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Tropes A to D | Tropes E to M | Tropes N to R | Tropes S to Z

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  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • It took a while for the standard Imagine Spot vibraphone sound to kick in.
    • Francine was much meaner than she is now.
    • Pretty much all Furry Reminders happened in the first few seasons.
    • Binky was a much bigger bully, particularly during season one, before he gradually became one of the guys.
    • Mr. Ratburn's assignments were ridiculously overexaggerated and he was portrayed as a Sadist Teacher.
    • Fern, George, Jenna, practically everyone in D.W.'s preschool class (save for Emily and the Tibbles) and 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 cartoonish movements, and continuity errors. They gradually improved over the season. Along with the character movements, a lot of the humor was very wacky and cartoonish as well (these seem to be largely carried over from The Busy World of Richard Scarry, another show Cookie Jar Entertainment was producing at the time Arthur began and featured many of the same crew members.
    • Early episodes would feature Sue Ellen in second grade, even though she transferred in third grade.
    • In some early episodes, Mr. Ratburn had the habit of tilting his head back as he spoke, making his pointed nose point towards the ceiling or sky.
    • A minor one, but in "Arthur and the True Francine", Muffy (the new student in this episode) refers to Bailey as "James". Possibly retconned to avoid the One Steve Limit, as there would end up being a more significant recurring character named James, one of D.W.'s classmates.
    • Arthur was a jerk, endlessly tormenting and insulting D.W. and losing his temper very fast. He even admits in "Sue Ellen's Little Sister" that he wishes he didn't have any siblings, just for selfish reasons, and that the only good thing about D.W. is that he can blame her for things he did. Later, he became the Nice Guy that most people know him as.
    • "My Music Rules" is the only guest star episode (the third overall, after "I'm a Poet" and "Arthur Meets Mister Rogers") to have a unique guest star credit. Episodes after this one use a clip with the guest star from earlier in the episode.
  • Early Personality Signs:
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the end of "Sick as a Dog", when Pal is released from the veterinarian, the veterinarian tells Arthur that Pal is still unhealthy because he ate a lot of certain food that dogs should never eat. He gives Arthur a lecture book about what dogs should eat to stay healthy. After that, Arthur tells D.W. about the differences between a dog stomach and a human stomach.
  • Easily Embarrassed Youngster:
    • Arthur himself is pretty easily embarrassed. A great deal of the embarrassment plots focus on him, and he's often embarrassed by things D.W. does, even though she's only four.
    • Downplayed for Binky, who isn't usually that insecure but he finds most of his more unorthodox hobbies embarrassing.
  • Eat the Camera: Happens during Uncle Fred's video postcard in Arthur's Perfect Christmas. The video ends with Rory licking at the camera and Fred telling him that's not a dog treat as the video cuts to static.
    • Arthur does it during the Dr. Katz parody in "The Contest" when he finds D.W. traded his car.
    • The inverse happens in "Play it Again, D.W.," When D.W. finds that her Crazy Bus CD is gone, the camera zooms out of her mouth as she screams.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!:
    • The opening teaser of "Pets and Pests" has the entire Read family, sans Baby Kate, demonstrate a highly over-exaggerated version of this when David unveils his banana bread and there's a mouse on it. It ends with them all running out of the kitchen screaming, only for Mrs. Read to run back in and grab Baby Kate.
    • In S4's "Hide and Snake", when Arthur and his friends (correctly) guess the snake Arthur brought home is loose in his room, they immediately climb on anything higher than the floor. Binky in particular chose a stepping stool. This is justified because there was a distinct possibility that it was a highly venomous coral snake.
  • Election Day Episode: An episode titled "The Election" sees Arthur and Muffy running against each other for class president of Mr. Ratburn's class. Arthur is pretty meek and awkward, while Muffy promises the class the world and that her father's wealth will pay for everything they could ever want. In the debate, Arthur proves to be more interested in issues like cleaner school grounds and raising funds for better school assemblies and field trips, while Muffy advertises her father's car dealership. However, Binky ends up becoming a third write-in candidate (after falling asleep during the debate) and proposes some pretty basic platforms like no homework and snacks in class. Binky ends up winning the election in a landslide, and though he immediately begins ordering his demands, Mr. Ratburn has to remind him that it was a mock election.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: In the original Arthur Adventure book series, personally written and illustrated by Marc Brown, both the Tibble Twins and Mrs. Tibble are humans. It's never remarked upon and no one finds it strange. Of course, this was changed in the animated series.
  • Eleventy Zillion:
    • 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 try to prove to D.W. they can tell time. They point to the grandfather clock in Arthur's living room and say the time is "eleventy-twelve," when the clock actually reads ten past four.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Binky's first name is actually Shelley. He gets over being embarrassed when he learns he's named after his great-great grandfather, a Cool Old Guy who owned a circus.
    • D.W. herself; She openly dislikes being referred to as Dora Winifred, and instead prefers to go strictly by her initials. "The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur" reveals the origin behind D.W.'s name: she was named after her great grand-uncle Theo's sister, who died before D.W. was born. After this, she's more open about her name.
    • In "Best Enemies", we find out W.D.'s initials stand for Wilhelmina Dagmar. Her response to the Reads learning this is, "Thanks for embarrassing me in front of the whole universe, Mom!"
  • Embarrassing Hobby: Arthur develops a secret obsession with Love Ducks, a fictional ultra-psychedelic children's show that may or may not be a parody (or Expy) of Teletubbies.
  • Embarrassment Plot: Used a lot.
    • In "All Thumbs", Arthur and Buster are embarrassed because the former caught the latter sucking his thumb.
    • In "Jenna's Bedtime Blues," Jenna is embarrassed to go to Muffy's fancy girls-only sleepover because she wets the bed. However, the rest of her friends understand are are fine with it when she brings a pull-up.
    • In "That's a Baby Show!" Arthur is too embarrassed to admit to watching "Love Ducks," a show he deems babyish.
    • In "Revenge of the Chip", D.W. doesn't want people to find out about the events of "The Chips are Down" where she thought green potato chips could kill her because she's embarrassed.
    • Defied in "The Secret About Secrets", where D.W. keeps James's splitting his pants a secret to avoid embarrassing him.
    • "Kids are From Earth, Parents are From Pluto" focuses on the kids trying to get their parents to avert Amazingly Embarrassing Parents on Parents' Day.
    • In "Arthur Meets Mr. Rogers," Arthur is embarrassed about Mr. Rogers coming to stay because he thinks his show is for babies.
    • In "Night Fright," Binky is embarrassed to admit he is scared of the dark and uses a nightlight.
    • In "Arthur Unravels," Arthur is embarrassed to admit he likes knitting.
    • In "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," Binky is embarrassed because he thinks George saw him Holding Hands with his mother and is worried his classmates will think he's babyish.
  • Encouraged Regifting: Happens in "Arthur's Perfect Christmas", when Arthur wants to get his mom a glass bird to replace one he broke. Unfortunately, he breaks the new one the day of Christmas. His uncle Fred saves the day by taking the gift tag from Arthur's present and putting it on the gift he was planning on giving Arthur's mom, so that Arthur will have something to give his mother.
  • Endangered Soufflé: The "victim" in "Arthur's Family Feud". Unusually, it was destroyed by being knocked off the table and onto the floor, upside down, which would have done in a more mundane dish just as easily. The rationale behind it being a soufflé was that it was a challenge to make, and Mr. Read was crestfallen that all his hard work had gone to waste.
  • 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 Tagline: The episode "D.W. and Dr. Whosit" has a lot of people quote the line from the Show Within a Show parody of Doctor Who: "Egad! The doctor has flibbered!".
  • Episode Title Card:
    • Varies depending on who's involved in the episode, and, in some cases, what happens to them. Specific title cards would be retired by S14 (S16 in U.S. airings), where sneak peaks of the episode are shown instead. Some of the more common title card animations:
      • Arthur appears in a circle, and Francine walks over and hits it like a gong, rattling him.
      • The kids emerge from an egg in the middle, as a giant bird foot appears and they run away.
      • Arthur finds an umbrella offscreen when it starts to rain.
      • Buster looks through a circle which turns out to function like a magnifying glass.
      • Wearing an alien costume, Buster lands in a UFO.
      • D.W. wears a fairy costume, comes down, and creates Arthur with her wand. She then turns his head into a frog.
      • Arthur spins a slot machine, revealing the face of either Brain, Muffy, Sue Ellen, or George.
      • D.W. opens some curtains to reveal Arthur taking a bath.
    • 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.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Binky and Rattles play it straight, with Binky making a point to never allow people to insult his mother in when he's in earshot. Molly is a gender-inverted example; she loves her Mom and adores her brother James.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Towards the beginning of "Is There a Doctor in the House?" when Arthur and D.W. and even Mr. Read are being particularly rambunctious at dinner and Mrs. Read is getting a cold, she imagines them as clowns and then shouts out "Can't we just have a little peace and quiet for once?!" Everyone looks shocked, even Pal, who whimpers and scampers out of the room.
  • 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.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Sue Ellen. It comes up in the Season 19 episode "Sue Ellen Adds it Up." The trait seems to run in her family; neither of her parents like math, either.
  • The Everyman: Arthur, in sharp contrast to his widely varied friends with telling character traits. Lampshaded a few times: in S6's "Best of the Nest"; the geese match each character's personality (Buster's is Silly Goose, Brain's is Smart Goose, Binky's is Strong Goose, etc.) and Arthur's is "Just Plain Goose." In "Nicked by a Name," Arthur's nickname is "Average Arthur."
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Two examples:
    • 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.
  • Everything's Better with Cows:
    • D.W.'s favorite TV show Mary Moo Cow seems to be built on this trope. Also, one of the stranger running gags of the earlier seasons was the occasional appearance of cows, often out of nowhere amidst the kids' adventures for no reason. They appear in "Arthur's Family Vacation" and "Meet Binky", among others.
    • A board game called Tower of Cows makes a frequent appearance in the series. The rules aren't explained aside from stacking plastic cows, but its popular enough that even France has its own version.
  • 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. Only a few changes have been made to the opening credits: the addition of a trademark to the show's title card and the sequence's resolution being change to widescreen and high-definition. The end credits sequence had the vocals recut, so that the website and the Arthur books can be plugged without interrupting Ziggy Marley at al.
  • Excalibur in the Stone: In "The Return of the King," Arthur and the class go to a medieval fair which has a sword in the stone contest. Everybody that attempts it struggles to pull out the sword by using brute strength but Arthur, of course, figures out the solution of "a gentle hand will rule the land" and gets the sword out by gently wiggling it out. This is shown as a flashback in "D.W., Queen of the Comeback."
  • Exhausted Eye Bags:
    • Buster has a bad case of this in Arthur's Perfect Christmas due to being repeatedly awoken really early in the morning by his mother on the days leading up to Christmas because she thinks it's Christmas Day when it actually isn't.
    • In "Sue Ellen and the Brainasaurous," Brain has these after working late at night on the dinosaur model.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In "Arthur's Big Hit", D.W. complains to Arthur that he didn't build his model plane correctly, as it doesn't fly at all. Arthur starts explaining that the plane isn't SUPPOSED to fly, then realizes with horror that D.W wouldn't have known the plane doesn't fly unless she tried to make the plane fly.
  • Extreme Doormat: "George Blows His Top" turns on this trope. Buster starts taking advantage of George and "borrowing" all his stuff, until George loses it. There's also "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" in which George goes completely quiet throughout the whole story because Binky thinks that George saw him holding his mom's hand and doesn't want him to say anything about it and embarrass him.
    • Fern showed shades of this in the early seasons. In fact, in "Popular Girls", she was worried about being so quiet that eventually no one would know she was around.
  • Extremely Overdue Library Book: In the episode "Unfinished," Arthur asks Ms. Turner if she has any copies of the book 93 Million Miles in a Balloon at the library. She says that a man checked it out over 30 years ago and never returned it.
  • Eye Pop and Jaw Drop: In "Arthur's First Sleepover," Buster does highly exaggerated, cartoony versions of both in his nightmare in which he discovers that Arthur and Buster are aliens, only to wake up, comment "That was scary," and flop back over to sleep.

  • Face Palm: D.W. at the end of "Is There a Doctor in the House?" when Arthur starts sneezing; surely other instances as well.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Characters often have delicate conversations within earshot of others that are not picked up. For instance, in "Buster's Dino Dilemma," Arthur and Buster are within ten feet of the class, and no one notices Buster suddenly and frantically searching through the river for a dropped fossilized footprint.
  • Failed Pilot Episode: "In My Africa" comes off a bit like one. It introduces a brand-new preschool friend, named Cheikh, for D.W., and more than half of the episode consists of D.W., Cheikh, and sometimes Brain singing about Africa. D.W. even talks about having her own show called "D.W. and Cheikh."
  • 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.
  • Family-Friendly "Mature" Content: Appears multiple times
    Gangster: Ugh! This is terrible apple pie, it's ***! My mother. Now there was a woman who could make ***ing amazing apple pie. When she made it, the whole *** neighborhood stood outside her house! *** say *** that woman was. If it's okay with you T, I'd like to give that pastry chef a taste of his own cannoli.
    Mafia Boss: None of you *** ***s so much as *** unless I *** say so! Capiche?
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: The Show Within a Show in "Attack of the Turbo Tibbles" is implied to have this. Mrs. Read orders to turn it off as soon as she catches the Tibbles watching it at her house, and later their imitation of violence in the show sends D.W. to the hospital.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: If what Francine says is true about the coming of the New Year on "Arthur's New Year's Eve" then you'd better be sure you've discarded your calendar right as the clock hits midnight. He imagines that Grandma Thora gets arrested for failing to do so.
  • Feud Episode: Common for a kids' TV series. Most of these are done with Arthur and Buster or Francine and Muffy.
    • "Locked in the Library!": Francine is mad at Arthur over an insult and they aren't happy to be paired up for an assignment. When the library closes with them still in it, they have to team up to escape.
    • "Arthur and the True Francine": Muffy cheats on Francine's test and gets Francine in trouble, causing her not to accept Muffy's apologies.
    • "Poor Muffy": Muffy is allergic to her new carpet and has to stay with Francine while it's removed. She cannot stand such things as eating leftovers, considering them to be lower class, and insults Francine in the process. Francine doesn't take this well.
    • "My Club Rules": Arthur and his friends can't agree on the rules of their club, so each create their own club. The clubs become so ridiculous that only the club's creator is even interested in them, and they all reunite under D.W.
    • "The Big Blow-Up": Francine and Brain get mad at each other over a soccer game. Because they're the best players on the team, Arthur and Buster try to make them friends again.
    • "Francine Redecorates": Francine and her sister Catherine share a room, but not decorative tastes. Catherine moves out to the living room, but Francine doesn't like how empty her room now feels, so they move back together.
    • "How the Cookie Crumbles": A selfish decision by Muffy to take credit for a recipe she made with her friends backfires when they don't want to talk to her anymore.
    • "Buster's Growing Grudge": Binky tells a joke that Buster told him, and Buster is outraged and can't stop complaining about Binky.
    • "Mom and Dad Have a Great Big Fight": Subverted. Arthur and D.W. overhear their parents arguing and fear that they will be either sent to an orphanage or have to live by themselves. It turns out that they just spilled some milk and had to go clean it up.
    • "Arthur's Snow Biz": Arthur and Buster's snow shoveling partnership doesn't work very well, so they compete for customers at increasingly low prices. Eventually, they realize that what they're doing is ridiculous and stop.
    • "Opposites Distract": Arthur gets a leak in his roof and has to study with Buster. Arthur is annoyed by Buster's dirty habits while Buster is annoyed by Arthur's cleanliness. When the doorknob to Buster's room comes off, they have to settle their differences.
    • "Kidonia": Arthur, Buster, Brain, and Francine create a country together. But when each starts abusing the rules, they all have to go back to living normally.
    • "The Hallway Minotaur": George takes his job as the hallway monitor way too seriously, handing out "points" and "demerits" to all his friends. They call him out for this and refuse to talk to him.
    • "The Feud": Arthur and Buster argue over a video game, and the entire school starts taking sides with their argument.
  • Fever Dream Episode: Arthur gets a stomachache in "Just Desserts" and has some very strange dreams.
  • Fiction Isn't Fair: The Persimmony Glitchet books are an in-universe example.
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • The Scare Your Pants Off book series stands in for Goosebumps. A later episode has Arthur and Buster saying they're nowhere near as scary as Veggiemorphs (for Animorphs).
    • In-Universe comic book superhero Bionic Bunny is an amalgam of a couple different DC Comics heroes. He's most directly based on Superman (ability to fly, Super Strength, reported ability to shoot "power blasts" though it's never seen by the viewers, has a mild-mannered civilian Clark Kenting guise), but instead of being an alien he acquired his powers by cyborgization like, well, Cyborg. Some later episodes introduce another hero, Dark Bunny, seemingly based off of Batman.
  • Fight for the Last Bite: Near the beginning of "Arthur's Baby," Arthur and D.W. are eating grapes from a bowl. They struggle over the last grape and send it flying into the air, whereupon D.W. pulls a stunt move, swatting Arthur's hand away and positioning herself so the grape lands in her mouth.
  • Firehouse Dalmatian: In "Arthur Accused!", Arthur is in charge of a fundraiser to buy a Dalmatian puppy for the fire department. When he goes to Mrs. Mac Grady to give her the money, she's on the phone talking about what to name the dog.
  • Flash In The Pan Fad: Exaggerated with the "Woogle" collectibles, a craze that annoys Arthur to the point that he says that clicking the bubble-top of a metal bottle cap would be just as fun. Cue the next trend: bottle cap clicking.
  • Flea Episode: "Flea to Be You and Me" introduces a recurring character: Pepe the flea. The episode follows his journey around the world to find his brother.
  • Flippant Forgiveness: In "Play it Again, D.W.," D.W. accuses Arthur of taking her Crazy Bus CD, and becomes a Stalker Without a Crush as she follows him around trying to prove his guilt. Eventually, it's revealed that David and Jane took the CD, so D.W. tells Arthur that she forgives him, instead of apologizing for what she did.
  • Fluffy the Terrible:
    • Pal's mom, Perky. Subverted in that she isn't actually mean, she was just grumpy due to pregnancy.
    • In "Night of the Tibble", James imagines the Tibbles having a mad dog in the basement named Cuddles.
  • F--:
    • Arthur jokes that Buster may not just fail an assignment, but get a G or H.
    • Inverted in "On the Buster Scale". Buster takes up movie reviewing, and gives everything a "10+" out of 10.
  • 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.
    • Molly and Arthur's sibling relationships are inversions of each other; Arthur is a Nice Guy who (usually) doesn't get along with the bratty D.W., while Molly, a school bully and Tough Customer, adores her sweet and kind brother James and gets along well with him.
  • For Want of a Nail: S20's "Buster's Second Chance" has Buster dreaming that he goes back in time to the moment where he didn't flunk his childhood I.Q. assessment test, becoming a genius instead of Brain (who idolizes Buster). Buster discovers that by changing time, he and Arthur never become friends at the fated sandbox - instead, Arthur is befriended by Binky (pre-Character Development and Hidden Depths) and becomes a Tough Customer who acts cool because he's secretly very unhappy and desperate for a real friend. And because Buster never befriended Arthur, Binky, Rattles, and Molly never got to realize their Hidden Depths and Character Development, or have their Heel–Face Turn in Season 16, allowing the Tough Customers to become full-time delinquents who trash the Sugar Bowl after making it their hangout.
  • Founding Day: The episode "Elwood City Turns 100!" is about Mr. Ratburn's class putting on a tribute to their town's centennial.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: This is evident as early as Season 7, but more often than not, the series shifts from focusing on Arthur in particular, and more on other supporting characters.
    • Arthurs Pefect Christmas has three main plotlines and three subplots spread out over an hour.
    • "Arthur and the Haunted Tree House" includes sub-plots involving Binky, Muffy, and Francine in addition to the main plot involving Ladonna, D.W., and Arthur.
  • Fourth Wall Psych:
    • In "Bully for Binky", Binky threatens towards the camera. Cut to reveal he's talking to a group of kids.
    • In the opening to "Prove It", Brain teaches about the rotation of the Earth. Arthur says that "they" don't understand it, while Brain asserts that "they're a lot smarter than you think!" The final shot reveals that "they" are not the audience, but Pal and Kate.
  • 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.
    • In "Francine Goes to War" Muffy & Francine send a forged letter to Francine's new neighbor Mrs. Pariso which appears to be from the apartment building's manager and warning that the building is about to collapse due to an infestation. The letter is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes on Muffy's part which makes Mrs. Pariso send Francine back the fully corrected letter without so much as heeding its message as serious.
    • In "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone," Muffy writes a love note from Mr. Ratburn to the librarian. She returns it with the grammar and spelling mistakes corrected.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: The aptly-named "Freaky Tuesday" has Buster and Mr. Ratburn accidentally switch bodies when they touch a pan of electrified dish of spanakopita (a science experiment on cooking with lightning). Chaos eventually ensues, as Buster-In-Ratburn finds the responsibilities of a teacher very stressful (after thinking they had it easy), while Ratburn-In-Buster is frustrated by the rules he must follow as a student. Fortunately, it turns out to be All Just a Dream Buster is having.
  • 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.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Mr. Pryce-Jones's class (the class who represented Glenbrook Academy in "The Return of the King") is among the supporting characters featured near the end of the "Library Card" reprise in "Arthur's Almost Live Not Real Music Festival."
    • In "The Substitute Arthur," we can read what Buster normally does with Arthur. It includes "board games," "kick a rock," "touch dirt," "run in circles," and "camp out."
    • The novel Death of a Salesman appears on the table while D.W. gives Jane coupons in "Postcards from Buster."
    • In "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh", before Sue Ellen opens Arthur's email, she has a text document open. It's only visible for a split second, but it's an essay that details the life of runner Terry Fox — and it's accurate, too!
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Binky admits in one episode that his insecurities over being held back a grade led him to become a bully.
    • S16's "The Last Tough Customer" reveals one for Molly - she used to be bullied herself when she was younger, turning her into a bitter and angry school bully. She later realizes there's no excuse to act so mean, especially when James starts following her example, and learns to put the past behind her and apologizes to her past victims.
  • 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-Name Ultimatum: D.W. gets this often, while Arthur has only been issued this once, in S4's "Arthur's Big Hit".
    Mrs. Read: Arthur Timothy Read, come here!
    Arthur: Uh oh, middle name!
  • Fundraiser Carnival: Muffy and her friends have a carnival to raise money for the library in "Arthur the Unfunny." While Arthur's friends all do great in their roles as clowns, Arthur himself is unable to make anybody laugh.
  • Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: One episode has Mr. Ratburn confiscating a toy Buster brought to school, and when the kids are theorizing what goes on in the teachers' lounge, one of them suggests they might be playing with the confiscated toys. That turns out to be correct.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In the beginning of "Arthur's Chicken Pox", Jane can be heard talking on the phone about suddenly receiving 15 kilograms of prunes in the mail, with no card or return address.
    • 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 "Arthur - It's Only Rock 'n' 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.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In "Ants in Arthur's Pants" the class is shown an old film about scientists at work which points out that they are Patient, Attentive, Nosy, Thoughtful, and Systematic. Mr. Ratburn challenges the children to act just like the scientists in the film by creating a science project to help them find their PANTS.
    • In "Buster's Special Delivery" Buster takes a job as the school mailman and is told that they key to his job is just to remember the word "SAD" to remind him to Sort, Arrange, and Deliver. After his job is almost a failure he learns that the right key is the more cheerful "GLAD" which reminds him to Go-over and Look at before he arranges and delivers.
  • 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 are instead humans who simply look like animals to the viewer. "My Club Rules" has Buster mention his fur. Sue Ellen's pen pal Tenzin is an odd example as he is colored to resemble a panda, complete with black eye markings and ears.
  • Furry Confusion: Plenty. See Fridge Logic and the Furry Confusion page 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? You can also visit the Arthur Furry Confusion page for an extensive listing of the show's issues with this.
  • Furry Lens: Potentially. Almost all of the "human" characters are stylized to resemble various mammals: Aardvarks, rabbits, cats, dogs, monkeys, rats and bears are common, with the occasional deer and sheep person thrown in. The original books and early episodes stated or at least implied that the characters are animals, however most episodes past season one do not. This is most obvious in "The Contest", where Arthur and his friends watch the self-parody Andy and Company and point out all the Fridge Logic inherent in a Funny Animal series.
  • Furry Reminder: It's very rare, but some lines reference their species. This mostly happens in the first season.

  • Gainax Ending: The show pulls these a surprising amount of times.
    • The ending of S6's "The Boy Who Cried Comet" ends by showing that the events in the show were filmed by alien actors in Latex Perfection masks 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.
    • "D.W.'s Snow Mystery" (and, by extension, its follow-up Return of the Snowball) ends by revealing aliens actually did take D.W.'s snowball.
    • "D.W.'s Deer Friend" mostly revolves around D.W. befriending a deer she names Walter and wanting to take him home, with the parents explaining why that obviously can't happen. At the end, we get a role reversal with said deer wanting to do the exact same with D.W., and his parent telling him the same thing the Reads did to D.W.
    • "The Fright Stuff" ends by showing that the "ghost" the third graders were scared of was, in fact, actually a ghost.
    • "Best of the Nest" had a particularly weird ending that only relates to The Teaser of the episode. At the end (before the ending, Brain was convincing the gang to break their addiction of a new game and do something natural, like go on Mr. Ratburn's camping trip. They eventually do that.), Brain asks Muffy and Francine who were the "Best of the Nest" (the game). They say none of them were and Francine also says "Who knew the best way to scare off a bear was to do the Hokey Pokey?" (referring to a Running Gag in which one of the three-answer questions' answers was to do the Hokey Pokey). All of a sudden they actually hear a bear and close the episode nervously doing the Hokey Pokey.
    • In "Rhyme for Your Life," Arthur makes a rhyme and declares himself "a prisoner of poetry," wears Binky's cloak, and runs off.
  • Gale-Force Sound: Done with everyone else in the library shushing Arthur in "Arthur Writes a Story."
  • Game Show Appearance:
    • Arthur winding up on the in-universe Riddle Quest in S5's "Arthur and the Big Riddle," with Alex Trebek as Alex Lebeck.
    • George appears on the fictional show 15 Minutes of Fame to win money for the school in "Fifteen."
  • 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.
    • Apparently this trope is played straight again with Carl (a rabbit child) and his mother (an aardvark).
  • Genius Sweet Tooth: Mr. Ratburn, who likes cake.
  • Genre Roulette: Arthur's Almost Live Not Real CD (or Tape) has rap, reggae, doo-wop, classical music, and spoken word poetry (and that's not even all of it). Arthur's Really Rockin' Music Mix takes it Up to Eleven.
  • Get Out!:
    • Arthur to Binky after he interrupts his fantasy sequence in Arthur's Perfect Christmas to join in calling him a doofus.
      Binky: Doofus! Doofus!
      Arthur: Binky?! What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be in this fantasy!
      Binky: Oh, sorry... Try my peach cobbler?
      Arthur: Get out!
    • In "D.W. and Dr. Whosit," D.W. is trying to get the parental controls password from Arthur... and thinks it's both "no" and "get out."
  • "Getting My Own Room" Plot: In "Francine Redecorates", Francine and Catherine get into a feud over how they should have their bedroom redecorated, Catherine decides to move into the living room. Francine soon finds it dull having no one to share her bedroom with, and she and Catherine form a compromise near the end. In the same episode, D.W. imagines what it would be like if she had her own bedroom in the garage, away from Kate, her baby sister.
  • 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.
  • Girls vs. Boys Plot: Elementary school kids tend to prioritize keeping company with members of their own gender, anyway, so it follows that the boys and girls on the show have ganged up against each other on multiple occasions, particularly when the two factions are upset at one another.
    • When it turns out in "Arthur's Birthday" that Arthur and Muffy have scheduled their respective birthday parties for the same day, all the boys make a pact to attend Arthur's party, and all the girls decide to attend Muffy's party. While Arthur and muffy don't become bitter toward one another, the other kids do, and things look pretty bad until Arthur comes up with the idea to host a joint birthday party at his house.
    • In "Arthur Goes to Camp", Arthur disapproves of Binky's plans to prank the girls until the girls prank the boys. A heated rivalry develops, with Arthur writing home "Dear Mom and Dad, it's war!" They stopped feuding when they realize the campers from neighboring Camp Horsewater have been pranking them all.
  • Glasses Curiosity:
    • In "The Big Blow-Up," Francine grabs Arthur's glasses off his face and puts them on during an argument she and Brain are having over a soccer game, claiming Arthur's not trustworthy because of his bad eyesight.
    • At the beginning of "D.W. Tale Spins," D.W. puts on Arthur's glasses to imitate him before claiming she can do anything he can.
  • Golem: In the Halloween Episode "Arthur and the Haunted Tree House", the children are pranked with horror scenarios. In Francine's case, she's told the story of the Golem of Mindelplatz (nearby Prague) by Ethel Saperstein, who was a little girl at the time. There was a violin player who could revive dead plants with his amazing music, but who lost his gift when his fingers were broken in a trolley car accident. Embittered, he created a golem by inserting a piece of his violin into a mud form. However, he couldn't control it and it went on a rampage. Ethel implies she was one of the golem's first victims and is, in fact, a ghost. Francine doesn't buy it, but when she returns to the apartment it's not Ethel who opens the door, but her husband, who finalizes the prank by claiming that Ethel was his little sister who disappeared decades ago.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • In "To Tibble the Truth," D.W. tells Tommy and Timmy that they may wind up in jail someday if they keep telling lies so, after a nightmare about such, they decide to tell nothing but the raw truth, which includes giving highly offensive opinions of all their friends.
    • In "Arthur's Pet Business" Arthur begins to run a pet care business to show his parents he would be able to care for a puppy. The first pet he is charged with caring for is Perky, but later on in the episode he gets nearly one dozen other pets to care for including a bird, a cat, and a snake.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel:
    • Played with in "Night of the Tibble." 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.
    • In "Brain's Shocking Secret," Brain gets two versions of himself - a "bad" version dressed in a red and a "good" version in yellow.
    • In "Do You Believe in Magic?" when Arthur is jealous of Buster, he gets a mean looking cat clown as his "bad" angel and his favorite superhero Bionic Bunny as his "good" angel.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Okay, maybe not "gory," but the series tends to cut away before anything bad happens to the characters, usually in Imagine Spots.
  • Go to Your Room!: Happens to D.W. in "Go to Your Room D.W.!" after she threatens to pinch Kate during their playtime. She acts as if she has been put in prison, wonders what's happening outside her room, and watches the clock for the duration of the 10-minute time out.
    • For that matter it has happened to Arthur a few times as well. Once in "D.W. All Wet" after he scares D.W. and again in "Play it Again, D.W." after the threatens to break her "Crazy Bus" CD.
    • In "Arthur's Family Feud" it happens to them both after the souffle incident, and we see they both take it very differently.
  • Gotta Pass the Class: The season 1 episode "Buster Makes the Grade" has Buster threatened to repeat 3rd grade because he is not doing well academically. His friends try to tutor him to help him pass the end-of-year exam, but their methods don't work and he gets distracted. The day before the test, Buster imagines just how awful it would be to get held back and studies as hard as he can. The next day, he passes with a B+. (Not that he actually goes to 4th grade, because of the show's Comic-Book Time.)
  • Greek Chorus: Art Garfunkel as the singing moose in "The Ballad of Buster Baxter."
  • Grocery Store Episode: "D.W. Gets Lost" is about D.W. getting lost in a grocery store.
  • Grossout Fakeout: In "Dear Adil", Arthur reads a comic in which Turkish people eat lambs' eyes. He assumes that real Turkish people, including his pen-pal Adil, must eat lambs' eyes too, but they don't.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Discussed in the opening sequence for "The World of Tomorrow." Arthur wonders what it would be like if he had to relive a bad day over and over again.
  • Guilty Pleasures: In-universe: Arthur is secretly a fan of "Love Ducks." He keeps it a secret because it's a baby show.
  • Guinness Episode: "The World Record" is about Arthur and his friends trying to break various world records. In the end, they team up to make the world's largest pizza.

  • Hairball Humor: In "Pets and Pests", Nemo claims that he "cough[s] up fur balls at night."
  • Halloween Episode: A few.
    • Season 4's "The Fright Stuff" is about a scary Halloween party at a haunted mansion.
    • Season 11's "Hic or Treat" takes place on Halloween night. D.W. gets hiccups and Arthur helps her cure them. Throughout the episode, D.W. thinks Arthur's "dentist Frankenstein" costume is silly, but when she sees it in the dark, it scares her so much her hiccups are cured.
    • There's also an hour-long Halloween special, Arthur and the Haunted Tree House. Its main plot is Ladonna pranking Arthur with a creepy doll, while Binky is stuck in Mr. Ratburn's haunted house and Francine hears a story about a golem.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: "Meek for a Week" has the Aesop that it's psychologically unhealthy to suppress negative emotions.
  • Hate Sink: Unusually for an Edutainment Show, there are at least two characters whom the audience is clearly meant to despise.
  • Haute Cuisine Is Weird: Downplayed in Arthur's Perfect Christmas at "La Bruncherie" ("A Fancy Place for Brunch!"). Buster's dish is essentially a cheese omelette reduced to small, unrecognizable nuggets, so he ends up ordering a side dish of the parsley garnish.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • After spending 15 years as bullies, the Tough Customers decide to stop. 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 bad example.
    • Binky's Heel–Face Turn started earlier, way back in S1's "Bully For Binky" after Sue Ellen stood up to him.
  • Held Back in School:
    • Binky repeated third grade, presumably with Ratburn as his teacher. He explicitly states in "The 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.
    • Brain had to repeat kindergarten because he wasn't emotionally ready.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather:
    • Rattles of the Tough Customers wears a black jacket that resembles a leather one.
    • Binky and Buster occasionally wear leather jackets in ImagineSpots and flash-forwards, while Arthur wore one in S20's "Buster's Second Chance" after becoming a Tough Customer in an alternate timeline.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The Actimates D.W. and Arthur can allegedly be "taught" to say the owner's name using a PC Pack and the provided software.
  • 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.
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: When Arthur and D.W. accidentally ruin David's prize souffle in "Arthur's Family Feud," he reacts by becoming incredibly depressed and is seen binging on ice cream while watching cooking shows on TV.
  • Here We Go Again!: The show is quite fond of this. Special mention also goes to its music cue that almost always plays at these times.
    • "Buster Baxter, Cat Saver" ends with Buster becoming a "piano tamer" instead of a "cat saver."
    • "Flaw and Order" has No Ending, but it's heavily implied that the replacement cake plate about to be cracked again.
    • "Opposites Distract" is about Arthur getting a leak in his roof and studying in Buster's room, with many disagreements between the two. When the leak in Arthur's roof is fixed, he and Buster are relieved... until Buster's roof starts leaking.
    • Lampshaded by Buster in "Arthur's Underwear" after he starts having nightmares about his underwear, just like Arthur.
      Buster: Oh, here we go again!
  • "Is There a Doctor in the House?": Arthur and D.W. have been able to help around the house despite their parents being sick. And then Arthur gets sick.
  • Heroic BSoD: After Arthur and D.W. ruin their father's souffle, he loses self-control, and gives them a four-month ban on TV. His wife helps him to think rationally again.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Mr. Ratburn is often seen by the class as a cruel teacher who has no life outside of making kids miserable. He also goes giddy over cake, likes the Scooby-Doo stand-in, Spooky Poo, and volunteers as a puppeteer for children's puppet shows. He does extra research in his spare time to better educate his students ("Francine's Pilfered Paper"). As seen in "Lend Me Your Ear" and "The Buster Report," he even plays in a band. 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 calling to say he was an uncle.
    • The main Tough Customers (Binky, Rattles, and Molly) are each shown to have their own Hidden Depths:
      • Seasons 14 and 16 reveal that Rattles is a great singer, likes knitting and sewing, and is a amazing chess player - enough to teach Brain's chess club how to play properly. He also knows and uses words that are far beyond his grade level.
      • Binky's character gets fleshed out more as the show goes on, after he starts his Heel–Face Turn in S1's "Bully for Binky." He's a skilled clarinet player (and the best musician in Lakewood Elementary), partakes in ballet, and is interested in a variety of "uncool" things such as art, music, and culture. He also likes collecting and studying butterflies, but he very much prefers them alive and freaks out at the thought of preserving them in boxes. In "Binky's 'A' Game," he aces a test about Galileo after being interested in the history behind him.
      • Molly likes listening to heavy metal, adores and is kind to her little brother James, has a green Domo-kun doll in her room, is an aspiring artist and animator, and is greatly concerned by the lack of independent female characters in media. As shown in "Brain's Chess Mess" and "Don't Ask Muffy," she is also great at giving advice.
    • George went from being mostly a background character to a talented ventriloquist and woodworker.
    • In D.W.'s group, Emily was mostly just a "perfect" rival for D.W. in her first appearance. Later episodes focus more on her interest in France, reading French books and learning the language from her nanny.
  • Hippie Teacher: Mr. Cramp, who prefers to go by M.C., is a new teacher who embodies this trope. Arthur and the gang naturally think he will be a Cool Teacher and spend most of "The Last Day" angling to get him for fourth grade. Actually though, M.C.'s material gets boring after awhile, and the kids realize Mr. Ratburn is a much better choice for a teacher. Cue rejoicing when they find out Mr. Ratburn has been asked to teach fourth grade the following year.
  • Hired Help as Family: The wealthy Crosswire family has a butler named Bailey and they're all on pretty good terms with him, but Muffy in particular sees him as a pal. In "Caught in the Crosswires", a reality TV producer orders Muffy to be mean to Bailey while acting on the show, and she protests against it.
  • Historical Character's Fictional Relative: Francine's uncle is noted jazz musician Joshua Redman. Admittedly he appears not quite As Himself: he's credited "Joshua Redman as Mr. Redman" while Yo Yo Ma is "As Himself" in the same episode.
  • Holiday Volunteering: In Arthur's Perfect Christmas, we learn that Binky and his family volunteer at the shelter on Christmas. He spends the special 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 Cream Pie.
  • Hologram: Binky (the band, not Binky Barnes).
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection: In "Meet Binky," because Arthur threw some trash into the CPU case, mistaking it for a trash can.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Crosswire Motors was rather shady in the first two seasons, although it has since obtained a better reputation.
  • Honesty Aesop: Zigzagged in a Licensed Game titled "Francine's Tough Day", where you can make Francine either tell the truth or lie. Sometimes, telling the truth is best, sometimes lying seems best but she feels weird about it, and sometimes both seem wrong.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: See Gender Equals Breed entry above.
  • House Fire: In April 9th the school catches fire and Mr. Ratburn's classroom winds up badly damaged by the fire. The rest of the episode deals with the aftermath as the entire school's population recovers from the fire.
  • House Husband: Both of the Read parents work from the home, but David tends to fall into this role in comparison to his wife because he does most if not all of the cooking, and occasionally shows some more traditional "wifely" traits (such as binging on ice cream and watching cooking shows when he's depressed), and although he does run a small catering business, it seems more like a natural outgrowth of his cooking hobby and isn't the family's primary source of income (despite what his children think). Instead, the Reads seem to get most of their money from Jane's job, and David seems perfectly comfortable with it.
  • 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 used to show the events leading to it.
    • "D.W. Flips" uses a clip of D.W. high up on a balance beam, and ends when she starts losing her balance.
    • "Double Dare"'s intro is the scene where Arthur tries to pull Francine into the bathroom window.
    • "The Pea and the Princess" starts amid the play-directing chaos, and Francine starts to tell the story from the beginning. Cue the title card.
  • Hunger Causes Lethargy: Discussed in the episode "D.W. Gets Lost", when Arthur is eating cake despite not being allowed any. He claims that he was so hungry that he was too weak to chew and needed something soft.
  • Hurt Foot Hop:
    • In "D.W. Blows the Whistle," Arthur is astounded when he hears that D.W. was called a hero for stopping a little boy from dangerously crossing the street. He winds up dropping a wrench on his foot and cries out in pain while hopping up and down.
    • Arthur kicks a bowling ball in "D.W. Tricks the Tooth Fairy" and jumps around in pain.
  • Hypno Fool: A few examples:
    • In "Arthur's Underwear," 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.
      D.W.: (relaxing) Of course you do.

  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Big Boss bars in "To Eat or Not to Eat."
  • Iconic Outfit: Most of the characters are recognizable by certain articles of clothing. The most prominent ones are Arthur's brown oval glasses and yellow sweater, Buster's blue sweater, Francine's red sweater and D.W's pink dress.
  • Identical Grandson:
    • "Clarissa is Cracked" has D.W. curious of 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.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Downplayed, as there isn't a specific format the episode titles follow nor do all episodes fall under this rule, but the show will typically state the character of focus somewhere in the title of the episode. This is something of The Artifact, as many of the early episodes were named after the original books, all of which fell under "Arthur['s]..." or "D.W.['s]...", but the pattern stopped after the production team stopped adapting episodes from books.
  • Idiot Ball: "Arthur's Lost Dog" 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 Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham:
    • The episode "D.W. The Picky Eater" (adapted from a short story of the same name), where D.W. at first hates spinach, but after trying it in a pie served at a restaurant, she likes it. The original book ended with her looking horrified after learning she enjoyed spinach, while the animated version had her go on to proudly declare a love for the vegetable and saying she never had a problem with it.
    • In "Lights, Camera, Opera", Muffy is invited to see her first opera with her dad, but doesn't want to go because she's worried she'll get bored and end up embarrassing them both. After some encouragement from her mom, who felt the same way about opera at first, she goes anyway and ends up really enjoying herself.
    • In "The Scare-Your-Pants-Off Club", the local kids all love the "Scare-Your-Pants-Off" books, a horror series for young readers (and thus an Expy of Goosebumps). Problems begin when Mr. and Mrs. Crosswire, Muffy's parents, begin a campaign to ban the books after Muffy claims she had nightmares from reading them. Thankfully, it turns out the author lives in Elwood City, and she challenges Mr. Crosswire to look at the books before making a snap judgment. He ends up enjoying them so much that he rescinds his efforts (especially after Muffy reveals that her nightmares actually came from eating too much ice cream).
  • I Fell for Hours: Binky falls off a cliff in his nightmare from "Night Fright."
  • If You Can Read This: In "Two Minutes," the credits of Super Action Team include the names of staff members of Arthur.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: In "Arthur's Big Hit," Rattles and Molly challenge Binky to punch Arthur in order to prove his toughness. Binky does.
  • "I Hate" Song: The Arthur and Friends: The First Almost Real Not Live CD (or Tape) track "Arthur vs. the Piano." Arthur complains about needing to play the piano, all the horrible stuff he would rather do, and the nonsensical and meaningless music he has to learn.
  • Imaginary Friend: The most prominent one is Nadine, who is D.W.'s. Others include Trini for Vicita, Rapty for Bud, and Waldo for Muffy. This trope is downplayed with Stanley, who Arthur says is "kind of" his imaginary friend.
  • Imagine Spot: Almost Once an Episode, if not more, always accompanied with a distinct sound effect. If we were to list every one, this page would about quadruple in size.
    • 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 Tantrum 911 and Binky walks by and comments how cool such a show would be.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The special Arthur's Perfect Christmas is titled as Marc Brown's Arthur's Perfect Christmas in the title display seen towards the beginning of it.
  • 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.
    • Also happens in "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" with the Tina the Talking Tabby radio ad jingle. D.W. loves it, but it drives Arthur insane.
    • In "Binky's Music Madness," everyone loves Bang on a Can All-Stars, except Binky.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    • In season 2's "D.W.'s Very Bad Mood" Brain tries to get out of helping Arthur find what is wrong with D.W. by saying he needs to clean his garage. Binky adds in an excuse of his own.
      Binky: And I have to, I have to do—clean our garage too! What a coincidence!
    • In Seaons 2's "Francine Frensky Olympic Rider," Arthur bails out on playing Horse with D.W. by saying that he needs to sort through his socks. Buster and Brain actually agree to join him but Francine agrees to play with 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.
  • Informed Attribute: Mighty Mountain School is supposed to have the best sports teams around, yet the Lakewood kids seem to beat them every time they play a game against them. One episode actually poked fun at this, with several of the kids dreading a game with Mighty Mountain and bringing up previous examples... only to remember "Oh yeah, we won that one."
  • Informed Species: Many of the characters do not resemble the species they're supposed to be. Without a long nose, Arthur looks more like a mouse or bear rather than an aardvark, although the original books had him with a long snout. Out of all, it's easiest to tell which species Buster is, since his long ears clearly peg him as a rabbit.
  • Injured Limb Episode:
    • In "The Wheel Deal," Brain sprains his leg, making him need a wheelchair for a bit.
    • "Arthur's Knee" has Arthur suffering a gash on his knee at the dump, freaking out, and trying to get it taken care of before his parents find out.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • MANY real life guests appear as Furry versions of themselves, from Mr Rogers, to Yo-Yo Ma, to the Backstreet Boys, to Neil Gaiman. They have more celebrity cameo appearances than The Simpsons.
    • Frank Gehry, Michelle Kwan, Larry King, Alex Trebek, and Lance Armstrong have the distinction of guest-starring on both Arthur and The Simpsons.
    • Lance Armstrong and Neil Gaiman have the distinction of appearing as both themselves and as a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo.
    • Jane Lynch appears in rat form in "Mr. Ratburn And The Special Someone".
  • 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.) Eventually, her mother tells her, "You could say, it means 'I want to hurt your feelings.'"
    D.W.: 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.
    • In "Buenas Noches, Vicita", Vicita has lost her favorite storybook, The Very Magic Mango Tree, and can't sleep without it. Since she remembers the story word for word, Arthur and D.W. help her by recreating the book.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged:
    • Twice, with Lydia Fox and Marina Datillo. 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.
    • Discussed and averted in Season 18's "Little Miss Meanie." Muffy and Lydia enter the Little Miss Crocus pageant, and Muffy assumes Lydia will "get the sympathy vote" because of her wheelchair. She even considers asking Lydia to drop out because she can't win on her own merits—but then hears another girl tell Lydia the same thing, and realizes how mean it is. Muffy and Lydia then defeat the mean girl, tying for first runner-up, while their nemesis receives no honors.
    • Also averted with George, who has dyslexia. 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.
    • "He Said, He Said" is a Type B example. Carl is able to help Arthur, Buster, and George, but only because he can remember the details of a Bionic Bunny special better than they can. The latter three are usually sharper than that.
  • Instant Expert:
    • Alberto takes quickly to any sport he tries. "Molina's Mulligan" has him pick up golf and get good at it very fast.
    • In "Framed!" Buster becomes a great painter rather quickly. He tried it out because of a horoscope. While Muffy doesn't like Buster's portrait of her, even Mr. Ratburn appreciates it and notes the symbolism, while Arthur and Francine like his interpretations of themselves.
  • Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube: "Flippity Francine" has Muffy post a humiliating video of Francine slipping on mud, bouncing off a pile of soccer balls and face first into another pile of mud. The episode is about Francine having to deal with the aftermath.
  • Instant Wristwatch: In "D.W.'s Name Game," D.W.'s deer friend, Walter, who has become a Talking Animal in the fantasy, looks at his watch in a fantasy sequence when D.W. sobs and blows her nose for an extended period of time, then gives the audience an Aside Glance.
  • Intentional Mess Making:
    • In "Bleep", Nadine smashes a vase on the ground to test D.W.'s theory that swearing makes people drop and break things.
    • In "D.W.'s Baby", an envious D.W. tries to get Kate in trouble by putting David's shoes in the dishwasher. Naturally, David doesn't believe it for one second when D.W. lies that it was Kate. It's also mentioned that D.W. hid baloney in the CD player for the same reason.
    • In "Paradise Lost", Kate throws food on purpose as part of an attempt to avoid growing up (and thereby losing her ability to speak in Baby Language) by milking her babyish qualities.
  • Interclass Friendship:
    • There's rich girl Muffy Crosswire and Francine Frensky, whose father works as a garbage man. The two are squarely in the Vitriolic Best Buds territory with Muffy's snobbish behavior periodically irritating Francine.
    • Another example includes Muffy and her butler Bailey. "The Butler Did... What?" deals with the two's friendship, with a worried Muffy trying to find a missing Bailey. Francine would point out that the two weren't really friends despite what Muffy thought since she didn't knew his personal life. Though that changed afterwards and future episodes do see the two sharing a close relationship.
    • The friendship between Arthur, Muffy, and their parents is probably the best example. Even though David and Jane Read make the majority of their money providing services to the Crosswires, the latter don't brag about it, and Arthur and Muffy are on friendly terms. Jane even proposed that the two families take turns hosting joint birthday parties, since Muffy and Arthur apparently share the same birthday.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: In "Buster's Green Thumb" three different characters mention having the best tomato they've ever had from Buster's community garden.
  • Irony: In Prunella's title card, she "predicts" that her audience will shortly see... something, but then the lights go out.
  • Irritation Nightmare:
    • The nightmare Binky has in the episode "Binky Goes Nuts" is a combination of an anxiety dream and an irritation nightmare. He's made to sit at a different lunch table from his friends specifically with kids with allergies (because he's allergic to peanuts), but he's also made to eat Brussels sprouts.
    • In "Arthur's First Sleepover", Arthur screams due to having a nightmare where D.W. joins in with the sleepover.
    • In "Arthur Babysits", Rubella once babysat for the Tibble twins and it gave her nightmares.
  • Is This Thing On?:
    • Uncle Fred in Arthur's Perfect Christmas in his video Christmas card. "Is this thing on? ... Oh, it is!"
    • Sometimes happens with Principal Haney and the P.A. system microphone.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot:
    • The Season 8 episode "Thanks a Lot, Binky." After Binky does a few good deeds which go unappreciated, he decides to never commit another nice act again. Sure enough, a ghost comes in his dream and shows him what life would be like if he was not around to do his nice acts. The episode even goes a step further by showing Binky what would happen if his parents stopped performing good deeds, leaving Binky with torn up clothes in an unkept house nearly devoid of food while his parents go on a cruise.
    • In Season 13's "The Silent Treatment," George is shown by "wizard Wally" what the world would be like if he was never born. He finds that Arthur and Buster aren't as entertained by the games that they normally play with George, the woodworking club was never started, birds near his house are cold due to their birdhouse not being built, and Wally would've never existed. This trope is lampshaded by George near the start of the sequence.
      George: I remember a movie just like this!
    • Season 20's "Buster's Second Chance" is about Buster wondering what his life would be like if he was a genius. He learns that Binky would have met Arthur at the sandbox instead of him, leading to Arthur becoming a Tough Customer and not being his friend.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: In "Arthur's Cousin Catastrophe", Arthur's parents share a Smooch of Victory after a family reunion at their house gets this reception.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • In "All the Rage", Bailey considers designing what we call Crocs, but Muffy says it's a terrible idea.
    • In the episode "Arthur Rides the Bandwagon", Arthur says that he can do without a Woogle because he thinks he'd have just as much fun clicking a juice bottle cap. Sure enough he immediately attracts the attention of every kid in the park, and soon, in the city!
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Francine's Bubbie makes this remark when looking at old photos with Arthur's Grandpa in "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album."
  • 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?!"

  • J'accuse!: The music album "Arthur's Really Rockin' Music Mix" has the song "Fern's Detective Tango, which is based on the events of the episode "Binky Rules." In the song, Fern sings about the various reasons why certain characters couldn't have been responsible for the graffiti reading "BINKY RULES," before finally declaring, "Binky, j'accuse!"
  • The Jeeves: Muffy's butler/chauffeur Bailey. However, later seasons do develop him and his interests: in season 7, we learn that he's an expert at making kinetic sculptures, and he knows a lot about opera in season 9.
  • "Jeopardy!" Intelligence Test: Used with Buster in "Arthur and the Big Riddle." While Buster struggles to answer a riddle on a TV show, Arthur does it easily.
  • Jerk Jock: The Tough Customers could be seen playing sports in the first few seasons.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Binky, post-Character Development and Hidden Depths after Season 1, though his portrayal as either a Gentle Giant who acts tough to hide his hobbies or a genuinely stupid kid seems to depend on the writer.
    • The other Tough Customers, especially Rattles and Molly, started becoming this the longer the show ran. Then it's averted in S16's "The Last Tough Customer", where they decide to pull a Heel–Face Turn and stop bullying others completely, with Molly writing apology letters to everyone she had bullied in the past.
  • Joker Jury: S5's "Nerves of Steal" is 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 is 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").

  • Karma Houdini:
    • D.W. is an interesting example. She's well-known for several episodes where she acts particularly bratty and doesn't get punished, but the amount of times she does get punished actually outweigh those instances. It just happens that the cases where she doesn't get punished are so infamous that it's the only cases people remember. Specifically:
      • "Play it Again, D.W.": She consistently drives Arthur and the rest of the family up the wall by overplaying her Crazy Bus CD, and faces no repercussions for distracting Arthur from trying to do his homework or for falsely accusing him of taking her CD.
      • "D.W. Goes to Washington": She acts extremely bratty and ungrateful for their entire trip to Washington, bringing up how much she'd rather be at Ponyland. When she ends up meeting the president, he loves her and her parents completely forget about all the frustration they just dealt with.
      • "D.W.'s Very Bad Mood": Possibly the worst offense. She screams and yells through the entire episode, regularly insulting her family and friends while David and Jane do absolutely nothing about any of it. Worse yet, not only is she not punished, she's rewarded with an invitation to Francine's party.
      • "Arthur's Big Hit": The other most known example. She breaks Arthur's model plane after ignoring multiple warnings not to touch it, and the most we hear is a throwaway line where David and Jane tell Arthur "We'll deal with what she did, but what you did is bad too." This happens offscreen though and her lines toward the end of the episode suggest she was barely called out for it.
      • "Arthur's Perfect Christmas": She kicks and screams over not getting the one toy she really wanted, and rather than Jane calling her out for her ungratefulness, she rubs her and sympathizes with her. She has a quick attitude adjustment, but it's still far and off from what could be considered unpunishable.
      • "The Pageant Pickle": After fake-crying, D.W. tricks Arthur into acting like a monkey, embarrassing himself in front of the play's audience. The episode ends with Arthur's friends making fun of him for it.
      • "D.W., the Picky Eater": D.W. throws a big tantrum in a restaurant after ordering salad and screaming "I! HATE! SPINACH!" Arthur and his friends try to get her to try different foods, and in the end, D.W. is brought along to Arthur's favorite restaurant, where she declares that she loves spinach after unknowingly eating it.
    • D.W. is not the only one that has gotten this though. In the episode "Arthur Accused!" Mrs. MacGrady absentmindedly mixes in a bag of quarters Arthur had donated for a school fundraiser into a brownie batter. Arthur winds up taking the blame for the misplaced quarters and winds up in trouble at school. At the end of the episode Buster solves the case freeing Arthur's name but Mrs. MacGrady is never punished for her absentminded mistake that got Arthur falsely accused in the first place.
    • Buster steals a fossil from a dig site. He asks if he can take it home, and when the rangers specifically explain to them why he can't, he smuggles it in his hat. Buster does feel bad about it and tries to give it to Arthur, but when they both return it to the museum, they get rewarded with a name plate saying they both discovered it.
    • For that matter at the end of "Locked in the Library" we don't see if Miss Turner or any of the other library staff have to answer for closing up for the weekend without making sure Arthur and Francince have left.
  • Kangaroo Court:
    • Arthur and his friends subject D.W. to one when they suspect she made Pal sick in S1's "Sick as a Dog." She proves to have been not guilty.
    • In "The Short, Quick Summer," Buster and Arthur play a board game called Kangaroo Court.
      Buster: [reading instructions] Sue the kangaroo cohorts in a kwazy courtroom!
  • 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.
  • Kids Are Cruel: A few examples.
    • D.W. might as well be a poster girl for this trope, being incredibly rude, bossy, selfish (even by the standards of a toddler), manipulative and constantly harassing, taking advantage of, and accusing poor Arthur of things he didn't do, and she has a massive Lack of Empathy even by toddler standards. In fact, she's easily the cruelest of all the main characters. In addition to Arthur, she can also be mean to her other family members and friends at times.
    • D.W.'s Cousin Cora from "D.W. Thinks Big" is actually even worse than her. She is a Spoiled Brat who is really mean to D.W. for no reason at all, and breaks her own locket and tries to frame D.W. for it, again for no reason. Although the fact that it's D.W. she does it to may make it seem nearly not as bad.
    • The Tibble Twins are little hellions who constantly cause trouble for each other and other people, and to make matters worse, their grandmother is almost never willing to discipline them for their actions. They also tend to antagonize D.W., although again, that might count as Kick the Son of a Bitch.
    • The Tough Customers, of course. But subverted come "The Last Tough Customer", where they all take a level in kindness.
    • Francine and Muffy can fall into this occasionally, the former by virtue of being a Jerk Jock, and the latter by virtue of being a Rich Bitch.
    • Portia Demwiddy from "Little Miss Meanie" definitely qualifies. She callously tells Muffy and Lydia, her opponents in the Little Miss Crocus pageant, that they should drop out because they have the unfair advantages of being rich and handicapped respectively, and later throws a tantrum and demands that somebody be fired when the spotlight breaks during her performance.
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films:
    • Subverted. Muffy's parents try to ban the "Scare Your Pants Off Club" books (a clear reference to the Goosebumps series) after she has nightmares from reading one, but it turns out that she reads them all the time and that the nightmares were caused by her sneaking ice cream.
    • Played straighter when Arthur and Buster watch The Squirrels. Mrs. Baxter mentions how the movie scared her as a kid and thinks the boys can handle it. Naturally, Arthur and Buster are terrified of the movie and develop a fear of squirrels from it, but they don't want to admit it to anyone else. Eventually, it turns out the entire gang saw the film except Binky. Eventually, when Arthur and Buster tend to an injured squirrel and their fear goes away, but then Binky rents the movie and is now scared of squirrels.
  • Kissing In A Tree: In "Arthur and the Square Dance", Binky starts singing this to Arthur when he thinks he and Francine are a couple, but can't spell "kissing."
    Binky: You know what I mean!
  • 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.

  • Lame Pun Reaction: In S3's "Buster's Growing Grudge", Buster's comedy routine in the school talent show turns into a rant about Binky stealing a joke from his oral report on Ancient Egypt, which completely goes over Binky's head:
    Buster: You know what the real punchline was!? He told my joke that I wrote, and I got a D! (replaces microphone and leaves stage)
    Binky: I don't get it!
    Rattles: I think it's a pun.
    Binky: Well it wasn't very punny! Heh heh! Punny... (Rattles glares at him; he stops laughing)
  • 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.
  • Large Ham: Philip Seymour Hoffman in all his glory.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: This being a kid's show made by PBS, it's generally subverted by being used to teach kids An Aesop that seeking retribution against the people who wronged you isn't often the best choice of action. However...
    • In "The Rat Who Came to Dinner" Arthur's friends relentlessly mock him for the fact that Mr. Ratburn is staying at his house while his roof is being fixed, convinced that Arthur is receiving special treatment over them. Once Mr. Ratburn finds out what’s going on, he announces to all of the kids that he is going to stay at each of their houses as he continues to supervise the repairs. This results in all of them panicking and seeking Arthur's advice on how to get through it.
    • A more notorious example is "Arthur's Big Hit", when Arthur hits D.W. when she destroys his model plane, and is later hit himself by Binky as part of a dare with the Tough Customers, which finally gets Arthur to see the error of his actions.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: S14's "The Agent of Change" shows Molly having a green Domo-kun doll lying around her room.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In S8's "D.W. Dancing Queen", Binky teaches D.W. how to dance. Shortly after D.W.'s big performance, this conversation occurs:
      Binky: Always remember, dancing comes from inside you. You gotta listen to your heart, listen to the beat, listen to the rhythm, the rhythm of the street!
      D.W.: Okay, I will! Hey, did you just make that up?
      Binky: Nah, I heard it somewhere. but I can't remember where.
    • In S3's "And Now Let's Talk to Some Kids", Arthur, Buster, and D.W. are watching a television show that has a segment called "And Now a Word From Us Kids" just like Arthur's show has, prompting discussion about such segments, and D.W. does her impression of what she thinks Arthur would be like if he were to be on television. The class goes on to star in a segment.
      D.W: This is my impression of Arthur on television. (Puts her fingers around her eyes like glasses, talks in a dumb voice) "I'm Arthur and my dog's name is Pal and blahedy blahedy blah." And here's my impression of the people watching Arthur on TV (pretends to fall asleep and snores)
    • In "Buster Makes the Grade," Arthur begins to read to Buster from Alice in Wonderland, then points out Buster's short attention span.
    • 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.
    • In "Wish You Were Here," Sue Ellen's first reaction upon meeting Tenzin is "You look so different!" That's because, in his introductory photo in "Sue Ellen's Little Sister," Tenzin was colored more like a koala than a panda. Tenzin remarks that it's "a very old photo," but it, too, has been recolored.
  • Least Rhymable Word:
    • In the episode "Rhyme for Your Life," Binky has a dream where everyone speaks in rhyme. They are threatened by a monstrous purple orange. It is even lampshaded at one point that it "has no rhyme."
    • In the episode "Arthur's Dummy Disaster," George talks through Wally as he paints and tries to find a rhyme for "orange," After Arthur reminds him one does not exist, he moves on to yellow.
    • In "Sue Ellen Chickens Out", Buster says that there aren't any good rhymes for "twelve" in a protest chant. Binky comes up with "this noble goal we cannot shelve."
  • 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.
  • Left the Background Music On:
    • One episode has a singing narrative when Buster returns from extended traveling with his father. Twice the singing Moose is acknowledged.
      Moose: (upbeat tune) He's a sad sad bunny, a sad sad bunny! TV isn't funny when you're a sad sad bunny.
      Buster: Hey, that's not very sad music.
      Moose: (repeats the song more slowly and solemnly)
      (Later, at the end...)
      Buster: So how long has the singing guy been here?
      Arthur: I thought he came with you. MOM! THERE'S A SINGING MOOSE IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE!
    • In an Imagine Spot from S4's "To Beat or Not to Beat," Arthur and Francine are dressed in early 19th-century costumes on a windswept clifftop as a string quartet plays on the soundtrack. As Francine sobs that Arthur doesn't believe in her, we discover that the string quartet is playing right behind Arthur, and they interrupt their performance to start crying and asking how Arthur could be so cruel.
    • In the opening teaser to S4's "That's a Baby Show!", Mary Moo Cow takes over the introduction to the episode and sings a chorus of "F-U-N Spells Fun!" in Arthur's bedroom. When Arthur orders her out, he extends the order to the musicians accompanying the song, who are playing just off camera.
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Grandma Thora. Arthur's dad is actually fairly good at it, when he doesn't experiment. With Grandma Thora, her bad cooking may be more of an Informed Flaw and was limited to one episode. "Arthur's Birthday" has her baking a chocolate cake for Arthur, which he seems very excited about. In "Arthur's Chicken Pox," part of Arthur's chicken pox treatment is a batch of special treats made by Grandma Thora, making D.W. jealous.
    • Skip Bitterman, the substitute chef in S13's "The Great MacGrady." Even Buster refuses to eat his food.
    • 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.
  • Licensed Games: One for the Game Boy Color, one for the PlayStation...
  • Library Episode:
    • The episode "Locked in the Library!" features Arthur and Francine visiting the library and forgetting about closing time, and, as the title says, they inadvertently get locked in for the night.
    • In "D.W.'s Library Card", D.W. wants Arthur to borrow a book called Hopalong the Frog from the library and read it to her. When Arthur refuses, D.W. wishes that she could get her own library card so she can borrow the book herself. She finds out that she's old enough, but in order to get a library card, she must successfully write her full name. She practices and eventually succeeds, but when she finally gets to borrow Hopalong the Frog, she finds out from the Tibble Twins that if a library book is damaged, her library card will be taken away forever, which dissuades her from reading the book. At the end of the episode, just before it's time to return the book, Arthur finds out that he first borrowed it when he was D.W.'s age, and it inspires him to read it to her.
    • One of the music videos in "Arthur's Almost Live Not Real Music Festival" is called "Library Card", where Arthur and his friends sing about the joys of reading books at the library.
  • Lies to Children: Mrs. Tibble lies that Tommy and Timmy were born at the same time, so that the boys will stop obsessing over the fact that Tommy is two minutes older.
  • Lifelines: In "Fifteen," George is trying to win $500 for Lakewood Elementary in a game show and calls Arthur for help with a question. Thanks to Arthur, he wins the game show.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The characters all have characteristic outfits by which they are identified. Depending on the episode or the setting, they may be changed: for example, characters are often seen in different outfits in winter or when they're going to bed.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In "Francine's Pilfered Paper," when Francine goes to Mr. Ratburn's house to confess she plagiarized her assignment, upon getting an "A-" grade, she changes her mind, and cites her reference as a book called "22 Secret Pilgrim Recipes" based on the books she saw on Mr. Ratburn's shelf, "Catch 22," "The Secret Pilgrim" and "A Recipe For Murder."
  • List Song: Muffy writes a poem in "I'm a Poet" about what she likes to shop for. Buster criticizes, "That's not a poem, that's a list!" Muffy points out her one rhyme in the poem.
  • 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 way of getting respect. Seeing her little brother James start bullying other kids as well, and saying he got it from her changes her perspective, and realizes mean 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" reveals their names as Alex and Maria.
    • Archie Vanderloo is one of the main characters in "Whip. Mix. Blend.", but has no lines.
  • Local Hangout:
    • The Sugar Bowl, an ice cream shop. The ice cream shop run by Brain's family qualifies, too.
    • Lakewood Elementary's jungle gym is this for the Tough Customers, who call it the "Tower of Pain."
  • Locked in a Room:
    • "Locked in the Library": in the middle of a personal dispute, Arthur and Francine wind up locked in the Elwood City Library for what may be the rest of the weekend, but by the episode's end they make up and come to terms.
    • "Happy Anniversary": Arthur and D.W. wind up locked in the kitchen freezer of a restaurant but pass the time by listening to a radio show until the restaurant's owner can come and unlock the door.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked" (Season 6, 2001) had the game Virtual Goose, which was based at This domain used to redirect to the Virtual Goose game on the PBS Kids website.
  • Long List:
    • The list of things that Perky dislikes in "Arthur's Pet Business" drops to the floor and unfolds from there.
    • The list of foods D.W. doesn't like in "D.W., the Picky Eater."
  • Long-Runner Tech Marches On: Seeing that this is a long-running show, you see this when comparing the show's tech in early episodes to newer ones. "Poor Muffy" has Muffy complaining that Francine doesn't have a VCR, while "Muffy's House Guests" contains a parody of Instagram.
    • Strangely despite all this, even in recent seasons the Read family is still shown to use a big boxy desktop tower computer with CRT monitor, something that became increasingly rare in real life during the 2000s.
  • Losing Horns: The earlier seasons had a Type 1 "wah-wah-wah-wah" sound for actual fail moments but they also had a similar sting for weird or awkward moments.
  • Lost Voice Plot:
    • In "For Whom the Bell Tolls", D.W. loses her voice completely, due to laryngitis. When she gets it back, she pretends it's still gone because she's gotten used to her family fussing over her.
    • In "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble," Mr. Ratburn loses his voice and his sister substitutes for the class.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: "Maria Speaks" is about a reoccuring background character named Maria. She returns with a major role in "Binky Can't Always Get What He Wants."
  • Lucky Charms Title: There's a Show Within a Show in "The Last of Mary Moo Cow" called $tock Market Today.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: In "The Ballad of Buster Baxter", Buster feels ostracized by his friends, and watches TV in his house with a blank expression. In a happy and upbeat tone, Art Garfunkel sings, "He's a sad, sad bunny! A sad, sad bunny! TV isn't funny when you're a sad, sad bunny, yee-haw!" Buster calls him out: "Hey! That's not very sad music!" Garfunkel sings it again at a slower pace, and Buster sadly comments, "That's better."

  • Mad at a Dream:
    • In "Truth or Poll," Brain and Binky get into a poll-taking competition with each other after Binky manipulates polls to his own advantage. Binky ends up having a nightmare in which he gets baked into a pie because using Brain's logic, which is actually a twisted version of his own logic, 100% of respondents said that they wanted Binky to be baked into a pie. That morning, when Brain offers to take a poll on Ms. MacGrady's behalf because Binky's are misleading, Binky gripes "Well, at least I'm not putting kids in pies!"
    • In "Arthur's Treasure Hunt", Arthur wants to dig up the yard because he thinks he could find something cool. In an Imagine Spot, his dad is having a barbecue, but runs out of charcoal. Arthur then runs through a secret passageway of tunnels, gets some charcoal from the store and leaves the money on the counter, then brings it back to his family. In the real world, D.W. doesn't approve of his idea; Arthur calls her a "barbecue ruiner."
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: In "Through the Looking Glasses", Arthur's sleek and modern glasses make him appear more intellectual. He gains a Catchphrase of "As I always say, [proverb]." Buster points out that he has never said any of these proverbs before he got these new glasses.
  • Madness Mantra: In S1's "Arthur and 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.
  • Magic Realism: For the most part (aside from the characters being animals), it's a very realistic show that covers things kids the same age as the protagonists might actually deal with. But, even outside of Imagine Spots, there are some episodes that contain supernatural events. "D.W.'s Snow Mystery" shows that D.W.'s snowball really was taken by aliens, "The Fright Stuff" had a ghost that turned out to be real,"Baby Kate and the Imaginary Mystery" reveals that Pal and Kate can talk to toys and imaginary friends, and "Carried Away" introduced Dr. Yowl, Pal's cousin from Pluto.
  • Married in the Future: Arthur and Francine, shown in "Arthur and the Square Dance" and "And Now Let's Talk to Some Kids."
  • 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.
    • Dr. Fugue, a music teacher.
    • A mild case in "Little Miss Meanie." Muffy and Lydia's beauty pageant nemesis is Portia Dimwiddie—perhaps a play on the word "dimwit."
  • Medium Blending:
    • "Prunella's Prediction" features flash pants which may very well be rendered in Adobe Flash.
    • "Phony Fern" features Buster (appropriately) having a foil hat that looks like an inserted photograph of a triangular piece of tin foil.
  • Message in a Bottle: Buster finds one in "Buster Baxter & the Letter from the Sea." It's from an old sea captain who now resides on the beach, but Buster thinks it's from Atlantis.
  • Messy Hair: The picture book D.W.'s Guide to Perfect Manners depicts D.W. with messy bed hair in the morning before heading off to preschool.
  • Metaphorgotten: From "Arthur Sells Out":
    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 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. Principal Haney hears the noise, opens the door, and is nearly hit by a flying rotten sandwich.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: In "D.W.'s Name Game," Arthur gets red, swirly eyes in a fantasy sequence in which D.W. turns him into her "obedient hypno-brother."
  • Mind Screw:
    • In-Universe, the movie Arthur and Buster see in "The Long, Dull Winter." It's a series of random clips that they don't understand.
    • The opening to "Arthur's Toy Trouble." Arthur is walking on the Earth when he sees a present with a tag reading "Do not open 'til midnight." He then floats past various strange objects to his room, and sleeps until midnight. The present starts convulsing rapidly, and D.W. pops out. D.W. clones flood the house, as D.W. says that she's rich as Arthur screams "How could I let this happen?"
  • Mini-Golf Episode: "Spar for the Course" is about Binky, Buster, and Muffy trying to build a mini golf hole. Binky wants a musical hole, Buster wants a space-themed hole, and Muffy wants one where the ball drops into a car and drives through the mountains. In the end, they combine all their ideas into one.
  • Mirror Universe: Mr. Pryce-Jones's third-grade class from Glenbrook Academy in S3's "The Return of the King." They look very similar to Mr. Ratburn's class, and even have similar names.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher:
    • Mr. Ratburn's sister, who the kids actually find worse than her strict brother.
    • Ms. Sweetwater, notoriously so; Mrs. Fink may also count, given how pathetically easy their assignments tend to be.
  • Misplaced Wildlife:
    • In S6's "Best of the Nest" Brain is left dumbstruck when his character is eaten by a shark in a river. Can be subverted since there are real river sharks.
    • "Flea to You and Me" has the appearance of an Indian rhino in Africa.
  • Missed Meal Aesop: Downplayed for the episode "Is That Kosher?". Francine tries to fast because her family is Jewish and it's a traditional time to do so. When she can't bring herself to go the whole day without food and eats something (namely a piece of pizza), she feels bad, but then she is taught that she doesn't need to fast until she's thirteen. The moral is partly that skipping meals isn't good for kids, but it's more something along the lines of "don't try to do something you're too young for".
  • Missing Child: In "Lost!" Arthur falls asleep on the bus and is only woken after missing his stop, resulting in everyone (and in this case, Arthur himself) believing him lost.
  • Missing Your Own Party: Buster is Put on a Bus for the second half of season 2. In the second half of the season 3 premiere, "The Ballad of Buster Baxter", Arthur and friends through a party to welcome him back. While everyone enjoys the party, they quickly realize that they forgot to invite Buster, as each was instructed by another to invite him, leading to nobody doing it. They quickly fix their mistake and Buster joins in on the fun.
  • Mistaken for Thief:
    • In "Arthur, World's Greatest Gleeper," the Tough Customers bully Arthur and say that they bet he's never even "gleeped" anything. Buster defends Arthur by saying that he's gleeped lots of stuff without knowing that "gleep" means "steal." This makes people think Arthur is a thief.
    • A major plot point in "Play it Again, D.W." D.W. thinks Arthur has stolen her Crazy Bus CD, and even Arthur's friends start to think he did. Arthur actually didn't take the CD; instead, his and D.W.'s parents accidentally brought it to a class reunion.
    • In "Cereal," D.W. notices her cereal is gone and thinks that Arthur took it. Actually, Pal did.
    • Zigzagged for D.W.'s snowball, which she and Francine think Arthur took but Arthur maintains he didn't do it, and Buster thinks aliens did. What really happened is a mystery.
  • Mistakes Are Not the End of the World:
    • In "Arthur vs. the Piano," Arthur has to do a piano recital in front of the rest of the school and he's very nervous at the prospect of messing up. He does hit a wrong note at the end, but he still gets applause from the whole audience and the only person besides him who noticed the wrong note was Binky, who thinks that he did it on purpose as a "unique interpretation". Grandma Thora also reassures him that he was the only one who cared about the wrong note.
    • In "What's Cooking?" Arthur tries baking a chocolate cake for a cooking contest judged by Ming Tsai. He mixes up baking powder and baking soda, and his cake comes out flat. Arthur's father tells him that he ended up making brownies instead; Ming then explains that mistakes are okay, and that Arthur's brownies are delicious.
  • Mondegreen: D.W. is very prone to this.
    • In the episode "Tales From the Crib" D.W. points out that the Tibbles once told her the story of Arachnar, the spider lord that haunts children that have just gotten a big-person bed. When Vicita becomes scared of sleeping in her new bed, D.W. says Arachnar is just an "Irving legend", or the kind of story one's Uncle Irving would tell, rather than an urban legend. When Vicita points out she does not have an Uncle Irving, D.W. dismisses him as an Irving legend as well!
    • D.W.'s home-made New York City postcards in "Postcards from Buster" aren't the most accurate. Her landmarks include the "Vampire State Building," "Rocks-of-Falling Center," and the "Stature of Liver Trees."
    • In "D.W. Thinks Big," she asks her mom if she can have "the oderant" like her cousin.
    • D.W. doesn't want to be an "organ." She means "orphan."
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • S15's "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album." Joan Rivers → Alzheimer's Disease → Joan Rivers
    • In "Buster Makes the Grade," Buster imagines himself as a grown-up still in the third grade, visiting Principal Arthur. Arthur tells Buster the good news that Buster will be going somewhere that he can eat, sleep, and play all day: preschool! Buster then breaks down and begs Arthur for a second chance, knowing he can do better the next time.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: In S6's "Best of the Nest" the kids play a game full of these kinds of puzzles.
    Francine: Who knew that the way to scare off a bear was to do the hokey-pokey?
  • Motor Mouth: In "Revenge of the Chip" D.W. finds that everybody has been finding out about her green chip incident, even a column in the local news paper mentions it. She later finds that her mother has been telling everybody. She finds her mother talking on the telephone and mentioning that she plans to tell a lot of people including the relatives. At that point D.W. begins to fantasize and mom's voice speeds up as her whole head morphs into a giant pair of lips.
  • The Movie: Arthur's Missing Pal, an All-CGI Cartoon released directly to DVD.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Arthur's friends are very impressed that he has relatives from... Ohio. (Marc Brown grew up in Ohio himself.)
    • Occurs in "Arthur Rides the Bandwagon." Arthur is the only one without a Woogle, the latest fad toy among the cast. He gets so frustrated that he predicts a juice cap is more fun than a Woogle. Actually, it is, and soon all the kids are playing with juice caps instead.
    • "Arthur's Almost Live Not Real Music Festival" makes library cards look more awesome than they have any right to be.
  • Musical Episode:
  • My Little Phony: D.W. has been shown to enjoy "My Fluffy Unicorn." She owns a doll she calls Uni. Despite the name the only characters shown are winged unicorns, not standard ones.
  • Mysterious Teacher's Lounge: "Buster the Lounge Lizard" has several bizarre imagine spots about what goes on in the teachers' lounge.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the passwords in the Reads' password book in "D.W. and Dr. Whosit" is "A-r-1-9-7-6". The first Arthur book was released in 1976.
    • The item that wins Camp Meadowcroak the inter-camp scavenger hunt in the episode "Arthur Goes to Camp" is a postcard. Arthur sends loads of them in the book the episode is based on, and the body of his last postcard is the same in both.


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