focused on his involvement with Dennis Dimato’s (David Serafin) stolen car ring. Tyler eventually realised that he was in too deep and made a confession to Mark, which resulted in his arrest. Tyler and Mark’s brother Aaron (Matt Wilson) and father Russell (Russell Kiefel) were also introduced in 2015. Russell’s introduction marked the start of a „controversial“ domestic violence storyline, as it emerged that he had abused Tyler when he was younger.
On 30 October 2014, the serial’s official website announced that actor and model Travis Burns had been cast as Tyler Brennan, the younger brother of established character Mark Brennan (Scott McGregor). Burns was working in the United States when he was asked to audition for the part in early 2014. After securing the role, Burns relocated back to Australia. Of his casting, he said „When you score a role on a show as iconic as Neighbours, you don’t say no. It’s especially cool to be joining the show in its 30th-anniversary year. I feel like I’ve arrived at the perfect time.“ Neighbours marks Burns’s first Australian television acting job, following his on-screen debut in The CW series SAF3. Burns had previously met McGregor through their modelling agency and believed that they had developed a „brotherly spark“ through that connection, which he felt helped him secure the role. He also believed the role was meant to be his as his young nephew is also named Tyler. Burns made his screen debut as Tyler on 6 February 2015.
Tyler is a mechanic and the youngest of four siblings. Tyler’s profile on the official Neighbours website billed him as „cheeky, charming and cocky“. While Melissa Field from TV Week Soap Extra described him as a „badboy-with-a-heart“, a „ladies‘ man“ and a „troublesome little brother“. Tyler is also impulsive and suffers from „a short attention span“. Burns explained that Tyler was the exact opposite of his older brother Mark, branding Tyler untidy, relaxed and „a go-with-the-flow type of guy“. In August 2015, Burns told TV Soap’s Tim Falk that Tyler’s storylines had allowed him to explore many different sides of the character. He explained „I feel that Tyler has not only changed but he has definitely grown from his experiences while living on Ramsay Street. I think he can be quite misunderstood, so it’s been nice to watch different layers of him unfold.“
After attending a toga party at the local university, Tyler came across a hungover Imogen Willis (Ariel Kaplan) and carried her to his motorbike. Burns commented that „sparks fly“ between them. Tyler brought Imogen home to Ramsay Street and she hit her head, after falling from the bike. Imogen’s state caused her friend Daniel Robinson (Tim Phillipps) to believe that Tyler had taken advantage of her. Daniel confronted Tyler and when it escalated, Tyler was taken into police custody. Tyler then had the station call his brother, who was „not overly impressed“ at having to bail him out. Burns admitted that the brothers had a complicated relationship and had not been in touch with each other for a long time. Tyler moved in with Mark and asked him for a job at the garage. Mark was not happy with the idea and Burns explained, „He knows Tyler never finishes anything he starts! But after reconsidering, he decides to give Tyler a second chance for once, and puts in a good word for him.“ Burns added that Mark wanted to see if Tyler would prove him wrong.
After settling in, Tyler asked Imogen to spend some time with him. She agreed, but had no intention of pursuing a relationship with him due to her feelings for Daniel. However, Imogen’s sister Paige Smith (Olympia Valance), believed that there could be something more between them and invited them both to a pool party. Imogen tried to make it clear that Tyler was more suited to Paige. But after Paige encouraged Tyler to get to know Imogen better, they bonded. Tyler’s crush on Imogen faded when he realised she was in love with Daniel. Valance observed „Imogen’s too smart for him. That whole thing was Imogen trying to distract herself from her love for Daniel.“ A couple of months later, Tyler proved to be „a welcome distraction“ for Imogen at a law society meeting. They went on to play a game of strip poker at the Men’s Shed, while flirting heavily with each other. Tyler later convinced Imogen to „embrace her wilder side“ and when he asked her on a date, she took him paintballing. After returning to Tyler’s house, they ended up kissing and Tyler tried to take things further, but Imogen panicked and left.
Imogen and Tyler’s flirtation eventually developed into a romance and Imogen decided to lose her virginity to him. Kaplan explained that Imogen believed having sex with Tyler would help her to move on from her feelings for Daniel. Her peers were all in relationships and she thought she should be in one too. Kaplan continued, „Tyler is fun, there’s nothing offensive about him, and he’s probably the distraction she needs at this time.“ Imogen soon began having doubts about the relationship. When she and Tyler were together in his bedroom, she admitted to him that she was still in love with Daniel. Kaplan said that Imogen realised that she would be losing her virginity to Tyler for all the wrong reasons, and did not want to regret it. Imogen then fled Tyler’s house, leaving him alone and confused.
After realising that Imogen did not reciprocate his feelings, Tyler switched his attentions to Paige, who had once dated his brother. She initially told him that she would not be his second choice, but when she learned that Mark had moved on with someone else, she changed her mind. Tyler thought Paige might be using him to get back at Mark, but Paige assured him that she was genuinely interested in him. After spending the day flirting, Tyler and Paige kissed, but during the moment Paige called out Mark’s name. Paige and Tyler then decided to just be friends. When Paige and Tyler were forced to work together to pay off their debt to Michelle Kim (Ra Chapman), they became involved in a fake relationship to cover up their illegal activities. To try to get out of debt, Paige and Tyler tried to raise some money by taking part in a bikini car wash. After realising that they made a good team, Tyler made a romantic advance towards Paige, but she rebuffed him. However, Paige later changed her mind and returned to the garage with the intention of having sex with Tyler, but she discovered he had already moved on with a customer.
Valance thought Paige was better off with Tyler’s brother, commenting „I think she needs someone with a bit more maturity – Paige and Tyler are a lethal combination.“ When Tyler and Paige became stuck in a well together, they gave into their feelings for each other and kissed. Tyler was pleased by the development in their relationship, but Paige later admitted to him that she still had feelings for Mark. Tyler was then forced to tell her that he just wanted to be friends. Burns said „Tyler would keep fighting for Paige, even if she was going out with his brother!“ The actor believed that Tyler would respect the situation if Paige was with his brother, but he would secretly be trying to win her back, as he really liked her. Tyler later learned that Paige and Mark had decided to get back together and Burns commented that it hurt Tyler to see them as a couple, as he had felt a genuine connection with Paige.
Tyler began working for businessman Dennis Dimato (David Serafin) to earn more money, but soon realised that the work he was carrying out was illegal when he was asked to strip Imogen’s stolen car for parts. Dimato later called in a favour from Tyler, asking him to spy on Mark and the police investigation into his business. Tyler learned that Mark’s sergeant did not think the case was worth pursuing, but Mark wanted to bring Dimato down on his own. When Matt Turner (Josef Brown) later saw Tyler and Dimato together, he warned Tyler to stay away from him. That same day, Paige caught Tyler checking out cars to steal and he was forced to tell her the truth about his job with Dimato. When Dimato and his associates started looking for a new base to continue their illegal car parts business, Tyler tried put them off buying the garage by telling that it had an uncertain future as the owner was selling it. However, Tyler realised he had made a mistake when Dimato decided to buy garage and pointed out that it provided Tyler with the perfect cover.
Both Tyler and Paige were later blackmailed into selling stolen car parts to pay off their debts to Dimato and his partner Michelle. When Tyler missed a meeting with Joey Dimato (Steven Sammut), who was leaving a stolen car at the garage, Paige’s younger brother Bailey Turner (Calen Mackenzie) took the car. Michelle told Tyler to find the car or she would make him pay. But when she overheard Paige telling Tyler that she had reported the car to the police, Michelle ordered them both to pay her the money owed or get another car. A TV Soap columnist noted, „Tyler knows he’s getting in way over his head, but he also knows it’s far too late to back out“. Michelle later blackmailed Paige into taking a job at the garage selling the stolen car parts.
Tyler and Paige tried to make the garage go legitimate by setting up car washes and automotive courses, but they were soon drawn back into Dimato’s crime syndicate when Joey left them a bag of money and Michelle ordered them to make a drop-off. When they discovered that a community fundraiser was taking place near the drop-off point, they decided to leave the money in an old well and return for it later. However, they became stuck in the well when they realised that they could not surface with the money due to a large amount of people nearby. Tyler and Paige later learned that there was $6000 missing from the bag and Tyler was „viciously beaten“ when he asked for more time to find the money.
When Tyler realised that he was in „too deep“ with Dimato, he eventually admitted his involvement to Mark, believing it was the right course of action. However it resulted in his arrest. Burns explained that Tyler believed that his confession would mean Mark would go easier on him, but „he’s heartbroken when Mark arrests him – you don’t expect that from your own brother!“ When the police offered him a reduced sentence, Tyler agreed to become their informant and wore a wire to a meeting with Michelle. However, before he could get any incriminating evidence, the transmitter was damaged. Tyler then learned that Dimato was returning to town and he agreed to go undercover again. But Dimato got to him first and Tyler was forced to attend a meeting with Dimato and his associates.
When Mark felt that Tyler had „gone off the rails“, he invited their brother Aaron (Matt Wilson) to help, as he knew Aaron and Tyler were close. Wilson explained that it had been six years since the brothers had seen each other. He said Aaron was an opportunist like Tyler and often acted as a mediator between him and Mark. Burns told Inside Soap’s Sarah Ellis that Aaron’s arrival changed the dynamic between Tyler and Mark. He continued, „One of us will always take the other’s side and we end up teaming up against each other.“ Shortly after Aaron’s arrival, Tyler tried to set him up with his friend Nate Kinski (Meyne Wyatt), but they quickly realised that they had nothing in common. Following Tyler’s arrest, Aaron bailed him out of jail. This made Mark „furious“, as he believed that they were teaming up against him. He then threw Tyler out of his house. Burns said Tyler initially believes Mark is joking, but he was forced to stay in the Men’s Shed for a few nights. An Inside Soap reporter observed that Tyler and Mark’s relationship was at „an all-time low“.
The Brennan family was expanded again following the introduction of the Brennan brothers‘ father Russell (Russell Kiefel) in August 2015. The family became the centre of „a controversial“ domestic violence storyline. When Tyler saw his father on Ramsay Street, he packed up his belongings and left. Burns explained that Tyler initially felt „pain and fear“ upon seeing his father and chose to avoid him, as he was worried that what happened between them would happen again. After leaving the street, Tyler stayed at the Men’s Shed. When Karl found him, Tyler opened up to him about the physical abuse he suffered at Russell’s hands. Burns said, „Tyler feels he can trust Karl, so he opens up and tells him everything. The relationship between Tyler and Russell is obviously very damaged – but it’s been great for me as an actor to be able to bring it to life on screen.“ Falk (TV Soap) observed that the abuse Tyler suffered had „a huge influence“ on the man that he became. Falk branded it „a compelling storyline“ and said that it helped to explore the Brennan’s complex family relationships.
When Tyler invited Karl’s grandson Ben Kirk (Felix Mallard) to work on a bike, Russell also invited himself along. Burns explained to Alana Wulff of TV Week Soap Extra that Tyler was initially hesitant because of what happened between them in the past. However, he was surprised when he and Russell bonded and played practical jokes on Ben. But when Ben got his own back on Russell, he lost his temper and threatened them both, forcing Karl to step in. Tyler then suffered flashbacks to his teenage years with his father. Burns added „When Tyler’s alone with his dad, he fears the worst – that anything could go wrong at any second.“
Tyler takes a hungover Imogen Willis home and she cuts her head falling from his motorbike. Daniel Robinson and Paige Smith accuse Tyler of assaulting Imogen and they fight, causing them to be arrested. At the station, Tyler is reunited with his brother Mark. He moves in with Mark and gets a job at the local garage. Needing money to pay the rent, Tyler contemplates selling his bike, but is offered a job by Dennis Dimato. He is tasked with stripping Imogen’s stolen car for parts, but he returns it anonymously, after agreeing to do a favour for Dimato. Tyler bonds with Imogen and he kisses Paige, but after she calls out his brother’s name, they agree to be friends. Tyler steals a car for Dimato, but it is tracked by the police and Tyler is forced to hide while Dimato is arrested. Dimato purchases the garage to continue his operations and then flees the country. His partner Michelle Kim takes over his business and makes Tyler steal more cars. Imogen and Tyler go on a couple of dates, and Imogen decides to lose her virginity to him, but soon changes her mind.
Paige’s brother Bailey takes one of the stolen cars and when it is reclaimed, Michelle demands Paige and Tyler get her $8,000 or another car. Michelle also blackmails Paige into working with Tyler at the garage. Tyler develops feelings for Paige, but she is still in love with Mark; however, when he catches them working late at night, they are forced to tell him they are dating. Paige and Tyler try to make the garage a legitimate business in order to pay off their debts. Joey Dimato leaves them a bag of money that needs to be dropped off. Not wanting to be caught with it, they throw it down a well and retrieve it later. They discover some of the money has been stolen and Tyler is beaten. He refuses to go to the hospital and Paige gets him some painkillers. He tells his brother that he came off his bike. Tyler becomes dependent on the painkillers and steals Karl Kennedy’s prescription pad to get more, causing tension between him and Nate Kinski. Mark contacts their brother Aaron and asks him to visit, knowing that he and Tyler are close.
Karl discovers the missing prescriptions and Tyler confesses to taking them. He also admits to Mark that he has been working for Dimato. Mark arrests Tyler and asks him to leave the house. Nate persuades Karl to let Tyler stay with him. Tyler agrees to wear a wire and meet with Michelle, in return for the charges against him being dropped. When the wire is damaged, a second sting is organised, but Dimato returns and takes Tyler to a meeting at a warehouse. Tyler attempts to run away, but is quickly caught. Before he is harmed, Mark and the police arrive to arrest Dimato and his accomplices. Tyler attempts to tell Paige that he has feelings for her, but soon learns that she and Mark are back together. He befriends Karl’s grandson Ben, but when Ben skips school to spend the day with him, Karl and Susan (Jackie Woodburne) tell Tyler to be more responsible. He decides to move home, but when he spots his father, Russell, in the street, he stays at the Men’s Shed. Tyler then admits to Karl that Russell used to beat him. Russell eventually apologises to Tyler for his actions.
Tyler and Russell spend the day with Ben, and they bond when they play practical jokes on him. But when Russell loses his temper with Ben, Tyler is reminded of their past. Russell later goads Tyler and Tyler punches him. He then tells Mark about the abuse he endured when he was younger, and his brothers ask Russell to leave. Ben accidentally leaves the garage unlocked, leading to the theft of tools and Tyler’s bike. Paige helps Tyler to find the stolen items and he kisses her, but Paige assures him that she loves his brother. Tyler helps Mark arrest the thief and he later meets the new owner of the garage Lucas Fitzgerald (Scott Major), who keeps him on as manager. Tyler is tasked with hiring another mechanic for the garage and he offers the job to Stephanie Scully (Carla Bonner). He later discovers Steph kidnapped Lucas‘ son while suffering from a psychotic break. Steph convinces him and Lucas she has changed and keeps her job. Tyler manipulates Paige and Mark into talking about having children, knowing Mark wants to be a father but Paige is not ready. Aaron confronts him on his behaviour, realising he is trying to break them up. Tyler helps out with a protest sleep-out to save Erinsborough High, but when a fire breaks out, he is trapped with Paige in a lift. He confesses his love for her, before passing out due to smoke inhalation. Paige manages to get Tyler breathing again and they are rescued by Mark. At the hospital, Tyler tells Paige that he does not want to ruin her relationship with Mark and that he plans to move on.
Tyler befriends Piper Willis (Mavournee Hazel), but she develops a crush on him. After she kisses him, he tells her nothing can happen as she is too young for him. Tyler then goes on a date with Imogen, but turns her down when she attempts to seduce him. Piper’s mother Terese Willis (Rebekah Elmaloglou) later overhears Tyler talking to Piper about their kiss, and she and Brad (Kip Gamblin) forbid them from seeing each other. Imogen develops feelings for Tyler despite being back together with Daniel, so Tyler propositions her, as a ploy to get her to realise she wants to be with Daniel. Tyler tells the police that his interference with equipment in the hotel boiler room may have caused the explosion, but he is soon cleared as he didn’t touch the gas valve.
The character has received a positive reception from television critics for being aesthetically pleasing. During his first appearance, a Coventry Evening Telegraph reporter branded Tyler „an attractive stranger“. A TV Week columnist called the character „hunky“ and observed „everyone loves good Neighbours, especially one as hot as this newcomer!“ Another contributor to the publication called Tyler the „new resident hottie“. While an Inside Soap columnist labelled him „troublesome“. Their colleague Michael Cregan praised the character, saying „imagine how thrilled we were to hear that there’s another hunky Brennan brother in town. Happily for us, it looks as if Tyler shares the family aversion to clothes!“
Another Inside Soap columnist dubbed Tyler „eye candy for the slightly younger lady“ and thought his „womanising ways“ could cause trouble. A reporter for the Sunday Mail branded Tyler a „loveable tearaway“, and quipped „as one might expect, Tyler shilling for the cops in an attempt to nab Dimato has not gone down well.“ During a feature on the Brennan brothers, Claire Crick from All About Soap commented „if you prefer the bad-boy vibe and like to be kept on your toes, Tyler’s definitely your perfect match“.