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Series / Boy Meets World

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Oddly enough that's Shawn, not Cory, taking center stage.note 
"When this Boy Meets World!
Boy Meets World!
Wander down this road that we call "life"
It's what we're doin'!
It's good to know I have friends who will always...
Stand by me!
When this Boy Meets World!
— Theme song from seasons 5-7, sung by Phil Rosenthal

This Sitcom on ABC followed the main character, Cory Matthews, from elementary school, to High School, to College, and to marriage. It includes a lot of Lampshade Hanging and fourth-wall breaching. It lasted from September 1993 to May 2000, producing a total of 158 episodes over seven seasons.

Cory Matthews is the middle child of a typical suburban family. His parents bicker, but are generally Happily Married. His older brother Eric is at best a mimbo and at worst a raging idiot, while his sister Morgan is...well, hardly touched upon. But the show's not really about her, so that's fine. Cory's best friend, Shawn, lives in a trailer park and has eternal problems with his father. Living next street over from and sharing a fence with the Matthews is Cory's teacher Mr. Feeny, always there to spout wisdom to Cory, Eric, his parents, or whoever else might need it. Rounding out the regular cast is Topanga. Originally a free-spirited Granola Girl in Cory's class, she develops into his nerdy love interest and eventual wife.

The show added several more characters to the main cast as it went along, including Cool Teacher Mr. Turner (who later disappeared), Shawn's long-lost half-brother Jack, who becomes Eric's best friend, Shawn's first long-term girlfriend Angela, and Eric and Jack's roommate Rachel.

While occasionally campy and cheesy the show also delved into some surprisingly dark and mature stories compared to the other shows on ABC's TGiF (Thank-God-It's-Friday) lineup, especially when it came to exploring Shawn's dysfunctional family. It had a sizable following for most of its run, a result of it combining a good cast, memorable comedic elements, the aforementioned darker themes and plenty of hidden adult jokes. It also defied the usual Status Quo Is God edicts of its brand of sitcom, preferring instead to chronicle Cory's journey to adulthood in something approaching real time, with him starting a new grade each season, and eventually moving on to college and married life.

A Sequel Series, Girl Meets World, produced by Disney and original creator Michael Jacobs, premiered June 27, 2014 on Disney Channel. The spinoff has since been confirmed to be part of the Disney Channel Live-Action Universe, causing many shows it's linked with to be part of this universe as well.

In 2022, the franchise entered the world of new media with Pod Meets World, a podcast published by iHeartMedia that features Danielle Fishel (Topanga), Will Friedle (Eric), and Rider Strong (Shawn) rewatching and commenting on every episode of the original series. Ben Savage (Cory) was asked to take part but chose not to.

The show provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-L 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Minkus for Topanga in season one, though Topanga herself (being a Cloudcuckoolander at the time) doesn't seem to mind.
  • 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.
  • Actor Allusion: Several:
    • Cory incorrectly refers to Ricky, the guy Topanga kissed during their second break-up as a soap opera actor, not an artist. His actor Jonathan Jackson was best known for playing Lucky Spencer on the soap opera General Hospital.
    • 'John Adams High School' is a nod to William Daniels, who played John Adams in 1776.
    • In "Boy Meets Real World", Mr. Feeny says that The Graduate is a great film. Mr Feeny's actor William Daniels was also in The Graduate. In "Kid Gloves", when Cory is looking for his father's silver glove necklace, Cory is seen scuba diving similar to Benjamin in The Graduate, with the same POV shot of William Daniels.
    • In "The Truth About Honesty", while telling his date increasingly obvious lies, Eric eventually culminates by declaring that he's Batman. This was a Throw It In line Will Friedle improvised in celebration of realizing his life-long dream of working in animation, upon being cast as the new Batman in Batman Beyond. The scene even closes by playing a Batman-esque piece of music (reused from "And Then There Was Shawn").
    • In "Rave On", Topanga calls Frankie, played by Ethan Suplee, a "mallrat". Suplee was in the film Mallrats which came out a month before the episode aired.
    • At the end of "Rave On", the band manager, played by Dave Madden, tells the guys who played at the rave that he used to be the manager for a family act, alluding to his role on The Partridge Family.
    • Jennifer Love Hewitt appeared in a horror-themed episode "And Then There Was Shawn", playing Jennifer Love Fefferman (AKA Feffy), an expy of her character from I Know What You Did Last Summer, and there is also a bait-and-switch allusion to Hewitt's show Party of Five:
      Jack: I like that one with the hotty hot hot from Party of Five.
      Feffy: Neve Campbell?
      Eric: Duh!
      • Also, she was dating Will Friedle at the time, and Eric showed interest in her romantically in that episode.
      • They also appeared as love interests in Trojan War.
    • The episode "A Long Walk to Pittsburgh" features Topanga's aunt Prudence, who according to Topanga "has never been in love, never been married, and wouldn't even know who Romeo and Juliet were". Said aunt was played by Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet in the 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.
    • There are two references to William Daniels' role as the cardiologist Dr. Mark Craig in St. Elsewhere, which took place in the hospital St. Eligius. In "Me and Mr. Joad", Mr. Feeny says "Ah, St. Eligius" while looking out a window wistfully. In "I Ain't Gonna Spray Lettuce No More", he complains about a pair of socks that cost $18 and says, "I'm a teacher, not a heart surgeon!"
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Eric gets this in one episode ("Eric Hollywood") 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.
  • 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:
    • Taken to extremes, almost to the point of 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 as Boy Meets World playing actors with similar names (e.g. Cory's actor Ben Savage playing in-universe actor Ben Sandwich as Rory).
    • Three out of four of 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, and even he can give sound advice to Shawn and tries to be his best for him.
    • Which is not to say they never stray into it. In the season four episode, "Janitor Dad", Mr. Turner fails to stop a bully from picking on Shawn before it comes to blows.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Lampshaded as part of the Show Within a Show Kid Gets Acquainted with Universe.:
    Ben Sandwich: You know, how could I learn so much, every week, and still be so stupid?!"
  • Adult Adoptee: Subverted. After Shaun's father dies, his best friend Cory's family offers to adopt him. He is touched but ultimately declines.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Eric typically calls Morgan "Weasel" in Season One.
    • Cory often refers to Shawn as "Shawnie."
  • Alcoholic Parent: Shawn's father is a recovered alcoholic.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: KidAnova Shawn has a troubled home life and and somewhat of a "bad boy" image. However, the bad boy aspect of his character became less prevalent 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?
    • In "I Was a Teenage Spy", Cory is zapped by a microwave and is sent back in time to 1957 where he is mistaken for a spy but it turns out to be a dream.
  • All There in the Script: Shawn is not identified by name until the fourth episode "Cory's Alternative Friends".
  • 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!
    Topanga: I don't really want to know. I ate it anyway.
  • Ambiguously Jewish:
    • The Matthews celebrate Christmas, but Eric and Cory can be heard using Yiddish idioms; and Alan asks a rabbi to say a prayer for ailing baby Joshua, although this may speak to his willingness to try anything at this point. Ben Savage is Jewish in real life, though the rest of the family appears more WASP-y. A Hanukkah card can be seen in the Hunter-Matthews apartment in "A Very Topanga Christmas".
    • In the Season 2 premiere of Girl Meets World, Riley wants a Bat Mitzvah so she can get money. Topanga never does say that they aren't Jewish.
    • Riley again remarks about wanting to have had a Bat Mitzvah in Season 3, and Maya finally points out Riley isn't Jewish.
  • 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 ("You are you and I am I"), Cory would then turn around and deliver the same one to Eric before the episode's 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.
  • Anti-Alcohol Aesop: In "If You Can't Be With The One You Love...", Cory decides to take to drinking to cope with his break-up with Topanga. Although he quickly snaps out of it, Shawn is coaxed into trying it and becomes hooked. This leads to an intervention, and he eventually agrees to stop once he lashes out at Angela.
  • Apple for Teacher: Shawn gives a apple to Mr. Feeny late in one episode to make up for his Alcohol-Induced Idiocy.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Eric is avoiding taking the S.A.T. Mr. Feeny asks him point-blank "What are you afraid of, Eric?" This results in Eric taking the test and getting an 1120, significantly higher than his previous attempt.
  • The Artifact:
    • Topanga's name was one. Her character was given that name to emphasize her Granola Girl personality and overall 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.
    • All of the Matthews family besides Cory and Eric arguably becomes this starting in Season 6. As neither Cory nor Eric lives at home at this point, and as they are now adults and more or less on their own, there isn't necessarily a need for their parents or pre-teen sister to appear as members of the main cast, but as they were established characters who'd been around since the beginning they were kept in the opening credits and started appearing in roughly half the episodes rather than most or all.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Law: Realistically, the girls would not have been able to take over the apartment since the lease is more than likely in Jack's (and formerly Eric's) name. Rachel and the girls technically were squatting even if they were paying rent since the apartment likely wasn't even under any of their names.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Topanga went from being a recurring character to one of the most important characters on the show.
    • Shawn to some extent. In post-show interviews Rider Strong has commented that some of his scenes/lines in Season 1 were originally meant to be different characters (ex. when Shawn calls his sister in "Cory's Alternative Friends") but they ended up being merged with Shawn, hence some of the Retcon and Early-Installment Weirdness.
    • 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 girlfriend 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 Chubbie's.
  • 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 titled "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. However, unlike most Beta Couples (who tend to be low-key and stable to contrast with the histrionics and angst of the Official Couple), Shawn and Angela were perhaps even more dysfunctional than Cory and Topanga, and got about as much screentime and storyline - making them in effect a second "Alpha" The traditional functions of the Beta Couple were instead handled by the Happily Married Alan and Amy, along with Mr. Feeny and Dean Bolander.
  • 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 "Brave New World", 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 "Resurrection" where his return signals the resolution of the storyline's conflict.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: The trio of bullies: Frankie is big, Harley is thin, and Joey is short.
  • 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?
    Kid: No!
    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 Gal on White Guy Drama: Completely averted. All of the issues in Shawn and Angela's relationship stem from their inability to be emotionally vulnerable with one another and never about their races.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerize: Disney Channel made several edits to the show, with some more mature episodes being skipped entirely, to keep the show more family friendly. They even went as far as cutting words like "kill". The following dialogue in "Boys II Mensa" (when Cory angrily shoots Shawn with a Nerf gun)...
    Shawn: Hey! What are you trying to do, kill me?
    Cory: Kill you? I'll tell you about killed. How about what you did to me? edited to...
Shawn: Hey! What are you trying to do?
Cory: How about what you did to me?
The words "kill me?" were still intact on the Closed Captioning, however.
  • 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 "Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow" 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!
  • "Brave the Ride" Plot: In "Danger Boy", Cory and Feeny are tired of being considered predictable and decide to show everyone otherwise by riding a dangerous coaster at a local theme park (to the point they have to sign waivers to do so). Mr. Turner and Eric rush to them to convince they don't have to prove anything much to their relief...except the ride starts before they can get out. They get through it (despite the two somehow swapping seats during the ride) and even trick Eric and Turner into riding it.
  • 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.
    • In "Turkey Day", after a very pointed Thanksgiving, focusing very heavily on issues of class with the older generation, Feeny looks directly at the camera as Shawn reads his A+ paper.
  • Breakout Character:
    • Shawn and Topanga. Season 1 focused more on the Matthews Family. As the series moved on, it focused primarily on Cory's social circle, primarily 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 is seen again).
    • After a four year absence, Minkus makes a return in the Season 5 finale "Graduation", as the group graduates from John Adams High. Joey and Frankie also return.
  • 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...?
    Cory: Yes!
    Shawn: Was she on the...?
    Cory: Uh-huh!
    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:
    • Lampshaded in the episode "B & B's B'N'B", in which, in light of getting away with some hilarious hijinks, Cory begins to worry about whether or not the universe cares about him anymore. To his relief, Mr. Feeny catches him and Shawn soon after the aforementioned revelation. Even then he lets them off scot-free, though he takes the money Shawn made.
    • Exaggerated in the episode "Wheels": Cory gets pulled over by the police for going 1 mph over the speed limit in a country road speed trap. On his first day with a driver's license.
      Cory: 24... 25... 26... Look at me I'm breaking the law!
      [a police siren goes off in the background]
    • Actually averted in "The War": Rachel goes to Mr. Feeny after Cory & Shawn somehow park her car in her dorm room, and then set the car alarm off to wake her up. Feeny refuses to punish them because there isn't a rule against parking a car in a dorm room and he finds the prank to be hilarious, whilst also being more interested in how they pulled it off.
  • 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.
    • In "Cory's Alternative Friends" (the episode that introduced Topanga), Cory recites a poem of Topanga's while she performs an interpretative dance and draws on her face with lipstick. In "Resurrection", Topanga draws a heart on her face to assure Cory that, regardless of her becoming more grounded since they met, she is still the same Topanga that he fell in love with.
  • 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 Cameo:
    • Ted Lange and Bernie Kopell as themselves as celebrities Jack hired to make the frat he and Eric started seem more credible in "Fraternity Row".
    • Mankind and Mr. Socko show up with no explanation to referee the match between the girls and the guys over the apartment in "For Love and Apartments".
  • 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.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Jason Marsden, the actor, plays a student named... Jason Marsden.
  • 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 Mr. Feeny.
    • Cory starts off as a standard 11-year-old boy who wants to fit in; but the end of the series he's an overly neurotic basket-case. His love for baseball also disappears after season 1.
    • Shawn was a dumbass and sometimes a bit of a bully when the show started. He lost the meanness after elementary school, but kept the ditziness until about Season 5 where he's revealed to be an artistic and literary prodigy. Especially noteworthy is how early on, he can't even keep up with Cory and Eric's limerick and expresses that he hates poetry, but in college he claims to have written poetry all his life as a way to cope.
    • Topanga goes from being a Cloudcuckoolander Granola Girl to a perfectionist overachiever.
    • Eric Took a Level in Dumbass.
  • 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, Eric's 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.
      • The GMW writers, who are active on Twitter, mentioned they consider Eddie still canonical, he just is Virna's son, which explains why he'd be a smaller part of Shawn's life and eventually not part of it at all.
      • Considering how promiscuous both Chet and Virna apparently were it is not really surprising that Shawn would have some many half siblings.
    • 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.
  • Clockwork Prediction: In "Hair Today Goon Tomorrow", Topanga tries to teach Cory a lesson about image by cutting some of her hair in front of Cory and Shawn. However as she goes to leave, she catches herself in a locker mirror. Shawn, figuring this was going to happen, turns to Cory and quips "She's gonna scream now". Cue Topanga screaming.
  • Cliffhanger: 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 Teacher:
    • Jonathan 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.
  • 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 its 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 Cameo: Michael Jacobs appears, uncredited, as the rabbi in the neonatal unit in "Resurrection".
  • Creator Breakdown: In-Universe. "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.
  • Crossover: Two semi-crossovers with Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • The first was a Crossover Punchline during The Tag of "The Withes of Pennbrook" in which Eric is on a date with Sabrina. Also an example of a Crossover Couple.
    • The second crossover episode "No Guts, No Cory" 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 6 showed signs of this. While the show was never shy of dealing with heavy topics in the past, they were usually resolved by the end of the episode. The topics dealt with in Season 6 were permanent such as Chet dying, Topanga's parents divorcing, and Eric giving up a foster child he became friends with so he can be with a family who can give him what he needs.
  • 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.
  • 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. Mr. Turner and all the other students react as if he'd said a horrible curse word in class...
    Cory/'Brad': For saying "butt"?
  • 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 disguised 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!
  • Domestic Abuse: In "Dangerous Secret", Shawn helps to hide a girl named Claire Ferguson who is being beaten by her father. He later ropes Cory into helping him.
  • Double Standard: Cory punching out a professor for making a move on Topanga, the professor is investigated, but Cory is still punished for it. Topanga punching out a mascot for hugging her (a hug Topanga initiated), Played for Laughs.
  • 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.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Mr. Feeny uncharacteristically takes this attitude towards the pranks in "The War", acting impressed at what they managed to pull off rather than disappointed by their immature behavior. Unfortunately, this encourages things to get worse, until it reaches the point where the characters' friendship is almost shattered forever.
  • Dream Sue: In "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. It's 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, Angela shoves him onto the bed and climbs on top of him to prove a point.
    Cory: 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.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When the attempt to have a no-strings-attached sex between Angela and Shawn fails upon Shawn telling Angela "I love you", Angela accuses Shawn of being too emotionally invested. Shawn tries to defend himself in protest, only to realize Angela is right — and then some.
    Shawn: Aw man, I Cory'd this up didn't I?
    Angela: You had to go and get heavy, Shawn - didn't you?
    Shawn: No, I'm not getting heavy, Angela, I just think that an emotional commitment is the proper foundation for OH MY GOD I'M BOTH OF THEM!
  • Expy: Jack and Eric are essentially the Cory and Shawn relationship if slightly skewed to account 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'?"
      Mr.Feeny: "I know you well enough to call you Cornelius."
  • Flanderization:
    • Eric Matthews got hit with this hard in the later seasons. While he Took a Level in Dumbass over the first few seasons, with increasingly ditzy tendencies, overall he was more on the side of Book Dumb/Brilliant, but Lazy and frequently displayed Hidden Depths. However, in Season 5 he got paired with Straight Man scene partner Jack, and his stupidity and wacky antics started becoming the entire focus of his plotlines. By Season 7, his stupidity had become the defining aspect of his character, to the point that he was often a physical threat to the people around his, and his family viewed him as an embarrassment. 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."
      • Girl Meets World continues this trend with Eric, where they turn him into a flat-out weirdo who is the mayor of a town called St. Upidtown (aka Stupidtown) and wears a fake beard. Though he still shows signs of Hidden Depths.
    • Shawn started out a troublemaking Book Dumb kid with a carefree spirit, but partway through season 2 this started to translate into him being The Ditz, and episodes would often have multiple "Shawn says/does something dumb" jokes. However the writers must have decided they preferred to give the "dumb" joke to Eric, because this change in character was later reverted and he goes back to simply being Book Dumb, and is later revealed to be Brilliant, but Lazy. By season six he is actually one of the more sensible ones in the group.
    • All of the characters go through this to some extent 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 (glasses-wearing) 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 "Plays With Squirrels". 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.
      • Jack does become a businessman, but he hasn't spoken to Rachel ever since.
      • 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. Also, on a happier note, it seems that he and Shawn stayed on good terms throughout Riley's childhood, and he and Topanga ended up Happily Married rather than in a strained relationship that needs marriage counseling.
  • 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?"
    • In a similar vein within the same episode: "Mr. Feeny, I'm sure if you recall the pain of being stabbed in the back by a girlfriend..."
    • 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 movies that his dream/nightmare is making one.
    • In a similar vein, Mr. Feeny being killed immediately after everyone comes to the conclusion that he's the killer makes sense: it was too obvious.
    • 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!
  • Freshman Fears: Season 2 opens with Cory and Shawn starting high school and going through a particularly rough first day. They find out they don't share all their classes, try to get in the good graces of a bully named Harley, but the man they initially mistake for him turns out to be a teacher (though at least a cool one), Cory gains the ire of the real Harley and he gets sent to the principal's office where he finds out his former teacher, Feeny, is now the principal. Near the end, Cory is forced into a fight with Harley but is saved by Eric and the new teacher, Mr. Turner. While he worries about how the rest of the high school experience will play out, he does acknowledge it's not as bad as he thought.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Played straight in the Season 4 episode "An Affair to Forget", complete with Shawn/Cory bromance and gay jokes.
  • "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 constant apartment shuffling in the first half of season 7 makes this even more confusing, where all of the seven main friends live there at some point, and yet it remains unclear who is continuing to pay the rent.
  • 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.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Played with in-universe in the episode "Father Knows Less". Cory's ball ends up falling into Feeny's yard, who's sitting and drinking a bottle of what looks like brandy or whiskey. Feeny invites Cory to sit and have a drink with him, to which Cory is initially confused but gradually becomes excited when it's clear Feeny is making no attempts to stop him. After toasting and taking a sip, Cory exclaims, "Hey, this is apple juice!"
  • 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. This was also Played for Drama during Cory and Topanga's engagement as Topanga's parents announce they’re getting divorced which leads to Topanga breaking off the engagement fearing that she and Cory will eventually end up divorcing. Likewise, during that same period Angela also breaks up with Shawn out of fear that she'll eventually hurt and leave Shawn just like when her mother walked out on her family.
  • 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 "And Then There Was Shawn" 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 Flintstone 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 sitcom.
  • "Getting My Own Room" Plot: Cory gets his own room after Eric goes to college. However, after a rooming mishap, Eric comes back home which really upsets Cory. Cory then spends the day trying to find an apartment for Eric so he could move out.
  • 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, thinking it will take him to Paris, France. This was from the period on the show where Shawn Took a Level in Dumbass.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: In "Its a Wonderful Night", Cory and Shawn watch a VHS of a slasher film called I'm Blowing Up Your Head Part 6: Stumpy's Revenge.
  • 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."
  • The Grovel: Shawn's strategy for getting Angela back after breaking up with her in freshman year.
  • 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:
      Thub-thub... thub-thub...
      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 and Eric:
      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, who becomes Frankie and Joey's new leader after The Bully Harley gets Put on the Bus.
  • 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 laughing.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Cory looks pretty out of place in the Matthews family. Ben Savage is Jewish with dark curly hair, while the rest of the Matthews are played by WASPy-looking actors with wavy dark blonde hair. The contrast wasn't quite as obvious at the start of the series, but became quite a bit more noticeable after Ben/Cory went through puberty, where he became noticeably more Jewish-looking and even started affecting some stereotypical Jewish mannerisms. The hair inconsistency gets a reference at one point where it's mentioned that a babysitter once curled Cory's hair and it's been stuck that way ever since. The cast also joke about this at one point on the DVD commentary.
  • 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 ("An Affair to Forget") 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.
    • 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!
      [hugs him]
      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 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?
  • 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 shock 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:
    • Enforced in Topanga's case. Danielle Fishel wanted to get a haircut, but the producers didn't want Topanga to lose her trademark locks. The only way they would allow it is if Topanga getting a haircut was made into a major story point, which became the second episode of the 4th season.
    • Eric gets one at the beginning of season seven. He even lampshades it.
  • 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.
  • Insignificant Anniversary: In one episode, Topanga and Cory end up having a brief fight over having too many anniversary dates and people assuming they were an older married couple rather than high schoolers. It turns out the reason Cory brought them to the fancy adult restaurant they were at was that it was their anniversary of...eating at that particular fancy adult restaurant.
  • 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."
  • Interclass Friendship:
    • Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter. Cory comes from a middle-class, two-parent family. Shawn lives in the Pink Flamingo Trailer Park with both a Missing Mom and a barely there dad.
    • There's also Cory's brother Eric Matthews being friends with Shawn's brother Jack Hunter whose family is more well off.
      Shawn: And to think you were my only rich friend.
      Cory: Comfortable. Never rich.
      Shawn: Indoor plumbing? Rich.
  • 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: "This... is... the most beautiful dress... I have ever seen!" First Topanga says it regarding the wedding dresses she hand-picks for the bridesmaids despite Morgan's blatant hatred towards them, and then Morgan utters the same sentence upon seeing Topanga wearing the wedding dress Amy has in mind for Topanga later in the same episode.
  • 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 a while 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: Shawn seems to really like cake. Feeny bribed him with it to take his SAT prep course, and afterwards he's shown to have gotten some. In another episode, he reveals that he was lured by cake on television and it caused him to watch a hospital report.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Stuart the titular professor from the episode Everybody Loves Stuart gets no more than a chewing out from the Dean (and threat of investigation) after trying to make a move on Topanga and making it clear to Cory he's not going to stop.
    • The vandals in "Life Lessons" get away with vandalizing Feeny's house and the school.
  • 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.
  • KidAnova: Shawn. Also a Chick Magnet.
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films: A variation is seen in "It's a Wonderful Night", when Cory and Shawn smuggle a VHS of an R-rated slasher film called I'm Blowing Up Your Head Part 6: Stumpy's Revenge into the house to watch while the parents are out. The problem is, Eric called in Mr. Feeny as a last-minute babysitter after the original one canceled, so Cory and Shawn keep trying to hide it from Mr. Feeny. Rather than be terrified, Cory and Shawn enjoy the movie, until Mr. Feeny catches a glimpse of a violent scene and goes to take the tape out of the VCR, but he ends up breaking the tape in the process...
    Mr. Feeny: This is rated "R!"
    Shawn: Yeah, R for "wRecked!"
  • 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...
    Both: *Aside Glance*
  • Last-Name Basis: If Mr. Feeny calls any student by their first name, you know the situation's pretty serious.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: From "Honesty Night", where Mr. Feeny inadvertently becomes part of Cory and Topanga's scheme to help Shawn.
    Mr. Feeny: I have serious misgivings about being part of your little...
    (Shawn walks into the classroom)
    Mr. Feeny: Big Horn! Where General Custer and his wife... Mrs. Custer... had a beach house. (Beat) Oh I'm way too involved.
  • 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 haven't 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?
      Billy: No.
      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. note 
  • 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. It's 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 Alias: 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".
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Tropes M-Z 
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Early on Cory frequently said "I'm [whatever's being discussed] Boy!"
  • The Magazine Rule: In one episode Eric subscribes to 26 different magazines, each one's title beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, as part of poorly thought out attempt to game the Publisher's Clearing House contest. Among these magazines is Chester, a magazine for people named Chester (Eric had to lie about his name to get the subscription).
  • Make-Out Kids: Shawn and Angela become like this for an episode after they back together.
  • Make Up or Break Up: Every couple in the show, except for Happily Married Alan and Amy, go through this arc, often more than once:
    • Cory and Topanga: Three times. In season 3, after dating for most of the season, they break up, then get back together in the season finale; in season 5, they break up after Cory kisses another girl, but get back together after Topanga kisses another guy; in season 7, they break up after Topanga's parents do, because she's lost faith in true love, but they get back together and finally get married after that.
    • Shawn and Angela: Twice. In season 5, Shawn and Angela agree to cool things off after Shawn's Kid A Nova past comes back to haunt them, but they soon reconcile; in season 6, Shawn dumps Angela because he's insecure, and they stay apart for the whole season, but get back together early in the seventh. At the end of the series, Angela leaves for Europe with her father but she and Shawn still say they love each other and agree to continue their relationship long-distance.
    • Jack and Rachel: Only once, and surprisingly, they break up and stay that way, though they do leave with the Peace Corps together in the series finale.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places:
    • In "They're Killing Us", Cory invokes this concept when Topanga is trying to get him to help plan their honeymoon.
      Topanga: Cory, I'm beginning to think you'd be fine if we just spent our honeymoon in any old hotel!
      Cory: ...or in the road.
      Topanga: Cory, that's sick!
  • Malaproper: Shawn gets MANY of these during his dumb period in season 2-3.
    • From the episode "The Grass Is Always Greener":
      Shawn: "Cory, I'm no rocket Scientologist but... I'm sensing there's something wrong."
    • From "Cyrano":
      Shawn: "Without witnesses, it's all just circumcised evidence!"
  • Man Hug: Practically required in a series where the main characters include two pairs of male Heterosexual Life-Partners and two pairs of brothers.
  • Manipulative Editing: When Cory makes a video for class interviewing various people about sex, he uses this for humorous effect:
    Topanga: (in video) What is the most important advice you have for teenagers about sex?
    Mr. Feeny: (in video) Be careful with that valuable equipment!
    Mr. Feeny: (watching the video) Cheap editing trick.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Cory feels ready to have sex, and is frustrated when Topanga decides to wait until marriage. To his credit, though, he does wait, even when presented with opportunities with other women.
  • The Matchmaker: Shawn takes up this role for a while when Cory and Topanga broke up, with a lot of people commenting he took the breakup harder than they did, and being the number one champion of the get-back-together cause. In a later episode this is reversed, where Cory becomes obsessed with getting Shawn and Angela back together.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In Halloween episode "The Witches of Pennbrook", left unclear if those girls were really witches and if the light beam they try to use for sacrifice was real or not. Eric actually says something similar to the trope name when discussing it.
    Jack: Eric, I saw the light beam was that real?
    Eric: Jack, maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. There are some things just too big for our puny heads to comprehend.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In "Everybody Loves Stuart" the characters are sitting around in the student center having a comedic conversation while Cory gets in a fight with his teacher in the patio outside. The event is brought to the foreground when Cory shoves the teacher through the doorway.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • In "Sixteen Candles and Four-Hundred-Pound Men" Cory gets caught in a Two-Timer Date scenario and Shawn teaches him to play it out like Fred did in one episode of The Flintstones, leading to this exchange:
      Shawn: ...and Fred never spent more than 75 seconds at either location.
      Cory: Shawn, that was a cartoon, time was compressed, we're real, we're in real time.
      Shawn: Trust me, it's the same thing.
      Cory: No, it's not. You see a television show can cover many days in only one half-hour program.
      Shawn: Trust me, it's the same thing.
    • In "A Long Walk to Pittsburgh (Part 1)," Shawn spends the entire episode convinced that even though Topanga's family are moving away, their car is going to get to the end of street & turn around because TV has taught him that whenever a couple are as in love as Cory & Topanga are, that's what will happen. When Topanga's family actually do leave, he simply reacts in horror that television is a lie.
    • In "They're Killing Us", Cory says that he wants to get married "next Friday night at 8:00, 7 central". Guess what the show's timeslot was?
  • Men Can't Keep House:
    • It's occasionally mentioned that Jack and Eric are slobs, Ironically the girl's attempt to decorate the apartment when they stole it from them made it even more cluttered and messy. This is never brought up.
    • This is averted when Rachel moves in with Eric and Jack. They go out of their way to keep everything neat and clean and adopt fake manners to impress her. She objects and demands that they act the same way they normally would when she's around.
  • Metaphorgotten: In one episode, Shawn rants that Cory "took a gun, stabbed me in the back, right in front of my eyes!"
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Cory suffers from this early on. It diminishes after Eric gets dumber and becomes The Unfavorite.
  • Mid-Life Crisis Car: Alan Matthews wants to get a midlife crisis motorcycle in "Cutting the Cord" but decides against it by the end of the episode.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: In "Once in Love with Amy", Cory and Eric find out that their mom is sneaking off to have a romantic dinner with a mysterious man... who turns out to be their dad.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Topanga in "She's Having My Baby Back Ribs", who was just going on a diet. This mistake happens via a One Dialogue, Two Conversations.
  • Mood Whiplash: Especially prominent in the more serious episodes when a comedy relief scene is injected between the serious scenes.
    • Notably, the episode when Joshua is born prematurely & the entire cast is at the hospital, and Shawn returns once he hears what's happened - Cory & Shawn immediately start joking around. It's even lampshaded by Topanga as inappropriate, while Mr. Feeny argues it's exactly the sort of thing Cory needed at the moment.
      Shawn: Maybe he'll meet a kid like me...
      Cory: He won't need to, YOU'LL STILL BE THERE!
    • The first mood whiplash episode "Teacher's Bet" starts out normally with Cory acting like his normal self, about halfway through the episode moves into A Very Special Episode territory addressing the topic of prejudice.
    • In the episode "Dangerous Secret", Cory finds out that a girl spent the night at Shawn's house so he assumes that Shawn has started having sex, and Hilarity Ensues when he unsuccessfully tries to do the same thing with Topanga. Then midway through the episode Shawn reveals that the girl was staying at his house because her dad hits her, and it turns into a Very Special Episode complete with a PSA at the end.
    • Within the same character in "Seven The Hard Way". When Eric enters after the time skip, he's become a hermit named Plays With Squirrels. There's some humorous interactions and it turns out he married a moose, but he has the best insight into everybody's issues.
    • The most humorous episodes tend to immediately follow the most serious. For example, "Eric Hollywood" (where Eric goes to Hollywood to appear on an Expy of the show as an expy of himself) comes right after "If You Can't Be With The One You Love ...", which is often not shown in syndication due to its depiction of teen drinking.
  • Motifs: Cake is mentioned frequently, often in unexpected contexts. One Review Blog even had an ongoing "cake watch". See, for example, I Was Told There Would Be Cake, above.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rachel, especially considering the male characters' reaction to her.
  • Mystery Box: In "Prom-ises, Prom-ises", Eric tries to bride a hotel desk clerk with a "mystery bag".
  • Name One: From the episode "Cyrano":
    Gloria: Name one thing you got me that ever made me feel special.
    Harley: Tires. Steel belted.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: The lead actor Ben Sandwich on Kid Gets Acquainted with Universe.
  • New Year, Same Class: Done with Cory, Shawn and Topanga in the first episode of season two and mentioned briefly in the first episode of season three. For the remainder of the high school seasons, they continued to be in the same class together but this isn't addressed again in-show. In the first college season, there is an explicit plot point where the main three shift their class schedules around so they share some classes, and the second (and final) college season has a more humorous take on this where Cory and Shawn both nonchalantly proclaim that they both have Mr. Feeny for all their classes this year.
  • Noir Episode: "As Time Goes By", complete with a Deliberately Monochrome picture and a Private Eye Monologue by Eric.
  • Noodle Incident: From "Heartbreak Cory", when the characters are going on their school's senior ski trip:
    Mr. Feeny: Now remember, I don't want another incident like last year's fiasco in the Amish country.
    Cory: Why's everyone looking at me?
  • No Sparks: This happens at least twice:
    • Topanga and Cory had broken up. She goes on a date with another guy, and when he kisses her she feels nothing and realizes Cory is her soulmate.
    • Shawn and Topanga kiss for a film project and Cory gets extremely jealous. Angela (Shawn's ex-girlfriend) tries to convince him it didn't mean anything, but ends up having to throw him down on the bed and lay one on him to show him that it's different with someone other than your one true love.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: Said by Alan after he sells a tent after The Blair Witch Project has been released. Then Eric decides to "join the family business." Causing Alan this reaction.
  • Not Helping Your Case: In the Not What It Looks Like scenario below, Topanga insists they weren't doing the nasty and asks Cory to vouch for her. Cory is so shocked Feeny thought that all he can say is "Oh my god."
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Mr. Feeny at times.
    • Topanga sometimes gets willingly dragged into Cory and Shawn's antics and doesn't protest. Most notably in Quiz Show
  • Not What It Looks Like: In one episode Cory and Topanga are working late on a project at school and they happen to fall asleep next to each other in the same room. When other students see them the next morning they think they had sex.
  • Now Do It Again, Backwards: Subverted in "I Was a Teenage Spy". An accident with a microwave oven throws Cory back to the 1950s, and a Wise Old Man tells him that to get back, he just needs to recreate the circumstances of the accident. There's just one problem, as Cory points out: there were no microwave ovens in the 1950s. Luckily for Cory, it was All Just a Dream.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: There's evidence that some of Eric's stupidity and wackiness is put on, sometimes to get out of work, but mostly for his own enjoyment.
  • Official Couple: Cory and Topanga.
  • Off the Wagon:
    • Shawn drinks again in season 7 after he finds out his mom isn't his birth mother. He appears drunk, but it's only mentioned by Jack he shouldn't be drinking. It's easy to miss.
    • Jack starts gambling again in "No Such Thing As a Sure Thing". It's revealed in this episode he had a gambling problem.
  • One Head Taller: Gender-flipped with Rachel and Jack. And Cory, Shawn & Eric, for that matter.
  • One-Neighbor Neighborhood: The Matthews live next to Mr. Feeny... and no one else. Likewise, Mr. Feeny doesn't appear to have anyone on his other side, either.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted.
    • The show proper has Stuart Minkus (a fellow grade school classmate) and Stuart (the college teacher who sexually harasses Topanga). That said, only Topanga calls Stuart Minkus "Stuart" and the two don't appear simultaneously.
    • Within the cast, which features three men named William - Daniels, Friedle, and Russ. Fortunately, each of them had different nicknames: "Bill", "Will", and "Rusty", respectively.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cornelius Matthews.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Feeny's behavior in "The War" is a twist on this trope. There isn't a serious problem with him, but his enthusiastic cheering of Cory and Shawn's pranking instead of his usual sober reprimands helps encourage them to a point where the True Companions' friendship is almost shattered forever.
  • Opening Credits Cast Party: In seasons 3-7. Notably, in each season the "party" gets larger:
    • In season 3, clips are shown of Cory, Shawn, and Eric hanging out together.
    • In season 4, they are joined by Topanga, going for a ride in a convertible.
    • In season 5, Jack joins them as they goof around on a street.
    • In seasons 6 and 7, Angela and Rachel are added, and the street set is retained (though all scenes are re-shot).
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The episode "And Then There Was Shawn" turned out to be an extended dream Shawn was having of some maniac in a skull mask killing everyone in detention to make sure Cory and Topanga stayed together. The killer was revealed to be Shawn... by Shawn. After he wakes up and everyone leaves Mr. Feeny's classroom... the killer emerges from behind the computer stand and departs the room.
  • Out of Focus:
    • After Shawn and Topanga proved to be Breakout Characters and Mr. Turner was introduced, Cory and Eric's family pretty much got pushed out of the limelight. Morgan was even briefly got the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome before the writers brought her back. By the time the cast went to college, Alan and Amy were only to around to give advice to the newly married Cory.
    • Topanga after Fear Strikes Out the 9th episode, doesn't get much focus in season 2. Her other appearances after that are minimal and have little impact on the plot.
  • Papa Wolf: Alan Matthews.
  • Parent ex Machina: Alan and, to a lesser extent, Amy often come to Cory and Eric's rescue.
  • Parental Abandonment: Shawn. His mother takes off (taking the family trailer with her) and his father goes off after her leaving Shawn to the Matthews and later Mr. Turner. Both his parents return and stay together as a family for a while but then his mother takes off, again and his father follows after her, again. Eventually Mr. Hunter dies and Vera sends Shawn a letter (from Honduras) telling him that she is not his biological mother. Shawn later learns (from his father's ghost no less) that his "real" mom was a stripper that abandoned the family very shortly after he was born.
  • Parental Favoritism: Alan towards Eric and Amy towards Cory. In the case with former, it gets deconstructed. Eric in later seasons ends up becoming to accustomed to being coddled by his dad, and doesn't have the work ethic that Cory has.
  • Parental Issues: Mostly Shawn again, though Topanga gets her share when her parents divorce, leading her to call off her engagement with Cory.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: In the 6th season opener, Cory and Topanga want to get married after she proposed to him at their high school graduation. Everyone tries to fake being happy for them until Cory's mother reveals that she's completely against it ("This is a mistake, and I do not support it. Why couldn't you [Topanga] have just gone to Yale?") However, this is not because she does not like Topanga, it is because she thinks they are way too young. Fortunately for everyone, Cory and Topanga decide not to go through with it after all and wait until they feel more ready.
  • Parodies for Dummies: In "The Witches of Pennbrook", Eric uses the book Witchcraft for Dumb-dumbs to help him defeat a group of supposed "witches".
  • Parody Episode:
    • The Kid Gets Acquainted With Universe "Eric Hollywood" episode (see Show Within a Show)
    • Not to mention the excellent Scream parody episode "And Then There Was Shawn".
    • The episode "And in Case I Don't See Ya..." parodies, of all things, The Truman Show. Yes, it's quite weird.
  • Phrase Catcher: A Running Gag of the guy's reacting with "*Astonished gasp* Topanga!" whenever Topanga made a dramatic entrance into a scene. This dates back to season 4's "An Affair to Forget", but used frequently in season 5.
  • Pick Up Babes With Babes: In "The Truth About Honesty", Eric pretends that his baby brother Josh is his own son to pick up a girl. The lies just escalate from there.
  • Playing Cyrano: In the episode appropriately titled "Cyrano" Cory and Shawn are forced to help Frankie in his "wooing" of Harley's girlfriend.
  • Prank Gone Too Far: The Escalating War in the episode "The War" culminates in an enlarged, revealing photo of Rachel being put on full display in the student lounge, which drives her to tears.
  • Premature Birth Drama: In "My Baby Valentine" Joshua Matthews is born prematurely with respiratory issues and the next episode and the next episode "Resurrection" deals with his survival.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "The Thrilla in Philla" and "Sixteen Candles and Four-Hundred-Pound Men".
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Danielle Fishel in season 2, Lindsay Ridgeway in season 4, and Trina McGee-Davis in season 6.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: In "The First Girlfriends Club", Shawn becomes the target of three of these.
  • Psychologist Teacher: Mr. Feeny.
  • Pun-Based Title: The show's title is a pun on the expression "Boy Meets Girl". Also, several episodes have this type of title, such as "No Guts, No Cory".
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: In "Brotherly Shove", during a garage sale at the Matthews', Cory pisses a guy off enough to cause him to punch his lights out. Nearby and witness to it, Eric responds by repeatedly whaling on the guy's stomach no less than seven times, obviously as hard as he can. Ineffective.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
  • Puppy Love: Morgan and Frankie's little brother Herman look like they could have this in season four. Unfortunately, we never see the latter again.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Most of the characters who don't suffer from Chuck Cunningham Syndrome - Harley was sent away to military school in the third season (but returned for one episode).
    • Angela leaves the episode before the series finale.
  • Radio Contest: Shawn enters one to get Super Bowl tickets. However, he finds out the contest involves standing on a billboard platform for the longest amount of time, in the middle of the Philadelphia winter. And one of contestants is an Eskimo.
  • Ready for Lovemaking: In "Getting Hitched", Cory tries to do this for Topanga when he thinks she is finally willing to have sex with him. Unfortunately, Eric walks into his dorm room before she does.
  • Real Dreams are Weirder: Some dream sequences in the show exist to share insight into the characters' anxieties, such as "The Psychotic Episode" or "And Then There Was Shawn," but some of the dreams referenced are totally bizarre. Examples include Cory winning the Miss Costa Rica pageant, Eric announcing baseball in Spanish, Eric Matthews: Good-looking Detective, and various nightmares about clowns from Cory and Shawn.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr. Feeny & Mr. Turner.
    • Dean Bolander. While she's much stricter and more rule-abiding than Mr. Feeny, she's open-minded enough to listen to everyone before having the final word, such as eventually accepting Eric into Pennbrook (after he blew off his initial interview) when he makes a passioned speech demonstrating how dedicated he'll be as a student. And at Cory's hearing for shoving his professor Stuart, who acted inappropriately with Topanga and admitted to Cory he wasn't going to stop, she doesn't let Cory get off scot-free but doesn't give him the maximum punishment (expulsion) either as she recognizes it was in response to a much more serious issue on hand and plans a thorough investigation on Stuart.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Feeny didn't give these often, preferring to turn speech worthy moments into life lessons instead. But he did give this absolute face-melter in "Quiz Show". For context, this was after the titular quiz show was retooled from an actual academic competition to a pop-culture bonanza that wouldn't have been out of place on MTV:
    Cory: Mr. Feeny, look, the show's proving that we're absorbing the right kind of knowledge. I mean, that's why we're the champions.
    *the class applauds*
    Feeny: Hold it, hold it. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Champions of what, Mr. Matthews? Of a generation whose verbal and mathematical skills have sunk so low, when you have the highest technology at your fingertips? Gutenberg's generation thirsted for a new book every six months. Your generation gets a new web page every six seconds. And how do you use this technology? To beat King Koopa and save the Princess. Shame on you. You deserve what you get.
    *bell rings, class gets up to leave*
    Feeny: Sit down! Stay where you are. For the first time, I choose to walk out on you.
  • Referenced by...: William Shakespeare: "The Play's the Thing", in which Cory's class is making a play about Hamlet by William Shakespeare, which Cory finds boring when he's supposed to be the main charater.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Cory and Topanga in "My Best Friend's Girl".
  • Red Shirt: Kenny in " And Then There was Shawn." He's never seen before. Upon Shawn pointing out him as the first victim Cory lampshades this when he asks, why him.
    Cory: "Well, it's certainly not going to be one of us. (referring to him, Topanga, Shawn, and Angela.)
  • Retcon: Goes hand and hand with the Retool described below. Because the series went through so many, the continuity of the show was never stable. At the start of the series, Cory was 6th grader while Eric was a Sophomore in High School. At some point during High School Cory, Shawn, and Topanga got aged up two years. In later series, the show also rewrote how romantic Cory and Topanga was. In the first season, Cory wasn't friends with her while the later seasons would have you believe they were inseparable since the age of 2. Topanga's hippy upbringing was also forgotten save for one Call-Back.
  • Retool: Boy Meets World got retooled three times of the course of its run:
    • Season 2: Cory, Topanga, and Shawn start going to John Adams High. Mr. Feeny follows them. Eric has a much larger role, and begins to take on The Ditz traits of his "modern" persona. Topanga abandons her Granola Girl roots and becomes a nerd. More of Shawn's home life is revealed. Mr. Turner, "the bullies," and Chubbie's are introduced. Also, the show loses Minkus, and abandons the old theme song and credits sequence.
    • Season 5: At the start of their senior year, Shawn reunites with his Long Lost Sibling Jack, who joins the main cast. Shawn, Jack and Eric (now attending college) move in together in an apartment, and Jack becomes Eric's best friend and comedy sidekick. Heretofore Kidanova Shawn gets a steady girlfriend Angela, who becomes a recurring character. Mr. Turner falls victim to Chuck Cunningham Syndrome and main high school set is changed to the senior hallway. The show gains an increased focus on running storylines, something it had already been experimenting with. Finally, the classic Theme Tune (with lyrics!) is introduced.note 
    • Season 6: Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Angela graduate and go to Pennbrook University. Mr. Feeny follows them. Angela becomes a member of the main cast. Cory and Topanga get engaged, but don't exactly make a mad dash for the altar. Rachel joins the cast and moves in with Eric (now a full-on Cloudcuckoolander) and Jack, setting up a Love Triangle. Alan, Amy, and Morgan are reduced to Commuting on a Bus.
  • Riddle for the Ages: In "The War", how the hell did Cory and Shawn move Rachel's car into her dorm room? And where did Rachel, Jack and Angela get that bear?
  • Right Behind Me:
    • Used in the episode "An Affair to Forget" when Cory insults Shawn's girlfriend Jennifer.
    • It also happens twice to Cory in "The Beard" when Cory tries to deal with Shawn's two girlfriends Linda and Stacy.
  • Running Gag:
    • Eric's "Feeny call". Also, Mr. Feeny following the gang to every school they go to.
    • Several times in Season One, Shawn throws something at Minkus such as a paper airplane or a scrunched up piece of paper in class or the cafeteria and Minkus says "Ow" in response.
  • Sadist Teacher: A mild example would be Dr. Sorrell (who Feeny says is not really one and should go by Mr. Sorrell) in Season 3. In his first appearance, it becomes clear he plays favorites with the students, and doesn't really care for his job. In his second appearance, he tries to exploit Eric's ability to count cards by trying to string him along for a trip to Atlantic City, and quits when Feeny puts a stop to it.
  • Say My Name: Again, the Feeny call.
  • Saying Too Much: In By Hook or by Crook, Eric's pretty tutor Torie initially believes that Eric has no potential as a student but is quite attractive to her so she decides to help him cheat on Mr. Feeny's tests to get him to a trip to Europe. Near the end of the episode, Eric feels guilty for having cheated on the tests and confesses to Mr. Feeny about his actions without mentioning Torie's involvement. Unfortunately for Torie, she comes in and blames Eric for telling her on Feeny...though that was what she thought Eric said during the conversation and indirectly confesses to Feeny, who scolds her for her lack of faith on Eric but doesn't fire her.
  • Scare Chord: Parodied in the slasher movie-themed episode. Everytime one of the characters makes a dramatic and scary statement Eric goes "Dun! Dun! Dun!" in imitation of a scare chord. The other characters get annoyed after he does this several times and they get him to stop.
  • Screaming Woman: Also parodied in the slasher-themed episode. Angela takes on this role and after several big screams Jack says "You know, you are really good at that." and she thanks him. Later, when Jennifer Love Hewitt's character shows up she lets out a big scream of her own and Angela then tries to out-scream her because she "is the screamer around here".
  • Security Cling: In "And Then There Was Shawn", Eric jumps into Jack's arms after the lights go out.
  • Season Fluidity: As noted above, the retooling and increasing reliance on arc-based storytelling resulted in fluctuating levels of this, to the point where it can almost be divided into three separate shows (season 1, seasons 2-4, and seasons 5-7), each with their own distinct continuity and characterizations.
  • Self-Parody: The Show Within a Show Kid Gets Acquainted With Universe. It included Parody Names of the characters and actors: Cory became Rory, Shawn became Shane and Eric became Derek. Ben Savage became "Ben Sandwich", and Rider (Strong) became "Schneider". However, the most punny name came when they mentioned that Ben Sandwich has a brother named "Bread Sandwich", a reference to Ben Savage's brother Fred Savage (from "The Wonder Years"). The personalities of the actors are completely flipped from the personalities of their regular characters (Ben Sandwich is a jerk, Schneider is terrified of most human interaction, Topanga's unnamed analogue is flirtatious with Schneider, and Jack's unnamed analogue is abrasive toward Eric). Furthermore, the show takes an opportunity to mock its formula, as Ben Sandwich rants about the idea that Rory makes the same mistakes every week and never learns from them.
    • The Stinger continues the gag by showing Will Friedle react explosively to Ben Savage's flub of a line.
  • Sequel Series: Received one in 2014, Girl Meets World.
  • Series Continuity Error: The show was really bad at trying to keep continuity straight. a whole page could probably be made of the inconsistencies especially minor issues such as the norm of hair for the family.
    • Cory and Topanga's relationship is a weird one. Season 1 shows Cory antagonistic towards Topanga, which begins to change by the end of the season in "Boy Meets Girl". However season 3 suggests they were life long lovers; season 4 manages to somewhat correct this by having Cory explain that when he was 7 Eric convinced him girls were yucky so he flung dirt at her for 6 years, a period Cory refers to the lost years. This is fairly plausible as Cory in early seasons is shown to be heavily influenced by anything Eric says. It's also worth pointing out in "Boy Meets Girl" that Amy doesn't understand Cory asking out a girl he constantly picks on, until she thinks for a moment and realizes it doesn't sound quite so strange after all.
    • Shawn's Girlfriends: "The First Girlfriends Club" in season 5 doesn't seem to get Shawn's dating history correct. "I Love you, Donna Karan" states that Shawn never goes out with any girl longer than two weeks and never has until Angela. This would make it seem odd that he went out with Dana 6 months earlier; however Dana had last been seen midway through season 3. The same episode also states that he also made plans with Jennifer and Libby, Jennifer hadn't been seen since mid season 4 and Libby was no more significant than any other girls Shawn had interacted with and hadn't been seen since early season 3.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: On their prom night Cory and Shawn say it will be "the night we leave as boys and come back as men", and both try to persuade their respective girlfriends to have sex for the first time. Cory and Topanga almost go through with it, but decide not to in the end, and Shawn and Angela, well... the episode ends without resolving that plotline and it's not (explicitly) mentioned in subsequent episodes, though the implication is that they did go through with it; Shawn dumps Angela pretty much the minute they get to Pennbrook and doesn't really date anyone for the rest of his freshman year, but somehow he's not a virgin anymore when Cory brings up that he still is.
  • Sex Equals Death: A Discussed Trope in "And Then There Was Shawn". After the killer has already killed Kenny and Mr. Feeny, everyone wonders who will be next. The Genre Savvy Shawn announces that virgins never die - prompting Eric and Jack to announce their impeding death (and to celebrate Feeny's demise). Cory thanks Topanga for saving him, and Shawn remarks that he'll get as sick as you can possibly get without actually dying. (Angela, who is also present, makes no comment one way or the other.) This is interestingly played deadly straight; the only survivors by the end are the three confirmed virgins, Cory, Topanga, and Shawn.
  • Sex Sells: In-universe example. In "How to Succeed In Business", Shawn gets a job as the assistant to an advertising executive and is asked to come up with ideas from a toothpaste campaign. Shawn thinks of a "sexy fresh breath" campaign but Cory recommends he choose a bacteria-based campaign because "sex does not sell". Shawn of course chooses the sexy breath one which the boss ends up liking.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Played with in one episode. Topanga suddenly becomes self-conscious about her looks, and decides to get a makeover. However, Cory and Shawn recognize that she was already beautiful before getting "cleaned up" and now with the makeover she will be "mega-beautiful", and sure enough she stuns them when she walks out of the beauty parlor. At the end of the episode she decides not to keep up the new appearance because it's not who she is.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Cory has this reaction about Topanga.
  • Shipper on Deck: Shawn for Cory and Topanga, Cory and Topanga for Shawn and Angela, and everyone for Mr. Feeny and Dean Bolander.
  • Ship Tease: The Cory/Topanga pairing was retconned into being a lifelong true love during season 4; the two got together for the first time in the season 3 premiere. Before that, though, there were a few hints, including the kiss against the lockers from her debut appearance in early season 1, and the "You are you and I am I" speech from late season 2. Cory's relationship with Topanga in season one could be a symptom of the lifelong true love as he constantly picked on her possibly because he cared about her so much.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Although a lot of scenes take place in school and the characters' education is an important part of the show, they do seem to have a lot of time to have their own adventures when they should have a lot of school work to do. This is lampshaded in one episode:
    Cory: You know we really should have taken more classes during our senior year. We have entirely way too much time on our hands.
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: The episode "Eric Hollywood".
  • Show Within a Show: Kid Gets Acquainted With Universe, which Eric was asked to star on in an episode that had him learning to act. Naturally it featured expies of all the cast members, evolving into an Affectionate Parody of Boy Meets World itself.
  • Shout-Out: There are a ton of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania references throughout the show that fly over the heads of most people unless they're familiar with the area.
    • For example, Pottstown from "You Can Go Home Again" is a real town in PA near Philly, however it is not three hours away (It's actually about forty miles, and therefore not in Amish Country, and also not home to "The world's largest cup of yogurt.")
    • Speaking of the Amish, there are multiple references made to them throughout the show.
    • The show also references Swarthmore College, which is in neighboring Delaware County.
    • Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are indeed really far away, almost on opposite sides of the state.
    • Hershey, PA has also been referenced.
    • The show also correctly references the state capital as Harrisburg.
    • Mr Feeny keeps a cabin in the Pocono mountains.
    • Pennbrook College is an amalgam of several Philadelphia area colleges, particularly Penn and St. Joe's.
    • John Adams High is a clear reference to 1776, which features William Daniels in the lead role as John Adams.
    • In the episode "It's Not You, It's Me", Cory and Shawn reminisce about the time they had cake at Paramus Mall. Paramus is in North Jersey, about a two-hour drive from Philadelphia. Must have been some cake...
    • Hell, South Park, of all things, received numerous references in Season 5.
    • In the episode "On the Air", after Eric comes up with a stupid plan he says "There's a little voice inside my head, you know what it's saying?", and his mom replies "Life is like a box of chocolates?", to which Eric just says "Huh?".
    • In "The Honeymoon is Over", Cory and Topanga come across a little boy in their hallway who says "I see dead people". (As a side note, that movie was actually filmed in parts of Philly; you can see the old Acme Markets location in Bryn Mawr there (it was there until 2011 when it was flattened for a new Acme); the movie was also made by Disney.)
    • Jack and Eric go for a run up the "Rocky Steps", otherwise known as the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
    • In one episode, Cory gets shocked by a microwave and wakes up in the 50s, complete with disastrously naive nuclear bomb safety drills. At one point, he ends up in jail, only to be bailed out by his parents, who affect an extremely hip vibe. When they get close enough, they suddenly take on heavy old world accents and ask him if he has "the information," prompting Cory to ask why they sound like Boris and Natasha. Funnily enough:
    How does he know our secret code names?
    • In "The Last Temptation of Cory", Cory says to a girl named Missy Robinson, "Missy Robinson, you're trying to seduce me." It doubles as an Actor Allusion since William Daniels played Benjamin Braddock's father in The Graduate.
    • In "Pairing Off", Cory is surprised that two classmates named Michael and Lisa Marie have hooked up. This is a reference to the surprise marriage of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, which occurred earlier that same year.
    • In episode 10 of Season 1, Morgan is learning "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" on the piano, much like George Bailey's daughter in It's a Wonderful Life. Given that the episode had a "spirit of Christmas" theme, this was probably intentional.
  • Shrinking Violet: On Kid Gets Acquainted With Universe, the actor who plays the Shawn expy is one of these, in contrast to the more confident character he plays.
  • Shrunk in the Wash: In "Boy Meets Real World", Eric's clothes get shrunk after he tries doing laundry for the first time at college. Later on, the show parodies this tropes as part of the Self-Parody in "Eric Hollywood", where the scenario of characters' "lucky tube socks" getting shrunk in the wash is used as Stylistic Suck version of family sitcom jokes.
  • Skyward Scream: Happens once when poor Cory suffers from a really bad hair day — made worse by the fact that he still has to go to school that day and is denied permission to wear a hat inside the school building to cover up that horrendous hairdo.
  • Sleep Learning: In "Wrong Side of the Tracks", Eric learns to ice skate by listening to a dieting tape that his friend Jason had dubbed over. Naturally, not all of the original audio was removed, leading him to freak out over, and then run away from, unhealthy food at the end of the episode. In the middle of a date.
  • Snap Back: A few of the wackier Eric plotlines in the final season had endings that led to this. For example, "The Honeymooners" ends by showing him being boiled in a big soup pot by Hawaiian natives, yet he's back at home with no mention of this in the next episode.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: The episode "Friendly Persuasion" features a more serious version of this plotline. Cory discovers that Angela keeps trying to avoid him and spends the entire episode trying to figure out why she doesn't like him. Eventually it is revealed that she is only avoiding him because she is hurt over her breakup with Shawn and being with Cory is a painful reminder. The revelation brings the two of them closer together.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome:
    • The second actress who played Morgan (Lindsay Ridgeway, born in 1985) was clearly several years older than the first one (Lily Nicksay, born in 1988).
    • Josh, who was born halfway through the sixth season (February 14, 1999), and was a child of at least two in the finale - this was confirmed in Girl Meets World, where he is 17 (played by Uriah Shelton, born in 1997).
    • Cory, Shawn and Topanga go from 11-18 in five years.
  • Spiritual Successor: Of The Wonder Years, as a Coming of Age Story sitcom set in modern times. Hilariously, the main character of Boy Meets World is played by the younger brother of the actor who plays the main character on The Wonder Years!
  • Spoiler Opening:
    • As there are no teasers on this show, the opening credits to the fifth and sixth season premieres spoil the fact that Jack and Rachel (respectively) will become members of the core cast before we are properly introduced to their characters. (Angela is also added to the opening credits in season six, but this is a clear-cut case of Promoted to Opening Titles, as she played a major role during season five).
    • Season 4's opening credits feature Topanga with her shorter, stylized hair, which she doesn't get until midway through the second episode.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: During the "High School years" you wouldn't be completely wrong in assuming that Shawn was the main character instead of Cory. Shawn's unstable upbringing as opposed to Cory's made him easy fodder for a lot of the Very Special Episode PSA’s. Because of surprisingly strong Character Development for both Shawn and Cory, this didn't have a negative effect.
  • Spotting the Thread: There's a couple hints during "And Then There Was Shawn" that clue in that this is a dream Shawn's having:
    • After expressing his knowledge of horror movies, Shawn comes to the conclusion that Mr. Feeny is the man responsible for the situation they are in, as to teach them a lesson. They then find Mr. Feeny in the hallway, dead from being stabbed in the back with scissors.note 
    • Eric and Jack had no real reason to be at the school playing basketball, and just abruptly appear in the school.
    • Why would Jennifer Love Fefferman be in a random high school with a murderer running around?
  • Standardized Sitcom Housing: The Matthews' home, although the living room and kitchen are separate rooms.
  • Start My Own: In "Fraternity Row", Eric decides to start his own fraternity after getting fed up with the hazing of other fraternities. Unfortunately for him, the dean catches on.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Rachel was functionally the tallest member of the cast, and at the center of a rivalry between Eric and Jack.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Eric in "You Can Go Home Again"; as it happens, not getting into college really hit him hard. In fact, as the title implies, he didn't intend on going home once he finished his cross-country trip.
      • Actually, you can tell this set in a little earlier, near the end of "Brother, Brother", after Cory reassures him that he can take summer classes and boost his grades. He seemed a little too eager in going on his trip after that...
  • Stern Teacher: Mr. Feeny.
  • Stock Sitcom Grand Finale: In which the four core characters (Cory, Topanga, Shawn, and Eric) actually return to Mr. Feeny's old classroom in John Adams High (where none of them, including Feeny, have been for the past two years - and maybe more, if you take the Time Skip into account) and say goodbye to their beloved teacher and mentor for the last time. Unusually, it is Mr. Feeny, and not Cory, who has the last words, and is the last person to leave the empty classroom:
    Mr. Feeny: I love you all. Class dismissed.
  • Story Arc: Probably the only show in TGIF history other than Sabrina the Teenage Witch to attempt such ambitious and (mostly) dramatic story arcs.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In "Train of Fools", Cory sends away the last available cab in the city because he thinks the driver was an imposter and says, "For all I know, he was gonna take us to some warehouse, and cut out our livers!" At the end of the episode, Mr. Feeny returns from vacation in that same cab and also becomes suspicious of the driver and doesn't want to stay in the cab and "risk his liver".
  • Strike Episode: There was an episode where Cory and Shawn go on strike after being given a test when they were promised not to be tested on the material (appropriately enough, The Grapes of Wrath). To the teacher's credit, he did admit it was clear they learned a lot from the book.
  • Stuffed into a Locker: Harley and his goons like to do this.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Topanga has a moment of this in the episode "An Affair to Forget":
    Topanga: If it's any consolation, I think you can do a lot better than Jennifer Bassett.
    Shawn: You think so?
    Cory: Wait a minute, Topanga, have you looked at her?
    Topanga: Okay, so she's pretty, she's tall, she drives a red new convertible, heck, I'd go out with her.
  • Subways Suck: In "Train of Fools", the characters get stuck in a subway on New Year's Eve.
  • Sudden Humility: An early episode revolves around Cory getting a goofy haircut. The kids make fun of him for the day and the weird kids (Topanga, Minkus, etc.) befriend him. He explains that he now knows what it feels like to be an outcast at school.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Eric pulls off a Zany Scheme to give Cory and Topanga a perfect wedding over the cheap one Alan was planning. The ending reveals everyone was suspicious the whole time, including Cory and Topanga, but kept silent for their sake. Once they leave, they immediately confront Eric, knowing whatever he did was most likely illegal. Eric confirms it was, and the only reason such a scheme was pulled off was because the manager is a moron, and the fallout will ensue very shortly. On cue, the man who paid for the wedding he stole comes in absolutely livid at everyone, including the manager. The next episode has Eric, Cory, and Topanga get arrested, and while Topanga forgives him, deciding it was Worth It, Cory is still furious a few episodes later. 
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Meese is one for Minkus though he only appears in a handful of season 2 episodes before meeting the same fate as Minkus.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • When Morgan runs into the room where Cory and Shawn are making illegal bets, Cory yelps that he's "not doing anything illegal!"
    • When Shawn gets a pig, he and Cory claim not to be hiding farm animals in Shawn's locker.
  • Surprise Incest: In "Rave On", Eric hooks up with a girl at a combined school rave/parents' anniversary party who turns out to be his cousin. While they didn't get anywhere, he's still thoroughly squicked at the situation.
  • Take That!: The episode "On the Air" took some shots at a few then-contemporary musicians:
    Mr. Feeny: (over the school intercom) And now, because the halls of our school beat with the lively heart of contemporary youth, here is the happening sounds of Mr. Michael Bolton!
    Everyone: Aaaaaaaaahhhhh!
    Cory: Make it stop! Make it stop!
    Shawn: It's hard to cut the wires with a plastic spoon!
    Cory: Just rip the whole speaker down!
    Mr. Turner: If you guys are serious about this I'll talk to Feeny after lunch.
    Mr. Feeny: (over the school intercom) And now for you kiddos, Menudo!
    Mr. Turner: I'll talk to him now.
  • Teachers Out of School: Mr. Feeny lived next door to the main characters, but that hasn't stopped him from being their teacher in every grade level they progressed throughout the seasons. Living next door only meant he could teach them life lessons they otherwise wouldn't have learned at school.
  • Technical Virgin: Shawn implies that he is one when discussing Sex Signals Death in the horror movie episode.
    Shawn: I'll get as sick as you can get without... actually... dying...
  • Tempting Fate: Happens frequently.
    • For example, in "I'm Gonna Be Like You, Dad," Alan becomes excited once his business regains its customers following the irrational fear of the woods from the release of The Blair Witch Project. Right on cue, Eric walks into the house announcing that he's joining the family business. Alan's reaction is priceless!
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: "And Then There Was Shawn".
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Mr. Feeny's retirement at the end of season 5.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Used in "Band on the Run" when Cory and Shawn try to find people to join their fake band. However the trope was played with because one of the auditionees was actually talented but was rejected because he would make them look bad.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Done humorously. Harley Kiner, The Bully, was supposed to be tough and emotionless, so whenever some sort of event would happen, he would state his reactions to them by saying, "I am hysterical" or "I am distraught."
  • The Teaser: Used once in the last six seasons (first-season episodes originally aired with them, but this was Edited for Syndication), in Season 5's "No Guts, No Cory" which was part of a TGIF crossover in which Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch swallowed a ball that allowed the holder to travel to a different time period, and proceeded to send each show to a different time period - The episode opens with Mr. Feeny talking to his class about World War II, before the opening starts after the show shifts to December 9, 1941 & Mr Feeny makes the announcement of Pearl Harbor's bombing.
  • Their First Time: Played completely straight. The show milks this plot for at least two or three episodes. Cory and Topanga don't end up having sex until their wedding night, but there were several episodes about how they were considering sex and almost went all the way. At the end of the wedding episode, Eric hands them a hotel key and they snag it and bolt out of the reception... but immediately get arrested as a side effect to how Eric organized their wedding, and spend the night (offscreen) in separate jail cells. Finally they head off on the honeymoon and everything falls into place, with several other character noticing their success.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: The theme tune for seasons 5-7.
  • Think Unsexy Thoughts: In "The Last Temptation of Cory", Cory mutters the words "lunchroom lady" to get him to stop thinking about a pretty girl who is trying to seduce him away from Topanga.
  • This Means War!: Rachel actually says these words after she fails to get Cory and Shawn in trouble for a prank they pulled on her.
  • Threesome Subtext:
    • There's a few instances of this for Cory/Topanga/Shawn.
      Shawn: I think the three of us could be very happy together.
    • And once for Cory/Angela/Shawn:
      Cory: Then why are you going to do something very strange in the bedroom when I have absolutely nothing to do with it?
  • Time Skip:
    • One of the strangest examples on record. Cory, Shawn, and Topanga are all 11-year-old sixth graders in the first season, but five years later, the three of them are high school seniors, graduating two years ahead of schedule. Eric, on the other hand, ages normally: a 16-year-old high school sophomore in the first season, and a college freshman in the fifth season. (He took a year off after graduating.) But then, two years later, Eric, Jack, and Rachel are all graduating college, indicating that three years have passed.
    • To put it more simply, season 1 states the characters would graduate high school in 2000. However, they ended up graduating in 1998 with the show ending in 2000 after 2 years in college.
    • In some ways though, this time skip made things make more sense. It allowed John Adams High to go from an unusual six-year high school to the more common four-year high school, and it made the characters roughly the same age as their actors. The first season year in sixth grade seemed to be retroactively turned into their final year of middle school. It's also possible (though highly unlikely) that Eric graduated in three years. Same for Jack and Rachel, who were both transfer students to Pennbrook anyway.
  • Time-Travelers Are Spies: In "I Was a Teenage Spy", Cory is accused of being a Soviet spy because he knows that Sputnik is not a threat.
  • Title Drop: The series finale.
    Cory: Boy meets world.
    Cory: Now I get it!
  • Token Black: There were two separate ones at different points in the show's run: Eli Williams in season 3 and Angela Moore in seasons 5-7. Angela lampshades this a few times: "Gosh I got to get some black friends."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Eric in the slasher movie episode, which is Played for Laughs. He agrees to stand out in the hallway by himself when he knows there is a killer running around the school. However, this is not what actually kills him.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Eric as he became wackier as the series went on. However, there is a tad bit of subversion in that his previous intelligence became more a Hidden Depth to him which assisted in unexpected ways.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Jack, who started out basically a Nice Guy who was a little naive due to being new in town and occasionally exasperated with Eric's Cloudcuckoolandiness, then decayed into a Jerkass after his breakup with Rachel.
    • Cory and Topanga's friends in the episode after they returned from their honeymoon. Angela and Rachel kicked Topanga out of the apartment without any heads up while Eric and Jack decided to switch to housing so the duo could not move back into the dormitory either (though to be fair, Jack & Eric had nowhere to live for several episodes).
    • While Minkus and Shawn never had the best relationship, there was no reason for Minkus to browbeat and guilt trip Shawn for not giving him five dollars to get a Christmas present for Mr. Feeny. Minkus might not have known about Shawn’s dad losing his job but calling him a deadbeat was going way too far. He even decided to hammer in more guilt by revealing that Cory paid for Shawn’s share and gets away with being nothing more than an obnoxious debt collector the entire episode.
  • Trial-Period Dating: Shawn implements a version of this trope in the high school seasons, where he has a 2-week rule in which he does not date any girl longer for 2 weeks and does not date the same girl twice, regardless of how he feels about them, to avoid getting hurt. This all changes when he realizes the mystery girl he's fallen for solely from the contents of her purse is Angela, a girl he's already dated and broken up with, something Cory had previously berated him for because of how well-suited they were for each other.
  • Troll: Morgan could delve into this at times, befitting the bratty younger sister archetype. It wasn't just her brothers that she did this to either, with one example being when Topanga is upset about her ugly wedding dress, Morgan proceeds to mockingly gush over how beautiful she looked, using the exact same (and sincere) words Topanga used when gushing over the ugly dresses she had picked out for the bridesmaids.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Shawn.
  • True Companions:
    • Cory, Shawn & Topanga; and Eric to a lesser degree. The entire concept of True Companions and {{Sixth Ranger}]s is deconstructed in "The War" & "7 The Hard Way" when the latter additions to the cast (Jack, Angela & Rachel) comment that it's no surprise that the group split the way it did & it feels like they're outsiders in the group as they haven't known the others for their entire lives like the original cast.
    • In a likely Reality Subtext to the events of those episodes, the actors who portrayed the core foursome (Ben Savage, Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, and Will Friedle) also became True Companions in Real Life, and remain so to this day.
  • Tsundere: Topanga's 1950s dream sequence counterpart in "I Was a Teenage Spy".
  • Twitchy Eye: Topanga begins to develop a really nasty one during the preparations for her wedding to Cory, which, naturally, are full of wacky hijinks as Eric... "helps."
  • Two First Names: Shawn Hunter.
  • Two Guys and a Girl:
    • Cory, Shawn, and Topanga.
    • Ditto for Eric, Jack, and Rachel.
    • Depending on the needs of the plot, they will often fill the role of Comic Trio or Power Trio as well, though their roles within the trio shifted over time:
      • Cory: Initially a goody-goody The Kirk type, definitely stupid (easily bossed around by Shawn, Eric, and the bullies); later became an unhinged, irrational The McCoy, and certifiably the insane one
      • Shawn: A classic troublemaking The McCoy, and the insane one; later episodes that featured Shawn in "angsty" mode (basically anything involving his parents or Angela) cast him as The Spock and helpless
      • Topanga: In the first season, an even bigger McCoy/insane character than Shawn (Minkus filled The Spock/helpless archetype that season); Later on, she took over Minkus' role before gradually mellowing into The Kirk; the series finale revolves around her having to make a difficult choice and she Takes a Third Option.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Most episodes had a Cory/Shawn/Topanga plotline and an Eric plotline (Eric/Jack starting in season 5 and Eric/Jack/Rachel starting in season 6), though this varied a good bit. In many of the later season episodes one plotline was serious and one was comedic.
  • Two-Teacher School: The two main teachers shown at John Adams High were Mr. Feeny, who taught history, and Mr. Turner, who taught English. The third season semi-averted this with the addition of the semi-regular character Eli Williams, a new media arts teacher, and a few appearances by science teacher Dr. Sorrell, although the latter ended up quitting in his last appearance and the former disappeared without mention. After Mr. Turner also disappeared Feeny became their English teacher in season five. Later, after Mr. Feeny comes out of retirement and becomes a teacher at Pennbrook University, he and Dean Bollander were the only teachers shown there, with the exception of Fred Savage's character in one episode. The show lampshaded their use of this trope several times:
    • From season five:
      Cory: Hey Mr. Feeny, we found this purse, who runs the lost and found?
      Mr. Feeny: (irritated) I do, Mr. Matthews. I teach English, history and film, and I run the lost and found.
      Shawn: We'll put up a notice.
      Mr. Feeny: Would you?
    • From season seven:
      Cory: You got Feeny this year?
      Shawn: Yeah, you?
      Cory: Yeah, which courses?
      Shawn: (nonchalantly) All of them.
      Cory: (nonchalantly) Yeah, me too.
    • From the finale:
      Cory: You are going to learn something from life every day. And make mistakes. And you'll make good friends and Mr. Feeny will probably teach you every grade you're ever in.
  • Two-Timer Date: Used and lampshaded in "Sixteen Candles and Four-Hundred-Pound Men".
  • Two Words: Added Emphasis: In the episode "Honesty Night", Cory suggests to Topanga that they should pretend to be still estranged despite their recent reconciliation so Shawn can save the day and not feel left out. Topanga doesn't think of this as a good idea while Mr. Feeny sees this as a disaster in the making and decides to intervene, prompting the following exchange:
    Mr. Feeny: I have five words: Topanga is correct.
    Cory: That's only three.
    Mr. Feeny: You moron.
  • Two Words: I Can't Count: Shawn's attempt to dissuade his friend runs into a stumbling block as he stops at the correct number of words, but then realizes that he didn't say enough to make his point.
    Shawn: Here's what I got for you - Two Words: Uncle Mike's
    Shawn: I'm gonna need more words.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Averted by all three married couples in the main cast. Alan and Amy are an equal match looks-wise, as are Mr. Feeny and Dean Bolander. Though Cory is somewhat plain or average-looking compared to the more conventionally attractive Topanga, he could hardly be called ugly, and likewise Topanga isn't exactly a supermodel either (part of her appeal with boys in The '90s was her Girl Next Door aesthetic).
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: In "I Love You, Donna Karan", Eric makes Mr. Feeny his Imaginary Friend to help him with his college work. At one point he gets in an elevator with a stranger and starts talking to the imaginary Feeny. The other guy is, understandably, very creeped out.
  • The Unfair Sex: A few times, but it was mostly limited to the more immature teenagers than the adults.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • Eric later on, sometimes his parents are none too shy about it.
    • Eric is generally portrayed as Alan's favorite throughout the series. However, since Alan also doesn't have much faith in him, he occasionally holds him back and dismisses his goals because he doesn't want to see Eric fail.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Sorry, Minkus! See what happens when you go missing for four whole seasons?
  • Unlucky Everydude: Cory.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Neither Eric nor Mr. Feeny seem to notice that the actors on the show Kid Gets Acquainted With Universe look just like Cory, Shawn, Topanga and Jack.
  • Vacation Episode: The episode "The Happiest Show On Earth". Topanga wins a trip to Disney World. Cory and Shawn stow away on a plane to see her there.
  • Vague Age: Morgan, as played by Lindsay Ridgeway, for much of her tenure. The original Morgan (Lily Nicksay) was clearly stated to be four years old in the first season, but Ridgeway is two and a half years older than Nicksay. She’s pointed out to be about 8 early on (Ridgeway was 10 at the time) It’s then alluded Morgan was 13, the same age Rigeway was) as she was stated to be the same age as Alexandra Nechita who was 13, in “Better than the Average Cory" only for a season later for her to stated to be 13.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "The First Girlfriends Club",
  • Very Special Episode:
    • "Dangerous Secret", in which Shawn has a friend who is physically abused by her dad, so she hides out first at Shawn's house then at Cory's house before being sent to live with her aunt in another state. It ends with the Kids Help Phone Hotline number. It is also an example of a Long-Lost Uncle Aesop because this girl was never seen before this episode and is never mentioned again.
    • "Cult Fiction", in which Shawn joins a cult due to feeling misunderstood by the people he knows.
    • "If You Can't Be With the One You Love...", in which Cory turns to alcohol to deal with his breakup with Topanga and convinces Shawn to try it, and Shawn has a hard time stopping once he gets started.
    • "Everybody Loves Stuart" addresses sexual harassment from a teacher. Notably this episode takes place while they are in college, not high school.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Cory again.
  • Wacky Guy: Eric in the later seasons.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: In the season three episode "He Said, She Said", Cory says "No, clown! No!" when Shawn wakes him up from a nap. This joke was later reused in the season six episode "Hogs and Kisses" when Topanga wakes up Shawn.
  • Wall Glower: In "Cutting the Cord", Shawn, who is going through an identity crisis at the time, stands outside the college coffeehouse looking on sadly as Cory, Topanga and the rest of their friends sit around laughing and talking.
  • Wall Slump: Kenny gets killed this way in "And Then There Was Shawn".
  • Waxing Lyrical: Mr. Feeny does this with aKC And The Sunshine Band song in "The War":
    Mr. Feeny: Mr. Matthews I have no idea what you're talking about, and that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: In one episode Cory and Shawn help Frankie win the respect of his father.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Shawn names his pet pig "Little Cory" since it was "the first name that popped in [his] head."
  • Wham Episode:
    • "We'll Have a Good Time Then..." with the death of Chet Hunter.
    • "My Baby Valentine": Hey, the baby's born, isn't that awe- wait, why is the baby being rushed to ICU? It has a lung infection? ...oh dear...
  • Wham Line:
    • "Cory, will you marry me?" from the episode "Graduation".
    • "I didn't get in." from season 3's "Brother Brother".
    • Downplayed: While it was implied before hand, the following line from "And In Case I Don't See Ya" makes it abundantly clear that Eric was doing his own personal Truman Show:
    Eric: (to Jack) Have a good morning! And in case I don't see ya... (while throwing his arms up) good evening, good afternoon, and good night! (looks at the camera he set up).
    • In "For Love and Apartments", "And I hope you and Marie will be happy together."
  • Wham Shot: Two in succession in 6x17. After Baby Joshua has spent the whole episode in ICU, very sick with the above mentioned lung infection, we see the medical bed where he has been staying is empty, and his name is being taken off of it, with Alan looking into the ICU, upset. Cue Amy holding a now healthy Joshua, who's ready to go home.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mr. Feeny and Dean Bolander married in the season 6 finale. She is never seen at all in the following season, at home or at work, though Feeny occasionally mentions her.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser:
    • In "Chick Like Me", Cory plans on dressing as a girl to school in order to find out how life is different for female students and male students. He turns out to have too masculine of a walk, so Shawn tries teaching him how to act female, getting it "surprisingly on the nose" according to Topanga. When he shows Cory how to walk like a woman and does it perfectly, Cory and Topanga decide that Shawn should be the one to dress like a woman for the day. He turns out to be a babe. He also has a preferred "female" name (Veronica) and admits to having "thought about" doing this a lot before Cory ever decided to write the article.
    • In "What a Drag", Eric decides that the only way for him and Jack to avoid Crazy Luthor Montaffo and his gang, after almost getting them arrested for an illegal rave, is to crossdress. They immediately turn to Shawn for help, and Shawn gives them a whole series of tips on how to crossdress correctly, so he clearly hasn't stopped since. Eric also decides to continue crossdressing after the episode ends, just for his own sake. Notably, both characters are not only heterosexuals, they are actually three of the show's most prolific flirters.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Cory actually asks this question when a substitute teacher reads to the class from Beowulf: "Who names their baby Hrothgar?!"
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: Played for Laughs. One early episode has Cory studying for a geography bee, commenting that all the new little countries have made it a real pain.
    In the old days, things used to be so simple. You had Russia, you had Moscow—one country, one capital. Now you've got your Latvia, your Estonia, your Ukraine, and each one's got its own capital. What were these people thinking?!
  • Women Are Wiser: Played straight and subverted, while the women are indeed more grounded when it comes to day-to-day life, the guys are usually correct in matters of love and unity.
  • Wondrous Ladies Room: In one episode Cory goes into the school's ladies room to talk to Topanga and he is surprised to learn they have a couch in there.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Played for Laughs in the episode "The First Girlfriends Club". The news of Cory and Topanga's breakup takes up the whole front page of the school newspaper.
  • Worthless Foreign Degree:
    • One episode had a hopeful variation. Eric took a job as a security guard instead of trying to do his SATs again to get into college. His partner turned out to have been an engineer in wherever he came from, Eric asked him why he was reading the SAT prep book. The response: "So that I can let this country know I am an engineer."
    • In another episode when Eric teaches a citizenship class he says he is the smartest one in the room, and a student says that in his country, he was a nuclear physicist, but Eric tells him that, in America, everyone starts with a clean slate.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Jack's girlfriend Millie pulls one on Eric in "The Witches of Pennbrook".
  • Writers Suck: The writers of the Show Within a Show Kid Gets Acquainted With Universe are shown to be small children.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In "The Eskimo", Mr. Feeny gives Shawn the goal of acquiring two Super Bowl tickets and assigns Cory and Topanga to tag along with him; Topanga not to interfere and Cory to help them both. Shawn enters a contest with tickets on the line involving sitting on a billboard balcony on a freezing winter day... until it's only himself and the eskimo, eating ice cream and only there because he's on vacation for the summer. He gives up and the trio head back to Mr. Feeny to report, thinking they've learned the lesson: That sometimes, life will throw insurmountable obstacles at you, so you should learn to take things more seriously. Mr. Feeny is less than pleased. His real lesson was that sometimes life throws insurmountable obstacles at you, so you better man up and overcome them anyway! Now get your asses back out there and get those tickets! Shawn takes this as a self-realization moment when he remarks that everything difficult he's ever come across, he's folded. So he heads out by himself to find the tickets and meet the goal. Cory and Topanga don't hear back from him in weeks... until they are watching the Super Bowl and see Shawn in the front row on the 50-yard-line holding up a sign saying, "HEY FEENY! NOTHING'S IMPOSSIBLE".
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: Discussed by Cory when he suspects that Shawn and Topanga might have feelings for each other:
    Cory: Let me ask you this: In all the time that you were with Shawn, did he ever call out the name "Topanga"?
    Cory: (flattered) In what context?
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: The episode "A Very Topanga Christmas" features a dream sequence involving the Christmas Future part of the story. In it, Mr. Feeny as the Ghost of Christmas Future shows Cory what life will be like if he doesn't reconcile with Topanga.
  • Yoko Oh No: This is invoked twice within the show, both times done to add hints of humor to otherwise serious scenes. Shawn indicates he feels this way toward Lauren when she shows up at Cory's house, calling her Yoko because he is troubled over the friction between Cory and Topanga. Ironically, Shawn later does the same thing to Topanga herself when she bitterly refers to him as Cory's "boyfriend" due to her feeling less close to Cory than she should be when compared to Shawn.
  • You Just Told Me: Mr. Feeny likes to use technique to catch students he suspects of wrongdoing:
    Shawn: You told him?
    Cory: What do you think?
    Shawn: I think you wouldn't. I'm an idiot.
  • You Look Familiar: The show had many cases of this, some more noticeable than others. For example, the actor who played Angela's dad in season 7 also played a college professor in one episode of season 5.
  • Yo-Yo Plot Point: Cory and Topanga have three major breakup arcs after they first officially get together at the start of season three, and two of those arcs happen after their relationship was retconned into being life-long true love.
  • Zany Scheme: Cory and Shawn were fond of pulling these, though this diminished in the later seasons as the characters grew up and the show got more serious.


Video Example(s):


Eric needs his check

Unable to put up with the perkiness of Corinna, Eric wants nothing more than to leave

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / CheckPlease

Media sources: