With TV season finales airing all this month, expect some characters to come back next season as different people—figuratively speaking, of course. Or, literally speaking in regard to Boy Meets World having two different actors play Morgan Matthews and three different actors play Topanga Lawrence’s father. Here are the six biggest TV character transformations.
Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation
Played by Amy Poehler
One of the most influential females on TV, the goofy Season 1 Leslie Knope wildly differs from the empowering (and waffle-loving) Knope we now know and love. In Season 1, she appears as the female equivalent to Michael Scott, giving goofy hand gestures and falling into a pit. Over the course of the rest of the series, her Pawnee pride emerges as she enters local politics (and makes friendship quilts!) Nowadays, Leslie Knope fits in a conversation with Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. As she should.
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Ben Chang on Community
Played by Ken Jeong
While my mind still can’t fully grasp that Donald Glover, Alison Brie, and Joel McHale were all on a TV show together, I am as baffled with Ben Chang’s transformation. He changes from an unstable Spanish teacher to a Greendale student that gets bitten by a monkey and is living in the air vents. Chang’s kookiness makes Seinfeld’s Kramer look normal. After all, there’s something genius about a coffee table book of coffee tables, but faking your own type of amnesia? That’s straight up Ben Chang.
Ryan Howard on The Office
Played by B.J. Novak
Ryan was merely known as the “Fire Guy” and Michael Scott’s crush at Dunder Mifflin in the first season of The Office. Over the course of the series he gets promoted to Vice President of the company, gets sent to prison, becomes a drug addict, and inexplicably bleaches his hair. He went from a second-rate Jim Halpert to an employee that only Kelly Kapoor (and Michael Scott) could love.
Jan Levinson on The Office
Played by Melora Hardin
Just as Ryan became an irrational, comedic character at Dunder Mifflin, Vice President of the company and Michael’s ex-girlfriend Jan Levinson did as well (but even more). Famous Jan moments include her scented candle business, her fascination with her assistant Hunter, and recording a Doris Day cover album. And to think this character transformation began all with a beach trip to Sandals Resorts Jamaica.
Topanga Lawrence on Boy Meets World
Played by Danielle Fishel
Though most characters change from “normal” to “weird” on TV shows, Topanga Lawrence on Boy Meets World has the opposite transformation. After all, you know if she was intended to be Cory Matthews’ long-term love interest, her name would be Erica or Ashley, not Topanga. She goes from a hippie that performs an interpretive dance titled “Donut in the Sky” to a bookworm perfectionist. Personally, I think Cory, famously known for having a poster of celery, would be fine with either Topanga.
Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World
Played by Will Friedle
Since Boy Meet World’s strange character became normal, another person on the show needs to take that role. Enter Eric Matthews: the cool older brother from Season 1. Over the series, he catches the curtains on fire, hides in the couch, and calls himself “Kyle.” Most bizarrely, Eric appears as a bearded hermit named “Plays with Squirrels” at an imaginary high school reunion. Who would imagine a popular baseball player would transform into this comedic character? But, I’m here for it. The only lasting trait throughout is the everlasting “Fee-hee-hee-hee-nay” call.
Any characters missing from the list? And no, Pam Beesly making better style choices in later seasons of The Office doesn’t count.