Shawn Hunter is the only character to appear in all 158 episodes of Boy Meets World other than the main character Cory Matthews. The '90's coming-of-age sitcom followed the boys through pre-pubescent problems up until they are young men during the coming-of-age genius series.
Shawn came from a broken home which caused him to act recklessly from time to time but it also gave him such a big heart-- even if he acts cold (it's an act; he's a big ol' softy). Cory comes from a very nurturing, yet overbearing household. He is one to play it safe but has his head in the clouds. Shawn and Cory have a friendship that keeps each other grounded.
Shawn was the focus of many heart-wrenching episodes. His mother deserted him as a child and his father didn't stick around for very long whenever he did make an appearance. Shawn sometimes uses this upbringing as an excuse to get into trouble but he struggles with his identity due to his lack of parenting. His only role models are found at school or in Cory's neighborhood.
I always resonated with Shawn because he relies on the people around him for support. Like myself, he was "raised by a village," rather than his parents. My favorite Shawn line is, "everywhere I go, I'm a guest." Shawn just wants a home. My younger self understands.
Too often Shawn feels as though he should just give up on himself. He once tells Cory "I know where I'm gonna end up. Just let me get there now." A line that will always break my heart because you can see how broken his spirit is.
Shawn was the star of some of the show's most impactful episodes, three of which occurred during the show's fourth season.
In "Dangerous Secret," he housed a girl who was being abused by her father. He is shown being so gentle and protective of the girl. Even though the nature of his family didn't plant his nurturing soul, he still grew up with one.
In "Chick Like Me," my favorite cultural issues episodes, Shawn dressed up like a girl to get inside information for Cory's newspaper article.The idea was to see if he would be treated differently as a girl. Shawn agrees to have dinner with a male classmate in his disguise. On the date, the boy gets handsy. Shawn gets visibly upset when the boy gives an uninvited back rub and touches his knee, a great line about an ugly truth:
Topanga: Maybe you sent him a signal?
Shawn: The only signal I sent him was to stop!
The boy, unfortunately, continues to put unwarranted moves on Shawn-turned-Veronica. This leads to another powerful dialogue:
Gary: Yeah, I can tell by the way you're dressed.
Shawn: I just wanted to look nice.
Gary: [puts his hands on Shawn/Veronica's shoulders] Well, you do.
Shawn: I said, don't touch me.
Gary: Okay, don't like to be touched.
Shawn: Did it ever occur to you that I might be a nice girl?
Gary: No, what I thought was that you'd be into guys! Well, I guess you're not, I guess you prefer girls.
And luckily Shawn takes care of business.
In "Cult Fiction," Shawn nearly joins a cult and causes his friends to worry deeply about him. This episode is almost comedic because of the cheesy "Centre," where Shawn receives unlimited hugs and affection. The leader of the cult quickly brainwashes Shawn until Cory's dad defends Shawn and refuses to allow the cult leader to take advantage of him. This episode is especially heartbreaking because you see how quickly Shawn is willing to accept love since he is not used to receiving it.
Shawn is easily one of the most empathetic characters on the show. He teaches the audience some of the more important lessons the show has to offer; despite his run-in with dark plotlines. Although, those tragic or frustrating trials Shawn faced are some of the more realistic and authentic. He is quick to help other people (especially Cory and Topanga, whose relationship he admires) and will always be there for his best bud, Cory.
And, gosh, he's so adorable!
I am so grateful that Shawn Hunter lives on in Girl Meets World. He deserves a happy ending.