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"Misfortune Teller"
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 23b
Original Airdate: United States November 6, 1996[1]
Germany January 14, 2002[2]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Luc Savoie
"Bully for Binky"
"Arthur's Tooth"
Read transcript

"Misfortune Teller" is the second half of the twenty-third episode in the first season of Arthur. It was later adapted into the book Arthur and the Cootie-Catcher.


Everyone wants Prunella to tell their fortunes, and pretty soon she's making all their decisions for them.


Arthur reads a comic book in bed and tells the viewers that people believe in some weird things, like his friend Buster with aliens and spaceships, and Francine plays better whenever she wears her lucky socks that never got washed. Arthur says he doesn't think he believes in that weird stuff either and soon checks under his bed for monsters before he goes to bed.

Misfortune Teller

Francine and Arthur walk through Prunella's backyard for her ninth and a half birthday party. Everyone has unique gifts to match the occasion; Binky gives Prunella a half baseball, Francine gives half of a licorice, and Buster gives her a half of a candy bar in which he ate half of it.

Then Prunella's older sister, Rubella, tells everyone to gather around and perceive her cootie catcher. She tells them that it was created and handed down from her ancestors in the Transylvania Mountains, it has the power to tell fortunes, and was given to a special girl on her half birthday. Francine asks if she can have a slice of half birthday cake, but Rubella dares to Francine to ask her fortune. Francine's fortune was if she will play professional football; Prunella tells Francine to pick a color and a number. So she picks green and three, then Prunella tells her to pick another number; so she picks the number six, with the answer being yes. But Francine tells her that they'll have to wait when they're all grown up if it was right.

Buster asks Prunella if he'll ever get an A on the geography test, but everyone laughed at it, and Arthur tells Buster that he never gets A's. So, Buster picks blue and the number 2 and 5, then it reads "It is Certain!"; Buster remarks, “That's funny. I don't even get A's in my alphabet soup.”

The next day, Mr. Ratburn gives Arthur and Buster their Geography Test, in which Mr. Ratburn gives Buster a straight A and Buster was right. Arthur, Francine and Muffy went by to Prunella's House to answer this time with a tough question from the cootie catcher, Arthur suggest if Binky will ever sing a stupid song in front of everyone. then Prunella picks the color red, then the number one and eight, and the answer reads "Yes! Definitely". Francine thinks it's going to be wrong this time.

The next day during the Gym, two coaches argue over the lyrics to “The Eensy Weensy Spider”. Coach Grimslid says it's "Up the Spout Again" and Coach Bumpus says it's "Down the Spout Again". So Coach Bumpus tells Binky to sing “The Eensy Weensy Spider” and the fortune became true to Arthur. When Binky sings, “And the eensy weensy spider went up the spout again” Coach Bumpus is surprised and says that Coach Grimslid was right.

Prunella was with the cootie catcher again at the Sugar Bowl until Arthur and his friends arrive, Francine asks Buster why he needs money if he doesn't need it and he does need it.

Francine told Buster that she asks the Cootie Catcher before and it said no and sure enough Buster has no money in his jean pockets; he even does a handstand, and a paper clip and a moth fall out of his pockets since he couldn't buy a soda since Francine won't loan Buster her money; meanwhile, a woman asks Buster if he would carry all of her groceries to her car and he told Arthur and his friends that he earned a dollar after putting all of her groceries into her car. Francine was right again.

Then the next day, everyone was in line at Prunella's house waiting to get their fortunes told, and Rubella suggests a day and Prunella was growing very tired. Arthur suggests a question first, then Buster and everyone did the same thing by asking so many questions for the cootie catcher and last Francine asks if she'll ever be a quarterback.

While playing soccer, Buster pleaded to Francine to play but she can't because the cootie catcher said so.

Arthur tells Brain that if Rubella says if anyone listens to the cootie catcher and they will be cursed. But Brain tells Arthur that Fortune Telling is stupid. Until a truck backs up and crushes his bike, Brain and Arthur then panic since Arthur believes that it's the curse of the cootie catcher. Brain asks Prunella with the cootie catcher if he'll ever get a new bike.

At school Sue Ellen ask Prunella if she'll ever get her fortune told, but she tells her when the birds begin there song, and the sun casts new long shadows and Sue Ellen thinks it means tomorrow morning.

The next day as Prunella and all of Arthur's were walking down by the sidewalk, D.W. wants to get her fortune told, but just then Muffy passes by while riding in her bicycle and asks them to come to her house and play computer games, but she didn't answer them.

Just then Muffy shows out Arthur and Buster her deluxe Crosswire Platinum Series Cootie Catcher with all new better fortunes designed by her and she tells them to ask a fortune. Buster asks his fortune if he'll study for the test and then it reads: "you will be very wealthy". Then Muffy turns to Arthur, who wants to know if he'll ever get new sneakers and then it reads: "you will have incredible riches", and Arthur and Buster walk off carrying their backpacks.

Arthur and his friends passed by the Ice Cream Store and Brain's Mom tells Francine that she was the hundredth person to pass today and she wins a free cone, but Francine refuses and she must pay for her ice cream; Brain's Mom asks Brain what's going on with him, and he tells her that they have to listen to the cootie catcher.

Then it happened to everyone, including Binky, who had to bring his Good Luck Charm everywhere including in class, Brain is not suppose to swing after 4 strike outs in baseball practice and Arthur has to draw a couple of flowers in which D.W. explains him why he's doing this.

The very next day, Rubella tells Arthur and his Friends that she isn't feeling well, and then Prunella tells everyone that the Cootie Catcher is gone, everyone was shocked to hear about this and Arthur decide to have a search party and Francine suggest looking for it at which make Prunella her powers are draining.

At Mr. Haney's House, they ask if they wanted to look for the cootie catcher at school which today was Saturday and Arthur definitely demands to unlock the door and Mr. Haney must be doing something right and so they look around the classroom but the cootie catcher wasn't around.

Meanwhile back at Prunella's House, Muffy told her she can use her cootie catcher, but Rubella thinks only the one that was given on her half birthday has the power. Just then Prunella thinks someone stole it and she thinks Muffy took it and all of sudden, Prunella's Mom came out and she found in the washing machine, her cheeks turn red and she apologizes.

So Prunella fixed it with tape and it was working. Then Arthur decides to go over to his house and watch "Turtles, Turtles, Turtles" since it was starting.

As they reach to Arthur's House, Brain decides if they should ask if it's okay to watch television before it was about to come on. So Prunella brings out the cootie catcher, and just then D.W. told Arthur out from the window that "Turtles, Turtles, Turtles" is on in the living room, but the cootie catcher said that they couldn’t watch it and D.W. believes they're under the curse of the cootie catcher and heads off to watch the show.

Arthur can't take it anymore, and says, "Should we be obeying some old, folded piece of paper? Or should we make our own decisions?"

With that, Francine decides to ask it. Francine tells Buster to pick a color and two numbers, so he picks yellow like the color of Arthur's sweater and then the number 2, and 2, again like the Number 2 on Francine's Jersey, and Francine asks if they should stop listening to the cootie catcher and the answer was "Yes, definitely". Arthur and all of his friends were free at last and they all went into to the living room to watch "Turtles, Turtles, Turtles." While they are, Prunella then throws the cootie catcher into a trash can.

That night Mrs. Read tells D.W. to turn off her light so she can go to sleep and D.W. replies that she can't. It turns out that D.W. got the Cootie Catcher from the trash can, and it does not allow her to sleep.






  • At the end, Prunella discards the cootie catcher because she and her friends don't need to use it anymore, although Prunella still uses the cootie catcher occasionally in later seasons.
  • Francine wears a different shirt near the end of the episode. This jersey is blue with a number "2" imprinted on it.
  • Since the Cootie Catcher only answers in variations of "yes" and "no," Binky must have asked it whether he should carry his Good Luck Charm and Brain asked if he was allowed to swing at practice. If they hadn't brought up the ideas, they wouldn't have had to do such embarrassing things.

Episode connections

Cultural references

  • Rubella claims her ancestors were "Transylvanian commuters of the Carpathian mountains." Transylvania is a region in what is now Romania. In popular culture it is associated with horror stories, since part of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is set there. "Commuters" is used in the sense of "people who commune with spirits" rather than "travelers."
  • Although Turtles, Turtles, Turtles is not actually shown when everyone watches it at the end, it is clearly a reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a very popular franchise at the time with an animated series still on the air at the time this episode was made.


D.W. is seen in the crowd, even though she was not invited to the party.

  • At Prunella's 9 1/2 birthday party, D.W. was shown four times in the crowd; but in other shots there, she was not actually at the party.
  • The cootie catcher's colors are not properly aligned.
  • During Francine's turn for a fortune, after she picked green, the number 3 was not an option (although she picked it), and then the number 6 (she picked that number) was with the odd numbers in place of the number 1, although 6 is an even number.
  • When Arthur, Francine, and Muffy go to Prunella's house for another fortune, Francine knocked on the door and was ahead of the two; but later in that scene, she is standing behind them.
  • Also in that scene with Arthur, Francine, and Muffy at the front door of Prunella's house, the car on the street had its headlights on, but later on its headlights are off, although there was nobody in that car.
  • A cootie catcher that has been mangled in the washing machine would be unusable.
  • Out of all the people who attended Prunella's 9 1/2 birthday party, Buster was the only one dressed formally besides party host Prunella, while everyone else who attended were dressed casually. This might be because half-birthdays are not as important as actual birthdays.
  • In the final scenes, Francine is wearing a blue shirt with the number 2 on it; but after she and the others go inside Arthur's house to watch Turtles, Turtles, Turtles, she is wearing her usual red shirt.

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