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"Buster's Breathless"
Season/Series: 4
Number in season: 3a
Original Airdate: United States October 7, 1999[1]
Canada January 19, 2000[2]
Written by: Peter K. Hirsch
Storyboard by: Michel Magnan
Alex Hawley
"Muffy's New Best Friend"
"The Fright Stuff"
Read transcript

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


Buster's friends learn he has asthma.


In the forest, Arthur and Buster are searching for a dangerous creature (the "dangerous snig"), which Buster describes as big-horned and that makes an "Aroo!" noise. Arthur also says that it's hard to find because it camouflages within the trees. Suddenly, they hear the noise and go to see that D.W. is slightly disguised as the creature, not completely camouflaged and the boys explain that she needs to make the noise more scarier. As D.W. finds more leaves and twigs to disguise herself with, she unknowingly puts on poison ivy. Arthur and Buster are once again on the search of the creature. When they hear D.W. again, they search for her. This time, D.W. pops out roaring, and Arthur and Buster run away, due to the poison ivy being contagious.

Buster's Breathless

Jane Read puts calamine lotion on D.W.'s spots and recruits Arthur to help distract D.W. Later, at The Sugar Bowl, Buster greets Arthur and D.W. who introduces herself as "Otis". Buster asks D.W. why she has a hockey mask on, and D.W. says she doesn't want to get hit in the face with a puck. Arthur translates, saying she's got poison ivy and that people will run away from her. Buster begins to tell Arthur and D.W. about his bad cough back in the fall.

Arthur and Buster were laughing at some old joke books when Buster started having trouble breathing after breathing in too much of the dust billowing up from the books. Buster goes on to say that it felt like he was trying to breathe through a clogged straw and demonstrates, only to sip away D.W.'s entire milkshake, much to her annoyance. Arthur then remembers that Buster's mom came and took him to the hospital right away.

Arthur regretted showing Buster the joke books and blamed himself for making his friend sick. At the hospital, Buster learned he had asthma, which will not harm his lifestyle in any way so long as he takes his treatment regularly. At school, Arthur told Francine and Binky about Buster's cough and asthma, and Francine becomes worried that its a contagious disease.

Buster then arrived and Arthur took his math book and dusted it for him to be safe; everyone all began to act strangely around Buster. Binky asked Buster if he gets to leave class because of his asthma, and while Buster insists it's just to get his medicine, Binky suspected it can get him out of class for a long time.

After class, Buster went to the nurse's office. Arthur, Francine, and Binky watched him take his medicine through an inhaler before being caught by Buster at the door. Arthur quickly covered it up (by claiming he was looking for his glasses), and they ran off to lunch. There, Arthur blew the powdered sugar off of Buster's doughnut. At recess, Binky faked an asthma attack to get sent to the nurse, but it backfired when he referred to it as "plasma" in front of Buster.

At baseball practice, Francine still thought that asthma is contagious and ran away from Buster. Later, Buster announced he was cured. Francine was relieved she can't catch the asthma, which made Buster suspicious. Buster skipped his appointment to keep his cover, which resulted in Buster having trouble breathing when they played a game of soccer with dusty brooms. Buster was rushed back inside to get his medicine and then explained to the nurse that his friends had been treating him differently. The nurse helped Buster realize his friends simply didn't understand his condition.

Later, as part of a report project, Buster decided to explain what asthma actually is to the class. He instructed them to imagine that they were really small and that they were inside his lungs, where Buster explained in this apparent fantasy that asthma is a reaction to breathing in too much dust or mold, and is not a contagious disease, as Francine feared.

He then snapped them out of the fantasy, and concluded his story by telling the class that he was still the same old Buster in spite of having asthma. With his story told, his friends finally calmed down about his condition and all returned to normal at Lakewood.

Back in the present, D.W. reveals herself to Arthur and Buster. Then, the Tibble twins appear and confuse the poison ivy spots for chicken pox. D.W. tries to assure them that it's poison ivy, but they run away (while thinking her condition is contagious) with D.W. chasing them, ending the episode. 






  • At the end of the 2000 rerun intro on PBS Kids before this episode, Arthur's crashing sound remains the same.
  • Morals:
    • If your friend has a medical condition (asthma in Buster's case), it isn't contagious and doesn't change who they are. In the end, they're still the same friend you've known.
    • The more you know about something (be it asthma or poison ivy), the less you'll fear it.
  • This is the first episode when Michael Magnan is a storyboard writer.
  • This episode, along with its sister episode, aired exactly three years after "Arthur's Eyes" and "Francine's Bad Hair Day."
  • In 2014, the episode was made available for free on the official Arthur website as part of the "asthma" section of a feature titled Arthur Family Health.[3] This health feature of the website was discontinued in 2023, but the episode is still permanently available on the PBS KIDS Video app and website.
  • Buster is revealed to have asthma.
  • D.W. pretends to be named Otis. There actually is a fourth-grader named Otis on the show.

Episode connections[]


  • Buster mentions this episode flashback took place during the fall, despite in the episode flashback all the leaves are green, and still on the trees like it's spring, instead of autumn.
  • Arthur is able to blow all of the powdered sugar off of a doughnut in just one breath, something that is very difficult (if not impossible) to do in real life.

Production notes[]

  • The idea for this episode was made by Carol Greenwald when she wanted a way to explain her son's asthma to him, his school, and his friends.[4]

Home Video[]