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.

  • Ambiguously Human
  • Casual Danger Dialog: So often that the kids pick it up after a while.
    • That's because she always has everything under control. And when she doesn't, you can see it on her face as she races to save the kids.
      • Though a few times she is still a casual danger dialog even while she doesn't appear to have things under control.
  • Catch Phrase
    • "Seatbelts, everyone!"
    • "Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!"
      • Also a Mad Libs Catch Phrase as she frequently changes "get messy" to something to do with where ever they are.
    • "WAHOO!"
    • "To the bus!"
    • "As I always say..."
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Not in a ditzy way, but she is strange. (In a good way!)
  • Crazy-Prepared: She doesn't need anything but the bus, really.
  • Cool Teacher: She can make any scientific subject interesting. For anyone.
  • Character Tics: Do her flashing earrings count?
  • Expressive Shirt: Her dress, which is usually a plain purple one, has pictures that are always related to the episode's subject. Arnold even notices this pattern after they had a field trip in his Digestive System.
  • Fiery Redhead: In the most innocent way possible.
  • Flat Character: There's really not much to her. There doesn't need to be.
  • Great Gazoo
  • Hammerspace: That's where she keeps things like a giant replacement bulb or a set of molds for the bus.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: She is a crazy awesome weirdness magnet. Also, was once the Trope Namer.
  • In-Series Nickname: "The Friz".
  • It Runs in the Family: Has a HUGE bevvy of various aunts, uncles, and cousins, who are sometimes famous people such as "Uncle Edison" in the electricity episode, "Uncle Frank Lloyd" in the construction episode, and "Uncle Poseidon" in the salmon episode.
  • Large Ham
  • Magical Guardian
  • Multiple-Choice Past: She's been a lot of places. She was once a Shakespearean actornote , spent 6 summers on the Rodeo circuitnote , took a summer to learn how to announce a baseball gamenote , formed and toured with the band "The Frizzlettes" with a now-famous rock starnote , and many others. To quote The Friz herself:
    "You'd be surprised what we teachers do over the summer break."
  • The Mentor
  • Older Than She Looks: Implied to be this.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Right before Janet refuses to leave Pluto with her stuff, you can see her with a surprised expression. It's like she anticipates Arnold's Heroic Sacrifice to get Janet to Earth.
    • Her sadness in "Gets Ready, Set, Dough" when the bus is having growing and shrinking problems, both for the bus's health and for having to cancel a field trip.
    • Subverted when she puts on a show of losing a pinball game, because right after she laments, she smiles and shows the class how the game works with light instead of with balls.
  • One of the Kids
  • Perpetual Smiler: She very rarely stops smiling and is almost always enthusiastic about something.
  • Team Mom: Well, she is the only adult.
  • Quirky Curls
  • Static Character: Whatever seemingly affects her in one episode/book never carries over.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: She has a different dress and earring set matching the theme of the next field trip.

Arnold Perlstein

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: He was blonde in the original books, but a redhead in the series.
  • Adorably Precocious Child
  • Badass Adorable: He certainly has his moments of outstanding bravery.
  • Berserk Button: Never insult Ms. Frizzle in his presence.
    • It's also not a good idea to threaten or mess with his friends; he takes offense to that.
  • 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.
  • Honor Before Reason: Most memorably in the erosion and dinosaur episodes.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: He may not like the field trips, but he likes Ms. Frizzle. He serves as Ms. Frizzle's defense lawyer when Keesha puts her on trial, and will not tolerate anyone saying their teacher is better. Even his cousin Janet.
  • 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., and even pulls off several karate moves to scare it off.
  • Lovable Coward
  • Nice Jewish Boy
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Any time he suggests taking the class out on a field trip.
    • 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.
  • 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 Glasses Gotta Go: When facing off the T-Rex, he takes off his glasses and tucks them into his shirt pocket. Justified as he didn't want "Short Arms" to break them.
  • The So-Called Coward: Push comes to shove, he's the most reliable of the kids. Shown in "The Magic School Bus Hops Home," where despite Wanda putting him in danger, he dives after her when she swims to save her frog from a heron.
  • 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.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Mallow Blasters. Also, Sea Weenies.
  • 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

  • Big Brother Instinct: Is very protective of his classmates and his brother Mikey. He also believes in his brother.
  • Class Clown
  • Gadgeteer Genius:
    • Made the "ploopy" instrument that sounds like a cross between a xylophone, pipes, and a cymbal.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • As early as the digestion episode, demonstrates a Big Brother Instinct towards his classmates (he went out of his way to track down and retrieve Wanda) and was revealed in "Gets Swamped" to be very accomplished at debate.
    • Also he's good at effective leadership, as shown in "Gets Ready, Set, Dough" where he commands the class to make a cake for Ms. Frizzle.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: What most of his jokes are.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Often induces this from the rest of the class.
  • Like Father, Like Son: His dad is just as fond of bad puns as he is, provoking a response of "Mr. Ramoooooon!" from the class whenever he makes one.
  • Opposites Attract: Hinted at with Dorothy Ann.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Carlooooooss!"
  • Plucky Comic Relief
  • Pungeon Master
  • Small Name, Big Ego: During a field trip to discover a new island, he wants to name is "Carlos Island," complete with an Imagine Spot of him dressed like a Spanish conquistador. He makes fun of DA when she mocks it, asking if she'd call it "According to My Research Island".
  • Tough Room
  • Why Did It Have To Be Spiders: Has a phobia of spiders, which prevents him from helping rescue Phoebe and Keesha from a spider web when they get down. Even at the end of the episode, he admits he can respect them but his phobia isn't gone.

Dorothy Ann

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: In her Catch Phrase, she always pronounces "research" as "re-SEARCH" rather than "RE-search".
  • Bookworm: Of course.
  • Captain Obvious: Much of her research. "According to my research, after chewing comes swallowing!". Oh, really?
  • The Cassandra: When she comes to school in a rush after realizing an asteroid will hit the school, the class takes a while to believe her even with her calculations. After the class fails to reach NASA, she sarcastically mentions they can "wait for the big kaboom, and then you'll have your proof!"
  • Catch Phrase: "According to my research..."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Usually where Carlos is concerned since he is imaginative and willing to experiment, while she is, as he put it, "by the book".
  • Dumb Blonde: Averted big time.
  • Full-Name Basis: Always "Dorothy Ann" (or "DA"); never just "Dorothy". note 
  • Girlish Pigtails: Even when she takes her hairbands off, the pigtails stay in place.
  • Hollywood Nerd: She's constantly reading books, and apparently she can perform planetary and astronomical body trajectory calculations. In the third grade.
  • In-Series Nickname: Usually called by her initials.
  • Magic Skirt: Dorothy Ann always wears a pleated miniskirt which stays down no matter what.
  • The Ophelia: When her books get washed into the ocean, and in real life would be too watered out to use, she nearly dives into the ocean without even a life preserver. She looks a bit unhinged while searching for them up until she makes a logical conclusion without her research.
  • Opposites Attract: Hinted at with Carlos.
  • Ship Tease: Gives Arnold a kiss on the cheek after he helps her hatch a chick to replace Mr. Ruhle's rooster. They then are delighted to find they can keep the chick and raise it.
  • The Smart Girl
  • Tsundere: Type B towards Carlos (and Ralphie).

Keesha Franklin

  • Agent Scully: Keesha is always skeptical of anything unscientific.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: ...except a bus that can transform, shrink, etc.
  • Berserk Button: Using her friends in malicious schemes will result in her doing everything in her power to humiliate you, as seen in her tricking Janet in "Gets a Bright Idea".
  • Catch Phrase: "Oh bad oh bad oh bad bad bad bad..."
    • "Let's get the facts..."
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • In-Series Nickname: Ralphie calls her "Keesh" infrequently.
  • Not So Above It All: In the bat episode, she keeps dismissing Ralphie's claims that Ms. Frizzle is a vampire and has taken the parents to a castle to make them bite. With that said, she sees a lot of Not Helping Your Case in that their teacher gives the parents tomato juice to drink which resembles blood, and then hears her grandmother being chosen as Ms. Frizzle's first "victim".
  • Only Sane Man: When Ralphie thinks Ms. Frizzle is a vampire, Keesha starts out as this, but it gets subverted as he manages to scare the class.
  • Sassy Black Girl: Not quite sassy, per say, but she is the most skeptical and sarcastic member of the class.

Phoebe Terese

Ralphie Tennelli

  • Academic Athlete: Was put in charge of coming up with an idea for Broadcast Day, and was horrified when his mom told him to stay at home. Also reads a book that DA recommended to him.
  • Acrofatic: While not fat, exactly, he is the larger of the kids and the class athlete.
  • Agent Mulder
  • The All-American Boy: Check out his outfit, his interest in sports, and his mechanical expertise.
  • Big Eater
  • Big Fun: Again, while he's not fat, he's the class' Big Guy. He also built a robot to do everyone's chores for the sole purpose of having more time for fun.
  • The Big Guy
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S"
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "I think I'm going to be sick."
    • "Is it just me, or..."
      • His mother utters the same catch phrase in "Going Batty".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has a few moments of this.
  • Did Not Think This Through:
    • When wanting to create a thunderstorm, as Weatherman, he doesn't consider that a thunderstorm is, well, big and loud, and that the bus can't just drive out of it.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Once made a fully functional robotic helper out of junk parts.
  • Hidden Depths: Was chosen to have an idea for broadcast day.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Thinks that Ms. Frizzle is a vampire when she shows up in costume for parent's night. Never mind the fact that she walks around in broad daylight and eats cake.
  • Loophole Abuse: Before the class showed up at his house during his Sick Episode, he was going to "phone in" an idea, that is call the show to invite audience participation, since his mom told him he had to stay at home. She didn't say NOT to work on his broadcast day idea.
  • Lovable Jock
  • Never Bareheaded: Even when he's sick in bed or in formal wear, his cap is on.
  • Nice Hat: It wouldn't be Ralphie without that red backwards baseball cap. His robot naturally takes the hat and replaces Ralphie's with the saucepan Ralphie had put on the robot's head.
  • Vocal Evolution: His voice deepens by the third season of the series.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He hates rollercoasters, or any fast-moving rides.
  • You Answered Your Own Question: *Picks scab* "How are you going to get the inside story if you can't get inside (my body)?"


  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: When he and Wanda crash their bikes while delivering honey, he begs Ms. Frizzle to take a field trip to his grandfather's farm, to get more honey.
  • Catch Phrase: "We've been frizzled."
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In the spider episode, he saves Phoebe and Keesha from an orb spider by cutting the web lines they were attached to, and does tug-of-war with a giant spider to save Ms. Frizzle from a hungry Dinopus.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has a moment of this when he comments "This is one weird house" in the Haunted House episode.
    "Ralphie': You mean your house doesn't have a jungle, a city, and ocean, and an alpine wonderland?
    Tim (cheerily): Nah. The landlord wouldn't go for it.
  • Determinator: He won't give up trying to find his and Wanda's model plane when he breaks the remote and it zooms off.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: He's invented a few items that have appeared on the show.
    • Designed Wanda's toy plane, which was durable enough to survive when he broke the remote.
    • For DA's birthday he had made a mechanical replica of the sun. Unfortunately it broke, so the class went into outer space to buy a star for her.
  • 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.
  • Made Out to Be a Jerkass: In the bee episode, where he claims that they can just take honey from the bees to deliver to customers; Phoebe takes to task with him for not figuring out what the bees use it for. Except . . . he wanted to get honey from his grandfather's farm, which has sustainable beekeeping, and Ms. Frizzle decided to take them to a native beehive.
  • 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

  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Come on, you bunch of weasely wimps!"
    • "What are we gonna do, what are we gonna do, what are we gonna dooooo?!"
  • Character Tics : That little "tsk"-like sound she makes when she's annoyed.
  • Genki Girl: Usually very.
  • Jerk Ass: Sometimes falls into this. Played up for An Aesop in the coral reef episode.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Tends to charge into a situation without thinking things through, like with the lake monster. Justified in one case where she was trying to find her pet frog Bella.
  • Nobody Calls Me Chicken: After all...
  • Not So Above It All: Is just as scared of the music in "The Haunted House" as everyone else is.
  • One of the Boys : Enjoys sports, like Ralphie, and surfing with Ralphie and Carlos
  • Opposites Attract: Hinted at with Arnold.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Despite being the smallest in the class, she's the highest jumper and could pull the metal handles off of large doors.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Phoebe's Girly Girl.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: In "Holiday Special", she's looking forward to seeing The Nutcracker. In "Gets Charged", she's excited by the possibility that Ms. Frizzle is in love with someone.
  • Tsundere: Type A.


  • Extreme Omnivore: Will eat cake, pastries, pizza and insects.
  • 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, and because her Trademark Favorite Food is insects.
  • Genius Animal
  • Head Pet / Parrot Pet Position: Usually either or both of these to Ms. Frizzle but has done them with most, if not all, of the kids.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Zig-Zagged in the episode with reptiles; the class finds her in a freezer where she's hibernating, but it turns out that Herp Haven took her habitat, a large lizard house with a TV and plenty of snacks.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: To Ms. Frizzle.
  • 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
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Insects. In many Producers segments Liz is seen chasing them.

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.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Mikey operates on this principle regularly.
  • Crazy-Prepared: His wheelchair comes prepared with a raft in the ferris wheel episode that was able to hold himself and eight classmates.
  • Genius Cripple: This is a kid capable of programming tasks on an 1990s computer.
  • Handicapped Badass: Comes up with about five different sources of energy in a day to power a Ferris wheel, and stays calm during a normal field trip, which tends to freak the class out.
  • Noodle Incident: Somehow caused an off-screen incident at a camp-out event with marshmallows 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

  • Bald Black Leader Guy: He is the school principal.
  • Catch Phrase: "Thought you could fool old Ruhle, eh?"
  • Evil Laugh: Gives one when he reminds Frizzle about their bet about the pinball machine.
  • Hidden Depths: He knows a lot about birds.
  • Morality Pet: Has a Rhode Island Red chicken named Giblets that he adores.
  • Not So Above It All: He ended up betting Ms. Frizzle that she couldn't beat her pinball came, because he wanted to own it. When she wins, she tells him he can play whenever he likes.
  • Punny Name
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Has high respect for Ms. Frizzle, and listens to the class when Dorothy Ann confesses to losing James and finding a new chick for him.

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.