We're all just going through this thing called life.
A lot of us grew up with specific shows that kind of defined our middle school and high school years. Whether you were a Lizzie McGuire fan or grew up watching iCarly, the early years of our lives often related or mirrorsed the events of these shows. One show that helped define a generation though has to be Boy Meets World. The story of young Cory Matthews, his best friend Shawn Hunter, his older brother Eric and the love of his life Topanga all captivated children, teens, and adults everywhere. The show was brave and innovative, never shying away from tackling serious topics that affect people everywhere while still infusing their own unique humor into the show. Yet like all shows and icons, Boy Meets World was not immune to some strange, dark or weird secrets that went on behind the scenes.
Did you know that several of the actors on the show actually almost never made it into the show? Can you imagine a show without the wise and caring Mr. Feeny? How about the fact that there are banned episodes of the show? Or stranger yet, some of the cast had a strange interaction years after the show ended?
It's time to go back to John Adams High and explore the world of Boy Meets World. Here we are going to look at the 25 darkest secrets you never knew about from the hit show, Boy Meets World. You are not going to want to miss it!
25 The Great Disney Ban
The story of Cory Matthews has always been a relatable and family friendly story. Even when exploring serious topics, it was always done with respect and an awareness of the young audience it was telling it to. However no show is perfect, and some things slipped through the cracks. While the show is an iconic program that has become a staple of the Disney Channel network, the show wasn't always given a green light on the network. There were three episodes later on in the series that were ultimately banned from the network. Episodes like "If You Can't Be with the One You Love...", "Prom-ises, Prom-ises" and "The Truth About Honesty" were all banned because they depicted situations involving drinking and other grown up activities. However it is surprising that other episodes made the cut, like the one where Shawn was sent down a very dark path when he was indoctrinated into a cult.
24 The Pitfalls Of Fame
The price of fame is often too high for some actors. Being put into the limelight and shoved into an iconic role as a young child or teenager can be a daunting task, and the actors of Boy Meets World are no different. Actor Rider Strong was one of the most beloved actors on television back in the day. Considered a teen heartthrob, the actor behind Shawn Hunter was the rebellious teen best friend of the more safe series lead, Cory Matthews. However, Rider's rise to fame was unsettling to him, as he grew to resent being called a heartthrob and thrown into the same sentence as Johnathan Taylor Thomas, another actor known as a heartthrob. The attention of screaming teenage girls made him uncomfortable, and he even hated his hairstyle, which was the iconic Shawn Hunter look. He only got to cut it once the show was cancelled.
23 Troubled Past
The hardest things for fans to realize is that their favorite stars are human beings who make mistakes. Like all of us, they are susceptible to mistakes, hardships, struggles and more. They fight, they break up with one another, and they drink. Like all of us, they are human and their star status cannot protect them from their own mistakes. This happens a lot now with young women who were stars on children's shows, only to grow up into adults capable of grown up mistakes. One instance that happened to the cast of Boy Meets World was when star Danielle Fishel was arrested for driving after drinking in 2007. She was arrested after an arrest warrant was issued for a missed court date for a previous case. While Fishel appears to be doing much better now, it's not uncommon for stars to suffer some sort of scandal or hardship after their respective shows end.
22 Failure To Communicate
As we talked about before, shows go through a lot of growing pains in the early days. Several shows often cast completely different actors to the ones who get the role and become the face of those iconic characters. In this instance, the role of Cory Matthews true love was almost played by a completely different actress. It's hard to believe the show we all know and love almost was completely different. When the show first began, Topanga was played by a completely different actress. However she was let go after she failed to take directions and follow the directions of the director, and so she was replaced by Danielle Fishel. Looking back at the almost casting of this actress, it's hard to imagine Cory falling in love with anyone other than Danielle Fishel. Topanga was the iconic female lead of the show, and we all fell in love with her while Cory did.
21 The Death Chair
The beginning of any iconic series is filled with trials and errors. Finding what makes a cast click and a story flow always faces a constant series of changes in the beginning of the show. Some storylines and actors just aren't going to resonate with audiences during the show's first run. Boy Meets World was no different, as the show tried and failed in the early days to find a third friend for Cory and Shawn. The first episodes featured several different kids trying to fill a secondary character role as a friend of the best friends, yet none of them had the chemistry needed to sell the friendship, so eventually, they were made into a duo permanently. The actors came and went so fast that the chair next to Cory Matthews on the show in the school setting was dubbed "the death chair". Yikes, that's grim.
20 Misery Finds Morgan
Any sitcom that goes through enough seasons is bound to have some casting shake-ups. Whether an actor passes away, gets in trouble with the law or just wants out of their contract, shows have to make that decision whether to replace the actor or write off the character altogether. One of the more memorable changes to the show was the recasting of Morgan, Cory's little sister. In the show, Morgan was the little 5-year old child who brought a childish innocence to the story each week. However, she suddenly disappeared a couple seasons in, only to reappear a season later older and recast. The question always remained: why? Well, the cast dished on the change, and we learned the tragic truth: the original Morgan was an unhappy child. She was miserable on the show, and the cast and crew hated seeing the child so miserable, so they allowed her to leave the show and recast her later on.
19 Too Many Nerds
A difficult part of running a show is being tied to a network that has the power to influence your show's story. A network focuses on numbers more than fan reactions, and if a story or character clashes or interferes with another show that's more popular or has better numbers, then you are subject to the network's whims. One of the earliest secondary characters that fans will remember has to be Minkus. The small nerd child who was the smartest in the class and the constant source of teasing by Shawn and Cory disappeared as soon as Cory and Shawn entered high school. The reason turns out that Urkel is to blame. Yes the nerdy star of Family Matters had been on the air for 5 years, and ABC didn't want to over saturate the network with another nerd character, and so they had the show cut Minkus out.
18 The Mr. Turner Saga
The sad reality of the character Mr. Turner is quite a tale to behold. Mr. Turner was the young 20-something teacher that was paired with the iconic and older Mr. Feeny, bringing in fresh ideas and building a new relationship with Cory and Shawn. He would later become a father figure to Shawn, taking him in when Shawn's father went looking for Shawn's mother. However, the character's arch on the show ended when he was in a serious motorcycle accident in the cult episode Shawn had. He survived, but was never heard from again, only referenced in the high school graduation episode that featured the brief return of Minkus. It turns out that ABC brought the character in originally because Friends was such a hit at the time and they wanted a 20-something character included. However the character didn't seem to resonate quite as strongly as Mr. Feeny, and so they wrote him off completely. Although the relationship is quite an emotional story between him and Shawn and he would later reappear on Girl Meets World, the sequel series on Disney, the character's story is quite sad to watch unfold.
17 Fallen On Hard Times
It's always difficult for an actor or actress to shed the veil of their iconic characters and get work in a new role. No one will ever forget the character they brought to life, and trying to get a role in a movie or show that is a complete departure from that role is a difficult thing to achieve. After the show ended in 2006, Danielle Fishel had some trouble adjusting to life after the show. At the time she chose not to go to college, but she had difficulty finding acting jobs since she was so well known as Topanga. In order to survive, she had to take a job as a customer service representative at Bloomingdales. After getting a certain level of success, it must have been truly sad and difficult to adjust to life as an everyday citizen, working a normal 9-5 job. She eventually graduated from college and returned to her iconic role in the sequel series, but that time was difficult nonetheless.
16 Fiction Meets Reality
Longtime fans of the show may remember the troubling storyline of Lauren, the ski resort employee who tempted Cory to cheat on Topanga by kissing him one winter night. The character was despised by fans, as she nearly destroyed the longtime relationship between the two high school sweethearts. The actress who played her, Linda Cardellini, has a reputation of her own for being less than kind. It turns out that the rumor is she is the inspiration for Kristen Bell's character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the romantic comedy about an actress who dumps her ordinary boyfriend and his struggle to cope with the breakup. She dated the star of the film, Jason Segal, who she starred with on Freaks and Geeks, and reportedly dumped him for being "too fat". Although it's just rumor, it is a dark secret behind one of the more despised characters on the show.
15 No More Feeny
Every show has an iconic character that helps the story flow for the rest of the class. They bring an important message or life lesson to the show, and help guide the main characters in whatever actions they take on. On sitcoms, teachers were often these iconic characters, responsible for teaching and guiding student characters through life. One of the most beloved television teachers has to be Mr. Feeny. The character was the wise next door neighbor and teacher who helped guide Cory and his friends through every major obstacle or hurdle in their lives. Yet the actor who portrayed Mr. Feeny almost didn't take the role. After reading the original script, William Daniels told the show that he wouldn't take the role if they made fun of teachers, who were already too underappreciated. Luckily the show's writers heeded his words and treated him with the utmost respect, creating the iconic character.
14 Goodbye Shawn?
Something that tends to impact shows greatly is when one of the stars of the show decides to leave before the show ends. One recent example of this is Once Upon a Time on ABC, when star Jennifer Morrison left the show, and yet the creators continue the show, and the story has felt its impact. Boy Meets World almost suffered this fate at the end of season 5, when Rider Strong wanted to leave to attend college. The actor is responsible for bringing the heart of the show to life with his character Shawn Hunter. The bromance between him and series lead Cory was the stuff of legends, and his leaving would have damaged the show beyond repair. However, series creator Michael Jacobs offered to work Shawn into the story and make sure he could attend college at the same time, securing the character until the end of the series.
13 Disappearing Family
Another funny thing that happens a lot in sitcoms is family members tend to disappear. The stars of the show will either reference a sibling or parent or an actor will be cast for one or two episodes before being cut completely, the story of those characters being rewritten to exclude those sibling. Does anyone remember an episode where Shawn called his sister Stacey? Well, have you ever wondered why we never met Stacey? That's because she doesn't exist. It turns out that because the show had to let go so many of the characters early on in the series, Rider Strong had to take on some of the lines intended for those characters. This led to his call to Stacey, but it was decided that Shawn wouldn't have a sister after all. I think fans won't be too sad about this, since they cast Matthew Lawrence as his older half-brother.
12 Stolen Jacket
A lot of iconic television has characters who have specific clothing or items that can only be associated with that character. One instance of this is Shawn Hunter and his iconic leather jacket. Fans would recognize Rider Strong anywhere, especially if he was wearing that legendary leather jacket. It made his status as the resident bad boy with a heart of gold cemented in place on the show. Other than his hair, there was no other item more recognizable for Shawn Hunter than his leather jacket. He liked it so much in fact that when he went to college, he took the jacket with him. He wasn't supposed to take it off the set, however, and when he was filming while attending college, the jacket was stolen from him. To avoid the Disney execs wrath, he bought a look-a-like jacket and had it replaced without anyone ever knowing.
11 He's Alive!
Now as we discussed before, the tale of Mr. Turner is dark and troubling, especially with his sudden write off of the show. However, did you know that fans thought Mr. Turner had died in the motorcycle accident for over a decade? Yes, fans of the show thought the beloved cool teacher Mr. Turner had died in the hospital, and that was why we didn't see him again on the show. Although we saw Shawn and Jonathan squeeze hands at the end of the episode, fans assumed the teacher had passed on. They must have missed the subtle hint of his character in the graduation episode, but they truly thought he had died. However, we know now that he survived, and would reappear on the sequel series with a daughter of his own and working in New York, still friends of Cory and Topanga and thinking of Shawn as his son.
10 Topanga's Wild Side?
While in 2017 tattoos are not as taboo as they once were for people to have, back when the show was popular a tattoo for a series regular was simply unheard of. The networks and parents considered tattoos to be impolite and a sign of corruption of some sort, and unfit for a children's show program. Although considerably less unlikable than it was back in the 90's and early 2000's, there are still a lot of discussions about the proper use of tattoos. Disney considered it to be less than PG friendly, and yet the innocent Topanga had one the entire series. You just couldn't see it. Actress Danielle Fishel has two tattoos, and one was on the back of her neck. The wardrobe hid it using her hair, but one episode she had pig tails on, and eagle eyed fans could see the outline of her tattoo of Chinese letters.
9 Wedding Beef
Weddings are a joyous and sometimes stressful affair. It's an event filled with love, laughter and infinite details filled with endless possibilities of something going wrong. Yet no one ever expects to compete with one of their former costars from a television show. This is what happened however for Danielle Fishel and Rider Strong. It turns out that they both had their weddings on the same weekend, and their costars from the past had to choose who's wedding to attend. Rumor has it that Fishel was livid when she found out Rider had scheduled his wedding on the same weekend, and reportedly leaked the story to the press. Through her memoir, we've learned that Fishel still loves Rider but according to her, she selfishly was angry as a bride's wedding day should be about them, not about another friend or costar and their wedding day. We hope it all has worked out since then.
8 Rotating Family
As we know, Rider Strong's Shawn Hunter had a mysterious sister disappear early in the series. We discussed this before, where shows often switch out roles or write characters out altogether. Shawn also had a brother who briefly appeared in season three of the show, having lived at the trailer park together but not close. However that brother quickly disappeared and was replaced with Jack Hunter, the older brother whose mother took him to live a nice life away from the trailer park years before Shawn was born. However, no other family has dealt with more rotating actors than Topanga Lawrence's family. Not only did Topanga have a sister named Nebula who appeared in one episode before being written out of the show, but her parents were played by several different actors. Her father was played by Peter Tork, Michael McKean and Mark Harelik, while her mother was played by both Annette O'Toole and Marcia Cross.
7 Continuity Problems
Sitcoms have a way of throwing people off of the continuity of the show's story. Characters will age twenty years before our eyes in the span of a single season, while other shows will keep the timeline murky and unable to be sorted out. This is the case for Boy Meets World as well, as the show often deviated from the education system. For instance, the show often paid little attention to how the school grade system works. Cory and Shawn went from the 7th grade to the 11th grade in a matter of a couple seasons. The jobs the parents on the show had also changed in the background. In season one Cory's mom was a working mom, but in season five tells her son Eric all she's ever been is a stay at home mom. Meanwhile, Topanga's dad originally ran a bookstore, but later was said to be a guitar maker. Pay attention writers!
6 Marriage Resentment
The love story between Cory and Topanga is filled with "will they, won't they" moments, with the couple breaking up several times throughout the series, only to reunite stronger and more in love than ever. Yet some of the later episodes of the show featured some dark humor about marriage you wouldn't have recognized back in the day. In a later episode of the show, Cory goes with Topanga to a wedding to view the venue for their own, and gets the attention of the bride's father, who loves his polite demeanor. He offers him millions of dollars to break up the wedding and marry his daughter, but he refuses. At one point Cory asks the father if he thinks Topanga is lovely, to which he replies, "They're all lovely with the lights off." Cory replies, "I wouldn't know sir," referencing a missed adult encounter and the father of the bride's indifference to women in general.
Some shows are guilty of offending groups of people, either intentionally or unintentionally. In the later seasons of the show, an episode titled "What a Drag" may be an unintentional knock to the drag community. In the episode, Eric and Jack must avoid a scary criminal by dressing up as women, and much of the episode focuses on the men acting as women. It ends with the duo taking pictures of the criminal hugging the female looking Jack, making it appear the criminal is either into men or into drag queens. Now while unintentional, the title of the episode and the implication that it is embarrassing to be associated with drag or it makes you less manly for any reason is kind of offensive to the drag community, and it also doesn't help promote body positivity with the constant teasing of Eric dressed as a woman and told he is ugly.
4 Plastic Surgery Rumors
While focusing on an actor's physique is nothing new, what is strange is how often rumors can spin out of control. People have a tendency to focus on actor's appearances and judge whether or not they needed plastic surgery to begin with, instead of realizing that it's their choice to make. This is something that has happened to series star Ben Savage, who plays Cory Matthews. For years fans and strangers alike have taken pictures of Ben as a young teen and as an adult, and theorize that he has, in fact, had plastic surgery done to his nose. This is something that has persisted starting in the original series and into the sequel series. Whether or not the rumor is true, I don't know. However critiquing a person's image and focusing on it that intently can have negative consequences, so maybe it's time fans stopped focusing on his nose and more on his role as the iconic Cory Matthews instead.
3 Stalker Much?
Television shows are chock full of hidden jokes and innuendos. As discussed in previous articles, these jokes are often subtle, and in children's shows, we fail to recognize the jokes for what they are until we are grown up. While there are plenty of random and hidden innuendos in the show, there are some that are quite dark and creepy to think about. One such instance was when Cory and Topanga got into an argument about how to raise children after he crashed her babysitting job and kept the kid up all night. When he reflects on his failure to live up to her expectations, he makes a comment about their future children, but perhaps he'll be the uncle instead, or the creepy neighbor down the street with binoculars. This seems to indicate a joke about being a creepy stalker, following her and her future family. Sure, that's funny. NOT!
2 Peep Show
The character of Eric Matthews went from the teenage boy obsessed with girls to the goofy older brother with a marshmallow worldview and an obsession with his best friend Mr. Feeny. One of the more disturbing jokes and secret innuendos in the show has to be the wedding rehearsal episode, where Eric fails to become the best man and instead tries (and fails) to take over as the groom. When he's pleading his case to Topanga about being in love with her for all these years, he mentions that he's loved her ever since he saw her through the peep hole in the girl's locker room. While this was a joke back in the day, it's creepy to think about Eric watching women naked in the locker room, invading their privacy like that. I guess people didn't really think about that at the time of the show though.
1 The Leaf Culture
Boy Meets World is definitely one of the most iconic shows of the late 90s to early 2000s. The story of Cory Matthews and the trials and tribulations he faced was something a lot of us grew up and fell in love with. We all wanted a best friend like Shawn or a true romance with a Topanga. However, one shocking thing you guys may not have known is that the show was a huge hit with the magic spice crowd who get the munchies. Yes, that community seems to have had a strong connection to the show, according to star Rider Strong, who played Shawn Hunter. The show does feature a lot of trippy episodes that they would have either freaked out or been entranced with, like the time Eric lived in the woods, called himself Plays with Squirrels and married a moose, or the time Cory traveled back to the 1950s after being electrocuted.