Mr. Ratburn
Nigel Ratburn
Gender Male
Animal Rat
Eye color Brown[1]
Hair color Brown[2]
Complexion Brown (s1-s5, s16-present)
Orange (s6-s15)
Favorite color Magenta[3]
Residence Mr. Ratburn's House, Elwood City
Family Rodentia Ratburn (sister)
Lisa Ratburn (mother)
Otto Ratburn (father)
Rodentia Ratburn's child (niece or nephew)
Olga Ratburn (grandmother)
Hans Ratburn (grandfather)
Patrick Ratburn (husband)
Patty Ratburn (Sister)
son and daughter (imagined)
Job Teacher
Book debut Arthur and the True Francine
Cartoon debut "Arthur's Eyes"
Voiced by Arthur Holden (TV series)
David Kessler (Living Books)

Nigel[4] Charles[5] Ratburn (formerly Emil Ratburn[6]) is a third grade teacher at Lakewood Elementary School.


Past life

When Mr. Ratburn was a baby, he wore on a light blue sweater with a white collar, a red bow tie, white cloth diapers with pins, and bright red shoes and blue socks.

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 is 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 to play ping-pong.

As a young adult, he attended Elwood City High School with Bailey,[7] David Read,[8] and Mr. Haney.[9] In "Arthur's Almost Boring Day", it is revealed that he was a member of the Elwood City High School Football team.

In college, he was in a band called the "Ratburn Rats".[10]

Future life

Mr. Ratburn announces that he will 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 is 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 beard and glasses. He wears a black suit and turtleneck sweater.

Physical appearance

  • Ratburn in seasons 1-5
  • Ratburn in seasons 6-15
  • Ratburn in seasons 16 to present

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 another episode he also wore a tan colored sweater and black pants and wear 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 bow tie 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 a dark blue scarf tucked into the shirt.

There is also 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 strict teacher, but he has many other hobbies outside of the classroom, including puppetry, playing in a rock band, and bird-watching. He is also seen as a role model by several students. For instance, he encourages Arthur to be more physically active in "Arthur Weighs In", and he is able to relate to Maria's stuttering problem in "Maria Speaks".

He tends to give a lot of homework, projects and tests to the students in his class, which leads many to believe that he is the toughest teacher Lakewood Elementary School. Despite the heavy amount of school work to do, many of his students come to find out he is not as bad as they initially thought after he explains about organization, self-discipline and how they can do their homework in time for things they like to do.

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

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. Mr. Ratburn takes his role as a teacher seriously and often tries to mentor his students, occasionally in non-academic fields. When the roof of his home collapsed, Mr. Ratburn goes to stay with the Read family — showing a more laid back, jovial side to him.

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 Internet, he fell for multiple scams. 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 was the same as he looked in the cartoon show.


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 administers puppet shows that are popular among young kids. In "The Short, Quick Summer," Mr. Ratburn got a summer job at Jack's Joke Shop, where he worked as a cashier and helped Sue Ellen learn a card game magic trick.


  • Outside of school, Mr. Ratburn is shown to enjoy many jovial pursuits, such as magic, puppeteering, and camping.
  • The car that Mr. Ratburn drives is a red roadster convertible.
  • He also buys a mini van with boat from The Internet in the episode Best of the Nest.
  • Mr. Ratburn is a fanatic of Spooky Poo, a play on the Hanna-Barbera-based Scooby-Doo show.
  • A running gag is Mr. Ratburn knowing nothing about computers or the Internet.
  • Another running gag is his love (almost obsession) of desserts, especially for cake.
  • In "For the Birds", Mr. Ratburn mentions that bird watching has been a favorite past time of his since he was a child.
  • In "Cents-less”, Mr. Ratburn is shown feeding two goldfish, whom he calls Vladimir and Estragon. It would seem 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 then changed to orange in the next few seasons and back to brown in Season 16.
  • It is revealed in "Arthur's Baby", he knew how to write multiplication sentences at age 1 (or possibly 2).
  • He went to high school at the same time as David Read and Mr. Haney.
  • He may or may not be part Native American (specifically Cheyenne).[11]
  • He is part of a rock band called The Lost Teachers, as seen in "Lend Me Your Ear". He has become hard of hearing due to not having initially worn ear protection when practicing.
  • He and his husband Patrick are the series’ first known LGBT characters; they got married in Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.



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


  1. "Buster's Growing Grudge"
  2. "The Buster Report" - he grew out his hair when he was in the band.
  4. "Dancing Fools": "That was Nigel Ratburn and Paige Turner dancing the tango."
  5. "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?")
  6. in "Arthur's Baby" in 1996 (Ratburn's Mom: "Emil, what are you doing?!!") and "Background Blues" in 1998
  7. "The Butler Did... What?"
  8. "Arthur's Almost Boring Day"
  9. "Arthur's Almost Boring Day"
  10. The Buster Report
  11. "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"