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Western Animation / Arthur

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And I say, "Hey!
What a wonderful kind of day."
If we could learn to work and play
And get along with each other.
Ziggy Marley, "Believe in Yourself" (opening theme)

Arthur is a long-running kids' show that began broadcast on PBS in 1996 and is produced by WGBH Boston. It is an Animated Adaptation of the books by Marc Brown. In a world where everyone in the series is some sort of animal, the show follows mild-mannered, bespectacled aardvark Arthur Read and his band of friends as they go through the third grade and some seven summer vacations. They have to deal with bullies, various issues like allergies and learning disorders, and tons of homework given out by their overly enthusiastic teacher, Mr. Ratburn, all in the show's own way. Sometimes, the episodes follow Arthur's sister, D.W. (Dora Winifred, but don't you dare call her that), an amusing Bratty Half-Pint who basically says and does everything every little kid has ever wanted to say and/or do, sometimes to the Moral Guardians' chagrin.


The show has received praise for its witty humor and many Shout Outs, most of which fall into the Parental Bonus category, despite the show being first and foremost for children under seven years of age (and one of the first of many Anvilicious animated shows found in that demographic). With over 21 seasons and 200+ episodes under its belt, Arthur is currently the longest-running children's animated series in the United States, and the second longest-running animated series in the country after The Simpsons.note 


In 2004, this show received a Spin-Off titled Postcards from Buster.

The show's recap page is under construction; feel free to help out with adding episode pages. Has a Best Episode Crowner.

Not to be confused with the film about a drunken heir.

And I say, "Hey!" ("Hey!") What a wonderful kind of trope!:

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    Tropes A-D 
  • 65-Episode Cartoon: Originally planned to be one, but averted big time. The original run had 65 episodes split into three seasons aired between 1996 and 1998. There was a one-year hiatus in 1999, but the popularity of the show resulted in a ten-episode season every year from 2000 to 2015, and two seven-episode seasons beyond that.
  • '90s Hair: Nadine's high pigtail, which was also an '80s Hair do.
  • Abandoned Catchphrase: "Vomitrocious" was a Catchphrase for Muffy. Double subverted in that there's a season 8 episode titled "Vomitrocious", where you'd expect Muffy to say it, but the word isn't said at all in the episode.
  • Academic Athlete:
    • Prunella's friend Marina, who is a Book Worm but also quite good at yoga and gymnastics. She plays soccer at her school as well.
    • Brain is academically brilliant and great at chess. However, he's also great at basketball and soccer.
    • Francine may be a mild case. In addition to being a Passionate Sports Girl, she generally makes pretty good grades; Mr. Ratburn has singled out her work as "superb" before, and she was one of Buster's main tutors in "Buster Hits the Books."
  • Accent Interest: Ladonna Compson has a Southern-American accent, which the other kids describe as "cool."
  • Acting Out a Daydream:
    • In "Bitzi's Break-up", Buster imagines his mom's new date as a boring dude named Martin Spivak, which leads to Buster shouting aloud, "I hate Martin Spivak!". Arthur is confused and asks "Who?"
    • Muffy imagines being famous and repeats "thank you, thank you." Francine's response is, "Quit thanking the ketchup and pass it to me!".
  • Action Girl: S14's "The Agent of Change" involves Francine, Muffy, and Molly creating a cartoon out of frustration with no good movies about female heroes. To top it off, they call her "Agent Double X."
  • Actually Pretty Funny: "The Pageant Pickle" - D.W. tricks Arthur into performing as the chimp as accompaniment to her recital of a poem she wrote for her preschool's pageant by pretending that none of her friends or classmates would agree to perform the poem for her. Afterwards, Arthur talks with her classmates, who loved his performance and says that he bets they wished they hadn't refused her offer and nobody has any idea what he's talking about. His friends rib him for being tricked by D.W. He says he's going to get her back, but Francine says that D.W. is just too smart. He admits the whole thing was pretty funny and they crack each other up acting like chimps.
  • Adam Westing: Alex Lebeck, the host of "Riddle Quest" in "Arthur and the Big Riddle", is voiced by Alex Trebek.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In the book "Arthur Goes to Camp", the boys and the girls at Camp Meadowcroak turn out to be mistaken when they figure each group played pranks on the other, and then learn the campers from Camp Horsewater were responsible for the pranks all along. In the TV episode based on the book, Binky plans to prank the girls, and the girls prank the boys before they all find out the kids from Camp Horsewater are much nastier.
  • Adaptation Decay: In-universe example — S10's "Unfinished" has Arthur finding and enjoying an old out-of-print book 93,000,000 Miles in a Balloon. However the last few pages are missing and he desperately tries a number of ways to find out the ending including renting an old 16mm film adaptation. But whereas Arthur's book is a fantasy exploration, the film is a backstage musical about a starlet in a Broadway show also named 93,000,000 Miles in a Balloon. It goes so far as to turn the balloon explorer in the book into a Broadway producer in the movie.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Some episodes are expansions and bifurcations of stories from the books. "Arthur's Teacher Trouble" was split into two S1 episodes: "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn" and "Arthur's Spelling Trubble". S1's "Arthur's Baby" was adapted for the show and got a P.O.V. Sequel, "D.W.'s Baby", as its sister episode (fittingly enough, since it's (part of) the same story told from D.W.'s perspective.)
  • Adaptation Species Change:
    • In the original books, the Tibbles and their grandmother were humans; here, they're bears.
    • Applies to Arthur's second grade teacher Mr. Marco. In the books, he was a moose; in the cartoon, he's an aardvark.
    • Ms. Sweetwater is a cat in her book debut and a rabbit in the TV series.
  • Ad-Break Double-Take:
    • "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn" opens with Arthur and his friends seeing their teacher's assignment. The resulting scream sandwiches the title card.
    • At the beginning of "The Substitute Arthur", Arthur tells Buster that he's going away for the weekend. Buster screams as there's a fade-out to the title card, and when we get back to the episode, he's still screaming. Then he stops and uses his inhaler.
  • Adult Fear:
    • S3's "Attack of the Turbo Tibbles" has the Tibbles hit D.W. in the face with a swing and making her cry hysterically, with Emily screaming to Ms. Morgan that D.W.'s face is bleeding. It turns out that D.W.'s injury was so bad that her lip needs stitches.
    • S2's "Lost!" has Arthur getting lost outside city limits, worrying his family greatly. Jane even cries during the episode.
    • In S7's "April 9th", a response to September Eleventh, the characters react to a fire which damages the school. Arthur in particular becomes very worried about his father, who was in the school during the fire. Mr. Read tells him it's his job to worry about Arthur, not the other way around.
    • In S4's "Hide and Snake", Arthur panics when his friends express suspicions that he brought home a very venomous snake even though it turns out to be harmless. They spend a good part of the episode looking up and down Arthur's house, all while fearing being bitten and poisoned.
    • In S8's "Thanks a Lot, Binky", Binky imagining his friend Rattles hurting himself and breaking every bone in his body doing a dangerous rollerblading stunt, causing him to tell Principal Haney. Then later he gets a Dream Sequence detailing what would happen if no one in the world cared - litter would be everywhere, Rattles would be in the hospital in agony wearing a full-body cast if Binky didn't report him, and Binky's parents would constantly neglect him, even using his college funds to go on frequent vacations.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Beginning midway through the series, circa "Sue Ellen's Little Sister", Francine's family members would sometimes call her "Frankie". This has become much more prevalent in the latest seasons, especially between Francine and her dad. Francine's grandmother puts a Yiddish spin on it and calls her "Frankeleh".
    • In "Revenge of the Chip", we find out Buster's mom used to call him Boo-Boo, until she slipped up and said it at school, resulting in him being teased by other kids.
    • In "Kids are from Earth, Parents are from Pluto", Binky reveals his parents have a lot of these for him, including Mr. Muffin Man and Binky-Winkums. They use both these names at Parents' Night, prompting Binky to pretend he doesn't know them.
    • Prunella's older sister Rubella occasionally calls her "Prunie".
    • Brain's "nickname" can also be referred to as this, since his real name is said so infrequently.
    • It's subtle, but the Tough Customers often do this, with Binky being called "Binks" and Molly "Moll".
  • Agony of the Feet:
    • In the teaser for "Prunella Gets it Twice" Arthur and Buster are presenting her with a large crate containing a present for her, and Arthur accidentally sets it down on Buster's foot.
    • Arthur stubs his toe on a bowling ball in "D.W. Tricks the Tooth Fairy".
    • Subverted in "My Club Rules". Arthur and his friends try to get D.W. to kick a bowling ball because she asked what they were doing. D.W. comments that she'll "break her foot" if she kicks it and refuses.
  • An Aesop: Often played straight, but reasonably often played with in some way. For example:
    • At the end of S3's "Mom and Dad Have a Great Big Fight", Nadine states that the moral of the story is "Don't put your milk close to the edge, because someone's going to knock it over."
    • At the end of S4's "What is that Thing?" Buster suggests that "Maybe there's something to be learned from all this." Beat "Nahhhhh!".
    • At the end of "Goldilocks and the Bears Trio as Told By Sue Ellen" from the album "Arthur's Really Rockin' Music Mix," Sue Ellen states that the moral of the story is "It's fun to take a walk in the woods, but you should never try to play with the bears."
  • All Animals Are Dogs: In "Sue Ellen Vegges Out", the pig she meets who inspires her to become a vegetarian acts a lot like a dog, rolling over and licking Sue Ellen's face.
  • The Alleged Car: The "Baxtermobile" qualifies as one, suffering from ruined upholstery, poor mileage, a broken air conditioner, and often loses parts during drives. In real life, such a vehicle would be deemed unsafe for travel.
  • Alliterative Name: Non-PBS news tend to refer to the show Arthur and Arthur Read as "Arthur the Aardvark".
  • Alliterative Title:
    • A book in a bad dream that Francine has is entitled "Francine Frensky: Fraud!"
    • A few episodes follow this naming scheme as well:
      • "Arthur's Number Nightmare"
      • "Muffy's Classy Classics Club"
      • "Buster's Book Battle"
      • "Brain's Biggest Blunder"
      • "Binky's Music Madness"
      • "The Tardy Tumbler"
      • "Arthur's Toy Trouble"
      • "Fern's Flights of Fancy"
      • "Ladonna's Like List"
      • "The Princess Problem"
  • Amateur Film-Making Plot:
    • The kids decide to make a James Hound Fan Film because they aren't likely to be allowed into the latest, PG-13-rated, real one. Hilarity Ensues: they make a model supersonic jet for their villain (which gets eaten by Arthur's dog, Pal), they use their inflatable shark, Sharky, as part of a Bond villain-esque peril scene (Arthur defeats it by deflating it), and Brain accidentally hacks into the library's electrical power and turns it off while simulating trying to hack a nuclear missile. Prunella (who has seen the real film despite being only a year older) thinks the result is Better Than Canon.
    • Happens again in "The Director's Cut", but it's taken in a different direction. George's movie looks good enough, but he can't get his friends to follow the script.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: In "Draw!":
    Buster: Your comic was so good, I drew one too! Mine's called "The Big Clumsy Moose With Big Feet Named Franny"!
    Fern: Her feet are named "Franny"?
  • Amicable Exes: Buster's parents.
  • And That's Terrible: S6's "For Whom the Bell Tolls". D.W. loses her voice to a case of laryngitis. Arthur celebrates not having to deal with a noisy sister for a few days, but Francine annoyingly scolds him several times throughout the episode: "You're mean, Arthur Read! M-E-A-N, mean!" "That's what you get for being mean, Arthur!" D.W. gets better earlier than expected, and pretends to continue to be sick in order to milk other characters for sympathy.
  • And You Were There: Done in "D.W.'s Name Game", which has an Off to See the Wizard sort of plot. In the story, after Arthur and D.W. trade insults, events culminate with Arthur shocking her by calling her "Dora Winifred" (her full first name) and her being sent to bed. She has a dream in which she consults "The Great Thesaurus" and Arthur is cast as a wicked wizard. When she finally wakes up, she tells her family "And you were there, and you, and you were there too." At which point, the Thesaurus (a dinosaur) appears outside her window, saying his Catchphrase, "Ah, sheesh." Notably, though, neither Mr. Read nor Mrs. Read were actually in D.W.'s fantasy in any form.
  • Animal Lover: Even though the characters are anthropomorphic animals themselves, a few of them are explicitly shown to be lovers of normal, non-anthromorphized ones.
    • D.W. likes animals (except mice, which she's scared of, and Arthur's pet dog Pal, whom she thinks is dumb) and in "D.W.'s Deer Friend" she befriends a deer and even cried over the death of a fish her parents caught. She also takes a liking to Ladonna's pet rat, General Higgings, with Ladonna saying she can play with him whenever she wants.
    • Sue Ellen became a vegetarian after befriending farm animals.
    • Kate has made friends with most of the animals she's met. It helps that she Speaks Fluent Animal.
  • Animal Talk: Starting with S6's "The Secret Life of Dogs and Babies", there would be episodes involving Kate, Pal, and the non-furry animals with their own stories. Later expands to stuffed toys and imaginary friends.
  • Animation Bump:
    • The differences between early S1 to late S1 and onwards are extremely noticeable.
    • Inverted starting with S16, which is very noticeably animated in-house using Flash to cut production costs (a trend that has also hit The Fairly OddParents). Also inverted by seasons 12-15note , which also exhibits a noticeable drop from the previous seasons by AKOM.
    • Season 20 is animated by a new studio. Switching from Flash to Toon Boom, it looks much better than Season 16-19. It improves in Season 22.
  • Animated Actors: The Cold Opens often use this trope.
  • Antidisestablishmentarianism: Shows up in S1's "Arthur's Spelling Trubble".
    Brain: I can never remember if it has five "I"s or six.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: It's shown that the old food in Buster's "food cabinet" (a drawer where he keeps old, rotten food that's sentimental to him) are actually alive and can talk to each other.
  • Apple of Discord:
    • S6's "More!" when D.W. asks how much allowance everyone has.
    • S2's "The Big Blow-Up", when Arthur asks Francine and the Brain which of them is better at sports. (This is before Jenna, described by Francine as "the only person who ever beat me at sports".)
  • Appropriated Appellation:
    • The band "U Stink" got their name like this.
    • Arthur would sometimes state that the initials of his little sister D.W.'s name stood for "Disaster Warning". In "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked", D.W. plays Virtual Goose under the username DisasterWarning99.
  • Are We There Yet?:
    • According to the teaser of "Baby Steps", when D.W. goes on a car ride, it's a constant litany of "Are we there yet?" from her, and when she bakes cookies with her family, it's "Are they done yet?"
    • Exaggerated in the special "The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur." There's an entire song by D.W. about how bored she is during a car ride, and "Are we there yet?" is the final line of the chorus.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: This exchange from S1's "Arthur's Birthday":
    Binky: What are you thinking about?
    Francine: About whose party to go to. Why, what are you thinking about?
    Binky: Where's Ohio?
  • Argument of Contradictions: Season 14 has a feature called "Which Arthur character are you?" One of these shows one girl who says that she's like D.W. because she's funny and another that's like Arthur because she's smart. The funny girl says that they don't argue like Arthur and D.W. do, but the smart girl disagrees and they argue back and forth in this manner, interspersed with clips of Arthur and D.W. doing the same, before finally agreeing that they really are like Arthur and D.W.
  • Art Shift: Used frequently when they are parodying another work.
  • Artistic Age: Every single character. Seriously, they're supposed to be elementary schoolers, but most of the characters behave like they're between the ages of 13 and 15, with some of the kids such as Binky and the Tough Customers acting like they're as old as 17. The preschoolers who are D.W.'s age are the ones who behave more like elementary school kids. To make matters worse, whenever a character has an illusion of the future, when the characters are supposed to be in high school, they are drawn to look like they're in their early twenties at the least.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Deconstructed. In "Sick as a Dog", Arthur feeds Pal a lot of table food (which includes old Halloween candy for some reason) and Pal ends up with stomach problems severe enough to warrant an overnight stay at the vet. Arthur learns better, fortunately. By the time of "One Ornery Critter", he's volunteering at the local shelter and once warns Buster about giving his aunt's dog human food.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Lampshaded in "Brain Freeze" when Brain sees the curly pig tail on the rear of Yumbobo's penguin mascot Puk Puk and tells him that his anatomy is inaccurate.
      Brain: A tail? Not only are you blue, you're also anatomically incorrect!
    • Played straight in "Water and the Brain" when Brain states that sperm whales eat 60 tons of plankton. Sperm whales do not eat plankton at all.
    • In another episode, Brain refers to scorpions as vertebrates.
    • In "Arthur's Treasure Hunt", Brain claims chipmunks don't burrow.
    • In "Lend Me Your Ear," Mr. Ratburn fudges the concept of hearing loss by only describing the noise-induced variety. Perhaps describing other causes of hearing loss was thought too difficult or time-consuming.
  • Artistic License – History: In "Team Trouble," Brain points out the flaws in Francine's report on Ancient Rome, saying that the Olympics were banned by the Romans in 194 BC. In reality, the Romans did not conquer Greece until nearly 50 years later, and they banned the games in AD 394 as part of a campaign to remove what they saw as pagan rituals after Christianity became the state religion. Brain also forgets another key flaw in her report: women were not allowed to partake in the Olympics.
  • Artistic License: From "Buster's Amish Mismatch". In general, Amish people are anxious to keep themselves separate from the outside world. Most of the time, though they are hospitable, they do NOT take kindly to outsiders just poking around. Due to a lack of modern technology to communicate with a school (i.e., phones, email) it is highly implausible that they would randomly set it up so a public school class could come to someone's house and take a tour. Even if an Amish family agreed to this, it would have to be cleared through their church elders and bishop, and the family/groups involved would need to have a close bond with the teacher or someone at the school.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Fern and George in Arthur's group, James in D.W.'s group, and George makes friends with a boy named Carl, who has Asperger's Syndrome.
    • Prunella and Molly. They both get a few episodes later on.
    • Also Bailey, Muffy's butler. He plays a major role in episodes such as "The Butler Did... What?", "Muffy's Classy Classics Club", "The Butler Did It", and "Arthur and the Haunted Tree House".
    • Jenna similarly was mostly a background extra till about Season 7, and slowly began receiving more focus, but mostly shows up as a supporting character.
    • Rattles initially appeared as just another member of the Tough Customers, but slowly ended up appearing in supporting roles and even one or two focus episodes. Slink was originally a one-shot character that was unconnected to the other kids at Lakewood, but was later added to the Tough Customers and even received a focus episode.
    • Maria (a rabbit girl in the same class as the main characters who has never spoken) received her own episode in Season 19. Jenna also gets some focus here, and is depicted as a good friend and confidant of Maria's. Maria also has a big role in Season 22's "Binky Can't Always Get What He Wants".
  • Aside Glance:
    • D.W. gives a definite wink to the audience at the end of "Best Enemies" when she says that she's sure that she and W.D. will find something they have in common with each other.
    • Mrs. MacGrady does one at the end of "Arthur Accused!" when her brownies are cleared by a metal detector.
  • Atlantis: Buster believes in it, and tries to contact its king in "Buster Baxter & the Letter from the Sea".
  • Atlantis Is Boring: D.W. thinks so.
  • Audience Surrogate: Used as a plot device whenever the writers want to explore typical reactions to real-life phenomena. Some episodes, such as "The Great MacGrady" and "April 9th", have an ensemble cast exemplify a range of reactions.
  • Author Filibuster/Take That!: Parodied. In S3's "Buster's Growing Grudge", Buster ends up replacing his comedy act for the school talent show with a long tirade against Binky (whom he blames for the poor grade he got on a report). He doesn't even try to make it funny. When George wins the talent show, Buster proceeds to pin this on Binky as well.
  • A Weighty Aesop: "Arthur Weighs In" is about Arthur freaking out over becoming "husky" (despite not looking any fatter than usual).
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: When Dr. Fugue first meets Arthur, he takes a close look at Arthur's hands and determines that he's been playing the piano for two and a half years.
  • Awkward First Sleepover: A minor character in class is invited to Muffy's sleepover, and she is worried because she wets the bed.
  • Baby See, Baby Do: In "Shelter from the Storm", one of the Read parents whispers something into the other's ear, who does the same to the other parent, who does it to Arthur, who does it to D.W., who does it to Kate, who whispers gibberish into Pal's ear.
  • Baby's First Words: Zigzagged for Kate. She has said her "first words" multiple times, from "go" to "ball" to "Brain" to "bloog-agua."
  • Babysitting Episode:
    • This is the plot point of the episode "Arthur Babysits", where he has to babysit the dreaded Tibble Twins.
    • "Crushed" focuses on Arthur bonding with his babysitter, Sally, due to the fact that they both love playing a video game called Dark Bunny 6: Curse of the Moomy.
    • "Two Minutes" has Arthur babysitting the Tibbles again.
  • Bad Future:
    • An Imagine Spot centered on this trope is what convinces Prunella to let go of her stuff in "Prunella the Packrat".
    • Arthur has had a couple of daydreams based on this too, such as when he imagined a mistake at the school recital would follow him forever and cause him to end up homeless (while D.W. ended up as a movie star, The Hiccup Kid).
    • An Imagine Spot of Buster's showed him in his 40s and still in third grade, which inspired him to buckle down in "Buster Makes the Grade".
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone", the audience is led to believe that Mr. Ratburn will be marrying the uptight, stickler female rat Patty. Arthur, Buster, Francine, and Muffy are worried about this, so they try to break up the two, and even try to set him up with Ms. Turner. Actually, Patty is his sister, and Mr. Ratburn is actually marrying a male aardvark, Patrick, who runs the chocolate shop.
  • Banana Peel: In "The Wheel Deal", Buster carelessly discards a banana in the gymnasium while Brain is practicing for a free-throw competition. When Brain winds up slipping on the banana he suffers a torn ligament in one knee and a twisted ankle, leaving him bound to a wheelchair.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Nadine doesn't wear shoes like a lot of other characters.
  • Baseball Episode: Several, mostly about Arthur and his friends playing on their own team, the Grebelings. They include "The Curse of the Grebes", "Baseball Blues", "Arthur Calls It", and "Arthur Makes the Team".
  • Baths Are Fun: In D.W.'s Guide to Perfect Manners (later retitled D.W. Says Please and Thank You for paperback), D.W. is shown in the bath holding a toy mermaid in one hand, a rubber duck in the other, and splashing Mrs. Read and Pal. She states that at night, it's not nice to complain about taking a bath or brushing your teeth and you can play while you get clean, but sometimes she plays a little too hard.
  • Beach Episode: "D.W. All Wet", "The Shore Thing", "Buster Baxter & the Letter from the Sea" and "Swept Away" all take place on the beach. The kids go swimming and build sand castles.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The kids constantly wish that Mr. Ratburn would be an easier teacher. In "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble", they get exactly what they wanted: a Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher who is so easy that her classes are boring.
  • "Begone" Bribe: In "The Scare Your Pants Off Club", the kids circulate a petition to get the Scare Your Pants Off books, an Expy of Goosebumps which a group of parents had removed, back in the library. Brain's way of soliciting signatures involves giving a long lecture to Innocent Bystanders. This prompts one to say, "We'll sign if you promise to stop explaining why we should!".
  • Behind the Black: In S1's "D.W. Gets Lost", D.W. doesn't notice that Emily's ears have turned green until the camera pulls back.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Fern is very quiet, but she will act on her anger. She made Francine tear up (in "Draw!"), and tricked Brain into thinking giant worms were attacking Elwood City ("War of the Worms").
  • Bewitched Amphibians: One of the episode title cards that were commonly used from Seasons 1 to 15 shows D.W. as a fairy who magically turns Arthur's head into that of a frog.
  • Be Yourself: The theme song, naturally.
  • Big Applesauce: There's an episode where Arthur has an Imagine Spot about going to a town whose symbol is a banana, a reference to how New York is often called the Big Apple.
  • Big Blackout: As a consequence of the heavy snow, the power goes out in "The Blizzard". The Sequel Episode, "The Blackout", has the Reads dealing with the heat after their electricity goes out.
  • Big Disaster Plot: "April 9th" involves a fire, and "Shelter from the Storm" involves a hurricane.
  • Big Game: "Muffy's Soccer Shocker" has one against Mighty Mountain Elementary. It ends with a tie.
  • Big "NO!":
    • "D.W., the Picky Eater" has an Imagine Spot scene with Arthur the astronaut who does not want D.W. to go to outer space. The manager will not let Arthur go to outer space without D.W. and cancels his mission.
      Announcer: There has been a mistake! This mission is being cancelled!
      Arthur: What's going on?!? But why?!?
      Manager: You know the rules! You don't get to do anything without your sister!
    • Also happens at the end of "Buster Baxter, Cat Saver" when Buster keeps insisting that such a concept of the "Piano Tamer" exists.
      Buster: How about a CD?
      Arthur: No!
      Buster: A video game?
      Arthur: No!
      Buster: Comic book?
      Arthur: NOOOOO!
  • Buster does one when he learns that Arthur is going away for the weekend in "The Substitute Arthur".
  • Big "SHUT UP!":
    "People think I can't write a poem,
    But they are so wrong, I can write a poem,
    I wrote this one, I wrote this poem,
    And I gave it the title 'Binky's Poem'... so shut up! Thank you."
    • Earlier in the episode, as the kids are arguing, Fern yells "QUIET!" so loudly that a car alarm goes off.
    • George whistles and yells "Quiet!" to stop an argument in "He Said, He Said."
  • Big Storm Episode: Two of them, namely S4's "The Blizzard" and S19's "Shelter from the Storm".
  • Big Word Shout: D.W. shouts "HEY!" at the end of the intro.
    Arthur: Hey! D.W.! (waves at her inside the TV)
    D.W.: HEY!
    Arthur: (falling backwards) Woooooah-ooomph!
  • Bilingual Bonus: In an Imagine Spot in "Buster's Back" where Arthur imagines Buster as a ninja, Buster's line in Japanese translates to "Osamu Tezuka is the god of manga."
  • Bile Fascination: In-universe examples:
    • S13's "Brain Gets Hooked" has Brain hate a show due to how illogical it is, but become obsessed with watching it nonetheless.
    • S14's "Muffy and the Big Bad Blog" has Arthur and the others admit that they can't look away from reading Muffy's and Francine's blogs, even though they're disgusted by the blog wars between the two.
  • Binocular Shot:
    • Arthur surveying the family reunion in "Arthur's Cousin Catastrophe" is shown through his binoculars.
    • In "Revenge of the Chip", as D.W. investigates to see if Arthur told everyone about her thinking green potato chips are poisonous, and at one point she looks at him and Buster through binoculars and there is a shot showing what she sees through them.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In "D.W. Thinks Big", cousin Cora acts like a brat when she's alone with D.W. and acts like an angel when grown-ups are around. In the end, her true Spoiled Brat nature is exposed in front of everyone at the wedding when she refuses to recover the lost ring from inside the church organ, when she could easily fit in there, simply because she'd get dirty.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The cold open for "Grandma Thora Appreciation Day" features Arthur bringing up the fact that Grandma Thora doesn't have cable TV as a reason she must be the saddest person alive. What makes it this trope is the fact that she not only mentions that she lacks cable TV, she says as a consolation that she "can get public television clear as a bell." Public TV is a term synonymous with PBS most of the time.
  • Birthday Buddies: "Arthur's Birthday," adapted from a book of the same name, deals with Arthur and his classmate Muffy having their birthday parties on the same day. Arthur and his friends aren't sure whose party to attend until they come up with a solution: they turn it into a surprise party for Muffy at Arthur's house.
  • Birthday Episode: A lot.
    • "Arthur's Baby" and "D.W.'s Baby" take place on Kate's birthday. Arthur and D.W. then recall the story of when Kate was born in a Whole Episode Flashback.
    • "Arthur's Birthday" is one for both Arthur and Muffy. They compromise and have a surprise party for Muffy at Arthur's house.
    • "D.W.'s Perfect Wish" and "D.W. and the Beastly Birthday" both focus on D.W.'s birthday. In the former, Arthur reminds D.W. of all the great things she has done, and in the latter, Arthur skips her birthday and learns what she'll be like in the future.
    • "Prunella Gets it Twice" has Prunella's birthday as a plot point, where she receives two of the same present.
    • "The Long Road Home" celebrates Alberto's birthday, and Arthur plans to give him El Boomerang, the soccer ball he lost earlier in the season.
    • "Surprise!" is about Francine trying to ruin her older sister Catherine's birthday, angry that she wasn't invited.
    • The special "Rhythm and Roots of Arthur" has Arthur's family visit Arthur's great uncle Theo for his birthday.
  • Birthday Party Goes Wrong: In the special "D.W. and the Beastly Birthday", the plot is started by D.W. having a lousy birthday party. It's raining outside, the cake isn't the flavor she wanted, the party guests are annoying her (although they don't know it), she didn't get the gift she really wanted, and her brother Arthur isn't attending. She goes to hide in an area beneath the stairs, where her imaginary friend takes her to an island called Ukubonga, which she enjoys. She soon gets tired of Ukubonga and realizes that her own friends are lame and that she should hang out with Arthur because he's more interesting; Arthur soon arrives with the present she was expecting, and she teaches him a song she learned on Ukubonga.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Arthur without his glasses in the post-1997 episodes (in the first season he had normal eyes when he wasn't wearing his glasses), and Prunella in most cases.
  • Blah Blah Blah: Played straight in the Kate and Pal episodes, when listening to anyone else speaking from their point of view.
  • Bland-Name Product: Muffy collects World Girl dolls.
  • Blinding Bangs: Molly and later Slink have vision-obscuring fringes. One must wonder how they skateboard without accidents.
  • Body Wipe:
    • "The Perfect Brother" with D.W. during her fantasy of having two Arthurs.
    • "D.W. the Copycat" with D.W.'s dress in the beginning of the episode.
    • "Brain's Shocking Secret" does this twice. First, Mr. Ratburn takes Brain away before he could get a school picture. Brain sighs and then fills up the screen. Next is when Brain is shocked when the clock reads 9 a.m. and he's running out of bed.
  • Book Dumb:
    • Depending on the Writer, any one of Arthur's immediate friends, Arthur himself (especially Egregious due to one of his defining traits being his love of reading), or even the grown-ups may be subject to this.
    • Buster is one of the most flagrant examples, having had an entire episode dedicated to the fact that if he didn't pass what amounted to a teacher-made final exam, he'd have to repeat third grade.
  • Bottle Episode:
    • "Desk Wars" takes place entirely in Mr. Ratburn's classroom except for the final scene, which takes place at Muffy's pool as she lets everyone cool off.
    • "The Best Day Ever" has Sue Ellen, Arthur, Buster, Binky, and George relaxing at the park, where they stay for the entire episode.
    • A few episodes, like "Staycation", are set entirely in the Read house.
  • A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: Arthur, D.W., and Kate.
  • Bratty Half-Pint:
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • In "I Owe You One", Buster says that he has lots of interests:
      "Video games. Aliens. Video games about aliens."
    • In "Kidonia", Buster asks Arthur what he's thinking of. Arthur guesses, "Aliens? Pizza? Aliens eating pizza?"
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Nearly every episode's beginning teaser has Arthur and other characters talking to the audience. There have been instances where other characters besides Arthur introduce the show, like Fern's mother in S2's "Fern's Slumber Party". ("Look into the camera, like when Arthur does it.") There have been instances though where it happens in the show proper:
    • S2's "Arthur and the Square Dance", where Francine looks at us and says "What's gotten into him?" after Arthur hastily leaves the Sugar Bowl ice cream shop following a silent teasing from Brain and Binky.
    • S3's "Buster's Growing Grudge" has Binky ask who would want to watch Arthur on TV.
    • S3's "Arthur's Almost Real Not Live Music Festival" has D.W. tell Arthur and Buster that "their show would never work on real TV."
    • S4's "What is that Thing?" has Buster suggest that "there's something to be learned from all this." He and his friends then shout "Nah!".
    • S5's "You Are Arthur", an episode entirely shown in Arthur's perspective, has Buster asking the former if there is somebody watching everything he's doing from a TV screen.
    • S8's "D.W., Dancing Queen" has Binky quoting the theme song. D.W. asks him if he made it up, and Binky responds that he heard it somewhere, but can't remember exactly where.
    • S12's "I Owe You One" ends with Arthur demanding his show back, unpleased with Muffy taking over with "Smart Accounting with Muffy".
    • S12's "Home Sweet Home" has Buster writing that he hasn't eaten in two hours. When he writes again at the end of the episode, he states that it has been two hours and eleven minutes.
    • S22's "The Longest Eleven Minutes" has the internet go out for 11 minutes, AKA the entire duration of a typical Arthur episode.
  • Brick Joke: The aftermath of the big snowstorm was when D.W. got her special snowball.
  • Broke Episode: Downplayed in "Arthur Read: Super Saver": Arthur's parents have been making less money than usual, so Arthur tries to help them save money. His ideas (such as cutting the grass with scissors instead of using the mower) are not the most helpful.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • Happens a lot with the "Be Yourself" moral of many episodes. Sometimes, the actual moral seems to be, "Be yourself unless X." For example, in "Fernkenstein's Monster", Fern changes a scary story she made up so it's tamer, to placate friends who suddenly claim she is a dark, scary person ("Queen of Darkness" was the term Buster used). So...she's only allowed to pursue her interests and be herself if everyone else thinks it's okay? Other characters have fallen into this trap, too, often members of the "secondary cast".
    • "Arthur's Big Hit" has become infamous for this, with its intended message being that physical violence is never the answer in settling your disputes with others, as shown when Arthur hits D.W. for breaking his model plane. Binky is pressured into hitting Arthur later and the episode actually justifies this action as now Arthur has learned "how it feels when someone does it to him"; the way the episode goes about this instead just seems to justify the very thing it was speaking out against.
    • "Buster Gets Real" could be this in many different ways, as Buster stops watching Bionic Bunny in favor of an ambiguously more "realistic" show named "Top Supermarket Clerk" for the simple fact that Bionic Bunny isn't real, as if something being of a fictional nature takes away from its value as something to enjoy, further undermined by the fact that it's Buster of all people making this claim in stark contrast to his eccentric, superstitious nature. It also may host several unfortunate implications about conformity, as Arthur insists in classic fashion that unless they like the same things, then they can't call each other best friends anymore. Arthur then attempts to mend things by training himself to enjoy Top Supermarket Clerk, which he still does not care for. Granted, the true message may be that your friendships will remain strong even if you don't all have the same common interests, but the confusing nature of the episode and the strange decision to have Buster saying these things may only rob it of its intended meaning.
    • The first book, Arthur's Nose, was about Arthur wanting to change his nose because of the suffering he endured from having it, and then deciding not to because he realized looks aren't important. That didn't stop Marc Brown from redesigning him over the next decade until his nose became invisible, though.
    • According to "Fern and Persimmony Glitchet", if you write happy stories, they'll be really boring and nobody will like them. Your stories have to be super dark and depressing for people to like them. This moral doesn't apply to any of the show's episodes.
  • Brutal Honesty: In "To Tibble the Truth", Timmy and Tommy decide to be super honest and always tell the truth. They end up losing all their friends due to their truth-telling ending up being insulting.
  • Buffy Speak:
    • The episode "Whip. Mix. Blend." concerns Rattles learning what it's like to live in a blended family through interactions with his mom's boyfriend, Archie Vanderloo, and the Vanderloo twins, Angie and Ansel. Angie is very into slang and uses it constantly, to the point her speech is sometimes barely comprehensible.
    • Arthur forms a long sentence trying to talk to Mrs. MacGrady about how he was pressured into stealing due to a misunderstanding, but without actually saying that outright in "Arthur, World's Greatest Gleeper". She's completely confused by his vague terminology... and then Muffy walks in accusing him of stealing her cellular phone.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Do any of the characters look their nationalities? Then again, they are anthropomorphic animals... Or are they?
  • Butterfly of Doom: In S14's "Follow the Bouncing Ball", the intro imagines Brain taking his friends back in time to see the dinosaurs, when Buster accidentally drops his container of raisins. When they arrive at the present, everyone is a lizard and they have to take a fly eating class.
  • Butt-Monkey: Principal Haney always seems to have bad things randomly happening to him in Season 1.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: Happens to Binky in the episode "Night Fright" when Binky imagines that he gets so strong he makes the entire school collapse by slamming a door. After the whole building falls only the door he slammed, minus the glass in a small window at the top, remains standing, and it promptly falls onto him, with him going through the window hole.
  • Call-Back:
    • One of the reasons the show is so popular with the Periphery Demographics is it's clever use of this trope in the series' continuity. For example, S9's "Breezy Listening Blues" contains numerous references to the TV special "Arthur - It's Only Rock 'n' Roll".
    • Michael Yarmush, who was Arthur's original voice actor for the first five seasons, now voiced Slink, who's now one of the Tough Customers.
    • Mark Rendall, who voiced Arthur for Seasons 7 and 8, (and the redubs of Season 6) now voices Rafi, the new teenager working at the Sugar Bowl.
    • "Lend Me Your Ear" reveals that Mr. Ratburn has teamed up with some other Elwood City elementary school teachers to form a band called "The Lost Teachers." In "The Buster Report," Binky learns that Mr. Ratburn fronted a band called "The Ratburn Rats" in high school.
    • In "D.W. Flips", D.W.'s gymnastics teacher tells D.W. to stay off the balance beam, because her class won't be using it for at least a year. In "D.W., Bossy Boots", the class uses a (much lower) balance beam.
  • Camping Episode: Many.
    • You have one guess as to what "Arthur Goes to Camp" is about.
    • "Home Sweet Home" has Buster camp at a different summer camp than he's used to.
    • "Adventures in Budylon" is about D.W. and Bud camping in the front yard.
    • "D.W.'s Deer Friend" and "Cast Away" have the entire Read family on a camping trip.
    • "Staycation" has Jane and David camp in the backyard.
    • "Arthur's First Sleepover" has Arthur, Buster, and Brain camp out near Arthur's house.
  • Canon Immigrant: Killer, Grandma Thora's dog, was first seen in the books.
  • Captain Obvious: Francine's response to Prunella predicting she will have "lunch with a stranger" is "I don't know any strangers!".
  • Captain Ersatz: Bionic Bunny is obviously an animal equivalent of Superman. Likewise, Dark Bunny is obviously this to Batman.
  • Cartoon Creature: One of the most frequently asked questions about the show is the subject of which animal the characters are supposed to be. Arthur and the rest of the Read family are the most confusing since they do not even resemble aardvarks at all. Arthur looks more like a human with abnormal looking ears at the top of his head instead of where his glasses are.
    • The characters frequently wear headphones where humans' ears are, instead of on the top of their heads. Slink wears earbuds in his actual ears in "Slink's Special Talent", and D.W.'s ears are checked in "Operation: D.W.!"
    • Given the diversity of the show's cast, there are a number of characters that are actually mixed species. For example...
      • Emily's parents are a bunny and a monkey; Emily herself has the ears and the complexion of a bunny, though she has a very slight monkey snout.
      • Molly and James's parents are a dog and a bunny; James more closely resembles a bunny for the most part, and while Molly has an overall bunnyish appearance, her ears are more rounded, and she has the nose of a dog.
      • At first glance, Marina appears to be a bunny, but according to Marc Brown, she's actually a "Variation of a dog."
    • Patrick, Mr. Ratburn's husband, has a long head and looks more like a horse than an aardvark.
  • Cast as a Mask: Seen in The Teaser Imagine Spot for "Arthur's Big Hit", where Binky impersonates D.W. by means of a Full-Body Disguise and perfectly imitates her voice. It's made even funnier when you realize that D.W. actually is voiced by a boy.
  • Cast Herd: After 22 seasons, there are roughly four:
    • The biggest one is Arthur's circle of friends, which includes most of his 3rd grade class, other kidsnote  and various adults such as their parents, and school faculty. This makes up the bulk of the series.
    • D.W.'s friends, which include Nadine, Emily, the Tibble Twins, Vicita, James, Cheikh, and Bud.
    • The babies and non-furry animals, which has Kate, Pal, Amigo, Nemo, Mei-Lin and Killer among others. This group has the most fantastic and strangest plots.
    • The newest one are the Tough Customers; since they've shed their bullying ways, they've had more positive interactions with Arthur's friends.
  • Catapult Nightmare: A higher incidence than usual, because of so many of the Imagine Spots turn out to be nightmares. One example is with Rubella in "Arthur Babysits".
  • Cats Are Mean:
    • Subverted in S3's "Francine and the Feline", where Francine gets a cat, and Arthur believes cats are mean and bite off kids' ears. But in the end he learns An Aesop about giving them a chance. But during the Animal Talk episodes, this trope is played completely straight with Nemo, frequently appearing as the antagonist.
    • Averted with Sue Ellen, who may be one of kindest of Arthur's group of friends.
  • Caustic Critic: After Fern tries writing a book, Francine immediately criticizes it for being a Sugar Bowl. Thankfully, Fern doesn't give up, and when she makes it more action-packed and dramatic, Francine gives the book her approval.
  • Celeb Crush: In "Arthur - It's Only Rock 'n' Roll", Muffy has a huge thing for the Backstreet Boys, and can't even make up her mind on which of them she's "meant to be with." This also later serves as Continuity Nod when Muffy brings the subject up again in "Bitzi's Break-up", in her attempts to sympathize with Buster over Bitzi and Harry's breakup.
  • Censorship by Spelling: In "Prove It", Francine spells a word out loud when talking with Arthur while D.W. is in earshot.
    Francine: Muffy lost her mother's expensive P-E-N.
    D.W.: Her what? If you spell stuff, I can't understand what you're talking about.
    Arthur: That's exactly why we spell stuff.
  • Central Themes: There is a set of them. See here.
  • Centrifugal Farce: "D.W.'s Imaginary Friend" has an amusement park ride called the Hurl-a-Whirl that did pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin: basically a dumbbell-type centrifuge, except the car itself spun perpendicular to the arm as well. The individual cars actually had a dial to increase the ride speed, with the highest setting being "Liquefy". Riders are issued complementary barf-bags. We later see Arthur and Buster tossing theirs away (full), with Buster wistfully wishing he could keep his as a souvenir.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Quite a bit. "Prunella and the Haunted Locker", "Arthur and the Square Dance", "Francine & the Soccer Spy", and "Sue Ellen & the Last Page" for example.
  • Characterization Marches On: The characters were markedly different in early installments, sometimes Depending on the Writer or sometimes due to Character Development.
    • Francine was a Jerkass in early episodes. In the books, she didn't seem to be Jewish and in the Living Books she lacked her Tomboy personality and had a very apparent crush on Arthur.
    • Brain went back and forth in displaying stereotypical tendencies befitting nerds. He apparently used to have a huge comic book collection (136 of which he managed to bring to camp with him). He was also seen as having little regard for organization, leaving his bedroom in shambles - Arthur even points out how neat and tidy he was when he spent the weekend at his house, to which he responds, "Yeah, and it almost killed me!"
    • Arthur goes from being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold (in "My Club Rules", he tries to get D.W. to kick a bowling ball because she asked what he and his friends were doing, and he screeches at his band in "Arthur and the Crunch Cereal Contest" when they start playing without his permission) to a Nice Guy.
  • Character Development:
    • As noted above, Francine was a lot meaner in earlier episodes; in fact, during the first couple of seasons in general, she was not above outright bullying others: she was the first to make fun of Arthur when he started wearing glasses, and was quick to harass him about having not lost any baby teeth; she even proudly boasts in one episode, "I'm kind of a rude person." Although she mellows out eventually and isn't much of a straight-forward bully anymore, she does still have a tendency to stoop to passive-aggressive actions against her friends, sometimes for no reason.
    • Similarly, Binky is The Bully, especially in the first season, where he's more of a supporting character, and was only featured on the show on a semi-regular basis. Starting in the following season, he slowly becomes part of Arthur's gang, and also slowly and progressively evolves more into a Gentle Giant, though still occasionally will do something mean and/or unnecessary, if only to maintain appearances.
    • Related to Binky above, the rest of the Tough Customers started getting in on this, too, eventually interacting with and helping out Arthur and friends and even swearing off bullying completely as of S16's "The Last Tough Customer". Molly in particular shapes herself up after seeing her brother James copy her tough act, and writes apology letters to George and everyone she has bullied in the past.
    • Both Fern and George have become a lot more outgoing and socialize with other kids a lot more over the years, but are still a little shy, though nowhere near as reclusive and withdrawn as they originally were. It helps that they're both Ascended Extras.
    • Prunella was initially rather stuck-up and somewhat snobbish (though not to the same extent as Muffy), nor was she above giving Arthur and his friends a hard time about having Ratburn as their teacher, as she had him the year before; at the same time, she was also somewhat popular and had huge birthday parties for herself (both full birthdays and half birthdays) that everyone attended. After a season or two, she mellowed out, and was occasionally shown to be pretty good friends with Arthur and the others. By the time she befriends Marina, she's a lot more of a thoughtful and considerate person, even though she occasionally goes overboard with her good intentions.
    • Muffy is still something of a Spoiled Brat who believes It's All About Me. However, she has slowly developed more empathy in later seasons. Examples include:
      • "Spoiled Rotten!" at the end of which she takes on a charity project/job helping sell secondhand clothing.
      • "The Cherry Tree", wherein she expresses sincere regret that her desire for a bouncy house will mean the loss of the eponymous tree she's had since she was little. Even though the tree is cut down, she ultimately decides to dedicate her annual spring party to cherry tree planting, not the bouncy house (which she ends up not commissioning).
      • "Shelter from the Storm", during which she has to relocate to a shelter during Hurricane Sadie and meets a new friend, Kaylie. Upon learning Kaylie's house was destroyed, Muffy invites her and her family to stay with the Crosswires for a while.
      • "Little Miss Meanie", during which she almost tells Lydia Fox, who uses a wheelchair, to drop out of a beauty pageant to avoid winning due to sympathy. When Muffy hears another girl say the same thing to Lydia, she realizes it's mean, and she and Lydia team up to try to help each other win. Neither does, but they do tie for first runner-up, and their nemesis receives no honors.
    • D.W. seems to be maturing, perhaps because of positive influences from the Compson siblings Bud and his sister Ladonna.
    • In early seasons, Mr. Ratburn would assign insane amounts of homework, such as filling in a map of the entire world. He also seemed like a somewhat aloof and scholarly person. Of course, that could be due to Unreliable Narrator, but this has been toned way down. Now he's still strict and dedicated to his students' educations, but seems to be much warmer and more relatable. In "Lend Me Your Ear", Arthur even goes to say hi to Mr. Ratburn after seeing him in public.
  • Character Outlives Actor: Principal Haney appears in Season 20, despite the fact that his voice actor, Walter Massey, passed away. "The Hallway Minotaur" explains that Haney went to South Africa to live out his dream of founding a school.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Parody: In "Buster Hits the Books", Arthur and Francine try to have Buster read a book entitled "Sam and the Sandwich Factory", which of course spoofs Literature/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and as Buster reads it he has an Imagine Spot where he is Sam, who has found the Golden Sandwich and won a tour of the Spectacular Sandwich Factory, but he chipped his teeth when trying to eat the Golden Sandwich. But the Willy Wonka-esque factory owner ignores that, and just says Sam has won all the real sandwiches he can eat.
    Oompa-Loompa Parodies: When you break off all your teeth,
    it becomes so hard to eat!
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Alan Powers is absolutely brilliant, able to build and invent things many adults can't. He can easily handle Mr. Ratburn's demanding homework load, work part-time at his parents' ice cream shop, and still make time for fun.
    • George, to a lesser extent: he's show to be really good at constructing things you wouldn't assume kids would know how to make (wooden dummies, guitars, etc.) In fact, for at least one season, a Running Gag was that George always won talent contests, much to the other kids' annoyance.
    • Marina could count as well. Sure, any kid can be good at soccer or gymnastics, but how many blind kids do you know who can master such physically-demanding activities?
    • Carl is also quite bright, with a photographic memory and encyclopedic knowledge of trains. Brain is written out of "Buster Spaces Out", wherein the other kids need help building and launching a model rocket. Instead, Carl offers to help, and serves as the team's risk assessor.
    • Lydia Fox, born paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, is a professional basketball player, playing for an acclaimed team composed entirely of wheelchair users. She is also about as book smart as Brain (and quite showy about it), and is apparently also nationally ranked in chess.
    • In her debut appearance, Vicita Molina shows signs of being advanced for her age.
    • In "Baby Steps", Mei-Lin is shown to be capable of playing the first four notes of Beethoven's Symphony No.5 and spell "hello" on a calculator despite being Kate's age.
  • Christmas Special: "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" has a main plot about Arthur and his family, but it also deals with Francine being Jewish and Buster creating his own holiday (Baxter Day).
  • Cinderella Circumstances: In "Go to Your Room, D.W.", D.W. has an Imagine Spot in which she endures these.
  • Circling Vultures: This is used (and mentioned), as Francine and Fern draw attention to the fact that there are vultures above them when they're lost in the mountains.
  • Circus Episode: "Francine's Big Top Trouble" focuses on Francine and her friends becoming acrobats in a circus.
  • Classical Music Is Cool: D.W. gets Yo Yo Ma to come to the library to play the cello. Arthur and his friends are sure it's going to be boring. Francine has invited her uncle, jazz musician Joshua Redman, to visit the same day. The kids hope that the two will get into a fight. An Imagine Spot has them in a wrestling ring; Ma pulls out his cello and puts Redman to sleep. But on the day of the meeting it actually goes well, both get along and Redman expresses his enjoyment of classical music.
  • Clear My Name: "Arthur Accused!" is one of these plots. Arthur is falsely accused of stealing quarters that were part of a fund raiser. This happens as a result of everyone getting the wrong idea when Buster brings up Arthur becoming the pinball champion in the arcade the day before.
  • Clip Show:
    • S3's "D.W.'s Perfect Wish" has clips of various events D.W. has done for the past two seasons.
    • S16's "The Best Day Ever" has clips of many previous events about the characters' best and worst days ever.
  • Cold Open: Every episode has one. Sometimes it's a sneak peek of a scene in the episode, sometimes it's a No Fourth Wall-type situation where the characters discuss the theme of the episode, and other times it's just a bizarre Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Done quite often with a TV:
    • In S6's "Arthur Plays the Blues", Arthur had given up playing the piano, and was subjected to a televised concert performance, the organ-playing Phantom, and a spoof of a piano-playing scene in Casablanca.
    • In S7's "Jenna's Bedtime Blues", Jenna, trying to get through a night without wetting the bed, tries watching TV and sees a diaper commercial, an actor with a mock Scottish talking about his broken bagpipes ("It's got a wee-leak!"), and a Sesame Street-esque skit involving the letter P done with Wimzie's House Expys.
    • In "Is that Kosher?" Francine experiences this; she's trying to fast for Yom Kippur, but finds nothing on television but food-related shows and ads. She tries reading and is tormented with such titles as Food of the Gods and Who Moved My Cheese (ironically, neither involves food). She settles on Dickens' Little Dorrit, which has a mouth-watering food description, and finally breaks down and scarfs a slice at Arthur's pizza party.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • This exchange in S14's "Muffy and the Big Bad Blog":
      Mr. Ratburn: You need to do other things in life besides... (searches for word) blogging.
      Muffy: That's true. If I don't do other things, I won't have anything to blog about! Thanks!
    • Also in the episode when Prunella wants flash pants.
      Rubella: You can't sit in your room eating soup and peanut butter all winter!
      Prunella: You're right... I'm gonna need some crackers!
    • Also from "D.W.'s Very Bad Mood":
      Arthur: What if she never lets me go to sleep again?
      Brain: Actually that would be a very interesting experiment. We could chart your deterioration and then, once your brain starts to shut down—(Francine cuts him off).
    • In season 1's "Stolen Bike" regarding Francine's fake story about the bike eating truck.
      Arthur: Did anybody else think there's something very fishy about Francine's story.
      Buster: Yeah. Does she really expect us to believe she was running home to do her chores?
  • Comic-Book Time: Most of the main cast has been eight years old and in the third grade for 22 years. This evolves into an Exaggerated Trope. According to S14's "D.W. Unties the Knot", the events of S1's "D.W. Thinks Big" are said to have happened "a few months ago." In S17's "Opposites Distract", the events of S1's "Poor Muffy" are also said to have been "a few months ago." Then there's this Facebook post wherein Arthur claims that the spelling bee from season one took place in 2014. However, in S18's "Two Minutes", D.W. says that the events of S1's "Arthur Babysits" were "a long time ago," although this might have just been an exaggeration on her part. In "The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur," Arthur and Buster remark that 3rd grade feels like it has gone on forever.
  • Company Cross References:
    • "The Big Blow-Up" has a fantasy sequence involving a hockey player driving a racecar on a golf course. The athlete's jersey and car feature the logos of the show's two producers at the time: Cinar and WGBH.
    • The "A Word From Us Kids" segment following "How the Cookie Crumbles" shows a group of blind children baking cookies. After the cookies are put into the oven, a girl wipes down a table while singing the "Clean Up" song from fellow PBS show Barney & Friends.
    • Another Barney reference: in "Sue Ellen and the Brainasaurus", as Sue Ellen tries to sculpt a dinosaur head out of clay, she ends up making Barney's head. Unsatisfied with the result, she promptly squishes it and tries again.
    • In "Attack of the Turbo Tibbles", as Tommy and Timmy change the channels on the TV while D.W. goes to get her mother to help fix the Mary Moo Cow videotape they were watching, one of the shows they see is a parody of The Busy World of Richard Scarry where Huckle and Lowly are bats sleeping on the ceiling. Both The Busy World of Richard Scarry and Arthur were produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment, known as Cinar back when the episode originally aired.
    • In "Prove It," Arthur and Buster watch NOVA, another PBS show produced by WGBH, complete with live-action footage on the Reads' TV. Later, D.W. insists on watching the show with Brain.
    • Yet another Barney reference: In "The Last of Mary Moo Cow", Mary sings the first line of the famous "I Love You" song to D.W. in a fantasy sequence.
    • The "A Word From Us Kids" segment following the above episode is re-titled "A Word From Us Zoomers", and goes behind the scenes at fellow PBS/WGBH program ZOOM, hosted by then-current cast members Kenny and Caroline.
  • Completely Off-Topic Report: In "Buster's Growing Grudge", Buster is frustrated that Binky told one of Buster's jokes and seemingly got a good grade for it while Buster receives a D. Near the end of the episode, we get this exchange between Buster and Arthur.
    Arthur: Buster, you hardly did any work at all. Your whole report was about eggnog.
    Buster: That's not my fault. They put it right next to "Egypt" in the encyclopedia.
  • Competence Zone: Parodied. When Arthur complains about D.W., Binky says she's just a kid, and it's not like she's in third grade.
  • Compressed Vice:
    • Arthur not getting enough exercise in "Arthur Weighs In".
    • Resident Cloud Cuckoo Lander Buster losing interest in Bionic Bunny in favor of a reality show about grocery store workers in "Buster Gets Real" because it's more true to life. The events of the episode happen solely for Arthur to learn that you can still be friends with someone with different interests than you. To top it off, Buster's interest in the reality show didn't last beyond this episode and he has since been shown still enjoying Bionic Bunny.
    • Arthur's infamous bullying streak in "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh" is an especially blatant case of this, as Arthur is known for being a Nice Guy and was a frequent bullying target himself. Yet he was made one here for no other reason than to have an anti-bullying moral.
    • Happens with an adult character of all people in "The Half-Baked Sale". Grandma Thora is said to be a terrible cook in this episode, and it only happens in this episode; as stated in Lethal Chef, she's shown to have perfectly good cooking skills in other episodes (even "Arthur's Birthday" and "Arthur's Chicken Pox," which come before this one in episode order), and her flaw here was introduced for the single purpose of teaching when it's important to tell someone that they may not be fit for something, even when it's someone you're close to.
  • Concept Album: Arthur's Really Rockin' Music Mix, released in 2001. Besides a remix of the show's theme song, every single song in the album is entirely new and never played once in the show. The songs in this album double as musical summaries of select episodes and Image Songs of characters, composed in a variety of musical styles.
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: This happens a lot, but one strong example is Pal, at birth.
  • Continuity Nod: There's a number of episodes that recall events that have happened in seasons earlier. Such as...
    • "The Contest" has an Imagine Spot into the future where Arthur and the gang are teens; they reminisce about when they first learned Mr. Ratburn was their teacher ("Arthur's and the Real Mr. Ratburn"), when Buster moved away ("Arthur's Faraway Friend"), and when Francine taught Arthur how to play baseball ("Arthur Makes the Team").
    • "The Boy with His Head in the Clouds": George pulls Wally out of his closet, and mentions how he got dumped with D.W. ("Arthur's Dummy Disaster").
    • Both "Fernkenstein's Monster" and "D.W. Dancing Queen" has Arthur obsessing over the incident in which his pants rip, revealing his underwear in "Arthur's Underwear".
    • "The Blackout" contains many references to "The Blizzard", mostly regarding Dr. Jake's predictions and forecasts. note 
    • "The Great MacGrady" recalls the events of "Room to Ride", as both episodes featured Lance Armstrong (Both episodes are now banned as a result of Armstrong's scandals).
    • "D.W. Unties the Knot" also recalls events from "D.W. Thinks Big."
    • "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album" has Francine's Bubbe mention Arthur's pizza party from "Is That Kosher?"
    • "Opposites Distract" has Arthur temporarily staying and studying with Buster while the leak in his ceiling is fixed; Francine and Muffy warn this will cause problems for both of them, citing the events of "Poor Muffy," in which Muffy stays with the Frenskys while the Crosswires replace their carpet that Muffy is allergic to.
    • "The Ballad of Buster Baxter" calls back "Arthur and the Square Dance" (he has trouble keeping up in square dancing), "How the Cookie Crumbles" (he stumbles across the Muffy and Friends cookies while in the supermarket) and "Finders Key-pers" (he finds Mr. Morris' key for the sprinklers without knowing what it's for) when Buster tries to re-adjust to being back in Elwood after being gone for so long. There's even a call back to Arthur and Buster's Robin Hood story (which the Brain helped Arthur write while Buster was gone) from "Arthur's Faraway Friend".
    • In "Bleep", Arthur is seen working on a model plane, only to drop and break it when he hears D.W. swear. The aforementioned plane was apparently the same one from "Arthur's Big Hit", and broke in both of those episodes. D.W. lampshades this. It could also be a cross-reference, since it wasn't the first time that DW's swearing caused someone to drop something.
      D.W.: Whoa! It happened again!
    • The Brain's model biplane that was seen in "What is that Thing?" reappears in "Nerves of Steal" and "The World Record" (in the latter, the plane even crash-lands just as it did in its first appearance.)
    • Brain's memory in "Brain's Brain" has paintings of scenes from "The Contest" and "Friday the 13th."
    • In "The Substitute Arthur," Arthur mentions that Buster was a part of the bird-watching club, which happened in "For the Birds."
    • In "When Rivals Came to Roost," Buster has jellybeans from Patrick's Chocolates, which previously appeared in "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone."
    • In "Locked in the Library!" Arthur reminds Francine of when she made fun of him for not having lost a baby tooth, which is exactly what happened in "Arthur's Tooth."
  • Continuity Porn: D.W.'s story in the season three episode "I'd Rather Read It Myself" incorporates elements from almost every D.W.-centric episode that predated it.
    • Also from season three is "D.W.'s Perfect Wish," which is more or less done as a Clip Show, albeit with the music and some sound effects redone, and one flashback having new animation made (of Mr. Rogers singing to D.W.). The same episode has a Call-Back to "D.W., the Picky Eater" (a flashback of a scene that was not present in the original episode.)
  • Contrived Coincidence: In "Happy Anniversary", Arthur and D.W. are locked in a pantry, and Arthur misses the special episode of Bionic Bunny that he planned to watch with Buster where they would have found out the connection between Bionic Bunny and Dark Bunny. D.W. gives her version of what could have happened with Bionic and Dark Bunny being separated at birth with an evil witch taking one and a robot taking the other. Arthur dismisses this until the next day, when Arthur gets caught up on the special he missed:
    Arthur: So, what happened in the special? I've been dying to know!
    Buster: Well, first of all: Bionic Bunny and Dark Bunny are — get this — brothers, and...
    Arthur: Wait, don't tell me: Were they separated at birth by an evil witch?
    Buster: Yeah, and a robot! How did you guess? [Arthur groans when he finds out D.W. was right]
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: In "Best of the Nest," when the Brain asks Arthur why he isn't playing the eponymous game anymore and going camping instead, he says that on Level 10, his goose was destroyed by "a cruel force of nature." A flashback then shows that when he got to that point, he was confronted with this question:
    Night has fallen and the temperature is dropping. Do you:
    A: Wrap yourself in dead leaves?
    B: Cuddle up with the crocodile?
    or C: Do the Hokey-Pokey?
Arthur makes it clear that he intends to choose "A," but before he can do so, the phone rings and he gets up to answer it. D.W. then uses the opportunity to go to the computer and select "B." Just as Arthur reenters the room, he sees that his goose has been eaten by the crocodile, who is belching out its feathers.
  • Cool Old Lady: Grandma Thora, Bubbe, and Mrs. MacGrady.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Even though Mr. Read is a professional cook and caterer, he is not afraid to experiment in cooking new things, and that is when his family and everybody else are hesitant to try his food, because it always comes out weird.
    • Grandma Thora, on the other hand, is shown to be highly incompetent as a cook in the episode "The Half-Baked Sale", but she thinks she does a very good job because Mr. Read thinks she's bad with him being a professional.
    • Binky is shown to be less-than-competent in Arthur's Perfect Christmas because he fails to remove pecans from their shells when making pecan pie, forgets to sweeten his brownies with sugar, and doesn't peel the bananas when making banana bread.
    • A Running Gag in earlier seasons was rather disgusting flavors being shown at Brain's mom's ice cream shop, with ingredients such as squid and chicken.
  • Couch Gag: A very easy-to-miss one, but still a Couch Gag nonetheless. In the early seasons of the show, the noise the title letters would make as they fell (at the end of the theme song, when Arthur falls backwards) had at least four variations. The "normal" version is the glass shattering, with a second version adding in a "boing" when Arthur initially hits the ground. The third version has the impact sound like a big splash of water, and the fourth and final sounds like a stack of tin cans falling over. In later seasons, only the first version is ever used.
  • Credits Gag:
    • S4's "My Music Rules/That's a Baby Show!" replaces the standard truncated theme song in the credits with the jazz-classical rendition of Crazy Bus heard in the first half. Also, for the entirety of Season 6, the remixed theme song from the then-new album "Arthur's Really Rockin' Music Mix" was played over the credits as a way to promote it.
    • S21's "Arthur Takes a Stand" has a cover of the theme song over the credits.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • In universe: Arthur, in "Dear Adil", based his research about Turkey from an Illinois Jack comic; but Adil thought that Arthur was crazy and didn't think what to write. Then Alberto shows how the comic was inaccurate and also told him what he thought America was like from TV.
      Alberto: They made me think that every kid in the U.S. went surfing after school, and went home to their skyscrapers, and put ketchup on all their food! Yep, you would sure have a weird impression of a place if all of you knew from it came from TV and comic books.
    • In "Team Trouble," Arthur, Buster, and Francine decide to make a comic book for a report on Ancient Rome. However, none of them do any research on their first attempt. Arthur makes a section that is a mishmash of ancient myths, Francine makes one in which she wins the Olympics even though women were banned from the games, and Buster creates a splash page involving Spartacus delivering pizzas.
  • Crossover: Mister Rogers made a guest appearance in one episode where he befriends Arthur. Marc Brown later returned the favor when he appeared in an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and Arthur (a puppet of him, anyway) visited the Land of Make-Believe.
    • In "Prove It," Arthur and Brain watch NOVA, and D.W. joins in, taking on an interest in science.
    • The "And Now A Word From Us Kids" segment for "The Last of Mary Moo Cow" featured Caroline and Kenny from ZOOM giving a behind the scenes tour of that show.
    • In "Hic or Treat," Arthur and D.W. watch a Dark Bunny/Mary Moo Cow crossover.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: A few instances.
    • "The Long, Dull Winter" and "The Short, Quick Summer" are opposite in both plot and title. In the former, Arthur and his friends try to create a holiday to make the time go faster, and in the latter, Arthur fears that he won't have time to do everything he plans over the summer.
    • "When Carl Met George" and "He Said, He Said" are both Carl episodes whose titles allude to romantic films.
    • (Character)'s [X] Trouble and variations thereof are commonplace.
    • A few episodes in Season 16 and 17 are based on popular phrases, such as "Based on a True Story," "Just the Ticket," and "Opposites Distract."
  • Courtroom Episode: Season 16's "Read and Flumbergast" is all about D.W. and her friends putting Tommy Tibble on trial for stealing a cupcake.
  • Crying Critters: Downplayed. The anthropomorphic animals cry, but not the pets.
  • Cultured Badass: Rattles is shown to be this after a handful of seasons since he first appeared; despite being a Tough Customer, he's an expert chess player, has a mind for business, and apparently is quite a cheese connoisseur. note 
    • Binky as well, especially in later seasons. Traits include his gifts for ballet and the clarinet, as well as his appreciation for opera (he's the one who introduced Muffy to the story of Carmen.)
  • Cursed with Awesome: In a more down-to-earth example, Arthur gets chickenpox, which gets him a lot of attention and special treats, including an oatmeal bath, a back rub, stories from Grandma Thora, and a really tricked-out lunch with drinks 'from a crazy straw!' Is there any wonder why D.W. wants chickenpox, even when the circus is coming?
    • This trope gets lampshaded:
      David: D.W, you're lucky that you're not sick! Chickenpox is no fun!
      D.W.: Yes; it is! It's more fun than anything!
      David: ...more fun than the circus? ...more fun than elephants and cotton candy and ice cream?
      D.W.: Of course!
    • This trope gets turned Up to Eleven when D.W. gets chickenpox herself. She is overjoyed, actually skipping around and singing. Of course she goes to Grandma Thora and requests those special treats. The rest of the family is confused by her joy, Jane wondering if D.W. has a fever. The irony is that she gets chickenpox after she admits that her wanting chickenpox was out of jealousy, making her getting chickenpox some odd cosmic reward or something.
  • Cuteness Proximity: In "Blockheads," D.W. and Emily are determined to finish building a block tower, but the lure of a koala that has been brought into class too strong and they break down.
  • Daddy's Girl:
    • Muffy, very much so. This may be partially because her dad is a soft touch when it comes to what his daughter wants. However, they also share some interests, such as opera, and the common trait of seeing marketing potential in absolutely everything.
    • Francine as well; she's a lot like her dad and seems very close to him.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: In "Nicked by a Name", after Brain gives the other soccer team players cool nicknames, Arthur is dubbed "Average Arthur", which leads to team squabbles due to others coming up with derisive nicknames for each other.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Dark Bunny, in contrast to the other established in-universe show, Bionic Bunny.
    • In-universe, the Grotesquely Grim Bunny comics in relation to Bionic and Dark Bunny ones. They are in fact scary enough to give Arthur nightmares.
  • Dark Is Evil: Rattles of the Tough Customers is a school bully is almost never seen without his leather jacket, though it's slowly subverted as he starts revealing his own Hidden Depths. In S16's "The Last Tough Customer," he and his friends decide to drop their bullying ways entirely.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • "Tipping the Scales" gives some screen time to Dr. Fugue.
    • "The Play's the Thing," "The Last Tough Customer," "Slink's Special Talent," and "Take a Hike, Molly" are all about the Tough Customers. "Slink's Special Talent" in particular is about Slink, who hadn't been the main focus of an episode since "Buster and the Daredevils" ninteen seasons earlier.
    • "Maria Speaks" and "Binky Can't Always Get What He Wants" include Maria, a silent girl in Mr. Ratburn's class, as a major character.
  • Day of the Jackboot: S13's "The Pride of Lakewood" involves Arthur, Francine and Muffy setting up a pride committee as a way of supporting school activities, with Buster as their spokesman. They end up putting flyers on the lockers of non-members Brain and Sue Ellen announcing they have no school spirit (as well as George, who WAS a member, but didn't cheer loud enough at track meets), and the two have to hide just to avoid being publicly harassed. In the end, they successfully recruit Buster to make a speech on why they feel the organization is unjust and membership shouldn't be compulsory to express school spirit.
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: Grandma Thora's dog, Killer. Apart from a bit of a Hair-Trigger Temper, she's nice.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: S1's "So Long, Spanky" has D.W.'s one-off pet bird die. She is sad and tries to cope, even looking for another pet. D.W. eventually accepts a toad that likes to stay near Spanky's grave as her pet.
  • Deconstruction:
    • You would think that a series that is founded on the "Reading Is Cool" Aesop would support programs on the vein of Book Adventure. However, S16's "Buster's Book Battle" points out serious flaws: the program is not guaranteed to have listings on "the classics" or books children actually want to read; the prizes might be lackluster; the participants try to "game" the system: most importantly, the program would not teach people to read for the fun/utility of reading itself, instead reading just to earn prizes.
    • "D.W.'s Library Card" goes over some realistic problems with libraries. D.W. is disappointed when a book she wants has already been taken out, and it isn't even returned on time. When she does get it, the book is in bad condition and D.W. is afraid that she'll ruin it if she opens it.
  • The Dentist Episode: Arthur goes to the dentist in Arthur's Tooth and its episode adaptation.
  • Denser and Wackier: Retroactively, the first season is this compared to later seasons. There's a lot more Zany Cartoon-like animation (such as Buster's nightmare in "Arthur's First Sleepover" where he comically reacts in an extremely exaggerated manner, complete with eyeballs popping out of his sockets), and in particular the show was a lot more willing to occasionally forego the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for the sake of humor, such as all the outlandish pets in "Arthur's Pet Business." Special mention goes to the Imagine Spot sequences, which were a lot more outlandish in the first season than any other.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • In Binky's report on Ancient Egypt — "Mummies were dead Egyptians who died and got embalmed and tightly wrapped in cloth after they died."
    • "I'm a Poet" has Binky writing a poem for a contest with the word "poem" written four times.
  • Depending on the Writer: Some episodes have D.W. so bratty to the point of unlikability, while others have her as a more realistic (and funny) little sister character.
  • Desert Skull: At the start of the episode "Feeling Flush," there's an Imagine Spot where the kids are walking through the desert. The very first shot we see is of a skull.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: "Brain's Brain" takes place on the days up to and including Easter, but is chiefly about Brain trying to make sense of his own mind and remember where he hid a particular Easter egg.
  • Diet Episode:
    • A variant: "Is That Kosher?" has Francine trying to fast until Yom Kippur.
    • "Arthur Weighs In" has Arthur trying to diet to lose weight.
  • Digging to China: One forlorn summer project according to S2's "The Short Quick Summer." Presumably repeated every year.
  • Disappointed in You: In "Arthur the Wrecker," Mrs. Read is "not mad, just disappointed" that Arthur disobeyed her by playing on her computer when she asked him not to. And this isn't the only instance of her using this or a similar line in the series.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named:
    • "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album" is about Grandpa Dave developing Alzheimer's Disease (or a similar ailment), but they never once call it by name.
    • Averted in "The Great MacGrady" where it's explicitly said Mrs. MacGrady has cancer. What kind of cancer, though? That isn't mentioned (but didn't need to be).
    • Subverted for "Is There a Doctor in the House?": both the Read parents get sick with an illness that has symptoms of sneezing, coughing, and sleepiness. It's not specified within the episode, but on Mrs. Read's page on the official website, she says it was a cold. That's also what official summary listings say about it.
  • Disneyland Dad: We only ever hear from Bo Baxter when he's treating Buster to something big.
  • Disney Villain Death: Arthur imagines this happening to him after D.W destroys his model airplane.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • In the episode "Draw!" Francine probably shouldn't have called Fern a mouse, but did she really deserve nearly all the other kids making rude comics about her?
    • Arthur's Big Hit. He punches D.W. for destroying his model plane!
    • In "My Club Rules," D.W. is genuinely interested in what Arthur and his friends are doing. Their response is to give her a bowling ball and tell her to kick it out of the yard, then make her draw a goofy picture of Mr. Ratburn and insult it.
    • At the end of "Arthur and the Crunch Cereal Contest", D.W. sings a song about how Arthur "stinks like a piece of yellow cheese", but is "okay as long as there's a breeze". Arthur then assaults her with snowballs.
  • DIY Dentistry: In the epsidode "Arthur's Tooth," when he finds out that he is the only one in his class who hasn't lost a tooth yet, he tries to pull his loose tooth out by doing the doorknob method, eating crunchy food, and other methods employed. He then goes to the dentist when all methods fail, and the dentist assures him that all baby teeth fall out naturally and the age of falling baby teeth vary from person to person. At the end of the episode, Arthur's baby teeth finally fall out when Francine throws a soccer ball at his face.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • "The Pride of Lakewood," a toned-down version of The Wave...and we all know what that was about...
    • "Prunella the Packrat" is reminiscent of Hoarding: Buried Alive or Hoarders, but for kids. Similarities include Prunella saving things for odd or weak reasons, not being able to let go, accumulating more stuff, and being shocked that she actually has closet space.
    • The Big Boss Bars in "To Eat or Not to Eat" are highly addictive, which could cause some viewers to think of drug addiction.
    • "All Thumbs," in which Arthur walks in on Buster sucking his thumb, treats the resulting embarrassment between the two as if Buster was caught with his pants down.
    • "Whip. Mix. Blend." has Rattles' attempt to bond with his soon-to-be step-siblings, Angie and Ansel, come off like a rough first date.
  • Domestic Appliance Disaster: In "Is There a Doctor in the House?", Arthur and D.W. try to take on the household chores after Mrs. Read gets sick with a bad cold. It doesn't go well - Arthur causes the vacuum cleaner to start smoking by vacuuming up paper clips and other objects that are too large for it, the dishwasher doesn't clean the dishes properly because they weren't scraped first and the detergent door wasn't closed, and there's other problems as well that aren't even related to appliances. Mr. Read is less than happy, especially when he discovers D.W. cut a hole in his pajamas to try to hang them, but can't grump about it too much, as he's coming down with the cold too. Fortunately, both of them turn out to be fast learners. The next day they wash the dishes by hand and are otherwise smarter in their chores, negating Mr. and Mrs. Read's plan to call in Grandma Thora for help.
  • Doomed Supermarket Display: in the episode "D.W. Gets Lost" D.W. enters the store's security room and begins playing around with the cameras to find Mom on the screens. Her antics first knock out an employee in the Video Department followed by toppling a display of tennis balls arranged in a pyramid. When she sees customers tripping over her mess her response is "Look at all those clumsy people!"
  • Don't Explain the Joke:
    • When Mr. Ratburn does a puppet show, Buster laughs and explains why the puns are funny. "It's so subtle!"
    • In "Buster Bombs," Buster notices that his friends aren't laughing at a joke he tells. He starts explaining it, and they respond that while they understand the joke, it just isn't funny.
  • Door-to-Door Episode: In "Buster's Sweet Success," Buster goes door-to-door selling chocolates. He ends up eating all the chocolates he was supposed to sell when nobody wants to buy them, and makes terrible knock-off chocolates, selling those instead.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Nerves of Steal" ends with Buster still grounded for stealing, and being punished with no dessert.
    • "Rhyme for Your Life" ends with Arthur becoming "a prisoner of poetry" after making a rhyme and running off.
    • "The Pageant Pickle"'s ending involves Arthur's friends laughing at him after D.W. tricks him.
    • "Just the Ticket" has Arthur reflecting on the fact that he "never really wins anything" after he wins front-row concert tickets, but the stage is too tall for him to actually see the performance.
    • "Binky Can't Always Get What He Wants": While the cat adoption talent show goes well for Binky, Sue Ellen ends up with the acting job; she is in a large beet costume, falls over, and is unable to get up.
  • Dream Episode:
    • "Arthur's Underwear" (which is also a book) focuses on Arthur having frequent Not Wearing Pants Dreams.
    • A large portion of "Buenas Noches, Vicita" is about Vicita dreaming she's in her favorite story.
  • Dream Sequence: About Once per Episode.
  • Dream Within a Dream:
    • One chapter book adaptation of a story had Arthur have one of these and then lampshade it on waking up for real.
      Man, I hate double-dreams!
    • S3's "What Scared Sue Ellen?" had one in which Sue Ellen dreams that the mythical Baba Yaga is after her. Then she "wakes up," only for the Baba Yaga to appear outside her window.
    • In "Jenna's Bedtime Blues", this happens to Jenna, giving her the false impression that she had a bedwetting accident in Muffy's waterbed. It turns out that the bed itself has sprung a leak, and Jenna takes the opportunity to get up and go to the bathroom.
  • Drop-In Character: The Molina family, Carl, Lydia Fox, Cheikh, Ladonna Compson and her little brother Bud... the list goes on.
  • Duck!: Plays both meanings of the word. In "Arthur's Birthday," Arthur is trying to send a note to Muffy when he gets confronted by a group of workers in her yard. Francine tells him to duck as one approaches and he does, just as a worker who happens to be a duck walks by and quacks.

    Tropes E-M 
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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!"
  • 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.
    • 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. S5 would see the use of a slot machine title card where Arthur would just spin the slots, and it would show the face of Muffy, Sue Ellen or George if the any of those three are the main character of the episode. Specific title cards would be retired by S14 (S16 in U.S. airings), where sneak peaks of the episode are shown instead.
    • When the series began, the only sounds came from the title card's animation, though starting with S2, the episode's titles were read aloud by a character (usually Francine or Binky early on, though more characters were added in later seasons). These readings were eventually added to all title cards in U.S. reruns of S1, though other countries still air the season without them.
  • 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, she was once 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-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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Tibble 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.
  • 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.
    • "Arthur's Perfect 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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 one to raise money for the library in "Arthur the Unfunny."
  • 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 happened 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 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.
  • Gender Equals Breed:
    • Both Emily and her mother are rabbits, while Emily's father is an ape. But if you look carefully you'll see that Emily has an apelike jawline.
    • But what on earth is Molly and James's mother? Her kids are rabbits whereas she obviously hasn't got the ears or face, but she does have the same hair as her daughter. Is Ms. (Mrs.?) Macdonald some kind of dog? Molly rules out this trope.
    • And apparently this trope is played straight again with Carl (a rabbit child) and his mother (an aardvark).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Discussed in the opening sequence for "The World of Tomorrow."
  • 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: Season 4's "The Fright Stuff" is about a scary Halloween party at a haunted mansion and Season 11's "Hic or Treat" takes place on Halloween night. There's also an hour-long Halloween special, Arthur and the Haunted Tree House.
  • 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.
    • The Brain had to repeat kindergarten.
  • 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!
  • 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 Expy, "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.
      • He has a sister named Rodentia Ratburn who filled in as a substitute teacher, though she treated the class like kindergarteners.
      • 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 and Jenna have gotten some of this. In D.W.'s group, Emily and James got a little of this, too.
  • 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.
  • 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 this in the first two seasons, although it has since obtained a better reputation.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: See Gender Equals Breed entry above.
  • 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.
    • "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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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. 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.) She imagines her accidentally getting her entire preschool class saying it. Her mother finally tells her, "You could say, it means 'I want to hurt your feelings.'"
    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.
  • 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.
    • In "Framed!" Buster becomes a great painter rather quickly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!: Arthur's parents share a Smooch of Victory after a family reunion at their house gets this reception.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • In one episode, 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?!"
  • Jaccuse: 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.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • K-I-S-S-I-N-G 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.
    • The teaser of S13's "The Pride of Lakewood" has Buster saying the reason he has a pin button with his face on it is a long story. Arthur argues it could be told in 10 minutes.
    • In S8's "Bugged," Brain wathces a Bionic Bunny episode with Binky, and is annoyed by how cliched and predictable the episode is, such as the Conveyor Belt o' Doom trope (to which Brain gives a "Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?" type of comment) and the Evil Plan and Latex Perfection devices.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 "D.W., the Picky Eater." 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: 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."
    • D.W. is very prone to this. 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?
  • 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:
    • S3's "Arthur's Almost Live Not Real Music Festival" has four songs: Library Card, Jekyll and Hyde, Homework, and Leftovers Goulash.
    • The hour-long special "Rhythm and Roots of Arthur" has four songs in it.
  • 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.

    Tropes N-R 
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • "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: Arthur does this in an Imagine Spot.
  • 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.
  • 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 Mario Limit: Not so much the main character, but good luck trying to find any Francines or Busters hanging around.
  • 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.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Most of Arthur's friendsnote  appear to be only children.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • The Simpsons:
  • Paying for the Action Scene: The teaser of one episode had them watching trailers for a Bland-Name Product of a James Bond movie. After subduing a villain in a fancy restaurant, the hero tells the manager to put the damage on his tab.
  • 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.
  • 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 than 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, leading to this trope.
  • 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.
  • 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 used in one episode 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Public Hater, Private Fan: 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.
  • 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. However, Bud appears (with a speaking role, even) in the next episode, "D.W. and Dr. Whosit."
  • 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.
  • 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 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 S1's "Arthur's New Years Eve," S3's "D.W.'s Perfect Wish," and S16's "The Best Day Ever."
  • 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 & 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Tropes S-Z 
  • Sadist Teacher:
    • The kids complain about Ratburn being this. Also frequently subverted when they realize he's not that bad of a guy and he's actually succeeding in teaching them.
    • Mr. Price-Jones, Ratburn's mentor and former teacher from "The Return of the King," is more of a an example.
  • Santa Ambiguity: There's lots of talk about Santa Claus visiting in "Arthur's Perfect Christmas", but it's heavily implied that it was Mrs. Read who was looking for Tina the Talking Tabby. However, Santa still may have brought the other gifts.
  • Scare Chord: The show's soundtrack includes a designated sting which serves this purpose.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Grandpa Dave is implied to be in the early stages of dementia in "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album."
  • School Play: "Francine Frensky, Superstar," "Arthur Weighs In," "The Pea and the Princess," "Elwood City Turns 100!" for Arthur and his friends. "The Pageant Pickle" and "All About D.W." for D.W.
  • Scratchy-Voiced Senior: The episode "The Feud" has Arthur imagine himself and D.W. still arguing about whether to have ranch (what D.W. wants) or blue cheese (what Arthur wants) even as old people. They both have scratchy voices in the daydream.
  • Screen Tap:
    • In the episode "You Are Arthur," Busters asks Arthur if there is someone in his head watching him through a TV screen. He proceeds to tap on the screen and we hear the sound of knocking on glass.
    • In "The Silent Treatment," George asks if the audience can see him and knocks on the screen.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Famous!: "Buster Baxter, Cat Saver" had Buster saving a cat from a tree, the fame had gotten to his head when we see him using his new "hero" status to cut in line at the movies.
  • Seadog Beard: In "Buster Baxter & the Letter from the Sea," Arthur's family meets an old sea captain with a big beard.
  • Second Person Attack: "Arthur's Big Hit" is one of the rare cases where no Hit Flash is used.
  • Secret Ingredient: Arthur and Buster enter a cooking competition and bake a cake; their secret ingredient is double the amount of chocolate the recipe calls for.
  • Seldom-Seen Species:
    • Arthur is an aardvark, though in the show he doesn't look like one. He looks more like one in the original books, but the look was changed because it was hard to see his mouth.
    • Brain's Imagine Spot in "Nicked By a Name" had an anthropomorphic tapir named Tom.
    • The Cold Open for "On This Spot" featured an alvarezsaurid of all things, complete with stubby claws and a fuzzy coating of feathers.
    • At the end of "Buster's Dino Dilemma," a paleontologist makes mention of the tyrannosaurid Daspletosaurus.
    • A Komodo dragon and a narwhal appear in the Cold Open of "Francine and the Feline."
    • A great spangled fritillary is featured in the Cold Open of "Binky Goes Nuts."
    • "Hide and Snake" prominently features a scarlet kingsnake, with its mimicry of the venomous coral snake being a plot-point.
    • Sea hares make a brief appearance in "The Shore Thing."
    • Yellow-billed oxpeckers are featured in "Flea to You and Me."
    • Peregrine falcons are a major plot point in "Muffy's House Guests."
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • "Buster's Growing Grudge" has a Who Would Want to Watch Us? joke at the end.
      Buster: We could have our own TV show! You, me, and Arthur!
      Binky: Sounds good, but maybe not Arthur. Who'd want to watch him on TV?
    • D.W.'s imagination of Arthur on TV in "And Now Let's Talk to Some Kids." She imagines Arthur being boring and the audience falling asleep.
    • "Mei Lin Takes a Stand" opens with Mei Lin stating that she "does not agree with all of the show's views" and complaining amount the amount the lack of episodes about kids under the age of three.
  • Self-Destruct Button: Brain's tooth extraction machine in Arthur's Tooth. After smashing a melon makes it go haywire and it attempts to run away he presses a self destruct button he built into the remote.
  • Self-Serving Memory:
    • Arthur sometimes does this when it comes to D.W., especially if he thinks he's going to have to compete with her for affection or attention. "D.W.'s Snow Mystery" had one of these, where Arthur's memory is that, when Grandma Thora came over, D.W. acted like a hyperactive brat.
    • "Arthur's Family Feud" has a scene where Arthur and D.W. each tell their versions of an incident and how a souffle collapsed. Arthur's story portrays D.W. as being really mean while he's innocent, while D.W. has Arthur getting mad really easily.
  • Senior Sleep Cycle: Grandma Thora averts this, but Grandpa Dave plays it straight. With Grandpa, it could be because he's apparently in poorer health than Grandma; see "The Big Dig" for an example.
  • Sentimental Music Cue: You can tell D.W.'s upset because they always play the same music. However, this has evolved; the music has also been used when any other character is upset (see "Arthur's Faraway Friend" for a non-D.W. example, among several others).
  • Separated by a Common Language: In "Follow the Bouncing Ball," an argument between Muffy and Vicita is based around this. Vicita refers to a soccer ball as a "football," confusing Muffy. Later, Muffy mentions squash, which Vicita knows as a vegetable.
  • Sequel Episode:
    • Arthur's story in "Arthur Writes a Story" is of the ending to "Arthur's Pet Business."
    • "Revenge of the Chip" reflects on "The Chips Are Down".
    • "Buster Baxter, Cat Saver" has a small B-plot of D.W. driving Arthur crazy with the "Crazy Bus" song. The episode it's paired with ("Play it Again, D.W.") has this as the main focus.
    • "Buster's Back" sets up Buster's return back to Elwood City after his absence for a large chunk of the second season; "The Ballad of Buster Baxter" continues the plot by focusing more on what has happened since he's been gone.
    • "Meet Binky" continues the plot surrounding the band that wrote graffiti all over the school from "Binky Rules."
    • "Arthur's Baby" and "D.W.'s Baby" are the same story told from different points of view.
    • "Return of the Snowball" concludes the snowball story arc from "D.W.'s Snow Mystery."
    • Topics introduced in "Sue Ellen's Little Sister" are expanded upon in "Big Brother Binky" and "Wish You Were Here."
    • In "Binky Goes Nuts," Binky is diagnosed with a peanut allergy and has to find a peanut-free Chinese restaurant in order to enjoy Chinese food again; in "Big Brother Binky," Binky and his parents visit the restaurant again before telling Binky that they're going to adopt a baby girl from China. At the end of the episode, the Barnes family visits the restaurant for a third time with new family member Mei-Lin.
    • "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked" is about Sue Ellen trying to cure her addiction to Virtual Goose. In "Best of the Nest," everyone starts playing the game's new version.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • S3's "And Now Let's Talk to Some Kids" has Francine mentioning having wanted to get something for Christmas. The special "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" made her and her family Jewish.
    • That's just the tip of the iceberg. There are many many examples of characters being introduced as new students in early episodes only to have known the characters for years before their supposed introduction, Muffy and Sue Ellen especially. As for the Christmas thing - it may originate from the fact that there was a book in the Arthur Adventures line called Arthur's Christmas. Much of what was in this book was later contradicted by the aforementioned "Arthur's Perfect Christmas".
    • In "Francine Redecorates," Binky mentions in The Teaser that his favorite thing in the world is macaroni and cheese. Much later, in "The World of Tomorrow," he says he hates macaroni and cheese.
    • In "Speak Up, Francine," Francine has something akin to stage fright, and gets incredibly nervous at the prospect of speaking before an audience.
    • In "Waiting to Go," a Season 7 episode, Binky is seen eating peanut butter crackers, but he gains a peanut allergy in Season 9. He also tries to trade for a peanut butter sandwich and season 3's "Buster's Back." Justified, however, in that it is possible for a person to gain an allergy to a particular material or food.
    • "D.W.'s Perfect Wish" counts for two continuity errors.
      • One is that D.W. turns five in this episode, and although she maintains the age for a few episodes, shortly thereafter, D.W. is back to being four, and has stayed four.
      • Another is that Emily's age in this episode is established as already being five-years-old, yet in "Read and Flumberghast," Emily is having her fourth birthday.
    • In "Three's a Crowd," one of Prunella's favorite things to do is get up at the crack of dawn to do yoga with her mother before going to school; later however, one of the plot points of, "The Tardy Tumbler," is that Prunella has trouble getting up early enough to help Marina with her before school gymnastics class, and even remarks, "There's a six AM?"
    • The episode "April 9th" has a big one as well, with Buster and Mr. Morris introducing themselves to each other by name. They very clearly knew each other in the episodes "Arthur Accused!" and "Binky Rules."
      • Also concerning "April 9th", Mr. Morris retired from being the school's janitor and relocated to New Mexico so his daughter could care for him. Subsequently, however, Mr. Morris has still appeared serving janitorial duties at Lakewood, if only in background appearances. Now, in an episode from S19, he's back in New Mexico, corresponding with Buster via telephone.
      • The same S19 episode also shows that Martin Spivak is an actual character (and a doctor to boot), despite only being an Invented Individual in Buster's Imagine Spot from "Bitzi's Breakup".
    • "Muffy's House Guests" reveals Muffy's serious fear of birds, which she has had for quite a while. Despite this, in "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked" and "Best of the Nest," she quite enjoys playing a game about geese.
  • Series Fauxnale: "The Last Day" plays out like it could have been the last episode. It seems like the production team wasn't expecting there to be a twentieth season, as the show has suffered a nasty case of Snap Back.
  • Serious Business:
    • Reading. In S2's "Buster Hits the Books," when the gang discovers Buster doesn't like reading, they act like he's on drugs.
    • And in S1's "Misfortune Teller", Prunella's "cootie catcher," with all of the kids obeying whatever it says they should do.
    • D.W. thinks many things which are smaller in comparison are this, such as naming her new toys. Justified in that she's four.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: S1's "D.W.'s Snow Mystery" ends with it turning out that Buster was right and the snowball was stolen by aliens.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Holds true for the three regular tomboys on the cast - Francine, Jenna, and Molly. Perhaps Francine moreso, because holding disdain for wearing dresses - and many other things that are associated with her respective gender - is a part of her character.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: In "Arthur Rides the Bandwagon," after Arthur feels left out for being the only one without a Woogle, he starts to look for them — only to find them sold out everywhere. That is, up until he sees a kiosk full of them. Instead of selling the real thing though, he gets suckered into buying a Poogle instead (all he saw of it was the "oogle" part). Rather than being stretchy and bouncy like Woogles, the Poogle is just a plastic shell. His friends are quick to call him out on this.
  • Short-Distance Phone Call: In the season 1 episode "Poor Muffy", Muffy is forced to spend a weekend at Francine's house. One scene has her on her cell phone with Francine's dad, who is on the house line in the same room.
  • Shout-Out: So much of it that the series has earned its own page.
  • Shown Their Work: A number of episodes, and is one of the reasons the show gets critical acclaim.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • Several, including "Mary Moo Cow", a send up of Barney, and "Bionic Bunny", which is Superman meets The Six Million Dollar Man. (And actually originates from the picture book The Bionic Bunny Show, which Marc Brown wrote to show readers the behind-the-scenes aspects of television.)
    • Also done with "The Dark Bunny", a Batman parody. It's even shown as taking place in the same 'verse.
    • "Love Ducks", a parody of Teletubbies. Arthur even watched it a few times, skipping Dark Bunny.
    • S10's The Squirrels features another Teletubbies equivalent with squirrels in colorful suits, teletubby-style antennas and a number prominently pinned to the front of the uniform.
    • Heck, there was even a parody of the show itself. The characters naturally lampshaded the obvious tropes. The same show uses similiar designs to characters of Little Lulu, which also had a show produced by CINAR.
    • S6's "The Secret Life of Dogs and Babies" has Baby Kate and Pal watching a show that was a very obvious parody of Rugrats. They later watch yet another Teletubbies spoof.
    • S10's The Squirrels, which is a send-up of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Lampshaded when the latter film title was dropped at the end of the story.
    • Trucks: The Movie, a Show Within a Show featuring cars and trucks, is a movie that Francine and Muffy didn't like that much because it had only three female characters.
    • There was also that show Peabrain and Nuthead that those older kids that Buster tried to befriend liked.
    • Spooky Poo, Mr. Ratburn's favorite show, is a spoof of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! that features a kangaroo.
    • "The Magic Toolbox", a show about talking tools that also contains a spoof of the Arthur segment "A Word From Us Kids" called "Let's Talk To Some Kids" in the middle of each episode.
    • "Terrific Turbo-Trooper Toy T-Bot Team", a Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers spoof that also combines elements from Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad and Ultraman.
    • It's not a parody of anything, but there exists a business news show called $tock Market Today.
  • Sibling Seniority Squabble: Tommy and Timmy Tibble in S15's "Whistling in the Wind." Tommy claims he was born two minutes earlier. It's confirmed in "Two Minutes", but their grandmother lies about it to shut them up.
  • Sick Episode: Done many times.
    • In "For Whom the Bell Tolls", D.W. gets laryngitis. She gets better, but continues faking it for some time afterwards
    • In "Is There a Doctor In the House?", Mrs and later Mr Read both get colds. Thus, Arthur and D.W. have to take over with cooking and household chores, which does not go well for them.
    • In "Sick as a Dog", Pal gets sick from eating candy and table food. Arthur is very worried about Pal, but he turns out okay in the end.
    • In "Arthur's Chicken Pox", Arthur gets chicken pox and gets special treatment from his grandma. D.W. is very jealous until she catches it.
    • In "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble". Mr. Ratburn gets laryngitis and regretfully tells the principal, Mr. Haney, that he can't teach his class. When Mr. Ratburn leaves, Mr. Haney announces that his substitute will be Mrs. Rodentia Ratburn, Mr. Ratburn's sister.
    • In "Double Tibble Trouble", Tommy and later Timmy Tibble gets sick, and D.W. and Emily have to cheer him up.
    • In "The Great MacGrady, Mrs MacGrady gets cancer. She recovers, though.
    • In "Cast Away", Kate is sick, but only for one scene.
    • Arthur and Buster get sick in "Brain Sees Stars."
  • Similar Item Confusion: In the episode "What's Cooking?", Arthur enters a cooking competition at school, hosted by famous chef Ming Tsai, with plans to make a chocolate cake. His dad insists on wanting to help, even thought it's a kids-only competition. Arthur makes a mistake by adding baking soda instead of baking powder, resulting in a batch of brownies instead of a chocolate cake. He wants to throw them out at first, but then his brownies become a huge hit with the class, and he learns from Tsai that many great foods were created by accident.
  • Skewed Priorities: Everybody is hit with this on occasion. Muffy is a notably chronic case; she's her line of thinking sometimes accounts only for her privileged life, and she views some of her friends' endeavors as marketing opportunities.
    • One from the adults is "The Blizzard", where Mr. Ratburn refuses to stay to help thaw the pipes at the school so he can go home and work out his lesson plan for the next full day of class, right in the middle of a raging snowstorm that renders the roads impassable. Another from the same episode comes from Francine's parents, who hold her to finishing her class report that she failed to do on time, even with the conditions outside and inside worsening.
  • Slice of Life: Pretty much, despite the characters being walking, talking animals.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Definitely more on the idealistic end of the scale, though this show is not afraid to touch upon mature issues and difficult situations that kids actually go through.
  • Slumber Party:
    • "Fern's Slumber Party" is about Fern's mother forcing her to have a slumber party, while Fern is disappointed when everyone is bored at her party.
    • "Jenna's Bedtime Blues" has Jenna invited to Muffy's sleepover, although she worries that her bedwetting habit will be exposed.
  • Smart People Play Chess:
    • Rattles in S16's "Brain's Chess Mess", where he's revealed to be an amazing chess player, and even tutors Brain and the Chess Club how to play a proper game. While he's not a Child Prodigy like Brain, Rattles does know how to pronounce a lot of words that are too advanced for his grade level. In the same episode, it's also subverted with Brain at first - while he's smart and does know how to play chess, he didn't have anyone good enough to practice with, letting his skills get rusty. It's after he meets Rattles does he become good again.
    • In "Brain's Shocking Secret," Binky wants to start acting smart, so he plays chess with Brain and invents his own moves.
  • Smell Phone: Parodied in the episode "Cereal". Buster tries to show someone the smell of something in a podcast, but then realises he can't.
  • Smurfette Principle: Lampshaded by Molly in S14's "The Agent of Change", which featured the Movie Within a Show, Trucks: The Musical.
  • Snap Back: At the end of "The Last Day", all of the kids moved up to the next grade. Come season 20, that doesn't seem to have stuck, as D.W. is still in Ms. Morgan's class.
  • Soap Within a Show: A few times, various characters are seen watching a soap opera on TV.
  • Something-itis: In "The Secret About Secrets", D.W. gets a secret that she wants not to tell, and asks for a day off from school (she actually gets one) by saying she is sick, then saying she thinks she has secret-itis. Grandma Thora arrives to babysit her and Kate.
    Thora: Your mother tells me you have a very distinctive ailment.
  • Sock Slide Rink: "D.W on Ice" had D.W agreeing to go ice skating with Emily and practices by sliding around on the floor of her house in her pantyhose. Slamming into Arthur just as he gets home at one point. Arthur points out sliding in pantyhose and ice skating are two different things.
  • Soda Can Shakeup: In the episode "Meek for a Week", Brain compares a person cracking after suppressing their emotions to a soda can exploding after being shaken up.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: In "One Ornery Critter" Arthur meets a dog that doesn't like him and tries to figure out why. Even after it falls in a bush and he removes thorns from its nose, it still doesn't like him. In the end, he learns that some animals just won't like you no matter what you do.
  • Something Only They Would Say:
    • Arthur knows when he gets mail from Buster, because Buster "can read all right, but he can't write Read."
    • In S2's "Love Notes for Muffy", this is how Fern figures out who's sending Muffy's eponymous love notes: Only the Brain can use "regardless" correctly in a sentence.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Rattles uses words that are far beyond his grade level, but his attempts to use them as insults fall flat due to his Joisey-like accent, making him sound thuggish, along with his ignorance of the definitions of said words.
  • So Proud of You: At the end of "Muffy's Soccer Song," an adaptation of "Muffy's Soccer Shocker" featured on the Arthur's Really Rockin' Music Mix album, Ed Crosswire tells Muffy "I'm so proud of you."
  • Soulful Plant Story: In "The Cherry Tree", Muffy's favourite cherry tree needs to be cut down to make way for a bouncy castle. She starts to regret this and wishes that she could have it back.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: A major feature of the episode "Bleep." The episode is about D.W. learning a swear word, and every time it's said, it's bleeped out.
  • Soup Is Medicine:
    • In "April 9th", Arthur fakes a sore throat, as he knows that if he has a sore throat, his dad will stay home and make him chicken soup.
    • In "The Great MacGrady, Arthur and D.W. bring chicken soup for the cancer-afflicted Mrs MacGrady.
  • Space Whale Aesop:
    • In "The World of Tomorrow," the lesson apparently is to learn about science otherwise you won't be able to answer a question a time machine gives you and you'll be put back on exhibit in a museum.
    • According to "Arthur's Dummy Disaster," giraffe puppets are not necessary to read poems out loud. Good luck finding an applicable use for that knowledge in real life.
  • Species Surname: Usually averted.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Arthur's smart friend went by "The Brain" in the earlier seasons, although just "Brain" has been in use since "Arthur Makes the Team" from the 1st season. The change to just "Brain" is best reflected by the trading cards on the website; the old ones had him labeled as "The Brain," while a 2019 update changed the text to say "Brain."
  • Spin-Off: Postcards from Buster, based on the pilot episode of the same name from season eight.
  • Spoiled Brat:
    • D.W. is the quintessential example.
    • Muffy can be this. She plays an exaggerated example of this trope when her family is chosen to be on a reality show and the director, J3, wants to create drama to sell the show better. He suggests that Muffy bully her beloved butler, Bailey, who she is very close with. This includes Muffy throwing food, badgering Bailey to drive faster, and a Mommie Dearest-inspired wire hanger scene. Off the reality show, while she can be mean sometimes, she is never as mean as her reality show portrayal.
  • Spoiled Sweet: D.W.'s friend Emily. She's quite well-off, but always willing to share with others, particularly D.W., even if the latter is being bratty toward her.
  • Start My Own:
    • Several times, but when the kids try to make their own "James Hound" movie in S2's "Arthur Makes a Movie" they find out their outtakes are So Bad, It's Good.
    • "My Club Rules" has the kids creating clubs with increasingly ridiculous rules after quitting each other's clubs.
    • In "Muffy's Classy Classics Club," Arthur, Brain and Francine start their own book club when Muffy refuses to allow the book club that she started to be run democratically. Nobody could blame them - Muffy basically just strong-armed them into joining her book club in the first place by sending them each a free copy of the book and demanding that they show up.
    • "Kidonia" has Arthur and his friends creating their own country. It doesn't end well when they start abusing the rules.
  • Start of Darkness: The Teaser of "The Last Tough Customer" shows Molly's: when she was little, a couple of older kids teased her about her poofy hair. She took out her hairbands, letting her hair fall across her eyes, and became a bully.
  • Status Cell Phone: An early 2000s episode had the local Rich Bitch, Muffy, as the only character known to have a cell phone.
  • Status Quo Game Show:
    • In "Arthur and the Big Riddle," Arthur ends up losing the game show. He fears that he'll have to come back to the show again and again and eventually change schools.
    • Averted in "Fifteen," where George wins a game show and money is donated to the school.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Arthur and James both share their names with English kings. In one episode, Arthur pulls a sword from a stone and is called king of the Medieval Fair; in another, James is treated like a king, and becomes Drunk with Power.
    • In "Popular Girls," there's a picture of a woman with a flower pot on her head...
  • Stern Teacher: Arthur's new piano teacher Dr. Feuge makes his students play large amounts of chords and practice with very long classical pieces. He has also gone as far as to fire students that do not meet his expectations for teaching.
  • Stock Sound Effect:
    • Arthur's gasp and screams.
    • Baby Kate's cry, which is also used for Mei Lin and a younger D.W. in "Arthur's Eyes". Kate's laughing also counts.
    • Many episodes use a sound of kids cheering where you can distinctly hear a boy shouting "We win!"
    • Another commonly-used sound is that of kids "wowing" in amazement. D.W. can easily be heard among them, though this sound is often used in scenes where she is not present.
    • The show frequently recycles small character soundbites such as gasps, screams, and moans. Sometimes these are even used for characters other than who they were originally recorded for. One of many examples is in "D.W. Thinks Big", where Cousin Cora Mrs. Read!
    • Francine's gasp as well.
  • Stock "Yuck!":
    • Ladonna Compson hates beets, despite being a Big Eater. Her hatred of beets is enough to make her feel nauseous whenever she hears the word.
    • D.W. in S2's "D.W., the Picky Eater" hates spinach to the point of throwing tantrums over being served it. The episode's aesop is for to learn to eat different foods without complaint.
  • Stop Poking Me!: Alberto gives Arthur a Spanish-English Dictionary. Aside from being neighborly on Alberto's part, it allows Arthur to read Spanish language comic books without bothering him.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike:
    • In "Home Sweet Home" a kid in Fritz's flashback happens to look exactly like a kid in Buster's earlier Imagine Spots.
    • In "Arthur and Los Vecinos" D.W. manages to correctly guess what Alberto's little sister Vicita looks like before meeting her.
    • Okay, Binky, Grandma Thora? When you make pecan pie, you have to shell the pecans before you put them in.
    • In "Best Enemies," D.W. and W.D. have variations on the same dream, which converge upon each other and end in a double Catapult Nightmare.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The kids' drawings.
    • The Pretty Pioneers dolls and books. Several of the books are badly written and researched and the dolls are all alike aside from their dresses and names.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: The "Baxter Day" song from Arthur's Perfect Christmas has this— "We could just sleep late if that's what we wanted to do. We could even stay in pajamas all day and maybe eat a snack or... five."
  • Summer Campy: "Arthur Goes to Camp". The episode features a rival summer camp. Its campers gift Arthur and his friends a really hard time, compelling them to band together to beat them in the annual scavenger hunt.
  • Superstition Episode: Brain gets so sick of a conversation on superstition brought on by inane Baseball rituals that he attempts to prove there's no such thing as bad luck by repeatedly ducking under a ladder, dancing on the pavement crack and breaking a mirror. Bad luck ensues. He tries to fix his bad luck by bringing a bag carrying good luck charms around with him all the time. At the end of the episode, he finds he's been carrying around the wrong bag, but everyone considers the sports clothes inside instead to be other good luck charms.
  • Surprise Party:
    • In "Arthur's Birthday," this was Arthur and Francine's solution to the clash caused by Arthur and Muffy's birthday falling on the same day: They turn it into a surprise party for Muffy.
    • Arthur and his friends throw a surprise party for Buster in "The Ballad of Buster Baxter."
  • Take That!:
    • Most Arthur fans know the S8 episode "Bleep" as a stab at censorship.
    • S12's "The Chronicles of Buster" poke fun of The Lord of the Rings extended edition DVD sets and similar products, though it's not really bashing them so much as fans' obsessions with watching the features on them.
    • S13's "Brain Gets Hooked" has Brain becoming obsessed with a Lost-style show. He berates the characters for forgetting facts between episodes.
    • Supposedly a gesture towards the show's former head writer, Joe Fallon: after Fallon's depature, "Crazy Bus" was dropped as D.W.'s favorite song. Fallon had written and performed the song for the show.
    • "All the Rage" features a not so subtle take that at crocs, and, to a lesser degree, Paris Hilton.
    • "Caught in the Crosswires" is a satire of reality TV, through and through. The episode has Mr. and Mrs. Crosswire being forced to include some extremely blatant Product Placement shilling for their car dealership, and the producer demands a bunch of fabricated drama between Muffy and Bailey, to the point where it effectively turns into a stereotype of a typical "dysfunctional household" reality show.
  • Talking Typography: The EpisodeTitleCards, in an open acknowledgement that younger viewers can't quite read them yet. Voiceovers were retroactively added into the oldest episodes.
  • Talking with Signs: In "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," Binky is worried that George saw him holding his mother's hand that he warns him not to say anything. George has no idea what Binky is even taking about, but eventually Binky's frequent death glares cause him to stop talking entirely and start communicating this way. This is despite the fact that at this point in the series, Binky is only reputed to be a bully, and nobody can even remember anymore him having actually hit anyone. At the end of the episode, everything is resolved; Binky's fellow Tough Customers find out that he sometimes holds his mother's hand, but they couldn't care less. George, however, is still talking using signs, so Binky tells him that he can talk now and George holds up a sign reading "Really?" "Yes, really," Binky replies, and George says "phew" in relief.
  • Tastes Better Than It Looks:
    • In "Opposites Distract", Bitzi offers Arthur and Buster a dish of spaghetti and marshmallow balls, which appears to be a plate of spaghetti with meatballs topped with giant marshmallows. Arthur even admits that it's surprisingly good.
    • In "Dad's Dessert Dilemma," Mr. Read sends a honey cake baked in the shape of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to school for a party honoring Galileo. Arthur thinks the cake looks ridiculous and assumes that everyone will find it disgusting, so he tries to hide it - that is until Mr. Ratburn finds and samples it. He exclaims it's delicious, prompting the other kids to try it as well, and they love it, too, to Arthur's dismay.
  • Tastes Like Chicken:
    • In "Carried Away", Dr. Yowl explains that his space snacks allow whoever eats them to breathe in the atmospheres of other planets, and that they taste like chicken.
    • In "The Secret Life of Dogs and Babies," the groom takes a bite out of the bride and groom sculpture that was on top of the cake and remarks that it "kind of tastes like chicken".
  • Teachers out of School:
    • When Mr. Ratburn's ceiling collapses and he temporarily moves in with the Read family, D.W. is confused.
      D.W.: So, the school roof fell in?
      Mr. Ratburn: No, the roof to my home.
      D.W.: But you're a teacher - The school is your home.
      Mr. Ratburn: Teachers don't live at school, D.W. We have houses just like you.
      D.W.: The world seemed so simple before this moment.
    • In "Lend Me Your Ears" Buster is surprised to see that Mr. Ratburn is a member of a rock band. Similarly in "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" he is surprised when he learns Mr. Ratburn is marrying a man.
  • Technician vs. Performer: "Mutiny on the Pitch" explores this dynamic. When soccer captain Francine is criticized for being too bossy, she gives the reins over to Buster, who motivates the team emotionally, but is less knowledgeable. With the playoffs on the line, the rest of the team asks Francine to return as captain, and Buster is made an alternate.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: Due to his age, Mr. Ratburn knows next to nothing about the internet. However, the Brain teaches him how to use it, leading Mr. Ratburn to develop a minor addiction to internet forums.
  • Teens Love Shopping: All the teens seen on the show love to shop. Muffy does too, and in "Muffy Gets Mature", she wants to be like them because of that similarity.
  • That Cloud Looks Like...:
    • The teaser of S1's "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble" showcases two kids in the other 3rd class doing this.
    • In S14's "Around the World in 11 Minutes," Pal and Amigo do the same thing.
    • In S2's "The Short, Quick Summer," Buster sees "a train chasing an octopus." Francine thinks this is ridiculous until she sees that Buster is right.
  • That Poor Cat:
    • In "Arthur Babysits" Tommy and Timmy sic their grandmother's cat onto Arthur's face once they notice she has left.
    • In "Arthur's Pet Business" Arthur is chasing a loose bird around the living room and inadvertently steps on the tail of a sleeping cat, briefly sending it air born in pain before it continues napping.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: In-Universe example. In "Arthur Sells Out," Arthur is trying to sell his old toys to make the money to buy the new Dark Bunny video game. At the end, even though he has not gotten the game, he gets to try it when Muffy buys it. It turns out the game is a very boring side-scroller with bland graphics and you don't even play as Dark Bunny.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich:
    • In "Arthur's Lucky Pencil", Arthur and Buster are drinking milkshakes or sodas at the Sugar Bowl when a waitress tells them about a "Milkshakes for Life" contest. Buster lunges towards Arthur, begging to borrow his lucky pencil, and in doing so, knocks over his drink. Arthur then lunges back at Buster and spills his drink before leaving.
    • In "How The Cookie Crumbles," after trying each batch of cookies, trying to replicate the winning ones, Muffy throws them in the trash after tasting them. She eventually fills the trash can.
    • In "The Secret Origin of Supernova," after Brain informs Arthur that the Dark Bunny energy drink is full of sugar, Arthur just throws it in the trash without even tasting it.
    • In "Cereal," Buster asks Arthur to help make a poster for his podcast. Arthur responds by taking Buster's sandwich and throwing it in his soup.
  • Tickle Torture:
    • Parodied in a Dream Sequence in S1's "Buster's Dino Dilemma."
    • Played straight in S11's "Baby Kate and the Imaginary Mystery" in a Dream Sequence where the Tibble Twins do this to Nadine.
  • Time Skip: Some episodes take place over the course of several months. Examples include "The Feud," "The Contest," "Background Blues," and "Brain and the Time Capsule."
  • Title Drop: A few times for episode titles.
    • "Binky Rules" is both the name of the episode and the graffiti that appears on the wall.
    • "The World of Tomorrow" is about Binky visiting a museum exhibit of the same name.
    • In "Staycation," D.W. claims that she invented the term "staycation" and has her parents take a vacation in the backyard as she and Arthur take care of Kate.
  • Title Theme Tune: Some of the audiobook editions of the Arthur Adventure books include one of these. The theme can best be described as sounding like something out of an '80s Bible school presentation, but the music for it is actually reasonably catchy and the fact that the audiobooks are narrated by Marc Brown (and so you get to hear what his interpretations of the characters sound like) make them a rare treat. They have since been reissued on compact disc and on iTunes as "Arthur's Audio Adventures." One way to listen is by signing up for a free trial of Audible and then using the credit to purchase a copy of Arthur Babysits.
  • To Be Continued: Subverted on this show, however, in that it picks up after "A Word From Us Kids" instead of in the next episode.
    • Binky pulls a fire alarm in the middle of "April 9th," and "Stay Tuned" flashes on the screen.
    • This also happens in the middle of "Happy Anniversary".
  • Toilet Humor: Happens in Arthur's Perfect Christmas. D.W. thinks that she sees Santa Claus in the bathroom (it's actually her and Arthur's Uncle Fred, wearing a red shirt and with shaving cream on his face) so she goes to get her parents. By the time she gets back, Fred has left the bathroom and Arthur has entered and is having a pee when Dad opens the door to check D.W.'s claim. This leads Arthur to exclaim "Can't a kid get any privacy around here?!" (The answer? No. He had to put up with D.W. during his oatmeal bath for his chicken pox in "Arthur's Chicken Pox" also.)
  • Token Minority:
    • The Molinas, a Latino family.
    • The Powers family is black.
    • The Frenskys are Jewish.
  • Token Wizard: Nadine is the only character who can do magic, justified because she's an Imaginary Friend. Prunella and Rubella sometimes try to do psychic things, but aren't actually psychic.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl:
    • Francine and Muffy. Francise is a sporty tomboy while Muffy is more feminine and Spoiled Sweet.
    • D.W. and Emily may be a mild example, as Emily tends to have more refined manners and much less of a tendency to be bossy or take a leadership role. As seen in some episodes, D.W. will climb trees, play catch with Arthur and his dad, and do other things considered tomboyish for a girl her age. She also seems like the hardier of the two girls when it comes to roughhousing/generally dealing with the Tibble twins.
    • In a more straight example, "Best Enemies" featured D.W., a girly-girl, and introduced a tomboy counterpart, W.D.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • Binky and the Tough Customers, as time went on. Binky is the most prominent, but Rattles, Molly, and later Slink eventually get in on it, too to the point where the Tough Customers eventually decide to completely swear off their bullying ways in Season 16.
    • Arthur himself. In seasons 1-3, he hates D.W., wants her head to pop off ("Arthur vs. the Piano"), tries to get her to kick a bowling ball ("My Club Rules"), threatens to sell her ("Sue Ellen's Little Sister"), and is overall very mean to her. Later, he helps her cure her hiccups ("Hic or Treat"), helps her name her toy ("What's in a Name?"), and takes care of her virtual pet for her ("D.W.'s Stray Netkitten"). Arthur's attitude towards Mr. Ratburn changes, too, from finding him overly strict ("The Rat Who Came to Dinner") to appreciating how hard he makes them work ("The Last Day") and going to say hi when he sees him in public ("Lend Me Your Ear").
  • Too Many Halves:
    • In the episode "Tales from the Crib", when the mischievous Tibble twins invent a scary creature to frighten D.W. from moving out of her crib.
      Tibbles: Aracnar, Lord of the Spider People. He's half-man, half-spider, and he eats children. He can't get his tentacles through the bars of the crib but kids in beds are easy picking! He climbs up the side, and crawls under the sheet!
      D.W.: Wait a second! If he's half-man, half-spider, why does he have tentacles?
      Tibbles: ...uh, he's half-octopus too! And half Tyrannosaurus rex!
    • In "Finders Key-pers," Arthur, Brain, and Binky find a key in the grass. They decide to split whatever it unlocks "50-50-50."
  • The Topic of Cancer: "The Great MacGrady" has the school's lunchlady reveal that she had cancer. Significant, in that a kids' show addressed it so openly.
  • To the Tune of...:
    • In-universe example: Show Within a Show Mary Moo-Cow's theme tune is sung to Frere Jacques
    • Real life example: The Actimates D.W. and Arthur sings a birthday song to the tune of London Bridge on your birthday. Microsoft is too cheap to license Happy Birthday To You.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Both Arthur and Mr. Ratburn love them the hell out of some cake!
    • Francine and her family seem to particularly like Chinese food. Eating it is one of their big Hanukkah traditions, and Muffy tries to tempt Francine to eat meat using several of her favorite (meaty) Chinese dishes in "Sue Ellen Vegges Out." Binky is also a huge fan of Chinese food, particularly egg rolls.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The funding credits for Arthur's Perfect Christmas show a screenshot of the very end of the special of Arthur in front of the house while it is snowing, even though the fact that there's no snow for a majority of the special is made a somewhat major part of Arthur's arc. Most of the promotional materials also depict Arthur playing in the snow.
    • One promo picture for "When Rivals Came to Roost" spoils the ending: it depicts Brain and Los Dedos both holding the first place trophy, with the combined exhibit in the background.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: In "D.W.'s Name Game," D.W. specifically invokes this in her dream sequence. Walter the deer, who is a real deer in the world of the show, but has become a Talking Animal in her fantasy, tells her that the Thesaurus dwells beyond the woods at the library. She says it's a long way to walk, so she asks if he has a picture of it. He holds one up and she leaps into it, Breaking the Fourth Wall to comment to the viewer that it would have been "so boring" to watch her walk through the woods.
  • Treasure Hunt Episode: "The Big Dig" and "Arthur's Treasure Hunt." In the former, Grandpa Dave gives Arthur and D.W. a map to dig up some treasure. In the latter, Buster finds an arrowhead and he and his friends dig around their houses for treasures.
  • Treehouse of Fun: Arthur and friends' treehouse/clubhouse is a popular spot for them to hang out.
  • Trend Aesop:
    • "Arthur Rides the Bandwagon". For bonus points, a Woogle appears in a later episode as a useless item that Kate is trying to trade. To further drive the point home, the Woogle was placed in a yard sale in "Desperately Seeking Stanley" before Kate tried to trade it.
    • "D.W. and Dr. Whosit" has everyone obsessed with a new TV show called Dr. Whosit. When D.W. sees it, she thinks it's boring and doesn't want to watch it anymore.
  • The Triple: In "The Good Sport," Francine says that she's the captain of the softball team, the captain of the hockey team, the captain of her Temple's basketball team, and "the only person who can sit on Binky's head."
  • True Companions:
    • Arthur and his friends are these, despite their spats and arguments. Mister Rogers lampshades it to Arthur in S2's "Arthur Meets Mister Rogers" -
      Mister Rogers: Real friends don't make fun of real friends, and your friends seem like real friends.
    • The Tough Customers are this as well whenever the episodes focus on them. In S9's "Binky Goes Nuts", Molly can be seen doing bodyguard duty for Binky after it's discovered he has a peanut allergy, preventing any kids holding peanut-based foods from sitting with him. In S18's "Whip. Mix. Blend.," the Tough Customers help Rattles deal with his new twin step-siblings as best as possible.
  • Truth in Television: Cats can't digest lactose, which explains why both Nemo and Jenna are allergic to milk.
  • TV Head Robot:
    • One of the Brain's Imagine Spots in "Nicked by a Name" features Buster with a TV for a head, with his actual head appearing on the screen. For context, this is because he was called "Antenna Ears" earlier on in the episode.
    • In "Buster Gets Real," Arthur and Bionic Bunny have to sneak past a robot with a TV for a head.
  • Unishment: Francine and Binky attempt to invoke this in "Desk Wars" by trying to get Arthur to argue with them so Mr. Ratburn will split them up and someone will be moved to Brain's empty desk, which is right in front of the fan on a very hot day and which Brain's fitted with a solar-powered supplies dispenser. Subverted when Arthur protests that he likes his desk and doesn't want to argue with them, making Mr. Ratburn send Arthur to Brain's desk. Arthur's not happy about this, especially after Binky moves to his own desk and sweats on in.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In "Francine's Split Decision," Brain devises a cunning plan to allow her to attend her cousin's bar mitzvah and a bowling tournament against Mighty Mountain. Naturally, such a plan dependent on precise timing and details begins to fall apart almost immediately.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode:
    • As if "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh" isn't unsettling enough, there's an interactive storybook version of the episode available on PBS's website, where the resolution of the story varies depending on the reader's choices throughout the story itself. One alternate ending has Arthur losing all his friends as a result of Arthur refusing to apologize to Sue Ellen and still claiming that she overreacted; on top of that, Arthur actually brushes them all off and decides if they don't want to talk to him anymore that's their problem, not his. You can almost imagine Arthur just saying, "Fuck it all!"
    • "Nerves of Steal" is this as the entire episode has a much less cheerful air due to Buster not only moping over him and Arthur not having a CyberToy as the rest of their friends do, but actually stealing said toy when he can't afford to buy one by sneaking it into Arthur's bag unnoticed. The entire episode shifts to Buster being confronted with the consequences of stealing, a crime he dragged his best friend into, one who is completely justified in his anger at Buster having resorted to this. After a failed attempt to return the toy without anybody seeing it, the boys are caught anyway and forced to answer for the incident. The episode ends with both boys punished for their actions, and Buster forced to isolate himself in his room for an entire month while the rest of his friends go about their weekend. That said, it's an unusually offputting episode for the fact that it does not end on the usual happy note.
    • "Arthur's Big Hit", the only instance of actual physical and intentional violence in the series. It sees Arthur actually physically punching D.W. for wrecking his model plane. Arthur later gets this from Binky who is pressured by the other Tough Customers to carry out the act just to prove his toughness to them. That said, it is quite shocking to see such a thing happen to anyone among the main cast.
  • Unmoving Plaid: One of the Plutonians in "Carried Away" has a brick wall texture that does not move.
  • Unwanted Glasses Plot: The first half of The Pilot, "Arthur's Eyes." Arthur tries to get rid of his glasses, but they always come back to him. In the end, he accepts them and his friends think they're cool.
  • Unwanted Assistance:
    • In "Draw!", Francine has to explicitly tell Muffy to stop helping her prove her point that the cartoons are based on herself... because Muffy proves it by saying that the characters are rude and insulting and pushy, just like Francine.
    • In "1001 Dads", People take pity on Buster and go out of their way to set him up with a companion for Elwood City's annual Father's Day picnic, to his annoyance.
    • In "Prunella Sees the Light," Prunella sees Marina's blindness as cause to coddle her, and Marina gets fed up.
  • Unwanted Rescue:
    • In "Tibbles to the Rescue," D.W. saves the Tibbles from a fall. They feel the need to repay the favor, resulting in this trope to D.W.
    • In Arthur the Brave, one of the Arthur's Family Values books, Arthur decides to try to be a hero after D.W. tells him that he's nothing like Bionic Bunny and that he's "Arthur the Silly." When he smells smoke, he throws a bucket of water at Mr. Read, only to ruin dinner. He encounters Grandma Thora and insists on helping her cross the street, only for her to say that she didn't want to cross the street, as she was waiting for a friend at the park on the side she was already on.
  • Useless Security Camera: Subverted. A store that Buster steals an action figure from has a broken camera, but Buster thinks it's working and confesses.
  • Vacation Episode:
    • "Arthur's Family Vacation" is about the Reads taking a road trip where nothing goes well for them.
    • Double subverted in "Staycation," where Jane and David plan to go on vacation until Thora's plane flight gets canceled. Feeling bad that they couldn't have some time to relax, Arthur and D.W. give them a staycation in the backyard.
    • In a special called "The Rhythm and Roots of Arthur," the Reads (and Buster) go to Arthur's great grandfather's farm to celebrate his birthday.
  • Vegetarian for a Day: In "Sue Ellen Vegges Out", Sue Ellen decides to become a vegetarian, a decision she’s been considering for a while. When she announces her new lifestyle choice to her friends, Muffy and Francine join in, but the former is doing it because a celebrity she likes is doing a vegetarian diet and the latter is doing it to prove she can not eat meat longer than Muffy can. At the end, Muffy and Francine go back to eating meat because they decide that vegetarianism isn’t for them but they show their support for Sue Ellen’s vegetarianism by creating Meatless Mondays in the cafeteria.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used frequently, especially in the earlier episodes.
  • Very False Advertising:
    • In "Arthur Sells Out" Arthur saves up for a new video game and Muffy encourages him to twist the truth when selling his toys online. In the end, the hyped-up video game turned out to be an example of this too; high quality graphics in the trailer, but 8-bit graphics in the actual game. To be fair, it was a Super Mario Bros. clone with Chiptune music and voiceover.
    • In D.W. Goes to Washington Arthur flashes back to a time when D.W. made a request to visit a place she had seen on TV. The ad appears to be for a Christmas-themed resort called "Santa's Igloo: Where Santa spends the summer." A billboard they pass on the way over there is an ad saying "Share a sundae with Santa". When they arrive the real igloo is just a regular house with a crude looking igloo cutout on the front. They get greeted by a man half-dressed in a cheap Santa suit who laments that they didn't bring him any sundaes to share, saying "How can you share a sundae with Santa, if you don't bring a sundae to Santa?"
    • In Arthur's Family Vacation this is subverted because the motel that the family winds up staying at is called the "Ocean View Motel" but there is no site of the ocean. The motel manager admits that they should have been there a few years before.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • A fair few episodes, but perhaps never more so than with S13's "The Great MacGrady," a special episode about Mrs. MacGrady being diagnosed with cancer, airing every weekday throughout Breast Cancer Week.
    • S11's "Big Brother Binky" where Binky's family adopts a Chinese baby girl, Mei-Lin.
    • S13's "When Carl Met George" introduces a character who has Asperger Syndrome.
    • Before meeting Carl, George was diagnosed with dyslexia in S6's "The Boy With His Head in the Clouds."
    • Prunella meets and befriends Marina Datillo, a rabbit girl who's blind, after Prunella mistakenly gets a braille copy of the latest Henry Skreever book. The two of them quickly became best friends and have had a few episodes together. Marina's blindness is sometimes an issue discussed on the show.
    • After he hurt his leg and was temporarily forced into a wheelchair, Brain met Lydia Fox, a smart girl in a wheelchair who's paralyzed from the waist down, who taught him how to play basketball from a wheelchair and showed him what life with a disability was like.
    • The S7 finale "April 9th" is a reflection of the attacks at the World Trade Center in New York, New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia in the year 2001 (commonly referenced by the date upon which they occurred that year (September 11th)).
    • In S15's "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album", Arthur and D.W. learn that Grandpa Dave has Alzheimer's Disease.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: The computers in the universe are never seen running more than one application at one given time, and hardware failures can result in horribly frightening things like scary clowns or noisy ninjas being displayed and acompanied by appropriate nightmare-inducing sounds and music instead of the more mundane textual error messages and beeps.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • In-universe example; in D.W. and the Beastly Birthday, Arthur accidentally buys a birthday card for D.W. that says "To the world's best little brother," not realizing that the character depicted on the front was actually a little boy. Of course, he could have avoided that if he had actually opened the card.
    • In "Meet Binky," one of the four mysterious bandmates has long blonde hair and a very feminine facial design and voice. No doubt many will be shocked to learn this band member is actually a boy named Nero.
  • Virtual Celebrity: Binky, the band that's actually made of holograms.
  • Visible Odor:
    • In Arthur's Perfect Christmas. In order to better share his family's tradition of Sankta Lucia, George brings a tin of dried and boiled Swedish fish called lutfisk to class and offers it to his friends. It has a strong, visible odor. Most of the class is averse to it, except for Buster, who tosses a piece into his mouth, says "Yum! Not bad," and goes for another, while George watches happily.
    • Done a lot in "Germophobia."
    • In "Sue Ellen Moves In" Buster is in his room and notices the smell of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and raspberry pie that his mother has made for dinner to eat with Sue Ellen's family. He has to force himself not to notice the smell fearing it may be a trap.
    • In "Buster's Breathless" Francine hallucinates that Buster's asthma is wafting out of his mouth as he speaks, pictured as a typically rancid green color.
  • Visual Pun:
    • In "Arthur's Lost Library Book", Arthur dreams about the terrible things that will happen to him if he doesn't find the book. One scenario has the police tell him, "You can't escape the long arm of the law," and a long, rubbery arm reaches through the door to grab him.
    • In "The Short, Quick Summer" Buster and Arthur are horrified to learn Mr. Crosswire hopes to destroy the local carousel to expand his automotive business, and Buster says everyone must band together to stop it. He does this, complete with an actual band to headline the protest.
    • In-Universe in "D.W. the Copycat" on an episode of Bionic Bunny where Bionic Bunny uses his super power strength to break out of a crab villain's claw. He remarks calling it his "built-in escape claws".
  • Vocal Evolution: And note, this is for characters whose voices naturally evolved over the years, not characters that went through changes in voice actors.
    • Francine's voice pre-Season 5 is noticeably (though not incredibly) deeper, and a bit more resonant and robust.
    • Muffy's voice starts out a bit softer and has less of a Valley Girl undertone; she also has a slight lisp, probably due to originally having buck teeth. It got slightly higher around season 9 as well.
    • Binky's is probably the most noticable: his voice was originally much deeper (similar to Arthur's Dad, as they both share the same actor, but with a menacing tone) and had far less emotional range, which developed two or three seasons into the show.
    • Buster has had a very consistent voice since the beginning of the show, however, throughout the first season, Buster would have moments of deadpan snarking, with his voice dropping a bit, sounding more like a teenager. Also, for some reason, throughout much of the second season, his voice got rather nasally/throaty (think similar to Barney Gumble).
    • Both Mr. Haney and Miss Turner are really obvious, somewhat sad examples. Miss Turner especially sounds incredibly hoarse and raspy as the show goes on, and Mr. Haney's is a tad scratchy as well.
    • Rattles would gain a Joisey-like accent after Season 14, when Scott Beaudin started voicing him.
    • The first voice actors to portray Arthur and The Brain, (Michael Yarmush and Luke Reid, respectively) were initially kept on for a few more seasons after their voices dropped, making Arthur and Brain sound more like preteens than third graders. Reid was finally replaced with Steven Crowder in season 5 and Yarmush was replaced with Justin Bradley (who was later dubbed over by Mark Rendall) in Season 6.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In S8's "Vomitrocious," Francine pukes, but her face is not visible to the audience when she does.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: In Buster's Imagine Spot in "Nerves of Steal," he finds himself on a bunch of these plastered all over town.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Subverted in S13's "Kung Fool." While doing mundane chores, like putting away dishes, Fern thinks she's learning kung fu techniques. She isn't.
  • Way Past the Expiration Date:
    • Buster has a "collection" of interesting-looking and potentially delicious food, all of which is old and stinky. Periodically, his mother throws it all out.
    • In "Background Blues," Buster eats a sandwich from 1955.
  • Wedding Day:
    • Aunt Lucy gets married in the episode "D.W. Thinks Big."
    • "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" focuses on Mr. Ratburn's wedding.
  • We'll See About That:
    • In S15's "Buster's Secret Admirer," Buster suggests that his secret admirer could be Fern— that this shy girl doesn't want anyone to know that she's fallen for the most popular guy in the school. Arthur tells him that he thinks all of those chocolates (that his secret admirer sent him) have gotten to his brain. Buster's response? "We'll see about that."
    • In S16's "Sue Ellen Vegges Out," Muffy insists "We'll just see about that" when the other kids say that she won't last at being a vegetarian. She lasts less than a day, but she was only doing it anyway because it was the latest fad, and there was a new fad that day.
    • In S16's "Brain's Biggest Blunder," Brain is assigned to be part of a team for a math contest with Binky and Buster. Prunella thinks that this is her and her team's opportunity to win, and Brain comments "That Prunella thinks she's got this contest in the bag. Well, we'll just about that!"
  • We Sell Everything: The All-in-One Mart in S1's "D.W. Gets Lost."
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: Several examples are played straight, while others have variants of the trope.
    • "Meek for a Week" sort of subverts it, since the kids don't want Francine to be a jerk, but they do need her to be aggressive enough to win a hockey game for them against the Tough Customers.
    • "Buster Isn't Buying It" has the "We Want Our Conspiracy Theorist Back" variant - Buster's favorite show is The Factoid Front, a series that focuses on supposed sightings of aliens, Bigfoot, and assorted creatures. After the show is cancelled due to lack of research, Buster decides he now only believes what can be absolutely proven. Even Brain ends up wanting the old Buster back. And yes, he does revert to his old personality.
    • S1's "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble" is the "We Want Our Strict Teacher Back" variant - after Mr. Ratburn comes down with laryngitis, his class is initially happy... but then they get saddled with so many incompetent substitute teachers that they cheer when Mr. Ratburn arrives completely healed and his voice restored.
    • "Popular Girls" has Sue Ellen and Fern pretty much switch personalities to gain popularity, prompting this.
    • "It's a No-Brainer" is the "We Want Our Genius Back" variant - The episode arc is that Brain's extreme stage fright caused him to freeze during Math-a-Thon preliminaries, meaning Buster was slated to participate in the all-school competition. Since this would have been a disaster, the other kids do everything they can to get Brain to compete again (Buster, knowing his chances, had dropped out). This is a particularly egregious example of the trope since Brain had begun acting like Buster, down to pursuing a "career" as a comedian.
  • What Are Records?:
    • Played straight in the episode "Francine Frensky, Superstar." (Note: This was one of the earliest episodes of the show, from 1996.) The kids shot blank looks at Mr. Ratburn when he talked about Thomas Edison's invention, the phonograph, and prompted the following exchange:
      Ratburn: It was before CDs. It played music, with a needle.
      Binky: Is that a joke?
    • Two seasons later, in "Popular Girls," when one group of kids brings in various antique or "old-fashioned" devices, Jenna demonstrates a record player, and all the kids "ooh" and "aah" over it.
  • What's a Henway?: In "D.W. the Copycat", Buster races Arthur, Francine, Binky and D.W. dressed up as Arthur to the Sugar Bowl and yells "Last one to the Sugar Bowl's a Henway!":
    Buster: You're last, Arthur! You're a Henway.
    Arthur: What's a Henway?
    Buster: About 5 pounds. (everybody except D.W. laughs)
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: S2's "Night Fright." Binky gets nightmares without a night light, Sue Ellen is afraid of graveyards, and Arthur is scared of ventriloquist dummies.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In "The Cave," Francine and D.W. both mock Arthur for being scared of a trip to a cave. While we see that Francine is actually scared and Arthur helps her out, we never see how D.W. reacts to hearing that Arthur wasn't scared.
    • In "He Said, He Said," the Reads' cable goes out, and when last we see Jane, she's on hold with the company. We never find out whether Jane reached a representative to discuss the outage or if the company noticed the problem on their own and fixed it.
    • In "D.W. and Dr. Whosit," Bud assists D.W. with her plan to watch the forbidden show Dr. Whosit. He distracts D.W.'s parents while she gets the password for the parental controls. They watch the show together, and while D.W. gets punished with a week of no TV, Bud runs off when he is caught and it is never shown if he faced any consequences at home.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In S1's "Arthur, World's Greatest Gleeper", the Tough Customers harshly call out Arthur for lying to them about being great at "gleeping" (i.e. stealing), with Rattles making a point to sit on Arthur's back and bounce a small ball on the poor boy's head.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve:
    • Seen in "Arthur's Birthday," except the clock (the grandfather clock in Arthur's living room) is striking noon instead of midnight, as noon is the time the double-birthday party for Arthur and Muffy is supposed to start.
    • The midnight variation does show up in "Prunella's Special Edition," but in this case, a bookstore is opening at midnight, and kids are waiting to enter to buy the latest Henry Skreever book.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: A variant occurs in "Shelter from the Storm." Ladonna's dad, who is part of the Army Corps of Engineers, is sent to help clean up after a hurricane hits Elwood City. Ladonna misses him and worries that he won't make it back in time for her birthday. He does.
  • Whole Episode Flashback:
    • "Arthur's Eyes" has D.W. discover a picture of Arthur without his glasses, prompting a flashback of how he got them.
    • In "Tales from the Crib," Vicita is scared of moving into a bed from her crib, and D.W. shares her own experience.
    • "Arthur's Baby" and "D.W.'s Baby" are the same story of Kate being born, but from different perspectives.
  • Whole Plot Reference
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: The end of S3's "Buster's Growing Grudge." Buster suggests that he, Binky, and Arthur all have their own television show. Binky responds, "Sounds good, but maybe not Arthur. Who'd want to watch him on TV?"
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Brain discusses this trope with Binky once a supervillain sets up an elaborate deathtrap for Bionic Bunny.
  • Widget Series: In universe, the show Love Ducks is basically four ducks flying through psychedelic, pop-art, Yellow Submarine/Peter Max-esque backgrounds, all with duck versions of classical music.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: In "Spoiled Rotten," when Muffy asks Bailey if he thinks she's spoiled, rather than lie, he justs avoids giving a direct answer.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: A number of characters, from D.W.'s friend Emily to Arthur and his friends to a certain degree. They aren't your average third-grade kids, after all. One of the best examples is D.W. and her zany Batman Gambit to trick Arthur and Brain to take her to the science exhibit in S4's "Prove It," and it worked!
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: The entire premise of S2's "Buster Baxter, Cat Saver"; After saving an older woman's cat out of a tree without really doing anything, Bitzi has the entire story printed on the front page of the newspaper after hearing the woman's account of Buster's alleged heroism, having clearly overreacted to the supposed "danger" in question; As soon as the story is printed, the entire town is swept up in the story and it all goes to Buster's head, with nobody but the kids acknowledging that Buster really did nothing at all.
  • The Worst Seat in the House:
    • S3's "Meet Binky" has Arthur not buying his ticket for a big concert on time so he gets a much worse seat than all his friends. He has various fantasies about how bad a seat it will be. Luckily for him, his father is catering the event so Arthur can get to go backstage and meet the band, and Binky, the resident Jerk with a Heart of Gold, offers Arthur one of his tickets, which are in a great section.
    • In "Just the Ticket," Arthur and George win front row seats. The seats are so close to the stage that they can't see the performance.
  • Yes-Man: In the special "D.W. and the Beastly Birthday," D.W. has an extended fantasy in which her friends all become monsters in the style of Where the Wild Things Are and she's the queen. However, they all bow to her whims, and so the only monster only the island she ultimately finds interesting is the one that represents her brother Arthur, simply because he has his own personality and won't do everything she says.
    D.W.: You four are just a bunch of yes-monsters.
    Monsters: Yes, my queen.
    D.W.: (sighs) You're hopeless.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol:
    • Happens in the Season 4 episode "Prunella Gets it Twice" where the Ghost of Presents Past shows Prunella why Francine didn't enjoy her birthday party and made her realize that she should have been more grateful for her present, a Polly Locket doll which was the second she had received after getting the first from her sister. Also in this episode is the less useful "Ghost of Lunch Tomorrow".
    • The Season 10 episode "Arthur Changes Gears" has Arthur learning what would happen if he went his whole life without riding the new bike he'd been waiting so long to purchase.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Unlike in "Arthur, World's Greatest Gleeper", "gleep" is not related to theft. It's closer in meaning to "idiot".
  • You Make Me Sic: In "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone", Muffy makes a love letter to trick the librarian into thinking that Mr. Ratburn is in love with her. She gives the letter back to Muffy with markings indicating several spelling errors she made and also gives her a book on how to write a poem to help her improve.
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: In "D.W. & Bud's Higher Purpose," D.W. and Bud spend most of the story trying to figure out a way around one of these restrictions to ride "The Buzzard." When they actually finally succeed, they end up making the surprisingly mature decision that it's too much for them and end up heading off to ride a more kiddie ride.
  • Your Mom: D.W. accidentally refers to Yo-Yo Ma as "Yo Mama" in "My Music Rules."
  • "You!" Squared: Arthur and Francine, who aren't getting along at the time, in "Locked in the Library!"
  • Your Television Hates You: Occurs at least four times:
    • "Arthur Plays the Blues": Arthur's new Stern Teacher Dr. Fugue has fired him from piano lessons because he didn't practice. Arthur thinks this is great until he sits down to veg in front of the TV and sees nothing but piano-themed shows, including the performance of a concert pianist.
    • "Arthur's Family Feud": David gets depressed when a kitchen accident results in the deflation of his soufflé. Jane encourages him to relax, so he turns on the TV and sees nothing but cooking shows.
    • "Jenna's Bedtime Blues"": Jenna wants to watch TV to avoid thinking about going to the bathroom, and sure enough everything on TV is about leaking or P.
    • "Is That Kosher?" Overlaps with Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere for Francine, who's trying to fast for Yom Kippur but finds it hard because everything around her seems to focus on food.
  • You're Insane!: Arthur to D.W. after she announces plans to live with Mary Moo Cow in S5's "The Last of Mary Moo Cow".
  • Zany Scheme: Lampshaded by Arthur in "D.W. and Bud's Higher Purpose." During the intro, he explains D.W.'s propensity for this has gotten worse since she met Bud.

Arthur: Hey! D.W.! (waves at her inside the TV)
D.W.: HEY!
Arthur: (falling backwards) Woooooah-ooomph!

Video Example(s):


You're Such a Dora Winifred

Arthur Read's little sister D.W. has always hated her real name. So after they get into a name-calling competition in "D.W.'s Name Game," he goes below the belt by taunting her with her real name.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / DoNotCallMePaul

Media sources:

Main / DoNotCallMePaul