Actor Existence Limbo: For some reason, Lou Rawls stopped doing voice work for Harvey after the season 4 episode "Chocolate Turtles". According to the leaked plot details from the cancelled Jungle Movie, Harvey was supposed to have a speaking role again, but this did not happen in the 2017 Jungle Movie due to the death of Lou Rawls in 2006 and unlike Oskar and Pigeon Man, whose actors had also died during the hiatus, Harvey was not recast and was simply kept silent.
Actor-Inspired Element: When Gerald's then-actor Jamil Walker Smith started going through puberty, the episode "Gerald's Tonsils" was written to accommodate his breaking voice.
Actor-Shared Background: In "April Fool's Day", Arnold is able to trick Helga into thinking his "gift" to her is a belated birthday present, because her birthday was "last week" - as in, late March; Francesca Marie Smith, who voices Helga, was born on March 26. (By contrast, Arnold was born on "the 7th" - a reference to the series premiere date of October 7, 1996.)
Adored by the Network: Some have accused Hey Arnold! of becoming this for the '90s Are All That block on TeenNick. While most of the cartoons shown from 10:00PM-11:00PM were supposed to rotate each week, Hey Arnold! seemed to fill this slot every other week, and whenever the block has time to fill, one could expect to see Hey Arnold! there. This may be because A: the show has a huge fanbase and B: Nick is making up for having treated the show badly during its' final couple of years. Once the block was retooled into NickSplat, the show seems to have stopped being as adored.
Banned in China: The show got banned in Kenya in 2017 for supposed suggestive content.
Casting Gag: When the original voice of Arnold, Toran Caudell, started getting older, they switched him to the voice of Wolfgang while Phillip Van Dyke took over the voice of Arnold. Later on, Spencer Klein would replace Phillip. This all ended up being subtly referenced in the episode "New Bully on the Block", where Wolfgang, Ludwig (voiced by Phillip), and Arnold get in a war over who should own the vacant lot.
From the episode "Summer Love", the dancing instructor named Carlos was voiced by Carlos Alazraqui.
Maurice, the actor who played "The Abdicator" in "Eugene Goes Bad" was voiced by Maurice LaMarche.
Word of God confirmed that Arnold's middle name is "Phillip", his third voice actor was Phillip Van Dyke (though Phillip is also his grandfather's name).
Dawson Casting: Most of the child actors on the show were at least a few years older than the characters they portrayed and many were grown or almost grown by the time the show ended. For example, Anndi McAfee, Phoebe's voice actress, was 17 when she began recording dialogue for the nine-year-old Phoebe. And that's not even going into the middle-aged Craig Bartlett providing Brainy's voice.
There was a widespread internet rumor that claimed that the original ending of the episode "Pigeon Man" had Vincent plunge himself off of the building, committing suicide, and Nick execs rejected this ending due to it being too depressing. Some people even claimed that Arnold seeing Vincent fly off into the sky in the actual ending was some sort of way for him block out the image of seeing Vincent jump to his death. In an interview, Craig Bartlett debunked the rumor and stated that not only was the ending the only one they had in mind, but the image of a guy being tethered to numerous pigeons and flying away was the starting point, with the writers working backwards to figure out how to get to that. This rumor saw the final nail in its coffin when it was announced the Pigeon Man would return for The Jungle Movie.
Though lesser known than the previous one, there also was a rumor claiming that Craig Bartlett hated "Arnold Betrays Iggy" so much that he asked Nickelodeon to pull it from rotation and made the writers publicly apologize. Bartlett debunked these rumors too on his Instagram page.
In a related vein to the previous two, some sources claimed Nickelodeon trying to get Craig to sign a two-year exclusivity contract was part of the reason for the Jungle Movie not being made back in 2002. In fact, Craig and his crew simply left Nick after finishing "The Journal", and didn't come back since TJM wasn't put in production.
The claim about background character and resident in Arnold's building, Lana Vail having a crush on the 10-year-old Arnold is often attributed to Bartlett, with a claim execs wisely turned it down due to Unfortunate Implications.... but it has never been sourced to an actual interview, although it was on the wiki for a very long while.
Inspiration for the Work: Many of the stories seen in the show were based on experiences Craig Bartlett and his crew had as children. Plus, several characters are inspired by real people Bartlett grew up with.
Missing Episode: For some reason, TeenNick never reruns "Married". That episode is only available in the DVD or digital releases. It wouldn't be until the month long marathon hyping up 'The Jungle Movie' over a decade later for this episode to be seen again in syndication.
Phillip Van Dyke wasn't comfortable singing for "What's Opera, Arnold?", so Toran Caudell sung for Arnold instead, since he could still sound like Arnold when he sang.
Adam Wylie, Curly's main voice actor, was replaced and quickly reinstated twice.note Though the second time this was done using archived recordings rather than him voicing new lines, since Curly's only speech was laughter.
The show went through several instances of this in its original run, despite not being a Long Runner. This was due to the fact that the child characters were played by real children, whose voices tend to change as they get older:
Eugene was played by four actors. Ben Diskin, his 3rd voice actor, lasted the longest at three-and-a-quarter seasons.
Gerald's older brother, Jamie O was originally voiced by Ben Aaron Hoag, in his first few appearances, but was portrayed by Phil La Marr in his later appearances.
An interesting example with Curly is that they replaced, then reinstated his 2nd voice actor, Adam Wylie, twice.
Arnold himself has probably the most extreme example of this trope, with a grand total of five (if you count the original pilot) different voice actors! They consist of J.D. Daniels (The pilot), Toran Caudell (Season 1 and Arnold's Singing Voice in "What'sOpera, Arnold?", Phillip Van Dyke (Seasons 2 and 3), Spencer Klein (Seasons 4, 5 and The Movie), and Alex D. Linz (the post-movie episodes "April Fool's Day" and "The Journal"), and that's not even counting his Time-Shifted Actor Rusty Flood during flashbacks. Spencer Klein lasted the longest with 37 episodes and a movie, and is considered the favorite Arnold voice actor by many fans.
Sid was voiced by Sam Gifaldi for most of the series, but his voice changed at the very end of the last season and he was replaced by his younger brother Taylor for "April Fools Day".
Due to Season 1 episodes being held over on The Shelf of Movie Languishment, some episodes featuring Miss Slovak were aired after Mr. Simmons had already been introduced. A similar thing happened with Lorenzo. His introduction episode aired long after he'd already appeared in another episode.
"The Journal" was the last episode produced, but it aired before four other Season 5 episodes.
Strangely enough, this trope seems to be exclusive to the US. In every other country, every episode (except maybe holiday specials) was aired in the intended order and finished airing by 2002, with "The Journal" being the final episode.
Recycled Script: A fair amount of the later episodes are retreads down the paths of older ones. In an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, most of these recycled plots allowed the writers to explore the storylines in unique and still entertaining ways. For example:
"The Little Pink Book", "Helga's Parrot", "Helga's Locket" and "Helga Blabs It All" all share the same concept: an item that reveals Helga's secret crush somehow gets into Arnold's hands, and Helga goes to extremes in order to retrieve it or destroy it, usually by breaking into the Boarding House.
"Sid the Vampire Slayer", "Sid's Revenge" and "Sid and Germs" can all be summed up in a sentence: "Sid gets paranoid about something and spends 11 minutes freaking out about it while Arnold tries to snap him out of it".
Rhonda learns not to be stuck-up at least three times. (Rhonda's Glasses, Polishing Rhonda, Rhonda Goes Broke)
Both "Beaned" and "April Fool's Day" have Helga fake an injury long after recovering from it in order to have Arnold take care of her. "Phoebe Breaks a Leg" has Phoebe do it to Helga.
The most prominent example, however, is "Love and Cheese," which is "Operation Ruthless," just with Lila replacing Ruth while showing off the deeper development the characters had been given in the years between the episodes. Fully cognizant of this, the episode is full of references to Ruthless - several lines from the first episode are repeated and/or referenced, Ruth herself cameos on several occasions in the background (despite not appearing at all in the show for quite a while), and Phoebe and Gerald are shown walking past scenes together - a reference to how they hooked up in the background during the plot ofRuthless.
Sending Stuff to Save the Show: Around 2009, fans started writing letters and signing petitions to get Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie back into production, and possibily save The Patakis as well. And well...they succeeded on their first mission.
Season 1 consists of 26 episodes, but Nickelodeon only aired 20 during its 1996 run. Out of the remaining six, five aired a year later at the end of Season 2; and the last one made it into late season 3 in 1998.
"Parents Day", the last Season 3 episode, was held back from a U.S. airing until May 2000, during Season 5. For comparison's sake, that episode aired in December 1998 in the U.K., a full year and a half before the U.S.
Season 5 in general. While Season 4 aired in 1999, Season 5 aired during 2000-2004. That's right: it took 4 years for one season! The first five episodes of the season (along with the aforementioned "Parents Day" and three heldover episodes from Season 4) were aired during early 2000. Then, only three episodes were aired in January 2001, and six more episodes aired in 2002. The final episode produced, "The Journal", aired in November 2002. After that, Nickelodeon held back four episodes, which were aired over the span of two years. Three in 2003, and the final one in June 2004.
Short Run in Peru: Interestingly, pretty much all of the delays mentioned above were US-only. In most other countries, the series was aired in the correct order, and was finished by 2002!
Talking to Himself: Whenever Helga talked to Campfire Lass, or Sheena, or Stinky's girlfriend Gloria ("Helga's Boyfriend"), it was Francesca Smith doing both voices.
Grandpa Phil, The Jolly Olly Man, and Nick Vermicelli were all voiced by Dan Castellaneta.
Unintentional Period Piece: While the show has managed to stay relatively timeless, there are spots where it does show that it is a product from The '90s. It's not too uncommon to see audio cassettes, VHS tapes, VCRs, boomboxes, and old TV sets (plus, the show's artists seems to have a weird obsession with old cars). The most telling sign that this show takes place in the late 90s is Big Bob's Beeper Emporium. Toward the end of the show's run, beepers — the very foundation of Bob's business empire — were already being supplanted by cellphones.note Though In-Universe, cellphones do exist. Helga and Lorenzo are seen with flip phones. This is later lampshaded in one of the first scenes in The Jungle Movie where it's shown Bob is having trouble selling his beepers because, as Helga points out, everyone has cellphones now.
The episode "Arnold's Christmas" clearly happened before the internet became a thing. Nowadays, with the power of social networks, finding lost relatives and people you haven't seen in decades is much easier.
Vindicated by Reruns: While the show was very popular during its original run, the failure of Hey Arnold! The Movie, abrupt cancellation and inconsistent airings of the final episodes caused the series to lose a lot of steam. However, once the show began reairing on NickSplat (formerly The '90s Are All That), it regained its popularity, to the point that Nick decided to capitalize on the nostalgia and UncancelHey Arnold! The Jungle Movie.
The show was originally going to be in claymation, much like the Sesame Street shorts it was adapted from. Craig Barlett, who animated the shorts himself and knew how grueling the process was, immediately shot the idea down and decided it'd work better in hand-drawn animation.
Helga was supposed to get her own spin-off (a more mature version of Hey Arnold! called The Patakis, meant to air on Nick at Nite) set a few years into the future (around the time that the kids would be high school-aged), but the idea was axed because it would have been "too dark" for Nick's target audience. It was also rejected by sister channel MTV, since they said the spin-off would have been "...too much like Daria; and since the show is owned by Viacom, it could only air on one of those channels. Depending on who you ask, rejecting the idea was either a wise decision to keep the series from becoming too depressing (Considering the glimpses we got of Helga's miserable home life, this could've very well been the case.) and incurring the wrath of Moral Guardians, or a foolish decision, as the Periphery Demographic of the show would miss out on an adult take on a kids' show that wasn't poorly-made, fan-written trash. Thanks to Craig Bartlett revealing details about what the show would have been like, we do know this:
Arnold would have moved away (though it's unclear under what circumstances)note Although the universal fanon supposition is that he would have returned to San Lorenzo with his parents, Bartlett said that hadn't been decided - Arnold simply being gone was far more important than where he went and he and Helga will have dated for several years at that point, either breaking up before the start of the series or having a very strained long-distance relationship.note One of Bartlett's story concepts for the show involved Helga running away from home to try and find Arnold, suggesting the latter.
Either way, their relationship would have been contrasted with Gerald and Phoebe, the "cool couple".
Helga herself would have still been voiced by Francesca Marie Smith and have had a redesigned and more tomboyish appearance: her pink bow would have been replaced by a beanie cap, her pink and white dress will have been swapped out for a pink T-Shirt and jeans, and she would have grown in certain areas (although still stubbornly refusing to maintain her appearance beyond that, such as retaining her unibrow and pigtails). She would be a budding author and still going to see Dr. Bliss for psychiatric help.
Of their other classmates from P.S. 118, only a handful were confirmed to return alongside them for the spinoff: Sid, Stinky, and Brainy.note Craig Bartlett eventually said in retrospect that he was so fond of Olivia Hack's talent for playing teenage girls that Rhonda probably would have returned as well, but there's no indication that she was part of the original development pitch. Notably, Lila, who is almost ubiquitous in High School A.U. fanon, is conspicuous by her absence.
With regards to Helga's family, Miriam's alcoholism would be confronted head-on (as she would be attending AA meetings) after only hinting at it in Hey Arnold! and she would now be working at a TV station. Olga would have returned home after college to live with her parents and sister, pursuing a career as an actress (and without much success, at that, only managing to get parts in "off-off-off-Broadway plays") and having a falling out with her parents over it. Unsurprisingly, Big Bob Pataki would have switched his line of business from beepers to cellphonesnote As it turns out, he didn't actually do this in The Jungle Movie, still selling beepers in 2017, hopefully he learns to roll with the times by then; there were also plans for his character to have been re-tooled to lampoon Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, in a then-timely reference.
In the first season, there was another tenant named Lana who was originally going to have a crush on Arnold, getting him to do favors for her and regularly making him uncomfortable by sexually harassing him. Nick execs of course found this too disturbing and axed the idea. Since Bartlett couldn't figure out a new direction for the character, Lana vanished after the first season (save for some later cameos in flashbacks or the animators mistakenly placing her into scenes at the boarding house).
"Gerald's Tonsils" was only created when the creators couldn't find a suitable replacement voice actor for Gerald after Jamil Walker Smith hit puberty. If they were able to give him The Other Darrin treatment, the episode would have never happened.
Mr. Simmons. His voice actor is openly gay as well. This one's more a confirmation of some deliberate subtext in the series itself (it's pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that Mr. Simmons' "friend" Peter from "Arnold's Thanksgiving" is actually his romantic partner). Made about as canon as possible without explicitly saying it in The Jungle Movie, where Peter is at the airport to see Mr. Simmons off on his trip to San Lorenzo and they share a very intimate embrace.
Arnold and Helga are meant for each other and they end up together and get married as adults.
Helga's mom is an alcoholic and those "smoothies" she drinks are just a child-friendly substitute for booze as Nickelodeon is, first and foremost, a kids' network and, despite having adult jokes in it for the Periphery Demographic, references to alcohol and alcoholism is best left to the adult shows on Nick at Nite (though there are mixed alcoholic drinks that exist as smoothie-type drinks, like the daiquiri, the hurricane, and the pina colada). The scene in "Arnold's Hat" where she asks Helga to pass her the tabasco is especially telling, considering it's a Bloody Mary (or a Bloody Maria, if Miriam prefers tequila to vodka) ingredient.
Arnold's last name? Turns out it's been said many times by Phil: Shortman. His middle name is Phillip.
The show takes place in the Pacific Northwest, most likely in Washington State.
Craig Bartlett has announced that if The Jungle Movie is successful enough, then Hey Arnold could be revived for at least one more season.
Working Title: "Love and Cheese" was originally called "Operation Lila-less". And for good reason.
Written by Cast Member: Oskar Kokoshka's voice actor, Steve Viksten, wrote a large amount of episodes for the show and helped developing it.
Write What You Know: Some stories are based on experiences the production crew had when they themselves were kids. For example, the episode Field Trip was inspired by Craig Bartlett's own experience of freeing a turtle in a lake.
Write Who You Know: Craig Bartlett based many of the series' characters around people he knew growing up.
Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The circumstances around Arnold's parents. When Craig Bartlett pitched the series to Nickelodeon, he told them something along the lines of "His parents make documentaries in Africa, and that's why they're not around". Aside from one tiny appearance in "Arnold's Hat", they were completely forgotten about... until fans began writing in to Nickelodeon asking about them. To respond to the fans, Bartlett wrote "Parents Day", which went into detail about their abscence to answer fans' questions. Then, a few years later, when Nick ordered a Hey Arnold! theatrical film (which later became known as "The Jungle Movie"), they told Craig to do "the biggest idea he could think of"; and that idea ended up being Arnold going on a search for his lost parents. And then, at the very end of the seriesnote When the movie about saving the neighborhood was nearly complete, and The Jungle Movie was the only thing left to do., Nick told Craig to make a prequel episode to The Jungle Movie, "The Journal".