Why Saved By The Bell Replaced Kelly & Jessie With Tori Scott
During Saved by the Bell‘s fourth and final season, Kelly and Jessie suddenly disappeared from the cast, with newcomer Tori Scott being added, causing a bizarre Tori Saved by the Bell issue. Premiering in August 1989, Saved the Bell was actually a rebirth of a short-lived show called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which centered primarily on Hayley Mills’ titular teacher. When that project failed to take off, the concept was retooled into what fans would come to know, with only four existing characters — Zack, Screech, Lisa, and Mr. Belding — making the transition over.
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Saved by the Bell would rule Saturday mornings for the early 1990s, sometimes posting ratings that made many primetime shows jealous. While the show only ran four seasons, it was a hit in reruns on cable and in syndication too, with it becoming a favorite of multiple generations of kids and teens. This led to sequel shows, spinoffs, TV movies, and a recent revival on Peacock. When people think of Saved by the Bell though, it’s likely most don’t think of Tori Scott.
Related: What To Expect From Peacock’s Saved By The Bell Season 2
For over 90% of its run, Saved by the Bell centered on six characters, those being Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Kelly Kapowski (Tiffany Thiessen), Screech Powers (the late Dustin Diamond), A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkeley), and Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies). Midway through season 4 though, that dynamic was abruptly shifted, as Kelly and Jessie vanished, and the gang received a new member, Bayside newcomer Tori (Leanna Creel). It’s a jarring shift, and, as one might imagine, it was not in the producers’ plan when entering Saved by the Bell’s final year. Here’s the Tori Saved by the Bell issue explained.
Tori Scott Filled A Contractual Gap
In fact, a complete (albeit shorter than average) Saved by the Bell season 4 had finished filming with both Thiessen’s Kelly and Berkeley’s Jessie still part of the cast, and the series finale, which did still end up airing last, had already been shot. That episode saw the main gang of characters graduate from Bayside High, with an emotional Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins) presiding. Afterward, NBC made an unexpected call, ordering ten additional episodes. Since the show had wrapped, this meant that the cast had to sign new deals to participate in this new batch of episodes. And, as with many shows that request new seasons out of the blue, it’s a simple facet of the industry that not everyone will come along for the ride. So why did Jessie and Kelly leave Saved by the Bell?
Unfortunately, neither Berkeley or Thiessen were able to reach new terms. This seeded the misplaced ideas around the Tori Saved by the Bell addition, forcing the show in a direction it otherwise wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – have gone. At this point, producers knew they needed new Saved by the Bell characters to fill the Kelly and Jessie-sized hole in the cast, as it wouldn’t have made sense to recast the well-loved sitcom figures. Thus, the character of Tori Scott was created, a no-nonsense biker who wasn’t initially attracted to any of Zack’s usual shenanigans but eventually warmed up to him and dated him.
Why The Tori Scott SBTB Episodes Were Confusing
The extra episodes ordered by NBC are what ultimately caused the Tori Saved by the Bell issue — and her episodes were admittedly confusing. Given that the new episodes were placed smack dab in the middle of the series, this caused an abrupt change which made Jessie and Kelly’s disappearances all the more obvious. While Leanna Creel did her best to fill their shoes, it was too late in the game to introduce an entirely new character into the main cast. Generally speaking, Tori entered the scene with nary an explanation, which was confusing to viewers. Even more confounding was the entirely flimsy reasoning behind Jessie and Kelly’s absences. In the end, Tori left as quickly as she came.
It’s clear that the new storylines featuring the character were written in a rush, not really giving Creel the chance to flesh Tori out. All in all, her sudden appearance and disappearance caused needless confusion among the many who watch Saved by the Bell, and it really only hurt the show. The missing characters were rarely mentioned, and the only real explanation ever offered is that Kelly and Jessie were simply in different classes with Zack, Screech, Slater, and Lisa, and were still interacting with them off-screen. Tori and Zack broke up shortly before her ten episodes were finished, and then she was suddenly gone again without explanation, with the remaining already-shot Kelly and Jessie episodes used to finish out Saved by the Bell‘s final season.