When it comes to teen sitcoms, let's be honest. Seldom has anything ever compared to the heart of Boy Meets World. Throughout pop culture, this one incredible '90s comedy that centered around Cory Matthews and his friends navigating the world offered countless life lessons, hilarious dialogue, and real emotion that influenced generations of viewers. It's obviously no coincidence that the show also served as an enlightening parallel to our own frustrating, confusing, and angst-filled journeys in life.
But the true heart and soul of Boy Meets World was more than just the script-writing and the one-liners, it was the love — family love, romantic love, friendship love — every single one of these emotions was intertwined through every subplot and every episode, and today, that is something that so many other teen-driven sitcoms lack. While we watched BMW because it made us laugh, we also watched it because it made us cry. I mean, I can't remember a time when I didn't cry while watching an episode. It's those moments when the music comes on (you know what music I am talking about) and everything else around you fades away. The emotion and the humanity, throughout the show's seven-season run, are what keep me coming back for more.
1. "Brave New World" — Season 7, Episode 22-23
One of the most poignant episodes that the series ever aired was its final goodbye. The episode was split into two parts because really all the emotions could not be contained. In the closing scenes of this episode and of Boy Meets World as a whole, everyone got to say goodbye to the man that shaped all their life, Mr. Feeny. And though he never did admit how much each of his students truly touched his heart, he let the audience know — and my friends, that will send your tears into overdrive.
2. "Cult Fiction" — Season 4, Episode 21
Shawn was the perfect portrait of any adolescent in America. Why? Well, Shawn was flawed. He wasn't a perfect middle-class human being, and as a result, he was really lost. Even though he had a core group of people who always came to his rescue, it was ultimately Shawn who needed to find himself in the midst of the world's chaos. When Shawn joins a cult in this episode, he starts looking for his real self in all the wrong places. Sadly, it takes something tragic for him to realize that.
3. "The Honeymoon Is Over" — Season 7, Episode 9
When I was younger, I never understood how, after Cory and Topanga get back from their Hawaiian vacation and Cory is forced to ask his parents if they can move back in with them because Shawn is now living in Topanga's apartment with Rachel and Angela... Alan doesn't let them. He yells and screams and tells Cory he is married now, he has to do this on his own. Funny enough, until I got older, this became a sentiment that my parents always echoed to me. Cory and Topanga are then required to move into the couples' dorm, a roach-infested nightmare — and for whatever reason no one was willing to help them. This was the first time we get to see struggle as the only option they had, and although they learned to work as a team, you can't help but feel for Cory when he realizes he is not providing for his wife like he thought he could.
4. "Resurrection" — Season 6, Episode 17
5. "Seven The Hard Way" — Season 7, Episode 16
"Lose one friend, lose all friends, lose yourself." This was the one Boy Meets World episode that really put the friendships and relationships of Boy Meets World to the test. After a prank war goes too far, feelings are ignored and the episode takes a flash-forward look at how life would be if the core seven stopped being friends. With animosity still running high, Cory, Shawn, Angela, Eric, Jack, and Rachel realize they are stronger together than they are apart.
6. "Dangerous Secret" — Season 4, Episode 8
Though no main character in this episode are involved in the emotional struggle that occurs, we see Shawn become the hero for the first time when he tries to save his friend Claire from her abusive father. This was one of the very first time I got to see Shawn doing something unselfishly for someone he cared about. It was a point of realization that you don't have to be romantically involved or personally connected to a person to just be a human being.
7. "Brotherly Shove" — Season 7, Episode 19
In "Brotherly Shove," Cory and Eric get into a huge argument when Eric is angered that Cory didn't invite him to clean out the garage, but instead enlists the help of Topanga and Shawn. Though Eric was a little dramatic in his approach confronting Cory, he was right. Cory should have realized that his brother should be the one to work with him in cleaning out their childhood memories. In this episode, it was hard to see two siblings fight, especially when it is Cory and Eric, but the bond between siblings is just as strong as it is between friends and it allowed us to see why Cory and Eric grew apart in previous years, but were willing to change that in the present.
8. "If You Can't Be With The One You Love" — Season 5, Episode 18
Boy Meets World had the innate ability to deal with real-life issues that adolescences face, but not turn it into an after school special. In this Season 5 episode, Cory has come to terms with the realization that him and Topanga are no longer an item, but instead of turning to friends and family in the process, he turns to alcohol to numb his pain. This episode was one that we got to see a dark side of Cory Matthews, but it also portrayed the dark effects that alcohol can have when you try to use it to drown your sorrows.
9. "Life Lessons" — Season 3, Episode 18
Though "Life Lessons" is on this list for being one of the most emotional, it is also one of my favorites. This episode takes place for Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and the rest of John Adams High during exam week. After Cory and a group of roughhousers ask Mr. Feeny to change the exam schedule and he refuses, they trash his home. I have watched this episode countless times and every single time Cory comes home from the library and Mr. Feeny steps outside to see his home destroyed, I cry. Not because of how sad the reality of the situation is, but how much the act affects the strong force of Feeny. It seems as though it doesn't matter who or what you are, actions will always have a reaction.
10. "We'll Have A Good Time Then" — Season 6, Episode 13
All I can say for this episode is how much it puts me into the fetal position, sobbing my life away, because Shawn's father dies and there is nothing in the world that can truly prepare you for the loss of parent. Especially when your parents teach you how to survive in the world, but never teach you how to survive without them.
11. "Family Trees" — Season 7, Episode 12
Let's be real: when Alan Matthews offered to adopt Shawn, there was no greater gift that this show could have offered than that. Shawn always had a place in the Matthews home and when Alan wanted to make it official, it only seemed right for Shawn to finally find his place in the world.
12. "A Long Walk To Pittsburgh: Part 1 & 2" —Season 4, Episode 16-17
In this episode, the idea of Cory and Topanga not being together is brought to the forefront. When Eric sees Shawn kiss Topanga at Chubby's, we find out that Topanga is moving to Pittsburgh with her parents, which crushes us all. But when she runs away and comes back to find Cory defending her to his parents, it's incredibly tough to watch.
13. "Wrong Side Of The Tracks" — Season 2, Episode 19
Sometimes in life, we can never truly figure out where we belong. Shawn struggles with that identification in this Season 2 episode. He starts hanging out with a bad crowd and when Cory sets out to prove to his best friend that a person's honorability is not determined by their birthplace, I lose it.
14. "Heartbreak Cory" — Season 5, Episode 14
With every fiber of my being, I hate how much this episode affects me. Cory cheats on Topanga, and though to him it meant nothing, to Topanga it meant the world. It is so difficult to watch these lovers crumble and so I stay away from this episode like it is a bad cold. Cory and Topanga Forever!
15. "Everybody Loves Stuart" — Season 6, Episode 7
I can never get enough of this episode because of how many boundaries it pushes. In "Everybody Loves Stuart," Ben Savage's real-life brother Fred plays Stuart, a cool college teacher who makes learning for Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Angela fun again. However, when he uses his power of authority to force himself on Topanga, the dark realities of sexual assault — especially on college campuses — is addressed. Cory confronts Stuart, but not many people have someone to fight for them. The issue then of victim-blaming and self-doubt are so genuine, it's hard to keep it together.
16. "What I Meant To Say" — Season 3, Episode 3
It may be extremely hard to believe, but there were many times that Topanga was not sure about her future with Cory. One of the greatest things Cory has ever said to her was when he redefined the meaning of love: “Look, all I know is that you and I belong together. I've always been able to talk to you, to make you laugh and I've always, always wanted to take care of you…" Despite the simplicity behind this explanation of love, I have used this definition for the rest of my life to define what it really means. Love is just being there, and being present for your loved one.
Though Boy Meets World was a show that entranced its viewers with humor and puns, it also was not just another show. This TGIF hit had the power to take real issues and life struggles and make them relatable with lovable characters and true purpose. With that came lessons about love, friendship, relationships, and the real world, and I for one continue to cry to this day when these episodes get a bit too real — because of course, they truly withstand the test of time.
Images: Disney–ABC Domestic Television (3); boymeetsworldgifs