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With kids show ‘Arthur’ canceled after 25 years, fans want to know what happened

Two animated aardvark children play drums in the PBS Kids program "Arthur."
Cheikh, left, and D.W. in a scene from the PBS Kids program “Arthur.”
(WGBH Educational Foundation)

With the 25th season of “Arthur” set to mark the end of the animated children’s show, fans, including one of its creators, are still trying to figure out why it was canceled.

Earlier this month, Kathy Waugh, who developed the show based on Marc Brown’s book series, spoke to former voice actor Jason Szwimer about why she disagrees with the cancellation.

“‘Arthur’ is no longer in production. We had our wrap party two years ago. 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,” Waugh told Szwimer, who voiced Arthur’s sister, D.W., on his podcast “Finding D.W.”

“I don’t know if it was a ratings issue or if it felt like it needed to be retired,” Waugh added. “To me, it felt evergreen, like it was never going to end, but it did end, we finished the last episode, Season 25, two years ago.”

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From “Arthur” to “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” kids’ TV is carrying on Mr. Rogers’ legacy, endorsing his belief that “what’s mentionable is manageable.”

While the news was announced this month, the series wrapped up production at WGBH Boston in 2019. PBS Kids has not released a public explanation for the series’ demise. A representative for WGBH didn’t immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

In a statement to USA Today, executive producer Carol Greenwald said, “‘Arthur’ will continue to be available on PBS Kids for years to come,” referring to reruns that will air after the series ended.

The beloved show, which debuted in 1996, followed Arthur Read, an 8-year-old aardvark, and his life in the fictional American town of Elwood City. Known for addressing racism, bullying, autism and even a controversial gay marriage episode, “Arthur” taught viewers, especially young children, the value of kindness.

The cartoon focused on celebrating leaders like the late John Lewis and accepting those who experience unique challenges.

In a 2018 episode of PBS Kids’ series “Arthur,” civil rights leader John Lewis guest-starred as himself to encourage its aardvark protagonist to political action.

Responding to a Wednesday post from the official “Arthur” Twitter account, fans weighed in with their own stories about the show and how grateful they were that it was part of their lives.

Avery Merrick tweeted, “It’s hard to summarize words to describe what I feel about this news. Arthur is a animated series from PBS Kids that is educational and informative (E/I), but didn’t force it down our throats. That’s what made it good. 25 years with 253 episodes is a very impressive run.”

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Another fan tweeted, “So I just found out Arthur is ending...” accompanied by an image of Arthur crying.

Someone posted a picture of a chimp looking unhappy beside the caption, “me upset that Arthur is ending whilst simultaneously not having been aware it was even still running.”


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