For eight years, many of us '90s kids grew up watching the amazing friends on Hey Arnold!. Airing on Nickelodeon, the show was about a boy named Arnold (with an unusual football-shaped head) and his daily life with family, school, and friends. Each episode shared learning lessons and unique scenarios the characters found themselves in.
As kids ourselves, we related to the kids of P.S. 118. and were jealous of their independent city life they got to grow up in. Now that it's been 15 years since the last episode aired (not including the movie), we're taking a look back at one of our favorite animated TV shows from our Nickelodeon days to see what we may have missed as kids.
10 HEY ARNOLD STARTED AS CLAYMATION
Creator and animator, Craig Bartlett, used to work on Pee-wee's Playhouse and created small claymation characters named Penny and Arnold. After liking the characters and shorts he created, he teamed up with other Nickelodeon animators to create Hey Arnold!.
After Nickelodeon execs liked the character of Arnold better than Penny, they took the time to create Arnold's bio. Once the idea was sold to the execs at Nickelodeon, they switched from claymation to animation.
9 WHAT CITY DID THEY LIVE IN ANYWAY?
As kids, many of us assumed Arnold and co. ran around the streets of New York — Brooklyn, in particular. However, throughout the series, we learn that they live in the town of Hillwood. In one episode, Helga is driving with her mother when we see signs for Washington right outside of Hillwood.
Creator Craig Bartlett then confirmed that Hillwood's biggest muse was Seattle with bits of Pennsylvania, New York, and Oregon thrown in there. In a sense, Hillwood was a collection of cities.
8 CHILDREN CHARACTERS VOICED BY ACTUAL CHILDREN
A special behind-the-scenes fact about Hey Arnold! is that the voices behind our favorite characters were also kids. This was unheard of at the time because most animated shows were voiced by professional adults who had the ability to sound like kids.
Having kid actors voice kid characters really gave Hey Arnold! an authentic flare. Plus, as Francesca Marie Smith noted (Helga), the cast really grew up together off set, which was a special time.
7 ARNOLD WAS VOICED BY SIX DIFFERENT PEOPLE
Since the characters were voiced by actual kids, Nickelodeon had to come up with a solution for how to handle their apparent changing voices. Voice actor Lane Toran voiced a majority of Arnold's scenes but when his time ran short, Nickelodeon opted for actors J.D. Daniels (pilot episode), Phillip Van Dyke (seasons two through three), Spencer Klein (seasons four and five), Alex D. Linz (the Hey Arnold! movie), and an unknown actor who voiced Arnold as a baby.
Going through six actors for one character seems like a lot of work but it's the price you pay when you want kids acting the part.
6 THE VOICE OF HELGA DIDN'T THINK ARNOLD AND HER WERE A GOOD PARING
As fans of the show know, Helga had a deep-rooted crush on Arnold. Instead of flirting with him as normal people do, Helga acted out with hatred. Everyone knew Helga's relationship with Arnold was an unhealthy one, including the voice of Helga, Francesca Marie Smith.
Francesca admitted that she didn't really love Arnold, rather she loved the idea of him. "I don’t know that in the long run they necessarily are a match. I don’t even know that she even gets anything from him as a person," the voice actress stated. Nevertheless, it was a hilarious fake relationship.
5 EVERY GIRL IN ARNOLD'S CLASS WAS BASED OFF A REAL PERSON
When the show's creator was creating Hey Arnold!, he started pulling personality traits from real-life people. The girl squad that hung out with Arnold and co. were Helga Pataki, Phoebe Heyerdahl, Rhonda Wellington, and Nadine. "A lot of the characters are an amalgam of people I knew when I was a kid."
"The girls in Hey Arnold! are girls that either liked or didn't like me when I was in school," Craig Bartlett stated. Does this mean he actually knew someone like Helga Pataki who worshiped another person from their closet!
4 ARNOLD'S BALD SPOT
It doesn't take long to notice that the characters on Hey Arnold have some funky looking hair. I mean, just look at Arnold! With two large bushes of blonde hair coming from Arnold's head, he has a very small blue hat in the center. However—if you take a closer look–when Arnold removes his hat he has a small bald spot.
Is that just the way Arnold parts his hair or is he already balding at such a young age? Well, according to Bartlett, Arnold's hat has caused a small bald spot on his head from being worn too much.
3 THE MOVIE WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO MAKE IT TO THEATRES
Two years before Hey Arnold! wrapped up, its first movie hit the screens. Titled Hey Arnold!: The Movie, the movie was about Arnold and his friends trying to save the neighborhood from a large developer.
After creating the movie, execs were expecting it to be a made-for-TV movie but after testing so well, they decided to move it to theatres. The problem is, the movie took $3-4 million to make and only earned around $15 million in the box office, which isn't that successful.
2 HELGA'S MOM WAS A DEPRESSED ALCOHOLIC
As a kid, we all knew Helga's mom was a little off. She was always at home and was either cranky or tired. She spoke very slowly and annoyed Helga often with her general presence. You could say Helga was closer to her dad, even though that relationship wasn't anything to write home about.
Now that we're adults, we now understand that Helga's mom was actually a depressed alcoholic. Miriam Pataki is seen falling asleep throughout episodes and waking up confused. She has also mentioned she was depressed once or twice. Miriam is also seen blending "things" quite often and has a weird connection to her blender. Even further, Miriam had her license taken away and is seen doing community service in one episode!
1 THE TOP VOTED EPISODE WAS IN THE FIRST SEASON
According to IMDb, the highest-ranking episode was in the first season; an episode titled "Arnold's Christmas." For those who don't remember, Arnold's house does a secret Santa for the holidays, so he decided to reunite Mr. Hyunh and his daughter who he hasn't seen in years.
In a strange turn of events, Helga has a heart for the holiday season and secretly helps Arnold find his neighbor's daughter. At the end of the episode, all is right in the world. Even to this day, this episode can still be seen played over the holidays.