Throughout the ’90s, Boy Meets World followed Cory Matthews as he navigated through life learning all about love, friendship, and heartache. The show captured the hearts of kids and adults alike, being able to grow up alongside Cory from 6th grade all the way through college.
Many episodes were on the light-hearted side, providing laughs, while others touched on more serious topics – leaving viewers in tears. Boy Meets World didn’t hold back when it came to the emotional episodes, tugging at heartstrings everywhere over Shawn’s broken family, Cory and Topanga’s ups and downs, and sibling rivalry.
“Career Day” (Season 2, Episode 22)
The father figures are compared in this episode after Cory gets embarrassed by his father’s career as a grocer and wishes he had a “cool dad” like Shawn. However, things go south when Chet Hunter tells his son that his mom ditched them and took their mobile home with her. He dumps Shawn at a flea-bag motel, prompting Cory’s parents to take him into their care.
This moment is one of the first times viewers see the dysfunction happening in Shawn’s life and it’s hard to watch as he acts like everything is okay. Cory has a bonding moment with his own dad and says thank you for all the things he does for the family, learning that his career doesn’t define who he is as a person.
“Dangerous Secret” (Season 4, Episode 8)
Tears are guaranteed to flow watching this episode when Cory is faced with a problem that he can’t fix alone. Claire, a girl from Cory’s high school, is being abused by her father. Claire shows up at Cory’s house with a black eye, and in a heartbreaking scene, she asks him, “I didn’t even do anything. Why did he have me?” After struggling to make a decision on how he’s able to help, Cory decides that hiding her one day at a time wasn’t going to fix the problem, and tells his parents.
The ending features the cast talking about abuse and the reality of it, providing a hotline for people in similar situations. The show tackled the situation of abuse maturely and brought awareness to the fact that abuse doesn’t just happen to adults.
“Brother, Brother” (Season 3, Episode 22)
Cory’s upset that everyone is leaving for summer vacation and his parents tell him to spend time with his brother Eric before he leaves for college. The brothers get into an argument where Cory tells him that for years they’ve been growing apart and now he’s abandoning him. Eric gets upset and says, “You’re right Cory, I’ve been a terrible brother; but, in a week I’ll be gone and I’ll be the best brother you’ve ever had.”
The boys then begin to get physical with each other and have to be broken up by their parents. The fight is a startling moment for viewers, with the brothers normally getting along very well, and reminds viewers that just because someone is family doesn’t mean it’s possible to always get along with them.
“Cult Fiction” (Season 4, Episode 21)
Any episode centered around Shawn and his upbringing is guaranteed to be an emotional one. Mr. Turner, basically Shawn’s guardian, ends up getting into a terrible motorcycle accident. Throughout the episode Shawn was struggling with finding where he belongs in the world, not knowing what to believe in after so many people have let him down.
Shawn finds himself praying aloud while holding Mr. Turner’s hand. He shouts at God, “God, don’t take Turner away from me. He’s not done yelling at me yet,” before succumbing to tears. Watching this powerful scene has everyone heartbroken for the teen. Mr. Turner was a fan-favorite teacher in Boy Meets World and viewers were horrified at the potential of losing him, but when he squeezes Shawn’s hand, it promises hope for a recovery.
“Torn Between Two Lovers (Feeling Like A Fool)” (Season 5, Episode 16)
In this emotional episode, Topanga tells Cory to go out with Lauren, one of Reddit’s most hated Boy Meets World characters, to figure out his feelings for her. He agrees and is confused because he ends up having a good time. In the end, Cory tells Topanga he had fun with Lauren but decided that he wants to be with Topanga because Lauren “wasn’t her.” However, Topanga tells him they need to break up.
She forgives him for everything, but can’t forgive him for needing to see Lauren to test how he felt about her. They break up multiple times in the series, but this moment feels like they might not be able to reconcile his mistake.
“If You Can’t Be With The One You Love…” (Season 5, Episode 18)
Cory’s father blames Shawn for being a bad influence when the two get caught drinking in public. The next day, Shawn shows up to class intoxicated and causes a scene. Cory and Shawn’s brother, Jack, confront him. Jack tells Shawn that struggles with alcohol run in their family and that their mom left their dad because he was an “abusive, ugly, drunk” and that he shouldn’t drink.
In the heat of the moment, Shawn ends up shoving his girlfriend into the door. The moment is sobering for Shawn and he turns to Cory, asking, “How did that just happen?” This episode is hard to watch, knowing that Shawn has constantly struggled with finding where he belongs. Having him turn to alcohol and discover the dangers of it make for an emotional moment in the show’s history.
“We’ll Have A Good Time Then” (Season 6, Episode 13)
Chet, Shawn’s dad, returns for this devastating episode. Chet Hunter tells them he’s planning on staying for good, but shortly thereafter, he suffers from a heart attack. While at the hospital, Shawn tells Jack about all the hardships he had gone through due to his parents’ absence and Chet overhears him, telling Shawn that he knew he had been a lousy father.
Shawn yells at his father and asks, “Why wasn’t I good enough for you?” Hearing Shawn ask that question is enough to break viewers’ hearts everywhere. Chet ends up having another heart attack, leaving Shawn parent-less once again.
“Resurrection” (Season 6, Episode 17)
Cory’s baby brother is born with a respiratory infection and is in danger of dying. Cory doesn’t know how to handle something as frightening as this and turns to Topanga for comfort, frustrating her with his attitude of just pretending like everything is going to be fine. Angela tells her he needs her to be the light because without her all he has is reality.
The baby ends up being okay, but Alan Matthews stops by the NICU to say a prayer for every family he met who has to go through what they did with their newborn. The cameras panned over the remaining families with their sick newborns, leaving the episode with an air of sadness.
“Angela’s Men” (Season 7, Episode 3)
This episode focuses not on Cory’s relationship, but the secondary relationship between Shawn and Angela. Shawn learns that Angela’s mother abandoned her as a child, similar to how his mom left him. He works with her father to prove that just because her mother left, doesn’t mean she’s going to follow in her mother’s footsteps and leave him.
The emotion is taut in the scene as Angela tries to hold herself together in front of her ex-boyfriend who she is still in love with. After collapsing in her father’s arms sobbing, she finally admits to Shawn how much she loves him and they kiss, her father telling him to take care of his daughter.
“Brave New World: Part 2” (Season 7, Episode 23)
The series finale recaps all of the highlights throughout the seasons as everyone’s graduating college and moving on to build their adult lives. Mr. Feeny is in the classroom when the gang walks in, asking if he has anything left he wants to teach them before going out into a whole new world. Mr. Feeny tells them, “Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good.” The favorite teacher is then told to tell them he loves them, but he refuses.
Tears don’t stop falling as he gets emotional farewells from Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Eric before they leave him alone in the classroom. Before Mr. Feeny shuts off the lights he delivers the emotional final line of Boy Meets World, “I love you all. Class dismissed.”