Let’s be honest, who really loved their elementary or middle school science classes? If you had a good teacher, you were lucky! Most of us got someone who thought a fun day was a pop quiz or staying inside to watch a documentary about butterflies. Science is a subject that teachers can use as an excuse to have a good time with students. However, there were many teachers who were not really excited about doing this, so they enlisted the help of some well-known friends. A group of kids and an eccentric red-haired teacher we all came to know and love.
The Magic School Bus books and the corresponding show were not only educational; they were fun! Carlos and Ralphie’s lame jokes, Ms. Frizzle’s passion for learning, and the school bus itself made a topic that many did not understand, one to enjoy and have fun with. This series had it all! Also, add on the added factor that it was a part of the 90s golden age of smart and engaging cartoons. The Magic School Bus treated its primary audience of children intelligently, and created an excellent experience for science-learning fun. However, all is not peachy with this franchise. There are some alarming secrets that millennials need to take another look at. Look close enough, and you will see some troubling facts. So, step inside for a wild ride for 25 dark secrets about the Magic School Bus.
25 Connection To Captain Planet?
Now maybe this is due to the limitations of animation back in the 90s, but this theory does have some millennials talking. Some viewers have noticed the resemblance the Magic School Bus Kids have to the older Captain Planet teenagers. Many think the franchises are secretly related. While this would be an absolutely cool development and one that would set the tone for franchise connections in the future, it would also reveal a hard truth. This would mean that all the work Ms. Frizzle did to educate children about science and environmental concerns fell flat, and the world descended into ecological chaos. Hmmm, maybe this is not so bad. We could see a movie crossover between Ms. Frizzle and The Captain Planet.
24 No One Cares About The Butterfly Effect
Remember those stories you heard over the years that warned against the dangers of killing even one butterfly if you went back in time? The results could have cataclysmic consequences. Well, Ms. Frizzle and her rag-tag team of science-loving kids did not get the memo. The Magic School Bus is a great educational show, but during many episodes, Ms. Frizzle and her class manipulated time on several occasions leaving many things altered wherever they were. This could have had disturbing consequences down the line. Stepping on an ant could have prevented the formation of the United States. Cutting down a tree could cause World War III. Who cares? As long as kids get a chance to duke it out with the T-Rex, all is well right?
23 This Is WAY Too Far!!
Did you know that you were exposed to teenage development education and you didn’t even know it. How many of us were watching that "Going Upstream," episode when we watched Carlos Ramon, and the other Magic School Bus kids were stuck in red spheres? We saw them and probably thought “what hair-brain scheme have they gotten into now?” Well, there was a little more to the episode than meets the eye. A male salmon fish was graphically shown spreading fertility onto eggs that individual students were in.. For years, kids had no idea they were watching semen entering eggs. Wow! Did the producers of the show ever think to include a warning label for this one? It sounds like our teachers who showed this to us have some explaining to do.
22 Recognize That Voice From GTA V?
This is kind of like Malcolm McDowell’s entry onto this list. It is impossible to see the future, so no one knew that Danny Tamborelli, star of Nick’s hit shows The Adventures of Pete and Pete, All That, and the Magic School Bus would end up voicing a character of one of the most controversial video games of all time. Everyone knows GTA V is not fit for children and is incredibly offensive. Well, the voice of Arnold also voiced Jimmy in GTA V. That kid with the orange hair and nervous energy was included in a game with prostitution, automobile theft, and an insane amount of cursing. Next time you play GTA, think about Arnold’s shaky voice proclaiming that “he should have stayed home today.”
21 Horror Inspirations?
Did you know that if you watched the Magic School Bus as a kid that you were watching horror movie references? The show took quite a few classic horror stories and tropes from some of the most famous films. Many of the plots in the Magic School Bus were based on traditional horror movies like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and Dracula. While they are horror movies that may not be appropriate for kids at the time, it is kinda cool that the Magic School Bus went back in time to grab elements from classic films to expose kids to. We were on board with this until that giant spider episode; they could have done without that one. Did we mention we have arachnophobia?
20 Um…Little Sister?
Bet you were not expecting us to cast some darkness on your favorite educational program growing up. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your viewpoint), we are not done. On the new version of the Magic School Bus that is now on Netflix, character Jyoti Kaur is a new addition to the cast. She is so intelligent she created a robot for a little sister. Let’s pump the breaks on this fact. Shouldn’t this alarm anyone? How much closer are we to robots dominating the world, if a small child can create a sentient being. Also, is the robot sister replacing another child? Why did she feel the need to develop this child-substitute? Again, there are too many questions and not enough answers from this show.
19 The Hey, Arnold! Treatment
Usually, Disney is the perpetrator of creating orphan characters that tug at the heartstrings of children and their families. However, in the early 1990s, the Magic School Bus was also following this trope. Phoebe, the “we never did this at my old school” girl is an Irish-American character in the books and on the original version of the show. In the books, her parents are never mentioned, and on the show, we then hear her father is blind, but her mother is not talked about. What happened to her mother and did it involve an accident that impacted her father? Like many other characters in the Magic School Bus universe, a child probably has a tragic backstory. We will never look at her comments about her old school in the same way again.
18 Jokes To Cover The Pain
If you thought Phoebe or Jyoti were the only children who were probably exposed to some challenging circumstances, you thought wrong. The kids of the Magic School Bus are not shielded from stressful situations, and no one knows this better than Carlos Ramon. The character’s younger brother has paraplegia. He is incredibly intelligent and has solved a few issues to help his brother in a few other episodes. However, how he ended up that way is never discussed, and the emotions surrounding it are never explored. It is likely that these characters are probably nine or ten years old, and something as serious as having a sibling who is physically disabled would definitely impact a child of this age. It is like Carlos is using humor to cope with his feelings by always subjecting the classmates to his corny puns.
17 Should Parents Have Been Concerned?
Let’s play pretend (or not-so-pretend for some of you). Imagine that you are a parent and you are dropping your kid off at school with their friendly but eccentric teacher. She has a way with the kids, and she is always taking them on field trips, so you are cool with her. However, you later find out that instead of taking them to a planetarium or museum, the kids are jet-setting off to Antarctica. Doesn’t sound so cool does it when we place it in reality? Ms. Frizzle was a creative teacher, but she could be characterized as incredibly compulsive and inattentive to her student’s well-being as she always put them in uncomfortable situations that could potentially be dangerous. Arnold’s head froze when he took his helmet off for goodness sakes.
16 Did We Forget About Radiation?
As previously stated, there is an episode when all the students are taken to space. We all liked to imagine that we were those kids; defying odds by flying through space on a weird multi-purpose bus. Most people thought this was innovative and creative, but the effects of radiation and anti-gravity have never been tested on children. Again, Ms. Frizzle is exposing students to hazardous situations, and she does not give a care about it. We referred to this in the previous entry, but Arnold takes his helmet off, and his head freezes over immediately. She did not even think to go over rules of what the kids should or should not do for safety purposes. Meanwhile, all those harmful sun rays are making their way into the flesh of those children.
15 Hello Hypothermia
So, we have established that Ms. Frizzle has no chill. If she is all on board with taking kids into space then why would she not go for the gusto and subject the kids to the bad weather of Antarctica. In one episode Frizzle takes the children on a field trip the artic. While the show is scientific and rests on this fact, they conveniently leave out the fact the students would have quickly caught hypothermia and frostbite from being exposed to those temperatures. In the book, children are even shown to grab their shoulders as they try to gain warmth from their bodies. We wonder what they permission slip said. It was probably a waiver and liability form that was mandatory for all students to fill out.
14 A Magical School Bus Orange?
Alright TLC and PBS, if you are going to show an episode of the Magic School Bus, just make sure that there is not a star of an NC-17 movie as a guest star. Unfortunately, both of these networks did not heed this advice. During the show’s run in the 1990s, Malcolm McDowell guest starred on the show. Does not seem like too much of a big deal right? Well, this is the same person who was the title character in the controversial movie A Clockwork Orange, who was known for his crass actions including assault. What an awesome person to come onto a children’s show. Let this be a lesson to parents, make sure you check out the character list on the shows your kids watch. Who knows, Charlie Sheen could show up on some obscure Disney Channel show.
13 Nervous Energy
It is normal to be a little nervous when you are undertaking a new goal. Learning guitar, going back to school, climbing Mount Everest…being a little uneasy makes total sense. However, it is one thing to take a whole hiatus out of a fear of failing. Joanna Cole, the author of the books, procrastinated for a long time before sitting down to write the book. She did this because she did not know if she could actually bring the project to life out of fear of failure. Now, one thing we know for sure is that many childhoods were defined by enjoying that yellow school bus after school. So, the education system would have suffered greatly if Ms. Cole has not conquered her fear.
12 Stolen Identities?
There is nothing wrong with being inspired by people around you. We have heard story after story of characters who were inspired by real people, but this one is a little creepier because it involves minors. The Illustrator, Bruce Degen used children his kids went to school with as models for the show. He took their class pictures and created characters based on them. The only problem with this is that the students were not notified of their likeness being used, in fact, only one was notified when he was a teenager. Imagine being 40 years old and finally watching that show your kids loved, and then you realize that one of the characters is wearing clothes you had on in one school portrait you took 30 years ago. That’s how the real-life cast of the Magic School Bus felt.
11 Missing Students?
It is quite common for shows to deviate from books. However, this is a pretty extreme deviation. In the Magic School Bus books, there were a lot more students than in the television series. A typical elementary school class houses 20 students; there was a considerable cut of students to under 10. What happened to these other students, and why is the class so small? Are the kids on the show in some particular type of school that only admits 20 students? How would they keep the lights on? Also, did the other kids transfer to another school? Did something traumatic happen? There are so many questions about this. Maybe one day we will hear about the lost students. Their stories should be told! What’s so special about Ralphie anyway?
10 A Grueling Process
Good art takes time. It cannot be rushed. We all know that animation is a process that can take a really long time. Yet, many probably would not think it could take a whole year. For the awesomeness of the Magic School Bus to make it on bookshelves, it takes a whole year. What is crazy is that half of that time is spent researching. Even in the 90s, people were into fact-checking, and Joanna Cole knew she had to deliver accurate information. Therefore, it was a painstaking process of confirming every fact used in the books. After all the information had been confirmed, it was finally time for writing, which also took six months. Talk about a strong commitment to knowledge and education.
9 Human And Tree Interactions Go Deep
Ms. Frizzle can be so petty. To prove a point in one episode, Frizzle turns her into a beanstalk. This was all done to “show” Phoebe how she can become a better “planter.” As usual, we will again questionably look upon Ms. Frizzle’s teaching techniques, but that is not the ultimate point of concern. There is a real-world application of this. While no one was turned into a beanstalk, someone did become a little closer to trees than they anticipated. In 2009, a man was found to have a tree growing in his lung. Now, this guy could have used a small-size bus to enter his body and go in to fix the problem. Hmmm, maybe this is a good plot idea for the new series.
8 The Plot Of "Space Rocks" Could Really Happen
Humans have always had a fear and fascination for earth-ruining phenomenon since the beginning of time. However, this type of information can be scary to children. When kids finally come to terms with the fact that the earth is a ball of rock and water just spinning out into the solar system, it can be a pretty frightening realization. What makes it even scarier is that other loose rocks are flying right past us, and could hit the earth at any moment. In the episode, “Space Rocks,” one of the characters is afraid an asteroid will run into the earth. Well, are you ready to feel uncomfortable looking into the night sky? According to science, this can happen. The writers and producers of the Magic School Bus know how to make us feel secure.
7 That Time Parents Weren’t Into Education
Science and politics have been intertwined as long as we can remember. This makes it incredibly easy for political opinions to creep into the educational curriculum. Global warming has always been a hot-button issue on both sides of the political spectrum. It is a topic entities who are not involved in the conversation have to assess whether they want to jump into the fray. Well, the authors of the Magic School Bus were okay with being a part of the conversation. In 2010, Magic School Bus released a book discussing the impact of global warming. Parents were so up in arms about it that it created a controversy around the release of the book. Parents are cool with educational shows as long as it does not discuss political topics.
6 Frizzle Is Totally Deceptive
We have talked about her teaching habits and her tendency to endanger her students, but we have not talked about the almost malicious intent of what she does. Many viewers conveniently forget that for Ms. Frizzle to take students on field trips, she had to deceive parents. How many parents would allow her to take their kids where she does? In the first episode, she tells parents they are going to the planetarium, but instead brings them to outer space. This is something she regularly does that many did not notice. It is all “rah-rahs” and “yahoos” until someone gets hurt, or a child does not come home. Hmmm, maybe that is what happened to all those extra students from the books. Mystery solved!
5 Where Are Arnold’s Parents
Abandonment and malnutrition are grounds for immediate parental dismissal. It isn’t suddenly okay because we are in the confines of a children’s program. In the episode, “Go Cellular” Arnold mentions how he has only been eating seaweed for the past month. No one probably thought anything of this, but this could lead people to believe his parents are not around or that they do not care about what he is eating. Who in their right mind would make their kids eat seaweed for thirty days unless the parents left their kid alone and only left that for them to eat? We are finally starting to pick up on the craziness of the circumstances many of these children are facing. Between Ms. Frizzle and these parents, what in the world is going on?
4 Child Labor Laws Don’t Matter
Okay, so we have covered child endangerment, deception, family tragedies, and questionable teaching practices. Thus, it should come as no surprise that child labor laws have been infringed. In specific episodes, children are shown operating heavy machinery like a Ferris Wheel and the bus itself. This is a clear violation of child labor laws. We have to stop here and admit that this show has taken on a whole new meaning. We talked about the negative press someone like Malcolm McDowell could bring to this show, but this show does not need any help being “questionable.” Think about that the next time you think it is cute to see Ralphie driving the bus. This show has no chill and does not care about what others think.
3 The Ultimate Double Meaning
A little double entendre can go a long way. Writers and cartoonist of the 1990s were experts at slipping in double meanings that only adults would understand. Years later many of us looked back on these moments and chuckled to ourselves about the boldness of the writers. However, there were certain shows we did not expect this type of occurrence. Educational programming like the Magic School Bus seemed so sacred and incorruptible. Well, in cartoons, nothing is off limits. In one episode, everyone’s favorite lizard (and Ms. Frizzle’s pet), Liz goes to Herp Haven, while this is supposed to draw attention to the name of the study of amphibians many feel it is also a throw-off to a very contagious thing. We know that we are tearing down another portion of your childhood, but just bear with us.
2 A Game-changing Secret
Did you ever notice that Ms. Frizzle never gases up her bus on the show? Some may think that this is a detail the writers just decided to leave out. But come on! This is the Magic School Bus; everything is put under a magnifying glass on this show. Knowing how Ms. Frizzle feels about the environment and her efforts to teach children how to take care of it, she would likely not participate in any unclean energy. This would mean that she may have found another way to power the bus. It is also never shown putting out any exhaust fumes. Did Ms. Frizzle utilize clean energy way before others did and did not tell people about it? Why would she keep something like that to herself?
1 Cutting Out Education For Commercialism
During the shows, the episodes had a segment where the producers would come on and answer the questions of various children about the show or the scientific methods used. It was supposed to further the knowledge of students and provide them, even more, education about science. It was also meant to clear up any inconsistencies that children may experience watching the show. However, these segments were cut on most networks to “make time for commercials.” We understand that networks have to make money, but it is a shame that educational content has to be removed so that someone can sell a new vacuum cleaner. A perfect example of money coming before teaching students about a topic they usually do not hear about.