If you grew up in the ’90s, chances are pretty good that you were watching Saved by the Bell on Saturday mornings. Or maybe you watched the re-runs every weekday when you got home from school. The hit NBC series starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Tiffany Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, and Dustin Diamond aired for four seasons (more if you count the Miss Bliss episodes and The College Years.)
No matter how well you know Saved by the Bell, what you may not realize is how much drama was going on behind the scenes. There have been plenty of rumors, due in large part from Dustin Diamond’s “tell-all” book that came out a few years ago. Much of that book was refuted by the producers and cast alike, but what really did go on behind the scenes?
Here are 15 Dark Secrets From Saved by the Bell You Had No Idea About. Be sure to let us know which ones surprised you the most!
15. Dustin Diamond’s tell-all book
If you’ve kept up with Saved by the Bell at all in recent years, you’ve likely heard about Dustin Diamond’s tell-all book, which makes all kinds of wild and shocking claims about the show and his castmates that have been refuted.
Naturally, the response to that book wasn’t good, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar said he doesn’t remember the show that way at all. “My experience on the show was very positive and that’s why when people say, ‘Oh, you don’t like talking about it.’ It’s like, No, I don’t mind talking about it, I just don’t really remember that time, and also everything I do remember was extremely positive,” Gosselaar said.
Now, even if you have heard about the book, what may not know is that Dustin Diamond has since stated that he actually didn’t write it — and that he knows most of what’s in there was fabricated thanks to a ghost-writer gone rogue. “It wasn’t me, I didn’t write this. I was just as shocked and appalled,” Diamond said.
14. The Stars All Dated Each Other
It makes sense that a group of teens working together this closely would end up dating one another, and that was definitely the case with this cast. “All of us dated at one point or another—it was incestuous!” Mark-Paul Gosselaar stated in an interview. “Sometimes the girls would gang up on the guys. Tiffani and Elizabeth would hate me, and then they’d hate Lark because Lark was talking to me, and Mario was supposed to side with someone.”
“Did we have crushes on our costars? Absolutely,” Tiffani Thiessen said. “But we were so young!”
And all of that doesn’t mean there wasn’t at least one serious relationship during the Saved by the Bell years. Zack Morris may have been in love with Kelly Kapowski for a good portion of the series, but behind-the-scenes, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Lark Vorhees dated for about three years.
13. Dustin Diamond was too young for the part
Dustin Diamond was significantly younger than the rest of his Saved by the Bell co-stars, getting the part of Samuel “Screech” Powers at only 12 years old. In fact, creator Peter Engel didn’t even realize he was that young, and had he known, there’s no way Dustin Diamond would have gotten the part.
That age difference likely has a lot to do with how things went behind the scenes. Diamond didn’t get along well with the rest of his co-stars, at all, and considering the age gap, it makes sense it would be hard for all of them to be as close.
12. Shocking allegations
This one really isn’t the kind of thing you think of when you think about that wholesome Saturday morning show you watched when you were a kid. (Or maybe that you still watch re-runs from time to time.)
In 1993, while Saved by the Bell was still on the air, an eighteen-year-old woman accused Mario Lopez, who played A.C. Slater, of raping her in his home. Once that allegation was made public, another woman came forward and said that she was raped by Lopez in 1991.
Because there was no evidence for either allegation, there were no charges brought against Lopez, and he was not arrested. Lopez was reportedly cooperative with police and denied the allegations. He was nineteen years old at the time.
11. Why Tori replaced Kelly and Jesse
Leanna Creel appeared suddenly as Tori Scott in the final season of Saved by the Bell, with pretty much no explanation whatsoever. Of course, she was an immediate love interest for Zack Morris, despite the fact that Kelly had all but vanished.
The reason? Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani Thiessen opted not to renew their contracts, though the remaining members of the cast were on board for more episodes. Thus, Leanna Creel was brought on as a replacement.
And yet, Kelly and Jesse were there for the series finale. According to Peter Engel, that episode was shot before the show was given another season. “We had already shot the graduation and that was supposed to be the end,” Engel said. “We were supposed to end and not do another season. … So we shot the graduation but Tiffani had an offer to go with Aaron Spelling for 90210 and Elizabeth, I didn’t know it was going to be Showgirls, wanted to do movies. So we didn’t re-sign them because we couldn’t re-sign them.”
10. The cast was underpaid
With a show as iconic as Saved by the Bell, you’d assume the cast members were paid very well for their work. After all, basically everyone was watching Saved by the Bell on Saturdays when it was on the air. You’d also assume that even now, they’d still be making some money off of the show.
However, that wasn’t the case at all. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack Morris, said on The Nerdist Podcast with Chris Wardwick, “It was a Saturday morning show. It was the first of its kind. We didn’t get paid d*ck for it.”
The cast members also don’t make money off the syndication (all those reruns we love to watch over and over), nor do they get anything from the show’s merchandising. Talk about a bad deal.
9. Mark-Paul Gosselaar had to dye his hair for every. Single. Episode.
You know the blond Zack Morris we all adored? The one with the signature bleached blond hair? Well, as it turns out, he’s really a brunet. Mark-Paul Gosselaar actually has very dark hair, and he admitted he had to dye his hair blond for every single episode of Saved by the Bell. Yep, and he had to do that for six years.
“I’m surprised I have hair! I can’t believe I have hair now,” he exclaimed in an interview. He also said people are often surprised to see his hair color and comment that he’s no longer blond. His reply? “When was I ever blond?!” he laughed, looking at an old photo. “That’s not real!”
8. Swearing was banned on set
There was one hard and fast rule to keep things wholesome on Saved by the Bell, even behind the scenes. Reportedly, swearing was banned on set. It was creator Peter Engel’s rule to maintain that wholesome image for the Saturday morning show. So despite any other drama going on when the cameras weren’t rolling, at the very least, no curse words were being uttered.
It’s a little comforting, isn’t it? After all, this is a kid’s show! It wouldn’t be the same to imagine Kelly Kapowski letting a curse word slip out in between takes (though those bloopers would likely be hilarious). Still, it must have been difficult for the actors to avoid using any curse words when they made mistakes, especially for the adults.
7. Lark Vorhees’ personal sacrifices
When you’re dedicated to your work, sometimes, you have to make sacrifices. Lark Vorhees, who played Lisa Turtle on Saved by the Bell, admitted to sacrificing to major events in most teenagers’ lives. She not only missed out on going to her prom, but she also couldn’t go to her own high school graduation because she was so busy working on the show. Talk about dedication!
Those sacrifices were apparently worth it, though. Mark-Paul Gosselaar said he was proud to work with such a great group of people, and Lark Vorhees felt that the camaraderie the group had made up for the sacrifices they made. “Those moments we had to sacrifice, we made up for with each other,” she stated.
6. Partying young
The cast members of Saved by the Bell got famous very quickly, so it’s not exactly surprising they were able to break a few rules. Though Mark-Paul Gosselaar stated nothing ever got too crazy, the cast members were known for partying at a young age and getting into adult clubs before they were legally allowed to be there. “At 16, I was hanging out in adult clubs. But I didn’t abuse it, and neither did my castmates. I can’t stress how good we were,” Gosselaar said.
Hey, this sounds a lot like a certain episode of Saved by the Bell, doesn’t it? Chances are, though, that the clubs Mark-Paul Gosselaar and the rest of his castmates were hanging out at weren’t much like “The Attic” at all.
5. Tiffani Thiessen’s first sip of alcohol
Maybe the cast members weren’t partying too hard, but Tiffani Thiessen, who played Kelly Kapowski, admitted to one first that happened during the series. She said that her very first sip of alcohol was with one of her co-stars while on a press tour in Paris for Saved by the Bell. (Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?)
“Mark-Paul and I got to go to Paris [for a press tour],” Thiessen said in an interview. “We ate crepes, and my first sip of alcohol was with him. It felt at times like we were Barbie and Ken.”
Those two were apparently great friends behind-the-scenes for the much of the series, and though their characters dated on and off throughout the series, in real life, they became more like brother and sister.
4. Mario Lopez didn’t want to play A.C. Slater
It’s hard to imagine anyone playing the role of A.C. Slater other than Mario Lopez, but Lopez admitted he wasn’t actually interested in getting the part when he first auditioned for Saved by the Bell. “With my hormones in charge, frankly, I was more interested in chasing girls than trekking up to L.A. to to read for a part that had barely been sketched out on paper,” Lopez said in his memoir, Just Between Us.
Lopez was only fifteen years old at the time of that audition, and even though it wasn’t a top priority, he must have done something right in that audition. In fact, A.C. Slater was originally supposed to be Italian, but that was changed once Lopez was cast in the role.
3. No one got along with Dustin Diamond
It’s pretty clear there’s no love lost between Dustin Diamond and the rest of the Saved by the Bell cast. But it wasn’t just the age difference we mentioned before that made it hard for everyone to get along with Dustin Diamond behind the scenes.
According to Mario Lopez, Dustin Diamond was “one of those dorky kids who thought it as hilarious to take Polaroids of his genitals and leave the photos all over set.” Lopez also added, though, that “Annoying as that was, it was in keeping with his TV persona.”
In an interview, Lopez also said he got along with Diamond okay on set, but that he was probably the only one. “I got along with Dustin,” Lopez said. “I was probably the only one who was really cool with Diamond. He thought I was a little quirky because he was a couple years younger, but yeah, I was all good — I didn’t have any issues.”
2. The cast constantly expected the show to be canceled
These guys really didn’t have much faith, did they? At the end of every season, the cast members just assumed the show would be canceled. In fact, if you ever wondered why Zack Morris’s hair style changed each year (if you’re a true fan, you can probably identify the season based on Zack’s hairstyle alone), that’s exactly why.
“Every year we thought we’d be canceled,” Mark-Paul Gosselaar said an in interview with Jimmy Fallon. “Every single season of Saved by the Bell, it was ‘canceled.’ At the end of season, we all left, we said goodbye to each other. And that’s why every season my hairstyle was so radically different.”
1. Stealing from Ferris Bueller
Time out! Remember how often Zack Morris broke the fourth wall and spoke directly to the camera? Sometimes an episode would start that way, and others, he’d let the audience in on a secret or interrupt the show by calling time-out to change his circumstances.
Many people thought that those moments were unique to Zack Morris and Saved by the Bell, but the truth is, it wasn’t an original idea. It was copied from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
“People think, oh, that was such a novel idea that you came up with,” Mark-Paul Gosselaar told Jimmy Fallon. “No, that was done by Ferris Bueller, we were just copying him.”
“That was like the muse for my character,” Gosselaar went on. “I was such a fan of Ferris Bueller.”
Which of these behind-the-secrets from Saved by the Bell surprises you the most? Share with us in the comments!
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