‘Saved By the Bell’: Why Didn’t Dustin Diamond Return as Screech in the 2020 Reboot?

Saved by the Bell has lived many lives. The series began on the Disney Channel as Good Morning, Miss Bliss before entering its most famous form. And since way back then, the late Dustin Diamond — who died on Feb. 1, 2021 — was a key member of the cast. Why then wasn’t the actor back as Samuel “Screech” Powers for the 2020 reboot? Here’s the reason.

Lark Voorhies, Ed Alonzo, Tiffani Thiessen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dennis Haskins, Elizabeth Berkley, Dustin Diamond, and Mario Lopez
Lark Voorhies, Ed Alonzo, Tiffani Thiessen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dennis Haskins, Elizabeth Berkley, Dustin Diamond, and Mario Lopez | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

A ‘Saved by the Bell’ reboot debuted on Peacock in 2020

Once upon a time, reviving Saved by the Bell decades after spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The New Class, went off the air would have been laughable. But in a world where Fuller House and Girl Meets World exist, a reboot of yet another 1990s teen sitcom makes sense. Picking up in real-time, the 2020 Saved by the Bell focuses on a new crop of teens at Bayside High School.

However, no reboot is complete without plenty of familiar faces. And the new Saved by the Bell certainly has that covered. In fact, two of the original show’s stars are regular cast members. Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley return as A.C. Slater and Jessie Spano. Both characters are working at Bayside High when the reboot starts. But they aren’t alone in reviving their characters.

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Dustin Diamond was one of only two original stars missing

Several other original Saved by the Bell actors return for the reboot as well.  Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Lark Voorhies, and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, and Ed Alonzo all reprise their roles. In fact, the only two stars who aren’t back are Dennis Haskins as Mr. Belding and Diamond himself. Considering Screech’s breakout status, Diamond’s absence was the most egregious.

Saved by the Bell fans might be wondering why he was left out. And the reason, it seems, is Diamond was asked to participate in the new project. The actor has been the subject of much controversy over the years. He even wrote a tell-all book about the making of Saved by the Bell. So it’s possible his co-stars and the reboot’s showrunners hoped to avoid more drama.

“Out of all the cast members, I was in… the most [episodes], and that’s not the case anymore if I’m not in the new one,” Diamond told TMZ (via TVLine) in early 2020. “And how do you have Saved by the Bell without Screech, right? … We should all be a part of this.” Diamond even pitched his own take on Screech’s story, in which he grapples with parenthood himself.

RELATED: ‘Saved By the Bell’ Star Elizabeth Berkley Reveals How Close She Is to the Original Cast

The 44-year-old actor died in February 2021 of cancer

In any case, the Bayside High alumni 1990s kids grew up watching won’t get the chance to reunite now. Diamond sadly lost his battle with small-cell lung carcinoma. News of the actor’s illness only broke in January 2021. Yet, just weeks later, he died at the age of 44. Gosselaar was among the first Saved by the Bell stars to react publicly to Diamond’s death.

Even though Diamond lost touch with his Saved by the Bell castmates, his performance as Screech was still a pivotal part of its initial success. Moreover, even when Lopez and Gosselaar abandoned the franchise, Diamond remained onboard. Still, it’s unclear if the reboot will acknowledge Screech (again) or pay tribute to the actor who played him.