Celebrating PBS’ ‘Arthur’ Legacy as It Comes to an End with Season 25
PBS' hit '90's animated series Arthur made history as the longest-running children's show in America, with over 249 episodes since its premiere on October 7, 1996.
The family cartoon is based on Marc Brown's book series titled Arthur Adventure. Its premise follows the titular character, an anthropomorphized aardvark named Arthur Read, and his life as a third-grader in the fictional world of Elwood City.
As a kid, Arthur shows his young audience how to deal with childhood issues, including bullies, homework, teachers, and siblings rivalry.
Supporting him are his 4-year-old sister Dora Winifred 'D.W.' Read and his friends Buster, Muffy, Sue Ellen, and Francine, among others.
For the first five seasons, actor Michael Yarmush voiced the character. Later, actors like Justin Bradley, Mark Rendall, Cameron Ansell, Dallas Jokic, Drew Adkins, Jacob Ursomarzo, and William Healy dubbed the role.
From season 22, which is from 2019, Roman Lutterotti has been providing the voice for the character.
‘Arthur’ Will End after Season 25
After over two decades, PBS stopped the production of Arthur with an intent to end the toon series in season 25.
The original developer of the show, Kathy Waugh, revealed the decision while speaking with Jason Szwimer on the podcast Finding D.W. in July 2021. She also disclosed they had already celebrated their wrap party two years ago, and Arthur was no longer in production.
Like all the long-time viewers and fans of the series, Waugh expressed her disappointments in PBS's decision of ending the show. She stated,
I think [PBS] made a mistake, and I think Arthur should come back and I know I’m not alone in thinking they made a mistake.
The screenwriter also added she didn't know if it was the rating issue or the longevity that caused the resolution.
The 24th season of the show aired on television in early 2021. The season 25 is set to air on PBS in the winter of 2022.
The Show Was Ahead of Its Time
Arthur's production started in 1994, and the show became a favorite among all aged groups right from the '90s.
Despite its early foundation, the cartoon shed light on delicate yet important topics and proved to be way ahead of its time. For instance, the show offered essential life lessons about divorce and single parenting.
It vouched for normalcy in gender conventions and brought to light characters with dyslexia, dementia, blindness, and autism, a brave step that many other children's shows avoid.
In its 22nd season, it even supported the LGBTQ+ community through its episode titled 'Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.' Mr. Ratburn married a male character, Patrick, and all children attended their wedding.
Its Legacy Will Live Through ‘Arthur’ Memes
Even if the millennials haven't watched the classic show, the chances are high they have come across Arthur memes. That's because the stills from the shows have garnered phenomenal popularity online.
The first meme that became viral overnight was Arthur's zoomed-up clutched fist, symbolic of one's frustration or anger. In the summer of 2016, the meme caught hype on the internet, with celebrities and netizens all using the picture.
The other meme that became an all-time favorite and was also highly relatable was a picture of Arthur's sister WB looking observingly from a chain-link fence.
The mood became highly resonating from 2020 as a longing to break free from quarantine or lockdown.
Without a doubt, even if the show ends, its legacy will continue through its memes. That being said, the show will still be available on PBS Kids for years to come.