A wise philosopher once said, “When I wake up in the morning and the alarm gives out a warning and I don’t think I’ll ever make it on time. By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look, I’m at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by. It’s alright ‘coz I’m saved by the bell”. Sorry, that wasn’t a wise philosopher but actually the memorable theme song to one of the most popular teen sitcoms. Saved By The Bell aired from 1989 to 1993 on NBC. The series revolved around a group of teenagers as they go through high school while dealing with romance, friendship and getting caught up in hijinks. It would also deal with very serious issues, such as women’s rights, environmental issues and drug use. The series starred an ensemble cast and many of the teenagers continue to work in movies and television. The series starred Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris), Tiffani Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater), Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano), Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle), Dustin Diamond (Samuel “Screech” Powers) and Dennis Haskins (Principal Belding). The series also included two TV movies, Saved By The Bell: Hawaiian Style and Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. The series was also spun-off into two series, Saved By The Bell: The College Years and Saved By The Bell: The New Class.
It was one of the most popular teen sitcoms and is still fondly remembered today. All the actors are still very active and are a constant reminder of the beloved teen series. However, there are several facts that many hardcore Saved By The Bell fans might not know. Some of these facts might be a bit surprising. So, here is a look at 15 Facts You Didn’t Know About Saved By The Bell.
15. Good Morning, Miss Bliss
NBC’s Saved By The Bell was originally known as Good Morning, Miss Bliss and revolved around a teacher, Miss Bliss. The pilot for Good Morning, Miss Bliss aired in 1987 and starred Hayley Mills as Miss Bliss. The series took place in Indiana and featured none of the teenagers that would come to be associated with the series. The cast included Brian Austin Green, Jaleel White and Jonathan Brandis. The pilot only aired once and NBC decided to pass on the series. The Disney Channel picked it for a 13-episode season and added Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dustin Diamond, Max Battimo, Heather Hopper and Lark Voorhies. However, Disney dropped the series after one season and NBC reacquired it. NBC completely retooled the series and made the show about the teenagers. Hayley Mills, Heather Hopper and Max Battimo were removed and Zack Morris became the main character. The setting changed from Indiana to California. NBC added Tiffani Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley to the series and renamed the series. Initially, the series was to be called When The Bell Rings but was instead renamed Saved By The Bell.
14. Kelly and Jessie Disappear
The final season of Saved By The Bell aired from 1992 to 1993. The final season saw the gang graduate from high school and the final episode revolved around graduation. However, after the final season was shot NBC decided to double the episode order. In order for this to happen they had to resign the entire cast but Tiffani Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley refused to resign because they already had other commitments. Therefore, midway through the final season Kelly and Jessie disappear. From time to time they would reappear. The series introduced a new female character, Tori, that became the newest member of the gang. Tori and Zack at first don’t get along but later end up dating. She makes her final appearance in “School Song”, and is never seen again in the series. The series finale and graduation episode were shot with the original episode order and both Kelly and Jessie reappear. They attend graduation and everyone moves on with their lives.
13. Behind The Bell
Dustin Diamond is still remembered to this day for his role as Screech in Saved By The Bell. He was Zack’s nerdy best friend that was madly in love with Lisa Turtle. Following Saved By The Bell Diamond has made several cameo appearances in films, performed stand up comedy and starred and directed in his own sex tape, although he now claims he used a stunt double. In 2009, he released a tell-all book, Behind The Bell, about his time on Saved By The Bell. It painted a negative picture of the series and was very negative of his castmates. He claimed there was a lot of sleeping around and drug use going on. His castmates were very unhappy with the final product and Mark-Paul Gosselaar said, “It is negative, that I must say. Everything I’ve heard about his book is it is negative. I don’t remember those things. My experience on the show was very positive.” Dustin Diamond has since distanced himself from the book. He claims that he made a few innocent comments that his ghostwriter turned into “trash-talking”. In recent years, the cast participated in two reunions with one of them taking place on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Dustin Diamond was not a part of either reunion.
12. Guest Stars
The show featured many memorable guest appearances by celebrities that went on to achieve a considerable amount of fame. Turns out that when Donna wasn’t hanging out with Brandon, Dylan and Brenda; she was spending her time at Bayside High. Tori Spelling is best known for her role as Donna on the hit teen series in the 90s, 90210. She also appeared in Saved By The Bell in seasons 2 and 3, playing Screech’s love interest, Violet Anne Bickerstaff. Her father Aaron Spelling, was a producer on the series. She is initially dating Maxwell Nerdstrom but dumps him and dates Screech. Tori Spelling wasn’t the only future star to make an appearance. Leah Remini played a pretty significant role in season 3, as Zack’s love interest, Stacey Carosi. She was the staff manager of the beach resort that the gang all got jobs at one summer. Also in season 3, A.C. Slater works as a lifeguard and soon has a secret admirer. Denise Richards portrayed the secret admirer in the episode. Other guest starred included Scott Wolf, Eric Dane and Christine Taylor.
11. The Set Is Still In Use
The Show had many memorable sets and locations. The gang often got together at the popular local hangout The Max. Sometimes the guys would hang out in Zack’s bedroom while the girls could be seen in Jessie’s bedroom. In fact, Jessie and Zack were neighbours. There were even times we got to see the other characters’ bedrooms but they all pretty much resembled each other. However, the most important location was the school. Bayside High played an important role in Saved By The Bell. The setting was like another character in the series. The set included a hallway of lockers and a set of steps. It also included Principal Belding’s office and one other room that was made to look like several different rooms. Disney is still using the memorable high school set. The set is now largely changed but it can be seen in old episodes of That’s So Raven and iCarly.
10. Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! What Is Going On Here?
Principal Belding was the law and order at Bayside High. To be honest though, for the most part he had no idea what was going on in his hallways until it was too late. Dennis Haskins portrayed Principal Belding in the series. His character was best known for his catchphrase, “Hey! Hey! Hey! What’s going on here?” In 2015, during a Reddit AMA Dennis Haskins explained the origin of the phrase. His character would usually say the phrase once he caught the kids up to no good. He revealed that in the script the phrase was only written with three “Heys” and was simply to be a straightforward line. However, Haskins pointed out that the director had a very condescending way of calming the kids down by shouting multiple “Heys”. So Dennis Haskins added several “Heys” during rehearsal and it got a huge laugh. This resulted in Dennis Haskins adding several “Heys” each time he had to say the phrase.
9. Absolutely No Swearing On Set
The show was known for its somewhat wholesome and clean image. The show generally dealt with light hearted and comedic situations, such as the time someone stole Screech’s lucky green beret that he needed to win the big chess tournament. Turns out the executive producer Peter Engel went to great lengths to ensure that clean and wholesome image. He banned all swearing from the series and when on set. The cast members revealed that there were many restrictions while on set. Mark-Paul Gosselaar revealed in an interview that he was shocked when he was on the set for Dead Man on Campus because he could swear as much as he wanted. He even said in an interview, “It was like, ‘Ooh, I can say that?’ We weren’t allowed to swear on the Saved by the Bell set. We were very restricted. It had to be a very clean show, all the way around.”
8. The Secret Behind Zack Morris’ Blonde Hair and Slater’s Mullet
Mark-Paul Gosselaar played the role of Zach Morris in Good Morning, Miss Bliss, Saved By The Bell and The College Years. The only episode he didn’t appear in was the pilot for Good Morning, Miss Bliss. He was the main character throughout the series and was known for his schemes, breaking the fourth wall, his dream girl Kelly and his giant cell phone. However, he was also known for his platinum blonde hair. Blonde isn’t his natural hair color and he had to dye his hair every two weeks to keep it blonde. In an interview with People, he noted that it took several years for his natural hair color to return. Additionally, it turns out that Mario Lopez was unaware that he had a mullet the whole time. He actually styled his hair to look similar to Mel Gibson’s hair in Lethal Weapon. Mario Lopez once said in an interview with People, “I liked my hair long because I wanted to look like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. I didn’t even know I had a mullet! Looking back, I guess it does qualify.”
7. Bayside! The Musical!
The show Saved By The Bell has spin-off series, merchandise and even a musical parody. Producer Peter Engel once had a dream of creating a Saved By The Bell Musical but it never came to fruition. However, there does exist a Saved By The Bell Musical parody called Bayside! The Musical! The unauthorized parody of Saved By The Bell.
Bob and Tobly McSmith wrote Bayside the Musical and it first appeared in 2005 as Bayside! The UnMuscial. Following the success of their other musical, Showgirls! The Musical!, they returned to Bayside! The Musical and this incarnation debuted at Theater80 in New York City in 2013. Despite the fact the series was wholesome and clean the musical is full of swearing and adult situations. The show included 17 musical numbers and deals with several issues, such as caffeine pill addiction, Slater quitting wrestling and Zack & Kelly’s relationship. Additionally, Roar Comics released a comic book that sent the gang back to high school but in 2014.
6. Zack and Slater= Rivals Mark-Paul and Mario= Best Friends Forever
During the first season of Saved By The Bell, Zack Morris and A.C. Slater were bitter rivals competing for the love of Kelly Kapowski. Zack was the popular charmer and Slater was the popular jock. Both attempted to win over Kelly but their plans backfired and they ended up in detention. The original plan was for Slater and Zack to remain enemies throughout the series. However, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez had an incredible chemistry off-screen and eventually became best friends. The producers decided to transfer their real life friendship into the series. Zack and Slater bond over having difficult relationships with their fathers and became good friends. Their feud was completely toned down in the second season, although they did once get into a huge brawl over a girl. However, in the end Zack and Slater never let a girl come between them and remained great friends. Additionally, Mark-Paul and Mario Lopez remained good friends as well.
5. Elizabeth Berkley Wasn’t Happy With Jessie Spano’s Portrayal
Elizabeth Berkley portrayed feminist and straight-A student Jesse Spano in Saved By The Bell. Her character was known for being highly intelligent, loyal but could be a bit uptight. However, Berkley originally auditioned for the role of Kelly Kapowski. She didn’t end up getting the role but the producers liked her so much they created the role of Jessie Spano for her. She didn’t always enjoy playing the role of Jessie Spano. She didn’t like the way she was portrayed and wasn’t a fan of her wardrobe. During an interview in 2013 she said, “I didn’t like it because I felt like as a young woman, just because you are a feminist, why can’t you also dress in things that make you feel girly and empowered?” She also compared the difference in the bikinis she wore as compared to Kelly and Lisa. She also said, “They used to put me in a one piece. I’m sorry, but at 16 you don’t want to be the girl in the one piece with baggy shorts.” These feelings might help explain why she took on the controversial role in Showgirls.
4. They All Dated Each Other At One Point
It’s safe to assume that when 6 teenagers work together for several years, one or two relationships will eventually materialize. However, it appears that on Saved By The Bell there was lots of dating going on. In fact, according to Mark-Paul Gosselaar they all dated each other at one time and said in an interview, “all of us dated at one point or another, it was incestuous.” In the series, Zack’s dream girl was Kelly Kapowski but in real life Mark-Paul had a different dream girl. He dated Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) for three years from 1989 to 1992. He also dated Tiffani Thiessen in 1989, but his heart belonged to Lark. Mario Lopez also dated Tiffani for a short time but they broke up when he cheated on her. According to Dustin Diamond’s tell-all book, Behind The Bell, both Mark-Paul and Lopez had relationships with all three female co-stars. Dustin Diamond apparently didn’t get in on the action but does claim that he slept with roughly 2,000 women including NBC’s Vice President of children’s programming who was 18 years older.
3. The Tori Paradox
The Tori Paradox was a result of Tiffani Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley not returning to shoot the extra episodes ordered at the last minute by NBC. With both Kelly and Jessie missing from several episodes the producers added a female character to the series. Tori Scott, portrayed by Leanna Creel, joined the series in its final year. She transferred to Bayside for her senior year and joined the gang. She was also Zack’s newest love interest but they didn’t last. The interesting part is that throughout the final season there are episodes that include Kelly and Jessie but no Tori and vice versa. The assumption is that at certain times Kelly and Jessie have a different schedule and the audience just doesn’t see them. The same for Tori who comes and goes throughout the season. She makes her final appearance in “School Song” and is never mentioned again. Kelly and Jessie attend graduation while Tori doesn’t. Some critics of the series argue that this is actually one of the most realistic aspects of the series.
2. Mario Lopez Accusations
Albert Clifford “A.C.” Slater was known for his charm, good looks and athletic ability. He was popular and a superstar athlete in both football and wrestling. He was also in a long-term relationship with straight-A student Jessie Spano. Mario Lopez portrayed A.C. Slater in the series. During the series, Mario Lopez was accused twice of date r*pe. In 1993, an 18-year-old girl claimed that she was date-r*ped by Lopez. It wasn’t too long after that a second 18-year-old girl also accused him of the same thing. Mario Lopez denied the accusations and later prosecutors dismissed the charges because of a lack of evidence. However, in his tell-all book, Behind The Bell, Dustin Diamond claimed that NBC executives paid the alleged victim $50,000 to keep quiet and in Dustin’s words, “keep her mouth shut.” Diamond also claimed that Lopez often displayed aggressive behaviour towards women and that Lopez “didn’t take no for an answer”. However, Diamond has since apologized for some of his claims in his book. Mario Lopez denies all allegations against him.
1. Caffeine Pill Addiction
One of the most memorable episodes of Saved By The Bell is “Jessie’s Song”. The episode contains possibly the most memorable moment in the series. Jessie Spano was a straight-A student, feminist and all around superstar. In this episode, the girls form a singing group, The Hot Sundaes, with Zack as manager. However, the pressures from mid-terms and the group are too much for her to handle. She soon turns to caffeine pills and becomes addicted. At the end of the episode, she has a meltdown in front of Zack who sees the seriousness of the problem. They fight over the pills as Jessie sings, “I’m so excited”. Most fans of the series laugh at the fact that she became addicted to caffeine pills, however producer Peter Engel revealed that it wasn’t always caffeine pills. Originally, she was to be addicted to speed, which better explains her meltdown since caffeine pills aren’t very addictive. However, Standards and Practices wouldn’t allow Speed in a Saturday morning series. They were forced to change it to caffeine pills. However, the episode remained largely unchanged. “Jessie’s Song” is Elizabeth Berkley’s favourite episode.
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