The main stage at New York Comic Con was all about nostalgia on Friday as three panels celebrated anniversaries with crowds of long-time fans. After Batman: The Animated Series and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman rolled through, three original cast members celebrated the 25th anniversary of Boy Meets World. Ben Savage (Cory), Danielle Fishel (Topanga), and Will Friedle (Eric) were on hand to take fan questions and speak to the show’s longevity. The sitcom ran for seven years on ABC Network ending in 2000. However, the impact of the show didn’t end there. Through syndication, BMW found continued success. The cast members credit that syndication for much of the series’ lasting legacy.
At the panel, Friedle pointed out that they weren’t that popular while on the air. He said they wouldn’t get recognized off of the set. However with the show running almost continually on one network or another for 25 years, that fanbase grew. Fishel credits the introduction of social media after their initial run for showing them how many people were watching and how many continued to watch the re-runs. It should be noted that the show’s entire first run was part of ABC’s popular “TGIF” programming block. So people were definitely watching.
Several fan questions from the crowd, focused on the socially minded topics covered on the series. The cast joked that many of the most difficult moments went to Shawn, played by Rider Strong. Remember he did join a cult in one episode. But they all welcomed the topics chosen by showrunner Michael Jacobs, which they labelled as “universal” in many cases. They opined that the level of relatability explains why multiple generations have tuned in to the show. Fishel and Friedle pointed to a particular concept that stood out as memorable in their minds. After both actors gained some weight in real life, an episode was written to address it. That episode featured Eric fitting an entire piece of pizza in his mouth at one point, a feat Friedle brags about. Both actors calmed the unease of the crowd by saying they welcomed the episode as long as it was funny.
In fact, it was rare that the character of Eric received dramatic story arcs. Friedle joked with the audience that he wondered what happened to Eric that made him the way he was, a personality he described as “a goofball.” One such example of the types of storylines Eric was written had him gaining the ability to sneeze the winning lottery numbers. However, while his character was more care-free, Friedle was dealing with severe anxiety. He mentioned how Boy Meets World and his animated gig, Batman Beyond, wrapped on the same day. After that, his anxiety disorder led him to working exclusively off camera with voiceover work. Fishel congratulated Friedle on overcoming that anxiety that she said at one point prevented him from leaving his house.
Savage spent the hour panel deferring many of the serious topics to his co-stars. There were moments where his inner Cory Matthews shone through though. When asked about the differences with the experiences working on Boy Meets World and the spinoff series Girl Meets World, which ran from 2014-2017, he spoke of the craft services. His snack of choice on BMW was donuts, GMW had him reaching for the Fiber One cereal.
That fits the shift the characters of Cory and Topanga went through between the two series as well as the actors. In Girl Meets World, the show was centered around the couple’s daughter, Riley, as she navigated growing up. Addressing a fan at NYCC, who mentioned that he would have preferred Girl to focus more on Cory and Topanga, the actors stated that they knew what the show was when they signed up. But there were plenty of Easter eggs for fans of the original series. Many of the original cast members returned for either cameos or larger storylines during the three season run of Girl Meets World.
Friedle, who returned for four episodes, pointed out that as the now older actors stood around during filming they very much saw their younger selves in the young actors sitting off to the side learning their lines. Times have changed for the Boy Meets World crew. Friedle even declined to give his iconic “Feeny” call saying it had been passed on to the girls from the spinoff.
But no matter how much time has passed, the character traits fans know and love broke through at New York Comic Con. “I can eat more of anything than anyone you’ve ever met,” said Friedle at one point. Savage continually called back to his love of Fiber One and Fishel playfully simplified the questions for her television husband as he claimed to not understand. It all felt like it could fit into a 20-year-old script from Boy Meets World.