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YMMV: Arthur
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    PBS Kids Television Series 
  • Adaptation Displacement and Adaptation Expansion: S1's "Buster's Dino Dilemma" is actually one of the book titles. Some episodes are expansions and bifurcations of stories from the books. "Arthur's Teacher Trouble" was split into two S1 episodes: "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn" and "Arthur's Spelling Trubble". S1's "Arthur's Baby" gets a P.O.V. Sequel, "D.W.'s Baby."
    • The show also mentions at the end that Arthur books can be found at your local library, at least.
    • This displacement even extends over to the Living Books titles — some people think that the games were based off the show, despite predating the show by several years.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is D.W. just an immature kid who will grow out of her brattiness eventually, or an incredibly self-centered and ungrateful brat? It doesn't help that the show itself goes back and forth on this.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: In the marbles episode, Arthur constantly worries about facing Grandma Thora, especially since she is the one who actually taught him out to play in the championship, and makes every attempt to sabotage himself to please her, but she throws the championship herself, citing an archaic rule in which players are not allowed to step in the marble circle.
  • Anvilicious: Averted for most of the series, played straight in the newest episodes. Those who grew up with the series have understandably been crying "They Changed It, Now It Sucks."
    • Even the theme song is anvilicious, but rather catchy!
    • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: A few anvils that were dropped are actually pretty solid Aesops for children. While anyone can tell you "Arthur's Big Hit" is this towards Disproportionate Retribution, reactions vary on whether or not it needed to be dropped, or they did so the wrong way.
    • The last several seasons have had these with increasing frequency. "Arthur Weighs In" had an anvil for obesity, while "The Last Tough Customer" and "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh" were the bullying anvils. The show has also dealt with such issues as overexposure to technology, both for fun and inside the classroom, standardized testing, and several other current issues. It's gotten to the point where one almost expects there will be an Issue of the Week.
  • Archive Panic: The show started in 1996 with 30 episodes for season 1. The second season has 20 episodes, and the third season has 15 to bring the show up to the syndication-mandated 65 episodes. The show went on a 3 year hiatus between 2000-2002, then came back into production in 2003 and hasn't stopped since. Then Subsequent seasons had 10-20 episodes. The show hit it's 100th episode in the middle of Season 7 in 2007. It's already Season 17 and there are 205 episodes. And Season 18 and 19 is still in the works. Calculating, each episode is 24 minutes long. That makes the entire runtime 4920 minutes, or exactly 82 hours, at the moment. Put into a marathon, it will run 3 days and 10 hours nonstop. And that's not counting the two hour-long special and the direct-to-DVD movie.
  • Awesome Music:
    • 'Elwood City' from the end of the play in "Elwood City Turns 100".
    • All of the songs from "Arthur's Almost Real Not Live Music Festival", especially "Jekyll & Hyde".
  • Base Breaker:
    • Francine and Muffy have really become this for many fans lately, especially in more recent years - it doesn't help that their behavior on the show has become increasingly more and more hypocritical, the infamous, "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh" episode really puts this into perspective: both Francine and Muffy demean Arthur for basically bullying Sue Ellen, and for his back-handed, insincere apologies, when both of them are even more guilty of those same kind of actions than Arthur. Muffy even goes as far to say if she ever hurt someone's feelings, she would write them a very heartfelt apology letter... if she did, it would be extremely out of character for her.
    • Arthur's Missing Pal, the direct-to-DVD movie, had a broken base due to the story pacing, some of the scenes in the movie, and the fact that it was CGI 3D and not traditional 2D animation.
    • Fern is this for some; some like her because she comes off as a Moe character, with how quiet and shy, yet cute she is; others, on the other hand, aren't so fond of her seemingly dark and sinister train of thoughts and how passive aggressive she can be when pushed too far.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: A bear and a chicken makng out in "I'm a Poet". Apart from it being an imaginary and non-canon scene it's completely unexplained.
  • Broken Base: Some fans screamed Ruined Forever when it was revealed that Arthur would be switching production houses to 9 Story Entertainment after Cookie Jar got bought over by DHX, and would rather see DHX taking over production of the show. Others, however, finds it a relief that the show did not go over to DHX and would rather it be in the hands of the 9 Story.
  • Cool Teacher: Mr. Ratburn, of a sort. He's not a classically Cool Teacher because of his insane homework loads and serious personality. But the kids eventually come to appreciate they actually learn things from him. Several of his secondary traits, like watching cartoons and loving cake, show he's a big kid inside.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • The Tibble Twins as of late. D.W. could possibly be this as well.
    • Pal and Baby Kate due to the amount of focus episodes they've gotten.
    • George in episodes focused on him, especially when he has Wally with him. The creators have confessed that George is their favorite character, because he's an interesting character to write for, suffering from dyslexia, yet being incredibly clever and intelligent.
    • Some fans accuse Sue Ellen of being this, at times (then again, she was supposedly based on a childhood crush of Marc Brown's, so that may have something to do with it).
  • Designated Villain:
    • In Arthur and his friends' imaginations, Mr. Ratburn is often made into one.
    • Arthur, at least in D.W.'s imagination and fantasies. His friends would also often be categorized. Even her own parents and her best friend Emily have been shown as villains in D.W.'s imagination occasionally.
    • Binky occasionally gets this in imagination spots as well, though it was most frequent in the first few seasons. Somewhat justified in that Binky was more of a bully in the early years, but it still happened in episodes in which he hadn't done anything.
    • "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh" puts Arthur in this position. While sometimes, Kids Are Cruel, even nice ones like Arthur, it still seemed very out of character.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Deconstructed (in-universe) right down to the bone in the S16 episode "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh." But then again, how many times have you teased/been teased/saw someone getting teased over what someone wore when you were growing up? It would have worked better had it not been Arthur doing the teasing, which is very out of character for him.
  • Ear Worm:
    • Most of the songs in S3's "Arthur's Almost Live Not Real Music Festival", some of which don't even have a tune! Is it any surprise that the episode spawned a CD release?
    • Art Garfunkel's performances in S3's "The Ballad of Buster Baxter".
    • The theme song. Just looking at the lyrics at the top of this page are enough to get it stuck.
    • "A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K!" Who know spelling "Aardvark" could be so catchy?
    • "Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!"
      • "And don't forget the Dewey Decimal System is your friend!"
      • "WHO'S DEWEY!?"
      • "I want some Ice Cream, Chocolate would be good!"
      • "Just a little Hoooomework, tonight, tonight (That's a lot of homework!)"
    • Crazy Bus, Crazy Bus, riding on the Crazy Bus...
    • The opening song for the play in "Elwood City Turns 100!"
    • Ooh-wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wee-ooh-wee!
    • "The best word I know is F-U-N, F-U-N spells fun..."
    • The remix of the intro.
    • Don't want/ nothing but the music./ Don't need/ the shiny limousine. Bonus points for the song being performed by the Backstreet Boys.
    • The fricking Here We Go Again music cue.
    • "Hey! (What?) You! (Yeah?) Have you seen my invisible friend? (Huh?!?)"
    • The Love Ducks versions of classical... well, classics. You'll never wanna hear them any other way again.
    • "Ooooonly the Frensky can save the day..."
    • "When your back's against the wall, and you're afraid you'll take the fall... when no one else would have the guts, call me: Fern, detective!"
    • "We're no longer, tough and mean! We've changed our image, into a preteen's dream!"
    • "Oh the weather outside is crummy..."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Despite the fact that for 16 years they've only been background extras, and never been promoted to a recurring or supporting role, the characters Alex and Maria (the gray bunny with the orange sweater, and the girl bunny with the blue and pink striped shirt, respectively) have a number of fans.
    • Molly has quite a following, though mostly due to rather illicit reasons.
    • Marina. She doesn't have many episodes, but she comes off as a very strong character who doesn't like being fussed over due to her blindness.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Some fans prefer Arthur/Sue Ellen as a couple as opposed to the implied Official Couple of Arthur/Francine.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • S2's "Binky Barnes, Art Expert" has Arthur and Buster trying to convince Binky not to go to school by telling him that the school was destroyed in a fire. It's Played for Laughs, since Binky can see the school from his house. 5 seasons later in S7's "April 9th"...
    • In the first season Francine traps Buster in an airtight light bulb costume for the Thomas Edison play. Years later, we find out Buster has asthma...
    • "Grandpa Dave's Old Country Farm" oozes with irony. The episode is about how great life at the farm is, how things have gotten out of hand, and how Grandpa needs more help as he's getting older. He even mentions how long the farm has been in his family. Once he's diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, he has to move closer to Arthur, effectively ditching that farm. Arthur is forced to admit that things aren't the same.
    • The two appearances by Lance Armstrong are very unsettling to watch these days after Armstrong revealed that he did use performance-enhancing drugs to win all those Tour de France races. It's the main reason why those episodes will never air again on PBS.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • One episode has an Imagine Spot with a One Million BC version of Arthur's family - and they look like actual aardvarks (flat-nosed, pointy-eared).
    • Bailey gives Ed Crosswire a copy of Samuel Beckett's Endgame for his birthday. Endgame details the life of an Old Retainer who is desperate to leave his demanding master, but is constantly prevented from doing so. Perhaps Bailey is Hint Dropping.
    • At the beginning of one episode, an unidentified alvarezsaur appears. It's pretty accurate, except maybe for the fact that its tail is too short.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: D.W.'s naked butt cheeks are seen briefly when she's running out of the bathtub yelling for help in "Arthur's Pet Business" (though it's partly obscured by a towel.)
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In S1's "Arthur Cleans Up", Arthur complained about the state of a city park by claiming "the oceans are full of oil." Fast forward to late Summer 2010...
    • That in S10's "Binky vs. Binky," a Lance Armstrong Lawyer-Friendly Cameo character called Vance Legstrong is used, only for them to later be able to get the real Lance Armstrong in their Very Special Episode S13's "The Great MacGrady," now that Lance has been stripped of his titles for doping. Perhaps they should have stuck with the lawyer friendly cameo character...
    • In a Season 1 episode, Buster is forced to wear a light bulb costume without air holes and can barely breathe. Flash forward a few seasons and it's revealed that he has asthma.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • S5's "Arthur and the Big Riddle" had Arthur appearing on an in-universe game show, Riddle Quest. His opponent was a contestant who had been winning repeatedly for weeks, in vein of Jeopardy's rule on returning champions. In contrast, the actual Jeopardy show had a five-day limit on returning champions. A few years later, that limit was removed and along came Ken Jennings, who won 74 straight games in a row and over 3 million dollars.
    • S7's "Prunella Sees the Light" has Prunella telling Muffy, "Marina's blind, not in a wheelchair." 6 seasons later, S13's "The Wheel Deal" introduces Lydia Gordon, a fan-created character in a wheelchair.
    • Although Lydia hasn't been seen since. She seems to have unfortunately fallen under the Inspirationally Disadvantaged trope, type B.
    • "Buster's New Friend" has D.W. comment that "maybe Buster doesn't like Bionic Bunny anymore." As of "Buster Gets Real", that's totally true.
      • While on that note, Season 3's "Arthur's Almost Live, Not Real Music Festival" features Buster questioning what's so great about stuff being real. Come the aforementioned "Buster Gets Real", he stops liking Bionic Bunny because it's "not real".
    • S2's "Play it Again D.W." has D.W. obsessing over the song Crazy Bus. It is catchy, but it drives Arthur crazy. In 2005, a Venezuelan video game called Crazy Bus was released, and it's best known for the title screen music, which is both catchy and extremely obnoxious.
    • The episode "That's a Baby Show!" features Arthur accidentally tuning into a Teletubbies expy called "Love Ducks" and becoming a closeted fan of the show, going to great lengths to avoid anyone finding out he enjoys it. Fast forward to early 2011, and young men across the nation are beginning to relate quite a bit. This might not have been accidental: Arthur itself has a prominent Periphery Demographic, which was already rather large, and the episode was meant as a message to them.
    • In the episode "The Chips Are Down", D.W. eats a green potato chip and thought she was going to die from poisoning. Fast forward to 2009- P&G starts producing seaweed flavored Pringles chips- which are green in color.
    • In the season 2 episode "Arthur Makes a Movie", Buster complains that by the time the kids will be old enough to see a James Hound movie James will get old and not be as good as he used to be.
    • In "Meet Binky" Arthur finds out that a band he adores (who happens to share their name with the character Binky) is entirely virtual and performs concerts via holograms. Fast-forward to 2009...
    • A season 2 episode has Buster drawing a comic he calls "The Big Clumsy Moose With Big Feet Named Franny". In 2006 PBS Kids began airing a cartoon called "Franny's Feet" about a girl called Franny who wears peoples shoes and gets transported to places relevant to the episode.
    • Season 10's "The Squirrels", from 2006, has Arthur and his friends scared of squirrels after watching the eponymous horror movie, until they ultimately learn that squirrels are harmless. A "Squirrels" horror movie, unrelated to the cartoon, is now being made.
    • In "Matchmaker, Match Breaker", Francine and Muffy have a sitcom inspired imagination sequence where the rich Muffy and lower middle class Francine live together in an apartment with a horse.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Arthur in "Arthur Weighs In" is shocked to find he's "husky sized", whereas his build is basically that of an average child and doesn't look heavier than most of his peers.
  • Ho Yay:
    • A number of older fans see Arthur and Buster as being more than just Hetero Sexual Life Partners; the recent episode, "The Substitute Arthur," doesn't help that Buster actually goes into a depressive funk with Arthur gone for a weekend. Of course, we also have:
    • Les Yay: All throughout the series, there's a few inklings (some subtle, some more obvious) of this with Francine and Muffy.
    • Prunella and Marina seem to be drifting into this territory as well as far as a number of fans are concerned.
  • Love It or Hate It: The Imagine Spots! Some find them to be absolutely hilarious, especially considering how wild the imaginations of some of the kids can get, while others find them to be an annoying and unnecessary Once per Episode thing that disrupts the rest of the story.
  • Memetic Bystander: Well, memetic on the outofcontextarthur blog. There is a recurring crocodile/alligator in the background of many episodes that wears a target shirt and headphones. They have dubbed him Samson.
  • Memetic Mutation: Arthur is a very popular subject for YouTube Poop, especially S4's "Arthur's Big Hit."
  • Moe:
  • Most Annoying Sound: Crazy Bus! Crazy Bus! Riding on a Crazy Bus! Riding up! Riding down! Driven by a funny clown! Once you hear it, you can't unhear it. Arthur himself lampshades it.
  • Narm: Shows up from time to time. For example, "A is for Angry", in which Arthur gets fed up with his peers constantly taking his side and cheering for him while he trains for a big checkers tournament. The odd pose and scream he makes when he finally snaps makes it seem less like Arthur is angry, but rather like he accidentally swallowed a bug.
  • Never Live It Down: Nigel Ratburn was told you'd be having cake.
  • Parental Incest: Bitzi crosses into this territory, as at times, she comes off as being a little too obsessive over Buster and his life.
  • Periphery Demographic: Massive and vocal, especially in the older seasons of the program. Even currently, though, the program maintains a large number of fans who theoretically should have "outgrown" the program a long time ago, or whom have never been in its target audience in the first place during the time that it's been airing.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Played straight with the Game Boy Color title, Arthur's Absolutely Fun Day, which is described by many as excruciatingly painful to play (it's not absolutely fun).
  • The Scrappy:
    • D.W. for often getting whatever she wants, acting like she's smarter than Arthur, tattling on Arthur for things that weren't his fault, complains about Arthur being mean to her when she's the one making condescending comments at his expense and never giving him a moment of peace. There's a reason why the wallbangers page have a section where she alone caused the stupidity.
    • Muffy for being a spoiled brat and gets punished far less often than D.W.
    • Binky when he's being a bully and especially when he whines and acts like his viewpoint is the only one that matters.
    • Francine when she's a jerk.
    • Brain when he's an insufferable genius.
    • The Tibble Twins are basically gender bender versions of D.W. but with less redeeming qualities and never get punished and their personalities often involve arguing with each other over whatever subject they're discussing and rough housing with each other.
    • Kate and Pal were seen as just fine for most of the series but recently they're gained this reputation thanks to the segments when they talk.
    • Ladonna is seen as an annoying, unneeded character. It doesn't help she was introduced right when the series got a cheaper art style that made fans mad enough.
      • On top of that, although she's only the latest in a long line of new characters introduced to the show over the past few seasons, she's the only one whose literally be thrusted into the limelight and has gotten a number of episodes centered on her since her introduction, in addition to being part of the regular cast, whereas most other newer characters have pretty much been kept as supporting/secondary characters and even background extras.
  • Scapegoat Creator: Dietrich Smith, one of the show's writers. Certain fans have complained that the quality of his stories aren't up to par and that he botches certain characterizations badly.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • S5 is considered a low point by many longtime fans.
    • Season 16 might as well be another candidate, what with the Flash animation and the addition of Ladonna.
    • Season 9 could also be another candidate, considering this was beginning of what some fans refer to as Arthur's "reverse puberty", as his voice continually grew higher, softer, and more childlike.
  • Ship Tease: Arthur and Ladonna have definitely been drifting into this territory.
  • Squick: This show seems to just love having various different characters eating absolutely disgusting things every now and then, such as...
    • Buster has eaten a 40-year-old bologna sandwich, half of a cupcake he kept since second grade, ice cream that he's dropped on the floor.
    • George has once eaten ice cream that he had dropped on the floor as well.
    • Arthur once finds a sucker that was stuck between the couch cushions, and has collected dust, lint, hair, etc., remarks that he wondered where it went, then puts it in his mouth.
    • Arthur's Knee is a nauseating episode for those who don't like blood. And for those who don't like vomit indiscretion shots, there's the scene in D.W The Picky Eater where she pukes on the camera. Gross!
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: The ice cream shop Yumbobo in "Brain Freeze" - it's got a cute penguin mascot, fancy ice cream names, and overly cheerful workers.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks:
    • Every time Arthur gets a new voice actor fans decry them.
    • After 16 long years of being in the hands of Cinar/Cookie Jar Entertainment, the license was passed on to 9 Story Entertainment, who proceeded to switch from traditional to Flash animation. Some fans haven't been too happy about the result so far.
    • The Tough Customers breaking up and no longer being bullies. While it's unacceptable for children to bully each other in real life, realistic fiction is supposed to have different conventions. Often, if there is no antagonist, there is no story (although this show does seem to buck that convention a lot). The particularly Anvilicious "So Funny" episode drives this point home. The problem is not that Arthur was being mean or that Sue Ellen told the teacher about it; the problem is that the kids weren't allowed to work things out on their own and come to the conclusion that bullying is wrong.
  • Toy Ship: As always, mileage varies, but older fans tend to do this to some characters. Arthur and Francine have been shipped frequently, even during Imagine Spot segments on their own show. Fern and George may be a Toy Ship as well, and recent seasons have this tropette seeing a cute one between D.W. and Bud Compson.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Whenever a celebrity gets made into an Arthur character. They try to make their features match with the shows but it comes off as creepy. Everyone else is too cartoony compared to them.
    • The style of animation in season 16. Flash does not work on a show like this.
  • Unfortunate Implications: As pointed out by Cracked, the first "Arthur" book found a much more aardvark-like Arthur considering plastic surgery to reduce the size of his nose; ultimately, he decides against it. But as the series goes on, his nose gradually gets smaller and smaller until he has about as much of a schnoz as Voldemort.
    • In Universe, Pema, the Tibetan World Girl and Little Tibet as a whole were discontinued since Tibet's mostly Buddhist, it didn't generate enough accessories.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Arthur in "Arthur's Big Hit", when he hits DW after she breaks his model airplane. We're supposed to see it as a Kick the Dog moment, but the thing is, he's not an aggressive person at the best of times, and he only hit DW because he had told her numerous times not to touch his model and she deliberately disobeyed him. Added to that the fact that she fails to apologize for her actions, trying to pass it off as Arthur's fault (saying that if he'd built a model airplane correctly, it wouldn't have crashed when she launched it out the window), and the hit becomes justified.
    • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: DW, in that episode and in many, many others. Even in the episodes where she has some justifiable reason for being bratty, she tends to take it so far that it's impossible to sympathize with her. This is not made better by all the times she doesn't have an excuse, and just felt like being irritating - it makes her seem less like she's acting up because of the issue at hand and more like her already-horrible behavior is just being exacerbated by said issue.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: A mild case with Molly. Her hair covers her eyes with exception of a few very rare occasions, she hangs out mainly with guys, skateboards, and generally acts rough and tough. Her outfit of dark blue jeans with a lighter blue jacket of which the sleeves have been torn off would typically indicate masculinity (Most of the other girls wear at least one pastel color or a skirt). The only clue to her gender is her hair, but it's fairly short, and one of her male friends has longer hair than her. When she doesn't speak, or even at times when she does speak, it can be difficult to judge her gender if you don't know her name.
    • Several different voices have been used for Molly. In early season, especially, Season One, Molly has distinctly feminine voice with a slightly nasally high pitch. Most of Season Five through Season Eight portray her with a lower, flatter voice than most of the other girls that sounds almost gender-neutral. Later on, her voice varies between the latter and a different voice that's recognizably female. In Season Fourteen and onward, her voice is basically borderline for either gender, but now with a trace of a New York accent.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: "Love Ducks". It's just so trippy that it's worthy of H.R. Pufnstuf, or Yo Gabba Gabba.
    • Or BoohBah.
  • The Woobie: Arthur, especially in episodes like Arthur's Eyes, Arthur's Underwear or any episode where Arthur goes through hell from his friends.
    • Sue Ellen has become this in later seasons, particularly "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh", where she's constantly heckled by Arthur for the sweater she didn't choose to wear.
    • Any of Arthur's friends can be this (though Francine may be more of an example of a Jerkass Woobie), but especially Buster where he's ostracized by his friends just because he went around the world, and some of Arthur's friends can't stand his eccentricities.
    • And then there's Fern. Hoo boy does she qualify. Especially in Draw! where she's mercilessly teased by Francine. It gets to the point that whenever Francine goes through hell, some people think of it as karmic payback for all the nasty things she's done to Arthur and Fern.
    • Jerkass Woobie: D.W., the Tibbles, Francine, etc.


1981 Film

  • Annoying Laugh: Plenty of characters likely quickly grow tired of it.
  • Award Bait Song: "Arthur's Theme", which won the Best Song Academy Award.
  • Ear Worm: The incidental music.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: There's a lot of Christmas references in the film, and at one point Susan remarks Arthur looks like one of Santa's elves. Guess what Dudley Moore plays in Santa Claus The Movie?
  • Hollywood Homely: Susan is played by a very pretty Jill Eikenberry. Arguably justified since most of the other characters do acknowledge this; it just so happens that Arthur has a rather unconventional taste in women (and seems to have more issues with Susan's personality than her looks).
    • Averted. Guests at the engagement party remark on how pretty Susan is. Linda confirms this: "Of course. Why would Arthur marry a dog?"
      • Subverted. Linda's tone indicates she thinks Susan is a dog.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Arthur.
  • Sequelitis: Among other things, it brought Hobson back for a few scenes as a Spirit Advisor.
    • Its writer Andy Breckman (now better known as a co-creator of Monk) reportedly stood outside his home theater to personally apologize to anyone who saw it.
  • Tear Jerker: Hobson's death. Of course, it's hard for anything to be too tearjerking in a movie this silly.

2011 Film

  • Tear Jerker: Hobson's death. The way he tries to wake her, and his immediate recoil after touching her cold hand breaks your heart. In a later scene, a broken and drunken Arthur speaks to Naomi.
    Arthur: My Mum died.

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