— 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.The show's recap page is under construction.
This series provides examples of:
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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.
Also, Arthur getting lost outside city limits—Jane even cries during the episode.
In "April 9th", a response to September Eleventh, the characters react to a fire which destroys the school
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?"
Artistic License - Biology: Lampshaded in "Brain Freeze" when Brain sees the curly pig tail on the rear of Yumbobo's penguin mascot Puk Puk and tells him that his anatomy is inaccurate.
Brain: A tail? Not only are you blue; you're also anatomically incorrect!
Artistic License - History: From "Buster's Amish Mismatch." In general, Amish people are anxious to keep themselves separate from the outside world. Most of the time, though they are hospitable, they do NOT take kindly to outsiders just poking around. Due to a lack of modern technology to communicate with a school (i.e., phones, email) it is highly implausible that they would randomly set it up so a public school class could come to someone's house and take a tour. Even if an Amish family agreed to this, it would have to be cleared through their church elders and bishop, and the family/groups involved would need to have a close bond with the teacher or someone at the school. Of course, the argument is that there's no way to show this on a kids' program, but isn't that being disrespectful of the Amish faith in itself?
Ascended Extra: Fern and George in Arthur's group, James in D.W.'s group, and George makes friends with an autistic kid who reappeared quite a few times.
Prunella and Molly. They both got a few episodes later on.
Also Bailey, Muffy's butler.
Jenna similarly was mostly a background extra till about Season 7, and slowly began receiving more focus, but has faded back into the background.
It has been announced that Maria (a rabbit girl in the same class as the main characters) will be getting her own episode in Season 19.
Aside Glance: D.W. gives a definite wink to the audience at the end of "Best Enemies" when she says that she's sure that she and W.D. will find something they have in common with each other.
Mrs. MacGrady does one at the end of "Arthur Accused!", when her brownies are cleared by a metal detector.
Atlantis: Buster believes in it, and tries to contact its king.
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.
This was the plot point of the episode "Arthur Babysits", where he has to babysit the dreaded Tibble Twins. This episode is also notorious for marking the first appearance of Mrs. Tibble and the Tibble Twins.
A later episode "Crushed" focused on Arthur bonding with his babysitter Sally, due to the fact that they both love playing a video game called "Dark Bunny 6: Curse Of The Moomy".
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, simply because she'd get dirty.
"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.
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.
Buster is one of the most flagrant examples, having had an entire episode dedicated to the fact that if he didn't pass what amounted to a teacher-made final exam, he'd have to repeat third grade.
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".
Michael Yarmush, who was Arthur's original voice actor for the first five seasons, now voiced Slink, who's now one of the Tough Customers, for some reason.
Mark Rendall, who voiced Arthur for Seasons 7 and 8, (and the redubs of Season 6) now voices Rafi, the new teenager working at the Sugar Bowl.
Captain Ersatz: Bionic Bunny is obviously an animal equivalent of Superman. Likewise, his brother Dark Bunny is obviously this to Batman.
Cartoon Creature: One of the most frequently asked questions about the show is the subject of which animal the characters are supposed to be. Arthur and the rest of the Read family are the most confusing since they do not even resemble aardvarks at all. Arthur looks more like a human with abnormal looking ears at the top of his head instead of where his glasses are.
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.
Brain went back and forth in displaying stereotypical tendencies befitting nerds. He apparently used to have a huge comic book collection (136 of which he managed to bring to camp with him). Though he was also seen as having really no regard for organization, leaving his bedroom in a shambles - Arthur even points out how neat and tidy he was when he spent the weekend at his house, to which he responds, "Yeah, and it almost killed me!"
As noted above, Francine was a lot meaner in earlier episodes; in fact, during the first couple of seasons in general, she was not above outright bullying others: she was the first to make fun of Arthur when he started wearing glasses, and was quick to harass him about having not lost any baby teeth; she even proudly boasts in one episode, "I'm kind of a rude person." Although she's mellowed in recent seasons, and isn't much of a straight-forward bully anymore, she does still have a tendancy to stoop to passive aggressive actions against her friends, sometimes for no reason.
Similarly, Binky isThe Bully, especially in the first season, where he's more of a supporting character, and was only featured on the show on a semi-regular basis. Starting in the following season, he slowly becomes part of the gang, and also slowly and progressively evolves more into a Gentle Giant, though still occasionally will do something mean and/or unneccessary, if only to maintain appearances.
Both Fern and George have become a lot more outgoing and socialize with other kids a lot more over the years, but are both still a little shy, though nowhere near as reclusive and withdrawn as they were originally. Also helps that they're both Ascended Extras.
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, 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.
In "Is that Kosher?" Francine experiences this; she's trying to fast for Yom Kippur, but finds nothing on television but food-related shows and ads. She tries reading and is tormented with such titles as Food of the Gods and Who Moved My Cheese (ironically, neither involves food). She settles on Dickens' Little Dorrit, which has a mouth-watering food description, and finally breaks down and scarfs a slice at Arthur's pizza party
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.
For those referring to Francine's grandma as "Bubba," it's actually "Bubbe," pronounced with either a long or short E depending on preference.
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 Land 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...
Justified in D.W.'s case. Come on, she's four.
Cultured Badass: Rattles is show to be this in recent seasons; despite being a Tough Customer, he's an expert chess player, has a mind for business, and apparently is quite a cheese connoiseur.
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.
The animation in much of the first season was also quite poor compared to subsequent seasons, with a number of ink-and-paint glitches, a few exaggerated movements, and continuity errors. They gradually improved over the season.
In the episode "Arthur Babysits," he flashes back to D.W. jumping on the couch as Arthur attempts to read to her. She chants "Forty-eleven, forty-twelve, forty-thirteen..." while doing so.
Additionally, in the episode "I'd Rather Read It Myself," the Tibble Twins tried to prove to D.W. they could tell time. They pointed to the grandfather clock in Arthur's living room and said the time was "eleventy-twelve," when the clock actually read ten past four.
Embarrassing First Name: Binky's first name is actually Shelly. He gets over being embarrassed when he learns he's named after his great-great grandfather, a Cool Old Guy who owned a circus.
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 (S16 in U.S. airings), where sneak peaks of the episode are shown instead.
When the series began, the only sounds came from the title card's animation, though starting with S2, the episode's titles were read aloud by a character (usually Francine or Binky early on, though more characters were added in later seasons). These readings were eventually added to all title cards in U.S. reruns of S1, though other countries still air the season without them.
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.
Comes up again in "Pets and Pests," again with Pal and Nemo. This time, Nemo tells Pal to stop copying his evil laugh.
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.
Fandom Specific Plot: If you were to read any fanfic that ages the kids and puts them in high school, expect to find that Buster has become a stoner.
Flanderization: Arthur's interest in Bionic Bunny, Buster's interest in aliens, and Muffy's (claimed) marketing knowledge.
Dark Bunny himself, from a Batman parody to a general superhero parody.
Buster's overall odd behavior and demeanor: he's become really quick to act on crazy impulses, while weirding out his friends in the process.
Muffy's snobbiness has really been cranked Up to Eleven in more recent seasons, and not only that, but both her and Francine's hypocritical nature have become more of a prominent characteristic of theirs as well.
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 a 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.
Forged Letter: "The Big Blow-Up" concerned Francine and the Brain getting into an argument with each other, which puts a damper on a soccer game that they, along with Arthur and Buster, were partaking in. On the day of the big game, Arthur and Buster both forge fake apology letters to Francine and the Brain, with Buster writing the Brain's apology letter to Francine, and Arthur writing Francine's apology letter to the Brain.
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. However, this has evolved; the music has also been used when any other character is upset (see "Arthur's Faraway Friend" for a non-D.W. example, among several others).
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.
In "D.W. Gets Lost", if one pays attention to the various announcements made throughout the store, most of them are hilarious.
"Welcome to All-in-One Mart! The store big enough to swallow your town!" "All-in-One Mart values all our customers. But if you break something, you bought it. Tough luck!" "Today's special in our sportswear department: pre-worn sneakers for lazy people." "If you've lost your child, come to our lost child department. Located behind the toy department. And on the way, why not buy a new toy for that poor, frightened child that you lost!?" "Attention all shoppers: free samples all day at our water fountain." "Big sale in our book department: books without vowels now half price!" "Who needs expensive air conditioning when army surplus jet turbines are on sale in our wind department?" "Who doesn't like the satisfying flavour of fresh, warm carbonated milk? The late night drink that lulls you to sleep and burps you too." "Don't forget today's sale on chocolate-covered cabbage. It's the dessert that makes you go 'Blecch!'" "Right now in our free sample department, everything is half price."
In "It's Only Rock and Roll", while D.W. is auditioning for Francine's band, Prunella is waiting with an alpine horn. After D.W. has been gonged offstage and goes to join fellow gong victims Arthur and Buster, we see Rattles waiting outside the audition room with a full-size harp.
Fur Is Skin: It's vague whether the characters even have fur, or whether they just have oddly colored skin. This probably relates to the implication that they're not animals, but humans who simply look like animals to the viewer.
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".
Gender Equals Breed: Both Emily and her mother are rabbits, while Emily's father is an ape. But if you look carefully you'll see that Emily has an apelike jawline.
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. 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).
In "Buster's Secret Admirer", Buster mentions the holidays he and his mom celebrate, including "Pink Sock Day." It seems like an innocent phrase, but Google it at your own risk.
In "Arthur Goes to Camp", someone (presumably Prunella) says, "Oh my God!" in anticipation of camp. Perhaps the radar guy was asleep that day.
Ghostly Glide: Done during a Imagine Spot when the librarian tells the kids that the "Scare Your Pants Off" books has been taken off the shelves. The kids understandably freak out and we cut to the librarian shushing them then the camera pulls back to reveal she has no legs and glides back into the library.
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, it's because James is starting to follow her example.
Binky repeated third grade, presumably with Ratburn as his teacher. He explicitly states in "World of Tomorrow" that he hates repeating third grade because among other things, it involves a repeat of the science museum sleepover field trip he loathed.
The Brain had to repeat kindergarten.
Her Codename Was Mary Sue: D.W.'s character "B.W." in "I'd Rather Read It Myself" is, in her own words, "a great kid, a princess, a genius, and a cool person" (though too polite to brag about it) who owns a pony. She can fix almost any problem with the slightest of effort.
Agent Double X the Action Girl character created by Molly, Francine and Muffy in "The Agent of Change" is an unintentional example.
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.
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)
The episode "Desk Wars" indicates Mr. Ratburn has a niece or nephew. He had stepped out during that episode to take a phone call and came back to report that it was his sister (presumably Rodentia) calling to say he was an uncle.
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.
George and Jenna got some of this the longer the show ran. In D.W.'s group, Emily and James got a little of this, too.
Holiday Volunteering: In Arthur's Perfect Christmas, we learn that Binky and his family volunteer at the shelter on Christmas. He spends the show giving out practice desserts he's made and getting feedback - like you're supposed to shell pecans before making them into pie.
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.
How We Got Here: Some episodes ditch the No Fourth Wall formula of the opening and instead skip to the climax, with the rest of the episode being use to show the events leading to it. "D.W. Flips" is one of these.
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.
This may also explain several episodes in which D.W. seems particularly close to Grandma Thora ("D.W. Tale Spins," for instance, where Grandma comforts D.W. after Arthur teases her for not being able to write a story). Grandma is one of the few cast members who seems to "get" D.W.'s personality aspects, even the brattier ones. Francine is another one of these (ex.: "D.W.'s Very Bad Mood.") In fact, one could say D.W. and Emily are mini-versions of Francine and Muffy, with D.W. as the bossy one and Emily as the Spoiled Sweet rich girl. (Though Muffy is definitely NOT Spoiled Sweet).
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. Balloons ARE a major choking hazard for babies. So you know. Not unreasonable to not give an infant one.
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..
In S4's "To Beat or Not to Beat", Francine is planning to sing while playing the drums at the school talent show. Unfortunately, while she's very good at both things individually, when she tries to do them together, the results are unlistenably awful. When Arthur, Buster, and Brain stumble on her first practice after hearing the noise from several blocks away, she offers to start the song over, leading to this exchange:
Brain: Um... I have to go type up the errors I found in the encyclopaedia! (hurries off) Arthur: I'm supposed to clean up my room and wash the dog! (runs off after Brain) Buster: I, uh, I'm supposed to dry his dog! (runs off after Brain and Arthur)
In the S4 episode "That's a Baby Show!", Arthur is still trying to hide his secret fondness for toddler-oriented series The Love Ducks from his friends, and claims he cannot play soccer with them because he cannot miss Dark Bunny (which is scheduled opposite The Love Ducks). When Buster points out that Dark Bunny was moved to Saturdays only a week earlier, Arthur changes his excuse:
Arthur: Right... but... (turning to leave) I have to go home and help my father... butter toast! Bye! (runs off, leaving Buster and Francine thoroughly confused)
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?!
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.
Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Twice, with Lydia Fox and Marina Detillo. Averted with Marina; she's blind, but it's treated as a normal part of her character after "Prunella Sees the Light," where the latter learns not to make a big deal of Marina's disability. We also know, for example, that Marina plays soccer, quilts, is a Henry Skreever fan, and is great at yoga—more character development than most characters with disabilities ever get. However, the trope seems to have been played straight with Lydia Fox, who uses a wheelchair and has only been seen in an episode where said wheelchair figured prominently. Her main purpose seemed to be showing Brain that being in a wheelchair didn't have to slow him down, therefore making her a type B.
Also averted with George, who is dyslexic. Other than the episode featuring the learning disability—justified in that the cast didn't know he had it until that point—his dyslexia rarely comes up. He does mention it in "Do You Speak George," as a reason for why he has problems with secret languages, but in a refreshing aversion, he goes on to make up his own, non-word-based language. Double points, considering George's language has strong ties to American Sign Language.
Ironic Echo Cut: In "Buster's Green Thumb" three different characters mention having the best tomato they've ever had.
Irony: In Prunella's title card, she "predicts" that her audience will shortly see... something, but then the lights go out.
It Will Never Catch On: In one episode, Muffy considers designing what we call Crocs, but Bailey says it's a terrible idea.
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 a Stupid Accent: Played straight with Ladonna and Bud; they're given an exaggerated southern/Cajun accent to emphasize their Louisiana-roots, however, because their voice actors are Canadian, certain words they still pronounce in a manner more regional to, well, Canada, and northern states (a la, "Eye-ther/Nye-ther" or "Raw-ther").
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 Kiddie Ride: A school bus ride with a figure of Arthur next to the rider's seat was made in the early 2000s.
Knight of Cerebus: "To Eat or Not to Eat" features Supreme Dog, the CEO of the company that produces Big Boss Bars, who is actually the darkest antagonist to appear in the series thanks to the circumstances and Fridge Horror. His company produces candy bars that essentially get children hooked on them and, judging by his vehement refusal to eat one, contain pretty nasty stuff. Fortunately, he's arrested and the children are presumably brought back down to normal.
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.
Large Ham: Philip Seymour Hoffman in all his glory.
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)
In "Arthur's Cousin Catastrophe", an uncle at The Read Family Reunion describes a novel that he's writing about a man on the run from a sworn enemy. Arthur spends most of the episode avoiding an older cousin who tortured him at the last three reunions.
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 a pail of water for the reindeer.
With Grandma Thora, her bad cooking may be more of an Informed Flaw and was limited to one episode. The "Arthur's Birthday" episode has her baking a chocolate cake for Arthur, which he seems very excited about. In another episode when Arthur came down with chicken pox, he got a batch of special treats made by Grandma Thora, making D.W. jealous.
Also Skip Bitterman, the substitute chef in S13's "The Great MacGrady."
And then there's Binky. In the Christmas special, he's supposed to make dessert to take to the soup kitchen where his family volunteers. However, his desserts are so bad (pecan pie with shells, banana bread with peels), that he ends up bringing store-bought cookies, which are pretty good in themselves.
It could be that Dad inherited his tendency to experiment from Grandma, who apparently never got the memo that most of her own experiments were a bad idea (i.e., Thora's Mean Bean Pie, the time she said you can't make cookies without breaking a few tomatoes, and so on. Dad carried on the tradition with such gems as Cranberry Prune Crumble and Chunky Pudding Balls (which actually looked like they had beans in them).
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".
Little Brother Is Watching: In the episode "The Last Tough Customer", Binky's former gang of bullies have decided to change their bullying ways, except for Molly, as she feels being a bully is her demand for respect. Seeing her little brother James start bullying other kids as well, and saying he got it from her changes her perspective, and realizes how not nice bullying really is.
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 first season, 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.
Madness Mantra: In S1's "The Real Mr. Ratburn", Arthur and his friends are so horrified to discover that supposed Sadist Teacher Mr. Ratburn will be their third grade teacher that, for the rest of the day, they can only stare off into space and mutter "Ratburn..." over and over.
Meaningful Name: A main point of the show is to get kids interested in reading; thus, the Read family.
Dr. Iris and Dr. Tinnitus, who are an eye doctor and an ear doctor, respectively.
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.
Francine: Who knew that the way to scare off a bear was to do the hokey-pokey?
Moose Are Idiots: George the Moose can come across this way, being dyslexic and having poor social skills.
What poor social skills? He's just very introverted. The show seems to have a secondary cast that is this way—George, Fern, and Jenna, and possibly Sue Ellen, who is sometimes seen with the "main" kids (Arthur, Francine, Brain, etc.) but is also absent enough to be considered a "fringe" member. Carl is somewhat different, since his Asperger's Syndrome does make it difficult for him to be social.
The Movie: Arthur's Missing Pal, an All-CGI Cartoon released directly to DVD. Reaction among the core fandom was mixed, though it was well-reviewed by the public in general.
Mundane Made Awesome: Arthur's friends are very impressed that he has relatives from... Ohio. (Marc Brown grew up in Ohio himself.)
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>
Also, when D.W.'s pet parakeet Spanky died. Versions of "dead" or "die" are appropriately all over the episode.
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."
D.W. told Arthur Dark Bunny was apparently so scary, it gave her a bad experience.
Likewise, any dreams Binky had without a night light.
An in-universe example: reading the (briefly) popular comic "Grotesquely Grim Bunny" gave Arthur nightmares. In fact, if we go by Arthur's Imagine Spots and general character, he's kind of prone to them. "Arthur's Underwear" is an egregious example.
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.
Also, Vicita's imaginary friend Trini and W.D.'s imaginary friend Maxine.
"Not Wearing Pants" Dream: The basis of the episode "Arthur's Underwear" is Arthur having recurrences of this dream after seeing Binky rip his pants. Ironically, they end by Arthur ripping his own pants by the end of the episode.
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.
Out, Damned Spot!: In "MacFrensky" (a parody of sorts of the trope namer), Francine gets slimed by Buster's alien robot toy thing. When her conscience starts to haunt her, she utters the famous line, though understandably censored to fit the show demographics.
Out of Focus: Although different characters have had their own episodes and stories dedicated to them, by Season 7 or 8, this became more and more frequent to the point that episodes where Arthur is the main focus have become rare... in fact, it's gotten to the a point they should rename the series from Arthur to The Elwood City Kids or something.
Outnumbered Sibling: Grandma Thora lived this growing up, being the youngest sibling to three older brothers; the flashback in, "Clarissa is Cracked," show that at times, Thora was not particularly content with not having her own (gender-appropriate) toys, and having to settle with playing hand-me-downs from her brothers (which were mostly things like toy soldiers, miniature log forts, and toy airplanes). D.W. sympathizes with Thora for not only being the younger sister (like herself), but having three older brothers (on the grounds that three brothers isn't as bad as having one Arthur).
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.
Pan and Scan: In the U.S. version of "Around the World in 11 Minutes" (cropped to 4:3 from the international version's 16:9 aspect ratio), during the scene on the plane, a pan was added to show Mei Lin speaking on-camera since she would be outside of the 4:3 border otherwise.
Subverted with the remastered S16 intro. The "camera" originally panned across the shot of Brain and Muffy near the end, but does not in the remastered version.
Paranormal Episode: Francine and 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 and 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.
P.O.V. Cam: "You Are Arthur" is drawn from Arthur's point of view to fit the premise that the viewer and Arthur have traded viewpoints, with the viewer inside Arthur's head looking out and Arthur outside his own head looking in.
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.
Mr. Sipple, a minor rabbit character who is The Read's neighbor and appears in most episodes as a comic relief character. Moved away to make way for the Molinas.
Mr. Morris, the (dog) janitor at Elwood Elementry, retires and moves to Roswell, New Mexico with his daughter after injuring his leg when the school partly burns. (Episode: April 9th)
D.W.'s pet toad, Toady Wartface. S7's "The Great Sock Mystery" revealed that Toady escaped.
Pygmalion Snap Back: D.W. experiences this when she makes a bet with Emily that she can teach Tommy Tibble to be good and thus win the Good Behavior Award. It seems to work, but by the end of the episode, Tommy is his original self again.
Rage Breaking Point: The entire plot of S1's "Meek for a Week", where Muffy dares Francine not to be mean for an entire week, in exchange for a watch. Since they do it in secret, the others start to wonder why she suddenly becomes so kind. The bet backfires when it overlaps with a playoff roller hockey game, where Francine acts perfectly content about letting the opposing team score. Muffy realizes her mistake and offers Francine the watch early, but just before Francine decides it's only fair to last the final half hour, an opposing player knocks the watch out of her hands and smashes it, leading to her breaking point.
Recap Episode: The end of S1's "Arthur's New Years Eve" and S3's "D.W.'s Perfect Wish".
Recurring Extra: Alex and Maria, the gray rabbit boy and rabbit girl with D.W.'s hairstyle that have been in pretty much every episode featuring Mr. Ratburn's class. Alex has had three lines over the entire run of the show, while Maria has never said anything. Most of the main characters never refer to them either.
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.
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.
In "It's A Baby Show" when first introducing Dark Bunny, Buster says he is "Bionic Bunny's Cousin" in "The Tenth Anniversary" a special reveals that they were twins separated at birth.
In the teaser of "Francine Redecorates", some of the kids describe their favorite things. Binky names macaroni and cheese as his. A few seasons later, in "World of Tomorrow", he despises the stuff.
Remaster: The intro starting in S16 was remastered and expanded to a 16:9 aspect ratio.
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.
Most of the old episode clips shown in S16's "Best Day Ever" had the characters redubbed with their current voice actors when necessary.
Seadog Beard: They meet an old sea captain with a big beard.
Arthur sometimes does this when it comes to D.W., especially if he thinks he's going to have to compete with her for affection or attention. "D.W.'s Snowball" had one of these, where Arthur's memory is that, when Grandma Thora came over, D.W. acted like a hyperactive brat. "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" also has one, wherein his present to Mom was lauded and he was declared perfect, and Grandma tells D.W. she's only "almost perfect."
Senior Sleep Cycle: Grandma Thora averts this, but Grandpa Dave plays it straight. With Grandpa, it could be because he's apparently in poorer health than Grandma; see "The Big Dig" for an example.
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".
In "Francine Redecorates", Binky mentions in The Teaser that his favorite thing in the world is macaroni and cheese, however, much later in, "The World of Tomorrow", he says he hates macaroni and cheese.
In "Speak Up Francine", Francine has something akin to stage fright, and gets incredibly nervous at the prospect of speaking before an audience.
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.
Shoddy Knockoff Product: In "Arthur Rides the Bandwagon," after Arthur feels left out for being the only one without a Woogle, he starts to look for them — only to find them sold out everywhere. That is, up until he sees a kiosk full of them. Instead of selling the real thing though, he gets suckered into buying a Poogle instead (all he saw of it was the "oogle" part). Rather than being stretchy and bouncy like Woogles, the Poogle is just a plastic shell. His friends are quick to call him out on this.
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.)
S10's The Squirrels features another Teletubbies equivalent 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).
Muffy plays an exaggerated example of this trope when her family is chosen to be on a reality show and the director, J3, wants to create drama to sell the show better. He suggests that Muffy bully her beloved butler, Bailey, who she is very close with. This includes Muffy throwing food, badgering Bailey to drive faster, and a Mommie Dearest-inspired wire hanger scene. Off the reality show, while she can be mean sometimes, she is never as mean as her reality show portrayal.
Spoiled Sweet: D.W.'s friend Emily. She's quite well-off, but always willing to share with others, particularly D.W., even if the latter is being bratty toward her.
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.
Also the episode with "Popular Girl," there's a picture of a woman with a flower pot on her head...
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!
Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: The "Baxter Day" song from Arthur's Perfect Christmas has this— "We could just sleep late if that's what we wanted to do. We could even stay in pajamas all day and maybe eat a snack or... five."
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, "Crazy Bus" was dropped as D.W.'s favorite song. Fallon had written and performed the song for the show.
"All the Rage" features a not so subtle take that at crocs. And, to a lesser degree, Paris Hilton.
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.
Teachers Out Of School: When Mr. Ratburn's ceiling collapses and he temporarily moves in with the Read family, Arthur's little sister DW is confused.
DW: So, the school roof fell in?
Mr. Ratburn: No, the roof to my home.
DW: But you're a teacher - The school is your home.
Mr. Ratburn: Teachers don't live at school, D.W. We have houses just like you.
DW: The world seemed so simple before this moment.
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. They have since been reissued on compact disc and on iTunes as "Arthur's Audio Adventures." 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.)
D.W. and Emily may be a mild example, as Emily tends to have more refined manners and much less of a tendency to be bossy or take a leadership role. As seen in some episodes, D.W. will climb trees, play catch with Arthur and Dad, and do other tomboyish (for her age) things. She also seems like the hardier of the two girls when it comes to roughhousing/generally dealing with the Tibble twins.
In a straighter example, "Best Enemies" featured D.W., a girly-girl, and her tomboy counterpart, W.D.
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?
There's a trademark favourite drink, at least in earlier seasons, for the Read family. They're always seen drinking milk at meals.
Throughout the series, the kids can be seen drinking from cans of "Sara Soda".
Boston Cream Pie seems to be the favorite dessert of most of the kids, especially Arthur and Buster.
Both Arthur and Mr. Ratburn love them the hell out of some cake!
Francine and her family seem to particularly like Chinese food. Eating it is one of their big Hanukkah traditions, and Muffy tries to tempt Francine to eat meat using several of her favorite (meaty) Chinese dishes in "Sue Ellen Vegges Out". Binky is also a huge fan of Chinese food, particularly egg rolls.
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.
To further drive the point home, the Woogle was placed in a yard sale in "Desperately Seeking Stanley" before Kate tried to trade it (maybe she just got hold of a different one somehow)?
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.
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.
Vocal Evolution: And note, this is for characters whose voices naturally evolved over the years, not characters that went through changes in voice actors.
Francine's voice pre-Season 5 is noticably (though not incredibly) deeper, and a bit more resonant and robust.
Muffy's voice starts out a bit softer and has less of a Valley Girl undertone; she also has a slight lisp, probably due to originally having buck teeth.
Binky's is probably the most noticable: his voice was originally much deeper (similar to Arthur's Dad, but with a menacing tone) and had far less emotional range, which developed two or three seasons into the show.
Buster has had a very consistent voice since the beginning of the show, however, throughout the first season, Buster would have moments of deadpan snarking, with his voice dropping a bit, sounding more like a teenager. Also, for some reason, throughout much of the second season, his voice got rather nasally/throaty (think similar to Barney Gumble).
Both Mr. Haney and Miss Turner are really obvious, and somewhat sad examples too. Miss Turner especially sounds incredibly hoarse and raspy in recent years, and Mr. Haney's is a tad scratchy as well.
Way Past the Expiration Date: Buster has a "collection" of interesting-looking and potentially delicious food, all of which is old and stinky. Periodically, his mother throws it all out.
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.
In S16's "Brain's Biggest Blunder," Brain is assigned to be part of a team for a math contest with Binky and Buster. Prunella thinks that this is her and her team's opportunity to win, and Brain comments "That Prunella thinks she's got this contest in the bag. Well, we'll just about that!"
What Are Records?: Played straight in the Arthur episode "Francine Frensky, Superstar". (Note: This was one of the earliest episodes of the show, the first season of a program that is in its seventeenth season as of 2013 and shows no sign of stopping.) The kids shot blank looks at Mr. Ratburn when he talked about Thomas Edison's invention, the phonograph, and prompted the following exhcange:
Ratburn: It played music, with a needle.
Binky: Is this some kind of a joke?
A couple seasons later, in "Popular Girls," when one group of kids during a spring break day camp brings in various antique or "old-fashioned" devices, Jenna demonstrates a record player, and all the kids "ooh" and "aah" over it.
What the Hell, Hero?: In the S16 episode, "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh", Arthur bullies Sue Ellen over her hideous new sweater. Arthur of all characters, bullying one of his best friends! What the Hell, Hero?indeed!
When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Seen in "Arthur's Birthday," except the clock (the grandfather clock in Arthur's living room) is striking noon instead of midnight, as noon is the time the double-birthday party for Arthur and Muffy is supposed to start.
However, the midnight variation does show up in "Prunella's Special Edition," but in this case, a bookstore is opening at midnight, and kids are waiting to enter to buy the latest Henry Skreever book.
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 they're 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".