What happens when you get a group of teenagers together to star in one of the most successful television shows of the ’90s? Oh, and they all have raging hormones, charismatic personalities, and a hunger for success? Well, you get sex, drugs, and scandals on and off screen. That’s exactly what happened with the cast of Saved By The Bell.
It’s been 30 years since the show premiered and the drama didn’t stop when the director yelled cut. Prepare to have your childhood ruined with these Saved By The Bell secrets, but hey, at least you get to see Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski’s dreamy smiles again.
Basically Everyone Dated Each Other
When you bring together a group of teenagers all that good-looking, they were bound to hook up. In an interview, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack Morris, admitted the set was borderline “incestuous” because everyone “dated at one point or another.”
Real life relationships didn’t always match up with the on-screen ones. Gosselaar and Lark Vorhees dated for three years, but he had to spend his days on set making out with Tiffani Theissen. Awkward!
Mario Lopez Was A Bad Boy On And Off Screen
In 1993, Mario Lopez, a.k.a. hunky jock A.C. Slater, was accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in her home. Not long after, another woman came forward with similar allegations. The case was dropped only a few months later after no evidence was found, but it made life on set pretty difficult.
While Lopez cooperated fully with the police, he was said to be angry and lashed out at his co-stars during the time due to stress.
It Didn’t Take Long For Money To Become A Serious Issue
You’d probably think that with the success of Saved By The Bell, the cast members were making bank. Sadly, that wasn’t the case at all. Gosselaar was always open with his distaste for his salary thanks to their initial contracts.
Gosselaar did explain that when they started the show, no one expected it to be so big. He said “It was a Saturday morning show” that was “the first of its kind.” Not only did they have low salaries, but the cast didn’t make any money off syndication or merchandising.
Gosselaar Had To Dye His Hair Blonde For Every. Single. Episode.
The creators for the show always intended for the main character, Zack Morris, to be a pretty boy with blonde hair. That was a problem when they hired Gosselaar, who is a natural brunette, to play him. Gosselaar admitted that they’d dye his hair blonde for every single episode because it would wash out so quickly.
The continuous hair routine was so bad that Gosselaar once remarked he was surprised to have any hair left by the end of the show.
They Were Banned From Swearing On Set
The producers tried their best to keep the cast as wholesome behind the scenes as they were on screen. Creator Peter Engel has a personal rule that both on and off camera, you weren’t allowed to swear.
While the rule was intended as a good thing, many of the actors admitted to breaking it more than a few times. High school classrooms have the same “no swearing” rules but we all know they don’t hold up.
A Weird Hookup Story Line (Thankfully) Never Made The Cut
The one character on the show who never seemed to have a romantic storyline was Screech, but according to Dustin Diamond, the writers had one in the works. Screech was allegedly supposed to be shipped with Mr. Belding.
Diamond claimed in his tell-all book that they filmed many scenes where Screech and Mr. Belding would stare longingly into each other’s eyes and hint at a special bond. Thankfully, that got left out, and in all honesty, we don’t know why it was there in the first place.
Dustin Diamond’s Age Set Him Apart
Dustin Diamond, who played Sam “Screech” Powers, was the oddball on the show and was an outcast behind the scenes. He’s famously admitted that he never got along with his co-stars and the show’s creator thinks it was because of his age.
Diamond was only twelve when he landed the part of Screech, while all the actors were 15 and 16. To the rest of the cast, hanging out with Diamond was like hanging out with your nerdy little brother.
Everyone Thought The Show Would Get Canceled
Season after season, the cast members left and said goodbye to each other as if they’d never return. Even though it was a massive hit from the start, the cast members never expected it to be renewed season after season.
Gosselaar says that’s why his hairstyle was so drastically different year after year, because he left without thinking about continuity. It his defense, it’s kind of like leaving for summer and returning to school to see who changed the most, right?
The Show Made Thiessen Act Way Older Than She Was
Tiffani Thiessen was cast as Kelly Kapowski when she was only 14. The instant fame that came with it allowed her to get away with a lot. While she was still 14 she began dating a 19-year-old guy. Thiessen also had her first sip of alcohol when she was only 16 and moved out on her own when she was 17.
Luckily, all of these major milestones didn’t totally corrupt her and she’s one of the few child stars who made it out alright.
They Liked To Party…Hard
In the early ’90s, the cast of Saved By The Bell was on top of the world. With their newfound fame came a lot of invites to clubs that were definitely 21+. Gosselaar admitted that he and most of the cast were in clubs at age 16.
He did also stress that despite clubbing, they were apparently really good about it. Gosselaar said that he "didn’t abuse it and neither did [his] castmates." Sure, Jan.
A Mysterious Appearance Of Leanna Creel
Fans were pretty confused when, seemingly out of nowhere, two show favorites vanished off the final season and a new random actress showed up. Leanne Creel played Tori Scott, a rebellious girl who shows up at Bayside High for senior year.
It was all because Tiffany Thiessen (Kelly) and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie) both opted not to renew their contracts for the final season, so directors had to scramble to find a new love interest for Zack Morris.
Diamond Would Show Up Drunk To Work
While the other cast members partied also, they didn’t bring their substance abuse to work. Diamond on the other hand fully admitted to drinking before, during, and after working on set. According to his tell-all book, DIamond’s alcohol abuse was thanks to an extra named Eric who gave him his first sip of alcohol.
Diamond even claimed his “friend” Eric made him smoke weed, filmed him doing it, then used the tape to blackmail Diamond.
Lopez Didn’t Even Want To Play Slater
Playing A.C. Slater was the role that launched his career, but Mario Lopez admits he didn’t even want to read for the part. At the time he auditioned, the character was just an idea and the show had “barely been sketched out on paper.”
Still, Lopez drove up to L.A. and nailed the part, even though he “was more interested in chasing girls.” Lopez was so good they even changed the character from Italian to Latino for him.
Dustin Diamond Peed In An Extra’s Purse
Apparently Diamond had some anger issues early on. In his tell-all book, Diamond reflected back on a moment during the first season when a series extra was making fun of him in front of his co-stars. Diamond already felt out of place with the rest of this cast and this didn’t help the matter.
As a way to retaliate, 12-year-old Diamond decided to pee in the woman’s purse. Humiliated or not, the retaliation was a step too far.
Elizabeth Berkley Was Supposed To Play Kelly Kapowski
The show’s creator said that at first, Berkley seemed like a shoo-in for the lead female on the show, Kelly Kapowski. As we all know, that part eventually went to Tiffani Amber Thiessen, but producers weren’t happy about it.
Engel said they were forced to cast Theissen because she was a huge up-and-coming star at the time. They didn’t want to let a talented actress like Berkley go though, so they made sure to cast her as Jessie Spano.
Lark Voorhies Battled It Out With Her Mom
Voorhies, who played the school sass-master Lisa Turtle, had to publicly deal with a lot of family issues while filming Saved By The Bell. After her mom revealed without permission that Voorhies was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she publically denounced her family.
Then when Voorhies eloped with music producer Jimmy Green, her mother filed a restraining order against him for alleged gang affiliation. She may have been straight-laced on tv, but the drama followed Voorhies everywhere else.
They Were Hooking Up And Cheating On Each Other
Mario Lopez is one of the few cast members to completely admit that all the hooking up between cast members also meant a lot of cheating. Lopez and co-star Thiessen dated for some time until she caught him cheating on her with an extra.
Lopez fessed up to the fact he couldn’t control his hormones and that "there was so much beauty everywhere." Despite the cheating, it didn’t affect the cast’s friendship.
The Cast Had Control Over The Producers
Usually, the cast members have to do and say whatever the producers and writers want, but it was the exact opposite with Saved By The Bell. The cast had unique solidarity where if one of them wanted their character to do something in the show, they would all take a stand until the producers caved.
One notable example of this was Elizabeth Berkley wanting Jessie to deal with more issues, which led to the infamous caffeine pills scene.
The Series Started As A Totally Different Show
The original concept for the show was Good Morning, Miss Bliss. It was a real show that ran from 1988-89. It was about a middle school teacher dealing with a crop of funny students. Some SBTB stars like Gosselaar and Diamond were even in the show.
After Good Morning, Miss Bliss was canceled, the producers decided to create a spin-off type show. They realized the magic was with the kids, so they made a show about them going to high school.
Voorhies Made A Lot Of Sacrifices For The Show
Every young actor has to pick and choose whether to keep up with a normal life or commit 100% to be apart of the Hollywood lifestyle. For Lark Voorhies, it was even harder because her home was far away from Los Angeles. Voorhies missed several important rites of teenage passage like her high school prom and graduation.
Luckily, she was starring on a show that featured prom and graduation episodes, so hopefully, that made up for missing out on the real deal!
Ferris Bueller Served As The Inspiration For Zack Morris
When you actually stop to think about this one, it’s not hard to see the connection. Both Zack and Ferris from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as good-looking, goofy teenagers who love to skip school and "stop time" for a quick fourth-wall break.
The show’s creator Peter Engel confirmed that Ferris Bueller inspired the character. If that didn’t convince you, Gosselaar even admitted that Ferris was one of his favorite characters and he tried to make Zack like him.
The Set Has Gone Down In TV History
The set used for Saved By The Bell was pretty simple. They actually only used one classroom set and redesigned it to look like different rooms. That set is still standing today and has been used by numerous other television shows. The classroom set has been reused for other teen shows like iCarly and That’s So Raven.
Even the exterior of the school has been used on a B-roll for other school-based dramas like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and American Vandal.
There Are Rumors That Gosselaar Took Steroids
In a classic tale of he said, he said, Diamond and Gosselaar have battled over the rumor that Gosselaar took steroids for the show. In his tell-all book, Diamond claimed that in between Saved By The Bell and Saved By The Bell: The College Years, Gosselaar used steroids to bulk up because he got super buff in just one month.
Gosselaar completely denies it and says that he was just growing into his body like any other teenager.
"Jessie’s Song" Was Supposed To Be Much Darker
The show’s most iconic episode, “Jessie’s Song,” where Berkley’s character becomes addicted to caffeine pills, was originally supposed to be much more serious. Engel stated that Jessie’s drug of choice was actually speed, not caffeine. In fact, the scene was written and originally filmed with the drug being speed.
The NBC Standards and Practices department thought it was a little too heavy for a Saturday morning kids’ show, so they forced Engel to make the pills more innocent.
Diamond Tarnished The Show’s Name With A Tape
It’s safe to say that Diamond’s career went downhill after the show ended and ever since then, he’s been trying to use his teenage fame to make a living. One of those escapades came in 2006 when he released his own sex tape, Screeched: Saved By The Smell.
Based on the title, you can guess for yourself what is on the tape. It shocked Diamond’s few remaining fans and led him to later claim that (somehow) it wasn’t actually him on the tape.
Only Two Cast Members Were In Every Episode
Zack and Screech were the only two characters to appear in every episode of the series, all the way from Good Morning, Miss Bliss to Saved By The Bell: The College Years. Between the three series, that was seven years of playing the same character. American audiences truly got to see those two grow up before their eyes.
Unsurprisingly, Gosselaar and Diamond are the two actors who struggled the most after Saved By The Bell to reinvent themselves and find new roles.
Zack And Slater Were Supposed To Be Enemies
In yet another example of behind-the-scenes affecting what we saw on the show, Gosselaar and Lopez’s bromance made the writers rethink their characters. Originally, Zack and Slater were supposed to be enemies who were always competing against each other, especially for the affection of Kelly Kapowski.
After seeing how close Gosselaar and Lopez were behind the scenes, they rewrote the characters to make them BFFs and partners in crime. How cute!
Tori Scott Was Named After A Famous Tori
In the early ’90s, there was no one bigger in young adult television than writer and producer Aaron Spelling. Then, when it came to acting, there was no one bigger than his daughter Tori Spelling. She even made a guest appearance on Saved By The Bell!
As a nod to his producer friend and the power that the Spellings had in Hollywood, Engel named his new character Tori Scott after Tori Spelling.
Diamond Would Hide Inappropriate Pictures Around The Set
In Lopez’s autobiography, he explained that while the cast didn’t exactly connect with Dustin Diamond, they didn’t hate him entirely. That is, until he started doing weird things on set that came off as gross and immature. Diamond would allegedly "take Polaroids of his genitals and leave the photos all over the set."
When you’re already a couple years younger than everyone else, leaving those pictures around set probably didn’t help your cause.
There Was Supposed To Be A Musical
When the show was on top of the world, creator Peter Engel had that crazy idea to turn it into a Broadway rock opera. He even tested out the cast’s musical abilities in an episode where Zack created a band, Zack Attack!
Unfortunately, the idea never got off the ground and Engel shelved the plans. Not all hope was lost though. In 2013, Bayside! The Musical! opened in New York City as an unofficial Saved By The Bell musical.