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Headscratchers: Hey Arnold!
  • How, exactly, does Arnold have either the education or the money to have that crazy pimped out room of his, in an apartment with his grandparents, in the west coast boonies, in fourth grade?
    • Money from his parents? Or maybe a friend owed the family a favor.
    • His grandparents spoil him because they feel bad for him that he lost his parents at such a young age.
      • While looking for scans of Nickelodeon Magazines I found a page referring to just this sort of thing. He supposedly found the stuff piece-by-piece in junkyards and other places. Still doesn't explain the education angle, of course.
  • I never got the ending to "Rich Guy." Did the rich guy give Grandpa the egg cream robot or did it wander off and end up at the boarding house?
  • I keep hearing about this alleged evidence that Arnold likes Helga back. Can anyone elaborate?
    • There really isn't that much evidence. Arnold only sees her as someone to talk to occasionally, not as a potential soulmate.
      • The episode "Married" has the strongest evidence, seeing as Arnold dreams about being married to Helga and confronting her about how she hides her true feelings.
      • That's not really proof that Arnold likes Helga. Rather him coming to terms with him "inevitably" marrying her. As we see with Ruth, Lila, and Miss Felter if Arnold likes someone he's not timid about letting them know. The best proof of Arnold subconsciously liking Helga probability comes from the episode where he dreamed he visited Arnie. Granted "Hilda" was Helga's opposite (other than their love of poetry), they looked almost exactly the same (Hilda didn't have a monobrow). But in reality, Hilda was basically a prettier version of Helga who wasn't a bully. In truth, Helga would probably act this way if she wasn't constantly defensive, which suggests that Arnold really does like the "real" Helga.
    • Word Of God.
      • A series that takes place after the movie when Helga desperately kissed and confessed love to him. Not proof that there was any reciprocation during the series proper.
      • The movie isn't canon.
    • Also the standard real life proof of the Tsundere phenomenon. When people start off on bad terms but then grow closer together it adds a special feeling to the relationship. Arnold always does seem to like it whenever Helga acts nice.
      • Arnold likes it when anyone is nice. Making mean people nice is basically his MO.
    • Arnold always shows interest in her when she acts nice. She would probably have a good chance at him if she weren't a bully.
  • Whatever happened to the mysterious Mr. Smith after the earlier seasons?
    • Or Gerald's friend "fuzzy slippers"?
      • They ran off together.
  • Why is that the most memorable episodes are less about Arnold and more about the other kids with the possibility of Arnold helping them overcome something? Sure, the first couple seasons were all about our favorite football-head, but there are plenty of episodes, mostly in later seasons, that focus less on Arnold himself and more about how he helps the people around him. What's up with this?
    • Because the producers/creators wanted to show that Arnold was not the only kid living in the city of Hillwood, and they wanted to flesh out the people he hung out with.
  • In "Crush on Teacher", why did Arnold assume that Miss Felter had invited him over? I know Gerald had misunderstood what he overheard, but why would Arnold show up at someone's house when he wasn't told to?
  • Why did Arnold not find his parents? I thought there was a trailer for a movie about that.
    • The show got axed before the movie could be made.

  • What is Arnold's last name?
    • Shortman. It's heavily hinted in the series, and if I remember correctly, confirmed in an interview.
      • Actually he said that it was almost confirmed, not fully confirmed.

  • In the episode Grand Prix, an episode about soapbox racing, Arnold's car (The Dark Avenger) and Eugene's car (The Mauve Storm) crash together badly breaking them. They later used the parts from both cars to make a new car, leading to arguments about what name to use from the old cars to give to the amalgamated car. Then someone, IIRC, Stinky suggests calling it The Mauve Avenger, which we get after a Gilligan Cut. Why the hell didn't they call it the Dark Storm?!?

  • Watching the show again ten years later, the show is cast in an entirely different light. Helga's obsession, which at one time seemed cute and a great setup for some slapstick, now just seems incredibly creepy. Helga's whole family is pretty messed-up, and looking back it's a bit disturbing that I thought it was rather normal at the time. There's also Lila and a couple of other scenes, but what really got me was Arnold's lack of parents and how about the only time he's not optimistic and cheerful and always helping everyone out and such is whenever he's reminded of it. I couldn't rewatch the episodes where Phil talks about them like they're Indiana Jones clones without thinking 'really, kid, you believe any of that?'
    • #1- Helga's just a child with a crush on Arnold. It's not like she wants to get into his pants. #2- Her family is messed up, and I don't know why you thought that was normal, because it wasn't. XD and #3- Arnold is sad because he misses his dead parents. Phil making them up to be Indiana Jones clones, making them larger than life would appeal to a kid like him (Who was probably in the fourth grade). They were awesome and he could be just as awesome.
    • I figured that his parents really WERE Indiana Jones clones. Why couldn't Phil's story be true?
    • Unless Phil faked the contents of Miles' journal, Arnold himself could confirm that his parents really did have many of the adventures that Phil had told him. Even though Phil admitted that many of the stories he had told Arnold as he grew up had been "embellished" - or even made up - so that he could satisfy Arnold's appetite for information about Miles and Stella, he did also say that they were based on the types of adventures that Arnold's parents really had together.
  • What is that at the bottom of Phoebe's sweater? Is it part of her sweater or is it the bottom of her skirt?
    • Part of her sweater, designed to match the collar. I, who wear sweatshirts, have the same thing on most of my clothes.
  • What kind of kid says "criminy"?
    • A kid who hears it constantly from her dad.
  • I know we're supposed to feel sorry for Helga because of her neglectful parents, perfectionist sister, and her childhood. But does that justify her actions towards Arnold? I mean, he's got it pretty hard too. His parents went missing and are presumed to be dead, his grandparents, despite their love, don't always understand him, and he's often too nice to retaliate against Jerkasses. Shouldn't she at least be more empathetic?
    • She's also afraid of her crush revealed remember?
    • And despite the insight and depth all the characters show, they're still preteens, not sure of how to express their feelings.
    • It's because Helga doesn't exactly have an ideal home life that she acts the way she does; because she's never exactly received real affection, she doesn't know how to express it to others. She may not be acting the right way, but her actions themselves make sense. In a lot of ways her love for Arnold is selfish, so you can't expect her to put his feelings above hers.
  • Why did no one call CPS on Helga's parents? Sure, it's at best a benign neglect and they do occasionally show something resembling decent parenting, but no one looked into things? Mr. Simmons should have had an inkling, given her poetry on the things in her life, and she even went to a therapist on one occasion, yet no one ever seems to take the next step?
    • Big Bob and Miriam are certainly emotionally neglectful, but their behavior is extremely tame compared to the sorts of situations CPS exists to handle. I think you're missing the point of 'Helga on the Couch' and the show altogether, which is that 'normal' doesn't exist, trust in humanity is often betrayed but is still a good thing to have, and with enough perseverance things will likely turn out okay - Helga's therapist explicitly says that it's perfectly fine to build the statue of Arnold's head out of his used chewing gum, see the Christmas and Thanksgiving specials for more of this sort of theme.
    • Helga? Why didn't anyone call CPS on STOOP KID? I think someone who appears to have no parents, has never gone to school, and no apparent source of income or food is more important than Helga.

  • How old is Harold? He had a Bar Mitzvah even though he's in fourth grade. He was held back (once?), so he around ten at best.
    • Depending on when your birthday falls, you can be ten for the majority of your time in fourth grade. So instead of nine-ten, he could be ten-eleven. Still, he'd need to be held back more to be thirteen.
    • Well, he may have only been held back once for fourth grade, but perhaps he was held back in earlier grades as well?
    • Except in "Helga on the Couch" he's in preschool with all of the rest of the kids.
      • That's the weird part, combined with the fact that they did make a big deal about Torvald still being in 4th grade, though Harold is apparently only a few months younger.
    • On his date with Patty, he says that he's been held back "a couple of years."

  • Why does Arnold have a clock that looks like him?
    • I always thought it was made by his grandparents, with Arnold helping out. Same thing with that unbelievably awesome room in the attic, complete with killer sound system, remote-controlled revolving couch, skylights and direct access to the roof.

  • Did the Thanksgiving special seem like a Broken Aesop to anyone else? The general message is a fairly ordinary sort of "The grass is always greener" situation combined with some "Be nice to your family" sort of thing. The problem to me seems to be that the message is delivered to both Arnold... and Helga. While Arnold's True Companions are genuinely likeable people, quirks aside (even Oskar isn't entirely the product of his own laziness), Helga's parents... really aren't good people. Although the special gives them a Pet the Dog moment, the fact still remains that, 99% of the time, Bob is a self-absorbed money-grubbing man with almost no regard for the rest of humanity—even his own daughter most of the time—and her mother is perpetually sloshed and hungover. Their concern almost seems... out-of-character, considering how little they care for her otherwise. And even if it's sincere, shouldn't they be treating her as nicely all the time? (Olga's fine, and her worries are almost certainly truthful—but, that's to be expected of Olga.) We're supposed to see Simmon's family as little better, but unlike Helga's family (of whom we have multiple instances of their negligence), we only see them once, and the implication (especially from Mr. Simmons himself) is that they're really very nice; they're just not party people.
    • True Helga's parents are normally neglectful but this shows that they do care for her, meaning that there are good people in there somewhere amongst all the problems. Miriam is shown to love Helga in other episodes such as when she takes over the Beeper Emporium and is horrified when she sees herself treating Helga badly on camera and another time when they try to bond on a road trip. I always got the impression that if Miriam was able to better herself then she could be a good mother.
    • Also, whilst some of the behavior of Mr. Simmons's friends and family is "just not party people" attitude (Uncle Chuck's glutton, Joy's joylessness, Peter making rude comments about Joy) if you go into the episode with the realization that Mr. Simmons is gay and with the implication that Peter is his partner his situation is revealed to be pretty sad... as his mother keeps making pot-shots at Peter and building up Joy trying to drop hints that Robert (Mr. Simmons) should date her. Yeah, his mother is implied to be in homophobic denial about her son and refuses to accept him for who he is.
  • In one episode, after Arnold complains about Helga being mean to him, Grandpa Phil tells him a story about a girl who looked and acted much like Helga in his own youth named Gurdy, and this girl was always tormenting Phil. At the end of the episode, Arnold leaves the room after Phil is done with his story, and his grandma comes in and Phil calls her Gurdy, showing that he ended up marrying the girl who was always picking on him. But presumably Arnold knows his own grandmother's name, so why didn't he make the connection that Gurdy was his grandma? I mean, Gurdy's not exactly a common name.
    • "Gurdy" is most likely just Phil's affectionate nickname for her, not her actual name.
      • I thought that it was "Gertie", short for Gertrude. Anyway, there's no reason that Arnold should know his grandmother's name. Phil always calls her "Pookie", the rest of the boarders call her "Grandma", and I doubt that she can remember her own name.
      • Sorry, you're right, it is Gertie. Though why wouldn't he know his grandma's name? Especially when she and his grandpa are the ones that are raising him. I guess no one really calls her Gertie that much, but you'd think he still know his own grandmother's name.
      • You'd also think Helga would know Arnold's last name, being her classmate and crush, but one episode revealed that she didn't. Real-world logic just doesn't work in Arnold's world, I guess.
      • Could be a bit of Truth in Television. I remember being roughly in the third grade when my parents finally told me that Grandma had a first name, because everyone's either called her 'mom' or 'grandma' around me. Maybe that's the same with Arnold.
      • Phil's sister addresses her as Gertie in front of Arnold.
  • In "Freeze Frame", why would butchers throw a birthday party for their competition?
    • Butchering isn't some highly competitive field, and throwing birthday parties for each other doesn't really affect business. Also, they were actually close friends of Greene he hadn't seen in a long time.
    • Just because they're competitors doesn't mean they have to not do anything nice for them...you can be friends.
  • In the episode where Phoebe got her leg in a cast, why does no one object to Helga washing Phoebe's hair in the school water fountain?
    • Well, school water fountains are already disgusting, so what could her hair do to make it worse?
    • Probably so Phoebe can see Arnold. If Helga was doing it in somewhere more intuitive (The sink), then there's no way Arnold should have been able to walk by and get the point of that scene across. (Because why would Arnold be in the girl's room?)
  • So...Stinky's a vampire, according to the Twist Ending of "Sid the Vampire Slayer". After that episode, it's never addressed again. Am I the only one bothered by this?
    • I think pretty much every single "horror" episode ends like that, revealing that the The End... Or Is It?...indeed was it. Don't give it much thought. Ernie should be dead according to one of those...
      • As should Curly.
      • Maybe Stinky just eats his meat very rare and uses a lot of sunscreen.
  • So in The Movie, they start bulldozing at like eight AM...and there are still people inside the buildings that are slated for demolition. Didn't any of the bulldozer drivers find something wrong with this?
    • Apparently not.
  • Arnold's bus pass: "Name: Arnold — Born: Yes". Uhhhh...
    • That's not really a headscratcher, it's just the show's creators having fun with the fans by not revealing Arnold's birthday. It's like not revealing a certain characters name, such as the Janitor in Scrubs.
  • Speaking of that episode, what was the deal with the "kid" getting that freaked out by Arnold managing to grab the card?
    • Are you talking about the episode where Arnold got mugged and learned karate? The kid you might be talking about got freaked because this little schmuck somehow got tougher and quicker than before. Plus, look at the way Arnold is holding himself and his facial expression. It's not one of fear, it's of anger. He also looks as if he's about to fight. If someone glared at me like that while swiping a card from me, I would know better to stay out of their way. He may be a thug, but he's Genre Savvy enough to know not to screw around with someone who may look like they'll give him a can of whoopass on his butt.
    • Plus, Rule of Funny to see a big tough guy almost soil himself and cower from a little kid.
  • Shouldn't Curly get help for his.. Behavior? Maybe a therapist, or a transfer to a new school?
  • Why has no one taken notice about Helga's parents neglect? When someone around 4 years old goes to preschool by themselves in the rain, doesn't that trigger a reaction?
    • It's typical behavior amongst people to ignore a problem or come up with a reason to justify it rather than do anything about it. Of course we the audience know the truth that her parents are neglecting her but the adults probably assume she was dropped off and just got wet walking from the car. Nobody wants to really investigate into something like that because they're afraid of being wrong and embarrassing themselves. Nobody wants to call child services on a family only to discover the family is perfectly fine and nothing is wrong, hugely embarrassing. Principal Wartz didn't seem to find anything wrong with Helga's behavior in "Helga On The Couch" so it's not likely he'd try to find out about her. If someone asked her about her family she'd say things were fine and that would be that.
  • Stoop Kid. Does he go to school? Why don't the police care? Does he really only live on the stoop?
    • Seeing as he seems to have trouble reading The Little Engine that Could, he likely doesn't go to school at all.
    • He might have one family member living in the building, who'd bring him food, clothes, and generally watch him in a lackluster way through the window. It might be a case of Stoop Kid having said, "I'll come in when I'm good and ready!" and sticking to it.
    • Social Services Does Not Exist.
  • I keep hearing about Lila's "dark side". What is this? Is she some sort of Stepford Smiler who has a deeply repressed side?
    • It's never really brought into light, but it's hinted she's not as innocent as she lets on. Lila has continuously lead Arnold on, making him think she may "like him, like him" only for her to let him down hard in the end. There was also a time where she damn near forced Helga to admit she was in love with Arnold. The look on her face was very coy and even out of character for her, like she was enjoying how difficult it was for Helga to spit it out.
    • Craig talks about it here. He says that, despite fan accusations, Lila's not a bad person, but she does act subconsciously negative string Arnold and Helga along. He says she and Helga would become friends later, so she probably finally started acting outwardly negative at some point (and that's something Helga relates to and respects).
  • How does Helga keep her framed picture of Arnold in her shirt when she lacks a Victoria's Secret Compartment?
    • I always assumed it was hooked into the inside of her dress.
    • I thought she had a pocket on the inside of her dress.
    • She might wear a training bra.
    • I always figured it was on a necklace that was hidden under her shirt.
  • What became of Bob after beepers fell out of fashion?
    • He became a depressed, raging alcoholic who abandoned Helga and her family. He later died of alcohol poisoning because he was just that far gone. Since no one in the new city he lived in cared about him, he was given an unmarked grave off in the corner of some forgotten graveyard. Meanwhile, Helga's mom, freed from his tyranny, gets help from friends (including Arnold and Gerald and their families) and other supporters to clean up her habits and build a new life for herself and her girls. She is now a healthy single-mom living in the suburbs with Helga and, while they still have dark shadows in the closet, they are generally much, much happier.
    • That, or he began selling CELL PHONES. That's what I always figured happened.
    • Miriam mentions selling someone a shipment of cell phones in "Beeper Queen", so I'm assuming his business just went with the times.
    • Big Bob's Bankrupt! Seriously, can't you see him stubbornly clinging to the beeper years after it falls out of fashion? "Criminy! This cell phone texting thing is just a fad! Beepers are coming back! Mark my words Olga, any day now they'll come crawling to Big Bob begging for a high quality pager with LCD display and QWERTY keyboard!"
  • In the episode where the kids were stuck in a subway, and a blind man's guide dog gave birth. Um...I am not familiar with guide dogs, but I would think trainers of guide dogs would ensure they were fixed as puppies so they can devote their entire attention on their blind master, not said blind master and a litter of their own puppies.
  • What's up with the police station in this series? Any time anyone goes to the police station to report a crime, the police just laugh them out. It's understandable in the episode where Sid thought he killed Principal Wartz via soap effigy, but the episode where Grandpa reported about his missing car is just ridiculous. There's Police Are Useless, and then there's just being straight up insulting.
    • The writers needed a reason for why the main characters solve the crime themselves instead of the police handling it.
    • Also, living in this neighborhood, the police have probably seen enough wacky behavior/kids' shenanigans as to be inured to most goings-on.
    • This is a show aimed for kids, so having the police, or other adult figures be the ones to solve the problems, then it wouldn't be a kid's show.
  • In "Helga On The Couch", why does Dr. Bliss tell Helga it's okay for her to boss the other kids around? Doesn't most of the show portray that behavior as negative and - more to the point - isn't it negative?
    • Dr Bliss tells Helga that it's okay for her to express her feelings whatever way is easiest for her - as long as she's not hurting anyone. She does tell Helga to stop hitting Brainy. Bossing the other kids around isn't actually hurting anyone, it's just the way Helga is. If she were getting physically violent on them all the time then something would have to be done. Dr Bliss is intending to help Helga through regular therapy so she won't have to act out like that in time, rather than just giving her commands in the first session.
  • In "Helga's Masquerade", Helga decides to dress and act like like Lila to get Arnold's attention. Then she's somehow surprised and disappointed when she gets his attention only because she reminds him of Lila. How could she have expected anything else?
    • Being in love tends to impair judgment.
  • So wait, if I remember correctly, Arnold has a cousin named Arnie that is like scary version of Arnold. Doesn't that mean that Arnold has an Aunt or Uncle out there that is at least related to one of his parents (most likely his mom, as she has the weird shaped head). Did they die too in some unexplained thing or has Arnold just never asked about them, which you think he would.
    • Judging from Arnie they're likely scary and weird, so Arnold'd just assume let them alone.
  • Why would Olga go to Bennington College? It's not necessarily a slacker school, but it's hardly the kind of place a chronic award-happy overachiever would go.
    • Perhaps that's a clue to her neurotic inner persona. If she goes to a really prestigious college then there's the possibility she could find the work too much and fail - and she can't have that. You see how she goes into the depths of despair when she thinks she gets a B on a test. Maybe she chose a college that would give her work that she'd easily excel in. That way she can still be the star student without having to worry about failure.

  • This bugs me like you would not believe: how in Heaven's name does Mr. Simmons hang onto a teaching license, let alone get voted Teacher of the Year? I get that he's nice and has qualities that are valued in teachers, such as treating students as individuals. But he clearly cannot keep control of his class for more than 2.5 minutes ("The Flood.") He loses two members of said class on a field trip apparently so far out of town that it's dark when the students arrive home, and doesn't bother to re-check his head count or get in touch with the parents any sooner ("Buses, Bikes, and Subways.") I mean, for crying out loud, he could've called the cops; that's why they're there—or at least called the chocolate factory and reported he was missing two kids! He totally missed the fact that his science closet had been robbed until the television news informed him (and the rest of the city). He lets his students get away with telling him to "Bag it" and bonking him with a kickball while calling him "Granola Boy," AND he completely mixed up two aptitude tests. Plus, he's been to Helga's house and seen at least some evidence of her dysfunctional home life. Say it with me, people: TEACHERS ARE MANDATED REPORTERS. What in heck is he still doing with a license????
    • Adults Are Useless, a fairly common trope that runs in this show. Notice how it's always the kids that know what to do, and it's always the kids who solve the episode's problems with little to no intervention from adults? Sometimes, it's the adults who started the problems in the first place!
    • Okay, I'll take it. Plus, the fact that Simmons is so useless is probably Rule of Funny. I guess I just got a little offended as an adult because I studied to be a teacher. Thanks. :)
  • I heard Word of God is the show takes place in the Northwest.. Huh? It seemed very New York to me.
    • I haven't been to the Northwest, but I imagine there are huge cities like New York over there. Seattle, anyone?
    • While it is further south, San Francisco is a big city like New York with a big skyline, ethnic neighborhoods, a subway, etc.
  • In "Helga's Makeover", Why was Rhonda going to put that mask on Helga when she is clearly wearing makeup? Even if she's only nine years old, common sense says you should be bare faced for an facial. Also what was candy doing in the produce aisle while Helga was talking to Phoebe?
  • I know that Arnold has an infinite amount of tolerance, but why is Gerald his best friend? You know, he always transmits him pessimism, he doesn't support him in any of his problems, he never supported his crush on Ruth, when he fights for a cause he always tells him to forget it and accept that it won't get better... I mean, why?
    • I think Gerald is the yang to Arnold's yin (or is it the other way around?) Arnold is the optimistic kid who sees the good in everything and everyone, while Gerald is the realist who sees the world the way it really is. They compliment each other. If Arnold is getting too carried away with his optimism, Gerald is quick to pull him back down to reality. Conversely, if Gerald is sliding more and more into Humans Are Bastards territory, Arnold is there to remind him of the good in the world/humanity.
    • At the end of "Jamie O In Love", I feel like Arnold and Gerald's roles are switched. Usually, Arnold would be the one to tell Gerald that he ought to tell Jamie O that his girlfriend is just using him. However, when Gerald decides he should tell him, Arnold, even after seeing the state Jamie O is in by this time, asks Gerald if he could wait until after the Gladiators on Ice show. Consequently, Gerald decides to be the one to "do the right thing" and tell him now.
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