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Series: Saved by the Bell

Saved by the Bell is a sitcom that aired on NBC from August 1989 to May 1993. It was about high school (and later college) students, fronted Zack Morris as the Greek Chorus. Archetype of the TV High School, to the point where it is widely theorized that the entire Saved by the Bell universe is contained within Bayside High, and that Zack Morris is, in fact, God.

Originally, the show was intended as a Hayley Mills vehicle Good Morning, Miss Bliss (1988-1989), featuring the lovely Miss Mills as a teacher in a junior high school dealing with her quirky students, among them Zack Morris. Though an NBC pilot, the network rejected it and the Disney Channel picked it up instead. It was not a success, but the series found its way back to NBC and was given a drastic retool. Miss Bliss and several other characters were dropped (only Zack, Screech, Lisa and Mr. Belding made the transition), while focus was shifted to the students rather than teachers. The name of the school also changed from John F. Kennedy Junior High to Bayside High, but this is possibly less of a mystery than the school's unexplained move from Indiana to California.

The new show (now called Saved by the Bell) was led by Zack Morris and it is this version that is the one most viewers are familiar with.

Powered by the Law of Disproportionate Response: characters won't even bat an eyelash at the big absurdities of their lives (such as the fact that Screech is imprisoned in a locker at least once per episode), but will explode over something trivial. With Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) as The Hero, most episodes surrounded his attempts at holding on to his on-again off-again girlfriend Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Theissen). His friend and rival A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) would also fight with Zack over Kelly, but would later hook up with the independent Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley). Samuel "Screech" Powers (Dustin Diamond) was their resident smart guy and extraverted nerd. He was a genius at invention, but not at common sense. And Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies) rounded out the cast as a token minority (even though Slater is Hispanic) and also as the resident alpha bitch, although she was far from being a rich bitch to them.

Dennis Haskins, as Principal Richard Belding, ended up playing his role longer than anyone else associated with the show.

The show is very charming, with a high level of rewatchability, although it certainly had its moments of narm (which one could argue is a part of its charm). One of the most memorable scenes of the series involved Elizabeth Berkley having a total mental breakdown as a result of a caffeine pill addiction. It is has become infamous with fans and belongs in the discussion of all-time great television narm moments.

The series ran under four titles:
  • Good Morning, Miss Bliss (a.k.a. Saved by the Bell: The Junior High Years; 13 episodes, 1988-89)
  • Saved by the Bell (87 episodes, 1989-93)
  • Saved by the Bell: The College Years (19 episodes, 1993-94)
  • Saved by the Bell: The New Class (143 episodes, 1993-2000)

After graduating from Bayside, Zack, Slater, Screech and Kelly ended up at California University for the more adult-oriented sitcom Saved by the Bell: The College Years. Unfortunately, it failed to attract an audience and ended after one season, though it did lead to a television movie that finally saw high school sweethearts Zack and Kelly get married. Unfortunately, the producers' attempt to cater to both younger fans of the original series and older prime-time viewers proved unsuccessful as both demographics felt alienated by the series. The show was too hokey for older viewers and younger fans were turned off by the show's focus on relationship drama instead of wacky schemes.

Launched at the same time as The College Years, The New Class might be classified as more of a Spin-Off than a continuation; with one exception the entire old main cast had left and were replaced with new students. In fact The New Class featured an alarmingly high cast turnover during its run. Mr. Belding and (later) Screech were the only constants. Amazingly, despite its lack of memorable characters (at least compared to the original cast), it was the longest-lasting incarnation of the series (mainly because it was the anchor of an entire Saturday morning block of Saved by the Bell clones).

Now has a character sheet.

For the trope described by the "saved by the bell" phrase, see Just in Time or one of its variants.


This series contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Screech in the eyes of Lisa.
    • Rhonda Robistelli, a Tomboy who's actually pretty decent looking... although, any guy would be turned off by a girl who's strong enough to lift and twirl them over her body during a swing dance, as Zack endured in "Fatal Distraction".
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Parodied in one episode. Zack's mother catches the boys at an over 18 dance club. Zack's date asks if she's his mother. Zack's response?
    "Oh no, this is my lovely, beautiful, young-looking older sister."
  • Adorkable: Screech before his voice changed. He was such a cute, dorky little kid & far less annoying.
  • An Aesop: So many morals! Don't do drugs. Don't drive drunk. Don't hypnotize a girl so that she'll go out on a date with you.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Any aesop the gang learns in one episode is forgotten and/or never referenced again in the ones after.
  • Ageless Birthday Episode: Happened with Screech's and Zack's birthdays.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Screech.
    • Also, by his own account, the source of a lot of Dustin Diamond's disdain for the rest of the cast.
  • Alpha Bitch: Averted/subverted. Despite displaying typical Alpha Bitch-qualities such as head cheerleader (Kelly), overacheiver (Jesse), and fashion queen (Lisa), all three main character girls are genuinely nice people and worthy of their popularity.
  • Ascended Extra: Mr. Tuttle. He never became a series regular, but he appeared sporadically throughout the series (certainly more often than any other teacher at Bayside), becoming a fan favorite guest star. Seemed to teach a wide variety of classes and coach a wide variety of clubs.
  • Ascended Fanboy: A retroactive example, oddly enough. Jimmy Fallon is a huge Saved by the Bell fanboy and has used his clout as a late night comedy show host to invite Mark-Paul Gosselaar onto Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in character as Zack Morris, complete with blonde hair, high-top sneakers, acid-washed jeans, a 1990s-style shirt, and of course, Zack's classic "brick" cell phone (Zack even managed to plug Gosselaar's then-new show Raising the Bar). Fallon then arranged for a Saved by the Bell reunion, which took place in the form of a photo shoot.
  • Beach Episode: A whole string of them, informally known as "The Beach Episodes" or "The Malibu Sands Episodes." Though they don't really fit the traditional definition, a swimsuit-clad Kelly and Slater in all six of these episodes ain't too shabby.
  • The B Grade: Happens to Jessie several times. She fainted after receiving a B on a test (which most of the class, with the exception of Screech, bombed) and had fits over scoring lower on the SAT than Zack, leading to her spray-painting "Death to the SAT" on the lockers. However, when she finds out Screech beat her in valedictorian (but gave it up to spare her feelings), she publicly announces it during her speech and awards the title to him.
  • Black and Nerdy: Ollie Creekly.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: In The College Years, you have Leslie (the blonde), Kelly (the brunette), and Alex (the redhead).
  • Bottle Episode: A few, but since production values as a whole were not large, they aren't terribly noticeable.
  • Born in an Elevator: Zack Belding. Guess who attended the birth?
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Zack put a hypnotic suggestion into Kelly's music tape to drop Slater and go with him to a High School Dance, with Screech making one for Lisa. Initially it worked, but then Kelly loaned her tape to various friends and suddenly all three girls wanted to take him. They got revenge.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: "My hobbies include dating, guys, and dating guys!"
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Zack would often address the viewers.
  • Breakout Character: Good Morning, Miss Bliss was completely retooled to focus on Zack. If that doesn't give Fonzie a run for his money, nothing else does.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Zack gets a genius-level score on his SAT, despite putting much more effort into his schemes than his studies.
  • Building of Adventure: Somewhere around 95% of the action takes place at good old Bayside High.
    • But occasionally, scenes are set in one of the kids' bedrooms. And for some reason tons of school-related activities seems to take place in The Max.
  • California University: Trope namer. Zack, Kelly, Slater, Jessie (for a little while), and Screech all attend this university after graduation.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' :
    • They drive drunk once and crash the car. See Family-Unfriendly Aesop for the details.
    • Jessie has a full on junkie meltdown on caffeine pills.
    • The boys use fake ID cards to sneak into an over 18 club and Zack gives a girl his phone number. Of course, she calls as soon as he's gone from the house and just as his mother is in his room.
  • The Cast Showoff: Some episodes let Mario Lopez show off drumming and wrestling skills. Not to mention his dancing skills. And his bod.
  • The Cheerleader: Both lampshaded and subverted. Jessie is reluctant to join the squad because she thinks cheerleading is not for smart girls. Lisa and Kelly are not pleased. Lisa herself is the closest to a straight example the show has but she is still a nice person who cares about the squad.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: All the characters from the original Good Morning, Miss Bliss series, with the exception of Zack, Screech, Lisa, and Mr. Belding. Within the main show itself, all characters not a main character or Mr. Tuttle, including but not limited to Jessie's stepbrother, Kelly's younger sister, and Slater's sister. They're assumed to have been lost in the Saved by the Bell Bermuda triangle.
    • Kelly and Jessie were both Brother Chucked and replaced with Tori (see The Scrappy) in the fourth season. Tori herself disappeared in time for Jessie and Kelly to return for graduation.
    • The New Class had several characters outright disappear. Scott (the original lead) may be the most notable example.
    • Leslie disappears between The College Years and Wedding in Las Vegas.
  • Compliment Backfire: Screech has made two such mistakes. The first time involves his attempt to compliment Violet's mother by comparing her with a celebrity. His celebrity of choice? Arnold Schwarzenegger. His other such mistake is shown in this exchange when he introduces Mr. Belding to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an episode of The New Class series:
    Screech: This is Mr. Belding, the man who made me what I am today!
    Abdul-Jabbar: (turning to Mr. Belding) Mr. Belding, we need to talk.
  • Compressed Vice: Jessie's caffeine pill addiction. And any tobacco or drug addiction any student from The New Class series gets would likely end up as this.
  • Continuity Nod: in The New Class, Eric, the school's star quarterback gets Jim Harbaugh, then Indianapolis Colts QB and current San Francisco 49ers coach, to speak to his class for a report because he is Screech's cousin. The show's first incarnation, Good Morning Miss Bliss is set in Indianapolis. Mr. Dewey, the math teacher from the original series states that he is from there, as well.
  • Continuity Snarl: The Tori episodes in the fourth season. Not that the show as a whole is exactly known for its continuity.
    • The Good Morning, Miss Bliss thirteen episode season were originally just Canon Discontinuity after the retool. Only four characters made the transition and all sorts of details changed (aside from the location, Jessie was often referred to as Zack's oldest friend despite the fact that she didn't exist in the Miss Bliss episodes). However, with the popularity of the series exploding, Miss Bliss episodes started airing to help pad the rerun count and retroactively were dubbed The Junior High Years (in syndication, they tend to run before "King of the Hill" - the pilot episode). The snarl comes in as with these reruns, new intros with Zack reminiscing about junior high were filmed. Needless to say, less knowledgeable viewers wondered what happened to Jessie and Kelly (among other things), while those coming in cold wonder how things take a drastic turn after these thirteen episodes.
    • Also in the Good Morning, Miss Bliss episodes, Zack's father was divorced, and Zack had a sister who was mentioned but not seen. After the retool, Zack's parents were together, his father's original actor had been replaced, and he was now an only child.
  • Cool Teacher: Miss Bliss, and Miss Wentworth in the re-tooled episodes.
  • Creator Cameo: The end of "No Hope With Dope" features NBC President Brandon Tartikoff As Himself. Tartikoff broached the initial Good Morning, Miss Bliss premise and supported the series.
  • Crossover: Mary Beth and Amy from fellow TNBC show Hang Time appear in The New Class episode "The Kiss".
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Stacy Carosi.
  • Delivery Guy: Zack, who indeed shepherds the birth of his principal's wife's child. In an elevator. During an earthquake.
  • The Documentary: The dream episode where the Zack Attack becomes rock stars was structured this way.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Screech, to Lisa. Borders on Stalker with a Crush.
    • Also seen in the first season of The New Class as regards Screech expys Weasel's (mostly) unrequited crush on Lisa expys Megan.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Melissa, the girl in the wheelchair during one of the Tori episodes, really hates being treated differently. Zack really doesn't seem to get this, and keeps embarrassing her by saying things like "Could you slouch down? My date's in a wheelchair and she can't see the screen," and "Melissa you were amazing in that game! See, even though she's in a wheelchair she did great!" and other cringe-worthy comments. One honestly can't blame her when she dumps Zack.
  • Double Standard: The episode where an unattractive fat girl shows interest in Zack and he has to learn that looks are not everything is Played for Drama with An Aesop at the end. Unattractive nerds hitting on the girls who rebuff them constantly? Played for Laughs.
  • Dream Sequence: Plenty of 'em.
    • Many of which involve the characters all having the same daydream / dream...
  • Easily Forgiven: Zack.
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: This is Slater's default way of sitting. As the series predates most ironic uses of this, Slater manages to come across as cool and slightly (but harmlessly) rebellious.
  • Edutainment Show: Really only in technicality, but it has life lessons, so it counts, so some television stations will plug it in a timeslot with an E/I logo in the corner and get credit for it.
  • The Eighties: Started in 1988 as Good Morning, Miss Bliss and after the retool came back as Saved by the Bell in 1989. Most of it takes place in the '90s, however, although stylistically there are still lots of '80s influences throughout the show's entire run (until The College Years begins in '93 at least).
  • '80s Hair: Lisa, Jessie, and Tori poofed up their hair as much as humanly possible, but Kelly only poofed it up in the front, to the point that in retrospect, it looks like she has a mullet. And don't get us started on Slater's Jheri curls and Zack's bleaching and feathering.
    • Zack's fantasy self with a... faux punk look will never be surpassed.
      • "...I look like 'Mr. Madonna'! "
  • Embarrassing First Name / Embarrassing Middle Name: Slater's full name is Albert Clifford Slater (hence why he prefers "A.C."). Jessie's middle name is Myrtle. Which was, apparently, also the name of Zack's turtle.
  • Enter Stage Window: Zack and Jessie.
  • Estranged Soap Family: The parents rarely show up, but when the gang graduates, goes to college, gets married, etc., they're never around.
    • Zack's and Kelly's parents did show up in Wedding in Las Vegas (and with the original actors too).
  • Extraverted Nerd: Screech.
  • Fake Band: Zack Attack.
  • Falling in Love Montage
  • Fantastic Racism: Stacy Carosi initially has a rather fervent and irrational hatred of people from California, openly accusing them all of being airheads and Surfer Dude stereotypes, and declaring that she has no time for their supposed ditziness because "I'm from the East Coast." However, her Foe Yay with Zack eventually turns into a romance and she ends up changing her mind about Californians, and Stacy actually ends up transforming into a friendly, Reasonable Authority Figure towards the end of her arc.
  • Fat Idiot: Mr. Tuttle. Although he was a knowledgeable, enthusiastic science/drivers' ed/glee club teacher, he was shown to be very gullible and easily manipulated by Zack.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Lisa's (in)famous quote: "What is art? Are we art? Is art art?"
  • Flanderization: Both Jessie and Slater ended up, by the end of the series, defined mainly by way of Jessie being an ultra-feminist and Slater a proud male chauvinist. Also by this time, Screech's "zaniness" had been flanderized into "blatant stupidity," which is about the time viewers just got sick of him.
  • Follow the Leader: Saved by the Bell was the leader, and spawned multiple clones (including California Dreams), leading NBC to cancel all its cartoons, give half of Saturday Morning to a new version of the Today show, and the other half to the Saved by the Bell clones.
  • Friendship Song: In a Behind the Music-like episode showing the formation, success, breakup, and reuniting of the gang's band Zack Attack, their big hit is called "Friends Forever."
    We'll be friends forever
    'til the end of time
  • Freudian Excuse: Several episodes in Good Morning, Miss Bliss implied that Zack's ultra-manipulative personality is the result of his parents being divorced. His father basically ignores him because of work while his mother makes excuses for Zack's delinquent behavior and generally does nothing to punish her son for his actions. In the Saved by the Bell proper, and The College Years, Zack's parents were still married. Furthermore, one of the earlier episodes in the proper series suggests that Zack is a poor student because his father is busy working all the time and never around to keep him focused.
  • The Fun in Funeral: In "Operation: Zack", Zack has a dream where he sees his own funeral after a failed knee operation. It's very, very narmtastic, right down to his picture being a black-and-white photo of him smirking and pointing at the camera and the mourners actually humming the Funeral March.
  • Future Loser: Slater feared this for one episode, where he imagined his life as an out-of-shape WWF wrestler who was losing one match after another.
  • The Game Never Stopped: Trope namer, in the murder mystery episode.
  • Gender Flip: Plots from the original series were recycled in The New Class with the gender roles reversed.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A rare example happened on the show and most fans overlooked it when it happened (and still do), but during the episode "Date Auction", when Mr. Belding asked if there were any other motions to make during the student council meeting, Zack replies, "Yeah, let's see the cheerleaders in motion" while making a diagonal fist and motioning it up and down above his waist.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Screech had several one-episode love interests, often played by extremely beautiful actresses (Hillary Danner, Emma Caulfield, Christina Moore, Marnette Patterson). In the "country club" story arc, he had a recurring girlfriend named Alison, played by the lovely Clare Salstrom. Even his "nerdy" girlfriend, Violet, was played by Tori Spelling, although she wore thick glasses and a dorky hairstyle and clothes for the role.
  • Grand Finale: Wedding in Las Vegas.
  • G-Rated Drug: Jesse's caffeine pills.
  • The Great Politics Messup: The show takes place right at the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet empire was falling apart (there are early references in the show to Mikhail Gorbachev, and at one point Zack describes his skin-clearing cream as "Acne Glasnost"). It actually becomes a plot-point in the 1990 episode "The Prom", where Kelly's dad loses his job at the local defense contractor due to Cold War tensions coming to an end and the Real Life federal budget cuts in defense. In Mr. Kapowski's words, "World peace broke out." Serves as an example where Real Life Writes the Plot.
  • Greek Chorus
  • High School
  • High School Dance: Basically every other episode features one. It seems like the kids of Bayside High believe that a school dance is the solution to every problem.
  • High School Hustler: Zack Morris. He's also the rare example that crosses it with Big Man on Campus.
  • High School Rocks: This is an overall theme of the series. Reinforced in the "school song" episode during senior year, where Zack pens a song all about how Bayside rocks.
  • High School Sweethearts: Zack and Kelly. Their eventual marriage even got lampshaded in one episode.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Mostly averted, as all the lead actors are gorgeous, and their characters are popular in the school. There is one odd example, though. The boys participate in a date auction, and not one girl bids on Slater, until Kelly does out of pity. This despite him being a star wrestler, good friends with Zack, and played by Mario Lopez. That was justified as Jessie threatened every girl in school not to bid on Slater because she was opposed to the idea of a date auction for some reason. Kelly was the only one willing to to stand up to Jessie about it. Jessie initially played it off as feminist disapproval, but it was quickly made clear she was being jealously possessive of Slater.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Kelly in the Beauty Pageant and glee club episodes, though that little factoid is thrown out in the Jessie's Song and Zack Attack episodes. Though in the case of the Zack Attack episode, it was All Just a Dream. She's also stated to be in their band in the episode where she meets Jeff, though she can't take part since she has to work at The Max.
  • Ice Queen: Stacy Carosi, at least initially.
  • Idea Bulb
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Stacy Carosi pretty much unequivocally states this when she arrives to take charge of the Malibu Sands resort for her father. What she wasn't counting on was that her antagonism with the fun-loving Zack would turn into Foe Yay and result in her becoming a Defrosting Ice Queen.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Kelly was portrayed as the hands down hottest chick at Bayside, yet most would agree she's not any more attractive than Jessie, Lisa, or any other one-off "hot" girl.
    • However, she was far less abrasive than Jessie and far less snobby than Lisa. Which made her far more endearing.
  • In with the In Crowd
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Melissa, the girl in the wheelchair. Much to her chagrin.
  • Ironic Inversion
  • Ivy League For Everyone: Well, California University for Everyone, anyway. Zack got into Yale, but ends up going to Cal U instead.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: Screech did this to surprise Lisa. She was not impressed.
  • Karma Houdini: Zack gets away with a lot of sociopathic behavior.
    • Kelly has her fair share. On the occasions where she is to blame for her and Zack's ruined relationships it's played straight that what she did was wrong. However when they get back together, it's all white washed.
  • Large Ham: Mr. Belding, though he's no BRIAN BLESSED.
    • During the Hawaii movie, when Mr. Belding briefly impersonates a professor, his performance can only be described as this. Lampshaded by Kelly when Belding starts bellowing a loud proclamation in native Hawaiian while banging a spear into the ground and the camera zooms in on the look of silent incredulity on Kelly's face. And lampshaded again by Zack when Belding afterward asks "How was I?" and Zack replies that he was "A little hammy here and there."
    • James.
  • Law of Disproportionate Response
  • Life Embellished: Zack would sometimes use an inexplicable "Time Out" ability - basically, he could freeze time to escape from whatever sticky situation he'd gotten into, and break the fourth wall.
  • Limited Social Circle: Played extremely straight. Not only do Zack and his friends pretty much only interact with each other, they also seem to be the only students who ever do anything. In other words the school sees to consist of them and a bunch of Ghost Extras.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The New Class. In seven seasons, a total of nineteen different main characters appeared in the opening credits (though not all at the same time obviously).
  • Market-Based Title: Germany aired the series as California Highschool.
  • The Masochism Tango: Slater and Jessie. There's Belligerent Sexual Tension, and then there's dysfunctional couple. The two were the latter.
    • Lampshaded by Screech during one of Slater and Jessie's breakups: "But you guys were so happy together...every now and then!"
  • The Movie: Two TV movies - One for going to Hawaii and another with Zack and Kelly getting married in Vegas.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Slater likes wearing gym short-shorts, and incredibly loose muscle shirts.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Zack and Slater.
  • Music Is Politics: A naive Zack Attack discovers this at the hands of Mindy, the evil music exec who pulls a Corrupt the Cutie on Zack and causes the gang to go through years of pain and turmoil. Luckily it was All Just a Dream.
  • The Nineties: Considered one of the trademark shows of both the late '80s and early '90s.
  • No Fourth Wall: Zack's time-out.
    • Zack would also address the audience, usually at the beginning of an episode to provide exposition.
    • During the first season of The New Class, the Zack expy Scott Erickson did the same thing in every episode.
  • Noodle Incident: "Screech, I have a great idea!" "Gee, I dunno, Zack. The last time you had a great idea, I ended up (in an extremely improbable situation)". Examples include "naked in a jar of jellybeans" and "with my tongue stuck to a moving airplane". Scenarios that are never shown, nor discussed again.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: We discover during senior year that Zack has been playing this from the beginning (although it had been hinted at throughout the series) when it comes to academics. Despite his self-constructed image as a slacker, he scores extremely high on the SAT and gets into Yale. The represenatative from one college, the fictional Stansbury University, actually kept showering Zack with attention and courted him to attend their school, much to Jessie's frustration, as the lady kept ignoring her.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mr. Belding often played this role during the Miss Bliss episodes.
  • Omnidisciplinary Teacher: Mr. Tuttle teaches science, economics, driver's ed, and music (including coaching the glee club). This makes it rather easy to sympathize with him when he insists that he deserves better pay.
  • One Born Every Minute: And Zack is certainly quick to take advantage.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Part of one of the Very Special Episodes about drugs, Zack realized Jessie's antics were a red flag before discovering she was addicted to caffeine pills.
  • Opening Narration: Every episode of Good Morning, Miss Bliss opened the first act with a brief voice-over by Miss Bliss. When they were re-packaged as episodes of Saved by the Bell, these would be preceded by a Cold Open monologue from Zack, which usually covered a lot of the same ground; however, since he would always discuss the events from his perspective and Miss Bliss would talk about them from hers, it created an interesting "he said/she said" dynamic.
  • Parent Ex Machina
  • Platonic Life Partners: Zack and Jessie, who have been friends since preschool and describe their relationship as being more Like Brother and Sister than anything.
    • Somewhat disturbing given that they make out in one episode, just to see "How much we wouldn't like kissing each other!". And are promptly caught by Slater and Kelly.
      • It started off as them having to kiss while practicing for the school play, in which Jessie was a (feminist) Snow White and Zack was the prince. They kiss each other while practicing, and consider the possibility of exploring a romantic relationship, though the thought freaks them both out. That's when—taking advice from Mr. Belding—they decide to kiss again to see if they really like it. When they realize they don't, that's when they kiss again just to laugh about how meaningless it feels to them...and then cue Slater and Kelly walking in.
  • Plot Hole:
    • The "Tori Paradox", the unexplained disappearance of Jessie and Kelly and the introduction of the new character of Tori Scott, and then her disappearance and Jessie and Kelly's reappearance in time for the graduation episode that is never given any explanation in the course of the show.
    • There never is any real explanation for what happened to all the characters who disappeared in the show's transformation from Miss Bliss to Saved by the Bell.
  • Pretty in Mink: Kelly in a fantasy scene.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr. Belding.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Screech discovered artificial intelligence early on in the series. Also during his senior year, he and his lab partner Kelly build a Love-O-Meter that can accurately gauge how two people feel about each other. Considering the scientific breakthroughs Screech made despite being a high school student, one really wonders why he didn't come up with more inventions that could solve the gang's problems.
  • Rejection Affection: Even though Lisa is extremely vocal in her lack of interest in Screech, he obliviously insists they are meant to be.
  • Remember the New Guy: Kelly and Jessie who allegedly grew up with Zack, Screech and Lisa.
    • Slater's sister J.B. returns from boarding school in Europe where she's apparently known by the main cast since Slater transferred in grade 9.
  • Revolving Door Casting By the time The New Class ended, Belding was the only one to be there from day one. Granted, high school is four years, but many of the characters that left were never stated to be seniors, so they were either Put on a Bus or BrotherChucked.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Zack is convinced Kelly is blowing him off, because every time he wants to talk to her, she has to wash her hair. He confides in Slater and asks:
    Zack: Who washes their hair five times a day?
    Slater: You do, Preppy.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: When Zack, Slater and Screech have a sleepover (except they're dancing to "Barbara Ann" instead of "Old Time Rock 'n Roll").
  • Recycled Set: The hallway/locker area set, originally built for the show's first incarnation as Good Morning, Miss Bliss, never got destroyed, and has been reused in many high school based shows. It is currently being used as the school set for iCarly, and Victorious after Thats So Raven used it before.
  • Screaming Birth: Mrs. Belding gives birth trapped in an elevator with Zack and Tori.
  • Seers: Screech for an episode.
  • Sexy Mentor: The show clearly loved this. Here are some examples:
    • Much to everybody's utter shock and awe, Screech becomes this to Kelly while coaching her for a science exam during their freshman year. Kelly begins to respect Screech for his scientific genius. Then, she actually starts to find it attractive (thus Kelly became seemingly the only person at Bayside to believe in the Nerds Are Sexy). Everyone else is completely shocked to hear about this and treat it as if it's the most shocking news of the century, reacting with a mixture of awe, disgust, and amazement, with people at Bayside openly wondering What Does She See in Him?. Screech and Kelly getting together is apparently such a big deal that the news spreads like wildfire around the world, and George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Margaret Thatcher are actually seen gossiping about it! President Bush himself sums it up by giving an OK sign and declaring "Way to go, Screech!" while First Lady Barbara nods in agreement.
    • Screech repeats this again in The College Years when he plays astronomy mentor to a hot, famous tennis player.
      • Stacy Carosi becomes one for Zack during the Malibu Sands arc.
      • Jeff, the sleazy new manager of The Max becomes this for Kelly for a while, becoming the Romantic False Lead in the process until Kelly finds out he's been cheating on her.
      • The lecherous Professor Lasky becomes this for Kelly as well in The College Years, becoming the Romantic False Lead and a fan unfavorite character overnight, as he was throwing a wrench in the Zack and Kelly pairing. In the end, Zack and Kelly get together when Kelly breaks up with Lasky after realizing that Zack truly loves her and that Lasky is just a sleazy Casanova Wannabe. After Lasky's relationship with Kelly was exposed and Kelly dumped him to return to Zack, Professor Lasky was last seen as a broken man, apparently undergoing a nervous breakdown and downing milk at the college food court in an attempt to cure his stress-induced ulcers...
  • Ship Tease: Both the Zack/Jessie and Zack/Lisa pairings each got one episode devoted to teasing the pairing. The former promptly sank it because they realized they had no romantic chemistry (though some fans seem to disagree). The latter went all the way and, ironically enough, was never mentioned again despite being the Fan-Preferred Couple.
    • Zack and Lisa were also teased in the Zack-in-hospital episode, the Murder Mystery episode, and several other subtle moments.
      • Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Lark Voorhies actually were dating for much of the series, so that certainly explains the undeniable chemistry between Zack and Lisa.
    • As for Zack/Jessie, there were definitely a few episodes in Season 1 that seemed to subtly Ship Tease them, such as the one where Jessie trains Zack to dance so that he can take Kelly to a dance, but Zack ends up asking Jessie herself to be his dance partner (many fans like to think of this as an example of Jessie becoming a Sexy Mentor to Zack), and even in their senior year, the moment after Jessie realizes that Zack has orchestrated a hair-brained scheme to get her into Stansbury University, she and Zack share a sweet moment outside Belding's office.
  • Shirtless Scene: Mario Lopez has several in both Saved by the Bell and Saved by the Bell: The College Years. In The College Years, on the episode Professor Zack, the girls convince Slater to pose for a shirtless calendar ( which he does on-screen). In the original series, he competes in the Miss Bayside contest, going shirtless for the swimsuit portion and flexing.
  • Six Student Clique: Trope codifier.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Jessie and Slater.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: This series was the king of the Status Quo Is God.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Zack comes across as this more often than not, since he's constantly shown lying, scheming, and manipulating to get what he wants.
  • Stand-In Parents: Zack got a waiter/aspiring actor from The Max to pretend to be his father for a parent-principal conference with Mr. Belding. Since that guy was an out-of-work actor he decided to ham it up. But that was for a different reason - he didn't want his real father to find out about his scholastic misdeeds.
  • Studio Audience: And a very excitable one, at that.
    • Even moreso during The College Years, where it sometimes really makes one speculate that NBC intentionally found the most *ahem* excited audience ever, whose members apparently found everything in the plot of The College Years to be Fetish Fuel and would shriek "WOOOOOOOOOOO!" or "OW!!!" accordingly.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: On at least two occasions (both while he was in drag), someone makes a flirtatious comment about Zack's legs.
    • And, even though it wasn't in drag, there's been a few comments on how soft and girly his hands are.
      • Some coming from Slater. Make of it what you will, Zack/Slater-shippers.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The New Class, most blatantly in its first season. Scott for Zack (even breaking the Fourth Wall in the same way), Weasel for Screech, Tommy D for Slater, Lindsay for Kelly, and Megan for Lisa and Jessie (due to her being Weasel's unrequited crush, as well as the smart one in the group). Also Tori for both Kelly and Jessie in the original show.
  • Take That: There's one take that at Vice President Dan Quayle (like in most of the TV shows from this period) where during Zack's fantasy about becoming an industrialist, Quayle buys one of Zack's Buddy Band bracelets and tries to wear it as a headband, breaking it in the process. According to fantasy Jessie and fantasy Zack, this is apparently not the first time this has occurred.
    • In "The Prom," Screech, Lisa, and the rest of the gang are watching a zombie movie and Lisa asks if Matt Dillon is in the movie, to which Screech responds "No, Alan Thicke is the zombie. Everybody knows that!" as a not-so-subtle way of insulting Thicke's acting skills.
  • Tech Marches On: Zack's cellphone. Funny then because a teenager even having one was taking High School Hustlerdom to extreme levels. Funny now because of how freakin' huge it is.
    • The large "brick" cell phones from that era are actually popularly known as "Zack Morris Cell Phones" as a retronym.
  • Thing-O-Meter: There's a Love-o-Meter at the Max. Kelly and Screech also invent one for a science project that leads to hilarity.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: During the Miss Bliss episodes, Nicki played the Tomboy to Lisa's Girly Girl.
  • Totally Radical: Some of the surfer dudes definitely came across this way. That being said, it may actually be Truth in Television for some...
    • And the show does take place on the California coast, where the whole Surfer Dude culture never really went away.
  • TV Teen: Zack's awkward, uncertain, and initially resistant reaction when he's offered a beer. Mind you, this is Zack, the Lovable Rogue who loves to party and loves to flout the adults' rules for fun; the idea that he would be initially resistant to enjoying a beer seems rather bizarre and inconsistent with his usual characterization. The same can be said for Zack's furious and aghast reaction to the idea of smoking pot; again, it's certainly not impossible for him to abstain from it, but his furious reaction seems at odds with his usual characterization.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: When Mr. Belding first mentions his niece, Slater imagines Belding in a wig with Uncanny Valley Makeup. However, when we finally meet Penny Belding, she is hot.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: As it started in 1989 and ended in 1993, it is chronologically the latest example of an identifiably '80s program.
  • The Unseen: A really bizarre and glaring example. In some episodes, Mr. Belding is informed of an incoming visitor to his office by a secretary over the PA system. But...how? The door from the hallway leads directly into Mr. Belding's office, with no secretary room in between, so unless the guests to Mr. Belding's office first enter a pocket dimension where a secretary works before re-emerging in Belding's office, this seems impossible.
  • Vacation Episode: The Grand Finale, in Las Vegas.
    • An earlier episode has Kelly's grandpa inviting everyone to his hotel in Hawaii for summer vacation.
    • The whole Malibu Sands arc.
    • And Jessie inviting her friends to her dad's hotel to meet her new stepmom.
  • Very Special Episode: Most blatantly "Jessie's Song" and "No Hope With Dope".
    • The College Years has a very poorly done episode where Slater discovers his father is Mexican but changed his name to get into the Army. Zack apparently has to learn An Aesop about respecting Slater's heritage after Slater spends the episode being overly sensitive and accusing Zack of being racist.
  • What Is Going On?: Mr. Belding's Catch Phrase: "Hey, hey, hey! What is going on here?!!"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Zack often gets called out by his friends for his schemes and manipulations yet they continue forgiving him and go along with them over and over again.
    • What about Kelly, first she and Zack are pretty much doing everything for each other, then she for the sake of shock value cheats on him not once but twice disregarding his feelings. In college years his attempts to win her back are disregarded as stupid. One of the people she cheats on him with, a college professor, calls her out on this and when she realizes what she did to Zack she doesn't blame herself she blames him.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: It's what eventually kills Zack and Kelly's relationship. For a while, anyway.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jessie and Kelly's location during the Tori episodes is never stated due to contractual issues regarding the number of episodes they were signed up to do.
    • More like they were not actually mentioned at all.
  • You Look Familiar: Minor characters Scud and Ox were played by the same actor.
  • Zany Scheme: This show managed to raise zany schemes to an art form.
    • In a few episodes after Zack's scheme fails he begins to formulate a new one and the other characters tell him off.
      • Sometimes when they figure what Zack's up to they come up with a Counter Zany.


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alternative title(s): Saved By The Bell
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