20 Little Known Facts About 'Saved by the Bell'

Nicole Pomarico | Aug 28, 2019 TV
20 Little Known Facts About 'Saved by the Bell'
Image: NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

the cast of Saved by the Bell
NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

There are a lot of iconic '80s and '90s TV shows that we will never forget, but a big one that was part of so many people's childhoods was Saved By the Bell. Starring Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley, and Lark Voorhies, the show followed the students of Bayside High ... and, of course, their principal, Mr. Belding. Through school dances, pop quizzes, breakups, and even a brush with caffeine addiction, they stuck together -- and they gave us major fashion and hair inspiration along the way.

We've seen practically every episode that makes it hard to believe it first aired 30 years ago on August 20, 1989!

But with any show, there's definitely a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and that seems to go double for a show that involves a mostly teenage cast that spanned three years -- not counting the spin-off about their college experience, of course. As fans might have assumed, there were a lot of relationships happening between the actors, and a lot of things almost happened that would've turned Saved By the Bell into a totally different show altogether. 

Recently, in honor of the show's 30th anniversary, E! News rounded up some seriously juicy behind-the-scenes secrets of Saved By the Bell. Some have to do with the personal lives of the cast, others are about the making of the show and the way it was cast, and a lot of have to do with Dustin Diamond, who played Screech -- not that any of us are surprised by that.

Read on for all the most wild, interesting tidbits about Saved By the Bell that even the show's biggest fans may not have already known. (We'll always be Team Zack & Kelly.)

Anyone else up for a series rewatch?

  • The Show Almost Didn't See the Light of Day

    1

    Originally, Saved By the Bell was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and the series was totally different. While some of the actors that went on to star in the show we know and love, it was originally focused on Hayley Mills' character, Miss Bliss, an eighth grade teacher. But as Rolling Stone noted, Miss Bliss was canceled after just one short season, eventually becoming Saved By the Bell.

  • Dustin Diamond's First Kiss Happened on Set

    2

    Dustin, who played Screech, hit a major milestone while filming the show. His first kiss happened with his on-screen girlfriend who was, interestingly enough, played by Tori Spelling. VH1 pointed out that this reveal originally came from the Lifetime movie, The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story, that was based on Dustin's memoir.

  • Everyone Dated Everyone

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    The cast of Saved By the Bell
    Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

    ... at least, according to what Mark-Paul Gosselaar said in an interview with People from 2009. 

    "All of us dated at one point or another -- it was incestuous!" he said at the time. "Sometimes the girls would gang up on the guys. Tiffani and Elizabeth would hate me, and then they'd hate Lark because Lark was talking to me, and Mario was supposed to side with someone. All that stuff you did in high school, like, 'How could you talk to him?'"

    Get a bunch of teenagers on set together. It's bound to happen!

  • The Cast Missed a Lot of Milestones

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    Tiffani Thiessen, Lark Voorhies, and Elizabeth Berkeley in Saved By the Bell
    Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

    Being on a show like Saved By the Bell is obviously such a cool opportunity ... but it comes with its downsides as well. In an interview with People, Lark Voorhies admitted she missed out on a lot of the events a high-schooler usually looks forward to because of filming.

    "[I] wasn't able to go to my graduation or prom. Those moments we had to sacrifice, we made up for with each other," she said.

  • Jessie Was Originally Supposed to Be Addicted to Speed

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    Elizabeth Berkley in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

    The episode where Jessie Spano becomes addicted to caffeine pills so she can do well in school and have a social life has become iconic. Who doesn't immediately think of that scene anytime they hear "I'm So Excited"?

    But as producer Peter Engel wrote in his memoir, Jessie's story line was originally supposed to be a bit grittier. 

    "What fans don't know is that, when I originally wrote the episode with Tom Tenowich, Jessie was hooked on speed, not caffeine pills," he wrote, according to Vulture.com. "But Standards and Practices, the censorial department of NBC, vetoed it, saying speed was too serious for Saturday mornings."

  • Dustin Diamond Did Time Behind Bars

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    Dustin Diamond mugshot
    Splash News

    As CNN reported, Dustin was sentenced to four months in jail after stabbing a man during a fight on Christmas Day. He was released on probation after serving three months. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, after his release, he was arrested again for violating his probation by using oxycodone. Later, he told former co-star Mario Lopez on Extra that he was defending his then-fiancee when he used his knife and that the experience had been "pretty daunting."

  • The Cast Still Hangs Out

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    Friends forever...

    A post shared by Tiffani Thiessen (@tiffanithiessen) on

    As evidenced by this adorable photo, of course.

    Back in April, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (along with their significant others) got together for dinner. So sweet that they still make time to hang out -- and after an experience like SBTB bonded them together, it's no wonder that they're still close.

    ... well, most of them.
  • Mr. Belding Is Only Recently a College Grad

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    Although Dennis Haskins played Bayside's principal in the series, he never would've been qualified for that job in real life. But now? All that's changed. He shared this photo on Instagram back in 2015 when he graduated from college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga at 65.

    Congrats!

  • The Role of Kelly Kapowski Didn't Always Belong to Tiffani

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    Mark Paul Gosselaar & Tiffani-Amber Thiessen in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

    It's impossible to remember anyone but Tiffani as our Kelly, but there were a few other actresses who went on to have pretty impressive careers who were up for the role, too. Another reveal from the Lifetime movie was that Jennie Garth and Elizabeth Berkley were also in the running. And apparently, the role of Jessie was created because producers loved Elizabeth so much.

    Go figure!

  • Zack Morris' Signature Blond Locks Weren't Natural

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    Mark-Paul Gosselaar in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

    Because in real life, Mark-Paul has dark hair!

    It sounds like he never plans on bleaching his hair again -- not that we blame him, since that can be very brutal on hair. "Getting back to my natural color took a while! I haven't dyed my hair since 1997," he once revealed.

  • The First Time Tiffani Drank Alcohol Was With Mark-Paul

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    Mark-Paul Gosselaar & Tiffani Amber Thiessen in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

    Being that Zack and Kelly were so inseparable on the show, it makes sense that they'd be present for a pretty big milestone. Apparently, Tiffani took her first sip of alcohol while she was with Mark-Paul -- in Paris, no less. 

    "Mark-Paul and I got to go to Paris [for a press tour]," she said in an interview with People, according to E! News. "We ate crepes, and my first sip of alcohol was with him. It felt at times like we were Barbie and Ken."

    OK, that's pretty adorable.

  • Mario & Tiffany Dated, But He May Have Cheated

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    Mario Lopez and Tiffani Amber Thiessen Saved By the Bell
    Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

    Remember how we were saying that everyone in the cast dated everyone else? That manifested into a real relationship between Mario and Tiffani ... but unfortunately, it sounds like it came to a pretty rough end. 

    "[We] went to movies, went out to eat, hung out at parties, danced together," Mario wrote in his memoir, Just Between Us. "I thought that being loyal to Tiffani was the right thing to do. But I can't say that I was capable at that age of following through on my noble intentions."

    Yikes.

  • Tiffani & Elizabeth Weren't Part of the Final Episodes

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    Elizabeth Berkley & Tiffani Amber Thiessen in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

    If fans have noticed there's much less of Kelly and Jessie in the show's final season, there's a good reason for that. Their contracts were up when the network ordered more episodes, and they were both already committed to other projects.

    The only reason they were present at Bayside's graduation? That was shot before they made their exit.

    "We had already shot the graduation and that was supposed to be the end. We were supposed to end and not do another season," Peter Engel once mentioned. "So we shot the graduation but Tiffani had an offer to go with Aaron Spelling for 90210 and Elizabeth, I didn't know it was going to be Showgirls, wanted to do movies. So we didn't re-sign them because we couldn't re-sign them."

  • The Show's Spin-Off Failed

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    Tiffani Amber Thiessen & Mark Paul Gosselaar in 'Saved By The Bell: The College Years'
    Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    Don't remember the Saved By the Bell spin-off, Saved By The Bell: The College Years? That might be because it was quickly canceled after one season. Peter Engel told The Wrap that the show's failure was actually due to the fact that he hadn't brought the girls from the show to college, too -- the guys just weren't enough to keep it going.

    "I should've taken all the six kids to college," he admitted. "I should've insisted we take them all and I didn't. It was my decision and I made a mistake."

    Later in the show's only season, Tiffani did show up to reprise her role as Kelly ... but it wasn't enough to save it.

  • The Cast Wasn't Happy With Dustin's Memoir

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    Dustin Diamond in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    After Dustin released the book Behind The Bell, in 2009, Mark-Paul was open about the fact that he didn't agree with what Dustin said happened behind the scenes. 

    "Everything that I've heard about his book is negative and I don't remember those things," he told E! News in 2014. "My experience on the show was very positive and that's why when people say, ‘Oh, you don't like talking about it.' It's like, No, I don't mind talking about it, I just don't really remember that time, and also everything I do remember was extremely positive."

  • Mr. Belding Wasn't Involved in the Reunion

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    Dennis Haskins in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

    When People staged a reunion for the Saved By The Bell cast, Dustin and Dennis weren't included. Dennis has been pretty open about how bummed out he was to be excluded, as he opened up about it in an interview with Parade in 2013. 

    "People magazine did something with five cast members, but they didn’t even talk about Mr. Belding, and Screech was kind of exiled because of his book," Dennis said at the time. "That’s still not the seven of us. Whatever you want to talk about, that show was six students and the principal. They were the heart of the show."

  • Dustin's Biggest Regret Is His X-Rated Tape

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    Dustin Diamond
    Splash News

    Aside from his memoir, Dustin's also famous for the naughty tape he released in 2006 called Screeched -- Saved By The Smell (yes, that is the real title). As he told OWN in an interview in 2013, not only was he not actually in the video, but he also seriously regrets making it in the first place. 

    "The sex tape is the thing that I'm most embarrassed about," he said.

    "In my stupidity, I thought, 'You know, I could totally fake this. I could get a stunt person to take my place. It's my face, but nothing else. Looking back now, in my 30s, I realize that was really dumb. You know, I definitely got some money off of it but it wasn't worth what the fallout was. I mean, people, to this day, they look down on me. There's a lot of people who are like, 'Oh, how disgusting of you.' I didn't really do it!"

  • Mark-Paul Couldn't Relate to Zack Morris

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    Mark Paul Gosselaar in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    It's hard to imagine anyone embodying the role of Zack Morris better than Mark-Paul did, but in an interview with Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, he did admit that he wasn't a cool kid himself.

    He just drew inspiration from the cool kids he knew from school. 

    "I was a kid that -- I wasn't in the low end, I wasn't in the top, I was somewhere in the middle and I would just observe, and I would see both sides of things," Mark-Paul told the outlet. "But Zack was a character that I was good at playing because I could manipulate my eyebrow to kind of give me a, for lack of a better word, a smirky douchey look. And the hair, I did the hair ... Uneven smile, little smirk, I had all these little things I could do to be this character, but this was not me."

  • Tiffani & Dennis Had the Most Awkward Reunion

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    When Tiffani appeared on The Today Show in 2013, the show surprised her with Dennis Haskins making an appearance. But for whatever reason, Tiffani wasn't that thrilled to see her old co-star, and it showed. It also made for a few very awkward moments of television.

  • A.C. Slater's Name Was Actually Albert Clifford

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    Mario Lopez in 'Saved By The Bell'
    Ron Wolfson/Getty Images

    Yes, that's surprising ... because he's way too cool to be Albert Clifford. Maybe that's why he went by AC? Also, as Mario revealed to People via E! News, his mom was the one responsible for his signature hairstyle.

    Who knew it would become so iconic?

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