Try to remember what, exactly, the late ’80s/early ’90s sitcom Saved By The Bell was about and you’re likely to conjure up vague recollections of harmless high school hijinks. Some increasingly old actors, pretending to be teenagers, kissed each other or didn’t; Principal Belding assigned detention; and a handful of very special episodes helped impressionable youth with important social issues like the dangers of eating lots of uppers to get better grades.
What’s harder to remember is that Saved By The Bell had a more prevalent (and much darker) recurring theme: lead character Zack Morris being a Machiavellian scumbag, manipulating everyone around him to get his way.
Funny Or Die has compiled many of these moments in a video series aptly titled Zack Morris Is Trash. Covering episode plotlines ranging from “The Time Zack Morris Lied About Being Jewish To Go To A Baseball Game” and “The Time Zack Morris Lost His Friend’s Dog In A Poker Game” to “The Time Zack Morris Gave Himself A Homeless Girl For Christmas,” the series presents a damning indictment of a popular TV character.
Watch along to relive some of Zack’s sociopathic plans, which include convincing everyone that Slater is terminally ill because he’s jealous of his friend’s athletic award, taking over a school supply shop to sell photos of his classmates in swimsuits, and just generally making the case that the Saved By The Bell lead should probably have spent the latter half of the show locked in one of those glass supervillain cages, like Skyfall’s Raoul Silva or Hannibal Lecter.
All in all, the videos argue an alternate meaning for the show’s title, one that refers to the fact that the students of Bayside High were only kept from total ruin at Zack’s hands by the simple mercy of each school day coming to an end.