Boy Meets World

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Oddly enough that's Shawn, not Cory, taking center stage.

This Sitcom on ABC followed the main character, Cory Matthews, from middle school, to High School, to University, and to marriage. It includes a lot of Lampshade Hanging and fourth-wall breaching. It lasted from September, 1993 to May, 2000 for a total of 158 episodes in 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 door to 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 had a sizable following for most of its run, and was a staple of ABC's Thank-God-It's-Friday lineup.

In 2014, the Disney Channel began broadcasting a sequel series, Girl Meets World, which focuses on the adventures of Cory and Topanga's daughter Riley.


Tropes used in Boy Meets World include:

Tropes A-L[edit | hide | hide all]

Amy: Promise me you won't let these things go to your head.
Eric: I would never!
Amy: Ooh look Bloomingdales is having a white sale.
Eric: THAT'S NOT ABOUT ME!

  • Actor Allusion: Several:
    • '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. William Daniels was also in The Graduate.
    • In one episode, while trying to impress a girl, Eric mentions 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.
      • Even more so, since he actually voices the new Batman in animated series Batman Beyond.
    • 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.
    • Jennifer Love Hewitt appeared in a horror-themed episode, 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 [scary movie] 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.
    • 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.
  • Adam Westing: Occurred when the Monkees guest-starred, basically as themselves.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Lampshaded as part of the Show Within a Show "Kid Gets Acquainted with the Universe.":

Ben Sandwich: You know, how could I learn so much, every week, and still be so stupid?!"

  • Alcoholic Parent: Shawn's father is a recovered alcoholic.
  • The Alleged Car: It's mentioned a few times in the earlier seasons that Eric has one, but it is never seen onscreen.
  • 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 prevelent as the series went on, and was basically dropped by the time he got a steady girlfriend in season five. There are also several times when Cory tries to impress girls by acting "dangerous", usually failing at it.
  • All Just a Dream: The slasher movie scenario in "And Then There Was Shawn" ...OrWasItADream
  • Aloha Hawaii: Cory and Topanga's honeymoon in Hawaii.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Eric started out this way, and even had shades of this later on.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Alan and Amy Matthews usually avoided this, however in one episode Amy decides to take a creative writing class at Pennbrook and happens to enroll in Eric's class. She proceeds to write artsy short stories about her and Alan's wedding night and Eric's birth.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: From the episode "The Honeymoon Is Over":

Topanga: There was a guy shot in our apartment over a salad, the remains of which are still on the wall!
Angela: ...the guy or the salad?
Topanga: I don't really want to know. I ate it anyway.

  • American Gothic Couple: In "Angela's Men", Eric poses as the farmer in front of a copy of the painting in order to sneak up on Topanga.
  • An Aesop: Quite often delivered by Feeny.
    • Probably too much, because in later seasons Eric becomes convinced that Mr. Feeny is some sort of Spirit Advisor / messiah figure that he literally begins to stalk him and worship like a religious prophet.
    • Eric would also provide a few Aesop moments to Cory throughout the series.
    • And as if to really drive the point home Cory would then turn around and deliver the same one to Eric before the episodes end.
  • Analogy Backfire: In the episode where Topanga moves to Pittsburgh, Cory is reading Romeo and Juliet at the time, and he keeps proclaiming that he and Topanga will be fine just like them...until Mr. Feeny tells him to skip ahead to the end.
  • Armchair Psychology: In "Cult Fiction", the leader of the cult Shawn joins speaks like this.
  • The Artifact: Topanga's name was one. Her character was given that name to emphasize her Granola Girl personality and overal weirdness (the name comes from Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles, where a lot of hippies reside), but after her character was retooled in season two and those aspects of her character were dropped, she just became a normal girl with a weird name. In light of this, there were several jokes about her name throughout the series.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Topanga went from being a recurring character to one of the most important characters on the show.
    • Angela is a more literal example. She first appears in season 5 episode 2 as a student in Feeny's class who has one line of dialogue, and then in season 5 episode 7 she is introduced as Shawn's girfriend and from there she becomes a recurring character and then a main character.
  • Asleep in Class: The show had several humorous situations involving Cory and/or Shawn falling asleep in class. A particularly funny example involved Shawn waking up thinking he's still at home and while half-awake stumbling out of the classroom to "go to school". A few minutes later he walks back in utterly confused, saying "I don't know where I am".
    • An example of them both being asleep occurs in Mr. Turner's class, and Mr. Feeny walks in. When Shawn and Cory wake up, Shawn complains that "Now I don't know which class I slept through!"
  • 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: Shawn makes for a very pretty girl. Cory, on the other hand, not so much. Cory can pass easily as a crusty waitress stereotype, though. It apparenly runs in the family for both, Jack makes an good girl, Eric... nooooot really.
  • 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 Housewife, 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 Guys Play Pool: Frankie "The Enforcer" is a noted pool champion at Chubbies.
  • The Beard: In the episode appropriately title "The Beard", Shawn can't choose between two girls, so while he goes out with one of them, he recruits Cory to "sit on" the other, lest he should change his mind. Needless to say, the girls find out and are none too happy about this stunt, and their schoolmates loudly proclaim them to be "scum."
  • Behind the Black: Used to Lampshade Minkus and Mr. Turner's disappearance.
  • Beta Couple: Once Angela was added to the show, Shawn and Angela became this to the Official Couple Cory and Topanga, except when they break up during season six.
  • Better as Friends: Jack and Rachel eventually decide this.
  • The "B" Grade: Not really a grade, but at one point Minkus gets a question wrong in Mr. Feeny's class and has a minor breakdown. He's still able to walk around but is frazzled.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Eric shows this toward Cory intermittently. It is his version of Pet the Dog.
    • At other times he is quite insensitive toward Cory. He is never a bullying big-brother but their relationships have ups and downs.
    • Cory shows this in the series finale, when it comes to Joshua.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Eric and Mister Turner pull this off every now and then. Shawn does this in "Ressurection" where his return signals the resoloution of the storyline's conflict.
  • Biting the Hand Humor: In the episode where Cory and Topanga babysit a kid, the writers deliver a really big Take That at ABC for moving the show's timeslot:

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: There're trying to kill it! There're trying to kill it!
Cory: Those are bad bad people.

    • ABC took notice and changed the timeslot back not long after this.
  • Black Comedy Burst: "And Then There Was Shawn" and "The Psychotic Episode".
  • Black Like Me: In the episode "Chick Like Me", Shawn dresses up as girl to learn about dating from the female prospective.
  • Blind Without'Em: Minkus
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Parodied in one episode when Eric decides he wants to be a detective on TV and comes up with his own theme song:

When a crime breaks out, all the cute girls shout,
Get the...good looking guy!
When there's a crime out there, he's gonna...
Comb his hair, cause he's the...good looking guy!

  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • For one example, see Title Drop.
    • At the end of the episode "They're Killing Us", Cory and Topanga directly invite the viewers to their wedding.
  • 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.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Eric; who has Rain Man-like counting skills, is able to manipulate many scenarios to his own advantage, gives Cory and his other friends sage, reasonable advice, and has Mr. Feeny constantly going on about his "true potential."
  • Broad Strokes: Although the major story holds together week to week, many things tend to be forgotten from episode to episode. There are at least two explanations of Eric and Cory's hair styles(one episode says Cory's hair is curly because of a Blonde Babysitter curling it on new years eve, stating the norm is like Eric's, and a few episodes later, Eric's straight hair is attributed to taking a ride in the dryer in the 5th grade, stating that the norm is like Cory's). Other variations include the embarrassing first name of Vader(being Leslie or Francis). Don't even get started on the various relations that pop in and out of existence.
    • In the case of Eric's hair vs. Cory's hair, considering Alan, Amy and Eric all have wavy, sandy hair and only Cory has the black curls, one would have to assume Eric's is the norm.
  • Buccaneer Broadcaster: In "On the Air", Cory and Shawn form their own pirate radio station at school after Mr. Feeny kicks them off the school's station for turning their show from a dull Q&A session into the much more inappropriate "Lunchtime Lust". They only get to enjoy their success for a few minutes before Shawn accidentally gives away their location on air and Feeny busts them.
  • Buffy-Speak: From Eric's one-man play: "The hot wind howled, like a kind of howling... hot... windy thing."
  • The Bully: Harley and his two goons, Frankie and Joey. All of whom are strangely eloquent.
    • Strangely, Joey is the only one that's not eloquent. Strange because he's sort of the weasel-y trickster-y one that is usually the smartest in any given gang whereas guys like Harley are usually lunkheads and guys like Frankie are usually monosyllabic.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • The bullies' leader, Harley, was sent to military school near the end of the second season and almost immediately wound up being replaced by Griff Hawkins. Harley returns for one third season episode which pits him against Griff (after which neither are seen again).
    • Minkus makes a return in the graduation episode .
  • 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 even sure we 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.
    • 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>
Cory: Well we all saw *that* coming.

  • 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. Then Mr. Feeny, after finding out retirement wasn't for him, takes a teaching position there and continues to be their only teacher.
  • 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?
Cory: You don't play the harmonica when you're happy.

  • Catapult Nightmare: Cory does this several times in "The Psychotic Episode".
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: In "Train of Fools", Shawn gets excited when he finds on the subway a group of Catholic schoolgirls who "ditched their nun" (and yes, they were wearing the uniform). Later, he gets even more excited when he meets up with a pair of twins from that group.
  • Celebrity Lie: In "Fraternity Row", Eric and Jack form a fraternity named "Magnum Pi". When the dean of the fictional Pennbrook College asks who their famous alums are, the two scramble for names and come up with "Bernie Kopell and Ted Lange" (of The Love Boat fame). Jack is somehow actually able to get Bernie Kopell and Ted Lange to appear at a fraternity party (presumably because his father has connections), but they still fail to impress the dean.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The show ends up becoming more serious with each season, which finally climaxes with the death of a recurring character. However, the show never lost the aforementioned Lampshade Hanging and fourth-wall breaching.
    • In particular it surrounded Shawn and his wildly dysfunctional life. Early seasons his life in a trailer park was played for laughs, with him mentioning shoot-outs and drug busts as regular overnight activities. Then his mom ran away (taking the house with her) and his dad went off to track her down, leaving Shawn with the Matthews. While Shawn was welcome there, living with a loving family didn't help his emotional state (knowing his family is so messed up) so Mr. Turner took him in as his legal guardian.
  • Chair Reveal: Mr. Feeny does this to reveal that he is Cory's new principal when Cory gets sent the principal's office on his first day of high school.
  • Characterization Marches On: Just about every major character who wasn't Shawn or Mr. Feeny.
  • Check, Please!: "CHECK! For the love of God, WILL SOMEONE PLEASE BRING ME A CHECK!"
  • Cheek Copy: In "How to Succeed in Business" when Shawn and Cory are working in an office mailroom Shawn starts to do this before Cory stops him.
  • Chekhov's Gag: In "What I Meant to Say", Shawn stops Cory from giving Topanga flowers by snatching them from him and handing them to a jock who happens to walk by in the school hallway. It's a brief gag that isn't given much attention. Then, several scenes later, Cory and Shawn are alone in a classroom doing Comic Role Play that involves Cory saying "I love you" to Shawn. They look up and see that same jock standing in the doorway holding the flowers and watching them, who then throws the flowers on the floor and walks away in anger.
  • Chewing the Scenery: As Eric got crazier he did this more and more, for example his yelling for the check in "Shallow Boy" and his Big "What?" in "Things Change". In season 7 when he became a full-on Cloudcuckoolander he did this almost every episode.
  • Christmas Episode: "Santa's Little Helper" from season 1, "Easy Street" from season 4, "A Very Topanga Christmas" from season 5, and "Santa's Little Helpers" from season 6.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Topanga's older sister Nebula.
    • Morgan disappeared for the first half of season three but returned mid-way through the season played by a new actress and her disappearance was lampshaded when she says "That was the longest time out I've ever had!".
    • Similarly, Minkus disappeared after season one but made a return appearance in the last episode of season five and lampshaded his disappearance by saying that he'd been on the other side of the school the whole time.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Cliff Hanger: The season 5 finale ends with Topanga proposing to Cory during their high school graduation ceremony.
  • Clip Show: The finale. It also included Fully Automatic Clip Shows of the various Big Yes moments throughout the series and of Eric's "Feeny Call".
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Topanga in the first season, Eric later on.
  • Comically Small Bribe: In "Prom-ises, Prom-ises", when Eric tries to get hotel guest information from a hotel clerk:

Clerk: I'm sorry, we don't give that kind of information.
Eric: Really? Well... [produces $1 bill] Perhaps my friend Mr. Washington will help you change your mind.

  • Comic Role Play: When Topanga suddenly breaks up with Cory after he tells her he loves her, Shawn gets Cory to re-enact the moment he said those words to figure out what got Topanga upset. Thinking they're alone, he gets Cory to pretend he's Topanga and hold his hand and say "I love you", only to realize there are a bunch of students looking at them through the doorway.
  • Coming of Age Story: The whole show, for the most part.
  • 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 of 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 other little boys 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.
  • Cool Loser: Cory
  • Cool Teacher:
    • Mr. Turner
    • And his buddy, Eli Williams
    • 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 bounderies and somewhat aggressively hits on Topanga and then tries to get Cory expelled for fighting back.
    • Hell, even Mr. Feeny counts.
  • Cosmetic Catastrophe: In "Cory's Alternative Friends", Cory leaves a hair care product in his air 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.
  • 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!

  • Crossover: Two semi-crossovers with Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • The first was a Crossover Punchline during The Tag of one of the Halloween episodes in which Eric is on a date with Sabrina. Also an in-universe example of a Crossover Ship.
    • The second was part of a night where in Sabrina, Salem had swallowed a ball that allowed the holder to travel to a different time period, and also saw Salem turn up in the other shows on the TGIF lineup at the time, Teen Angel and You Wish. However, the other shows were Fantastic Comedies but Boy Meets World was not, so the crossover created a How Unscientific episode.
  • Creator Breakdown: The episode "Shallow Boy" involves Eric dating the aspiring singer/songwriter Corinna, whose songs are saccharine and completely unappealing. When he dumps her, she immediately starts writing dark and angry songs clearly directed at him; these sell, and she becomes a huge success. After a while she meets with Eric, ostensibly to apologize, but he quickly realizes she's just run out of material. Refusing to give her any, he acts nice to Corinna and manages to revert her to mindless schlock mode, by singing the song "Tomorrow" from Annie with her. At the end of the episode, Eric gives an evil snicker once her cheerful album bombs. The character was a parody of Alanis Morissette, who had a similar transformation. The episode even openly references Alanis.
  • 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.
  • The Danza: Jason Marsden as... Jason Marsden. An odd example of the trope in that Marsden is an entirely peripheral character (Eric's best friend, back in the years when Eric was still relatively sane). Marsden was obviously only there because he and Will Friedle are best friends in Real Life and, needing a best friend character for Eric, the writers decided to just have Jason do it.
  • Dawson Casting: 28-year-old Trina McGee as high school senior Angela Moore. Averted by everyone else in the main cast. At the start of the show the actors were, on average, two years older than their characters but the character's ages were bumped up by two years at some point in show's run. By the end of the series, Danielle Fishel was actually playing older than she was.
  • Daytime Drama Queen: In "How to Succeed in Business", Amy Matthews is shown to be one, which gets Eric to convince her to get out and do something. Later in the episode, Cory becomes this after getting fired from the work-study program.
  • Dean Bitterman: Dean Borak of Pennbrook University, who appeared in a couple of episodes in season 5. Bonus points for him being played by Paul Gleason, who played a famous Dean Bitterman in The Breakfast Club.
  • Death by Sex: Discussed/invoked in "And Then There Was Shawn". When the characters get trapped in a slasher movie scenario, Genre Savvy Shawn claims that the virgins are safe from dying. Sure enough, the characters who say they aren't virgins are the ones who get killed.
  • 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 that little way he can.
  • December–December Romance: Mr Feeny and Lila Bolander (played, incidentally, by husband and wife William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett).
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Played for Laughs in "I Was a Teenage Spy," where Cory dreams he is sent back to the 1950s. When he says "butt" in class, Mr. Turner and all the other students react as if he'd said a horrible curse word.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: In the episode "Honesty Night", Eric gets a word-a-day calendar to improve his vocabulary and he tries to use these words in conversation but repeatedly fails at it. By the end of the episode he gets the hang of it but annoys everybody by using big words in mundane conversation.
  • 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.

Mr. Williams: Without honesty, you're nowhere.
Cory: Honest? Let me tell you a little story about a kid from Philly who was honest. You see, he said what was in his heart, and then the... (Beat) Oh I'm sorry was that out loud?

  • Disguised in Drag: In the episodes "Chick Like Me", S:4-E:15, and "What a Drag", S:7-E:11. In Chick Like Me, Shawn is diguised as a girl to provide first hand experience for Cory's article. In What A Drag, Jack and Eric both dress as women as a way to avoid the local lunatic gang leader.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "I Love You, Donna Karan", Eric discovering Mr. Feeny tutoring another student is played like Mr. Feeny is cheating on him:

Eric: He's a professional tutor! You mean nothing to him!

  • Downer Ending: "We'll Have a Good Time Then..." ends with Chet Hunter's death in the hospital.
  • Do It Yourself Plumbing Project: In "Picket Fences", Cory tries to fix the rusty pipes in his and Topanga's rundown fleabag apartment. Unusual for this trope, he is actually able to fix the pipes without many problems though he does get quite messy in the process.
  • 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.
  • 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?

Shawn: "Cory, how would you feel if these two big waffles got all slathered in butter and made a little waffle?"
Cory: "I know what you're saying, Shawn." *beat* "You'd like seconds. I'll be right back."

  • Enter Stage Window: Shawn sometimes enters Cory's bedroom this way. Cory also enters Topanga's bedroom this way a few times.
  • Erotic Dream: When Angela asks Cory if he's ever thought of her as more than a friend, Cory responds that he did once when he had a dream about her of this sort. Then, when Angela shoves him onto the bed and climbs on top of him to prove a point, Cory says "Oh no! It's the dream!".
  • Escalating War: All the main characters engage in one in the episode "The War".
  • Establishing Shot: One for the Matthews' house, one for the high school, and later on one for Eric and Jack's apartment.
  • Excellent Adventure: Twice.
  • The Exit Is That Way: See Failed Attempt At Drama.
  • Expy: Jack and Eric are essentially the Cory and Shawn relationship if slightly skewed to acount for Eric's general wackiness
  • Failed Attempt At Drama: In "My Best Friends 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!"
  • 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.
  • Flanderization:
    • Eric Matthews went from simply dense, self-centered and girl-crazy to just plain dumb. He also became the funniest part of the show for most viewers, so make of that what you will. Oddly enough, he seems to temporarily revert into something resembling his original characterization in one of the last episodes, the one where he's mad at Cory due to thinking that they don't get along as brothers. His stupidity is almost nonexistent throughout the episode, which the other characters lampshade repeatedly:

"Wow, he's really sharp today. Must be well-rested."

    • Shawn got dumber and wackier throughout seasons two and three. However this was later reverted through a combination of Character Development, Hidden Depths and Break the Cutie. By season six he was one of the more sensible ones in the group.
    • All of the characters, especially in the college years, with the exception of Shawn.
  • Flash Forward: There's one in "Seven The Hard Way" set in 2006 that shows a retirement party for Mr. Feeny in a potential future where the gang breaks up (it doesn't go well). In this future, Cory and Topanga have had a baby, Shawn and Angela are both traveling journalists, Jack is a "captain of industry" (in his late twenties), Rachel moved back to Texas, and Eric became an insane hermit who calls himself "Playswithsquirrels". However, when the episode returns to the present everybody reconciles and this future is averted.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Full House Music: Well, this is a 90's TGIF sitcom.
  • 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 crosses over into just plain weird when he cuts his hair in Season 7.
  • 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 unsucessful 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.
  • Genius Ditz: Eric is so ditzy it's a wonder he can feed and bathe himself. However, the series is full of episodes where it turns out Eric possesses hidden insight and depth and that his behavior is more a result of his combined eccentricity and inability to apply himself and reach his true potential. And then everyone feels all bad about underestimating him.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Shawn in the season 5 Halloween special that spoofed the recent spate of slasher films at the box office - He correctly points out everything that will happen.
    • Shawn also is sure that Topanga won't end up moving away because that never happens in these episodes. He's sort of right, as she moves away but then comes back in the second part.
  • Gentle Giant: Frankie was ultimately revealed to be this when he has a good influence.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • From 2x06, when Cory starts going through puberty, he says "I've got hair on my chin, on my chest, and other places where I don't see having hair on is really gonna help me!"
    • From season 2, after Shawn gets through making out with a girl:

Shawn: Remember in health class that section on the movement of blood? I understand it now.

    • Also from season 2, when Shawn briefly lives in a No-Tell Motel after his father leaves:

Shawn: Why don't you come over tonight? We can skateboard in the pool, and they got cable."
Cory: We got cable.
Shawn: (smiling) Not like this place.

  • Ghost Extras: The other students in Cory, Shawn and Topanga's classes often seemed to be in a whole different place altogether. They never interacted with the main characters or reacted much when the main characters made a scene in class, and the teachers (Mr. Feeny or Mr. Turner) would only call on Cory, Shawn or Topanga in class and were never seen talking with the other students. The latter point was lampshaded in the series finale:

Mr. Feeny: I regard all my students equally.
Shawn: You know we're your favorites.
Cory: Come on Feeny, you haven't even talked to another student for seven years.

  • Gilligan Cut: In "Chick Like Me", when Shawn refuses to dress up as a girl, it cuts to the next day at school where Shawn is dressed as a girl.
  • Girl Next Door: Topanga, at least after her character was retooled in season two.
  • Global Ignorance: In one episode Shawn thinks that you can get to Europe on a bus. He even buys a bus ticket to Paris, Texas think it will take him to Paris, France. This was from the period on the show where Shawn Took a Level In Dumbass.
  • Good Parents: Cory's parents
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Implied about the Matthews parents. Also Cory and Topanga themselves once they get married.
  • 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.
  • 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 premier "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?"
  • Halloween Episode: "Boys II Mensa", "Who's Afraid of Cory Wolf?" and "The Witches of Pennbrook".
    • "And Then There Was Shawn" is sort of a Halloween episode as well, though it doesn't take place on Halloween.
  • 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)

    • 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.
  • High School Hustler: The minor recurring character Griff Hawkins.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: During The Tag of the episode "Angela's Men", the outtakes replace the scene itself because the cast couldn't get through it without Corpsing.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Minkus in the first season is classic Type 1; Topanga, after evolving out of the Granola Girl role, becomes classic Type 2.
  • Homage: In the episode "Quiz Show", Cory and Shawn become Quiz Bowl stars when the show is revamped to be popular to kids. When the producers want them gone, the show went back to its old format of Unexpectedly Obscure Answers. Which is how the manipulation went behind the show 21, as depicted in the movie the ep is named after (minus actually giving answers to the contestants, of course).
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Cory and Shawn. Topanga and other characters point this out relentlessly, especially in the episode "Seven the Hard Way".

Topanga: You should ask Shawn, his luvah!

    • See Wrong Name Outburst and Comic Role Play for more examples.
    • One episode even opened a scene with the two of them in bed together! Stop it, nothing happened.
    • One episode intentionally played on this when Shawn's new girlfriend forbids him from seeing Cory ever again, which among other things leads to an overemotional phone conversation between Shawn and Cory that leaves Eric staring at him open-mouthed before declaring "I want my own room."
    • The episode "It's Not You, It's Me..." was basically dedicated to this.
      • As was "An Affair to Forget."
    • This exchange from "I Love You, Donna Karan":

Topanga: Shawn, you're afraid to make commitment.
Shawn: I'm not afraid to make a commitment, I've been with Cory for 15 years!
Corey: Ah, they've been good years.
Shawn: You worked very hard at them.
Corey: 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).
  • Horrible Hollywood: When Eric goes to Hollywood be a cast member of the Self-Parody show Kid Gets Acquainted with the Universe, he finds out that the actors on the show are either jerkasses or highly neurotic, the so-called "best writers in town" are actually small children, and the scripts are recycled many times and full of Stylistic Suck.
  • Hot Mom and Hot Dad
  • Idiot Savant: There's a throwaway gag in one episode in which Shawn claims to be one of these after revealing he can speak French. This was during the period in the show where he got really dumb, which didn't stick as a character trait so this is never brought up again.
  • If We Get Through This: Shawn's father, in the hospital after a heart attack, promises his sons that he will stay with them for good after he recovers. He promptly dies.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Played with in one episode. Cory thinks that Mr. Feeny knows that Topanga proposed to him, even though Mr. Feeny doesn't know:

Cory: Ohhhhh, you're a smug one aren't you George huh. You know you know, I know you know, I don't know how you know, but I know that you know.
Mr. Feeny: Alright I know, I know everything. Now what in the world are you talking about?
Cory: NOTHING!! THIS GETS OUT, I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN LIKE A DOG!!

  • The "I Love You" Stigma: This is the focus of the episode "What I Meant to Say". Cory tells Topanga he loves her despite the fact that they had only (officially) been going out for a few weeks and Topanga reacts with shocks and leaves immediately. She later breaks up with him and starts avoiding him. Cory confronts her about the issue and she explains that she was scared of those words and what they meant. Cory explains what exactly he means by "I love you," and she replies that she loves him, too.
  • I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference: In "I Was a Teenage Spy", when Cory has a dream where he is sent back in time to the 50s, he introduces himself to the Mr. Feeny Expy as "Brad Pitt, sir.", only for Feeny to respond "Well, Mr. Pittser...".
  • Important Haircut:
    • 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.

Eric: EVERYONE LOOK AT MY HEAD!

Jack: If she's telling the truth our lives are perfect!
Eric: Well she's not. She's testing us, just stick with the plan.
Rachel: Stop! Stop planning, and oh stop acting like I can't hear you!

  • Incoming Ham: Eric enters season 7 this way. He jumps on the student center pool table and yells "EVERYBODY LOOK AT MY HEAD!" (because he got an Important Haircut). This sets the tone for his every more over the top Cloudcuckoolander personality that season.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: (Part of) why Shawn was initially so angry at Jack, and also why he eventually gave him a chance.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: The show had a different one each season for seasons 1-4 before switching over to a Thematic Theme Tune for Seasons 5-7.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue:
    • Used as a Rule of Three Running Gag in the episode "Her Answer". Alan and Amy are up in the middle of the night and Alan says that they should go to bed because "only creeps and weirdos are up now". Eric then walks in the door. Eric then says the exact same thing and Shawn walks in the door. Then Shawn says it and Mr. Feeny walks in the door.
    • Used twice in "Train of Fools": Mrs. Matthews says "Now guys, be careful tonight, you know new years eve brings out all the crazies.", and then Shawn burst through the door saying "Come on everybody, let's get crazy!". Later, Cory says "You'd have to be an idiot to have a good time down here", and then Shawn walks in with a party hat on and says "I don't know about you guys, but I am having a great time."
  • Interrupted Intimacy: A comically extreme example: Cory and Topanga are about to consummate their marriage when the police burst in to the hotel suite and arrest them (because they inadvertently stole someone else's wedding thanks to Eric).
  • Invention Pretension: In "Career Day", Shawn's father comes to the class's career day at school and makes a pathetic attempt to hide what a bum he is by making a number of audacious claims, including claiming to have invented CNN.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: From "Train of Fools":

Cory: Oh Eric, don't you worry about that, I'm not gonna do anything stupid.
(cut to next scene)
Eric: Cory, how could you do something so stupid?

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:

Eric: Yeah... We never really talk or hang out
Shawn: I know, not even during that year we lived together...
Both: *Aside Glance*
The reason behind this was that 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.

  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Many instances, most notably in the graduation episode when Cory and Shawn run into childhood friend Minkus, who was absent for the past couple of seasons.

Minkus: For the last four years it's like I have even been in the same school as you guys.
Shawn: Well you know we just never saw you around.
Minkus: I was, I was just in the other part of the school.
Shawn: What other part of the school?
Minkus: You know, over there. [point off camera towards the audience]
Cory: Oh, we don't go over there.
Shawn: Yeah, if you go over there you may never come back.
Minkus: Oh, that's crazy. [waving to someone off camera] Hey, Mr. Turner! Wait up!
The last line refers to another character who disappeared for a while, Mr. Turner, who at one point took Shawn in while his father straightened his life out. He also mysteriously disappeared for several seasons.

  • 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.
  • Let's Wait a While: Cory and Topanga (much to Cory's frustration).
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: Used in "And Then There Was Shawn".
  • Limited Social Circle: For a lot of the show's run it is just Cory, Shawn and Topanga. Cory is a Cool Loser, and it is implied that Cory and Shawn spend so much time with each other that they don't make time for other friends. In Topanga's case it is sometimes alluded to that she has other friends but they are never actually seen. In a couple of episodes in season three she has a weirdo best friend named Trini (played by a pre-fame Brittany Murphy), but that character is dropped. When Angela becomes Shawn's girlfriend in season five she joins their social circle and eventually becomes Topanga's best friend and roommate. When they all go to college, they form more of a social circle with Eric, Jack and Rachel.
  • Line-of-Sight Name:
    • In "Band on the Run", Cory comes up with a name for his band this way. He considers "Blood Drive" and "Sex Ed" before choosing "The Exits".
    • In "Fraternity Row", Eric makes up a fake fraternity so that he can have a fraternity party. When the Dean asks him the name, he sees a kid in a Magnum, P.I. shirt, and thus replies "Magnum Pi".
  • Living Prop: Most of the other students in the main characters' classes. See Ghost Extras.
  • Local Hangout: Chubbie's for seasons 2 through 5, later replaced by the Pennbrook University student lounge.
  • Long Lost Sibling: Jack
  • Love Before First Sight: In the episode "I Love You, Donna Karan", Shawn finds a lost purse at school without an I.D. in it and he becomes attracted to the purse's owner based on its contents because they reveal that he and the owner have very similar interests. It turns out that the purse's owner is Angela, a classmate he has just broken up with.


Tropes M-Z[edit | hide]

  • 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 Kidanova 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.
  • Malaproper: From the episode "The Grass Is Always Greener":

Shawn: "Cory, I'm no rocket Scientologist but... I'm sensing there's something wrong."

  • Man Hug: Practically required in a series where the main characters include two pairs of male Heterosexual Life Partners and two pairs of brothers.
  • 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.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: In the Season 5 Halloween special, Genre Savvy Shawn points out that only virgins survive slasher movies. Eric and Jack proudly accept they're going to die, while Cory thanks Topanga for saving his life. Eric & Shawn then realize that Feeny had just been killed, so start dancing in his memory:

"Go Feeny!"

  • 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", its 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 one episode 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 "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.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Cory suffers from this early on. It diminishes after Eric gets dumber and becomes The Unfavorite.
  • Midlife 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.

Shawn: Maybe he'll meet a kid like me...
Cory: He won't need to, YOU'LL STILL BE THERE!

    • 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.
  • 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.

Mr. Feeny: Now remember, I don't want another incident like last year's fiasco in the Amish country.
<Beat>
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 So Above It All: Mr. Feeny at times.
  • 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 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.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cory
  • 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.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Morgan's original actress Lily Nicksay was swapped out for Lindsay Ridgeway between the second and third seasons. The latter doesn't show up until midway through the third, delivering the classic line "That was the longest time-out I ever had."
    • Harley was also replaced for a single episode. The character was then Put on a Bus, but the original actor returned for one more episode the next season.
    • Topanga's parents also went through several sets of very different actors (three for her father and two for her mother). The contrast is pretty evident when Jedidiah goes from being Peter Tork to Michael McKean.
  • Papa Wolf: Alan Matthews
  • Parent Ex Machina
  • 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 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.
  • Parody Episode: The "Kid Gets Acquainted With the Universe" episode (see Show Within a Show)
    • Not to mention the excellent Scream parody episode.
    • The episode "And in Case I Don't See Ya..." parodies, of all things, The Truman Show. Yes, it's quite weird.
  • 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 appropriatly titled "Cyrano" Cory and Shawn are forced to help Frankie in his "wooing" of Harley's girlfriend.
  • 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".
  • 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 also leaves several episodes before the final episode.
  • Radio Contest: Shawn enters one to get Superbowl 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.
  • Recycled Set:
    • With just a light remodel Mr. Turner's apartment from seasons 2 and 3 becomes Jack and Eric's apartment for season 5-7
    • For a little while Mr Turner and Mr Feeny had the same classroom, just flipped around with a few different props.
    • The school hallway from seasons 2-4 is almost exactley the same as the Senior hallway from season 5 but shot from a different angle
    • Restaurants tend to be reused as well. The restaurant in "You Can Go Home Again" is basically reused in "Road Trip". Chubbie's (the local hangout) is used for pretty much anywhere groups of teens hang out. This is lampshaded in "Things Change", as the restaurant is changed into a pirate-themed family restaurant in the course of one scene.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Cory and Topanga in "My Best Friend's Girl".
  • Retool: Three big ones:
    • 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 traits of his "modern" persona. Topanga abandons her Granola Girl roots and becomes a Hollywood Nerd. 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.
    • 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.
  • Running Gag: Eric's "Feeny call". Also, Mr. Feeny following the gang to every school they go to.
  • Say My Name: Again, the Feeny call.
  • Scare Chord: Parodied in the slasher movie-themed episode. Everytime one of the characters makes a dramatic and scary statement Eric goes "Duh! Duh! Duh!" 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 the 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 "Schnieder". 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.
  • 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 persued 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 mentioned in the subsequent episodes.
  • 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 think 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's All Grown Up: Cory has this reaction about Topanga.
  • Shipper on Deck: Shawn for Cory and Topanga, Cory 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.
  • 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 the 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 refrences made to them throughout the show.
    • The show also refrences Swarthmore College, which is in neighboring Delaware County.
    • Pittsburg and Philadelphia are indeed really far away, almost on opposite sides of the state.
    • Hershey, PA has also been refrenced
    • The show also correctly references the state capitol 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.
    • 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".
    • Jack and Eric go for a run up the "Rocky Steps", otherwise know 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."
    • In "Pairing Off", Cory is surpised 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.
  • Shrinking Violet: Schneider, one the of actors on Kid Gets Acquainted With the Universe.
  • 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 was clearly several years older than the first one.
    • Josh, who was born halfway through the sixth season, and was a child of at least three in the finale.
  • 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.
  • Stern Teacher: Mr. Feeny
  • Story Arc: Probably the only show in TGIF history 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".
  • 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, Mikus, etc.) befriend him. He explains that he now knows what it feels like to be an outcast at school.
  • 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!"
  • 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!
Later:
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.

Shawn: I'll get as sick as you can get without... actually... dying...

  • Tempting Fate: Happens frequently.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: "And Then There Was Shawn"
  • Ten-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."
  • Their First Time: 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.
  • 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.

  • Throw It In: The crazier Eric got, the more Will Friedle started to improvise and mix things up. Most of the time it worked as Eric is the ONLY funny thing in some of the more serious episodes and in a lot of ways was the funniest character in the show
    • Most obvious is his stirring rendition of Ooh, Child in "Angela's Ashes." Trina McGee doesn't even try to keep it together and you can hear the rest of the cast snickering over the laugh track.
    • The foodfight from "Hogs and Kisses" is something that obviously got out of hand waay too quickly, but was too funny to tell the actors to stop.
    • In "The Provider" a singed and smoking Eric shows up at Cory's door to ask for his lucky penny back (don't ask, just watch the episode). Rather than take it with his hand he makes Cory put it in his mouth and then walks over to the (non-ringing) telephone and says "Hello?" Ben Savage immediately loses it.
    • Another one, from the episode "Angela's Men": The tag seems to be a typical scene wrapping up the episode's events, but it soon becomes clear none of the actors were able to make it through the scene without breaking, so instead it turns into a blooper reel showing all their attempts. Again, Will Friedle was largely responsible.
  • 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, even though only seven years of the characters' lives are depicted, at least ten years have passed between the series premiere and the series finale.
    • 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.
<Beat>
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 more wackier as series went on. However, there is tad bit 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 exhasperated with Eric's Cloud Cuckoo Landerness who decayed into a Jerkass after his breakup with Rachel.
  • Tropes for Dummies: In "The Witches of Pennbrook", Eric uses to book Witchcraft for Dumb-dumbs to help him defeat a group of suppossed "witches".
  • Troubled but Cute: Shawn.
  • 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 are this or Three Amigos depending on the scenario.
    • 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 teacher 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 disapeared Feeny became their English teacher in season five. Later, after Mr. Feeny unretires 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 cources?
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.

Shawn: Here's what I got for you - Two Words: Uncle Mike's
<Beat>
Shawn: I'm gonna need more words.

  • 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, understandibly, 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 three 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 the 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.
  • Valentines 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.
  • 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 a KC 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.

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 the Universe" are shown to be small children.
  • 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"?
Angela: No, but he called out the name "Cory".
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 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.