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Misfortune Teller

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"Misfortune Teller"


Misfortune Teller Title Card

Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 23B
Original Airdate: Flag of the United States February 24, 1997[1]
Written by: Joe Fallon
Storyboard by: Luc Savoie
"Bully for Binky"
"Arthur's Tooth"
"Misfortune Teller" is the second half of the twenty-third episode in the first season of Arthur. It was later adapted into the book Arthur and the Cootie-Catcher.


Everyone wants Prunella to tell their fortunes, and pretty soon she's making all their decisions for them.


Arthur's just about to go to sleep. He's just been thinking about all the weird things that people believe in. Things that other people might find silly.

Buster believes in aliens. Arthur finds him releasing a number of helium balloons into the air. Attached to each balloon is a tag with a message welcoming space aliens to Earth, with Buster's address on them. The balloons will fly off into space, aliens will find them, and decide to visit Earth. Buster's even gone as far as to get T-shirts and bumper stickers printed up that say "I Love Earth" -- that way if he ever does meet up with aliens, he'll be able to sell them souvenirs! There are other crazy things that people believe in, like the time Francine stopped washing her socks after her team got on a winning streak... But Arthur doesn't believe in all that wacky stuff. Then he quickly peers under the bed.

Arthur: All clear, no monsters.

  • Misfortune Teller * * *

Weird ol' Prunella is having a "half-birthday" party in her backyard. All of Arthur's friends are there, as is most of Arthur's class. She's receiving half-birthday presents.

Binky gives her half a baseball; actually, he admits to everyone that the real motive behind cutting up the baseball was that he'd always wanted to see what was inside a baseball... Buster gives her half a chocolate bar -- he's in the middle of chewing the other half. She also gets a half yard of licorice from Francine. Suddenly, everyone stops. Prunella's even weirder older sister Rubella makes a grand entrance from the house.

Rubella: I want everyone to perceive this... She wishes to present her sister Prunella with a very special gift.

A folded paper "Cootie Catcher".

There are a couple of snickers from the group. Rubella silences them:

Rubella: Don't laugh -- you'll anger it. She tells everyone that the cootie catcher has the ability to tell the future! The cootie catcher is the product of a "rare and mystical folding process" which has been passed down through the family from their ancestors, "Transylvanian commuters of the Carpathian Mountains"

Buster: Wow... her ancestors were commuters... She will demonstrate the abilities of the cootie catcher to silence all of the non-believers present.

Rubella: You scoff, but dare you ask it a question? Francine asks if she'll ever be a professional football player.

Rubella operates the cootie catcher. In order to make it work, first Francine must pick a colour: Red, Green, Yellow, or Blue.

Francine picks "green".

Rubella opens and closes the peaks of the cootie catcher, alternating the direction of opening as she spells out the word g-r-e-e-n. Each letter equals one opening and closing, as is the usual case.

Then Francine has to pick a number from one of the exposed inner faces, the catcher is opened and closed that many times, then another number is selected, and this time, the flap with that number is opened.

Francine picks 3, (The choices were 5,7,6 and 3) and then 6.

Rubella opens the flap.

The answer is yes.

Francine comments that they'll won't actually know for sure if the cootie catcher works until she's grown up. They'll have to wait a long time...

Then Buster's selected to ask the cootie catcher a question.

Buster asks if he'll get an A on the next big test.

Rubella goes through the colour, number, number sequence with Buster...

(Blue, 2, 5)

...and again the cootie catcher gives an affermative response: "It's certain." Now Arthur's gang know for sure that the cootie catcher isn't any good -- Buster never gets "A"s...

Buster admits that he doesn't even get A's in his alphabet soup!

Mr. Ratburn's returning graded tests. He hands Buster his test.

Mr. Ratburn: Unusually good work! Buster got an A.


Whoa! That cootie catcher is powerful magic... or was it just lucky that one time?

Arthur's skeptical, and he's not the only one. Accompanied by Francine and Brain, and a couple of others, Arthur and the gang go over to Prunella's. To try and trip up the cootie catcher, they'll ask it a question that they're sure the cootie catcher will get wrong.

Arthur asks if Binky will sing a stupid song tomorrow in front of the class.

Prunella goes through the motions again.

(Red, 1, 8)

...the cootie catcher's reponse this time is "Yes, Definitely."...

Francine scoffs. The cootie catcher's going to be wrong this time!

The next day in gym class, the two gym teachers are arguing. One is an angry looking rabbit with a buzzcut, the other a grouchy, slightly older version of Becky, or perhaps a younger version of Brain's Mom. Anyway, these two are arguing...

Drill Sarge Rabbit thinks that "Insy Winsy Spider" ends with "...down the spout..." while the other, who's refered to as Grimsled, is certain that it's "...up the spout..."

Drill Sarge Rabbit decides to settle this once and for all.

He calls on Binky to recite the song for them.

Binky starts dancing around the gymnasium singing the song in a loud voice, and doing the hand actions that go with it. Drill Sarge Rabbit looks very sure of himself, until Binky comes to the last line. It is "...up the spout..."! Grimsled was right. She looks pretty smug at this.

Why would two adults argue about the lyrics to a children's song? You'd think they'd have something better to do.

Most of Arthur's class are speechless at Binky's unexpected recital.

Arthur and his gang are doubly surprised. This proves that the cootie catcher does indeed know all and see all. From now on, they're not going to do anything without consulting it first.

Buster and Francine are walking towards the "Sugar Bowl"... Buster's trying to get Francine to loan him some money, since he's broke. He demonstrates this by pulling his pants pockets inside out. Then he stands on his hands... there's no money in his pockets, just a dead bug, and a paper clip which fall out onto the sidewalk.

Francine thinks Buster must be lying. She asked the cootie catcher earlier, and it said that Buster didn't need any money.

Francine walks off, leaving Buster upside down.

Buster pushes off with his hands and flips in the air to land on his feet. An old lady is walking towards him.

Buster walks into the "Sugar Bowl" to find the gang there. That old lady gave Buster a dollar just for helping her carry her bags!

That means that the cootie catcher was right again! It somehow knew that Buster was going to come into money!

Giant lines of kids begin to form in Prunella's garden. Everyone needs to have their questions answered. A one question limit policy gets imposed so that Prunella doesn't grow weary...

Things start to go wrong, what with everyone totally devoted to the cootie catcher.

Buster can't play sports with the rest of the gang, and has to sit on the sidelines, since the cootie catcher said so. Brain doubts the cootie catcher, since it told him to get a new bike -- and then has his parked bike crushed by a reversing garbage truck. Brain now thinks he's cursed! Prunella begins to act like the uppity dog-thing she is... I hesitate to use the b-word, even though it's apt here. :)

In the hallway, Sue Ellen is following Prunella. Sue Ellen bumps into Prunella by accident.

Prunella: Don't touch me! Sue Ellen asks when she can get her fortune told. Prunella answers in a cryptic way...

Prunella: When the sun begins to shine, and the birds begin their song... Sue Ellen: So, tomorrow morning, right?

Arthur's gang turns into the Prunella groupies. They follow her everywhere. As they go past Arthur's place, D.W. asks if she can have her fortune told. Prunella dismisses her.

Prunella: A child's worry is but a drop of rain in a sea of tears... Muffy is the only one not drawn in to Prunella-mania... she cruises up to the group and stops. She asks the gang if they'd like to come over to her place and play computer games...

Nobody dares to, because they'd have to ask the cootie catcher for permission first.

Muffy can't believe it.

Muffy: Computer games... the ones you love? You know, fun??? Everyone would much rather go on worshiping Prunella and her cootie catcher. Muffy looks disgusted and rides off on her bike.

A while later, Muffy comes to school on her bike with a trail of wispy smoke trailing behind, which makes Arthur and Francine cough.

Muffy's got something special to show them, a "Platinum Series deluxe Crosswire Cootie Catcher" with "all-new" fortunes devised by Muffy herself.

It's all sparkly, a lot more expensive looking than Prunella's white paper one... and everytime Muffy moves her fingers, it releases puffs of mysterious looking mystical smoke.

The only trouble with it is that it doesn't really answer anyone's questions... it tells Arthur he will be "very wealthy", and when Francine asks it a question about getting new sneakers, it tells her that she will have "incredible riches".

Arthur and Francine aren't impressed with Muffy's imitation cootie catcher... it can't compare to Prunella's.

Things get worse.

Binky gets laughed at while he carries his teddy bear around school. He has too... the cootie catcher told him to carry his lucky charm around with him all day... The gang walks past Brain's Mom's Ice Cream Shop downtown. Brain's Mom steps out to congratulate Francine for being the 100th person to walk past today -- she wins a free ice cream. Francine can't accept it. She has to pay for her ice cream; the cootie catcher said so. Brain repeatedly strikes out during baseball. He doesn't even swing at a pitch... Sarge Rabbit says that it's the fourth time Brain's struck out today. Brain says dully that he must follow the commands of the cootie catcher, he must not swing today... At home, Arthur's sitting on the floor drawing dozens of pictures of flowers. D.W. walks over to him and picks up a handful of them. Why's Arthur doing this? Arthur tells her the cootie catcher said he had too.

D.W. can't believe that they're still listening to that "dopey" thing...

Then disaster strikes. On Saturday morning, Arthur and the gang go to Prunella's only to be met by Rubella. Rubella says that Prunella must not be troubled... something terrible has happened. They had better be careful if they wish to see her in her present condition.

Rubella (whispering): Speak softly; only "ish" sounds: fish, dish, sandwish... They go over to console Prunella. What's wrong?

Prunella's lost the cootie catcher!!! She can't find it anywhere.

Arthur's gang has a great idea... perhaps it got left in the school?

Arthur and the gang go over to Mr. Haney's, and beg him to unlock the school for them. Mr. Haney is a little bewildered as to why Arthur and the others would want to go to school on a Saturday -- he mutters to himself that something he's doing must be working. :)

Arthur and the others are let into the school where they search in desks, and in the hall, but they are unsuccessful in finding the cootie catcher.

Back at Prunella's place, Prunella starts to accuse people of stealing the cootie catcher off her, mainly MUFFY! Muffy had a motive... she was mad at Prunella for having all the attention.

Prunella turns to Muffy.

Prunella: I hate you! Prunella's Mom makes an appearance just in time. She peers around the doorway just as Prunella and Muffy are about to butt heads...

Prunella's Mom: Prunny? Mom has something that she thinks belongs to Prunny... she found it in the wash after doing a load of Prunella's laundry.

It's a badly mangled cootie catcher. All the ink has started to run on it. Prunella and Rubella make an attempt to salvage the mangled cootie catcher, and they do, but they're concerned as to whether or not it still retains its magic powers.

Prunella, Arthur, and the gang go for a walk. They walk past Arthur's. Hey says Arthur, looking at his watch... one of their favorite shows, "Turtles, Turtles, Turtles" is coming on.

They'd all really like to go in and watch it. D.W. sees them from inside the house and comes out to tell them that "Turtles, Turtles, Turtles" is about to start...

Should they?

Brain wonders... shouldn't they ask the cootie catcher first?

D.W. says she can't believe they're still listening to that dopey thing -- look at it... it's a hunk of junk!

Dare they abandon the cootie catcher?

D.W. goes back in to watch TV. They can her her laughter from the open window of the TV room... they're missing out on a funny show...

D.W. (rocking back and forth in front of the TV): Ha ha ha! That is so funny! Arthur realizes that D.W. is right. The cootie catcher is ruining their lives, and stopping them from having fun. It's only a bit of folded paper anyway! They don't need to listen to it anymore.

Arthur wants to go back to having fun.

They decide to ask the cootie catcher if they can stop listening to it. (Blue, 2, 2) Yes. Definitely. Phew. The gang (with Prunella) go in to watch "Turtles Turtles Turtles" with D.W. Prunella tosses the mangled cootie catcher into the garbage pail... they won't need it any more.

Life's back to normal for Arthur's gang. That night, there's a light coming from D.W.'s room. D.W.'s got her flashlight turned on under the covers. Mom notices, and tells D.W. that it's time to go to sleep. D.W. says that she cannot sleep. We hear her voice ask "Can I go to sleep now?" A pause, then a sigh. Then she repeats the question... and then again...


Major Characters

Minor Characters



  • At the end, Prunella discarded the cootie catcher becuase she and her friends don't need to use it anymore; although Prunella still uses the cootie catcher occasionally in later seasons.
  • Although Prunella is the central character, the title card used the one where Francine hits the gong that was mainly used for episodes where Francine was the central character. The title card where Prunella is gazing into the crystal ball for fortunes wasn't created until Season 4; although the use of the title card for this episode is likely due to that Francine has one of the major roles here besides the central Prunella.


  • At Prunella's 9 1/2 birthday party, D.W. was shown four times in the crowd; but in other shots there, she actually wasn't at the party.
  • The cootie catcher's colors are not properly aligned.
  • During Francine's turn for a fortune, after she picked green, the number 3 was not an option (although she picked it), and then the number 6 (she picked that number) was with the odd numbers in place of the number 1, although 6 is an even number.
  • When Arthur, Francine, and Muffy go to Prunella's house for another fortune, Francine knocked on the door and was ahead of the two; but later in that scene, she is standing behind them.
  • Also in that scene with Arthur, Francine, and Muffy at the front door of Prunella's house, the car on the street had its headlights on, but later on its headlights are off, although there was nobody in that car.
  • A cootie catcher that has been mangled in the washing machine would be unusable.
  • Out of all the people who attended Prunella's 9 1/2 birthday party, Buster was the only one dressed formally besides party host Prunella, while everyone else who attended were dressed casually. This might be because half-birthdays are not as important as actual birthdays.
  • In the final scenes, Francine was wearing a blue shirt with the number 2 on it; but after she and the others go inside Arthur's house to watch Turtles, Turtles, Turtles, she is wearing her usual red shirt.


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