An Original Fan’s Look Back on the Importance of Arthur
We have reached the end of an era for cartoons. After 26 years, 250+ episodes, and a mountain of memes, PBS Kids famed show, Arthur, ended its run on TV earlier this week. And if that doesn’t make you feel old right now, then I don’t know what will.
As someone who grew up in the late 90s and early-mid 2000s, I was fortunate enough to be among the first wave of kids who grew up watching Arthur on PBS Kids. Before I moved onto the likes of Nickelodeon proper, I’m pretty sure that Arthur was one of my favorite things to watch on TV. I still remember tuning in to watch it every weeknight after dinner on the kitchen TV, and enjoying every moment of it. Needless to say, Arthur was a big part of my early childhood, and while I eventually moved on to other cartoons, I came running back when I heard that the show was ending. I felt like I had to be there for the end, no matter how old I’d gotten, and I’m glad that I was. Seeing the final episode brought back so many good memories from my childhood.
Arthur All Grown Up
While some cartoons like to go out with as big a bang as possible, Arthur does not. Spectacle’s never been an issue for the show. It just wants to show kids living their lives and learning important life lesson’s. Therefore, it’s only fitting that the final episode has Arthur and his friends wonder what their future may hold for them. The things that interest them now, combined with their personalities, can end up telling a lot about what they want out of life, save for Arthur, who doesn’t know what he really wants to do. In a very touching scene, he ends up getting a spark of inspiration from none other than the creator of Arthur himself, Marc Brown, who appears in the show’s final episode as himself. Marc Brown’s been involved with the show since the very beginning, and its only fitting that he was there for the end.
Flash-forward to 20 years later, and we see what many of the kids are doing now that they’re grown up. The second-biggest surprise to me was the fact that DW’s a traffic cop. God have mercy on Elwood City.
But the real surprise is what happens to Arthur himself. Much like Marc Brown, he becomes a graphic novelist, with his first book being called Arthur. In other words, the entire show could be seen as Arthur telling the story of his childhood in graphic novel form, with the first page of his book opening up on the first scene from the first episode of the series. Arthur has come full circle.
A Perfect Ending
While it’s not as epic as the finale’s to some shows, I didn’t mind this at all. Arthur has always known what it’s been about, and has never shied away from that. It had nothing to prove to us, and thus got to end on its own terms. I found it very poetic to see the show end up coming full-circle, with the kids of the cast now the same age as us, ready to share their story with the next generation. In an even bigger twist, the end credits reveal that the adult version of Arthur is voiced by none other than his original voice actor. AKA, the voice for Arthur that I grew up with. When I realized this, I actually shed a tear, seeing it as the perfect way to end the show.
Fortunately, while the show might be over, Arthur is not. PBS Kids will continue the franchise in the form of other media, and it will still be airing on TV and streaming. It’s less of an ending and more like a transition to a new stage in life. Either way, I think that everyone should watch the last episode. It’s already up on YouTube, and could be good to remind you about your childhood. So, thank you, Arthur, for all the good memories. And know that I will always hate DW.