Arthur Wiki
This article is about the special episode. You may be looking for the book.
"Arthur – It's Only Rock 'n' Roll"
Original Airdate: United States September 1, 2002[1][2]
United Kingdom January 3, 2003[3]
Written by: Kathy Waugh
Storyboard by: Gerry Capelle
Helene Cossette
Nadja Cozic
Elie Klimos
Sylvie Lafrance
Jeremy O'Neill
Zhigang Wang
Harry Rasmussen
Ivan Tankushev
"Special: Arthur's Perfect Christmas"
"Special: D.W. and the Beastly Birthday"
Read transcript

"Arthur – It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" is an hour-long special of Arthur that aired on September 1, 2002, and served as the premiere of season seven, which started a month and one week later.


When the prospect of an Elwood City concert by a popular boy band drives everyone else into a frenzy, a disgusted Francine decides to counter with an "anti-cute" band of her own called U Stink. But things don't go quite the way she had planned. The Backstreet Boys—Kevin, AJ, Howie D., Brian, and Nick—guest star as animated versions of themselves.[1]


After watching the music video of "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys, Francine tells Muffy that they are sellouts, and decides to start her band. After auditioning 14 people, the only good musician she could find is Mrs. MacGrady, who plays the keyboard. Mrs. MacGrady encourages Francine not to give up and suggests that she recruit the other musicians herself.

Francine speaks to Binky, who is a good clarinet player, and Molly, the only person Binky knows who can play guitar. When they are told they'll get whatever they want as snacks, they agree to join the band.

Arthur and Buster (who were rejected by Francine earlier), decide to start their band, We-Stink.

During their first practice, it becomes obvious that Francine can't sing and play the drums at the same time, so Fern is recruited as their lead singer.

The next day at school, Principal Haney asks Francine if she and her band could play the PTA fundraiser, and she says yes, though they didn't have a name yet.

During practice, a man in the apartment building next door criticizes them, which inspires Francine to call the band U Stink.

After the concert, U Stink becomes wildly popular throughout Elwood City, and Francine gets an interview with a local news channel in Elwood City, and she said that she refused to play the annual book sale at the library, saying that the fame is getting out of hand and that Fern didn't ask her.

Fern said that it isn't selling out to be popular, and this leads Francine to quit the band, and they replace Francine with a drum machine.

Meanwhile, Arthur and Buster's band practice doesn't go well, and U Stink is having trouble writing new songs without Francine, but then Muffy calls and offers to be their manager, which Fern accepts.

When Fern and Francine fight, Mrs. MacGrady suggests to Fern that she should try to get Francine back, and then Muffy has the group shoot a music video, and that doesn't do so well. Despite that, she mails the VHS anyway to the Backstreet Boys and even has a fantasy about Nick Carter watching the music video.

U Stink plays a gig at D.W.'s preschool, which flops due to a lack of original material.

Meanwhile, Francine asks Arthur, Buster, and George to join their band, and after she does the band eventually breaks up.

Meanwhile, Muffy doesn't hear back from the Backstreet Boys, and she decides to go to their concert and winds up meeting Nick from the Backstreet Boys. But she tricks the elevator guy to make sure that Nick can stay behind because she wanted him to be with her. However, things don't go exactly as planned and they both end up getting stuck in an elevator all because Muffy hit the wrong button. This delays the concert, as the rest of the Backstreet Boys refuse to begin the show without Nick. As soon as AJ says that if anybody checked the elevator. This makes Mr. Crosswire call Muffy. And then she decides to tell him that U Stink is in the audience and he tells them to come up and perform their hit song.

Unfortunately, the remaining members of U Stink aren't prepared to perform its first big gig, so they try to convince Francine to rejoin the band. To their surprise, she accepts, but she is very nervous to be up in front of a huge crowd. Brian comes out to give her a pep talk and she begins the song. However, Fern is also very nervous and sings very softly. But once Kevin comes out and start singing, Fern regains her confidence. When the rest of the Backstreet Boys come onto the stage, the concert turns out well for all the fans in attendance. Then U Stink decided to quit except for Fern and Francine.







  • At the end of this special, the Backstreet Boys sing the opening theme, Believe in Yourself.
  • This marks the first time the PBS Kids Fishbowl logo makes an appearance on Arthur, and 1 of the 2 home media releases to have it. The other home media release that uses it is the 2005 DVD release of Arthur's Tooth.
  • At the beginning of this episode, the Backstreet Boys are seen in real life, but then they are animated throughout the remainder of the special.
  • This is noted to be the first time that Aaron Grunfeld voices Tommy Tibble, but Jonathan Koensgen was credited as the voice of Tommy.
  • This is the first time that Jason Szwimer voices D.W. The first time he voiced D.W. in a regular episode was in "Cast Away." However, in the 2002 print of the special, the previous voice actor of D.W., Oliver Grainger, is still heard during the website promo after the credits and the bonus footage of the Backstreet Boys.
  • This is the first and only special to use digital ink and paint animation.
  • Post's Alpha-Bits Cereal sponsored this special.
  • The members of the band BINKY are seen several times throughout the episode. Since they are holograms, this is just the animators recycling character models for the many crowd scenes that needed them.
  • Emily and Liam both make cameo appearances when Marie-Hélène holds their hands.
  • Brian and Howie are rabbits and Kevin, AJ, and Nick are aardvarks.
  • Reruns of this special are very rare. It was aired nationally for the first time in nearly two decades during the Arthur Mega Marathon on PBS Kids in 2022, as part of a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the series as well as the final season.

Episode connections

Cultural references

  • The special is named after the Rolling Stones song (and album) "It's Only Rock and Roll".
  • The fantasy sequence Muffy describes to Francine about her getting a hit song, an album, a music video, and endorsements is a parody of pop singer Britney Spears, and the soft drinks poured at the end of the fantasy sequence is a reference to her deal with Pepsi at the time of this special.
  • When asking Francine what music her band plays, Mr. Haney mentions Barry Manilow as one of his favorite musical acts.
  • There are three Beatles references in this episode:
    • A news reporter called U Stink "The Fab Fivesome". The Beatles were often called "The Fab Four."
    • The scene where Francine, Binky, and Fern are being chased by a group of preschooler fans, parodies a scene from the film A Hard Day's Night. The music references the song of the same name, particularly the opening chord.
    • During "Manager of My Dreams" the Backstreet Boys wear uniforms similar to those on the Sergeant Pepper cover.
  • When We Stink splits, George suggests continuing as a duo like Sonny & Cher.
  • The S.S. Gigantic is a take-off on the R.M.S. Titanic. Interestingly, it was also the original name of the Titanic's sister ship, the R.M.S. Britannic.
    • The pose that Nick and Muffy make on the S. S. Gigantic is an imitation of the same pose that Jack and Rose make in the Titanic film.
  • Muffy the Vampire Slayer is a spoof of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • In the song "Nothing But the Music," People Magazine is referenced.


  • An animation error occurs after U Stink finishes performing at the PTA fundraiser.  Luke can be seen from behind in the front row of the audience, and for about one second, his skin color changes from gray to yellow.  This occurs right as Mr. Haney says, "Please people, stay calm!"
  • Throughout the special, characters constantly refer to the Backstreet Boys as a "rock" band. In reality, they are a pop boy band.
  • Mrs. McGrady calls Fern a Libra meaning her birthday is from September 23 to October 22. In "Dad's Dessert Dilemma" it is said to be shortly after February 15. One or both could have been wrong.
  • While Nick is holding Muffy on the S. S. Gigantic, he has an extra ear on his right side. This is the part where Muffy is singing "And I've got a hunch!"

Home Video release

It was released on VHS and DVD on October 1, 2002. It also featured behind-the-scenes footage of the Backstreet Boys performing and an exclusive look at how the animation is made.


Show/Hide gallery

Modelsheets and Storyboards


Muffy's Backstreet News - promotional PDF

Show/Hide gallery


  1. 1.0 1.1 KET - Arthur: It's Only Rock 'n' Roll. Kentucky Educational Television. Archived from the original on March 12, 2015.
  2. Arthur . Backstreet . AOL Chat Transcript. PBS Kids (August 29, 2002). Archived from the original on March 18, 2018.
  3. BBC One London - 3 January 2003 - BBC Genome. BBC (2003-01-03). Archived from the original on October 17, 2014.