We all have TV shows that have changed our lives – shows that stick with us forever and that we can go back and re-watch over and over again without exhaustion. When I think of shows under this category, a few come to mind…but none as prominent as The Wonder Years.
I don’t know if it’s because I was Kevin Arnold’s age when I started watching the show…or maybe it’s because it was a show my dad and I watched together, but The Wonder Years remains, to this day, one of the best series I’ve seen on television. I identified with it when I was 10, and then fell in love with it in a completely different way when I watched the series again when I turned 30. Though the music and the clothes might date it a little, the themes of this show still ring true even in today’s day and age.
Starring a very young Fred Savage, The Wonder Years tells the story of a boy named Kevin Arnold. Together with his childhood friends, Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) and Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano), Kevin learns valuable lessons about love, loss, family, and understanding. The show brings controversial themes to the forefront, including war, violence, death, abuse, drugs, and alcohol…and through the voice of a narrator, eventually revealed to be Kevin as an adult, we learn all about these magical years of wonder and adventure as we grow and learn with Kevin and his friends.
The Wonder Years gained valuable praise during its run (1988 – 1993) and won a Primetime Emmy Award after only six episodes. In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked it #63 on its list of the 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and the cast of The Wonder Years has remained very close to this day…several of them even acting in other projects together.
It’s a format that worked well for TV, especially for Savage’s younger brother, Ben, and his successful show, Boy Meets World. Though much more upbeat in nature, Boy Meets World has a similar makeup, with similar characters in similar situations. Both shows are staples in the lineup of the best coming-of-age TV shows and both hold loyal and true fandoms made up of viewers of all ages.
It’s been about 24 years now since The Wonder Years ended…and the cast that once made up this groundbreaking show remains active. Check in below to see what’s happening with Kevin, Winnie, Jack, Wayne, and the rest of the characters we’ve grown to know and love through this amazing television classic.
The Cast of The Wonder Years…Where Are They Now?
OMG HE LOOKS THE SAME!!
Fred Savage, a native of Illinois, grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago before moving out to LA. Before being cast in The Wonder Years, Savage had several small roles in movies and TV, perhaps most notably in The Princess Bride. For his work on The Wonder Years, Savage received two Golden Globe nominations and two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and was the youngest actor ever to receive both honors (he was 13 at the time). After The Wonder Years ended, he did mostly guest spots on TV and film, including a cameo on his younger brother’s show, Boy Meets World. In 2015, Savage returned to acting with the FOX series, The Grinder. Throughout the early 2000’s, Savage also dabbled in directing, standing behind the camera to produce several TV episodes, including work on the short-lived NBC sitcom, Working. He’s also directed episodes of Modern Family and 2 Broke Girls. Currently, Savage serves as a producer on the hilarious show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Unlike Kevin Arnold, Savage actually married his childhood sweetheart in 2004 and they have two children together.
Oh, Danica…the ultimate in beauty and brains. Scoring the role of Winnie in The Wonder Years in her early teens, McKellar found it difficult to transition into adult acting after having so much of her childhood dedicated to one job. After The Wonder Years ended, McKellar had several guest roles in various TV shows and appeared in a couple Lifetime TV movies. She returned briefly to TV with roles on The West Wing and How I Met Your Mother and even did some work as a voice actress in a variety of video games. Outside of acting, McKellar got her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, graduating summa cum laude, from UCLA in 1998. She’s a huge proponent of the importance of mathematics in education, especially for young women, and has authored four books on the subject: Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail (a New York Times bestseller), Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss, Hot X: Algebra Exposed, and Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape. Her latest book, a children’s book titled Goodnight, Numbers, is available for pre-ordering now. And for those who are obsessive like me, McKellar, Savage, and Saviano all still talk and keep in touch!
Josh Saviano, who played Kevin’s best friend, Paul Pfeiffer, throughout the series, grew up in New York and New Jersey before being cast in The Wonder Years. His role as Paul is actually one of his few TV or movie roles. He stopped acting after The Wonder Years to continue his education at Yale University, where he studied Political Science. After graduating in 1998, he decided to enter Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in August of the same year. He passed the bar and joined the law firm of Morrison Cohen LLP in New York, becoming a Senior Counsel in 2011 and Partner in 2013. He left Morrison Cohen two years later and founded two start-up endeavors: the JDS Legal law firm and the celebrity brand consulting agency, Act 3 Advisors. Saviano returned to acting briefly in 2014 and 2015 to play a lawyer on the NBC series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Another actor who had various childhood roles before The Wonder Years, Jason Hervey got his start with small parts in several popular films, including Back to the Future, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and Diff’rent Strokes. His big break came when he was cast as Kevin’s big brother, Wayne, on The Wonder Years, a role which helped Hervey launch a somewhat successful voice-acting career. While his on-screen credits are few and far between these days, Hervey does maintain ties to the entertainment industry as the producer of various sports-themed videos and specials, most notably with the World Championship Wrestling channel. From 2001 to 2003, Hervey served as the Senior Vice President of Media Communications for HealthSouth Corporation in Alabama. He was involved in a fraud scandal and later sued his employer, demanding $300,000 in compensation.
A Vietnam War veteran, Dan Lauria served as an officer in the US Marine Corps; ironically, he served at the same time his character on The Wonder Years was shipped off to serve in the Korean War. Best known for his role as one of the greatest TV dads of our age, Lauria has also had several roles in various TV shows and on and off-Broadway stage productions. In 2010, he appeared as Vince Lombardi in the Broadway play, Lombardi and was cast as Jean Shepherd in the 2012 Broadway production of A Christmas Story: The Musical. Most recently, Lauria can be seen in the FOX series, Pitch.
Another native of Chicago, IL, Alley Mills starred as the loving mother, Norma Arnold, on The Wonder Years. Since its end, Mills has had recurring roles in various soap operas, including Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and The Bold and the Beautiful. Outside of her work on the soap opera circuit, Mills has been pretty quiet. She married actor Orson Bean in 1993 and currently lives in LA.
Known for her role as Kevin’s rebellious hippie sister, Karen, Olivia d’Abo is a British actress who starred on The Wonder Years for the first four of its six seasons. She had two guest appearances in the final two seasons, as well. After her work on The Wonder Years, d’Abo had a recurring role in the NBC series, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and has been cast in numerous supporting roles in other TV programs and films, including The Spirit of ’76, The Big Green, and The Twilight Zone. She also appeared in the 2005 Broadway production of The Odd Couple alongside Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Like her fellow The Wonder Years cast members, d’Abo has also done a fair share of voice acting and has lent her voice to several video game characters. Like Karen Arnold, d’Abo is also a singer-songwriter and guitarist. She has composed music for several movie soundtracks, including the song “Broken” from the movie, Loving Annabelle. Her debut album, Not TV, was released in July of 2008. Most recently, d’Abo was in the 2016 films, Blue Weekend and the made-for-TV film, Inspired to Kill.
Narrator/Adult Kevin Arnold
Yes, yes that’s Marv from Home Alone. I know, I know!! You’ll never look at The Wonder Years in the same way again! After a variety of small successful films, Stern was cast as the narrator/adult Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years. Ironically, both he and Fred Savage appeared in the film, Little Monsters, with Stern playing Arnold’s father. Stern also directed several episodes of The Wonder Years and would go on to direct other shows, including the CBS series, Danny. Currently, Stern works as an artist, specializing in bronze sculpture. He’s created art for public projects in San Diego, Agoura Hills, and Pasadena. He is also the artist in residence at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo. Him and his wife have started several arts commissions and clubs and, in 2009, President Barak Obama awarded him the highest honor for volunteerism, the President’s “Call to Service” Award. Stern now owns a 500-acre cattle ranch in California’s central valley.
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4 responses to “The Wonder Years…Where Are They Now?”
In my early 20s a friend and I realized we were both big fans of the show. He bet that if we watched a marathon of The Wonder Years I would cry at the end of the last episode. We didn’t watch every episode but we watched around 40 hours worth we had on VHS. We took short breaks for runs to get fast food or take a 2-3 hour nap. When we finally got to the last episode he fell asleep. I can never prove I didn’t cry. That being said by hour 30 I would get misty eyed during the theme song…what would I do if you sang out of tune? I’d never get up and walk out on you!
I feel ya!! There were so many times throughout the series where I would just burst into tears…the last episode for sure, but also the one where they sell the family car…and the one when Kevin’s mom and dad do their taxes and his mom loses the receipts…there are just little moments in almost all the episodes that remind me of times in my life. Ugh such an amazing show! I wish more people knew about it!
One that always got me was when Wart came back from Vietnam and Wayne literally gave Wart the shirt off his back. Wayne was such a jerk, so any episode with him showing emotion or vulnerability was a bit more powerful to me.
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Yes, I forgot about that one!! And Wayne just holding him as he cried…omg so emotional.
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