"He's a sad sad bunny, a sad sad bunny, TV isn't funny when you're a sad sad bunny."Who knew a PBS cartoon could have some really sad moments?
—Art Garfunkel, "The Ballad of Buster Baxter"
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- Any time D.W. evokes Adult Fear, being four or five depending on the episode and somewhat of a Bratty Half-Pint.
- The fact that Buster is a failing student, which is either Played for Drama or is a Running Gag depending on the episode. Even worse is the fact that Buster IS capable of working hard and earning good grades yet he chooses to slack off.
- Anytime Binky regresses to his original bully state is also heartbreaking, like in "April 9th" when he claims that only he can steal snacks from George. It's a good thing that Binky stopped bullying in later seasons, because the tragic results of bullying in the news make his early days much harder to bear.
- It's kinda ironic that he was a bully seeing as the activities and interests he developed after calming down a bit and the implications that interest in such things create are the kinds of things that are a hot button for the cruelest kinds of bullying.
- Anytime George is being bullied by Binky and/or the Tough Customers for whatever reason, including being dyslexic.
- Anytime Mr. and Mrs. Read chew out D.W. when she needs a chewing out. They are harder on Arthur since he knows better when he messes up. At times, they lecture D.W., too when she needs it.
- Francine and Buster make fun of Arthur for wearing glasses, even though Buster at least had the decency to look ashamed when Arthur caught him doing it. Arthur needs his glasses to see and to prevent headaches, but he tries to throw them away and hide them to stop the teasing. This eventually leads to a Humiliation Conga where he ends up in the girls' bathroom. Much later on, when Francine takes offense at Arthur calling her a marshmallow, he brings up this particular instance to point out how she's a Hypocrite.
- Francine reluctantly goes along with Muffy's scheme to give her The Makeover so that she will have a nice school picture. Muffy means well, but her abrasive confidence and perfectionism makes Francine uncomfortable. She dreams of having long, pouffy hair, but her hair doesn't allow for it. After Muffy tries and fails twice, she takes Francine to her hair appointment. There, Flossie tells Francine bluntly that they don't promise miracles in her price range, before giving her the style treatment. The salon perm makes Francine look more like Little Orphan Annie, and at first she hates it. (Muffy in her Pet the Dog moment says that she thinks it looks great.) Then just as she realizes that the style goes well with her only dress, Muffy drops the bomb that Francine can't play kickball until after the pictures are done. After that Arthur, Brain and Buster laugh at her new hairdo and are freaked out by it. By the end of the episode, Francine plays kickball anyway, shows up to her picture covered in dirt and mud, and decides she's "sick of being perfect".
- Muffy's side of the story is also depressing. Her Innocently Insensitive approach to giving Francine a makeover involves her wanting to turn Francine into her twin. She tries to pull out all the stops that she knows, without asking Francine what she wants, and pretty much tries to change her. It's also Harsher in Hindsight after seeing that their friendship was nearly ruined in the second grade right after they became best friends. (See "Arthur and the True Francine" below.)
- Buster being a failing school student is Played for Drama.
- After a humorous Cold Opening, Buster has to visit the principal's office, where his mother is crying because he might have to repeat third grade. Truth in Television, this is a serious issue.
- Arthur's Imagine Spot of Buster repeating third grade 33 times and an old Mr. Ratburn quizzing a grown Buster on this fact, asking how old Buster is. Whether the viewer tries to solve the problem through multiplication or addition, the implications are horrifying.
- Buster not even trying to study at first, which Arthur and Francine mention, accepting that he is "dumb" and "hopeless". He blows off all his friends' attempts to tutor him by making excuses, falling asleep while reading Alice in Wonderland, eating up the peanut fudge used for long division, and cheating in various ways. Binky lampshades in the novelization that if Buster wants to do well, he has to put in the effort.
- By the end of the episode, the night before the test, everyone has given up on Buster, who laments that his only hope is to learn everything in one night. Binky says, "Third grade is easier the second time around, or the third," Arthur says they'll always be friend even if Buster gets bullied for staying back, and Francine mentions the second-graders who will become third-graders have a great softball team.
- The Imagine Spot that motivates Buster to cram: of having to see Principal Arthur, and learning he'll be sent back further to preschool so he can "nap and play all day," and that Arthur considers this good news. Older Buster even breaks down and begs Principal Arthur to give him another chance.
- Binky mentions being held back in third grade a couple of times, presumably for the same reasons as Buster. A conversation between Arthur and Buster implies that being held back caused Binky to be bullied, enough to become a bully himself.
- Arthur's reaction on hearing that Cousin Mo came to the event, followed instantly by three years' worth of flashbacks, from using him as a sprinkler ornament to practicing karate moves on him. Mo, who has matured a lot since those times, has a surprised, sad look every time Arthur runs away from her because he's her favorite relative and the only reason she comes to the reunions. She doesn't exactly apologize for her past behavior either; Arthur jokes at the end that he's glad she decided to show off her piano skills this time as they laugh. D.W. doesn't help matters with her No Sympathy jokes about what Mo will do to Arthur.
- A minor one, but the Reads do have some sad moments, including nobody appreciating David(Arthur, Kate and D.W.'s dad)'s jokes and there being a thunderstorm (which no-one liked).
- At Kate's first birthday, D.W. tactlessly starts the story by remembering how Arthur felt about having another baby sister: very nervous, upset that his life would change, and worry that the baby will be another D.W., and a Bratty Half-Pint.
- The class teasing Arthur about having a new baby in the house. Binky does it after tossing him on the wrestling mat during gym class, mentioning that babies never stop crying. Muffy laughs about how Arthur will be smelling dirty diapers. Only Buster shows sympathy, by hearing out Arthur's worries, attempting to prevent the diapers problem, and offer suggestions of what Arthur could do.
- Arthur then has a bad dream about all this. When his mother wakes him up, he doesn't dare tell her about his worries, since she's excited about having Kate and he doesn't want to hurt his mom's feelings.
- Arthur's disappointment when it seems that Kate cries every time he gets "near her," and thus must hate him. It gets to the point where he gets nervous when his mom asks him to watch Kate for a few minutes.
- D.W.'s excitement about having a sister gradually fades. It starts when Arthur burps Kate when D.W. can't quiet their sister down, and continues when Kate is moved into D.W.'s room. Kate keeps D.W. up at night with her crying, stinks the room with dirty diapers, and can't play with her because the toys all have too many choking hazards. When the Tibbles ask why D.W. doesn't get rid of her, D.W. says she would except her parents like Kate''.
- D.W. running away to go live on an island with monkeys. Much to her parents' relief, she comes home after going to Grandma Thora to ask for a ride to Button Island, and Thora convinces her that Kate needs a sister when she gets older, so D.W. should stay. One kicker is that Nadine doesn't go with her; she just says, "Bye, D.W." and vanishes.
- After that event, it's implied that her parents instilled a new rule, that she can't cross the street by herself. Dave and Jane were probably frantic that a car might have run over D.W.
- Mr. Read lecturing D.W. offscreen for putting his shoes in the dishwasher and blaming it on Kate. She also put bologna in the CD player, which Nadine warned her not to do.
- Arthur's struggles with revision and trying to please everyone. Many writers can relate, since his main goal is to write a story that the class will like but which ends up pleasing no one; DW delivers Brutal Honesty in saying how he wrote about getting Pal was boring but her suggestion of changing Pal to an elephant doesn't help. Buster finds the second draft "eh", Brain points out the factual errors in the third draft, Francine criticizes the fourth draft for being too factual and "complicated," the Tough Customers want a love story in the sixth or seventh draft, and Grandma Thora finds the eighth draft "a little confusing" while telling Arthur to not worry too much about pleasing everyone. Mr. Ratburn finally gets through to Arthur by wanting to hear the actual story after hearing the tenth draft in country music form with Bionic Bunny included, and telling him he wants a copy of the story that Arthur tells that is riveted with suspense and love.
- This episode can be a real downer for anyone who has lost a pet and has to cope with that loss (or can imagine losing a pet).
- Dave has to tell D.W. that Spanky is dead. She immediately asks, "When will he stop being dead?" Dave then has to clarify that Spanky's not going to wake up. D.W. then starts to Cry Cute.
- Everyone in the family says something about missing Spanky at his funeral. Dave remembers the bird getting loose in his kitchen and not stealing any seeds, and Jane says she'll miss Spanky's song.
- Arthur not having any happy memories of Spanky since the bird spent his time biting him, stealing his shoelaces, and messing up his collections. At the funeral he can only say, "I only pretended to be mad because Buster was there" about one of those times.
- It's even worse when D.W. keeps yelling at a toad that follows her around and resides in Spanky's old cage. The toad is well-meaning but well, a toad, and who seems to be literally taking up space where he's not wanted. She goes into My God, What Have I Done? mode on thinking she accidentally killed him and says "I should be in jail".
- Arthurs Imagine Spot after Buster and Mike stand him up: of Mike hypnotizing Buster to never see Arthur again.
- Buster also flakes on other friend commitments: he doesn't help Muffy with bike shopping, Brain and Francine with baseball, or Brain with playing a computer game together.
- After Arthur tells Buster off for spending too much time with Mike when he should have been working on their science project, Mr. Ratburn asks Buster to give a progress report on what he's done so far. His eventual response is "I don't really know what I'm doing..." Sort of Played for Laughs, but it's pretty sad regardless.
- According to the Cold Open, Binky has bullied Arthur since kindergarten, and steals as much food as he can from people.
- In a Sympathy for the Devil moment, Arthur and Francine listen to Binky about why he doesn't want to fight Sue Ellen: she's the first person who's ever accepted his fighting challenge since anyone else who did has run away from him. He bullies others since he feels it's the only thing he's good at, which Arthur admits, and when he hopes to beat Sue Ellen in an improv jazz match, she kicks his butt and makes him quit. It takes a while for Arthur to convince him to knock it off with the competing and the fighting, which marks Binky's Character Development into a friend.
- D.W. gets lost while her mother is speaking to Mr. Crosswire at a large superstore, and has one Imagine Spot after another about how her parents will react (either with tears or happiness that the house is quieter) and how she and Nadine will survive in the store by living in the ceiling, secretly stealing its produce for food.
- Emily has to return the earrings that started the whole episode because they turned her ears green, as Mrs. Read had warned D.W. might happen if she were to get them.
- This is one of the few episodes where someone else overshadows D.W. in terms of brattiness: Cousin Cora. D.W. is actually very nice to her cousin by offering her bed, and dolls to play with her. Cora is a Spoiled Brat who insults D.W.'s doll, shows off what she brought for the wedding, and blames D.W. for breaking her necklace though D.W. really didn't do anything.
- The wedding itself is a Trauma Conga Line for D.W. -
- While she wants to be a part of the event, her family leaves her out of the wedding preparations because she's too little, which is understandable but also makes her feel like a dead weight.
- D.W. tears up when her mother distributes the wedding flowers to Arthur and Cora, but there's nothing for her. Her mother with gentle but Brutal Honesty says they're only for members of the wedding.
- Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny, courtesy of D.W. photo-bombing the wedding pictures: "Aunt Lucy, next time you get married, can I help?"
- Arthur's Face Palm when he accidentally loses the ring. He was trying to walk at the perfect pace, but Cora screams at him to "smile," which causes him to lose his concentration.
- After Cora refuses to get into the pipe organ and her mother assures her she doesn't have to, Aunt Lucy and her bridal party start fretting. Fortunately, things get better when D.W. volunteers to step in and successfully retrieves the ring, saving the wedding.
- In this episode, Muffy and Francine become friends immediately in the second grade because they have the same middle name. Muffy even gives Francine a friendship bracelet. Come Thursday's math test, Muffy copies Francine's exam and then claims that she would "never cheat in a million years". Francine, in shock, is unable to defend herself and ends up in detention for a week. Small wonder that she asks Muffy "Is that why you pretended to like me?" in a tearful voice, returns the bracelet, and tosses away the apology gifts that Muffy sends her. Muffy eventually comes clean to Mr. Marco so that Francine can play in the big baseball game, but she blushes when Francine reminds her of it at a slumber party one year later, since Muffy became a Drama Queen on being asked if she ever told a lie.
- Buster had put in little to no effort to studying, and goes Oh, Crap! on seeing the math test after trying to add "two plus two". Fern even lampshades that he can't accuse Francine of cheating off him because she gets much better grades than he does.
- D.W. struggling to do her best in gymnastics class, only for Emily to keep showing off and rubbing it in her face that no matter what she does, D.W. is still a novice.
- When D.W. finally does a simple cartwheel, she hears the other kids cheering, which she assumes was for her... until she sees why the other kids were cheering: Emily was doing several cartwheels like a pro. The teacher sternly tells Emily, "Showing off is very impolite!" and D.W., furious, shouts at Emily, "It's not fair!" before storming off in a huff.
- The climax mixes this with Adult Fear - although Emily apologizes for showing off, D.W., finally fed up with Emily's arrogance, decides to go on the balance beam in a desperate attempt to prove herself that she CAN do better than Emily, and has the Tibble Twins help her get on the beam. But then she starts wobbling precariously when she tries to do a cartwheel. Just as she's about to fall and hurt herself, Emily gets her mother and the gymnast instructor; Mrs. Read catches D.W. in the nick of time.
- Arthur catching the chicken pox, which brings up the likely chance of him not going to the circus. D.W. isn't a help with how she promises to "take care" of Arthur and tries to bug him when Grandma Thora intervenes. At least, he gets better in time for the circus.
- At the end, D.W. catches Arthur's chicken pox and cannot go to the circus. It's dampened by the fact that she doesn't mind.
- Pal getting sick. He doesn't want to play or eat, which causes Arthur to suspect D.W. had something to do with Pal's illness, even though she didn't do anything to him. Pal's sickness was actually caused by Arthur feeding him candy, and Arthur decided to blame his mistake on D.W. until the vet told him otherwise.
- D.W. bringing up the episode "So Long, Spanky" when she tells Arthur how she felt the same as him when Spanky died. It causes Arthur to cry.
- The Kangaroo Court trial that Arthur tries to do with his friends where he testifies against D.W. in court about her getting Pal sick. With that said, he has the courtesy to make Francine D.W.'s defense lawyer, who points out there is no proof and D.W. is innocent until proven guilty.
- After that, Arthur has a nightmare where wild dogs tie up the vet and kidnap Pal, with D.W.'s help. Arthur then gets a phone call and hears Pal barking frantically before the dogs take him away. Fortunately, Arthur calls the dream ridiculous because "Pal doesn't even know our phone number!"
- Grandma Thora finds out that Arthur and D.W. hid her awful cookies because they were afraid she would get insulted by someone else.
Thora: Sarah MacGrady, am I a bad cook? (Sad music plays)
Mrs. MacGrady (sadly blushes) ...You? Why do you ask? (Thora looks away, downcast)
- There's also something really sad that Arthur pretty much bought all of Grandma Thora's cookies with the ten dollars he kept. He was going to take the cookies, stash them in his locker, and leave his grandmother none the wiser.
- Muffy and Francine's friendship being tested to its limits. After Muffy's house needs to be cleaned of carpeting that triggers her allergies, Francine offers to let Muffy stay at her place, a three-room apartment with four people living there. Muffy immediately proves herself to be a terrible house-guest: she forces Francine to rearrange the things she brought like two TVs and a statue, calls dinner leftovers "vomitrocious" to Mrs. Frensky's face, complains about the lack of cable available, shorts out the electricity while attempting to do a spa treatment, is Innocently Insensitive when driving to school in a limo while Francine offers to walk with her and forgets her lunch, and plays exercise music so loud that the neighbors call. The only decent thing she does is offer Catherine her place, since Catherine isn't allergic, and gets to enjoy the Fiction 500 luxuries that Muffy has to miss. Then when Francine sarcastically suggests that if Muffy is so unhappy that she can leave, Muffy packs and calls on her cellphone while still in the apartment to announce she's leaving and expects the Frenskys to beg her to stay. Mr. Frensky through all this has been a good sport, answering Muffy's Innocently Insensitive questions about why he doesn't earn more money, and he jokes about wanting to play football with Muffy. Francine hits her Rage Breaking Point and tells Muffy that she's being "rude and selfish" and is not allowed back. Fortunately this triggers a Jerkass Realization in Muffy, who walks with Francine the next day to school and apologizes. In "Arthur and the True Francine" Muffy has gained Character Development to sleep over at Francine's place and not complain.
- When Mr. Ratburn's sister plans to substitute for him, the class has a Mass "Oh, Crap!" on hearing the news from Mr. Haney and Francine imagines that the siblings were like Cain and Abel, always competing from when they were toddlers. The final college Imagine Spot between the two Ratburns has them sabotaging each other during senior projects and each vowing to be the toughest teacher in the universe. Note that Francine, who has a good relationship with her sister, comes up with this. What's worse is that we don't know what Mr. Ratburn's relationship with his sister is like; we only know that she is a Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher that accidentally makes the class suffer because she bores them with work that's too easy like identifying animals on flashcards.
- Also from that episode Mr. Ratburn suffers from laryngitis; the class doesn't notice because he's having them doing hard work, but Mr. Haney does. Doubling as a Crowning Moment of Funny, the class cheers out of Mr. Haney's eyesight when they hear that Mr. Ratburn is ill and can't teach for a while... but not out of earshot of Mr. Haney. After hearing the cheers, Mr. Haney quickly checks in on the class with a Death Glare, invoking Dude, Not Funny!.
Arthur Meets Mister Rogers
- Mixed with Heartwarming, every interaction between Arthur and his friends and Mister Rogers is this in hindsight after Mister Rogers' retirement and death.
Arthur: I just don't want everyone to think that I'm a– that I like– I mean–
Mister Rogers: You don't want them to think you're a little kid anymore.
Arthur: Yeah! I mean, no offense.
Mister Rogers: Sometimes you feel like you're too old for certain things.
Arthur: I just don't want people to make fun of me.
Mister Rogers: Real friends don't make fun of real friends, and your friends seem like real friends.
- What starts the whole drawing debacle: Francine mocks Fern for liking Mr. Ratburn's puppet show. When Fern runs off in tears, Francine pettily steals Fern's cookie from her lunch tray.
- Thanks to Francine, Fern walks past Mr. Ratburn's puppet show without even a glance. He looks sad and surprised.
- Probably Fern would have let it go if Francine had apologized. But Francine doesn't, her Fatal Flaw being stubbornness. When Arthur asks Francine to, Francine within Fern's earshot mocks the idea that the "mouse" can get revenge. Cue Fern's tearful Death Glare, and her cartoon of "Frank the Nasty Bull". The rest of the class follows suit, much to Francine's chagrin.
- Arthur did make a comic about Francine, but he notices that she's Eating Lunch Alone sullenly. When he goes to ask if she's okay, Francine brusquely tells him to "go eat an ant sandwich," because she doesn't want to admit she's hurt.
- Francine making fun of Fern was uncalled for, but did she really need her friends getting back at her by drawing nasty comics of her? No, as An Aesop reveals.
- At the end, Mrs. MacGrady concocts a Xanatos Gambit while fortunetelling at the carnival: she asks Fern and her friends to dump green goop on Francine just to take the humiliation further. Francine comes to the fortunetelling tent for advice, while everyone waits. The kids are willing to go through with it, until Mrs. MacGrady coaxes out of Francine that she's really upset about the cartoons. Francine starts to Cry Cute and admits she's sorry she called Fern a mouse, wanting the mean jokes to stop. Arthur and his friends can't pour the gloop on her when Mrs. MacGrady gives the signal, and go to Francine to help her cheer up. Mrs. MacGrady, after the kids leave, reveals that the "gloop" was actually party balloons and streamers, meaning that if it had been pulled, Francine would have gotten a pleasant surprise.
- Mrs. Read telling D.W. "No more restaurants for you, young lady," after D.W. causes a tantrum on receiving a spinach salad and spills it all over a waiter, who proceeds to quit his job. It's even worse in the book version of "D.W. the Picky Eater," where the parents make good on that promise and D.W. has to stay with a strict babysitter who only lets her eat raw carrot sticks.
- Unlike in the book, Thora is sad when she hears that D.W. has to stay at home from her birthday celebration, and says it won't be a happy birthday without D.W.. Arthur goes Oh, Crap! at the thought of not going to the Once Upon a Restaurant, but it's sad that D.W.'s bratty behavior has consequences for her only grandmother.
- Mrs. Read saying Go to Your Room! when D.W. threatens to pinch Kate for stealing her dolls. Mr. Read then telling her to stay in her room after she comes out in the middle of an Imagine Spot.
- Francine's Heroic B.S.O.D. and 10-Minute Retirement when she learns that Catherine is a better rider than she is during horseback lessons, when Catherine had to attend to babysit her and was grumbling about it. Their instructor Stanley bluntly tells Catherine that while she can receive free lessons since she's such a help, Francine is "good for a beginner, but not up to your level," unaware that Francine had heard. Catherine after that only has does attempt at You Are Better Than You Think You Are but doesn't deny that Stanley told the truth, especially when he says that Francine will only get better if she gets back on a horse.
- Arthur goes on a bus for a swimming lesson, but sleeps through it and misses his stop. Depressed how he is broke and doesn't know the way back home, he lets out a tear. Also heartbreaking for older viewers as his parents and sister are understandably terrified when he doesn't show up for class. Any wonder his mother burst into tears just recounting it?
- In the Cold Open, there are a few moments when D.W. announces that Arthur is lost and Dave and Jane decide to take charge.
- D.W. also suggests that maybe Arthur ran away and isn't lost.
- Jane tells D.W. to stay right where she is instead of going to tell everyone and getting help because "I don't need two lost children". D.W., who feels helpless after she's left alone with Pal, cries out, "Arthur, where are you?"
- The title card shows Pal sniffing, looking for someone (ostensibly Arthur) and howling before resuming the search.
- When Arthur returns, D.W. asks, "All this time you were at the bus station? We were worried for nothing?"
- To take it even further: This is one of the few times D.W. is not being selfish or rude to either her brother or her parents. Not only does she comfort her mom after the latter cries over the story, telling her that Arthur is safe now, but at the end, she walks into Arthur's room while he's trying to sleep because she "wanted to make sure he was still there".
- D.W. getting lost in the White House. Fortunately, Secret Service crawls all over the White House, and the President finds her while inviting the family to dinner.
- D.W. starts to cry when her parents tell her that they can't take Walter, the deer she likes, back to Elwood City because he has a family. She then has an Imagine Spot of Walter crying in her room and saying he misses all of his brothers and sisters, whom D.W. didn't know.
Walter: You Didn't Ask. Now I'm the only deer in town; I'm so sad!
- At the very end, Walter was thinking the same thing about D.W., wanting to take her to his family. His dad points out that she wouldn't be happy away from her family, and Walter sadly agrees.
- Buster's reaction when Arthur tells him that there isn't a book version of the monster movie he wrote about. They check at the library, to find out no there wasn't a book. He then debates flying out of the country with his dad.
- Buster admitting that he's never read a book, and has been getting by with television and movie adaptations. Arthur and Francine fail to find a book that he can finish in time to do a makeup book report, and Arthur asks, "How can my best friend in the world not like reading?!" The episode even implies that he might have a learning disability, if not for his nearly finishing Robin Hood in one night and writing a report on it.
- Buster going away with his dad for the rest of Season 2. Some prominent moments include:
- The whole class is in Stunned Silence when Arthur comes in cheerfully, not knowing the bad news Buster has delivered: that he's going to travel with his dad.
- Arthur desperately convincing Buster to dig a pit with him under Arthur's house so he can hide there. Buster bluntly says he'd think time with his dad would be more fun than living in a pit.
- Arthur's Imagine Spot that follows the moment, of him as Robin Hood and Buster as Friar Tuck, and Tuck lets him fall into a bog because "I've got to go."
- Arthur crying after Buster leaves for the airport, and then realizing he never finished the Robin Hood book with Buster.
- After D.W. manages to save a boy from crossing the street while his mother was busy, she then lets the power trip of telling everyone to be safe get to her head. She bugs David about cooking with a hot stove, Jane about reading a magazine without gloves, and Arthur about taking a bath without a life preserver. It gets to the point where Jane has to tell D.W. that she's taking it a bit too far and that she's become a tattletale.
- D.W.'s bad idea of climbing up a REALLY tall tree causes a Mass "Oh, Crap!" when the crowd below sees her. Fortunately, the fire department is nearby and gets her out.
- Arthur tries to be a good big brother, but D.W. gets annoyed about how he eats up the food in the house, especially cake, tattles on her, and can out-bike her.
- When D.W. dreams that she calls Arthur a name, causing him to melt into a puddle and fall into a drain. Then she wakes up very happy to see Arthur.
- Dream Arthur: "I'm melting!"D.W.: "Nobody told me you'd melt!"
- After the Strawberry Festival is announced, Muffy's initial Heroic B.S.O.D. about not finding a good strawberry-based recipe. People claim she only won the previous year due to her dad being the judge. She wants to earn her reputation honestly.
- Everyone's reaction to Muffy taking credit for their group recipe of strawberry-banana-raising cookies is a combination Et Tu, Brute? and What the Hell, Hero?. Francine takes it the most personally since it's not the first time Muffy has done that ("Arthur and the True Francine"), and they all call her a "dishonest rat". They also make it clear to her that if she chooses the cookies over their friendship, then they will no longer be her friends.
- Finally what makes Muffy come clean: her dad tells her to do so. Mr. Crosswire is a businessman who says, "A lie is a lie even if you get away with it". Even Evil Has Standards for him spoiling her rotten he is a good parent.
- Arthur, Binky and Brain nearly throw away their friendship over a key that turns out to be working the baseball field sprinklers. They were giving each other the stuff they lent and arguing which days they would get to drive the hypothetical "car". It becomes a Brick Joke when Buster finds the same key in "The Ballad of Buster Baxter" and Arthur, remembering We Are Not Going Through That Again, tells Buster that it belongs to Mr. Morris.
- Buster coming back to the show brings mostly Tears of Joy with his return. There are a few sad moments though:
- Arthur's nightmare in the Cold Open where Buster returns from a trip to Saturn and comes back literally changed due to cosmic rays.
- Arthur's fears that Buster won't like him due to having traveled. He immediately reads ten geography books at once that Miss. Turner provides, waits by the phone, and starts to Cry Cute when it seems Buster is not coming.
- This episode show some realistic elements of moving back to your old home with everything suddenly changing without you in it. Nothing Is the Same Anymore indeed.
- Buster gracefully watches as Arthur and Brain play checkers without him because "three's a crowd."
- He finds that Arthur and Brain have written the rest of his and Arthur's book without him. Arthur is Innocently Insensitive about it, while Brain is all about Measuring the Marigolds and making the story factual.
- Muffy's utter hypocrisy in calling Buster a snob because he's not interested in the same things that his friends are, since he hasn't changed.
- Buster calling out the "singing moose" for not singing sad music to go with the lyrics. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- D.W. and Binky both eat green potato chips and think they are going to die due to deliberate misinformation (at least with D.W. on Arthur's part). They get all poetic about life being a gift. Even though they both become great friends later, the subject matter (i.e. death) is surprisingly somber for a kid's show.
- D.W. feeling utterly humiliated when their friends and neighbors joke to her about the chip. She has an Imagine Spot of Never Live It Down while running for president.
- Also D.W. mistakenly blames Arthur for telling everyone to show that she wasn't mature. Unlike when she accused him of stealing her Crazy Bus CD, her apology to him is genuine. He then takes her to the show.
- Binky goes on the show to confess about what happened with the chip. He gives a Death Glare to the audience to make them stop laughing.
- D.W. is mad at her mom because she told her friends about D.W.'s chip incident from the previous episode, including Bitzi, who put it in the newspaper. Mom made a promise with her, but she broke it and told an adult about it. Even more sad, D.W. runs away. Turns out that Jane was telling said adult not to pass D.W.'s story around to save her daughter from further embarrassment.
- Poor Arthur being humiliated by his friends and classmates for not having a Furb- um, Woogle. Especially the dream sequence.
- David and Jane get into a disagreement when they accidentally create a mess in the kitchen. Arthur and D.W. overhear and both misinterpret their parents' conversation, causing them to fear it will end in a divorce. Even their imaginations of what will happen to their parents (e.g. they never speak to each other again, Arthur and D.W. will have to take care of each other in their own house) are pretty sad and scary for children their age.
- D.W. says It's All My Fault because she wished her parents would be different, in that they'd make him play with her.
- Also, at the end, Arthur tells D.W. they should talk to their parents because as a family they can pull through together. On thinking their dad is leaving, they cling to him and beg not to go. It quickly becomes a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when David and Jane reassure their kids that they haven't fallen out of love with each other.
- D.W.'s fears that she won't be a kid anymore after her fifth birthday.
Arthur's Big Hit
- Arthur punching D.W. is a tad sad.
- However, it's widely agreed that Arthur being called out for punching D.W. while she gets off scot-free from her parents is more upsetting and infuriating. With that said, she does get a nasty bruise from the punch and it needs ice.
- When Buster asks Prunella at her party if he'll get an A on the next geography test to test out the cootie-catcher, everyone laughs at him. Arthur even says, "You never get A's, Buster." Buster's shock when he does ace the test only hammers it home.
- Arthur's Imagine Spot has a villain Expy of Mr. Freeze named "Mr. Melt", who wreaks havoc at a ice skating party and gets defeated. Wanna know his motivation? He desperately wanted to be invited to the party and was extremely depressed at not being invited. He is truly a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Poor Mr. Melt.
Arthur: But I SAVED YOU!
- By extension, we see Arthur as Mr. Puffy trying to save the kids from Mr. Melt, only to then be mocked and pelted with snowballs. Pretty sad when you save someone's life and they just mock you.
Nerves Of Steal
- Buster and Arthur both feeling left out because all of their friends have gotten their own Cyber Toys but they don't. Buster in particular seems almost depressed about it.
- Buster stealing the Cyber Toy and stuffing it in Arthur's backpack, which he immediately regrets and comes around to admit his crime to Arthur. Watching Arthur chewing out his best friend can be hard to watch, as such a situation as this would be likely to destroy the trust two friends once had in one another.
- The fact that a good kid like Buster of all people could ever resort to stealing, all because he felt excluded.
- Buster and Arthur ultimately getting caught while trying to return the toy with nobody noticing, with their parents coming to the store expressing their disappointment in the boys. Arthur even admits that he's disappointed in himself and Buster for not coming clean when they had the chance.
- Buster has it even worse: forced to spend every weekend for the next month isolated to his room to think about his actions, unable to play with his friends and not being allowed any dessert after dinner. After just telling his entire story to the Brain, all the latter can say is he's glad he got his Cyber Toy for his birthday and he'll see him at school, barely fazed by what he just heard.
- As the only episode so far with a genuine Downer Ending, the entire episode counts on a meta-level.
The Good Sport
- Francine loses "Athlete of the Year" to, surprisingly, Jenna. Despite becoming a passive-aggressive Jerkass over the course of the episode, it's kinda hard to not feel sorry for Francine when she completely breaks down in tears, considering how hard she's pushed herself to be good at everything.
- Same goes for Jenna, who is constantly put under stress by both Francine and especially Muffy by constantly reminding her that everybody believed Francine was the more deserving winner. The harassment becomes so much that Jenna breaks down into tears, angrily pleading them to just leave her alone. Anyone who has felt their accomplishments cramped by someone who insists on being a Sore Loser about it can relate to how much it hurts her that she cannot enjoy what she worked so hard for to the point where she almost regrets it.
D.W.'s Time Trouble
- D.W. is so angry Arthur took her to a movie she didn't want to see, that she and her imaginary friend Nadine go back in time to when Arthur was born and change things around so that she's the older sibling. However, D.W. and Nadine start seeing their teenaged selves. Turns out the whole thing was a bad dream D.W. had. So she sleeps in Arthur's bed for the night. The ending scene is both a Tear Jerker and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- Jane and David getting sick with fever, forcing D.W. and Arthur to do the chores their parents usually do by themselves.
- David in particular is usually all energetic and enthusiastic, but he spends this episode sick in bed.
- D.W. has an Imagine Spot where Jane and David never get better and so they have to do their work (which does have a funny side), but then it switches back to tearjerker when Arthur mentions he gave Kate away to an orphanage as they couldn't afford to look after her.
- Lakewood Elementary's teacher's lounge catches on fire, forcing everyone to relocate to another school until the damage is fixed. No one expected it. At all.
- The "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when in an earlier episode Arthur and Buster tried to convince Binky the school had burned down, and then tried to claim "It only burned on the inside." Arthur even chides Buster for that last line, since it doesn't work. Come this episode, Arthur and Buster's words come true.
- Buster can't feel bad for the school burning down in flames because he slept through the whole thing.
- The janitor Mr. Morris suffers a broken leg from the fire, and eventually he has to leave the school so that his daughter can take care of him. Buster, who's been bonding with Mr. Morris, at first offers to take care of him and is heartbroken when Mr. Morris gives him an accordion as a gift.
- Sue Ellen's favorite diary is left in the Elwood City School building, and the firefighters douse it so that it's beyond repair.
- Muffy, for once, isn't a Jerkass and tries numerous times to cheer her up by buying her various new diaries. Until the end, it doesn't really work.
- Arthur's dad, who was catering a breakfast at Arthur's school, had gotten caught in the fire at one point. He was okay, but Arthur spends some time feeling terrified that something bad will happen to him again.
- Arthur's nightmare of his dad nearly drowning at an aquarium while serving pirates, with Arthur failing to save him.
- Arthur blurts out, "But what if something happens about the aquarium?" while trying to fake a sore throat to keep his dad from going to another catering event. His dad immediately asks, "Are you worried something is going to happen to me?" with understanding instead of anger.
- His dad then proceeds to tell a story of how Grandma Thora was in a car accident when Dave was a child, and for a long time after he was scared she would drive out one day and wouldn't come back. Dave would toss paper into his wastebasket, as a ritual to ensure she would come home safely (it helps that he was a good shot). One day he didn't, and she came home without a problem.
- "It's my job to worry about you, Arthur. Not the other way around."
- This is even more of a Tear Jerker if you go off the assumption that the episode is a stand-in for September 11, and what happened to Arthur's dad is a sanitized version of people getting injured or even dying on 9/11.
- Considering it came out about a year after that, it's safe to say it is.
- Binky, who has a fear of fire, pulls the school fire alarm in fear. He gets better after talking about it with Mr. Frensky and riding with him during his rounds.
- Buster's role in the story may not be much in terms of tearjerker but in real life you have to understand that it can be very difficult to console victims of trauma or even empathize with their situation because you were outside of their experience. You wouldn't have the best understanding of their scenario which can become difficult if you don't know how to empathize with them and how to help them cope. It'll also be difficult to talk about the same horrible experience if you didn't understand how they really reacted, as shown in the episode by Buster dramatizing the experience so that he'd feel like a part of it but Arthur understandably scolds him for sounding more like a thrill seeker rather than understanding how terrified Arthur was for potentially losing his father.
Thanks a Lot, Binky
- Binky sees Rattles and Slink attempting a very dangerous rollerblading stunt and imagines Rattles messing up and hurting himself, which prompts him to tell Mr. Haney. Despite Binky having had potentially saved his life, the only thing Rattles could think about is Binky "squealing" to Mr. Haney about the stunt, and lets Binky know exactly what he and Slink both think of him. Poor guy.
- Binky's Dream Sequence after the above point is also very sad. In his dream, he's seeing what the world would be like if nobody was nice. Litter would be everywhere, Rattles would be in the hospital wearing a full-body cast in agony after failing his stunt like Binky imagined he would, the Barnes household would be trashed, and Mr. and Mrs. Barnes would go on a cruise and leave Binky and (possibly) Mei Lin with hardly anything to eat or drink. This is an Opinion-Changing Dream, since before Binky was taking his mom for granted, and said she was wrong for thinking that Rattles would feel better about being saved; this could be interpreted as being all Binky's subconscious telling him that he doesn't appreciate his mother, or that niceness doesn't always get rewarded.
- Not to mention the way the dream narrator talks about Mrs. Barnes -
Uncle Slam Wilson: Life ain't always fair, Binky, but you're not the only one who doesn't get enough appreciation. I know someone who works twenty-four hours a day for nothing and almost never gets a thank you. (shows an abnormally tired/sad Mrs Barnes)
- Not to mention the way the dream narrator talks about Mrs. Barnes -
Binky Goes Nuts
- Binky discovers he has a peanut allergy, which means that he won't be able to enjoy the foods he once had (which is a lot) without possibly getting a severe allergic reaction because they contain peanuts, and has a hard time accepting it at first. He even has nightmares of the school ostracizing him for having a food allergy. Anyone who has been in a similar situation can feel for Binky.
Buster Gets Real
- Arthur's despair when Buster reveals he no longer likes Bionic Bunny, a series they've shared since childhood. Imagine something you and your best friend love for years, only for your friend to almost callously disown whatever it was since it wasn't "real". Especially when you're a kid growing up and you feel like you're being left behind.
The Cherry Tree
- Muffy wants a huge bouncy house for her birthday. But in order to get it, her favorite childhood tree has to be chopped down. Her despair at this and regret at ever wishing for the bouncy house is quite moving.
The Great MacGrady
- With Mrs. MacGrady getting cancer, it's already sad enough, but the reactions from the kids are worse because of how realistic they are: Arthur and D.W. try their best to help Mrs. McGrady out, to the point that they become a bit of a burden, Francine is unable to face Mrs. MacGrady, feeling afraid for her, Muffy acts like nothing has changed, etc., etc.
- In a meta-example, the fact that such a noble attempt at addressing the subject on a children-oriented series has been tainted (and caused the episode to be banned from re-airing at least in the U.S.) by the revelations that guest star Lance Armstrong cheated by using drugs on his Tour de France wins (which are lauded in the episode).
- Also, Leah Ryan, who co-wrote the episode, was inspired to write it after being diagnosed with cancer. She passed away before the episode aired.
- Seeing Carl being scared by George's dummy, Wally, was really sad; especially the noises he makes while scared.
- Arthur spends the entire episode trying to hide his new knitting hobby from his friends and classmates, thinking he'll be made fun of, and has nightmares because of it. When he loses the scarf he was making at school and Brain finds it, Arthur thinks his friends are going to tease him and has an emotional outburst before he leaves, despite his friends telling him his scarf is very good and well-made. Fortunately, Dr. Fugue arrives at the end to stand up for Arthur when the Tough Customers find and tease him for knitting, and Arthur discovers that he's not alone in his hobby - Rattles likes to knit, too.
- Mrs. MacGrady showing off a knitting project to Arthur, only to have him rebuff her to save face in front of his classmates. For a moment, she looked extremely hurt.
- At the end of the episode, when Dr. Fugue comes along and reveals to Arthur that Rattles is a member of his knitting club, the surprised Tough Customers turn to Rattles himself, who shrugs and smiles sheepishly at them as if to say, "Guilty as charged." It seems that like Arthur, Rattles also kept his hobbies a secret from his friends to avoid ridicule.
Grandpa Dave's Memory Album
- Grandpa Dave getting Alzheimer's disease, and each of his extended family's reactions to it. That pretty much explains it all.
- Because Grandpa Dave has Alzheimer's, it means that offscreen he had to get rid of the farm that was "in the family for 150 years" in his words because he wouldn't be able to maintain it. Jane grew up on that farm, and Arthur and D.W. have spent countless vacations there.
The Last Tough Customer
- This episode reveals how Molly became a bully and a Tough Customer. She was bullied a lot herself as a kid for wearing her hair in a bun, her classmates calling her "Muffin Head" and destroying her sandcastles. The torment she endured made her very angry and bitter, to the point of becoming a Tough Customer so she can vent her hurt feelings on other kids.
- Made worse by the event that makes her realize what she's become: her little brother James, previously established as a kind and sweet kid who Molly absolutely adores, shoves a little girl out of the way in line for the water fountain in the park to Molly's obvious horror and shock. Molly tries to tell the girl that James didn't mean it but trails off when she sees the little girl in the exact same position she had been in after being bullied when she was younger. And when she asks why James did it, he tells her:
- During the flashback that shows off her Freudian Excuse, Molly angrily snaps at another boy who concernedly asks her what's wrong to leave her alone, thinking he's just another bully. He runs away, leaving her alone and crying.
- At the end of the episode, Molly writes apology letters to all her friends and the victims of her bullying, saying that she doesn't want to be respected, she wants to be liked.
- Early in the episode, Molly brushes George by telling him to go read a book and then cruelly sneering, "Oh, that's right. You can't read." Unlike previous run-ins with the Tough Customers, George is hurt rather than scared, his voice getting very small as he stutters, "I can read..." and runs off, crying. Binky is appalled at Molly's actions.
Binky: That was a little harsh.
- "So Funny I Forgot To Laugh" has Sue Ellen reacting to a picture Arthur sent... of her with the head of a sheepdog. After the initial shock, it makes Sue Ellen cry. It's very painful to see the usually cheerful and carefree Sue Ellen actually hurt.
- Throughout the episode, Arthur had been continually laughing at her sweater. At first Sue Ellen just brushes it off but as the episode progresses Arthur just continues to be a Jerkass until it reaches a point where Sue Ellen almost switches classes, she's so hurt and angry.
Whip. Mix. Blend.
- After his mother divorces his father and starts seeing another guy, Rattles struggles to fit in with his new twin step-siblings, Ansel and Angie, and ends up failing because he thinks he has absolutely nothing in common with them due to lacking Ansel's athleticism or understanding of Angie's lingo. It hits with anyone who wants to connect with their step-siblings after a parent remarries, but failing because of the aforementioned reasons.
Brain Sees Stars
- This episode marked the 2014 death of Walter Massey (who voiced Mr. Haney for the entirety of the show's run). It was the last one he did voice work for, and it ends with a dedication to him.
- Ratburn's speech reflecting on the school year would be this for many in the audience who have grown up watching the show and are now adults.
- When D.W. offers to take out the trash, the bag is caught on a hose, rips open and spills trash everywhere. D.W. starts to cry and unlike most prior episodes, she's not throwing a tantrum, she says she doesn't think she can handle kindergarten indicating she's stressed about going to real school.
- The episode also marked yet another death of a long-time voice actor: Gregg Kramer, the voice of Nemo, Francine's cat.
- Nemo's cameo in that episode is saddening in itself, and was almost certainly added in as a tribute. He's only shown for a few seconds, smiling contently, then he runs offscreen with one last meow. You can almost imagine it as Kramer saying goodbye to the fans.
Buster's Second Chance
- The end result of Buster's Dream Sequence, where Buster enters a timeline where he became a Child Prodigy thanks to not flubbing an important assessment test he took as a preschooler (to the point where The Brain looks up to him and he's already taking calculus and robotics classes in the fourth grade). Buster eventually discovers that in this timeline, not only did he and Arthur never become friends, but Arthur wound up meeting then-bully Binky instead of Buster at the fated sandbox and became a Tough Customer! (Who evidently never disbanded in this timeline.) When Buster meets Alt!Arthur and attempts to get Alt!Arthur to remember him, the way Alt!Arthur continuously tries to brush Buster off and ridicules his nerdiness is rather sad. The clincher is what Alt!Arthur says as he leaves, hinting that he secretly doesn't like being a Tough Customer and is just pretending to be "cool", and Buster realizes he's the only thing keeping Arthur from going down this road. (Even if it is All Just a Dream, the moment is still rather sad to watch.)
- Buster: We were never friends?
Alt!Arthur: Me? Friends with someone who likes Love Ducks? Come on! (suddenly more solemn) I mean, maybe if I had a friend who liked checkers and Love Ducks and other uncool stuff, maybe my whole life could have been... different, (acting tough again) but it isn't! (leaves ridiculing Love Ducks and lamenting how "uncool" the place has gotten)
Buster: ....Arthur needs me!
- The above Dream Sequence also shows another consequence of Buster never befriending Arthur - the Tough Customers themselves. Without the positive influence of Buster on Arthur and Arthur's subsequent positive influence on his other friends, the Tough Customers, especially Binky and Molly, would never have their own Heel Realizations and Character Development, or abandoned their bullying ways like they did in "The Last Tough Customer". Instead, they become full-time delinquents who trash the beloved Sugar Bowl after making it their local hangout. The Tough Customers becoming good all depended on Buster and Arthur becoming best friends.