Despite bringing most of the Bayside gang back together, Peacock’s surprisingly excellent Saved by the Bell reboot doesn’t include one key member of the original cast: Screech, played by Dustin Diamond. But there’s actually a pretty good in-canon reason presented for why Screech isn’t in Saved by the Bell — as well as a few possible real world reasons.
Screech is one of the longest running characters in the franchise, first introduced in Good Morning, Miss Bliss in 1988 before the series was rebooted as Saved by the Bell. Diamond continued to play Screech through Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas and Saved by the Bell: The New Class. That’s nearly 13 years of distinguished service in the Saved by the Bell mines, so it would be reasonable to think that Screech would once again be gracing the halls of Bayside High in Peacock’s reimagining. Yet despite the inclusion of Slater (Mario Lopez), Jesse Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), and even regular guest appearances by Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen), other than a few mentions and some spotty flashback footage, Screech is entirely absent from the new Saved by the Bell.
In the series’ eighth episode, “The Todd Capsule,” we finally get a good reason for why Screech isn’t seen in the show: he’s in space. Spoilers for the episode past this point, but the rest of the episode isn’t just a reunion for the main cast, it also retcons in a new character, and retcons out Screech’s inclusion. In the half-hour, Bayside alumni return to the school for homecoming, including now governor of California, Zack and his first lady, Kelly. Though they initially bond with Slater — who is now coach at the high school — and Jesse — who is now the school’s guidance counselor — they quickly discover that a lot has changed in the intervening years.
The thing that brings them back together? Discovering that they’ve completely forgotten a classmate of their’s, fellow “cool teen” Ron-Ron Toddman, a.k.a. current Principal Toddman, played by John Michael Higgins. Thanks to some purposefully janky edited footage, Higgins is inserted into classic episodes of Bell, interacting with the main cast (sort of) and even attending Zack and Kelly’s wedding.
Despite all that, the core four still don’t remember Toddman at all, so they FaceTime another absent friend: Lisa (Lark Voorhies). She’s in Paris, living it up with her “lovers” (multiple), working as a fashion designer, and is the only one who actually remembers Toddman. Lisa’s brief appearance makes Screech’s all the more glaring — but earlier in the episode, Slater gives a pretty good reason for why he’s not there. Annoyed at Kelly and Zack, Slater moans that, “Screech is so lucky he and Kevin get to live on the International Space Station so he doesn’t have to deal with all this.” Kevin, in case you forgot, is Screech’s robot assistant voiced by Mike Lavelle, who appeared in three episodes in Seasons 1 and 2.
So there you go, Screech isn’t on Saved by the Bell because he’s in space with a robot! Pretty simple, right?
WRONG. Well, maybe not wrong, but at least that’s the official excuse given for Diamond’s absence from the revival. Showrunner Tracy Wigfield has noted she’s not ruling out seeing Screech in a potential Season 2: “He wasn’t tied to any of the new characters or anything. But that’s not to say it’s not open for the future, not knowing what stories will be or anything for a cameo maybe,” Wigfield told the TV’s Top 5 podcast, via reporting by PopSugar.
But while the rest of the cast is credited as producers on the series, Diamond isn’t even given that due. It’s fair to speculate at least some of that might be reticence on the part of the cast to reunite with Diamond, who, among other things: published a tell-all book called “Behind the Bell” in 2009, which he since has claimed was mostly lies written by a ghostwriter; has never appeared in any reunions; leaked a sex tape; and went to jail for stabbing a man in a bar on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s most egregious act is arguably appearing on four seasons of TNT’s Franklin & Bash.
Regardless of the reasons Diamond doesn’t show up in Season 1 of Saved by the Bell, it does seem like the door is open. That is, if Screech doesn’t die in space, first.
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