On February 25, the long-running TV show Arthur aired its final episode after 25 seasons. Watching the finale made me feel melancholy, and as I watched the final credits roll, I realized just how important Arthur was to me and other children who grew up in our generation.
Arthur did not begin as a TV show on PBS but instead started as a series of children's books written by Marc Brown. The first book in the Arthur Adventure Series was titled Arthur’s Nose and was published in 1976. Marc Brown would release several books before the Arthur TV show would air on October 7, 1996. The show and book follow an anthropomorphic aardvark named Arthur as he navigates the “mud puddles of life,” said Marc Brown. He navigates the world with his family and friends. Much of the character of Arthur is based on Marc Brown’s own experiences as a child.
The series has been very popular hence why it was the second-longest-running TV series behind the Simpsons. This long-run has allowed the show to air 253 half-hour episodes with 493 segments. The production of Arthur had seen many changes throughout the years as Cookie Jar Entertainment originally produced it for the first 15 seasons before Story Media took over production and also transitioned the show from traditional 2D hand-drawn animation to HD flash animation. Oasis Animation would keep the flash animation style when they produced the final six seasons of Arthur.
Although production companies changed and the animation styles changed, the heart and soul of Arthur remained throughout its entire run. As we follow Arthur, his friends, and his family, we get to understand as a viewer how these experiences can help a child learn about the world and how to grow as we grow in life. The show has tackled many serious issues in numerous episodes, such as asthma, dyslexia, cancer, diabetes, autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer’s, and gay marriage in recent years. One of the other more memorable episodes was titled “April 9th” and was aired following 9/11. This episode was used to help explain all types of reactions to tragedy following a fire at Arthur’s school. The show’s ability to explain and help teach children about serious issues in a way for them to understand the greater world around them is one of its strong suits.
This way of presenting issues like these to kids was spotlighted by Mr. Rogers for the previous generations. Mr. Rogers was a close friend of Marc Brown, and Mr. Rogers had a significant influence on the show, and the man himself even made a cameo in an early episode of Arthur. Many other celebrities have made cameos on Arthur, such as Michelle Kwan, Yo-Yo Ma, and the late Joan Rivers, just to name a few. Some of the more iconic Arthur episodes have inspired some memes and other types of attention, specifically with the episodes where Arthur hit his little sister D.W. and when D.W. learns a bad word.
Overall, the show Arthur has meant so much to me and countless others who grew up watching it. I had the fondest memories of coming home from school and turning on Arthur on PBS at 3:30 every day. The things I learned and my memories with the show will always be part of who I am today. Arthur taught me how to be kind and deal with everyday problems in the right way, and future generations may miss out on that type of public broadcasting. As I watched all the old episodes leading up to the finale, I enjoyed every episode even now as I am transitioning into adulthood.
In the final episode of Arthur, Arthur and his friends find a board game in the back room that is said to predict their futures by the questions they answer. With a special cameo from Marc Brown himself, this finale puts a bow on all of the characters' stories. The last few minutes of Arthur show the characters of Elwood City twenty years in the future, with the conclusion set on Arthur as he pursues a career writing graphic novels based on his childhood, with the book titled Arthur. This finale had me in tears as I saw the show come full circle in the final minutes and as the final credits rolled. Arthur will be missed but beloved by me and many others who grew up with the importance of needing to “Believe in Yourself.”