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"Arthur's Birthday"
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 10a
Original Airdate: United States October 18, 1996[1]
Canada January 17, 1997[2]
Germany December 20, 2001[3]
Written by: Marc Brown (original)
Joe Fallon (adapted)
Storyboard by: Stéphanie Gignac
"Arthur's Cousin Catastrophe"
"Francine Frensky, Superstar"
Read transcript

"Arthur's Birthday" is the first half of the tenth episode in the first season of Arthur. It is based on the book Arthur's Birthday.


Much to his horror, Arthur discovers that he and Muffy are having birthday parties on the same day—and Muffy refuses to change hers.


Early one morning, Arthur and Francine send out invitations to their friends for Arthur's birthday party. The last invitation to deliver is the one for Muffy. At the Crosswires' campus, Arthur and Francine try to pass the front gates unnoticed to get to the mailbox. Then, as Arthur is putting the invitation in the mailbox, Muffy leaves the house to check on the mail! Francine warns Arthur, and he hides behind a tree. He tells the viewers that his birthday will be ruined if Muffy sees him!

Arthur's Birthday

Arthur is writing invitations for his birthday party, in which he will be turning 8 years old. D.W. starts writing invitations for her birthday too, but Arthur points out that her birthday is not for another six months, but D.W. doesn't care since she writes slowly.

Downstairs in the laundry room in the basement, after Jane takes a pink towel out of the dryer, Pal grasps onto it with his mouth, angering Jane. When Arthur and D.W. come downstairs, Arthur shows Jane the invitations he is giving to his friends.

Arthur picks up Pal, and then uses Pal's paw to count down the remaining days on the calendar until his birthday: May 25. Jane then asks Arthur if he's ready to buy party supplies, and he says yes.

Arthur and D.W. then visit the party shop with Jane to buy some party supplies. D.W. is amazed to see balloons that are square-shaped. Arthur and Jane blow on squeaky party noisemakers. After this, Arthur sees a pinata that looks like Mr. Haney, to his surprise. D.W. shows Arthur a plate with a unicorn on it, but Arthur rejects these plates and prefers Bionic Bunny plates, like the show he enjoys watching.

Back at home, Grandma Thora asks Arthur what kind of cake she would like her to bake, and Arthur suggests chocolate. As he leaves to go to school, D.W. hands him his party invitations. Arthur says he hopes that all the people he'll invite will be able to come to his party.

Arthur then heads to school and starts handing out invitations to his friends. Francine asks Arthur if he would like to play Spin the Bottle at his party, which he is not enthusiastic about. When Arthur gives his invitation to Muffy, she gives him an invitation to her party. Arthur finds out that her party is scheduled for the same day as his!

Arthur asks if Muffy can change her party to another day, but she angrily refuses on the grounds that the entertainment had been booked months ago. Arthur cannot change his party to another day either because all his relatives from Ohio are invited. Muffy then tells her friends that they must decide whose party they should attend.

Outside at recess, the boys: Arthur, Buster, Brain and Binky agree they should all go to Arthur's birthday party. Arthur then asks if the girls were to attend his party, too. Buster angrily decides they don't need girls anyway.

On the playground, Muffy then decides that she and the other girls: Francine, Sue Ellen, Fern, and Prunella don't need the boys at her party either. Muffy suggests that she might end her friendship with anyone who doesn't come to her party.

Francine says that a party would not be fun without the boys. Meanwhile, Mrs. Grimslid calls up the boys and girls for some tug of war. The coach assigns Buster to be the captain of the boys' team, and Muffy to be captain of the girls' team. Mrs. Grimslid then blows the whistle to start the tug of war. Both sides begin pulling the rope back and forth.

While they are pulling, Muffy furiously taunts as she angrily yells, "Who needs boys? Pull!" twice, and then Buster furiously does the same back, but he angrily taunts and shouts, "Who needs girls? Pull!" twice. Then Binky ties the rope around his waist, and Prunella does the same thing by tying the rope around one of the bars of the playground equipment. Then both sides break the rope, and Arthur decides that nobody wins the tug of war.

After school, Arthur and his friends go to Mrs. Powers' ice cream shop. At the counter, Arthur tells Francine that everyone is beginning to hate each other as Buster (who furiously pulls his ears down), Muffy, Sue Ellen and Fern angrily blow raspberries at each other.

Francine says that it's boring to have a party without boys. Arthur wishes Francine could come to his party, but Francine promised Muffy, and wonders how she could go to both parties. Arthur says he has an idea, and he whispers it in Francine's ear.

Francine agrees with Arthur's idea, but he tells her that they need to keep it a secret from the others. Then Arthur and Francine go to the tree house to write invitations for the girls. Francine decides to write the invitations herself, so that the writing can look like it's from Muffy. Arthur writes a special note to Muffy. That night, he explains the plan to his parents, whom think it is a great idea.

The next morning, just like in the beginning of the episode, Arthur and Francine deliver the invitations to the girls. When they arrive at the Crosswires' campus, Arthur hides so Muffy won't hear him and Francine.

There are green ducks putting in new grass mats on the Crosswires' campus. Then Muffy and her mother Millicent walk out of their house, and Millicent requests Muffy to go check the mailbox.

In a flash, Arthur puts the invitation in the mailbox. Francine warns Arthur that Muffy is coming and Francine hides behind the fence pole, while Arthur hides under the grass mats. Muffy then rushes to the mailbox, and takes out the invitation that Arthur put in there in less than ten seconds. Muffy then runs to Millicent, and tells her she received a note from Arthur.

Back at home, Arthur's relatives have arrived at his party. Arthur's cousin George hands him the birthday present, but spoils the secret by telling him it's a chemistry set inside, and Arthur thanks him in disbelief.

Arthur's relatives are setting up his birthday party, and then Arthur, now in his best blue suit, receives birthday kisses from Jane and eight birthday hugs from Grandma Thora. D.W. (also dressed in her nice spotted dress) attempts to pinch Arthur so he can "grow an inch" and chases him around the house. Then Arthur's friends arrive: Buster and Brain, then Prunella, then Francine, then Binky, and last but not least, Sue Ellen.

When 12:00 noon arrives, Arthur tells his friends to find some place to hide, because Muffy will arrive any minute. Buster asks Arthur what he wrote to Muffy, and Arthur said he wrote: "Dear Muffy, I have a special present for you. It is so big, I can't carry it by myself. Please come to my house today at noon to get it." The doorbell rings, and Francine reminds everyone to be quiet. When Arthur opens the door, there is Muffy standing in the doorway, and she tells everyone she arrived just for her birthday present, then everyone says, "Surprise! Happy birthday!"

Arthur tells Muffy that her present was too big to carry. Francine then asks what a birthday party would be like without all your friends. Then everyone puts on cone-shaped birthday hats, except Muffy, who is wearing a birthday crown, and Prunella and Sue Ellen who don't wear any hats.

They all start having fun by doing the limbo dance and hitting the clown pinata with a baseball bat. The kids could not get the pinata to break open, so David tries to help them out, but it does not pop open with his attempts either.

As Arthur is holding the cake, Muffy agrees it was a wonderful party, and that they should do it every year, but Jane suggests that they will celebrate the party at the Crosswires' house next year for Arthur and Muffy's 9th birthday.

Francine tells Arthur it is time for him to open presents, and carries a present to him, then tells him he should promise her he will use it right away. When Arthur opens the present, it is revealed to be the Spin the Bottle game.

Francine shows Arthur how to play Spin the Bottle. The objective is to make the bottle spin in one place, and it will point to a certain person. When the bottle points to Pal, he comes right over to Francine and licks her face, to which she pets Pal in response. Meanwhile, in the front yard, David is still trying to open the clown pinata with a chainsaw.






  • At the end of the 2000 rerun intro on PBS Kids before this episode, Arthur’s crashing sound changes to a big splash of water.
  • According to the book, Arthur's birthday is May 25th. In 1996, when the episode was first shown, that was indeed a Saturday.
  • Muffy's birthday may have been a few days before Arthur's and she waited for the weekend to celebrate. "Maria Speaks" confirms that she is a Gemini (late May to June). In "Muffy Goes Metropolitan", Muffy and Sue Ellen are in Crown City on May 25th.
  • A "deleted scene" where Arthur, D.W. and his friends play "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" can be found on the prologue of "D.W. Rides Again."
  • The intro scene and the scene within the episode are not duplicates; they are animated slightly differently.
  • When Sue Ellen asks whether or not she's at the right place when she arrived for Arthur and Muffy's birthday party, it is due to the fact that her family had recently moved to Elwood City. (See "Sue Ellen Moves In").
  • Neither Arthur nor Muffy invited George, Alex, Maria, or Jenna to their party. It’s possible that it’s because these characters were not properly introduced to the show yet. In addition, the Read parents didn’t think of telling the Crosswire parents that their daughter would miss her own birthday party.
  • The events of this episode is set a few months before the events of "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn".
  • When Francine yells "Duck!", an anthropomorphic duck walks by. The duck/duck ambiguity is used again in "What Is That Thing".
  • Although Arthur's birthday is May 25, he says that D.W.'s birthday is not until after six months, which is November 25. However, in "D.W.'s Perfect Wish," her birthday is revealed to be March 1, which is actually 280 days (281 days if a leap year) after Arthur's birthday; "six months" is therefore either a miscalculation or the date of D.W.'s birthday got altered later on in the series.

Differences from the book

  • At recess, the boys and girls are seen doing tug-of-war against each other. This did not happen in the book, and instead they were around different playground equipment, making a debate about whose party to go to.
    • Coach Grimslid is a character exclusive to the TV series.
  • Fern attended Arthur and Muffy's birthday party in the book, but she does not in the episode. She is seen at school, and at Mrs. Powers' ice cream shop, however, and it is never explained why she was unable to attend the party.
  • When Francine tells Arthur she wishes she could go to both parties on the same day, and he whispers a suggestion to her, they are at Mrs. Powers' ice cream shop; in the book, Arthur ran to catch up with Francine on the way home from school while they were making a suggestion.
  • Some of the following sequences are re-arranged, such as when Arthur goes shopping for party decorations, in contrast to the book.
  • In the book, Arthur received a big package in the mail, as one of his birthday presents, in addition to some birthday cards, including one from Uncle Bud with three dollar bills in it (to which D.W. says "Some people have all the luck!") This is one of the few moments not present in the TV adaptation, and Uncle Bud does not appear.
  • Arthur and his friends plus D.W. are wearing their birthday hats, except for Prunella and Sue Ellen. In the book, only Arthur, Buster, Binky, David, and Kate were wearing the birthday hats, and then took them off in the following pages.
  • Arthur's dog Pal appears in this episode, although the book was first published in 1989, and Pal was not a character until Arthur's Pet Business, which was first published seventeen months later. Pal, however, didn't become Arthur's pet until Arthur's New Puppy, which was first published in 1993 (three years after "Arthur's Pet Business").
  • After Arthur writes the letter to Muffy and delivers it, he tells Buster what he wrote to her while at the party before Muffy shows up; in the book, the letter was read in the illustration where Arthur was putting it in the mailbox, and it is implied to whether or not she actually read the letter.
  • When Muffy arrives at the birthday party, she wears her hair in pigtails; in the book, it was still braided.
  • In the book, the Crosswires' mailbox was shown for the first time, was the shape of a common mailbox and said "CROSSWIRE RESIDENCE," though the mansion was not seen in that book; in the episode, the Crosswires' mailbox is shaped like a birdhouse, is perched on the brick fence, has a mail slot on the top, and says "CROSSWIRE" on the bottom box.
  • When Arthur goes to put the invitation in the Crosswires' mailbox, Muffy is standing outside the mansion about to check the mail, then Arthur and Francine hide after putting the invitation in the mailbox and Muffy rushes to get the invitation; in the book, after Arthur puts the invitation in the mailbox, Muffy did not run outside to get it, and Arthur and Francine left right away.
  • Arthur and Muffy's birthday cake is made completely out of chocolate; in the book, it had white frosting around it, and it said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUFFY AND ARTHUR" on the sides, but it is still implied to be chocolate on the inside due to Arthur requesting Grandma Thora that she bake a chocolate cake.
  • Arthur and Francine deliver the invitations while riding on bikes; in the book, there were doing it by foot.
  • When Cousin George hands Arthur his birthday present, he spoils the surprise by saying it's a chemistry set; in the book, George only wished Arthur "Happy Birthday!" and held the present behind himself.
  • In the TV version, the living room grandfather clock is shown striking 12:00 noon, prompting Arthur to tell everyone to hide as Muffy will be there at any minute; in the book version, Arthur simply said his line after Brain's "It's a surprise for all of us," as if he had checked the time before.
  • At the end, Francine shows Arthur and the others how to play Spin the Bottle; in the book, it was still in the box after being opened and just ended as "Happy Birthday, Arthur!".
  • During the party, everyone is having fun doing the limbo dance and taking turns hitting the clown piñata; in the book, they did not limbo dance, nor was there a piñata.
  • At the party, Arthur is wearing his nice blue suit with a purple bow tie; in the book, he was wearing his yellow sweater with a red bowtie and blue jeans.
  • When Francine comes to the party, she is wearing a shirt, overall shorts, and her barrettes; in the book, she was wearing a dress and bows.
  • Fern did receive a birthday party invitation, but she never attended their birthday party in contrast to the book.

Cultural references

  • Although Arthur's Aunt Bonnie and Cousin George are from Ohio, most of Arthur's friends do not know where Ohio is. Elwood City, where Arthur and his friends live, is very far away from Ohio, presumably in Massachusetts (where author Marc Brown lives) or Pennsylvania (where Marc Brown was born and raised).
  • This episode has a few similarities to "The Best Birthday Party Ever" episode of The Busy World of Richard Scarry, in which Kenny and Lynnie both have the same birthdays and are convinced that they have a big birthday present awaiting them elsewhere.


  • Fern gets replaced by Jenna during the tug of war scene.
  • At the tree house, Francine is writing with her left hand, although she is usually right-handed.
  • Arthur is writing with his right hand (which is usually seen as his dominant hand) while at the tree house, but in the scene where he is checking off the list of people to send invitations to, he is using his left hand.
  • At Mrs. Powers' ice cream shop, the interior shows two windows with the front door in the middle, despite the fact that the exterior of the ice cream shop shows only one window on the left of the door with neither one in the middle.
  • Muffy is briefly shown wearing her long-sleeved blouse when she holding a stack of birthday hats for everyone to put on their heads, instead of the short-sleeved one she wore to the party.
  • Jane is wearing a normal long-sleeved shirt while she picks up some of the hats from the stack, even though she was actually wearing a sweater.
  • During Francine's turn to bat the clown piñata, she positions her hands the way a right-handed batter does, yet swings in the direction a left-handed batter swings. This is clearly an error.
  • The washing machine and clothes dryer are in opposite positions compared to other episodes.
  • Arthur's nice blue suit includes a purple bow tie. But when Arthur is inviting everyone in among the girls arriving, his bow tie is suddenly red like in the book, and in the next shot it's back to its normal purple color.
  • In the introduction, Muffy says "Are you sure this is going to be done in time?". When the same scene is shown again later, she adds "…for my big party?".
  • When Arthur's grandfather clock strikes 12:00 PM, the 4-note tune plays that should only be heard if the minute hand is pointing to 15, and then 12 strikes. If the minute hand is pointing to 60, it should be playing the 16-note tune and then count the number of strikes based on which of the numbers from 1-12 it's pointing to. Every 15 minutes that pass on grandfather clocks should play the tunes in correct multiples of four in order based on how much time has passed until the next hour.

Storyline analysis

  • Francine is shown in this episode riding her father's bike which later became her bike, although its story wasn't revealed until in "Stolen Bike," which took place in third grade.
  • Grandma Thora asks Arthur what kind of cake he would like for her to bake, although in "The Half-Baked Sale," which aired later, it is revealed that she cannot cook very well.
  • Kate was born in "Arthur's Baby," which is supposed to be set during the second quarter of Arthur's second grade year. Since this episode is set near the end of Arthur and his friends' second grade year, Kate is shown as a toddler even though she's supposed to be an infant in this timeline.
  • With Pal being present in this episode, this means that the events of "Arthur's Pet Business" and "Arthur's New Puppy" took place during Arthur's second grade year as well.

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