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Arthur Will Air Its Final New Episode Next Winter


In 1996, PBS got into the cartoon business and broadcast two of its first fully animated children’s shows: Arthur and The Magic School Bus. Though many remember the Magic School Bus cartoon fondly, Arthur outlast it by a mile, to the point that it was still going by the time Netflix rebooted Ms. Frizzle. 25 years and over 240 episodes — a remarkable stretch that will end in the winter of 2022, with the final episode “All Grown Up.”

Kathy Waugh, who adapted Marc Brown’s books into a series produced by WGBH, dropped the news recently on Jason Szwimer’s Arthur podcast Finding DW. She has been with the show for its entire quarter-century of existence.

Waugh confessed that the decision was actually made years ago and PBS has just been trickling the remaining unaired episodes out since then, at a pace of five per year. She said the wrap party for the series was held in 2019 and it hasn’t been in production since that point. So any petition to revive Arthur probably isn’t going to go anywhere.

Ending the show wasn’t Waugh’s decision, though, and she would happily make more if summoned to. “I think they made a mistake, and I think Arthur should come back and I’m know I’m not alone in thinking they made a mistake,” she said on the podcast. “I don’t know if it was a ratings issue or if it felt like it needed to be retired. To me, it felt evergreen, like it was never going to end but it did end, we finished the last episode, season 25, two years ago.”

Arthur was often smarter than its surrounding programming, tackling issues its preschool contemporaries wouldn’t touch. (It’s also the only PBS series to parody South Park.) It spawned a spinoff, Postcards from Buster, which many PBS affiliates banned in the 2000s for showing a live-action child with two mothers. Years later, Arthur’s third-grade teacher Mr. Ratburn married the love of his life, Patrick the chocolatier, in a lavish ceremony and only one affiliate objected (it was Alabama, where else).

25 years removed from the premiere, we still have yet to learn to work and play, and get along with each other. But the aardvark tried his best. Must Arthur die in vain? Let’s make it a wonderful kind of day.