The 90s were definitely filled with feel-good family sitcoms like Full House, Step By Step, and Family Matters. But there was definitely one show that stood up above all for teaching us some pretty important life lessons... while keeping us laughing for hours on end. We're talking about Boy Meets World, the coming-of-age series about a curly-haired boy named Cory Matthews. The show spanned seven seasons and followed Cory, his best friend Shawn Hunter and childhood sweetheart, Topanga Lawrence, from middle school all the way through college. Whether they dealt with family, friendship, teen love or loss, Cory, and the gang's shenanigans always mirrored our own super confusing pre-teen and teen years. Though it’s been off of the air for nearly two decades, Boy Meets World's many lessons are still totally relevant to us today. Sure, we have the spin-off Girl Meets World, but the original will always have a super special place in our hearts. Here are the 15 greatest life lessons from Boy Meets World.
The show's comic relief definitely came in the form of Eric Matthews. Over the course of the show, Eric slowly evolved from Cory’s swoon-worthy older brother to the show’s resident goofball, and we loved him for it. His big heart coupled with his compulsive personality left him in some sticky situations, like the time that he lent the college cafe money to a guy with a monkey, or the time that he decided to try to keep Mr. Feeny from retiring by serenading him at Cory’s High School graduation. To his credit, though, that definitely worked out in the long run. Yet, he always managed to succeed and that was mainly because he wasn’t afraid to laugh at his mistakes and goofy moments. No one is perfect but a little charm and self-deprecation can take you a long way. Since we all make mistakes from time to time, it’s better to laugh about them than to beat ourselves up.
Each character on the show had their own journey and their quirks definitely made the show rich and interesting. Remember Topanga from season one? Before Topanga's eccentricities were toned down, she was definitely the odd one out. If she wasn't dancing and covering her face in lipstick, she was quoting some ancient deity. She even summoned her ancestors for help with a quiz question. In the early seasons, Cory and Shawn always made fun of her for dancing to the beat of her own drum but she never allowed their heckling to change her (even though the writers did a 180 with her character). In fact, it was Topanga who helped Cory see that he was perfect just the way that he was in season one when he was worried about fitting in. That's great advice because the world would be a very boring place if we were all the same -- we're not meant to take the same paths in life because what fun would that be? So instead of trying to fit in, do your best to stand out and let your uniqueness shine.
If you're not properly prepared, the world will literally crush you. Big brother Eric tried to relay this message to Cory in one stand-out episode. After Cory got upset because Eric didn't pass along an important phone message, Eric responded with "Little bro, life's tough, get a helmet." That wisdom was more self-serving on Eric's part at the time, kind of like a "get over it," but he actually gave Cory sound advice. As much as we would love to drift through life unscathed, we're all going to go through trials of some kind. Since there's no way to know when problems will pop up, we need to make sure we're equipped with our own metaphorical helmet to help us combat our adversaries.
In most cases, it would be an absolute nightmare to live next door to your teacher... especially when you literally had the exact same teacher year after year and basically couldn't escape him. But in Cory's case, he basically had access to a 24/7 therapist in Mr. Feeny. In the earlier seasons, he was a lot stricter but over time, he warmed up to Cory and company, becoming like a second father to them all. And no matter how much the gang wanted to ignore him, they knew that he was right. Sure, he was annoying sometimes (no teen wants to be lectured to) but he was super invested in the lives of Cory and his friends, and only wanted what was best for them. If you're lucky, you probably have your own Mr. Feeny in your life.
Aside from Mr. Feeny, there was one other teacher who played a big part in the character’s lives -- Shawn especially. Mr. Turner was, as you know, Cory and Shawn's cool, motorcycle riding English teacher. Before mysteriously disappearing around season four, Mr. Turner served as a pseudo-parent to the group of friends. When Shawn didn't have a stable home, Mr. Turner even allowed him to crash at his place for awhile. Yeah, that was television but I'm sure that everyone knows at least one teacher who goes above and beyond for their students. If you think about it, teaching is one of the most undervalued jobs in the world. They work crazy hours for meager pay. Most days, they stay after school for hours grading papers and creating plans for your academic success. Yeah, there are some jerks out there, but most teachers have dedicated their lives to ensure your success. So, make sure that you always show your appreciation!
Cory and Shawn had one of the greatest bromances in the history of television. It didn't matter what situation they found themselves in, their loyalty to each other never wavered. When Shawn was going through his rebellious stage, Cory never let Shawn stray too far off of course. Shawn always stood up for Cory to the "cool" kids and never made him feel like he was too goody-goody to hang out with. When each broke up with their respective partners, the other did their best to help the happy couples find their way back to each other. Some people, Topanga included, would argue that they may have been a little too close. But seriously, we should all aspire to be as good of a friend as they were to each other.
Your first love is always extra special and that's why Cory and Topanga's relationship was so relatable. The official narrative was that they fell in love at two years old, but that was after the writers switched gears in the later seasons. True viewers know that Cory and Topanga actually started off as friends and their relationship grew from there, which is even better in my opinion. They were there for each other during their confusing teen years and married shortly after their High School graduation. Yeah, some aspects of the relationship were unrealistic, but who cares. It's Cory and Topanga! We love them as much as they love each other (if not more).
Cory and Shawn weren’t related, but DNA couldn’t have made them any closer. Their bond was even stronger than that of Cory and Eric and Shawn and his brother, Jack. Shawn also found a surrogate family in Cory's family and the Matthews proved time and time again that they would go to the ends of the earth for Shawn. When Shawn joined a cult, it was Alan who came to his rescue. Shawn eventually came to his senses and realized that he had a family the whole time in Mr. Feeny and the Matthews.
Before Eric officially became the show's resident clown, he was just a well-meaning pretty boy with a big heart. When Eric started mentoring an orphan named Tommy, he decided that he wanted to adopt him. At the time, Eric was in college and in no position to take care of Tommy, even though he loved him dearly. Eventually, Eric did what was best for both he and Tommy and allowed him to go live with a family in California who could support and love him in the long run. It was an emotional scene to watch and you could see how hurt Eric was, but he put his own feelings aside because he wanted to give Tommy his best chance. When you love someone you have to put their needs before their own so they can achieve happiness, even if that happiness will occur without you.
We've all heard that honesty is the best policy, but sometimes it's actually the total and complete opposite. Sometimes it's best to keep your opinions to yourself. In "The Truth about Honesty," Cory got super grossed out after he found out that Topanga has used his razor. Instead of just telling her, he freaked out in front of Shawn and Angela. Once Topanga found out, she urged him to be honest with her no matter what. Cory was into their new honesty pact... without realizing that he actually was being super rude. Later in the episode, Cory hated Topanga's new crimped hairstyle and asked, "At what point when you were paying to have this done to your hair did you look in the mirror and say, hey, this looks good?" Of course, that didn't work out too well for him. Here's the thing: honesty sounds best in theory, but you don't really need to share every blunt, unfiltered thought that comes up in your head. If you do, we doubt you'll have any friends for long. Like the old saying goes, people can't handle the truth.
All of the characters went through a ton of changes over the course of the show. How could they not? When the show starts, they're middle schoolers and by the end, they're college students. In the episode entitled, "Things Change," Cory had a hard time dealing with the natural changes that occur as people get older. Graduation was nearing and he couldn't deal with the thought of his friends going off to different colleges. So he came up with a plan to keep the gang together. Even though he, Topanga and Angela were accepted into Penbrooke right away, Shawn was stuck on the wait list. Eventually, Shawn got accepted but by then he'd already taken a job as a photographer's assistant. He also had to deal with the fact that his middle school hangout, Chubbies, had been transformed into a pirate-themed restaurant. We can all relate to Cory here. Change is a scary but totally necessary part of life. But the sooner that you embrace it the better off you'll be. Growth can't occur until you get out of your comfort zone and that means trying new things and leaving old things behind.
Cory had some amazing friends, but he also had a loving, loyal family. His parents, Amy and Alan always did their best to support Cory, Eric and their sister Morgan. No matter what kind of trouble Cory found himself in his family backed him 100 percent. They motivated him when he was unsure of himself and supported his decisions even when they didn't agree with them. Remember when he broke the news that he and Topanga were getting married at 18? Amy was not for it at all, but once she saw how in love they were, she came around. That's how all family should be.
Shawn Hunter was totally a serial dater for the first half of the series. But then in season four, he got his first one steady girlfriend throughout the series in Angela. On paper, they couldn't have been more compatible. They were both artistic, tortured soul types. Both had been abandoned by their mothers and both were the best friend to their SO's best friend. But when the series ended, they went in different directions. It sucks to think that you can love a person with all your heart but still end up apart. But Shawn and Angela's romance was proof of that. Yeah, it sucks, but it's also life. It's hard to predict whether a love will last forever, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't enjoy it while it lasts.
Everyone has their breaking point. If you don't constantly work to maintain a level of trust and respect among your friends, you run the risk of losing them. The gang learned this in a season six episode when a pranking competition crossed the line from harmless to disrespectful. This eventually turned into a war between the old friends, new friends, couples, friends with everyone at odds at each other. With Eric and Mr. Feeny acting as moderators, everything was eventually worked out but not before the viewers got to see a hypothetical future for the group if they didn't work out their differences. Aside from Cory and Topanga, everyone else in the group had gone their separate ways. Even Cory and Shawn's friendship had deteriorated. The turning point came when Eric, who had morphed into a hermit named Plays With Squirrels, read aloud the sole page from his manifesto, "Lose One Friend. Lose all friends. Lose yourself." If you find one true friend in this life, you're luckier than most people. Don't let them go over something stupid.
In what was undoubtedly the most tear-inducing scene of the show, sitting in their middle school classroom, Mr. Feeny gave Cory, Shawn, Topanga and Eric one last bit of advice before they headed off to New York: “Dream. Try. Do Good.” No matter what path you take or what city you move to, you should take chances, push your boundaries and always, always try your best to be a good person. It’s a message that everyone should live by, and the perfect way to end such a monumental show.