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"Mom and Dad Have a Great Big Fight"
Season/Series: 3
Number in season: 14a
Original Airdate: United States December 31, 1998[1]
Canada May 24, 1999[2] [3]
Germany March 12, 2002[4]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Robert Yap
"Francine and the Feline"
"D.W.'s Perfect Wish"
Read transcript

"Mom and Dad Have a Great Big Fight" is the first half of the fourteenth episode in the third season of Arthur.


When their parents fight over spilled milk, Arthur and D.W. worry that it was their fault— and wonder whether either Jane or David will have to move out.


David and Jane are expecting company but are behind schedule in preparing dinner. At the same time, D.W. and Arthur run into the kitchen and argue in front of their parents. D.W. says Arthur promised to play Confuse the Goose with her, and now won't do so. Arthur protests he never promised, but rather said "maybe", and that he has to finish his homework. After a stern reply from David and Jane, Arthur agrees to play with his sister, and D.W. agrees to leave her brother to his homework. As David and Jane resume cooking, Jane accidentally knocks a container of milk and it begins to fall.

The scene is then frozen and Nadine appears. She introduces herself as the host for the episode and explains that the phrase "don't cry over spilled milk" will play an important role for Arthur and D.W. regarding their family's future.

Mom and Dad Have a Great Big Fight

Nadine shortly resumes the scene in which the milk falls, along with a bowl of batter David accidentally drops. She then rewinds the scene to when Arthur and D.W. leave the kitchen and plays it, revealing what D.W.'s angle was up to before the milk spilled.

D.W. complains to Nadine how her parents always have her think about Arthur before she can play with him. Wishing their parents were different, D.W. imagines what it'd be like if they treated Arthur badly and gave her all of their attention. After her daydream, D.W. begins to plays Confuse the Goose with Nadine in the dining room when she suddenly hears the milk drop. Jane and David argue loudly over this setback, much to her shock.

D.W. rushes up to Arthur's room and frantically tells him their parents were yelling at each other. He fails to believe her, so D.W. goes over what happened downstairs. When Arthur wonders what they were yelling about, she can't recollect it but insists that their mom and dad hate each other.

Arthur is still skeptical, believing D.W. is playing a trick on him, but relents upon seeing how scared she looks. After some hesitation, he decides to go and see for himself. Arthur and D.W. head to the staircase but don't hear anything. Nadine appears once more, revealing what Jane and David are doing.

David and Jane both try to clean up the spilled milk and batter in the kitchen, only to begin arguing again over who will finish this chore. Arthur and D.W. hear this and just like D.W., Arthur is unable to comprehend why they are arguing. They panic and head back into Arthur's bedroom. Arthur and D.W. begin blaming each other for annoying their parents and causing the fight through various means.

After taking a breather, D.W. asks what could happen if their parents decide to never speak to each other again. The two imagine Christmas at the Read house with their parents sitting at opposite ends of a long dinner table. Jane and David are at odds to the point that Arthur and D.W. have to speak on their parents' behalf to the other whilst running from each end of the table.

In the present, D.W. worries how the family would get things done in such a situation but Arthur points out no two people would live in the same house and not talk to each other.

D.W. then worries one of their parents will move away. They both imagine David moving away: Jane lovingly greets Arthur, D.W., and Kate in the morning but doesn't bother to cook breakfast because that was David's job. Arthur and D.W. then imagine Jane moving away: David cooks them a fancy breakfast, but they can't go out very far because Jane took their transportation with her.

Arthur and D.W. start imagining even more details, such as what would happen if each parent got partial custody; Arthur imagines that he and Kate are living with Jane and he initially enjoys the peace and quiet from D.W. not being there. When Arthur plans to take Pal for a walk, however, he is taken aback when his mom reveals that Dad got Pal as well.

Arthur and D.W. continue to worry to the point that if one of them is to blame for the divorce, then they wouldn't be wanted by either parent! D.W. wonders if they would have to go to an orphanage; Arthur imagines an orphanage similar to the one in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, in which the titular character is denied more food by the orphanage head. Arthur declares they must avoid going to an orphanage at all costs — especially one set in the 1800s. He and D.W. think about emancipation, and imagine they live in a small cottage with Kate and Pal, able to do chores together. However, none of them can cook and Arthur can't sing to Kate or D.W. if they can't sleep. Even though she has her siblings around, D.W. feels all alone without her parents.

With all of this in mind, Arthur and D.W. decide they must do something about this problem. D.W. thinks it's her fault since she wished their parents were different and now it's come true. Arthur suggests they simply discuss the situation as a family.

They then sneak down the steps and begin to hear Jane and David "argue" again, with David deciding to leave. Panicking, Arthur and D.W. try to stop him, begging their dad not to leave. However, David reveals he's only going to the store to get milk. D.W. is still hysterical for a while, pleading their parents not to hate each other because she and Arthur don't want to be orphans. A confused Jane arrives and wonders why D.W. thinks they hate each other. After D.W. finally comprehends David's words, Arthur sheepishly explains that she overheard David and Jane fighting and misinterpreted.

Arthur and D.W.'s parents explain that occasional arguments are a normal part of married life, similar to how kids sometimes fight with their family, but it doesn't take away how much they love each other. David and Jane assure Arthur and D.W. that they weren't going to leave the family or do anything drastic. David heads out and D.W. says, "Guess I solved that one."

As Arthur and D.W. head upstairs, Nadine returns to give the moral of the story: "Don't put your milk close to the edge because somebody's gonna knock it over."



  • At the end of the intro, Arthur’s original crashing sound plays. This makes it unknown whether the episode plus D.W.'s Perfect Wish was actually repackaged in 2000 because they at least forgot to update the copyright portion of the credits. This is the only episode in the Season 1-4 rerun repackage for that to happen. However, the CINAR logo did get plastered in 2009 by the 2008 Cookie Jar logo, as with all Season 1-8 episodes, plus the first three and the fifth episode of Season 9. Therefore, it’s possible that the episode was repackaged in 2009, but not in 2000.
  • Moral: Divorce can happen, but one fight doesn't mean that your parents have fallen out of love.
  • This is the second episode hosted by Nadine, with the first being "D.W. Gets Lost."
  • This episode has the most imagine spots in the series, with eight; the ripple effect is used sixteen times.
  • This episode explores that sometimes children are unable to understand what their parents are saying, and can only understand the volume and tone of voice. Arthur and D.W.'s interpretations of the yelling from David and Jane are similar to future episodes, such as "The Secret Life of Dogs and Babies," where dogs and babies can only understand specific words.
  • At one point during a montage, Arthur whistles and D.W. hums the tune of "Believe in Yourself."
  • The Oliver Twist book displays the workhouse master and the title character as humans.

Cultural references[]

  • Arthur holds a copy of Oliver Twist, and the orphanage fantasy parodies the famous scene where Oliver asks for some more food. Arthur is Oliver and Mr. Ratburn is the workhouse master.
    • While some British dialects drop H's, none drops M's.
  • The imagine spot of D.W. having to go back and forth between parents at Christmas could be a reference to Citizen Kane.


  • While David is adding milk to the bowl of batter, only the milk is shown.
  • While trying to prevent David from leaving, Arthur moves his head, but his pupils briefly remain in place, leaving the frame of his glasses.
  • As previous episodes have shown, Jane can cook, and David would still have the van if his wife took the car.

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