"In just a handful of scenes, we've established the full set of character archetypes to see us through until the series goes off air. Zack's a huckster, Slater a jock, Jessie an uptight brain, Kelly a cheerful object of desire, and Screech an intolerable bundle of silly faces. When Lisa appears on crutches, having kicked a television in rage when her favorite nail polish was discontinued, her core personality—likes clothes; doesn't fancy Screech—is also laid out."
Stuart Millard (discussing the first episode, "Dancing to the Max"), So Excited, So Scared: The Saved by the Bell Retrospective
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Zachary "Zack" Morris
Portrayed by: Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Voiced by: Raúl Aldana and Irwin Daayán (Latin-American Spanish)
- The Ace: He's popular, gets all the girls, is fairly good at sports, musically talented, The Charmer, and despite being a slacker, he gets unbelievably high SAT scores with a fictional Ivy-League college pining for him.
- Big Man on Campus: Interestingly enough, he was clearly not the big man on campus when the show started, and seemed almost like a guy who was desperately trying to be popular. Apparently, whatever he did worked. As the series went on, Zack appeared to become popular around school. By senior year, he had truly became the big man on campus. The fact that he went from a scrawny runt during freshman year to a more muscular basketball player and track team runner (and his legendary status around school as the loveable rogue) may have had something to do with it.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Often does this in an episode.
- Breakout Character: He started off as a supporting character in Good Morning, Ms. Bliss.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Invoked in the episode where the characters get their SAT scores back and Zack scores extremely high. The other characters realize out loud that although Zack's lazy, he's a lot smarter than he lets on. Zack himself tells them to keep it quiet, since he has "a reputation to look out for." Even without this example, there are numerous times where Zack excels at various schemes because he applies himself there instead of at schoolwork.
- Catchphrase: "Time out!"
- Chick Magnet: Is one of the most popular in Bayside. "Date Auction" is a good example of this.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Him and Kelly get married in Las Vegas in the movie.
- Deadpan Snarker: Occasionally is this.
- Delivery Guy: Helped deliver Mrs. Belding's baby.
- Easily Forgiven: Zack gets away with a lot of sociopathic behavior.
- Expy: According to Mark-Paul Gosselaar, he's pretty much modeled after Ferris Bueller of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Not to the level of Screech, but his friends (bar Screech) often scheme against him behind his back and show abhorrence towards him.
- The Hero: He's the central character of the series.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Eventually gets into this with Slater after Kelly chooses between the two of them.
- High School Hustler: Arguably the Trope Codifier to Ferris Bueller's Trope Maker.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may be a schemer, but he ultimately does care about his friends and doing the right thing.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Zack's very high SAT score (1502) gets him offered admission to Yale despite his lackluster grades.
- Kid-anova: When he wasn't in a relationship.
- Loveable Rogue: Despite his scheming, he is a likable guy.
- Manipulative Bastard: He comes across as this more often than not, since he's constantly shown lying, scheming, and manipulating to get what he wants.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Was a nice guy despite his scheming.
- Physical God: He's aware of the fourth wall and can even temporarily stop time (by calling a "time out") to address the audience, escape danger, or carefully analyze his surroundings. It rarely comes into play in most episodes, but it's reminiscent of another practical joker that has fourth wall awareness. This includes occasionally throwing a lampshade on this "ability" by waving his hand in front of someone's face. He'd occasionally even re-arrange the scene to help him escape a predicament.
- The Power of Friendship: The easiest way to tug at his strings. As noted at Saved by the Bell...Reviewed!, for all his flaws, Zack "would rather lose some pride than lose a friend."
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Screech's Sensitive Guy.
- Ship Tease: With all the female characters at some point.
- Smarter Than You Look: As hinted above, Zack was far smarter than he let on.
- Tech Marches On: In 1989, a teenager having his own cellphone was playing the High School Hustler trope Up to Eleven.
- Time Stands Still: "Time Out!"
- The Trickster: Part of what cements his Alternate Character Interpretation as a Physical God is how closely he matches the Trickster archetype.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: At his worst.
- Will They or Won't They?: With Kelly for a while.
- With Friends Like These...: It'd be easier to list the episodes where Zack doesn't get one or more of his friends into some kind of trouble.
Portrayed by: Tiffani Amber Thiessen
Voiced by: Rommy Mendoza (Latin-American Spanish)
- Academic Athlete: A good student and captain of the volleyball, swim, and softball teams.
- Alliterative Name: Kelly Kapowski
- The Cheerleader: Subverted. Despite the stereotypes of cheerleaders, Kelly is one of the kindest and most squeaky clean girls at Bayside High.
- Childhood Friend Romance: She and Zack get married in Las Vegas in the movie.
- The Ditz: Played with, she was smart and a good student, but also a bit of an airhead at times.
- Dude Magnet: Was one of the most popular girls at Bayside.
- Hello, Nurse!: How she was seen at Bayside.
- Informed Attractiveness: Kelly was hot, no doubt, but few would argue that Lisa or Jessie were not just as hot. Within canon, however, Kelly was treated like a supermodel parading through the school.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Probably the worst offender; 1100 on her SAT and from a cash strapped family yet made it into the same prestigious (if fictional) university as Zach (high SAT/upper middle-class family), Screech (Valedictorian), and Slater (sports scholarship).
- Military Brat: Somewhat inverted as even though her father, Frank, worked at a defense plant, she never had to move around, unlike Slater.
- Ms. Fanservice: When the opportunity presented itself.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Played with, regarding her singing ability. In "Miss Bayside," she can't carry a tune. In the very next episode, "Jessie's Song," she (along with Jessie and Lisa) is noted to have excellent singing talent. In "The Glee Club," she's just as helpless as everyone in the glee club not named Violet, yet in "The Last Dance" and "Rockumentary" she's the band's lead singer (doing so angelically) and doesn't play an instrument.
- Nice Girl: She's head cheerleader and the most popular girl in school but she's also the most sweet natured character in the show (and it isn't because she's spoiled sweet either because she's from a comparatively poor family).
- Pretty in Mink: In a fantasy scene.
- Remember the New Guy?: Apparently grew up with Zack, Lisa, Screech, and Jessie.
- Will They or Won't They?: With Zack for a while.
Lisa Marie Turtle
Portrayed by: Lark Voorhies
- The Fashionista: Throughout the series. Also, she apparently becomes one in the literal sense as an adult, as she gets accepted to a prestigious fashion institute at the end of high school.
- Fashion Designer: In a final season episode she is applying for an internship at a clothing design studio and as a part of the application process she has to put on her own fashion show with her own designs and models. Kelly and Jessie help her sew the clothes while Zak and Slater organize the event. Later, all four model while Screech does commentary.
- Feigning Intelligence: "What is art? Are we art? Is art art?"
- Gossipy Hens: If there's gossip, expect Lisa to know about it.
- Hidden Depths: She's actually a pretty good student even making honor roll in the first season.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Despite being popular and somewhat shallow (and she can be very rude to her Abhorrent Admirer, Screech), she's a genuinely nice person.
- Sassy Black Woman: Definitely had the best put-downs of the cast:"You want toasted buns? Go sit on a MICROWAVE!!!"
- Spoiled Sweet: Had a sweet personality even though her family is well off.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Sort of. After Kelly and Jesse left the show, Lisa got a noticable boost in both popularity and brains so she could step into their shoes as the pretty and smart one to play against Tori's wild one. Lisa was always popular in canon, but after the other two left, it's like she became the only hot girl left at Bayside.
- Token Minority: She's the only black member of the group.
- Valley Girl: She's a fashion obsessed rich girl who frequently spends "Daddy's money", occasionally dropping "like" and "totally". But she's a little smarter than most traditional instances - and the fashion obsession is partly because she wants to work in the industry.
Samuel "Screech" Powers
Portrayed by: Dustin Diamond
Voiced by: Genaro Vásquez (Latin-American Spanish)
- Abhorrent Admirer: Towards Lisa, sometimes verging on stalker with a crush (played strictly for comedy).
- Adorkable: A quirky, eccentric, goofy genius. He usually wears extremely loud and mismatched clothes, loves science and is a member of the chess team.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Screech is this for the rest of the gang. According to Dustin Diamond, Screech's actor, this is also the source of a lot of his disdain for the rest of the cast.
- Berserk Button: He doesn't take it well when his friends forget to celebrate his birthday.
- Brutal Honesty: Often does this.
- Butt-Monkey: Of the group. He tends to be object of ridicule very often.
- Comically Missing the Point: Is prone to this in later seasons. The group would usually call him out for this.
- Ditzy Genius: He's smart but he usually lacks common sense.
- Dogged Nice Guy: He comically pines after Lisa.
- Dope Slap: As the original series went on, Screech was subjected to this (usually by Zack or Slater). Screech never caught on what was happening, even turning around one time and shouting, "Stop that!"
- Extraverted Nerd: One of the most well known examples.
- Fanboy: He is seen to be a fan of science, ALF, animals (especially bugs), weird, exotic foods, The Brady Bunch, chess and The Simpsons.
- Flanderization: His quirkiness is exaggerated in later seasons to the point where it becomes blatant stupidity. The New Class takes this even farther.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: While Screech is good friends with Zack (and Kelly to a degree), he is merely tolerated by the rest of the group (and outright despised by Lisa).
- Geek Physiques: He's very skinny.
- Hidden Depths: He's a surprisingly good impressionist being able to do spot-on impressions of both Mr. Belding and Al Bundy.
- Jerkass Ball: Screech takes a firm hold of this when Zack shows interest in Lisa in "The Bayside Triangle", to the point of trying to instigate a fight with him. This forces Lisa to put her foot down, and bluntly tell Screech once and for all that she simply isn't interested in him romantically.
- Karma Houdini: Surprisingly with a lot of Zack's schemes, he is rarely directly punished for them, despite being Zack's unindicted co-conspirator.
- Kiddie Kid: He is the character with the least development, and is the goofiest to boot. It doesn't help that his actor is a few years younger than his costars, yet his character is the same age on the show.
- Lovable Nerd: Initially, before his voice changes. He was such a cute, dorky little kid and far less annoying.
- The Millstone: He's frequently roped into scams by his best friend, Zack. And, as a running gag, he often unwittingly sabotages them. He also becomes this to Mr. Belding in The New Class when he takes an assistant job, being a constant source of frustration and embarrassment.
- Nice Guy: He's eccentric, dorky, and can be annoying every now and then. However, he is a very lovable, sweet, and friendly character.
- No Social Skills: Usually has trouble dealing with people outside the group.
- Odd Friendship: With the other main characters. Five cool, popular students and... Screech.
- Only Known by Their Nickname:
- Almost always referred as Screech. The one exceptions are his mom and Violet Bickerstaff, as both would always addressed him as "Samuel".
- Zack and Slater actually forgot Screech's real name in an episode of The College Years.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Is this for the group.
- Rejection Affection: Even though Lisa is extremely vocal in her lack of interest in Screech, he obliviously insists they are meant to be.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Zack's Manly Man.
- Serious Business: Birthday celebrations from people he cares for. Violating it is a good way to get him to turn cold on his friends.
- The Smart Guy: Qualifies since he becomes Valedictorian at Bayside.
- Smart People Build Robots: Has one in his bedroom in a show that doesn't have any other science fiction elements.
- Smart People Play Chess: Is fond of playing chess.
- Teen Genius: He did build his own robot. He was also the senior class valedictorian.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: At the start of the show he was smart enough to build a robot, but in later seasons he seems barely able to tie his own shoes. Though he still has his intelligence somewhat, since he is declared valedictorian in the last episode.
- Wacky Guy: Due to his Flanderization.
Albert Clifford "A.C." Slater Sanchez
Portrayed by: Mario Lopez
Voiced by: Yamil Atala (Latin-American Spanish)
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Jessie
- The Big Guy: He was the most muscular of the group.
- Big Man on Campus: In the first season, and it was the source of his and Zack's hostility.
- Chick Magnet: Was one of the most popular at Bayside.
- Embarrassing First Name: Along with Embarrassing Middle Name, he is Albert Clifford. No wonder he prefers to go by "A.C." or Slater.
- Flanderization: Into a proud male chauvinist.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: He has shown his good-natured and caring moments on occasions.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Eventually gets into this with Zack after Kelly chooses between the two of them.
- Jerkass: When he first came to the picture. He became a Jerk with a Heart of Gold shortly afterwards.
- Last-Name Basis: Usually referred to by his last name.
- Lovable Jock: He is a star wrestler and basketball player and, while a bit of a hothead, he has his Hidden Heart of Gold
- Military Brat: His dad was in the Army. Slater says he's been to Bolivia, Italy, Iceland, Berlin, and other places because of this.
- Missing Mom: Maybe. We see his father a couple times, but his mother never appears onscreen and is only referred to infrequently.
- Mr. Fanservice: The show never missed an opportunity to show off his impressive physique.
- New Transfer Student: Technically. He transferred to Bayside at the very beginning of the series, so he's not any newer to the audience than the rest of the characters. However, to the characters on the show, he was "the new guy," and the first season kept emphasizing this.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: His interactions with Jessie.
- Remember the New Guy?: Not him, but the sister that suddenly appeared in one of the Tori episodes.
- The Rival: To Zack, at first.
- Romantic False Lead: Early on in the Zack/Kelly relationship.
- Straw Misogynist: At times, always played for laughs.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: the show took every available chance to get Slater shirtless or in tights. Cue sitcom "Woooooooh~"
- Worthy Opponent: When he was Zack's rival, he was frequently able to keep up with his schemes and even get the better of him a time or two.
Jessica "Jessie" Myrtle Spano
Portrayed by: Elizabeth Berkley
Voiced by: Ana María Grey (Latin-American Spanish)
- Academic Alpha Bitch: Jessie teeters close to this - particularly when someone gets better grades than her - but overall she's a good-hearted girl.
- The B Grade: Jessie's greatest fear.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Slater.
- Class Representative: If not literally then at least in terms of personality.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Much of her activism is mostly Played for Laughs and ends up doing more harm than good. Save for one serious occasion when she and Zack try to stop an oil tycoon from turning Bayside into a disaster zone.
- Determinator: Was one of her characteristics.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: As noted above, Myrtle.Zack: "That's what I named my turtle."
- Flanderization: Her Straw Feminist tendencies. Ditto her drive to get good grades.
- Genius Bruiser: Aside from her vast intelligence, she's also implied several times to be the most physically strong of the three girls.
- Go-Getter Girl: Academic overachiever, environmental activist, and class president.
- Granola Girl: She is very verbal in her stances on saving endangered animals and the environment. Unfortunately, it sometimes crosses over into being in the Animal Wrongs Group.
- Huge Schoolgirl: She was the tallest girl in the group. This was one of the things that she was initially insecure about.
Jessie: "You grew up in a land of freedom and opportunity..."Zack: "And you live next door."
- When she rails against oil in general, Slater points out that it has a variety of uses, including the plastic earrings she's currently wearing.
- When she rags on Zack about how he can't understand the plight of poor people:
- She is very much into loving/helping endangered animals, but it's implied that she dislikes children.
- Possibly the most egregious example is that she is about peace and equality and feminism, but she comes off as pretty misandric at times and is occasionally seen as being physically abusive to Slater (even if the great majority of it is Dope Slaps, one time had her put him in a headlock).
- Despite her feminism, the only person she's seen dating in more than one episode is the hyper-masculine, somewhat misogynistic jock Slater.
- Ivy League for Everyone: She attends Columbia upon her graduation, after several of the other Ivy League schools turn her down, presumably due to her less than incredible SAT score (a still very respectable 1205, the 83rd percentile).
- Opposites Attract: Her and Slater, a studious feminist and an athletic (occasional) misogynist.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Zack, leading to occasional moments of Ship Tease.
- Remember the New Guy?: Apparently grew up with Zack, Lisa, Screech, and Kelly.
- The Smart Girl: So much so that her dream was to go to Stanford.
- Soapbox Sadie: Constantly due to being a feminist.
- Straw Feminist: Her defining trait.
Mr. Richard Belding
Portrayed by: Dennis Haskins
Voiced by: Gustavo Rocha (Latin-American Spanish)
- Affectionate Nickname: In the Saved by the Bell: The New Class series, Screech calls him "(the) chief".
- Always Someone Better: "The Fabulous Belding Boys" plays with it. His brother, Rod, is seen as cool and exciting, while Richard looks stiff and boring. However, Rod's carefree approach to life and teaching causes him to bail ahead of a student whitewater rafting trip. Only Zack knows what's really going on, as Mr. Belding covers and agrees to chaperone the kids.Mr. Belding: Heck, Rod always was the more exciting Belding.
—>Zack: Maybe, but we've got the better Belding.
- Butt-Monkey: Usually at the hands of someone else's antics (from Zack in the original series and Screech in The New Class).
- "Hey, hey, hey, what is going on here?"
- "My office, now!"
- The Chains of Commanding: "The Fabulous Belding Boys" shows that it's easy for his brother to goof around as a substitute teacher; it's hard for the one in charge to keep order and make good on promises.
- Dodgy Toupee: In "The Fight", he sports one to keep up with Becky, who lost forty pounds, and to look younger. It ends up knocked off of his head by the end of the episode whilst trying to break up a fight between Zack and Slater. It was for the best, as even he acknowledged how silly it looked.
- Former Teen Rebel: Was this when he was younger, hosting a rock and roll radio show and mooning the administration when they banned jeans and long hair on boys.
- Happily Married: To his wife, Becky. He's always bragging about the fun things they do together and the alternating ways they first met.
- Large Ham: Usually.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Most people know that Mr. Belding is a very strict but a kindhearted person. However, in one particular episode, "Video Yearbook", he was more than willing to restrain Zack while Slater was gonna punch him. Of course, this was all just part of a group scheme to get back at Zack for his yearbook. This also really backfired on Belding, as Zack used his classic Time Out power to get away and left him to get punched out when time resumed.
- Panicky Expectant Father: Very much so. When Becky was pregnant and he thought at one point that she was in labor, he accidentally pulled Lisa away with him instead.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Even Zack occasionally admits that Mr. Belding is a lot more reasonable than he usually gives him credit for. During the graduation episode, Zack gives Belding a hug. In the Wedding in Vegas movie when Mr. Belding is a guest at Zack and Kelly's wedding, Zack finally admits that he appreciates Mr. Belding and says "You made high school challenging."
- This is also his primary role towards the student body in The New Class series.
- Retired Badass: Touched upon in many episodes; he used to belong in a popular band in school, is a retired member of the armed services (either the Army or the National Guard, if not both), was formerly his high school's Big Man on Campus as well as his own radio show with his school's station and he mooned the school board when they threatened to pull said station.
- Signature Laugh: His high-pitched "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" whenever he's amused or makes a joke.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Cake, especially in Saved by the Bell: The New Class.
Mr. Belding: Now, can I have my cake back?
- In the Season 4 episode "To Tell the Truth", he refuses to let Screech throw a party in the gym — until Screech tells him that there will be cake in the party.
- In the Season 6 episode "Mind Games", when Screech gets obsessed with efficiency, the first thing he does that upsets Mr. Belding involves taking his lunch — cake included — away when he takes longer for lunch than Screech would allow. After Mr. Belding gets Screech to tone down on his efficiency obsession:
- Worthy Opponent: Despite his Butt-Monkey status, he's one of the few people who can keep up with Zack's schemes and even turn them against him on a regular basis. Zack even admitted that that Mr. Belding made things challenging for him.
Portrayed by: Leanna Creel
Voiced by: Araceli de León (Latin-American Spanish)
- The Ace: She's good at everything and loved to the point that Zack, Slater, and Screech go after her.
- Biker Babe: She showed up at Bayside riding a motorcycle.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Kelly and Jessie disappear, Tori appears and takes their place for nine episodes, then disappears, Jessie and Kelly reappear and everything carries on as normal as if Tori never existed.
- Contrasting Replacement Character: Replaces Kelly as Zack's love interest, though otherwise she doesn't much resemble her. Kelly is sweet and feminine, Tori is a rough, tomboyish Biker Babe.
- The Lad-ette: A tough, rebellious, jacket wearing, motorcycle-riding tomboy.
- New Transfer Student: Was this in the final season.
- One of the Boys: Eventually became this with the group.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Briefly the Tomboy to Lisa's Girly Girl.
Violet Anne Bickerstaff
Portrayed by: Tori Spelling
Voiced by: Ariadna Rivas (Latin-American Spanish)
Portrayed by: Leah Remini
Voiced by: Araceli de León (Latin-American Spanish)
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Zack.
- Big Applesauce: She was a New Yorker who only goes to California during the summers to work at her father's beach club.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: She went from hating Zack to being his girlfriend during the time at her father's beach club.
- Parental Marriage Veto: Her dad didn't approve of Zack.
- Your Cheating Heart: Zack finds out that Stacey had a boyfriend back at school.
Portrayed by: Bob Golic
- The Big Guy: Was a former football player.
- Embarrassing Tattoo: We'll let the quote speak for itself:Screech: "Coach has Big Bird on his butt!"Mike: "Hey, hey, hey! It's Tweety Bird!"
- Glory Days: A former NFL player for the San Francisco 49ers, Mike often wistfully reminisces about his days as a football player, and clearly loves the sport. On one occasion, while complaining about a Jerkass from his old team, he admits that he's jealous, and says "He's getting paid millions to play a game that I would have been willing to play for free."
- Landlord: OK, not actually a landlord, as the characters were living in a college dorm, but he was their Resident Advisor, so Landlord is probably the closest trope that fits.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He was this for the group at California University.
Portrayed by: Holland Taylor
- California University: The college where she works.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: How the group reacted when they were around her.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: Was the dean of California University.
Portrayed by: Josh Hoffman
- Big Applesauce: From New York.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Never seen or heard from again after his appearance.
- Hidden Depths: Despite his Jerkass ways, genuinely liked Lisa, enough to be very hurt upon discovering that she only went out with him to help Jessie get back at him and not believe her her sincere claims that she really had come to like him also.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite initial personality, he ultimately is a good guy.
- Renaissance Man: Is in the glee club, is a science geek, and mentions taking a Spanish cooking class.
- Jerk Jock: Sometimes. By the end though, he, Screech, and Big Pete have a "breakthrough" during Mr. Belding's bizarre group-psychotherapy session in gym class, and Ox ends up swearing off making fun of nerds again.
Portrayed by: Jeffrey Asch
Portrayed by: uncredited/unknown
- Happily Adopted: Screech said that Kimberly was adopted.
- One-Shot Character: Only appeared in one episode, "The Aftermath", and never appeared or mentioned again afterwards.