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"It's a No-Brainer"
Season/Series: 5
Number in season: 3a
Original Airdate: United States October 9, 2000[1][2]
Canada January 10, 2001[3]
Written by: Dietrich Smith
Storyboard by: Robert Yap
"Nerves of Steal"
"The Shore Thing"
Read transcript

"It's a No-Brainer" is the first half of the third episode in the fifth season of Arthur. It was later adapted into the book Arthur and the No-Brainer.


When Brain loses his cool and loses to Buster in the Math-a-thon, he decides it's time to give up his books and his nickname.


Mr. Ratburn has the class draw straws to select the student who has to compete against Brain in the third grade Math-athon. Buster is chosen, much to his dismay.

Title Card: Brain Swims

During the Math-athon Buster answers the first question with a joke. Brain at first wants to pass the question, so as not to embarrass Buster, but his Brain (which appears as a brain-shaped person inside his head) makes him answer. The answer he gives is wrong which confuses him so much that he is unable to answer the other questions. Buster gets lucky and wins.

Buster is chosen to represent the class at the interclass Math-athon. Meanwhile, Brain finds that he can not concentrate. He has a fantasy in which his IQ drops to average. He gives Buster his books and science equipment. He says he wants to be called Alan and starts training to become a comedian, since that does not require great intelligence. His friends try unsuccessfully to talk him out of it.

Brain gets himself a clown costume and plans to perform at his parents' ice-cream shop. His friends send various math problems his way to tempt him. When he tells them to stop, a math book falls out of his clown pants. Brain admits that he really wants to do the Math-athon.

Mr. Ratburn lets Brain trade with Buster and Brain performs well at the Math-athon. His brain does push-ups while Buster’s brain watches TV.






Main article: It's a No-Brainer/Gallery


  • The answer to the equation Francine asks Buster to prove he can't be like Brain, or Alan, ["x equals pi times y cubed, and y equals the square root of 78"] is 2164; estimated to the ones place.
  • The equation that lands in Brain's prop box (AB + 22) is impossible to solve, as neither A or B are defined.


  • When Brain's brain reaches for the binoculars, his arms are brown instead of gray like they should be.
  • After Francine drops the math book, it vanishes.
  • When Mr. Powers defines "chimerical," the dishes of food on the table change. In one scene, they are part of the painted background, as opposed to the main cel drawing.

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