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Iiiiiiiiit's alllllllll right...

"We don't see Zack's discovery of a discarded brick-phone in a storm drain, or Screech being bitten by a radioactive dickhead, or a homeroom roll-call of each character, with voice-over exposition of their trademark traits and crushes. And we don't need to, because it's unthinkable that a time could exist when Zack, Slater and co., and their various interpersonal foibles, weren't as much a part of our cultural database as Stairway to Heaven or the great flood. They went to Bayside, but we did too; all of us."
Stuart Millard, So Excited, So Scared
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"Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, what is going on here?"

Saved by the Bell is a sitcom that aired on NBC from August 1989 to May 1993. Heavily inspired by the films of John Hughes, the show centered around the spokespersons from each of the archetypal cliques: The Beefcake, The Cheerleader, The Fashionista, The Revolutionary, The Nerd—and most importantly, The Hustler, as embodied by the fourth-wall breaking, time-freezing Zack Morris. In spite of its achingly outdated (even for the time) '80s fashions and lingo, it remains the archetype of the TV High School, to the point where it is widely theorized that the entire Saved by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 is, in fact, God.

The show began life as a Hayley Mills vehicle titled Good Morning, Miss Bliss (1988-1989), which centered around a junior high school teacher named Miss Bliss as she dealt 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: focus was shifted to the student body, and only Zack, Samuel "Screech" Powers, Lisa Turtle, and Mr. Belding made the transition. 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 titled Saved by the Bell, was led by Zack and it is this version that is the one most viewers are familiar with.

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Powered by the Law of Disproportionate Response: characters won't even bat an eyelash at the absurdities of their lives (such as the fact that Screech designed and built a self-aware robot), but will explode over something trivial. Though they began and ended as friends, the Bayside Six had a rigidly-enforced pecking order in which Zack lurked somewhere near the bottom, with only the Renfield-like Screech (imprisoned in a locker at least Once per Episode) to boss around. Most episodes revolved around a Zany Scheme hatched by Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) with 1 of 3 objectives:

  1. Cheating/bribing his way up the social ladder, only to get knocked down again.
  2. Concocting a get-rich-quick scam to enslave Bayside to his whims.
  3. Woo back his on-again off-again girlfriend Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Theissen).
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Without fail, Screech (Dustin Diamond) would spoil the plan while attempting to help.

His nemesis A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) also had his eye on Kelly, leading to a tug-of-war between them as "Preppy" tried and failed to discover Slater's nonexistent weakness and break his seduction spell on the school. Slater would repeatedly win Kelly with little to no effort, but would later hook up with the armchair activist Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley). Lisa (Lark Voorhies) rounded out the cast as the Token Minority and debutante who acquired an unwanted admirer in poor Screech. Dennis Haskins, as Principal Richard Belding, ended up playing his role longer than anyone else associated with the show: he and Vice Principal Screech would form a double-act in The New Class.

The show is quite camp, with a high level of rewatchability, though not without its finger-wagging moralizing (which one could argue is part of the joke). The most infamous "message" episode involved Elizabeth Berkley having a conniption as a result of a caffeine addiction. Her ensuing rant has become legendary among fans and non-fans alike, and belongs in a gallery of television's greatest 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. Ultimately, the producers' attempt to cater to both younger fans of the original series and older primetime 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.

At one point, Cartoon Network aired Saved by the Bell on their [adult swim] block (despite the show's rating of TV-G) as a April Fools' Day prank. The series soon became a worldwide phenomenon as Universal, the current owners of the trademark, started doing a massive product brand revival of their #1 TV show in 2015.

In September 2019, it was announced that a Saved by the Bell revival would be produced for NBC's upcoming streaming platform Peacock. The revival will return to the halls of Bayside High, facing an influx of new students from lower-income schools after Zack, now the governor of California, scandalously closes too many schools, forcing them to merge into Bayside. Lopez and Berkeley will reprise their roles as Slater and Jessie, while Gosselaar will return as Zack in a recurring capacity and Thiessen is also expected to re-appear as Kelly. As for new characters, Josie Totah has been cast as mean girl cheerleader Lexi, Haskiri Velazquez as the intelligent Daisy, Alycia Pascual-Pena as tomboy Aisha, Belmont Cameli as Jessie and Slater's athletic son Jamie, and Mitchell Hoog as Zack's privileged son Mac, while John Michael Higgins will play Mr. Belding replacement as principal. Tracey Wigfield (30 Rock, Great News) will serve as showrunner and executive producer, alongside Lopez, Berkeley, Gosselaar, returning producer Franco Bario, and original series executive producer Peter Engel.

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:

  • '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'! "
  • 555: Everyone's phone number in "Video Yearbook".
  • 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 endures in "Fatal Distraction".
    • Wendy Parks, the overweight girl who wins Zack in "Date Auction". In the same episode, Brian Watkins sees Lisa as this until she pretends to share his intellectual interests.
  • The Ace: Tori manages to be snarky enough to keep Zack on his toes, knows how to bake and is an excellent mechanic, be cool enough to make Lisa pretty much beg to be her friend, and attract the attention of Zack, Slater, and Screech.
  • Actor Allusion: The first episode of Good Morning, Miss Bliss has a character ask if she's speaking with Miss Bliss, or her evil twin. This is a reference to Hayley Mills' appearance in The Parent Trap.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Lisa's father finds out she worked as a waitress to repay a debt to him, he finds it hilarious:
    "My daughter? Waited on tables?"
  • 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 and Zack's birthdays.
  • Alpha Bitch: Subverted. Despite displaying typical alpha bitch qualities such as head cheerleader (Kelly), overachiever (Jesse), and fashion queen (Lisa), all three main character girls are genuinely nice people and worthy of their popularity.
  • And Starring:
    • T.K. Carter in Good Morning, Miss Bliss.
    • Dennis Haskins in Saved by the Bell.
    • Tiffani Amber Thiessen in The College Years.
  • Anti-Climactic Parent: Lisa spends the entirety of "The Lisa Card" worrying about what her father will do to her when he finds out she overcharged his credit card. At the end, he just says, "Oh well, you've learned your lesson" - and Lisa has to beg him to punish her for it.
  • The Artifact: Leslie in The College Years. She's set up in the first episode for a Will They or Won't They? storyline with Zack. Then in the second episode, Kelly rejoins the gang. A few episodes play with Zack pursuing both of them, but the writers soon settle on him focusing on getting back together with Kelly. Afterwards, Leslie is still around, but she ends up with very little to do for the rest of the season.
  • Artistic License – Military: It's revealed in The College Years episode "Slater's War" that Slater's father changed his name to hide his Hispanic heritage to join the Army. Slater's father would have most likely joined the Army during the Vietnam War. In reality, people of Hispanic descent weren't being excluded from military service at the time.
  • 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. He seemed to teach a wide variety of classes and coach a wide variety of clubs.
  • 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.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In "The Prom", Screech finally gets a date with Lisa. She shows no appreciation for him getting her snacks and keep talking during the whole movie. He eventually dumps her in the middle of the date and leaves the theater.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The beach episodes end with Stacey having to return to New York for school, parting amiably with Zack. He's still very saddened by her departure, and the episode ends with his friends comforting him on the beach afterwards.
  • 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: In "The Zack Tapes", after learning about subliminal messages, Zack begins using them for his own benefit. It initially works until Kelly, Lisa, and Jessie realizes what happened. They get their revenge.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: "My hobbies include dating, guys, and dating guys!"
  • Building of Adventure:
    • Somewhere around 95% of the action takes place at Bayside High.
    • Tons of school-related activities takes place at The Max. This is justified since The Max is owned by the school board.
    • Occasionally, scenes are set in one of the kids' bedrooms.
  • California University: Zack, Kelly, Slater, Jessie (for a little while), and Screech all attend this university after graduation. This despite the fact that near the end of the original series, Zack was going to Yale, Slater to Iowa, and Screech to Cal Tech.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
    • In "Jessie's Song", Jessie has a full on junkie meltdown on caffeine pills.
    • In "Fake ID's", 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.
    • In "Drinking and Driving", 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.
  • Cerebus Call Back: Stacey is introduced annoying her hatred of Californians, speaking to Zack in mock surfer dude slang. They eventually fall in love, but she has to go back to New York for school. In one of their last conversations, she calls back to her introduction saying, "Later, dude".
  • Charity Workplace Calendar: One episode has Zack shoot one of these to raise money for the school using the girls' swim team... without their consent. He ends up getting into trouble for that. On a side note, the swim team only has eleven members, so December is Jessie's body with Mr. Belding's head superimposed.
  • 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.
  • Christmas Episode: The two-parter, "A Home for Christmas", featured a homeless family that the gang befriended.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • All the characters from the original Good Morning, Miss Bliss series (including the original lead herself, Hayley Mills as the titular Miss Bliss), 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.
    • Both Kelly and Jessie disappear and are replaced by Tori in Season 4. Tori herself disappeared in time for Jessie and Kelly to return for graduation.
    • Leslie disappears between The College Years and Wedding in Las Vegas.
  • Clueless Aesop: In "Jessie's Song", Jessie becomes addicted to simple over-the-counter caffeine pills. This is fairly realistic, as caffeine is indeed addictive. However, while the withdrawal is minor and usually limited to headaches and irritability, the show treats her reaction as if she were taking cocaine, and she is shown developing a dire, uncontrollable, terrifying craving for what is essentially just Starbucks in pill form. It's clear that the writers wanted to include a drug episode, but didn't want any of the characters using actual illegal substances, and the overall message kind of falls flat given the substance in question.
  • Compliment Backfire: Screech attempts to compliment Violet's mother by comparing her with a celebrity. His celebrity of choice? Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Compressed Vice: Jessie's caffeine pill addiction.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • The Good Morning, Miss Bliss episodes were originally just Canon Discontinuity after the retool. Only four characters made the transition and all sorts of details were changed. However, when the series exploded in popularity, the Good Morning, Miss Bliss episodes started airing to help pad the syndication package and were retroactively dubbed The Junior High Years. The snarl comes in as with these reruns, new intros with Zack reminiscing about junior high were filmed.
    • 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.
    • The Tori episodes in Season 4. Not that the show as a whole is known for its continuity.
  • 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.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Stacey, who is hostile to Zack and friends, but warms to them as she works with them.
  • Descent into Addiction: "Jessie's Song" features Jessie getting addicted to caffeine pills.
  • The Documentary: The dream episode "Rockumentary" is structured this way where the Zack Attack becomes rock stars.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Screech, to Lisa. It borders on Stalker with a Crush.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Melissa, the girl in the wheelchair in "Teen Line", 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 cringeworthy comments. One honestly can't blame her when she dumps Zack.
  • Double Standard: In "Date Auction", Zack ultimately learns An Aesop about how looks aren't everything when Wendy, an overweight girl, shows interest in him. Unattractive nerds hitting on the girls who rebuff them constantly? Played for Laughs.
  • Dream Sequence: Plenty of them. Many of which involve the characters all having the same daydream/dream.
  • Dumb Blonde: Ginger, a recurring character, who has a Running Gag of asking if she has lipstick on her teeth. In one episode, Zack nearly has her convinced that he wrote the song "Pretty Woman".
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Screech has so many of these that one would think he's Obfuscating Stupidity. To name a few examples:
    • He's always the one who calls out Zack on his Jerkass behavior.
    • When Zack calling him the dumbest person alive for including Kelly in their dating service whilst dating Zack, Screech responds "Well you hired me, so what's that make you?"
    • When he accidentally grabs a baby doll rather than Kelly's brother, he acknowledges that Jessie and Lisa were the ones who pointed at the wrong crib.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: While the show never became particularly realistic, the early episodes were much more likely to feature outright fantastical elements like Kevin, a sentient robot built by Screech, psychic powers or Screech in alien makeup being mistaken for a real alien by the U.S. government. Aspects like the show's famous pink bordered day dream sequences or Zack's use of his "Time Out" ability were also noticeably more common early on.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Zack. No matter what he does, the others will eventually forgive him.
    • Jessie's stepbrother for being a borderline sociopath in "The Wicked Stepbrother".
  • 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. As such, some television stations will plug it in a timeslot with an E/I logo in the corner and get credit for it.
  • Enter Stage Window: Zack and Jessie.
  • Estranged Soap Family: The parents rarely show up, but when the gang graduates, goes to college, etc., they're never around. The only exception to this is when Zack's and Kelly's parents showed up in Wedding in Las Vegas.
  • F--: Zack ends up with this grade in "The Gift", which Slater proudly displays to the class, for trying to scam his classmates, Mr. Belding and Mr. Testaverde with phony questions to their history test, imitating the latter two and not bothering to even study for the test in the long run.
  • Fake Band: Zack Attack in "Rockumentary". Almost the entire episode takes place during a dream.
  • Fantastic Racism: Stacey 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 hatred for Zack eventually turns into a romance and she ends up changing her mind about Californians, and Stacey actually ends up transforming into a friendly, Reasonable Authority Figure towards the end of her arc.
  • Fat Idiot: Mr. Tuttle. Although he's a knowledgeable, enthusiastic science/driver's ed/glee club teacher, he's 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.
  • Framed Face Opening: Clips of the cast members each appear in their own unique shape in the opening credits. In what may or may not have been an intentional joke, Dustin Diamond's shape is a diamond.
  • Friendship Song: "Rockumentary" features 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.
  • 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: Featured in "Mystery Weekend" where the gang goes to a mansion for a murder mystery weekend.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • A rare example happened on the show and most fans overlooked it when it happened (and still do). 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.
    • In "Screech's Woman", when Zack is dressed up as Screech's date Bambi, Slater (who quickly catches on that it's him), jokes that "your secret's safe with me, sweetheart" while patting "Bambi's" breast.
    • "Save the Max" has Screech briefly impersonate Al Bundy...complete with him shoving one of his hands down his pants.
    • "Slater's Sister" has Slater bragging to someone about Zack that "they don't call him 'Steam-up-the-windows Morris' for nothing!" Steam up the windows doing what?
    • One episode has Slater winning a trophy for his weight-lifting and wrestling contest and Kelly asks him if he will "teach her how to wrestle".
  • Girls vs. Boys Plot: The series had several episodes centered around this. For example, "The Will", where a deceased graduate leaves a $10,000 inheritance to Bayside, resulting in a contest to see whether the guys or the girls get the money.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Screech had several one-episode love interests, often played by extremely beautiful actresses (Hillary Danner, Emma Caulfield, Christina Moore, and 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.
  • Gold Digger: Lisa had shades of this at times. Coming from perhaps the richest family of the group (both parents being surgeons), she talked much about high fashion and bragged about spending money. Ironically, the one time she showed any interest in Screech is when he was being an actual gold digger, using his metal detector to find a real gold coin on the beach.
  • Grand Finale: Wedding in Las Vegas for the original series.
  • Grandma's Recipe: Subverted in an episode where Screech whips up a batch of his grandma's spaghetti sauce, which everyone at Bayside finds delicious. Zack turns it into a money-making enterprise, only to be threatened by a company who discovered "Screech's Secret Sauce" was from a recipe in their cookbooks. Screech says that of course it came from a cookbook because "Grandma was a lousy cook!"
  • 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.note  It actually becomes a plot point in the 1990 episode "The Prom", where Kelly's dad loses his job at the local defense plant 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: Zack himself fills this role, often breaking the fourth wall to address the audience.
  • High School: The setting of the series.
  • 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. He's also the rare example that crosses it with Big Man on Campus, until A.C. Slater shows up and plunders all of Zack's accomplishments.
  • 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 "Miss Bayside" and "School Song" episodes, though that little factoid is thrown out in the "Jessie's Song" and "Rockumentary" episodes. In the case of the "Rockumentary" 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.
  • Hospital Hottie: Nurse Jennifer in one episode.
  • Hypocrite: Jessie more than anyone else in the series. She's a Straw Feminist who is jealous of Girly Girl Kelly, possessive of her boyfriend, will sell out her beliefs and outrage for a chance to be a model, and has no issue with physically abusing her significant other.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Zack (see Rhetorical Question Blunder, below).
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Stacey 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.
  • Ice Queen: Stacey Carosi, at least initially.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Kelly is regarded as the prettiest girl in school and amongst the gang. While she is gorgeous, she isn't any more beautiful than any other girl that appeared on the show.
  • Insane Troll Logic: In The College Years, Zack and Slater are talking of possibly cheating on a test. Slater says that if he fails the test, he could fail the course which would get him kicked off the wrestling team which means they'll lose meets which means they lose boosters and donors which could cause the entire college to collapse.
    Slater: Don't you see, Zack? I have to cheat! To save the college!
    Zack: That was pretty good. All I had was, my dad would yell at me.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Melissa, the girl in the wheelchair, much to her chagrin.
  • Ironic Inversion: Zack achieves a 1500 SAT score - despite being a lazy student. Jessie - the straight A student - gets only a 1205.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Well, California University for Everyone, anyway. Zack got into Yale, but ends up going to Cal U instead.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Screech's heart is crushed when he spies Zack and Lisa kiss in "The Bayside Triangle". He may have been more of a jerkass in this episode than any other, but he certainly has a point when he calls out Zack. Screech is Zack's best friend and has been for over a decade by this point. He knows how Screech feels about Lisa and still kisses her anyway, without even talking to him about it.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: Screech does this to surprise Lisa. She isn't impressed.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • A plot point in "The Lisa Card". Lisa charges over $300 on her father's credit card and spends the episode terrified of how he'll react. He actually takes it fine and doesn't punish her. However, after two days of living in fear, Lisa actually begged him to punish her. She ends up having to take a waitress job to pay the money back (and that's after all her clothes have been sold as well).
    • Zack gets away with a lot of sociopathic behavior. Belding gives him detention for attempting to sell the school to the Japanese.
    • 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 whitewashed.
  • Large Ham:
    • Mr. Belding. For example, in Hawaiian Style, when he briefly impersonates a professor, his performance can only be described as this. This is 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. This is further lampshaded by Zack when Belding afterward asks "How was I?" and Zack replies that he was "a little hammy here and there."
    • James, but he's an actor, so it's understandable.
  • Life Embellished: Zack will sometimes use his "Time Out" ability to freeze time in order to escape from whatever sticky situation he's 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.
  • 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 are the latter. This is lampshaded by Screech during one of Slater and Jessie's breakups:
    "But you guys were so happy together...every now and then!"
  • May–December Romance: Played for Drama when Jessie's father is going to marry Leslie, who is significantly younger than him. Jessie convinces herself that Leslie is only after his money and nearly walks out of the wedding as a result.
  • Motor Mouth: History teacher George "Terrible" Testaverde is played by John Moschitta, Jr., and accordingly speaks at several hundred words per minute during his lectures - which is a bit of a problem when his exams involve essay questions on those lectures. In "The Gift", we see him give a class on the American Revolution from the Boston Tea Party to the Battle of Yorktown, but he speaks so quickly that by the end, the students have given up trying to take notes and thrown down their pencils in despair - except Jessie, who is writing so quickly her pencil is giving off smoke.
  • The Movie: Two TV movies. One for going to Hawaii and another with Zack and Kelly getting married in Las Vegas.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Slater likes wearing gym short-shorts, and incredibly loose muscle shirts.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Zack and Slater.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: 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."
  • Music Is Politics: In "Rockumentary", 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.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between:
    • Out of the guys, Screech is nice (a quirky but well-meaning nerd), Zack is mean (a charming but manipulative schemer), and Slater is in-between (a bit of a hothead but ultimately a Lovable Jock).
    • Out of the girls, Kelly is nice (the sweet Girl Next Door), Lisa is mean (the Lovable Alpha Bitch who is often rude to Screech), and Jessie is in-between (the outspoken Go-Getter Girl).
  • The '90s: 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.
  • 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.
  • No Sympathy: Kelly dismisses every single complaint that Jessie or anyone else in the gang has about Eric in "The Wicked Stepbrother" two-parter over what a post he is or how he's disrupting their lives. While on one hand, it was rude for her to immediately side with a stranger over her friends (to the point of her eventually being written out of the second part), on the other hand some of her reaction to their gripes with him (particularly Jessie) is because as someone with so many siblings, she knows how to share better than her friends and probably has more tolerance for annoying siblings/people (which explains why she's so forgiving of Zack's nonsense).
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Jessie when the cheerleaders suggest Screech spying on Valley's squad.
    Jessie: Why would we stoop so low?
    Lisa: To win.
    Jessie: (to Screech) Take notes.
    • Kelly gets annoyed with Zack when - after he's got her a ring - he yells at any boy that talks to her saying "see the ring". After she lectures him about this, a cute girl comes up to Zack. Kelly now tells her "see the ring?"
  • 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.
  • Official Couple: Zack and Kelly. To the point that the original prom theme the students chose was "Zack and Kelly's Prom".
  • 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. He can't handle even a brief taste of power. Even showrunner Peter Engel compared giving Zack any responsibility at all to "putting Hitler in charge of the Jews."
  • One Steve Limit: Acknowledged when Mr. Belding calls a duck Becky, which is the same name as his wife. Turns out he just named the duck that years ago. Additionally, Leslie is the name of Jessie's stepmother, and the gang's roommate in college.
  • 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. This is Screech's response:
    "Ahhh, an open relationship! I can dig it! I'm hip!"
  • O.O.C. 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. The one time they tried to find out if their relationship could've went to the next level, they discovered that they felt like this. Unfortunately, Kelly and Slater walked in on them as this was happening.
  • 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.
  • Protest By Obstruction: In one episode, Jessie and Kelly protest oil drilling on campus by chaining themselves to an imitation oil drill in the main hallway. Then a nerd joins them on the drill — officially to join the protest, but really because he's a Stalker with a Crush.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • In "Driver's Ed", Zack presumes that Mr. Belding will not punish anyone for wrecking the driver's ed car since no one confessed to doing it. Instead, Belding decides to punish everyone by cancelling the course and making them take it again the following year.
    • "Fake IDs" has Zack, Screech and Slater catching Kelly's new boyfriend, Jeff, cheating on her. The gang then orders the former to tell her about it...who then angrily accuses him of being jealous liar.
    • "Zack's War" has Mr. Belding dressed as an American gladiator to joust in a battle with Kelly and Zack. Although he was determined to beat both of them, this is ignoring the fact that a) they are fit teenagers and b) he is a middle-aged and none-too-athletic and they easily their respective battles.
    • In "Operation: Zack", Zack, terrified about an upcoming knee surgery, tries to sneak out of the hospital by wearing doctor's scrubs to disguise himself. However, his surgeon, Lisa's mother, wasn't fooled one minute and ordered him back to his room.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Zack and Slater were going to be bitter rivals for Kelly's affections, as seen in initial episodes. However, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez were good friends on set, and their natural chemistry led to the writers turning the two of them into best friends. Slater's eventual romance with Jessie likely stemmed from this.
    • The infamous Tori episodes in Season 4. The network ordered an additional set of episodes after they had wrapped, but Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani Thiessen had other commitments. Thus Leanna Creel was cast as a replacement character called Tori.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: The group (later on Kelly excepted) all come from families that are upper class. They don't have jobs, have cars, and seem to be less than prepared for the real world. One episode even has them mention that the most complicated thing any of them actually knows how to cook is scrambled eggs.
  • "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").
  • 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. Even the crew of the MIR space station get in on the action.
    • Screech repeats this again in The College Years when he plays astronomy mentor to a hot, famous tennis player.
    • Stacey 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. The latter went all the way and, ironically enough, was never mentioned again. 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.
  • Shrinking Violet: Violet Bickerstaff, Screech's girlfriend and permanently shy gal.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Screech and Kelly when they're briefly together. They nickname each other "Screechy" and "Kel-Kel".
  • Six Student Clique: The series popularized this with the main cast.
  • 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.
  • Status Quo Is God: Parodied when the perpetually deaf Ms Simpson gets a hearing aid. As other characters are used to being deaf, they keep shouting at her. She gets sick of this and throws the hearing aid out.
  • Still Sucks Thumb: When Zack, Screech and Slater have been out late at night at an adults-only club (they snuck in with Fake IDs), Screech is seen the next day dozing in the hallway while sucking his thumb.
  • Studio Audience: And a very excitable one, at that. They were also excited in The College Years, to the point that it sometimes really makes one speculate that NBC intentionally found the most excited studio audience ever.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders:
    • On at least two occasions (both while he was in drag), someone makes a flirtatious comment about Zack's legs.
    • Even though it wasn't in drag, there's been a few comments on how soft and girly his hands are. Some of these comment came from Slater.
  • 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.
  • Token Minority Couple: With the exception of the one-off episodes where Lisa hooks up with Zack (both of which were never mentioned again), the black leads in the original series would never get paired up with any of the white leads. They would usually get their own boy or Girl of the Week with most of them also being black.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl:
    • During the Miss Bliss episodes, the outspoken Nikki Coleman played the Tomboy to shopaholic Lisa's Girly Girl.
    • During the Tori episodes, The Lad-ette Tori played the Tomboy to Lisa's Girly Girl.
    • Nicki Kapowski, a sporty girl with a Tomboyish Baseball Cap, serves as the Tomboy to her sister Kelly's sweet and feminine 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.
    • Stacey Carosi mocks this when she meets Zack, talking in exaggerated surfer dude slang.
  • Town Girls: The three girls fit these nicely. Vocally aggressive feminist Jessie is the butch, boy-crazy fashionista Lisa is the femme and sweet Girl Next Door Kelly is neither.
  • 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.
    • Bring angry at being offered pot could be related to how the person who did so was currently starring in a series of anti-drug ads with the gang. Zack may have been pissed at being lied to by someone he was becoming friends with, and also was pressuring Kelly to do it.
  • 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.
    • Leon Carosi is portly, balding and unpleasant in personality. His daughter Stacey is hot.
  • 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 TV Movie has Kelly's grandpa inviting everyone to his hotel in Hawaii for summer vacation.
    • The whole Malibu Sands arc plays with this, since the gang are actually working at the club. Only Lisa is on vacation there.
    • And Jessie inviting her friends to her dad's hotel to meet her new stepmom.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • Most blatantly "Jessie's Song" (Jessie is discovered to be addicted to caffeine pills) and "No Hope With Dope" (a teen idol looking to film an anti-marijuana PSA at Bayside is discovered to be a hypocrite).
    • 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.
  • Wham Episode: "The Last Dance"/"The Aftermath" had Kelly cheating on Zack with her boss, Jeff, and leaving him for the boss. They eventually break up themselves in "Fake I.D.s" after Jeff cheated on Kelly.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "The Last Dance", after Zack and Kelly are declared king and queen of the costume ball:
    Zack: Kelly, you're the most beautiful girl at the ball.
    Kelly: Thanks, Jeff.
    • From the ending of the first part of "A Home For Christmas", when the gang visits a homeless friend, Frank, in the hospital:
    Zack: (surprised) Laura! What are you doing here?
    Laura: Visiting; he's my father.
  • 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.
    • Likewise, Tori disappeared without a trace when Jessie and Kelly returned.
  • What Is Going On?: Mr. Belding's Catchphrase: "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.
    • Some of Kelly's actions during her relationship with Zack. For example, she cheated on him twice. In The College Years, Zack's attempts to win Kelly 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.
  • Wheelchair Antics: There was an episode with a disabled woman in a wheel chair. At the end of the episode they had a charity wheelchair basketball game.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: It's what eventually kills Zack and Kelly's relationship. For a while, anyway.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Kelly and Lisa's reaction to losing the Miss Bayside pageant to Screech.
  • 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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Saved by the Bell

Opening theme to Saved by the Bell.

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