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"Francine's Big Top Trouble"
Season/Series: 9
Number in season: 2a
Original Airdate: United States December 28, 2004[1]
Canada May 5, 2005[2]
Germany January 1, 2008[3]
Written by: Adam Felber
Storyboard by: Ivan Tankushev
"Tipping the Scales"
"George Blows His Top"
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"Francine's Big Top Trouble" is the first half of the second episode in the ninth season of Arthur.


Francine's sister, Catherine, was a star at circus camp, so Francine is sure she will be, too. But when she can't seem to get the hang of tumbling, she wonders whether she'll ever get out of her sister's shadow.


Arthur muses on how lucky D.W. is to have him. According to him, he gives her good advice, encourages her, and she will be respected in kindergarten for being his sister. He is also teaching her checkers, at which she promptly beats him.

Francine's Big Top Trouble

Francine is enthusiastic about spending a week with the other kids at circus camp. Her sister Catherine did well there, and she is sure she will be even better.

The children are welcomed by their instructor, Boris, who remembers Catherine as one of his best students. Francine, however, turns out to be bad at cartwheels. When learning to juggle, she starts with three rather than two clubs, and fails. When trying backflips, she accidentally hurts the instructor.

Back at home, Catherine offers Francine her old circus equipment. Francine remembers cheering for her sister's tightrope act, but now she is jealous. She sees circus camp as a competition, even though Catherine assures her that it is not.

The next day, instructor Boris wants to teach the kids to use the flying trapeze, which he says was Catherine's best routine. Francine is angry about being compared to her sister. She is annoyed when Binky and Arthur confirm that she looks and sounds like Catherine. Francine tries the flying trapeze and falls into the safety net.

At home, Francine is so discouraged that she does not want her parents to come to the performance. She does not want to do anything that Catherine did.

At night, she has a dream, which looks like an ad for a movie starring Catherine as an action heroine. It is followed by an unenthusiastic ad introducing Francine as "Catherine II", an inferior sequel.

The next day, Francine wears a clown's costume at circus camp. Fishface the clown tries to teach her to ride the unicycle. She accidentally crashes into him and the other kids laugh.

Two days before the performance, Francine still can not do somersaults. Arthur and Binky are worried that she might embarrass herself.

At the performance, Francine's classmates perform various circus acts. Francine is last. Together with Fishface, she does a clown act, in which she intentionally gets other acts wrong. Her routine is well received by everyone. After the performance, she gets praise from Fishface and from Catherine, the latter of whom admits that she was never good at clowning.






  • During production, this episode was titled "I'm Not Catherine."[4]
  • This is the only episode written by Adam Felber.
  • "Haute couture", actually means "high fashion".

Episode connections[]

Cultural references[]

  • Boris and Natasha are a possible shoutout to Boris and Natasha of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, particularly the Bumbling Brothers Circus Story arc during the show's fifth season.
  • Boris Boudnikov is a caricature of Igor Boudnikov, the supervisor of character design in the series from around seasons 10 to 15.[5]


  • In "Arthur the Unfunny," Francine has no problem doing flips or cartwheels, and even tries to help Arthur learn how. This episode retcons her skills. It is possible this episode takes place before that one, since the series does not always go in chronological order.
  • Alex is not seen at the camp sessions, but appears in the final performance.
  • At the performance, Baby Kate is seen in the crowd with brown hair and different clothes.
  • In the flashback of Catherine's performance, Kate has blonde hair and a yellowish complexion, and D.W. is wearing a pink long sleeve shirt.
  • Emily's mother is accidentally colored like Unknown Female Adult Rabbit (Number 4).


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