Some kids follow in the footsteps of their parents and others often find a sibling’s journey appealing enough to shadow.
“Boy Meets World” star Ben Savage chose the latter path. His older brother Fred Savage found astounding success in the role of Kevin in the smash hit “The Wonder Years,” a heartwarming and funny show about a young boy coming of age in the late 60s/early 70s. Ben’s character Cory starts out much the same in an early 90s setting but unlike “The Wonder Years,” the story extends through his college years and marriage. Fans will enjoy these little-known facts about the show.
Friends…They Come and Go
When the show premiered, the idea was for Cory to have a group of close friends. But Shawn is the only one that clicked, so the parade of friend wannabes quickly dissipated. When a potential friend would sit in the cafeteria chair before they were dismissed from the show, cast members started calling it the “death chair.” After Topanga joined the show as a major scene stealer, the concept of another close friend was dropped completely.
Since “Boy Meets World” spanned so many years – 1993 to 2000 – viewers got the opportunity to watch Cory go through some of life’s most interesting (and potentially disastrous!) rites of passage. We witnessed his first kiss, his introduction to beer drinking, bullying, social acceptance – it was like living through middle school and high school all over again.
The Disappearing Sister
During the time when the idea of more friends for Cory was being bandied about, Shawn was given a recently fired friend tryout’s lines minutes before shooting. In the scene, Shawn makes a phone call to his “sister” Stacy. Shawn never had a sister on the show after that scene. Read on about another MIA character…
Turner Turns Up Missing
After having several memorable story arcs on “Boy Meets World,” especially when Cory was in high school, Mr. Turner virtually vanished. During the show’s fourth season, the character is reportedly in a motorcycle accident that has him fighting for his life. He never shows up on the show again but there’s some good news for fans of “Girl Meets World.”
Family (Broken) Ties
As opposed to a tight knit family, Topanga’s was fragmented and lacked solid ties. Her sister Nebula was mentioned once in season one and that’s it. As for her parents, there was apparently a lot of turmoil both in the story line as well as behind the scenes: Topanga’s dad was played by three different actors and her mom by two.
Protecting The Public
In the interest of protecting a Philadelphia citizen’s privacy, the last name of Lee Norris’ character Stuart Lempke was replaced by Stuart Minkus to avoid any problems or hassles for the original man. It’s unknown if the original Stuart Lempke complained or if writers made the discovery all on their own.
“Boy Meets World” seems like a perfect fit for the Disney Channel but since the network still lives in a kind of fantasy land, realistic episodes (one called The Truth About Honesty) that covered true-to-life issues like teen drinking and pre-marital relationships were banned from the network. And yet their beloved Donald Duck has been without pants since 1934.
A Canyon By Any Other Name
Topanga’s name could have a great back story – but it doesn’t. The character recounts that they needed a name fast, production called Michael Jacobs on his cell and demanded one, and he was driving by Topanga Canyon. Two miles later, Jacobs claims the young lady’s name would have been Canoga.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Rider Strong abhorred his parted down the middle hairstyle that he adopted at 12 after some slumber party girls told him it was adorable. But the director would never let him change it to something more becoming. The first thing Strong did when the show ended was have his locks shorn.
Sharp-eared fans had suspicions about the choice of the John Adams High School name; William Daniels played John Adams on stage and in the movie 1776. Daniels also got a nod to his starring role as Mr. Braddock in The Graduate movie, which Mr. Feeny called a “great film.”
Cory, Shawn, and Topanga were in sixth grade when the show premiered. The season two opener found them in seventh grade. But in season four, they’re all juniors in high school. Since none (except Topanga) were exceedingly smart, no one knows how they completed or skipped grades eight, nine and ten.
Strong wanted to quit the show to attend college but Jacobs persuaded him to do both at the same time. Strong went to his college classes in the morning and worked in the afternoon. In 2004, he earned an English degree from Columbia University and eventually earned an MFA degree at Bennington College.
Jennifer Love Hewitt sharpened her skills as a “Boy Meets World” guest as well as many other young actors who became stars. Adam Scott of “Parks and Recreation,” “Freaks and Geeks” star Linda Cardellini (above), Brittany Murphy of “Clueless,” and Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” all guest starred on the show.
Although Matthew Lawrence, who portrayed Jack on the show, is actually two months younger in real life than Rider Strong, who played Shawn, Lawrence played the older brother. Now if they wanted a really mysterious storyline, the show’s creators could’ve explored how two biological brothers could be two months apart in age!
While many remember Willie Garson best for his role as Stanford Blatch in “Sex and the City,” he first appeared as three different characters on “Boy Meets World.” First he was an assistant manager at Cory’s father’s workplace Market Giant, then he portrayed a job applicant at the Matthews’ store, and finally he played the presiding minister at Cory and Topanga’s wedding.
All In The Family
A whole slew of babies played Joshua Matthews, baby brother of Cory and Eric who arrived during the sixth season. But in that season’s finale, Daniel Jacobs, creator Michael Jacobs’ son, played Joshua. The originally cast child actor couldn’t stop talking during filming, so Michael Jacobs’ wife hauled in Daniel as a last-minute replacement.
Jacobs and the ABC network were at loggerheads over whether to marry off Cory and Topanga before the show came to an end, with TPTB at the network insisting the 20-year-olds were too young to tie the knot. Jacobs took the debate to an Internet poll. The audience favored marriage and the rest is history.
As Tears Go By
Actors sometimes find it difficult to cry on cue but that skill wasn’t needed during the final classroom scene with Mr. Feeny. Everyone one was so nostalgic and emotional about the show ending, tears flowed with abandon. Savage said of the heart-rending event, “When they said, ‘Cut!’ on that final take, it was almost like someone was saying, ‘Say goodbye to your childhood.’”
The Girl With The Chinese Tattoo
No one ever noticed Danielle Fishel’s neck tattoo because her long, flowing hair always covered it up. But when a scene came up that had her character in pigtails, the tattoo, made up of Chinese characters was visible to the cast, crew and viewers, who were all surprised that Little Miss Perfect had ink.
Some facades and buildings are just so perfect that they are the go-to sets for a variety of movies and TV shows. John Marshall High School was used for the majority of shots for “Boy Meets World” and was also featured in “The Wonder Years,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Pretty In Pink,” and “Transformers.”