Prepare to feel ancient, '90s kids: As of 2016, the classic PBS animated series, Arthur has been on TV for 20 years and counting. I know, I can't believe it either — Arthur Read has been entertaining and teaching kids since 1996. And, as we all honor the series for reaching 20 years and look back to the show's beginnings, it's become clear to me that Arthur was the best '90s cartoon character to ever grace '90s kids' TV sets.
Given the sheer amount of '90s cartoons out there, I am sure everyone has a counterargument supporting their own favorite cartoon character. However, Arthur has something on his side that none of those other cartoon characters have — he's relatable. Arthur may be an anthropomorphic aardvark, but he was also a quintessential '90s kid when the series premiered in '96. He was dealing with being a big brother, he had a big imagination, and he was obsessed with pop culture just like every other kid who grew up during those magical days of Pogs and Goosebumps books was. Also, perhaps most importantly, Arthur was a completely average kid who made mistakes, got into trouble sometimes, and wanted nothing more than to spend every day hanging out with his best friend Buster.
While Arthur has evolved with the times, he will always be a '90s kid deep down. Not convinced? Fine, here are all the reasons why Arthur is the best cartoon character of the '90s.
1. He Knew The Pain Of Being Told He Couldn't Have The Latest Fad Toy
Furby. Skip-It. Tickle Me Elmo. Beanie Babies. The '90s were overflowing with fad toys you just had to have, no matter what your parents said. Arthur experienced the pain of being told "no" when his dad refused to buy him a Woogle — just like you did when your parents refused to buy you a Furby on the grounds that it would scar you for life.
2. Arthur Valued The Library
Remember how much joy going to the library brought you? Arthur was just as enamored with the magical place where the books live. He valued his library card, and genuinely spazzed out when he lost a library book because he knew the how important it was to be responsible for a book meant to be shared with an entire community.
3. Cootie Catchers Almost Ruined His Life
The cootie catcher was a dangerous fortune telling device that was incredibly hard to fold. Think of all the hours you spent asking a piece of paper for advice about whether or not you could get away with putting off your book report until the last minute. In the series, Arthur spent an entire episode under the cootie catcher's charms, and it almost ruined his life. An experience like that will bond you with a cartoon character forever.
4. He Knew The Joys Of Monthly Release Books
I genuinely feel sorry for kids today. They have to wait years for new books in their favorite series to come out. Back in the day, though, there were new Goosebumps, The Baby-sitter's Club, and Animorphs books on the shelves every month. Arthur was always eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new Scare-Your-Pants-Off story, and his joy upon buying a copy was beyond relatable.
5. He Taught Us All How To Have A Long-Distance Friend
Watching Arthur maintain his friendship with Buster while Buster was travelling with his dad was a formative experience. Before every kid had an email address, the easiest way to stay in contact with someone was through mail. It was not easy watching Arthur without his best friend, but seeing them exchange postcards definitely taught '90s kids that a friend moving away did not mean the friendship had to end.
6. He Knew Siblings Could Be A Pain
From welcoming a new sibling into his life to his constant struggles with D.W., Arthur knew the joy and frustrations having a sibling could bring. Sure, he was not the perfect big brother: He and D.W. fought all the time, and they hurt each other's feelings. But, seeing Arthur interact with his sisters was always a reminder that it's normal to not get along with your siblings all the time.
7. Arthur Knew How Cool Early Computer Games Were...
Old school computer games will always be the best, and Arthur adored them. He got so into his space adventures game that, at one point, he thought he had broken his mom's computer. It's a situation many '90s kid found themselves in at some point.
8. ... And He Watched Too Much TV
Arthur loved TV, and just like every other kid in the '90s, he watched a ton if it. He watched so much that he once took a pledge at school to go one week without TV — and struggled through it the whole time. You probably took the same pledge at your school, because it was an actual thing in the '90s.
9. He Was A Wonderfully Average Kid
Arthur did not have a special destiny, he did not go to school on a cruise ship, not did he have any special talents. He was just a good kid who made mistakes sometimes, devoured books, saved up money to buy moon shoes, hung out with his best friend, and worried about whether or not his dog liked him. He was just normal.
Arthur was you and me and every other '90s kid around. A character who is so purely a product of his '90s childhood has to be the best animated character of the era.