The Tragic Break-up of Zack & Kelly

By Jake

This is the story of how Zack and Kelly went from Bayside High School's hottest couple, to a mere afterthought. It's also the story of how many of us who grew up with the show lost our innocence. When Kelly left Zack, it was like when my mother left my father. When Kelly started dating Jeff Hunter it was like when my mother got remarried to a handsome college man. When Zack met Danielle Gordon, it was like when my father met a woman with a flat tire and ended up having an illegitimate child.

The players:
Jeff Hunter
Zack Morris
Kelly Kapowski
Lisa Turtle
A.C. Slater
Jessie Spano
Samuel "Screech" Powers
Richard Belding
Danielle Gordon

Season 3, Episode 1: "The Last Dance"

Zack and Kelly are planning on going to a costume ball. The problem being that Kelly is poor and can't afford to buy her Juliet costume. Zack could easily afford to pay for her costume, but I feel like Kelly might have too much pride. Pride is a deadly sin, Kelly; but Zack, so is greed. With two of the seven deadly sins being committed within the first three minutes of the episode we know that we're in for a rough, emotional ride.

On Kelly's first day of work she encounters a couple of punks on a date. She screws up their order and is even willing to pay for her mix-up with her tips. Jeff has other plans. He tells the couple that the customer is not always right (only in this case). He is clearly interested in Kelly for more than having a quality employee with seemingly good morals. He is committing the deadly sin of lust. I think most of us are committing this sin when we see Tiffani-Amber Thiessen.

Screech tries to get his supposed friend, Kelly, to buy his lunch for him. Screech, as we may or may not know, is rich like Zack. Zack forces Screech to order a milk and Screech talks up Kelly. This would be a minor detail if not for Jeff. He asks Kelly if they are her friends, to which she replies 'Yes, they are just trying to make me look good.' Jeff tells her that she doesn't need help looking good. Kelly gives a look to signify that her pussy is frothing like a dog with rabies. Besides my vulguar description of Kelly's wetness, something else should be noted: Kelly does not tell Mr. Hunter that Zack is her boyfriend.

Zack surprises Kelly with the Juliet costume. Zack was not being greedy earlier, rather he wanted to surprise her with the Shakespearean garb. She doesn't accept it. She can't ask for time off. Zack is understandably frustrated. Kelly needs to help her family out, and that is admirable. Although, I feel that she has ulterior motives. I know she does because I've seen this before, but bear with me readers.

Zack decides to ask Jeff for the night off for Kelly. A bad move, young Morris. Zack finds out that Kelly has not mentioned to the older, handsome manager that she has a boyfriend. Jeff shows flashing signs of envy, but it quickly turns to pride when Zack mentions that Kelly said he was a good guy. He's a shark, and Zack is going to be the chum(p) he eats.

At a get together with Lisa and Jessie, Kelly accidentally lets it slip that she thinks Jeff is hot. Obviously, Kelly. He is gorgeous. Lisa and Jessie remind Kelly that she has a boyfriend named Zack.

Jeff gives Kelly the night off. She asks if he will miss her, and he says of course. She tells him that he's the nicest guy she's met in a long time. They kiss. The audience 'oohs' at the sexuality of the situation. Kelly tells Jeff that she liked it. Really, Kelly? You liked kissing a handsome man? Weird. Kelly is now also experiencing lust, as defined by the (G-rated) adultery she is committing.

Kelly goes on her lunch break while the gang is there. She sits next to Zack, but is very uncomfortable when he puts his arm around her. Jessie and Lisa exchange a subtle knowing glance. Jessie is Zack's best and oldest friend. He climbs through her window like Sam on Clarissa Explains it All for Christ's sake. How dare Jessie not tell Zack. Shame on you Ms. Spano.

Meanwhile, the Zack Attack (the gang's band) are having trouble practicing for the costume ball. A.C. Slater assures Zack that he is the only guy for Kelly because she passed him over for Zack, showing signs of pride. Screech says something dumb, and then mentions that Jeff is good looking.

We cut to the ball. The Zack Attack performs.

Kelly is distracted. Zack wrote a song for her, but she can't think about anybody besides Jeff. Mr. Belding announces that Zack and Kelly are the king and queen of the ball. Zack calls her beautiful and she says, "Thanks Jeff." Uh oh. They go outside for a chat.

This is the big moment. Zack confronts Kelly about her feelings for Jeff. The relationship we all thought would last forever comes to a screaching halt. As they share a final dance and promise to be friends forever, our childhood innocence is shattered and we knew that our lives wouldn't turn out the way we wanted. Zack and Kelly's relationship is a microcosm for our dashed hopes and dreams. The notion that we could be anything we wanted to be is gone. Zack stares off into the distance as the screen fades to black. The future looks bleak for them and for us. This is an intense moment of introspection.

To Be Continued...
If only our lives had a "to be continued..." casually placed in the middle where we could take a break and try to sort out what has happened. Zack and Kelly got that, why didn't I? They got to start working at a summer resort at which Lisa got them jobs (the first episode is ham-fistedly placed between this one and the next one). No summer resort for the middle of my life, but I digress.

Season 3, Episode 3: The Aftermath

We begin the second part with random people offering silent condolences to Mr. Morris. Technically Zack shows the sin of sloth, which its original meaning is the sadness of despair. I think that's fair enough. Who woudn't be full of despair if they were tossed aside by their Juliet for a college man? Romeo would have killed himself due to a different form of despair. This is the kind of sadness only an episode of Saved by the Bell can portray.

Zack plays it cool. He acts like he's not hurt. Mark Paul Gossler is a fine actor and can show his sadness through his eyes and body language. Zack now is showing signs of wrath, which can be defined as the denial of the truth. Although we can tell he is in pain, he may not be aware. Gossler portrays his post-Kelly Zack with a great amount of delicacy.

Lisa tells the gang (minus Kelly) that there are only five (shopping) days left until her sweet 16 party. Which, of course, shows her hubris-- falling under pride, once again. Jessie and Slater go into their legendary degrade-women-call-Slater-a-pig routine. Lisa invites Kelly, who is going to bring Jeff. This is met with hesitation-- which is to be expected-- but Lisa agrees he can come.

Zack addresses us, the viewers, in an aside. He let's us know that he's miserable. This is a big moment for Zack. He trusts us, his audience, more than he trusts his own friends. Sure, we know that the gang knows Zack is upset. How could he not be upset?

The near-deaf teacher Ms. Simpson enters the room and misunderstands some things. She calls upon Zack and Kelly to recite a love poem before the class. Zack tries to hurry through it, but Ms. Simpson reminds him that this is a love poem and must be recited with passion. Zack begins the poem again, this time making direct eye contact with Kelly as "How do I love thee, let me count the ways..." escapes from his lips. We see the pain in his eyes. It tears us up inside. It makes Screech beg for them to stop and flee the classroom. Ms. Simpson thinks Mr. Powers was very moved by Zack's recitation.

Screech and Slater discuss some of Zack's classic pranks on Belding before a movie, in an attempt to cheer up Zack. Kelly and Jeff enter the theater and take a seat in the back row. Their attempt to cheer up Zack is thwarted by a scream escaping from the pouty lips of Kelly at some minor gunfire.

Back at Bayside: Zack meets up with the gang (sans Kelly and Slater) before class and tells Lisa that he can't come to her sweet 16 because he can't handle seeing Jeff and Kelly together. Zack knows that he will inevitably show up, but he is so hurt that he's grasping at straws. This is his cry for help. Kelly shows up and Zack and Screech high-tail it out of there. Jessie and Lisa confront Kelly about her movie snogging. She insists they were just cuddling and tells them to get a brain that works (it sort of works in context). Kelly throwing insults breaks my heart. She is not in the position to be angry, in my opinion.

Zack tries to distract himself from his despair. He tries TV, the radio and even homework (gasp!), but they all remind him of Kelly. This is ripped off from Better off Dead, to a degree. Luckily, Lisa, Jessie, Slater and Screech show up to let Zack know how he is wanted sexually by the fairer sex. He decides to go on some dates to try to get over Kelly.

Most of these dates are disasters. For some reason, he is set up with some duds (fat girl and annoying Daniel Steele fangirl). Finally he is set up with Screech's sexy adopted cousin, Kimberly. The gang is the Max; they are acting cold toward Kelly. Zack and Kimberly show up and get a private table, then take to the dance floor. Zack picks 'A-12' on the jukebox, which is Kelly and Zack's song. The gang begins to realize they have been unfair to snub Kelly.

Kelly confronts Zack. She calls him a jerk for playing their song. He says that it stopped being their song when she dumped him for "that jerk." She is furious. Zack doesn't even really know Jeff, and Kelly smacks him. I call this 'the smack heard 'round the world.' Zack slow danced with Kelly when he was dumped! Now all of a sudden he has a new girl and she gets to slap him. He's not even to dance with another girl to a song? This is the moment where I officially hate Kelly.

Kimberly overheard the conversation and throws the shake on Zack for "using her to get back at [his] old girlfriend." There is no justice in the world of Saved by the Bell (unless you're going against an oil company). This is so unfair to Zack. Kimberly had no right to throw a shake at him. Sure, he played a song that he and his ex-girlfriend enjoyed together so he and Kimberly could dance. That is no crime. It is definitely not milkshake worthy. Kimberly might be a hot piece, but she is definitely as annoying as Screech (okay, maybe slightly less annoying).

Lisa and Jessie appologize to Kelly back at Bayside. Jessie says she's been a "narrow-minded, judgmental and pig-headed" which is a perfect description of her character. Zack saunters in with Slater and is surprised that Jessie and Lisa are still friends with her. Which is not fair of Zack. He is a little out of line. He can't dictate friendships. They are mad at him for rubbing his date in Kelly's face. The very date they encouraged him to go on! Zack, in a fit of rage, rips Kelly's pictures out of his locker, and tosses her other shit to the floor. Then he and Belding get into a disagreement and we miss out on a (what is sure to be) classic exchange between Zack and Richard.

Screech shows up at Zack's house and tries to get Zack to go to Lisa's party. Zack really doesn't want to go. Screech leaves. This is one of the few scenes where Screech acts like a human.

We're now at Lisa's party. Kelly and Jeff show up. Kelly introduces Jeff to Jessie and Slater. They instantly accept him. Jessie brings out Lisa's cake. When the lights come back on Zack is standing there. Zack tells Kelly that he doesn't want to lose her as a friend. He also tells Jeff not to 'f' Kelly over (I'm paraphrasing). This leads us to...

Season 3, Episode 9: Fake I.D.'s

This is the episode that will make Zack's earlier proclamation that Jeff is a jerk resonate through Pacific Palisades, CA like a midi triggered church bell with the reverb turned to maximum.

Time has passed since Zack and Kelly have broken up. The gang has a big photo project due (I guess in picture class). Zack is on the hunt. The hunt is over quickly when he meets a woman from USC, Danielle Gordon. Zack tells her that he is also a student and is majoring in photojournalism. She tells Zack that she is a stranded motorist looking for a phone. So Zack gives her the biggest phone he can find.

After changing Danielle's flat tire, we find out that she has invited Zack to the Attic, an 18+ dance club. Zack is ready to make some fake I.D.'s.

Kelly's photo project is pictures of Jeff Hunter. Belding reminds us that she dumped Zack for him. Lisa tells him that's old news.

Slater, Screech and Zack sneak out of Zack's house with fake I.D.'s in tow to the Attic. They manage to get past the bouncer with their fakes. Screech meets a fat woman named Reggie who helps him get in.

Inside the Attic: Zack and Slater meet up with Danielle and her friends, whilst Screech and Reggie dance the night away. Danielle pays Zack his fee for changing her tire (a kiss!). Zack asks the girls, "How come I've never seen you girls on campus before?" The perfect cover-up, young Morris.

Slater spends the night showing off pictures of Jessie to the young ladies. Danielle and Zack make some plans, while Slater is a flop with her friends. Then it happens: they see Jeff f'n Hunter at the Attic kissing a blond girl!!!

The next day at school in picture class: Belding shows off some pictures he took. Then has Kelly show her project entitled: "Pictures of My Guy." Her project looks like the actor who played Jeff Hunter's 8X10 glossy, but does make good use of natural light.

Jessie and Lisa find out that the boys have been to the Attic the night before. Then Screech lets it slip that they saw Jeff there. Jessie convinces Zack to do something stupid: tell Kelly.

Upon hearing the news Kelly calls Zack a "maggot mouth liar" and tries to reason with herself that the girlfriend stealing, upstanding Jeff would never cheat on her. She tells Zack that Jeff was bowling last night. I think a girl was doing an anagram of 'bowling' to Jeff.

Kelly tries to get Jeff to go on a date with her on Saturday night. Jeff says that he's got to work until 11:30 and she's got to be home by 12, so it's not possible. Kelly says maybe she can get an extension on her curfew. At this point Jeff stammers and says they'll spend the next Saturday together-- the whole day. Kelly begins to take Zack's words to heart.

Zack has a phone call with Danielle where they talk about how much they love campus life. That is literally every conversation you have when you are going to college. Danielle throws a line at Zack that he once used, "Funny, I never see you on campus." They make a date for Saturday at the Attic.

We get some character development from Zack's mom and a fun fact: her favorite singing group is Peter, Paul and Mary.

The gang makes a plan to catch Jeff in the act. Screech is told to make them fake I.D.'s, and then Kelly comes in while he's making them. She asks him about Jeff and Screech blubbers and hopes to never become a man. And he never did.

At the Attic: the gang dances and Screech tries to hide from Reggie. Danielle hasn't shown up yet. We soon find Zack's mom answering a phone in his bedroom after singing 'Puff the Magic Dragon.' She talks to Danielle and we find out that she's running late. Zack's mom finds out that he's out dancing. Why would Danielle call Zack when 1)he's waiting for her at the Attic and 2)she knows he has a cell phone because she used it at the beginning of the episode to call a mechanic. This is a very obvious plot hole, but this is not as good of an episode as the two part Zack and Kelly break-up one.

Zack impatiently awaits the arrival of Danielle, while annoying the shit out of Lisa. Then they see, as Lisa now calls him. "Jeff the Jerk" dancing with a young lady. I think I've heard that name somewhere before. Then Kelly shows up and confronts Jeff. He tells her that they're not going steady or anything. He's not ready for a commitment. She doesn't even slap him. She slapped Zack for nothing.

Zack's mom shows up and breaks up the fun. Danielle shows up just as they're leaving, but she still makes another date with Zack.


The serialized story of Zack and Kelly's demise has come to a close. Not only did Kelly ruin her relationship with Zack, but Jeff ruined his relationship with Kelly. Kelly's naïveté has cost her two relationships in the span of a few episodes.

What we can learn from this is that: Kelly is stupid, Jessie is pig-headed, Slater is charming, macho and sexist, Screech is awful in every way imaginable, Lisa is shallow, Zack is honest only toward Kelly and Jeff Hunter is a jerk. So the only thing we really learned is that Zack is the only character with any real depth and that Jeff is a jerk.

I still hate Kelly for slapping Zack. Why would she do such a thing? She catches Jeff cheating on her and she says she's sorry she started dating him. Zack dances to a song they liked and calls Jeff a jerk and gets slapped and milkshaked. The world is truly an unfair place. Still, Jeff is better than that dick that does magic. That guy is so awful.


  1. First, thanks for the anagram. Second, I am not big on SBTB nostalgia (paraphernalia is another story) so I thought this epic summary would be a chore to read through - not so! I was surprised at how painful it was to revisit these episodes. I had never been exposed in real life to anything like the fairy-tale story of Zack and Kelly. Their break-up showed me that even the things that seem perfect some day go to hell, and we all die, and God doesn't exist, and capitalism is a complex system that allows the exploitation of the poor by the very rich. I got a pit in my stomach just thinking about that scene outside the dance. I had been exposed to many adult things that I can't mention here growing up, but that episode stung worse than all of those things because I had been able to convince myself until that point that that kind of horrible suffering was different from the kind of suffering that normal people go through, let alone fairy-tale figures - not so! Not so, indeed.

  2. When are you going to discuss the summer they worked at the beach and Zack dated the boss's daughter?

  3. Oh, and what about the movie where they go to Hawaii and Zack uncovers a corporate scheme to rob Kelly's grandfather of his beach motel and then Kelly, who is like 17 or something, starts creepily dating a lawyer dude?

  4. Kelly loves older men. Remember when she dated Slater's grandfather in the College Years [check to see if this happened].

    But, Keelin, to answer your earlier question, there is a very good chance that I may document Zack's love to Stacey Carosi. He and her have a really sad end, where the summer ends and with the summer so does their romance. She says that she's heading to Bayside, but she never shows up.

    I wish Zack could have dated Carosi forever. They were much better than Zack and Kelly. Carosi was much more of a multi-dimensional character.

    To me the College Years isn't even cannon. Why would Zack, now attending UCLA, go back to the woman who a)crushed his heart like Grave Digger and Bigfoot at a wreckage yard monster truck rally and b)is dumb as a common Penthouse Pet. That is Dead Man on Campus-level stupidity.

  5. kelly is stupid, zack is stupid, even jessie (the "brain") is pretty stupid - in fact, the only respectable character on sbtb, i feel , is the under-respected lisa. if only they'd all just listen to lisa.

    also, zack kind of deserved the milkshake - he was being weasely, but did not deserve the kelly slap - bitch !

    ALSO, also....i must say, as a female who was once a high-school student and teenager, what teenage, high-school girl DOESN'T love an older guy ? not, like, grandpa age (ew) but shoot, those college guys are bank (and make you a bit more popular when you're certainly not).

  6. I just bought Jake Seasons 3 and 4 on DVD with the promise he would do more of these reviews. They are what gets me out of bed in the morning.

  7. Waiting for the review of Malibu Sands Resort episode...

  8. I will do a new one this week or next week. This is in my top 10 best articles.

  9. It is wonderful. If there was any justice in the world this article would be all over Drudge Report and Casey Anthony would be in prison.

  10. At the end of season 4 they started dating again and the beginning of season 5 they weren't together niether were Jessie and slayter which I did get

  11. Who else really hated Kelly after that Episode...

  12. i hated Kelly in the aftermath i mean what a bitch!!!

  13. I enjoyed the reference to Kelly's wet pussy. I agree with the crude analogy, but I don't think it was Kelly's first time experiencing lust. The only thing that made SBTB worth watching for me was seeing Kelly in mini skirts and reflecting on the very wet masturbation that was occurring with increasing regularity in Kelly's bedroom.