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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 thinks she plays better whenever she wears her lucky socks that never get washed. Arthur says he doesn't think he believes in that weird stuff, 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 the other half.

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 Francine to ask her fortune. Francine asks if she will play professional football; Prunella tells Francine to pick a color and a number, so she picks green and three. Prunella then tells her to pick another number, so she picks the number six. The answer is "yes". But Francine tells her that they'll have to wait until they're all grown up to know if the Cootie Catcher was right.

Buster asks Prunella if he'll get an "A" on the geography test, but everyone laughs, and Arthur tells Buster that he never gets "A"'s. Buster picks blue and the numbers 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 an "A" and Buster was right. Arthur, Francine and Muffy go to Prunella's house to test the Cootie Catcher with a tough question. Arthur asks if Binky will sing a stupid song in front of everyone the next day. Arthur picks the color red, then the numbers one and eight, and the answer reads "Yes! Definitely". Francine thinks "it's going to be wrong this time", and Arthur agrees.

The next day during 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 Arthur's fortune becomes true when Binky sings, “And the eensy weensy spider went "UP the spout again”. Coach Bumpus is surprised and concedes to Coach Grimslid that she was right.

Prunella is with the cootie catcher at The Sugar Bowl, and Arthur and his friends arrive and go inside, except for Francine and Buster. Francine asks Buster why he asked her for money for a soda if he doesn't need money, and he says he does need it. Francine tells Buster that she asked the Cootie Catcher if he needed money, and it said "no." Buster insists he has no money; he even does a handstand, and all that falls out of his pockets are a paper clip and a moth. Despite this, the Cootie Catcher has Francine convinced that Buster is lying. Meanwhile, a woman walking by asks Buster for help carrying her groceries to her car. He runs into the Sugar Bowl and tells Arthur and his friends that he got paid a dollar for helping the woman. The Cootie Catcher was right again- Buster didn't need Francine's money!

The next day, everyone is in line at Prunella's house waiting to get their fortunes told, and Rubella says everyone may only ask one question a day, and Prunella says she gets very tired. Arthur asks a question first, then Buster and everyone starts to ask their questions at the same time. Lastly, Francine asks if she'll be a quarterback when she plays pro.

While playing soccer, Buster pleads for Francine to play, or else they"ll have to forfeit the game, but she says she can't because the Cootie Catcher said so.

Arthur tells Brain that, according to Rubella, anyone who defies what the Cootie Catcher says will be cursed. But Brain tells Arthur that Fortune Telling is stupid. At that moment, a truck backs up and crushes Brain's bike. Brain and Arthur then panic and Arthur believes that "it's the curse of the cootie catcher!" Brain ends up asking Prunella and the cootie catcher if he should buy a new bike.

At school, Sue Ellen asks Prunella when she can have her next fortune told. Prunella responds with "when the birds begin their song, and the new sun casts long shadows", and Sue Ellen thinks that means tomorrow morning.

The next day, as Prunella and all of Arthur's friends walk down by the sidewalk, D.W. wants to get her fortune told, but is told by Prunella that "a child's worry is but a drop of rain in a sea of tears." Just then, Muffy passes by while riding her bicycle and asks if anyone wants to come to her house and play computer games, like they used to do, but she doesn't get an answer.

Later, Muffy shows 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 if he should study for the test and it reads: "you will be very wealthy". Then Muffy turns to Arthur, who wants to know if he'll get new sneakers and is told: "you will have incredible riches". Arthur and Buster walk off carrying their backpacks.

Arthur and his friends pass by the Ice Cream Shop and Mrs. Powers tells Francine that she was the hundredth person to walk past that day, and wins a free cone. Francine refuses, and says she must pay for her ice cream; Mrs. Powers asks Brain what's going on, and he tells her that they have to listen to the Cootie Catcher (after all, "It killed his bike"!)

Then, everyone is under the influence of the Cootie Catcher. Binky has to bring his good luck charm (a teddy bear) everywhere, including in class; Brain is not supposed to swing during baseball; Arthur has to draw multiple pictures of flowers.

The very next day, Rubella tells Arthur and his friends that Prunella is feeling tired, and that everyone should speak very quietly around her. Prunella announces that the Cootie Catcher is gone. Everyone is shocked, and starts panicking. Arthur decides to have a search party and Francine suggest looking for it at school. Prunella tells everyone to hurry, and that her powers are draining.

At Mr. Haney's house, he is surprised to hear that the kids want to go to school on a Saturday. He figures he "must be doing something right". Everyone looks around the classroom, but the Cootie Catcher isn't there.

Back at Prunella's house, Muffy tells Prunella she can use her Cootie Catcher, but Rubella thinks only the one that was given on her half birthday has the power. Prunella thinks Muffy stole her Cootie Catcher, because she was envious of Prunella's powers. Just then, Prunella's mom comes out and reveals that she found the Cootie Catcher in the washing machine. Prunella's cheeks turn red and she apologizes to Muffy.

Prunella fixes the Cootie Catcher with tape, and "it still works!" Arthur decides to have everyone go over to his house and watch Turtles, Turtles, Turtles, since it was starting.

As they arrive at the house, Brain decides that they should ask if it's okay to watch television, so Prunella brings out the Cootie Catcher. From a window D.W. tells Arthur that "Turtles, Turtles, Turtles" is on, but Arthur sadly tells her the Cootie Catcher said that they couldn't watch it. D.W. is surprised everyone is still listening to 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). Francine asks if they should stop listening to the Cootie Catcher and the answer is "Yes, definitely". Arthur and all of his friends are "free at last" and they all go into to the living room to watch "Turtles, Turtles, Turtles." While they are, Prunella throws the Cootie Catcher into a trash can.

That night, Jane tells D.W. to turn off her light so she can go to sleep and D.W. replies that she can't sleep. It turns out that D.W. got the Cootie Catcher from the trash can, and it is not allowing 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 knocks on the door and is 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.

Differences from the Book

Home Video


  • Arthur:ihe Complete Series 1


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