For those of us who grew up with Kevin Arnold, Winnie Cooper, and Paul Pfeiffer on the coming-of-age series The Wonder Years, the soulful crooning of Joe Cocker’s famous "With a Little Help from My Friends" arrangement and the grainy home video images of the show’s iconic opening credits sequence will forever inspire a feeling of nostalgia. Still, it’s hard to believe that nearly 30 years have passed since its 1988 premiere.
The innovative comedy-drama ran until 1993, and over the span of its six-season run, brought in a slew of awards and nominations, including an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series after only six episodes had aired, as well as the Peabody Award in 1989 for pushing the boundaries of the sitcom. Its deep influence on television is evident, and Rolling Stone ranked the ABC series at #63 on its 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time list.
But the success of the series is due in no small part to its incredibly talented cast. So, what has the cast of The Wonder Years been up to since the series wrapped? Let’s find out…
Kids of the ’80s and ’90s loved Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years’ protagonist – and it’s still hard not to be won over by Fred Savage’s boyish charm and natural every-man relatability. This adoration translated into critical accolades, as he was the youngest person to earn Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his performance.
After the show ended, Savage went on to attend Stanford University, where he majored in English. In an interview with SF Gate, he recounted his goal of becoming a director. Although Savage continued to act, most notably on the short-lived Working, and more recently on The Grinder, he got his start directing on a series of Disney shows in the early 2000s. Later, he found his home in more eccentric, darker adult comedies like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Party Down.
He’s now one of the most sought-after comedic directors, but as Savage told GQ, "The persona of The Wonder Years is something that’s going to be with me forever. And I’m happy for that. It’s nothing that I’d ever shy away from, and it makes me feel so good that it’s something people still remember and talk about it and think of it so fondly."
As the Hollywood Reporter highlighted, Savage will next be seen on screen as the host of Ricky Gervais’ ABC game show Child Support. The former child star has been happily married to childhood friend Jennifer Lynn Stone since 2004, and they have three children together (via People).
Dan Lauria is still best known for his role as the Arnold family’s gruff yet loving war-vet patriarch, Jack. However, his impressive acting resume post-Wonder Years seems infinite, as he has steadily guested and starred as hundreds of characters on several television shows and movies over the course of his nearly four-decade career.
These efforts included appearances on hit shows like The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy, and Hot in Cleveland. But one of Lauria’s most distinctive roles was actually as another dad named Jack — he played the main character’s bar owner father on TBS’ now-cancelled Sullivan & Son from 2012-2014. But he is currently co-starring as the team manager on Fox’s baseball drama Pitch (via Deadline).
In addition to his impressive on-screen work, Lauria has devoted much of his professional life to the theater. He received positive reviews for his portrayal of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi in the 2011 Broadway production of Lombardi (despite the New York Times’ relatively lukewarm reception to the writing), and also played narrator Jean Shepherd in the 2012 production of A Christmas Story: The Musical (via Playbill). Additionally, Broadway World recently announced the actor would star opposite Hot in Cleveland’s Wendie Malick in Laguna Playhouse’s benefit performance of Love Letters.
When he’s not working, Lauria remains close with his Wonder Years co-stars, and only a few years ago, sounded like the proud father he played, boasting about his TV family’s accomplishments to A.V. Club.
Alley Mills is widely known for her role as Kevin’s caring mother, and Jack’s wife, Norma. Her character was the ideal mom – kind, understanding, and always there to support the Arnold clan. But while she often played the put-upon 1970s homemaker part, Norma was a modern character with incredible ambition, who wished to break out of this housewife role. Throughout the series, she returned to school, earned a college degree, and eventually obtained a job at a software company. Her inspiring story-arc was an undeniable reflection of the time’s second wave feminism.
Similarly to her former co-stars, Mills is a veteran TV actress who has worked steadily since The Wonder Years concluded. As a Yale graduate, she has guested on several TV series and movies, such as Yes, Dear, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. However, her longest-lasting role is her portrayal of Pam Douglas on the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful — since joining the cast in 2006, Mills has starred in over a whopping 500 episodes!
Mills is also prolific in the theater world. Over the years, she has often worked as a theater producer in collaboration with her husband, actor and writer Orson Bean, with whom she resides in Venice, California. The two have worked consistently with their local theatrical institution, the Pacific Resident Theatre, and their most recent effort came in 2015, as Broadway World announced, when Mills produced Bean’s one-man biographical show Safe At Home.
Olivia d’Abo may still be most recognizable as Kevin’s older sister, the rebellious hippie Karen, but she has bolstered an impressive career, wearing many hats in all areas of entertainment.
After Karen got married and moved to Alaska with her husband Michael, d’Abo’s role on The Wonder Years diminished, which allowed her to move on to other projects — mainly supporting roles in TV and film. Most known among these was a recurring role as criminal Nicole Wallace on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as well as several voice acting roles, such as Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan and Natalia Romanoff in the Ultimate Avengers series. In 2005, d’Abo dabbled in stage work, like her former on-screen parents, when she appeared alongside Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in the Broadway production of The Odd Couple (via Playbill).
As a singer, guitarist, and pianist, d’Abo has garnered several songwriting and performance credits over the years. Her debut album, aptly titled Not TV, came out in the summer of 2008 — the record featured 70s-esque singer-songwriter influences and received positive reviews, as documented by AllMusic. In 2013, she released a duet with Seal (seriously, how 90s is that sentence?) called "Broken." And since 2015, d’Abo has partnered with Dan Miles on a popular weekly music podcast called Every Friday with Dan and Olivia.
D’Abo has one child, son Oliver, 21, and amicably co-parents with her ex-husband and friend, music producer Patrick Leonard (via Celebrity Baby Scoop).
Jason Hervey’s break out role may have been as Kevin’s older, antagonistic brother Wayne, but he has since become one of Hollywood’s leading producers of reality TV.
Hervey’s rare television appearances following The Wonder Years included voice acting roles, such as Dove/Don Hall on Justice League Unlimited (here, he reunited with Savage in an interesting role reversal of their previous on-screen counterparts) and the titular role on 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd.
After a short stint in public relations with HealthSouth Corporation that ended with the company’s fraud scandal, Hervey sued for $300,000 in severance pay in 2003 (via USA Today). Around this time, he quit acting and became a producer. He recently disclosed to FanSided that he and Savage "actually had this pact together as kids where he said, ‘Okay, I’m going to be Ron Howard and you’re gonna be Brian Grazer.’"
His company Bischoff/Hervey Productions has produced many reality shows, such as I Want to Be a Hilton and Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling. Hervey told FanSided that their current production, the groundbreaking reality crime drama Outlaw Country, "is my best work."
Unfortunately, the producer infamously spent two days behind bars for an arrest that occurred in January 2015 following an alleged DUI incident (Ambien use, not alcohol), and later told People he was grateful police intervened before anything happened.
Hervey is also a proud father of four, and has been happily married to Shannon Hervey for nearly 20 years (via Hubmesh).
Despite the persistent, weird rumor from the early days of the internet, Josh Saviano is not Marilyn Manson. Really, he isn’t. Promise. But equally interesting, the kid actor who played Kevin Arnold’s archetypal nerdy best friend Paul Pfeiffer actually left show business to become a successful lawyer.
Not unlike his televised counterpart, who was going off to study at Harvard when the series came to an end, Saviano went on to study political science at Yale University. As outlined on LinkedIn, after working as a paralegal in New York City for two years, he began studying at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2000 and was admitted to the Bar of New York in 2004.
Saviano joined Morrison Cohen LLP as a Senior Counsel and Partner between 2003 and 2015, but eventually left the firm to start up Act 3 Advisors, which provides brand consulting services to entertainers and media entrepreneurs. As an entertainment lawyer, one of his biggest clients was the Broadway show Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark (via A.V. Club).
Lately, Saviano has slowly been breaking back into show business. He is a co-creator and partner of BS+Glory, "the first multi-camera, unscripted talk show," and made his highly anticipated return to acting in 2014, appropriately playing a lawyer on Law & Order: SVU.
According to TV Guide, the show biz lawyer now lives in New York City with his wife, Jennifer Romer, and their daughter, Noa Isabel.
Although he never appeared on screen, Daniel Stern provided ’80s and ’90s kids the voice we trusted the most — performing adult Kevin’s earnest, reflective narration on The Wonder Years. He also directed several episodes.
As a jack of all trades, his instantly recognizable face and voice have been featured in numerous other projects over the last three decades. He famously portrayed burglar Marv Merchants opposite Joe Pesci in the first two Home Alone films, starred in the classic comedy City Slickers and it’s 1994 sequel, and acted in and directed Rookie of the Year.
Stern also went on to create and star in the ill-fated series Danny, which was cancelled after only one season in 2001, guest on alt-comedies like Workaholics, Angie Tribeca, and Love, and perform in the 2013 Broadway play The Other Place (via Vanity Fair). He was last seen regularly on the TV series Manhattan, which he also directed.
In addition to his entertainment endeavors, the multi-talented Stern also works as an artist. As covered by The Acorn, he is a self-taught sculptor and creates bronze statues for private commissions, gallery exhibits, and cities. But he is very happy with his heavy workload, simply stating, "I like to be busy. I come to work whenever I want to. I get to be in control."
A surprising number of ’90s stars got their start guesting on The Wonder Years, but one of the most memorable appearances was made by a pre-Friends David Schwimmer. In a four-episode story arc between 1991 and 1992, his portrayal as Karen’s boyfriend-turned-husband Michael marked an important shift in the series — and d’Abo’s exit. Karen’s liberal views often clashed with her father’s conservatism, but her decision to move in with Michael during college led to a falling out. Their later understanding was bittersweet, as she and Michael got married but moved to Alaska to start their family.
Schwimmer of course went on to star as the affably nerdy paleontologist Ross Geller on Friends two years later. Since that series wrapped in 2004, he has made various guest appearances on shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and 30 Rock, voiced Melman in the Madagascar trilogy, and devoted much of his time to directing and producing. In 2016, he managed to break through the shadow of Ross with his acclaimed portrayal of Robert Kardashian on American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (via GQ), and also starred in AMC’s short-lived drama Feed the Beast.
As Buzzfeed helpfully documented, other notorious Wonder Years cameos of then-unknowns included soon-to-be Saved By The Bell alumni Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) and Dustin Diamond (Screech), Boy Meets World star (and Fred Savage’s younger brother) Ben Savage, and future Clueless icon Alicia Silverstone, to name a few.
Kevin’s on-and-off girlfriend Winnie Cooper was played by Danica McKellar — and if you were an ’80s or ’90s kid, you were either in love with her or you wanted to be her…or both. But following The Wonder Years, the actress’ career took an interesting turn, proving that she’s even cooler (and nerdier) than her on-screen persona — she became a mathematics writer and education advocate.
As discussed with Forbes, McKellar studied Mathematics at UCLA, where she and two colleagues "proved a theorem about temperature for a mathematic model of magnetic material" called the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem. She’s also written four acclaimed nonfiction books to encourage young readers who are interested in math. The first of which, 2008’s Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, was a New York Times bestseller.
While working as an author and academic, McKellar has maintained a steadily successful career in acting, appearing in various Lifetime TV movies and guesting on several TV shows, such as Savage’s Working, How I Met Your Mother, and The Big Bang Theory. She also had a recurring role as Elsie Snuffin on The West Wing, a stint on Dancing with the Stars (she finished in 6th place), and now stars as The Quail on Netflix’s Project Mc2.
McKellar has one son, Draco, 6, with her ex-husband, composer Mike Verta. She is now happily married to lawyer Scott Sveslosky, as Us Weekly reported in 2014.