Show: Boy Meets World
Featured Characters: Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter
There are best friends and then there are these two. Years later, and they’re still one of the most incredible depiction of best friends to exist. Boy Meets World is an incomparable series, and it has been from the moment we all watched it when we were kids. But upon looking back, I’ve often remembered this friendship most fondly—perhaps even more than Cory and Topanga’s relationship. Which don’t get me wrong, I love them with every fiber of my being, and they’ll get their own deep dive; however, the way Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter accepted and loved one another has always left me in awe.
Loyalty is the key to maintaining any relationship, and theirs was always steadfast—taking care of one another in the darkest times and having the best of times together. But also, today, it’d feel a bit like I was cheating if I also didn’t pay homage to Riley Matthews and Maya Hart’s—who’ve created their own little sisterhood mirroring Shawn and Cory’s beautifully.
I’ve always been a Cory and Riley Matthews. I’ve always been the little nerdy goody-two-shoes who was never perceived as even remotely cool. And there’s no part of me that feels any regret or sadness because of this. Hence, my ability to see myself in these two is perhaps why I’ve always loved these friendships so much.
It never once mattered to Shawn that Cory wasn’t as “cool” as he was. It never once mattered that people would actively point out the differences between the two because he never once saw him as anything other than a brother. No one knew Shawn Hunter the way Cory Matthews did.
Ultimately, I want to sit here and talk about each of my favorite scenes featuring the two, but (lol!) that’s close to impossible. (Like their ridiculous nicknames for each other, or all the inside jokes we were in on.) Cory looked out for Shawn when no one else did. He chose to involve his family whenever he figured his best friend was in trouble and even at a young age, understanding just how much he wanted to comfort him was beautiful to see.
Cory stood up for Shawn, covered for Shawn, and loved Shawn through every mistake he made choosing to never judge him, but perpetually stand by him. And for this reason, there’s been no better inspiration for Shawn Hunter. Shawn is Cory’s person; Cory is Shawn’s. At times, what Cory and Shawn needed to deal with were things kids their age shouldn’t face, but together, they were able to get through them stronger than they started out. And with Shawn especially, the situations he dealt with could’ve ended in a rebellion stage far worse than what he went through.
It never mattered where Shawn lived or how much money he had—to Cory, he was always the coolest kid. He’d always be his best friend, and sometimes, he’d even overstep his boundaries in order to make sure Shawn was taken care of. But at the end of the day, no matter who left Shawn behind, he knew he’d always have Cory by his side.
Shawn wasn’t just Cory’s best friend. He was his strength in trying times and the partner he always needed. He was also the biggest advocate for his relationship with Topanga, doing anything in his power to make sure the two were always at their best. And it’s little things like this that have made their friendship so incredibly admirable.
They’ve wanted each other’s happiness above all things illuminating the fact that as brothers, even though they aren’t blood related, they will always be selfless for each other. I mean, let’s talk about “And Then There Was Shawn”. (Fun fact, I can quote this entire episode from beginning to end without a cheat sheet. That’s how many times I’ve seen it.) It destroyed Shawn that Cory and Topanga weren’t together anymore. It destroyed him that his best friend was broken. And it destroyed him that there was nothing he could do about it.
Cory and Shawn have watched one another fall apart more than anyone else has, but in the end, they’ve always stood side by side, taller than ever. As flawed as they both are and as frustrating as they can be, at the end of the day, there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for one another. And that’s perhaps why they’ve always remained so close. They’ve grown. They’ve tirelessly put the other above themselves and chosen one another through everything. No matter how many cool parties Shawn would be invited too, he’d choose Cory first. And even when they’d overstep their boundaries, they’ve always understood where the person’s intentions were. And thus, forgiveness has then later lead to growth.
And in the same way, Maya’s been Riley’s person—just as Riley has been Maya’s. In the same way, and perhaps even more, the two protect each other with such intensity, it never fails to astound me. The best of friends love one another more than anything, and the best friends will protect one another in every way they know how to. But most importantly, the best of friends understand and love each other for who they are. Never once have Maya or Riley tried to change one another. And in a world where it isn’t easy to be ourselves, it’s beautiful to see a shining example of what friends are supposed to like: supportive, endlessly loving, and fiercely loyal. Maya and Riley have rewritten this friendship gorgeously. It doesn’t matter who comes and goes into their lives because they’ll alway be each other’s extraordinary relationship.
In a world where romantic relationships are often prioritized it’s beautiful to see friendships with a perfect balance. Love is ridiculously important in life, but it’s often tragic to see friendships get sidelined. And what I’ve loved most about Cory and Shawn’s is the fact that they balance their times.
Shawn was always a part of their lives, and even when he moved away after he realized the Matthews have their hands full with their kids, he remained a constant. He’d be by Cory’s side the second he needed him. (Can we just acknowledge the fact that he knows Riley’s exact birth time because he was the first to hold her after her parents? Cue the tears.)
Sometimes life has bigger plans. Shawn needed to go out and find himself in order to be able to find a home—a beautiful home which was found with Maya and Katy. A home closer to Cory and Topanga. Is anyone surprised? I’m not. Never with these people. At the end of the day, these four will never be too far from one another.
Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.
She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.