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What An Idiot / The Magic School Bus

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This show might be about science, but clearly, some people aren’t using their heads.

Beware of unmarked SPOILERS!

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    Season One 
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Lost in Space
    • Janet, Arnold's cousin, is visiting his class and has been established as an Insufferable Genius. Arnold shuts her up by convincing Ms. Frizzle to take the class to space. Once the shock wears off and the wonder sets in, Janet wants to prove that they've visited all the planets so she can show them to her class.
      You'd Expect: She would take small samples from each planet (like a handful of Mars dust) and try not to endanger everyone. The bus can hold maybe twenty students, but it's also trying to navigate the students through outer space, which has no oxygen and remains vast in size.
      Instead: Janet forces Arnold to help her take giant rocks, buckets of Mars dust, and a jar of Jupiter's "red spot" gas for her proof. While doing so she strands the class in an asteroid field by pulling the emergency brake, loses Ms. Frizzle while helping her do repairs on the bus, and nearly gets the class killed when driving the bus through Jupiter. This causes the class to yell at Janet for her recklessness and Arnold having to watch her so she doesn't pull any more shenanigans, and when she tries to get souvenirs from Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, everyone is quick to stop her before she can even try. By the time they find Ms. Frizzle on Pluto, the bus is overloaded with her space souvenirs and bursts open, stranding all the items on the planet.
    • Following this, Janet says she doesn't want to leave without her "stuff". Arnold tries to point out that he can't leave her on Pluto; as she'd run out of oxygen, food, and water, not to mention the temperatures are below freezing.
      You'd Expect: Janet would lighten her load and only take back small samples on the bus; a simple compromise that gets everyone what they want.
      Instead: Janet refuses to budge from where her pile of stuff has landed on Pluto. Arnold, in an attempt to make her realize just how serious the situation is, takes off his helmet. On Pluto. His head turns into a block of ice and he falls unconscious. Janet immediately gets on the bus to return to Earth to save him because she doesn't want him to die of frostbite.
    • Arnold pulls one at the same moment. He tells Janet that he and his friends believe that she's been on every planet of the Solar System.
      You'd Expect: Arnold would tell her that being on Pluto is extremely dangerous and cold and that living on it would not be a great idea. At the very least, he could suggest only take small samples of each planet they have been on.
      The Result: Arnold's head turns into a block of ice and he goes unconscious. Had it not be for Janet desperately getting him back to Earth, Arnold would have died of frostbite!
    • After this, Janet has suffered a huge wake-up call about how her recklessness and arrogance nearly got Arnold killed. She tells the class that it doesn't matter who believes her about space because going on the trip was enough.
      You'd Expect: Janet would be nicer to the class, especially since they had to tolerate her shenanigans and Arnold had to risk his life to bring her back to her senses.
      Instead: Janet takes a level in jerkass in later episodes. She's not above manipulating her classmates, including Arnold, and engages in petty cruelty.
  • The Magic School Bus Hops Home
    • Wanda's raised a tadpole from birth, which she's named Bella. Bella has since grown into a giant bullfrog, and Wanda is worried that her pet is getting cooped up in her room.
      You'd Expect: Wanda to get a terrarium for Bella, either for the classroom or for her house. Bella needs food, still water to lay her eggs for when she's ready, and space.
      Instead: She brings Bella to class with only a wading pool and starts "borrowing" items from her classmates' desks to make her frog happy. Bella isn't satisfied and hops off to find what she needs once given the opportunity.
    • Meanwhile, even though Arnold's annoyed that Wanda wants his desk to give to her frog, he tries to be nice and acquaint Bella with his things.
      You'd Expect: Him to not open any windows or doors, since he would remember that bullfrogs hop long distances.
      Instead: He opens the window for her, expecting she needs fresh air. Bella hops out the window and escapes to a nearby pond, which causes Wanda to be worried sick about her. The class spends the whole episode looking for Bella and learning about habitats.
  • The Magic School Bus in the Haunted House
    • The class is putting on an orchestra recital of an "inventive" arrangement of the William Tell overture. Dorothy Ann is conducting, while Carlos is playing an instrument that he made by himself. However, he finds out that the sound is "ploopy" and doesn't sound musical at all. No one knows what to do since their concert is the next day at the Sound Museum.
      You'd Expect: Dorothy Ann to accept Carlos's instrument doesn't work, and plan to perform without it. While this is a bit harsh, it's necessary since The Show Must Go On and she wants to make their parents proud. If Carlos can fix it in 24 hours, then all the better.
      Instead: She laments that they'll be a laughingstock at the concert and bluntly tells Carlos that he'll never find his perfect sound.
    • Carlos also has this while trying to fix his instrument. It's loaded with a lot of bells and whistles, which he hopes makes it look cool.
      You'd Expect: Him to focus on what could help the sound. That is, figure out where the wind is flowing through the pipes and strings as he pedals it, and what's obstructing it.
      Instead: He assumes that if he makes the instrument look better, then it will sound better. The instrument ends up sounding worse and worse with each addition, as Dorothy Ann snarks, and Carlos has to get a lesson about how music requires sound vibrations so he can figure out to strip the instrument to the bare minimum.
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Ready, Set Dough
    • It's Ms. Frizzle's birthday, and the kids are baking a cake in a bakery due to being too small to buy one and the bakery not having chocolate cakes on display. The baker, unnerved by the "moth" stirring milk and cracking eggs, comes in to confront them after he fails to get an exterminator. Carlos is leading the cake-making expedition while Ms. Frizzle is checking auto parts next door.
      You'd Expect: Carlos to have the sense to hide behind ingredients, as Liz did before, or anywhere that wouldn't potentially cause the class to overheat.
      Instead: He has the bus turn into a submarine and hides in the cake batter. The baker sees the batter and thinks he simply forgot about it and puts it in the oven to bake. Soon the class starts to overheat and can't break out of the cake.

     Season Two 
  • The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top
    • D.A. and Carlos have been bickering about her reading her books for research rather than helping out with a three-dimensional map of the world. Their bickering carries into who will get to name a new island that needs to be added to the map. Ms. Frizzle takes the class to the middle of the ocean and prepares a raft for them to explore.
      You'd Expect: D.A. to leave her books on the bus.
      Instead: She drags them out, and she has more than usual. Carlos accidentally causes a small wave to splash over them, and they sink.
    • Following this, D.A. is upset that her books have sunk into the deep water. Arnold suggests forgetting about them and getting new ones.
      You'd Expect: D.A. to listen to Arnold — unless her books are either in a watertight bag or waterproof, they're as good as gone.
      Instead: D.A. begs Ms. Frizzle to take the class down into the ocean to find her bag because she's nothing without her books. The class ends up having to wrestle a giant squid for the bag and gets trapped into a volcano. It's by either sheer luck or D.A. being Crazy-Prepared that the books end up being waterproof and survive, and Carlos finds them while chilling on the raft with Arnold, waiting to name the island.
  • The Magic School Bus and the Busasaurus
    • Ms. Frizzle's latest field trip takes the class back in time. Arnold, who was examining a fossil that Dr. Skeledon let him hold, is horrified that the "rock" has turned back into a dinosaur egg. Thus, it is fragile.
      You'd Expect: Arnold would either tuck it into his backpack or leave it on the bus, firmly secure. The bus is pretty durable and should be a safe space for a dinosaur egg.
      Instead: He takes it out and holds it in his head. The dinosaurs of the time have no idea what to do with these strange humans.
      The Result: Arnold and Phoebe spend the entire episode chasing after an Ornithomimus that steals the egg to eat. Then they accidentally awaken a T.rex when trying to rescue the egg, which endangers the class.
    • Meanwhile Carlos is worried sick when he hears that Arnold and Phoebe are missing. Having watched his fair share of dinosaur movies, he believes these are monstrous creatures that are looking for an easy human lunch, and is terrified that Arnold and Phoebe were eaten.
      You'd Expect: The class to realize, or Ms. Frizzle to point out, that dinosaurs may not want to hurt them, but these are wild creatures who are easily startled. Thus everyone should proceed with caution while locating Arnold and Phoebe.
      Instead: No one does. They instead point out that the dinosaurs seem more interested in leaves and berries than in people, which while true is not the point. Ms. Frizzle, as always, is encouraging the class to Figure It Out Yourself. The class concludes that most of the dinosaurs don't want to hurt them, and the ones that are meat-eaters can be shooed away.
      The Result: The class nearly gets trampled twice by herbivore stampedes, and Carlo's plan to get a herd of dinosaurs to move away peacefully backfires due to a water dinosaur catapulting the bus into an egg nest.
  • The Magic School Bus Going Batty
    • It's Parents Night, and the class learns that Ms. Frizzle is taking the parents out on an impromptu field trip. Ralphie, who has been reading a lot of vampire comics, freaks out when Ms. Frizzle appears to them in a cape, speaks in a Contralto of Danger about being nocturnal. Her field trip ends up taking the parents to a nearby castle filled with bats. Ralphie becomes convinced that Ms. Frizzle has become a vampire and is going to turn their parents.
      You'd Expect: Someone to point out to Ralphie that Ms. Frizzle is a Bunny-Ears Lawyer and Cloud Cuckoo Lander; she's probably giving them an extra lesson and is deliberately spooking Ralphie to teach him and the class about bats. Also, you'd expect someone to mention that if he's going by vampire lore, Ms. Frizzle is very diurnal, loves chocolate cake, and was in class earlier that day.
      Or: For Ralphie to remember the things mentioned above by himself and stop worrying.
      Instead: Keesha dismissively goes for Arbitrary Skepticism by saying there are no vampires, even though they visited an actual haunted house in the previous season and the bus by itself defies logical technology.
      The Result: Liz convinces the kids to follow along on motorcycle and shadow the field trip, to make sure nothing is wrong. Meanwhile, Ralphie has a point that, weirdly, Ms. Frizzle is taking the parents to an abandoned castle. The kids get more crept out the more and more they see Ms. Frizzle escorting their parents around the castle, and start to believe Ralphie, even Keesha. They only realize that Ms. Frizzle is not a vampire when she has the parents take off their fake vampire ears and fangs after she has them hang upside down.
  • The Magic School Bus Butterfly and the Bog Beast
    • When Phoebe suggests that the new soccer team mascot be the butterfly, Janet suggests that she's sabotaging them because the team they'll be playing is from her old school.
      You'd Expect: The other kids would realize that this is Janet, Alpha Bitch, and Manipulative Bitch extraordinaire, and ignore her in favor of having a decently sensible discussion with Phoebe where she's allowed to share her reasoning before they reject or accept her suggestion. Also, you would expect someone to point out that the mascot choice won't determine the performance of the soccer team.
      Instead: All of the Frizz kids (except Arnold) immediately consider Janet's theory and start questioning Phoebe's allegiances.
      The Result: Phoebe ends up clearly frightened and confused by her friends turning on her and they end up on a trip that could have gotten them all killed.
    • Due to the misadventures of the trip, the class accidentally gets shrunk to insect size while Janet is unsuccessfully butterfly hunting. Arnold can't get the bus to grow back to normal size because the controls are covered in mud, so he and Tim start blow-drying it. The controls give a loud dinging melody until they are dry. After they see how butterflies and caterpillars survive, everyone starts believing Phoebe when she says that they are more than pretty.
      You'd Expect: They'd remember that Janet is nearby and going trigger-happy with her net, and she doesn't know that the class has shrunk. Janet on their last adventure nearly got the class killed in space due to her obsessions. Also, you'd expect they would lay low until the bus controls are dry.
      Instead: The class in unison suggests turning the bus into a butterfly, and Ms. Frizzle agrees with an "If you say so" smile.
      The Result: Janet ends up chasing the class on the bus, and they can't outfly her because the bus doesn't have a typical butterfly experience. When Phoebe tries to camouflage the bus, Arnold accidentally alerts Janet to their presence by activating the do-dinger. If not for Phoebe remembering that butterflies can also scare enemies, and Janet losing her glasses, they would have been caught and possibly eaten by Liz, depending.
  • The Magic School Bus Wet All Over
    • For Arnold's science project, he needs buckets of water, to demonstrate how the water cycle works. Wanda is helping him set it up.
      You'd Expect: He would ask for the key to the boys' bathroom closest to the glass door, or just use that ahead of time.
      Instead: He asks Ms. Frizzle for the key to the girls' bathroom, and she gives it to him and Wanda.
      The Result: When a girl named Tiffany catches Arnold in the girls' bathroom, he's distracted enough to forget the key. He also forgets to turn off the water and empty the sink. On top of that, when the kids are turned into water, Ms. Frizzle says she needs the real key because her spare key had dissolved into water.
  • The Magic School Bus Revving Up
    • Repairman Junkett wants to send the bus to the junkyard because in his mind it's old and won't drive well. The class tries to convince him otherwise by taking him on a scenic drive through the mountains. The bus then clonks out, and Junkett decides to call a tow truck to take it for scrap metal.
      You'd Expect: Junkett would stay by the bus until the truck comes since they're in the middle of nowhere on dangerous terrain.
      Instead: Junkett walks away from the bus in anger. He just misses the tow truck and then tries to run after it.
      The Result: Several cars nearly run him down, and he falls down the mountainside, holding onto a jutting rock for dear life.
  • The Magic School Bus Taking Flight
    • While the class has shrunken to test out Wanda and Tim's toy plane before an air show, Tim accidentally breaks the remote control due to tripping on a screwdriver. He, Phoebe, and Liz have been left behind to man the controls, and the plane soars into the sky without any means of steering. Tim, Phoebe, and Liz have to figure out how to change the bus into a rescue plane.
      You'd Expect: Ms. Frizzle to have left behind a manual for how to use the bus in case of emergency. You'd also expect that Tim would choose the plane design since he knows aerodynamics.
      Instead: The kids let Liz experiment with the bus.
      The Result: It takes three tries for them to find a plane that even makes it off the ground. They all suffer Amusing Injuries in the meantime courtesy of the first two tries completely going south.
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Cold Feet
    • During the Friday that Phoebe gets to take Liz home, the kids are worried because Liz and her habitat are missing. Arnold finds part of a flyer for a "Herp Ha," or rather "Herp Haven," where reptiles are taken.
      You'd Expect: The kids realize that Ms. Frizzle was the only adult who could have taken Liz to the place, asked her about it, and realized that Liz wasn't in any danger. "Haven" is not a bad word. Then the Haven director could have reassured them, as he does at the end of the episode, that they were just giving Liz some pampering that was scheduled ahead of time, Artistic License aside that you shouldn't put a reptile in a super cold environment.
      Instead: They all assume the worst-case scenario that someone kidnapped Liz to "toast and stuff" her at the reptile place. Ms. Frizzle in her Stealth Mentor mode doesn't bother to correct them so they can learn about reptiles.
      The Result: The kids turn the bus into an alligator so that Phoebe can gain entry to the spa, while the bus nearly shuts down from being put in a cold environment. Phoebe is caught with the class-turned-into reptiles in her hand, and she also gets stalked by hungry alligators.
  • The Magic School Bus Ups and Downs
    • Gerry Poveri reports that there is a monster in Walker Lake. The class finds out later that it's a hoax Gerry Poveri is perpetuating for higher ratings. Wanda's mother is skeptical since Gerry has a reputation for doing anything for a story.
      You'd Expect: Gerry would have put some basic common sense into her hoax. For example, maybe ensure the lake is deep enough that a diver cannot reasonably find anything but fish? Or leave some hints like fake bones or teeth that can't be retrieved for analysis. The Loch Ness monster can't be found, after all, because the Loch is huge and too cloudy.
      Instead: She only thinks to warn people away from swimming in the water from the safety of her helicopter, and then prowls the lake in a submarine. When the class gets into the water, her genius idea is to first obstruct them from exploring and then let them sink, potentially drowning or suffocating them when their submarine runs out of air.
      The Result: Wanda points out that Gerry doesn't own the lake, and no signs are forbidding them from swimming or exploring. They thus decide to dive using the bus's powers. The class finds out rather quickly that the monster is a hoax. Even if they hadn't, other trained divers would have realized the scam. Heck, Ms. Frizzle was swimming in the lake and it's hinted she figured out the hoax early on before Gerry gave her warning.
    • The whole class decides to investigate and Wanda wants to be the first to find the lake monster. After a few false starts with the bus, they manage to sink to the bottom of the lake. So far there's no sign of the monster though Tim is recording avidly.
      You'd Expect: Wanda to wait until Ms. Frizzle gives them directions on how to explore and pair up the class. That's standard swimming safety.
      Instead: Wanda impulsively puts on her scuba gear and jumps out of the submarine bus.
      The Result: She gets tangled in lake kelp and is in real danger of drowning. The class wants to help but thanks to her jumping out, the bus starts floating. Carlos has to quickly sink the bus so that Wanda can return safely after she frees herself and finds out the monster is a rubber dummy. They also lack proof since Tim's camera didn't capture that very important footage and need to plan for that.
    • After this, Wanda examines the rubber monster. She laments how it's a fake. Gerry Poveri is watching, disappointed that her story was found out easily by a child.
      You'd Expect: Gerry would retreat and not reveal she orchestrated the hoax. There is always time for a Plan B.
      Instead: She announces herself to Wanda and explains the monster will help boost her ratings.
      The Result: Wanda tells her classmates, and they become determined to reveal the truth.

    Season Three 
  • The Magic School Bus Gets Planted
    • The class is putting on Jack and the Beanstalk. They need a beanstalk that Wanda as Jack can climb. Phoebe is in charge of tech and the props.
      You'd Expect: Them to not expect Phoebe to make the beanstalk alone, let alone grow a real one. A bean plant is too fragile to hold a person, even if said person is a nine-year-old.
      Instead: The entire class expects Phoebe to grow a real beanstalk that Wanda can climb. No one offers to help her.
      Predictably: Phoebe can only manage to grow a tiny bean-sprout, and Liz accidentally breaks the fragile, last-minute beanstalk she makes from plastic leaves. Ms. Frizzle has to step in to teach the kids about photosynthesis and grow a Phoebe-beanstalk in time for the show.

    Season Four 
  • The Magic School Bus Cracks A Yolk
    • Dorothy Ann volunteers to chicken-sit Mr. Rule's prize rooster, Giblets. Liz and Miss Frizzle accidentally scare Giblets away when Miss Frizzle wears a strange hat. Torn about what to do and with Dorothy Ann feeling guilty since she was responsible, the kids decide they owe it to Mr. Rule to get him a new chicken as an apology, and Miss Frizzle drives them to a nearby farm.
      You'd Expect: They would ask the farmer for a male chick that has recently hatched and can be separated from its mother with no ill effects. A chicken farmer would be up-to-date on that.
      Instead: They simply ask the farmer if they can grab an egg, and he points them in the direction of the pens. One pen has only hens, while the other has hens and roosters. It turns out that only the pens with the roosters have fertilized eggs.
      The Result': Hilarity Ensues for the first half of the episode. The roosters are revealed to be territorial and attack the kids for walking inside to grab an egg. When Dorothy Ann goes to the pen with only hens, she and the class find out, after entering a hen's oviducts, that the egg is unfertilized and has only half of what will hatch a chick. They have to go back to the rooster pen and snag an egg. Then the class sits around, waiting for it to hatch in time before Mr. Rule gets back from his vacation.
      Fortunately: Mr. Rule is actually amused when the kids are explaining what happened, if firm and Brutally Honest when telling them that a fertilized egg takes 21 days to hatch so it's not like he's going to have a chick. Giblets also flies back to Mr. Rule just as Miss Frizzle asks the bus to help speed up the process, and he goes for Plausible Deniability that they made up the story while the class was hatching eggs, with a knowing look. For the class's hard work and education about how fertilization works, however, Miss Frizzle says they can keep the new chick as a second class pet.

  • The Magic School Bus Sees Stars
    • It's Dorothy Ann's birthday, and the kids after school make her a mechanical star that plays music, while she rests at home sick and uses her new telescope. Tim finishes it in time before the class will go visit and surprise her.
      You'd Expect: He would make sure to wrap it up securely and put away all of his tools.
      Instead: He trips on the screwdriver he used to add the finishing touches while carrying the fragile toy.
      The Result: It smashes into a million pieces. As the kids lament, there's no time to make a new one.
    • Following this, the kids decide to buy a real star from Horace Scope's Star Shopping Network. Since it's an infomercial, Keesha insists they should go and check on the star before buying it because it may be a scam for a faulty product. Ms. Frizzle likes the idea and takes the class on an impromptu field trip. Arnold is hesitating because that means going into space right when Dorothy Ann is expecting them, and he suggests just going to the mall to buy a present.
      You'd Expect: The kids realize that Arnold has a point. They have to be at Dorothy Ann's house soon and while the mall may be last-minute and crowded, it won't be in space.
      Instead: The kids pile in for a field trip, and Ms. Frizzle has the bus pick up a reluctant Arnold and put him in a spacesuit. Then they go Mass "Oh, Crap!" on hearing that it will take eighty years to reach the first star on sale.
      The Result: While Ms. Frizzle can have the bus go faster than light-speed in a matter of minutes, they nearly fly into a ball of gas that threatens to burn them alive. After a Failure Montage of trying to find the right star, it turns out Keesha's initial suspicions about the stars being a scam were right, when the one they buy goes supernova. Ms. Frizzle has to make a new star out of the resulting gas and dust so that Dorothy Ann will have her present. While the kids learn about stars and get a great gift, a trip to the mall would have been much easier.