Saying goodbye to a lifelong friend

In his 25th year, Arthur enters fourth grade, becomes an adult and ends longest run ever for an animated kids show

Sophomore+Gaby+Esquivel+poses+with+the+blanket+she+has+cherished+since+she+received+it+as+a+gift+from+her+aunt+when+Gaby+was+only+6+years+old.

Dave Winter

Sophomore Gaby Esquivel poses with the blanket she has cherished since she received it as a gift from her aunt when Gaby was only 6 years old.

Gaby Esquivel, Mac photojournalism

The reality that Arthur is coming to an end has my mind going all over the place. The iconic PBS show has been going strong since 1996 and has 24 seasons. Season 25 comes with the final four episodes that were released Monday on the PBS Kids app.

To me, Arthur was a guide to school from first grade to seventh grade and a best friend who is always there for me, whether it’s a good or bad day.”

Based on the books by Marc Brown, the Arthur series features Arthur Read tackling down normal kid struggles like dreadful homework assignments and pesky teachers, but also harsh issues like the environmental crisis. Arthur faces these struggles along with his little sisters D.W. and Kate, as well as his friends Buster Baxter, Francine Frensky, Muffy Crosswire, Binky Barnes, and Brain Powers (or Alan). 

The ending of Arthur was announced last July, but according to executive producer Carol Greenwald, the show’s crew held a wrapup party back in 2019. In the podcast Finding D.W., Greenwald described this as a necessary decision. 

To me, it just felt evergreen, like it was never going to end,” Greenwald said. “But it did end.” 

In September, PBS first aired a one-hour special episode, which featured Arthur and his friends moving on to fourth grade after being in the third grade, without aging, for 25 years. Fans of the show have an added reason to look forward to its fourth and final episode, which will feature the beloved characters as adults, all grown up. 

My older brother, Fernando, told me last year that Season 25 would be the final season, which is ironic since he was the person who introduced me to the show. Now, he is the one telling me that it will soon end. That’s why Arthur is so special to me: my favorite memories with my brother involve us watching it together. I remember we listened to the “Library Card Song!” and, at 13 years old, my brother started dancing along with the characters. I remember laughing for hours. We both received a blanket with an image of  Arthur and D.W. reading a book together from our aunt around the same time, and we still consider it our valuable treasure. I am now 15 and my brother is 22, but every week we still check to see if any episodes have been uploaded to the PBS kids app, and we don’t intend to stop anytime soon.

To me, Arthur was a guide to school from first grade to seventh grade and a best friend who is always there for me, whether it’s a good or bad day. The episode “Brain Gets Hooked” taught me that grades are essential things that require dedication (in this episode, Brain’s grades steadily decline due to being obsessed with a TV show).  It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in school struggles because I was not the best student when it came to learning math. After seeing episodes related to struggling academically I went “Oh OK I am not an awful person for this because this can happen to anyone.”

Sophomore Gaby Esquivel poses with the blanket she has cherished since she received it as a gift from her aunt when Gaby was only 6 years old. (Dave Winter)

Another episode I really admired was “How the Cookie Crumbles” since it taught me that friends are more valuable than a lie (In this episode, Muffy wins a cooking contest taking the credit for a recipe her friends did). I will always be grateful for these lessons that helped become the determined person that I am today.

My favorite episodes are “A is for Angry” and “D.W., Queen of the Comeback.” These episodes offer hilarious and timeless moments from Arthur screaming obnoxiously loudly after being pestered too much to the running gag of the tibble twins calling D.W., “Denis.” Speaking of D.W., i.e. Dora Winifred Read, she has a lot of fan love for being so precocious at a young age. D.W. ‘s popularity can also be due to the countless of memes about her such as the “cage meme” and, my personal favorite, “Tired D.W.”

Because the closure of the Arthur series is so important to me, I wanted to share it with my peers at school, and because I am digital media, the intro class for MacJournalism, I was able to reach out to my peers on the MacJ Instagram account to ask them what Arthur has meant to them. I am glad to report that through the response I received to my Instagram story, I am not alone in my love of Arthur and or in my sadness to see it go.

I just knew Arthur would be there to make me laugh and help me relax after a very stressful day in fourth grade.”

— senior Olivia Lincscomb

Many students shared their own memories and appreciation of the show.

Senior Piers Powell wrote that the show taught him valuable lessons like standing up against bullies and respecting the elders around you. Though these lessons didn’t influence him directly, they helped define who he is now.

“That was a part of my childhood, so obviously I’m going to feel a little bit of nostalgic sadness about it,” Powell said.

For Powell, one of the saddest parts of the show ending will be the lack of new storylines about D.W. 

“The worst part is definitely no more DW content because God, she aged well too,” he said.

Senior Olivia Linscomb said that she would always be excited to get home from school and watch the show as if it was waiting for her every day.

“I never really knew why I looked forward to it,” Linscomb said. “I just knew it would be there to make me laugh and help me relax after a very stressful day in fourth grade.”

Linscomb also pointed out some iconic moments of the show like  “That sign won’t stop me because I can’t read” and “Francine, can I ask you a question? Why don’t you go back to your own house and stop bothering us?” as episodes that helped kids with issues everyone faces at some point in their childhood.  

So many shows don’t accurately depict school life. It leaves viewers with an unrealistic expectation of what school will and/or should be like.”

— sophomore Adrian Recar

“It took topics that kids had questions about like head lice or asthma and turned them into relatable episodes, so it made it easier for kids to understand,” Linscomb said.

When junior Jolie Gabriel heard about the ending, she was filled with nostalgia and reminded her of her childhood days.

“I always liked D.W. because of how sassy she is,” Gabriel said. “Francine was always cool too, but I had a sweet spot for Buster because I loved his spin-off show, Postcards from Buster.”

Sophomore Adrian Recar appreciates Arthur’s authentic tone and depiction of relationships with close ones. 

So many shows don’t accurately depict school life,” Recar said. “It leaves viewers with an unrealistic expectation of what school will and/or should be like.” 

He also mentioned that the show will never be replaced due to the fondness audiences grew, which I conquer with 100 percent.

“20+ years for a TV show to be on air is incredible, and shows how much it was loved by so many children and even some adults,” Recar said.

Though there will be no more new episodes after Feb. 21, I sure do hope Arthur and his friends receive a justified farewell. May the spirit of this golden show keep impacting the generations to come.