If you were a kid in the ‘90s, you probably learned at least some of your science from The Magic School Bus, an animated show for the kids not quite ready for the rigors of Bill Nye the Science Guy.
In the show, a teacher with powers not unlike a Time Lord’s takes her elementary school on a series of physics-defying field trips to teach them things. There were eight kids in that class and we’ve ranked them from best to worst. Because the really important thing for kids to learn is that everyone is always judging you.
Arnold is the only kid actually thinking critically instead of just kowtowing to the cult of Ms. Frizzle. He’s the one who recognizes that shrinking kids, launching kids into space, and diving into the deep sea with no training, is a dangerous way to teach a bunch of elementary school kids. And yet, he’s also able to recognize the worth of it all and stand up to his cousin Janet when she shit-talks. Arnold is the best. Period.
Given that The Magic School Bus was designed to teach kids science, Keesha—with her skepticism of the non-scientific and her desire to lay out the facts—is an invaluable resource. And when you go after her friends, she’ll go after you, Janet. Keesha is definitely an asset to the bus and despite not being the best character on the show, definitely the first pick in your “young children to take on random science adventures” draft.
Wanda is the opposite of Arnold, always willing to charge right into an unknown situation. She’s a motivator (“Come on, you bunch of weasely wimps!”) and someone who recognizes when things have gone horribly wrong (“What are we gonna do, what are we gonna do, what are we gonna do?”) Wanda may be the shortest, but she’s also the bravest, and that is a quality you have to respect in a child.
4) Dorothy Ann
Dorothy Ann has researched everything. Everything that ever has, been, or would be. When her research washes out to sea, she goes nuts trying to get it back. I have been Dorothy Ann. We all have. I would also watch a crime show where Keesha is the detective laying out the facts and Dorothy Ann is the scientist doing obscure forensic science. CSI: School Bus.
Ah, bland, barely noticeable Tim. Tim’s utter.... thereness lands him squarely in the middle of the pack. Although he is quite handy with gadgets.
I don’t know why, but Ralphie always bugged me. I think it was because the episode of his that sticks out in my mind is the one where he’s supposed to help out with broadcast day, but ends up sick. There was something really off-putting about his attitude to everything in that episode. Plus, he was convinced his teacher was a vampire and whipped the whole class into a frenzy over that theory. There’s just something not pleasant about Ralphie.
“At my old school”—WE GET IT, PHOEBE. Your old school was a bastion of normality and you never, ever did anything weird there at all. Get over it or transfer.
Puns are the lowest form of humor, Carlos. If every joke you tell gets less of a laugh and more of everyone around yelling your name and groaning, consider that a clue to quit comedy. At least you’re realizing at a young age not to pursue it as a career.
I broke the “main character” rules just to give Janet the bottom spot. Janet’s Arnold’s cousin and she shows up every so often just to make everyone else look amazing in comparison. She has no regard for the physical or mental safety of others. And in every appearance, she learns not to be an arrogant, self-centered little monster. Every time. In this kid’s show, the lesson Janet teaches is that some people will never learn and you should hate those toxic people every time you see them.
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