- Abhorrent Admirer: Minkus for Topanga in season one, though Topanga herself (being a Cloudcuckoolander at the time) doesn't seem to mind.
- Adam Westing: Taken to extremes, almost to the point of a Celebrity Paradox. Eric gets an acting role on a popular ABC sitcom "Kid Gets Acquainted With Universe" that has the same set and features the same actors of Boy Meets World playing actors with similar names playing characters with similar names (ie Cory's actor Ben Savage plays in universe actor Ben Sandwich as Rory).
- Ambiguously Jewish: The Matthews celebrate Christmas, but Eric and Cory can be heard using Yiddish idioms and Allen asks a rabbi to say a prayer for baby Joshua. Ben Savage is Jewish in real life.A Hanukkah card can be seen in the Hunter Mathews apartment in "A very Topanga Christmas."
- Academic Alpha Bitch: Topanga counted up her A's for the year, and insisted that her final assignment get an A, even though it wasn't for the grade, just to ensure that she was valedictorian over Minkus.
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: Eric gets this in one episode when becomes an acclaimed stage actor, although it's only used for one gag and is not the focus of the episode.
Amy: Promise me you won't let these things go to your head.
Eric: I would never!
Amy: Ooh look Bloomingdales is having a white sale.
Eric: THAT'S NOT ABOUT ME!
- Actually Pretty Funny: In "Santa's Little Helpers," Amy tells Alan that a Mall Santa had a heart attack (shouting "Rudolph!" in the process) while Morgan was sitting on his lap. Alan can't resist laughing and makes a joke about "Rudolph and eight other reindeer pulling a pine box." Amy gets in a few words criticizing him for it before she starts laughing herself.
- Adam Westing: Occurred when the Monkees guest-starred, basically as themselves (Or at least Captain Ersatz of themselves).
- Adults Are Useless: Mr. Feeny is perhaps the most spectacular aversion of this trope ever to appear in a kid-oriented sitcom. (William Daniels has said that this was what attracted him to the role in the first place.) Alan and Amy are no slouches, either, and nor is Mr. Turner, when the kids start attending John Adams High. The one adult who is consistently depicted as a "loser", Chet Hunter, is strictly Played for Drama.
- Aesop Amnesia: Lampshaded as part of the Show Within a Show "Kid Gets Acquainted with the Universe.":
Ben Sandwich: You know, how could I learn so much, every week, and still be so stupid?!"
- Alcoholic Parent: Shawn's father is a recovered alcoholic.
- The Alleged Car: It's mentioned a few times in the earlier seasons that Eric has one, but it is never seen onscreen.
- Unless it's that one he's driving in the Season 4 opening credits!
- Or the one he's seen driving in the Season 4 episodes "You Can Go Home Again" and "Easy Street."
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Kid-anova Shawn has a troubled home life and and somewhat of a "bad boy" image. However, the bad boy aspect of his character became less prevelent as the series went on, and was basically dropped by the time he got a steady girlfriend in season five. There are also several times when Cory tries to impress girls by acting "dangerous", usually failing at it.
- All Just a Dream: The slasher movie scenario in "And Then There Was Shawn" ...Or Was It a Dream?
- Aloha Hawaii: Cory and Topanga's honeymoon in Hawaii.
- Aloof Big Brother: Eric started out this way, and even had shades of this later on.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Alan and Amy Matthews usually avoided this, however in one episode Amy decides to take a creative writing class at Pennbrook and happens to enroll in Eric's class. She proceeds to write artsy short stories about her and Alan's wedding night and Eric's birth.
- Ambiguous Syntax: From the episode "The Honeymoon Is Over":
Topanga: There was a guy shot in our apartment over a salad, the remains of which are still on the wall!
- American Gothic Couple: In "Angela's Men", Eric poses as the farmer in front of a copy of the painting in order to sneak up on Topanga.
- An Aesop: Quite often delivered by Feeny.
- Probably too much, because in later seasons Eric becomes convinced that Mr. Feeny is some sort of Spirit Advisor / messiah figure that he literally begins to stalk him and worship like a religious prophet.
- Eric would also provide a few Aesop moments to Cory throughout the series.
- And as if to really drive the point home Cory would then turn around and deliver the same one to Eric before the episodes end.
- Analogy Backfire: In the episode where Topanga moves to Pittsburgh, Cory is reading Romeo and Juliet at the time, and he keeps proclaiming that he and Topanga will be fine just like them...until Mr. Feeny tells him to skip ahead to the end.
- And Starring
- William Russ (Alan Matthews) received an "And" credit throughout the entire run of the show.
- Matthew Lawrence (Jack Hunter) received a "With" credit from Season 5 onwards, coming before the placement of William Russ in the credits. All other new additions were tacked onto the last position of the credits immediately prior to Russ (and later Lawrence).
- Averted with William Daniels, despite being the most seasoned actor. However, he received second billing after Ben Savage.
- The Artifact: Topanga's name was one. Her character was given that name to emphasize her Granola Girl personality and overal weirdness (the name comes from Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles, where a lot of hippies reside), but after her character was retooled in season two and those aspects of her character were dropped, she just became a normal girl with a weird name. In light of this, there were several jokes about her name throughout the series.
- Artifact Title: Cory had married Topanga by the end of the series. He could hardly be called a boy at that point.
- Well, unless you look at the series as the story of this boy growing into a man. So, him getting married in the final season sort of fits.
- Ascended Extra:
- Topanga went from being a recurring character to one of the most important characters on the show.
- Angela is a more literal example. She first appears in season 5 episode 2 as a student in Feeny's class who has one line of dialogue, and then in season 5 episode 7 she is introduced as Shawn's girfriend and from there she becomes a recurring character and then a main character.
- Asleep in Class: The show had several humorous situations involving Cory and/or Shawn falling asleep in class. A particularly funny example involved Shawn waking up thinking he's still at home and while half-awake stumbling out of the classroom to "go to school". A few minutes later he walks back in utterly confused, saying "I don't know where I am".
- An example of them both being asleep occurs in Mr. Turner's class, and Mr. Feeny walks in. When Shawn and Cory wake up, Shawn complains that "Now I don't know which class I slept through!"
- In the opening scene of season two's "Wake Up, Little Cory", virtually the entire class is falling asleep as Mr. Turner is teaching a lesson on the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Ironically as Mr. Turner states that Shakespeare's plays have continued to keep people "glued to their seats" today, Shawn promptly falls out of his chair, still asleep. Cory – who like the rest of the class, was awakened by the event – then proceeds to (while still sitting in his chair) stomp Shawn awake with his right foot, Shawn then says to Mr. Turner "these chairs really aren't the best for sleeping".
- "The Psychotic Episode" has one that's both funny and serious. Cory has been having nightmares about killing Shawn, so he (naturally) tries not to sleep. Cue a classroom scene ...
- At the Opera Tonight: In one episode Mr. Feeny takes Eric to the opera in an attempt to instill an appreciation for culture in him. Eric is bored out of his mind, but just as he's about to give up and leave, "Ride of the Valkyries" begins to play, which he recognizes as "Kill Da Wabbit." From that point on, he's utterly enthralled, to Feeny's exasperation.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Cory & Eric are portrayed as being terrible as women, making for an aversion. Shawn & Jack are portrayed as playing up this trope to the hilt, picking up guys just by looks alone.
- Back for the Dead: Chet Hunter
- Back to School: In "How to Succeed in Business", Amy enrolls in a creative writing class at the local university realizing she's bored with being a House Wife, and happens to enroll in the class Eric is in. However, it's unclear if she stays in the class or not because it isn't brought up again after that episode.
- Bad Bad Acting: Averted in "Hogs and Kisses"; Cory isn't exactly flat or monotone in his performance for the Pennbrook video tour, but he does constantly flub his lines and appears very ill-at-ease. (Topanga and Shawn are both better at it while still managing to pull off the general stilted-ness of these kinds of videos.)
- Bad Guys Play Pool: Frankie "The Enforcer" is a noted pool champion at Chubbies.
- Bait and Switch: A rather mean one was used in "Resurrection": after the scene with Cory, Topanga, and Shawn talking to the still very sick Joshua in the NICU, we cut to a little while later. Alan is standing outside looking though a window... where Joshua's bed used to be. Then Amy calls him over to her... where we see she's holding Joshua and he's now okay.
- The Beard: In the episode appropriately title "The Beard", Shawn can't choose between two girls, so while he goes out with one of them, he recruits Cory to "sit on" the other, lest he should change his mind. Needless to say, the girls find out and are none too happy about this stunt, and their schoolmates loudly proclaim them to be "scum."
- Behind the Black: Used to Lampshade Minkus and Mr. Turner's disappearance.
- Beta Couple: Once Angela was added to the show, Shawn and Angela became this to the Official Couple Cory and Topanga, except when they break up during season six.
- Better as Friends: Jack and Rachel eventually decide this.
- The B Grade:
- Not really a grade, but at one point Minkus gets a question wrong in Mr. Feeny's class and has a minor breakdown. He's still able to walk around, but is frazzled.
- Mr Feeny gives Topanga a B for her first college mid-term. She proceeds to chase him across campus demanding he change it, in part because Cory & Shawn received the same grade.
- Big Brother Instinct:
- Eric shows this toward Cory intermittently.
- Cory shows this in the series finale, when it comes to Joshua.
- Big Brother Mentor: Mr Turner serves as one to Shawn. In "Cult Fiction," incidentally the last appearance of Mr Turner, Topanga outright states that they're like brothers.
- Big Damn Heroes: Eric and Mister Turner pull this off every now and then. Shawn does this in "Ressurection" where his return signals the resoloution of the storyline's conflict.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: In the episode where Cory and Topanga babysit a kid, the writers deliver a really big Take That at ABC for moving the show's timeslot. ABC took notice and changed the timeslot back not long after this.
Kid: At least let me watch my favorite show. It's on right now!
Topanga: But it's 9:30, I know you don't stay up past nine.
Kid: It used to be on at 8:30 but this year they moved it to 9:30, those idiots.
Cory: Wait a minute, they moved that show to 9:30? Why?
Kid: No one knows!
Cory: Well was it doing badly at 8:30?
Cory: Well why didn't they leave it alone?
Kid: They're trying to kill it! They're trying to kill it!
Cory: Those are bad bad people.
- Black Comedy Burst: "And Then There Was Shawn" and "The Psychotic Episode".
- Black Like Me: In the episode "Chick Like Me", Shawn dresses up as girl to learn about dating from the female perspective.
- Blind Without 'Em: Minkus
- Book Ends: The very first lines of the very first episode are Cory and Mr. Feeny greeting each other at the beginning of another school day. The very last lines of the very last episode are Cory and Mr. Feeny saying their final goodbyes and leaving the school for the last time.
- Bragging Theme Tune: Parodied in one episode when Eric decides he wants to be a detective on TV and comes up with his own theme song:
When a crime breaks out, all the cute girls shout,
Get the...good looking guy!
When there's a crime out there, he's gonna...
Comb his hair, cause he's the...good looking guy!
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- For one example, see Title Drop.
- At the end of the episode "They're Killing Us", Cory and Topanga directly invite the viewers to their wedding.
- Breakout Character: Shawn and Topanga. Season 1 focused more on the Matthew's Family. As the series moved on, it focused primarily on Cory's social circle, primary Shawn and Topanga.
- Topanga's success in particular was a surprise to everyone. She originally was created as a fairly generic granola girl character with a funny name, not intended to last beyond the typical "the main character dates a funny weird girl" storyline she had been created for. But her chemistry with Cory was so natural that she stayed on and ended up being Cory's one true love.
- Breather Episode: "Bee True" from season six was the first purely comedic episode after eight straight episodes with at least one dramatic plotline. In those eight episode the show dealt with themes such as death, grief, finding oneself, parental abandonment, parental responsibility, and premature birth. "Bee True" involved Cory and Shawn concocting a Zany Scheme to help Mr. Feeny win over Dean Bolander.
- Bridezilla: Cory acts like a groomzilla just before his wedding to Topanga. Though mostly towards beleaguered best man Shawn, who's having problems of his own with the whole thing. It turns out he's only doing it because he doesn't want to talk with Shawn about how their friendship is going to have to change once Cory's married.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Eric; who has Rain Man-like counting skills, is able to manipulate many scenarios to his own advantage, gives Cory and his other friends sage, reasonable advice, and has Mr. Feeny constantly going on about his "true potential."
- Broad Strokes: Although the major story holds together week to week, many things tend to be forgotten from episode to episode. There are at least two explanations of Eric and Cory's hair styles(one episode says Cory's hair is curly because of a Blonde Babysitter curling it on new years eve, stating the norm is like Eric's, and a few episodes later, Eric's straight hair is attributed to taking a ride in the dryer in the 5th grade, stating that the norm is like Cory's). Other variations include the embarrassing first name of Vader (being Leslie or Francis). Don't even get started on the various relations that pop in and out of existence.
- In the case of Eric's hair vs. Cory's hair, considering Alan, Amy and Eric all have wavy, sandy hair and only Cory has the black curls, one would have to assume Eric's is the norm.
- Buccaneer Broadcaster: In "On the Air", Cory and Shawn form their own pirate radio station at school after Mr. Feeny kicks them off the school's station for turning their show from a dull Q&A session into the much more inappropriate "Lunchtime Lust". They only get to enjoy their success for a few minutes before Shawn accidentally gives away their location on air and Feeny busts them.
- Buffy Speak: From Eric's one-man play: "The hot wind howled, like a kind of howling... hot... windy thing."
- The Bully: Harley and his two goons, Frankie and Joey. All of whom are strangely eloquent.
- Strangely, Joey is the only one that's not eloquent. Strange because he's sort of the weasel-y trickster-y one that is usually the smartest in any given gang whereas guys like Harley are usually lunkheads and guys like Frankie are usually monosyllabic.
- The Bus Came Back:
- The bullies' leader, Harley, was sent to military school near the end of the second season and almost immediately wound up being replaced by Griff Hawkins. Harley returns for one third season episode which pits him against Griff (after which neither are seen again).
- Minkus makes a return in the Season 4 finale, as the group graduates from John Adams High.
- Butt Monkey: Cory and Eric.
- But We Used a Condom: In the episode where Topanga is Mistaken for Pregnant.
Cory: We were very careful!
Shawn: Did you use a...
Shawn: Was she on the...
Shawn: Well, did you try the...
Cory: Everything! I'm not sure we even had sex!
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : This occurs in most episodes, but it gets played with a few times:
- California University: In a rather extreme example, all the main characters go to the fictional Pennbrook University in Philadelphia. Eric is the first to go there in season five and Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Angela join him there in season six. Nevermind the fact that it's highly unlikely super-genius Topanga and barely-managed-to-graduate Shawn would end up at the same college. Then Mr. Feeny, after finding out retirement wasn't for him, takes a teaching position there and continues to be their only teacher.
- It is actually makes a touch more sense in context. Topanga was planning on going to Yale until she and Cory got engaged, and Cory and Shawn had a long-standing deal to attend the same college and when Shawn wasn't initially accepted to Pennbrook he manipulated events to get him to attend.
- Call Back: The much maligned episode where Rachel kicks Eric and Jack out of their apartment is a reference to when the duo do the same exact thing to Shawn when Rachel moved in.
- Calling the Old Man Out: In "Raging Cory," both Cory and Eric wind up doing this to Alan (as well as accidentally pushing him over). Cory is miffed that Alan never does any sport or buddy activities with him, while Eric later gets annoyed that Alan never has meaningful conversations with him about life, philosophy, art, etc. Alan realizes that he was only giving each half of what they needed from a father.
- Can-Crushing Cranium:
- Eric hurts himself this way.
- Like brother like... brother. Cory did the same in an episode when he joined the wrestling team. In the same episode the members of the wrestling team as well as their girlfriends play this straight.
- Captivity Harmonica: In the Alternate Reality Episode in which the main characters are soldiers fighting in WWII, Cory plays the harmonica because he's stuck fighting in Europe and is separated from Topanga.
Alan: You really miss her, don't you?
- Casting Gag:
- The episode "State of the Unions" pulls a two-fer:
- Mr. Feeny and Dean Bolander, teachers at Pennbrook University, who are older people entering into a late-life marriage, are played by real-life husband-and-wife William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett; they were married in their twenties, shortly after graduating from Northwestern University, and had been married for nearly 50 years by the time of the episode.
- Topanga's parents, who have been together for many years and whose marriage is now on the rocks, were played by then-newlyweds Michael McKean and Annette O'Toole. As of this writing, the two remain married in Real Life, though their characters (after a change in casting) divorced in the following season.
- Catapult Nightmare: Cory does this several times in "The Psychotic Episode".
- Catholic School Girls Rule: In "Train of Fools", Shawn gets excited when he finds on the subway a group of Catholic schoolgirls who "ditched their nun" (and yes, they were wearing the uniform). Later, he gets even more excited when he meets up with a pair of twins from that group.
- Celebrity Lie: In "Fraternity Row", Eric and Jack form a fraternity named "Magnum Pi". When the dean of the fictional Pennbrook College asks who their famous alums are, the two scramble for names and come up with "Bernie Kopell and Ted Lange" (of The Love Boat fame). Jack is somehow actually able to get Bernie Kopell and Ted Lange to appear at a fraternity party (presumably because his father has connections), but they still fail to impress the dean.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The show ends up becoming more serious with each season, which finally climaxes with the death of a recurring character. However, the show never lost the aforementioned Lampshade Hanging and fourth-wall breaching.
- In particular it surrounded Shawn and his wildly dysfunctional life. Early seasons his life in a trailer park was played for laughs, with him mentioning shoot-outs and drug busts as regular overnight activities. Then his mom ran away (taking the house with her) and his dad went off to track her down, leaving Shawn with the Matthews. While Shawn was welcome there, living with a loving family didn't help his emotional state (knowing his family is so messed up) so Mr. Turner took him in as his legal guardian.
- Chair Reveal: Mr. Feeny does this to reveal that he is Cory's new principal when Cory gets sent the principal's office on his first day of high school.
- Characterization Marches On: Just about every major character who wasn't Shawn or Mr. Feeny.
- Check Please: "CHECK! For the love of God, WILL SOMEONE PLEASE BRING ME A CHECK!"
- Cheek Copy: In "How to Succeed in Business" when Shawn and Cory are working in an office mailroom Shawn starts to do this before Cory stops him.
- Chekhov's Gag: In "What I Meant to Say", Shawn stops Cory from giving Topanga flowers by snatching them from him and handing them to a jock who happens to walk by in the school hallway. It's a brief gag that isn't given much attention. Then, several scenes later, Cory and Shawn are alone in a classroom doing Comic Role Play that involves Cory saying "I love you" to Shawn. They look up and see that same jock standing in the doorway holding the flowers and watching them, who then throws the flowers on the floor and walks away in anger.
- Chewing the Scenery: As Eric got crazier he did this more and more, for example his yelling for the check in "Shallow Boy" and his Big "WHAT?!" in "Things Change". In season 7 when he became a full-on Cloudcuckoolander he did this almost every episode.
- Christmas Episode: "Santa's Little Helper" from season 1, "Easy Street" from season 4, "A Very Topanga Christmas" from season 5, and "Santa's Little Helpers" from season 6.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
- Topanga's older sister Nebula.
- Morgan disappeared for the first half of season three but returned mid-way through the season played by a new actress and her disappearance was lampshaded when she says "That was the longest time out I've ever had!".
- Similarly, Minkus disappeared after season one but made a return appearance in the last episode of season five and lampshaded his disappearance by saying that he'd been on the other side of the school the whole time. He was briefly replaced with a character named Meese, though Meese gets less focus than Minkus did and ultimately gets chucked himself by the end of season 2
- In that same scene they also lampshade the disappearance of Mr. Turner, who disappeared at the end of season four, when Minkus waves to him offscreen.
- Mr. Turner's best friend and third season co-star Eli Williams disappears after the third season without being mentioned again.
- Speaking of best friends Erics Best friend Jason Marsden Vanishes after season 2
- Shawn loses two siblings over the course of the series. He has an older sister named Stacy in the first season, never mentioned after, and we meet his half-brother Eddie in Season 3 and he's never mentioned again. Although, in the case of Eddie, they're so estranged it's understandable Shawn may never encounter him again... and if Virna (rather than Chet) was the half that was related to Eddie, that would make even more sense.
- Rider Strong revealed that the Stacy character was originally supposed to be the sister to another friend of Cory's. However, at the last minute the friend was cut from the script and their lines were given to Shawn.
- In the ante-penultimate episode "Angela's Ashes," Angela leaves with her father who has been stationed in Europe for a year. However, in the two-part series finale which immediately follows this episode, everyone acts either as if Angela was never a part of their lives, or her departure wasn't that big of a deal. This is especially manifest in Shawn, who seems to be emotionally stable in the finale. Normally, when even the slightest negative thing has happened to him, he goes into emo mode.
- Shawn's first real girlfriend Dana vanishes without a trace after two episodes in season 3. She resurfaces in Season 5 before being Put on a Bus
- Cliff Hanger: The season 5 finale ends with Topanga proposing to Cory during their high school graduation ceremony.
- Clip Show: The finale. It also included Fully Automatic Clip Shows of the various Big "YES!" moments throughout the series and of Eric's "Feeny Call".
- Cloudcuckoolander: Topanga in the first season, Eric later on.
- Comically Small Bribe: In "Prom-ises, Prom-ises", when Eric tries to get hotel guest information from a hotel clerk:
Clerk: I'm sorry, we don't give that kind of information.
Eric: Really? Well... [produces $1 bill] Perhaps my friend Mr. Washington will help you change your mind.
- Comic Role Play: When Topanga suddenly breaks up with Cory after he tells her he loves her, Shawn gets Cory to re-enact the moment he said those words to figure out what got Topanga upset. Thinking they're alone, he gets Cory to pretend he's Topanga and hold his hand and say "I love you", only to realize there are a bunch of students looking at them through the doorway.
- Coming-of-Age Story: The series is about an eleven year old who doesn't understand anything about his entire life but is told love is worth it. As he grows up he learns to understand life and love until he reaches the point where he and his life partner set out into the unknown together.
- Compressed Vice: Shawn's drinking problem in "If You Can't Be With the One You Love...". He gets drunk for the first time and then has a drinking problem for about a week before his friends convince him to give up drinking altogether. However, he does turn back to alcohol in an episode two seasons later after he learns some devastating news, though only for that episode.
- Commuting on a Bus: Alan, Amy, and Morgan Matthews in seasons 6 and 7.
- Concussions Get You High: In "Easy Street", Eric gives himself a concussion trying to escape from a car that was buried in the snow. Upon recovering Eric is loopy, cheerful and generally appears pleasantly intoxicated.
- Continuity Creep: Most of the episodes from the first two seasons were standalone episodes. The first major story arc began at the end of season two involving Shawn being abandoned by his parents and having to go live with Mr. Turner. From there on continuity gradually became more important.
- Continuity Drift: As Cory and Topanga's Romance Arc progresses, their history seems to drift also. In the early years of the show, Topanga was a Cloudcuckoolander whose crush on a very unamused Cory was Played for Laughs. Later, there are many references to them having been totally in love since they were in Pull-Ups. This is Handwaved later by saying that Cory and Topanga were best friends when they were really little until Cory was teased by Eric for the friendship. As a result, he abandoned the friendship and didn't rediscover his feelings for Topanga until puberty.
- Continuity Nod: a few here and there, most notably Shawn's pet pig, "Little Cory" and Morgan's former teddy bear, Fluffers, who shows up in Jack and Eric's apartment a few times. A Jerk Jock that Eric was forced to tutor (raising his own grades in the process) showed up later as the pilot of a plane Cory and Topanga booked. There were also several references to the time Shawn blew up a mailbox in season one.
- Word of God says that the geranium Mr. Feeny uses for his metaphor about Topanga needing room to grow in the series finale is the same plant that Cory gave him while he was in the hospital in the final episode of season one.
- Cool Loser: Cory
- Cool Teacher:
- John Turner & Eli Williams in Seasons 2 through 4.
- An argument could be made for Mr Feeny.
- Subverted in the episode "Everybody Loves Stuart": the eponymous character is a young college professor who starts out as one of these but then he oversteps his boundaries & somewhat aggressively hits on Topanga; when Cory confronts him on the matter, Stuart makes it clear that he's not going to stop, then tries to get Cory expelled for fighting back, all the while claiming that Cory & Topanga are lying.
- Corpsing: Pay attention when Will Friedle is at his most hilarious, and it's possible to see the rest of the cast doing this; there are times when you can't see the corpsing on screen, but you can hear it over the laugh track. This is also attributed as the reason why Eric & Shaun don't share many scenes in later seasons, as Will Friedle & Rider Strong had a habit of making the other break character - The Tag from "Angela's Men" is one such scene.
- Cosmetic Catastrophe: In "Cory's Alternative Friends", Cory leaves a hair care product in his hair for too long and ends up having a really bad hair day.
- Cosmic Plaything: Cory's theory as to why he couldn't get away with things.
- Turned on it's head in "B and B's B N' Bs" When he gets suckered into Shawn's scheme to turn Feeny's house into a B N' B while he's away. Cory decides to enjoy it while it lasts because he's sure they won't get away with it because he knows that's how things are supposed to work and has accepted his fate. Then he laments that the universe no longer cares about him when it appears they are gonna get away with it.
- Costumer: The episode "No Guts, No Cory".
- The Couch: The Matthews home, Mr. Turner's apartment, and the Hunter's trailer (okay, two ratty recliners, but a couch in spirit). Jack and Eric's apartment had a couch, but it was off to the side next to the front door, their kitchen table was used more often
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: This happens in one episode, starting with Shawn's snark aimed at a guest speaker.
Shawn: *cough* Loser!
Mr. Turner (the teacher present at the time): *cough* Detention!
Shawn: *cough* Sorry!
- Creator Breakdown: The episode "Shallow Boy" involves Eric dating the aspiring singer/songwriter Corinna, whose songs are saccharine and completely unappealing. When he dumps her, she immediately starts writing dark and angry songs clearly directed at him; these sell, and she becomes a huge success. After a while she meets with Eric, ostensibly to apologize, but he quickly realizes she's just run out of material. Refusing to give her any, he acts nice to Corinna and manages to revert her to mindless schlock mode, by singing the song "Tomorrow" from Annie with her. At the end of the episode, Eric gives an evil snicker once her cheerful album bombs. The character was a parody of Alanis Morissette, who had a similar transformation. The episode even openly references Alanis.
- Creator Cameo: Michael Jacobs appears, uncredited, as the rabbi in the neonatal unit in "Resurrection".
- Cross Over: Two semi-crossovers with Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
- The first was a Crossover Punchline during The Tag of one of the Halloween episodes in which Eric is on a date with Sabrina. Also an in-universe example of a Crossover Ship.
- The second was part of a night where in Sabrina, Salem had swallowed a ball that allowed the holder to travel to a different time period, and also saw Salem turn up in the other shows on the TGIF lineup at the time, Teen Angel and You Wish. However, the other shows were Fantastic Comedies but Boy Meets World was not, so the crossover created a How Unscientific! episode.
- In a vague sense, "The Happiest Show on Earth" has one with Step by Step, due a cameo by Staci Keanan as Dana Foster (Step By Step was filming their Disney World episode the same week).
- Curse Cut Short: Morgan hated the dress Topanga picks out for her for Cory and Topanga's wedding so much that she said to Topanga "I wouldn't use this dress to wipe my—" before Alan intervened by covering her mouth and dragging her away.
- Daytime Drama Queen: In "How to Succeed in Business", Amy Matthews is shown to be one, which gets Eric to convince her to get out and do something. Later in the episode, Cory becomes this after getting fired from the work-study program.
- Dean Bitterman: Dean Borak of Pennbrook University, who appeared in a couple of episodes in season 5. Bonus points for him being played by Paul Gleason, who played a famous Dean Bitterman in The Breakfast Club.
- Death by Sex: Discussed/invoked in "And Then There Was Shawn". When the characters get trapped in a slasher movie scenario, Genre Savvy Shawn claims that the virgins are safe from dying. Sure enough, the characters who say they aren't virgins all die.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Mr. Feeny. Also a Gentleman Snarker.
- Eric in early episodes. Later ones too, this is one trait that he never quite grew out of.
- Dead Person Conversation: Shawn talks with his father three times after he passes away, the show suggests that he's actually a ghost trying to help Shawn in what little way he can.
- December-December Romance: Mr Feeny and Lila Bolander (played, incidentally, by husband and wife William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett).
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Played for Laughs in "I Was a Teenage Spy," where Cory dreams he is sent back to the 1950s. When he says "butt" in class, Mr. Turner and all the other students react as if he'd said a horrible curse word.
- Delusions of Eloquence: In the episode "Honesty Night", Eric gets a word-a-day calendar to improve his vocabulary and he tries to use these words in conversation but repeatedly fails at it. By the end of the episode he gets the hang of it but annoys everybody by using big words in mundane conversation.
- Demoted to Extra: Happened a few times.
- Topanga in most of season 2 (while considered a recurring character until season 3, aside from some early episodes) is relegated to a background character with very little interactions with the characters and plot.
- Morgan in season two, when the emphasis shifted from Cory's place in his family to his place in the high school hierarchy (she disappeared at the end of the season, before returning midway through season three, as a minor character for the remainder of the show's run).
- The bullies, who are major characters in season two, gradually decline in prominence. Harley Keiner doesn't even make it all the way through season two (though he does cameo in one episode in season three); his replacement, Griff Hawkins, also only appears once in season three (in the same episode as Harley, in fact). Joey "the Rat" continues appearing well into season three but vanishes before season four (though he does return for the "Graduation" episode at the end of season five). Only Frankie Stechino continues to appear regularly into season four, by which time he's fully matured into a Gentle Giant and is basically a friend to Cory and Shawn.
- Mr. Turner in season four; he appears in only six out of the twenty-two episodes that season. (He didn't miss a single episode in season two or season three.) He is also conspicuous in his absence from the season five finale "Graduation", which brings back most of the other departed characters (though Minkus does briefly mention him as part of a gag).
- Denser and Wackier: Season seven, especially when compared to the more serious season six. While it had several serious episodes and some realistic plotlines, it also had a lot of convoluted and wacky plotlines, especially the Jack and Eric ones. For example one plotline involved Eric gaining the ability to see into the future whenever he sneezes and Jack trying to use this power to win the lottery.
- Department of Redundancy Department: From "We'll Have a Good Time Then...", when Cory tries to write his wedding vows:
Cory: Sometimes two people who love each other are in love, and because of that love, they love each other.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Cory does this in the middle of class after Topanga breaks up with him for saying "I love you":
Mr. Williams: Without honesty, you're nowhere.
Cory: Honest? Let me tell you a little story about a kid from Philly who was honest. You see, he said what was in his heart, and then the... (Beat) Oh I'm sorry was that out loud?
- Disguised in Drag: In the episodes "Chick Like Me", S:4-E:15, and "What a Drag", S:7-E:11. In Chick Like Me, Shawn is diguised as a girl to provide first hand experience for Cory's article. In What A Drag, Jack and Eric both dress as women as a way to avoid the local lunatic gang leader.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "I Love You, Donna Karan", Eric discovering Mr. Feeny tutoring another student is played like Mr. Feeny is cheating on him:
Eric: He's a professional tutor! You mean nothing to him!
- Downer Ending: "We'll Have a Good Time Then..." ends with Chet Hunter's death in the hospital.
- Do It Yourself Plumbing Project: In "Picket Fences", Cory tries to fix the rusty pipes in his and Topanga's rundown fleabag apartment. Unusual for this trope, he is actually able to fix the pipes without many problems though he does get quite messy in the process.
- Dream Sue: episode "Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow," Eric dreams he is the star of an imagined crime-fighting TV show "The Good Looking Guy" complete with opening sequence and theme song.
"When a crime breaks out, all the cute girls shout, 'Get the good-looking guy.' (Good looking guy)"
- Drowning My Sorrows: Cory does this once after his break up with Topanga in season five. In a later episode, Shawn does this after he is unable to find his real mother.
- Dumb Is Good: Eric becomes a lot sweeter as his intelligence decreases.
- Early Installment Weirdness: While season 1 has a different feel, the earliest episodes clearly were the producers experimenting with what worked. Early on Cory was supposed to have two best friends which is why we see rotating friends every episode early on up until after Class Pre-Union, when Shawn is firmly established as his sole best friend.
- Mr. Feeny in the first episodes is rather stern and doesn't really get one of his teachable moments until the 5th episode. The next episode follows suit with Feeny clearly telling Cory he expects better out of him. It's obvious he's aware of Cory's scheme but decides to let it play out. This continues with Feeny taking advantage of any moment to teach Cory that presents himself with him even agreeing to switch places with him for the rest of the week.
- Eric also starts the first few episodes with a girlfriend named Heather. In the first episode Eric lacks any confidence with girls and believes he blew his date with Heather by making a fool of himself. She disappears quickly (it's later revealed she dumped him) after a few episodes. There's also another girl, Linda, that seems significant but she disappears as well. After that Eric becomes more of a smooth talker with confidence, though he starts venturing into his Casanova Wannabe role and also settles more into his Butt Monkey role as well as being more of an idiot after Jason first appears. Also, he's little more than a Satellite Character until Model Family, when he gets his own storyline and a best friend (Jason). Heck, Morgan had already her own storyline in Class Pre-Union. Arguably, It's a Wonderful Night is focused more on him than Cory. These episodes would become more common in the later seasons.
- Shawn's poverty isn't established until later in the season. Its not apparent that his family is any less well off then Cory's in early episodes. In an early episode, his dad does get laid off, but it's not apparent that his family is blue collar, as it's not until Class Pre-Union that his father's occupation is even mentioned; and not until Risky Business that any mention of a trailer is made (it's his uncle's). The Fugitive is really the first establishing episode of Shawn being from the other side of the tracks.
- Topanga while just a guest character in Season 1 is mostly absent early on, with her first appearance not until the 4th episode, then disappearing for the next few only to be featured more regularly.
- Elevator Failure: In "The Psychotic Episode", Cory has a nightmare where he pushes all of his friends down an empty elevator shaft in Jack and Rachel's apartment building.
- Elvis Lives: One episode had a one-off gag where Elvis is one of Alan Matthews' poker buddies.
- Embarrassing First Name:
- Cory's real name is Cornelius.
Cory: Shh! Mr. Feeny! Come...not even Topanga knows that!
- Also Vader's first name (depending on the episode you watch) of Francis or Leslie.
- Variation in Chick Like Me, when Shawn shyly admits to having thought about crossdressing so much that he had already decided on the name "Veronica" for his female alter ego long before the issue of writing an article ever came up. He's not embarrased about the name, he's just embarrased to admit that he had one ready.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Topanga won't reveal her middle name because of this.
Jack: Your first name's Topanga. What could your middle name be, Schmooboogie?
- Entendre Failure: From the pregnancy scare episode:
Shawn: "Cory, how would you feel if these two big waffles got all slathered in butter and made a little waffle?"
Cory: "I know what you're saying, Shawn." *beat* "You'd like seconds. I'll be right back."
- Enter Stage Window: Shawn sometimes enters Cory's bedroom this way. Cory also enters Topanga's bedroom this way a few times.
- Erotic Dream: When Angela asks Cory if he's ever thought of her as more than a friend, Cory responds that he did once when he had a dream about her of this sort. Then, when Angela shoves him onto the bed and climbs on top of him to prove a point, Cory says "Oh no! It's the dream!".
- Escalating War: All the main characters engage in one in the episode "The War".
- Eskimos Aren't Real: When Mr. Feeny starts lecturing about the Hutus and the Tutsis, Cory and Shawn find the peoples' names so weird that they are convinced he can't be talking about real people and has run out of real subjects and is now making it up.
- Establishing Shot: One for the Matthews' house, one for the high school, and later on one for Eric and Jack's apartment.
- The Exit Is That Way: See Failed Attempt at Drama.
- Expy: Jack and Eric are essentially the Cory and Shawn relationship if slightly skewed to acount for Eric's general wackiness
- Failed Attempt at Drama: In "My Best Friend's Girl", Cory tries to walk out on Shawn in Mr. Turner's apartment and walks into a closet by mistake, but saves it with "And I'm taking my sweater!"
- Fantastic Comedy: While the show was mostly a Coming-of-Age Story comedy, later episodes included more outlandish plots, including crossovers with Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Time Travel, Chet Hunter's ghost, and Eric developing Psychic Powers.
- Feud Episode: Cory and Shawn go through this in the episode "It's Not You, It's Me..." after Shawn accuses Cory of leaving him behind because Cory wants to apply for a higher level college than Shawn can get into.
- First Kiss: Between Cory and Topanga in her debut appearance, "Cory's Alternative Friends". This was also the First Kiss of both Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel in Real Life.
- First Name Basis:
- In the first season Topanga calls her mom by her first name since she believes calling her "mom" is irrelevant since all kids call their mothers "mom". Cory tried that with his name, but it doesn't work. Cory demonstrated how it doesn't work with his mom, but Topanga just rolls her eyes in a "whatever".
- In the last episode, Cory asks why Mr.Feeny insists on Last Name Basis.
Cory: "Don't you think you know me well enough to call me 'Cory'?"
: "I know you well enough to call you Cornelius
- Eric Matthews went from simply dense, self-centered and girl-crazy to just plain dumb. He also became the funniest part of the show for most viewers, so make of that what you will. Oddly enough, he seems to temporarily revert into something resembling his original characterization in one of the last episodes, the one where he's mad at Cory due to thinking that they don't get along as brothers. His stupidity is almost nonexistent throughout the episode, which the other characters lampshade repeatedly:
"Wow, he's really sharp today. Must be well-rested."
- Shawn got dumber and wackier throughout seasons two and three. However this was later reverted through a combination of Character Development, Hidden Depths and Break the Cutie. By season six he was one of the more sensible ones in the group.
- All of the characters, especially in the college years, with the exception of Shawn.
- A notable example is Jack who, despite only being a character for three seasons, went from a humble guy who supposedly worked every summer to put himself through college to a vain, self-centered person who loses it after his father cuts him off.
- Flash Forward: There's one in "Seven The Hard Way" set in 2006 that shows a retirement party for Mr. Feeny in a potential future where the gang breaks up (it doesn't go well). In this future, Cory and Topanga have had a baby, Shawn and Angela are both traveling journalists, Jack is a "captain of industry" (in his late twenties), Rachel moved back to Texas, and Eric became an insane hermit who calls himself "Playswithsquirrels". However, when the episode returns to the present everybody reconciles and this future is averted.
- Girl Meets World would reveal that some of the events predicted by "Seven the Hard Way" came true after all:
- Shawn became a travel writer (and photographer, in a Call Back to a separate Story Arc from Season 5) and broke it off with Angela - and if he and Jack are on speaking terms, we have yet to see any evidence of that.
- Eric's alter-ego "Plays with Squirrels" plays some role in his real life.
- Topanga, of course, became a high-powered attorney.
- The only character so far whose future wasn't predicted with reasonable accuracy is Cory, who became a teacher (taking after Mr. Feeny) instead of an accountant. He also doesn't wear glasses.
- Food Fight: Eric, Jack and Rachel have one in their apartment in "Hogs and Kisses", complete with a Pie in the Face at the end.
- Foreshadowing: From "And Then There Was Shawn": "I know what he was asking for. And if he asks again, I'll stab that big pencil through his heart. Ya hear me, Kenny?"
- Doesn't it seem weird that Jack and Eric seemed to have been... shoehorned into the story (they say that they snuck into the school)? Well, that's a sign that this is a dream.
- So does Jennifer Love Fefferman's appearance and whenever a certain thing happening is pointed out to be out of a movie. Shawn's seen enough horror movie that his dream/nightmare is making one.
- In the episode "Teacher's Bet": Cory, in his naive 11-year-old mind, thinks being a teacher is nothing but regurgitating what the textbook or lesson plans say and giving out and grading tests and homework. Mr. Feeny decides to put Cory to the test by making him teacher for a week, using Cory's new bike as collateral for the bet. Cory realizes that being a teacher is a lot harder than it looks. Flash forward 21 years later to the Sequel Series Girl Meets World...and he's a teacher himself!
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: the four main characters generally fit this schema, though it took them a couple of seasons to get there (except one of them took half a season): Eric is sanguine (and how!), Shawn is choleric, Topanga is melancholic, and Cory is phlegmatic (both types). Early on, Topanga was sanguine, Cory was melancholic, and Eric was phlegmatic.
- In later seasons, Cory gets unusually neurotic for a phlegmatic character; the reason he remains so is because everyone else gets wackier too.
- The teachers are mostly neutral temperaments, but Mr. Feeny would be the most melancholic, Mr. Turner the most phlegmatic, and Eli Williams the most sanguine.
- The gang of bullies (counting both leader and temporary replacement): Harley Keiner (choleric), Frankie Stecchino (melancholic), Griff Hawkins (phlegmatic), and Joey Epstein (sanguine).
- "Friends" Rent Control: How Jack and Eric afford a three-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia is a little bit fuzzy considering that they are seemingly unemployed college students. Jack does have a rich stepfather but he claims that he is able to pay his own bills because he worked hard every summer for his money.
- The Friends Who Never Hang: This wound up happening with various combinations within the group of friends.
- Eric never really interacts much with Shawn or Topanga at all throughout the show's seven-season run, which was occasionally lampshaded in the later years. He and Cory also gradually grow further apart as the years wear on - his most important relationship is with Mr. Feeny, followed by his parents, until Jack shows up in season 5. From that point forward, most of his interactions are with Jack (and later Rachel). Eric being one of the "old" characters but having most of his interactions with the "new" ones enabled him to serve as the "bridge" in the conflict that breaks out between the two camps in "The War" and "Seven the Hard Way".
- Although a major plotline of season 5 is Shawn reconnecting with his long-lost half-brother Jack, the two don't interact much after Shawn moves out of their apartment to go to college (where he shares a dorm with Cory) - by this time, most of Jack's reactions revolve around his Heterosexual Life Partner Eric, and his newly-introduced Love Interest Rachel. He doesn't really interact with Cory at all.
- Angela's complete lack of an independent relationship with Cory became a plot point in season 6, after she and Shawn broke up, and the two actually do become friends as a result of his fierce determination. Angela is the only "new" character to have substantial interactions with all three members of the Cory-Shawn-Topanga trifecta, but she's also the only student character who never really interacts with Mr. Feeny.
- Rachel, the last major character to be introduced (in the show's penultimate season), functioned primarily as a Satellite Character of the Eric/Jack binary - but she eventually starts interacting with Topanga and Angela as well. No such luck with Cory and Shawn, though.
- Friends with Benefits: In one episode after Shawn and Angela break up they try to have no-strings-attached sex but Shawn gets too emotional about it and Angela calls it off before they can even get past the makeout foreplay.
- Fun Personified: Eric. He really hits his stride as the most entertaining part of the show after he doesn't get into college at the end of Season 3, then has crossed over into just downright weird by the time he cuts his hair in Season 7.
- Game Show Appearance: Eric appears on a special "College Edition" of Singled Out, of all shows, in a fourth-season episode. The problem? He's not in college. Luckily for him, neither is his eventual date.
- Gene Hunting: In "Family Trees", Shawn gets a letter from his Missing Mom in which she reveals that she is not his real mother. He proceeds to try to track his real mother, and is unsuccessful in doing so. His father later appears to him in a vision and says that his biological mom was a stripper who took off after giving birth to him, though it's unclear if this vision was real or all in Shawn's head.
- Generation Xerox: Cory and Topanga marry young; so did their parents.
- Genius Ditz: Eric is so ditzy it's a wonder he can feed and bathe himself. However, the series is full of episodes where it turns out Eric possesses hidden insight and depth and that his behavior is more a result of his combined eccentricity and inability to apply himself and reach his true potential. And then everyone feels all bad about underestimating him.
- Genre Savvy:
- Shawn in the season 5 Halloween special that spoofed the recent spate of slasher films at the box office - He correctly points out everything that will happen.
- Shawn also is sure that Topanga won't end up moving away in "A Long Walk to Pittsburgh" because that never happens in these episodes. He's sort of right, as she moves away but then comes back in the second part.
- At the end of the first part Shawn asks what type of TV show this is when it appears Topanga isn't coming back.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: While Shawn was ultimately proven right, his reasoning hinged on the assumption that this was a one-shot episode. Not once did he consider if this was a two-parter...
- In Sixteen Candles and 400-Pound Men, Cory argues with Shawn about the time Fred Flinstone spent between his two obligations. Shawn points out that he never spent more than 75 seconds in one place. Cory points out that TV shows condense things, but Shawn argues that it's the same exact thing and to just trust him.
- In fact, it's implied that Shawn may very well be acutely aware that he's in a sit-com.
- Gentle Giant: Frankie was ultimately revealed to be this when he has a good influence.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- In 2x01, noticing Topanga's, um... blouse, Shawn points out that the summer had been good to her, she rips of Shawn's fake sideburns and points out, "Yeah, well, at least what I grew is real!"
- From 2x06, when Cory starts going through puberty, he says "I've got hair on my chin, on my chest, and other places where I don't see having hair on is really gonna help me!"
- From season 2, after Shawn gets through making out with a girl:
Shawn: Remember in health class that section on the movement of blood? I understand it now.
- Also from season 2, when Shawn briefly lives in a No Tell Motel after his father leaves:
Shawn: Why don't you come over tonight? We can skateboard in the pool, and they got cable."
Cory: We got cable.
Shawn: (smiling) Not like this place.
- Ghost Extras: The other students in Cory, Shawn and Topanga's classes often seemed to be in a whole different place altogether. They never interacted with the main characters or reacted much when the main characters made a scene in class, and the teachers (Mr. Feeny or Mr. Turner) would only call on Cory, Shawn or Topanga in class and were never seen talking with the other students. The latter point was lampshaded in the series finale:
Mr. Feeny: I regard all my students equally.
Shawn: You know we're your favorites.
Cory: Come on Feeny, you haven't even talked to another student for seven years.
- Gilligan Cut: In "Chick Like Me", when Shawn refuses to dress up as a girl, it cuts to the next day at school where Shawn is dressed as a girl.
- Shawn fails to convince Cory to tag along with him on a motorcycle trip (without Mr. Turner, the owner of the bike). Shawn asks what's the worst thing that could possibly happen? Cut to Shawn in a police station being told he has one phone call.
- Girl Next Door: Topanga, at least after her character was retooled in season two.
- Global Ignorance: In one episode Shawn thinks that you can get to Europe on a bus. He even buys a bus ticket to Paris, Texas think it will take him to Paris, France. This was from the period on the show where Shawn Took a Level in Dumbass.
- Good Parents: Cory's parents
- Good People Have Good Sex: Implied about the Matthews parents. Also Cory and Topanga themselves once they get married.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Averted, kind of. Later seasons had scattered utterings of "hell" and "damn." Jack even once called Eric a "jackass." One theory is that the audience who were kids when they started watching were now grown up and swear themselves.
- The season 4 premiere "You Can Go Home Again" has the first curse word uttered in the series when Mr. Feeny sees Alan and Amy sitting on the back porch and says "What the hell are we looking at?"
- When Eric thinks Feeny is moving to Hawaii, Feeny says "That's one bitchin' board bro."
- Gossip Evolution: In "She's Having My Baby Back Ribs", a rumor goes from "Topanga is pregnant" to "Cory and Topanga are looking to adopt a kid from China and need to overcome the language barrier". When Mr. Feeny informs Cory of this, he gives the original rumor in front of his parents, prompting Feeny to leave so that he may "inform the grocer about his misinformation." Point of reference: Topanga was never pregnant, but just going on a diet.
- Granola Girl: Topanga in the first season. The Retool in the second season removed most of these elements, but they weren't totally gone until she started dating Cory in season three.
- Grounded Forever: Played for Laughs. There was a significant gap in between the two actresses playing Morgan, resulting the character being absent for about half a season. The new actress is introduced by coming downstairs and remarking, "That was the longest time-out I've ever had."
- Halloween Episode: "Boys II Mensa", "Who's Afraid of Cory Wolf?" and "The Witches of Pennbrook".
- Subverted by the slasher parody "And Then There Was Shawn", which despite the horror theme and since becoming something of a Halloween staple in reruns, originally aired during February Sweeps.
- Happier Home Movie: In "Wheels", Mr. Matthews watches videos of Cory as a kid after Cory gets his driver's license and decides to spend his birthday with his friends instead of his family. The videos appear to be Ben Savage's actual home movies with overdubbed audio by the actors who play Mr. and Mrs. Matthews.
- Happily Ever After: Cory and Topanga
- Happily Married: Cory's parents. Cory and Topanga, eventually.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: Used and lampshaded in the horror movie episode:
Angela: Alright, you're the horror film expert, what's that?
Shawn: That's the sound of our beating hearts. It signifies our heightened fear, and the fact that something horrible is about to walk in that door, right NOW!
(door opens, revealing Eric and Jack standing there)
- Also in the episode "The Fugitive" (Season 1 episode 17) appropriately as Feeny is reading a passage from The Tell Tale Heart.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Tommy from season 6.
- Heel-Face Turn: One of the bullies Frankie eventually quits harassing Cory and Shawn and becomes their friend.
- The Hermit: In "Seven the Hard Way" Eric imagines himself as one in the future.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners:
- Cory and Shawn. More often than not, theirs is the relationship with the most depth, with Cory's relationship with Topanga taking the back seat. In fact, she's occasionally jealous and jokingly calls Shawn Cory's "lover". Part of the drama behind Cory and Topanga's wedding is Shawn realizing that he had to let them be best friends. At the end of the series, he goes with them to New York.
Cory: Shawn, are you there?
Jack: (several times) What is this power you have over me?
- Hidden Depths:
- Shawn went from trashy comic relief to a woobie who got all the girls and in the college years he eventually grew into the deepest and possibly most well-developed character on the show.
- As dumb as he was, Eric was probably one of the wiser characters. Mr Feeny often tries to get Eric to reach his full potential, with one such example being when Feeny has Eric tutor an F student, with the hope that Eric's attempts to get through to the student he was tutoring would benefit Eric as well. Eric not only raises the other student's grade to a C, but aces the test himself.
- High School Hustler: The minor recurring character Griff Hawkins.
- Hilarious Outtakes: During The Tag of the episode "Angela's Men", the outtakes replace the scene itself because the cast couldn't get through it without corpsing.
- Hollywood Nerd: Minkus in the first season is classic Type 1; Topanga, after evolving out of the Granola Girl role, becomes classic Type 2.
- Homage: In the episode "Quiz Show", Cory and Shawn become Quiz Bowl stars when the show is revamped to be popular to kids. When the producers want them gone, the show went back to its old format of Unexpectedly Obscure Answers. Which is how the manipulation went behind the show 21, as depicted in the movie the ep is named after (minus actually giving answers to the contestants, of course).
- Homoerotic Subtext: Cory and Shawn. Topanga and other characters point this out relentlessly, especially in the episode "Seven the Hard Way".
Topanga: You should ask Shawn, his luvah!
- See Wrong Name Outburst and Comic Role Play for more examples.
- One episode even opened a scene with the two of them in bed together! Stop it, nothing happened.
- One episode intentionally played on this when Shawn's new girlfriend forbids him from seeing Cory ever again, which among other things leads to an overemotional phone conversation between Shawn and Cory that leaves Eric staring at him open-mouthed before declaring "I want my own room."
- The episode "It's Not You, It's Me..." was basically dedicated to this.
- As was "An Affair to Forget."
- This exchange from "I Love You, Donna Karan":
Topanga: Shawn, you're afraid to make commitment.
Shawn: I'm not afraid to make a commitment, I've been with Cory for 15 years!
Cory: Ah, they've been good years.
Shawn: You worked very hard at them.
Cory: Hey, it takes two. You know...
Topanga: Stop it!
- When they get drunk in "If You Can't Be with the One You Love...", they become a more open about their feeling towards one another:
Cory: You know what Shawnie, I always thought that Topanga was the one person I could never live without. But she's gone, and, and you're here, and I'm alive, so it must be you!
Shawn: I'd take a bullet for you.
Cory: Shawnie, I love you!
Shawn: Yeah, I love you too Cory, and I'm not ashamed.
[homeless man stares at them]
Shawn: Now I'm ashamed.
- At Cory & Topanga's wedding, Shawn was the best man... And stood at the altar with Cory, their arms around one another. You'd almost think it was their wedding...
- In the finale, Cory & Topanga get ready to move to New York for Topanga's new job, and Shawn is very upset about Cory leaving, with the show playing this for laughs since Shawn's acting as if he was Cory's lover who was being abandoned. Then Topanga reveals that she'd packed Shawn's bags too, since she couldn't bear to tear them apart.
- Jack and Eric also had a lot of this, starting right after they first meet:
Cory: You and Jack are so perfect for each other, you should be married!
Eric: I'm not ready.
- Eric's obsession with Mr. Feeny got quite... weird at times, especially in the graduation episode when he affectionately lays on Feeny's lap singing "To Sir, With Love" (much to Feeny's horror).
- Hope Spot: The last few moments with Chet, Shawn and Jack; where Chet promises they'll be a real family from that moment on.
- Horrible Hollywood: When Eric goes to Hollywood be a cast member of the Self-Parody show Kid Gets Acquainted with the Universe, he finds out that the actors on the show are either jerkasses or highly neurotic, the so-called "best writers in town" are actually small children, and the scripts are recycled many times and full of Stylistic Suck.
- Hypocrite: Stuart, an Ethics professor, crosses the ethical line between students & teachers when he makes a move on Topanga.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Many are based off of puns from movies, music and books titles, popular sayings, etc.
- Idiot Savant: There's a throwaway gag in one episode in which Shawn claims to be one of these after revealing he can speak French. This was during the period in the show where he got really dumb, which didn't stick as a character trait so this is never brought up again.
- If We Get Through This: Shawn's father, in the hospital after a heart attack, promises his sons that he will stay with them for good after he recovers. He promptly dies.
- I Know You Know I Know: Played with in one episode. Cory thinks that Mr. Feeny knows that Topanga proposed to him, even though Mr. Feeny doesn't know:
Cory: Ohhhhh, you're a smug one aren't you George huh. You know you know, I know you know, I don't know how you know, but I know that you know.
Mr. Feeny: Alright I know, I know everything. Now what in the world are you talking about?
Cory: NOTHING!! THIS GETS OUT, I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN LIKE A DOG!!
- The "I Love You" Stigma: This is the focus of the episode "What I Meant to Say". Cory tells Topanga he loves her despite the fact that they had only (officially) been going out for a few weeks and Topanga reacts with shocks and leaves immediately. She later breaks up with him and starts avoiding him. Cory confronts her about the issue and she explains that she was scared of those words and what they meant. Cory explains what exactly he means by "I love you," and she replies that she loves him, too.
- I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference: In "I Was a Teenage Spy", when Cory has a dream where he is sent back in time to the 50s, he introduces himself to the Mr. Feeny Expy as "Brad Pitt, sir.", only for Feeny to respond "Well, Mr. Pittser...".
- Important Haircut:
- I'm Standing Right Here: From "Hogs and Kisses":
Jack: If she's telling the truth our lives are perfect!
Eric: Well she's not. She's testing us, just stick with the plan.
Rachel: Stop! Stop planning, and oh stop acting like I can't hear you!
- Incoming Ham: Eric enters season 7 this way. He jumps on the student center pool table and yells "EVERYBODY LOOK AT MY HEAD!" (because he got an Important Haircut). This sets the tone for his every more over the top Cloudcuckoolander personality that season.
- I Never Got Any Letters: (Part of) why Shawn was initially so angry at Jack, and also why he eventually gave him a chance.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: The show had a different one each season for seasons 1-4 before switching over to a Thematic Theme Tune for Seasons 5-7.
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue:
- Used as a Rule of Three Running Gag in the episode "Her Answer". Alan and Amy are up in the middle of the night and Alan says that they should go to bed because "only creeps and weirdos are up now". Eric then walks in the door. Eric then says the exact same thing and Shawn walks in the door. Then Shawn says it and Mr. Feeny walks in the door.
- Used twice in "Train of Fools": Mrs. Matthews says "Now guys, be careful tonight, you know new years eve brings out all the crazies.", and then Shawn burst through the door saying "Come on everybody, let's get crazy!". Later, Cory says "You'd have to be an idiot to have a good time down here", and then Shawn walks in with a party hat on and says "I don't know about you guys, but I am having a great time."
- Interrupted Intimacy: A comically extreme example: Cory and Topanga are about to consummate their marriage when the police burst in to the hotel suite and arrest them (because they inadvertently stole someone else's wedding thanks to Eric).
- Invention Pretension: In "Career Day", Shawn's father comes to the class's career day at school and makes a pathetic attempt to hide what a bum he is by making a number of audacious claims, including claiming to have invented CNN.
- Ironic Echo Cut: From "Train of Fools":
Cory: Oh Eric, don't you worry about that, I'm not gonna do anything stupid.
(cut to next scene)
Eric: Cory, how could you do something so stupid?
- It's Not You, It's Me: Shawn says this to Cory when they "break up" their friendship in the episode appropriately titled "It's Not You, It's Me".
- It's What I Do: Upon warning Cory that Topanga is about to become more beautiful after going to a salon, Shawn tells him that she'll dump Cory and hang out with other beautiful people because "It's what we do."
- It Will Never Catch On: In the Noir Episode, which is set in a Casablanca-like setting and time period, the Jack counterpart, a bar pianist, overhears someone say "Forget your troubles, come on, get happy" and says "That could be a song!" then pauses and says "Naah". He later overhears someone say "Hit me baby one more time" and has the exact same reaction.
- Ivy League for Everyone: With Topanga's admittance to Yale, then her decision to attend Pennbrook College with Cory and their friends.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After Jack and Rachel get together, Eric moves out of the apartment for awhile to let them explore their relationship. He later insists that he was never really in love with Rachel, and more interested in the competition with Jack, but there are hints that he's still very much attracted to her.
- I Was Told There Would Be Cake: Feeny bribes Shawn with cake to take his SAT prep course.
- Karma Houdini: Stuart the titular professor from the episode Everybody Loves Stuart gets no more than a chewing out from the Dean after trying to make a move on Topanga and making it clear to Cory he's not going to stop.
- Knight of Cerebus: Chet Hunter, who seems to exist solely to provide Shawn with more angst. His initial appearances (at the end of season two) were to kick off the show's first major Story Arc: Shawn moving in with Mr. Turner (which lasted for most of the third season).
- Know When To Fold Them: In one episode, Shawn entered a contest to win Superbowl tickets. The contest was to stand on a billboard during winter and outlast everyone else. He makes it down to the last one, but there's a problem. That last one is an eskimo, who is so not bothered by the bitter cold, that he's eating an ice cream cone. He even sings along with the host's radio: "We are warm and you are cold." Shawn wisely decides to step down.
- Kid-anova: Shawn. Also a Chick Magnet. He also managed to avert A Man Is Not a Virgin for almost as long as his best friend Cory (see below) did.
- Lamaze Class: In "Cutting the Cord", Eric fills in for his father at one of these classes with his mom, and then when his dad arrives he becomes the partner of another woman in the class whose husband is off in the navy. Hilarity Ensues, naturally, because Eric is The Ditz.
- Lame Comeback: In "Honesty Night", Cory and Topanga pretend to be mad at each other in front of Shawn and when they trade fake insults Cory proves he's not very good at ending them:
Topanga: I can't believe you said that to me, you stunted little whiny brillo-head!
Cory: Oh yeah, well you're a short little nasal voiced blimpo lipped... so and so! (whispering) I need more time.
- Lampshade Hanging: A whole lot of it. Along with all the examples listed elsewhere on this page, there was an example of this in the episode "State of the Unions" that lampshaded the fact that Eric and Shawn rarely had any scenes together despite living together for a year, since Rider Strong and Will Friedle could not keep it together when their characters interacted outside of the more somber scenes, so the writers tried to keep Eric and Shawn from interacting.
Eric: Yeah... We never really talk or hang out
Shawn: I know, not even during that year we lived together...
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Many instances, most notably in the graduation episode when Cory and Shawn run into childhood friend Minkus, who was absent for the past couple of seasons.
Minkus: For the last four years it's like I have even been in the same school as you guys.
Shawn: Well you know we just never saw you around.
Minkus: I was, I was just in the other part of the school.
Shawn: What other part of the school?
Minkus: You know, over there. [point off camera towards the audience]
Cory: Oh, we don't go over there.
Shawn: Yeah, if you go over there you may never come back.
Minkus: Oh, that's crazy. [waving to someone off camera] Hey, Mr. Turner! Wait up!note
- A scene from "Shallow Boy" was used by the writers to criticize ABC changing the show's time slot from 8:30 to 9:30. Topanga is babysitting a boy named Billy and Cory drops by for a visit. Billy wants to stay up to watch the Friday Night Line-Up (which Cory considers to have "the best shows on TV")—particularly a show about a curly-headed kid who "keeps on digging himself in deeper and deeper."
Billy: It use to be on at 8:30, but this year they moved it to 9:30. Those idiots.
Cory: Wait a minute. They moved that show to 9:30? Why?
Billy: No one knows.
Cory: Well, was it doing badly at 8:30?
Cory: Well, why didn't they leave it alone?
Billy: They're trying to kill it! They're trying to kill it!
Cory: Those are bad, bad people.
- Left the Background Music On: In "Everybody Loves Stuart", Eric dramatically enters a student hearing like he is a big-time lawyer while the theme from The People's Court plays in the background. He then opens up his briefcase and turns off the tape recorder playing the music.
- Lets Wait Awhile: Cory and Topanga (much to Cory's frustration).
- Lights Off, Somebody Dies: Used in "And Then There Was Shawn".
- Limited Social Circle: For a lot of the show's run it is just Cory, Shawn and Topanga. Cory is a Cool Loser, and it is implied that Cory and Shawn spend so much time with each other that they don't make time for other friends. In Topanga's case it is sometimes alluded to that she has other friends but they are never actually seen. In a couple of episodes in season three she has a weirdo best friend named Trini (played by a pre-fame Brittany Murphy), but that character is dropped. When Angela becomes Shawn's girlfriend in season five she joins their social circle and eventually becomes Topanga's best friend and roommate. When they all go to college, they form more of a social circle with Eric, Jack and Rachel.
- Line-of-Sight Name:
- In "Band on the Run", Cory comes up with a name for his band this way. He considers "Blood Drive" and "Sex Ed" before choosing "The Exits".
- In "Fraternity Row", Eric makes up a fake fraternity so that he can have a fraternity party. When the Dean asks him the name, he sees a kid in a Magnum, P.I. shirt, and thus replies "Magnum Pi".
- Living Prop: Most of the other students in the main characters' classes. See Ghost Extras.
- Local Hangout: Chubbie's for seasons 2 through 5, later replaced by the Pennbrook University student lounge.
- Long Lost Sibling: Jack
- Love Before First Sight: In the episode "I Love You, Donna Karan", Shawn finds a lost purse at school without an I.D. in it and he becomes attracted to the purse's owner based on its contents because they reveal that he and the owner have very similar interests. It turns out that the purse's owner is in a relationship with someone else, which breaks Shawn's heart. However, the contents in the purse did not belong to the owner of the purse, but to Angela, a classmate Shawn had just broken up with.