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This Magic School Bus Theory May Reveal Ms. Frizzle's Horrifying Secret

The PBS animated series "The Magic School Bus" is as iconic as 1990s educational shows can be. Lily Tomlin voices Miss Frizzle, a teacher who uses the eponymous enchanted vehicle to show her students various secrets of the universe first-hand. This implies that she wields truly fantastic power ... but what if she's secretly a monster who's using said power for nefarious purposes? 

This is the basic tenet of "'The Magic School Bus' doppelgänger theory," as posited by YouTube user Alex Bale. It suggests that the show's tendency to break the fourth wall with its end segments and Miss Frizzle's casual endangerment of the children are aspects of a darker secret — that Frizzle is actually an eldritch monster who controls the show and whom every other character fears. As such, many of the things only adults notice on "The Magic School Bus" aren't mere gross negligence on Miss Frizzle's part. Instead, she's a malevolent entity who merely poses as an educator to control and frighten the children. They must keep attending her increasingly dangerous field trips, and whenever they try to stay behind, Miss Frizzle will pull stunts like shrink down the bus and drive it inside their body, a punishment she inflicts on two separate students. 

According to the theory, part of Frizzle's magic is keeping the children quiet about their massively dangerous adventures for fear that she might punish them with even more dangerous locations. Likewise, the producers (Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Susan Blu) are also prisoners within the show, repeatedly reassuring the viewer that some of the more outlandish events are pure fiction despite in-universe evidence to the contrary. 

According to the theory, the children sometimes die during their adventures

There are many children's show characters that are actually terrible, but this interpretation of Miss Frizzle takes the cake even before you get to the "doppelgänger" part of the theory.

There are moments on the show where a child dies on-screen — namely the Season 1, Episode 1 moment where Arnold (Amos Crawley) becomes frozen solid in space. Though the character continues to appear on the show, the theory suggests that the real Arnold actually dies in the episode, and Miss Frizzle creates a doppelgänger who acts a bit different than the original — to the point that the other children point it out. In fact, this may have also happened to the other students, considering that they sometimes visit familiar locations but behave like they're seeing them for the first time. Sometimes, Miss Frizzle even creates multiple active copies of the same character, as evidenced by the fact that Arnold is seen sitting inside the bus with the others when the shrunken-down Magic School Bus class is inside his body. 

The theory makes other points about the perceived hellscape within the show, but the gist of it is that Miss Frizzle is a frightful, magical villain who draws her power from the torment of children and is able to replace the ones who die during the field trips with clones. All in all, it's a creepy prospect that totally changes how you view this beloved children's TV show. Lily Tomlin has struggled to convince kids that she voiced Miss Frizzle, but if she ever hears about this theory, she might want to keep things that way.