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When Duty Calls

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"When Duty Calls"
Ladonna's Leaving.jpg
When Duty Calls Title Card.png
Season/Series: 23
Number in season: 2
Original Airdate: United States October 16, 2019
Canada March 18, 2020[1]
Australia February 23, 2020
Written by: Matt Hoverman
Storyboard by: Allan Jeffery
Karine Charlebois
"Citizen Cheikh"
"The Pea and the Princess"
Read transcript

"When Duty Calls" is the second episode in the twenty-third season of Arthur. It is a two-part episode.


Fern and the others try to make an upset Ladonna feel better after she finds out her family will have to move from Elwood City.


In a story written by Fern and Ladonna, Vern helps her sister Lafawna prepare to explore the arctic. She tells the audience that “a new frontier isn’t so scary if you’re tied to something solid and familiar.” Just as Vern wants to fasten Lafawna’s safety rope, it slips from her hands and Lafawna drifts away on an ice floe.

When Duty Calls

The kids have their last Fiction Friday before summer vacation. Fern expects Ladonna to continue the story from the introduction, but Ladonna finishes it by having Lafawna drift away and Vern never seeing her again. Ladonna mentions casually that she will not be working on the story anymore, because her dad is being transferred to Oregon and the family will leave for good the next week. The others are shocked, especially because Ladonna does not seem to care.

Bud says an early goodbye in D.W.’s room because he does not want to forget anything. He confesses that he left the original Rapty in Guam and that the present Rapty is Rapty Two. After he has left, Mr. Read asks D.W. how she feels. She claims that she is fine, but quickly breaks down crying.

In the treehouse, Arthur, Buster, Muffy and Fern wonder why Ladonna does not seem to care about leaving. Ladonna arrives, apparently happy, and gives her friends back the things she borrowed from them. Buster remembers that he has experience in leaving his friends, because he once traveled with his dad for six months.

Buster and his friends visit the ice-cream shop. They want to give Buster his favorite ice-cream from the week before he left, hoping that it will make him remember how he felt then. Brain has recorded all of Buster’s favorite ice-creams in a book, but Arthur remembers by heart. He says he remembers the week very well because he was so upset. Buster tries the ice-cream and remembers that he was worried that his friends might forget him. Fern suggests recording all of their favorite Ladonna memories in a book. Muffy suggests a film instead.

Mr. Read has offered to write a letter to Bud. D.W. starts dictating but cannot think of a good beginning.

That evening, Mr. Read makes jambalaya as a parting gift for the Compsons. D.W. tries to puts some in an envelope, but it gets soggy. She then tries to trace her outline on a large sheet of paper, but it will not fit into the envelope.

Muffy films her friends as they remember Ladonna bringing an umbrella during a rainstorm, telling funny stories and scoring a winning goal. Muffy uses an onion to make Brain cry.

The kids throw a farewell party for Ladonna at the Crosswire mansion. They show the film, which Muffy has spiced up with some over-the-top effects. She has also added footage from a severe storm to Arthur’s umbrella story and edited the footage of Brain to make it look like he was crying over Ladonna. Most kids are embarrassed and Ladonna wants to leave. When Fern assures her that she will not be forgotten, Ladonna tells her that that is not what she is afraid of. Ladonna hurries away, followed by Fern.

Fern catches up with Ladonna at a bridge in the park. Fern calls Ladonna out on pretending not to care. She wants to know the reason, since they are good friends. Ladonna tells her that at her dad’s last posting, she had a good friend named Tony Arnoni. They promised to be pen pals for life, but after Ladonna moved to Elwood City, Tony never answered her letters. Ladonna expects that Fern and the others will be the same. Their film only showed what they did together, not what they were going to do. Ladonna leaves, reasoning that she will always have General Higgins with her. Fern shouts after her that she is not Tony Arnoni.

At night, Arthur and Buster telephone. Buster reasons that the difference between him and Ladonna is that he knew he would come back.

Meanwhile, Fern falls asleep looking at the last chapter Ladonna wrote. Fern dreams that Lafawna drifts away on the ice floe saying that it is okay. Vern replies “Not this time” and uses the zeppelin to save Lafawna before the ice floe falls down a waterfall. Fern wakes up and calls Arthur to tell him to get everyone together. Arthur is busy teaching D.W. to write a letter to Bud. Eventually, he tells her to just copy what he writes.

Later that day, the kids meet at the treehouse and Fern tells them that they will use technology to stay a part of Ladonna’s life.

Ladonna puts stickers on all the toys she wants to take with her. Since Bud has covered Rapty with stickers, she has to get more. She passes Arthur and Fern who are working in the Reads’ garden and Buster who is washing his mom’s car. The kids act as if Ladonna’s leaving was no big deal.

While Ladonna buys stickers, her friends hurry into a computer store. They take no notice of Ladonna, who believes that her friends are already starting to forget her.

When the Compsons are ready to leave Elwood City, the kids arrive in Crosswire limousine to see Ladonna off. They give her a box which contains a website, created by Brain, with which they can stay connected with Ladonna. They also give Ladonna a tablet computer, the money for which they earned by doing extra jobs. They share a group hug. D.W. gives Bud a self-written letter and they hug as well. After the Compsons drive off, D.W. realizes that Bud has left Rapty behind and hugs him. Bud tells Ladonna that he did that so that D.W. would have to write to him.

Several months later, Fern has a video chat with Ladonna. Ladonna has completed another chapter in their story and introduces Fern to her neighbor Laurie, thus connecting her old and new friends.



  • This is the first two-part episode to be written by someone other than Peter K. Hirsch since "Fifteen."
  • The Compson family moves to Oregon in this episode, and it's also revealed that this is the fourth time they have moved.
  • It is revealed in this episode that the Rapty that Bud has is his second; the first one was left behind when he moved from Guam.
    • The second Rapty is then left behind at the end of the episode; however Bud does that on purpose so that he and D.W. could keep writing to each other.
  • Timeline:
  • Moral: Change may not be easy but you have to deal with it whether you want to or not.

Episode connections[edit]

Production notes[edit]