Hey Arnold! is well known for handling more mature themes despite its Y7 rating, so don't be too surprised with what you see.
Examples involving Helga
- Helga mentions that she performs "Tantric spells" towards the end of "Helga on the Couch". It's a pretty clever one too. For those who don't know, Tantra is a subset of Hindu spiritualism revolving around the carnal (read: sexual) aspects of human physiology, and it has rituals (often misidentified as "spells") nominally used for inducing lust in a person (it's where the expression "tantric sex" comes from). In short, Helga is using Hindu spiritualism to seduce Arnold.
- In what is possibly the most well-known adult joke in the series, in the episode "Helga's Parrot", Helga recited one of her obsessive love poems in the presence of a parrot, who then flew off and almost repeated it to Arnold. One line of the poem was: "Arnold, you make my girlhood tremble, my senses all go wacky."note Even the official Nick Rewind channel called it out when uploading the clip in 2017.
- Another one from that same poem. At the beginning of the poem, Helga calls Arnold "My sultry preteen". For reference, the adjective "sultry" can mean two things: something very hot and humid, or something attractive in a way that suggests or causes feelings of sexual desire. In other words, Helga pretty much flat-out stated that Arnold made her horny. No wonder she was especially ferocious when going after the parrot.
- The Latin American Spanish dub actually went up to eleven, translating Helga's dialogue as "Arnold, my love, my sensual desire".
- It's fairly muted due to the parrot's screeches, but Big Bob says "mother-humper" in frustration when the parrot won't shut up.
- In the same episode, she ends up watching Arnold undress and then coos and passes out with a very happy face. Were the censors asleep when approving this episode!?
- She does a similar thing in other episodes as well, such as when Arnold hugs her in "Arnold's Hat." The implication is clear.
- Similarly, in "Helga Sleepwalks," it's established that Helga's sleepwalking spells are tied to her subconscious desire to tell Arnold her secret. With that in mind, one of her sleepwalking spells has her end up showering in Arnold's shower, forcing one to wonder where exactly her subconscious was going with that.
- After seeing how many dirty jokes involving Helga are on this page, you have to wonder if Helga's true intentions with Arnold are entirely innocent... Which is made even more inappropriate by the fact that they're both nine.
- In the Swedish dub, Helga has gotten away with saying "What the hell" and "Damn".
- A literal case of "crap" being slid past the radar. Helga, Harold, Ernie Potts, and Dino Spumoni said "crap" and variations of the word. Helga also says "freakin'" in the episode "Helga's Locket," and says "skanky," "trampy," and "bimbo" in "Summer Love." Big Bob also says "freakin'" in "Helga vs. Big Patty." Finally, the phrase "what a crock" (as in, 'what a crock of shit') appears more than a few times over the series' course.
- During Helga's dream sequence in "Married", as Arnold and Helga duck into their limousine after the wedding, Helga pulls off her veil and tosses it aside. Despite the popular misconception, the symbol of virginity in a bride's outfit is the veil, not the white wedding dress.
- Pay attention to Arnold and Helga dancing the tango in "April Fool's Day". Helga is supposed to have her right hand on Arnold's waist, but since her hand is drawn in a cupping motion and appears to "squeeze" a few times, it looks like she's groping Arnold's butt.
- Miriam's alcoholism. Even Word of God says that she's an alcoholic, but the Nickelodeon censors told Craig Bartlett and the writers that they couldn't outright say it. So what did they do instead? Have her as a depressed, narcoleptic smoothie addict (never mind that some alcoholic drinks exist as smoothies — piña coladas, hurricanes, daiquiris, etc). Also, if you pay close attention you'll notice that one of her ingredients for a smoothie is Tabasco sauce (which is usually found in cocktails). There are even hints that she was arrested for at least one DUI (one episode has Arnold ask Helga, "When did [Miriam] get her license back?" and another has Bob casually remark that she's supposed to start community service that morning). There are a few episodes where, if you listen closely, you can hear ice cubes rattling inside Miriam's usual cup of coffee.
- In "Mugged", the punk who mugs Arnold has red eyes, clearly an indication that he is a drug addict or abuser.
- In "Summer Love", Grandma stumbles across a private nude beach, which she then says "When in Rome..." and takes off her bathing suit. All the beach goers run away screaming. On top of that, the nude beach is called, "Mature Wood Private Beach"
- In that same episode, both Suzie Kokoshka and Miriam are invited by a typical Romantic False Lead to a stimulating dancing class. After hearing the "stimulating" part, they both giggle. And for the final blow, the class is only shown off screen, with the women saying "Ooh, you are so wonderful at dancing!"
- When Miriam told Bob about learning "the Watoosie" from a man named Carlos, he was obviously uncomfortable with it. Then again, since he was sun-burnt all over his body, he might have wanted someone to take care of him.
- When Summer kisses Arnold, a "boing" sound effect plays.
- In the episode "New Teacher" when Mr. Simmons is trying to teach the class about poetry, Harold stands up and recites, "There once was a man from Nantucket..." Mr. Simmons tells him to sit down before he can get to the next line.
- Which is, as everyone knows, "Who kept all his cash in a bucket." Interrupting it allows you to infer he was going to recite the other version instead, making it naughtier than it actually is.
- Arnie's hat in "Weird Cousin," anyone? Twirling clearly equals unfortunate erection.
- "Arnold Visits Arnie" gives us Lulu, the Bizarro Universe version of Lila, who keeps trying to seduce Arnold (later it turns out that it's All Just a Dream). At one point she propositions him for a private Two-Person Pool Party at night. She also stands behind him while he reaches for a high shelf in a store, and... tickles his tummy. Innocent, yes, but what else can you imagine a girl possibly reaching for when she's standing in that position behind a guy? Arnold even hangs a lampshade on it when she tries to give him a kiss:
- At the end of "Synchronized Swimming," Jack proposes that he and Tish "implore the mysteries of the deep" and they both dive underwater (and conveniently out of the camera's view). The implications are obvious.
- And let us not forget Coach Wittenburg saying "circumcised swimming".
- Harold worries that Wolfgang will call him a "fruit cup," which can easily be interpreted as a homophobic insult.
- Pretty much every episode featuring Wittenburg and Tish ends with the implication that they're about to have make-up sex.
- In "Best Man," Wittenburg says "impotence" when he means "importance."
- In "Grandpa's Birthday", he wakes up and believes that he's in heaven. When he sees Oskar however, he panics and says "This must be that other place!"
- The Latin American Spanish dub isn't as subtle, and actually has him shouting "I must be in Hell!"
- Also alluded to in "Haunted Train" when Grandpa is tilling the titular urban legend, using "fiery underworld" in place of "Hell". In that same episode, Gerald sings a song about the train with a verse describing how the engineer "drove it straight to..." but he finishes with "Hey!" instead of Hell.
- We get this little gem from "Back to School":
Arnold: You're not too old, Grandpa, and you've still got plenty of brain cells.
Grandpa: No, not since Woodstock. note
- Curly's Stalker with a Crush interest in Rhonda is anything but subtle. He's constantly suggestively telling her to "Give Daddy some sugar..." Sugaring is a type of relationship where one partner provides money or gifts to another, in exchange for sexual or romantic companionship.
- "Grandpa's Packard" features this exchange.
Ivana DeVansovich: Wonderful. I simply love your car. It's so well-preserved.
Grandpa: That's not the only thing well-preserved around here, lady. *eyebrows move up and down*
- In "Buses, Bikes, and Subways," Arnold's class sings an uncensored "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in unison on the bus with Mr. Simmons happily conducting. Not very shocking, but compare to other cartoons, which would replace "beer" with something else.
- In the episode "The Racing Mule" Oskar yells "Go Glueboy, get movin' you big crazy ass!" They tried to cover up the word "ass" with a horn, but it is still audible to those who have good ears.
- Actually, since he is presumably referring to a donkey in the above scene, that wouldn't actually be swearing. A donkey is an ass. However, some American TV shows (particularly kids' shows) will censor a curse word that has (or had) a legitimate meaning (like "dam" if it's used as a pun for "damn" or "hell" if it refers to the actual pit of despair for those who were evil in life).
- Similarly, in the episode "On the Lam," Harold, Stinky, and Sid pull a school prank with a bottle of Jack Ass Kicking Louisiana Hot Sauce.
- In "The Old Building", Ernie teaches a certain "exercise" to Arnold involving reaching and pulling. And he says this:
Ernie: Do that every day, and when the big moment comes, you'll be ready.
- This is made even more inappropriate when you remember the fact Arnold's nine. Most kids don't discover masturbation until they're about 12, when they're (usually) just starting puberty.
- In "Ghost Bride," Arnold reads this tombstone aloud with the rest covered in grass: "'Here lies Cynthia Snell. She lived her life and went straight to'...I can't read the rest."
- In the very same episode, it shows the backstory of "The Ghost Bride" as graphically as the censorship would allow them which included her brandishing an ax towards the couple's home, the shadow of the ax coming down on them with psycho strings playing, she sitting next to the murdered corpses humming the wedding march and then jumping out the window.
- During "The Journal", Arnold found his father's journal which his Grandpa Phil begins to read aloud to the family. When he gets to his father's account of his wedding night, Phil starts to read the words "It was the hottest night the jungle had" and the flashback showing us Arnold's parents in a hut seductively looking at each other... as Phil uncomfortably trails off from reading and distracts Arnold with thoughts of ordering dinner. As soon as Arnold leaves the room, Phil rips out the page and hides it.
It was the hottest night the jungle had ever known, and I'm not talking about centigrade. Stella was unbelievably beautiful, wearing nothing but a smile. Trembling, I took a step towards-
- In the same episode, when Stella wants to call the pig "Isabel", Miles opens the blanket and accidentally sees the pig's penis before saying "why don't we call him Abner?".
- Speaking of Grandpa's war stories: There was that (made-up) flashback in the "Veterans Day" episode with Adolf Hitler in it. His name is even said a few times.
Arnold: You did not fight Adolf Hitler, you're making this all up.
*laughs* Okay, you got me, I made that part up. Pretty funny, huh? *laughs* It was Goebbels.
- The word "Nazi" is said a few times as well. However, not everything got past the radar.
- Part of Grandpa's story involves him staying the night at a farmhouse, with three beautiful French women. The oldest one, Monique, visits him in the night in a figure flattering diaphanous dress, to tell Phil that the war has made her feel scared and lonely... Gerald's father then urges him to skip over this part of the story, since it was clearly headed in an erotic direction. Looking at Arnold and Gerald's reactions to the interjection, it seems like they wanted to hear it. When Phil resumes the story, he recalls that he woke up the next morning "feeling like a million bucks."
- Torvald says "sucks" in "Tutoring Torvald", which eventually got caught by the censors and was re-dubbed with "stinks" in the 2000s ("sucks" still appeared on the closed captioning). The reruns on The '90s Are All That and the official DVD release of season one keep the original line.
- "Fishing Trip" starts with the guys singing "Miss Susie" in the car and in the end Davy Jones sings the whole song.
- Another one from "Fishing Trip." When everything starts falling apart, Grandpa says "Let's fish. For the halibut!" (hell of it).
- In "Helga's Locket", Phil says "What the Helen of Troy is that?".
- The sole fact that Oskar's last name, "Kokoshka". Replace the O's with A's, and it means "shit" in Russian. How fitting.
- In "Gerald vs. Jamie O", Gerald harbors a crush on a girl called Chloe. When Arnold introduces him and Gerald, the latter holds a corn dog and it's pointed upwards with a "boing" sound as he stands up.
- The truck driver at the end of "Abner Come Home" is seen smoking a lit cigar, despite Nickelodeon's strict no-tobacco policy.
- In select season 1 episodes, especially the Christmas episode, Mr. Hyunh is seen holding a pipe.
- "Dino Checks Out":
- During the news cast looking back on Dino's life, we see a picture of him with the Rat Pack. They are clearly in a bar holding alcoholic beverages.
- Also, his apparent suicide. Not just an accidental yacht crash, there was a suicide note.
- It turns out that Dino Spumoni faked his own death to boost his album sales. The only problem is that a Dino impersonator becomes very popular and overshadows the real Dino ("He's an incredible simulation"). Dino's most recent Gold Digger ex-wife Candy married said impersonator. When interviewed about it, she says "He's an incredible stimulation".
- Lyndon Johnson calls Dino an "eye-talian nutjob" which is an ethnic slur.
- The album cover Trippin' With Dino (a parody of Robert Crumb's "Keep On Truckin'") is a thinly-veiled LSD reference.
- "Big Bob's Crisis": During Bob's NDE, you can briefly see his ass-crack out of the back of his robe.
- In "Wheezin' Ed" Gerald mentions the titular character of the episode lived during prohibition, the time in the US when alcohol was illegal.
- "Timberly Loves Arnold" has Lila suggest she and Arnold be a threesome with Timberly. The context of the story makes it innocent, but Lila's suggestion with Arnold's flustered expression makes the scene sound a lot dirtier. Even the show's wiki is surprised that this got past the censors.
- In "Egg Story," Harold and Rhonda have an exchange about a Noodle Incident that sounds like it could be very, very dirty:
Harold: Aw, come on, Rhonda, you know you like me!
Rhonda: Where in the world would you get a ridiculous idea like that?
Harold: Remember that time at the Cheese Festival when you jumped—
Rhonda: (clamping down on Harold's mouth) I told you never to mention that night—ever again.
- What makes it better is that it's a Continuity Nod: In "Operation Ruthless", Rhonda is seen dragging a resisting Harold onto a ride while saying "You know you like me, Harold." in a very seductive tone of voice. The ride is called the Tunnel of Love. What the hell did they do in there?
- Harold and Rhonda also went on a ride through the Tunnel of Love during the second Cheese Festival episode "Love and Cheese", though they did not have spoken lines.
- Mr. Simmons is on the receiving end of quite a few possible homophobic slurs, which would be especially harsh by the characters if they're aware that he is confirmed to be gay (by Word of God), though it's possible that these insults are aimed at his wimpy personality rather than his sexuality. Dan Butler, Simmons' voice actor (and basis for his character design) is openly gay. Mr. Robert Simmons may be based in part on the fitness guru Richard Simmons, who is not out as gay, but has been suspected to be, due to his flamboyant personality.
- Helga calls him a "throw pillow" in "New Teacher".
- Helga calls him a "cream puff" in "The Flood".
- He is again called a "throw pillow" in "The Aptitude Test" by both Helga and Big Bob.
- Bob calls him a "tea cozy" in "Parents' Day".
- As for some non-Simmons related homophobic slurs, Ludwig also calls Wolfgang "fruit cup" multiple times in "New Bully on the Block". Then there's the excessive use of the word "wussy"...
- In "Arnold's Thanksgiving" what could double as a Funny Background Event as Arnold and Helga leave Mr. Simmons' party as his house guests start arguing, as they pass by the window one of his family members who was licking a plate in the previous shot as a woman in front of him argues with another, due to the colorists painting the plate the same color as the woman's pants he appears to be licking her butt.
- Near the end of the episode "It Girl", Johnny Stitches shouts "Bollocks", which is British slang for testicles.
- "Suspended" has Arnold and Harold appealing their suspensions to Principal Wartz. Harold meant to say "outside circumstances" but accidentally said "circumcisions". The fact that he's Jewish could make it an honest mistake on his part.
- In "Rhonda Goes Broke", Ernie exits the bathroom and apologizes for leaving back hair in the shower drain, recommending that Rhonda's family "might want to clean it out before you rub a dub dub".
- Also in that episode, Rhonda rips a spot on her sweater right where her right nipple should be.
- The episode "Eating Contest" has Arnold and Gerald sitting under a sign with an arrow pointing to the left that says "Try My Sausage". Highly doubtful that this wasn't meant to be an innuendo.
- In "Phoebe Skips", Phoebe's revealed not to wear shorts nor underwear underneath her sweater (or sweater dress) twice, but this might be due to a couple animation goofs. Once when she's jumping on her bed; the other when she's dancing with the sixth grade girls.
- In "Arnold's Halloween", Bob watches a game show called "The Wheel". One of the spaces on the show's wheel is "S.O.L." which is generally short for "Shit Outta Luck".