Arthur’s Fist – the meme, is a reaction image featuring a screen capture of the protagonist Arthur from the titular children’s television series holding a clenched fist, which is often accompanied by captions describing various infuriating or frustrating circumstances. The image is taken from the Arthur Punches D.W. scene, notable for inspiring a series of YouTube poop videos.
On September 6th, 1999, Episode 1 Season 4 of Arthur titled “Arthur’s Big Hit” was broadcast, during which Arthur is shown clinching his fist before punching his little sister D.W. for breaking his Bell X-1 model airplane (shown below). On July 28th, 2016, Redditor axedowg submitted the fist image with the caption ”when people say ‘Harambe was just a gorilla’” to /r/blackpeopletwitter, where it gathered upwards of 4,800 votes (89% upvoted) and 130 comments within five days (shown below, left). Meanwhile, the Arthur__Hands Twitter feed was launched, featuring various examples of the Arthur fist meme (shown below, right).
It’s important to note that even before the fist meme, Arthur had already been engrained in the pop culture conversation, from the ArthurScenes Twitter account to Chance the Rapper (incorrectly) name-dropping him in “Ultralight Beam.” (“I been this way since Arthur was an anteater.”) This is all just a convoluted way to say, “Look at these other hella dank Arthurmemes.”
I was one of those kids who didn’t have cable. For this reason, my moral compass and world view were shaped by maybe seven channels of public TV. This included the morning news; the sitcom Frasier; and most-influentially PBS’s Arthur, a children’s program that, no matter the time of day, would be discovered airing halfway through an episode. The show’s pervasiveness no doubt left an impression on kids of the ’90s who, like me, got their diet of wholesome life lessons and appreciation of family from a precocious aardvark with on-trend eyewear.
These kids grew up to be the content creators and memesmiths of the internet today, hence us now hitting peak Arthur on the show’s 20th anniversary. The hot new meme of this moment — before the internet’s collective attention spans reset — is the Arthur fist meme. It all started when Twitter user AlmostJT pointed out the simple poignancy in a pic of Arthur’s tightly clenched fist: