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“Arthur” Ends After 25 Years

   Feb. 21 marked the end of an era for Generation Z. Marc Brown’s beloved children’s cartoon, “Arthur,” concluded its 25-year run this past week. “Arthur,” a PBS original series, centers around Arthur Read, an anthropomorphic aardvark, and his friends as they navigate the challenges of growing up. “Arthur” was the longest running children’s series in US television history. Throughout its run, the show was heralded for touching on an abundance of tough subjects for kids to grapple with, including but not limited to autism, cancer, and dyslexia. Many Generation Z children grew up with “Arthur” as a staple part of their television schedule; sadness about the series’ conclusion has taken the Internet by storm. 

   As is typical for an episode of “Arthur,” the finale consists of two individual segments. The first segment is nothing special. Entitled “Blabbermouth,” it focuses on Buster the rabbit and his inability to keep secrets. Now, the second segment is the one that has blown up across the Internet. If you have any sort of social media app, it is likely that you have come across some screen grabs from the segment “All Grown Up.” 

   The segment begins with Arthur, Buster, Muffy, and Francine going to the library to return a book that Arthur’s teacher mistakenly gave to him. After venturing around the library in search of a librarian, the foursome finds themselves in the desolate basement, where they come across a board game. The game is similar to a BuzzFeed quiz – Muffy even points this out – in that you answer shallow questions to find out what occupation you are best suited for in the future. Muffy finds out she is suited to be a public servant, Francine a businesswoman, and Buster a teacher. The kids get bored of the game before Arthur can get his result, and the battery-powered game board dies, leaving Arthur hanging. 

   This goes on for most of the episode. When the kids decide to leave the library, a patron hands Arthur his book back, since he’d left it on a table. The book is a tutorial book on how to draw animals; Arthur, while not an artist, decides to give the book a chance. This is where the present-day bit of “All Grown Up” concludes. With roughly three minutes remaining in the episode, we see the characters as they will turn out in 20 years. Muffy is running for mayor, Buster is a teacher, and Francine runs a sneaker company. We do not find out until the very end what Arthur has become.

   The final scene takes place in a diner, where the main four characters have gathered, it turns out, to get a glimpse of Arthur’s new graphic novel. That’s right. The futuristic character design that has been outraging Internet users was not for nothing! Marc Brown intended for Arthur’s future self to look like a stereotypical starving artist! Anyhow, Arthur admits that his interest in drawing animals stemmed from the book he mistakenly got at the library. He took this interest and talent and made a career out of it. 

   Marc Brown dropped an easter egg for older viewers into the final shot. When Arthur opens his graphic novel and begins reading it, the first chapter is about how he got his first pair of glasses. The chapter is entitled “Arthur’s Eyes,” which happened to be the name of the very first episode in the series, all the way back in 1996. It was not until researching the series after viewing the finale that I caught onto this detail, but it did warm my heart. Brown really drove home the nostalgia factor in this particular episode! 

   Overall, the final episode of “Arthur” tied the long-running series up in a neat little bow. It can be a challenge to properly conclude a series that has run for so long, but Brown did just that. I do recommend that anyone who grew up watching this series watch the finale. It was touching, nostalgic, and allowed us, as adults who grew up with the show, to relate to the characters in their 20s. Initially, I was skeptical about how the episode might pan out after seeing the screen grabs across social media. However, I do think that the decision to confine the 20-year time skip to the final three minutes of the series was a wise one. This decision kept the finale feeling like any old authentic “Arthur” episode. That authenticity and honesty is one of the very reasons why “Arthur” has become such an iconic children’s series, well, that and the memes! 

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