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Benchwarmer is an episode of Hey Arnold!.

Synopsis

Arnold, Gerald, Stinky, and Robert are on the YMMA's basketball team, and Coach Wittenberg teaches the team to always pass the ball to his son Tucker. Arnold teaches Tucker how to do free-throw shots, only to find he still hogs all the credit.

Plot

Arnold and Gerald are glad that the two are on the same basketball team at the YMAA league. Suddenly, this optimism turns sour when the coach announces that the team strategy would only revolve around one player: his son Tucker. The entire practice is just passing the ball to Tucker, which annoys everyone on the team.

During their first game, Tucker proves to be a very good player. However, Arnold cannot seem to pass it to Tucker since he was not open, so he passes it to Gerald, who makes a complete shot. Infuriated, Coach Wittenberg calls a timeout and sits Arnold out for the rest of the game for going against the game plan.

Arnold talks to Grandpa about quitting the team due to the unfair game plan the coach has. Phil then recollects the time he joined the circus to follow his dream to become a trapeze artist, but ends up stuck cleaning up after the elephants for over 13 years. Thankfully, Phil remembered something his grandfather said to him once that convinced him to stay at his job, "Don't quit, you ninny!" He tells Arnold that even though he never became a trapeze artist, he made the cleanest cages around. This persuades Arnold to stay on the team as a "benchwarmer."

At the next game, Tucker is proven to be a terrible free throw shooter, which earns the team a loss and his dad's fury for missing free throws yet again. While leaving the gym, Arnold decides to stay and shoot some free throws, catching Tucker's attention. Tucker confesses that everytime he tries to take the shot, he just thinks of his dad shouting at him; adding too much pressure. Arnold offers to help him with his free throws first thing tomorrow.

Arnold begins to teach Tucker the ins and outs of the basketball, with meditation to help him become intimate with the ball. Arnold then tells Tucker to shoot blindfolded in order to "trust the ball," which Tucker succeeds in right before their next game.

Coach Wittenberg watches in awe as his son has successfully shot all his free throws. At halftime, Coach asks Tucker where he learned how to shoot so well, to which Tucker lies and claims he got better on his own, upsetting Arnold who was the real one behind Tucker's success. Once he starts reverting back to his old way of shooting foul shots, the other team catches up to a two-point lead. Coach explains the game plan in giving Tucker the ball and make two points to go to overtime. Once Tucker picks up a foul yet again, he fakes an injury to call a timeout to explain to his dad that it was Arnold who taught him how to shoot those free throws. With Coach reluctant to put in Arnold because he "breaks the rules," Tucker tells his dad that he has to put faith into the team in order for them to have any shot at winning the game, prompting Arnold to replace Tucker on foul line. After making his first free throw shot, Arnold calls a timeout and tells the rest of the team to go for a two-pointer instead of a one-pointer to win it. The game plan is the exact same play they came up with at the park. The play works and Arnold wins the game in a buzzer beater, changing Coach's mind about the game plan and allowing everybody to play.

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