‘Boy Meets World’: Topanga Was Almost Played by a Different Actor

There are a lot of classic TV shows that to this day, remain fan favorites. One such show is Boy Meets World, which was a staple of nineties pop culture. For seven seasons, viewers followed along with the exploits of Cory and his friends, and even though the show ended in 2000, fans continue to binge-watch the series.

Many of the actors remain best-known for the roles that they played in the series, including Danielle Fishel, who played the adorable Topanga. It seems hard to believe that there was ever a time that the role wasn’t Fishel’s — however, she almost missed out on the part of a lifetime, when Boy Meets World was in the casting stages. 

When did ‘Boy Meets World’ premiere?

In 1993, Boy Meets World debuted on the ABC network. The show chronicled the adventures of high school student Cory Matthews, played by Ben Savage, and his friends.

The show was lighthearted and funny but also didn’t shy away from difficult conversations like teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and drunk driving. Many of the young actors featured in the series became teen icons, adorning the covers of magazines all throughout the nineties.

In 2000, the show went off the air. While fans were devastated, some characters from Boy Meets World went on to return in a slightly different form – in the sequel series, Girl Meets World, which debuted in 2014. That show ran for three seasons, and although it was a popular nostalgic piece, it never quite achieved the fame as the original show. 

Danielle Fishel played Topanga on ‘Boy Meets World’

When Boy Meets World was in the casting stages, one of the challenges that showrunners faced was picking someone for the role of Topanga Lawrence, Cory’s love interest. They eventually settled on Danielle Fishel, a child actress who got her start in community theater.

Fishel started acting when she was ten years old and appeared in several television commercials. She even guest-starred on Full House, giving her quite an impressive resume.

After landing the role of Topanga, Fishel quickly became famous. Although her role was originally written to be a small one, fans responded so well to Fishel’s interpretation of Topanga that she was written in as a regular presence.

Fishel was very popular with teens, many of whom emulated her signature hairstyle and copied her sassy, mature manner of speaking. Since working on Boy Meets World, Fishel has gone on to work on several other television shows and has enjoyed a successful career as an entertainment reporter — still, most fans know and love Fishel best for playing Topanga. 

Danielle Fishel almost didn’t get the role of Topanga

Danielle Fishel
Danielle Fishel | Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

It is hard to imagine anyone else playing Topanga in Boy Meets World. Still, in the early days of casting, the role was originally played by a different actress.

Reportedly, Fishel was brought in to play the part of Topanga after the original actress didn’t work. As Fishel later revealed, Fishel gave her reading of the character in a much more peppy manner than the previous actress had, which caused Fishel to believe that she would be fired. 

According to Fishel, she was terrified of losing her job — however, after one of the initial read-throughs, the series co-creator stood up and addressed Fishel: “was he going to fire me, slam his script on the ground, and storm out of there? ‘However, with your performance today, you exceeded my expectations,’ he concluded. He started clapping, and all the writers stood up and clapped next to him. Michael wasn’t going to fire me. He believed in me.” The rest is history, and Fishel has been associated with Topanga ever since.