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Firstly I apologise if this isn't really the right place to post this question but it was the best place I could think of.

I've seen this meme before around the internet for years but I just wanted to know if it was purely coincidence or if the design of the characters between the two cartoons actually had any relevance?

All 5 characters match the same race and gender and that seems like too much of a coincidence. There must be some reason, if only subtle for why they match EXACTLY?

enter image description here

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    “I apologise if this isn't really the right place to post this question” — looks entirely on-topic to me. – Paul D. Waite Mar 25 '14 at 9:25
  • @PaulD.Waite Oh good! Hopefully someone can shine some light on this question :) – SaturnsEye Mar 25 '14 at 9:27
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    Confirmation bias, there's a few more children in The Magic School Bus – Izkata Mar 25 '14 at 12:05
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    @giacomocasanova I believe you mean "accepting" and not "excepting". Though "excepting" makes it much funnier. – skeletank Mar 25 '14 at 16:09
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    Hehe. While researching another question I spotted how similar the kids were, then went onto google to find out if the two companies were related, only to wind up back here again on this question :-) – Valorum Mar 14 '16 at 16:57
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No. The Planeteers never knew each other before being summoned by Gaia.

In the very first episode, you meet each of the Planeteers on their respective continents. There are numerous references to their backgrounds throughout the series, and it is never established that they went to the same school as children.

As for the similarities, the producers may have done it on purpose, however its more the case they were both going for a diverse group of people.

  • Groups of 5 are big enough to allow wide diversity, but not so large as its difficult to differentiate.
  • Africans, Native Americans and Asian are both genetically predisposed to black hair. Asian hair is especially straight as both illustrations show.
  • Left with an option for a brunette and a blonde Caucasian, they would have wanted the blonde female character as blondeness is an attractive trait in women.

Any other similarities are coincidental as Magic School Bus and Captain Planet were produced by different companies.

  • Didn't think they were related but it just seemed like too much of a coincidence one their appearance. – SaturnsEye Mar 25 '14 at 10:49
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    It's not a coincidence. Both groups fit the Five-Token Band Trope (warning: TV Tropes link). – phantom42 Mar 25 '14 at 11:09
  • @phantom42 Just curious why you warn about the TV Tropes link. That's the second link to that site that I've seen here (but I've only been on this SE site since yesterday), and I had never encountered the site before yesterday. So what's up with the warning? – Trebor Rude Mar 25 '14 at 13:24
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    @TreborRude TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life (warning: TV Tropes link). – ssell Mar 25 '14 at 13:33
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    Ah, I see, the same sort of thing that can happen any time you go to Wikipedia or IMDB. :-) – Trebor Rude Mar 25 '14 at 13:53
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They definitely aren't in the same universe, but some of the main MSB characters are at least somewhat likely based on Captain Planet. Same sex and race combos, the white characters have matching hair colors, and most suspiciously: Kwame & Tim have the exact same hairstyle. But one difference being that Ma-Ti is Native American (South), while Carlos is Latino (usually native + white)

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    The Magic School Bus predates Captain Planet by 5 years. It was a book series long before it was a cartoon. If there was any basis of one from the other it was the reverse of this answer. – Jason Patterson Dec 11 '16 at 6:23

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