Boy Meets World has a few spooky specials and while they are all great—nothing will ever top the utter excellence that is season five, episode 17, “And Then There Was Shawn.” This isn’t just my favorite spooky special that was featured on Boy Meets World, but it might just be my favorite spooky/Halloween special ever. And yes that’s a bold claim because shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine have some exemplary specials with the infamous Halloween Heists.
But that said, “And Then There Was Shawn” is an A+, unforgettable 30 minutes of comedic gold.
When the core group plus, Kenny (Richard Lee Jackson) are given detention then later joined by Eric and Jack, they’re met with threats in the form of bloody messages on the whiteboard, phone calls, deaths, and a new student named Jennifer Love Fefferman (Jennifer Love Hewitt) whose doom comes in the form of books falling on her. But it turns out to be the mere dream of horror aficionado Shawn Hunter’s, as he comes to the realization that Cory and Topanga’s breakup is having severe ramifications on him.
“And Then There Was Shawn” is a toned-down meta homage to horror films, namely the only one I personally know, Scream. But as Shawn navigates the team through the farcical references, it starts to make sense why he’d be the one behind the mask. He knows the mechanics of the genre. It’s his forte, and it works brilliantly to be the kind of episode that is so utterly predictable in the most rewarding way. When paying attention to the clues that he quite literally gives to us, it becomes that much easier to understand why he’d be behind it all.
But as much as it is one of the most easily quotable episodes, there is tremendous heart in “And Then There Was Shawn” that reveals who Shawn is as a character, and how deeply he cares about those around him. It’s also a testament to the detail that horror films aren’t just for jump scares, but there is always profound storytelling happening in the darker corridors as well.
In a myriad of ways, Shawn Hunter was always the heart of Boy Meets World, the show would not have been the same without any of the characters, and that is especially the case with someone like Mr. Feeny. However, when we were given chances to watch Shawn navigate through his losses, we were given insight into the people who are often deemed as careless. He’s the trouble maker—he is the one that got them stuck in detention after all, but “And Then There Was Shawn” breaks down how ardently he admires those around him.
It cements the detail that he has seen so much darkness in his life, watching his friends be in love was the hope he clung onto like a lifeline of sorts.
If Cory and Topanga’s love could persevere, then he would be okay too. He could believe in the idea that good things could happen to him and that alone makes the episode so incredibly special, even as a standalone. For an episode that’s seemingly dark, it’s thematically a marvelous showcase of character development.
There’s also the ridiculous detail in which “And Then There Was Shawn” is so quotable, I’ve had the entire thing memorized since I was kid. Seriously, the amount of times I’ll roll my eyes and say “all I wanted was a pencil” when that’s not even relevant to the conversation is utter nonsense. My best friend and I in high school would always include: “Shawn is still your roommate! Together you can make the rent work” amidst randomly dramatic outbursts. Or even, “every day is a new adventure for you, isn’t it?” I can’t even choose a top 10 when it comes to quotes because there is so much utter chaos in this episode that I would have to include all of it.
Another thing I’ve frequently used referring to things that have nothing to do with detention is: “he can’t do that, it’s against the Geneva Detention Convention!” Or mimicking the whole “they do when they act like two-year-olds.”
Point being, Boy Meets World’s “And Then There Was Shawn” is as brilliant as an episode gets, it’s so much fun where it matters and it’s so heartwarming when you look at the deeper themes implemented all throughout.
It’s a must-watch for this time of year, and it’s top tier where spooky/Halloween specials are concerned.
Since I can’t choose, maybe you could, what’s your favorite ridiculous moment or quote from “And Then There Was Shawn?”