If you were a ’90s kid, Fridays meant two things: it was finally the weekend, and it was finally time for the TGIF shows on ABC. The beloved sitcom block offered a few hours of fun and comfort for everyone, offering glimpses of families and friends in all kinds of life situations.
One of the few series to have transcended TGIF and remain an influential series to this day is the 1993-2000 sitcom, Boy Meets World. Centering on the life and times of the Philadelphia based Matthews family, and especially middle child Cory, the show was a constant source of heart, sweetness, and hope. It had an epic friendship, a love story worth rooting for, and just the right amount of silliness to rope in viewers of all ages. The series was such a success that it received a Disney Channel spinoff series, Girl Meets World, which aired from 2014-2017.
But just because a series is so beloved and so important to so many people doesn’t mean there aren’t some dark secrets lurking in its closet. To get a better sense of what we’re talking about, just take a look at this list of 15 Dark BTS Secrets Of Boy Meets World.
15. ABC didn’t want Cory and Topanga to get married
Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence overcame a lot of obstacles: Lauren from the ski resort, the artist who wooed Topanga with Starry Night, Topanga moving to Pittsburgh, and so many others. One obstacle they couldn’t possibly know they were facing, however, was a business-minded one.
ABC was firmly against the high school sweethearts getting married in the series’ final season, as they were concerned about the kind of message a teenage marriage would send. However, series creator Michael Jacobs felt that the lovebirds had earned the moment, and requested that ABC offer a poll for fans to decide.
14. Rider Strong hated the iconic Shawn Hunter hairstyle
Hair can really make or break a character’s popularity, especially when that character becomes a teen heartthrob almost overnight. In the case of Shawn Hunter, he was just as crazy about girls in the series as girls were crazy about Rider Strong in real life. The signature mop of hair absolutely was a major part of it.
But if Strong had his way, that hairstyle probably never would’ve existed at all:
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. A bunch of girls at a sleepover told me to wear my hair like that — parted down the center — and I was 12, so I listened…But my hair is wavy and they would straighten it on the show and it would take forever. 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.
13. The show has a dedicated stoner following
Stoners are hardly known for their discerning tastes, whether they be culinary or pop culture related. However, at least according to a 2011 interview with Rider Strong, they might deserve a little bit of credit, because apparently, Boy Meets World is a favorite of stoners everywhere.
Now that you know that, it’s kind of hard to believe you didn’t realize it before, right? After all, this is the show that features bizarre time travel to the 1940s and 1950s; crossovers with the likes of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; an episode that’s entirely a parody of the show and its cast; and Eric Matthews retreating from society and living in the wilderness as a man named Plays With Squirrels, who just so happens to be married to a moose.
12. Ben Savage is rumored to have gotten a nose job
It’s a natural fact of life that as you grow older, you start to look pretty different from how you looked like as a child. For child stars, this difference in appearance is given a grand public stage.
There’s no denying that Ben Savage doesn’t exactly look the same as he did when he won America’s hearts as the plucky yet neurotic protagonist Cory Matthews. Even over the course of the series, he lost his baby fat and grew a whole lot taller, as Cory transformed from sixth grader to a married college student.
But it’s kind of hard to ignore the fact that a prominent facial feature now looks entirely different. While nothing has been confirmed, and probably never will be, analysis of his appearance over the years shows a definite change in the shape of his nose. Sometimes, life really does imitate art.
11. Danielle Fishel had a hard time breaking away from Topanga
Breaking away from the role that made you a household name can be pretty hard for child stars. This was all too true for the actress behind everyone’s favorite flower child, Topanga Lawrence. Danielle Fishel has admitted that, after the show ended in 2000, she had trouble landing another acting gig.
Making matters more stressful, Fishel had chosen not to attend college, which left her out of a job and with no degree behind her. For some time, Fishel even worked as a customer service counter girl at Bloomingdale’s.
Eventually, she decided attending college was for the best. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 2013 at age 31, and beginning in 2014, she reprised her role as Topanga on Girl Meets World, proving that things really do come full circle.
10. Fishel and Strong had some wedding bell blues
While Cory and Topanga were soulmates, and Cory and Shawn were best friends for life, Shawn and Topanga often didn’t see eye to eye. In particular, after Cory and Topanga break up at one point, Shawn doesn’t know how to have Topanga in his life as a friend because their friendship is no longer mediated through Cory.
This kind of tension didn’t exactly carry on to the cast members in real life, but a certain awkward situation did happen between Danielle Fishel and Rider Strong that you can’t help but cringe at. In 2013, the onetime costars were married to their respective spouses on the same exact weekend.
Making matters even more awkward? According to Fishel, Strong let slip the exact dates of their weddings to the press, without her knowledge. Oops!
9. The other Topanga
Recasting a role in the early days of a TV show isn’t exactly a new practice. However, when a character that had been recast goes on to become an iconic one, it can be difficult to try and imagine how things could’ve been if certain casting choices hadn’t been made.
In the case of BMW, Topanga was originally portrayed by a different actress who would go on to become familiar to TGIF viewers. Marla Sokoloff, who would play Stephanie Tanner’s frenemy Gia Mahan on Full House from 1993-1995, was the original actress selected for Topanga. After realizing that she wasn’t right for the part, Fishel, who had previously auditioned, was brought back. And the rest is history.
What makes this casting swap even more amusing is the fact that Fishel previously played cool girl Jennifer P. in two episodes of Full House season 6, another bad influence on Stephanie who was merely a hint of what was to come with Gia.
8. Disney Channel banned three episodes due to content
It’s safe to say that Disney Channel has a very particular family-focused brand. Even shows with older characters have to be considered kid friendly for their entire run. So it comes as no real surprise that, upon acquiring syndication rights to BMW, there were certain episodes of the primetime network series that were deemed unfit for air on Disney.
What is surprising, however, is what episodes were cut and which were not. The episodes “If You Can’t Be with the One You Love…,” “Prom-ises, Prom-ises,” and “The Truth About Honesty” were banned from reairing due to depictions and discussions of teenage drinking and sex. However, much darker episodes, such as the infamous “Cult Fiction”, which depicts Shawn’s truly harrowing downward spiral as part of a cult, remained in their syndication package.
7. A prominent set piece received a pretty grim name
It can often take new shows the entire first season to figure out what they want to be; and from there on, they just have to hope for the best and cross their fingers for a second season. BMW clearly knew the show it wanted to be from the very beginning of its first season, but what it didn’t know was this: how many close friends does Cory Matthews have?
For the first few episodes of the series, a revolving door of secondary friends was used in order to find a third member of a group with Cory and Shawn. However, none of these characters clicked with the duo that would go on to become an iconic friendship in no time. Since these poor kids had such a quick turnaround, the chair in which they sat in the cafeteria was soon dubbed the “death seat.”
6. The original Morgan was unhappy on the show
Recasting characters can often prove to be divisive; after all, comparisons will inevitably be made and sides will be taken. Seemingly endless (and usually baseless) speculation will follow regarding the real reasons the first actor was replaced.
Fortunately, in the case of the first (and superior) Morgan Matthews, we finally know the real reason she disappeared.
Lily Nicksay, who was five through seven years old in her time as Morgan, simply grew unhappy working every day on the show. “She was just a little girl who did not want to be on the show anymore,” Strong explains. “At the time, she was a little girl who was not happy to be on the show and it was like, ‘We are NOT going to torture this kid.'” Will Friedle, the man behind Eric Matthews, perhaps puts it best: “She was a five-year-old kid who wanted to be a five-year-old-kid.”
5. Minkus was cut to avoid an Urkel clash
Apparently, the TGIF block operated sort of like the old west: this town wasn’t big enough for two top notch nerds.
Although a prominent part of season one, Lee Norris’s resident genius Stuart Minkus was written out of the series without a word before season two began. He reappeared briefly in the season five finale, “Graduation,” in order to make a tongue in cheek remark about how “for the last four years, it’s almost like I haven’t even been in the same school.” Shawn and Cory agree with this, noting that they don’t go to “the other part of the school” because if “you go over there, you may never come back.”
As Rider Strong explains it, the magic of the “Urkel phenomenon” in 1994 led to Minkus being written out because ABC didn’t want to have another prominent nerd character. Family Matters had already been running for five years at this point, and Steve Urkel’s nerd cred just couldn’t be topped.
4. Mr. Turner was written in because of Friends, and written out because of too many characters
Few relationships on BMW got as intense as the unconventional father-son bond between Shawn Hunter and Anthony Tyler Quinn’s cool teacher, Jonathan Turner. Yet as integral as the character became to Shawn’s development, the stories behind both Turner’s introduction and dismissal indicate that the narrative importance was never his intended purpose.
Rider Strong has claimed that Turner was “only brought…in because Friends became a hit. And ABC was like, ‘We need twentysomethings on every show. Including on this kids’ show that’s only watched by teenagers.’” He even goes so far as saying, “I don’t know what they were thinking, but it was a complete disaster. It didn’t work at all.”
Perhaps the network shared that sentiment. Despite the grim ending Turner’s plot received as a result of a motorcycle accident, that was the last BMW viewers would see of him, and it was all due to the fact that the network decided that the show had too many characters.
3. William Daniels almost wasn’t Mr. Feeny
It would be pretty hard to come up with a television teacher who has had more of a lasting impact with so few words than Mr. Feeny, who was portrayed by veteran actor William Daniels for all seven seasons of BMW‘s run. Whether as the Matthews’ next door neighbor, the principal of John Adams High School, or a professor at Pennbrook University, George Feeny is the kindhearted voice of reason each of the BMW characters needs in their lives.
It’s pretty much unthinkable to imagine anyone other than Daniels as Mr. Feeny, but according to a recent interview with Buzzfeed, that very nearly happened. After reading the script for the show, he informed producer Michael Jacobs that he would not take the role if it made fun of (already far too unappreciated) teachers. Thankfully, Feeny couldn’t have been treated with any higher degree of respect—by the writing and, most importantly, by the kids themselves.
2. Rider Strong wanted to leave the show
It’s become increasingly common for big stars of popular TV series to walk away from it all, and naturally, it’s also become common for those shows to suffer as a result of it. Had Michael Jacobs not intervened, Boy Meets World could have suffered the same fate due to one simple fact: Rider Strong wanted to leave the show after the end of season 5.
Even though Cory was the series’ main character, the true heart of the show was always the life-long bromance between Cory and Shawn. (Sorry, Topanga.) Losing Shawn would have caused irreparable damage to everything that made BMW work. So when Rider Strong wanted to quit the series in order to attend college, Jacobs was quick to offer a different idea: do both.
1. Girl Meets World wasn’t allowed to get as mature as Boy did
Girl Meets World was never going to be Boy Meets World 2.0. While BMW was a network series, GMW was a Disney Channel series, and therefore had totally different rules to follow. BMW was known for getting dark and emotional, touching on topics such as domestic abuse, alcoholism, absentee parents, and depression. GMW…had a talking fuzzy tater tot conscience?
We’re not saying that BMW didn’t have silly episodes (it had plenty), or that its follow-up series never had serious episodes (there were a few, particularly “Girl Meets Gravity”). But from the very beginning, Girl‘s world had a ceiling Boy never even had to consider.
They were products of their times, and products of different networks, and that’s okay. But GMW reportedly may have been canceled for wanting some of that same freedom that BMW had. And since no other network or service opted to pick it up, we’ll never know how far it could’ve gone.
Do you know any other behind-the-scenes secrets that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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