Archive Panic: There are a total of 995 episodes through the show's entire run, counting both the black-and-white 100 originals that were on EEN and the 895 that were on NET/PBS. At 30 minutes a piece, that would run 502.5 hours total, or nearly 21 days nonstop. Of course the show is contained per week and isn't meant to be watched over a long term (each episode spans a 5-episode arc to make up for the week). But still, if we want to be completely real here, there's probably no way you're going to make it through all of this. And that's not even counting if you're also considering watching the holiday specials, the parent discussion episodes, or the CBC ones!
Twitch aired a marathon of the NET/PBS episodes of the show (excluding the conflict week arc) beginning on May 15, 2017. Even without the EEN, CBC and conflict episodes, as well as the holiday specials and the parent discussion episodes, and even with several earlier color episodes missing, it ran about 20 days nonstop.note It took them about three days just to get to the color episodes.
Twitch ran another stream from March 20, 2018 with 90 best episodes to mark what would be Mr. Rogers' 90th birthday, followed by another 800+ episode marathon of the show that began at March 23 12:00 AM Pacific time.
Most of the background music was improvised live during taping by jazz pianist Johnny Costa. Refusing to play "kiddie music," Costa filled his accompaniments with sophisticated runs and flourishes. His arrangements were often compared to the legendary pianist Art Tatum, which is about the biggest compliment a jazz pianist can get. In fact, Costa was given the nickname "the white Tatum"... by Art Tatum himself. Now that's awesome music.
Each of the operas featuring John Reardon.
Additionally, John D. Boswell's The Garden of Your Mind, essentially a composition set to numerous quotes from the show. First off, the background music is incredibly tranquil and soothing, which is perfect for the kind of show it is. The quotes for the remix though are what truly sell it — it's many of the deep words Mr. Rogers would tell the viewer during the show ("It's good to be curious about many things", "You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind"), which makes it an amazingly perfect blend of pure Sweet Dreams Fuel, as well as an Ear Worm. In fact, during the 2017 Twitch marathon, it was played after every five episodes, and unlike the widely-reviled cameos from other Twitch streamers, few complained because it was just that good, many of the chatters claiming they never got tired of hearing it.
Which song is the better closing song: "Tomorrow" or "It's Such a Good Feeling"? Even several seasons after Good Feeling became permanent, people in the Twitch marathon chat STILL complained about Tomorrow disappearing. However, it's a fairly light example, since most viewers love both songs anyway and regardless of which one they like more, they're still enjoyable on a similar level especially since both are pretty catchy and make use of "snappy".
There also seems to be some division over whether the first run or the second run of the show (1968-1976 and 1979-2001, respectively) is better. This is more or less a generation-gap preference due to how only one run was typically on the air at a time (there was a brief time when both runs were on the air, but the second run became more dominant fairly quickly before the first run was knocked off the air entirely), though the two do feel quite a bit different from each other, the first run being a bit quicker in pacing and lacking the unifying themes for each week.
"Common Knowledge": It's often believed that the long-pulled from the air Conflict episodes were meant to help children deal with the graphic nature of the TV film The Day After, and the reason it was dropped was because it was no longer relevant. However, as mentioned on The Other Wiki, the original airdates of the two don't coincide with this idea; the first Conflict episode premiered November 7, 1983, where the movie aired November 20; due to the length of time required for making a typical episode, the chances of this being the case are incredibly small. According to the info conveyed during the Twitch stream, it was Fred Rogers himself that requested that the episodes were never ever shown again.
Many episodes open with a shot of a flashing yellow traffic light that was in Mr Rogers' house before panning over to the door where he entered. A yellow light (generally) means "slow down" which is exactly what he did with the pacing of his show, especially compared to others at the time. However, in episodes of Seasons 10-12, we see the porch and Fred Rogers walking into the house instead of the flashing yellow lights.
For episode 1721, the traffic light is flashing on green instead of yellow as it usually does. (This is the only episode where another traffic light besides yellow is flashing in the intro. There was no episode where the signal was flashing on red).
The show opens with a shot of a model office building (or the NET building in early episodes) as we pan to the house, and ends with the reverse, that being a pan from the house to the office. At first it just seems like an attempt to be aesthetically pleasing and show off the model neighborhood, but then you realize it's meant to simulate his walking from "work" to the house and back! This is hinted at numerous times in the show too, like how he always walks in with a formal suit on and how he explicitly states at the end of a few visits that he's returning to work.
Why did Rogers like The Danza trope so much? He said that he liked to address his viewers directly. So it's not far-fetched to believe he invoked this trope because he was not only addressing the other characters, but also the actors playing the characters, directly. This theory is reinforced by a recent interview with François Clemmons- François recalled one time when he asked Fred after the take of one episode if Fred was talking to him, and Fred replied that he was always talking to him.
Heartwarming in Hindsight: The last episode Johnny Costa was alive during the time of its production (1710) also happens to feature a visit to him and his crew. At first it was likely just intended to be one of the many neighborhood visits, but it works as a perfect sendoff and farewell to him in retrospect.
David Newell, aka Mr. McFeely, is the head of Public Relations at the Fred Rogers Company. It works on so many levels.
There is also a genuine Spee-Dee Delivery company, though it only operates in the north-central US.
One of Audrey Duck's earliest appearances involves her teaching King Friday how to order a TV and introducing the power of television to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe (including the toddler Prince Tuesday.) This becomes hilarious in that sometime after her appearances on Mr. Rogers, Susan Linn, Audrey's puppeteer, would take a much more critical approach to television and screens in childhood development and even founded the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to campaign against it. She still performs with Audrey Duck to promote her anti-consumer activism. Not that she's upset with the show that gave her her big break - the organization also hands out a Fred Rogers Integrity Award every year to people that work against consumerism and Mister Rogers Neighborhood notably features little to no tie-in merchandising and does not include advertisements or product placements (even in it's "how things are made" videos).
A scene in the Tom Hanks film The Burbs depicts Hanks' character watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood. 30 years after this movie was filmed, and it was announced that he will be playing Mister Rogers in a movie about him.
Famously, Mister Rogers would always announce out loud that he was feeding the fish on the show after a blind girl wrote to him and never knew if he was feeding them or not. This becomes more amusing after Descriptive Video Services became available for the show (he would continue announcing his feeding of the fish even after this fact, though).
Less Disturbing in Context: The infamous picture that appears to show Mr. Rogers Flipping the Bird at the camera. While the picture itself is indeed real, the context makes it quite innocent, as it simply appears in the middle of a familiar children's finger-play that involves raising your fingers one at a time ("Where is tall-man?"). Of course, some viewers speculate from his knowing grin at that moment that he knew perfectly well what the gesture would have meant out of context.
Mondegreen: The sponsorship announcement at the end of each episode mentions the Sears-Roebuck Foundation as it's primary sponsor. Since the Mister Rogers' 90th Birthday Marathon, several viewers have noted how it sounds like the Sears-Robot Foundation instead, leading chat to spam robot emoticons when the foundation is mentioned.
Ms. Fanservice: Perhaps unsurprisingly, Betty Aberlin became one to the show's Periphery Demographic during the Twitch marathon streams. They've even managed to get her to watch the streams and get on chat with them. She was made a moderator in the channel and showed up every now and then to talk with the chat and reminisce about her time on the show.
The original puppet for Prince Tuesday used before the character was aged up in the post-79 shows.
The Frogg family.
Full-body costumed characters like Bob Dog and Purple Panda were known to scare some viewers.
Some viewers also had a childhood fear of the music that played when the Episode Code Number was shown at the end of older episodesnote It was mainly used to show updated funding credits for organizations which had not provided funding at the time of production.. It didn't help that the oft-feared 1971 PBSVanity Plate used to directly follow this.
On a related note, the appearance of the brick-red building (added from 1974-onwards, not counting the prototype version used from 1972-73) that appears in the model neighborhood at the beginning and end of the show, can be a bit unsettling, especially during the end of the credits when it's zoomed in very close. (The zooming was thankfully toned down beginning in 1980, though it still occurred in some episodes until 1988.)
Even the NET building that appears during the credits of 1968-70 episodes is pretty unsettling, especially when it says on camera for a few seconds after the credits fade out. It doesn't help that the regular NET logo of the same era was pretty scary on its own, with its creepy synth music note (an edited version of "Plenipoteniary" by Eric Siday, who also did the jingles for the "S from Hell" and the CBS "color presentation" ID) and rough animation.
One-Scene Wonder: Jeff Erlanger, a boy who'd been rendered quadriplegic by a spinal tumor as a baby and met Mr. Rogers at age 5 when they'd just happened to be in the same town shortly after he told his parents he wanted to meet him, made an appearance on the show five years later which is considered among its most memorable guest appearances, demonstrating how his electric wheelchair worked (the episode was about different vehicles) and singing "It's You I Like" with Mr. Rogers. He went on to become an advocate for the disabled and made a surprise appearance at Rogers' induction into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999, at which the overjoyed Rogers leaped out of his seat and climbed onstage to hug him.
Overshadowed by Controversy: The "Conflict" episodes probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere near as much attention had they not been pulled from reruns and sent into Keep Circulating the Tapes territory. It doesn't help that it also led to speculation on why they were pulled, with no real straight answer ever given by the company (one source mentioned during the Twitch stream that Fred Rogers himself asked that the episodes be never shown again, but the reason was never disclosed). Matters only got worse when YouTube preservations were copyright-claimed and taken down by the company, which happened after everyone already knew the episodes weren't going to be shown on the Twitch marathon. To say people were upset is a huge understatement, many believing it was an attempt to bury history.
Periphery Demographic: Because of the show being such a Long Runner, nearly three generations grew up watching this show, and many of those who did will still fully admit it's just as joyful to watch today as it was when they were little. It also wasn't terribly uncommon to hear of parents who would watch the show with their kids. Rogers himself caught onto this, and made several weekend specials aimed at parents about the week's up-and-coming topic ("Mister Rogers Talks with Parents About [Topic]"). Some of his other media was also aimed at people who grew up on his show, such as his last goodbye and his 9/11 advice video, and many of the books he wrote as well. The 2017 Twitch marathon is the most shining example though, with the chat being almost entirely populated with people who were kids during the show's late years.
Retroactive Recognition: A 1975 episode had a troupe of acrobats perform for King Friday's birthday. One of the acrobats in question? A young Michael Keaton, who actually worked as part of the show's floor crew before he left to pursue an acting career.
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood have actually managed to avoid some of this - the show is just so unlike any children's programming, even today, that it's not too hard to see what was so special about it and it can still resonate with adults even today. However, there are still a few elements that can be difficult for children of the late 20th century or the 21st to really appreciate:
First, and most significant, is Fred Rogers' quiet but dogged insistence on racial justice and equality and representing it on the show (and thus, making sure his message resonated with children of color as much as anyone). As noted a bit below, he was completely forthright about wanting to interact with and include folks of color on the show, including children. Today a lot of these examples can seem like normal diversity inclusions (and can sometimes come across as tokenism), but it has to be remembered that the main show launched in February 1968 - the civil rights movement was still in full swing at the time, and the Civil Rights Act wasn't even half a decade old. Rogers' insistence of including people of color at the time of the show's launch was utterly radical and he did, to use un-neighborly language, catch shit over it for much of the first years of the show's run. Rogers' trip to Congress to advocate for PBS funding was in part because some elements of Congress wanted to defund PBS because of this sort of content, and he more or less shamed them into letting him continue.
Also, certain things like the show's episode on the Robert Kennedy assassination. Today some of these can just come across as Very Special Episodes. This would be because Fred Rogers basically invented the VSE. Prior to Neighborhood, childrens' shows and wider childrens' content didn't tend to discuss "serious" or "traumatic" events at all, this being seen as purely the domain of parents. Rogers was having none of it and realized that many working parents might not always have the time to contextualize things for children, especially in the faster-moving modern world, so he went out of his way to dedicate time to helping children contextualize and understand the events going on around them and things they would definitely encounter in their lives, like discussion of the Kennedy assassination. This was unbelievably radical in the 60s, and Rogers ate even more criticism for this than he did for the inclusion of people of color, but once again the simple, dogged effectiveness of it led to people instead learning that a well-executed VSE could be helpful (with a certain Charles Schulz, in particular, deciding to tackle the issue of cancer at the start of the 90s) and from there it was history.
Signature Song: Besides the theme song, "It's You I Like" is usually the first song people think of when they think of this show, due to how often it was sung and because of how much it conveys Rogers' life philosophy.
While the show was never overtly preachy, author Michael Long has observed that Mr. Rogers often quietly advocated social values that were well ahead of their time, including supporting racial and gender equality in the 60s, criticizing the Cold War arms race, and advocating nonviolence during the Gulf War. As one example, the character "Mayor Maggie of Southwood," played by African American actress Maggie Stewart, debuted in 1974, 14 years before the first African American woman became mayor of a major U.S. city in real life.
Francois Clemmons was the first African-American regular on a children's program, and Rogers intended to make sure of it. An early appearance featured Mr. Rogers cooling his feet in a wading pool and inviting Officer Clemmons to join him. The camera then pans right in to show two pairs of feet side by side, sharing the same space as equals. Clemmons the actor was incredibly moved by this for years, understanding the significance of it in 1969note Remember, this was at a time when a good portion of white Americans explicitly refused to share pools with black people, and a sizeable portion of the remainder silently held the same belief, to the point where incidents like this could happen. It would so move him that in his final appearance on the show, the scene was recreated one more time and this time Rogers performed the symbolic act of drying Clemmons' feet with a towel.
Suspiciously Similar Song: Some songs used in the early days were co-written with Josie Carey, dating back to their time working together on The Children's Corner. Rogers and Carey sold the copyrights to these songs (foolishly, by Rogers' own admission), and mostly stopped using them in order to avoid paying royalties, as Rogers said that he could come up with new ones that were just as good. Indeed, some of the newer songs have very similar lyrics - for example, "I Like You As You Are" gave way to "It's You I Like".
Sweet Dreams Fuel: If you are in a bad mood, just watch any episode at all of this show and feel the blues melt right away. In a more literal sense, putting on an episode before bedtime is a great way to put one's mind at ease and ensure a good night's sleep.
Values Dissonance: Happens in episode 1081 when Mister Rogers talks about manholes using wording that wouldn't fly today. The line "It's not a boy hole, or a girl hole, or a lady hole. It's a manhole. Men go down to work there." immediately dates the episode as far as how society traditionally viewed gender roles are concerned.
Values Resonance: While the values taught in the show are always considered timeless and are arguably just as important now as they were years ago, the show's slow-moving nature only seems to get more important as time goes on. It feels more true than ever now, in the age of the Internet and cell phones where it seems everyone has to have everything and have it right now. The show's roots certainly go back to a simpler time, but the show remained the same through the years for the better, even after the 80s and 90s brought about more fast-paced entertainment.
Similarly, the song "Everybody's Fancy" would stir up controversy today over the lines "Boys are boys from the beginning, girls are girls right from the start" and "Only girls can be the mommies, only boys can be the daddies". In fact, it may have already been seen as problematic by The '90s - the song was last sung on the show itself in 1991, and a 1992 CD release modified the latter set of lines to "Girls grow up to be the mommies, boys grow up to be the daddies".
Didn't contain, but was still related to examples of:
Award Snub: The documentary about the series Won't You Be My Neighbor wasn't even nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar, in what was widely pilloried as one of the most inexplicable snubs in the awards' history (even as many acknowledged that Rogers himself wouldn't have been bothered at all by it). It did, however, get a Best Documentary Award at the AARP Movies For Grownups Awards, which took place on February 15, 2019, and were broadcast on PBS.
Colbert Bump: While the show has always been well-regarded, the 2017 Twitch marathon took the show's enduring popularity to new levels. PBS started bringing back reruns of the show after being off the air on most stations for over a decade, and both a biopic and a documentary about Fred Rogers' life have been made.
Creator Worship: Many fans and people who grew up with the show practically regard Fred Rogers as a kind of saint. A common sentiment in profiles of Mr. Rogers is, "If Protestants had saints, Fred Rogers would have already been canonized." You can buy fan-made artwork that depicts Mr. Rogers as a religious icon, and a large fan group on Reddit calls itself "The Church of Rogers." Meanwhile, a real Episcopal church Fred Rogers sometimes attended in Massachusetts actually does display a painting depicting him as a saint, complete with halo.
Even Evil Has Standards: 4chan strives to be a place where anything can be said, with very few exceptions to the community or moderators. Insulting Mister Rogers is one of those exceptions, and an instantly bannable offense.
An article in the Wall Street Journal titled Blame It on Mr. Rogers: Why Young Adults Feel So Entitled cited Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University who decided Mister Rogers had 'coddled' youth by telling them they were special. It was repeated uncritically in commentary and news outlets, like Fox & Friends, which had the whole cast denigrate Mister Rogers, starting with one member repeatedly calling him an 'evil man' and later in a broader report from 60 Minutes about the effects of Millennials entering the workplace and being willing to walk out of a job if mistreated. Variations continue to pop up from time to time
Along the same vein as clergy who tried to get Mister Rogers to speak against homosexuality, Westboro Baptist Church protested his funeral because he was a tolerant person.
Friendly Fandoms: With those who enjoy The Joy of Painting, due to how both shows feature All Loving Heroes who are very calming, easy-going, and most importantly, selfless and highly respected. While the two shows have completely different premises (and more notably target audiences) from each other, both provide a very similar tranquil and healing feel.
Fred Rogers likedEddie Murphy's parody of his own show, "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood." To be fair, it was an Affectionate Parody, not deliberate and malicious mockery. Apparently, Eddie Murphy caught up with Mr. Rogers and told him, "You understand, we only do it because we love you."
Johnny Carson also did a parody sketch where Mr. Rogers explained where babies come from, but it was also an Affectionate Parody and unlikely any kids were up late enough to watch it.
On the other hand, in the mid-eighties when Burger King made an ad with a fake Mister Rogers explaining why BK burgers were better than McDonald's burgers, Fred Rogers called up Don Dempsey, Executive Vice President in Charge of Marketing. This was due to the fact because he looked too much like the real him, he did not want kids to get confused or mislead about the true nature of his work. By comparison, obviously no kid is going to confuse Murphy for Rogers, and Murphy's sketch was broadcast safely out of the way of any typical child's viewing time.
His noted vegetarianism probably also played a role in his unhappiness at having his visage used to shill burgers.
An infamous opening gag in Family Guy featured Stewie terrorizing the Neighborhood of Make Believe and trying to kill Mister Rogers; even series creator Seth MacFarlane thought it wasn't funny. Even so, Stewie's rampage turns out to be a Dream Within a Dream, and it's Mister Rogers who gets the last laugh.
Not on the show, but during the 2017 Twitch marathon. The streamers that made guest appearances between episodes were near-universally disliked. Every time they appeared, words in the chat like "muted" and "go away" would typically spring up. It wasn't very hard to see why, either — they usually didn't add anything to the stream and just seemed to be a way to get people to donate more money. While it had good intentions in theory, many of them stayed in-character for their breaks, which held true even if they were loud and obnoxious during their usual fare... which completely goes against the entire nature of the show they were invited to discuss! This caused annoying cases of Mood Whiplash that almost everyone felt was unneeded. The ads for other PBS shows had mixed reception to begin with though felt at least justified, but nobody defended the Twitch streamer cameos.
History repeats with the 2018 marathon; this time, only one streamer would show up during the breaks, and his bumpers were even more disliked than the ones in the previous marathon, due to suffering a bad case of Ending Fatigue and having only a very small pool of them. This meant people who frequented the marathon were subjected to the same messages over and over again. And it didn't even have the occasional showing of "The Garden of Your Mind" to save it.
What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Won't You Be My Neighbor is rated PG-13 by the MPAA, and the network premiere on PBS was rated TV-14, due entirely to content that would never appear on the show proper. People have, however, been recommended to take their children to see it because, you know, Mister Rogers.