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Logo from opening theme song

Arthur Logo Wordmark

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Arthur is a Canadian-American animated educational children's television program. It is based on a book series of the same name, created by Marc Brown in 1976. Brown himself, as well as some of his family, has been heavily involved in the show's production. The TV series debuted on October 7, 1996 on PBS, making it the longest-running animated children's television series as of 2022. On July 27, 2021, it was announced that the final season of the series would air in 2022.[1][2] The final episodes aired on February 21, 2022,[3] which marked the end of the original broadcast run of the series on PBS; however, reruns will continue thereafter.[4] It has won numerous awards, including several Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting, and a BAFTA.[5][6]

Arthur was the second longest-running American animated series after The Simpsons until 2023, when it was surpassed by adult cartoon South Park with the premiere of its Season 26.

Educational objectives

Aimed at viewers between the ages of 4 and 8, Arthur's goal is to help foster children's interest in literature and to encourage positive social skills. Each episode follows an anthropomorphic 8-year-old aardvark named Arthur Read and his family and friends through engaging, emotional stories that explore issues faced by children, like bullying and losing baby teeth, while also addressing with more nuanced topics, such as cancer,[7] bed-wetting,[8] adoption,[9] video game addiction,[10] etc. It is a comedy that tells these stories from a child's point of view without moralizing or talking down. Situations on Arthur develop in realistic ways, and don't always turn out as people or Arthur and his friends might think.


The original broadcast run of Arthur in the United States on PBS lasted from October 7, 1996 to February 21, 2022. The series continues to air reruns during the daytime kids' block, as well as the PBS KIDS Channel. It has consistently earned high ratings on public television.[11][12] PBS offers select episodes on the Arthur website for free, and many seasons are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. There are over 100 countries around the world that air the program.[13]


Development for the show started as early as 1993, when Carol Greenwald began working with Marc Brown to adapt his books to animation for public television.[14] He had previously turned down several similar offers presented by other commercial networks.[15]

In September 1994, Melissa Astro was cast as Muffy.[16]

In November 1994, Greg Bailey was hired as director.[17]

After securing adequate funding, the series was produced by Cinar (later Cookie Jar Entertainment, which was acquired by DHX Media, now WildBrain). In 2012, the production of the series shifted to 9 Story Media Group[18] and finally Oasis Animation.[11] It has been a co-production of WGBH throughout the duration of the show.

For the first fifteen seasons, the show used traditional hand-drawn animation, with only the coloring done digitally. Beginning with the 16th season, the show was created using digital computer animation software, such as Flash and Toon Boom.[19][20] This also coincided with widescreen, high-definition broadcasts on PBS (where available), though this 16:9 option had been available in some non-U.S. markets since Season 12.

Production of the television series ended in 2019. Following the broadcast of the final episode in February 2022, Greenwald and Brown explained to the Hollywood Reporter that the final season was intentionally planned as the series' end. The decision to end the television show with twenty-five seasons was a collective agreement among many members of the production team, including Brown, Greenwald, head writer Peter Hirsch, and director Greg Bailey.[21] Brown elaborated further:

"We had thought about this a few years ago, and we thought we still had ideas and stories to do, but wouldn’t 25 years be a nice number that we could end with? We agreed because we’ve done over 600 stories for kids, and those are subjects that will not be dated anytime soon. They’ll continue to be helpful to kids for many years on PBS. They haven’t closed the door in that way. The other thing that helped us make this decision was that we have new ways to talk to kids with a podcast, [and] with games that kids can play that are educational. PBS has left the welcome mat out for us to do spots on PBS that deal with important subjects that are more timely, so we can jump in with these characters that are familiar to kids and talk about important issues that they’re dealing with at any given time."
– Marc Brown[21]

Despite this, there was some apparent opposition to ending the show. In the Finding D.W. podcast by Jason Szwimer, series writer Kathy Waugh expressed concern that PBS had made a mistake in concluding the series; she believed the show is "evergreen" and could go on forever.[22]

Although the television series is no longer in production, new Arthur content continues to be produced, including digital shorts, online games, and The Arthur Podcast.[21][23]

Meta references

The characters in Arthur are self-aware that they are on television. For example, in many opening scenes Arthur narrates to the audience. The opening theme song also features D.W. flipping through an Arthur book, and then seeing him on television.

Characters have referred to members of the cast and crew in Arthur, such as Buster saying, "Roll the tape, Greg!" in "Crushed," referring to Greg Bailey, the director of the show.

Likewise, music from the series is known by the characters. In "Breezy Listening Blues," Arthur hears a slowed down version of "Believe in Yourself" and says, "I've heard this somewhere." In "D.W., Dancing Queen," Binky quotes lines from the same song. When D.W. asks if he made it up, Binky replies, "No, I heard it somewhere, but I can't remember where." As well as this, D.W. hums a few bars from the song in "Mom and Dad Have a Great Big Fight."

At the end of "The Making of Arthur," the episode suggests that Matt Damon and Arthur begin making the series after Matt sees Arthur's one minute video. This creates a paradox in which the creator's work is creating itself.


  • Arthur is notable for being the first daily television program to provide video description service for the sight-impaired starting in 1997.[24]
  • In total, there are 25 seasons consisting of 253 half-hour episodes and 7 one-hour specials. This collectively equates to an even 500 titled narrative stories.
  • A spin-off series, Postcards from Buster, ran from 2004 to 2012.
  • Although the television series has ended production, the franchise continues to thrive. As of 2023, The Arthur Podcast, which is based on the television episodes, is the most streamed podcast from PBS Kids.[25][26]


External links


  7. "The Great MacGrady"
  8. "Jenna's Bedtime Blues"
  9. "Big Brother Binky"
  10. "Sue Ellen Gets Her Goose Cooked"
  11. 11.0 11.1
  16. [1]
  17. [2]
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2
  25. PBS KIDS Expands Growing Library of Podcasts this Fall with New Offerings | WOUB
  26. Arthur Read on X: "Thank you for making us the top @PBSKIDS podcast!"