— Ziggy Marley, "Believe in Yourself" (opening theme)
Arthur is a book series by Marc Brown and a kids' show that started on PBS in 1996, where everyone in the series is some sort of animal. The show follows mild-mannered, bespectacled aardvark Arthur Read and his band of friends as they go through the third grade and some seven summer vacations. They have to deal with bullies, various issues like allergies and learning disorders, and tons of homework given out by their overly enthusiastic teacher, Mr. Ratburn, all in the show's own way.Sometimes the episodes follow Arthur's sister, D.W. (Dora Winifred, but don't you dare call her that), an amusing Bratty Half-Pint who basically says and does everything every little kid has ever wanted to say and/or do, sometimes to the Moral Guardian's chagrin.The show is quite witty and funny and contains many Shout Outs, most of which fall into the Parental Bonus category, though the show is first and foremost for children under seven years of age.
This series provides examples of:
Action Girl: S14's "The Agent of Change" involves Francine, Muffy, and Molly creating a cartoon out of frustration with no good movies about female heroes. To top it off, they call her "Agent XX".
Adaptation Decay: In-universe example — S10's "Unfinished" has Arthur finding and enjoying an old out-of-print book 93,000,000 Miles in a Balloon. However the last few pages are missing and he desperately tries a number of ways to find out the ending including renting an old 16mm film adaptation. But whereas Arthur's book is a fantasy exploration, the film is a backstage musical about a producer and a starlet who wants to make a movie of the book, and the starlet wanting make the film to use as a springboard into starring in Broadway musicals.
Ad Break Double Take: "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn" opens with Arthur and his friends seeing their teacher assignment. The resulting scream sandwiches the title card.
Adult Fear: D.W. getting hit in the face with a swing and needing stitches.
And That's Terrible: S6's "For Whom the Bell Tolls", D.W. loses her voice to a case of faked laryngitis. Arthur celebrates the fact of not having to deal with a noisy sister for a few days, but Francine annoyingly scolds him several times throughout the episode: "You're mean, Arthur Read! M-E-A-N, mean!" "That's what you get for being mean, Arthur!"
To be fair to D.W., the loss of her voice did start out as a legitimate illness. She just got better earlier then expected and liked being catered to. She was only faking it after she had gotten better.
Animal Talk: Starting with S6's "The Secret Life of Dogs and Babies", there would be episodes involving Kate, Pal, and the non-furry animals with their own stories. Later would expand to stuffed toys and imaginary friends.
Animation Bump: The differences between early S1 to late S1 and onwards are extremely noticeable.
Are We There Yet?: According to the teaser of "Baby Steps," when D.W. goes on a car ride, it's a constant litany of "Are we there yet?" from her and when she bakes cookies with her family, it's "Are they done yet?"
Audience Surrogate: Used as a plot device whenever the writers want to explore typical reactions to real - life phenomena, as in "The Great MacGrady" and "April 9th".
Author Filibuster/Take That: Parodied. In S3's "Buster's Growing Grudge", Buster ends up replacing his comedy act for the school talent show with a long tirade against Binky (whom he blames for the poor grade he got on a report). He doesn't even try to make it funny. When George wins the talent show, Buster proceeds to pin this on Binky as well.
Banned Episode: "Room to Ride/The Frensky Family Fiasco" and "The Great MacGrady" will no longer air on PBS due to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. They can still be viewed on YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video.
Baths Are Fun: In D.W.'s Guide to Perfect Manners (later retitled D.W. Says Please and Thank You for paperback), D.W. is shown in the bath holding a toy mermaid in one hand, a rubber duck in the other, and splashing Mrs. Read and Pal. She states that at night, it's not nice to complain about taking a bath or brushing your teeth and you can play while you get clean, but sometimes she plays a little too hard.
S13's "Brain Gets Hooked" has Brain hate a show due to how illogical it is, but becomes obsessed with watching it nonetheless.
S14's "Muffy and the Big Bad Blog" has Arthur and the others admit that they can't look away from reading Muffy's and Francine's blogs, even though they're disgusted by the blog wars between the two.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In "D.W. Thinks Big" Cousin Cora acts like a brat when she's alone with D.W. and acts like an angel when grown-ups are around. In the end her true Spoiled Brat nature is exposed in front of everyone at the wedding when she refuses to recover the lost ring from inside the church organ, when she could easily fit in there, because she'd get dirty.
Book Dumb: Depending on the Writer, any one of Arthur's immediate friends, Arthur himself (especially egregious due to one of his defining traits being his love of reading), or even the grown-ups may be subject to this.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Nearly every episode's beginning teaser has Arthur talking to the audience. There have been instances where other characters besides Arthur introduce the show like with Fern's mother in S2's "Fern's Slumber Party" ("Look into the camera like when Arthur does it"). There have been instances though where it happens in the show proper:
S2's "Arthur and the Square Dance", where Francine looks at us and says "What's gotten into him?" after Arthur hastily leaves the Sugar Bowl ice cream shop following a silent teasing from Brain and Binky.
S5's "You are Arthur", an episode entirely shown in Arthur's perspective, has Buster asking the former if there is somebody watching everything he's doing from a TV screen.
Brick Joke: The aftermath of the big snowstorm was when D.W. got her special snowball.
Broken Aesop: The first book, Arthur's Nose, was about Arthur wanting to change his nose because of the suffering he endured from having it, and then deciding not to because he realized looks aren't important. That didn't stop Marc Brown from redesigning him over the next decade until his nose became invisible, though.
Butterfly of Doom: In S14's "Follow the Bouncing Ball", the intro imagines Brain taking his friends back in time to see the dinosaurs, when Buster accidentally drops his container of raisins. When they arrive at the present, everyone is a lizard and they have to take a fly eating class.
Butt Monkey: Principal Haney always seems to have bad things randomly happening to him. Arthur would become one in later seasons.
Call Back: One of the reasons the show is so popular with the Periphery Demographics is it's clever use of this trope in the series' continuity. For example, S9's "Breezy Listening Blues" contains numerous references to the TV special "Arthur, It's Only Rock 'n' Roll".
Cartoon Creature: One of the most frequently asked questions about the show is the subject of which animal the characters are. Arthur and his family are the most confusing since they do not look like aardvarks at all.
Averted with Sue Ellen, who may be one of kindest of Arthur's group of friends.
Censorship by Spelling: Arthur casually tells a friend that someone "lost her P-E-N" while D.W. is in earshot. D.W. then complains about Arthur doing this, since she can't spell yet.
Centrifugal Farce: One episode had an amusement park ride called the Hurl-a-Whirl that did pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin: basically a dumbbell-type centrifuge, except the car itself spun perpendicular to the arm as well. The individual cars actually had a dial to increase the ride speed, with the highest setting being "Liquefy."
Riders are issued complementary barf-bags. We later see Arthur and Buster tossing theirs away (full), with Buster wistfully wishing he could keep his as a souvenir.
Child Prodigy: Alan Powers is absolutely brilliant. He's written out of "Buster Spaces Out", wherein the other kids need help building and launching a model rocket. Instead, Carl offers to help, and serves as the team's risk assessor.
In S2's "Arthur VS the Piano", Arthur had given up playing the piano, and was subjected to a televised concert performance, the organ-playing Phantom of the Opera, and a spoof of a piano-playing scene in Casablanca.
In S7's "Jenna's Bedtime Blues", Jenna, trying to get through a night without wetting the bed, tries watching TV and sees a diaper commercial, an actor with a mock Scottish talking about his broken bagpipes ("It's got a wee-leak!"), and a Sesame Street-esque skit involving the letter P done with Wimzie's House Expys.
Concept Album: Arthur's Really Rockin' Music Mix, released in 2001. Besides a remix of the show's theme song, every single song in the album is entirely new and never played once in the show. The songs in this album double as musical summaries of select episodes and Image Songs of characters, composed in a variety of musical styles.
Cross Over: Mister Rogers made a guest appearance in one episode where he befriends Arthur. Marc Brown later returned the favor when he appeared in an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and Arthur (a puppet of him, anyway) visited the Kingdom of Make-Believe.
Arthur, in "Dear Adil", based his research about Turkey from an Illinois Jack comic; but Adil thought that Arthur was crazy and didn't think what to write. Then Alberto shows how the comic was inaccurate and also told him what he he thought America was from TV.
Aberto: They made me think that every kid in the U.S. went surfing after school, and went home to their skyscrapers, and put ketchup on all their food! Yep, you would sure have a weird impression of a place if all of you knew from it came from TV and comic books.
D.W. also made a mildly bad drawing of Africa to Brain's cousin at day care. Granted it was just a jungle scene, but it could have been worse...
Cuteness Proximity: In "Blockheads," D.W. and Emily are determined to finish building a block tower, but the lure of a koala that has been brought into class too strong and they break down.
Darker and Edgier: Dark Bunny, in contrast to the other established in-universe show, Bionic Bunny.
Department of Redundancy Department: In Binky's report on Ancient Egypt — "Mummies were dead people who died and got embalmed and tightly wrapped in cloth after they died." Another episode has Binky writing a poem for a contest with the word "poem" written four times.
Depending on the Writer: Some episodes have D.W. so bratty to the point of unlikability, while others have her as a more realistic (and funny) little sister character.
It has gotten to a point that fans are able to predict the quality of a story of a new episode just by looking at the name of the writer on the episode title card.
Digging To China: One forlorn summer project according to S2's "The Short Quick Summer". Presumably repeated every year.
Disappointed In You: In "Arthur the Wrecker," Mrs. Read is "not mad, just disappointed" that Arthur disobeyed her playing on her computer when she asked him not to. And this isn't the only instance of her using this or a similar line in the series.
Dream Within a Dream: One chapter book adaptation of a story had Arthur have one of these and then lampshade it on waking up for real.
Man, I hate double-dreams!
S3's "What Scared Sue Ellen?" had one in which Sue Ellen dreamed that the mythical Baba Yaga was after her. Then she "woke up," only for the Baba Yaga to appear outside her window.
In "Jenna's Bedtime Blues", this happens to Jenna, giving her the false impression that she had an accident in Muffy's waterbed. It turns out that the bed itself has sprung a leak.
Drop-In Character: Dear Lord, as long as this series has been on, with no end in sight, there's been a whole slue of them, both recurring and one-shots... the Molina Family, Carl, Lydia Fox, Cheike, Ladonna Compson and her little brother Bud... the list goes on.
Binky was a much bigger bully, particularly during Season One, before he gradually became one of the guys.
Fern, George, Jenna, practically everyone in D.W.'s preschool class (save for Emily, and the Tibbles), among others were silent background/walkaround characters before they were all eventually promoted to recurring characters, with speaking roles, in later seasons.
Enforced Trope: The "no hitting" Aesop in "Arthur's Big Hit" was portrayed as one-sided so that children wouldn't justify hitting each other, and talk things out instead. PBS prides itself on discouraging violence on its children's TV shows.
Episode Title Card: Varies depending on who's involved in the episode, and, in some cases, what happens to them. S5 would see the use of a slot machine title card where Arthur would just spin the slots, and it would show the face of Muffy, Sue Ellen or George if the any of those three are the main character of the episode. Specific title cards would be retired by S14, where sneak peaks of the episode are shown instead.
Everybody Did It: "Arthur's Family Feud". Arthur and D.W. blame each other for ruining their father's souffle, but they both crashed into it, skidding through the kitchen in their socks. This is a subversion, in that there were only two suspects.
The Everyman: Arthur, in sharp contrast to his widely varied friends with telling character traits. Lampshaded in S6's "Best Of The Nest", when Arthur settles on "Just Plain Goose." This is extremely poignant when one considers that most of the later seasons episodes focus less on Arthur.
S1's "Arthur's Almost Boring Day", where Grandma Thora's old home movies reveal that David Read, Mr. Ratburn and Mr. Haney all attended the same high school at the same time.
S15's "The Butler Did... What?", which reveals Bailey and Mr. Ratburn were in the same high school class.
Evil Laugh: Both Pal and Nemo give one in S14's "Pet Projects," but Nemo comments that Pal's needs work.
Evolving Credits: Subverted on both ends. The only change made to the opening credits has been the addition of a trademark to the show's title card. The end credits sequence had the vocals recut, so that the website and the Arthur books can be plugged without interrupting Ziggy Marley et al.
Face Palm: D.W. at the end of "Is There a Doctor in the House?" when Arthur starts sneezing; surely other instances as well.
Fake Band: The Finnish band Binky (Not the character) (who ends up literally being a Fake Band), and the several bands created within the special movie-length episode "Arthur, It's Only Rock & Roll". The latter would have the Backstreet Boys as a guest star.
Flanderization: Arthur's interest in Bionic Bunny, Buster's interest in aliens, and Muffy's (claimed) marketing knowledge.
F Minus Minus: Arthur jokes that Buster may not just fail an assignment, but get a G or H.
Francine at one point envisions herself getting an F-plus on an assignment.
Foil: Prunella and Binky are nine years old and were both bullies, having been mellowed out by good friends. Binky is in the third grade, and was more of physical threat. Prunella is in the fourth grade, and is more of a smart aleck.
Four Lines, All Waiting: This is evident as early as Season Seven, but more often than not, the series shifts from focusing on Arthur in particular, and more on other supporting characters.
In the recent seasons, there's even been major shifts into focusing on D.W. and her friends from preschool, so much in fact, that previously nameless classmates of hers now not only have names, but also receive voice acting credits during the end titles.
Free-Range Children: Arthur and co. are only about eight years old, and are in third grade, yet they run around Elwood City much like teens several years older. None of their parents seem concerned with the exception of what happens in S2's "Lost", where Arthur accidentally rides the bus line to the city limits.
Friendly Tickle Torture: S2's "Sue Ellen's Little Sister" focuses on Sue Ellen and her feeling lonely at being an only child. She meets up with the Frensky sisters, practicing cheering. Catherine gets her to put her arms higher over her head, and then...
Full House Music: You can tell D.W's upset because they always play the same music.
Full Name Ultimatum: D.W. gets this often, while Arthur has only been issued this once, in S4's "Arthur's Big Hit".
Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: One episode has Mr. Ratburn confiscating a toy Buster brought to school, and when the kids are theorising what goes on in the teachers' lounge, one of them suggests they might be playing with the confiscated toys. That turns out to be correct.
Funny Background Event: In "D.W. Gets Lost", if one pays attention to the various announcements made throughout the store, most of them are hilarious.
"Special on chocolate covered cabbage, the dessert that makes you go, 'Blehh!'"
"Lost your child? Come down to our Lost Child Department, and on your way, why not buy a toy for that child that you lost?"
"Books without vowels, now half price!"
Furry Confusion: Plenty. See Fridge Logic for most of them, but one that makes sense in-universe but is still amusing is Mr. Morris. He has various food allergies, "but not chocolate. Thank goodness!" Did we mention Mr. Morris is a dog?
Furry Denial: Seriously, they barely acknowledge their species at times.
When he first meets Mr. Ratburn, Buster even says "We're not dealing with a human being here!"
Gainax Ending / Mind Screw: the ending of S6's The Boy Who Cried Comet had many fans throwing their hands up in the air, and announcing that they'll never be able to see Arthur in the same way ever again. The events in the show were filmed by alien actors on the moon.
In S14's "Through the Looking Glasses" Arthur loses his glasses and has to get new ones. The episode ends with a dog walking into frame carrying a toad on its back that's wearing Arthur's old glasses. We never learn how Arthur's glasses got from his nightstand to a toad's face.
Game Show Appearance: Arthur winding up on the in-universe Riddle Quest in S5's "Arthur And The Big Riddle".
But what on earth is Molly and James's mother? Her kids are rabbits whereas she obviously hasn't got the ears or face, but she does have the same hair as her daughter so I'm assuming the Macdonald children are not adopted. Is Ms. (Mrs.?) Macdonald some kind of dog? Molly rules out this trope.
And apparently this trope is played straight again with Carl (a rabbit child) and his mother (an aardvark).
Good Angel, Bad Angel: Played with in "Night of the Tibbles." James gets a buzzing-winged figure of himself that says he's his conscience and another identical figure that says he's the conscience of his conscience. Later the original conscience returns and admits he may have been wrong.
Greek Chorus: Art Garfunkel as The Singing Moose in "The Ballad of Buster Baxter".
Guilty Pleasures: In-universe: Arthur is secretly a fan of "Love Ducks". He keeps it a secret because it's a baby show.
Heel Face Turn: After spending 15 years as bullies, the Tough Customers decide to stop being bullies. For the guys, it's because their usual schtick didn't work anymore; for Molly, who was resistant to the change, turned because James was becoming one as well.
Held Back In School: Binky repeated 2nd grade, and Arthur was occasionally worried he would have to do so, also.
The Brain had to repeat kindergarten.
Here We Go Again: The show is quite fond of this, with some of the episodes featuring this being "Buster Baxter, Cat Saver," "Locked in the Library!," and "Is There a Doctor in the House?" Special mention also goes to its music cue that almost always occurs from this.
Heroic BSOD: After Arthur and D.W. ruin their father's souffle, he loses self-control, and gives them a four month ban on TV. His wife helps him to think rationally again.
Hidden Depths: Mr. Ratburn is often seen by the class as a cruel teacher who has no life outside of making kids miserable. He also goes giddy over cake, likes Scooby-Doo Expy (Spooky Poo), and volunteers as a puppeteer for children's puppet shows. He also has no kids or family that we know of. He does extra research in his spare time to better educate his students (Francine's pilfered paper)
Actually he has a sister named Rodentia Ratburn, who filled in as a substitute teacher though treated the class like a Kindergarten.
Season 16 reveals that Tough Costumers' Rattles is a great singer and a amazing chess player.
Holding Hands: In "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," Binky is embarrassed after he incorrectly believes that George spotted him holding his mother's hand. When the Tough Customers realize that he has a secret, they try to figure out what it is, and eventually incorrectly decide that it must have something to do with his upcoming clarinet solo. "Maybe he's playing something really romantic, like Debussy." When they find out what the secret actually is, they chew him out for the secret not being something juicy, and one of them even admits that he sometimes holds his mother's hand.
Hollywood New England: With Expys for both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Even the curse has an expy. A couple of episodes mention Boston Creme Pie.
Hypno Fool: Commonly used. A few notable examples:
In one episode, Arthur is afraid of losing his pants. Buster tries to hypnotize him into not being afraid of losing his pants. It works, but now Arthur's afraid his pants are going to eat him.
The episode "Buenas Noches, Vicita" involves Vicita, who has lost her favorite bedtime storybook and now can't fall asleep. Buster tries to hypnotize her to fall asleep, but ends up hypnotizing himself instead.
In "D.W.'s Name Game," D.W. has a fantasy sequence about making Arthur into this.
Arthur: (spinning hypnotic eyes, droning voice, as he dusts one of her troll dolls) I enjoy doing your chores. I enjoy doing your chores.
Identical Grandson: One episode of Arthur had D.W. curious of her grandmother Thora's antique doll prompting a story on how she got it. In the flashback, Thora a spitting image of D.W. right down to the voice. Thora's three brothers also resemble Arthur to an extent.
Binky's great grandfather looked exactly like him as a child.
Idiot Ball: One episode has Kate crying because she can't get a balloon. The only one who can figure that out is Pal; Arthur, D.W., his parents, and everyone else are completely clueless. However, it sorta had to be that way in order to have an episode.
I Fell for Hours: In "Night Fright", at the end of Binky's dream, after he flies of a cliff, his flying power loses and falls all the way down.
Imagine Spot: THE FREAKIN KING OF THIS TROPE! And they are hilarious.
Imagine Spotting: The show adores this trope - it is not at all unusual for characters to have a good idea of what happened in a character's fantasy sequence or imagine spot, even though there surely wasn't enough time for the character to have described it in that much detail. In one example, when Arthur isn't getting enough sleep because D.W. keeps crying and screaming at night, he fantasizes a show called Temper Tantrum 911 and Binky walks by and comments how cool such a show would be.
Incessant Music Madness: D.W. likes the song "Crazy Bus", which drives Arthur crazy. Everyone else his age enjoys it too, but not as incessantly as D.W..
Inexplicably Identical Individuals: In S9's Lights, Camera, Opera!, Rodney Gilfry's ink suit is very, very similar to Oliver Frensky, Francine's dad. You may get confused if you tuned in halfway through the episode, and this is the first time around you're seeing it, and wasn't informed of it in advance.
Innocent Swearing: In "Bleep," D.W. hears a bad word and wants to know what it means. (She doesn't know at all that it's a bad word.) She imagines her accidentally getting her entire preschool class saying it. Her mother finally tells her, "You could say, it means 'I want to hurt your feelings.'"
That's what it means? Why didn't somebody just say so?!
This happened in an earlier episode - "Arthur's Perfect Christmas". On the shot of the house, before D.W. says that it's the worst Christmas ever, it sounds like she says "D*** it!"
Insomnia Episode: In the episode "Sleep No More", Buster is picked as one of the contestants to compete in an All-You-Can-Eat Pizza contest, but he finds that he cannot sleep because of pizza-related dreams that continuously plague him. There, he meets up with other contestants who also cannot sleep due to the excitement of the contest. Because of this, the contest is cancelled until everyone can get a good night's sleep.
Irony: In Prunella's title card, she "predicts" that her audience will shortly see... something, but then the lights go out.
I Was Told There Would Be Cake: Ongoing gag with Mr. Ratburn in S3's "Dad's Dessert Dilemma." When Arthur brings one his father's cakes to a class party, it turns out to be a hit with the entire class, especially with Mr. Ratburn. Mr. Ratburn soon takes to turning up at other events where Mr. Read's cakes are being served, under the increasingly flimsy excuse that he just wanted to hand out a reading list. "Oh, are you having cake?!"
Jerk Jock: The Tough Customers, particularly in the earlier seasons.
Joker Jury: S5's "Nerves of Steal" was about Buster Baxter stealing an action figure from a toy store, causing him to think that he is a criminal. About halfway through the episode Buster has a nightmare where he is arrested by the police and is taken to court where the judge is none other than Mr. Ratburn and the jury his other classmates (including his best friend Arthur Read).
Just Eat Gilligan: If the Reads gave D.W. any form of consistent discipline, at least 25% of Arthur's problems would be diminished. Admittedly, this happened in one episode, but since then it's been sporadic.
Karma Houdini: The Tibble twins in one episode send D.W. to the hospital and never get any form of repercussion for it.
Kangaroo Court: Arthur and his friends subject D.W. to one when they suspect her of doing something to make Pal sick in S1's "Sick as a Dog."
Also, in "The Short, Quick Summer", Buster and Arthur play a game called Kangaroo Court.
Kayfabe Music: The band Binky is made of up Hologram musicians and synthesized sounds. It's apparently an open secret, as the episode on the band has them materialize from nowhere during a live performance.
The show's Screwed by the Network (and thus subsequent seasons became No Export for You) in certain countries, notably Malaysia. Only S10 and S11 received boxset releases, and only selected episodes from earlier seasons are available on DVD. iTunes Music Store does not sell episodes to many Asian and African countries either, iPlayer blocks non-UK IP addresses, and iView blocks non-Australian IP addresses.
In-universe example: S10's "Unfinished" has the book 93,000,000 Miles in a Balloon, but since it had been so long out of print, Arthur tries desperately to find another printing of it that has the last few pages, since his doesn't.
The Kiddie Ride: A school bus ride with a figure of Arthur next to the rider's seat was made in the early 2000s.
Lampshade Hanging: Though the characters lampshade being animals all the time, one of the more prominent instances is in S4's "The Contest". S3's "The Ballad of Buster Baxter" also has an instance with the guest appearance of Art Garfunkel.
The teaser of S13's "The Pride of Lakewood" has Buster saying the reason he has a pin button with his face on it is a long story. Arthur argues it could be told in 10 minutes.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: S14's "The Agent of Change" shows Molly having a green Domo-kun doll lying around her room.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In S8's "D.W. Dancing Queen", Binky teaches D.W. how to dance. Shortly after D.W.'s big performance, this conversation occurs:
Binky: Always remember, dancing comes from inside you. you gotta listen to your heart, listen to the beat, listen to the rhythm, the rhythm of the street!
D.W.: Okay, I will! Hey, did you just make that up?
Binky: Nah, I heard it somewhere. but I can't remember where.
In S3's "And Now Let's Talk to Some Kids", Arthur, Buster, and D.W. are watching a television show that has a segment called "And Now a Word From Us Kids" just like Arthur's show has, prompting discussion about such segments, and D.W. does her impression of what she thinks Arthur would be like if he were to be on television. The class goes on to star in a segment.
D.W: This is my impression of Arthur on television. (Puts her fingers around her eyes like glasses, talks in a dumb voice) "I'm Arthur and my dog's name is Pal and blahedy blahedy blah." And here's my impression of the people watching Arthur on TV (pretends to fall asleep and snores)
Leaving Food For Santa: In Arthur's Perfect Christmas, this was something the Reads did, but D.W. took things one step further by having them leave out pail of water for the reindeer.
Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: There is a spoof of the Lord of The Rings Special Edition Director Cut DVD boxset, that Buster watched in S12's "The Chronicles of Buster". The DVD had 1001 hours worth of special features, commentary, and uncut footage. He watched it for about a month.
Limited Wardrobe: The characters all have characteristic outfits by which they are identified. Depending on the episode or the setting, they may be changed.
List Song: Every song in "Arthur's Almost Live not Real Music Fesitval".
Living Prop: There are a number of such characters in Arthur, mostly recurring townspeople and students in D.W.'s class. Of important note are a pair of rabbit kids who've been in Arthur's class since the S1, but are not as developed as their classmates. S13's "MacFrensky" had a class list with the names Alex and Maria on it, but some fans refuse to believe those are their names, since Arthur has had several other one-shot classmates over the years (Never mind that the two rabbits were the only other two kids besides the already named regulars shown in class that episode).
Local Hangout: The Sugar Bowl, an ice cream shop. Later seasons would introduce another ice cream shop, this one run by Brain's family.
Long List: The list of things that Perky dislikes in "Arthur's Pet Business" drops to the floor and rolls on from there.
Longrunner: 16 seasons and still going. Since King of the Hill's cancellation, it is the second longest running cartoon series still on, with the first being The Simpsons.
Buster: It's bad enough when adults cheat kids, but when kids cheat kids, it's like a total meltdown of the fabric of our society! And who needs melty fabric?
Mexican Standoff: A family-friendly, non-weapon version is used in S8's "Desk Wars" where it's obnoxiously hot in the classroom and everyone is extremely agitated. If George sharpens one of Brain's pencils for Muffy, Brain will drop a book on George's bubble-gum stegosaurus model, so Sue Ellen will throw Binky's rubber-band ball out the window, Muffy will put Francine's Judo Kitten stickers on Brain's desk, so Francine will cut up Fern and Muffy's shared desk ruffle, Fern will tear all of the pages out of Buster's Bionic Bunny comic book, Buster will eat all of Arthur's chocolate chip cookies. Then Brain accidentally knocks the book onto the stegosaurus model and chaos ensues.
Buster: The dullness of the lack of holidays is like being dead. Only with homework.
S4's "The Blizzard" features D.W. repeatedly worrying that they'll all die in a heap from the lack of electricity.
Mr. Read: Thank you for that vote of confidence, D.W.
The teaser of S9's Emily Swallows A Horse.
Miss Morgan (D.W.'s preschool teacher) : There was an old lady who swallowed a horse!
Preschoolers : She died of course! <laugh>
New Media Are Evil: In S14's "Muffy and the Big Bad Blog", when Francine tells Muffy that she doesn't want to read her blog anymore, Muffy posts a poll on her blog asking people if they think that's okay, then posts an angry e-mail that Francine sent her. Francine retaliates by creating an online edition of her newspaper, The Frenksy Star, with the first issue talking about the situation, designating Muffy "Bully of the BlogOSphere."
No Fourth Wall: Very regularly during the show's opening teaser sequences, but much less often during the show proper.
Not Allowed to Grow Up: Even though some characters have birthdays over the course of the show, the characters are never shown to physically age, outside of occasional flash-forward or fantasy.
Lampshaded by D.W. in S1's "Arthur's New Year's Eve", suggesting that she's trapped in some kind of time warp that causes her to never get any older.
Not Me This Time: After Francine's bike was allegedly stolen, Muffy and the others suspected that Binky may have stolen the bike. During a meeting, Binky stormed over to Muffy and asked if she was the one who is accusing him of stealing her bike. After she confirms it, Binky then reveals, while looking timidly to the others, that he's innocent.
Not So Fast: On several occasions, Arthur pulls off something cool at school despite screwing up, then ends up with extra homework, or having to redo it. Buster is occasionally included.
Not So Imaginary Friend: Averted with Nadine. She's never shown as anything more than a figment of D.W.'s imagination.
At least in earlier seasons this was true. In S11's "Baby Kate and the Imaginary Mystery", she's able to communicate with Kate and Pal, and it is hinted that she may become Kate's imaginary friend in the future.
Official Couple: Arthur is shown married to Francine on a couple of occasions, despite massive denial between the two in S2's "Arthur And The Square Dance".
Or So I Heard: The various New Year's Eve / New Year's traditions spouted by Arthur's friends in S1's "Arthur's New Years Eve". Includes the "Green Flash," the New Year's Police who arrest you if you don't throw away your old calendars, the New Year's Eve wrestling match and the meeting in which parents discuss the things they did to make their kids miserable throughout the year and what else they can do in the new year.
The Other Darrin: Arthur, D.W., Brain, Sue Ellen, George, and the Tibble Twins have all gotten voice changes throughout the 15 seasons, mostly due to the aging of the voice actors.
Justified, in that most of them were originally voiced by young boys whose voices broke when puberty hit.
Averted with Muffy, Francine, Mr. Ratburn, Prunella, Buster, Binky, the Reads and a few others, who've had the same voice since the beginning.
Pac Man Fever: Despite having a ton of Shout Outs to famous book series, TV shows, movies and most other pop culture icons (Even Webkinz of all things), video games are still portrayed as primitive and Atari-like. Also, video game and computer game music tend to sound like chip tunes despite having graphics that look at least 16-bit.
Technology seemed to be marching forward in the first few season, as by S6, they have had full computer voice acting, cutscenes, (relatively) realistic computer graphics, and actually pretty decent computer music as shown in S6's "Best of the Nest". Also, in the S10 episode, "The Squirrels" and the S11 episode, "Arthur Sells Out", video games were played on a console that looks a lot like a Sega Dreamcast which is a 64-bit console, but the games played have 8-bit graphics and sounds. By S12's "D.W.'s Stray Netkitten, the technology seemed to have marched slightly backwards — graphics are less realistic and the music sounds a little more primitive, and not many games seem to have voice acting as long or elaborate.
Paranormal Episode: Francine & Muffy plan to scare Arthur, Buster, Binky and the Brain at a "Scare-Your-Pants-Off" themed party. Arthur et al. plan to do the same to Francine & Muffy. But both groups get scared by what is apparently a real ghost.
Paying For The Action Scene: The teaser of one episode had them watching trailers for a Bland Name Product of a James Bond movie. After subduing a villain in a fancy restaurant, the hero tells the manager to put the damage on his tab.
Punny Name: Most characters. The Crosswire family is probably the most obvious.
Alan's last name, revealed in a later season, is Powers. Coupled with his nickname, his name is "Brain Powers."
Dr. Fugue, the piano teacher, and his cat, "Fur" Elise.
Arthur's name sounds almost like the word "author." And his last name is Read.
Puppy Love: The early seasons were rather notable for constant obvious Arthur/Francine pairings, as well as other character pairings. They, however, likely won't go all the way. They're only in 3rd grade, after all.
The Living Book for Arthur's Birthday characterizes Francine as having a crush on Arthur. She fantasizes about playing Spin The Bottle and kissing him.
S1's "Arthur & the True Francine" showed that Muffy officially joined the gang in 2nd grade. Later episodes have established that she's known them since kindergarten.
S1's "So Long Spanky" established D.W.'s toad Toady Wartface as a male. S7's "The Great Sock Mystery" showed that Toady is a female.
That one could be justified. Little kids don't always actually know the gender of their pets.
In his first appearance in S2's "Buster and the Daredevils", rabbit bully Slink had a bear friend named Tobey, and both were students of Mighty Mountain. A few seasons later, Slink now attends Lakewood Elementary and is a member of the Tough Customers.
"Binky vs. Binky" featured a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Lance Armstrong called Vance Legstrong, but in the "The Great MacGrady" he was retconned into his real life counterpart, only he's still a rabbit, but his design was changed to closely resemble Lance Armstrong.
Running Gag: S14's "Follow the Bouncing Ball" has Alberto Molina losing an autographed soccer ball "El Boomerang," signed by a player who carries that nickname. This soccer ball then resurfaces at a random point in each story for the remainder of the season until it finally finds its way back to Alberto in the S14 finale "The Long Road Home".
Every time D.W. has an Imagine Spot it will inevitably include a reference to Arthur's Flanderized love of cake. Even when it isn't relevant... especially if it isn't relevant!
Sadist Teacher: The kids complain about Ratburn being this. Also frequently subverted when they realize he's not that bad of a guy and he's actually succeeding in teaching them things.
Same Language Dub: Arthur got a new voice actor for S6, and then another for S7, who redubbed Arthur's lines in all S6 episodes for U.S. reruns. The original voice was quite deep, while the redubbed version sounds closer to Arthur's first voice actor. For comparison, The original...The redub.
Screwed by the Network: One of the shows screwed over by NTV 7 in Malaysia- those in South Malaysia are lucky that they'll be able to pick up Singaporean TV which does carry Arthur. Those in Central Malaysia and further north are just plain screwed.
Seadog Beard: They meet an old sea captain with a big beard.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. There are many many examples of characters being introduced as new students in early episodes only to have known the characters for years before their supposed introduction. Muffy and Sue Ellen especially. As for the Christmas thing - it may originate from the fact that there was a book in the Arthur Adventures line called Arthur's Christmas. Much of what was in this book was later contradicted by the aforementioned "Arthur's Perfect Christmas".
Serious Business: Reading. In S2's "Buster Hits the Books", when the gang discovers Buster doesn't like reading they act like he's on drugs.
And in S1's "Misfortune Teller", Prunella's "cootie catcher", with all of the kids obeying whatever it says they should do.
Short Run In Peru: A number of episodes are now being released in Canada, Australia or other non-U.S. markets well before being seen on PBSKids in the United States. Those remaining episodes are now being shown in the U.S. as S15, roughly one year after they originally aired outside the U.S.
S13's "The Secret Origin of Supernova" was basically one big Shout Out to comicdom, including a reference to Jack Kirby.
The Cold Open of S8's "Bleep" features a clip from an episode of The Altos. Apparently, Marc Brown is a fan of the show.
S6's "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked" contains a reference to Citizen Kane with Muffy's old game room containing a sled with the word "Rosebud" written on it.
In S8's "Desk Wars", Muffy had stickers of cute little critters resembling The Powerpuff Girls.
In S7's "Pick a Car, Any Car", the names of Mr. Crosswire's salesmen are Romero, Gorshin, and Meredith, named for the actors who played the Joker, the Riddler, and the Penguin respectively in the original Batman series.
In "That's a Baby Show!", Buster mentions a Dark Bunny villain named Doctopus, which totally flips the concept to an octopus going to medical school and becoming a doctor.
The title of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" is likely a reference to the song by The Beatles.
'D.W. Talespins' has D.W. trying to come up with a better story than the 'Vegemorphs' series, an expy of Animorphs. The cover is even in the same morph-stages style as the real books. (Interestingly,there actually is an Animorphs parody called Vegemorphs , but it isn't like the one shown here)
Shown Their Work: A number of episodes, and is one of the reasons the show gets critical acclaim.
Show Within a Show: Several, including "Mary Moo Cow", a send up of Barney, and "Bionic Bunny", which is SupermanmeetsThe Six Million Dollar Man. (And actually originates from the picture book The Bionic Bunny Show, which Marc Brown wrote to show readers the behind-the-scenes aspects of television.)
And then there's one in S10's The Squirrels, with squirrels in colorful suits, teletubby-style antennas and a number prominently pinned to the front of the uniform. The writers must be awfully fond of Teletubbies...
Played straight with Mr. Ratburn, however. Guess what animal he actually is!
However, for Added Alliterative Appeal many of the characters have names that start with the same letter as their species (Arthur is an aardvark, Buster is a bunny, Muffy is a monkey, Binky is a bulldog, Prunella is a poodle, and so on).
Spin-Off: Postcards From Buster, based off the pilot S8 episode of the same name.
Start My Own: Several times, but when the kids try to make their own "James Hound" movie in S2's "Arthur Makes a Movie" they find out their outtakes are So Bad, It's Good.
In "Muffy's Classy Classics Club," Arthur, Brain and Francine start their own book club when Muffy refuses to allow the book club that she started to be run democratically. Nobody could blame them - Muffy basically just strong-armed them into joining her book club in the first place by sending them each a free copy of the book and demanding that they show up.
Start of Darkness: The Teaser of "The Last Tough Customer" shows Molly's: when she was in maybe kindergarten or first grade, a couple of older kids teased her about her poufy hair. She took out her hairbands, letting her hair fall across her eyes, and became a bully.
Stealth Pun: Arthur and James both share their names with English kings. In one episode, Arthur pulls a sword from a stone and is called king of the Renaissance Fair; In another, James is treated like a king, and becomes Drunk with Power.
And Baby Kate's cry, which is also used for Mei Lin and a younger D.W. in "Arthur's Eyes".
Many episodes use a sound of kids cheering where you can distinctly hear a boy shouting "We win!"
Another commonly-used sound is that of kids "wowing" in amazement. D.W. can easily be heard among them, though this sound is often used in scenes where she is not present.
The show frequently recycles small character soundbites such as gasps, screams, and moans. Sometimes these are even used for characters other than who they were originally recorded for. One of many examples is in "D.W. Thinks Big", where Cousin Cora gasps...like Mrs. Read!
Stop Poking Me: Alberto gives Arthur a Spanish-English Dictionary. Aside from being neighborly on Alberto's part, it allows Arthur to read Spanish language comic books without bothering him.
Summer Campy: "Arthur Goes to Camp". The episode features a rival summer camp. Arthur claims that there are wormburgers and macaroni and fleas on the menu at camp Meadowcroak.
Superstition Episode: Brain gets so sick of a conversation on superstition brought on by inane Baseball rituals that he attempts to prove bad luck wrong by repeatedly ducking under a ladder, dancing on the pavement crack and breaking a mirror. Bad luck ensues. He tries to fix his bad luck by bringing a bag carrying good luck charms around with him all the time. At the end of the episode, he finds he's been carrying around the wrong bag, but everyone considers the sports clothes inside instead to be other good luck charms.
Surprise Party: In "Arthur's Birthday," this was Arthur and Francine's solution to the clash caused by Arthur and Muffy's birthday falling on the same day: They turn it into a surprise party for Muffy.
Take That: Most Arthur fans know the S8 episode "Bleep" as a stab at censorship.
S12's "The Chronicles of Buster" poke fun of the Lord of the Rings extended edition DVD sets and similar products, though it's not really bashing them so much as fans' obsessions with watching the features on them.
S13's "Brain Gets Hooked" has Brain becoming obsessed with a LOST-style show. He berates the characters for forgetting facts between episodes.
Supposedly a gesture towards the show's former head writer, Joe Fallon: after Fallon's depature (possibly linked to the Cinar tax fraud scandal), "Crazy Bus" was dropped as D.W.'s favorite song. Fallon had written and performed the song for the show.
Talking Typography: The EpisodeTitleCards, an open acknowledgement that younger viewers can't quite read them yet. Voiceovers were retroactively added into the oldest episodes. All of them are read with the utmost sincerity.
Talk Like A Pirate Day: Binky talks like a pirate in S15's "S.W.E.A.T." and says that he's doing it because it's this holiday. Later, he does it again, and Mr. Ratburn reminds him "Binky, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is over." He disappointedly knocks it off.
Technology Marches On: Unavoidable, seeing that the show is a long runner. Seasons aired during the 90's showed Muffy being the only kid who had a cell phone due to her wealth, but as cell phones became more common place, the cast all eventually got them. Muffy now has WiFi, while Mr. Ratburn continues to struggle with basic computing... at least until he gets himself a "BoysenBerry" and finally figures it all out.
That Cloud Looks Like: The teaser of S1's "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble" showcases two kids in the other 3rd class doing this. Later in S14's "Around the World in 11 Minutes." Pal and Amigo do the exact same thing.
Time Skip: Some episodes take place over the course of several months.
Title Theme Tune: Some of the audiobook editions of the Arthur Adventure books include one of these. The theme can best be described as sounding like something out of an '80s Bible school presentation, but the music for it is actually reasonably catchy and the fact that the audiobooks are narrated by Marc Brown (and so you get to hear what his interpretations of the characters sound like) make them a rare treat. One way to listen is by signing up for a free trial of Audible and then using the credit to purchase a copy of Arthur Babysits.
To Be Continued: Binky pulls a fire alarm in the middle of "April 9th", and "Stay Tuned" flashes on the screen.
Toilet Humor: Happens in Arthur's Perfect Christmas. D.W. thinks that she sees Santa Claus in the bathroom (it's actually her and Arthur's Uncle Fred, wearing a red shirt and with shaving cream on his face) so she goes to get her parents. By the time she gets back, Fred has left the bathroom and Arthur has entered and is having a pee when Dad opens the door to check D.W.'s claim. This leads Arthur to exclaim "Can't a kid get any privacy around here?!" (The answer - no - he had to put up with D.W. during his oatmeal bath for his chicken pox in "Arthur's Chicken Pox" also.)
Too Many Halves: In the episode "Tales from the Crib", when the mischievous Tibble twins invent a scary creature to frighten DW from moving out of her crib.
Tibbles: Aracnar, Lord of the Spider People. He's half-man, half-spider, and he eats children. He can't get his tentacles through the bars of the crib but kids in beds are easy picking! He climbs up the side, and crawls under the sheet!
DW: Wait a second! If he's half-man, half-spider, why does he have tentacles?
Trend Aesop: "Arthur Rides the Bandwagon". For bonus points, a Woogle appears in a later episode as a useless item that Kate is trying to trade.
Umpteenth Customer: Arthur picks up a Sci FiShoot 'em Up video game from a store simply for being an umpteenth customer. His life promptly goes down the drain as he struggles with addiction to the game.
Useless Security Camera: Subverted. A store that Buster steals an action figure from has a broken camera, but Buster thought it was working and confesses.
Very False Advertising: In "Arthur Sells Out" Arthur saves up for a new video game and Muffy encourages him to twist the truth when selling his toys online. In the end, the hyped-up video game turned out to be an example of this too; high quality graphics in the trailer, but 8-bit graphics in the actual game.
Very Special Episode: A fair few episodes, but perhaps never more so than with S13's "The Great MacGrady," a special episode about Mrs. MacGrady being diagnosed with cancer, airing every weekday throughout Breast Cancer Week.
S11's "Big Brother Binky" where Binky's family adopts a Chinese baby girl, Mei-Lin.
Before meeting Carl, George was diagnosed dyslexic in S6's "The Boy With His Head in the Clouds."
S14's "Buster Spaces Out"
Prunella meets and befriends Marina Datillo, a blind rabbit girl, after she mistakenly gets a braille copy of the latest Henry Skreever book. The two of them quickly became best friends and have had a few episodes together. Marina's blindness is sometimes an issue discussed on the show.
After he hurt his leg and was temporarily forced into a wheelchair, Brain met Lydia Fox, a smart girl in a wheelchair, who taught him how to play basketball from a wheelchair and showed him what handicapped life was like.
The S7 finale "April 9th" is a reflection of 9/11.
In S15's "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album", Arthur and D.W. learn that Grandpa Dave has Alzheimer's Disease.
Viewer-Friendly Interface: The computers in the universe are never seen running more than one application at one given time, and hardware failures can result in horribly frightening things like scary clowns or noisy ninjas being displayed and acompanied by appropriate nightmare-inducing sounds and music instead of the more mundane textual error messages and beeps.
Visual Pun: In "Arthur's Lost Library Book", Arthur dreams about the terrible things that will happen to him if he doesn't find the book. One scenario has the police tell him, "You can't escape the long arm of the law", and a long, rubbery arm reaches through the door to grab him.
"The Perfect Brother" with D.W. during her fantasy of having two Arthurs. At the very beginning
"D.W. the Copycat" with D.W.'s dress. In the beginning of the episode
"Brain's Shocking Secret" Twice. First, Mr. Ratburn takes Brain away before he could get a school picture. Brain sighs and then fills up the screen. Next is when Brain is shocked when the clock reads 9 a.m. and he's running out of bed.
We'll See About That: In S15's "Buster's Secret Admirer," Buster suggests that his secret admirer could be Fern— that this shy girl doesn't want anyone to know that she's fallen for the most popular guy in the school. Arthur tells him that he thinks all of those chocolates (that his secret admirer sent him) have gotten to his brain. Buster's response? "We'll see about that."
And in S16's "Sue Ellen Vegges Out," Muffy insists "We'll just see about that" when the other kids say that she won't last at being a vegetarian. She lasts less than a day, but she was only doing it anyway because it was the latest fad, and there was a new fad that day.
What the Hell, Hero?: In the S16 episode, "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh", Arthur bullies Sue Ellen over her hedious new sweater. Arthur of all characters, bullying one of his best friends! What the Hell, Hero?indeed!
Will Not Tell a Lie: In "Spoiled Rotten!" when Muffy asks Bailey if he thinks she's spoiled, rather than lie, he justs avoids giving a direct answer.
Wise Beyond Their Years: A number of characters, from D.W.'s friend Emily to Arthur and his friends to a certain degree. They aren't your average third-grade kids, after all.
One of the best examples is D.W. and her zany Batman Gambit to trick Arthur and Brain to take her to the science exhibit in S4's "Prove It!", and it worked!
The Worst Seat In The House: S3's "Meet Binky" has Arthur not buying his ticket for a big concert on time so he gets a much worse seat than all his friends. He has various fantasies about how bad a seat it will be. Luckily for him, his father is catering the event so Arthur can get to go backstage and meet the band, and Binky, the resident Jerk with a Heart of Gold, offers Arthur one of his tickets, which are in a great section.
You Keep Using That Word: Unlike in "Arthur, World's Greatest Gleeper", "gleep" is not related to theft. It's closer in meaning to "idiot".
Younger Than They Look / Artistic Age: Every single character. Seriously, they're supposed to be elementary schoolers, but most of the characters look to be between the ages of 13 and 15, with some of the kids such as Binky being able to pass for as old as 17. The preschoolers who are D.W.'s age are are the ones who look more like elementary school kids.
To make matters worse, whenever a character has an illusion of the future, when the characters are supposed to be in high school, they are drawn to look like their in their early twenties at the least.
You're Insane!: Arthur to D.W. after she announces plans to live with Mary Moo Cow in S5's "The Last of Mary Moo Cow".