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Clench your fist! Arthur, the longest-running animated kids show, coming to an end on PBS after 25 years

By Josh Weiss
Arthur Characters

Arthur won't be walking down the street with an original point-of-view for much longer. The longest-running animated kids show in television history will be coming to an end next year. Based upon the books by Marc Brown, the educational program has enjoyed a regular run on PBS for almost three decades (it first started airing episodes in the fall of 1996). In addition, it's also the second-longest running animated program in the United States behind Matt Groening's The Simpsons.

"Arthur is the longest-running kids animated series in history and is known for teaching kindness, empathy, and inclusion through many groundbreaking moments to generations of viewers," executive producer Carol Greenwald said in a statement provided to SYFY WIRE. "In the winter of 2022, the 25th and final season of Arthur will debut. Arthur will continue to be available on PBS Kids for years to come. Producer GBH and PBS Kids are continuing to work together on additional Arthur content, sharing the lessons of Arthur and his friends in new ways."

Named after its central character — an eight-year-old aardvark — Arthur became an instant hit for the way in which it tackled mature topics and themes through a fun and relatable lens that was nothing short of groundbreaking. The series continuously shattered cultural barriers with episodes like “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone," where Arthur's teacher was revealed to be gay. Arthur even had a massive impact on internet culture with the now-famous "clenched fist" meme.

With social norms always changing and evolving, the show's creator, Kathy Waugh, is of the mindset that Arthur should not have been canceled.

"Arthur is no longer in production. We had our wrap party two years ago," Waugh said during a recent appearance on the Finding D.W. podcast. "I think [PBS] made a mistake. I think Arthur should come back and I know I'm not alone in thinking they made a mistake. I don't pay attention that much to things like ratings, so I don't know if it was a ratings issue or if it just felt like it needed to be retired. To me, it just felt evergreen — like it was never gonna end. But it did end ... However, PBS decided to do some PSAs on various issues like voting, like hand-washing/pandemic-related issues and I used the Arthur characters. So they're still around."

Bruce Dinsmore (the voice of Binky and Arthur's father, David) tried to warn fans in 2018. "Twenty-four years is a good run for a gig and this is the face I made at the very last session," he tweeted at the time. "Binky though seems nonplussed, he’s always been tougher than me. And I was just starting to get the hang of the whole Dad thing... Thanks Arthur it’s been a great ride. And I say Hey......!"

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