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'Welcome Home, Franklin': There's a New Charlie Brown Special, and Here's How to Watch

Franklin Armstrong, the first Black character in the legendary Peanuts comic strip, stars in his own TV special on Apple TV Plus.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
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Charlie Brown and Franklin Armstrong lead the pack in a soapbox derby race.

Apple TV Plus

Franklin Armstrong moved into Charlie Brown's neighborhood back in 1968, and it was a big deal. Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic strip featured only white characters at the time, and when he brought in Franklin as a Black friend for Charlie Brown and crew, the Civil Rights Movement was raging, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated just months before.

Despite some pushback, Schulz, as noted by The Washington Post, stood his ground, and Franklin became a regular character, if not an especially major one. Now, however, he's starring in his own origin story and TV special, "Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin," which began airing Feb. 16 on Apple TV Plus, midway through Black History Month.

How to watch 'Welcome Home, Franklin'

You're going to need Apple TV Plus. If you already have a subscription, perhaps to watch Ted Lasso or Severance, you're good. Just log in and search for the show.

If you don't have an Apple TV Plus subscription, you can sign up for the site's seven-day free trial and either cancel or choose to subscribe when your free week ends.

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Franklin was introduced to the Peanuts comic strip in 1968, just months after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Apple TV Plus

Franklin's little-known life -- and last name

In the comic strip, Franklin met Charlie Brown at the beach, and they bonded over a beach ball. That meeting is referenced in the special, where Franklin's family moves into Charlie Brown's neighborhood. The boys end up partnering for a local soapbox derby race, and if you know anything about Charlie Brown's skills and luck with any sporting event, you know they face a bumpy road.

The special also delves deeper than the strip ever did into Franklin's life. Turns out he's an army kid who has to move often, but he finds strength in a notebook filled with his grandfather's advice on friendship.

Franklin has a last name now -- Armstrong. As noted by NPR, Schulz chose it to honor his friend and fellow cartoonist, Robb Armstrong, who created the pioneering comic strip JumpStart, about a Black family. In the 1990s, Schulz asked Armstrong if he could use his name for Franklin, and Armstrong agreed, calling it a "tremendous honor."

Controversy over Peanuts on Apple TV Plus

Fans feel protective of the Peanuts gang, which has been a part of American (and global) lives since 1950. The animated holiday TV specials hold a special place in many hearts as an annual family tradition. 

But in 2020, Apple TV Plus bought the rights to the Peanuts catalog, upsetting many who wanted the programs to stay free. Apple compromised, and now the popular holiday specials have a short period each year where they're free to anyone, before going back behind the subscription paywall.

There's no similar free period for "Welcome Home, Franklin," though the Apple TV Plus seven-day free trial mentioned above comes close -- if you haven't already burned through yours.