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Mr. Ratburn
Nigel Ratburn
Age mid-to-late 30s[1]
Gender Male
Animal Rat
Eye color Brown[2]
Hair color Moderate tangelo[3]
Complexion Moderate tangelo (s1-s5, s16-present)
Brilliant gamboge (s6-s15)
Favorite color Magenta[4]
Residence Mr. Ratburn's House, Elwood City
Family Lisa Ratburn (mother)
Otto Ratburn (father)
Rodentia Ratburn (sister)
Unnamed nephew
Patty Ratburn (sister)
Olga Ratburn (grandmother)
Hans Ratburn (grandfather)
Patrick (husband)(see Ratburn family for more)
Job Teacher
Book debut Arthur and the True Francine
Cartoon debut "Arthur's Eyes"
Voiced by Arthur Holden (TV series and podcast)
David Kessler (Living Books)
Matt Walters
Derek Sorrentino
Dee Bradley Baker (Computer Games)

Nigel[5] Charles[6] Ratburn (originally Emil Ratburn[7]) is a teacher at Lakewood Elementary School. He teaches Arthur's third and fourth grade classes. In "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone," Mr. Ratburn marries a chocolate shop owner named Patrick.


Past life

As a baby, Mr. Ratburn wore a light blue sweater with a white collar, a red bowtie, white cloth diapers with pins, bright red shoes and blue socks. Arthur believes that at the age of one or two, he was already able to write multiplication problems, though it's unknown if this is actually true.

As a kid, he had three outfits. Two of them were the Glenbrook Academy's uniforms. Then, he had casual clothes that he wore to events, like the Father's Day picnic. They consisted of a blue buttoned shirt with a white shirt under it and blue pants.

In the episode "Arthur Weighs In," it's revealed that as a child he used to be overweight (a "fatty rat" as he put it when talking with Arthur) until he began exercising more while learning how to play ping-pong.

As a teenager, he attended Elwood City High School with Bailey,[8] David Read and Mr. Haney.[9] In "Arthur's Almost Boring Day," it's revealed that he was a member of the Elwood City High School football team.

When he was a young adult in college, he was in a band called "The Ratburn Rats."[10]

Future life

Mr. Ratburn announces that he'll become a fourth grade teacher during the upcoming school year in "The Last Day." Besides this, not much is known about Mr. Ratburn's future outside of what is depicted in dream sequences. During the futuristic scene in the episode, "Buster Makes the Grade," it's suggested that Mr. Ratburn will continue his career as a teacher at Lakewood Elementary for many years to come.


An alternate future Ratburn in Arthur's dream.

In Arthur's dream in "D.W. and the Beastly Birthday," Mr. Ratburn is seen four years in the future, with a goatee and glasses. He wears a black suit with a green turtleneck sweater.

Physical appearance

Mr. Ratburn's appearance consists of a green suit complete with a solid yellow shirt and bright red necktie (in the books, his uniform ranges to different colors). Being a rat, he has long whiskers, which he appears to keep trimmed.

He has brown clumps of hair in the books; although, in the cartoon show, his hair was restricted to thin black lines. He also wears his shirts tucked into his pants and always wears a belt buckle with his pants. He also wears blue pajamas, and in one episode, he wore a turquoise night shirt, and in another episode, he also wore a tan colored sweater and black pants and brown or black slippers.

His casual clothing consists of a cream-colored T-shirt and faded blue jeans. For formal occasions, Mr. Ratburn wears a charcoal or black Tuxedo jacket with a white tuxedo shirt black bowtie and charcoal or black tuxedo trousers.

When outdoors for something like fossil-hunting, Mr. Ratburn wears a dark brown hat with a yellow line on the bottom of the tip of the hat going all around the tip. He also wears a very light yellow or beige shirt and a dark blue scarf tucked into the shirt.

He also has a short-sleeved beige jacket with two pockets one on each side of the jacket and two shoulder straps, one on each side of the jacket. He also wears blue shorts, very light yellow or beige socks, and light brown boots. He always carries a briefcase with him to class.


Mr. Ratburn is primarily known for being a very tough teacher as he gives a lot of homework, projects and tests to the students in his class. His tough teaching style is inspired by his own grade school teacher, Mr. Pryce-Jones, whom Mr. Ratburn places a lot of respect towards as being his best teacher. In "The Last Day" and the song "Pop Quiz from Ratburn," Mr. Ratburn explains that his schoolwork is difficult because he wants to challenge his students, knowing they can handle it. Mr. Ratburn takes his role as a teacher seriously and often tries to mentor his students, occasionally in non-academic fields. For instance, he encourages Arthur to be more physically active in "Arthur Weighs In," and he's able to relate to Maria's stuttering problem in "Maria Speaks."

Despite his reputation, he has many other hobbies outside of the classroom. This includes puppetry, bird-watching, performing magic tricks, and playing in a rock band. When the roof of his house collapses, Mr. Ratburn stays with the Read family, and is shown to enjoy watching Spooky Poo cartoons, much to Arthur's surprise.[11]

Mr. Ratburn is often friendly, helpful and good-natured, rarely showing any hint of malice and has shown that he truly cares about his students time and time again. Many of his students eventually realize he is not as bad as they initially thought after he explains about responsibility, self-discipline and time management (how they can do their homework and have time for things that they like to do). Arthur, Buster and Brain consider Mr. Ratburn their friend at times, with Arthur even greeting him when he sees him in public.[12] Despite his good spirit, Mr. Ratburn can occasionally be stern when he needs to be, and will not tolerate any of his students misbehaving, skipping school, or otherwise performing poorly in class.

Even though Mr. Ratburn is calm and cool, he cackles uncontrollably in the dream sequences that the other characters have involving him in.

He frequently struggles with new, modern technology, such as using computers, the Internet and his classroom's new interactive "smart" board; for example, the first time he used the his new computer, he fell for multiple online scams.[13] This may be why he often uses an old film projector during his class lessons. He does become a bit more acclimated to some technology in various situations, however. He learns to use a tablet device called the BoysenBerry and he manages to purchase a canoe online in "Best of the Nest."

In other media

In the Living Books computer games, he came out in Arthur's Teacher Trouble, even though there's a shadow look-alike of him walking outside while Arthur and Jane are out shopping for party supplies in Arthur's Birthday. He was voiced by David Kessler before the cartoon show replaced him with Arthur Holden.

In the later computer games (such as Arthur's Thinking Games), Mr. Ratburn's appearance is the same as in the show. He hosts a trivia game.


See Nigel Ratburn's class.



Mr. Ratburn has numerous jobs. In "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn," it's revealed that Mr. Ratburn's a teacher, a basketball coach, and works on the school newspaper. In his spare time, he puts on puppet shows, often at Elwood City Public Library that are popular to young children. He gladly repaired Clarissa "in a couple of hours" despite being very busy, and requiring a Gelatin Coating as well as other delicate restoration techniques. In "The Short, Quick Summer," Mr. Ratburn gets a summer job at Jack's Joke Shop, where he works as a cashier and helps Sue Ellen learn a card game magic trick.


  • The car that Mr. Ratburn drives is a red roadster convertible.
  • It was implied Mr. Ratburn was gay for years but the episode "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" had confirmed this. The episode made history as it was the first gay wedding in a show aimed at very young audiences.
  • In "Cents-less," Mr. Ratburn is shown feeding two goldfish, whom he calls Vladimir and Estragon. It shows that Mr. Ratburn has named his pets in honor of two characters from Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.
  • For the first few seasons, he has brown skin, which then changed to orange in the next few seasons and back to brown in Season 16.
  • He might have some Native American (specifically Cheyenne) ancestry.[19]
  • He's named after Marc Brown's 7th grade math teacher, Mr. Gary Rathbun.[20]
  • The song that he and Patrick dance to at their wedding reception is "Disco a GoGo" from TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, composed by Graeme Norgate.
  • Mr. Ratburn is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids as of "Lend Me Your Ear."
  • According to production member Peter Huggan, WGBH conducted a case study around 2000 which showed that children "hate" Mr. Ratburn and thought he was scary.[21] Although this perception of Mr. Ratburn is true even in-universe among students at Lakewood, this response apparently resulted in the character having fewer lines for a few seasons thereafter, according to Huggan.




The Arthur Podcast


Ratburn card
The full image gallery for Nigel Ratburn may be viewed at Nigel Ratburn/Gallery.


  1. Ratburn was in the same high school band as Bailey (see The Butler Did... What?), and Bailey is confirmed to be 37 (see Caught in the Crosswires)
  2. "Buster's Growing Grudge"
  3. "The Buster Report" - he grew out his hair when he was in the band.
  4. Trading Cards
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Dancing Fools": "That was Nigel Ratburn and Paige Turner dancing the tango."
  6. "Bitzi's Beau" in 2000 (Priest: "Do you, Nigel Charles Ratburn, take Bitzi Lynn Baxter, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, through sickness and in health, from this day forward, til death do you part?")
  7. in "Arthur's Baby" in 1996 (Lisa Ratburn: "Emil, what are you doing?!!") and "Background Blues" in 1998
  8. "The Butler Did... What?"
  9. "Arthur's Almost Boring Day"
  10. "The Buster Report"
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Rat Who Came to Dinner"
  12. "Lend Me Your Ear"
  13. "Muffy and the Big Bad Blog"
  14. "The Return of the King"
  15. "Double Dare"
  16. "Dad's Dessert Dilemma"
  17. "Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble"
  18. "Thank you. But nothing is too good for my baby brother Nigey." -Patty, "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone"
  19. "In fact, that Ratburn fellow looks a lot like a Cheyenne I used to know named Tahmelapachme. That means "dull knife." (chuckles)"Sitting Bull, "On This Spot"