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The Boy Meets World Scene That Went Too Far

ABC's TGIF lineup was known for offering inoffensive, generally light fare to audiences. That was the whole point: wholesome family fun. "Boy Meets World" was a perfect addition to the programming block. The hit series, which aired from 1993 to 2003, follows Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), a young adult who usually deals with relatively stakes-free hijinks on every episode. Some of those hijinks include trying to go to Topanga's (Danielle Fishel) Sweet 16 party and a pro wrestling match on the same night and becoming the star of a vapid quiz show aimed at teens. Sure, there was the occasional teacher's motorcycle crash or the whole "kissing a woman played by guest star Linda Cardellini" incident, but mostly, Cory led a blessed life free of stress.

On the other hand, Cory's best friend, Shawn (Rider Strong), had one of the most chaotic personal lives of any sitcom character. Abandoned by his parents, left to live with his teacher for a while, discovering a long-lost half-brother — the list of life-changing events in his life goes on and on. It almost seems like, in order to keep Cory's life idyllic and aspirational, all the "big issue" stories went to Shawn. However, of all the things he had to deal with on "Boy Meets World," there is one event, which can be boiled down to a single scene, which pushed the show over the edge: He joined a cult. Yeah, about that.

Why did Shawn join a cult in Season 4?

The one "Boy Meets World" scene that goes too far — and takes the show into some unusual places — is a scene in the Season 4 episode titled "Cult Fiction" (via IMDb), when Shawn is lured into a youth-oriented cult called The Centre. What at first looks like a cool after-school hangout turns out to be an organization that separates him from his friends and family. Shawn is a perfect mark for a cult: He's always looking for a sense of belonging, and his parents are inattentive and often absent. However, the speed at which he abandons his life is unrealistic. The scene depicting his decision to join The Centre sends him and the Matthews family on an intense journey.

The tone of the episode is off, too. It ping-pongs between "Very Special Episode" energy and the typically lighter tone of "Boy Meets World." On the one hand, Cory's dad (William Russ) threatens to murder the cult leader (Jerry Levine), and you believe him. On the other, there is a subplot that sees Eric (Will Friedle) trying to join the cult to meet cute girls, but he keeps getting rejected. How are we supposed to take the threat of The Centre seriously when the show is still using it as a punchline?

As if the episode wasn't heavy enough, Shawn's sometime guardian, Mr. Turner (Anthony Tyler Quinn), gets into a motorcycle accident and almost dies. He is forced to confront life's pain with the help of Cory and Topanga, who make him sit with Turner. Shawn monologues, asking God to not let him feel empty inside. It's heavy stuff, especially since the previous Season 4 episode (via IMDb) had a plot about Eric renting a bear trainer.