7 'Saved By the Bell' Plots That Prove Zack Is a Sociopath
Zack Morris, or Everyone's Favorite Sociopath, as I like to call him, is the master of the scheme. His entire time at Bayside High was spent perpetrating schemes. (While he had excellent schemes in middle school and college as well, for the purposes of this list we'll just discuss his high school schemes.)
Seriously, if Zack isn't doing something heartlessly self-serving, he isn't breathing. Even when he's pretending he's doing something for someone else's benefit or well-being, he ends up screwing them. Like when Lisa has her fashion show and he's SO HELPFUL and then ends up making out with her even though his inexplicable nerd best friend is publicly in love with her.
This is how supervillains are created.
Zack is not the greatest person (actually, he's one of the worst), but that doesn't stop everyone around him from bending over backward for him and going along with any scheme he decides to cook up.
Buddy Bands/Friendship Forever/Whatever, They're Just Friendship Bracelets, You Guys
In "The Friendship Business," the gang (and everyone who attends Bayside, apparently) gets an assignment to come up with a business. It's kind of like Shark Tank, but with more innovative ideas (Hey-o!), and poor rotund Mr. Tuttle is the teacher, but then he also teaches driver's ed? Who is this guy?
With hair like this? A God.
When Mr. Tuttle gets to Zack's group, no one has an idea. Enter Zack Morris: The Fixer. Lisa brought in some funky bracelets (no one at Bayside has ever heard of a friendship bracelet apparently) that the Fashion Club made, and Zack thinks, "Great, I had nothing to do with this product, but I'll pitch it to Tuttle!" Everyone loves the idea and Zack elects himself president, as per usual.
"I'm just preparing you for elections with rich white guys in adulthood."
But then Zack, who is merely the overlord of this company, demands that Lisa not sleep and make as many bracelets as humanly possible. For no money. He wants one of his best friends. A black woman. To work in inhumane conditions for no money.
He is a slave driver.
When the group splits up, he is still a tyrant and sells Screech into slavery, offering him as a "friend" that comes with each bracelet. So Zack Morris is also taking a kind of lame product and forcing Screech upon everyone who buys one. How is this a business incentive?
His real name is Samuel Powers. "Screech" is his slave name.
Zack, conniving dude that he is, sabotages the Jessie/Kelly/Slater rival product, Buddy Bands, by giving one to Mr. Belding, so obviously then everyone immediately hates Buddy Bands.
It would remain the worst hairline/headband coverup until LeBron turned pro.
Despite Zack having ruined ... everything, the gang gets back together because they saw Zack pouting and they are all controlled by him so they end up making up with HIM. So they team back up and make Love Cuffs instead, which is disgusting.
Lisa knows where that hand's been. She knows.
Zit-Off Zit Cream
"Cream for a Day" kicks off with Zack in chemistry class with Screech, who's sporting a pimple (his first ever), which he's named Murray, because Screech is kind of a weird dude. They're mixing something with something else when Screech adds ... a third thing that causes the chemical mixture to explode all over his face. So obviously, having an unstable chemical mixture explode all over your face in chemistry is no cause for alarm in the world of Bayside. But when Zack sees Screech again, he realizes his pimple is gone! It must be from that stuff that exploded on your face, Screech! (By the way, Zack has no ideas of his own except Make Money All the Time and Hurt My Friends in the Process, making him one of the most honestly rendered capitalists of all time.)
"One percent is also how much I actually care about you ... just kidding, it's zero."
Zack's on again/off again girlfriend, Kelly, is whining because she has a pimple, too! How weird! And it's time for Homecoming and no one is going to elect her Homecoming Queen with a pimple on her face. Those are the rules of Homecoming Court politics!
"You're lucky we don't lock you in a tower to ring the period bells, Kellimodo."
By this point Zack is already packaging and selling this weird cream in the halls of Bayside (because of course). You know how you couldn't walk from chemistry to history without some kid trying to sell you something? High school, am I right?
"With every purchase you get half off at the farmer's market by calculus."
Turns out the pimple cream turns your whole face maroon. Not red -- maroon. Well, this is just terrible, as we already learned that Homecoming Court elections are based entirely on how you look the day of the elections.
Kind of blackfacey?
Because everyone in the school is an idiot, I guess, Zack is the only one who figures out "Hey, isn't our school color maroon?" and again saves the day. On the one hand, he is clearly a marketing genius on par with whoever came up with the idea to make tacos out of Doritos. But the day wouldn't need saving if Zack wasn't always trying to swindle money from his classmates, so who's really the winner here?
"Girls of Bayside" Calendar
"Model Students" starts by revealing that the school store is run by The Nerds. But, as we learned during prom, Kelly is poor, so she has to work there. Zack takes over the school store, because everyone listens to him no matter what he wants, The Nerds only sell stupid stuff, and Zack can do way better through manipulation and trickery.
The "Jobs method."
At the start, no one comes into the school store. Zack's solution? Take "secret" pictures of the girls at swim practice. Does he take the pictures? Of course not. He sends Screech to take them and then has cardboard cutouts made of Lisa, Kelly, and Jessie and turns the pictures into a "Girls of Bayside" calendar.
Apparently each swim practice starts with "warmup Baywatching."
So he took photos of teenage girls (his friends and girlfriend) without their permission, blew them up, and sold them for a profit. But because he's Zack, instead of the cops, a "teen fashion" photographer sees the calendar and loves it. So Jessie, Lisa, and Kelly, who were all upset about the calendars, are immediately wooed by the photographer and then beg Zack to suggest them for a special photo shoot in Paris. (It even results in Jessie calling him "Zacky," which is horrifying on many, many levels.)
It's like a pseudo-Showgirls prequel.
Of course hottie Kelly is picked as the teen model to go to France. But, I'm sorry, what's that? Zack is concerned about her going to Paris for a month? Of course he is.
So he scams and lies and manipulates everyone to get Kelly to stay. He makes Kelly feel guilty about missing the swim meet and not being Slater's science lab partner, and then when Kelly invites everyone to her shoot, Zack says she didn't invite them so that they'll hate her.
"Then she started totally started throwing out racial slurs about Slater and Lisa. Sorry, guys."
To recap, Zack takes his girlfriend's picture without her permission, publishes the pictures for the whole school, and then sabotages her chance at actually being successful. And he evens owns up to it, and Kelly's just like, aww, I still love you.
Turns out teenagers want to drive cars! Who knew? Zack feels fine about the whole thing and is in driver's ed with Mr. Tuttle and the whole gang until it turns out that Slater has a sweet ride and *SHOCK* he turns 16 next week and can take Kelly out driving whenever he wants!
This is Zack's time to shine. As long as by "shine" we mean "be a terrible human being but have no lasting consequences." What do you call a sociopath whose closest companions LET him continue to be a sociopath? You call him Zack Morris.
With great power comes great douchebaggery.
Zack's brilliant scheme here involves getting Slater kicked out of driver's ed so he won't be able to take his car out and thus won't be able to drive Kelly around. So, through a series of schemes (one part involving Screech and a Mr. Tuttle impression), Zack gets Slater in the "driver's ed car" (which is a golf cart) in the school hallway outside of Mr. Belding's office.
But -- whoops! -- Kelly shows up and hops in the car and then they crash into some lockers and Kelly bumps her head. Kelly, Zack's girlfriend who he just gave a "dating but not going steady" ring to, got hurt in the process of him trying to sabotage Slater.
This also serves as visual foreshadowing of rest of their careers.
Screech spills the beans, and for two seconds they try to mess with Zack and pretend Kelly's injury caused amnesia (classic), but they give up pretty quickly. Then Kelly and Slater try to take the fall before Zack finally is like "Oh, right, I did it."
Does she immediately forgive him? Of course she does.
Selling Lisa's Clothes Out of Lockers
"Just do what I do when I do something wrong. Enjoy it, then deny it!" -the wise words of Zack Morris
Lisa gets good grades and her dad gives her his credit card to go shopping. She "goes overboard" and spends about $400. Before she even talks to her dad about it, the gang decides she just needs to earn $400 and pay her dad back. Zack takes over the money-making scheme and begins with a little raffle time in class. The item they'll be trying to win? A chance to make out with Lisa.
Zack is pimping out his friend to help fix her debt, and when she says she feels cheap, his response is "You're not cheap. We made $36."
Which if you adjust for 1989 dollars is still child prostitution.
The next part of the plan involves having Screech rig the lockers to open with a remote and display Lisa's clothing for their classmates to purchase. The first item up for grabs? Lingerie "worn by Lisa, while dreaming of Screech."
At this point we should just be grateful they aren't filled with drugged-up teen runaways.
It's startling how quickly Zack turns a friend in need into a PG-13 prostitute. He even makes Kelly model the goods, strutting through the hallway in an alluring bathing suit like a streetwalker teasing out potential business. Saved by the Bell was originally conceived as a live-action Saturday morning cartoon. But like the greatest villains, Morris seemed to have a hold over the people who created him. Technically Zack isn't benefiting from this scheme, but realistically, he's testing the waters for the high-end prostitution ring he will one day construct.
"Who needs 'friends forever' when you can get her friendship by the hour."
Subliminal-Message Tapes and Dressing Screech Up as a Girl
The setup for this episode seems like something Zack dreamed up himself. At Bayside, for the Sweetheart Dance, every boy in school has a giant heart necklace with his name on it that he wears at school until he asks a girl to the Sweetheart Dance, then she wears it.
We assume they had to hold a special assembly to explain to him what a heart is.
Then in ... some class, they learn about "subliminal messages" and Zack gets a brilliant idea! He makes a tape of what we learn to be Belding's favorite song ("California Girls") to try to brainwash Belding.
"Brain" might be too strong a word in this case.
The only reason Zack is trying to brainwash Belding is because Slater has convinced Kelly to go to the Sweetheart Dance with him instead of Zack.
"If this works on principals, why can't it work on girls?" -Zack Morris, failing humanity again. Zack then decides to use his newfound skill to trick girls into dating guys against their will AND make the girls call the boys "master." YIKES!
"It's a Rapesmas miracle!"
Don't get the wrong idea about the whole dressing-Screech-up-as-a-girl thing. That's just part of his scheme to sneak into the girls' locker room to give Kelly and Lisa tapes about Zack and Screech, thus brainwashing them into having romantic feelings for them.
He later helps the school win the Valley/Bayside "Lisa Loeb Off."
But then Jessie listens to Zack's tape and gets brainwashed too! Oh no! Obviously, the teachers are involved, because if there's one thing the teachers of Bayside never turn down, it's a chance to teach Zack a lesson!
Of course it "backfires" and the whole school loves Zack and he learns his lesson for one second and then just continues scheming because everyone thinks he's adorable and harmless. Nobody seems to recognize that Zack is displaying the late symptoms of being a full-blown date rapist and the early symptoms of becoming a brutal fascist dictator.
Telling Everyone Slater Is Dying to Convince Him to Move to Hawaii
In "Aloha Slater," Slater's dad is going to get relocated to Hawaii, but Slater doesn't want to go because he has such great friends here. This throws the decision to relocate into question, probably because Slater has way bigger muscles than his dad. Slater sees Zack as one of these friends, which is perfect for Zack, because he sees Slater as a game piece to be played against the other humans. Friend pieces have this vulnerability called "trust," which means you can get them to move in any direction you want. In this case, Zack sees his friend Slater's potential move as an opportunity to force him out of the running to be Kelly's boyfriend. So he tells the gang Slater is dying.
"He caught some weird VD from sitting backward on toilets. His dick fell off and everything."
Yes, dying. And he has to go to Hawaii for treatment but doesn't want to go! So obviously the only way to convince Slater to go get his treatment for his terminal illness is to be really mean to him so he won't WANT to stay at Bayside. Of course, poor Kelly offers to go to Hawaii with Slater and Slater figures out what's happening, so now Zack needs to keep Slater at Bayside to keep Kelly. It's all very complicated.
The important thing is, somehow the girls end up mad at Slater because technically Zack has made it seem like Slater was in on it by the end.
"They'll get over it." --actual quote/series summary