Arthur Wiki
"Francine's Bad Hair Day"
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 1b
Original Airdate: United States October 7, 1996[1]
Canada January 6, 1997[2]
Germany December 10, 2001[3]
Written by: Kathy Waugh
Storyboard by: Sarô
"Arthur's Eyes"
"Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn"
Read transcript

"Francine's Bad Hair Day" is the second half of the first episode in the first season of Arthur. It is also the first episode of the series to have a completely original story (that is, one that is not based on Brown's original Arthur books).


School pictures are approaching, and Muffy wants Francine to look nice for her school photo, even insisting she redo her hair. This causes Francine some pressure as she is forced to quit doing things she enjoy, like kickball.


The episode begins in Mr. Ratburn's class. Mr. Ratburn tells the students that school pictures are scheduled for next Thursday. Arthur gives the viewers advice about school pictures, like not to drink soda before their picture is taken.

Buster is shown taking his picture but burps loudly right when the picture is taken. Arthur also says that it is not wise to rub your feet on a carpet and then sit on a metal seat. Prunella rubs her feet on the rug and sits on a metal stool, causing her hair to stand on its ends due to static electricity.

Arthur adds that you should not wear a flower if you have allergies. Binky is waiting for his picture to be taken but sneezes from the flower he is wearing, falling and knocking over the backdrop behind him at the moment the camera snaps.

Francine's Bad Hair Day

We see a kickball game on the ball field. Arthur's team is planning out a strategy against the fourth graders. They need to get the fourth graders one more out to win. The plan is for the ball to go to Francine no matter what. The game resumes and Arthur pitches the ball.

The kicker kicks the ball on the first shot. It hits Arthur's face, and then it flies toward Francine, but Buster gets in the way and knocks over Francine. Quickly, Francine grabs the ball, manages to tag the fourth-grader out, and wins the game.

In the girl's restroom, Muffy, Sue Ellen and Prunella are talking about what they'll be wearing to school pictures. Francine arrives and is happy about winning the game.

Muffy asks what Francine is wearing to school pictures, but Francine doesn't care. Muffy thinks that Francine would have the most beautiful picture in the class (besides herself, that is). Muffy thinks that, with a lot of work, she could get Francine to look like her (Francine is skeptical about this).

At the Frenskys' apartment, Francine and Muffy look in Francine's closet and end up finding a pink dress, which Francine tries on. Muffy thinks it is perfect. Continuing, Muffy also wants to do Francine's hair, but Francine thinks there is nothing wrong with it.

Muffy is irked at this and has Francine close her eyes while she does her hair. Francine does so and opens her eyes to a hair disaster. Francine becomes frustrated at this and tries to get out of it, but Muffy has yet another idea. She takes out her cellphone from her purse and she calls Flossie, a hairdresser, for professional help.

Muffy tells Francine to meet her at the Salon de Beauté tomorrow. When they meet, Francine is disappointed to see that it is a beauty parlor, and she refuses to enter. Muffy, however, anticipating that Francine "would chicken out," came prepared with a "secret weapon." She shows Francine her school picture from last year; Francine has messy hair, dirt on her face, and gives a very goofy smile. This convinces Francine.

Flossie and the other stylists greet and fawn over Muffy, who is led away to have her hair done. Flossie advises Francine that, with her price range, no miracles can be promised for her, and takes her away to work on Francine herself.

Flossie seats Francine and takes a screenshot of her. On a computer, she uses the snapshot to show various hairstyles for Francine to pick from, such as the "Queen of the Nile" look and a tall curly style. Francine asks if she has something more normal; she does so and shows Francine the Prom Queen hairstyle, which Francine accepts.

Flossie gets to work on Francine's hair by washing, rinsing, cutting, combing, etc. She then puts a hair drying machine over Francine's head and has her rest, promising that when she wakes up, Francine will have the hairdo "of [your] dreams."

In her dream, Francine is at a professional kickball game with her new long curly hair. The game starts with Arthur pitching. Francine pulls the kicker down with her hair, causing him a strike.

We cut ahead and watch Francine launch a flying ball back towards Arthur with her hair, giving the opposing team an out. At the finishing part of the game, she runs toward the home plate and touches it with her hair just before the ball is returned. Francine's team cheers and carries her (and her hair) out happily.

Francine wakes up and sees her hair results; it is nothing that she expected. Her hair is instead a curly Jewfro, while Muffy ended up being the one with the Prom Queen style. Muffy thinks Francine's new look is wonderful. Francine pays Flossie the money she saved up for her new soccer ball and leaves the beauty parlor.

Francine prepares to get on her bike, but Muffy stops her, for curly hair and bikes do not go together. Back at home, Francine tries on the pink dress again. Muffy sees it as rather splendid and thinks it looks good with the hair.

Muffy warns Francine about what to avoid to protect her hair: no swimming, or riding in convertibles, and to wear headgear in rainy weather. Francine's mom tells Francine that Arthur called to remind her to bring the kickball to the next game tomorrow. This reminds Muffy, who tells Francine to absolutely not play kickball. Francine highly regrets this, but Muffy reminds her of her 'secret weapon', making Francine go for it.

The next day at school, Arthur and Buster run down the hall, kicking a ball of paper and come up to Muffy and Francine. The boys are shocked at Francine's new 'do. When she asks for their opinion, Buster says he doesn't like it, and when Arthur is unsure of what to say, Buster jokes Francine's hair is "alive." The boys laugh, angering the girls.

At lunchtime, while Francine is eating, one of her hair clips jumps out of place and nearly hits Buster. In reaction to this, Buster, along with Brain, makes further fun of her hairstyle.

Francine becomes infuriated and grabs a bottle of ketchup to use on them; Muffy brings Francine's arm down, and Francine ends up squirting ketchup onto her dress. In the girl's bathroom, Muffy attempts to clean as much off as possible and covers the remaining stain with a bow. Francine begins to feel reluctant about her new looks.

The kickball game begins and Arthur is surprised to see that Francine can not play, for she has to stay presentable for school pictures. The game starts without her. Arthur thinks they are doomed without Francine, but Buster is confident that they can do it without her. Problems start, though, when they have trouble getting the ball.

The fourth graders have taken a two to nothing lead. At the benches, Muffy and Prunella try hard to keep Francine restrained in her position. Just as Prunella claims that it is just a silly game, a kicker kicks the ball toward her.

Francine quickly jumps off of the bench and catches the ball, outing the fourth-grader. Francine is now in the game and is up to the home plate. The catcher mocks her hair, but she is not bothered by this.

The pitcher pitches and Francine kicks it far over the trees. She starts to dash around the bases and reaches home base, winning the game.

School pictures start and Muffy is upset that Francine has ruined her looks, but Francine says that she was getting tired of staying good-looking and that she liked the way she looked before.

Buster's picture is taken with him reminding the photographer that he was "the one who burped"; the photo comes out with Buster's eyes closed. Arthur gets his picture taken, but the flash reflects off of his glasses and causes beaming light.

Muffy tries to prevent Francine from getting her school picture taken, but Francine tells Muffy she is making it worse. When the photographer says "next," Francine escapes from Muffy's grasp to have her picture taken. She is filthy, but has a pleasant smile.

It is now Muffy's turn. She complains, "Oh, that Francine!" and looks angry, rather than smiling, when her picture is taken.

We cut to the school hall, where Francine's hair is finally back to normal. Muffy is throwing away her picture, and she suggests Francine burn her photo. But Francine disagrees and likes her picture, especially since the dirt on herself reminds her of winning the kickball game. Arthur comes up and asks Francine for a trade of pictures. She agrees, on the condition that Arthur will not laugh at her picture. Arthur looks at her picture and likes it. Francine likes Arthur's, also. Muffy walks off regretting that Francine will never be like her. Arthur asks for a game of kickball and Francine answers yes. Arthur and Francine both run out through the school doors.






  • Moral: The worst of things have something beautiful underneath.
  • Prunella says that her mother said that she could get a new dress for picture day and Muffy says that she is getting new shoes and a dress. However, on school picture day, they both are seen wearing the same clothes as always.
  • Coach Grimslid can be seen working at the Salon de Beauté, although she is a P.E. coach at Lakewood Elementary School in her later appearances.
  • Patrick has various voices; sounding like Binky, then Buster, then himself.
  • This is the first episode where D.W. does not appear in the main story.
    • This is also the first episode where David and Jane Read do not appear.
  • Even though the title was not narrated on the home video and DVD releases, Binky narrates the title of the episode when it is aired on television.
  • This is the first episode having Binky narrate the title card.
  • This is the first episode written by Kathy Waugh.
  • When this episode premiered in Germany, it was paired with "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn", rather than with "Arthur's Eyes".

Cultural references

  • The "Queen of the Nile" hairdo resembles an ancient Egyptian queen.



The school doors swinging both inward and outward

  • In the end, when Arthur and Francine run out the back door for another game of kickball, the doors also swing inward when they close; but if they swing one way, they can not swing the other way.
  • At the start of the kickball game, the ball is the color red but after it knocks Arthur down and is headed towards Francine, it changes to the color brown.
  • Patrick has various voices; sounding like Binky, then Buster, then himself.
  • On the dress that Francine is wearing for school pictures, Muffy says that there is a tear, but the tear is not visible.
  • When Francine quickly gets out of the dress that Muffy made her try on for school pictures, the laces to her shoes are shown as loops like Buster's, even though she usually has the laces crisscrossed like Arthur's when in a zoomed-out perspective.
  • In the scene where Francine and Muffy are both looking in the mirror at the Salon de Beauté, Flossie's face is seen directly on the screen right when she appears there, although the girls are standing directly at the counter in that perspective.
  • When Francine and Muffy walk up to Flossie's desk, Francine is wearing the dress, even though she did not change into it until she and Muffy come to her home; in the next shot where Francine pays, she is still wearing her red shirt and jeans.
  • The apron that Francine wears at the salon is pink, but it is red in a zoomed-out perspective.
  • When Francine is getting her hair wet, she first is not wearing an apron; but in the next few seconds, she is now wearing an apron. *While Flossie is almost done wetting Francine's hair, Francine's pants are colored red like her shirt instead of blue in that shot.
  • When Muffy takes out Francine's second-grade picture, its background is green instead of a castle backdrop. This was probably done to simplify the animation process.
  • When Francine and Muffy enter the Salon de Beauté, the door swings inward; but when they leave, the door swings outward.
  • When Francine and Muffy are leaving the Salon de Beauté, Francine's bike is parked outside; but when they arrived there earlier, Francine did not bring her bike.
  • When Francine looks in the mirror of her and Catherine's closet sliding door in their room, she and her mirrored self are aside from each other, even though she is touching it.
  • When Muffy, Francine, and Sue Ellen are eating lunch at the table, their trays are not visible in the first shot; but in the next few seconds, the trays appear.
  • When Muffy discards her school picture, the waste basket is first shown to be empty, but in the next few seconds, there is a load of discarded papers in it.
  • In Francine's imagination of playing kickball with very long hair, she is first wearing a sleeveless dress with a short-sleeved uniform underneath, but the uniform's sleeves are not visible when she wears the sleeveless dress.
    • Also, after the dress vanishes, Francine is still wearing the gloves for most of the dream; but while her teammates carry her to congratulate her, the gloves are gone.
  • After Francine's dress gets stained with ketchup, the stain is still on the dress when Muffy tries to wipe it off and cover it with a bow tie. When Francine and her friends get their pictures taken, the ketchup stain is gone.
  • In the kickball scene while Francine is sitting on the benches, she is briefly seen without the bow, before being seen wearing it again. When she runs around the bases and reaches home plate, the bow is gone and never seen again in the episode.
  • While Francine is running around and makes a home run, Binky is with the fourth graders, but after Francine reaches home plate, Binky is cheering with all of the other third graders.
  • When Francine gets her picture taken, the ribbon loops are in the middle while she is getting her picture shot; but in the developed photo, the loops are on the side.
  • When Muffy gets her picture taken, her buck teeth are sticking out of her mouth while her mouth is closed, despite the fact they normally are only visible with her mouth open.
  • After Arthur and Francine trade each other's school pictures, Francine's eyebrows disappear.
  • When Francine wins the game for the 3rd graders, there are no other players on the other bases.
  • At the beginning, when Mr. Ratburn tells Buster to turn around, he is looking in the right direction but a minute later it is shown that Buster was sitting in the left direction, not the right direction.

Storyline analysis

  • It is shown in the intro that Binky is allergic to flowers; in the later episode "Binky Goes Nuts", he is allergic to peanuts.

Production notes

  • This is the first episode to use the gong as a title card.

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