Feel old yet? “Saved by the Bell,” which debuted Aug. 20, 1989, is turning 30.
That means those kids — Zack, Kelly, Slater, Lisa, Jessie and Screech — from Bayside High are in their 40s. Try not to dwell on that. Instead, here are 10 things to know in honor of the TV series’ 30th anniversary:
1. Goodbye, Miss Bliss
Though “Saved by the Bell” was launched in ’89, the series was a reconfigured version of a program (“Good Morning, Miss Bliss”) that premiered two years earlier. The teacher, played by Hayley Mills, was the focal point of “Good Morning, Miss Bliss.” Her classroom was populated with Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Lisa (Lark Voorhies) and Screech (Dustin Diamond) and her principal was Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins). Zack, Lisa, Screech and Mr. Belding advanced to “Saved by the Bell,” but Mills did not follow them to Bayside.
2. New kids
Mario Lopez, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley were cast as new classmates for Zack, Lisa and Screech when “Good Morning, Miss Bliss” morphed into “Saved by the Bell.”
3. What about Tori?
Tori was one of the Bayside kids for 10 final-season episodes. Thiessen and Berkley exited during the last season, opening the door for Leanna Creel as Tori. Creel is an identical triplet. She and her sisters starred in “Parent Trap III” and “Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon” with Hayley Mills, who, as we have already established, was Miss Bliss.
4. Cartoon killer?
After a prime-time pilot, “Saved by the Bell” aired Saturday mornings during an era when Saturday mornings were cartoon territory. “Saved by the Bell” was so successful that NBC scrapped its animated programs. In August 1992, the network’s Saturday morning lineup included an hourlong version of the news show “Today” and live-action scripted programs. The age of cartoons gave way to the likes of “California Dreams,” “City Guys” and “Hang Time.” It can be said that “Saved by the Bell” was an accomplice to the killing of Saturday morning cartoons.
5. ‘I’m So Excited’
Though “Saved by the Bell” aimed for laughs, the show sometimes tackled serious issues. The most famous of those instances came in the episode “Jessie’s song.” Jessie, in an attempt to juggle the demands of school and a singing group, becomes reliant on caffeine pills.
6. Star watching
Before they were stars? Leah Remini played Stacy Corosi during a series of summer beach club episodes before starring in “King of Queens.” (Denise Richards, as Slater’s secret admirer, and Pryor’s Dark Sevier, as a tall volleyball player, also showed up in beach club episodes.) Tori Spelling was Bayside’s Violet Bickerstaff before going to “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Casper van Dien and Patrick Muldoon teamed up in “Starship Troopers” six years after appearing on “Saved by the Bell.” Muldoon played the older rogue who (gasp!) broke up Zack and Kelly in 1991. Michael Jai White appeared as Military Police Man No. 2 in a 1993 episode. Meanwhile, Soleil Moon Frye appeared in an episode four years after “Punky Brewster” ended.
7. Continuing story
All good things must come to an end, but “Saved by the Bell” kept returning after a 1993 series finale. “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” was a short-lived prime-time series that followed Zack, Slater and Screech to college. Kelly eventually joined them on campus, then Zack and Kelly tied the knot in a 1994 TV movie. “Saved by the Bell: The New Cast” debuted in 1993 and ran for seven seasons, but the show was plagued by cast turnover and isn’t remotely as beloved as the original series. Where are they now? Isaac Lidsky, who played Weasel Wyzell in the next-gen series, lost his sight and became the only blind person to serve as a law clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court.
8. Life after Bayside
Child stars often struggle to make the transition to adult actor, but the Bayside kids are doing OK. Among the most accomplished are Gosselaar, Thiessen and Lopez. It was recently announced that Gosselaar will be the male lead on ABC’s “Black-ish” spinoff, “Mixed-ish.” He’s a veteran of many series, including “NYPD Blue” and “Franklin & Bash.” Thiessen, in a departure from her Kelly Kapowski character, jumped to a bad girl role on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” (Among her 90210 cast mates was Jennie Garth, who once was considered to play Kelly Kapowski.) Thiessen also was a cast member in USA Network’s “White Collar.” Lopez found a second career as an entertainment host/journalist.
9. Behind the Bell
In 2009, Diamond wrote a tell-all book (“Behind the Bell”) about behind-the-scenes “Saved by the Bell” experiences. The book did not go over well with former cast mates. In a 2013 OWN interview, Diamond backtracked. He said the book had some truth in it but alleged that his ghost writer expanded on “throw-away” statements. He said he did not pre-approve the book’s content and said he has nothing but good thoughts and memories about the show.
10. Class reunion
In 2015, five cast members reunited for an eight-minute “Saved by the Bell” sketch on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.” The filmed segment showed Fallon as a student standing by a row of lockers at Bayside. One by one, former cast members appeared in character and were met with roars of approval. The sketch made references to “Dancing With the Stars” (Lopez was a runner-up) and “Showgirls” (Berkley starred in the film). The clip ended with a revelation that Kelly was pregnant with Zack’s child. Thiessen’s baby bump was real. She’s a two-time mom.
In a subsequent appearance on Fallon’s show, Thiessen said the participants knew the skit would do well, but the reaction surpassed expectations. Available on YouTube, the skit has been viewed more than 44 million times.