Boy Meets World's Harley Keiner Actor Opens Up About 'Meltdown' That Led To His Exit From The Show

Of course, Boy Meets World is known for its revolving door of recurring stars. However, no character has left an impact on fans of the ABC sitcom the way Harley Keiner actor Danny McNulty did. While Harley loomed large over the TGIF comedy, he only appeared in eight episodes across two seasons. Due to his lack of onscreen time, viewers have always wondered what happened to McNulty after Season 3. Almost three decades after his final BMW appearance, the Boy Meets World alum opened up about the meltdown that led to his exit from the beloved series.

The 30-year mystery surrounding Harley Keiner’s BMW disappearance was finally answered when McNulty chatted with his former Boy Meets World castmates on Pod Meets World. Danielle Fishel asked the long-gestating question about his vanishing act from the show, mentioning the reported breakdown that happened during a Season 2 table read. He then opened up about the events leading up to his ill-fated table read, and how that culminated in a meltdown.

I go to Sedona for this Angel workshop, and basically, I went there and it was an amazing experience. I opened up so many chakras. I opened up my whole being. When I got back to LA. I wasn’t shut down enough, [and] I was still open. Within that week, I booked Boy Meets World, and there was this high I was coming into… I wasn’t closed down enough, I felt like spiritually I was out there and whatever got in astral vampires, having an exorcism, all this crazy stuff. It was very, very difficult. I pulled up to the table read, I hopped out of my Cadillac convertible, and had adopted a dog, and brought the dog on set. I was at the table read, and I thought everything would be fine. I just felt this meltdown at the table, and I remember Blake helped me. I dropped the script on the floor, and he was so nice he picked it up for me. He’s like ‘Give him a minute. Just give him a minute.’ I remember just winding down. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk.

During the script reading, McNulty felt at the moment that everything was imploding around him. At the time, mental health wasn’t a serious topic in society. He felt his mental breakdown tarnished his acting career as society was less sensitive about mental disorders. Hearing his co-star’s story allowed Friedle to speak about his anxiety battle while filming the show. The Eric Matthews actor talked about his problems getting the right diagnosis and medication to face his disorder, and the stigma surrounding mental health in the '90s. After Friedle’s words, Fishel asked what happened after the breakdown. McNulty explained what happened following the out-of-body script reading.  

My sister was visiting from New York, and they called her. She got me off the set and took me to this hospital Edgemont Hospital. It’s a scary place, it’s like a mental hospital-slash-drug rehab. Drugs were never a problem for me… I never touched anything like that. It was just a pure bipolar rollercoaster… I get checked in. Disney sent one of their psychologists – someone to help talk to me to see if they could get me enough to do the show.

Once he was admitted to the medical facility, the BMW alum was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was put on medication. McNulty stayed in the hospital for a month to get adjusted to his new prescriptions. He was left with serious guilt about leaving the show and the cast so abruptly. He felt his table read meltdown must’ve left his young castmates traumatized. The hosts reassured him, and said they cared about him more as a person, not just as a co-worker. Despite what had happened, the Harley Keiner actor got a surprising call from the Boy Meets World staff, saying they wanted him to come back. The actor noted that being asked to return allowed him to find "closure."

Danny McNulty eventually returned for the Season 3 episode “He Said, She Said,” where Harley confronted Griff Hawkins. He also got to work with Adam Scott, who coincidently disappeared during the third season. The BMW alum admitted his Season 3 return was marred by his adjustment to his new medication. Luckily, the 50-year-old actor was able to reprise his role in the sequel series Girl Meets World with the exception of the series finale.

You can listen to more behind-the-scenes stories from Boy Meets World by checking out Pod Meets World weekly on iHeartRadio. In the process, get to know more about other John Adams High bullies like Ethan Suplee who spoke about how he was treated as an overweight actor, and Blake Sennett who revealed he almost died of an overdose. Once you’re done with the podcast, revisit the classic sitcom by getting a Disney+ subscription.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).