If you were a TV watcher in the ‘90s, chances are you’ve seen Boy Meets World. Even if you didn’t watch it religiously, you likely saw an episode or two when there was nothing else to watch (you know, before Netflix). Either way, just hearing the series’ name takes me back to a simpler, innocent time.
The show tells the story of Corey Matthews: a middle-school kid trying to navigate the world. Audiences grew up with him. We watched him be a good friend, get married, and learn every important life lesson. In 2014, the spin-off show Girl Meets World hit Disney Channel, and we got to see some of the original cast reprise their characters and get back into the spotlight.
Here is what the cast of Boy Meets World has been up to since the show’s finale and after the reboot. Plus, we included some behind-the-scenes facts about the iconic show.
Ben Savage starred as Cory Matthews throughout the seven seasons of Boy Meets World. After the show ended, Ben took a little hiatus from acting and enrolled in Stanford University, where he got his bachelor’s degree in political science.
He guest-starred on shows like Bones, Without a Trace, and Chuck. In 2017, he directed the independent film, Palo Alto. Both on Criminal Minds and Homeland, Ben played the younger versions of Mandy Patinkin’s character. He also reprised his role as Cory on Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World, which ended in 2017 after three successful seasons.
Topanga Lawrence-Mathews is still near and dear to our hearts, and so is the actress who played her, Danielle Fishel. After Boy Meets World, Danielle dabbled with hosting. She hosted The Dish for the Style Network and MSN TV’s Last Night on TV. She also worked as a correspondent for the Tyra Banks Show.
In 2013, Fishel graduated from California State University, Fullerton. The actress reprised her role as Topanga on Girl Meets World, alongside Ben Savage and many of their Boy Meets World co-stars. Danielle walked down the aisle with Jensen Karp in 2018, and they welcomed their first baby in 2019.
For all seven seasons, Rider Strong starred as Cory’s hunky best friend, Shawn Hunter. While the show was airing, girls everywhere were swooning over the teenage heartthrob. But when the show ended, he starred in the 2002 horror film, Cabin Fever. He was also the man behind Brick Flagg’s voice on Kim Possible.
In 2004, the actor graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English and went on to get his master’s from Bennington College in 2009. Fans were thrilled when the actor reprised his character, Shawn, on Girl Meets World; he even directed some of the episodes. Rider married Alexandra Barreto in 2013, and they welcomed their son in 2014.
There was never a TV character quite like Eric Matthews, and it’s all thanks to the actor who played him, Will Friedle. Since his time on Boy Meets World, Will has become a prominent voice actor. Like Rider, he took his voice acting skills to Kim Possible and voiced the character of Ron Stoppable.
He is also the voice behind Terry McGinnis/Batman in Batman Beyond, Deadpool in Ultimate Spider-Man, and Star-Lord in the animated version of Guardians of the Galaxy. He briefly reprised his role as Eric on four episodes of Girl Meets World. In 2016, the actor married Susan Martens.
Matthew Lawrence joined the cast of Boy Meets World in its fifth season and became a fan-favorite instantly. After the show, the actor starred alongside Rachel McAdams in the 2002 film The Hot Chick.
He also starred in the 2001 TV movie Jumping Ship, alongside his brothers Joey and Andy. He’s made countless guest appearances on the big and small screens throughout the years. He even guest-starred on his brother Joey’s sitcom, Melissa & Joey. He also returned as Jack in one episode of Girl Meets World, and in 2019, he married DWTS pro Cheryl Burke.
Betsy Randle is known for her role as Any Matthews, Cory, and Eric’s mother on Boy Meets World. She portrayed the character throughout the entire run of the show. After that, she went on to play Mrs. Winterbourne in 4 episodes of the hit show Charmed.
The actress reprised her role of Amy Matthews for three episodes of Girl Meets World, but that wasn’t her most recent gig. Throughout the last couple of years, Betsy Randle has appeared in two movies: To the Beat: Back 2 School and My Little Girl Gone. She lives a quiet life with her family in California.
William Daniels played the one and only Mr. Feeny, Cory’s teacher and a fan favorite. The iconic actor has immediately associated with his Boy Meets World character, but he has continued to work since the show came to an end. In 2004, he reunited with his co-star Will Friedle for an episode of Kim Possible.
He also made guest appearances on Scrubs, The Closer, and Boston Legal, just to name a few. You may also remember him as Mr. Craig Thomas in four episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. He also appeared on random episodes of Girl Meets World throughout the show’s three-year run. If that wasn’t enough, he also published a memoir in 2017.
Trina McGee portrayed Shawn Hunter’s love interest starting in Season Five of Boy Meets World. After the show, Trina appeared on shows like The Hughleys and So Little Time, starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. In 2015, she made a guest appearance on Girl Meets World. More recently, she appeared in two 2016 movies: LAPD African Cops and Sins of the Guilty.
In January 2020, the actress opened up about her experience on Boy Meets World. She revealed that she was called “Aunt Jemima” on set but admitted that Will Friedle personally apologized for those inappropriate comments back when they happened and again in the present day.
Maitland Ward snagged the role of Rachel McGuire, who joined the show in Season Six. When Boy Meets World ended in 2000, the actress went on to guest star on Boston Public, Out of Practice, and Rules of Engagement. She continued to dabble in acting but never seemed to land a big break-out role.
Although her most notable role was Rachel McGuire, she also played Brittany Wilson in the 2004 comedy White Chicks. She transitioned into movies, but not the conventional kind. Maitland is currently a film-time adult film star.
Cory and Eric’s pretty cool dad, Alan Matthews, was played by William Russ. Since the show’s wrap, the actor has appeared in a number of popular television shows such as Boston Legal, The Young and The Restless, 90210, and so much more.
Russ reprised his beloved role of Alan Matthews in a few episodes of Girl Meets World. He recently portrayed Chuck in the series 2-1-1 in 2019. Other than his professional life, the actor also has a wonderful personal life. He is a father of two and is happily married to Clare Wren.
Now that we discussed the main cast and what they are up to today, we want to take a little trip back to the set of Boy Meets World. It’s always interesting when you have children on set. As innocent as they look, some of them were quite the troublemakers.
Did you know Danielle Fishel wasn’t originally cast to play Topanga? And don’t get me started on how the name Topanga came into being. We’ve got the behind-the-scenes scoop about Shawn’s iconic haircut and the truth about why there are so many potholes. So, without further ado, let’s look into the secrets behind Boy Meets World.
Cory Was Supposed to Have Two Best Friends
In the first episode of Boy Meets World, Cory had two friends, Shawn, and some other kid. Initially, the show planned to feature Cory’s entire friend group rather than a duo. The showrunners kept rotating new friends in, but the characters never stuck around.
The cast even jokingly referred to the cafeteria chair that those characters sat on the “death chair” because the actors never came back. In the Season One episode “Cory’s Alternative Friends,” Topanga was finally introduced, and the notion of another best friend was dropped.
In the “Cory’s Alternative Friends” episode, Shawn called his sister Stacy; however, in later episodes, that sister doesn’t seem to exist. Why, you may ask? Well, it has to do with the aforementioned idea for Cory to have two best friends.
While filming the episode, the actor who was supposed to play one of those friends got fired. Therefore, Rider Strong was given all the other character’s lines last minute and performed them. In the original script, Stacy wasn’t his sister. That’s why she never shows up again.
What Happened to Mr. Turner?
Mr. Turner played a crucial role in the high school years of Boy Meets World. Shawn even moved in with him for a little while. However, in the Season Four episode “Cult Fiction,” Mr. Turner gets into a life-threatening motorcycle accident and never appears on the show. He’s barely even mentioned.
During the graduation episode in the following season, Minkus – who has been MIA since Season One – mentioned Mr. Turner, saying that he’s just been on “the other side of the school.” Strong said the twenty-something Mr. Turner was written into the show because Friends was popular at the time. But he didn’t quite fit into the show. He did, however, appear in three episodes of Girl Meets World.
Topanga’s Non-Existent Sister
Topanga’s family tree is literally all over the place. Just like Shawn’s sister Stacy, Topanga’s big sister, Nebula, was also a one-episode wonder. She appeared on the Season One episode “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not,” but that was the first and last time she was ever mentioned.
In addition, the show later alludes to the fact that Topanga is an only child. Over the course of the show, Topanga’s parents are played by five different actors: Peter Tork, Michael McKean, and Mark Harelik played her dad, and Annette O’Toole and Marcia Cross, both played her mom.
Stuart Minkus vs. Stuart Lempke
Stuart Minkus was a short-lived yet iconic character of Boy Meets World. Believe it or not, “Stuart Minkus” wasn’t Lee Norris’s character’s original name, and there is a very specific reason that the writers decided to switch it.
His name was supposed to be Stuart Lempke. However, when they found out that that was the actual name of a Philadelphia resident – where the show takes place –they decided to change it. It was probably the better choice. Stuart Lempke just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
The Original Topanga
It may be hard to picture anyone but Danielle Fishel portraying the iconic character of Topanga, but she wasn’t the first choice. In fact, Topanga was originally played by a different actress, but ultimately, she just couldn’t bring Topanga to life. She took the character in a different direction, making her bubblier and more upbeat.
So, after rehearsal, co-creator Michael Jacobs arranged a meeting with her after everyone left. He told her that he envisioned Topanga as more of a slow, calm character, and they went through the script line by line. Danielle Fishel was so scared that she would lose the part like the actress before her, so she spent all night practicing.
Danielle Fishel Impressed Everyone
Danielle Fishel recalled that the following day, “Michael started the notes session off with me again. My heart stopped beating regularly, and my palms got sweaty: ‘Danielle, yesterday I gave you an enormous number of notes. I did that because I believed you were capable of handing them,’” he said in front of all the writers and producers and my fellow actors.
She continued, “Then he stood up. I panicked. Was he going to fire me, slam his script on the ground, and storm out of there? ‘However, with your performance today, you exceeded my expectations,’ he concluded. He started clapping, and all the writers stood up and clapped next to him. Michael wasn’t going to fire me; he believed in me. He gave me a freaking standing ovation.”
Replacing Morgan Matthews
For the first two seasons of Boy Meets World, Lily Nicksay portrayed Morgan, the youngest member of the Matthews family. But then, a few episodes into the third season, the actress was very obviously replaced by Lindsay Ridgeway. It was never explained by Lily why she left the show.
In Season Three, Cory says, “Morgan, long time no see.” She replies with, “Yeah, that was the longest time out I’ve had!” Lily Nicksay, who now goes by Lily Gibson, made a few reunion appearances and even showed up for an episode of Girl Meets World.
Topanga’s Unique Name
It actually took a long time to come up with the character’s name before settling on Topanga – which was a last-minute decision. Apparently, Michael was pressured to name the female lead, so he went with the first thing he saw. Danielle Fishel explained:
“Michael Jacobs says he was driving down the highway when production called and said, ‘We need a name for this character!’ He happened to be driving past Topanga Canyon, so he said, Topanga. He says that if they had called him two miles later, I would have been named Conga, which is the next exit.”
Acting Together and Learning Together
Just like Boy Meets World revolved around the classroom, the actors also went to school together. Well, at least in the early years of the show, Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, and Will Friedle were all in school together.
It’s not uncommon for children who work on set together to learn together. Because of their busy schedules, regular school wasn’t really an option. Danielle Fishel explained that at first, they all tried to work with individual teachers, but it ultimately became a little classroom “with all of us chiming in and learning little bits of what everyone else was learning.”
Shawn’s Iconic Haircut
So, remember Shawn’s iconic haircut beloved by fans? We all loved watching the handsome actor swing his hair back or run his hands through it. It may be hard to believe that Rider Strong hated Shawn’s haircut. Unfortunately for the actor, he wasn’t allowed to change it.
“I hated my hair. I came to the audition with that hairstyle, got the part, and the director Michael Jacobs never let me cut it from there on out,” the actor explained. He noted that a bunch of girls told him to wear his hair like that (parted down the center) when he was 12, so he listened.
Rider Couldn’t Cut His Hair Until the Show Ended
He went on to say that his hair was wavy, and it was so annoying that they had to straighten it all the time for the show, and it would take forever. However, it was extremely necessary because, as we know, teenage girls everywhere loved that memorable haircut.
I do understand how it could get annoying, though. Straightening your hair every day is a total pain. He just wanted to go natural. Luckily, the actor got to change his look eventually: “I wanted to cut my hair so bad, but the only time I got to was when we found out the show was going to be canceled.”
Shawn’s Famous Leather Jacket
A lot of actors like to take things from set to keep as a souvenir. They aren’t usually allowed to, but they figure out ways to get around it. Rider Strong was certainly no exception. He managed to take home an iconic souvenir – Shawn’s leather jacket. And nobody noticed.
“Disney wouldn’t let us take anything, but I had a leather jacket that I had bought on my own, and I swapped it,” he said. Very sneaky! But Rider wasn’t the only rebel on set! Ben Savage confessed to stealing a pair of shoes as well.
The Reason Eric and Shawn Didn’t Have Many Scenes Together
As it turns out, there is a reason why there were only limited scenes between Shawn and Eric. Obviously, Shawn was Cory’s friend, not Eric’s, so it makes sense. But that wasn’t the reason. The two actors just had undeniable chemistry, and it made for some hard scenes to shoot.
In 2013, Freidle admitted: “They never let Rider, and I do scenes together because we would look at each other and start laughing, so I think over seven years, we had, like, five scenes together.” The former castmates remain close friends to this day.
Is John Adams High School a Nod to William Daniels?
Although it has never been confirmed, many fans of Boy Meets World believe that John Adams High School is a nod to William Daniels’s career. He played John Adams in the musical and the film version of 1996. Apparently, that’s how they came up with the name for the school.
Another reference to his career is when Mr. Feeny described The Graduate as a “great film” – Daniels played Mr. Braddock in the film. Do you think that the show intentionally snuck these details in, or was it all a mere conscience?
He Had a Feeny-Esque Vibe on Set
Sorry to let some fans down, but William Daniels wasn’t exactly a mentor for the kids. But the children were certainly intrigued by him. Initially, the kids on set assumed he was British because of how proper he was. “There wasn’t a whole lot of socializing off set, but we revered the character and the man,” Ben Savage later explained.
“When he’d come on set, we’d talk, we’d listen, and we’d absorb, and then he would vanish, like some sort of magical person that just pops into your life. He was like a mystic. He always taught us things, and there was so much to absorb from him.”
The Spooky Episode!
Ben Savage and Rider Strong both have the same favorite episode of Boy Meets World. The Season Five episode aired in 1998, and ‘90s horror films like Scream inspired it. As a huge horror fan myself, that also happens to be my favorite!
The episode was titled “And Then There Was Shawn,” and it featured Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was dating Will Friedle in real life. By the way, her character’s name was Jennifer Love Fefferman. It’s no wonder the cast “could barely get through the scenes,” as Will Friedle put it. “We were laughing so hard.”
Famous Guest Stars
Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn’t the only familiar star to appear on Boy Meets World. The future star of Parks and Recreation, Adam Scott, played Griff Hawkins, the school bully, in Season Two on the show. Freaks and Geeks actress Linda Cardellini spent a few episodes getting in between Cory and Topanga.
Then, in 1995, the same year Clueless was released, the one and only Brittany Murphy played Trini for a couple of episodes. A few future Buffy stars also made appearances on Boy Meets World: Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz.
More Notable Appearances
Perhaps the most surprising star who showed up on Boy Meets World is Blake Sennett, who would eventually become the lead guitarist for the band Rilo Kiley and frontman of The Elected. During his child star days, Sennet went by the name Blake Soper.
Like Adam Scott, he played a school bully: Joseph “Joey the Rat” Epstein. He was first featured in Season Two and randomly popped up until the Season Five episode “Graduation.” Although people loved his portrayal of a bully, he went on to do amazing things in the music industry.
The Show Skipped Some Grades
As we mentioned, Boy Meets World is no stranger to plot holes. Besides bringing up sisters that don’t exist, the show also seems to involve time travel. The show definitely leaps ahead in time, but it’s hard to tell where those leaps occur. In the first season, Cory, Shawn, and Topanga are in seventh grade and enter high school (which is already confusing).
Then, in a Season Four episode entitled “I Ain’t Gonna Spray Lettuce No More,” the characters are called 11th graders. In Season Five, the characters are in their senior year, and they begin college in Season Six. A couple of grades were lost somewhere in there.
Rider Strong Wanted to Leave the Show and Go to College
Rider Strong spoke to the showrunners about quitting to focus on his studies, but Jacobs convinced him that he would be able to continue working on the show while attending college. The actor took all morning classes and then went to set.
Strong even had a dorm room since the school required it. However, he didn’t stay there most nights. In 2004, four years after the show ended, he graduated from Columbia University with an English degree and went on to earn his MFA from Bennington College.
Maitland Ward Didn’t Even Audition
Maitland Ward joined the cast of Boy Meets World during its college years. But the actress actually auditioned for another one of Jacob’s shows: Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane. As it turns out, he really liked her; she just didn’t really fit the characters well enough to get cast in that specific project.
But that doesn’t mean he didn’t remember her. Since he was so impressed by her acting chops, he gave her a call and offered her the role of Jack and Eric’s roommate and crush, Rachel.
Joshua Matthews Was Played by Michael Jacob’s Son
Joshua Matthews is Cory and Eric’s little brother, who was born in the sixth season of the show. Several different babies played him until the season finale. At one point, creator Michael Jacob’s son, Daniel Jacobs, played him. But interestingly, Daniel already made a cameo as a different character.
Originally, he wasn’t supposed to be in the episode, but the child actor they cast talked too much during scenes where he was supposed to be silent. Jacobs called his wife, who saved the day as she promptly brought in Daniel to play the part.
Willie Garson Portrayed Three Different Characters
Willie Garson, a.k.a. Stanford Blatch from Sex in the City, was also a guest star on the show. He played three different characters. In two episodes from Season One, Garson played an assistant manager of the Market Giant supermarket, where Cory’s dad works.
But then he shows up again a few years later as Mervyn, a character who applies for a job at the Matthews’ store. Then, he returned to the show again in Season Seven, where he played the minister who marries Cory and Topanga.
ABC’s Online Poll
Jacobs really wanted the iconic couple to tie the knot before the show concluded, but ABC disagreed with the decision. The network executives thought that the 20-year-old characters were far too young to get married. They weren’t wrong; 20 sounds extremely young.
But Jacobs suggested an internet poll to see what the fans thought. Audiences wanted to see their favorite couple walk down the aisle, and so midway through the final season, Cory and Topanga exchanged vows.
The Tears in the Finale Were Genuine
The final scene in the classroom with Mr. Feeny was only shot once. Rider Strong explained, “We did that last scene in one take because we were such a wreck.” The tears were genuine since the actors were just as sad as their characters.
Ben Savage also opened up about how that last scene was his favorite memory of the show. “When they said, Cut!’ on that final take, it was almost like someone was saying, ‘Say goodbye to your childhood,’” the actor recalled.
Since the scene was only shot once, the crew had to set up four cameras in order to capture all the action. They didn’t want to miss a thing. Halfway through the scene, a writer asked Jacobs what was on Danielle’s neck, and he replied, saying they were Chinese letters.
The writer asked, “Did you ever know they were there before?” Michael responded, “Hair has never given her pigtails before.” Those pigtails exposed the tattoo on the actress’s neck, which is visible if you pay attention. You won’t notice it in any other scene.