#19. Joshua Matthews
Played By: Cameron and Corbin Ur (1999), Daniel Jacobs (2000), Uriah Shelton (2014-2017)
Episode Count: 11 (3- BMW, 8- GMW)
Role: Cory's baby brother, Riley's uncle, Maya's crush
Signature Episodes: My Baby Valentine, Resurrection, Brave New World, Girl Meets Home for the Holidays, Girl Meets First Date, Girl Meets the Tell-Tale Tot, Girl Meets Ski Lodge
Josh was an interesting point of discussion, and is another selection I advocated for and Sean wasn't so sure about - in fact, Josh probably wound up the biggest factor of debate, as I kind of wouldn't let it go. There's a lot of reason to not include Josh, and there's a lot of reasons why, despite being a Matthews brother, he's not higher. He wasn't in much of Boy Meets World at all. Not only was he obviously too young to play much of a factor, he also was kind of forgotten about after the episode of his birth (which was, admittedly, significant) and not picked back up until the finale, where he'd grown to be a toddler remarkably quick. This is, of course, forgivable. Season 7, the only season where he's alive the whole time is, by far, the one that spends the least amount of time at the Matthews home, and where else would you see him? And what would he do if you did see him? He's a baby.
Girl Meets World could have been his time to shine - and it was. He was being set up to be a very significant character. But, because of the unfortunate accident Uriah Shelton suffered, had to be written out of all of Season 2 except for one episode and, though appearing more in Season 3, Season 3's kind of all over the place and story arcs keep getting forgotten about and then picked up way later. Had Josh taken the place in the series he seemed to originally be headed to (whether that would have changed had Uriah's accident not taken place or not) it's likely he'd be much higher, maybe even on the outskirts of the Top 10.
So, cool, I've just told you why he's not higher. So, why is he here at all? I mentioned Minkus operated a fairly singular, unique role - but he's got nothing on Josh. As the only character actually born before our very eyes, we have a connection to Josh that Riley and Maya can't quite match. Riley and Maya are great, but they just kind of showed up one day. We've known Josh for years, and like a real child, we've wondered how he would grow up, who he would be. Theoretical sequels to BMW have been bandied about over fan communities for years, and there was always the Josh question - what kind of guy would he have grown up to be? Is he like Cory? Eric? A mix of the two? Did he inherent some other qualities from his parents?
There felt like a lot of potential on Josh's shoulders - and him being the person that Cory gave his "Boy Meets World" speech to in the series finale (a big, memorable moment in the series) only accentuated that. Long before Riley was on the radar, he felt set up to be Cory's heir. If they'd decided to make a sequel five years earlier than they did, it likely would have been decided to use Josh instead of a Copanga child, with him living with Cory and Topanga for some arbitrary reason.
And like a real baby, his potential and impact existed before he even entered this world. Think about how many episodes are about his eminent arrival. The very fact of his existence is a driving factor in "Prom-ises, Prom-ises", "Things Change", "Cutting the Cord", and more. He had a profound effect on Alan and his coming arrival was a big part of that character's latter seasons story arc.
So, there's all that - and that's just Boy Meets World. Of course his major impact comes when we actually know him Girl Meets World. We don't see him as often as we'd like, but he serves not only as a nice bridge between the adults and the kids (closer to Riley in age, but technically of the same generation and a peer to Cory) and of the two different shows, but for Season 1 and now again in Season 3 (when they remember to deal with it) he's Maya's major love interest. He also kind of represents the young adult ideal - unlike the rest of the kids, he's self-confident, generally angst-free, goes to parties, and is set up as the maturity ideal in much the way Eric was for Cory in Season 1. And his own attraction to Maya mixed with his feeling that dating her would be inappropriate is actually a pretty interesting character arc for Josh himself.
Plus, Josh is a character with a clear personality, someone who leaped off the page the moment we met him. It took them quite a while to really build an identity for both Lucas and Zay and some may argue (though I'd probably disagree) that they've yet to really get there with Lucas, and Farkle's ever-shifting personalities have been so unsuccessful that they have to keep changing them. Not so with Josh. After Riley, Maya, and probably Zay, he's the strongest young character on the show, and that speaks to how well he's written and performed, considering we've seen him so much less.
So, that's how Josh winds up here. Not because of one specific driving narrative role, but because of a grab-bag of small things that, when you add them together, equal a character unlike any other. While I get the knee-jerk of including more appearing characters of Zay and Rachel over Josh, I felt strongly that the small, specific roles they operated in were not of equal stature to the complex and fairly momentous role that Josh has been able to carve out, despite being one of the technically least appearing characters on this list. I'm sorry Josh came too late to really get to know him on Boy Meets World, and I'm sorry for the off-camera circumstances that has kept Josh from having as big a role as he was supposed to on Girl Meets World, but he wound up making his mark.
You called me out, so I'll chime in. If it weren't for the effect that Josh's birth, and the pregnancy in general, had on Alan, we would probably still be arguing over his placement. I agree with everything Christian wrote, I suppose I just weigh it differently. For example, Daniel Jacobs standing there with his goofy toddler face while Cory makes the Boy Meets World speech doesn't give Josh any points for me. Regardless, the "oh crap, I'm an old man" struggle Alan has is special, so when I finally thought of that, I was happy to place Josh here at 19.