With murmurs of a reunion circulating for nearly a year now, many children of the 90s have been eagerly awaiting the return of their favorite cheesy Bayside-set sitcom. Although various permutations of the series ran a welcome-outwearing seven seasons, nostalgic 90s’ kids are still for the most part willing to embrace yet another reunion special. For everyone except Screech, that is. He turned out to be a real jerk. Maybe they’ll bring his robot Rosie back instead. I always liked her better, anyway.
A reunion part may be a much-welcome role for many of these grown-up actors; while many of their careers were once stalled by enduring Saved by the Bell typecasting, they must be getting sick of playing serious brooding villains by this point. It’s about time to come full circle and embrace the corny after school special quality that earned them fame the first time around.
Most of the show’s stars have aimed their career goals at the furthest possible point from their teen idol days, though they have achieved adult stardom with varying levels of success. Some managed to break out of the Saved by the Bell box while others continued milking it for all its worth over a decade later. Here’s a glimpse into the stars’ acting resumes since Zack and Kelly’s wedding special:
Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar)
Gosselaar taught us all an important lesson in reinventing yourself after a successful run as a blond teenager: go brunet. Following the show’s cancellation, Gosselaar dyed his hair a dark brown, ensuring that even his most devoted fans could see him on the big screen and think, “Who is that?”
Like all teen stars in the 90s trying to break out of their goody goody image, Gosselaar first took on made-for-TV movie She Cried No in which he date-rapes Candace Cameron (aka DJ Tanner) at a college party. I guess she hadn’t learned her lesson from being abused by Fred Savage in No One Would Tell.
Gosselaar went on to take on a number of serious roles including NYPD Blue and his current stint as a lawyer on TNT’s Raising the Bar. He still looks pretty good with the brown hair, but it’s just not the same as our favorite blond beach bum. Girls in their 20s and 30s everywhere swooned when he donned the blond wig for his Jimmy Fallon appearance.
Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Amber Theissen)
Kelly was America’s sweetheart, so it’s no surprise Theissen sought an immediate post-Saved by the Bell role that took her far into the opposite direction. Theissen landed a major role as bad girl Valerie on the long-running Beverly Hills 90210 in 1994. From that point on, she became a major force in abhorrently cheesy made-for-TV movies, took an ill-advised role in Pauly Shore vehicle Son-in-Law, and landed some guest spots and bit parts in a number of TV series.
Samuel “Screech” Powers (Dustin Diamond)
When you’re a one-note actor like Diamond, continual fame has to be wrenched through shocking public behavior and bad-mouthing of former castmates. Diamond was the only original cast member who played the same role from Good Morning, Miss Bliss to Saved by the Bell: The New Class. After over 10 years as Screech, it was understandably tough for him to transition to other, less irritating roles.
Diamond descended into despair in the mid-2000s when he publicly attempted to raise money to save his home from going into foreclosure. He also released a raunchy and disturbing sex tape, appeared on numerous reality shows including Celebrity Fit Club, and writing a tell-all book implicating his SbtB costars in some not-so-wholesome behavior. Clearly someone didn’t get the meaning behind Zack Attack’s “Friends Forever.”
Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies)
Voorhies actually did fairly well for awhile with major running roles on soap operas, though her religious beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness precluded her from acting in the sex scenes required of her roles. Relinquishing her soap parts, apparently Voorhies’ moral ground still allowed her to take a major role in the stoner film How High.
To be fair, she did do some other miscellaneous legitimate sitcom stints on shows like Family Matters and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. For your 90s trivia facts, she also starred in Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” music video. Add a role in Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded resume of obscurity.
Albert Clifford “AC” Slater (Mario Lopez)
It almost pains me to say that Lopez seems the clear front-runner for the title of most successful Saved by the Bell alum. It’s not so much that he exhibits superior acting talent, but perhaps that his less than discriminate agent has signed him onto the task of hosting or participating in every gossip show, dance competition, or beauty pageant that came his way. There’s no denying that Lopez is something of a better looking, more muscular, more vaguely Latino Ryan Seacrest. We’ll just call him the second hardest-working man in Hollywood.
Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley)
If you’re ever looking for a lesson in killing your career through drastic anti-typecasting measures, you may want to look to Elizabeth Berkley for some tips. Sick of her good girl image, Berkley sought to break out of the wholesome box with an ill-fated career nosedive into the film Showgirls. The movie was a tacky, X-rated excuse for nudity and laughably bad acting, leaving Berkley far worse off than if she’d simply stuck to Jessie Spano territory. She’s some some bit parts since then, but her career never quite recovered from Showgirls syndrome.
Tori Scott (Leanna Creel)
Last but not least, let us not forget Tori of the ever-confusing late-season character switcharoo. Kelly and Jessie exit stage left, Tori enters stage right, one season elapses and they all switch back as if nothing had happened. The actress that played Tori is actually an identical triplet, giving her license to star with her sisters in the third and fourth installments of the Parent Trap series. She know wisely works as a producer and filmmaker, putting her days typecast as the tough-talking leather jacket-clad girl who is everyone’s best friend for just a single season.