The 16 Best, Most Essential Saved By The Bell Episodes Of All Time

Photo: Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images.
It’s officially been 30 years since Saved by the Bell first hit the airwaves (originally as Good Morning, Miss Bliss) and we can hardly believe it. To celebrate its 30th anniversary, we’ve rounded up the hands down, best Saved By The Bell episodes (pro tip: streaming on Hulu), so you can take a trip down memory lane. Feel free to let this list be your guide, or just start from the very beginning and marathon Saved by the Bell all week. Bayside Tigers forever!
Season 1, Episode 11: "Stevie"
This episode takes place when Saved by the Bell was technically called Good Morning, Miss Bliss and was set in a junior high in Indianapolis, Indiana. It features lots of excitement for Zack (Mark Paul Gosselaar), Lisa (Lark Voorhies), Screech (Dustin Diamond), Nikki (Heather Hopper), Mikey (Max Battimo), Miss Bliss (Hayley Mills), and the rest of the gang because rockstar Stevie (Suzanne Tara), a former Miss Bliss student, is in town to perform a concert at JFK Junior High. Though this episode features Zack attempting to scheme his way into a girl’s heart by pretending he’s terminally ill, and we can’t condone that, Stevie is a fun character with an awesome '80s rocker wardrobe. Plus, Miss Bliss susses out Zack’s lie within about 1.5 seconds, proving how great a teacher she is. Plus, you can't have a list of essentials without at least one season 1 gem.
Season 2, Episode 3: "The Gift"
Screech (Dustin Diamond) gets a moment to shine in this episode when a lightning strike leaves him with supposed psychic powers — though Zack (naturally) tries to use them to his own advantage immediately. (And to be honest, who among us wouldn’t try to ace Terrible Testeverde’s midterm however we could?) This is hardly Zack’s worst-intentioned scheme of the series, though he and Slater’s bet about having to be each other’s slave for the week and Zack’s incessant flirting with Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen) veer into uncomfortable territory. Welcome to the early '90s, I guess?
Season 2, Episode 16: "Save That Tiger"
The classic Bayside and Valley High rivalry rears its head and culminates in an epic prank war that somehow includes Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) joining the cheerleading squad — and trying to change it from within to better fit with her own brand of scholarly, feminist ideals. The result: a brand-new cheer, a Trojan Horse mascot, and a trophy for good ol’ Bayside High.
Season 3, Episode 1: "The Prom"
Kelly has to choose between Zack and Slater (Mario Lopez) as her prom date — leading to a dreamscape Geraldo/Screech-hosted “Hunk-Off” — but even after she picks Zack, all’s not well at Bayside. The Kapowski family is having financial trouble, and Kelly decides she can’t spend any money on prom...which leads to Zack surprising her on prom night for their own private prom-picnic-in-sweats:
Plus, this episode kicks off Jessie & Slater’s romance and finds Screech backing off Lisa for once (after they go on a movie date and she talks the whole time).
Season 3, Episode 3: "Save the Max"
Zack and Screech discover Bayside’s long-forgotten radio station and get to work revamping it, leading to a totally groovy Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins) flashback, a performance crisis on Slater’s part (featuring this gem: “In the airport of life, sports is just the baggage”), and a massive radio-fueled effort from the gang to save The Max from being turned into a parking lot. Entrepreneurial spirit, activism, and friends working together? Yes, please.
Season 5, Episode 5: "House Party"
This episode gives viewers a window into Screech’s home life when his Elvis-obsessed parents go to Graceland for their anniversary and leave Screech and Zack home alone to house (and dog) sit. Hijinks — including a Risky Business-esque scheme and a “Barbara Ann” lip sync — ensue, of course. Throw in Tori Spelling giving it her all as Screech’s dorky love interest, Violet, and you’ve got a classic on your hands. We could do without the “farm Jessie out as Maxwell’s date to get Screech’s dog back” subplot, but at least Jessie gives Maxwell and his sexist attitude a piece of her mind, more than once.
Season 3, Episode 9: "Jessie’s Song"
This iconic Saved by the Bell episode is probably best known for Jessie Spano’s meme-able “I’m so excited... I’m so scared” breakdown:
While that moment will live in television infamy forever, the borderline “Very Special” episode — which, admittedly, does attempt to squeeze a pretty heavy plot in 22 minutes of sitcom — also features a fantastic aerobic music video starring Jessie, Lisa, and Kelly and some emotional moments, to boot. Unfortunately, it also features a creepy subplot of Screech sneaking into the girls’ locker room (at Zack’s behest) to secretly record them singing — though his claim to be Sinead O’Connor…’s aunt was kinda funny, if I'm being honest.
Season 3, Episode 11: "1-900-Crushed"
And another one of Zack’s get rich quick schemes bites the dust. At least this one features Lisa using her knack for advice-giving and stepping in to fix everything after Zack and Screech start giving bad advice on purpose (THESE GUYS). Not sure we ever need to see Slater, Zack, and Screech rap again like they do in Nikki Kapowski’s (Laura Mooney) modern Cinderella daydream, but the subplot of Kelly’s little sister crushing on Zack is kind of adorable. Even if it does turn into a total mess involving silly string (thanks, of course, to Zack himself).
Season 4, Episode 1: "The Last Dance"
If you grew up watching television during your formative years, chances are there were some TV relationships breakups that broke you up. Corey and Topanga, Winnie and Kevin, Brenda and Dylan... and thanks to this episode, Zack and Kelly. Will we ever forget Zack and Kelly, dressed as Romeo and Juliet, breaking up at a high school dance as Slater and Jessie sing Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You”? Signs point to no.
Season 4, Episode 4: "The Game"
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one Malibu Sands episode. The honor goes to the episode in which Zack and the gang compete against North Beach in an annual volleyball game on behalf of Malibu Sands Beach Club. Beach volleyball feels so California, and the fact that East Coast ride-or-die Stacey Carosi (Leah Remini) has to join the squad to save the day? Fantastic. That she dunks on one of the North Beach guys by claiming she’s too busy to go out with him because she has to “re-string her tennis shoes”? Perfection.
Season 4, Episode 9: "Fake I.D.s"
In which Screech makes fake I.D.s for Zack and Slater and the boys catch Kelly’s new, age-inappropriate boyfriend, cheating on her at an over-18 club called The Attic. UGH, JEFF.
Season 4, Episode 20: "Hold Me Tight"
This episode finds most of the Bayside student body fighting for new girl Kristy Barnes' (Krystee Clark) right to compete on the wrestling team. It features some rare plot continuity, with Zack and Screech and Lisa and Jessie reporting for the school radio station, and everybody learning a lesson (not that it sticks) about the casual-slash-rampant sexism that so often flows through the halls of Bayside High like water during a flood — including from Mr. Belding! The fish rots from the head, y’all. Kristy Barnes, FTW.
Season 4, Episode 22: "Rockumentary"
A Casey Kasem cameo? Zack and the gang as rock stars? An important message about friendship vs. fame? So. Many. Sequins? Sign us up for this it-was-all-a-dream faux-documentary episode any day. Plus, Zack Attack actually makes some good music. I'd be lying if I said I'd never tried to find “Friends Forever” on Spotify.
Season 5, Episode 5: "The Bayside Triangle"
In which Zack helps Lisa host a fashion show to impress an FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) scout and the two end up falling for each other and kissing! When Screech sees, chaos (and mean insults) ensue, but the end result is a happy one: Screech finally, finally, finally realizes that Lisa isn’t interested in him and promises to get over her. Plus, the FIT scout likes Lisa’s work and agrees to consider her for the school. Go Lisa!
Season 5, Episode 8: "Day of Detention"
Every teen show has to do its homage to The Breakfast Club, and Saved by the Bell is no exception. When Zack has detention but wants to call in to a radio show to win a trip to Hawaii, all his friends try to help him out — but instead end up stuck in detention with him.
Season 5, Episode 26: "Graduation"
This is it: the end. Well, it’s the end except for The College Years, The New Class, etc. As with any ending, the feelings here are both happy and sad. There’s one last Zack scheme — convincing Big Pete to take a dive so Zack can join the Swan Pond ballet to get his final credit in order to graduate — and a touching subplot in which Lisa convinces Jessie to let go of her valedictorian dreams when Screech wants to give up the honor he earned for her. Screech gets a big celebratory moment, and it all ends in one big group graduation cap toss, and no we’re not crying, it’s just dusty in here!

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