List of The Magic School Bus characters
This is a list of characters that appear in The Magic School Bus television series.
- 1 Main characters
- 2 Recurring or one-time characters
- 3 References
The diverse class is in the third grade, as mentioned in the computer game The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals. The school is located in Walkerville, USA (an American flag being present in city hall in "Gets Swamped") and is possibly located on the upper east coast ("Meets Molly Cule," "Sees Stars"). The original book series included additional students not seen in the TV adaptation.
Valerie Felicity Frizzle
Voiced by Lily Tomlin in the TV series and Tina Marie Goff in the games. Ms. Frizzle is a teacher at Walkerville Elementary. She is normally referred to as Ms. Frizzle, but her students sometimes call her "The Friz." A redhead, she wears wacky clothing that reflects the subject of each adventure and earrings that glow just before a field trip begins. (In the original books, her dress on the last page usually hinted at the plot of the next book; the very last book sees it covered with question marks.) She enjoys singing, seems unafraid of danger, and often refers to her relatives or ancestors during trips. She can make a lot of jokes like Carlos, and she also admires Carlos' jokes. She appears to be very attached to the bus, almost as if having a nostalgic connection to it. Her first name is revealed as "Valerie" in The Magic School Bus In the Time of the Dinosaurs. Her middle name is Felicity.
The class pet Jackson's Chameleon who goes on most of the field trips with Ms. Frizzle and the students, often getting herself into dangerous comedic situations. She appears to get jealous when the bus receives more attention than she does. In the episode "Gets Ants In Its Pants", she is visibly annoyed and disappointed when she does not get the recognition she deserves.
Liz is mute but often does things that one would not expect from a lizard in real life, such as driving the bus. In three of the computer games, Liz talks. When she goes to Herp Haven for a brief period her packing list includes: claw polish, scale moisturizer and fang paste. If Ms. Frizzle has to leave the students for a brief period for any reason, or if the class must split up, she leaves Liz in charge, acting as a sort of substitute teacher. In "In a Pickle", she is the supposed "Judge" in Ms. Frizzle's trial for stealing Keesha's 1st prize cucumber/turning it into a pickle (she wears the wig, and the outfit, and carries the gavel).
Liz does not speak on the show, however she speaks in the CD-ROMs although it appears that only the viewers can hear her. She is also seen at the end of most episodes with the producers of The Magic School Bus.
Arnold Matthew Perlstein
Voiced by Amos Crawley in the first season and Danny Tamberelli for the rest of the series. Arnold is a bespectacled Jewish American boy. He is seen as somewhat of a coward but is actually braver than he's given credit for (in "The Busasaurus," he scares off a T. Rex to save the class). Arnold also inspires the class with ideas and call him a genius. In the episode "Shows and Tells," he mentions that his great-aunt is the famous archaeologist Arizona Joan, a parody of Indiana Jones. In spite of his dislike of Ms. Frizzle's wacky field trips, he is on several occasions fiercely loyal to the teacher herself, as in "Lost in Space" where he defends her against his cousin Janetté. Another example of this is in "In a Pickle" where he acts as a lawyer for Ms. Frizzle, taking his job almost too seriously. He has an intense interest in and knowledge of rocks and minerals and an extensive rock collection. Because of this, he becomes the only child to be a member of GRANITE, the Great Rock Admirers' National Institute of Tectonics Experts ("Goes Cellular"). In "Cracks a Yolk," he and Dorothy Ann share the only kiss on the series when she kisses him on the cheek. It is implied in the episodes "For Lunch" and "Holiday Special" that he has a crush on Wanda and vice-versa, but in "Wet All Over," he has a crush on a girl in another class named Tiffany. It's also hinted in "The Busasaurus" that Phoebe has a crush on him as well. In "Goes to Seed" he mentions he's allergic to pollen. In some of the books and on the TV series, Arnold has orange hair, but he has blond hair in the computer games and other books. His middle name is mentioned in Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Medieval Castle.
Voiced by Daniel DeSanto. Carlos is the Hispanic-Latin American class clown, always making a pun or joke about the situation the class is in. He is a hands-on learner, preferring to invent different devices, such as an instrument or rain catcher, rather than learn from a book. Carlos tells unfunny jokes which often cause the kids to groan, "CARLOS!" By contrast, Ms. Frizzle seems to enjoy his jokes. In "The Magic School Bus Going Batty", his father also makes puns, to which the other kids' parents would respond, "Mr. Ramon!" also in unison. In the episode called "Gets Ready, Set, Dough," Carlos has the responsibility of making chocolate cake for Ms. Frizzle's birthday. In "Getting Energized" he entertains a crowd and can even do impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger. In one of the producer segments one of the kids points out that Carlos's bad puns must come from the producers as heard in one of the phone calls.
Dorothy Ann ("D.A.")
Voiced by Tara Meyer. Dorothy Ann is the class bookworm, always looking for a fact in one of her many books and is the brains of the class. She is usually called "D.A." by the others. She always carries her pink messenger bag, which holds her books. In the episode "Blows its Top," Dorothy Ann loses her books, but realizes she does not need them to learn about facts. She appears to love astronomy, especially in "Out of This World" and "Sees Stars", where she is shown to have a telescope. She appears to enjoy physics, as she is seen with a physics book in "Plays Ball." She usually wears her blond hair in pigtails tied in red hairbands, and in the episode "Goes On Air," she takes off her hair ties, her pigtails staying in place (as pointed out by Arnold). In the beginning of "Out of This World," she has a nightmare about an asteroid crashing into her school and in the climax, she is the captain of the ship and she has her own ideas to save our planet. Dorothy Ann's last name has never been mentioned in canon, the books or the TV show. It's also revealed that she has a little sister named Evan. She is one of three kids known to have siblings, the other two being Carlos and Wanda.
Voiced by Erica Luttrell. Keesha is an African-American girl who is considered to be the most level-headed and realistic student in the class. She is usually the most sarcastic one as well. Because of her skepticism, she usually argues with Ralphie, who tends to live in his imagination. She is the only person to participate in every single field trip.
Voiced by Maia Filar. Phoebe is the new student in Ms. Frizzle's class, always referring to how things were at her old school (which is actually called "Phoebe's Old School," as seen in "Goes to Seed"). The caring soul of the class, she also seems to be a little bit shy, her biggest fear being revealed as stage fright in the episode "Gets Planted." Phoebe is an animal activist, as seen in "All Dried Up," "Cold Feet," "Spins a Web," "Goes Upstream," "Ups and Downs," and "Getting Energized." Her love of animals also includes bugs ("Butterfly and Bog Beast," "Spins a Web"). She has shown a poor ability in growing plants (not growing one herself in "Goes to Seed" and growing a pitiful bean plant in "Gets Planted"). Her father is blind as seen in "Going Batty," and like her, he makes references about her old school. In the episode "The Busasaurus", it is hinted she has a crush on Arnold by quoting "Gee, what a guy!" when he tries to save Dr. Skeledon's dinosaur egg from an Ornithomimus. Phoebe is usually paired up with Arnold the most out of all the other classmates in various situations. In the original books, her parents are never mentioned or seen, and it's implied she's being raised by her grandparents (The Magic School Bus In the Time of the Dinosaurs and The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip)
Voiced by Stuart Stone. Ralphie is the class athlete and he's also the Italian-American boy and the hero of the class. While in class, he likes to daydream. He is the only field trip student to wear a baseball cap. He plays a lot of sports, including soccer, basketball, hockey, and baseball. Ralphie is of Italian-American descent, mentioning in the episode "Ups and Downs" that his mother's calzones "go down like rocks". He has a distaste for anchovies, which, as he tells the class in "Gets Eaten," his dad puts on pizza to keep him from eating it. He serves as the leader of the students.
Voiced by Max Beckford in the first season and Andre Ottley-Lorant for the rest of the series. Tim is African-American, and he's the most observant and artistic student. He can usually be found documenting on what the class is doing (such as Liz posing on a crater on Mercury or his Ralphie-inspired comic book The Adventures of Weatherman or getting footage of the swamp for evidence to argue Carlos's case), either by drawing or filming. His grandfather owns a honey bee farm outside of Walkerville, and as a small job, Tim delivers the honey at the start of winter. Like Dorothy Ann, his last name is never mentioned in canon, the books or the TV show.
Voiced by Lisa Yamanaka. Wanda is the boisterous Chinese-American tomboy of the class. Always willing to jump into adventure and going where "no kid has gone before," she serves as a foil to Arnold. She wants to solve all problems that face her. Despite her tough exterior, she loves ballet, especially The Nutcracker ("Holiday Special"). Wanda's favorite singer is Molly Cule (a play on the word molecule), and like Ralphie, she loves sports. Despite coming across as brash, she truly does care about her friends, such as in "Holiday Special," where she is disappointed that Arnold could not come along to see The Nutcracker due to his grandmother being ill. In some of the later books, her last name is Chen, as opposed to Li (which it is on the TV series), and she has an older brother named Henry, whereas on the TV series, she only has a younger brother, William.
Voiced by Renessa Blitz. Janetté is Arnold's know-it-all, stubborn, braggy, intelligent cousin. She is very unpopular among the class, though she did manage to manipulate them into siding with her (and turning on Phoebe) when it came to naming the school mascot ("Butterfly and the Bog Beast"). Janet usually tries to sabotage the class in some way to gain something for herself. She initially appeared in the book The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System, where it was stated she went to another school, but on the TV series, she attends a different class instead of a different school. Janet is confirmed to be an only child, as Arnold mentions that she's his only cousin in "Butterfly and the Bog Beast."
She made eight appearances in the series:
- "Gets Lost In Space"
- "Butterfly and the Bog Beast"
- "Gets a Bright Idea"
- "Goes Upstream"
- "Works Out"
- "Gets Swamped"
- "Sees Stars"
- "Makes a Stink"
In the very first episode, Janet is very anxious to collect samples from terrestrial planets Mercury, Venus and Mars, the biggest gas giant Jupiter and dwarf planet Pluto as a demonstration for proof of their visits to the planets in question. Her attempts to acquire a souvenir from the asteroid belt resulted in them temporarily losing Ms. Frizzle, and the other students refused to allow her to stop to acquire proof from Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. She also makes an appearance in the chapter book Food Chain Frenzy.
The bus is "very unusual" and sometimes seems to have a mind of its own. It is capable of shrinking and expanding, as well as transforming itself into many kinds of items, most commonly as robotic animals in order to blend in with the environment in safari-type field trips. When it shrinks, so do its passengers, and occasionally, when the bus returns to its normal size when something was left behind, the other item is set back to normal too. It is usually completely under Ms. Frizzle's or Liz's control, although in certain episodes the bus exhibits independent, even irrational, behavior: in "The Magic School Gets Ready, Set, Dough," the bus malfunctions with size despite Ms. Frizzle trying to fix it, in "The Magic School Bus Holiday Special", the bus disassembles itself into raw materials (while scowling), after having done so to several other structures (though Wanda did angrily slam her fists in the bus's hood before it self-disassembled), and in "The Magic School Bus In The City", the bus after becoming a bear wanders off from the class into the city looking for food. Its abilities are due to unspecified, magical additions—the origins of which are never fully explained, although it would appear that the new components are subtle enough to avoid attracting much attention from outsiders as the bus is often seen undergoing inspection without anyone commenting on them—the Bus is capable of transforming into multiple objects, ranging from a speck of pollen to a time machine to a small planet. It is interesting to note that some of the bus' technologies also have specific names. For example, the device that allows the bus to shapeshift is called the "Mesmerglober", and the device that allows it to change size is called the "Shrinkerscope", (a portable version is called the Porta-shrinker). In some transformations, the bus itself comes in different colors. The dew-dinger is the device used to indicate whether the Shrinkerscope is wet, in which case it won't work. Some episodes have featured the class having to deal with problems in the Bus itself, such as a field trip to a bakery being jeopardised when the bus shrank unexpectedly, and another trip requiring the class to shrink down and travel through the bus itself after its engine was clogged by an inspector's peanut butter sandwich.
Recurring or one-time characters
Dorothy Ann's family
- Dorothy Ann's Mother
- Voiced by Swoosie Kurtz. She appears in three episodes ("Going Batty," "Out of this World," and "Rocks and Rolls"). She also wears a ponytail compared to her daughter's pigtails.
- Dorothy Ann's Father
- He appears in "Going Batty" and "Rocks and Rolls," but he doesn't speak.
- Dorothy Ann's little sister who appears in "Out of This World."
The Li Family
- Mrs. Li
- Voiced by Rosalind Chao. Mrs. Li appears in "Going Batty" but doesn't speak. She's a bigger character in "Ups and Downs" and "Under Construction." In the latter, it's revealed she's a science writer and known for keeping various reptiles around the house (such as an alligator in the bathtub and a gila monster in the sandbox, according to Wanda).
- Wanda's baby brother. He appears in "Ups and Downs" and "Under Construction."
- Wanda's big brother. Appears in Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Imperial China. Noted for his Ms. Frizzle-like hair.
- In Imperial China, Wanda's father and her grandmother also appear.
The Ramon Family
- Mr. Ramon
- Voiced by Edward James Olmos. He appears in "Going Batty." Like his son, he also makes bad jokes, which the other parents (much like their kids) don't appear to enjoy.
- Mikey Ramon
- Voiced by Kevin Zegers. Carlos' younger, paraplegic brother who is a mechanical and computer whiz. Presumably not much younger than Carlos, the brothers seem close. Carlos calls him when the class needs help with something mechanical. He appears in "Getting Energized" and "Gets Programmed."
The Franklins, Tennellis, Tereses, and Perlsteins
- Mrs. Franklin
- Voiced by Eartha Kitt. Keesha's grandmother who appeared in "Going Batty," when Walkerville Elementary had its annual parent-teacher conference during the night.
- Dr. Tennelli
- Voiced by Tyne Daly. Ralphie's mother, who is a physician. In "Inside Ralphie," when Ralphie was ill and made a joke, she responded, "Even your jokes are sick." She also appears in "Going Batty" going on a field trip with Ms. Frizzle. She also has a brief appearance in the episode "Rocks and Rolls."
- Mr. Terese
- Voiced by Dana Elcar. Phoebe's father who is blind and, like Phoebe, makes references about her old school. He appears in "Going Batty" and has a brief appearance in the episode "Rocks and Rolls."
- Mr. & Mrs. Perlstein
- Arnold's parents who appeared in "Going Batty," "Rocks And Rolls," and "Goes Cellular." Like Arnold, they too dislike field trips, hence the line from Mr. Perlstein "I knew we should've stayed home tonight." Mr. Perlstein is voiced by Elliott Gould.
- Professor Cornelia C. Contralto II
- Voiced by Carol Channing, the curator and owner of the town's sound museum. She, like her great-grandmother Professor Cornelia C. Contralto I, is an expert in acoustics and vibration. The professor also helped Carlos develop and better his instrument, and find the perfect sound. Professor Contralto II is always looking to add to her great-grandmother's sound collection, and at the end of episode 9, "In The Haunted House", she annexed Carlos's new and improved instrument.
- General Araneus
- The antagonist of "Spins a Web." A fictional retired general who plots to capture the giant Mantis in an old horror movie that the Ms. Frizzle's class magically enters. He attempts to use Liz as a bait for his Mantis trap but the class manages to stop him. He is voiced by Edward Asner.
- Katrina Eloise "Murph" Murphy
- Voiced by Dolly Parton. Ms. Frizzle's first cousin who owns and operates Murph's Recycling Plant. She teaches the class the value of recycling in the episode "Holiday Special". She often warns everyone to be careful when using the word "junk."
- Molly Cule
- Voiced by Wynonna Judd. She's a famous rock singer and one of the original Frizzlettes (Ms. Frizzle's old band she used to tour with). The class got to wash her car in the episode "Meets Molly Cule." Wanda's also a huge fan of her.
- Dr. Carmina "Bonesy" Skeledon
- A paleontologist who the class visits at a fossil dig up in "The Busasaurus", voiced by Rita Moreno.
- Mr. Junkitt
- Voiced by Sherman Hemsley. Junkitt is a Vehicle Maintenance Inspector in the episode "Revving Up." As a minor antagonist, he drops the peanut butter from the sandwich he eats into the bus's oil tank without looking at it, which makes the bus break down.
- Mr. McClean
- Voiced by Malcolm McDowell. The school janitor, who struggles to control the new automatic welcome system in "Gets Programmed".
- These are seen in "In The Rainforest". The ones that are mentioned are 1, 22 (formerly 47) and 46. The only one of these who appeared was Inspector 47, who covered the rainforest with artificial turf; upon correcting the problem, he was promoted to Inspector 22. He is voiced by Matt Frewer.
- Radius Ulna "R.U." Humerus
- Voiced by Tony Randall. Ms. Frizzle's mechanic who appeared in "Flexes Its Muscles" and provided the M.I.K.E. to help the kids build RalphieBot. He is named after the upper arm bone. He insists on being called "R.U."
- Mr. Garth Sinew
- Voiced by Dan Marino, a strong, bodybuilding PE teacher at Walkerville Elementary who is Ms. Frizzle's toughest competition in a triathlon event.
- Gerri Poveri
- The main antagonist of "Ups and Downs." She is the host of the reality show In Your Face, and has claimed to have taken a real picture of a lake monster. She tries to keep Ms. Frizzle and her class from finding the monster at the bottom of the lake, because it was a fake. But eventually, her plan doesn't come to fruition, and she is exposed. She is voiced by Cindy Williams.
- The Baker
- The baker who runs the bakery where the class secretly made the special cake for Ms. Frizzle's birthday party in "Gets Ready, Set, Dough!" He also appears in the opening title sequence where the bus flies out of a pie. Voiced by Dom DeLuise.
- Mr. Ruhle
- Voiced by Paul Winfield. Principal of Walkerville Elementary, once ran a bet with Ms. Frizzle on whether or not she could beat the light pinball machine she and Liz had built ("Makes a Rainbow"). He is an expert on chickens, owning a Rhode Island Red rooster named Giblets, who Dorothy Ann had accidentally lost in "Cracks a Yolk".
- Archibald Seedplot
- Phoebe's teacher at her old school who appears in "Goes To Seed." His passion seems to be gardening. It is learned in this episode that he knew Ms. Frizzle (and considers himself her "biggest fan"). Voiced by Robby Benson.
- Production Supervisors
- In the fictional call-in segment at the end of the show, various characters answer questions asked by "viewers". One of the producers usually answers these calls, sometimes two producers appear at the same time, and almost always with Liz. One of the producers is an African-American male voiced by Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Another producer is an Asian female voiced by Susan Blu. This segment is based on the comedic disclaimer pages at the end of the books.
- "Cole, Joanna: The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs". Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 48. 1994.
- Music-Pen (April 1, 1997). Magic School Bus Explores the Rainforest. Microsoft. Level/area: Understory, triggered by clicking on Ralphie twice. "Diversity is the rain forest's middle name, Ralphie. Or my middle name isn't Felicity."