YMMV / Hey Arnold!


  • Animation Age Ghetto: Very nicely averted, in that it did eventually deal with heavier themes, but ones that young children would still be able to relate to, and it an optimistic (if not sometimes odd) way. Its urban setting is said to be a huge contributing factor.
  • Awesome Music: Pretty much the entire musical soundtrack, courtesy of Jim Lang. In particular, the music tracks at the end of "Arnold's Christmas", "Parents Day" and "Pigeon Man" are all amazing.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Helga Pataki. The majority of the fans love her backstory and complexity. However, there's a Vocal Minority that finds it hard to forgive her cruel actions (particularly in "Girl Trouble", "Love and Cheese", and "Helga and the Nanny") as well as her treatment towards everyone (especially Arnold and Phoebe).
    • Harold. You've got one half of the fanbase that will find him annoying and obnoxious. The other half will see him as the hilarious loveable loser.
    • Rhonda. Some find her to be an annoying Rich Bitch while others like her for her Pet the Dog moments she gives in "Rhonda's Glasses" and "Polishing Rhonda."
    • Stinky is considered entertaining for the same reasons as Harold or is disliked for the same reasons as Sid.
  • Broken Base: The Movie. Many fans genuinely like it and think it's underrated. But many either find it So Okay, It's Average or dislike it. Aside from the obvious complaint of being a TV movie put on the big screen, some claim that the more action-oriented nature of the movie clashed with the down-to-earth tone of the show. (The James Bond-like teaser trailer didn't help matters either.) Another common complaint is the lack of focus on secondary characters.
    • Before its release, Nickelodeon invoked this trope. The network ran an ad series for the movie that had kids acting out scenes, and then reacting to them. One ad was the "controversial" scene in which Helga confesses her love to Arnold, and all the kids said that she'd never admit it to him.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • Arnold's Grandma and Grandpa.
    • Also Arnold himself at the end of the episode "24 Hours to Live".
    • Curly, with the emphasis on crazy (and not a "cool, kooky" crazy either. More like a "This kid needs serious mental help" crazy). To elaborate, he once broke some animals out of a zoo - alone. Just because he wanted to.
    • Chocolate Boy can be this, too. Apparently, he's spent so much time around chocolate that he can be used to literally sniff out Helga and Harold after they get separated following a tour at a chocolate tour (made all the more impressive, because this was several hours after the duo had been lost). Made funnier because he's literally put on a leash.
  • Critical Research Failure: A few on Romeo and Juliet in "School Play":
    • Everyone (including Mr. Simmons) acts as though the Last Kiss is the only and there's a lot of tension about it. Romeo and Juliet actually kissed multiple times in the playnote . Additionally, in an attempt to persuade the potential Romeo actors, Simmons claims that said last kiss is "just one small scene". If by "small" he means "pivotal and plot relevant" then he's right.
    • Most glaringly, Lila claims that the moral of the play is "true love conquers all". This couldn't be further from the truth. If anything, it was the opposite; Shakespeare made a point that Romeo and Juliet were simply two infatuated teenagers and their obsession with each other completely ruins both their and their families' lives. Heck, the mere fact that Romeo and Juliet die at the end should have probably been a tip off.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Helga. In the series she is a Jerkass Woobie who is horribly neglected by her parents, but who also can be mean, selfish, rude (and even cruel in some instances) does many things moved by jealousy, constantly bullies other kids (not only Arnold). However, despite that, many fanfics (especially romantic fanfics) portray her almost as a saint.
    • Curly to an extent, is this to fans also.
  • Die for Our Ship: Lila gets this a lot from Arnold/Helga shippers. It's pretty unwarranted though, since she has no feelings for Arnold and considers Helga's feelings for him "ever so sweet".
    • In a way, Helga herself seems feel like this about her. She's mostly okay with Lila (she finds her ever-so-annoying, not much more) as long as Arnold's not around.
  • Ear Worm: Several, including the opening theme.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Curly is easily one of the most popular characters with the fandom.
    • Arnold's parents: Miles and Stella themselves are pretty popular with the fanbase. (Which is impressive, considering that they've never appeared on-screen outside of flashbacks and photos.)
    • Many minor and/or one-shot characters such as Chocolate Boy, Harvey the Mailman, Peapod Kid, Patricia "Big Patty" Smith, Sheena's Uncle Earl, Stoop Kid, Monkeyman, Mr. Smith, Pigeon Man, Coach Wittenberg and Bridget from the movie are pretty popular with fans as well.
    • Some of Arnold's classmates such as Eugene, Lorenzo, Nadine, Brainy, and Sheena are fairly popular with the fans as well.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In the episode "Full Moon", Arnold sees Stinky, Sid, and Harold moon the principal, and ends up getting a month dentention because he doesn't want to be 'a rat' for telling.
    Harold: You told him, didn't you?!
    Arnold: (deadpan) No.
    Harold: (in disbelief) Well, why not?!?!
    Arnold: Because it wouldn't be right.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Craig Bartlett revealed enough details about the Jungle Movie and The Patakis, that many fanfic writers have written their own versions.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The four episodes that most fans can't stand are "Girl Trouble", "Bag of Money", "New Bully on the Block", and "Arnold Betrays Iggy". (The latter two mostly due to their endings.)
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • At the end of "The Flood", as floodwaters surround PS 118, Principal Wartz stands on the roof of the school singing, "Way down yonder, in New Orleans..." This became a lot less funny after Hurricane Katrina caused extensive flooding and damage in New Orleans in 2005.
    • In "Helga on the Couch", Mr. Simmons gets nervous when he learns that the school psychologist will be observing is class, stuttering and asking for reassurance that she will just be observing the students, and not him, the teacher. While this is a moment played for laughs when the viewer is a child, as an older viewer who knows about the above-mentioned Word of Gay, he was likely still in the closet and worried that the school psychologist would see through him and expose him, which could have disastrous backlash from the parents whose children attends P.S. 118.
    • In "Curly Snaps", Curly loses his mind because he feels like he isn't respected by the other students and teachers, locks himself in the principal's office, and assaults people with dodgeballs. The episode aired half a year before the Columbine High School Massacre, when such behavior would be considered way less funny.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • It was once implied that Helga's dysfunctional home life was the end result of her sister Olga moving out (as her parents favored Olga over Helga), leading her dad to push Helga to be more like her older sister while Miriam became a covert alcoholic (or "smoothie" drinker) just to cope with dealing with a Jerk Ass like Bob and a bratty daughter like Helga. The episode "Helga on the Couch" revealed that Helga's been neglected by her parents since she was preschool-aged and that her secret crush on Arnold was the first time anyone has given her any sort of affection in her life.
    • The episode "Rich Kid" involves the new kid Lorenzo who has a cell phone, beeper, his own laptop, etc and is basically a mini adult who needs to act like a kid. Many kids in the 2010s have their own cell phones, tablets, computers, etc and one complaint among older people is that kids are growing up too fast more than ever.
    • The whole kids growing up too fast thing is also mentioned by Helga in "Helga's Makeover" when all the girls at Rhonda's slumber party are obsessed with wearing makeup and trying to look more adult. She mentions how wearing a face mask to "prevent wrinkles and signs of age" is asinine because they're only nine years old and don't have wrinkles or signs of age. She also questions wearing high-heels since they're already taller than the boys. Sadly this is Truth in Television even today with prepubescent girls being obsessed with makeup and acting like adults.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Eating Contest," Grandpa declares "By Odin's beard!" in bewilderment after seeing Seymour aka the Disposal, Arnold's chief competition in the titular contest, in action. Granted, this was a common utterance of Thor's long before the episode aired, but it didn't experience a memetic resurgence until Marvel vs. Capcom 3 came along.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Oh, Helga...
    • Jolly Olly Man, the ice cream vendor though some had a hard time understanding his frustration caused by only a boring job, and his problems keeping it which may have something to do with his jerkassery which delves into Nightmare Fuel. It's not good for the business if you act like a raging psychopath even with your customers. And he had no idea what's wrong with his behavior. Arnold had to teach him the basics of common courtesy. And there's also the fact he has a horrible father who constantly gives him crap for their business. Even the episode ends with the two not resorting their problems.
    • Harold has his moments too in some episodes such as "Weighing Harold", where his ridiculed by his own friends of all people for being overweight.
  • Memetic Mutation: "STOOP KID'S AFRAID TO LEAVE HIS STOOP! STOOP KID'S AFRAID TO LEAVE HIS STOOP! STOOP KID'S AFRAID TO LEAVE HIS STOOP!"
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • When Scheck attempts to stop Arnold, Helga, and Gerald's bus in The Movie by blowing up the overpass. Even Nick Vermicelli is reluctant to do this. Later, Scheck also tries to run over Arnold and Gerald with his car.
    • Iggy crosses the line when he forces Arnold to wear his bunny pajamas in public as a way of forgiveness during the climax of his Day in the Limelight. The episode itself ends on the note that Iggy has gone beyond Arnold's forgiveness.
  • My Real Daddy: A voice actor variation. The show's cast was great and extremely memorable, so this was bound to happen. And while some of the boys were voiced by multiple actors, in a few cases, one would last long enough or have a big enough impact in the role that they're remembered as the actor who voiced him, despite having only been one of several.
    • Francesca Smith's voice of Helga is so perfect for the character, that she got the role immediately after Craig Bartlett heard her audition and pretty much no one can imagine Helga with another voice. The same with Jamil Smith, the voice of Gerald. He got the role right away, and when his voiced changed, Craig Bartlett wrote an in-series explanation for the change just to keep him in. (The two of them, along with Justin Shenkarow (Harold), Dan Castellaneta (Grandpa), and Tress MacNeille (Grandma), were in the series from the 1994 pilot until the final episode produced in 2001.)
    • Ben Diskin is usually remembered as the Eugene, despite having been the third actor to voice him; he lasted three seasons in the part, and was the only one of the four boys who played him to have continued with voice acting after hitting puberty, thus establishing Eugene as one of the "breakthrough" roles of his career.
    • Adam Wylie was so memorable as Curly that he was brought back to the role after having been replaced - twice. In fact, of the four actors to voice Curly, two of the others only lasted for one episode each, and the third (Michael Welch) appeared in only two.
    • Arnold himself is more unclear. There have been three major Arnoldsnote , and two have a pretty good claim to being the "real" Arnold:
      • Lane Toran (then known and credited as Toran Caudell) was the first Arnold on the show propernote  and only lasted one season in the part (though he subbed in for Philip Van Dyke in the season 2 Musical Episode "What's Opera, Arnold?" because Van Dyke wasn't a confident singer). Even after his voice broke, he remained with the show for its entirely as the bully Wolfgang, a role created specifically for him. Due to First Installment Wins, he's often remembered as "the" Arnold by the media - in 2015, a widely-reported story (with pictures!) noted how "the voice of Arnold" was all grown up. Toran is also frequently invited to fan conventions and panels reminiscing about his time on the show, alongside Francesca Marie Smith.
      • Spencer Klein, unlike both Toran and Philip Van Dyke, appeared only as Arnold (he was replaced very late into the show's run, so Craig Bartlett didn't have time to recast him as somebody else, as he had done for the other two), and made the most appearances as the Football Headnote . Each of the three voice actors portrayed Arnold slightly differently, but Klein's overtly romantic, serious, sensitive, and somewhat exaggerated goody-goody take on the character is how he is usually portrayed in fanon.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Iggy. In most episodes, he's simply a background character, with only one or two notable lines at most. "Arnold Betrays Iggy", his A Day in the Limelight, will forever have him be known for all of the (well-deserved) negative tropes on this page.
    • Good luck finding anyone who will forgive Harold for wrecking Pigeon Man's home.
    • Also, good luck finding someone that will forgive Big Bob for calling Arnold an orphan in "Parents Day"..
  • Popularity Polynomial: Sort of. The show was quite popular when it was airing, and managed to mantain a fanbase years after it ended; but sometime around 2012, there was a huge spike of interest in the series, particularly on the never-produced Jungle Movie. So much, that both Nickelodeon and Craig Bartlett took notice. And in 2015, when Nickelodeon announced it was looking to revive some of its classic Nicktoons, the Hey Arnold! TV movie revival was announced first, only a couple of months after the initial announcement. That definitely says something.
  • Ron the Death Eater: While Lila is portrayed in the series as a nice girl, many fanfics tend to demonize her, portraying her as a cruel, Manipulative Bitch (or in T-rated fics, as a slut).
    • Many of the more grimdark fanfictions portray Big Bob as an abusive father, despite that in the series, he was horrified that he nearly hurt Helga in "Arnold's Halloween". Most of his redeeming moments, such as in "Arnold's Thanksgiving" and "Quantity Time" are also often ignored.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Lila toward the end of the series. While she's not universally hated by any means, you'd be hard-pressed to find people that are honestly fans at this time. Her being an irritating parody Purity Sue didn't stop her from having a fanbase in Seasons 2 and 3, (hell, she was actually The Woobie when she first debuted!) It was mainly due to the Romantic Plot Tumor love triangle of Seasons 4 and 5 (and accompanying Die for Our Ship sentiments) that pushed her into Scrappydom.
    • Similar to Lila is Olga, Helga's older sister. The show established some Hidden Depths with her, however it also made her a hypocrite who goes out of her way to get her parent's attention. Not to mention she doesn't seem to grasp the extent of Helga's Parental Neglect nor does she seem to follow through with promises she made to Helga. For example, in "Student Teacher", Helga pleaded with her to keep any embarrassing stories out. Olga either forgets, or deliberately tells an embarrassing story to the class after Stinky fails a test. And sends Helga to detention afterwards.
    • Iggy from the episode "Arnold Betrays Iggy". It doesn't help that the episode itself ends on the note that Iggy has gone beyond Arnold's forgiveness.
    • A lot of the older kids (save for Patty and Torvald) from Jerk Jock Wolfgang to the Sixth Grade Girl Posse to Big Brother Bully Jamie O can be seen as this by fans for being almost complete and utter Jerkasses to Arnold and friends and getting little to no retribution for their actions.
    • Gerald's little sister Timberly gets a lot of hate in fandom mainly for being really annoying and is usually hindering Arnold and Gerald's plans in any episode where she plays a key role. The best example of this is the "Chocolate Turtles" episode.
    • Sid. He is a Poisonous Friend who betrays everyone at the drop of a hat, makes fun of Harold and Patty like a Jerk Ass, and everyone forgets he pulls the same crap over, and over, and over again. Whenever Sid gets a Day in the Limelight, it highlights how weird and off-kilter he is, and not in a likeable way either. "Bag of Money" is the most notable example of why Sid is often disliked.
    • Big Bob could also count as one. Some people really don't respond well to his poor parenting. Plus there's the fact that he is the antagonist to Arnold and company in several episodes, most notably "Parents Day".
    • Oskar Kokoshka for being outright lazy and being overall terrible and sexist towards his wife Suzie. And whenever he has a problem, he uses Arnold to do all the things for him. It went to the point when even Arnold called him a loser. These antics also seem to make him an In-Universe Scrappy also.
  • Seasonal Rot: Seasons 4 and 5 could count as this, due to Arnold becoming an incorruptible moral beacon and the Arnold/Helga/Lila love triangle becoming a Romantic Plot Tumor that pushed Lila into Scrappydom. There were still many good episodes in them though, particularly "Veterans Day", "Helga on the Couch" and "The Journal." As far as seasonal rot goes, Hey Arnold! got off pretty easy. In fact, a lot of people agree that the show never really dropped on quality.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • Lila/Arnie vs Lila/Stinky vs Lila/Brainy.
    • Stinky/Lila vs Stinky/Gloria.
    • Rhonda/Curly vs Rhonda/Harold vs Rhonda/Sid.
    • Harold/Patty vs Harold/Rhonda.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Whenever fans think of the episode "Pigeon Man", they think of the last 2-3 minutes.
    • The last line of "The Journal" ("I found a map!") is remembered for the... wrong reasons.
  • Squick: Arnie's snorting is pretty gross.
    • Brainy making those wheezing noises isn't too much better.
  • Toy Ship: Every shipping in the series. The most popular ones are Arnold/Helga and Gerald/Phoebe. Although they're canonically children in the show, fanfiction writers usually crank up their ages to make the story more appropriate.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Eugene is an In-Universe scrappy; where his peers (bar Arnold) ostracize him for being a jinx and being all around unlucky. However, he has a lot of fans for his charming personality.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Arnold is the Only Sane Man to contrast his quirky classmates and eccentric non-traditional family.
  • Vindicated by History: The opinions surrounding Hey Arnold! The Movie have softened over the years. Though there still is a mixed opinion surrounding it, it's nowhere near as negative as the initial reception.note  While pretty much everyone agrees that it should've stayed as a TV movie, many fans say the movie is pretty decent on its own right, and is enough to please fans of the show.
  • Wangst: Olga is a master of this. In "Olga Comes Home", she spends days sobbing about it in her room, with dramatic music in the background and a serious case of Your Makeup Is Running. Even Big Bob starts to get tired of her histrionics- she only snaps out of it when Helga admits she changed her grades out of spite.
  • What an Idiot: Helga probably could get Arnold's interest if she was nice, but she rarely gives it a try. She has a rep to maintain. Harold even made fun of her on day one (when Arnold first noticed her) in a flashback in the episode, "Helga on the Couch".
    • Arnold realizing that Iggy won't forgive him and instead of letting go, he suffered through a Humiliation Conga.
    • Iggy himself not forgiving Arnold.
    • Stinky refusing to sign without telling the advertisers that he heard them insulting him behind his back.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The show dealt with a lot of serious themes compared to other Nicktoons. The most notable examples being Helga's dysfunctional family and Arnold's missing parents, though it also touched subjects like adult illiteracy ("Oskar Can't Read?"), addictions ("Chocolate Boy"), poverty ("Ms. Perfect") and war. In general, the show is a lot more emotional and mature than you'd expect a kids' show to be.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The original claymation shorts.