Common Family Roles According to “Saved by the Bell”

Posted October 13, 2013 in Spiritual Psychology



Saved by the Bell is not just an amazing 90’s TV Show. No, we can learn much more from this epic sitcom then just the proper way to peg your jeans.



Saved by the Bell is a teaching tool.

The ingenious cast of characters represent very common roles that families can fall into. Like a ditch on the side of the road, roles in a family keep us stuck. Family systems theory, created by Dr. Murray Bowen, is the branch of psychology that believes an individual cannot be wholly understood in and of themselves but only in relationship to the system that has shaped the individual. Families are themselves systems, comprised of interdependent and interconnected individuals.

Why is it helpful to understand the family system?  Well, if there was dysfunction in our families growing up, we can get caught in habits shaped by the roles we were trained to take on. When we live a life as a role, we are not living to our full Soul potential. It can help to recognize the role, in order identify and release the pattern for the health of present day relationships.  It’s like the 90’s…we all have to leave sometime.

Let’s cover the common family archetypes, shall we?


1. The Family Hero as played by Jessie Spano



The family hero is a good kid. They are often a high achiever, follow rules, seek approval and are super responsible. They put so much pressure on themselves that they often have anxiety. They often feel guilt, hurt and inadequacy.

On the outside they appear: A good kid, high achiever, follows rules, seeks approval, very responsible

What they feel on the inside: Guilt, hurt, innadquacy


Do you remember the episode where overachiever Jessie turns to caffeine pills to keep up with her studies and her new singing group, Hot Sundae?  Of course you do. The acting was amazeballs on this one. This video where Jesie’s cracks under the extreme pressure perfectly displays the agony of the perfectionist.


2. The Mascot as played by Screech


The Mascot brings fun to the family. No one takes the mascot too seriously. They are often cute and fun to be around. They use charm and humor for survival in the painful family system. They serve as the court jester to distract and deter the family from pain. The mascot sacrifices his ability to express his own needs, in order to help the family stay in avoidance.

On the outside they appear: Immature, fragile, cute, hyperactive, distracting

What they feel on the inside: Fear, Anxiety, Insecurity


3. The Lost Child as played by Violet Ann Bickerstaff


Do you remember the visiting character of nerdy Violet, who was Screech’s girlfriend (as played by Tori Spelling)? Of course you do. Pop culture at its finest. (I could only find her in this clip where she is giggling in the background. But it’s sure to not dissapoint.)

On the outside they appear: To have a strong fantasy life, solitary, mediocre, forgettable, attaches to things–not people

What they feel on the inside: Rejection, hurt, anxiety

4. The Chief Enabler as played by Lisa Turtle


Lisa’s character was pretty awesome. She was known as the “fashionista” of the group. Yet, she always quick to come back with sarcastic and self-righteous remarks. She seemed on top of her game but stressed-out most of the time.

The Chief Enabler is the one in the family that plays the closest dance of co-dependency for the victim (if there is an active alcoholic or drug user in the family.) In many cases this role goes to the spouse of the addict.

On the outside they appear: Super-responsible, self-righteous, sarcastic, passive, martyr

What they feel on the inside: Anger, hurt, guilt, low self-esteem

5. The Scapegoat as played by Zack Morris


Ya, I had a crush on Zack Morris in 8th grade. I’ll admit it. He was always having a good time, seemed a bit dangerous (for an 8th grader) and his hair was perfectly sculpted. You may remember Zack–always scheming and getting into trouble with his principal, Mr. Belding.

Sometimes the scapegoat takes on the classical “rebel” aesthetic where they dress in black, have a mohawk or maybe identify as goth or punk. The scapegoat is often getting into trouble. The family views the scapegoat as the “problem child”.

On the outside they appear: Rule breaker, in trouble, defiant, can be hostile

What they feel on the inside: Rejection, hurt, guilt, jealousy, anger


So there you have it folks! Now you understand the basics of how a family can function as a system via “Saved By The Bell”. (I knew all those hours watching the tube would pay off somehow.)

Did any of these roles resonate for you? Did you see any of these characterizations from your family of origin? I’d love to hear your take on it in the comments below.



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