The main protagonist - a neurotic everyman from suburban Philadelphia who grows from young boy to married man over the course of the series.In the Sequel SeriesGirl Meets World, he is still married to Topanga, and has followed in Mr. Feeny's footsteps and become a history teacher - specifically, his daughter's history teacher.
Awesome McCoolname/Fail O'Suckyname: His ring name when he was briefly on the wrestling team? Cory "The Cory" Matthews. He was so good, comparing him to anything else would have been a step down.
Berserk Button: Threaten to take advantage of Topanga and you'll go sailing through a door.
Big Brother Worship —> Aloof Younger Brother: In the first two seasons, Cory wanted to get Eric's approval because he idolized him. Later in the series? The roles reversed big time, with an episode even dealing with Cory's lack of caring about his relationship with Eric.
Cool Loser: This was prevelent in season two, where it seemed every other episode consisted of him trying to make a name for himself at school and no longer be nobody. Given the kind of Zany Schemes he pulled off, it seems like he'd be a legend around the school, but his poplarity never seemed to stick. This was given less emphasis as the show went on.
Give Geeks a Chance: Zig Zagged. Cory started out as a normal, average kid who took interest in the weird, frumpy social outcast Topanga, however over the next couple of seasons she became much more normal and less geeky, and the actress grew up into a beautiful young lady, while Cory became more neurotic and dorky and his actor went through a awkward phase. Later on, Topanga became more neurotic and grade-obsessed and put on a bit of weight while Cory grew out of his awkward phase into a more handsome young man, so by the end they were more on each other's level.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Cory's increasing neurotic Super OCD behavior leads to some nasty situations with his friends as the series rolls on, but his strained relationship with Eric is what stands out.
Cory's lifelong best friend, a Street Smart but Book Dumb kid from a broken home who grew up in a trailer park. While Cory relied on Shawn to help him with girls and navigate the high school social scene, Shawn relied on Cory to bail him out of trouble and provide stability in his turbulent life. Along with Cory, Shawn appears in every episode, cementing their status as Heterosexual Life-Partners.
Attractive Bent-Gender: When crossdressing, less than a minute after showing up at school, 'Veronica' had a date with a male classmate. And even after groping 'her', the guy still didn't notice anything wrong. Even Cory, who convinced him to do it, calls him a babe.
Pretty Boy: Pretty enough to pass very convincingly as a girl. He grew out a beard later in the series run.
Rummage Sale Reject: Many of his outfits in the earlier seasons were like this, which looked unkempt and mismatched even by early 90s grunge standards (though he was from a poor family). His outfits became more normal as the show went on.
His clothes became more normal, but he appeared to have less of them. Fitting with his "poor" characterization, he wore the same clothes for years. One brown t-shirt in particular appeared in nearly every other episode.
Shipper on Deck: The prospect of Cory and Topanga not being together sends him into an existential crisis.
Technical Virgin: As of the middle of his senior yearnote "And Then There Was Shawn" from mid-season 5. Note that this is after having been in a serious relationship with Angela; he reveals this when he and the others are discussing the Sex Equals Death trope.
By Freshman year of college there are hints that this is no longer true (Cory references being the only virgin amongst a group of guys that includes Shawn) and by Sophomore year it's made flat-out clear he and Angela are sleeping together.
Wholesome Crossdresser: Only ever does it once onscreen, but admits to having thought about it before, even having a preferred name for his female alter-ego 'Veronica'.
He seems to have kept doing it offscreen because several years later, in the last season, Eric and Jack decide to crossdress as a way to avoid a gang that were after them and they turned to Shawn for advice. Afterward, he advises Jack on toning down his overcompensating masculinity.
Topanga Lawrence-Matthews (Danielle Fishel)
Cory's girlfriend (and later wife) for the majority of the series. Though she began as a classic Granola Girl, she morphed in to a perfectionist Hollywood Nerd (of the pretty variety) fairly early on and generally was the superego on Cory's shoulder in comparison to Shawn's id.In the Sequel SeriesGirl Meets World, she is still married to Cory, and they have two children. She has become the proprietor of the Local Hangout; Danielle Fishel has promised that the character's decision not to pursue a career in law (the reason that she and the others left for New York City in the original Series Finale in the first place) will be explained.
Animal Metaphor: There's an episode where Cory wants to get back together with Topanga. He follows her to Walt Disney World to win her back. There he talks to a dophin who is sad because it has lost its mate. He tells it that he believes Toganga is his mate.
The B Grade: Straight As in high school. When Feeny gave her a B on a mid-term in college, she proceeded to start chasing him around campus demanding he change it from the same grade he'd given Cory & Shawn.
Cloud Cuckoolander: In the first season. Soon afterward, maturity kicks in, but that doesn't stop her from lampshading her antics later on.
Flanderization: Her Granola Girl past from season one was lampshaded in a later episode where Topanga mimic's an earlier incident where she smears lipstick all over her face. Apparently she just grew out of it.
Progressively Prettier: She was originally wore frumpy clothes and had wild, unruly hair to demonstrate her Granola Girl personality. However, as her personality shifted to being a normal Girl Next Door and the actress grew up, she was given more attractive clothes, hairstyle and makeup.
Real Life Writes the Plot: As part of a Reality Subtext, Danielle Fishel's very slight weight gain was subject to excessive criticism in the press. The show producers mocked this response with an episode titled "She's Having My Baby Back Ribs!" where Topanga decides to go on a diet and doesn't tell Cory, accidentally leading him to think that she's pregnant.
Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Inverted. Topanga was the right age, but a time-skip aged the character in proportion with the rest of the setting without a change of actor.
Cory's older brother, by turns a fun, charismatic ladies man and a lovable (but seriously deranged) Cloud Cuckoolander. Though Eric struggled academically, he was usually portrayed as being immensely intelligent deep down and filled with hidden potential and complexity, causing him to be frequently underestimated by friends and family.
Flanderization: Went from a clever, smooth-talking ladies man to a dunderhead imbecile who would strip others of their sanity if they spent more than two minutes near him- Mr. Feeny usually being the resident victim.
Forgot Flanders Could Do That: Was flanderized from the cool, rational older brother into an irrational Cloud Cuckoolander except for one of the series' very last episodes, in which he was suddenly portrayed with something resembling his original characterization (which was lampshaded by the others).
Shawn's estranged half-brother who reconnects with Shawn when he come to Philadelphia to go to college, and becomes Eric's best friend and roommate.
Formerly Fat: Season 7's "She's Having My Baby Back Ribs" reveals that he used to be called "Jumbo Jack" in high school, which is why he goes to the gym so much and is obsessed with his looks.
The Generic Guy: Cory, Shawn and Eric had the market cornered on the comedy, and so Jack was often just there to look pretty and react to strange things. His personality would shift based on what the story called for.
Ms. Fanservice: In her early appearances (where it was her entire character) where she would often wander around in a tiny bathrobe, and in "Hogs and Kisses," .
One Head Taller: Gender-inverted. She is quite a bit taller than all the guys, something both she & Jack were insecure about at first; with Rachel thinking Jack thought she was too tall, and Jack thinking she thought he was too short.
Alan Matthews (William Russ)
Cory & Eric's father.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: While he may seem to be The Ditz on occassion, it's a very dangerous thing to forget that not only is he a Navy veteran, but was the 2nd best boxer in the entire Navy.
Put on a Bus: Lampshaded. Morgan appeared less frequently in Season 2, then disappeared without mention after the season finale - seeming to be an example of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. However, she returned midway through Season 3 (with a new actress). Upon being greeted with surprise, she responded, "That was the longest time-out ever."
Cory's teacher turned principal turned college professor, and next-door neighbor to the Matthews family. Though a mentor to everyone on the show, he formed a particularly special bond with Cory and Eric, helping them navigate the tricky journey from adolescence to adulthood. In the second to fourth seasons, when there's multiple teachers around, he's generally portrayed as strictly a history teacher, but in the seasons where he's the only teacher in the main cast, he basically teaches any subject that the narrative calls on him to.Mr. Feeny is the only character from the original series other than Cory and Topanga who has so far been confirmed to appear in the Sequel SeriesGirl Meets World, as he will appear in the pilot. It is unclear as to whether this was meant as a one-off "passing of the torch" gesture (as Cory has followed in his footsteps as a teacher) or whether he'll be making further appearances.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The last episode he appeared in saw him badly injured in a motorcycle accident. Despite the hope that he would recover, we never see such a thing on-screen (or him again for that matter) - which has all sorts of Fridge Horror applications. As with Minkus, though, his disappearance was Lampshaded in the graduation episode. Word Of God says that he will hopefully be addressed in Girl Meets World.
The official Twitter for the writing staff of Girl Meets World suggests looking at "the other side of the school" to find the first characters from BMW to appear in the Sequel Series. This is widely believed to be referring to either Minkus or Mr. Turner, as a reference to this aforementioned gag in the original series episode "Graduation". (Anthony Tyler Quinn has indicated a willingness to participate in Girl Meets World despite being a conspicuous no-show at the several BMW reunion events held in 2013).
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: He was introduced in the third season as a main cast member (The Other Wiki says the focus on him and Turner in that season was an attempt to appeal to young college graduates) and was dropped immediately afterwards without even a single mention (aside from a clip with him in it appearing in the final episode).
Reasonable Authority Figure: After Cory punched Stuart (the professor, not Minkus) after he made a move on Topanga, she suspended Cory for one day & placed him on probation for striking a teacher, but also stated that Stuart's activities will be undergoing further investigation due to the seriousness of the allegations.
Stuart Minkus (Lee Norris)
Cory and Shawn's nerdy classmate in the first season.
It should be noted, though, that Lee Norris is not on record speaking about Boy Meets World in any capacity since the Sequel Series was announced, nor appearing at any of the reunion events nor visiting the GMW set - the only regular for whom all of these are the case other than Alex Desert (who might as well have never even been on the show in the first place, given how little his character is remembered).
Deadpan Snarker: Minkus always gave as good as he got in the snarking department.
Small Role, Big Impact: Even though Minkus only appeared in the first season, his legacy was so strong that Michael Jacobs created a new character, Shamus Farkle, who is an Expy of him for the upcoming Sequel SeriesGirl Meets World.
Put on a Bus: Harley is eventually sent away to reform school around the end of the second season, although he briefly returns in a third season episode.
Frankie "The Enforcer" Stechino (Ethan Suplee)
A very large and strong kid at John Adams High, Frankie served as The Brute of Harley's crew & was best friend of Joey the Rat. When Harley got sent to reform school, Frankie revealed his gentle side and became friends with Cory and Shawn.
Character Development: In the third season, when forced to choose between Harley and Griff, Frankie and Joey have an "epiphany," choosing instead to move on. Frankie then makes several appearances in which he becomes a friend to Cory and Shawn (although Joey doesn't do as well and winds up acting as more of a con man). He then disappears until the graduation episode, which ignores his previous development by showing him preparing to become a criminal alongside Joey.
Although, this could probably be justified by Joey's bad influence having a negative effect once he returns.
Magnetic Hero: Not so much a hero, but Griff was able to attract Vader, Robert Goulet & Yasmine Bleeth to a fight between Cory & Joey.
Chet Hunter (Blake Clark)
Shawn and Jack's n'er-do-well father who's constantly blowing in and out of their lives. Though Jack was raised by his rich stepfather and barely knew Chet, many of Shawn's issues stem from his complicated relationship with his dad.
The Alcoholic: It's revealed in Season 5 that Chet was an "abusive, ugly drunk" when he was married to Jack's mother, and that was why she left him & took Jack with her.
During Season 3, when he was trying to track down his wife.
And again during Season 5, though this was because he wanted Shawn to move in with Jack & establish a relationship between the two of them.
Do I Really Sound Like That?: When Shawn & Jack impersonate Chet, they put on a gruff voice & speak in the same manner as their father. Chet claims he sounds nothing like that.
Jerkass Dissonance: Chet Hunter's neglect of Shawn never gets called out on in the show, at least not while he was alive. The times that Mr. Turner and Alan do actually call him out, he deflects it with jokes. It's not until he actually dies that Shawn starts voicing his complaints about his dad.