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Author of Jesus and The Bachelorette and unapologetic devotee of teen soap operas and police procedurals. knoxmccoy.com

Mr. Belding’s Logical Conclusion

We know the fates of most of the principle characters from Saved By The Bell: Zack and Kelly got married, Screech pursued work within the educational system and Slater got engaged to the Doritos girl but cheated on her just before their wedding day. These are all the things we know.

But among the things we don’t know is the ultimate fate of Mr. Belding.

During the series finale,1 Mr. Belding relays to us that he is taking a job at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. If this feels strange it should, but for a reason.

It’s strange because Mr. Belding, after years in the California school system, decides to uproot his family to move to Chattanooga. I live in Chattanooga and I’ve frequented the UTC campus. NO ONE is leaving California to live in Chattanooga and they certainly aren’t leaving to become the Dean of Students there. It’s not a bad school by any means. It’s just not worth leaving California.

This is especially true when you factor in his age. Through a variety of context clues, we can reasonably discern that Mr. Belding was born no later than 1951.2 Understanding this, at the time of his announcement about moving to Chattanooga, he would have been about 50. While this certainly isn’t ideal, it is a strange age to make a huge life decision to uproot your family and move cross country.

Moreover, there’s the issue of his teacher/administrator pension.

I’m not sure of the specific details, but let’s assume he needs to have taught 30 years to receive any kind of substantial pension. We know that he couldn’t have begun teaching at 20 because he completed 3 tours of duty in Vietnam. So lets assume he graduated with an undergrad degree in 4 years, lets add 2 more years for a masters degree and then 4 more years for time in Vietnam3 and we are left with, best case scenario, Mr. Belding starting his teaching career at 28.

That gives him 22 total years in the California school system at the age of 50, so I highly doubt that he would walk away that close to retirement / 30 years in the school system. I realize that California’s institutional competency is like watching a group of stoners play Jenga, but that wasn’t explicitly known back in 2000 when Mr. Belding was making his decision, so we can’t assume that he was fleeing the dumpster fire that is California legislation.

So, essentially, I’ve wasted your time to prove that Mr. Belding’s move to Chattanooga was nothing more than a throwaway detail in the series finale. If all that wasn’t enough to convince you, there’s also the fact that since the actor who played Mr. Belding4 is from Chattanooga, this detail was most assuredly a wink and a nod to him. I probably should have led off with that to succinctly explain away the red herring of Chattanooga, but I’m a sucker for overly explicative analysis.

SO, understanding that Mr. Belding did not end up in Tennessee, in terms of a logical conclusion, we are free to speculate about where he ended up.

A few theories:

1) Remained as a principal at Bayside
Probability: Highly improbable

Because Zack and the gang were such a unique group and because Mr. Belding was so thoroughly invested in them, it was probably difficult to replace that dynamic or proceed forward. Moreover, it didn’t help that he was saddled with Screech as an admin assistant, which is like having sex and being left with a super-obnoxious and socially repugnant STD.

2) Climbed the educational ladder to become superintendent of a school system / district.
Probablity: Highly probable

If we consider the Hawaii trip where Mr. Belding organized and led a coalition of high profile educators and principals, we know that he had the sway and support of his peers, so parlaying this sway to a job further up the ladder would probably not be too presumptive.

3) Wal-Mart Greeter
Probability: Moderately improbable.

While he does have the gregarious personality and while he would probably prefer the mindless workload of it in contrast to years of intense paperwork and administration, it’s probably just too much of a step down.

4) Front Man for a Contemporary Jazz Band Named What Is Going On Here and The Hey Hey Heys
Probability: Virtual certainty.

Some people just have the jazz gene and Richard Belding, like Ron Burgundy and John Coltrane, just seems to be one of those people.

What do you think happened to Mr. Belding?

  1. the last episode of SBTB: The New Class []
  2. If he was the “Zack Morris of the ’60s” as Jessie referred to him in one episode, 1951 is the latest birthdate he could have and this still be true. []
  3. 3 years from tours and one additional year in training, etc []
  4. Dennis Haskins []
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  • http://twitter.com/sarahmc80 Sarah Mac

    Little known fact…Mr. Belding went to school at UT-Chattanooga. And by Mr. Belding, I mean Dennis Haskins

    • http://www.theisleofman.net/ Kevin Haggerty

      Inside information!

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

    Have you seen him on stage with the metal cover band?  This clip with change your life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrINA2iLD8M
    Do NOT watch with kids in the room, though. Very rough language.

  • Erin Hicks Moon

    This is astounding.  Was this your thesis?  Because it’s really amazing.  I just don’t even know…what to say…how to process.

    I feel happy of myself.

    • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

      Ha. You will get the hang of it, I know it.

  • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

    It took me until the end of this post to decide whether or not you were being serious about UTC. Wikipedia says Dennis Haskins IS from Chattanooga, and Wikipedia never lies, so I guess you must not be either. Which blows my mind. Why didn’t I know this before? Why doesn’t Chattanooga have this on the sign as you drive into the city limits? “Home of Mr. Belding”….it should. They should also give tours of his childhood home. The possibilities are endless. I’m joining the Chattanooga Tourism Bureau and making this happen.

    • http://chrystalmurphy.com/ Chrystal

      They don’t tell the outsiders. I never knew this either – until I moved to Chattanooga. Now I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “you know Mr. Belding is from here, right? He lived here and went to UTC.” It’s like a club secret – they can’t tell you until you join.

      • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

        Ohhhh so it’s a cool Chattanooga secret. Way to go, Knox. You ruined the secret. 

  • http://www.theisleofman.net/ Kevin Haggerty

    Love the jazz band comment. Want the CD. Tarver needs to make a fake infomercial selling their greatest hits. I’m just saying. 

  • http://chrystalmurphy.com/ Chrystal

    I live in Chattanooga and feel our city is 47% cooler now that I know Knox McCoy lives here too.

    • http://www.knoxmccoy.com Knox McCoy

      It’s not me making it cooler. You must be thinking of Aretha Frankensteins.

  • http://www.lifewithoutpants.com Matt Cheuvront

    I could’ve sworn we went full-time into an AM radio DJing career as the “Big Bopper”…

    Also, for this, as a bonafide Saved by the Bell junkie, you are my hero.

    • http://katiemaesdailies.blogspot.com/ Katie Alicea

      Comment win!

    • http://www.knoxmccoy.com Knox McCoy

       Bravo to you, Matt. I’m ashamed to have forgotten that detail.

  • http://twitter.com/ClayMorganPA Clay Morgan

    Might we find clues to this mystery in part 4 of the Las Vegas wedding between Zack and Kelly? Remember that Belding showed up at the last minute after the ceremony. I’m trying to remember what he said then, if anything, about his job.

  • joe

    He dead…..

  • joe

    I actually think he probably moved in with Zach and Kelly to take care of their children as a full time nanny. He went to their wedding in Vegas! 

  • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

    Unfortunate fact of life: I came along a generation ahead of most of you guys, and consequently clearly missed the awesomeness that is SBTB.

    Which means that while all y’all were still in diapers, I was going to Mötley Crüe concerts. ;-)

  • ClintM

    True story – Mr Belding sang “take me out to the ball game” at a Reading Phillies game I was at a few years ago (minor league affiliate of the Phillies). He was almost unrecognizable with all the weight he put on..

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  • Mr. Delbing

    Don’t know if he still lives in Chattanooga. But, Mr. Belding (Dennis Haskins) did live there before (UTC Alum) and after SBTB. He was often spotted in the late 90′s/early 00′s at terrible clubs like Berlin, South Beach, Paradise and Drink…hitting on girls less than half his age. I’ve witnessed it personally. Go get ‘em, sir! If you can still pull that kind of tail, you deserve it…I salute you.