‘Saved By The Bell’ Cast Unveil A Much Different Side Now That They’re All Grown Up
By Ryan Unger
For '90s kids, there are few things better than firing up an old episode of Saved by the Bell. That nostalgic dose of Zack Morris and the rest of the Bayside High School crew will brighten up any day. But after four hijinks-filled seasons, the original show ended in 1993. So what have the cast members been up to over the past 30 years? Well, a few followed truly surprising career paths that fans never expected.
Dennis Haskins played Principal Belding for 12 years, going from Good Morning, Miss Bliss right through to Saved by the Bell: The New Class. He had to audition for the role seven times before making it his own — although he did miss out on shooting the pilot. The character did his own catchphrase, though: "Hey, hey, hey, what is going on here?"
Dennis Haskins: actor, singer, comedian
Dennis Haskins never stopped acting after his Saved by the Bell run, but he also dabbled in other industries as well. He released a music album in 2009 and has even tried his hand at stand-up comedy. The actor has returned to his fan-favorite role many times over the years, too. You may have seen him in Robot Chicken or Victorious.
Every Saved by the Bell fan remembers Kelly Kapowski. Played by Tiffani Thiessen, she was the student that everybody loved, the head cheerleader, and the captain of multiple sports teams. And it was her will-they-won't-they love story with Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) that played out across many seasons and revivals of the show.
Tiffani Thiessen moved to the 90210
After her stint at Bayside High, Thiessen landed a lead role in Beverly Hills, 90210 and spent the next four years in that famous zip code. In 2001 she reportedly turned down the opportunity to star in Charmed, but she bounced back in 2009 with a recurring role in White Collar. These days, she's the host of MTV's Deliciousness.
Even to this day people still talk to Elizabeth Berkley about the caffeine pills episode. Sure, her character, Jesse Spano, has become the subject of light-hearted memes because of the storyline — but Berkley thinks there's something more going on. "The reason why people are obsessed with that episode is that it must’ve struck some sort of chord," the actor told EW.
Elizabeth Berkley was quite the showgirl
Berkley's hard-right turn from Saved by the Bell to an X-rated performance in Showgirls is well documented. And while that movie has been both reviled and revered, it's still, without doubt, her most high-profile film. Berkley has found greater success on TV, though, with recurring roles in CSI: Miami and The L Word as well as an extending stint on Dancing with the Stars.
The hunky ladies' man of Bayside High School was, of course, A.C. Slater. People may remember the character's on-again-off-again love story with Jessie Spano as well as his bromance with Zack Morris. But upon revisiting the show, viewers might be surprised to see that Slater is kind of "a misogynist, toxic monster at times" — according to Tracey Wigfield, who revived Saved by the Bell in 2020.
Mario Lopez is a TV dreamboat
Mario Lopez had great success playing Slater throughout the original Saved by the Bell run, and he's arguably the most visible star to have come out of the show. He's had a great career acting on Broadway, hosting various television shows, and even writing a book that landed on the New York Times Bestseller list. Lopez is also a regular fixture in Christmas movies!
The classic nerdy character Screech is perhaps the most iconic character of the series. After all, Screech appeared in Good Morning, Miss Bliss, Saved by the Bell, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, and Saved by the Bell: The New Class. He also popped in the TV movies Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style and Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. But Diamond's life post Saved by the Bell was tumultuous — and he died tragically in 2021.
Dustin Diamond's rocky adulthood
Professionally, Diamond's highest-profile gigs after Saved by the Bell were in reality TV shows such as Celebrity Fit Club and Celebrity Big Brother. He got into trouble with his former castmates in 2009 after he released Behind the Bell — a "tell-all" book in which he made negative comments about the Saved by the Bell gang. Diamond later claimed his words were skewed by an imaginative ghostwriter. In February 2021, Diamond died after being diagnosed with small cell carcinoma of the lungs.
Max made his presence felt in the first two seasons of Saved by the Bell. Avid fans will know that he was an amateur musician who owned The Max — where the high school kids used to hang out. Max was more often than not seen dispensing advice to the Bayside High gang... alongside just a touch of magic.
Ed Alonzo is a real magician
The highlight of Ed Alonzo's filmography is certainly his extended stint in Saved by the Bell — but then acting isn't really his day job. Alonzo described himself as "the country’s foremost comedy magician," and the work he has done in the past is very impressive. Most notably, he has toured and performed with Britney Spears and worked with Katy Perry and David Blaine.
During Saved by the Bell's prime, there wasn't a young boy who didn't want to live a day in the life of Zack Morris. He was dating the most popular girl in school — Kelly Kapowski — and he was incredibly popular himself. His behavior was not always so great looking back, but nobody knew any better in the 1990s. Or at least, Zack Morris was cute enough to get away with it...
Mark-Paul Gosselaar was a TV cop
Actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar will forever be remembered as Zack Morris, but he's done plenty of other work since. He spent four years working on the hugely popular police show NYPD Blue, and he starred alongside actor Breckin Meyer in Franklin & Bash, where he played a lawyer. More recently, he starred in Mixed-ish and popped up in Barry.
Things didn't start off well for Tori Scott. On her very first day at Bayside, she parked her motorbike in Zack's spot and the two became instant rivals. As is the way in Saved by the Bell, though, Zack and Tori eventually started dating... and then later broke up. Tori survived ten episodes of the show — and briefly got a mention in the 2020 version of Saved by the Bell.
Leanna Creel went behind the scenes
Actor Leanna Creel brought Tori Scott to vivid life in the show — but acting hasn't been her primary focus since then. She moved behind the camera and started helping to produce movies such as But I'm a Cheerleader and Get Over It. She now runs a production company called Creel Studio, which specializes in food, wine, and real estate.
Lisa Turtle was the unwilling apple of Screech's eye. She was the rich kid, the fashion icon, and the gossip queen. Yet Turtle was one of the few main characters — she appeared in 86 episodes of the original run — who didn't show up in The College Years. Instead, it was revealed she was accepted into the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
Lark Voorhies made a comeback
Lark Voorhies had roles in daytime soap operas Days of Our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful — but Lisa Turtle remains her biggest gig to date. In 2020, though, Voorhies revealed she has schizoaffective disorder and struggles with her mental health. She also said she was "a bit slighted and hurt" about not being involved in the 2020 Saved by the Bell reboot. Then, in 2021, Voorhies popped up in the new series — to the delight of fans everywhere.
Things moved fast between Zack and Stacey Carosi. The pair started with an employee-employer dynamic and then they quickly moved on to kissing during the Fourth of July celebrations at the Malibu Sands. The character only appeared in six episodes of season three of Saved by the Bell, but she is notable for having been played by Leah Remini.
Remini arguably went on to become a bigger star than any other member of the Saved by the Bell cast. That would be in large part because of her 206-episode run in The King of Queens. But Remini has since gone on to win two Emmys for her non-fiction series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath and continues to advocate for people who leave Scientology. It just goes to show that you don't always know what goes on behind the scenes...
Mark-Paul Gosselaar apologized to Native Americans about an episode of the show
In 1990 Saved by the Bell produced an episode that involved Zack believing he had Native American heritage. It was, to say the least, somewhat culturally insensitive to Native Americans. Mark-Paul Gosselaar apologized for the episode in 2016, telling Entertainment Weekly that it had been “completely racist.” “I hope the kids don’t catch that episode,” he said.
Lark Voorhies was nearly fired from the show
In 2016 Saved by the Bell producer Peter Engel published a book about the show, and it contained some surprising revelations. Among them was that Lark Voorhies, who played Lisa, was nearly fired due to seemingly “flat” performances in the series’ earliest episodes.
The atmosphere on set was very much like an actual high school
Romantic hook-ups and fractured friendships were commonplace among the Saved by the Bell stars. Mark-Paul Gosselaar told People in 2009 that the vibe on set had been “very high school” and that “sometimes the girls would gang up on the guys.” “All of us dated at one point or another—it was incestuous!” he said.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar wasn’t a natural blonde
Zack Morris’ lovely locks weren’t Gosselaar’s own. In fact, he’s a brunette and had to dye his hair for every episode. “People go, ‘Wow! You’re not blonde anymore,’” Gosselaar said on Live with Kelly & Michael in 2014. “When was I ever blonde? That’s not real!”
Tiffani-Amber Thiessen cheated on her boyfriend with two co-stars
On-screen, the romantic entanglements between the characters were cute. But the same wasn’t always true of the cast’s off-screen liaisons. In Dustin Diamond’s controversial autobiography, he claimed that while Thiessen was dating Saved by the Bell guest star Eddie Garcia, she was also seeing both Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez. Peter Engel’s version said Thiessen first dated Gosselaar and then later dated Lopez — with no mention of cheating on her part.
And Mario Lopez cheated on Thiessen
The Saved by the Bell set appears to have been a hotbed of hormones. Producer Peter Engel claimed that Thiessen began dating Lopez in 1991 but broke up with him when she caught him cheating on her with an extra. "He was in his dressing room, making out with an extra, and Tiffani came in, catching him red-handed. She was wearing his letter jacket and, in a rage, ripped it off and threw it at him. After that, she ran out," he wrote.
No swearing was allowed on set
It’s surprising in view of everything else that was happening behind the scenes, but nevertheless, no bad language was allowed on the set of Saved by the Bell. Due to his desire to maintain a wholesome atmosphere during production — or at least the veneer of one — Peter Engel banned swearing.
Dustin Diamond was only 11 when cast
While Peter Engel cast Dustin Diamond to play Screech on the recommendation of Mark-Paul Gosselaar, he wasn’t aware of how young Diamond really was — that is, just 11. Engel wrote, “[I] never would have hired Dustin if I’d known that he was three years younger than he was supposed to be.”
Mark-Paul Gosselaar met his wife on the set
In 2009 Mark-Paul Gosselaar was asked by Newsweek what his best Saved by the Bell experience had been. He then revealed that he had met his wife, Lisa Ann Russell, when she was an extra in Saved by the Bell: The College Years. However, the couple divorced two years later.
Mario Lopez’s mother did his hair
Slater’s infamous mullet was actually created by Mario Lopez’s mother. “Mom, who must have been some kind of closet stylist, decided to try out an ‘at home’ perm on me,” Lopez wrote in his 2014 memoir. “When she stopped the perms, casting people would ask if I could curl it again.”
The nerd characters were all named “nerd”
Essentially, anyway. Any particularly dorky character who showed up would have a name indicating their personality. As a result, scripts would include characters called “Geekman,” “Nerdstrom,” etc. It’s not the most creative naming pattern in the world, admittedly, but nobody seems to have cared much at the time…
Dustin Diamond left pictures of his genitals on the set
Perhaps seeking revenge for how he’d been depicted in Diamond’s book, Lopez made an unpleasant revelation about Diamond in his own memoir. “He was one of those dorky kids who thought it was hilarious to take Polaroids of his genitals and leave the photos all over the set,” he divulged. Yikes.
There was only ever one classroom at Bayside
Believe it or not, there was only one classroom set for the show. Instead of building more, the producers just changed the furniture and decorations for different scenes. As a matter of fact, the Saved by the Bell set survived even after the show ended and was later used for series such as iCarly and That’s So Raven.
Mario Lopez wasn’t that interested in auditioning for the show
Lopez revealed in his memoir that initially he wasn’t at all bothered about winning the role of A.C. Slater. “With my hormones in charge, frankly, I was more interested in chasing girls than trekking up to LA to read for a part that had barely been sketched out on paper,” he wrote.
Dustin Diamond’s parents spent his Saved by the Bell money
History tells us that child stars often fall out with their parents over money. And, sadly, Dustin Diamond was no exception. He has said that his parents spent the money he made from playing Screech, leaving him with barely enough to get by once he grew up.
Everyone assumed the show would be canceled
Although the show would eventually have a huge fanbase, nobody thought Saved by the Bell would be a success at first. “No one wanted to admit that they watched it. We constantly thought we were being canceled,” Mark-Paul Gosselaar told People in 2009. They were wrong, of course.
Why Saved by the Bell?
There's a rumor floating around the internet that the phrase "saved by the bell" actually has a historically morbid meaning. Supposedly, it refers to people being buried in coffins with bells on the inside — so that if the "dead" person wakes up, he can ring the bell to warn others not to bury him! This is probably not true. The phrase really comes from boxing — when punch-drunk pugilists are literally saved from being knocked out by then end-of-round bell.
A Disney spin-off
The first iteration of the series was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and it featured several of the characters who made the eventual move to Saved by the Bell. The spinoffs didn't stop there, either! Saved By The Bell would be so popular it led to three of its own spinoff series.
Leaving the original cast behind
One of them was Saved by the Bell: The College Years, which followed some of the characters from Bayside High School to college. It only lasted for 19 episodes — although the show did take a chance by airing on Tuesday evenings instead of Saturday mornings. The second spinoff, however, only featured one member from the original cast...
Mr. Belding crops up again
Mr. Belding! The principal was the only character who returned for the first series of Saved by the Bell: The New Class. The show was the exact same format, and it followed a different group of young students through Bayside High. Screech became a regular in season two. And it might shock you to learn that they actually made more episodes of The New Class than the original Saved by the Bell.
Saved by the [Wedding] Bell
The producers didn't just abandon the characters after The College Years. Instead, the finale lead to a TV movie called Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. Funnily enough, Zack and Kelly get married in Las Vegas in this film. The pair were still married in the 2020 Saved by the Bell revival — which was canceled in 2022 after its second season.