On class picture day, the kids vow to keep Gus clean as he's 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've had their pictures taken already are actively trying to get clean kids messy for their pictures?
The episode starts with an American flag hanging out the Griswald household. T.J. is reading aloud a note he wrote off-screen.
I'm writing you in hopes of maybe that'll help me understand. It was a hard day, and all of those kids it was, especially I'm thinking for your son.
Gus's father wakes him up, saying it's 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's 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, T.J. and the 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's 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's 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 Ms. 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. Ms. Finster tells the kindergarteners to report to the photographer at once. While T.J. tels the gang how to surround Gus so he won't get dirty in order to make his parents proud. While the photographer is trying to make the kindergarteners smile at Clowny McClown and say, "Happy". But the kindergarteners just mumble to one another. The photographer thinks it's good enough. When the camera makes it's sound, one of the kindergarteners think that they are free, and all the other kindergarteners flee the bleachers. Ms. 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 kindergarteners are coming at their 6:00.
The other people run from the kindergarteners, and then they are wreaking havoc throughout the playground. Spinelli says that there might be 20 or 30 of the kindergarteners, and that they're heading the gang's way. Tubby the kindergartener then jumps on some mud, while other people including the Cornchip Girl, run away, because Hector the kindergartener is coming their way with mud on himself. 4 of the kindergarteners 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, Ms. 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 she's 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 kindergarteners 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'll be OK. 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, Ms. Finster calls the third graders to take their pictures. When the third graders have taken their pictures, Ms. 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 kindergarteners are. It reveals they are above them, hanging on Old Rusty. Tubby the kindergartener wants to get them, then the kindergarteners 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 kindergarteners
T.J. and Gus go into a hole dug by Sam and Dave, 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 kindergarteners, 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, Ms. 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 kindergarteners, 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 TJ 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.
Theodore J. Detweiler
Someone knocks on the door, and Gus's father tells that person to enter. His colleague tells him something about satellite photos. Gus's 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's 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's dad then explains that his son was in his very first class picture ever. Gus's 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.
- Coloring error: At the beginning of this episode, Tracey's dress is blue. Later in the episode, her dress is yellow.
- Coloring error: For most of the episode, Megan's dress is yellow. In the class photo, her dress is blue-green.
- Despite Cornchip Girl not being a kindergartener, she's portrayed as one when the kindergarteners try to get the gang dirty.
- This episode is one of the fans' three favorite episodes shown as bonus episodes on the Recess: All Growed Down DVD.
- T.J. is wearing the same outfit he wore at the end of the episode "The Experiment."
- The SpongeBob SquarePants episode Picture Day has a plot almost identical to this.
- The main difference is Spongebob always stays clean for photos, and did not get dirty saving a friend.
- 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 thirty-eighth birthday of E.G. Daily, who voiced Captain Sticky.
- This episode was paired up with "Rumor Mill" outside the US.
- This is the first episode written by Bart Jennett.
- This is the only episode where Spinelli is shown with her hair down.
- This episode marks the only occasion where Phil is seen out of his Woodchuck Scout uniform.
- This is the second time T.J. is shown in his "formal" outfit; the first being in "The Experiment".
- This is the first time Mikey is shown in his "formal" outfit; he will wear it again in "The Biggest Trouble Ever".
- This is the second time the Ashleys are shown in their "formal" outfits; the first being in "The Beauty Contest".
- T.J. Detweiler - Andrew Lawrence
- Vince LaSalle - Rickey D'Shon Collins
- Ashley Spinelli - Pamela Segall-Adlon
- Gretchen Grundler/Kid #2 - Ashley Johnson
- Mikey Blumberg/Tubby - Jason Davis
- Gus Griswald - Courtland Mead
- Miss Finster - April Winchell
- Miss Grotke - Allyce Beasley
- Randall Weems - Ryan O'Donohue
- Captain Sticky/Kid #1/Kid #3/Kid #5 - E.G. Daily
- Ashley Armbruster - Anndi McAfee
- Ashley Boulet/Kid #4 - Francesca Smith
- Erwin Lawson - Erik Von Detten
- Cornchip Girl - Aria Noelle Curzon
- Lieutenant Griswald - Sam McMurray
- Photographer/Soldier - Gregg Berger