Characters that almost single-handedly ruined a television show

Screech — Saved By The Bell: The College Years

Dustin Diamond peaked in life when he portrayed Screech for NBC’s Saturday morning opus Saved By The Bell. Designed to be the nerdy genius sidekick to Zack Morris, Screech pined over Lisa Turtle, had a dance named after him, and was a proud member of Bayside High. Screech was light comedy relief that worked.

In 1993, the cast graduated and made the jump to prime-time, pursuing greater education in Saved By The Bell: The College Years. With the move, most of the characters grew in some fashion. Schemer Zack Morris learned responsibility and humility before putting a ring on Kelly Kapowski. Jock A.C. Slater embraced his Latino heritage. Jesse Spano went all Showgirls. Screech, however, was a different story.

Formerly goofy in a cute way, Screech’s path to college apparently included a Flowers for Algernon reenactment, as his intelligence dissipated to the point where he couldn’t tell the difference between frozen and cooked turkeys. His voice grew more grating, his vocabulary more simplistic — he quickly went from being the comedy sidekick that allowed others to play straight man, to someone you wanted to see shoved out a window. Even Screech’s own best friends verbally knocked him to his face. Dude was useless.

Screech would live on through additional SBTB incarnations, but the damage had been permanently done. Screech was scorched Earth. Diamond’s real life issues, including time in the pokey after a stabbing, only helped to reinforce Screech’s bad rep. Despite twelve years playing Screech, Diamond was the only cast member not asked to take part in a reunion sketch for Jimmy Fallon. At least the audience was saved from having to endure one last Screech.