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Characters / Hey Arnold! - The Adults: Part One

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WARNING: There are plenty of unmarked spoilers throughout (spoilers from Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie WILL be marked as necessary), so read at your own risk.

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Shortman Family
    Grandpa Phil 

Phillip "Steely Phil" Shortman
"Never Eat Raspberries"
Phil as he appears in The Jungle Movie 
Voiced by:
Dan Castellaneta
Christopher P. Walburg (young)

Arnold's paternal grandfather/Parental Substitute. Runs the Sunset Arms boarding house and has a checkered past.

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: He acts like a pest to his older twin sister when she comes over to visit. This lowers after Arnold helps him and Mitzi make peace.
  • Back to School: In the namesake episode, it's revealed that due to The Great Depression, he never finished fourth grade and was forced to get a job to help his family. Arnold convinces him to get his diploma. Initially, he becomes Arnold's classmate, much to Arnold's embarrassment, but Grandpa does so well that he had advanced to 6th grade. However, he lags behind to the point of almost being expelled due to bad influences by the 6th graders, but Arnold reprimands him to do better, and as such, Grandpa gets his diploma.
  • Been There, Shaped History: He single-handedly won the Battle of the Bulge for the Allies by giving the Panzer division tainted meat. He also gave Hitler a wedgie (though that might have been something he made up).
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: He and Gertie often got into spats when they were younger.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Unless your name’s Oscar, he is for the most part a kindly, paternal old man. But mess with or disrespect his grandson, you’ll see why it’s not a good idea VERY quickly.
  • Cassandra Truth: In "Girl Trouble," he flat-out tells Arnold that Helga constantly teases him because she likes him. Arnold naturally doesn't believe him.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Never Eat Raspberries."
    • "Mama Leone!" (most likely a reference to "Movin Out (Anthony's Song)" by Billy Joel) is another one he's fond of.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: With his wife (Arnold's paternal grandmother), Gertie—it "Girl Trouble," it's revealed that they've known each other since they were kids and are now an elderly married couple.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Not to the same extent as his wife, but Phil can be rather eccentric—in "Summer Love", he believed himself stranded on a deserted island and confused a flock of ducks for his ancestors.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: He tends to keep Pookie's antics from causing too much trouble when he isn't being weird himself.
  • Competition Freak: He can get obsessively competitive on occasion, especially when his rival Rex Smythe-Higgins I and his old friend Jimmy Kafka are around.
  • Cool Car: His classic Packard, which he's stated is one of his most prized possessions.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's nothing if not a great parent for Arnold, and he's more than willing to bend over backwards to help his grandson. He's also a decorated World War II veteran, even if he didn't really beat up Hitler (it was actually Goebbels) and he defeated Big Bob in the Parent's Day episode. It is also said that he can bench 210-lbs., even at his old age—according to his doctor, Phil's in such great shape for a man his age that he could, theoretically, live to the age of 150.
  • Cranky Landlord: Portrayed sympathetically as such due to most of his tenants being flaky weirdos.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Lost his pocket watch, has he? He has a drawer dedicated to spares.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Over the course of the series, he's revealed to be a decorated WW2 Veteran, former champion Chinese Checkers player, and an acrobat in a Russian circus, among other things. Of course, this is tempered to some degree due to his stories having an Unreliable Narrator tilt, yet he's frequently backed up by evidence from others.
  • Generation Xerox: "Girl Trouble" reveals that Gertie treated Phil the same way that Helga treats Arnold (i.e., she bullied him to hide the fact that she had a crush on him). Flashbacks show that both his father and grandfather had similar personalities to him. "Snow" also seems to imply that he had a similar relationship with his grandfather that Arnold has with him.
  • Genre Savvy: He often describes the plot templates in play.
  • Good Parents: He and Pookie are loving and supportive to Arnold.
  • Grumpy Old Man: He is not usually portrayed as grouchy, but he has shown shades of being irritable on a few occasions, usually when he is annoyed with the boarders.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Flashbacks reveal he was a good-looking young man who certainly knocked the socks off Pookie (and some French girls).
  • Leitmotif: Has one that usually plays when he's telling stories, but also recurs in heartwarming moments with him or in episodes about him.
  • My Greatest Failure: Many episodes that revolve around him have Phil grapple with the various regrets and grudges he has accumulated in his long life, many of which involve old rivals and former friends up to and including his own sister.
  • Noodle Incident: Phil was apparently an acrobat in a Russian circus at one point.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Feigns idiocy on occasion, most notably in a flashback to his days in World War II where he tricks a group of Germans who had captured him into eating spoiled meat.
    "It was then I realized that if I let the Major think he was smarter than me I could make him do anything I wanted..."
  • Odd Friendship: With Martin Johanssen (Gerald's dad). The two seem to get along just fine and Martin never shows any annoyance to Phil's many Cloudcuckoolander moments, only indulgence or entertainment.
  • Papa Wolf: He is FIERCELY protective of Arnold, and it’s very obvious that while he may be the boy’s grandfather, he loves the lad like a son.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The Savvy Guy to Pookie's Energetic Girl. While he can be a little ditzy as well sometimes, she's this ten times more than him.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Played with. His biggest regret in his Chinese Checkers career was how he could have actually tied with Robbie Fisher during their championship bout if not for a misplay. When they have a rematch decades later, he finds himself in the exact same situation, but he calmly performs the move he might've made years ago. Phil's fine not being able to win their game outright. Robbie isn't.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Arnold and Helga. As Grandpa Phil married his former childhood bully himself, he will occasionally try to help lead Arnold in the right direction.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: He holds a mutual grudge with Rex Smythe-Higgins I. Big Bob can also be this from time to time.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: He can understand Abner's grunting and squealing just fine.
  • Those Two Guys: Despite how much he can't stand Oskar, the two have many scenes together throughout the series.
  • Toilet Humor: Downplayed, but heavily implied. Raspberries or watermelon will have him on the toilet for hours. He even has a luxury washroom in the basement that he built so he doesn't have to share with the borders. He calls it his "office".
  • Troll: He gathers the various tenants of his building to the reading of his will just to let them all know that he's not leaving them anything when he dies.
  • Unreliable Narrator: He has a tendency to exaggerate (or even outright make stuff up), though "Veteran's Day" and "The Journal" show that's not always the case.
  • Vocal Evolution: His voice sounded more raspy and forced in the first few episodes. In the original pilot, Dan's voice sounded similar to what it would post-vocal evolution, but was more shaky.

    Grandma Pookie 

Gertrude "Gertie" (a.k.a. Pookie) Shortman
"Always stay down end of your prize, carry plenty of ammo and eat everything you kill!"
Voiced by:
Tress MacNeille
Francesca Marie Smith (young Gertie in "Girl Trouble")

Arnold's paternal grandmother. Quite liberal and zany.

  • Action Girl: For a seemingly senile old lady, she can kick a lot of butt when needed, being a black-belt in karate and has even saved the day a few times.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Phil tends to address her as "Pookie".
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Before they became lovers, she picked on Phil when they were kids.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: In "Girl Trouble," it's revealed that she and Phil have known each other since they were kids and the two are now an elderly married couple.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Has odd beliefs and habits as she's often seen acting like a different stock character, such as a cowgirl or a karate master. There's also her tendency to get the holidays all mixed up, such as celebrating the 4th of July on Thanksgiving and vice-versa.
  • Cool Old Lady: She's respected for being fun-loving for her age.
  • Generation Xerox: In "Girl Trouble," it's revealed that, just like Helga towards Arnold, Gertie bullied Phil to hide the fact that she had a crush on him (even calling him "Chin Boy" like how Helga calls Arnold "Football Head"). As part of the gag, Gertie in the flashback is voiced by Helga's voice actress.
  • Girlish Pigtails: In her youth, she had pigtails.
  • Good Parents: Her quirkiness aside, she is a loving grandmother to Arnold.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: It's implied that she and Mitzi were this as kids (and still so as adults, from the looks of it). Given what Gertie was like as a kid, one can only imagine what kind of hilarious hell these two put Phil through in their youth.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: A flashback in "The Circle Theater" reveals that she was an attractive young woman with blonde '50s Hair and a black dress that hugged her figure.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: She saves the day when even Arnold fails. For example repairing the underground or stopping Bob's bulldozer.
  • Loving Bully: As a kid, she bullied Phil to hide the fact that she had a crush on him.
  • Mama Bear: In The Jungle Movie, when she learns Arnold is in danger, she suits up and intends to get to San Lorenzo.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In "Summer Love", she ends up slipping out of her bathing suit after encountering some naturists, much to their horror. She is later seen walking with some surfers using a surfboard to cover her body.
    Phil: Aw, Pookie. No one wants to see that.
  • Never Mess with Granny: She's a black belt in karate and capable of rescuing a mistreated sea turtle and repairing a subway.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: There are rare times where she behaves in an odd fashion—only to then imply it was just an act.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Usually referred to as "Grandma", "Pookie", or other nicknames. Her first name is mentioned as part of the Generation Xerox twist in "Girl Trouble".
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • In "Parents Day", she acts like her usual fun-loving, crazy self. After seeing Arnold so depressed over his Parental Abandonment, however, she snaps out of the role she was playing and acts far more subdued.
    • Played for laughs during a heat wave; Arnold notes that the heat's so bad that even his grandmother is acting normal. Her wearing scuba gear and walking around like she does it every day when it starts raining is a sign that everything is going to be fine.
  • Reformed Bully: She was a bully like Helga when she was a child, but she grew out of it once reaching adulthood.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The Energetic Girl to Phil's Savvy Guy. While he can be a little ditzy as well sometimes, she's this ten times more than him.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: She is insane. Unlike most instances of this trope, played for laughs rather than drama.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Her moments of abrupt lucidity imply that she's actually perfectly sane but just uses her age as an excuse to do whatever she wants.
  • Tsundere: In her youth, she acted mean to mask her feelings for Phil, just like Helga does to Arnold.
  • Women Are Wiser: Inverted. Phil is more wise and sane in comparison to her.
    Miles and Stella 

Miles and Stella Shortman
Miles voiced by: Craig Bartlett
Stella voiced by: Tress MacNeille ("Arnold's Hat"), Antoinette Stella (all other appearances)

Arnold's long missing parents. Humanitarians who travel the world looking to help people.

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Stella's medium brown hair was changed to red with a white stripe in The Jungle Movie.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: They're not technically archaeologists (Miles is an anthropologist while Stella's a physician and a botanist), but because of their jobs, they spend a lot of time in a South American rainforest. But they still manage to rescue an artifact from a Jungle Pirate anyway.
  • Amusing Injuries: Miles is frequently injured during the course of his adventures.
  • Battle Couple: If Phil's stories and Miles' journal is to believed, they fought side by side a lot.
  • Birds of a Feather: How they met. Miles overheard Stella talking about the clouds looking like ships.
  • Brainy Brunette: Stella's got brown hair and she's both a physician and a botanist (a scientist who studies plants).
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: The whole groundwork of their absence in Arnold's life and their missing presence from the story is that they are a pair of adventuring humanitarians who never came back from a certain expedition.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: They both left to help cure a deadly illness sweeping throughout the population of the South American country, particularly that of a secretive tribespeople who have helped them throughout the years who they owe their lives to. As Miles had written in his journal, they expected the trip to be a short one, as they hadn't expected to contract the illness themselves and become comatose for nine years.
  • Fish out of Water: Being comatose for 9 years and away from their son has apparently made them a little bit detached with a common life raising their son, since they're still too big on archeology that they laugh off forgetting their son's first day in sixth grade. Then there's their not-so subtle worry to leave their son... at school.
  • Good Parents: "The Journal" shows that the main reason they moved back to Hillwood was because they realized that the jungles of San Lorenzo were much too dangerous of a place for them to raise their son in. And sometime after moving back to Hillwood, Miles and Stella have a bit of a freak-out when their then-toddler son wanders off at the park where they were spending time together and climbs to the top of a slide—in fact, Miles described that as being one of the scariest things he's ever experienced.
  • Happily Married: Miles and Stella clearly love and care a lot about each other.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Both of them have developed white streaks in their hair after spending nine years comatose. Whether it's a side effect from the Sleeping Sickness or just graying from age, (likely the latter, as none of the other adults affected by the disease appear to have it) isn't clarified.
  • Only Mostly Dead: The reason why they never returned is because they caught the sleeping sickness before they could cure it and have been comatose for nearly a decade. Arnold, along with Gerald and Helga, finish the process and reawaken all of the adults in the Green-Eyed village, including Miles and Stella themselves.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both left Arnold to be looked after by Miles's parents to depart on an important mission—but in their defense, they were planning on coming back and they also expected it to be a (relatively) short trip.
  • Screaming Birth: To give Stella her dues she may have been angry at the time, but she manages to keep it together rather well for a woman giving birth in remote Jungle Temple whilst a volcano is erupting all around her!
  • Walking Spoiler: Anything that has to do with them is intertwined with their absence, and it's nearly impossible to talk about Miles and Stella without giving key plot details away.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Miles really hates spiders.
    Aunt Mitzi 

Mitzi Shortman
Voiced By: Phyllis Diller

Phil's estranged twin sister and Arnold's great-aunt.

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: A variation—Phil and Mitzi are technically twins (and therefore the same age), but Mitzi's stated to be the older twin and Phil certainly fills this role during their interactions until they reconcile.
  • Deadpan Snarker: You'd have to be to deal with Phil's insane behavior.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: Though her hair color has changed, Mitzi keeps the same hairstyle from her youth.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: It's implied that she and Gertie were this as kids (and still so as adults, from the looks of it). Given what Gertie was like as a kid, one can only imagine what kind of hilarious hell these two put Phil through in their youth.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Stems from an incident in their childhood with their pet dog Pooter. Pooter crawled through a hole under the fence, ran away and was killed by a car. Both Phil and Mitzi blamed each other for Pooter's death and as a result, the two didn't speak to each other for over seventy years. Mitzi returned to the Boarding House to try and make peace, but all they did was argue and play mean-spirited pranks on each other. As always, Arnold convinces them to reconcile.
  • One-Shot Character: Only appears in "Grandpa's Sister".
Sunset Arms Boarding House Tenants
    The Tenants as a Whole 
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Mr. Hyunh and Suzie Kokoshka (nice); Oskar Kokoshka (mean); and Ernie Potts and Mr. Smith (in-between). Though the more direct examples are the main male tenants, Mr. Hyunh, Oskar and Ernie, as noted earlier.


Suzie Kokoshka
Voiced By: Mary Scheer

Oskar's loving wife who puts up with his laziness.

  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Has these moments with Oskar every so often.
  • Bridal Carry: Inverted. In a photo of their marriage, the roles of a traditional wedding were reversed as Suzie is the one carrying Oskar.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: She's never seen again after the events in Hey Arnold! The Movie—but by the time of Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie, Word of God reveals that, sometime between the events "The Journal" and the second movie, Suzie had finally divorced Oskar (and moved out of the boarding house).
  • Foolish Husband, Responsible Wife: She's the Responsible Wife to Oskar's Foolish Husband. She is the one who does all the chores and has a job. This is often deconstructed, as she and Oskar have gotten into arguments because of Oskar's flaws, and by the events of The Jungle Movie, she has divorced him.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Although she fights with Oskar often and has kicked him out on more than one occasion, she always seems to forgive him, only to have him make the same mistakes again.
  • Not So Above It All: The one time Oskar takes her advice not to blow money on a mule race, she gets drawn into it and places the bet herself. She was also just as aggressive as the others in trying to steal Mr. Smith's package.
  • Odd Friendship: Develops this with Helga Pataki's mother, Miriam, in "Summer Love", since they both have Jerkass husbands who would rather be anywhere but with them.
  • Only Sane Man: Along with Arnold for the Boarding House.
  • Parenting the Husband: Often does this to Oskar as he leeches off of her and gambles often. Suzie is the sole source of income and is run ragged by her childish husband.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Other than being Oskar's wife and one of the other boarders at Sunset Arms, Suzie never really got a ton of characteriztation.
  • The Smurfette Principle: For the majority of the series runtime she's the only female boarder at the boarding house.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Suzie is taller than her husband in scenes.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Hot wife to Oskar's ugly guy.

Oskar Kokoshka
Voiced By:
Steve Viksten (most appearances)
Wally Wingert (The Jungle Movie)

A lazy con artist and Suzie's (ex-)husband.

  • Aesop Amnesia: Every single instance of Character Development Oskar receives in the episodes focused on him ultimately had no effect on his lazy and selfish personality for the rest of the series.
  • Annoying Laugh: Has one when things are particularly going his way: "Uh-heh-heh-heh!"
  • Anti-Role Model: He's a lazy slacker who alienates everyone with his mooching, deceit, and awful music.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Has these moments with Suzie every so often.
  • Bad Liar: Makes up all sorts of excuses when he gets in trouble. In "The Flood," he tells Grandpa he didn't try to steal his rescue raft despite him being halfway out of the greenhouse with the raft.
  • Big Eater: He just loves food, though he seldom pays for it and often steals it.
  • Book Dumb: He's stated to have only finished school up through middle school.
  • Breakout Character: Became one of the most quotable characters and spawned a Fountain of Memes.
  • Bridal Carry: Inverted. In a photo of their marriage, the roles of a traditional wedding were reversed as Suzie is the one carrying Oskar.
  • Butt-Monkey: He quite frequently ends up suffering some misfortune. He largely deserves it, too.
  • Dreadful Musician: He plays the saxophone very poorly, much to the annoyance of the other boarding house residents. Whenever someone tells him to stop, he just says "I have to practice!"
  • Easily Forgiven: Suzie keeps forgiving him whenever he lies or blows their money. Ultimately subverted by the events of the second movie, because Word of God confirmed that Suzie finally divorced him and moved out of the boarding house.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: He's named after a real life Austrian painter.
  • Fat Bastard: The weight aspect is downplayed since he's on the pudgy side. He's still an unpleasant person to be around.
  • Foolish Husband, Responsible Wife: He's the Foolish Husband to Suzie's Repsonsible Wife. He is irresponsible and lazy, rarely, if ever taking responsibility for his actions. This often deconstructed, as he and Suzie have gotten into arguments because of his flaws, and by the events of The Jungle Movie, Suzie has divorced him.
  • Freudian Excuse: His low education (including only finishing middle school and being illiteratenote ), never having a job and resorting to shady means to get money and things his way theorized that he may have been raised in a poor portion of Czechoslovakia he hailed from.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Oskar isn't well-liked by anyone in the boarding house. It's implied that he had a history of borrowing money, not paying it back, and conning the borders out of money. He constantly mooches off of everyone, including his wife, and has no consideration for them in the slightest. It gets to a point where even Arnold can lose patience with him, and even went as far to call him a "huge loser". While the other borders can be (somewhat) civil towards him, even letting him come to holiday parties and other celebrations, the only people who seem to actually like Oskar are Suzie (his wife) and Arnold (who tries seeing the best in everyone)—and even they can lose patience with him. To Oskar's credit, when he realizes that he disappointed Suzie and Arnold, he makes a genuine effort to make it up to them and show he cares for them. Out of all the other people who live at the boarding house, Phil (Arnold's grandfather) and Ernie (the short construction guy) seem to dislike Oskar the most (the former especially).
  • Funny Foreigner: Mentioned in one episode as hailing from the former Czechoslovakia.
  • Hate Sink: Downplayed. It's clear that Oskar, thanks to his nonchalance towards responsibility and inconsideration for others, is deliberately written to be disliked by the vast majority who watch the show. The fact that many of the other characters of the boarding house dislike him just as much supports this, and the fact that even Arnold calls him a loser at one point definitely says a lot. Despite this, there are some people who like how much of a Funny Foreigner he can be and his Pet the Dog moments he has every now and then.
  • Hidden Depths: Some episodes show that he has an interest on learning how to play the saxophone.
  • It's All About Me: And he's not even trying to hide it.
    Suzie: You only think about yourself!
    Oskar: What's wrong with that?
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's uncaring, lazy, and leeches off his wife. However, in the episode where he's forced to look after Baby Oscar (the son of Suzie's cousin), whom he initially resents but grows protective over, and there are times he feels guilty about leeching off Suzie. And just like the rest of the adults at the boarding house, Oskar has a soft spot for Arnold. Also, almost every episode featuring him as a major character has him reveal that he can be good when he wants to be.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Often his way of showing he cares. He offered to help Mr. Hyunh become promoted to head chef just so he can get free food.
  • Lazy Bum: When he finally does get a job delivering papers with Arnold's help, he's too lazy to even do that, making up excuses so that Arnold does it instead of him. It gets to the point that even Arnold calls him a "huge loser".
  • Lazy Husband: Lives off his wife and still expects her to do all the housework.
  • Literal-Minded: Oskar in “Summer of Love” reads an ad for metal-detecting valuables for the beach, and thanks to a man saying for $9.99 (to get the metal detector), everything he finds is his. Oskar took it to mean that anything the metal detector grabs is his to keep, and he ends up committing oblivious theft.
  • Manchild: Lazy and childish, Oskar often neglects responsibility.
  • Mailman vs. Dog: He is chased and bitten by a small chihuahua while delivering newspapers.
  • Never Learned to Read: It's eventually revealed that he's illiterate (at least when it comes to English). Arnold volunteers to teach him how to read and later episodes have shown him to make it a habit to read things of importance to him out loud. Of course, ever since he learned to read, he’s bound to take anything he reads far too literally, especially if there’s no context behind it.
  • Never My Fault: A common complaint about Oskar's character (In-Universe and out) is how he never takes responsibility for his actions, and he constantly sees himself as a victim. This is even focused on in the episode "Oskar Gets a Job" when Oskar claims that he wants to make changes for his life for the better, only for him to constantly make excuses for himself on why he can't (or refuses to). Oskar eventually gets called out on this by Arnold, Suzie, Ernie, and Mr. Hyunh.
  • Pet the Dog: In spite of his sleazy tendencies, he has some moments where he's generous. In "Chocolate Turtles," he gives money to Timberly (Gerald's younger sister) as he too was tear driven by her sad story.
  • Signature Laugh: "Eh-heheheh!"
  • Slimeball: He is a lazy con artist after all.
  • Smug Snake: He is a Con Man who thinks he got this, but most of the time backfire on him.
  • Spoiled Brat: He's a grown man that generally acts more like a bratty litte kid.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Becomes this to Arnold in "Arnold as Cupid".
  • Those Two Guys: Can be this to Phil on some occasions, even though Phil can't stand him sometimes.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Oskar is shorter than his wife in scenes.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: The ugly guy to Suzie's hot wife.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Downplayed as whenever he gets A Day in the Limelight, the unsympathetic part sheds at the end when he shows some of his redeeming qualities.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Has been kicked out and threatened with divorce numerous times but Suzie keeps forgiving least until The Jungle Movie. Word of God confirms that, sometime between the events of "The Journal" and the second movie, Suzie finally divorced Oskar (and moved out of the boarding house).

Ernie Potts
Voiced By: Dom Irrera

A short man who works as a demolition expert.

  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Like many other characters, he has a big unibrow.
  • Brooklyn Rage: He's got a thick Brooklyn accent and a fierce disposition.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the movie, when Oskar suggested covering the building with vanishing cream, his response is priceless:
    Ernie: That is the stupidest idea I've ever heard! What if it rains?
  • The Ditz: Downplayed, but the first movie shows even he doesn’t understand what vanishing cream really is. And then he suggests building a dummy neighborhood.
  • Fiery Redhead: Male example of a redhead prone to petulance, although he is mostly bald.
  • First-Name Basis: Unlike most of the other boarders, Arnold regularly calls him by his first name (particularly in the later episodes). Although Arnold usually called him "Mr. Potts" rather than "Ernie" in the early episodes.
  • Hot-Blooded: He's very emotional.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his short fuse, he's a legitimately good guy. Notably, he's the only one who cried when Grandpa Phil appeared to be dying in "Family Curse" (Arnold didn't because he didn't believe in the titular curse while Gertie was being...well, Gertie).
  • Manly Tears: Prone to this on many occasions, like when Abner returns to Arnold after running away or when Mr. Hyunh is reunited with his daughter, Mai.
  • The Napoleon: Shorter than Arnold, but very passionate about the demolition business.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: He physically resembles Danny DeVito, having both a short stature and being similarly balding as well as having a raspy New England accent (Brooklyn in Ernie's case and New Jersey in DeVito's case).
  • Redhead In Green: He has red hair and normally wears a green button-down shirt.
  • Those Two Guys: With Mr. Hyunh—often times it's to serve as antagonists to Oskar.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: In one of the later episodes, Ernie gets into a romantic relationship with a very tall fashion model named Lola, though they eventually have a falling out due to Lola feeling uncomfortable with their height difference. But she eventually apologizes for how she acted and the two at least remain friends.
    Mr. Hyunh 

Mr. Hyunh
Voiced By:
Baoan Coleman (most appearances)
Wally Wingert (The Jungle Movie)
Randy Travis (singing voice in "Mr. Hyunh Goes Country")

An immigrant from Vietnam and a pretty nice guy. Works as a chef at a Mexican restaurant and loves to sing and play music.

  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Averted. Even his accented English is largely intelligible. He is also able to produce perfect English via singing.
  • Catchphrase: "Very creepy".
  • Characterization Marches On: Mr. Hyunh is initially a stereotypical, high-tense Asian man who mostly panics and tends to yell the same thing over and over whenever there's trouble. Early into the show, this aspect of his character is lessened as they make him into more of a character and less of a stereotype.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Gave up his then two-year-old daughter to soldiers who were airlifting civilians to safety during the Fall of Saigon in 1975, so that she would be safe and have a better life. The only reason he couldn't go with her was that the soldiers could only take one person with them.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: When he was in Vietnam, he decided to give up his daughter to soldiers so she could be safe from the Vietnam War. After the said war, he went to America to search for her. But all attempts ended unsuccessful.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It took him twenty years to start a new life for himself in the United States, and he's worked tirelessly since then to find his daughter, almost losing hope of ever seeing her again. A miraculous effort to find her by both Arnold and (unknown to him) Helga finally reunites them.
  • Funny Foreigner: In earlier episodes where he would shout the same word over and over. Would slowly become subverted as he developed an actual personality.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Though he comes off as a somewhat overdramatic Funny Foreigner in most episodes, some (in particular the Christmas Episode) where he has A Day in the Limelight, show him to be more insecure and worried about his situation.
    • There's the episode where it's revealed he sings amazingly as a country artist. So much that Gerald was able to profit off of him for the episode before Hyunh chose "The Simple Things" of his life instead of the limelight.
    • He can play cello, guitar and trumpet quite well.
    • He works at a Mexican restaurant and according to his boss he's a great chef. Ironically, we never see him cooking for the boarding house, that job usually being reserved to Arnold's grandma.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Averted—he is clearly defined as Vietnamese with a common surname.
  • Jerk Ass To One: Mr. Hyunh is friendly to just about anyone, except Oskar.
  • Large Ham: How he responds to frustrating situations.
    Mr. Hyunh: This lint. Your lint! I cannot keep cleaning up after you! I am not your mother! (Beat) I'm not his mother!
    • In "The Vacant Lot", he was this at the end, shouting "Play ball!" 10 times in a row.
    Mr. Hyunh: Play ba-all! Play ball! Play ba-all! Play ball! Play ba-all! Play ball! Play ba-all! Play ba-all! Play ball! Play ba-all!
    Grandpa Phil: WILL YOU BE QUIET?!
    • And the time he dressed up as Juliet in order to help Romeo Arnold learn his lines in "School Play". He even lampshades it in this episode:
    Mr. Hyunh: I'm very dramatic!
    Grandpa Phil: That's a polite word for what you are...
  • Last-Name Basis: Not only do the adults at the Sunset Arms call him Mr. Hyunh, but so does everyone else during his brief country music stint.
  • No Full Name Given: See Last-Name Basis above.
  • Nice Guy: Usually, he is one of the friendliest and most approachable boarders at Sunset Arms.
  • Papa Wolf: He gave his daughter to soldiers during the Vietnam War because she would be safer.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: He has a heavy Vietnamese accent when talking but sings like Randy Travis.
  • Smoking Is Cool: In a few select season 1 episodes, he is seen holding a tobacco pipe (but never seen smoking it, for obvious reasons). This trait was dropped in the rest of the series for the same obvious reasons.
  • Those Two Guys: With Ernie, see above.
  • Vague Age: In one episode he mentions that he wasn't yet born in 1949, but in another he's shown as an adult father during the fall of Saigon in 1975. It's possible that he was in his early 20s at the time, however.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: In "School Play", he wants to help Arnold memorize his lines for Romeo, and so dons a full Elizabethan dress (complete with appropriate hairstyle and makeup) to play his Juliet.
    Mr. Smith 

Mr. Smith

A mysterious member of the boarding house, only appearing in Season 1. A "very private person" Mr. Smith never makes an appearance in full and exits the show halfway through the first season.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: He has security cameras in the hallway outside his room and in the dining room and may have more.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The episode "Door 16". Interestingly a case where the character never actually appears aside from a quick glance.
  • The Ghost: He gets two references in the entire show and the closest we he makes to an appearance is when he’s seen leaving the boarding house.
  • The Quiet One: It's mentioned, by which we mean complained, by the other boarders that Smith never speaks more than a word or two to them if ever.
Pataki Family
    The Patakis as a Whole 
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Pataki Family consists of a blowhard and aggressive father, a woozy alcoholic mother, their emotionally fragile overachieving older daughter, and their gifted but neglected younger daughter.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Helga is the Melancholic, Big Bob is the Choleric, Miriam is the Phlegmatic, and Olga is the Sanguine.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: In regards to their relationship with Helga, Olga (nice) is a well-intentioned and sweet (if somewhat misguided) older sister, Big Bob (mean) is incredibly bossy and often too self-absorbed to adequately care for Helga’s feelings, and Miriam (in-between) does desire to be a good mother but is prevented by her alcoholism.
    Big Bob 

Robert "Big Bob" Pataki
"This never would've happened to Olga"
Voiced by: Maurice LaMarche

Father of Helga and Olga. Runs a local business aptly named "Big Bob's Beepers".

  • Abusive Dad: Never physically (at least intentionally), but emotionally abusive to Helga and Olga, in completely different ways. One is constantly pressured to be perfect, the other is often ignored and neglected.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Consistently calls Helga by her sister's name, and almost always gets Arnold's name wrong (the only time he didn't was during Arnold's dream in "Married"). He also forgets Phoebe's name in "Quantity Time".
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: He has gray hair in the series, but in Hey Arnold! The Movie his hair is brown, which Bartlett later confirmed was due to Bob dying his hair as part of a mid-life crisis (Whether that was always the case or simply a Retcon to cover up a coloring error is unknown). It's back to gray in The Jungle Movie and he has acquired a bald spot as well.
  • Aesop Amnesia: In "Quantity Time", Bob learns of Helga's misery, promises to be a better father to her, but is back to ignoring her in his next appearance.
  • Alien Abduction: Bob claims to have been nearly abducted by aliens in North Dakota. As a result he's become an avid believer in aliens and their eventual invasion of the earth. This leads to a rather tense situation with Helga.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Bob is constantly shouting angrily at Miriam, and she in return often casually expresses regret for marrying him. However, in "School Play" while listening to the opening narration of Romeo and Juliet describing how the titular characters fall in love at first sight, Bob places his hand on Miriam's and she gives him a loving look.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Bob served as one of the main antagonists for much of the series, but occasionally proved he did have a heart. In both movies he redeems himself and has some pretty epic heroic moments.
    • In Hey Arnold! The Movie he turns against the bad guys and dukes it out with Nick Vermicelli, Ironically he puts up a good fight until he transforms into the Hulk (actually just gets drenched in pickle juice and goes crazy), and then goes down pretty easily. He does later reappear to help the boarders foil Scheck's plans to destroy the neighborhood.
    • In The Jungle Movie, after getting an SOS from the kids in San Lorenzo he, along with Miriam and Arnold's grandparents, fly to the jungle, parachute out of a plane and defeat Lasombra's pirate crew.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Where Helga gets hers from.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In the movie, Bob is asked by Nick if he knows anything about a "football-headed kid", to which he replies he doesn't. Arnold is the only kid he's antagonized several times who fits the description (his most notable moment being in "Parents Day"), but to Bob, Arnold means nothing to him beyond an insignificant pest.
  • Catchphrase: If anyone (usually Helga) talks back to him or doesn't do what he says, he'll give them an angry "Hey-hey-hey-hey!".
  • Characterization Marches On: He sold camping equipment rather than beepers in "Roughin' It", though it could've just been an attempt to branch out that most likely failed given how everything malfunctioned.
  • Competition Freak: "Parents Day" and "Grudge Match" show us that he's at his jerkiest when he's competing against someone.
  • Depending on the Writer: Abusive jerkass or simply an ignorant boor who just doesn't understand how much trouble he's caused for his family? The latter characterization became steadily more common from Season 2 and onward. In the first season, he was portrayed as almost devoid of redeeming qualities; although he welcomed Arnold and Gerald to the Patakis' barbecue in "Roughin' It" at Helga's request and generally tried to get along with the kids until all of his high-tech equipment broke, leaving Bob miserable.
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Child: Both Big Bob and Miriam heap praise and attention on their firstborn daughter Olga, to Helga's detriment—Miriam doesn't know how old she is, and Bob tends to call her "Olga" despite her repeatedly telling him who she really is. Each gets an episode where they're forced to confront their total lack of understanding about Helga.
  • The Dragon: To Scheck in the movie, in order to build a bigger Big Bob's Beepers in Scheck's new complex. Though he defects from Scheck once he finds out that the contract gives Scheck control of his company. Nick Vermicelli then takes this position.
  • Education Papa: Most of the pushing towards excellence that Olga received came from Bob's end, as he was the one who made it a big deal that she win so many awards and trophies, while Miriam just provided commentary. In the early seasons he even tried to shape Helga into following Olga's path.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He may be a selfish jerk, but lying, deception, or physically trying to hurt his daughters? He won’t stand for that and you will regret it.
  • Fat Bastard: He has a gut and acts like an asshole.
  • First-Name Basis: Helga calls him "Bob" rather than "Dad" more often than not. Though to be fair, he really doesn't deserve the respect most of the time.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Choleric. He’s a loudmouthed and aggressive salesman who’s extremely authoritative and self-centered.
  • Gasshole: He belches and breaks wind on occasion.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Tends to say "Mother Hubbard", "Mother Goose", "Mother Scratcher", and "Heck".
  • Hate Sink: Serves as an intentionally unlikable character in most of his appearances, with "Parent's Day" being the most infamous example.
  • Heel Realization: "Big Bob's Crisis has Bob suffer a near-death experience where he relives the horrible things he did that day (denying an old lady a refund, firing a worker for no good reason and violently tossing him out of the store, and denying money to an orphan girl) and it's then when he realizes what a monster he is. He spends the rest of the episode trying to become a nicer man, only to end up becoming a hippie-like Extreme Doormat. Helga talks him out of it by the end of the episode, encouraging to take it in the middle.
  • Hidden Depths: It's never explored in-depth, but a few references are made to him being the child or grandchild of immigrants. In "Helga and the Nanny", he drops his blowhard personna and gushes like a little kid over a old-country meal that resembles what his "Babi" used to make. He also has a Hungarian last name.
  • Humiliation Conga: Any episode that accentuates his Jerkass qualities ends with him getting a solid block of hilarious karma dropped on his head.
    • Helga was so disturbed by the "Orphan boy" line (see below) that during a gladiator-style event, she told Phil what Big Bob's weakspot was (his ankles), which sent Big Bob into a tub of gelatin - costing him the event and the overall win.
    • "Roughin' It" is another good example, where he ends up alone in his RV stuck with sunburn, swamped with bugs, and itching from poison ivy (and having been shocked by his own faulty products earlier) while everyone else enjoys camping the old-fashioned way.
    • He goes through another in "Summer Love". He sits in a lounge chair, gets a really bad sunburn, and has no one to take care of him, not even his wife (whom he neglects). When he tries getting out of the house, he irritates his sunburn and gets a defeating blow from Miriam.
    • The Jungle Movie all-but confirmed his business was flagging and on its last legs, with signs reading "75%" and "EVERYTHING MUST GO!", because beepers have become obsolete, and no one wants an outmoded technology anymoreinvoked. Ironically, they do come in handy during the movie. Phoebe manages to send a mass message to them reading "808" and "505" ("BOB" and "SOS".)
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Minus the exaggerated features, Big Bob looks a lot like his voice actor, Maurice LaMarche without his glasses.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he rarely shows it, he does love and care about Helga, and in some instances can help out other characters when needed. They even hint that he does care about his wife as well, especially in "Summer Love" when she told him about another man teaching her "the Watoosy".
  • Kick the Dog: His "orphan boy" line (referring to Arnold) in "Parents Day". It's so mean and insensitive that it would qualify as a Moral Event Horizon if he'd said it directly to Arnold (as it stands, he was talking to Helga and was just characteristically loud and uncaring about anyone else overhearing). This was so harsh that Helga immediately called him out on it.
  • Manchild: During the Hey Arnold! Movie he is seen playing with the miniatures of the neighborhood as if he were Godzilla or something.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • In the Halloween Episode he was legitimately horrified when he realized he just attempted to murder Helga thinking she was an alien, calling himself a monster.
    • More so in Big Bob's Crisis after having a heart attack. It was actually gas.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • In the Thanksgiving episode, Bob is ready and prepared to take out the tank to find the missing Helga.
    • In The Jungle Movie, when Olga says one of Lasombra's men mistreated her, Bob chases after the guy to beat him silly. Also, surprisingly enough, he is the one who remembers Helga ls also in trouble and is just as determined to save her.
  • Parental Favoritism: To Olga to the point that she would rather be neglected to avoid having to live up to his standards.
  • Parental Neglect: To Helga to the point of ignoring her existence when Helga was about to go to pre-school.
  • Pet the Dog: He does occasionally have genuinely loving moments with both his daughters and his wife every now and then. These become more common as the show goes on.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Like Helga, he often calls Mr. Simmons pejorative names like "throw pillow" and "tea cozy", suggesting he's homophobic.
  • Riches to Rags: Though not quite rich, the Pataki family were shown to be at least comfortably middle class in the series and first movie, but by the time of The Jungle Movie, Bob's beeper business has taken a fatal nosedive due to the rise of things like cellphones, causing the family to lose their fortune and their home, being forced to actually live in the beeper store. Though, as Helga points out, he could easily switch to cellphones (something "The Beeper Queen" shown when Miriam ordered a shipment of cellphones) but Bob stubbornly sticks to selling obsolete technology. Ironically, the Beepers prove to be useful later on when the class are kidnapped by Lasombra and send him a 808, 505 (BOB, SOS) message indicating they are in trouble, as they do not have access to cellphones thanks to the pirates trapping them in the middle of nowhere.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Phil, as highlighted in "Parent's Day" and "Grudge Match". Though they're on decent enough terms in The Jungle Movie, or at least putting their differences aside to save the kids from Lasombra's prison.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Courtesy of "Helga on the Couch". Though he's also afraid that she'll reveal something that will get them into trouble.
    "I don't want you blabbin' to some school shrink. We Patakis don't talk about things. We sweep 'em under the rug."
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • "Big Bob's Crisis" was all about Bob realizing his high-stress life made him obnoxious, cruel, and abusive to those around him - though he initially overcompensates by uprooting the family and becoming an Extreme Doormat, it ends with him deciding that he can be his old self while still being a little kinder and a little less stressed.
    • Double Subverted in the movie (which takes place after "Big Bob's Crisis"). He's all for getting rich off of the destruction of the neighborhood (though he was willing to make his daughter happy with some of his gains), until he finds out that Scheck's getting 51% of his company. He later beats up Vermicelli and offers to help Phil and the boarders to stop the bulldozers.
    • Full circle in The Jungle Movie. While still a bit cold towards Helga, he not only doesn't hesitate to fly to San Lorenzo with Miriam, Phil and Gertie to help save the kids from Lasombra but calls Phil and Gertie by their real names instead of a pejorative. Though he does sarcastically ask "you're still alive?". Nonetheless, Bob has mellowed out due to finding himself in a total slump from his dying business.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: While not quite hot, Miriam is definitely better looking than him.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: "Big Bob's Crisis" has him take a kinder, simpler, less-stressful approach to life after a gas attack scare (previously thought to be a heart attack). When he begins to give up all of their modern conveniences (and she sees how others start to walk all over him), Helga tells him that she relies on him being the tough, take-charge man she knows he is. After some soul-searching, Bob decides that he can be that man and still take time away to unwind.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child:
    • He may be a Jerkass like his daughter and use verbal abuse, but Bob draws the line when it comes to physically harming a child. In the Halloween episode he almost had Helga killed when he thought she was an alien, until he learns that the "alien invasion" was just her in costume for a theme party - at which point he was very distraught.
    • Also happens in "Save the Tree" when he refuses to bulldoze the kids' favorite tree because his own kid is up there.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: To Helga, as he often pressures her to be more like Olga, which Helga is not interested in doing.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Bob is generally pretty angry and unlikable most of the time, but when he really blows his top he can become positively monstrous. At one point his rage even (kind of) turns him into the Incredible Hulk.

Miriam Pataki
"I need a smoothie."
Voiced by: Kath Soucie

Mother of Helga and Olga, Miriam is a depressed, constantly sleepy, seemingly ditzy housewife with an addiction to "smoothies" (Word of God confirms that all of these are signs that Miriam is an alcoholic, with "smoothies" as a cover-up for booze). It's not uncommon to find her sleeping in strange places. However, she can be very competent and intelligent, but unfortunately it seems that being married to Big Bob has really brought her down.

  • Aesop Amnesia: "The Beeper Queen" has Miriam temporarily fill in for Bob at the Beeper Emporium. Not only does she do a better job at running the store than Bob, but she becomes a workaholic instead of an alcoholic and ends up mistreating Helga. After having a My God, What Have I Done? moment, she apologizes to Helga, quits her job and promises to be a better mom. Yet she returns to being the same useless, drunken waste that she was before in subsequent appearances.
    • Unfortunately this is Truth in Television; alcohol addiction is hard to work through and can't just be shaken off in one night.
  • Addiction Displacement: As noted above, the episode "The Beeper Queen" has her replace her alcoholism to becoming a workaholic. She initially does all right though as seen with Helga's lunches becoming less over time, it consumes her.
  • The Alcoholic: The show indicates she drinks a lot of "smoothies", but her slurred speech, passing out, bad driving and forgetfulness imply that her "smoothies" are just a cover-up for booze or as noted below, contain alcohol.
  • Alcoholic Parent: While they couldn't state it outright (since Hey Arnold! is still a kids' show, despite the myriad of adult themes), Miriam is obviously a heavy drinker, with the show using smoothies as a metaphor for booze. However, given that there are plenty of alcoholic drinks that are smoothies such as piña coladas, hurricanes, daiquiris and so on, it may also be a matter of preference. If you look closely when she grabs some ingredients for her "smoothies", she grabs a bottle of Tabasco sauce (hot sauce a common ingredient in a drink like "Bloody Mary", which is smoothie-like) and if "The Patakis" was made, it is informed she would be attending AA.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: In "Road Trip," she reveals to Helga that when she was a kid, she wanted to learn to ride horses, but her dad refused to let her, fearing she'd get hurt. Her response to this, surprisingly enough, was to become a champion mechanical bull-rider.
  • Blind Without Them: Implied during the few times she loses her glasses or is shown without them.
  • Broken Bird: Implied by several episodes. She was a world-class swimmer, bull rider and is shown to be a very competent business woman when she temporarily takes Bob's place at the Beeper Emporium. However, somewhere down the line she seemed to have stopped giving a damn and became a "smoothie" addict.
  • The Ditz: As a result of her drinking problem, she tends to be rather spacey and slow-witted.
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Child: Both Big Bob and Miriam heap praise and attention on their firstborn daughter Olga, to Helga's detriment—Miriam doesn't know how old she is, and Bob tends to call her "Olga" despite her repeatedly telling him who she really is. Each gets an episode where they're forced to confront their total lack of understanding about Helga.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Due to her drinking, Miriam has had her license revoked. When she took over for Bob's beeper store and drove Helga to school, all the kids were worried that Miriam was driving again (meaning that the kids know that Helga's mom is either a Drunk Driver or just a very, very bad one).
  • First-Name Basis: Much like Bob, Helga calls her "Miriam" rather than "Mom" more often than not.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Phlegmatic. She’s a slothful alcoholic who is inclined to passivity and ditziness.
  • Hidden Depths: She was once a world-class swimmer, won a bull-riding competition as a girl, and can run the family business better than Bob can if she wanted to. Though it's implied that the last one was her undergoing Addiction Displacement.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Helga is clearly annoyed by Miriam's terrible, off-key karaoke in "Road Trip". Though that might just be due to the "smoothies" since she can at least carry a tune during her commercial shoot in "The Beeper Queen".
  • Hypocritical Humor: Calls Helga 'weird' in one episode when she hears Helga manically laughing in her Stalker Shrine.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: She'll occasionally say that she needs a "smoothie".
  • Inconsistent Coloring: Her dress was green in the first two seasons, but was switched to mauve in season 3.
  • Jerkass Ball: In The Jungle Movie it's she, not Bob who forgets Helga's name, referring to her as "the other one".
  • Mama Bear: In the Thanksgiving episode, Miriam is on the phone with the police and demands that they help find Helga. This is one of the few times Miriam ever sounds angry.
  • Married Too Young: Possibly implied in "Olga Gets Engaged," after Olga announces her engagement to her family, Miriam immediately warns Olga to "not make the same mistakes she did." Though given that Miriam's age is unknown it's hard to tell if she and Bob married young (though this would help explain their dysfunctional marriage and Miriam's alcoholism), or if Miriam was warning Olga about getting married in general.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In "The Beeper Queen", she is devastated when she realizes she's been neglecting Helga for her new job.
  • No Accounting for Taste: It's never explained why she married a jerkass like Bob, only that she regards it to be the moment that ruined her life.
  • Odd Friendship: Develops one with Suzie in "Summer Love" when their husbands leave them.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Anytime she stops talking in her usual slow, monotone fashion, expect something serious to have happened.
  • Parental Favoritism: She clearly favors Olga, though it doesn't come up as often as with Bob.
  • Parental Neglect: Neglects Helga due to both favoring Olga and her drinking. When she actually tries to step up, Helga is rather incredulous.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In The Jungle Movie she takes on Lasombra's goons armed only with a frying pan. First she clocks the largest and most intimidating of the pirates in the jaw, and is later seen standing triumphantly atop a pile of unconscious thugs.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: "Hot" is a bit of a stretch, but the few times that she's not hammered, she looks pretty good and she definitely seems out of Bob's league.
  • Verbal Tic: Often speaks in a slow, drawling voice. Justified as Craig Bartlett has confirmed that Miriam is an alcoholic.

Olga Pataki
"Lila may be my little sis, but she'll never be my baby sister."
Voiced by: Nika Futterman

"You must think I'm lucky. All the attention I get from them? I have to perform all the time like some kind of wind-up doll. I get really sick of it. You're lucky they don't even notice you."

Helga's older sister and the parental favorite, much to Helga's dismay (and Olga's too, as revealed in "Olga Comes Home"). At first glance, Olga appears perhaps too perfect: Successful, pretty, smart, and sweet and kind to everyone. But she's actually dangerously neurotic, melodramatic, and out of reality, due to having to constantly live up to her parents' (well, her father's, anyway) constant attention and ridiculously high standards.

  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Every single episode she appears in shows that she and Helga care for each other more than they lead on.
  • The B Grade: If she ever gets a grade that's not an A, she reacts like it's the end of the world. In the "Olga Comes Home" episode, she cried for days in bed because she saw a B+ on her report card. She only recovers when Helga admits she intercepted her report card and changed her A+ grade out of jealousy.
  • Blessed with Suck: As she explains to Helga, being an ace student with a promising career path isn't all that it's cracked up to be, as her parents weigh her down with so many expectations and so much pressure to excel in life for their sake.
  • Book Smart: The lowest score she's ever gotten is an A- in third grade. The only B she ever thought she got was Helga messing with her report card because she was so jealous that her sister always has straight A's at everything.
  • Broken Ace: She seems to be perfect at everything, but underneath her façade she's incredibly broken due to her father's absurdly high standards for her.
  • Cool Big Sis: In the aptly-named episode "Big Sis", she becomes one to Lila through volunteer work. With her biological sister Helga, however...not so much, but only because Helga can't stand her. However, Olga's come through for Helga on several occasions. Averted in the episode where Olga becomes a teacher's assistant- she proceeds to tell the whole class that Helga used to wet the bed, then gives Helga a detention when she lashes out at all the teasing that follows.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: She has an incredibly grating voice, especially when she screams or cries.
  • Daddy's Girl: She is Bob's favorite because he's proud of her many accomplishments. He has an entire collection of all of Olga's trophies lining the walls of his den. Also, a case of Deconstructed Trope because it turns out to be not so good for her.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: In her introduction, she's a deconstruction of the Parody Sue stereotype. Olga is Helga's older sister who is pretty, sweet, and seemingly perfect at everything. Helga feels so overshadowed by this excelling sister that she changes one of the A grades in her report for a B. This causes Olga to have a complete emotional breakdown as she simply can't handle the mere concept of not being perfect, thinking a B is enough to make her a loser and spends days crying in her bed until Helga admits she changed her grade.
  • Drama Queen: Even the slightest unpleasant event is enough to make her bawl like a baby.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: She is shown in a photograph with Bob in "Spelling Bee", which aired before her official first appearance in "Olga Comes Home" and she looks drastically different (then again, Bob is ridiculously Off-Model himself). For one, she has a narrower head and a unibrow like her father and sister.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: She's an accomplished pianist able to play Chopin's 'Minute Waltz' in exactly one minute — an impossible feat in real life, no matter how talented one is at playing the piano.
  • Extreme Doormat: She doesn't even tell her parents how she really feels about the high expectations she's felt she needs to live up to.
  • Family Theme Naming: Olga's name and her sister Helga's end with the same two letters.
  • Flanderization: Olga started out as an overachieving Drama Queen that did not like having to perform for her parents' affections and understood Helga's plight to... just a content, overachieving drama queen who showed no signs of hating it. Though that might be her acting how her parents expect her to act. Indeed, we see her facade break a few times, like when she immediately breaks down in tears and berates herself as a failure when Helga finally admits that she can't stand her.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Deconstructed with Helga.
    • Olga's the "Responsible" Sibling — she's an ace student who is friendly to everyone (making her well-liked not only by her parents, but all of Helga's classmates), but she reveals to Helga that she's a Stepford Smiler who is always trying to keep up her "perfectness" because of the extremely high standards her parents expect her to meet, especially her father, and almost married a con man after only dating for a few weeks.
    • Helga's the "Foolish" Sibling — she cares very little for her academics even though she's proven to be quite intelligent, while also usually showing little to no respect for her family, peers, or anyone in general (this leads to her being The Friend Nobody Likes except for Phoebe and occasionally Arnold). However, the reason for her gruff personality comes from growing up in a dysfunctional household with both of her parents neglecting her in favor of Olga, making it clear to Helga at an early age that she's the unfavorite child.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Sanguine. She’s the most cheery member of the family but also the most emotionally fragile. Though vivacious, gifted, and Loved by All, she can be gullible and Innocently Insensitive.
  • Friend to All Children: Regardless of what Helga thinks, her schoolmates love Olga.
  • Friendless Background: Implied. Olga Pataki seems to be perfect with many achievements and rewards and her family's favorite. Despite this, in her focus episodes "Olga Gets Engaged," "Big Sis," and "Student Teacher," she's never seen with friends or interacting with people her own age. That could be understandable because Olga is a college student, and most of her episodes are about Olga returning home and interacting with her family. But still with not so much of a mention of her friends or social life implies that despite how "perfect" Olga is, she has little to no actual friends (her own age, at least), probably because of her childish and whiny personality.
  • Go-Getter Girl: A deconstruction—Olga has good leadership skills and has been a straight-A student since she was in elementary school, but she's held to extremely high expectation by her parents (particularly her dad). Also, she's driven to a mental breakdown over a B grade (which Helga forges).
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: She's a blonde like her mother and sister, but unlike them, Olga is bright, cheerful, and kind to everyone while being adored in return.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Despite her perfect image, she has one major flaw that those around her don't notice: she has horrible taste in men. While Doug admittedly was good at hiding his true nature, she fails to ignore the huge red flag in how okay he was in letting her drop out of school to marry him after knowing him for three weeks. She also falls for Che in "Jungle Movie," even after knowing he's working for LaSombra. Justified as she seeks any sense of freedom from her perfect upbringing and was so sheltered she never developed such a skill.
  • Hot Teacher: When she becomes Mr. Simmons' teaching assistant, all the male students have the hots for her, especially Arnold. At one point, he flunks his test on purpose so he can have a study session with her, and he even brings her flowers.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: A Running Gag—anytime she cries, she bawls hysterically and her mascara starts running.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Olga is constantly being praised as being beautiful, intelligent and just generally perfect in every way, though as Olga is a borderline Parody Sue, this is probably intentional.
  • Mutual Envy: Helga is eternally jealous of her parents showering Olga with attention and praise while they barely care that Helga exists. However, having to live up to their parents' unrealistic expectations isn't much better for Olga and she says Helga is the lucky one because they don't care about what she does.
  • Nervous Wreck: Underneath her "perfect girl" façade, she's probably even more screwed up than Helga.
  • Nice Girl: She's cordial to everyone and shows no contempt toward anyone.
  • Oblivious to Hatred: She genuinely has no idea Helga has been competing with her for her whole life, and seems genuinely shocked when Helga tells Olga she can't stand her.
  • The Perfectionist: She doesn't take it well when she does less than a perfect score, mainly because of her parents (particularly her dad's) high standards for her.
  • Practically Different Generations: While it's never stated just how far apart in age Olga and Helga are, there's clearly a significant age difference between them (Helga's a 4th-grader while Olga's old enough to be a college student). In "Helga On the Couch", Miriam states in a flashback to Helga's first day of preschool that Olga was 15 at the time—most kids start preschool when they're around 3, this would mean that Olga's twelve years older than Helga. Olga's a very accomplished college student, which only strengthens the one-sided rivalry Helga feels.
  • Prone to Tears: Her response to anything stressful is to freak out and burst into tears.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Olga gets all of the attention and would like to be left alone, while her sister Helga is constantly ignored and would like some adoration from her parents.
  • Stepford Smiler: Type A. She pretends to be happy around her family, when deep down, she's constantly stressed out from her parents' high standards.
    Olga: You must think I'm lucky, all the attention I get from them. I have to perform for them all the time like some kind of wind-up doll. I get really sick of it. You're lucky they don't even notice you.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: She looks like a younger, prettier version of Miriam.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Helga's Tomboy. Helga is brash, violent, and The Lad-ette, Olga is a pretty, kind, and responsible Daddy's Girl.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Unlike Helga, she's lucky to have gotten her mother's genetics.
  • Vague Age: A downplayed example—while Helga's explicitly stated to be 9, we never find out Olga's exact age, but taking Practically Different Generations from above into consideration, Olga must've been around 21 in the original series and around 23 in The Jungle Movie.
  • Vocal Evolution: Her voice was slightly lower and less prissy sounding in "Olga Comes Home" than it would be during the rest of her appearances.
  • White Sheep: Despite her neuroses, she's the only member of her family who is not a bully, an alcoholic, or a Jerkass.
  • Womanchild: As the show goes on, Olga becomes progressively whinier and more childish, likely due to Sanity Slippage from having to keep up an image of perfection.
Johanssen Family

Martin Johanssen
Voiced by: Rick Fitts

The father of Gerald, Jamie O, and Timberly. A businessman who once served in the military during the Vietnam war.

  • '90s Hair: Has a hi-top fade like his son, but a more realistic looking one.
  • Cutting Corners: His main characteristic is his obsession with saving money, especially in the early seasons. It's part of the reason why Gerald briefly moved into the boarding house in "Gerald Moves Out".
  • Dad the Veteran: Served in the Vietnam War, though in office work rather than the frontline. He did save a wounded soldier from dying.
  • Desk Jockey: In the Veteran's Day episode, he and Phil tell stories about their time in Vietnam but Gerald is disappointed to learn he was only a paper pusher. However, it is revealed he saved the life of a helicopter pilot named Miller. They meet again at the Vietnam War Memorial and Miller personally thanks him for saving his life.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: He was visibly saddened when he thought that Gerald was disappointed at him for not being a "true" veteran. In "Fishing Trip", he was also more willing than the other adults to tough out the terrible conditions during their trip because he didn't want to disappoint the boys (who were just as, if not more miserable, but were toughing it out for them).
    Mrs. Johanssen 

Mrs. Johanssen
Voiced by: Shari Belafonte

The mother of Gerald, Jamie O and Timberly. Works as a cashier at a grocery store.

  • Flat Character: She's Gerald's mom and she works at a store. That's about it. We don't even know her name.
  • Good Parents: Based on what little we see of her, she seems to be very caring and understanding towards Gerald and his siblings.
  • Unnamed Parent: Unlike her husband, her first name is never stated.
Berman Family

Jerry Berman
Voiced by: David Wohl

Harold's father.

  • Brutal Honesty: He does think Harold could stand to lose some weight, but Marilyn doesn't want to hear it.
  • Henpecked Husband: He's a real pushover, and is more interested in avoiding fights with his wife than appropriately parenting Harold.
  • The Quiet One: He speaks in a pretty quiet voice.

Marilyn Berman
Voiced by: Kath Soucie

Harold's inattentive and overweight mother.

  • Anti-Role Model: She's very overweight and makes too much food for Harold, even assuring him that he's not overweight at all. She also has no idea how fat she is herself.
  • The Ditz: She's not very reliant as an intellectual or morality meter.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When Harold gained 100 pounds, Marilyn doesn't seem to notice at all. Her husband does notice, but he chooses not to argue when Marilyn protests he's "unfairly" fat-shaming their son.
  • Jewish Mother: Overly-doting and affectionate to her son, fitting the stereotype.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: She essentially looks like Harold in drag especially with the football-shaped cheeks, minus the unibrow (which he got from his dad) and the jagged tooth.
Staff of P.S. 118
    Mr. Simmons 

Mr. Robert Simmons

Voiced by: Dan Butler

Fourth grade teacher at P.S. 118 starting in the second season, replacing the original Living Prop, Miss Slovak. Thinks of everyone and everything as "special". As of The Jungle Movie, he also went on to become the class's fifth grade teacher.

  • Adults Are Useless:
    • "Girl Trouble" when he doesn't punish Helga for bullying Arnold, yet he punishes Arnold for fighting back.
    • "Buses, Bikes, and Subways"—doesn't double-check his head count and is oblivious to the fact that two of his students are missing until the bus is back home. Said students aren't exactly known for being quiet.
    • "The Flood"—allows students to run riot for 3/4 of the episode and then tries to climb up a ladder during the storm for help, and ends up falling into several feet of water, meaning the kids have to save his butt.
    • "Aptitude Test"—mixes up two of the eponymous tests; doesn't bother to recheck the folders.
    • "On the Lam"—doesn't know his science closet was raided until informed on the evening news.
    • "Principal Simmons"— he is made school principal but he doesn't enforce any discipline and the kids start vandalizing the school and skipping classes.
    • "The Jungle Movie"—goes completely insane once the class is captured by the bad guys and it's up to the kids to bust themselves out.
  • Ambiguously Gay: During the show's initial run. "Arnold's Thanksgiving" makes it obvious to anyone paying attention that one of his two "friends", Peter, is actually his partner (and that his mother disapproves of the relationship), but in a very subtle way (it was a kids' show in The '90s, when homosexuality was more taboo). Thanks to The Jungle Movie being made in a different time and getting bumped to a PG rating, Peter's seeing off Mr. Simmons on his trip to San Lorenzo was a lot more blunt about it.
  • Camp Gay: A toned down version of this, as while he's confirmed to be gay, he's not overtly effeminate, but a little on the sensitive side.
  • Catchphrase: He often describes things as "special". He seems unaware that he does this since Helga lampshaded this with an impression of him and he assumed she was imitating a different teacher.
  • Cool Teacher: He can be this when he's not being useless, in the way a real-life teacher would be; a tad dorky but genuinely imparts his students with knowledge. In fact, his premiere episode, "New Teacher," was all about the kids realizing this after they gave him a hard time.
  • Extreme Doormat: For his brief stint as principal in "Principal Simmons". Where the school fell into complete anarchy as he futility attempt to run the school after Wartz quits.
  • Fatal Flaw: His aversion to disciplining students leads to P.S. 118 turning into a chaotic hellscape in "Principal Simmons".
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: What's left of his hair is a shade of blonde and he is a very kind, gentle and understanding adult.
  • Hippie Teacher: Downplayed. He doesn't come off as a hippie stereotype but he generally has a zen outlook and follows a "peace and love" ideology. Some other characters have mockingly called him a "granola boy".
  • Iconic Sequel Character: He was introduced in season 2, and is far more remembered than the original teacher Miss Slovak.
  • Imagine Spot: In "Principal Simmons", Mr. Simmons imagines what the school would be like if he was the principal, which features the kids all beings friends with each other, Helga and Brainy walking together with their arms around each other, Wolfgang giving Eugene a piggyback ride, Harold becoming smart, the kids eating healthy food and happy to be the principal's helper.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: A very glaring example on a show with otherwise very outlandish character designs; Simmons strongly resembles his voice actor, Dan Butler.
  • Nice Guy: He's overly lenient and a pushover to his students.
  • No Full Name Given: It is strongly implied, but never explicitly stated, that his first name is Robert (in the Thanksgiving episode, he wrote a play that was based on his own life; we meet every character from the play in person later on except for the one named Robert).
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Considerably less cartoony-looking than the other characters due to his design being based on his actor.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: He is the only one who doesn't recognize his own Catchphrase in Helga's parody.
  • Sanity Slippage: "The Jungle Movie" makes him so delirious when his agenda isn't followed through, but it hits its peak when he's held captive by jungle pirates and he loses his mind.
  • Selective Enforcement: In the episode "Girl Trouble," Helga relentlessly torments Arnold throughout the episode, and eventually Arnold gets sick of it and throws paint on her in retaliation. Mr. Simmons does nothing about Helga's bullying, but punishes Arnold for dumping paint, vocally expressing his disappointment in him. Unfortunately, this is often Truth in Television.
  • Shipper on Deck: "Principal Simmons" implies that he thinks Helga and Brainy would make a good couple.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: A turkey, tomato and watercress sandwich, as stated in "New Teacher". While he was able to shrug off the kids' attempts to make him quit his job, it was Harold eating his sandwich that finally broke him. As an apology, Harold makes him a new one.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: His Imagine Spot in "Principal Simmons" is a good example of how needlessly optimistic he can be.
    Principal Wartz 

Principal Rur Wartz
Voiced by: David Wohl

As you may have guessed, he's the principal of P.S. 118 and he's known to be harsh but has reasons to be. Throughout the show, Wartz often is seen taken punishments too far, even by following teachers but he has toned this down after realizing when he sees how the others handle order.

  • Accidental Misnaming: Keeps getting Arnold's name wrong in "Full Moon".
  • Ambiguously Gay: In "Sid's Revenge," he is shown to have a male roommate who cooks for him. (The man is seen in the kitchen next to a bag labeled "Hospital Home Meal Service," and he later calls Wartz "Mr. Wartz," so he was more likely just a hired cook.) He also has decidedly un-manly interests such as playing with figurines and following pop idols. He seems to get a bit of Ship Teasing with Mr. Simmons on occasion, such as when they went out karaoke singing together and dancing the tango together in "April Fool's Day". On the other hand, Big Bob mentions a Mrs. Wartz in "Arnold's Halloween", but she is never seen.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: He does not appear in The Jungle Movie or even get a mention. Which is especially odd since leaked plot material from the original Jungle Movie indicated that Wartz was supposed to have attended San Lorenzo with Arnold's class.
  • Dean Bitterman: One episode has Mr. Simmons call him out for being too strict of a principal. And another has him suspend Arnold for two days because he told him he was being too unfair to Harold (and to add insult to injury, school wasn't even in session).
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
  • Hidden Depths: The aforementioned karaoke scene shows that he's a pretty good singer.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Much humor is derived from him saying "slippage" in "Teacher's Strike", to the point that the credits to that episode are set to a Voice Clip Song of all the times he says it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He’s harsh at times but he’s willing to negotiate if the situation can be resolved.
  • Last-Name Basis: His first name is never spoken, but a Freeze-Frame Bonus in "Pre-teen Scream" shows that the return address on the envelope of his fan letter to singer, Ronnie Matthews, reveals his full name as "Rur Wartz".
  • Manchild: Shown to be rather immature as he is seen playing with toys at his work desk and sending fan mail to teen singing sensation, Ronnie Matthews.
  • Meaningful Name: Since warts are unpleasant to have.
  • Not So Above It All: Despite trying to put up the appearance of a stern, no-nonsense diciplinarian, he's not above playing with toys and shaking his groove thing while belting out some campy '70s karaoke.
  • Pet the Dog: He can be reasoned with, even letting a kid off the hook depending on the situation. He also has a set of toy animals on his desk in order to calm down and/or reduce the stress on any meeting he may have.
  • Properly Paranoid: Even if the kids have no interest in misbehaving, Wartz is often like this.
  • The Quisling: In "Arnold's Halloween", he was planning to ingratiate himself to the aliens by bringing them chocolates and offering to lead them to the children.
  • Stern Teacher: As a Dean Bitterman like principal, he can be pretty strict at times, but can be a reasonable person when it comes down to it.
    Miss Slovak 

Miss Slovak
Voiced by: Tress MacNeille

The original teacher of Arnold's class. She was replaced by Mr. Simmons in Season 2.

  • Ambiguously Gay: She's an older unmarried woman who leaves her job as a teacher to pursue a career as a professional golfer (a common lesbian stereotype is that they love golf).
  • Art Evolution: Her hair switched from brown to gray and she eventually gained glasses, mostly as a sign to indicate she was getting older.
  • Flat Character: The reason why she was Put on a Bus and replaced is because Craig Bartlett didn't think she was a very interesting character.
  • Kick the Dog: She has a rather cruel moment in "Spelling Bee" when talking about how Arnold and Helga will be competing in the city wide spelling bee, which she caps off by telling Helga "Don't spend all that prize money in one place." While Arnold is right in front of her. It's even worse because Arnold reacts exactly as you'd think he would after hearing his teacher more or less say he's gonna lose.
  • Last-Name Basis: We never find out her what her first name is.

  • Old Maid: She's implied to be one. During the Valentine's Day episode, one student asks what will happen to them if they never find someone to love and they spend the rest of their lives alone. Miss Slovak flatly responds they'd be her.
  • Put on a Bus: She retires from teaching at the beginning of Season 2 to pursue a career in professional golf. However, due to Nick holding back a few episodes from Season 1 that were later aired in Season 2 (and one in season 3), she continued to make a few appearances after Mr. Simmons was introduced, creating continuity problems.
    Miss Felter 

Miss Felter

A substitute teacher that Arnold has a crush on in "Crush on Teacher".

  • Hot Teacher: The reason why Arnold falls for her.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Miss Felter looks like a blonde-haired Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
  • Nice Girl: She's very kind to Arnold, letting him down easy after she finds out about the mix-up.
  • No Full Name Given: Her first name is never mentioned.
  • One-Steve Limit: Her fiancée is named Arnold Skelter. Gerald overhears Miss Felter talking on the phone about having "Arnold" over for dinner, which makes Gerald and Arnold think that Miss Felter returns Arnold's affections. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Precocious Crush: Arnold develops one for her due to the attention she gave him in class compared to everyone else.
  • Punny Name: Her last name is "Felter", her fiancée's name is "Skelter". Felter Skelter?

    Lieutenant Major Goose 

Lieutenant Major Goose
Voiced by: John Garry
An army instructor who briefly replaced Mr. Simmons as the permanent teacher in Arnold's class.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: After the kids overwhelm him with too many questions, Goose deseperately tells Principal Wartz he quits.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: He is a very strict military instructor, treating the fourth grade students like soldiers, forcing them to recit the 8 times table in a line, and punishing Curly, Helga and Harold for interrupting his class.
  • Evil Is Petty: In his first day in the class, he punishes Stinky sending him on a corner, despite him wasn't one of the students who interrupted him and when questioned for it, Goose replies: Symmetry.
  • Hate Sink: Nobody in his class likes him for his rude and strict attitude and quickly want to get rid of him by convincing Mr. Simmons to return to the school.