"Francine's Pilfered Paper"

Francine's Pilfered Paper


Season/Series: 11
Number in season: 8A
Original Airdate: Flag of the United States September 5, 2007[1]
Flag of the United Kingdom December 21, 2007[2]
Written by: Raye Lankford
Storyboard by: Jean Lacombe
Ivan Tankushev
Robert Yap
"Mr. Alwaysright"
"Buster Gets Real"
Read transcript
"Francine's Pilfered Paper" is the first half of the eighth episode in the eleventh season of Arthur.


Francine copies and pastes information from a website for her entire five-page report.


Mr. Ratburn asks the class to write a topic based on Thanksgiving, much to everyone's disappointment, giving each student in the class a specific topic to research. Francine feels that she will not be able to handle the topic (What the Pilgrims ate), so Brain shows her that she could look up information on the Internet and gave a warning that that not all the stuff she might find is accurate.

She goes home and finds a website that she feels suits her topic. She copies the information and pastes it into a new document, complete with the title "Food For Thought". The next day she hands in the assignment early and surprises her classmates. Mr. Ratburn complemented on the neatness and timing of the assignment. Buster checks Francine to make sure she is not a robot.

The next day, while everyone is working on their assignments, Francine is watching the football game on TV. She gets called in by her sister Catherine, who tells her that she found a website that might help her with her assignment. Francine was surprised and tells her that this is her assignment, as it was the website she had copied it from. Catherine is surprised, and when Francine tells her how she composed her paper, Catherine tells her that she can't use someone else's work as her own, and explains that doing so is plagiarism. Francine is horrified to learn that she unknowingly stole someone else's work and could be suspended if she is caught, and Catherine proposes her to tell Mr. Ratburn what happened. At dinner, Mr. Frensky, Francine's father, talks about "stealing" a recipe he used to make dinner. This causes Francine to feel guilty about her assignment. She asks to be excused from the dinner table, and then rides her bike to Mr. Ratburn's house.

Mr. Ratburn meets Francine at the door. He assumes that she has come over to get her assignment. He walks over to his desk and grabs a marker and marked Francine's project with A minus. He says that there was some inaccurate information regarding when yams were introduced to the pilgrims, but that the paper was excellent overall. That night Francine has a dream in which she is a highly successful novelist as an adult who capitalized on the success of her plagiarized work, only to be confronted by the website's original creator who publicly denounces Francine as a plagiarist.

On Monday morning, Francine gets to class early, tells Mr. Ratburn about her accidental plagiarism and gives him a different report. In class, Mr. Ratburn was handing back the Thanksgiving assignment. He comes to Francine and says to her how original her real report was. Francine looks at the assignment and sees that she earned a B plus. Arthur asks her what was so exciting for her that she earned a B plus. She replies that it is because she turned in a paper that happens to be original, and the episode finishes.







  • During the prologue, which takes place before the first Thanksgiving, Francine is the only one who doesn't speak like a pilgrim.
  • Mr. Ratburn says that the report has to be at least five pages and Buster says it must be what college is like. However, Mr. Ratburn talked to the class about another five-page report in "The Boy with His Head in the Clouds," but it didn't seem like they were bothered about how hard it was.
  • This is the closest that the TV series has ever gotten to a Thanksgiving episode, though the book, Arthur's Thanksgiving, was published first.

Cultural references

  • In the prologue, Francine has a red letter 'P' on the front of her cap. This a reference to The Scarlet Letter, while the 'P' presumably standing for 'plagiarist/plagiarism'.
  • Binky’s topic, the Arminius Gomarus conflict, was a theological dispute between two Calivinist professors at Leiden, Netherlands. The pilgrims were English Calvinists who lived in Leiden during the dispute before founding Plymouth Colony in North America.
  • WooHoo! is a parody of Yahoo!.
  • The TV documentary mentions Giovanni D’Arcoli (Johannes Arculanus), a fifteenth century professor of medicine who is the first person known to have used gold fillings in teeth.
  • Mr. Ratburn’s books include Moby Dick, A Recipe for Murder, Catch 22, The Secret Pilgrim as well as books on Rome.
  • The character who appears in Francine's dream is a parody of Erik, better known as the Phantom, from the novel/musical, The Phantom of the Opera. One of the problems Erik faces is that the opera managers, ashamed of Erik, pass off his operas as their own, angering Erik.


  • When Francine is watching TV she is wearing socks. Then, when she goes into her and Catherine's room, she is wearing shoes.

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