The upcoming reboot of Saved By The Bell has reunited all of the original series’ teen cast, with one exception: Dustin Diamond, who played Samuel “Screech” Powers. The exclusion of Screech is notable, given that he is the only character to appear in every Saved By The Bell spin-off. It is also understandable, however, given some of Diamond’s activities since the show ended.
Diamond first played Screech in the Disney Channel original series Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which had been created as a vehicle for Hayley Mills, who played the titular middle school teacher. Good Morning, Miss Bliss was cancelled after 13 episodes, but NBC picked up the rights, retitled the show Saved By The Bell and shifted the focus to Miss Bliss‘s students as they moved on to high school. Saved By The Bell ran for four seasons and ended with Screech and his friends graduating. Diamond went on to play Screech in the short-lived spin-off Saved By The Bell: The College Years. When it was cancelled after a single season, Diamond joined the cast of Saved By The Bell: The New Class, where Screech served as the personal assistant of Principal Belding from season 2 until the end of season 7.
Given Diamond’s long-running connection to the series, many were surprised that his name was not among those actors from the original series returning for the Saved By The Bell reboot. However, this may make sense given that the revival is meant to have a more realistic tone that mocks the privileged existence of the teens from the original show, who never dealt with any problems that couldn’t be solved in half an hour. It would be hard for such a series to justify the more outlandish aspects of Screech’s character, such as why a scientific genius who built his own robot as a teenager and graduated at the top of his class quit college after a year to take a job as a high school principal’s assistant.
Another reason Diamond may not have returned for the reboot is because it would have been awkward for the rest of the cast if he had. Reportedly Diamond has been on the outs with his former Saved By The Bell co-stars since 2009, when he published a tell-all biography titled Behind The Bell. The book, which was later adapted into a Lifetime network docudrama, made several allegations regarding illicit sex and drug use among the cast, which have been called into question by critics and denied by the other actors. Diamond tried to walk back the claims of the book in 2013, claiming most of the book was ghost written based on an interview he had given, but by that point the damage had been done.
Even without the wedge between Diamond and his co-stars, he is still a figure of considerable controversy. While Elizabeth Berkley (who played over-achiever Jessie Spano) became infamous for starring in the soft-core thriller Showgirls immediately after leaving Saved By The Bell, Diamond released his own sex tape in 2006. This, coupled with Diamond’s serving time for carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct following an incident in a Wisconsin bar in 2015, may have made him problematic to employ as part of a nominally family-friendly series, even ignoring the personal drama between Diamond and his former co-stars.