Serendipity "Ren" Gottlieb is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Raelee Hill. She made her first on-screen appearance on 25 August 1994. Serendipity is Stephen and Mark Gottlieb's only sister. She is a hippy who arrives in Erinsborough to see Mark. During her time in the show she became good friends with Sam Kratz and Annalise Hartman, was almost beaten up by her boyfriend, became a designer and got engaged to Luke Handley. Serendipity departed on 7 September 1995.
In 1994, Network Ten told TV Week that they would be introducing a "younger, livelier look with six regular characters under the age of 18". Shortly after that announcement, Serendipity was introduced. Hill revealed that she was spotted by Neighbours' casting director, Jan Russ, during a break from filming on Blue Heelers. Hill said "We got talking and she asked me to audition for the role of Serendipity Gottlieb." Hill later said "Apparently, I looked exactly how they imagined Serendipity to look so she suggested that I audition for the part and I got the job!" In 1995, Jason Herbison of Inside Soap reported Hill had quit Neighbours and she left in the same year.
Hill said her character and her siblings all had a "fantastic upbringing." Serendipity is a "real bohemian and has a really great collection of crushed velvet smocks", which is a contrast to Mark. Hill added that playing Serendipity was "like taking a trip down memory lane" as she had been into the hippy lifestyle when she was a teenager. Serendipity enjoyed living in the hippy communes with her parents when she was a child and retained her beliefs in the healing properties of crystals and rebirth. She is described as "one of life's free spirits" and is ruled by her heart rather than her head. Serendipity was less conservative than the other Ramsay Street residents and she "brought a breath of fresh air" into her brother, Mark's life. When Serendipity begins to work with Danni Stark (Eliza Szonert) on her fashion business, a change occurred in her personality. She begins driving a BMW and "the power goes to her head."
When Luke Handley (Bernard Curry) is hassled by some guys at the Coffee Shop, Serendipity helps him out and they kiss. Of this development with their friendship, Hill said "They end up falling into bed together that evening. When they wake up the next morning, they realise that their relationship has changed forever." Luke and Serendipity try and take things slowly, but Serendipity is "certain about her feelings for Luke", while he is not sure. When Serendipity suggests they keep sleeping together and see other people, Luke has doubts. He has trouble making a commitment to Serendipity because of the death of his younger sister years before. Hill said that that has made him "afraid to get close to anyone." Luke and Serendipity eventually decide to begin a relationship and when Luke is offered a job in Japan, he proposes to Serendipity. She accepts and they leave Ramsay Street together. Hill added "After much talk, Luke realises that he does love Ren. They work out their differences and leave Ramsay Street as a couple."
Serendipity arrives in Erinsborough after she had been working as a nanny in Amsterdam. The last time she had seen her brothers was at their mother's funeral. Mark is happy to have his sister around. Mark and Rick Alessi (Dan Falzon) are looking for a new housemate and Ren moves in straight away.
Ren strikes up a friendship with Sam Kratz (Richard Grieve) and they grow close. Sam meets Chip Kelly (Martin Crewes) through the Erinsborough football team and he and Ren begin a relationship. Chip suffers from mood swings and Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) wonders if he is abusing steroids. Ren comes to the same realisation when she tries to stop his advances and he gets violent. Ren narrowly manages to escape without injury. When Ren gets home she tells the story to Sam, Mark and Annalise Hartman (Kimberley Davies). Sam goes and beats Chip up, which Ren disapproves of. Ren and Annalise then start up self-defence classes for the residents of Ramsay Street.
Ren helps to repair other people's relationships. She acts as a go-between for Rick and Cody Willis (Peta Brady) and Mark and Annalise. Her hippy background proves to be useful for Brett Stark (Brett Blewitt) when she helps him make a love potion. Ren agrees to be one of Annalise's bridesmaids at her wedding to Mark. Ren proves to be a friend for both her brother and Annalise after their wedding is called off, following Mark's revelation that he wants to become a priest.
Ren and Danni Stark begin making jewellery and start selling it. They build their business up after demand grows and Ren begins dating Kingston White (Simon Wilton). Ren begins to change and becomes very driven by business and making money. She and Danni get involved in the fashion world, but when Ren discovers that their clothes are being created in an illegal sweat shop, she is horrified. Ren breaks down and rips up her designs. Mark supports her during this time, as does Luke Handley. Ren realises that she is not cut out for the fashion industry and goes back to her old self. She also strikes up a friendship with Lucy Robinson (Melissa Bell). Ren and Luke begin a relationship, but they both find it difficult to take the step from friends to lovers. Mark falls from the roof of Number 22 and ends up in a coma, this reunites Ren and Luke and Luke proposes. Ren is shocked, but she accepts. Luke is offered a job in Japan and Ren decides to go with him. Their relationship does not last and Luke eventually returns to Erinsborough.
The BBC said Serendipity's most notable moment was "Discovering a sweat shop for illegal immigrants and shutting it down." Jessica Adams from The Sun-Herald said Serendipity's name was "freakish."