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"Arthur's Mystery Envelope"
Season/Series: 2
Number in season: 10B
Original Airdate: United States October 31, 1997[1]
Canada December 5, 1997[2]
Germany February 6, 2002[3]
Written by: Sheilarae Carpentier Lau
Storyboard by: Gary Scott
Nelson Dewey
"D.W. Goes to Washington"
"D.W.'s Deer Friend"
Read transcript

"Arthur's Mystery Envelope" is the second half of the tenth episode in the second season of Arthur. It was later adapted into the book Arthur's Mystery Envelope.


When Mr. Haney gives Arthur a sealed envelope to take home to his mother, Arthur fears disaster. But what if his mom never actually gets the envelope?


In the school cafeteria, Arthur talks about how, when things happen, we wonder if it will turn out good or bad. He gives examples such as in baseball, where you might get a home run, or be thrown out at first base. Or when it's lunchtime at the cafeteria- will it be pizza being served, or will it be mystery meat? Arthur says so far, things are going well. Just then, much to Arthur's concern, Mr. Haney makes an announcement over the P.A. system, asking for Arthur to report to his office.

Arthur's Mystery Envelope

It turns out that the reason Arthur as asked to go to Mr. Haney's office was because the principal had an envelope for Arthur to give to his mom. Arthur's friends wonder what's in the envelope, since Mr. Haney said nothing about what was in it. The kids all assume it is something bad, and Francine suggests that Arthur must be in trouble, though Buster says this may not be the case. Then Francine and Buster have a tug-of-war with the envelope until Binky grabs it and says, "I bet you failed Ratburn's big history tests." Then Francine assumes that Arthur will have to go to summer school. In a fantasy, we see Arthur at his desk with stacks of textbooks while Mr. Ratburn enjoys an ice cream. Arthur watches a tornado outside his window. In his fantasy, Francine has Pal on her bike, Brain and Buster go camping in the woods, and Muffy and Prunella roller skate down the block. Buster reappears (this time, as a swimmer) and says that those who don't pass their history tests are doomed to repeat it. The fantasy ends with Arthur's school crashing into the ground below.

Arthur is worried about the contents of the envelope, thinking that it's about him, so he tries to come up with a way to give it to Jane without her opening it. Francine suggests running it through the wash and letting her find it there, while Brain suggests dropping it into a storm sewer, where the many water passageways of the world would send it all the way to China. Arthur disagrees with all of these bizarre ideas and decides to handle it himself. At home, he is feeding Pal, but is so wrapped up over the envelope that he repeatedly fails to give Pal any food or water, much to Pal's annoyance. Arthur then leaves the envelope out in the open on the kitchen table, just in time for D.W. to barge in asking what it is. Arthur pretends it's nothing and tells her to leave, causing D.W. to get in his face until he admits that it's just an envelope the principal wanted him to give Jane. D.W. immediately declares that Arthur's in trouble and tells their Mom, who comes home from work, but she is too distracted to acknowledge the envelope. She finally feeds Pal and while D.W. continues to egg on Arthur, Jane sifts through the mail while talking on the phone, absentmindedly throwing most of the mail into the garbage along with the envelope. Arthur is relieved that he is in the clear.

At dinner, Arthur is still distracted and D.W. continues to annoy him over it. That night while watching T.V. with David, Arthur decides to go to bed early and tries hard to sleep, even though he still feels guilty about not giving the envelope to Jane. That night, he has a nightmare that the envelope is violently shaking in the garbage, so Arthur pulls it out and discovers it has grown even larger, and he tries stuffing it under the sink, to no avail. It continues to grow and Arthur tries hiding it in the shower, where it continues to grow rapidly. Arthur panics and urges his Mom, who woke up to check on him, to get out of the house, just before the envelope rips through the roof and towers into the night sky. It then opens up to reveal D.W., who yells "Didn't you tell Mom yet?!" Arthur wakes up to find D.W. at the foot of his bed asking the same question, eager to see if he gets in trouble or not.

Desperate to relieve his anxiety, Arthur decides to just give Jane the envelope. He finds her in the den going through tax documents and explains to her that he didn't give her the envelope because he was afraid he was in trouble and that she'd be mad. Jane, however, is not the least bit mad and finally takes a look at the envelope, which she is happy to finally receive because she had been unable to reach Mr. Haney the entire day. It is revealed that the envelope was full of Mr. Haney's tax documents, and had nothing to do with Arthur at all. Jane asks Arthur if he really thought the whole thing was about him, and he laughs it off saying he didn't, relieved that the air is finally clear. His mom explains that she needs to know if Arthur's ever got anything bothering him so that she and David can help him whenever he needs them. Happy that everything is okay, Arthur goes back to bed, only to have D.W. pester him and ask what sort of "punishment" he faced, which he just brushes off as he heads upstairs.






  • Morals: Even if there is something that could lead you to trouble, always tell your parents if you are not sure about something.
  • This is the first episode written by Sheilarae Carpentier Lau.
  • This is also the first episode with storyboards by Gary Scott and Nelson Dewey.
  • It is revealed that Mr. Haney's first name is Herb, although in later seasons he is renamed Francis.
  • Mrs. Read gets a call from a Leah. This later became Mrs. MacGrady's first name, but at that time, Mrs. MacGrady's first name was still Sarah.
  • In this episode, it is revealed that Jane is an accountant.

Episode connections

  • In the summer school fantasy, Buster is seen with his bathing cap, first seen in "D.W. All Wet".
  • There are similarities between this episode and "Arthur the Wrecker". Both involve Jane's job as an accountant (specifically with taxes) and both involve Arthur worried about getting in trouble for something.

Cultural references

  • Arthur's summer school fantasy where he sees his friends fly by during a tornado is a reference to the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.
  • "Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it" is a variation of George Santayana's "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", which refers to learning from past mistakes, rather than to repeating flunked history tests.
  • The Karaoke Kittens meow to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat.


  • When Jane picks up the letters from the kitchen table, her sleeves turn yellow during the closeup.
  • When Rattles and Binky are arm wrestling in the beginning, Rattles' hair is the same color as his skin; however, when Binky wins the arm-wrestling match, Rattles' hair turns black.
  • The last scene where Mom is shown reveals to be stock footage from when she says “Now back to bed, honey, it’s late”, for her mouth moves without speaking.

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