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    N 
  • Nails On A Chalkboard:
    • The villainous Verminator in one of Arthur's dreams in "Arthur's Underwear" takes on the role of a teacher and uses this to torture his class. Arthur the superhero shows up only to get everyone in the class to laugh at his lack of pants.
    • Dr. Fugue does this to get the class's attention in "Tipping the Scales."
    • In "Sue Ellen and the Brainasaurous," Sue Ellen imagines Brain with a Rube Goldberg device to keep himself awake, ending with a skeleton scratching its hand on a chalkboard.
  • Nature Is Boring: In "Water and the Brain," Binky expresses disinterest in the aquarium, saying that it's "just full of fish and dumb facts." He also expresses disinterest in the Brain's fact about how much plankton sperm whales eat.
  • Needlework Is for Old People: Zigzagged. Both Grandma Thora and Mrs. MacGrady (who are both quite old) like to knit. In "Arthur Unravels", Arthur takes up knitting too but is embarrassed because he thinks it's for old people. However, at the end of the episode, he learns that anyone can knit and that Oliver Frensky (who's middle-aged) and Rattles (who's nine) are good knitters as well.
  • Negative Continuity: In season 19, Arthur and his class finally move up to 4th grade. In the following seasons, they are back in 3rd.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Played with; a number of moms on this show have jobs. Jane Read balances her commitments, working from home as an accountant.
  • New Baby Episode:
    • In "Arthur's Baby", Arthur recalls the time when Mrs. Read was pregnant with Kate. He was worried that she'd be another Bratty Half-Pint like D.W., or that her dirty diapers would stink the room out, and when Kate is born, he's worried she doesn't like him. Eventually, he realises that she does like him.
    • "D.W.'s Baby" also focuses on Kate's birth, but from D.W.'s point of view. Unlike Arthur, she was looking forward to Kate's birth, but once Kate is born, D.W. feels jealous of her, and at one point she tries to run away. Thankfully, Grandma Thora convinces her not to.
    • In "Big Brother Binky", the Barnses adopt a baby named Mei-Lin from China, and Binky learns how to be a brother.
  • New Media Are Evil: In S14's "Muffy and the Big Bad Blog", when Francine tells Muffy that she doesn't want to read her blog anymore, Muffy posts a poll on her blog asking people if they think that's okay, then posts an angry e-mail that Francine sent her. Francine retaliates by creating an online edition of her newspaper, The Frenksy Star, with the first issue talking about the situation, designating Muffy "Bully of the BlogOSphere."
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: When Dark Bunny was introduced, he was just a Batman Expy. By "The Secret Origin of Supernova," he has Super Strength and can fly.
  • New Year Has Come: "Arthur's New Year's Eve," the finale of the first season. PBS airs this episode every New Year's Eve.
  • New York Is Only Manhattan: Averted in "Postcards from Buster" (not the show), where the characters visit NYC. They go to different boroughs and take real-world footage.
  • Next Sunday A.D.:
    • S14's "Buster Baxter & the Letter from the Sea" takes place in 2012.
    • "Elwood City Turns 100" takes place in 2003, considering they're celebrating the Elwood City's 100th anniversary, which in flashback, shows the city was founded in 1903.
    • "Happy Anniversary" takes place in 2006. That would place Mr. and Mrs. Read's marriage in 1996 as they are celebrating their tenth anniversary.
    • "The Contest" flash forwards five years into the future when the gang finally finds out who won.
    • S21's "Brain and the Time Capsule" takes place in 2018.
  • Nice Hat: Rattles' red baseball cap, always worn backwards and almost never taken off his head.
  • Nightmare Fuel: invoked -
    • D.W. tells Arthur Dark Bunny was apparently so scary, it gave her a bad experience.
    • Likewise, any dreams Binky had without a night light.
    • An in-universe example: reading the (briefly) popular comic "Grotesquely Grim Bunny" gave Arthur nightmares. In fact, if we go by Arthur's Imagine Spots and general character, he's kind of prone to them. "Arthur's Underwear" is an egregious example.
    • The crossing guard's threat of sending his "goons" after Arthur scares Arthur so much that he has a nightmare about it.
    • Whatever the Tibbles did to Rubella during her only time babysitting them was so bad that she still loses sleep over it.
  • No Antagonist: No real antagonists per se. The show primarily focuses on slice-of-life issues, though on occasion this will be subverted using the Villainy-Free Villain trope.
  • Noble Shoplifter: In an Imagine Spot in "Arthur's Treasure Hunt", Arthur finds a secret underground tunnel to the supermarket. He goes to buy some charcoal for his parents' barbecue at night, leaving behind the money for it at an unmanned cash register before leaving.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Capri DiVapida is a family friendly parody of Paris Hilton. With her famous catch phrase "That's warm."
    • Beauregard Poulet and his Chicken Lickin' restaurants in "Sue Ellen Chickens Out" are parodies of Colonel Harland Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • No Ending:
    • The results of the Ratburn Rally in "D.W. Blows the Whistle" are never shown.
    • S10's "Flaw and Order," which cuts to black just as another stone is about to hit a replaced cake plate.
    • "S.W.E.A.T." just ends with the kids getting over the stress of the test and we never learn how they did.
    • "Best of the Nest" ends with the kids and Mr. Ratburn doing the Hokey Pokey to scare off something in the woods, with no conclusion.
    • "The Cave" ends shortly after Arthur's class gets out of the cave. We're never shown how D.W. reacts to hearing that Arthur wasn't scared at all or if Arthur tells David that he used his tip to get out of the cave.
  • No Fourth Wall: Very regularly during the show's opening teaser sequences, but much less often during the show proper.
  • Noir Episode: "The Case of the Girl with the Long Face" is monochrome as Buster tries to figure out why Fern is feeling sad. Lampshaded by Muffy, who points out her colored bows "would look better if they weren't in black and white."
  • Non-Nude Bathing: D.W. wears a yellow bathing suit with pink fringe while in a bubble bath in "Hic or Treat."
  • No-Tell Motel: The Ocean View Hotel in "Arthur's Family Vacation" (which always has a vacancy) is like this; there's no view of the ocean, the room has pictures coming off the hinges, lousy mattresses on the bed that sink under weight, leaky ceilings, and an abnormally small pool (to which D.W. comments "Our bathtub is bigger than this!") But being a kids' show, there are no sexual references.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In "Francine's Split Decision," Buster tries to recall their recent defeats at the hands of Mighty Mountain, bringing up the events of "Friday the 13th" and "The Big Blow Up." After being reminded that the Lakewood kids won those games, Buster mentions an unseen jai alai tournament, which they immediately wince at the memory of as a "complete disaster."
    • In "Arthur Babysits," Prunella recalls how her sister Rubella babysat the Tibble Twins only once, but still has nightmares about them as what the Tibbles apparently did to Rubella was so traumatizing she won't even talk about it.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Even though some characters have birthdays over the course of the show, the characters are never shown to physically age, outside of occasional flash-forward or fantasy.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Rattles claims this of him and his friends in S14's "D.W., Queen of the Comeback," and took offense when D.W. calls them bullies.
    Rattles (to D.W.) We're not bullies. We're kids who have a hard time expressing our emotions in a constructive manner.
  • Not Me This Time: After Francine's bike was allegedly stolen, Muffy and the others suspected that Binky may have stolen the bike. During a meeting, Binky stormed over to Muffy and asked if she was the one who is accusing him of stealing her bike. After she confirms it, Binky then reveals, while looking timidly to the others, that he's innocent.
  • No True Scotsman: In "Poor Muffy", Muffy has allergies and her mother Millicent is having her sniff items to see if she's allergic to them. One of the items is money and Muffy's father Ed says "Not funny, Millicent! No Crosswire was ever allergic to money!"
  • Not So Different: In S14's "Arthur Unravels", Arthur spends the entire episode trying to hide his knitting hobby from everyone, fearing he'll be shunned and bullied for it. At the end he learns that Rattles is a member of Dr. Fugue's knitting club, a fact that he kept secret from the other Tough Customers until Dr. Fugue reveals it himself. Rattles' response to the Tough Customers looking at him in surprise is to smile and shrug sheepishly as if to say, "Guilty as charged."
  • Not So Fast: On several occasions, Arthur pulls off something cool at school despite screwing up, then ends up with extra homework, or having to redo it. Buster is occasionally included.
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: The basis of the episode "Arthur's Underwear" is Arthur having recurrences of this dream after seeing Binky rip his pants. Ironically, they end by Arthur ripping his own pants by the end of the episode.
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    O 
  • Obsessive Hobby Episode:
    • In "Binky Barnes, Wingman", Binky becomes obsessed with butterfly catching but there's a clear reason for his obsessiveness: he wants to catch a certain blue one.
    • In "Play it Again, D.W.", D.W. annoys her family (unintentionally) by playing her favourite song "Crazy Bus" on repeat.
  • Oculothorax: In "The Friend Who Wasn't There", Buster explains that he had five Imaginary Friends when he was younger. One of them, Top Eye, is an eyeball with arms, legs, and a top hat.
  • Odd Friendship: Binky and D.W., starting from S3's "The Chips are Down"; Arthur and his friends are completely baffled by this. Binky would later befriend D.W.'s classmate Emily in S13's "The Good, the Bad, and the Binky."
  • Ode to Food: Pal sings about how much he loves bacon in "The Secret Life of Dogs and Babies," parodying "Cheek to Cheek."
  • Off Like a Shot: In several first-season episodes, characters would often dash off-screen this way, leaving behind a quick puff of dust. This was apparently carried over from The Busy World of Richard Scarry, another show Cookie Jar/Cinar produced near the same time as Arthur. This practice was eventually nixed after the first season due to its' rather cartoonish appearance, and is now an instance of Early Installment Weirdness.
  • Official Couple: Arthur is shown married to Francine on a couple of occasions, despite massive denial between the two in S2's "Arthur and the Square Dance."
  • Official Fan-Submitted Content: A few in-universe examples
    • In "Arthur and the Crunch Cereal Contest," Crunch cereal is holding a contest to come up with a new jingle. Arthur giving credit to D.W. wins the contest, and the jingle becomes the official jingle for crunch.
    • In "The Contest," the Andy show is having a contest where viewers write a story about them and their friends and submit them to the show. This episode is also an example of the trope, as the idea for Arthur and friends to enter a contest was the result of the Arthur writers having a similar contest. Each of the stories the characters came up with was created by fans.
    • The character Lydia Fox was designed by Connor Gordon, a fan of the show; he did it for a contest the show put on in an effort to develop and introduce a new character with a disability.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: S16's "The Best Day Ever" adds a scene to George's Call-Back with the episode "Arthur's Dummy Disaster" which provides additional subtext for his behavior; there's an aside with George hiding behind a shelf and trying to talk to and fix Wally before he runs outside and despairs over himself.
  • One Episode Fear:
    • In "Shelter From the Storm", said storm causes Brain to develop a fear of wind. It's Played for Drama because he needs to see a therapist, but it's gone by the end of the episode.
    • In "April 9th", Arthur develops a fear of being separated from his father after the father gets caught in a fire. This goes away when the dad gives him a pep talk about a similar experience he had when Grandma Thora was in a car crash.
      • In the same episode, Binky develops a fear of fires due to catching a glimpse of the actual flames during said fire.
    • In "D.W. All Fired Up" D.W. develops a fear of fire when faced with the notion of her first Fire Drill, namely that the school will be set on fire as a part of the drill. She spends the episode learning about fire safety and is the only one fully prepared once the fire drill happens.
    • According to "Hic or Treat," D.W. has a fear of eating gingerbread men. This is never mentioned again, even though she does not get over this fear.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Unintentionally done in S3's "Buster's Back", which includes the titular character and musician Arthur Garfunkel (though in this case, his name is never mentioned).
    • There is more than one Binky - Binky Barnes and the band Binky.
    • Arthur has a father named David and a Grandpa Dave.
    • Mary Moo Cow and Mary Alice "Muffy" Crosswire.
  • Opening Shout-Out:
    • In "And Now Let's Talk to Some Kids" Francine briefly imagines Brain in a show of his own involving nothing but thinking. The first part of the show is the intro, but it stops after the first line when Brain stops walking to sit down and think.
    • In "The Frensky Family Fiasco," Francine appears in the intro instead of Arthur. When Arthur stops the music and asks Francine what she is doing, she claims she is tired of Arthur doing the intro and wanted to do it herself.
    • "Arthur's Toy Trouble"'s Cold Open starts with Arthur walking on the Earth, just like he does in the theme song.
    • Binky quotes the "listen to your heart, listen to the beat, listen to the rhythm, the rhythm of the street" line in "D.W., Dancing Queen."
  • Opposing Sports Team:
    • Mighty Mountain.
    • Camp Horsewater in "Arthur Goes to Camp."
  • ...Or So I Heard: The various New Year's Eve / New Year's traditions spouted by Arthur's friends in S1's "Arthur's New Years Eve". Includes the "Green Flash," the New Year's Police who arrest you if you don't throw away your old calendars, the New Year's Eve wrestling match and the meeting in which parents discuss the things they did to make their kids miserable throughout the year and what else they can do in the new year.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: In "MacFrensky" (a parody of sorts of the trope namer), Francine gets slimed by Buster's alien robot toy thing. When her conscience starts to haunt her, she utters the famous line, though understandably censored to fit the show demographics.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Discussed in the opening to "Take a Hike, Molly." Binky talks about how "there are some things that you'll never hear certain people say." He gives examples.
    Buster: A UFO? Ha! That's probably just a weather balloon.
  • Out of Focus: Although different characters have had their own episodes and stories dedicated to them, by Season 7 or 8, this became more and more frequent to the point that episodes where Arthur is the main focus have become rare.
  • Outnumbered Sibling: Grandma Thora lived this growing up, being the youngest sibling to three older brothers; the flashback in, "Clarissa is Cracked," show that at times, Thora was not particularly content with not having her own (gender-appropriate) toys, and having to settle with playing hand-me-downs from her brothers (which were mostly things like toy soldiers, miniature log forts, and toy airplanes). D.W. sympathizes with Thora for not only being the younger sister (like herself), but having three older brothers (on the grounds that three brothers isn't as bad as having one Arthur).
  • Outof The Frying Pan: in "Arthur's Perfect Christmas", Arthur is sick of the radio commercial for Tina the Talking Tabby, which plays in the car on the family's way to church after having already done so when Arthur and D.W. were being driven to school. Arthur begs his dad to put something else on, and the cassette Dave pops into the stereo plays "Crazy Bus".
  • Out Sick:
    • "Is There a Doctor in the House?": Mrs. Read falls sick leaving Arthur and D.W. to take care of the house along with their father. Mr. read also falls sick and eventually Arthur and D.W. are left to keep the house themselves, doing all the tasks before Grandma Thora shows up to help.
    • "The Great Mac Grady": When Mrs. Mac Grady becomes sick with cancer, her Lethal Chef of a cousin Skip has to take over her job at school.
    • "Arthur's Chicken Pox" zigzags this. Arthur learns he may have to miss the circus because of chicken pox. He gets better by the end of the episode but D.W. gets the chicken pox at the end.
    • When Timmy gets sick in "Double Tibble Trouble", D.W. and Emily volunteer to take turns filling in for him and keep Tommy company, playing all the boys' favorite games with him. At the end of the episode, Tommy gets sick, and D.W. resignedly volunteers to take the first shift of playing with Timmy.
    • Mr. Ratburn gets sick in "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble" and his sister takes over for a day, but her preschool teaching style makes the class realize just how much they do enjoy Mr. Ratburn.

    P 
  • Pac Man Fever:
    • Despite having a ton of Shout Outs to famous book series, TV shows, movies and most other pop culture icons (even Webkinz of all things), video games are still portrayed as primitive and Atari-like. Also, video game and computer game music tend to sound like chip tunes despite having graphics that look at least 16-bit.
    • Technology seemed to be marching forward in the first few season, as by S6, they have had full computer voice acting, cutscenes, (relatively) realistic computer graphics, and actually pretty decent computer music as shown in S6's "Best of the Nest". But then regressed by the S10 episode, "The Squirrels" and the S11 episode, "Arthur Sells Out", video games were played on a console that looks a lot like a Sega Dreamcast which is a 64-bit console, but the games played have 8-bit graphics and sounds. By S12's "D.W.'s Stray Netkitten, the technology seemed to have marched slightly slightly forwards again — while the graphics are less realistic and the music sounds a little more primitive and not many games seem to have voice acting as long or elaborate compared to "Best of the Nest", it was leaps and bounds ahead of the tech in "Arthur Sells Out". Or maybe it's just that console technology just isn't up to par with PC technology in their universe.
  • Padding the Paper:
    • In "Binky Barnes, Art Expert" Arthur and Buster copy a passage of text from the Art Museum catalog when they don't have a written portion to their class report.
    • In "Francine's Pilfered Paper", Buster has to write an essay. To make it take up more paper, he writes with huge letters.
    • Likewise Francine avoids doing much work on the essay herself by using an entire article on the Internet and adding her name to it, plagiarizing the article.
    • In "Buster's Growing Grudge", Buster forgets to study, so he writes a "report" that is about eggnog (he was meant to write about King Tut, but "eggnog" and "Egypt" were next to each other in the encyclopedia) and adds on a joke because he believes he will get a higher grade if he makes the teacher laugh. He tells Binky, who tells the joke, so Buster doesn't get to tell the joke, and ends up getting a D, which he blames Binky for.
  • Painting the Medium: The characters being based off of animals, they sometimes show animal traits.
    • In "Fern's Slumber Party" Bailey is among the guests at Fern's door when the guests arrive. He is carrying three large bags and (being a dog) is panting from exhaustion from carrying the bags.
    • In another episode, Francine insults Arthur, an aardvark, by telling him to "go eat an ant sandwich".
    • Characters sometimes reference Buster's large ears because he is a bunny.
    • Jenna, a cat, is allergic to milk.
  • Pan and Scan:
    • In the U.S. version of "Around the World in 11 Minutes" (cropped to 4:3 from the international version's 16:9 aspect ratio), during the scene on the plane, a pan was added to show Mei Lin speaking on-camera since she would be outside of the 4:3 border otherwise.
    • Subverted with the remastered S16 intro. The "camera" originally panned across the shot of Brain and Muffy near the end, but does not in the remastered version.
  • Pandering to the Base: The show is actually pretty good at incorporating fan input when the opportunity presents itself - other times, it's more or less just to make certain fans happy. Some specific examples are as follows:
    • Lydia Fox was originally an OC created and designed by fan Connor Gordon. In-universe, Lydia's last name was eventually changed to Gordon in reference to her creator.
    • On occasion, the show will have contests for fans to submit ideas that are eventually worked into actual episodes of the show.
      • "The Contest" from S4, as submitted by a girl named Holly Holland, was essentially working the idea of the contest into the story itself, having Arthur and his friends enter a story contest for one of their favorite TV shows as well.
      • "D.W. and Bud's Higher Purpose" from S18 was the result of a contest held on Facebook - a fan submitted the idea of D.W. and Bud being too short to ride a new roller coaster at Wonder World, and scheming to try and heighten themselves to get on.
    • "The Tattletale Frog" (S18) features a major plot point of Bud taking off his hat, mainly to satisfied one crazed fan who has an obsession of seeing Bud take off his hat. No, really.
    • A S19 episode features Maria, a Living Prop who appears in most episodes but rarely ever interacts with Arthur or the rest of the main cast. Her Day in the Limelight episode actually focuses on why we never hear her talk, as fans have been speculating different theories for years why she never talks... despite the fact that she's a background extra. It turns out she's embarrassed of her Speech Impediment, specifically, a stutter.
    • It's not just the fans that have given input. Season 4's "Buster's Breathless" was written by one of the show's writers after her son was diagnosed with asthma and she wanted an easy way of explaining it to children.
  • Panty Shot: "Popular Girls" (S3) has one for Jenna for some reason.
  • Paranormal Episode:
    • In "The Fright Stuff," Francine and Muffy plan to scare Arthur, Buster, Binky and the Brain at a "Scare-Your-Pants-Off" themed party. Arthur et al. plan to do the same to Francine and Muffy. But both groups get scared by what is apparently a real ghost.
    • "Fright Night" is about Arthur and Buster trying to ward off a (not real) creature called the Lycanbunny.
  • Parental Bonus:
    • S4's "The Contest" included obvious parodies of WWE, South Park, Beavis And Butthead, and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.
    • They referenced Beavis and Butthead twice - in the above instance, and in a comic called Peabrain and Nuthead.
    • S12's "Bats in the Belfry" , which dares to reference the movie Child's Play.
    • "Nicked by a Name" has Brain daydreaming being Don Draper, minus the smoking, drinking and Values Dissonance of course.
    • In "Arthur Rides the Bandwagon", Grandma Thora tries to help Arthur feel better by showing the Pet Rock fad from the 70s and how it was a big deal during Mr. Read's time. This was an actual fad that many parents from that time can relate to.
  • Parental Obliviousness:
    • Binky's parents seem completely unaware of his bad traits.
    • Played straight with the Tibbles' grandmother, who consistently refers to her children as "angels" completely oblivious to all the trouble they constantly get themselves into and cause others.
  • Parental Savings Splurge: In Binky's Imagine Spot, he thinks he's been left home alone, his parents drive off in their car for a cruise trip, telling their son "There wasn't enough money in your college fund for three tickets!"
  • Paying for the Action Scene: The teaser of "Arthur Makes a Movie" has them watching trailers for a Bland-Name Product of a James Bond movie. After subduing a villain in a fancy restaurant, the hero tells the manager to put the damage on his tab.
  • Paying in Coins: Arthur's Perfect Christmas has Arthur paying for his mom's present out of a coin jar. The cashier falls asleep waiting for him to count it all out.
  • Peking Duck Christmas: The Frenskys eat Chinese food and go to the movies on Christmas Day. Brain and his family are wroking the ice cream shop like normal because they celebrate Kwanzaa.
  • Pie in the Face:
    • Deconstructed in "Buster Bombs," Buster tries having Arthur throwing pies at him, desperate to find something that will make people laugh. Arthur is just grossed out. Buster's mother then enters and tells him to clean up.
    • The intro to "Brother, Can You Spare a Clarinet?" has Binky give Arthur a present that turns out to have a pie hidden in it, hitting him in the face.
  • Pinocchio Nose: Arthur has an all-too-obvious habit of fiddling with his glasses when he lies. D.W. lampshades this a few times.
  • Playing Sick:
    • Happens in S6's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" where D.W. faked her voice loss so everyone would focus her attention on her. To be fair, D.W.'s voice loss did start out as a real illness, but she recovered faster than expected and liked being catered to.
    • Happens again in S16's "Brain's Chess Mess" where Rattles fakes a stomachache to avoid playing in a chess tournament as part of a gambit to get Brain to play against a very smug chess player in his place. Rattles, who was teaching Brain how to play chess, knew Brain and the chess player had a vendetta, but was confident that Brain can win without his help and so faked his illness.
  • Playing a Tree:
    • In Season 1's "Francine Frensky, Superstar," the teaser has Arthur flashing back to some of Francine's rough class play roles, including playing a cherry tree for George Washington to chop down. Additionally in the main story, as part of the class's Thomas Edison play, Arthur is cast in the role of the first phonograph, Buster as the first incandescent light bulb, Sue Ellen as a kinetoscope, and Binky as a train. This excites Binky, as he can be really steady when playing non-living objects, which he recalls...
      Binky: I was the wall in Humpty Dumpty; I was Plymouth Rock on Thanksgiving. I hope there's a wall in this play, because I'm real steady.
    • In "Sue Ellen and the Brainasaurous," Francine got a role in Brain's report on Napoleon. She was the map.
    • Literally in "All About D.W." In a play about Little Red Riding Hood, Emily is cast as Red Riding Hood, despite D.W. having practiced for the role. Instead, D.W. gets to play "Tree #2." She's not happy about it.
  • Plot Allergy:
    • In S9's "Binky Goes Nuts", Binky develops a peanut allergy, which he is initially none too happy about, but comes to terms with it with the help of classmate Jenna, who's allergic to milk. His peanut allergy is occasionally referenced in later episodes.
    • Seasons 16 and 19 have the Tough Customers' Rattles saying he's lactose intolerant; he can't eat anything with dairy in it.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Postcards from Buster", which seems to pretty openly set up the show of the same name.
  • Poorly Lit Pareidolia: Three episodes, all from season 1:
    • "Arthur's First Sleepover": Arthur recounts being afraid of the dark as a child, and envisioning the radiator in his bedroom as a toothy monster.
    • "Locked in the Library": Arthur and Francine are locked in the town's public library at night, and Arthur sees a scowling face in a hanging overhead mobile.
    • "Arthur's New Puppy": Pal has to sleep in the garage, but is scared due to envisioning a rake, lawnmower, and tree branch as monsters.
  • Popcultural Osmosis: It's not uncommon to hear "Matalii Ja Mustii" be referred to as "the BINKY song" or "that one song from Arthur", from people who grew up watching the show.
  • Portmanteau Title: In "The Master Builders," Francine and Muffy's pet toy company is called "Skywire", a portmanteau of their last names (Frensky and Crosswire).
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Alberto Molina has one with Bionic Bunny posters.
  • P.O.V. Cam: "You Are Arthur" is drawn from Arthur's point of view to fit the premise that the viewer and Arthur are pretending to be each other for the day, with the viewer inside Arthur's head looking out and Arthur outside his own head looking in.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: “D.W. Tale Spins”, an adaptation of The Odyssey, cuts out the story’s more extraneous elements (Aeolus, Circe, Tiresias, Calypso, the cattle, etc.).
  • Prank Call: Francine and Muffy try to prank call Francine's new neighbor in "Francine Goes to War" with the "Is your refrigerator running?" gag but they mess it up horribly. First Francine, giving a false name, asks if her refrigerator is on, then Muffy calls back and asks the question properly but give Francine's name and identity away. Francine's father is not to pleased to know Francine tried the prank call.
  • The Prima Donna: Francine in the Season 1 episode "Francine Frensky, Superstar" when she gets the title role of Thomas Edison in a School Play. She goes on a power trip and acts like she is running the show - with an iron fist. She even deeply offends Muffy after criticizing Francine's research as "boring", yells at Mr. Ratburn in the face when she discovers a flaw in Sue Ellen's kinetoscope costume, and threatens "The Brain" to remove the air holes from Buster's incandescent light bulb costume (complete with the Tough Customers Leitmotif accompanying her threatening.) So during a performance for the kindergarteners, the other kids intentionally sabotage the play to teach Francine a lesson.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: In "Dog's Best Friend," Pal imagines Amigo in a pound that is essentially an animal prison.
    Amigo: All we eat are vegetables and there are baths three times a day. I don't know how much more I can take. I'm innocent, Pal.
    Nemo: Time's up, liver lips. Move along or it's the cone for you.
  • Power Outage Plot: This show has done two episodes with a blackout as the central plot point.
    • "The Blizzard" from Season 4 is about the various citizens of Elwood City struggling to pull through in a city-wide power outage caused by a big snowstorm.
    • "The Blackout" from Season 12 does a similar setup, but this time the catalyst for the blackout is a summer heat wave (since it's so hot out that everyone has their air conditioning cranked up to maximum). Arthur and D.W. have trouble dealing with the power outage, but the Molinas don't have any problems since they're one step ahead, having experienced numerous blackouts back in Ecuador (they store their drinks in a garbage can underground to keep them cold, for example).
  • Precocious Crush: Season 6's "Crushed" has Arthur having a tremendous crush on his new babysitter, then later being heartbroken when he learns she has a boyfriend.
  • Prejudice Aesop: "Dear Adil" is about Arthur having assumptions about his Turkish pen pal (assuming he wears a turban, lives in a tent, etc) and learning that he shouldn't make assumptions about cultures.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: In-universe, the Dark Bunny game in "Arthur Sells Out" turns out to be an 8-bit, Egyptian themed Super Mario Bros. rip off on the Dreamcast.
  • Protagonist Title: Arthur is the name of the show and also the main character.
  • Public Hater, Private Fan: In "That's a Baby Show!", Arthur gets addicted to The Love Ducks. He secretly pretends to hate it while watching it instead of the much more mature Dark Bunny cartoon. At the end of the episode, Francine turns out to have also been a fan all along (despite leading the mockery when Arthur was caught watching it).
  • Publicity Stunt: In "Binky Rules", the manager of a band called Binky decides that graffiti-ing "BINKY RULES!" all over the school would be a good publicity stunt. However, the character named Binky gets in trouble when the school janitor believes he's responsible for the graffiti.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: In the Cold Open to "Do You Believe in Magic?", Arthur acts as a stage magician. He reaches into a hat and pulls out Buster, who then tells the show's viewers, "And now, here's something we hope you'll enjoy!"
  • Pun-Based Title: Very common for episode titles. Examples include "D.W.'s Deer Friend" (D.W. sees a deer during a camping trip and wants to befriend it) and "Finders Key-pers" (Arthur, Brain, and Binky find a key in the grass and wonder what it goes to).
  • Punny Name:
    • Most characters. The Crosswire family is probably the most obvious.
    • Alan's last name is Powers. Coupled with his nickname, his name is "Brain Powers."
    • Dr. Fugue, the piano teacher, and his cat, "Fur" Elise.
    • Arthur's name sounds like the word "author", and his last name is Read.
    • The teaser for "Buster's Green Thumb" personifies some of the food in his Cabinet of Curiosities. One such food is a doughnut named Duncan.
  • Puppy Love:
    • The early seasons were rather notable for constant obvious Arthur/Francine pairings, as well as other character pairings. They, however, likely won't go all the way. They're only in 3rd grade, after all.
    • The Living Book for Arthur's Birthday characterizes Francine as having a crush on Arthur. She fantasizes about playing Spin The Bottle and kissing him.
  • Put on a Bus: Happens to a number of characters:
    • Mr. Sipple, a minor rabbit character who is the Reads' neighbor and appears in a few episodes as a comic relief character. He moved away to make way for the Molinas.
    • Mr. Morris, the janitor at Lakewood Elementary, retires and moves to Roswell, New Mexico with his daughter after injuring his leg when the school partly burns.
    • D.W.'s pet toad, Toady Wartface. S7's "The Great Sock Mystery" revealed that Toady escaped from D.W.
    • Principal Haney in season 20 due to the death of his voice actor Walter Massey. Haney moves to South Africa to live his dream of founding a school.
    • Season 23 has both Ladonna and Bud moving away from Elwood City because of their father being part of the military. Zigzagged, as Bud appears (with a speaking role, even) in the next episode, "D.W. and Dr. Whosit." The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur shows that the Compsons really have moved away, although Bud has a minor role in An Arthur Thanksgiving.
  • Pygmalion Snap Back: D.W. experiences this when she makes a bet with Emily that she can teach Tommy Tibble to be good and thus win the Good Behavior Award in preschool. It seems to work, but by the end of the episode, Tommy is his original self again.

    R 
  • Rage Breaking Point: The entire plot of S1's "Meek for a Week", where Muffy dares Francine not to be mean for an entire week, in exchange for a watch. Since they do it in secret, the others start to wonder why she suddenly becomes so kind. The bet backfires when it overlaps with a playoff roller hockey game, where Francine acts perfectly content about letting the opposing team score. Muffy realizes her mistake and offers Francine the watch early, but just before Francine decides it's only fair to last the final half hour, an opposing player knocks the watch out of her hands and smashes it, leading her to reach her breaking point.
  • Raptor Attack: A Jurassic Park-styled dromaeosaurid appears in the Cold Open of "Jenna's Bedtime Blues", although justified in that it's a video game character.
  • "Rashomon"-Style:
    • "D.W.'s Snow Mystery" is about D.W.'s snowball disappearing from the freezer, and she wants to find out who did it. D.W., Arthur, Grandma Thora, Jane, and even Buster get in on the story-telling. In the end, it's never known who did it, although it's hinted that Buster was correct.
    • In "Arthur's Family Feud," David's souffle falls and he and Jane want to know who did it. Arthur and D.W. act out their own versions of the story: Arthur draws his in crayon while D.W. re-enacts it with her dolls. It turns out that they were both responsible for the souffle falling.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: As stated on the Arthur website, this is one of the show's main themes note , but it's occasionally addressed more directly.
    • There's a song in the musical episode in which the refrain goes "Having fun isn't hard/When you've got a library card."
    • In "The Short, Quick Summer," Arthur bemoans the fact that he wasted his entire summer vacation because he didn't do any of the things on his summer "to-do" list, then realizes he did all of them by reading stories.
    • The episode starring Neil Gaiman provided a rare example of an Aesop in favor of reading graphic novels: they inspire Sue Ellen to be creative and try her hand at writing and illustrating her own work.
    • Still another episode had Buster try to find a book to read for a school report after initially cheating by basing his report on a movie instead. Arthur gives him multiple books to try reading, but Buster gets bored and gives up reading each of these books no matter how short they are, until he reads a book that Arthur thought would be too long and complicated to hold his attention and loves it so much that he spends the entire night reading it.
    • In "D.W.'s Library Card," Arthur openly states how great the library is. However, the rest of the episode is a deconstruction of how libraries aren't exactly perfect: there's no guarantee that the books will be in good condition, and you have to wait for a book to be returned before you can check it out if there are no other copies available.
    • Heck, Arthur's last name is "Read."
  • Real After All: A very strange example. In "Bitzi's Break-up", Buster has an Imagine Spot of his mother getting a job with a boring office worker named Martin Spivak. Many seasons later, in "Buster Isn't Buying It", we learn that Martin Spivak is a real person; a scientist, no less.
  • Reality Ensues: In "The Chips Are Down", Binky thinks he's going to die and makes a list of three things he wants to do in his life. Brain points out flaws with the first two: he can't take a bite out of the sun because he would burn up before even getting close, and he can't drink the entire ocean because the saltwater would make him sick. This leaves only the third option... ballet.
  • Real Men Cook: David Read, who not only seems to do all the cooking in Arthur's house, but cooks as a hobby and runs a small catering business. He really enjoys it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "Sue Ellen Vegges Out", Sue Ellen chews out Muffy and Francine for treating vegetarianism as both a trend and a competition.
    Sue Ellen: That's it! I've had it with you two! Neither one of you really cares about being a vegetarian; you’re just using it as an excuse to fight with each other! You want to know why I gave up eating meat? Because there are some animals whom I consider friends, so I lost my taste for eating them. Frankly, they’re a lot better friends than some of the people I know!
  • Recap Episode:
    • The end of season one has "Arthur's New Years Eve." The end of the episode features a few bits of animation inspired by earlier episodes of the season.
    • Season 3's "D.W.'s Perfect Wish" doubles as a Birthday Episode. Arthur reminds D.W. of all the great things she has done over the year (or past two seasons).
    • S16's "The Best Day Ever" has Arthur, Sue Ellen, George, Buster, and Binky recount their best days ever. These are all events from previous episodes. Additionally, the intro has Arthur counting down his top 5 worst days ever, which again have actually happened on the show.
  • Recurring Extra: Alex and Maria, the gray rabbit boy and rabbit girl with D.W.'s hairstyle, that have been in pretty much every episode featuring Mr. Ratburn's class. Alex has had three lines over the entire run of the show, while Maria has never said anything note . Most of the main characters never refer to them either.
    • The show has a lot of recurring extras, both kids (often appearing at Lakewood Elementary) and adults. As the show went on over the years, a few of the characters' names were revealed, such as Beulah, Otis, and Luke.
  • Retcon: A few:
    • S1's "Arthur and the True Francine" showed that Muffy officially joined the gang in 2nd grade. Later episodes have stated that she's known them since kindergarten.
      • In the original book, Muffy joins the other kida on their first day of third grade.
    • S1's "So Long Spanky" established D.W.'s toad Toady Wartface as a male. S7's "The Great Sock Mystery" showed that Toady is a female.
    • In his first appearance in S2's "Buster and the Daredevils," rabbit bully Slink had a bear friend named Toby, and both were students of Mighty Mountain. A few seasons later, Slink now attends Lakewood Elementary and is a member of the Tough Customers.
    • "Binky vs. Binky" featured a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Lance Armstrong called Vance Legstrong, but in the "The Great MacGrady" he was retconned into his real life counterpart, only he's still a rabbit, but his design was changed to closely resemble Lance Armstrong.
    • In "That's a Baby Show!" when first introducing Dark Bunny, Buster says he is Bionic Bunny's cousin. "Happy Anniversary" shows that Dark Bunny and Bionic Bunny were twins, separated at birth.
    • In the teaser of "Francine Redecorates," some of the kids describe their favorite things. Binky names macaroni and cheese as his. A few seasons later, in "The World of Tomorrow," he despises the stuff.
    • A minor one, but in earlier seasons, Rubella is shown to be Prunella's older sister, however later, they appear to be about the same age, even appearing to be twins.
  • Remaster: The intro, starting in S16, was remastered and expanded to a 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • Rhyming Episode: "Rhyme for Your Life" is told entirely in rhyme, except for the wraparound segments. Deconstructed; Binky has trouble rhyming and gets arrested, due to it being "a crime not to rhyme" in Verseberg. He gets help from William Carlos Williams, and eventually a rhyming dictionary.
    Binky: Hey, mister, may I have an... egg? My name is... Meg? I'm from W-Winnipeg... don't make me beg!
  • Road Trip Episode: "Arthur's Family Vacation" has the Reads go on a road trip. Nothing goes well for them.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: In "Is There a Doctor in the House?" Arthur and D.W. try using this as their means to decide which of them will have to change Baby Kate's diaper. It turns out to not be a good means of deciding things for them, as after 15 minutes (shown via a clock on the wall), D.W. is asking for a best-of-35 and they end up not doing it all because Baby Kate has fallen asleep.
  • Roommate Drama: "Opposites Distract" plays out as this. Best friends Arthur and Buster have to study at Buster's house when there's a leak in Arthur's roof. Buster's messy room conflicts with Arthur's neatness to the point that they are unable to work together. When the doorknob breaks and they can't leave the room, they play a board game and relax. They agree to still hang out, after they finish their homework separately; then Buster's roof leaks.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: Muffy writes this way, as shown in "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone", when she tries to fake a love letter written from Nigel Ratburn to Ms. Turner. Ms. Turner immediately recognizes the errors and gives Muffy the letter back and a book on how to write poetry.
  • Rousing Lullaby: The first album contains a song (not from the show) in which D.W. sings a death metal-type song called "Go to Sleep" to her one-year-old sister Kate. It demands she fall asleep already and stop crying, and Kate actually does fall asleep.
  • Royal "We": Prunella speaks this way in an Imagine Spot at the beginning of "Prunella Gets it Twice."
    Prunella: (about a present Arthur and Buster gave her) How wonderful, we love it. Which of thee is this from?
    Arthur: Both of thus.
    Prunella: Two peasants, one present? We are displeased.
  • Running Gag:
    • S14's "Follow the Bouncing Ball" has Alberto Molina losing an autographed soccer ball "El Boomerang," signed by a player who carries that nickname. This soccer ball then resurfaces at a random point in each story for the remainder of the season until it finally finds its way back to Alberto in the season finale, "The Long Road Home".
    • D.W. constantly brings up her snowball that mysteriously disappeared.
    • George always wins contests.
    • The album Arthur and Friends: The First Almost Real Not Live CD (or Tape) continually features D.W. trying to play Crazy Bus. It starts up quickly, only to be shut down by Arthur, as tracks 3 and 10. At the end of track 16, D.W. tries to recite it during a poetry meeting, but Arthur catches on. The final track, 19, is Crazy Bus in full. At the end, Arthur gets upset at D.W. for including it on his album, but D.W. counters that "any second now, [the album] will turn itself off."

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