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"The Substitute Arthur"
Season/Series: 18
Number in season: 3b
Original Airdate: United States September 30, 2014[1]
United Kingdom March 2, 2015[2]
Germany September 30, 2014[3]
Written by: Ken Scarborough
Storyboard by: Rick Marshall
"The Case of the Girl with the Long Face"
"Best Wishes"
Read transcript

"The Substitute Arthur" is the second half of the third episode in the eighteenth season of Arthur.


With Arthur out of town, Buster is on the hunt for a new best friend. Problem is, Buster only wants to play games HIS way. Will Buster learn to compromise? Or is he destined to play alone?[4]


The episode starts with Arthur and Buster playing a giant version of Megalopolis, a board game. Buster rolls a three and moves to a Dunking Booth space, only to fall in water when he fails to answer a trivia question. After Arthur rolls, he gets to pick a card. It simply reads, "You're going away." Arthur drives off in his car game piece. This sequence is then revealed to be a dream, and Buster mumbles, "Come back..." in his sleep.

The next day, Buster tells Arthur about his dream. Arthur then reveals that he actually is going on birdwatching trip on Friday. Buster screams while the camera zooms out.

The Substitute Arthur

Buster is devastated when he learns that Arthur will be going on a birdwatching trip with his uncle Fred for a few days. Buster is worried that he will be bored and that there will be nothing to do while Arthur is away. Arthur responds that he and Buster should do twice the amount of things they normally do before Arthur leaves. They start doing things like cooking marshmallows and playing instruments, telling jokes and going on a waterslide, and watching TV while playing baseball.

However, Buster's joy fades away when the Friday arrives. Buster screams, "There needs to be more weekdays!" Mr. Ratburn comments that it would be great if everybody were like him, to Brain's astonishment. 

Arthur and his dad leave Elwood City while Buster tries to say goodbye, only to be exhausted as he tries to chase them on foot.

It seems that Buster's world is now gloomy and he does not find neither the courage nor the force to continue any activity.

Buster's mother suggests that he hangs out with his other friends to make time go by faster. Buster proceeds to make a list of things that he normally does with Arthur, so he can do them with other people. Buster tries Brain at first, but Brain does not appreciate Buster's rules for Megalopolis. He deducts that Buster's rules made him lose two IQ points, then says that he wants to play Megalopolis with the official rules. Buster responds, "That sounds hard."

Buster reads off his list to Muffy, but she objects to digging holes ("Touch dirt?") and riding roller coasters. ("Motion sickness.") Muffy suggests that they go clothes shopping.

Buster then decides to visit Francine, but she finds all of his activities boring. Buster then suggests "tree ball," a game of his own, but Francine instead wants to play tennis. However, Buster has never played tennis before.

Buster then stares at the Read house, to D.W.'s annoyance. D.W. lets him come in, then suggests that they play a game. During a game of Megalopolis, D.W. plays the game using her own rules, and does not want to play it Buster's way. Buster realizes that he is acting like D.W., as he refused to try playing tennis with Francine and used his own Megalopolis rules at Brain's house.

Buster asks Brain to show him the real Megalopolis rules. He learns that it can be fun to try new hobbies. He manages to play Megalopolis correctly with Brain, advises Muffy on a hat choice, and beats Francine at tennis.

When Arthur returns, Buster chooses to play tennis with him. He then talks about the new Megalopolis rules and how clothes shopping is "kind of fun, too." Buster tells Arthur that "a lot happened while you were gone" and that he learned something from D.W., to Arthur's surprise.







  • Buster's list is as follows:
    • Roller coaster
    • Camp out
    • Dig hole
    • Thumb wrestling
    • Staring contest
    • Kick a rock
    • Run in circles
    • Climb trees
    • Mud sled
    • Board games (changes to "Touch dirt" in a different scene)
  • In most IQ classifications, the highest category is 130 and above. Even after playing with Buster, Brain's IQ is still 148.

Episode connections

Cultural references

  • The game Megalopolis is largely based on Monopoly, except for the quiz cards. Boot and car are two classic Monopoly tokens.
  • The Megalopolis square Scarborough Street is likely named after this episode's writer Ken Scarborough.
  • The question Buster gets while playing Megalopolis is "Who wrote Beethoven's fifth symphony?"


  • The cold open is missing when this episode is made available on the PBS Kids website and app.


Main article: The Substitute Arthur/Gallery