As the new school year starts up for kids all across the country, we couldn’t help but be reminded that this year also marks the 20th anniversary since Saved By the Bell aired its last episode. From 1989 to 1993, the teen sitcom made Saturday mornings must-watch TV. Up to that point, cartoons dominated the airwaves, which as you can imagine, didn’t sit too well with the tweens and teens wanting something a little more on their level.
Originally packaged as Good Morning, Miss Bliss, Saved by the Bell opened up the avenue for shows like The O.C., Beverly Hills, 90210, and Dawson’s Creek by exploring mature themes that young people are usually confronted with. Of course, as its cheery theme song suggests, the show was principally about the enjoyable exploits of a ragtag group of friends—Zack, Kelly, Lisa, Screech, Slater, and Jessie. One could say they were even the precursor for the cast lineup from Friends.
Overseen by principal Mr. Belding, Zack and Co. got into plenty of adventures along the way. To catch up on the ones that have ensued since the cast got all grown up, scroll below.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar. As the breaker of monotony and fourth walls, Mark-Paul Gosselaar served as the perfect Zack Morris considering he would become a fairly prolific film and TV actor. After reprising his role in a long line of Saved by the Bell spinoffs, he was able to depart from the Morris persona by starring in 1996’s TV-film She Cried No. Suffice it to say that he was no gentleman in that role.
From there, he would use the keen smarts and business savvy he tailored as Morris to star in sequential roles as a detective in NYPD Blue, a campaign advisor in Commander in Chief, and a defense attorney in Raising the Bar. He continues that trend by starring as Peter Bash in the legal procedural dramedy Franklin & Bash. Outside of the Hollywood limelight, Gosselaar sports a wild side as he’s competed in and won major track cycling competitions around the world. He has two young kids from a previous marriage but has remarried in the past year with a new baby due later this month.
Mario Lopez. Though little known, mullet-crowned badboy A.C. Slater wasn’t Mario Lopez’s first TV role. Before his breakout job, he appeared in a.k.a. Pablo, the music-heavy Kids Incorporated, and The Golden Girls. After Saved by the Bell, his million-dollar dimples nabbed him success as a TV host, professional actor, and fitness star. Mario fanatics might also remember him as Bobby Cruz on the crime drama Pacific Blue or as a cast member on The Bold and the Beautiful.
At the moment, while Lopez holds down hosting duties for celebrity gossip factory Extra and the reality music competition craze The X Factor, he’s also busy growing his family with his wife. In fact, earlier this week, they welcomed a new baby boy into their fold. Who knew Slater was such a renaissance man?
Dustin Diamond. Screech! Every group of friends needs the token nerd, and Dustin Diamond played one of TV’s most iconic. When not expressing his unrequited love for Lisa Turtle, Diamond has had a knack for sticking his neck into precarious situations, much like his onscreen counterpart.
In 2006, he came back into the media’s lens after releasing a foul-named sex tape. Though it didn’t jump-start his career much like it did for Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, he was able to land some appearances on reality and game shows like Celebrity Boxing 2 and The Weakest Link as a result. His most memorable take on those might have been his all-cast confrontation on Celebrity Fit Club. He also received plenty of flak from his fellow Saved by the Bell colleagues after airing their dirty laundry in a tell-all titled Behind the Bell. Diamond is apparently a lot less lovable post SBTB—so much so, he just got kicked off the U.K.’s Celebrity Big Brother…but we wonder if anyone even knew he was on it in the first place?
Lark Voorhies. Saved by the Bell’s resident fashionista brought all of the Screeches to the yard. And it’s easy to see why as Lark Voorhies’ photogenic looks landed her acting work since the age of two. After her time as Lisa Turtle, Voorhies went on to play various roles in much of 90′s television most-loved shows. She had recurring roles in Days of our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful, starred in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, showed up in Family Matters, and played love interests in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and In the House.
Although recently she’s come under fire for exhibiting some odd behavior in TV interviews (rumors flew that she was bipolar and/or on drugs), Voorhies has denied the accusations and has continued to focus on her career by starting her own production company, You Soy Productions.
Elizabeth Berkley. More surprising than her love life with meathead Slater on Saved by the Bell was Elizabeth Berkley’s transformation into showgirl Nomi Malone. This just two years after playing feminist-minded Jessie Spano. Berkley took the racy role on Showgirls as a way to shed her “good girl” image and make her way onto the silver screen. The move didn’t go according to plan, as the film turned out to be a major fail at the time. After her image recovered, Berkley landed supporting roles in Any Given Sunday and Woody Allen’s zany The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.
As an outspoken animal rights activist, Berkley has been the centerpiece for PETA campaigns and has even won the distinction of being nominated as the “Sexiest Vegetarian of the Year” on multiple occasions. Married to artist Greg Lauren in 2003, Berkley gave birth to their son in 2012, just shy of her 40th birthday. Her biggest news as of late, though, is that she’ll be starring in the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars. Perhaps all those moves on Showgirls might come in handy now.
Tiffani Thiessen. The All-American Girl and Zack Morris’ Kryptonite. Tiffani Thiessen had a way of making hordes of boys swoon as reputable cheerleader Kelly Kapowski. That was never more evident than when Zach and Slater went head-to-mullet vying for her love.
Thiessen’s charms first gained notice when she was crowned 1987′s Miss Junior America. As recognizable as she is on Saved by the Bell, she is also widely known for playing Valerie Malone on the sultry Beverly Hills, 90210. Not content with letting two mega-roles define her, she segued quickly into an array of TV-film roles and pursued an acting career in film, which eventually got her a part in Woody Allen’s Hollywood Ending in 2002. Despite her big-screen endeavors, working in television has come easier for Thiessen, as evidenced by her new gig: Currently, she stars in the cable TV show White Collar.
Dennis Haskins. In Saved by the Bell‘s beta incarnation, Dennis Haskins also played the role of principal Mr. Belding. Then he went on to join the spinoff Saved by the Bell: The New Class and has poked fun at his turn as Belding by partaking in such projects as the karaoke-themed album Karaoke With Your Favorite Principal Dennis. Haskins still pursues acting, starring in bit roles on Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother, but it’s hard not to associate him with the timely catchphrase “Hey, hey, hey—what is going on here?”