Although he announced that 90210 was behind him, his departure would eventually turn out to be for only three years.
During that time, Perry starred in the independent film Normal Life opposite Ashley Judd, starred in the TV science fiction movie Invasion (1997), and a Rodney King drama Riot (1997), and he had a small role in Luc Besson's science fiction adventure film The Fifth Element (1997).
He voiced himself in an episode of Johnny Bravo, giving Johnny dating advice after Johnny saved him from a stampede of fan girls.
Perry parodied himself in an episode of Family Guy, in which he was labelled as gay by Peter and sues the family.
From 2001 to 2002, he starred in the HBO prison drama Oz, as Reverend Jeremiah Cloutier.
From 2002 to 2004, he starred in the post-apocalyptic TV series Jeremiah.
He played himself (as Krusty the Clown's half brother) in an episode of The Simpsons (1993).
While starring on 90210, Perry won a supporting role in the original film version of Joss Whedon's Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992). In an attempt to find more mature roles, he decided to leave Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1995.
Perry had already become a very popular teen idol in the early 1990s. In the same year, he took a part in the Italian movie Vacanze di Natale '95, playing himself.
His other voice work includes The Incredible Hulk, Biker Mice from Mars, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, and The Night of the Headless Horseman.
Perry has guest-starred as gay characters in the sitcoms Spin City (1997) and Will & Grace (2005): he appeared as Carter Heywood's ex-boyfriend who subsequently fell in love with a woman on Spin City and played a geeky birdwatcher who caught the eye of Jack Mc Farland on Will & Grace.