YMMV: Saved by the Bell

  • Accidental Innuendo: Sometimes Belding seems uncomfortably close to Zack and company.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Good Morning, Miss Bliss isn't nearly as well known as Saved by the Bell; it probably doesn't help that the former's episodes were folded into the latter's syndicated rerun package and presented as Saved by the Bell: The Junior High Years, so that its origins as a standalone series were obscured.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • A popular alternate take on Zack Morris is basically that he's a sociopath who treats the rest of the characters as pawns for his schemes and will go to any lengths to manipulate them into doing his bidding. The other theory is that Zack is a living god who constructed the entire world of Bayside solely to stroke his own ego and twist mortals to his whims. After all, within the show Zack can stop time at will, and in several instances he actually messes with people while they're time-stopped. Adding on to this theory, DC Comics and Superman fans could suggest that Zack might be Mr. Mxyzptlk.
    • There's also the one about Jessie Spano being a man. Whether A.C. Slater is aware of this is kept vague, but the general consensus seems to be that he'd not mind one bit.
    • Cracked have jokingly theorized that Mr. Belding is obsessed with Zack. They also posted articles about Zack bring a sociopath and the series wide interpretation it was only Zack's dream.
    • Zack and Kelly's relationship and Kelly's true nature. Many people have noticed that Zack seems more in love with Kelly than she was with him, given that she cheated on him with Jeff while they were together in high school and went after Professor Lasky in their college days while he was trying to legitimately rebuild a romantic relationship between them. Furthermore, even if at the time it was a throwaway line, in the "King of the Hill" episode, he mentions to Slater that he wasn't going to let him come between them since, as he puts it, "He waited through her last five boyfriends".
    • Jessie is meant to be viewed as the "smart" one, but if you actually examine her story lines, she's often just the loudest. Screech even cedes the valedictorian award to her after she whines about it enough.
  • Anvilicious: No aesop is subtle. Especially involving ducks, you bastards. This show was filmed during the 1980s and 1990s after all.
  • Awesome Music / Ear Worm: The theme song. Just try to listen to it once without it getting stuck in your head.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: In "Operation: Zack", Zack is trying to leave the hospital so he won't have knee surgery, so he dressed as a doctor to avoid being caught. At one point, a fat nurse comes out of one of the rooms, pulls him in and kisses him. We have no idea where she came from, why this sequence occurred and it is never brought up again during the remainder of the episode.
  • Critical Dissonance: Critics absolutely hated Saved by the Bell, but by the end of its first season, it had become the highest-rated show on Saturday mornings, a position it would hold for the rest of its run.
  • Critical Research Failure: The episode where oil is found on school property has this in spades. As do most episodes involving any vaguely science-related class. Though it did get the planets right in the memorable acronym. For its era, at least.
  • Creator's Pet: Tori Scott. Being a Replacement Scrappy, the show had to do a lot of shilling to make her seem cool to viewers. It didn't really work.
  • Designated Villain: Johnny Dakota. The popular handsome teen star went to Bayside to shoot an anti-drug commercial. He was nothing but nice to everyone he met, bailed Zack out of trouble, and invited the whole gang to a party at his apartment. Johnny turned out to be a pot smoker and invited Kelly to join in on the fun. As a result, the gang enacted Disproportionate Retribution on him by shunning and ratting him out, which got Johnny fired from the anti-drug ad. All this because he wanted to make some new friends.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Zack in Good Morning, Miss Bliss and Kelly and Screech in the Saved by the Bell proper.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In one episode, Zack, Slater, and Lisa get drunk at a party and then try to drive home. Zack crashes the car. They all scramble to fix everything and repeatedly lie to try to avoid trouble. Of course, they get found out, but only after their cover story gets so overly complicated and full of conflicting details. In other words, stick to the same lie or else you'll get caught for what you did wrong.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Zack and Lisa, in part because of victorious childhood friend syndrome. This was due to the fact that the two actors actually dated for a good deal of the production of the series.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The Tori episodes. See Mary Sue and Replacement Scrappy below.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • It's hard to look at the episode about the oil on the school property without thinking about what happened in the Gulf of Mexico.
    • Lisa's response when Kelly says that she always wanted to be a princess: "Well, if anything ever happens to Princess Di..."
    • In "Rockumentary", we find out that it's Screech who goes to the tabloids with scandalous gossip about everyone. Dustin Diamond, Screech's actor, would write a scathing tell all book years later.
  • Guilty Pleasure: Jessie's caffeine pill-induced freakout is known to be re-watched over and over for its narm.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Screech's entire characterization of being The Friend Nobody Likes. In real life, Dustin Diamond is outright hostile to his former castmates. So much so that he wrote a scathing tell all book (Behind the Bell). However, Diamond has since claimed that the book was ghostwritten by an author who wildly exaggerated many of the things he said.
    • As something as a Running Gag of the series, Zack and Screech (but particularly Screech) are very into their attractions/crushes on Kelly and Lisa, respectively (Zack's cardboard cut-out of Kelly, Screech repeatedly regarding Lisa as "his woman", etc.). While it may have seemed cute or a way to express affection for the one you love in the late 80s-early 90s, nowadays their behavior is considered forms of obsessive love and stalking.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Ho Yay:
    • Screech and Belding in The New Class.
    • Zack and Slater. They got their own video, which naturally didn't neglect to include scenes related to the George Michael concert they were going to go to or the bits involving ballet. With the amount of drag and homoerotic and gay subtext, this show certainly has its queer edge.
    • This line from "Screech's Woman" shortly after Slater recognizes Screech's date as Zack in drag:
    Slater: Morris??? (looks down) Nice legs.
    • Jessie stares crying at a recently married Kelly for just a little bit longer than strictly necessary.
  • Hollywood Homely: All of the "nerd" girls, most notably Tori Spelling and Louise (a.k.a. the Queen of the Nerds). For the latter, her actress was basically just given huge goggle-like glasses and had her hair mussed to make her look nerdier.
  • Idiot Plot: When the boys go to a dance club and find Kelly's boyfriend there with another girl, they tell Jessie and Lisa and they decide that Zack must tell Kelly. Right, the same guy Kelly left for Jeff. Because she's likely to believe him rather than if her two best friends tell her. Of course, she doesn't and this conveniently sets things up for a big dramatic scene where she catches Jeff in the act.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Kelly is regarded as the prettiest girl in school and amongst the gang, while Tiffani-Amber Thiessen is gorgeous, she isn't anymore beautiful than Elizabeth Berkeley, Lark Voorhies, or any other girl that appeared on the show.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Zack. It helps that the show at one point or another ship teased him with all the major female characters. And we're not even mentioning all the Ho Yay with Slater and Screech.
  • Marty Stu / Jerk Stu: Let's face it, Zack gets unbelievably high SAT scores with a fictional Ivy League college pining for him, despite him having a billion drop-out worthy things on his record and never studying a day in his life, gets a new girl every other episode, (which he promptly pushes outside of the universe into a vast pit of darkness that is discontinuity), is one of the most popular guys in school, stops time, plays with his acquaintances like puppets on strings and suffers no actual repercussions for it. This has gotten to the point where some people (including Cracked) theorized that Zack is ether a very Manipulative Bastard, God or both.
  • Mary Sue:
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "I'M SO EXCITED! I'M SO EXCITED! I'M, SO... SCARED!" This line was actually used in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode, "Inspiration Manifestation".
    • It was also deliberately invoked by Elizabeth Berkley, who played Jessie, when she appeared on Dancing with the Stars. Before she and her partner Val performed their jive, they recreated the whole scene, including Val coming into the window dressed in a letterman jacket, Elizabeth insisting she needed her "jive pills," and, of course, the singing.
  • Narm: Jessie's caffeine pill addiction (this Teens React episode on the show is visible proof of this kind of Audience Reaction) and the Elvis episode. In the case of the latter, it was probably intentional.
  • One True Threesome: In-universe example. In the episode where Screech falls in love with Tori, who is dating Zack, Tori ends up having to pretend to be interested in Screech to win a bet with Zack, but asks Screech to allow her to continue seeing Zack at the same time. Screech responds "Ahhh, an open relationship! I can dig it! I'm hip!"
    • Zack initially is a Shipper on Deck for Slater, Jessie, and Jennifer (Slater's old girlfriend who moves to Bayside) to become this, until Slater states that he intends to pick one, and Zack decides he wants to date Jennifer himself.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Tori. She wasn't very well received, as fans who saw those episodes kept wondering "where are Kelly and Jessie?" On top of her being a hastily devised replacement character, the blatant attempts to shill her as a character who was able to smugly outwit Zack, triumphantly put Slater in his place, have the uber-popular Lisa literally begging her for friendship, and magically attract Screech away from his Lisa obsession made her come across as a Mary Sue.
    • It should be noted that the only reason for the introduction of Tori is that at the last minute, NBC ordered more episodes to be filmed for the final season, just as the series was wrapping up and all the cast's contracts had expired. Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani Amber-Thiessen (who played Jessie Spano and Kelly Kapowski, respectively) simply wanted to move on and refused to re-sign. As a result, Tori was hastily created to fill in the roles left by the absence of the two aforementioned characters, and especially in the case of Kelly's absence, serve as a love interest for Zack.
    • The Tori episodes were filmed after the series finale and the made-for-TV movie that were supposed to wrap up the plot of the series, but were inserted into the middle of the season, as their storylines take place at the high school, in the usual canon of the series. This has lead to a series of gigantic plot holes that fans call the "Tori Paradox": Out of nowhere, Jessie and Kelly unexplainably disappear; Tori starts as a new student at the school and instantly befriends the main cast, who are carrying on as if Jessie and Kelly never existed; She is established as some kind of hybrid of Jessie and Kelly, thus she is beautiful and athletic while being smart, snarky and feminist; Zack begins a romantic relationship with her with absolutely no mention of his relationship with Kelly and showing no remorse for the fact that he is potentially cheating on her with Tori; Zack and Tori break up and all of a sudden, she is gone with no explanation of her fate; Jessie and Kelly reappear and everything reverts back to how it was before Tori appeared; Zack and Kelly get married and everyone graduates with no mention of Tori whatsoever, as if she was never there in the first place. This can also be seen as an example of What Happened to the Mouse?.
    • Some fans have tried to rationalize the Tori Paradox by speculating that the Tori episodes take place in an entirely Alternate Universe. This explains why Kelly and Jessie are totally absent with no mention of their existence; because they don't exist in the Toriverse, which explains why Zack acts as if his relationship with Tori is his first serious romance. It is in that universe. It also explains why Lisa initially doesn't seem as close to Zack, Screech, and Slater as she is in the regular episodes; in the Toriverse, it's their mutual friendships with Tori that brings them all together. Thus, the Toriverse is it's own, alternate continuity, while the "Kelly and Jessie" episodes take place in the regular continuity.
    • It has been noted that Tori both resembles and shares personality traits (most notably her strong feminist attitude) with singer/pianist Tori Amos, who had come to fame around the time the "Tori" episodes were filmed and aired. However, no evidence exists that the character is based off the singer, and thus any similarities between the two are simply a hilarious coincidence.
    • The New Class. Suspiciously Similar Substitutes galore.
  • The Scrappy: Professor Lasky, Kelly's Romantic False Lead of The College Years. He shared a lot in common with Jeff only in this case, the show went out of its way shilling what a great guy he was despite how unethical his romance with Kelly was.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: A lot of the jokes, while dated by now due to being reused in several sitcoms since then, were much fresher when the show first premiered. Saved by the Bell was also the first sitcom to feature "tweens" as the core demographic, before the word "tween" even existed, and was also the first of these sitcoms to gain a significant Periphery Demographic, a phenomenon which happens regularly nowadays. iCarly, Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana, Drake & Josh, and other similar shows all owe a debt of gratitude to Saved by the Bell for starting it all. To make things even more amusing, several of the above-mentioned shows that owe their existence to Saved by the Bell also feature the same school hallway set from Bayside High. If you look closely at the hallway scenes of iCarly or That's So Raven, you can actually notice it's the same layout, because the exact same set that was used for Bayside has been reused fo several of these later sitcoms, making the set itself a legacy that Saved by the Bell bequeathed to later tween sitcoms.
  • Special Effects Failure: Given the time frame and quality of the show, some of the examples are pretty obvious, particularly involving Screech:
    • In "Screech's Birthday", when Screech has an Imagine Spot that he's Robocop, when he "shoots" the rival hall monitor, the way he disintegrates is really cheap-looking.
    • In "Zack's War", when Screech imagines himself this time as an Army General, upon getting a random bully named Butch who was mouthing off to him to stand on his feet, when he lifts him up with one arm and throws him up into the sky, it's an obvious dummy.
    • In "Palm Springs Weekend" (Part 1), when in the exercise room on a treadmill and Screech tries a pick-up line on a random girl ("How would you like to run off with me?"), upon the girl rejecting him and her turning up the speed of his machine, you can see that he is only marching in place and that the treadmill isn't even turned on.
    • In "Video Yearbook", when Zack does his famous "Time Out" to stop himself from being punched by Slater and prevent Kelly from making out with her "new" boyfriend, Vince, in front of him, he moves out of the way and slides a piece of paper in between Kelly and the guy's faces. Even though she is supposed to be "frozen" in place, you can see her slightly move her head so the paper can go in between them.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Several, due to the tendency for a new character to show up, becoming important for an episode, and then never show up or be mentioned again.
    • One episode focused on Screech finally getting a girlfriend, the shy, nerdy Violet Anne Bickerstaff, played by Tori Spelling. Despite being very adorable and having a lot of chemistry with Screech, she is never seen or heard from again and he goes back to being a loser who can't get a date.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Zack and Lisa hooking up and making quite a nice couple and having Screech move on to Jessie, two potentially interesting bits of plot which was completely ignored afterwards. In the episode with Lisa's secret admirer, she meets a person she thinks is Zack at a costume party and announces she loves him. When it turns out to be Screech, the entire plot is dropped forever.
    • Since that last part with the costume party takes place during the bizarre Tori Era, an era that seemed to become Canon Discontinuity as soon as it was over, we can assume that that event was sucked out of continuity and vanished into a time warp like most of the other events that happened during the Tori arc. The only thing from this era was deemed canon was the fact that, yes, Mr. Belding did have a son (who made an appearance during The New Class) and he even named the boy after Zack.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • As noted under Harsher in Hindsight, Screech's attitude towards Lisa. Essentially he acts as if they're already together, frequently refers to her as his woman and is often mentioned to have gone to some really excessive 'romantic' gestures (writing "I love you" in syrup on her mother's white couch). The dissonance is that Screech is portrayed as the Dogged Nice Guy while Lisa is framed as if she were a bitch for not reciprocating his affections. Except that she's incredibly up front that she wants nothing to do with him and never leads him on. Though the episode where Zack and Lisa hook up does finally seem to address this; Screech spies Zack and Lisa kissing, gets revenge by ruining Lisa's fashion show and is prepared to fight Zack over it. Lisa immediately calls Screech out and tells him he has no right to do any of this - "You're not my boyfriend. You never were" and is presented as 100% in the right.
    • There's also "The Lisa Card" where Screech buys Lisa's lingerie and tells her to her face that he'll sleep with it. The same episode also features Zack selling tickets to various guys for a chance to kiss Lisa - without her consent. Zack's stuff towards Kelly is just slightly less bad, since they do end up in a relationship and Zack is always called out if he ever oversteps his boundaries.
    • The pot smoking episode. A sitcom these days featuring teens reacting like that to the idea that a famous person smokes pot would probably be used to portray the teens themselves as over conservative. The show would probably use a more serious drug like cocaine or heroin to get that message across.