‘Boy Meets World’: Where Did the Name ‘Topanga’ Come From?
Boy Meets World was one of the most beloved TV shows of the ’90s. Premiering in 1993 as part of ABC’s hugely successful TGIF Friday night lineup, the show was equal parts wholesome, funny, emotional, and relatable. It centered on the lives of the Philadelphia-based Matthews family. Boy Meets World viewers tuned in every week to watch Cory Matthews, his best friend Shawn Hunter, older brother Eric Matthews, and his childhood sweetheart, Topanga Lawrence, as they grew up and navigated life from middle school through college. Topanga, played by Danielle Fishel, was one of the breakout stars of the show.
Who was Topanga Lawrence?
Topanga was Cory’s love interest and on-again-off-again girlfriend throughout the seven seasons of Boy Meets World. She’s introduced in the first season as a free-spirited, spunky, vegetarian, eco-conscious, brainy outsider. In high school, she is the prettiest, most popular girl in school, and her romance with Cory became a major storyline in the show. Although Topanga gets accepted at Yale University, she decides to go to college closer to home with Cory and their friends. They get married in their sophomore year, during the final season of the series.
Fishel reprised her role in the 2014 spin-off Girl Meets World on the Disney Channel. The series took place 15 years after the finale of Boy Meets World, with Cory and Topanga now married with two children and living in New York City. The show centered on the life of their pre-teen daughter, Riley. Several original cast members also appeared in the show, including Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter), Will Friedle (Eric Matthews), and William Daniels (Mr. Feeney). Girl Meets World ran for three seasons.
How did she get her unique name?
In a 2013 interview with Maxim, Danielle Fishel shared how the show’s creator, Michael Jacobs, came up with the name Topanga. He was struggling to settle on a name for the character and came up with it on the fly.
“Michael Jacobs says he was driving down the highway when production called and said, ‘We need a name for this character!’ He happened to be driving past Topanga Canyon, so he said, ‘Topanga.’ He says that if they had called him two miles later, I would’ve been named Canoga, which is the next exit,” shared Fishel.
Somehow, Canoga just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Topanga.
She’s not the only Topanga
The popularity of Boy Meets World even inspired some parents to name their daughters after the character, according to CBS News.
Fishel says, “People will tweet me, and I’ve had family members who have met other Topanga’s. It’s crazy, and it’s flattering, but I never know what to say when they’re showing me their beautiful little girls. I’m like, ‘Really? Topanga!'”
Now you can have Topanga hair too
Topanga’s luxurious hair was instantly iconic. Girls all over America brought photos of Fishel with her mane of thick, long locks her to their hairstylists to copy her signature look. In 2019, she launched a brand of hair care products, called Be Free by Danielle Fishel.
After the birth of her son, Fishel wanted to ditch products that contained harsh chemicals and other potentially dangerous ingredients. So she created a line of products that are not only healthier and safer to use but just as effective. The “Be Free” line contains no sodium chloride, sulfate, phosphate, and gluten paraben. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free. There are currently three products, shampoo, conditioner, and a scalp refresh. All are available online only.
You can watch Fishel in both Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World on Disney+.