“Arthur,” the longest-running children’s cartoon in U.S. TV history, is ending after its upcoming 25th season.
The Emmy-winning animated series, geared toward kids ages 4 to 8, follows a lovable, glasses-wearing aardvark and his animal pals in the fictional Elwood City as they navigate elementary school.
Since first airing in 1996, the show, based on the books by Marc Brown, has tackled issues such a bullying, racism, cancer and autism spectrum disorder. In 2019, it kicked off its 22nd season with a same-sex wedding featuring Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, exchanging vows with an aardvark named Patrick.
Carol Greenwald, executive producer of “Arthur,” told TODAY Parents in a statement that the program is “known for teaching kindness, empathy, and inclusion through many groundbreaking moments to generations of viewers.”
Its final season will debut in the winter of 2022.
“'Arthur' will continue to be available on PBS Kids for years to come,” Greenwald said, noting that PBS and producer GBH “are continuing to work together on additional 'Arthur' content” and searching for "new ways" to share the "lessons of Arthur and his friends.”
Marina Krcmar, a children’s media expert and professor of communication at Wake Forest University, said “Arthur” appeals to kids of all ages because it’s not “overly saccharine.”
“‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?’ That’s for 4-year-olds. A 10-year-old is not going to want to watch,” Krcmar told TODAY Parents. “But ‘Arthur’ covers topics that older children can really relate to, and it does it in a way that really speaks to them. The show also adapted to the times, like when Mr. Ratburn gets a partner. They introduced children to (same-sex relationships) in an appropriate and sensitive way."
On Twitter, heartbroken fans have been reacting to the series ending.
“Arthur is being cancelled after 25 seasons. Please respect my privacy at this time,” wrote one person.
Added another, "#Arthur: amazing #PBS cartoon series, based on great children’s books. Both books & show though could be enjoyed by all ages. Through the years, I was often amazed at the stories & social issues show raised. Reaching Season 25 is an amazing feat. I’m sad to hear it is now ending."