Teen sitcom Boy Meets World aired from 1993 until 2000 on ABC network. It followed the everyday life and times of Cory Matthews (played by Ben Savage), his friends, and his family through a total of seven seasons. The show begins with Cory in middle school and ends with him at college and then as a married man.
Topanga Lawrence-Matthews (played by Danielle Fishel) was Cory's main love interest from the start. In the first season of the program, she was a guest character -- a bit of an oddball, not overly popular, and a little nerdy. As the seasons continued and Fishel managed to secure the recurring role, Topanga became a more typical teenager growing distant from her parents and, despite their best efforts, running away to live with Cory.
Eventually, Topanga’s love-hate relationship with Cory becomes the centerpiece of the show and their relationship follows a “Grease”-style dynamic to the end of the run, growing ever closer. Topanga [spoiler alert!] eventually proposes to Cory at their high school graduation, and the two are married during the final season of the show.
The spin-off from Boy Meets World is called Girl Meets World, which aired from 2014 until 2017. Girl Meets World followed the pair after marriage, through child birth, Topanga’s graduation from law school, and the raising of their children.
Here are 15 hot pictures of Topanga all grown up...
15 The Little Red Number
Danielle Fishel was born in 1981 to Jennifer Fishel and Rick Fishel. She describes herself as “50% Maltese and 50% everything else” (Twitter, 2012). Her dad was a construction worker, but it fell to her mother to take the role of the main money-earner. Fishel had a solid upbringing in a stable and loving environment and, because of her parents' determination to provide their daughter with opportunities, she soon spread her wings into theatre acting. In the end, Jennifer became Fishel’s manager.
She's today known as a chef, author, television personality, and even as a television director but is perhaps best remembered for her portrayal of Topanga, though she's had many other successes in her career. She was host of Style Network's The Dish - a satirical television series from 2008-2011 - and took a role in National Lampoon's Dorm Daze (2003). Recently, she worked as a reporter for PopSugar.
14 Beach Body
Shortly after marrying Tim Belusko in 2013, the pair took a honeymoon vacation to Maui, Hawaii. Fishel “slipped into a tiny mismatched bikini, consisting of black halter neck top and blue and white striped bottoms with green waist accents as she frolicked in the surf and soaked up the rays” (Mail Online, 2013). Evidently, the pair were madly in love.
However, just months before, Fishel had been the victim of online abuse from people who believed she had let herself go and gained weight. The cruel comments were the culmination of a tough few days for her as she'd also received criticism for marrying a younger man, according to The Mail. But the pictures of them in Hawaii were a testament to how a character such as Fishel can step up in the face of animosity and look every bit the content newlywed.
13 Indecent Proposal
At the age of 10, Fishel was acting regularly in local theatres and churches. After performing in a stage version of Peter Pan, she was discovered by an agent who then sought her parts in voiceovers and commercials. More success followed with her landing a part in Full House, an ABC sitcom charting one man’s attempts to raise three daughters. From this, she had a small role in Harry and the Hendersons (1991-1993), in which she played Jessica.
In 1993 -- two years after she was performing on the amateur stage -- Fishel landed the part of Topanga Lawrence-Matthews in ABC’s Boy Meets World. It was a bit part, to begin with, and Fishel started out playing a young hippie and environmental activist. Regardless, her character’s popularity soared, and soon, she was given a recurring role, loosening her 'values' and becoming famed as the love interest of the main character, Cory.
Six years after Boy Meets World ended, she starred on The Tyra Banks Show and sang the praises of a weight control system that she herself had used to lose weight. She consequently became a spokeswoman for Nutrisystems and was employed as a special reporter for Banks’s show. However, a year later, Fishel admitted, as with most diets, the Nutrisystems regimen was too strict and obsessive to be compatible with everyday life, according to People Magazine.
From 2008 until 2011, she hosted The Dish for Style Network, which satirized popular culture and crazes in a similar fashion to network E! Entertainment Television's The Soup. At the start of 2012, Fishel also became the host of MSN TV's Last Night on TV.
11 What A Washer Woman!
Fishel starred in Boiling Pot (2013), which focuses on real-life events surrounding the 2008 Presidential Elections and consequent public unrest. Directed by Omar Ashmawey and starring Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr. and Keith David, IMDb writes of the film, “On a college campus in modern America, ideas that have long been neglected as 'issues of the past' emerge as racial tensions and frictions grow between different student groups.” Fishel plays naïve college girl Valerie Davis caught up in the midst of the troubles.
Boiling Pot was not met with critical swooning. Nor was it Fishel’s only foray into controversial and topical productions. In the same year, she played a part in the acclaimed Clapping for the Wrong Reasons, which follows “a seemingly mundane day in the life of a young affluent rapper as he wanders through his cavernous mansion” (IMDb, 2017).
10 Miss Fishel Will See You Now
Four years after the end of Boy Meets World, Disney Channel aired a new production called Girl Meets World. It was effectively a spin-off from the original series and was met with a degree of skepticism from the outset. However, the program quickly gained popularity and was followed avidly by faithful viewers of Boy Meets World. The show features Cory and Topanga, now married, their struggles with normal adult life, and the ever-present need to make ends meet.
It's essentially a coming-of-age sitcom and features the couple’s daughter, Riley, played by Rowan Blanchard, and her friend, Maya, played by Sabrina Carpenter, as they begin middle-school and attempt to deal with the pressures of growing up. In almost a mirror image of the previous series, creators Michael Jacobs and April Kelly managed to maintain interest and relevance to those who grew up with Cory and Topanga.
9 Sexy, Sultry
The subject of Fishel’s love life has always been of interest to viewers and pundits. Shortly after Boy Meets World ended, rumors abounded that she was in a relationship with her co-star, Ben Savage. After all, art mirrors life, right? Wrong. The rumors were completely false, according to Fishel, who admits she may have hinted (wrongly) at the two of them being romantically linked in an earlier interview with Tyra Banks.
In fact, one of the most spoken-about relationships Fishel has had in recent years was with former 'N Sync member Lance Bass. They dated from 1999 until 2000. Fishel writes in her forthcoming memoir that on her very own prom night, “Bass sent [her] a dozen long-stemmed roses and a note saying, 'Will you go to prom with me? Check yes or no'” (USA Today, 2014). However, the romance wasn't long-lived because Fishel later discovered that Bass was gay.
8 The Dream Housemaid
Things began to look up for Fishel, at least romantically, when she began her studies at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). She graduated in 2013 aged 32, and thereafter, she began a career as a qualified math teacher, but while studying, she met Tim Belusko, and the pair starting dating. US Weekly reported that in 2012, Belusko and Fishel became engaged. Everything seemed to be coming together, and the pair married on October 19, 2013 in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, over the next two years, with Fishel now practicing as a math tutor and Belusko involved in his own work, their relationship began to fall apart. While the reasons for their split are still sketchy, Fishel was known to have filed for divorce in 2015, leading to it being finalized one year later. For those wondering whether Fishel is seeing anyone now, the rumors are that she's been dating Jensen Karp since early 2017.
7 Little Black Number
Fishel was not the producers’ first choice to play Topanga. While holding auditions for Boy Meets World back in 1992, a young actress in competition with Fishel was given the role. However, it transpired that this girl’s acting presence wasn’t quite right for the content of the show. As is so often the case, the auditions were opened up again, and Fishel (and Marla Sokoloff) were recalled.
In the second round of auditions, Fishel recalls making the character upbeat. She was taken to one side by producer Michael Jacobs, who she believed was going to let her down gracefully. She recalled, “He wanted Topanga to be more of a slow, calm character, and we went through the script line-by-line” (mentalfloss.com, 2015). Fishel learned the script as per the instruction and was recalled again. This time, she received a standing ovation and got the part.
6 Don’t Hang Up
Girl Meets 1961 is the ninth episode in season 1 of Girl Meets World, and it's here that we find out where the idea came from for the name Topanga. Her maternal grandmother Rosie McGee is sitting in Café Hey in Greenwich Village when she overhears someone talk of plans to travel to Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. This leads Rosie to write a diary entry about what she's heard.
In reality, the name stems from a freak conversation producer Michael Jacobs was having with a friend as they drove through Western California a few years prior to the show’s production. According to Fishel, “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’” (mentalfloss.com, 2015).
5 Damsel In Distress
At 16, Fishel was already listed in GQ's “hottest stars to watch,” and by the age of 17, she'd become a household name, her role as Topanga earning her praise and money. She modeled again for the cover of Seventeen Magazine in 1998 and took home the Young Star for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series for her part in Boy Meets World. The following year, she was voted one of the "The 21 Hottest Stars Under 21" by Teen People.
With the end of Boy Meets World in 2000, Fishel has since been credited with over ten films and TV series, including the spin off Girl Meets World, Boiling Pot (2015), and Gravity Falls (2015-2016), in which she plays the voice of Pyronica. She's especially known for her voicing Donna Goldstein in The Chosen One (2007) -- an independent animated film.
4 Girl Next Door, All Grown Up
Belusko and Fishel had known each other for eight years and were married for the last two. Although neither made any comment on the reason behind the split, the media was full of wild speculation. While the marriage was a quiet candlelit affair, the news of their separation garnered ballistic attention. However Fishel, according to reports, didn't look unduly distressed by the decision to divorce, and the settlement was undisputed.
As for what sparked the romance in the beginning, it appears to have been Belusko’s Mortal Kombat tattoo that caught her attention. According to Maxim Magazine, Fishel recalls, “I'm not a huge tattoo person, but I loved it. I actually have two of my own, which I would get laser-removed, but I'm afraid they'll look weird. I have one on the back of my neck, and I have a tramp stamp.”
Maxim Magazine reported on Fishel’s single status with glee. Their headline at the time read, “TOPANGA IS SINGLE! That's right, gentlemen. Your ultimate Boy Meets World teenage dream girl, Danielle Fishel, is back on the market” (Maxim, 2016). And in terms of a sex symbol and dream girl, we think Fishel has all the hallmarks. After all, she hasn’t just acted; she’s modelled in near-nude photos and is still considered one of entertainment's hottest women.
Once everyone’s teenage crush, Fishel has maintained a great presence and star quality. Maxim summed things up perfectly: “There are few women who perfectly capture the vision of a '90s dream girl more than Danielle Fishel, the brunette beauty who captured our attention as the bubbly Topanga Lawrence on Boy Meets World and, now, Girl Meets World.” And it seems commercial make-up and beauty companies can’t get enough of her look either.
2 Lie Me Down…
One of the biggest projects for Fishel in recent years has been Gravity Falls. Produced by Disney Television Animation for the Disney Channel, it aired from June 15, 2012 to February 15, 2016. As mentioned, she’s been voicing the recurring character Pyronica. Set in the fictional city of Gravity Falls, the animation follows twins Dipper Pines and Mabel Pines during their summer break. Pyronica a “pink demon” (IMDb, 2017), first appears in the second season.
Created by Alex Hirsch (Phineas and Ferb, Off the Wall) and directed by the likes of John Aoshima and Stephen Sandoval, Gravity Falls received critical acclaim. The Los Angeles Times called the program "gently twisted, with some Disneyfied action and heart-warming folded in." It's been nominated or won over 20 awards, including Best Animated Series by the 5th Critics' Choice Television Awards in 2015.
1 Fallen Angel
Girl Meets World was an exciting arrival for those who loved Fishel’s first role. Airing between 2015 and 2017, the show attracted good viewing figures, with each season averaging just over 2 million viewers. The show was sold overseas, premiering in Canada on Family Channel on June 27, 2014, the Disney Channel in Australia on August 25, 2014, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland on August 29, 2014, according to Digital Spy.
In terms of its reception it was well-received, which is a testament to the continued involvement of some of the cast and crew from Boys Meet World. Entertainment review site Rotten Tomatoes said of it, “Though not quite as comical, Girl Meets World sweetly shares the nostalgia of its predecessor, Boy Meets World, with its young audience while providing positive moral values for today's youth.”
Sources: dailymail.co.uk, imdb.com, en.wikipedia.org, eonline.com