Saved By the Bell: Then and Now

Let’s reminisce on a show we all knew and loved back in the ’90s: Saved by the Bell. If you grew up in this era, this show was your childhood. It was just like any other show, but you literally got to watch the characters grow up from middle school noobs all the way to grown college students. It prompted you to grow attached as if you were living life with them through every detention, breakup, celebration, tear, and laugh!

The Ultimate Saved by the Bell Rewind

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The diverse group of friends within the show allowed each viewer to resonate with at least one character and faithfully watch each season until the end, leaving fans wanting to know what happens next!

Although the show eventually came to an end, we all still carry each character in our hearts.So where are they now? Let’s catch up with our old friends from Saved by the Bell.

Bayside High’s Leading Man

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Zack Morris was the main character who held everyone together like glue. He was the type of character that everyone originally disliked, but grew to love; the one that always stirred the pot, but always cleaned up his messes.

Zack was a genuine and faithful friend until the end. He may have been a trouble-maker ladies man, but he had a tender heart. As a primary character on Good Morning, Miss Bliss as an eighth grader, Zack is one of the few characters that was transferred to Saved by the Bell when the show was taken over by NBC.

Zack and Kelly Forever: Bayside High’s Hottest Item

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This couple right here took us on a wild roller coaster of emotions. When they began their freshman year at Bayside High, she reveled in the feud between Zack and Slater, as they both tried to win her over. Eventually, Slater conceded defeat and Kelly and Zack dated for the first year of high school.

They broke up by the second year, starting a long ‘will they or won’t they’ plot line throughout the series. They got back together for their senior prom, but broke up again when they parted ways for college. Eventually, Zack proposes to Kelly and they end up marrying in Vegas.Through young love, break-ups, and determination, this couple showed us what it means to never give up on your first love.

Forever Known As Zack

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As expected, it was hard for Mark-Paul Gosselaar to steer clear of the permanent association with his character, Zack Morris. It took him a good 10 years to really be taken seriously as an actor when he landed the Peter Bash attorney role in Franklin & Bash which he starred in from 2010-2014.

Despite his numerous acting opportunities following Saved by the Bell, he was still always seen as Zack Morris. It wasn’t until his role on the short-lived 2016 Fox drama Pitch, that he was truly unrecognizable, having gained weight and grown a beard for the role, which was his and the producer’s objective. Aside from acting, Gosselaar has been married twice and has two children from each marriage.

Resident Ingénue of Saved by the Bell

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Kelly Kapowski was the gorgeous crush of Zack Morris—and just about every boy who grew up watching the show. She was the sweetest cheerleader you will ever meet, who also kept herself busy by being the captain of the school’s volleyball, swim, and softball teams.

Anyone who watched the show could tell that she loved the fact that Zack and Slater argued over her in the beginning, even though in the end she ended up with Zack. Despite dalliances with other guys throughout the series, she ended up breaking the hearts of all young boys watching when she finally married Zack.

Form ’90s Teen Idol to Loving Motherhood

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Unlike Mark-Paul, Tiffani Amber Thiessen found huge success with her acting career throughout the ’90s. Thiessen was cast as Valerie Malone on Beverly Hills, 90210 shortly after the official end of Saved by the Bell and continued to be offered roles in other series to sustain her career.

In 2015, she reprised her role as Kelly Kapowski for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and has since had her own cooking show, Dinner at Tiffani’s, on the Cooking Channel. More than anything, Tiffani enjoys being a mother of two. She married the handsome actor and artist, Brady Smith, in 2005 with whom they have a daughter, Harper Renn, and a newborn son, Holt Fisher who was born in 2015.

Bayside’s Newcomer

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A.C. Slater was the heart-throb jock who charmed every girl with his big muscles and adorable dimples. It is revealed that he transferred to Bayside after going from school to school since his dad was a Major in the U.S. Army.

In addition to becoming Bayside’s champion wrestler, the military brat also became Zack Morris’s biggest rival, as they were both the school’s top athletes and ladies’ men. They bonded in detention over their similarities, especially the fact that they both had inattentive fathers. Eventually, A.C. gave up going after the same girls as Zack, when he began pursuing one in particular: intelligent feminist Jessie Spano, a tall glass of water that Slater would always refer to as “mama.”

The Role Was Written for Him

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The role of A.C. Slater was originally written as a young John Travolta type with Italian-American descent, who wears a leather jacket in addition to being a military brat. However, show creator Peter Engel decided to open up the role to other ethnicities after efforts to find the perfect A.C. remained fruitless.

Producers were subsequently impressed by Mario Lopez’s audition, as he was already a dancer and drummer who starred in Kids Incorporated. As a result, the role of A.C. was rewritten to accommodate Lopez’s Latino ancestry and athletic build. Needless to say, the girls who grew up watching the show weren’t mad about it.

Mario Lopez Is an Ageless Wonder

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Mario was named “Hottest Bachelor” by People magazine in 2008 and continues to leave girls drooling. He has most definitely kept his charm, muscles, and dimples. Although he went a bit MIA for a while, he picked up and began hosting for an assortment of shows such as America’s Best Dance Crew, Pet Star, and The X Factor. His accomplishments include being a runner-up on Dancing with the Stars as well as publishing two books.

Mario met his now wife, Courtney Mazza, when they starred in the Broadway play, A Chorus Line in 2008. They tied the knot in Punta Mita, Mexico in 2012. Their daughter, Gia Francesca was born September 2010 and their son, Dominic (“Nico”), was born September 2013. There are rumors that they are trying for a 3rd child soon!

But He Isn’t Completely Innocent

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Mario Lopez may be one of the most favored actors on the show and have an all-around nice guy reputation, but that doesn’t mean that his image is squeaky clean. At the height of Saved by the Bell frenzy in 1993, a woman from Lopez’s native Chula Vista (a suburb of San Diego) came forward with claims that Lopez date raped her! However, the case was dropped shortly after the judge found there was insufficient evidence to support the claim.

But as if that weren’t enough, Dustin Diamond’s tell-all memoir (which is we dive into later) revealed that Lopez was sexually agressive on set and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Diamond’s book also claimed that NBC paid off the date rape accuser to make the problem go away.

It’s True, Opposites Attract!

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A.C. Slater began dating smart girl Jessie Spanos and the pair quickly became Saved by the Bell’s second favorite it-couple. They had a typical ‘opposites attract’ relationship, as Jessie was an ambitious feminist with hopes of getting into Columbia University and A.C. was a macho jock whose pursuits in the classroom weren’t quite as successful as his wrestling matches.

Unfortunately, they did not last as long as Zack and Kelly, but they sure did make for a good looking couple. Here is a then and now glimpse. The two obviously haven’t aged a day and have thankfully ditched the crazy ’80s hairstyles.

A Role Model for Young Women

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Jessie Spano was the strong, independent, feminist that everyone admired. She knew what she stood for and wouldn’t let anyone get in her way of what she wanted. She was feisty, determined, smart, and beautiful!

She was Zack’s next-door neighbor and he would often climb a tree to sneak into her bedroom window, as the two became close friends. Jessie’s parents were divorced and we watched as she had to deal with both of her parents remarrying. She infamously became addicted to caffeine pills to keep up with her schoolwork, ignoring Slater’s warning and eventually having to be saved by Zack, who witnesses her breakdown.

Stripping Herself of Her Good Girl Image

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Berkely was a contender for the role of Kelly Kapowski against Tiffani Theisen, who eventually won the role. But producers liked her so much that they ended up creating the role of Jessie specifically for Berkley.

After Saved by the Bell, Elizabeth was offered a lead role in the movie Showgirls when she was 21 in 1995. Although the movie received a lot of backlash for its provocative theme, Berkley didn’t allow the reviews to rain on her parade. She also starred in Armitage III: Poly Matrix and The First Wives Club—alongside the likes of Keifer Sutherland, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler—in addition to appearing in a number of independent films.

Overcoming All the Ridicule

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After going back to school to earn a degree in English Literature, she was able to land roles in numerous films including tv series like NYPD Blue. She also landed a role in the Broadway play, Sly Fox, which portrayed her potential in production causing job offers to roll in.

Her most recent big appearance was as a competitor on Dancing with the Stars continuing her love of dance and performing. Elizabeth has also gained influence over young girls who still resonate with her Saved by the Bell character, Jessie Spano. She published a book called, Ask-Elizabeth that promotes positive self-image and confidence.

If You Needed to Know Anything, Talk to Lisa

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Lisa Turtle was an original character from the show Good Morning, Miss Bliss, where she played a more prominent role alongside co-stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Dustin Diamond. Her character was reprised for Saved by the Bell, where she became known as the fashionista gossip-keeper of Bayside High.

She is very talkative and loves to gain new gossip. Her all-knowing wisdom allows her to give great life advice. She never failed to come up with a witty sarcastic remark to dish out to Screech whenever he tried winning over her heart. Lisa’s closest friends are Kelly Kapowski and Jessie Spano, with whom she is on the school cheer squad.

Changing Faces

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Like co-star Mario Lopez, Lark Voorhies took on a role that originally was written for someone else. Lisa Turtle was originally supposed to be a rich Jewish girl from Long Island, who was spoiled and materialistic. But producers knew that Voorhies was perfect for the role, so the rewrote it to fit her.

Even though the star has aged over the years, rumors say that her new appearance is more than just that. It is suggested that she had plastic surgery done with fillers and lifts. Instead of improving her face, it has completely transformed her face into someone we don’t even recognize. Nobody really knows what happened, but what we do know is that she isn’t the cute face we once knew.

She Was Never the Same

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Not only will her adorable face be nothing but a memory, her charming personality has also become something of the past. Lark’s mother has stated Lark struggles with Bi-Polar disorder, but when it comes to interviews, Lark always denies it.

Fans have picked up on this statement and have considered the truth in it after observing Lark’s interviews recently. Her brain comes across as scattered and unsure which leads us to believe she is indeed mentally unstable. Still, the actress has been in numerous other television shows and music videos throughout the ’90s, in addition to self-publishing three books.

He Could Never Catch a Break

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Samuel “Screech” Powers was the coolest dork you will ever know. Screech, along with Zack and Lisa, was also from the original Good Morning, Miss Bliss and was written into Saved by the Bell. Although they were good friends, Screech was the one who Zack picked on the most, but it became the precedent of their beautiful friendship.

He added spunk and additional comedy to the dynamic of the friends with his witty remarks and obsession of Lisa Turtle. Screech would often unwittingly spoil the gang’s schemes because of his dorky ways, but the gang valued him as a friend regardless.

Screech Goes to Jail

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In 2014, Dustin Diamond served 4 months in a Wisconsin jail for stabbing a man during a bar brawl. Although he claimed self-defense, Diamond was charged on three accounts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct, and use of a dangerous weapon.

He claimed to be defending his fiance, but he wasn’t saved by any bells for this incident. Although Diamond apologized to the judge and was ashamed to now be labeled as a criminal, he was sentenced to four months in prison and was released on probation after serving three months. He was arrested again in 2016 for violating his probation.

The Endless Fall of Dustin Diamond

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We wish we could tell you he is really a great guy, but prior to his jail time in 2014, he also made a sex video with two other women that he intentionally released to make quick cash in 2006. He later claimed that he used a body double and his likeness was added later on into the video.

He also wrote a tell-all book, Behind the Bell, and produced a film based off of it about the behind the scenes shenanigans that he and his costars were up to during the show’s run. However, the tell-all cast the show and his co-stars in a negative light, causing many of them to refute his claims and ended up with them distancing themselves from him in 2009. To add insult to injury, Diamond is one Saved by the Bell Star that didn’t fare too well, as his acting credits are primarily comprised of reality shows for washed up celebrities.

Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey! What is going on here?

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The man with the ridiculous laugh that you will never forget. The gullible principal that always fell for all of the kids’ schemes causing him to look like a fool in every episode. Poor guy. At least the students eventually developed some sort of bond of respect with him.

Principal Belding was frequently at odds with Zack Morris in particular, ever since they were on Good Morning, Miss Bliss. But anyone who watched the show could see that the two had mutual respect for one another, as Mr. Belding once revealed that he, too, was the “Zack Morris of the 1960s.”

Everyone’s Favorite Principal

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Dennis seems to be the only die hard of his character in Saved by the Bell. Whereas others have tried to steer away from the label of their character, Haskins has embraced it and often makes appearances as everyone’s favorite principal. He even released a music album with the title of Karaoke With Your Favorite Principal Dennis.

Although he hasn’t landed any major roles, he has accepted smaller ones on multiple TV series including How I Met Your Mother and Mad Men. He even reprised the role of Mr. Belding in 2012 for Nickelodeon’s Victorious.Acting will always be his greatest passion in life.

Summer Flings with Stacy

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Remember Zack’s rich girlfriend from the Resort? You know, the longest relationship Zack had with anyone other than Kelly? The girl whose daddy owned the beach resort the crew worked at in Malibu? Yes, Stacey Carosi.

Constant flirtation led to eventual romance, but it was interrupted by the return of Stacy’s Yale boyfriend, who ends up defeating Zack in an ATV race. Stacy ends up sending her boyfriend home and reveals her true feelings for Zack. She ended up falling for Zack’s irresistible charm and persistence during summer, but once summer vacation was over, so was their relationship.

The Queen of Queens

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Does she still look the same? I can still see a little bit of Stacey Carosi in her. Since her feature on Saved by the Bell, she found herself landing roles in other TV series and talk shows such as King of Queens and The Talk. She is definitely just as feisty as Stacey Carosi in real life.

She has stirred up drama amongst her co-stars from The Talk out of bitterness of being fired from the show. She was heavily involved with her religion of Scientology for 30 years until she publicly claimed her severed ties with the church. She even wrote a book called Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.

The Rebel Girl We Had Mixed Feelings About

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The tough girl who rides motorcycles that showed up during the gang’s senior year. What starts out as rivalry with Zack Morris ends in a romance between the two. When Tori parks her motorcycle in Zack’s usual parking space, the two instantly begin a fued.

But the feud only fuels the fire that ignites their eventual romance and the two begin dating. A lot of fans weren’t a fan of her replacing Zack’s true love Kelly, but she was alright. Much to the relief of the Saved by the Bell fans, Tori and Zack break up after Zack displays sexist behavior.

She Prefers to Work Behind the Camera

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No more big hair! Acting was never something she really aspired to do. She is an identical triplet with her two sisters. They got into the business their freshman year of high school after meeting with one of their friend’s agents. When she was presented with the role on Saved by the Bell, she was currently studying history at UCLA and decided to take the job to help pay for tuition.

Following after Saved by the Bell, she ended up discovering her passion for film and producing. She was able to work with Ben Stiller, Kate Hudson, and Will Ferell. With all her photography, filming, producing and directing experience, she named her business “Creel Studio.” She now has a family with her wife Rinat Greenberg and their two sons.

The Only One Who Loved Screech

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Fellow nerd Violet Ann Bickerstaff became Screech’s first and only girlfriend within the show. Screech wooed her with his sensitive and caring heart and stole her from the ultra nerd, Maxwell Nerdstrom, who didn’t treat Violet in the way that she would have liked.

Violet hailed from a wealthy family, who at first disapproved of her relationship with Screech due to his lower-class status. After a disastrous first encounter with the family, Violet drops out of a choir concert that she was supposed to perform solo in, but Screech saves the day by performing with her, causing her family to end up liking him.

Tori Spelling’s Fall from Grace

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Violet was played by Tori Spelling who became famous during her role on 90210 as Donna Martin. Her father, the big producer, Aaron Spelling, was the one who offered her the role. Since then she has written 3 books, had a reality TV show with her second husband for 4 seasons, and appeared in small TV series and movies.

After the death of her father, she realized she didn’t inherit as much money as she was expecting and was forced to live a simpler life. The simple life wasn’t so easy for her so she and her husband spread a rumor that he cheated on her. This situation ended up in a series of True Life episodes of Tori sharing the effects of what happened, but the facts don’t quite match up. Was this just a rumor spread so she can get a paycheck or did it really happen?

Before High School Was Middle School

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Saved by the Bell was originally based on a show called, Good Morning, Miss Bliss? The show aired on Disney Channel and was about a junior high school teacher put into difficult situations by her students. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much of a hit as it was canceled after only 13 episodes.

Thankfully, NBC picked it back up but instead decided to focus on the kids, rather than the teacher. Thus, Saved by the Bell was born. Zack, Screech, and Lisa all made the transition from Miss Bliss’s classroom to the halls of Bayside High, where they met Kelly, Jessie, and Slater.

Age Is Just a Number

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When the characters graduated from high school on the show, their real-life ages were: Mark-Paul Gosselaar (19); Mario Lopez (20); Elizabeth Berkley (21); Tiffani Thiessen (19); Lark Voorhies (19); and Dustin Diamond (16).

Notice how Dustin Diamond is significantly younger than the rest of the cast? Well, Dustin Diamond wouldn’t have gotten the part on the show had the director known that he was only 11 years old when the show started (which is 2-3 years younger than the rest of the cast). Oops! Lucky that he got the role, however, because we can’t imagine anyone else in the iconic role of Screech!

What If?

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Elizabeth Berkley auditioned for the role of Kelly Kapowski, but she lost it to Tiffani Thiessen. One of the reasons for this was because Berkley was significantly taller than Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who at the time hadn’t yet hit his growth spurt, we suppose. The producers liked Elizabeth so much, though, they created a role of Jessie Spano just for her!

Another person that was up for the role of Kelly Kapowski was another ’90s teen icon. Can you guess who? If you guessed Jennie Garth, then you’re correct! She shouldn’t have been too mad about losing the role to Tiffani Thiessen, since she made a name for herself with 90210, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t drama when Theissen moved to the iconic zip code after Saved By The Bell ended.

Bet You’ve Never Noticed This

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After Saved by the Bell ended, they never really tore down the set. Instead, it was recycled and rearranged to pose as a school in many other shows. The halls and classrooms of Bayside High School were resurrected on Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven, where the school is also called Bayside High.

It was also utilized on Nickelodeon’s iCarly, where it was called Ridgeway Middle School. Talk about a fun fact! You probably never would have noticed this if it wasn’t mentioned, but if you ever see these shows, it’ll probably be the only thing you notice.

The Hairy Situation

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Did you think Mark-Paul Gosselaar was a natural blonde? Think again! His luscious blonde locks were achieved every two weeks—which is how often he had to redye his naturally brunette hair. That couldn’t have been healthy for his hair, yikes!

Gosselaar told People, “Getting back to my natural color took a while! I haven’t dyed my hair since 1997.” Much of the world noticed as he is nearly unrecognizable these days since the role everyone knows him for includes a head of blonde hair. But we’re sure Gosselaar was happy to be rid of the blonde so people would stop thinking of him as Zack!

Keeping It Squeaky Clean

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No swearing allowed on set! This must have been pretty hard for a bunch of teenagers! But in order to maintain a wholesome feel for the show, executive producer Peter Engel banned all curse words on his set. The stars must have been relieved after leaving the show to not have to worry about slipping.

In the late ’90s. Mark-Paul Gosselaar was in Dead Man on Campus, in which he had curse words in his lines. In an interview he said, “It was nice to actually swear on the set. It was like, ‘Ooh, I can say that?’ We weren’t allowed to swear on the Saved by the Bell set. We were very restricted. It had to be a clean show, all the way around.”

“It Was Incestuous!”

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While Zack and Kelly might have been the true power couple of the show, behind the scenes was a totally different story. When the cameras weren’t rolling, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Lark Voorhies would hook up! They actually had the longest behind the scenes relationship throughout the duration of the show, dating for three years between 1989 to 1992.

But that’s not all! Several of the stars’ memoirs would reveal that the cast mates would go from one relationship to another… with each other! Gosselaar told People in 2009, “All of us dated at one point or another—it was incestuous!”

How Everyone Turned on Dustin Diamond

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In 2009, Dustin Diamond was given a six-figure advance to “write” a “salacious” tell-all book about his time on Saved by the Bell. Originally scrapped, the memoir was picked up by a smaller publisher who published Behind the Bell. The book did nothing but drag Diamond’s former co-stars through the mud, which caused a lot of backlash on Diamond’s already tarnished image.

Much of the Saved by the Bell cast not only distanced themselves from Diamond, but also said that the claims in the book were false. Diamond claimed that a ghost writer wrote the book and twisted what Diamond said, and that he didn’t even get to approve what was written before it was finished.

Even After All That He Has Done…

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Despite all the terrible things Dustin Diamond brought on to himself in his post-Saved by the Bell life, he is actually very sorry about all of it. He revealed on OWN’s Where Are They Now? that his biggest regret is having made the sex tape in 2006, which he says he did as a get-rich-quick scheme.

As for dragging his former co-star through the mud, Diamond appeared on The Dr. Oz Show in 2016 and formally apologized to his former castmates, saying, “I will say, guys, I think you’re fantastic, working with you has been just one of the icons of my life and I’m sorry that this has taken advantage of me… But I’m sure that you’ve experienced downfalls, as well, in your time and I’m still loving you guys.”

The Reunions You So Deeply Craved

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Over the years, there have been a couple of Saved by the Bell reunions. In 2009, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Theissen, Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley, and Lark Voorhies reunited for a cover story on People magazine. Dustin Diamond was visibly not in attendance, probably due to the fallout of his prior actions. Dennis Haskins expressed dismay at having not been invited to participate.

In 2015, Jimmy Fallon rounded up Gosselaar, Theissen, Berkley, Lopez, and this time Dennis Haskins, for a reunion on The Tonight Show. Voorhies was not seen this time and still no Dustin Diamond. It seems that Diamond never caught a break after all the drama he caused.

Best Friends Forever!

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These four cast members have stayed in contact and remained friends all these years: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Theissen, Elizabeth Berkley, and Mario Lopez. When you grow up together on a set for so many years, you can’t help but gain friendships that last a lifetime.

During Mario Lopez’s stint as a host on Extra, his former on-screen flame Elizabeth Berkley was a guest co-host. Of course, they talked about their time on the show at some points. Jessie and Slater forever! Gosselaar and Lopez have also been guests on Tiffany Theissen’s Cooking Channel show, Dinner at Tiffani’s.

The Max!

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Remember this guy? Max was the owner of The Max, where the Saved by the Bell crew would often hang out. He was an unofficial advisor for the Bayside students, offering advice about their problems and emphasizing his point with a magic trick.

Max was played by Ed Alonzo, who’s actually a magician/illusionist in real life who has worked with other popular stars such as Katy Perry and David Blaine. He even worked with Britney Spears to create illusions for her 2009 tour, The Circus Starring Britney Spears. In terms of television, he also brought his talents to other ’90s shows such as Head of the Class, Full House, and Murphy Brown.