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See 'Arthur' gang all grown up as series ends in emotional finale

The series was the longest running children's animated TV program with 25 seasons.
Arthur, the beloved aarvark prtagonist, is all grown up ... with facial hair!
Arthur, the beloved aarvark prtagonist, is all grown up ... with facial hair!TODAY Illustration / PBS
/ Source: TODAY

Chances are, if you have been either a kid or a parent in the past 25 years, you've encountered Arthur, the beloved aardvark protagonist of the PBS animated children's program by the same name based on a series of books by Marc Brown, and his gang of animal friends.

This week, after 25 seasons, PBS aired the final episode of "Arthur," aptly entitled "All Grown Up," and TV's longest-running children's animated show came to an end.

In the episode, the show's writers and producers pulled off what so many TV fans hope for when their favorite shows end: They showed how the residents of Elwood City's lives turned out 20 years into the future and left the audience emotional but satisfied.

There are several touches, callbacks, and Easter eggs in the finale that bring the series full circle. For instance, Michael Yarmush, the original then-child actor who voiced Arthur when the series began, returned to voice him again for the final episode.

As adults, the gang still hangs out at the Sugar Bowl, but now George runs the place. Muffy is running for mayor of Elwood City, and Buster is a teacher. Arthur's kid sister D.W. is, predictably, a traffic cop who takes her job very seriously.

“Kids are our boss, and we listen to them,” Brown, a co-executive producer on the series, told the Los Angeles Times. “And that is one of the most often asked questions we got: ‘What happens to Arthur? What happens to Francine?’ And so it seemed like a logical gift to give these loyal viewers something that they really wanted.”

So what does happen to Arthur? He grows facial hair, for one thing, a detail that left some fans on Twitter talking.

"Arthur looks like he's about to tell me about how NFTs are the future," joked one Twitter commenter.

"Can't believe Arthur grew into a GameStop employee," commented another."

More importantly, Arthur has grown up to be a graphic novelist, and his first completed work is a memoir entitled "Arthur." The title of the first chapter of his graphic novel, "Arthur's Eyes," is the same as the first episode of the series, which aired October 7, 1996.

“The idea occurred to me that this whole series has been something Arthur has created,” head writer Peter K. Hirsch told the Los Angeles Times. “So the suggestion is this has all been his memoir. We thought, ‘Oh, that’s fun. It’s a little meta.’”

The conclusion of Arthur's story left some fans on Twitter emotional, several saying it felt like the end of their childhoods.

"Arthur somewhat shaped my childhood," said one. "As a kid, this show brought me so much joy when I would watch it after a long day from school."

"I don't know if my love for Arthur is obvious or not," wrote another with a photo of their arm, which displays an "Arthur" tattoo, "but I'm here to see the end of one of the most important shows in my life. #Arthur25"

But even though the series is ending, Arthur is not going away. Series episodes will still run on PBSKids and the video app, and a podcast and new digital shorts are in the works, according to the show's official Twitter account.