|First Appearance||The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks (1986)|
|Catchphrase|| "Maybe/I think/knew I should have stayed home today."|
"Does this mean what I think it means?"
|Family|| Mr. Perlstein (father)|
Mrs. Perlstein (mother)
Janet Perlstein (cousin)
Arizona Joan (great-aunt)
Alex (uncle, chapter book)
|Voiced By|| Amos Crawley (Season 1)|
Danny Tamberelli (Seasons 2-4)
Arnold Matthew Perlstein is a fictional character on the animated children's series The Magic School Bus. He is voiced by Amos Crawley in season one and Danny Tamberelli in seasons 2-4.
Arnold generally does not like Ms. Frizzle's field trips. Most of the time, he is usually an unwilling participant. Despite his usually timid moments and some nervous breakdowns, he has shown his bravery when he's needed to, and he's very loyal when it comes to his classmates, even taking up a leadership role a number of times. He has a huge interest in rocks and minerals and is the youngest member of an organization called GRANITE (the Great Rock Admirers' National Institute of Tectonics Experts). He also mentions an interest in colors. He has shown interest in conserving the environment, as he wanted to save the rotting log in "Meets the Rot Squad" and have the class collect stuff for recycling in "Holiday Special."
Despite his dislike for the Friz's field trips, he does love having her as a teacher. He even stood in her defense when the class when on trial during "In a Pickle" and when his cousin Janet tried to show off and say that her teacher is better than his, Arnold interrupted her before she could finish and said, "Nobody is better than Ms. Frizzle".
Arnold introduces his cousin, Janet, to his class in "Gets Lost In Space," and he tries to keep the peace when Janet's arrogance sours the rest of the class. It's when Janet talks down on Ms. Frizzle that he shows his loyalty to his teacher and suggests a field trip to the "bigger" planetarium, showing Janet that "nobody is better than Ms. Frizzle." Arnold unknowingly eats the class in "For Lunch." He's happy to have stayed behind while the others go on a field trip, but after finding out where they went, he swears never to miss a field trip...at least, not until after the "next one" (Ms. Frizzle's dinosaur dress foreshadowing their next trip). He and Keesha find themselves in a difficult situation when they forget their partner report in "Gets Eaten." He loses Wanda's bullfrog, Bella, in "Hops Home" and tries to keep her out of harm when they look for Bella, as Wanda's too distracted to realize she's about to walk off of a tree or get swept down a river. In "Meets the Rot Squad," he tries to convince everyone to leave the rotted-out log on the abandoned lot the way it is. Everyone is shocked when he suggests a field trip to the desert in "All Dried Up" after Phoebe declares they need to help the animals there. He feels confident about the trip, thanks to his Field Trip Survival Guide.
While on a field trip to a dinosaur dig in "The Busasaurus," Dr. Carmina Skeledon lets Arnold see the fossilized egg Ms. Frizzle found. He still has it when they go back in time, and when he lets Phoebe look at it, she loses it to an Ornithomimus. He ends up squaring off with a Tyrannosaurus Rex after Ms. Frizzle makes him giant-sized, saving the class. In "Butterfly and the Bog Beast," he's the only one not to side with Janet against Phoebe when the former suggests "Bog Beast" for the school mascot. His main reason is because he doesn't know what a bog beast is. He's caught by his crush, Tiffany, when he and Wanda get water from the girls' bathroom in "Wet All Over." Despite the embarrassment, it's implied at the end that Tiffany likes him, too. He serves as Ms. Frizzle's defense attorney in "In a Pickle." While in the bus' gas tank, Arnold says that he hates the smell of gasoline and was out on the engine telling the class what was going on while they were in the cylinder in "Revving Up".
After losing the heat from his hot cocoa, Ms. Frizzle takes the class to the Arctic ("In the Arctic"). When Ralphie, Phoebe, Liz, and the bus get stranded on an ice flow, Arnold makes it his responsibility to save them while also trying to keep everyone else warm. He and Dorothy Ann compete in the 10th Annual International Show & Tell Competition in "Shows and Tells," but instead of bringing a rare collection of rocks, he brings some artifacts he found in his attic that belonged to his great-aunt, the famous archeologist Arizona Joan (a parody of the film character Indiana Jones). In "Rocks and Rolls," he fears that the statue he was supposed to carve (not by hand) is ruined, but instead, the rock slide the class caused on the side of a mountain carves a monument of the town founder. For the class' last day before winter break in "Holiday Special," Arnold made the suggestion they collect recycled goods to take to the recycling center. He accidentally puts Wanda's beloved toy soldier in the pile, causing her to blame his "crummy idea" and wish that recycling had never been invented.
Ralphie teases Arnold in "Meets Molly Cule" after the famous rock star, Molly Cule, calls him "Sugar." However, this is what helps him figure out that her hood ornament was made of sugar. In "Cracks a Yolk," he helps hatch the chick the class planned to replace Mr. Ruhle's lost rooster, Giblets. When Giblets returns, Mr. Rhule gives the chick to Dorothy Ann and Arnold, the latter suggesting they name it "Arnold, Jr." In "Goes Cellular," he's completely orange on the night he's to receive GRANITE's Rocky Award. The class tries to compare his skin to Phoebe's, only to learn his favorite snack food made him turn orange. He's happy when Ms. Frizzle's electrician wants to buy all the light bulbs the class was trying to sell for Valentine's Day ("Gets Charged"). He becomes a fox along with Phoebe and Tim in "In the City," and he's partners with Phoebe in "Takes a Dive."
- His parents first appear in "Going Batty," his father voiced by Elliott Gould. They make another appearance in "Rocks and Rolls" and "Goes Cellular." Mr. Perlstein also appears in "Holiday Special."
- His only cousin is Janet. She's bossy, arrogant, and manipulative, the complete opposite of him.
- His great-aunt is the famous archeologist Arizona Joan ("Shows and Tells").
- In The Magic School Bus to the Rescue: Forest Fire, he has an uncle named Alex, who is a firefighter at a national park.
- He mentions his sick grandmother in "Holiday Special." Assuming because his mother is already with her, she's his maternal grandmother.
- His middle name, Matthew, is revealed in Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Medieval Castle.
- His favorite color is orange.
- He is Jewish.
- Bruce Degen mentioned that a friend of his son's was the original model for Arnold.
- Two things make him sneeze: pollen and pepper.
- He loves the cold weather, mainly because this means he gets hot cocoa.
- The book The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System reveals that he weighs 85 pounds when he did the fortune scale inserts.
- While crushes are only hinted at, he's had affection shown to him from four girls: Wanda ("For Lunch," "Holiday Special," "Hops Home") , Phoebe ("The Busasaurus"), Tiffany ("Wet All Over"), and Dorothy Ann ("Cracks a Yolk").
- While he's cautious and nervous about field trips, he hasn't had a phobia revealed, unlike Carlos and Phoebe.
- He flew on an eagle ("Taking Flight").
- He's been shown to be a big eater with Cheezie Weezies, Sea Wheedies, and Mallowblasters being among his favorite snacks.
- It's possible he had some fight lessons, considering the boxing stance and martial arts he uses in "The Busasaurus."
- He hates the way gasoline smells as revealed in "Revving Up".
- In the TV show and books, Arnold has red hair, but in other media such as games and artwork, he has blonde hair.
- Claus, a character from the Japan-Only game Mother 3, resembles Arnold.