|First appearance:||Dancing to the Max|
|Portrayed by:||Tiffani Thiessen|
- "No matter what happens, keep on smiling and when life hands a lemon, make some lemonade."
- — Kelly
Kelly Kapowski was the most popular girl in school and was head cheerleader and captain of the volleyball, swim, and softball teams. Though a good student and role model, Kelly did find herself punished with detention on a couple of occasions. She also was the love interest of lead student Zack Morris. They were an on/off couple in high school and then they remained friends afterwards and married later.
Kelly is one of seven children. She has a younger sister, Nikki, who develops a crush on Zack, and two younger brothers, Billy, an infant during her freshman year, and Kyle, who dumps water on Zack after a date with Kelly. Kelly says in the episode "Zack's War" that she has three older brothers. In the episode "House Party", Kelly says her brother Kenny Leonard can burp his whole name.
Kelly is the all-american type of girl (She's the "perfect" girl, with a clean slate for the most part). Kelly is very caring, at least most of the time. When Zack finds out that Kelly was cheating on him with Jeff, she apologizes and shows that she is genuinely sorry. Kelly can also be a bit of an airhead sometimes, but she is mostly smart and is a straight A student. Though many boys are interested in Kelly, Kelly shows she is only true to her real crushes.
At the start of her freshman year in Saved by the Bell, Zack had been trying to go out with Kelly ever since she can remember. For a while, a feud began between Zack and fellow student A.C. Slater about who would be her boyfriend, which caused her great stress but a lot of fun at the same time. During Kelly's sophomore year, Slater conceded defeat to Zack, and she and Zack began dating, whereas Slater thereupon pursued his interest in Jessica Spano.
The following school year marked the end of their relationship. Zack wanted to go steady with Kelly, but she wasn't sure at first. She thought it over but by the time she decided to accept Zack's offer, he had become infatuated with a young school nurse. That turned out to be a dead-end, but when he tried to apologize to Kelly and get her back, she brushed him off. However they were back together soon after as evidenced in the following episode ("Breaking Up is Hard to Undo"). Kelly began working at the Max as a waitress and fell for her boss, Jeffrey Hunter (Patrick Muldoon), much to Zack's disappointment. This caused her and Zack to break up. Kelly dated Jeff for a while, until he was caught at an 18-and-over club (the Attic) with another girl.
Kelly and Zack became closer friends, though they dated other people. While vacationing in Palm Springs for Jessie Spano's father's wedding, Zack and Kelly flirted with the possibility of getting together again but ended up remaining friends.
In their senior year, Zack once again pursued Kelly as a prom date. They got back together. As graduation approached, Kelly said she could not afford to go to an out-of-state university and instead would attend community college. She and her friends graduated from Bayside High in 1993 and went their separate ways.
In Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Kelly was accepted into California University, joining Zack, Slater, and Screech as suite mates. She also became the new roommate of Leslie Burke and Alex Taber. While at Cal U, Kelly had an affair with her anthropology professor, Jeremiah Lasky. Zack makes a final attempt to win her over when she decides to go on a Semester on the Sea program through the Mediterranean for three months. Zack remained friends with Kelly, and they went to the park to swing.
Without much support from their families, Zack and Kelly had planned to get married in Las Vegas in Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas. The couple managed to bring Slater, Screech, and Lisa Turtle with them for the event. Just before they exchanged vows at the ceremony at a cheap wedding chapel, Zack's parents showed up and stopped the wedding. They told Zack and Kelly that they would give them the wedding of their dreams. A few days later, Zack and Kelly had an elaborate outdoor wedding in the Las Vegas area. Lisa and Jessie stood as bridesmaids while Screech and Slater stood as groomsmen. The newlyweds then went on a honeymoon.
When Zack and Slater made a joint guest appearance on Saved by the Bell: The New Class a few years later, Slater asked Zack how "the Mrs." (meaning Kelly) was doing, Zack replied, "Good."
- Both Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani Thiessen, as well as Jennie Garth, auditioned for the role of Kelly Kapowski. Thiessen and Garth would later work together on Beverly Hills 90210 as unfriendly rivals Valerie Malone and Kelly Taylor, respectively (the actresses became best friends in real life).