When Boy Meets World first met the world on September 24th 1993, it also met thousands of new fans who would loyally follow the show and its cast through the years-- from the 7 seasons it was part of ABC’s TGIF lineup, all the way to its spinoff show Girl Meets World 20 years later.
There were and are still so many reasons to love Boy Meets World.
From the constant and meaningful life lessons from Mr. Feeny, to the way the script was able to comfortably jump around from completely silly episodes to deep and heavy subject matters, to giving us one of the greatest TV couples of all time in Cory and Topanga, Boy Meets World was a sitcom force to be reckoned with and remains a powerful nostalgia inducer to former '90s tweens everywhere.
Another great reason to love the show was its stellar casting. Being on TV for so many years means that Boy Meets World went through dozens of actors.
From the core cast, to guest stars and recurring roles, to students we only saw once, to high school teachers and college professors, the Boy Meets World casting team was certainly kept busy.
There were some huge home runs when it came to casting the right people for the principal roles and kickstarting now beloved actors’ careers. However, being on TV for so many seasons means that they were also bound to have some misses when it came to casting decisions.
Miscasting and a few super weird episodes aside, we still love the show. Nobody's perfect, we’re all just wandering down this road that we call life, is what we’re doin'...
With that said, here are the 10 Casting Decisions That Hurt Boy Meets World (And 15 That Saved It).
Shawn Hunter experienced tremendous growth over time. He matured, was hurt, challenged, and ultimately grew into a whole person complete with flaws and strengths different than the ones he started out with.
Finding the right actor to play Shawn was difficult, but it was clear from the pilot that Rider was a perfect fit.
Despite the success of BMW, Rider almost left the show to attend college but the producers wouldn't have it and helped him attend school by day so that he could film at night.
He went on to get a degree from Columbia University. Rider also remained an integral part of the BMW universe joining the cast of Girl Meets World in 2014.
Arguably the most beloved character on BMW, George Feeny gave us our life lessons, our passion for learning, and our attention to friendship.
Daniels, an actor since the mid-1950s and winner of two Emmy awards, was the perfect choice when it came to casting the now notorious high school teacher on Boy Meets World.
William Daniels gave us a seemingly infinite number of meaningful performances, and treated each scene with a sense of urgency and respect sometimes missing from the younger actors’ performances on the show.
William Daniels gave us the Feeny we know and love, and Feeny gave us our desire to “believe in ourselves. Dream, try, and do good.”
Perhaps it was because Rachel McGuire was introduced in the later, less memorable episodes of Boy Meets World, but actor Maitland Ward never seemed like a great fit with the rest of the cast.
While it can be challenging to add a brand new core-character to a group that’s been together for so long and gone through so much growing up (both as fictional characters together and as actors), Maitland Ward never seemed to mesh well.
She delivered lines and hit some moments well (the apartment food fight with Eric and Jack comes to mind), but she never really jived with the comedic style and timing of the other, long-term cast members.
William Russ was given some of the juicer material. The episode “Better Than The Average Cory” in particular shows off his range well.
In this episode, Cory is feeling self-doubt and a lack of self-worth because he doesn’t have any special talents. He ends up confronting his father Alan and blaming him for raising him to be “only average.”
William Russ’s face is heartbreaking in this moment. He then has to respond, which really shows off his acting chops in the subsequent scenes.
She shows Cory where he grew up and tells him “for me ‘average,’ average was a dream!”
Only four years old when the show began, Lily Nicksay played Morgan for 38 episodes before being replaced by Lindsay Ridgeway.
Watching Lily always seemed like watching a kid being forced to walk to a mark and spout high-energy lines.
Rider strong has been quoted as saying that “she was not very happy … At that time, she was a little girl who did not want to be on the show."
She was just a little kid when the show started and it’s totally understandable. She eventually went back to acting after BMW and even earned a few awards for her theater roles. Go Lily.
While the '90s had their share of the quintessential “nerd” stereotypes on most of its sitcoms (think Urkel or Screech), Stuart Minkus topped them all-- he was a classic '90s “nerd” but with added confidence and wit.
While this type of character can easily fall into the character we “love to hate” or even the character we feel bad for category, Lee Norris brought a certain charm and assurance to Minkus that kept his character coming back.
Even after being written out of the show for years, Minkus came back for a brief appearance on the graduation episode, and, eventually, went on to become a character on Girl Meets World.
Over the 7 seasons of Boy Meets World, two different actresses played Topanga's mom, and a total of three different actors played her dad.
Some of these casting changes were welcome and some, not as much.
The first actress to play Topanga’s mom was Annette O’Toole. She was featured in the "State of the Unions" episode in which her character and Topanga's dad announce that they will be separating.
Annette never really fit who viewers pictured as a mom to hippy-esque Topanga.
It's safe to say that Annette’s career was fine after her stint on BMW, as she went on to have consistent roles on shows like Nash Bridges and Smallville.
Danielle Fishel shines as Topanga Lawrence. In fact, the role of Topanga originally went to another actress and wasn’t even supposed to be a lead role.
However, once the producers realized that the original actress wasn’t working, they recast the role with Danielle Fishel and the character became so popular that she became a series regular.
Fishel is a strong actress on her own and managed to exhibit great chemistry with Ben Savage’s Cory.
Her character was role model for young girls and Danielle Fishel clearly took that responsibility seriously, playing Topanga with honesty, curiosity, and charisma.
Just like there were multiple actors playing Topanga’s mother, there were even more actors playing her father. First up was Michael McKean, who appeared in the "State of the Unions" episode opposite Annette O’Toole.
Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole are actually married in real life and have both been acting for a long time, which is why it’s surprising that they lacked so much chemistry on screen.
While both are fine actors in their own right, Michael McKean wasn’t believable as Topanga’s father.
His mean-spirited and one-sided portrayal of the complications going on in his marriage seemed ill-conceived. Perhaps another actor with a softer side could have brought out those complexities better.
The central character of BMW was tricky to cast because he had to not only have the acting chops to lead his own sitcom as a kid, but also had to have the abilities and versatility necessary to work with a huge ensemble of actors.
Ben Savage was high-energy, fun, and naive as young Cory, and grew into someone more forward thinking, self-doubting, but also self-aware as older Cory.
The script kept changing Cory’s character as he grew up, and Savage was able to seamlessly change right along with it.
We shared in his successes and felt his disappointments. It’s really difficult to picture any other curly headed kid is this enduring and iconic role.
It’s hard to say if any actress who played the role of a girl who almost breaks up Cory and Topanga could ever have been liked by fans. Hated characters are very difficult to cast and the character of Lauren was no exception.
Lauren and Cory meet on the John Adams High ski trip. Cory sprains his ankle and Lauren keeps Cory company in the lodge. She eventually makes a move on him. Her character reappears later in the series as well, to the joy of no one.
She gave it her all, but Linda Cardellini’s portrayal of the illicit Lauren was not strong enough to put the character in any sort of sympathetic light.
Some of the smaller roles in the show were played by actors too good not to mention. Willie Garson fits into this category three times over.
The BMW casting team couldn’t get enough of Wilie Garson and cast him as Leonard Spinelli, the assistant manager of the Market Giant, Mervyn at the Matthews outdoor gear store, and finally, the Minister that presided over the marriage of Cory and Topanga.
All three roles were played with grace, variety, humor and heart by Willie Garson.
Post-Boy Meets World, Garson has managed to continue playing consistently beloved and memorable characters. He has appeared in over 300 episodes of television and more than 70 movies.
As a guest star role gone wrong, the casting team placed one of TV’s most wholesome actresses at the time in one of TV’s most bizarre roles of the time.
DJ Tanner from Full House plays Millie, a girl who Jack Hunter has started dating. It’s soon discovered by Eric that Millie and all of her friends are witches, determined to sacrifice a “hunter” (aka Shawn and Jack) in order to satisfy a deal with Satan.
It seemed like a fun idea to have such a notable family-oriented actress play the “bad girl” role but the storyline, and Millie as a character is downright weird.
She is made even weirder by Cameron’s uncomfortable portrayal.
The BMW casting team spent a lot of time casting the Matthews family, and while their initial pick for Morgan Matthews didn’t last, their recast of Morgan with actress Lindsay Ridgeway really got the job done.
Lindsay Ridgeway took over the role of Morgan Matthews in season 3 after Lily Nicksay left the show.
Older Morgan is not everyone’s favorite character, but Lindsay Ridgeway did wonders with a part that was certainly not scripted to be likable.
She plays the role with a sassy, straightforward vibe that seems natural yet curated . She’s a clear standout when it comes to actors taking over previously cast roles on BMW.
Daniel Jacobs as Joshua Matthews in the series finale is the worst. Looking at the camera and burbling through his lines, this kid belongs nowhere near a TV camera and yet here he is.
Perhaps this what happens when your dad is Michael Jacobs, the creator of Boy Meets World.
He’s a cute kid and probably a great son, but the finale of a beloved TV show is not the time to introduce a new, bad actor as we say goodbye to our favorite long-term characters.
He pulls focus in his scenes and is a distraction to audiences during the most anticipated episode of the series.
Will Friedle is one of the most well cast actors on the show. Eric makes his debut as a rambunctious teen, and his character visibly grows in age, temperament, maturity level, and confidence over and over again throughout the course of the series.
Will Friedle’s range is huge, he can play the silliest moments with a ton of energy and commitment. However, he can also bring compassion and emotional depth to some of the more challenging scenes on the show.
Favorite line deliveries from Friedle’s character include “Life’s tough, get a helmet" and the classic “FEEEEEEEEENAY! FEE-HEE-HEE-HEE-NAAAAAYYYY!” call.
Fans still love the actor to this day. Overall, it was an A+ in casting for Eric Matthews.
Matthew Lawrence is a good actor. As a child star with multiple roles on Disney shows and movies (like Mrs. Doubtfire and Brotherly Love), he’s also been cast in many shows since Boy Meets World (like CSI: Miami and Melissa & Joey)
He’s the middle brother of the infamous Lawrence brothers, and he’s objectively attractive for sure.
However, when it came to casting the half-brother to Shawn and son of Chet, Matthew Lawrence wasn’t the best choice.
Jack's character could have been a scene stealer instead of the sidekick role that Lawrence played him as. He had strong moments, but could have been played with more variety by different actor.
Strong, fierce, independent, as well as graceful and unique, the character Angela Moore brought a welcome new dynamic to the established core group.
Entering a show in its fifth season would have been a challenge for any actor hoping to jive with an already quite-established group of characters, but Trina Mcgee was up for the test.
Introduced as Shawn’s serious love-interest, Trina’s chemistry with Rider Strong leapt off the screen. She spent the next few seasons showcasing her talent while also becoming a fan favorite.
After Boy Meets World, producers were quick to jump at the opportunity to bring Trina back into the limelight and she appeared in an episode of Girl Meets World in 2015.
It was great that the producers of Boy Meet World consistently wanted to incorporate new characters, but it was less great that most of these new characters were poorly cast.
Griff was introduced as the leader of the bullies in the high school episodes. He was added in to replace original bully Harley Keiner who was “sent to reform school.”
Griff was played by Adam Scott. However, unfortunately Scott came off as too mature and experienced. The character would have ultimately been better off with someone less sophisticated.
Adam Scott was later cast in roles much better suited to his type. We know him today as Ben Wyatt in Parks and Rec and as Ed Mckenzie in Big Little Lies.
Next up to play Rhiannon Lawrence was Marcia Cross. Cross is a superb actor. She had many roles after BMW but most notably starred on Desperate Housewives.
Marcia played Topanga’s mom in three episodes, and one of her most memorable performances came in the "No Such Thing As A Sure Thing" episode, in which her character had to convince Topanga to believe in her relationship with Cory again, after her own separation makes Topanga doubt her future.
Marcia plays the role with grace and strength. Her range is impressive and her portrayal is believable in a show that sometimes takes its characters into more of the caricature territory.
Mark Harelik played yet another Jedidiah, but this one was more forgettable than the last.
Mark Harelik played Jedidiah Lawrence in the episodes "It's About Time", "No Such Thing as a Sure Thing", and "For Love and Apartments".
He played Jedidiah opposite Marcia Cross, who was the clear standout in terms of performance.
Much like the Jedidiah before him, he did not come across as relatable or sympathetic.
However, Harelik did get to the play the Jedidiah who walks Topanga down the aisle and is the last actor we see as Topanga’s dad in the series.
After BMW, Mark went on to work on top shows like The Big Bang Theory and Breaking Bad.
Chet Hunter is a multifaceted character who is often negative and manipulative. However, with Blake Clark’s expert portrayal, we grew to love Chet despite his flaws and rocky relationship with his kids.
Clark helped us see the potential in Chet to be a better person and father. He also utilized great character work combined with seasoned nuance to help us learn and care about Chet Hunter and his story.
After Chet’s passing in season 6, viewers were pleased to see an ongoing role for Clark as Chet return multiple times in spirit form to help guide Shawn through important life decisions.
Blake Clark also reprised his role in the spinoff series Girl Meets World.
Jonathan Turner, a teacher introduced in season 2, was created to be an ongoing source of guidance and discipline in Shawn Hunter’s life.
However, perhaps such a straightforward character needed a less straightforward actor in the role. Mr. Turner would have been better suited by someone who could showcase the depth and breadth needed to make this role a success.
Rider Strong has even said that the character of the twenty-something teacher was only written into the show because Friends was popular at the time and the show wanted to add in a young adult, as Anthony Tyler Quinn seemed to serve the “young and cool” purpose well.
However, he didn’t add much value outside of that.
Peter Tork as Jedidiah Lawrence is the first actor to play Topanga's father, and so many wish that he had stayed throughout the whole series.
Peter Tork was the perfect choice to play Topanga’s hippie dad. He came off natural and fun in the role and fans loved his vibe.
Even more exciting than Peter Tork himself were the guest stars that he brought with him.
Peter was, of course, a keyboardist and bass guitarist of The Monkees, and his bandmates Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones were also brought on to the show for the episode "Rave On", in which they play at a party for Cory’s parents.
Dolenz and Jones also played minor characters in the show.
For another win in casting of the Matthews family, look no further than Rue McClanahan as Bernice Matthews.
Bernice Matthews is the wild grandmother of the Matthews family. She brings crazy gifts for the kids and takes them on adventurous outings.
She can also be careless and can’t always be counted on to remember the important things.
Rue McClanahan, better known at the time the show aired as Blanche from The Golden Girls, gave a stellar performance as Bernice.
The character was complex and Rue nailed it. Not many actors can carve out such a memorable performance in only one episode, but Rue was the perfect choice for the role.
What do you think? Are there any other casting decisions that hurt or saved Boy Meets World? Let us know in the comments!