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Arthur's Spelling Trubble

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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the book, the game, "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn", the VHS, or the DVD.
"Arthur's Spelling Trubble"
Arthur's Spelling Trubble.png
Arthur's Spelling Trubble title card.png
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 2b
Original Airdate: United States October 8, 1996[1]
Canada January 7, 1997[3]
United Kingdom May 26, 1998[2]
Germany December 7, 2001[4]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Jean Lajeunesse
"Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn"
"D.W. All Wet"
Read transcript

"Arthur's Spelling Trubble" is the second half of the second episode in the first season of Arthur. It is based on the book Arthur's Teacher Trouble.


Arthur enters the spelling bee, but becomes nervous when he makes it to the finals with the smartest kid in his class and last year's winner.


Arthur is hiding backstage of the Spellathon. He asks the viewers if they have ever been nervous to do something that was important to them. He imagines himself as Benjamin Franklin doing his famous lightning and kite experiment.

Francine, as his wife supposedly, worries over him. But he is determined to do so. A lightning bolt strikes the kite, causing it to travel down to Arthur, shocking him.

In the present day, Arthur admits he shouldn't be afraid of something so little, but then Mr. Haney calls Arthur to stage. Arthur becomes nervous again.

Arthur's Spelling Trubble

Arthur, Francine, and Prunella are walking down the hall and greet Mr. Haney, who is polishing the Spellathon trophy. Prunella boasts about how she won last year's contest with the word endurance.

She asks Arthur if he can spell it. He attempts to, but fails to do so. Class begins and Mr. Ratburn gives the announcement to the students that they will have a spelling bee.

He asks them to study thoroughly, for whoever wins gets a surprise. After school, Arthur, Buster, Francine, and Brain wonder what the surprise is going to be. Buster guesses that it will be less homework.

This inspires the others to study hard. Francine studies at home with her movie star glasses. Brain attempts to memorize how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism, but keeps forgetting how many i's are within it. His dad advises him to skip it. Muffy uses a computer spelling simulator and spells dog. Buster is sitting in his chair studying but eventually becomes bored.

He gets an idea and buys a lucky charm. Arthur shows his dad, who is making a model of a bodybuilder out of meat, a song about the first word in his spelling book which is aardvark.

Arthur goes to his treehouse and studies, although he is just singing the rap of one word over and over. D.W. arrives, but Arthur tells her to not bother him because he's studying. D.W. thought that he had ants in his pants, due to his leg movements.

He tells her again to leave. She does so, thinking that he is a grouch. Arthur resumes studying and is interrupted by Buster. Arthur asks him if he is done studying. Buster claims he doesn't need to, for he has his good luck charm, and asks Arthur if he wants to go to the arcade.

Arthur isn't sure and thinks he should study more. Buster tempts him by telling him that he is not the spelling type and that they have a new game that flips you all around. Arthur eventually agrees.

At the day of the spelling bee, Buster asks Arthur if he's ready, but this rather has Arthur worried, for he forgot about studying. Mr. Ratburn has the spelling bee begin, and so far all the students, except the Brain, have spelled incorrectly.

Arthur thinks he could get closer to the heater so that he could go to the nurse, but it's too late, as it's his turn and Mr. Ratburn asks him to spell aardvark. Arthur then briefly does the rap of the word. Francine's turn comes and she has to spell pleasant, but she spells it incorrectly as pleasent, discouraging her.

The bee is over and only the Brain and Arthur have won. Mr. Ratburn announces that the surprise is that they will participate in the Spellathon, which shocks Arthur. After the bell rings, Arthur suggests to Ratburn that he himself should not be in the contest and admits that "aardvark" was the only word he studied.

Mr. Ratburn encourages Arthur to give more effort if he wants to do well in the Spellathon. Back at home at dinner, Arthur's family volunteers to help Arthur in any way they can, although D.W. doesn't apply. Later, Arthur is studying in his room, and D.W. prepares to annoy him, but their mom stops her and bribes her with ice cream.

The next day, when Arthur is again studying in the treehouse, Buster comes and asks if he wants to play football. But this time, Arthur declines this and spells "sorry".

At home again, Mrs. and Mr. Read try to feed Baby Kate, while Arthur is studying, but he thinks he isn't getting any better. His dad tells him that he probably is getting better without realizing it.

He asks if he wants something to eat. Arthur answers and spells absolutely, then checks his book and is happy to see that he spelled it correctly. He continues studying. Just then the doorbell rings. D.W. answers it and it turns out to be Buster and Francine wanting to know if Arthur can play.

D.W. says he's still 'exercising his brain' and that she's available. Arthur is then shown walking down the street still reviewing his book. Brain greets him, and Arthur asks how his studying is going. He says that it's going well and that he is now getting computer equipment for a program he is making in his spare time which amazes Arthur.

That night, Arthur is brushing his teeth when D.W. walks up to him and asks him to spell "toothpaste", and he does so correctly. The next day, he continues studying and hears Kate say "glooba". Arthur spells this once again correctly, which confuses Kate. The moment of the Spellathon has arrived. Grandma Thora helps Arthur with his suit. He is also very nervous, but Grandma Thora encourages him.

Backstage, everyone feels excited, except for Arthur. Prunella is especially excited when the Spellathon torch is lit, beginning the contest. Mr. Haney welcomes everyone and presents the contestants. D.W. cheers on Arthur when he is presented with the other contestants.

He wishes them good luck and calls Brain to the microphone. Mr. Haney asks him to spell "fear", but Brain doesn't respond for he is very nervous, he eventually attempts to spell the word, but he incorrectly spells it as "fere", possibly due to nervousness.

Some time later into the contest, a cat girl attempts to spell "pieces", but improperly spells it as "peices". Prunella's turn comes and has to spell "champion". She claims this is easy, for she sees her last year's trophy every day, and spells it correctly.

Arthur's turn comes. His word is "suggest", and he spells this correctly. Prunella mocks Arthur, thinking she is unbeatable. Her turn comes again and she is made to spell "preparation". She is uncertain and asks Mr. Haney for the definition.

He grants her request and defines it. She attempts to spell it, but spells it as preperation, and is shocked to see that it was incorrect. Arthur comes up again and is asked to spell preparation.

He spells it correctly and wins the Spellathon trophy. After the contest, Buster is very glad for Arthur, while Arthur is very relieved that it's over. Mr. Ratburn congratulates him and that he knew he could do it. D.W. comments that now 'Arthur' knows this as well.







  • It is revealed that Prunella is a great speller.
  • This is the first episode to use an animation of Arthur finding an umbrella as a title card.
  • This is the first appearance of the Treehouse.
  • It is abnormal in this episode that Brain hopes to have less homework, yet in most other episodes, he likes homework.
  • Mr. Haney and Mr. Ratburn referred to Brain by his nickname, which he is usually referred to by Arthur and his friends; although he refers to Brain by his real name, "Alan," in all later episodes.
  • The word Arthur spells in his song references his species, "aardvark."
  • Brain strangely can't spell "fear", a second grade word. It's either Brain was nervous, or he wasn't thinking.
  • Although the title card has not been narrated on the home video and DVD releases, Binky says the title when this aired on television.
  • The word "trubble" from the episode title is intentionally misspelled from the word "trouble" as a joke for what Arthur can't spell.
  • A scene from this episode was used for a ABC For Kids promo in Australia.[5]
  • When this episode premiered in Germany, it was paired with "Arthur's Eyes", rather than with "Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn".
  • Running Gag: Baby Kate saying her first word.
  • Timeline: Francine wears her movie star glasses from "Arthur's Eyes".
  • Moral: Don't pop out of nowhere just to force someone to spell.
  • Irony:
    • Arthur only memorizes one word, while Francine studied her whole book. He happens to get the word he memorized, while she misspells "pleasant".
    • Brain due to nerves misspells "fear". He then walks off the stage, protesting.
    • Prunella loses the bee by misspelling "preparation," which Arthur spells flawlessly.

Cultural references[edit]

  • This episode features the first reference to the popular English rock group, The Beatles. In Arthur's dictionary, it says "Abbey Road" on one of the pages. This is the name of the studio in which the Fab Four recorded most of their songs, as well as the title of their last studio recorded album.
  • "Antidisestablishmentarianism" is considered the longest non-scientific word in the English language. It refers to a movement in 19th century Britain that sought to keep the Chuch of England as the official state religion.
  • The incorrect spelling of "pieces" refers to the saying, "i before e except after c, or when sounded as a as neighbor or weigh."
  • The image of Arthur and Francine in the opening is from Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment.


  • When the contestants are first seen backstage, Brain is wearing his usual clothes, rather than his tan-colored shirt for the Spellathon. In the next shot, he is now wearing his formal tan-colored shirt.
  • At the starting of the spelling bee in Mr. Ratburn's class, George can be seen at the end next to Francine, but when it's Francine's turn to spell the word "pleasant", George has mysteriously disappeared, making Francine the last person to spell a word in the spelling bee.
  • For some unknown reason, during the Spelling Bee in Mr. Ratburn's class, Muffy isn't seen in line to spell a word.

Home video[edit]