Creator / PBS Kids
Doink! PBS Kids!
"This is PBS! (Hoo-hoo-hoo!)"

PBS Kids is a children's block of Edutainment Shows on PBS that launched in 1993. It has aired on many PBS affiliates.

The block started under the name PTV, featuring the P-Pals, or anthropromorphized PBS logos as the mascot, in their fictional setting "PTV Park". It was used as a way to relegate all the network's child programming into one centralized place. However, since the shows had wildly varying demographics, from young kids to preteens, another block was created in 1996 to help remedy this called "The Game", which featured interstitials with a stop-motion animated board game set. This block would air programming more centered on the older end of the child demographic, such as Bill Nye the Science Guy and Arthur.

Beginning in 1999, PTV and The Game were both retired and the block was re-purposed into the PBS Kids that we all know today. The P-Pals were replaced with two new mascots, Dot and Dash, with a completely different theme. In what seems like a case of history repeating itself, another block called PBS Kids GO! was created in 2004 to again bring the shows aimed at older demographics into one place. This was again dropped in 2013 when the PBS Kids block underwent a rebrand, though still keeping much of the same interstitial themes that started in 1999.

Up until November 2013, it also ran PBS Kids Sprout, a cable channel aimed at preschoolers, alongside Sesame Workshop, NBCUniversal (previously Comcast, but became a part of NBCU as result of the former's purchase of it), and Apax Partners (former owners of HiT Entertainment). A number of the listed programs no longer airing regularly on most PBS stations (and even shows that never aired on PBS anywhere in the first place) can currently be seen on Sprout. About two years after NBCU bought its stake, the company bought the network outright, rechristening it Sprout. Until 2016, Sprout itself ran a Saturday morning block on semi-sister station NBC called NBC Kids, with another block on NBC's Spanish network Telemundo called MiTelemundo. In September 2017, Sprout was rebranded as Universal Kids, with only one PBS show (Caillou) still on the channel.

In January 2017, PBS launched a new 24/7 PBS Kids channel, which, in addition to being available as a subchannel through many PBS affiliates, can be streamed live through their website and video app (although if you live outside the United States, you're out of luck).

Shows that ran on PBS Kids and PBS Kids GO!:


  • The Big Comfy Couch (Originally aired in Canada in 1992 on YTV, presented by American Public Television)
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy (Originally aired in syndication the year before, produced by Disney in association with the National Science Foundation, Rabbit Ears Productions, and KCTS Seattle)
  • FutureQuest (one of few new projects since the block's inception to never use a PBS Kids logo at any point)
  • In the Mix (a newsmagazine aimed at a teenage audience, never officially on the block, but syndicated by PBS Kids itself on many stations)
  • Kidsongs (presented by American Public Television)
  • The Magic School Bus (first new national PBS Kids program since the P-Pals debuted, would later Channel Hop to Fox Kids, Discovery Kids/TLC, and Qubo for reruns)
  • The Puzzle Place
  • Rabbit Ears Productions (Only Storybook Classics showed up on PBS, while the rest of the series showed up on Showtime.)
  • Storytime (Originally a locally-produced program broadcast on KCET since October 1992)

  • Katie and Orbie (originally made the year before, in Canada)
  • Square One TV Math Talk (an educational 15-minute version of Square One TV which served a similar purpose to 3-2-1 Classroom Contact; most of its episodes were the only ones in the Square One TV franchise to end with the P-Pals logo, with the first two ending with the regular 1992 PBS logo in use at the time)
  • Wishbone






















Tropes commonly present across PBS Kids branding:

  • A Cappella: Almost all of the early Dot and Dash bumpers had their background music done in this.
  • Art Evolution: The original six bumpers used a pretty standard thick line and simplistic animation style with predominantly solid colors. Starting in the mid 2000s, a more detailed construction paper style took place, though overall bearing the same basic look. In 2013, the theming was again reverted to a simplistic flat color design, but with a more lineless look and all the characters getting something of a design overhaul.
  • The Artifact: Despite the major facelift for the 2013 bumpers, Dash still retains the old design theme on the logo.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Dash only appears on the logo proper in the 2013 bumpers, but otherwise is nowhere to be found.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The PTV era can be considered this if you're used to the current PBS Kids branding. Since the current brand began almost two decades ago, it can be a bit strange to see the original branding where Dot and Dash are nowhere in sight, and with a completely different art style to boot. The Game could be considered this even more so, with its unusual stop-motion style that has never been seen since.
  • Fanfare: Dun dun dun dun...Doink, PBS Kids! Was later changed to be instrumental only.
  • Mr. Imagination: Non-character example. The "Use Your Imagination" song bumper that ran in the early 2000s to signal the start of the block and also played on VHS tapes distributed by PBS pretty much is this trope, encouraging children to, well, use their imagination. It even says "if it's raining, you can make the sky blue" in the most cheerful manner possible.
  • No Name Given: From Labor Day 1999 until Labor Day 2006, Dash and Dot were referred to as the PBS Kids Boy and Girl.
  • Parental Bonus: This is Your Brain on Books, an obvious take on the famous anti-drug PSA "This is Your Brain on Drugs." The homage is extremely unlikely to be caught by the target audience of the average program on the block.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Happens once in a while in a few of the bumpers that combine live action footage with animated PBS shows. For instance, the "Action Pig" bumper features Arthur in it with some live-action kids and a live-action pig.
  • Stop Motion: "The Game" block in the late 90s used this.
  • Thick-Line Animation: The first set of Dot and Dash branding used this.
  • Time Skip: Dot is grown up in the 2013 branding.