Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Principal Toddman From The Saved By The Bell Reboot Looks So Familiar

There's no shortage of familiar faces in the first season of the new Saved By the Bell — original Bayside kids Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, and Lark Voorhies all at least make an appearance in the series relaunch. Both Patrick Thomas O'Brien, who played Mr. Dewey from the original Saved By the Bell, and Ed Alonzo, who played the owner of The Max, reprise their roles.

However, there is one notable change to the administrative structure of Bayside High that fans can't help but notice, and that's the principal's office. Arguably the beating heart of the original Saved By the Bell was the show's patriarch Dennis Haskins, in the role of Principal Richard Belding. On the new Saved By the Bell, the principal is the often-powerless Principal Ronald Toddman (John Michael Higgins). While the new series establishes the false conceit that Toddman actually graduated from Bayside at the same time as Jessie, Slater, Zack, Kelly, Lisa, and Screech, Higgins himself never actually appeared on Saved By the Bell prior to this latest relaunch.

Still, there's a very good chance that you've seen John Michael Higgins many times before. Here are all the places you might have seen Principal Toddman before he was Principal Toddman.

John Michael Higgins was heckling in Pitch Perfect

People do like it when the youths do a jukebox-style musical. The High School Musical franchise exploded back in 2006, leading to the massive success of leads Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. A few years later, Glee did for musical television what High School Musical did for film. And as those kids watching grew from high school to college, music movies grew with them.

Pitch Perfect was the natural next step in the musical evolution, and in 2012 the first of three Pitch Perfect movies shot Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson to a new level of stardom. And as their group of a capella singers, the Barden Bellas, attempt to defeat the all-male team, the Treblemakers, there's one man there making things extra challenging: John Michael Higgins.

Higgins plays John Smith, a former a capella singer who is now a commentator for the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella. In the original Pitch Perfect, Smith openly prefers the Trebelmakers to the Barden Bellas. However, in the subsequent two films, both John and his partner Gail (Elizabeth Banks) follow the Bellas around.

So if your theatrical DNA is built up of parts from this era of musical movies, Pitch Perfect is probably where you've seen Higgins before.

John Michael Higgins starred in three popular Christopher Guest movies

If there were one word you'd most likely associate with John Michael Higgins career it might be "mockumentary." The use of faux behind-the-scenes footage to suggest that a fictional story is actually a documentary is extremely popular in sitcoms, these days, but one of the first places it found a successful foothold was in the films of writer-director Christopher Guest. Whether lampooning heavy metal bands with This is Spinal Tap, or local theater troupes with Waiting for Guffman, Guest was the name in mockumentary for a long time.

In 2000, Guest took on the wild world of dog shows with Best in Show. The film saw the return of many actors from Guest's back catalog including Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, and Michael McKean. Playing opposite of McKean's character, Stefan Vanderhoof, was John Michael Higgins as Scott Donlan. Together, the two men attempt to make their Shih Tzu, Miss Agnes, the proverbial belle of the ball.

This was just the start for Higgins when it came to Christopher Guest films. The actor would return in Guest's send up of folk music, A Mighty Wind, as Terry Bohner. In that film, Bohner and his wife Laurie (Jane Lynch) are both musicians in the New Main Street Singers and also the founders of a coven that worships the power of color, called Witches in Nature's Colors. Higgins would appear for a third time in a Guest film when he starred in For Your Consideration as Corey Taft.

Jay Leno vs David Letterman: The Movie

One of the most fun parts of trying to figure out where you recognize a performer from involves digging deep into their back catalog. Most every actor whose face you swore you've seen a thousand times before appeared in at least one schlocky horror movie. And while John Michael Higgins absolutely did have a small role in the meme-tastic Nicholas Cage classic, Vampire's Kiss, there's another (arguably more) horrific story he played a surprising part in ... even if it wasn't quite a horror movie, per se.

See, in the early nineties, there was this strange thing a lot of us got very invested in, called "The Late Night Wars." In the wake of the retirement announcement from long-time host of The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson, there was wild speculation who would take over the legend's place. Easy money was on then-Late Night host David Letterman, but through a lot of behind-the-scenes dealings, the perceived-less-likely future host, Jay Leno, somehow became the new The Tonight Show host. The question over whether or not Leno had somehow "cheated" Letterman out of a job that was rightfully his became the source of surprisingly heated debate. Bill Carter wrote a book on the subject and, in 1996, that book became a TV movie called The Late Shift.

Is The Late Shift a horror movie? Not for most people, but if you're Jay Leno or David Letterman, it probably is. 

And on the subject of Letterman, it was John Michael Higgins who took on the role of Letterman in The Late Shift, which was also likely a horrifyingly scary gig, considering Letterman was both alive and the host of The Late Show at the time of the dramatization's release.