Hey Arnold! introduced a lot of characters with their own quirks and traits, which made them relatable and funny, but there was one that was considered weird even by the other people within the series: Arnold’s cousin Arnie. Created by Craig Bartlett, Hey Arnold! debuted on Nickelodeon in 1996 and came to an end in 2004 after five seasons and a feature film, appropriately titled Hey Arnold!: The Movie.
Hey Arnold! followed nine-year-old Arnold who lived with his grandparents in an inner-city boarding house. Throughout the series, viewers met some of his closest friends and other characters from around town, such as his best friend Gerald and Helga, the bully who was secretly in love with Arnold. The series’ biggest mystery was about Arnold’s parents and family outside his grandparents, but at some point viewers met a very peculiar family member: Arnie.
Arnie was introduced in the Hey Arnold! episode “Weird Cousin”, where he visited Arnold for a couple of weeks and attended the same school. Although it’s not mentioned which side of the family he’s from, judging by the shape of his head – which is like Arnold’s but inverted: flat on the top and round on the bottom – he is most likely from Arnold’s mom’s side. He’s very pale, his hair is lighter than Arnold’s, and just like his cousin he wears a small hat – although his is a propeller beanie, which whirls whenever he’s excited. He’s very inexpressive, and the beanie is the only way people can know if he’s feeling something. As for his clothes, he wears a purple and yellow plaid shirt, black suspenders with green capri pants, white socks, and brown shoes.
Arnie has very specific hobbies: he collects lint, likes to count things, read the ingredients on the back of packaged foods, and chew plain-flavored gum. He also makes a snorting sound that can be a bit annoying to some. Although he is considered weird by almost everyone around him (at least in the city), Lila developed a crush on him, but he wasn’t interested in her and fell for Helga instead. Arnie came back in the Hey Arnold! episode “Arnold Visits Arnie”, where Arnold had a dream about his trip to Arnie’s farm and the people he might encounter there, which turn out to be swapped versions of his friends. He didn’t show up again after that, but he left a big impression on viewers.
Due to his behavior and tone of voice, it has been speculated that Arnie might have had some sort of autism, but this has never been confirmed or denied. Maybe he did, maybe he was just really weird and life at the farm was very different, but truth is that fans of Hey Arnold! haven’t forgotten about Arnie, his peculiarities, and the bizarre love triangle he provoked at P.S. 118.