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"Buster's Back"
Season/Series: 3
Number in season: 1A
Original Airdate: United States November 16, 1998[1]
Canada September 6, 1999[2]
Germany January 21, 2002[3]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Gerry Capelle
"Sue Ellen's Little Sister"
"The Ballad of Buster Baxter"
Read transcript

"Buster's Back" is the first half of the first episode in the third season of Arthur.


Buster is returning from a trip to exotic places all over the world, and Arthur wonders whether his friend will have changed. Will Buster still want to hang out with "plain old" Arthur?


The episode begins with Arthur at the NASA Mission Control Center making a call to Explorer 17. Explorer 17 turns out to be Buster. Arthur asks Buster how his trip to Jupiter was. Buster tells Arthur that he has pictures, and Arthur suggests they get together and look at them at The Sugar Bowl, just like old times. Buster's spacecraft lands and is greeted by a cheering crowd, including Arthur. Arthur calls out to Buster that he has their bikes ready to go. Buster says that it is great to be home, and proceeds to exit the spacecraft.

But as he walks down the steps strange things start happening to him. His foot catches on fire, his head becomes transparent, his right arm suddenly turns to stone, his left arm becomes all twisty, and he grows to a tremendous size. Buster remarks that the town has changed, to which Arthur replies that the town is the same, and Buster has changed.

Buster, whose voice suddenly becomes more robotic-sounding, blames his changes on the cosmic rays. Arthur looks toward the camera and says that he doesn't think matters are going to be the same anymore.

Buster's Back

After the title card, the scene changes to the Reads' kitchen. It is a typical morning; Jane is having trouble getting Kate to eat her breakfast, David is cooking fried liver paste on the stove, and D.W. is spitting her cereal into her hand.

Arthur walks in and mentions that he had a nightmare in which Buster went to outer space and came back completely changed. D.W. asks who "Bumster" is, much to Arthur's annoyance. The phone then rings, and it is Buster's mom, with the message that Buster is on his way home!

This makes Arthur happy. He jumps on his bike and races around town telling his friends (and forgetting to hang up the phone in the process).

Arthur goes back to his house and reminds his mom to stock up on food because Buster eats a lot. David bakes a special cake in the shape of Buster's head. Arthur then goes up to his room and begins searching through all his belongings.

D.W. asks what he is doing, and Arthur says that he is looking for his and Buster's favorite game so they can play together when he gets home. The game turns out to be checkers. D.W. points out to Arthur that Buster may not want to play checkers (or even be Arthur's friend anymore) because Buster has been all over the world, while Arthur was mostly in his room. This worries Arthur.

Arthur asks his friends for advice. Francine tells Arthur that her cousin once went to Kentucky for the summer and came back with an accent...almost as if she were a different person. Arthur has a vision of Buster showing up at his door with an English accent and dressed in a posh suit. Arthur then asks Brain about his opinion.

Brain tells Arthur that people do indeed change when they add to their knowledge. Arthur has another vision of Buster, this time as an Italian racecar driver. Arthur then goes to Prunella, who checks Buster's horoscope, which reads "Big changes in store...You feel like a new person." Arthur, now really worried, has several visions of Buster, first as a Japanese martial artist, then as a cowboy riding a donkey (with handlebars, pedals, and a kickstand), then as a Scotsman riding an elephant through an obstacle course training for the Grand Nationals.

Arthur compares the stuff he did while Buster was gone to the things Buster did on his trip. While Buster visited the Parthenon in Greece, Arthur watched "The Origin of Bionic Bunny" 100 times. While Buster climbed Mount Everest, Arthur played in puddles of water in the rain.

While Buster was in Africa on a safari, Arthur was in his treehouse, watching a bug attempt to climb up the wall. Arthur worries Buster will think he's boring. David then informs Arthur that he called the airport and Buster's plane will arrive in two hours. Arthur has only two hours to get ready for the new Buster!

Arthur goes to the Library and checks out a bunch of books on all the places Buster visited. He lays them out in a circle on the floor in his room and tries to read them all. Pal, who was watching the clock, barks to let Arthur know that time's up, and Buster will be there any minute.

Arthur asks Jane if Buster called, to which she answers "No." Arthur is too nervous to read anymore. After waiting for Buster to call, Arthur accepts the fact that Buster probably doesn't want to talk to him anymore. David tells Arthur that he's sure Buster will call as soon as he can.

Arthur then imagines himself and Buster sitting at the table in his room. Arthur wants to play checkers. Buster, dressed in an Aristocratic outfit, declares that he will not fritter away valuable time on such triviality, and if checkers is Arthur's idea of an exciting game, he perhaps needs a new friend, as Buster has been around the whole wide world.

Arthur proceeds to put the game of checkers away. D.W. walks in and asks Arthur if he's still going to play an exciting game of checkers with "Bus Stop". Arthur angrily declares he has other friends and he doesn't need Buster to have fun.

He then starts taking the photos Buster sent him off OF the wall and throwing them into the garbage, saying "How interesting can some old ruins be anyway?" Buster's voice answers that they were really interesting.

Buster walks into the room, looking the same as he did before. Arthur, very relieved that Buster is finally home, explains he was "organizing Buster's photos". Buster brought some presents for Arthur and D.W., and they go downstairs to check them out.

Arthur recognizes the model building Buster brought as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, and asks Buster if it's 980 feet tall, to which Buster replies "I guess." Then Buster shows them a model of a double-decker bus and says he rode on top of one in London.

Arthur asks Buster if in England a truck is referred to as a "lorry" and if the trunk of a car is called a "boot", to which Buster replies "I think so". Then Buster says that there was one exciting, cool thing he was looking forward to doing the whole time he was away.

Arthur tries to guess what it was. Was it climbing Mount Everest? Was it walking along the Great Wall of China? Was it riding a mule through the Grand Canyon? Buster says it was something "exciting". He then tells Arthur that he wanted to play checkers, just like in old times.

Buster explains to Arthur that the reason why he didn't come over earlier is that he had fallen asleep on the ride home and his mom didn't wake him up. Arthur thought it was because he didn't want to come over.

Buster then sees all the books Arthur got from the library and asks if he read all of them. Arthur says he just got started. D.W. then walks in and expresses her disbelief that Buster still finds checkers exciting and asks if he's sure he went around the whole wide world.

Buster says he thought checkers was exciting before he went around the world, and then proceeds to make his move, winning the game. Buster is glad Arthur still likes checkers because he was worried Arthur might have changed while he was gone.

Arthur asks Buster if he would like to have some of the cake his dad made. Buster says yes, but only if they can play another game of checkers afterward.







  • At the end of the 2000 rerun intro on PBS Kids before this episode, Arthur’s crashing sound changes to the Season 5 version.
  • Part of this episode was included on the sample VHS included with the Microsoft ActiMates TV Pack.
  • Production on the episode began after Daniel Brochu decided to come back from Australia.[4]
  • This is one of the few episodes where Arthur cries (he is heard rather than seen).

Episode connections[]

Cultural references[]

  • In the introduction, Buster's mutations (fire, invisibility, stone, stretching) are a parody of the powers of the Fantastic Four, which they got from being exposed to cosmic rays in space. Buster wonders: "Gee, you think it's those cosmic rays I went through?"
  • In Arthur's race car fantasy, Buster's car is based on a Lamborghini Countach.
  • In Arthur's Japanese fantasy, Buster says "Osamu Tezuka-san wa manga no kamisama desu". This translates to "Osamu Tezuka is the god of manga". Osamu Tezuka created Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion.
  • In Arthur's elephant fantasy, Buster mentions the Grand National, a British horse race.


  • Before the title card, when Buster is in space and Arthur is communicating with him, Buster's head is seen behind Arthur.
  • When Arthur tells Muffy and Maria that Buster is coming home, he shows them a piece of paper underwater unscathed, which is incorrect because the paper and his drawing would normally get ruined underwater.
  • During the flashbacks where Buster comes over to Arthur and D.W.'s house as different things, the front door does not have a mail slot on it, but when Buster shows up as a cowboy riding a donkey, Arthur slams the front door and the mail slot is on it, after that, the mail slot is gone again.

Production notes[]

  • This is the first episode to use Buster arriving on a Spaceship as a title card.

Home Video[]