The End of “Arthur”


Zack Hildebrandt

The TV show “Arthur” ends after 24 seasons, beginning in 1976.

Zack Hildebrandt, Staff Writer

Everyone knows Arthur. We’ve grown up watching it on PBS, singing along with its opening theme song sung by Ziggy Marley, reading the books, playing the board games, eating Arthur Macaroni and Cheese, and laughing at the internet memes.

“Never in a million years did I imagine I would go on all of these adventures because of Arthur,” Marc Brown told  Today news. In 1976, he started writing the Arthur books when his son asked for a bedtime story.

On Oct. 7, 1996, the show made its debut on PBS. It has aired 24 seasons and 249 episodes (485 segments). According to Variety, it has been the longest-running kids’ animated series on television.

There were guest stars who had voice roles including the Backstreet Boys, John Lewis, Joan Rivers, Art Garfunkel, Matt Damon, Michelle Kwan, Philip Seymour Hoffmann, Yo-Yo Ma, Jane Lynch, and Fred Rogers.

“We, as adults, owe children the truth,” Brown said in an interview with NPR. “They’re trying to make a foundation on which they can build their lives, and if there isn’t truth in that foundation, things get pretty shaky.”

           The show told children the truth with episodes about many life lessons that were ahead of their time such as discussing divorce, featuring Binky going against gender conventions, telling immigrant narratives and showing redemption for bullies. It also introduced characters with autism, dyslexia, blindness and dementia. Don’t forget the episode where Mr. Ratburn marries a man.                                                                                                                                                                                      

Arthur had some controversies. 

“Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in this episode,”  Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings told The New York Times. 

In 2005, Arthur’s spinoff Postcards from Busters was criticized for an episode where Buster was visiting Vermont to meet a family that had two mothers. Fourteen years later in 2019, a Public Television station in Alabama decided not to show the episode where Mr. Ratburn marries Patrick.                                                                     

In the Season 4 episode “Arthur’s Big Hit”, Arthur punches his sister D.W. because she had broken his toy plane into pieces. Because of the violence, it was given a TV-Y7 rating instead of the show’s regular TV-Y rating. The close up of Arthur’s fist was used on memes made by fans of the show on the internet and even on a Hot Topic button. 

According to Time, Arthur memes had become popular since they first appeared on the internet in 2016 when this fist meme made its debut.

“The generation that’s currently posting these things definitely grew up with the show and a lot of the themes that the show tackled are kind of grander life lessons, bigger topics that people still deal with throughout their lives,” Adam Downer said on Know Your Meme.

The D.W. holding fence, Arthur earphones, tired D.W., D.W. “That sign can’t stop me because I can’t read”, Arthur outfit, Muffy investigation, and D.W. bored memes plus many others have been used on the internet for many years. They have “become a part of this meme language,” Downer said.

Now, the show is coming to a close. 

In July 2021, PBS announced that Season 25 of Arthur would be the show’s last season. 

“We’re excited about Arthur’s next chapter — sharing the stories and experiences of Arthur and his Elwood City community to the media platforms where the next generation of kids and families will connect with them for years to come,” Carol Greenwald of GBH Kids said in a public statement to Variety.

It aired on Monday, Feb. 21 after an Arthur marathon which started five days earlier on Feb. 16. After the four new episodes flashed forward to adults of all the characters, the show will be airing reruns as well as producing podcasts and digital shorts on all PBS Stations, PBS Kids official YouTube channel and the 24-hour PBS Kids channel.