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"One Stayed Clean" is the first episode of the third season of Recess, which was first broadcast on September 11th, 1999.



On Picture Day, the kids vow to keep Gus clean as he never had a class picture of him taken before. But can the gang manage to stay clean until the end of the day when all other kids who have had their pictures taken already are actively trying to get clean kids messy for their pictures?

Main Story

The episode starts with an American flag hanging out the Griswald household. T.J. is reading aloud a note he wrote off-screen.

Dear Sir,

I'm writing you in hopes of maybe that'll help you understand. It was a hard day, for all of us kids it was, but especially, I think, for your son.

Gus' father wakes him up, saying it is 0600. He then tells Gus that it's Picture Day. Gus then salutes his father, then goes to take a shower, iron his clothes, polishes his shoes, then goes to put on fancy clothes. Gus' father comes to do an inspection on him, asking if his shoes are shined, his belt buckle is polished, his shirt is on and tucked into his pants, etc.

Gus's dad tells him that it's a historic day for the Griswald family, and to make his mom and his dad proud. Gus's mom then laughs. Gus says he will do the best he can.

Meanwhile, at Third Street School, The Recess Gang are upset. T.J. then says that Picture Day Whomps, and that even if he's an adult, he will never give his kids Picture Day. The whole gang agrees. Gus then shows up. Gus is happy that he will be taking his very first class picture today, but much to the gang's surprise, they're going last. They are upset because that means they have to stay clean for the whole day. T.J. asks Miss Grotke if there is a misunderstanding, but Miss Grotke says there is not. The gang freaks out. Gus then explains to the gang that he's been moving around too many times, and that "he never got the chance to take a class picture", which was exactly why he was so excited, because he wanted to make his parents proud. T.J. then explains to the gang that he can MAYBE prove that this day isn't so meaningless. He then tells Gus that he is with him. The whole gang agrees with T.J., and helps Gus stay clean for the whole day.

Later, someone is setting up a camera, and Miss Finster is holding a megaphone. It is 10:00 AM, and the students walk outside instead of running. Swinger Girl just sits down on the swing, and Upside-Down Girl's dress goes above her, revealing her legs. Randall, somehow looking like he graduated, is doing something near the tetherball court. Miss Finster tells the kindergartners to report to the photographer at once, and T.J. tells the gang how to surround Gus so he will not get dirty in order to make his parents proud. While the photographer is trying to make the kindergartners smile at Clowny McClown and say, "Happy". But the kindergartners just mumble to one another. The photographer thinks it is good enough. When the camera makes its' sound, one of the kindergartners think that they are free, and all the other kindergartners flee the bleachers. Miss Finster then calls the first graders to take their pictures. Some of the first graders think that it is over. Spinelli thinks that the first graders are lucky. Vince senses trouble that the kindergartners are coming at their 6:00.

The other people run from the kindergartners, and then they are wreaking havoc throughout the playground. Spinelli says that "there might be twenty or thirty of the kindergartners, and that they are heading the gang's way". Tubby then jumps on some mud, while other people including the Cornchip Girl, run away, because Hector is coming their way with mud on himself. Four of the kindergartners work together to make the ball bin collapse. While the gang walks away, a muddy ball lands on Ashley B.'s dress. Ashley A. suggests they go to the dry cleaner. When the first graders have taken their pictures, Miss Finster calls the second graders to take their pictures. While the first graders are being chaotic. T.J. and the gang then sit on the round-about. Gus is then thirsty after roaming around the playground. He also says that after his pictures have been taken, he is going to go to Kelso's, and ordering himself an extra large glass of root beer. The gang agrees with that being said. Gus then asks Spinelli what she will be doing when Picture Day is over. Spinelli then says that "she is dreaming of a big, fat, and messy game of, 'British Bulldog'. But first, she claims that she's gonna beat up anyone who makes fun of her hair."

Spinelli then asks Mikey what he will be doing after the picture, and he says he's gonna play some mall ball. The gang then tells Mikey to get rid of it. But then the kindergartners and/or the first graders want to tackle Mikey, as they charge towards him. Then the gang runs away, but Mikey falls down. Vince goes to save him, but Gretchen says no. Vince says that he will be okay. The little children also want to tackle Vince. The rest of the gang hides behind Old Rusty. Gus says that either Vince or Mikey would wear one of their suits to church. T.J. suggests that they get moving. When the second graders have taken their pictures, Miss Finster calls the third graders to take their pictures. When the third graders have taken their pictures, Miss Finster calls the fifth graders to take their pictures. Then the third graders run amok. Spinelli then goes around, counting to see the first graders, second graders, and third graders. But then T.J. asks where the kindergartners are. It reveals they are above them, hanging on Old Rusty. Tubby wants to get them, then the kindergartners pounce on them, and the gang runs away. Gretchen gets her bow stuck on the fence, but then Spinelli gets Gretchen out of it, but then they are attacked by the kindergartners

T.J. and Gus go into a hole dug by The Diggers, who are revealed to be on a carpet, so their clothes won't get dirty. T.J. then tells Gus to duck because of an incoming doll. Gus then freaks out about Mikey, Vince, Gretchen, and Spinelli all getting attacked by either kindergartners, first graders, second graders, or third graders. T.J. tells Gus to calm down, while Randall reveals that he stole a harmonica from a messy kid, then starts playing, "Red River Valley" on the harmonica he stole. Gus then recognizes the sacrifice the gang made for him, but is afraid that the gang's parents will be disappointed in them. T.J. knows that, but convinces Gus that it's for him. Suddenly, Miss Finster calls the fourth graders to take their photos, which implies that the fifth graders are finished taking their pictures. T.J. and Gus peek out of the hole, which reveals that people are getting very messy, because they had already taken their pictures. T.J. then tells Gus that they made it here all the way without getting dirty, and that they survived mall ball and the kindergartners, so he convinces Gus that they can get to the photographer without getting dirty. Which to that, Gus agrees, and then they go. Randall and The Diggers come out, but they get muddy.

Gus then tries to go to the photographer without getting dirty, to which he has to face many obstacles. Same with T.J.. Gus successfully makes it to the photo. It reveals that everyone, including the gang, and excluding Gus and T.J., got dirty. As Gus and T.J. make their way over, Lawson steps in with a cheesy mess. T.J. pushes Gus to go and that he will be okay. Gus is in between the stands and T.J. Lawson stalls getting T.J. dirty with several cheese puns as the rest of the gang call Gus over. Gus looks to them, then back to T.J.

T.J.'s voice comes over off-screen again, and Gus's father is looking at a photo.

...And so whatever you think about all the junk that happened on Picture Day, I just figure I should let you know: I'm proud of him anyway, and I'm honored to be his friend.

Respectfully yours,

Theodore J. Detweiler

Someone knocks on the door, and Gus' father tells that person to enter. His colleague tells him something about satellite photos. Gus' father tells him to look at the photo he was just looking at. The person then says that he doesn't have really sufficient training to analyze photographs. Gus' father then tells him to take a closer look. It reveals that it was the class picture, and everyone, except T.J. was muddy In front are Gus and T.J. with their arm around each other's shoulder smiling. Gus' father then explains that his son was in his very first class picture ever. Gus' father adds that he has never looked better, which implies that "he doesn't care about the mess--he is proud of his son for defending his friend in a time of need, even if that meant Gus was a cheesy mess for his class photo".


  • Animation/dialogue error: Although Mikey points out to the gang that the fourth graders were getting their picture taken last, the picture day schedule still lists them after the third graders and before the fifth graders making them go 5th.
  • Coloring/continuity error: At the beginning of this episode, Tracey's dress is blue. Later in the episode, her dress is yellow.
  • Coloring/continuity error: For most of the episode, Megan's dress is yellow. In the class photo, her dress is blue-green.
  • Continuity/consistency error: Despite Cornchip Girl not being a kindergartner, she is portrayed as one when the kindergartners try to get the gang dirty.
    • It is possible she is only meant to be interacting with the Kindergartners.
    • it's possible the Kindergartners had converted Cornchip Girl into one of them like they did with T.J. in "The Legend of the Big Kid".



  • Gretchen's outfit in this episode is similar to one of the more famous outfits worn by Minnie Mouse, usually in promotional materials.
  • This is the first episode where Aria Noelle Curzon voices Cornchip Girl.
  • This episode premiered on the 38th birthday of E.G. Daily, who voiced Captain Sticky.
  • This is the first episode to be written by Bart Jennett.
  • This is the only episode where Spinelli is shown with her hair curled and down.
  • This episode marks the only occasion where Phil is seen out of his Woodchuck Scout uniform.
  • Clips of this episode were shown during the 1999 One Saturday Morning on Friday Night preview special since the episode would premiere the following day.
  • This episode and "A Genius Among Us" were aired exactly two years before the 9/11 attacks.

International Information

  • This episode was paired up with "Rumor Mill" outside the U.S.




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