Characters: The Magic School Bus

Characters that appeared in The Magic School Bus.

Main Characters

Ms. Valerie Frizzle

The teacher of the third grade class.

Arnold Perlstein

  • Adorably Precocious Child
  • Badass Adorable - He certainly has his moments of outstanding bravery.
  • Beware the Nice Ones - Don't get him pissed. He becomes a Determinator.
  • Big Eater - He's been shown through numerous stories to snack a lot.
  • Birds of a Feather - Hinted at with Phoebe.
  • Brown Eyes - A close up in "Goes Cellular" and on the Holiday Special DVD cover.
  • Butt Monkey - His misfortunes are played for laughs an awful lot.
  • Catch Phrase - "I think/knew/maybe I should've stayed home today." Arnold says this less often in the later part of season three and season four due to character development.
  • Chick Magnet - While any crushes in the series are only hinted at, Arnold seems to get Ship Teased with other female characters the most.
  • The Drag-Along - Never once completely enthusiastic about a field trip.
  • Genre Savvy
  • Honor Before Reason - Most memorably in the erosion and dinosaur episodes.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal - More on the lines of "I Just Want a Normal Science Class."
  • Informed Judaism - A nearly throwaway reference in the Christmas Special.
  • Let's Get Dangerous - Gets big to save everyone from a T. Rex.
  • Lovable Coward
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy - Feminine Boy to Wanda's Masculine Girl.
  • Nice Jewish Boy
  • OOC Is Serious Business - One time during the desert episode he actually suggested to go on a field trip to help understand about desert animals (Phoebe was wondering how to help them out). The reaction from the rest of the class?
    "Arnold, are you serious?"
  • Only Sane Man - It may be presented as cowardice, but, really, he is more than justified in being completely and utterly scared stiff of the sort of thing that happens on the average class trip.
  • Opposites Attract - Hinted at with Wanda.
  • Phrase Catcher - In the books.
    Ms. Frizzle: Arnold, are you paying attention?
  • Quirky Curls
  • Red-Headed Hero - In "The Busasaurus." He also could qualify as the main character, given that he has more character development than the rest of the cast.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man - The Sensitive Guy to Ralphie's Manly Man.
  • Serious Business - He is passionate about geology. After all, he's the youngest member of GRANITE (the Great Rock Admirers' National Institute of Tectonics Experts).
  • The So-Called Coward - Push comes to shove, he's the most reliable of the kids.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Arnold removing his helmet (On the surface of Pluto!) just to make a point to his cousin. Is probably the stupidest thing anyone has ever done in the entire series, show or books.
  • Undying Loyalty - He may hate her field trips, but he'll stand up for Ms. Frizzle if he has to. Same for his friends.

Carlos Ramon

Dorothy Ann

Keesha Franklin

Phoebe Terese

  • Beware the Quiet Ones - Just ask Carlos, Ralphie, and Janet.
  • Birds of a Feather - Hinted at with Arnold.
  • Catch Phrase - "At my old school..."
  • The Chick - Not the only girl, not in a Five-Man Band, but definitely fits otherwise.
  • Daddy's Girl - Implied in "Going Batty"
  • Dogged Nice Girl - Downplayed. It's heavily implied in "The Busasaurus" and "Goes Cellular" that Phoebe has a crush on Arnold, but at the ends of both episodes, despite the fact she helped him get a dinosaur egg back and tried to help him look less orange, he largely ignores her and goes back to focusing on Wanda.
  • Friend to All Living Things - Very much so.
    • Friend to Bugs - Yes, even them. Of course, that's to be expected being that this is a science-themed show aimed at children...
  • Girl Next Door
  • Green Eyes - On the Creepy, Crawly Fun! DVD cover.
  • Hair Decorations - Her yellow headband.
  • The Heart
  • Huge Schoolgirl - Despite the kids generally being drawn at similar heights, there have been times where she appeared taller than the others and towered over Wanda (such as in "In a Pickle" and "Revving Up").
  • In-Series Nickname - The others sometimes call her "Pheeb" (not "Pheebs"). Carlos has also called her "Pheebolino."
  • Na´ve Everygirl
  • New Transfer Student: In the original books, Phoebe was introduced this way in The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth, the second book of the series. Inside the Earth played her as a Na´ve Newcomer with an Is It Always Like This? shtick, which eventually led to her "at my old school" catchphrase in the TV series.
  • Nice Girl
  • Performance Anxiety - Being the beanstalk for their production of Jack and the Beanstalk didn't help.
  • Plant Person - By "being the beanstalk for their production of Jack and the Beanstalk," she was actually a giant bean plant.
  • Psychotic Smirk - Gives one to Carlos near the end of "All Dried Up" when he's stumbling over "how desert animals get water." It's terrifying.
  • Soapbox Sadie - Students Against Desert Scarcity! It's "person power," not "man power"! Build a recycling plant on the abandoned lot! Don't take honey from bees!
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl - Girly Girl to Wanda's Tomboy
  • Tsundere - Type B. While she's most often sweet natured and reserved, she does have a temper when triggered (again, just ask Carlos, Ralphie, and Janet).

Ralphie Tennelli


  • Catch Phrase - "We've been frizzled."
  • The Generic Guy - More noticeable than any of other characters, to the point where there are probably greater depths to recurring characters than him.
    • Downplayed in the chapter books, even those he doesn't narrate. He's been shown to be studious enough to go toe to toe with DA when he wants to, competitive and a Sci-Fi fan.
  • Only One Name: He's the only kid in the class who apparently doesn't have a last name. He's just..."Tim".
  • Sequential Artist - Tim is noted to be a good artist. In one episode, he says he's always wanted to do a comic book.
  • Straight Man

Wanda Li


  • Face-Heel Turn - Briefly. Liz allies herself with Janet in "Butterfly and the Bog Beast", mainly so Janet will have a sounding board while the class is shrunk down.
  • Genius Animal
  • Non-Human Sidekick
  • The Speechless
  • Suddenly Voiced - In some of the computer games based on the show, Liz is suddenly able to talk, often serving as an in-game helper to the player. To be fair though in the majority of cases she only talks to the player and never to the class themselves.
  • Team Pet

Supporting Characters

The Bus


  • Aesop Amnesia - She learns to not be such a horrible person in nearly every single episode she appears in, but it never sticks.
  • Alpha Bitch
  • Evil Counterpart - To Arnold.
  • Evil Redhead - If you think Janet's orange hair makes her a ginger, she's definitely the evil of the gingers on the show.
  • Insufferable Genius - Her initial characterization, but the "insufferable" half was given more focus in later episodes.
  • Jerkass - Ranging from Jerk with a Heart of Gold to near sadism, as the plot calls for it.
  • Manipulative Bitch
  • Pet the Dog - Sometimes, as to subdue her tendencies.
  • The Sociopath - Could go along with Jerkass, but Janet has shown her sociopathic tendencies, ranging from her obsession with feeding butterflies to a "bog beast," her constant irritability, annoyance, impatience, and aggression towards the class (most often Phoebe), her obvious irritation with being bored ("Gets A Bright Idea"), and that she seems to have no problem with lying or cheating ("Makes A Stink"). The only person she seems to have some empathy for is Arnold, but even then, she has no problem manipulating him as long as she gets what she wants.
  • Token Evil Teammate

Mikey Ramon

  • Cheerful Child - Mrs. Frizzle is delighted by Mikey, and enamored with his enthusiasm. The other kids think that he's a tad out of touch with reality.
  • Genius Cripple - This is a kid capable of programming tasks on an 1990s computer.
  • Noodle Incident - Somehow caused an off-screen incident at a camp-out event that made everyone except Carlos wary of him in his first appearance and gave DA a rash that didn't go away for weeks.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless - Ms. Frizzle can travel through space and time and turn people into crabs, so why is he still in a wheelchair?
    • This could potentially be a stealth aesop about accepting people for who they are, the way they are.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap - In universe example: The kids all complain about him when Carlos suggests calling him in the energy episode, and cheer him when he solves their problem.

Mr. Ruhle

The Producers

  • Meta Guys - Each show ends with one or both of them getting a call from a viewer to point out the scientific errors in the adventure, which they usually justify with Artistic License.
  • Nice Guy - They're pretty genial to the irritated viewers.