See Birthday Girl Danielle Fishel and the Rest of the Boy Meets World Cast Then and Now

Danielle Fishel, who played Cory Matthews' main squeeze Topanga on classic '90s sitcom Boy Meets World, is celebrating her 40th birthday and we're feeling a little nostalgic...

By Natalie Finn May 05, 2021 9:00 AMTags
Danielle Fishel, Ben Savage, Boy Meets WorldWalt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

So often on Boy Meets World it was all about the girl.

And that girl was the brainy and civically ahead of her time Topanga Lawrence, played by Danielle Fishel, who scored the role of a TGIF lifetime when she was only 12 years old.

That former child star is marking her 40th birthday May 5, and needless to say she's grown up a bit since Ben Savage's Cory Matthews first realized he was crushing hard on his classmate with the exceptional hair.

After bringing Topanga back as a successful lawyer, wife (to Cory, obviously) and mom to daughter Riley and son Augie in Girl Meets World for a few seasons, Fishel remarried and in 2019 she and husband Jensen Karp welcomed son Adler. He was born a month early, meaning many anxious days and long nights for the new parents, but once Adler's condition stabilized after a few weeks they were able to take their bouncing bundle of joy home. 

So these days Fishel has even more to celebrate aside from having long since secured her place in the YA sitcom hall of fame.

"It has been interesting because on one hand there are so many milestones and changes that happen in the first year of having a baby, so I feel really lucky that I have this forced time to slow down," Fishel told TV Insider a year ago, mid-quarantine. "Also, I feel lucky he is at the age he is at. He is about to be 11 months, which means he didn't have to be taken out of school. As far as Adler is concerned, this is just the greatest time ever. It just means mom and dad are home all the time. He gets tons of one-on-one time with us. He enjoys that and is not missing anything."

And he's got some time before he tunes into the fact that Mommy is a TV legend.

"I try to keep in mind all the time that the cast was just as lucky to be a part of that show as the fans who are so appreciative of how it impacted their life," Fishel said of Boy Meets World's devoted 1990s-era viewers, so many of whom grew up along with the show's stars. "We're just as lucky. I could have been anybody in those roles. It could have been anybody to have those experiences we got to have. I constantly think about how lucky we are. People ask me all the time if it bothers me that I'm only known for being Topanga. I think no, because it could have been so much worse."

Watch: Danielle Fishel on THAT Wedding Episode: E! News Rewind

Asked what she meant by that, she explained, "There are so many characters that would really bum me out to be known as when I look back at the course of TV. Topanga was so cool. I'm so lucky that's the character I'm known for. I feel the same way about the lessons. We were so lucky we had the writers we had, who cared about the audience and never wanted to talk down to the audience. Who insisted in keeping the episodes real and tried to get as much into those 22 minutes as they possibly could without making it too cheesy."

The actress, host (including of the at-home Instagram Live gameshow "Scorantine" with Karp, which helped entertain and pass the time during the pandemic) and hair care entrepreneur also revealed that the old gang had been staying in touch from their respective houses, thanks largely to an email chain started by Rider Strong expressly to check in with each other in COVID times.

And, conveniently enough, Will Friedle and his wife Sue are neighbors, so even though they couldn't socialize up close, Fishel explained, she and Karp generally walked their dog past her TV brother-in-law's house.

No, we're not feeling nostalgic—you're feeling nostalgic. So in that case, here's an update on where the cast of Boy Meets World is now:

Ben Savage

Savage, 42, played Cory Matthews on Boy Meets World, which anchored ABC's TGIF lineup from 1993 to 2000.

He went on to graduate from Stanford in 2004 with a degree in political science and continued to pop up on TV (Party of FiveChuck) and the occasional indie film before reuniting with TV sweetheart Danielle Fishel to reprise their roles on the 2014 Disney Channel spin-off Girl Meets World.

After that show ended in 2017, Savage (whose older brother is The Wonder Years star Fred Savage) appeared on series including The LeftoversSpeechlessCriminal Minds (as a young Jason Gideon) and Homeland (as young Saul, making that two gigs playing a Mandy Patinkin character as a younger man). While he's yet to appear on his former co-stars' Pod Meets World podcast, he and Fishel reunited in 2021 for a rom-com spoof touting perfect lunch date spot Panera Bread.

His Instagram indicated for years that he had a wedding-date-caliber girlfriend, but he kept her identity pretty private—until he popped the question and confirmed in March 2023 that he'd married longtime love Tessa Angermeier.

Savage unsuccessfully sought a seat on the West Hollywood City Council in 2022 but has dusted himself off and announced he's running for Congress in 2024.

Danielle Fishel

Between playing Topanga Lawrence (and then Matthews) on Boy Meets World and Girls Meets World, Fishel—whose first kiss was a smooch for the show with Ben Savage—was mainly herself on TV, appearing as a correspondent on The Tyra Banks Show and hosting Style Network's The Dish. She also went back to college at 27 and earned her degree in 2012

She met first husband Tim Belusko at school, and they were married for two years before quietly divorcing in 2016. She wed Drop the Mic host Jensen Karp in 2018, with former co-stars Savage (who congratulated his "favorite TV wife" on her engagement) and Will Friedle in attendance.

Fishel, 41, and Karp welcomed son Adler in June 2019 and his brother Keaton in August 2021. The enviably coiffed actress also, most fittingly, launched a hair care line, Be Free by Danielle Fishel, and after directing several episodes of Girl Meets World continued on behind the camera, helming episodes of Disney Channel's Sydney to the Max, Raven's Home and Lopez vs. Lopez.

She also co-hosts Pod Meets World with Friedle and Rider Strong.

Rider Strong

After playing Shawn Hunter on Boy Meets World, Strong most notably starred in Eli Roth's 2002 sleeper horror hit Cabin Fever and its 2009 sequel, was one of the stars of the short-lived Pepper Dennis and voiced Brick Flagg in the animated series Kim Possible before returning to play Shawn in seven episodes of Girl Meets World. 

The 43-year-old has also been behind the camera, writing, directing and producing some shorts and the 2017 TV movie Micah the A--hole Ghost with brother Shiloh Strong (who was originally up for the role of Eric Matthews). His latest directorial effort, "Typhoon—We're In It," was named Best Music Video by the Vortex Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror Film Festival in October 2022.

In 2013, Strong married Alexandra Barreto and their son, Indigo, was born in December 2014.

Will Friedle

Friedle showed up as big brother Eric Matthews again on Girl Meets World, but in the meantime his voice became ubiquitous in animated shows including Kim PossibleTeen Titans Go!DC Super Hero Girls, Disney XD's Guardians of the Galaxy (as Star Lord Peter Quill) and The Legend of Vox Machina.

Years before the 46-year-old attended Fishel and Karp's wedding, he was best man at the 2004 nuptials of Step by Step star Jason Marsden, TGIF cross-over programming at its finest. In December 2019, he sported a T-shirt with Topanga's face on it, a bit of swag courtesy of  his future podcast co-host's hair care line.

Friedle married Susan Martens in 2016.

William Daniels

Daniels, a two-time Emmy winner for St. Elsewhere as well as an original star of the musical 1776 and the voice of David Hasselhoff's car K.I.T.T. on Knight Rider, secured himself a new generation of fans playing Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World.

After serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1999 until 2001, Daniels continued to make guest appearances on the likes of ScrubsBoston Legal and The Closer and had an arc on Grey's Anatomy in 2012. Now 96, Daniels' most recent physical acting work was reprising the role of Mr. Feeny on Girl Meets World, and he keeps up with appearances at fan conventions—but he also provided the voice of K.I.T.T. for 2020's Superintelligence.

The native New Yorker has been married to actress Bonnie Bartlett since 1951 and they're parents of two sons.

Betsy Randle

After Boy Meets World, the Chicago native notably played Mrs. Winterbourne on Charmed and returned for a few episodes of Girl Meets World as Cory and Eric's mom Amy Matthews.

In real life she's mom to daughter Jessica and son Aaron with editor husband John Randle.

William Russ

Russ, whose film work includes The Right Stuff and American History X, has remained a busy character actor after playing dad Alan Matthews on Boy Meets World, appearing on Boston LegalThe Young and the Restless90210ColonyNCIS: Los Angeles and, most recently, Bosch9-1-1 and Animal Kingdom. He also returned to Girl Meets World with TV wife Betsy Randle. 

Behind the scenes he's dad to a son and daughter with wife Clare Wren.

Lee Norris

Rider Strong claimed at Wizard World Comic Con, per Looper, that Norris' character, Minkus, was written out because of the popularity of fellow TGIF geek Steve Urkel over on Family Matters, and the Boy Meets World creatives didn't want to double down on comedic nerdom. 

Norris, who got his acting start as little Chuckie Lee from The Torkelsons, went on to graduate from Wake Forest, play another small-screen geek, Marvin "Mouth" McFadden, on The CW's long-running drama One Tree Hill, and return as Minkus for a few episodes of Girl Meets World. He has since been on a couple episodes of The Walking Dead, been directed by David Fincher in Zodiac and Gone Girl, and appeared in the 2020 WWII action drama Greyhound with Tom Hanks.

He's been married to wife Andrea since 2011.

Matthew Lawrence

Since popping up as Shawn's older half-brother Jack Hunter, the Mrs. Doubtfire star was also on the sitcom Brotherly Love with real-life siblings Andrew and Joey Lawrence, and has been in numerous indie films and guested on shows including Boston PublicCSI: MiamiWorkaholicsMelissa and Joey and Hawaii 5-0. He's also gotten into the cinematic holiday spirit, starring in Mistletoe Mixup and Christmas on Repeat.

Lawrence married Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke on May 23, 2019, 13 years after they first met and dated (followed by a decade-long break) when she was paired with his brother Joey on the show. They divorced in 2022 and Lawrence is now dating TLC singer Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas.

Trina McGee

McGee has been in a number of made-for-TV movies and short-lived TV series and also reprised the role of Shawn's girlfriend Angela on an episode of Girl Meets World—despite the admittedly less-than-ideal circumstances surrounding her exit from Boy Meets World.

On Pod Meets World in 2022, McGee told Fishel, Strong and Friedle that she had been told that they had specifically asked their showrunner to not include her in the 2000 series finale, resulting in Angela's premature departure for Europe while everyone else was tying up loose ends. 

Friedel insisted "that never happened" and McGee said she regretted any past bad blood between her and Fishel, noting they could have been more of a team during the show's run. Fishel agreed, saying, "We could've helped each other."

Now McGee is back in the fan-convention fold and reunited with the aforementioned trio for Daniels' 96th birthday on March 31, 2023. She is also a singer, artist and mother of three kids, two of them with ex-husband Courtland Davis.

Maitland Ward Baxter

After playing college siren Rachel McGuire on Boy Meets World, Ward starred in the 2004 comedy White Chicks with Marlon and Shawn Wayans, but went on to win three AVNs after making her adult-film debut in 2019's Drive

"I found out that I love sexual performance," she told The Daily Beast in April 2021, talking about the unexpected direction her acting career had taken. "It's like being in a dance, or an ice-skating pair. You're doing this great artistic piece, and I just love it." 

And the move has continued to work for her, as she's also a 2023 AVN Best Actress winner and author of the memoir Rated X.

Married since 2006 to Terry Baxter, she told In Touch Weekly in January 2020 of her real estate agent husband, "He is a very good photographer, too. He has taken pictures of me along the way."

Lily Nicksay

The first of two Morgan Matthews, Nicksay played Cory and Eric's little sister from 1993 to 1995—then scored a role in the Michelle Pfeiffer-Robert Redford romantic drama Up Close and Personal.

As she grew up, the actress guest-starred on a few TV shows, including The Mentalist, 8 Simple Rules and Judging Amy, and later returned as Morgan for the 2017 finale of Girl Meets World.

She has been going by Lily Gibson since marrying songwriter Dave Gibson in 2015, and was credited with that name on a 2019 episode of NCIS and in the 2021 film Four Cousins & a Christmas.

Lindsay Ridgeway

After the "longest nap ever," Morgan re-appeared from a year of being in another room of the house as an older, entirely different girl.

Ridgeway, who took over the role of Morgan in 1996 until the series' end in 2000, graduated from UC Riverside in June 2007 and earned a master's degree in counseling from the University of Redlands in 2010. Also a singer, she has performed the national anthem at pro sporting events around Los Angeles, and worked part time for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team as a member of the Kings Ice Crew.

She also came back as Morgan for the Girl Meets World finale.

Linda Cardellini

Lauren got between Cory and Topanga for a mercifully brief four-episode arc.

Cardellini graduated from Boy Meets World to the shamefully short-lived Freaks and Geeks, and after that it was off to the races in Scooby-DooERBrokeback MountainMad Men (earning an Emmy nomination for guest actress in a drama series), New Girl and the Netflix drama Bloodline. She also joined the Marvel Universe as Clint/Hawkeye's wife, was in the 2019 Best Picture Oscar winner Green Book, and both co-starred and was a producer on the Netflix dark comedy Dead to Me (earning 2020 Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Series and Best Actress in a Comedy).

The 47-year-old actress is mom to daughter Lilah-Rose with longtime partner Steven Rodriguez.

Ethan Suplee

Suplee's estimable credits since playing bully Frankie "The Enforcer" Stechino include American History X, Remember the Titans, Unstoppable and playing Randy Hickey on all four seasons of My Name Is Earl. He was also in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, the Netflix comedy The Ranch, Edward Norton's noir drama Motherless Brooklyn and the controversial horror-satire The Hunt.

The 46-year-old has a number of projects lined up, including a return to the Kevin Smith universe in the announced Twilight of the Mallrights.

Suplee has been married to Brandy Lewis since 2006 and they have two children together. Last but not least, in January 2020 a photo he posted of his newly shredded self, the result of a hard-won battle to lose weight and get healthy, went viral. He's been a fitness and nutrition advocate ever since.

Adam Scott

After logging time as replacement bully Griff Hawkins, Scott became the consummate sweet 'n' funny guy—with the occasional snide wise-ass and morose midlife-crisis-having married guy thrown in for good measure. 

His greatest hits include the intense HBO drama Tell Me You Love Me; the hit comedy Step Brothers; Starz' beloved Party Down (back for a fresh season 13 years after it was canceled); the even more beloved Parks and Recreation; the sporadic and hilarious The Greatest Event in Television History on Adult Swim; Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years LaterThe Good Place and Big Little Lies. He earned his first Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for his turn as a melancholy widower—or is he?—in Apple TV+'s unhinged-workplace drama Severance.

In real life Scott has two kids with Naomi Sablan, his wife since 2005.

Anthony Tyler Quinn

"They only brought him in because Friends became a hit," Rider Strong recalled to Vanity Fair in 2011 of leather jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding, cool teacher Jonathan Turner, played by Quinn. "And ABC was like, 'We need twentysomethings on every show. Including on this kids' show that's only watched by teenagers.'"

However, Shawn was devastated when Mr. Turner was in a motorcycle crash at the end of season four—which Turner recovered from off-camera and was never seen again until he resurfaced on Girl Meets World, having married a nurse he met in the hospital after the accident.

In the meantime, Quinn joined the drama on Melrose Place for a four-year stint, was on Pretty Little Liars in 2012, and popped up on Feud: Betty and Joan in 2017. 

He's been married to Margaret Quinn since 1985 and they have two children.