Hey, hey, what a wonderful kind of day... or is it? That’s the question at the core of this article, which compiles some of the darkest fan theories about Arthur, the family-friendly animal animated series from PBS. The show, of course, was inspired by the much-loved Arthur novels by Marc Brown.
The Arthur TV series first aired in 1996. An anthropomorphic aardvark named Arthur is the protagonist of the show, with his adventures as an eight-year-old kid providing the main narrative thrust. On paper, it all sounds incredibly innocent. However, many online speculators have posited that there could be a dark underbelly to the series.
New seasons of the show are still being made, with the episode count currently standing at a staggering 232. The theme tune, by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, is instantly recognizable. As Arthur’s original fanbase has aged up, he’s become the topic of many a hilarious meme. However, with that level of fame comes an abundance of analysis, which is where these grim fan theories are born.
Some seem far-fetched, while others have the eerie air of sounding strangely plausible. All of them will make you think. Read on, then, and discover the 15 Dark Fan Theories About Arthur That Will Blow Your Mind.
15 The Humans Were Wiped Out By A Nuclear War
Like all good fictional universes where non-humans live in a very human-like world (see: the Cars films), there are plenty of theories about what happened to the human race in the world of Arthur. One of these is the aforementioned Matrix/off-planet theory. Another one points towards something even darker: the humans are dead thanks to a huge nuclear war.
From the radiation fallout, this theory suggests, normal animals evolved into more intelligent species. They eventually took over and rebuilt the world that mankind left behind. The theorist even thinks that the animals disposed of the remains of mankind in a particularly horrific way-- by eating their corpses.
All of this, presumably, would have happened many years before Arthur and his chums went to school. By this point, animal society is totally functional and normalized. However, it might’ve started with a bang... and a grim buffet.
14 Arthur Is A Normal Kid In A Coma
It wouldn’t be a list of TV fan theories without a coma entry, would it? The Simpsons and The Walking Dead both have their own versions of this clichéd theory, and so does Arthur. In fact, there are a few different versions of the "Arthur is in a coma" theory circulating on the web.
One theorist thinks that Arthur has been in a coma since season 2’s “Arthur’s Knee” episode, when Arthur suffered an injury and was hospitalized. The poster of this theory reckons that, since then, the show has been made up of Arthur’s dreams, with each character representing a different side of his personality. (D.W. is his dark side, Buster is his fun side, and so on.)
Another fan has gone even deeper, suggesting in their theory that Arthur is actually a normal human child. Arthur, according to the theory, became depressed when his beloved pet dog was run over and killed.
His parents took him to the zoo to cheer him up, but a load of the animals broke out and rampaged against the humans. Arthur was knocked into a coma, with an approaching aardvark being the last thing he saw. While comatose, he began having weird animal dreams.
13 The Show Is Stuffed With Illuminati Symbolism
Many online commentators have pointed out examples of Illuminati symbolism in Arthur. Several characters’ bedrooms appear to have triangular imagery and all-seeing eyes hidden in the background. Of course, it’s easy to dismiss this as a bit of harmless fun from the animators, or genuinely accidental happenstance.
However, there are some corners of the internet where people believe that something more sinister is afoot here. According to one theorist, the team behind Arthur are “messed up,” “only want the money,” and “don’t care about how the people watching their shows will suffer.” To think, they got all of that from some strange background dressing.
The exact specifics of this theory haven’t been spelled out. Do these theorists believe that the creators of Arthur are genuinely trying to corrupt children with their deliberately dark imagery? It’s impossible to tell.
12 The Tragic Reason Why Buster Lived With His Dad
Here’s another particularly dark Arthur fan theory. Long-term viewers of the show will know that Buster lived with his father for three seasons, despite the fact that he had no permanent residence. However, one fan has come up with a very sad reason as to why.
The theory states that Buster’s mother was deemed unfit to raise him. The writer of the theory notes that Buster’s mother has been shown to love her son more than any other man, leaving the reader to look between the lines and work out what they mean-- Buster’s mother abused him, and consequently lost custody over him.
Buster’s father, despite not being the typical example of a reliable dad, took Buster under his wing after this horrific chain of events. Don’t expect this to be a theory the show ever addresses or confirms.
11 The Entire Show Is Being Acted Out By Aliens
In a season six installment entitled “The Boy Who Cried Comet”, Buster is keen to prove that aliens exist. He tries to do so with a telescope, but instead of finding aliens, he ends up discovering a comet on a collision course with Earth. That drama takes up most of the episode, until a weird final scene.
Buster and Brain discuss their opinions on aliens. Brain points upwards, stating that maybe there is life up there. The viewer follows Brain’s finger, as the ceiling of a film set is revealed.
This breaks the fourth wall, suggesting that this scene is fictional within the universe of Arthur, and someone is filming it. Things get even weirder after the director calls "cut’" and an alien crew is unveiled.
All the main players remove their heads, which were actually just masks, revealing alien faces underneath. Yes, as it turns out, this scene was actually being acted out by extra-terrestrials. Most viewers took this as a joke – a strange confirmation that Buster was right – but some theorists believe there is something more to it. What if aliens are making the whole series?
10 Matt Damon Is Filming The Whole Series
In season 11, Matt Damon made a guest appearance as a version of himself within the Arthur universe. He ran a short film competition, which Arthur entered. At the end of the episode, Damon approached Arthur about filming his life for a TV show. The episode concluded with Damon filming Arthur as he walked down the street, creating the iconic Arthur title sequence.
As with the aforementioned alien-filming theory, there a two ways to read this: it’s either a cheeky nod to the title sequence and a fun way to round off Damon’s guest spot, or it’s a confirmation that the entire Arthur TV show is being filmed by Matt Damon.
If you buy into the latter camp of thinking, you believe the theory that nothing presented in the show is Arthur’s actual untainted life. All of it was a documentary, shot by a film crew, with Damon at the helm. Obviously, this theory contradicts the aliens one, and vice versa.
9 There’s A Multiverse At Play, And You Can Never Know What’s Real
Combine the previous two theories into one and you get this: the Arthur multiverse theory. What if some of the episodes are shot by aliens, others are shot by Matt Damon, and the rest are actual accounts of what happened in Arthur’s life? Also, to add even more fun, you can never know which episodes fall into which categories.
An overarching mega-theory like this makes it easy to disregard continuity errors and other mistakes in the series. Whenever something doesn’t quite add up, you can safely assume that either aliens or Matt Damon are to blame. Whenever there’s an obtuse celebrity appearance, it was probably a Matt Damon one. With that said, when the logic isn’t sound, it was probably aliens who don’t fully understand Earth culture.
Fans will probably never get a reaction from PBS or the Arthur executives about their wild fan theories, so this one remains as valid as all the rest.
8 You Can’t Trust Anyone's Memories
In season 1, the episode “Arthur and the True Francine” sees Muffy lying about her first day at Lakewood school. Francine ends up correcting her, offering an alternate account of what happened.
In another season 1 episode, “D.W.’s Snow Mystery”, the central kids each offer their take on what happened to D.W.’s missing snowball. Every kid’s version of events is different. (Fun fact: Buster suggests that aliens stole it, and it turns out that he’s right.)
Some fans have taken these two episodes as evidence that the kids in the show cannot be trusted. Their memories of events don’t always match up, so how can you know whose opinions, stories, or flashbacks to trust? How can viewers be sure that anything in the show is true? This theory suggests that anything the kids say could be absolute balderdash.
In real life, of course, kids’ memories often do play tricks on them, and they sometimes do come up with fantastical untrue versions of events. So, in a way, you could see the untrustworthiness of these characters as a sort of weird realism.
7 Fern Has Depression
The world of Arthur may seem cheerful and fun on the surface, but theories have emerged suggesting that some of the characters in the show could have mental health conditions.
In a season 18 episode, “The Case of the Girl with the Long Face”, Fern explains that sometimes she gets sad for no reason. This has led to suggestions online that the character is suffering from an as-yet-undiagnosed bout of depression, which could be tackled with therapy in a later episode.
It has also been suggested that D.W. has Asperger’s Syndrome. This theory was developed to explain why D.W. recurrently shows a lack of empathy when Arthur is going through a tough time. D.W.’s obsession with the Mary Moo Cow TV show has also been suggested as a symptom. The same fan theory suggests that Fern and Brain could also have Aspergers.
6 Everyone Is Stuck In A Time Loop
As is common in cartoons, the characters from Arthur don’t seem to age. The show has been on for over twenty years, and yet the characters are still in the same year at school. Funnily enough, in the episode “Arthur’s New Year’s Eve”, the writers of the show gave fans a perfect centerpiece for a theory about this.
In the episode, Prunella claims that, if there is no green flash on New Year’s Eve, it will remain the same year and time will not move forward. You could read this as an example of "silly things kids say," or you could buy into it as a legitimate starting point for a fan theory. The green flash isn’t shown in the episode, and the characters don’t seem to age, so maybe Prunella was right: everyone is just repeating the same year over and over again.
However, there have been flash-forwards in the show, which suggests one or two things: either there is no time loop or the gang eventually works out how to escape it.
5 Buster's Aliens Are Actually Humans
Buster is obsessed with aliens, to the point that he once wrote a South Park parody where Arthur got abducted. Arthur, the show, has a lot of fun with Buster’s belief that aliens exist, showing on numerous occasions that he is correct but just doesn’t know it.
However, a fan theory has emerged to suggest that Buster has these thoughts for a reason: the last remnants of the human race have been living in a Matrix-style simulation (or perhaps off-planet), and they’re trying to beam a message to the new animal-like inhabitants of Earth. According to the theory, the message ends up in Buster’s head, but he misinterprets it as alien activity.
This theory posits that Arthur takes place after The Singularity, where mankind’s development of technology reached a point that reinvented life as we know it. Humans went off-planet and/or into a simulation, and left Earth to the animals.
4 Racism Is Rife In Elwood City
Another theory suggests that Arthur’s home, Elwood City, “suffers from a severe case of Fantastic Racism.” The theorist posits that ducks, crocodiles, and alligators – and other non-mammals – are subservient to, and disrespected by, the mammal animals.
The non-mammals are only seen in the background, working in construction or other forms of manual labor, leading the creator of this theory to believe that non-mammals are subject to racism in the world of Arthur. While mammals have asserted their dominance, all other animals have become oppressed minorities.
Given the educational vibe of Arthur, it would be interesting to see this theory tackled directly in a future episode. As it stands, though, this is an unsettling way of viewing the show and its world. Is Arthur – perhaps knowingly – a part of a racist ruling class?
3 Muffy Is Secretly A Vigilante
One of the sillier Arthur fan theories (and that’s saying something) is the one that points towards Muffy being a crime-fighting superhero. One fan of the show reckons that the crime rate in Elwood City is incredibly low because of Muffy, who, using the riches of her family, is out fighting criminals when Arthur and his pals aren’t looking.
She has riches and a valet/butler (Bailey), so it’s easy to see where the comparison here came from. Some fans think she’s Elwood City’s Batman-like Dark Knight. Others, however, believe Muffy would deploy a supehero persona more like Hit-Girl from the Kick-Ass movies.
Either way, this sounds like a spin-off series that simply must happen. It may sound utterly ridiculous, but the idea of cutesy animal characters suiting up as vigilantes could actually be fun to watch.
2 D.W. Is A Master Manipulator, Editing Events So She Seems Sympathetic
Here’s a fan theory centered on Arthur’s aforementioned unsympathetic sister, D.W., who often clashes with her title character brother, but somehow always comes out on top. The theorist suggests that D.W. has been masterminding the entire show from the start, ensuring that events play out in a way that – in the end – paints her in a sympathetic light.
To make herself look like the victim and Arthur the villain, D.W. often manages to turn his friends against him. A recent example of this came in season 20’s podcast-parody episode, “Cereal”, in which D.W. used Buster’s true crime podcast to convince everyone that Arthur stole her box of Puffy Unicorn Crunch cereal. There are many other examples of D.W. making everyone else hate on Arthur.
This theory suggests that, through some supernatural means, D.W. is controlling events and making life hell for Arthur. This theory also offers its own explanation for none of the characters aging: D.W. won’t let anyone grow up, because it would make them less easy to manipulate.
1 Aardvarks Are Dying Out, And Family 'Love' Is The Only Answer
One particularly detailed fan theory has tried to work out the evolutionary chain of events that led to the world of Arthur, where some animals walk and talk like humans, while others are still normal animals (like Arthur’s pet dog, Pal). The theory goes through each species in the show’s main cast, and tries to work out the meaning of their existence.
The theory ends by looking at aardvarks, and it decides that they must be a species on the brink of extinction. There are very few aardvark characters except for Arthur and his family in the show, prompting the theorist to decide that the species are “a dying breed” and that “Arthur will die alone.”
However, one commenter popped up with a helpful suggestion: “There’s always Arthur and D.W. if it comes down to it.” Another commenter supported this inappropriate idea, saying, Arthur’s family is “clearly deeply, deeply inbred. Have you ever seen an aardvark with a nose like that?”
What do you think of these dark Arthur fan theories? Do you have any of your own? Let us know in the comments!