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Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn

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This article is about the episode originally titled "Arthur's Teacher Trouble". You may be looking for Arthur's Substitute Teacher Trouble, the book, the VHS, the DVD, or the game.
"Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn"
Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn title card.png
Arthur's Teacher Trouble title card.png
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 2a
Original Airdate: United States October 8, 1996[1]
Canada January 7, 1997[3]
United Kingdom May 26, 1998[2]
Germany December 10, 2001[4]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: John Pagan
Norm Roen
"Francine's Bad Hair Day"
"Arthur's Spelling Trubble"
Read transcript
Arthur, Buster, Get of the stage!

Nigel Ratburn

"Arthur and the Real Mr. Ratburn" (or "Arthur's Teacher Trouble") is the first half of the second episode in the first season of Arthur. It is based on the book Arthur's Teacher Trouble.


Arthur, Buster, and Francine investigate whether the rumor that their new teacher is a vampire is really true.


Arthur and his friends are waiting for Mr. Haney to put up a list of what teacher they will get in the third grade. Mr. Haney arrives, but goes back for he forgot a tack.

Arthur tells the viewers the three teachers for the third grade: Mrs. Sweetwater, who is very nice, Mrs. Fink, who is very fun, and Mr. Ratburn, who's widely considered to be the toughest teacher in the entire school. Mr. Haney finally comes and puts up the list. Francine reads the list and finds that they are in Mr. Ratburn's class. The kids start screaming in fear and Binky passes out.

After the title card, the kids are still screaming, they stop and Arthur rechecks the list again, but is disappointed that Francine was right.

During a baseball game, Buster is dreading over Mr. Ratburn and doesn't pay attention to anything that's going on.

The same happens to Francine while she is playing soccer, she ends up getting hit on the head with a soccer ball yet she still dreads over Ratburn.

Arthur and his friends walk down the street, passing Brain's Mom's ice cream shop. She offers free samples of her new flavor, but they are still miserable and don't notice. Francine suggests they ask Prunella about Mr. Ratburn, since she had him as a teacher when she was in 3rd grade.

She scares them silly with false stories about Ratburn, that he eats nails for breakfast (without milk), and that if anybody answers a question wrong he would send them to death row. Arthur imagines him in death row, forced to do heavy school work. She also claims he's a vampire with dark powers. Buster imagines Ratburn as a vampire, hypnotizing the students to hate recess. Prunella wishes them good luck and leaves.

The first day of school starts, Mr. Ratburn enters the classroom and welcomes everyone to the third grade, but promptly starts passing out a math review quiz on what they learned from last year. While working on the review, Arthur looks at Mrs. Fink and Mrs. Sweetwater's classes and notices them just having plain fun. Mr. Ratburn reminds Arthur to keep working.

Class is over and everyone runs out of their classrooms except Mr. Ratburn's, who has everyone walk out in an even file. He grabs Arthur's attention and tells him to get in his proper alphabetical place.

At a game of baseball, Arthur and Buster comment that Mr. Ratburn gave them homework on the very first day. A ball is hit far over them. They run to find it but then hear Mr. Ratburn talking on the phone about needing boys' heads which scares Arthur and Buster.

They scream and run away to the Sugar Bowl. Francine, who is also there, notices them and asks them what they are hiding from. They explain to her about Ratburn looking for boys' heads. Francine thinks they heard incorrectly, for she thinks vampires don't need heads.

Arthur believes that Mr. Ratburn is much worse than a vampire. Just then, they notice Mr. Ratburn walking into the hardware store. They watch him closely and see him taking a box of nails, they believe it's for breakfast. Mr. Ratburn then takes a saw.

Francine wonders what it's for, although the two boys figure why. Buster remembers a book about kids finding a spooky mystery and becoming detectives to figure it out. He suggests they should find out what Mr. Ratburn is up to. Arthur makes an excuse of them needing to do homework, but they ultimately decide to 'face horrifying, scary danger'.

A montage is shown with Arthur, Buster, and Francine spying on Mr. Ratburn around town to see if he does anything unusual. He does nothing out of the ordinary, but they do see him do many different things such as being a writer for the newspaper and being the basketball coach.

Francine decides to stop and goes home to do homework. Just after she leaves, Arthur and Buster see Mr. Ratburn carrying a case with him, but when he's pushing it down the stairs, an arm hangs out of the case, scaring the boys.

They follow him to the carnival, they lose track of him at the house of mirrors and end up walking into a water gun tent, ending up all wet.

They then try another tent, which turns out to be Mr. Haney with Mrs. MacGrady's help, trying to take a picture of him in an action pose on a horse, but Arthur accidentally knocks over a cactus, which hits the horse causing Mr. Haney to start falling backwards with Mrs. MacGrady taking the picture.

They leave and Buster chooses a tent, in which they see silhouettes moving. They run in and end up being on a stage in front of kids who seem entertained. The two boys warn the kids to run from Mr. Ratburn, but they just continue laughing. A puppet of Jack notices them, and a puppet boom box claims they did his lines for him. Then the boys hear Mr. Ratburn from above, controlling the Jack puppet, telling them to leave. He controls Jack and leads them out of the show. Backstage, Arthur and Buster are surprised to see a box full of puppet show props. At the show, the boom box comments that Jack would lose his head if it wasn't attached. Jack disagrees, but has his head fly off. The boom box warns Jack to hide, for the giant was coming. Jack's head bounces toward Arthur and Buster and it cracks. Jack's body walks away just as the giant arrives. Backstage, Mr. Ratburn is examining the cracked headed and is frustrated that they keep breaking when he does the head gag. Buster and Arthur then realize that it was puppet heads that Mr. Ratburn was looking for in the first place. Ratburn is in a hurry to get Jack prepared and tells the boys that he must stay on schedule for what he does. Arthur compliments that he does many different things in a day and the he himself couldn't do nearly as well. Mr. Ratburn explains about organization and how many people say that he gives a large amount of homework. The boys pretend to never have heard of it. The boom box on stage asks where Jack is. Mr. Ratburn, acting as Jack, says he'll be there in a moment. He further explains to Arthur and Buster about self-discipline and how they can do their homework in time for the things they like to do. He has Jack prepared and goes back on stage. Ratburn tells Arthur and Buster to leave so he can concentrate. They begin to leave, but Mr. Ratburn reminds them about their geography projects, causing them to scream.






  • At the end of the 2000 rerun intro on PBS Kids before this episode, Arthur’s crashing sound changes to pots and pans.
  • This is the first episode to use an animation of Buster roaring for the title card.
  • When Arthur got called by Mr. Ratburn at the school, Buster's laughing can be heard.
  • Although the title was not spoken on the home video and DVD releases, Francine says it during television airings.
  • This is the first appearance of The Sugar Bowl, although the interior wasn't shown until "Arthur's Lost Library Book."
  • Buster tells Francine and Arthur that he read a book where kids discovered a similar case to the one they're trying to solve and became detectives to solve it, but in the episode "Buster Hits the Books" Buster tells his friends that he's never read a whole book before in his entire life.
  • In the carnival scene, Tommy Tibble is seen eating cotton candy, but he is wearing different clothes and is not with Timmy.
  • Miss Sweetwater is referred to as a "Missus"; but in all other episodes, she is actually a "Miss."
  • When Mr. Ratburn is imagined as a vampire, it's reminiscent of Dracula with the clothes, the accent and the way he hypnotizes the kids. 
  • This is the first Arthur episode to end with an "iris out" effect, instead of simply fading to black as usual. Certain other episodes afterwards would also "iris out" at the end. 
  • Some parts of the episode are adapted from the books Arthur and the True Francine and Arthur's Teacher Trouble.
  • Running Gag: Arthur and his friends saying "Ratburn".
  • Timeline: The events of this episode are set a few months after the events of "Arthur's Birthday."
  • Moral: Dont believe everything you hear.


  • Ms. Turner is seen but she is colored differently than in later episodes.
  • Sue Ellen did not move in until after Mr. Ratburn became their teacher. (see "Sue Ellen Moves In")
  • When the kids are first screaming in fear of Mr. Ratburn being their teacher, they are in the school. Yet after the title card, the background appears to be the inside of either their school library or the Elwood City Library, until the next shot shows they're still at school.
  • When the students are filing out of class, Brain is in front. But when the line is seen again in the next scene, Muffy is in front.
  • Sue Ellen's hair is black during the Ratburn vampire fantasy sequence and brown in Mr. Ratburn's class.
  • The Brain's shirt does not have its white collar during the Ratburn vampire fantasy.
  • The desks were seen like they were whole tables for four students, but later episodes had them divided into four desks per group.
  • Mr. Ratburn can be seen reaching to students' desks to pass out the papers while barely moving.
  • In one shot, there were three students in Mr. Ratburn's class who are actually Miss Sweetwater's and/or Mrs. Fink's, and Jenna was missing from that shot. The students in that shot were all of Mr. Marco's former students. After that shot, Jenna appeared and students from the other third grade classes were removed from that scene.
  • In the carnival scene one of the Tibbles is seen eating cotton candy, but he is wearing different clothes and is not with the other Twin.
  • Miss Sweetwater was referred to as a "Missus"; but in all other episodes, she is actually a "Miss".
  • When Arthur is sent to his alphabetical place in line, he is behind Francine, Buster, and Muffy, whereas the Brain (Allen) should've been in front of Arthur, then Binky and then Buster.

Production notes[edit]

  • This episode was originally titled as "Arthur's Teacher Trouble," but was changed late in production. However, the title was kept intact in the original Home Video release.

Episode connections[edit]

  • This is the first episode where the "here we go again" music plays in the end. The other episodes include: "Locked in the Library," "D.W.'s Baby," "Arthur's Chicken Pox," "Arthur Makes the Team," "Team Trouble," "D.W., the Picky Eater," "Arthur's Underwear," "Buster Baxter, Cat Saver," and D.W.'s Very Bad Mood."

Cultural references[edit]

  • Mr. Ratburn's puppet show is Jack and the Beanstalk.
  • The episode is simliar to The Loud House episode Rumor Has It as both episodes involve someone hearing rumors about their main teacher and believing it is true.

Home video[edit]