Arnold is a fictional character and the titular protagonist in the Nickelodeon animated television series Hey Arnold!. His head is shaped like an American football, thus earning him the nickname "Football-Head", by Helga. Throughout the series' run, he was voiced by at least five different voice actors: J.D. Daniels (who did his voice in the pilot), Toran Caudell, Phillip Van Dyke, Spencer Klein (who voiced Arnold in Hey Arnold!: The Movie in addition to numerous television episodes), and Alex D. Linz. He was created in 1988.


Arnold is depicted as an average nine-year-old boy, his personality enriched with righteous, reliable morals and honesty. His parents were explorers who mysteriously vanished on an expedition during Arnold's infancy, leaving their son presumably orphaned and living in an apartment building with his grandparents and pet pig Abner who was given to his parents by the green eyed people.. Albeit Arnold's admirable kindness normally remains untouched, his less considerate moments include revealing the mortifying secret of a friend and partaking in the savage rebellion being pulled by the fourth-graders against their new, mild-mannered teacher, Mr. Simmons. However, aside from that Arnold is usually intelligent and righteous; he once snuck out with his grandmother late at night to emancipate a sea turtle from an exhibit in a local aquarium and can be relied upon to provide his friends with good advice. Other examples of his generosity include showing kindness to his lonesome, neglected classmate Helga Pataki during their first day of nursery school, resulting in her development of an obsessive an unrequited infatuation with him that is commonly referenced throughout the series, albeit she masks it with surly behavior. Arnold's best friend is Gerald, characterized by his towering black hairstyle, who appears alongside him in virtually every episode and who frequently hangs around with him.


Arnold has had two major crushes in the series: sixth-grader Ruth MacDougal (through most of season 1), and with a classmate named Lila Sawyer (who was introduced in season 2). His crush with Ruth ended in Arnold's Valentine after going on a date with her, where he decided that she was not really interesting and came to realize he never knew much about her himself; his crush on Lila ended when he realized how much she's hurt him in the series, and she did not approve of his reason for hanging out with his best friend Gerald's younger sister, Timberly in Timberly Loves Arnold. In the episode Crush On Teacher Arnold develops a crush on his substitute teacher Miss Felter and Arnold thought she had a crush on him too. The crush on her ended at the end of the episode when Arnold found out that Miss Felter did not actually have a crush on him and it was just a misunderstanding. Miss Felter's partner's name was also Arnold, whom she refers to earlier in the episode, hence the confusion.

In the episode 6th Grade Girls, two "older" 6th grade girls named Connie and Maria ask Arnold and Gerald to be their dates for an upcoming dance in an attempt to teach their jerky boyfriends a lesson. Arnold is unsure, but Gerald convinces him to go along with it. At the dance, the girls leave to go to the bathroom, at which point the girls' boyfriends threaten them and attempt to beat them up. Before this can happen however, Connie and Maria return and intervene, sending the boys to wait for them at the bus stop. It is at this point that the girls "break up" with them, though they do kiss each of them on the cheek before leaving.

Arnold also has a summer crush in the "Summer Love" special with a girl named Summer. Summer is an aspiring actress who already has a boyfriend but pretends to be interested in Arnold because of his art skills in making great sandcastles. There is a "babe watch" (which is poking fun of the show "Bay Watch") competition that is awards the winners of the Sand Castle competition a main role in an episode. Arnold finds out Summer is using him with the help of Helga, and Arnold and Helga both end up acting for "Babe Watch" and they share their second kiss in the series.

Arnold's most catalytic relationship is with his classmate Helga Pataki. Unbeknownst to Arnold, Helga is secretly in love with him, though to keep these feelings secret she bullies Arnold so he will never come to that conclusion. Because Helga struggles with her conflict of emotions towards him, Arnold is often witness to some erratic behavior when she is around him, which he responds to by saying, "Whatever you say, Helga." Normally, Arnold tolerates Helga well, and true to his optimistic nature, he is convinced that underneath her tough, mean exterior, she is a kind and caring person, and tells her so in a few episodes. Good examples of this are shown in "Married", near the end of Arnold's dream when he confronts Helga, and "Patty vs. Helga," wherein Arnold explains to Patty that the reason Helga is mean is that she's insecure about her own feelings, hoping she will not beat Helga up.

In the movie on the series, Arnold finds out that Deep Voice, a stranger who helps Gerald and him throughout the movie, is actually Helga. This surprising him as her father would make a lot of money from the demolition of their neighborhood, making her rich. So after constantly questioning her, Helga tells Arnold of her feelings for him and she kisses him. Later on, at the end of the movie, the two of them agree it was all just in the 'heat of the moment'.

According to series creator Craig Bartlett, had the canceled "Jungle Movie" sequel been animated, Arnold would have returned Helga's feelings with a kiss of his own, with his best friend interrupting the moment. The two would have also dated prior to the proposed, but ultimately aborted MTV spin-off The Patakis, where they would have broken up, though they were to remain friends, with Helga sending Arnold letters of her life in a new location. Craig Bartlett did say that even though "The Patakis" was never aired, Arnold and Helga are meant for one another. He just wanted to keep Arnold out of the way for a short while so Helga can be the main attraction. He had an idea that she would eventually run away to visit him. But even at the end Helga and Arnold were going to get back with one another. Unfortunately, Nick at Nite and MTV decided not to air it so Craig Bartlett never got to fully write everything out. Considering The Patakis was canceled, it remains unclear whether or not this development remains canonical.

Arnold's best friend is Gerald Johansen, whose relationship dates as far back as pre-school. The pair have a distinct handshake consisting of putting their hands together and wiggling their thumbs back and forth.


Arnold was created in 1988 by Craig Bartlett, who was also responsible for the clay-animated Penny shorts on CBS's Pee-wee's Playhouse. The original Arnold was visualized as a kid with a vivid imagination, who always wore a prep-school uniform (though he attended public school) and a cap, and was rendered in clay in a series of shorts, one of them televised in the 1990s on Sesame Street, and continued to air there, even after the Nick version debuted.

In 1991, the Arnold comic stories, written and drawn by Bartlett (who's also a comic book artist), were published in Simpsons Illustrated magazine (Bartlett is the brother-in-law of Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons).

The familiar, cel-animated Arnold came about in the mid-1990s when Nick picked up the new series. Apart from the animation style, Nick's Arnold now wears a sweater, with his plaid shirt untucked (resembling a kilt). Only Arnold's beloved cap remained from the original wardrobe.

Last name

Arnold's last name has never been revealed on the show. With the exception of a few secondary characters (including Sid and Brainy), the only other notable characters whose surnames are unknown are Arnold's grandparents. They presumably have the same last name as Arnold, since in "Parents Day" and "The Journal" it is revealed they are his father's parents. The mystery surrounding Arnold's full name became a running gag on the show, by the last name almost being revealed, then someone or something interrupting or otherwise preventing it from being heard. Some notable occasions when the name is almost revealed include:

  • In a commercial for the show that aired in the early part of the show's run, Arnold talks to the viewer to straighten out some facts about himself (such as the revelation that his notable red outerwear is a shirt, not a skirt). He ends with, "And yes, I do have a last name. It's..." at which point the screen turns into static and the sound cuts off, because the camera's batteries run out.
  • In the episode "Fighting Families" Arnold wins the school's raffle drawing for the chance to be on the game show Fighting Families. The lady doing the drawing announces, "The winner is, there seems to be a smudge over the last name." Here it is revealed that Arnold is the only one in the school with this first name, thus making his surname somewhat unnecessary.
  • A similar instance to the one above occurs in "Eugene, Eugene!", where Tim Curry's character is casting the school kids for an upcoming play, and says, "I can't read my own handwriting", when he's casting Arnold as the villain. However, that scene did at least reveal Lila's last name (Sawyer, as mentioned above).
  • In one episode, "Crush on Teacher", in which Helga does one of her many passionate monologues about her love for Arnold, she says that she would one day like to become "Mrs.Arnold...wait, what is his last name?", revealing that she is just as clueless as the viewer.
  • In the episode "The Journal", Phil is reading the part of Miles's journal that recounts his and Stella's wedding. He gets to the part when they are pronounced "Mr. and Mrs...." at which point Grandma interrupts with a loud burp.
  • In the episode "Married", Helga dreams that she is married to Arnold, and that she is the President. In her opening speech, she introduces Arnold as "Arnold Pataki."
  • Series creator Craig Bartlett had been planning to finally reveal his last name in a second Feature film for the series, which would also deal with his search to find his parents. Craig mentioned in a subsequent online chat: "I had an idea for the Jungle Movie (how Bartlett refers to the planned film), in the opening scene, a man comes to the door of the boarding house, and Arnold signs his name. Right, that's how you find out." However, problems between Bartlett and Nickelodeon, as well as the low gross of the first film, led to the cancellation of this second film.

In 2006 in an online chat with Hey Arnold! fans, Bartlett revealed that Arnold's grandpa used his last name throughout the series, heavily implying, but not confirming, that Arnold's last name is "Shortman" (a transcript of this chat can be found here). Craig also mentioned that Arnold's second name most likely is "Phillip".

  • In some episodes, other characters can be seen referring to Arnold as "Shortman" (In the beginning of Arnold Visits Arnie, Helga is telling the other characters their positions in a game of baseball she is quoted saying "Looks like you're on Shortstop, Shortman.")
  • In a commercial for Hey Arnold, where Bartlett is interviewed, Bartlett promises that Arnold's last name will be revealed, and that the audience has been hearing his name throughout the entire series. Grandpa frequently calls Arnold "Shortman."

Birth date

During the seasons of "Hey Arnold" they never revealed his birthday. But during the episode, "Married!" Arnold takes a marriage test and finds out he is going to marry Helga. During the test, one of the questions is his birth day number, He responds the 7th, and Hey Arnold! aired their first episode on October 7, 1996, which pre-determines that Arnold's birthday is on October 7.

On the contrary, in season 5 episode 19 titled "The Journal" it is October 5th, the anniversary of the day Arnold's parents left. Arnold finds his father's journal in the attic and it is revealed that Arnold celebrated his 1st birthday, prior to the day his parents left. Therefore Arnold's birthday cannot be in October since the journal entry before of their leaving comes right after the journal entry about Arnold's birthday. It is more likely on the 7th of September or in August.

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Arnold (Hey Arnold!), that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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