Saved by the Bell Turns 29: Looking Back at the Campy Classic and Its Teen Idols
In honor the anniversary, PEOPLE is looking back at our 2009 cast reunion
Hey, hey, hey, hey! Monday marked 29 years since Saved by the Bell premiered on NBC in 1989, introducing the world to Bayside High and shooting its young actors to instant stardom.
In honor the anniversary, PEOPLE is looking back at our 2009 cast reunion, when Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez and Lark Voorhies gathered for the first time since Saved by the Bell went off the air. They reminisced about the fashions (nice mullet, Slater!) and the friendships that have stood the test of time.
“When you’re young, you don’t think, ‘This is something I’m going to cherish forever,’” Thiessen said at the time. “But I spent a lot of formative years on the show. We had a lot of firsts together.” Added Berkley: “It was like family. This feels like picking up where we left off.”
As TV’s first live-action Saturday-morning sitcom — it competed against Bugs Bunny — the show got off to a rocky start.
“It was campy,” recalled Gosselaar. “No one wanted to admit that they watched it. We constantly thought we were being canceled.”
Soon, however, thousands of fans began mobbing the cast’s mall appearances. Even so, their real-life growing pains were never tabloid fodder.
“All of us dated at one point or another—it was incestuous!” said Gosselaar. “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. All that stuff you did in high school, like, ‘How could you talk to him?’”
Thiessen demurred. “Did we have crushes on our costars? Absolutely,” she said. “But we were so young!”
Then, in 2015, Lopez, Berkley, Gosselaar and Thiessen got back into character for a sketch on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The foursome appeared remarkably unchanged as they paid homage to some of the show’s most popular moments, including that unforgettable black full-length leotard.
As far as the two noticeable no-shows from the late night reunion? Dustin Diamond (Screech Powers), had encountered legal trouble, pleading not guilty for allegedly stabbing a man in a 2014 bar fight.