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Arnold Shortman

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Character on Hey Arnold!
Arnold Phillip Shortman
Nickname(s)Football Head
Short man
Agent 9
Occupation4th Grade Student

5th Grade Student (Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie)

Age9 (born the 7th of an undisclosed month
(presumably October))
10 (Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie

Father: Miles
Grandfather: Phil
Grandmother: Gertrude
Great-aunt: Mitzi
Great-grandfather: Grandpa's father (deceased)
Great-grandmother: Grandpa's mother (deceased)
Great-great grandfather: Grandpa's grandfather (deceased)

Mother: Stella
Grandfather: Arnold (deceased)
Cousin: Arnie

Best friendsGerald
Mr. Simmons
Principal Wartz
RelationshipsRuth P. McDougal (crush until the episode "Arnold's Valentine")

Lila (crush until episode "Timberly Loves Arnold")
Summer (crush in "Summer Love")
Miss Felter (crush in "Crush on Teacher")
Helga (possible love interest)

Voiced byJ.D. Daniels (pilot)
Toran Caudell
Phillip Van Dyke
Spencer Klein
Alex D. Linz
Mason Vale Cotton
Rusty Flood (Young Arnold)

Arnold Phillip Shortman is a fictional character created by Craig Bartlett. He has featured in claymation shorts and comics, but his main role has been the main protagonist of the Nickelodeon animated television series Hey Arnold!.

His head is shaped like a giant football, thus earning him the nickname "Football Head".

Arnold in The Jungle Movie

Tumblr oaxqzim0a51qfqa3so1 1280

Arnold's evolution.


Arnold was created in 1985 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 rich, prep school kid with a vivid imagination, who always wore a prep-school uniform and his signature cap, and was rendered in clay in a series of shorts, one of them televised in 1991 on Sesame Street, and continued to air there, even after the Nick version debuted.


In 1991, the Hey 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).

TV Series

The familiar, cel-animated Arnold came about in the mid-1990's when Nick picked up the new series. In the TV series, Arnold is a 4th grader who lives in a boarding house with his paternal grandparents, Phil and Gertrude. Apart from the animation style, Nick's Arnold now wears a sweater, with his plaid shirt untucked (often mistaken for a kilt). Only Arnold's beloved cap remained from the original wardrobe. He no longer wore a school uniform in the TV series because he attends a public school. Now he wears a dark blue jacket to go with his outfit.



Arnold is a calm, nice, kind, optimistic, and smart idealist who always sees the best in people despite how unkind, outlandish or sneaky some of them may be. "Football Head" as his peers and grandparents call him, often goes out of his way to help others even if it's not in his best interest to do so. Arnold is also a bit of a daydreamer in the earlier episodes. Although he can be a bit irritable when he's pushed too far. 

Arnold resides in a boarding house called the Sunset Arms and goes to an elementary school simply named P.S. 118. Arnold's excellent upbringing is due to the way his paternal grandparents and boarding house residents raised him. He's a respectable young gentleman at home and at school with his peers and teachers.

Arnold has often been shown to be ignorant and blind when it comes to romance and love. For example, he never figured out Helga was "Cecile" in "Arnold's Valentine" (even though it was obviously her), and he doesn't seem to process Helga's incomplete love declarations in "Grudge Match" and the chapter book "Arnold's E-Files". Furthermore, he continually refused to accept that Lila didn't return his feelings despite being told so repeatedly. Sometimes, Arnold is shown to be a bit shallow, as he only liked Lila and Ruth because they were pretty and nothing else. 

Arnold has a natural gift for giving advice and guidance to others. He often helps the other kids and even adults with their problems. In "Oskar Can't Read" Arnold helps Oskar learn how to read for the first time and in "Oskar Gets a Job" Arnold helps him find a Job. He has even helped his Grandpa Phil on several occasions in the episode "Steely Phil", Arnold helps Phil overcome his fear of facing Robbie Fisher in the city Chinese Checkers tournament and in ""Grandpa's Sister"" Arnold helps him reconnect with his sister Mitzi after 70 years. During the episode "Chocolate Boy" Arnold helps Chocolate Boy kick his addiction to chocolate a change that could potentially have saved his life.

In early episodes, Arnold is shown to be somewhat gullible such as the episode, Cool Jerk, where he starts hanging out with a gangster. 

Jazz music is his favorite genre. He is a self-taught harmonica player and plays music a few times throughout Seasons 1 and 2.

Arnold's bedroom is full of interesting technology: a remote control that commands everything in his room, a powerful computer and a collapsible couch. His entire ceiling comprises of an expansive skylight that includes a trapdoor where people on the roof can come in. Most of his room is blue since it his favorite color.

Arnold is a natural athlete with impeccable baseball and football skills; he's often playing sports with his friends at Gerald Field.

Arnold also has impressive skills in video editing as seen in the episode "Freeze Frame" and Hey Arnold!: The Movie.

Though his religion is never explicitly mentioned on the show, it is implied that he belongs to the Roman Catholic faith in a comic titled "Arnold Eats His Dinner". He is involved in a prayer which includes a mention of the Holy Ghost (God). He is also seen attending church in "Arnold Escapes From Church."


First Name

Arnold was named after his mother's father. The name Arnold is of German origin that stands for "the eagle rules" or "strong as an eagle."

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 (much like the Timmy Turner's parents' first names on The Fairly Odd Parents, the Krabby Patty secret formula in "SpongeBob SquarePants", the location of the "secret spot" on Rocket Power, the country Fez is from on That 70's Show, and the state Springfield is in on The Simpsons). 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 runs 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 Arnold...hmm, 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 viewers.
  • 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 belch.
  • 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." Initially, problems between Bartlett and Nickelodeon, as well as the low gross of the first film, led to the cancelation of this second film. However, Nickelodeon has confirmed that Craig Bartlett will return to make the Jungle Movie[1]
  • In a 2006 chat with Hey Arnold! fans, Bartlett revealed that Arnold's grandpa used his last name throughout the series, almost confirming that Arnold's last name is "Shortman".
  • 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."
  • "Shortman", if it is assumed to be Arnold's surname, is an actual surname.  Its origin is English, with the earliest known variant of the surname recorded in Dorset in 1176. [1]
  • In 2016 in an interview with Buzzfeed it was ultimately confirmed that Arnold's last and middle name are indeed Phillip (his middle name) and Shortman and that he would reveal it in the film (despite the reveal already being spoiled in the interview). [2]

Craig Bartlett confirmed in an interview]  with Buzzfeed that Arnold's second name is "Phillip"  (See the chat transcript).


Arnold was born in San Lorenzo, in a temple of the mysterious Green-Eyed People during a volcanic eruption. His birth "silenced all of nature" and the volcano.

According to the episode "The Journal", Arnold was born while his parents were on an earlier expedition in the jungle to bring medicine to the natives. His birth coincided with the eruption of a nearby volcano, which the locals believed to be an indication that Arnold would one day become a messiah of sorts who would save the world from a great danger. Arnold was not told of these events until later in the series when it was revealed by his grandfather. It is unknown how the "prophecy" may have fit into the series had it continued.

In a chat, Craig Bartlett mentioned that he was supposed to be semi-worshiped by the Green-Eyed people, and that a football-headed figure is an important symbol for their culture.

He was born on the 7th day of an unknown month ("Married"). Some fans agree that he was born on October 7th, the day the first episode of the series aired for the first time. But that would create a flaw on the history, since Arnold's parents left him on October 5th, and they celebrated his 1st birthday some time before leaving the Boarding House once and for all. Though others believe that Arnold's parents may have disappeared before his second birthday.

Additionally, in a logged chat Craig Bartlett said, "...Arnold is like me in that he has to think things over a long time, before coming to a decision. That I believe is a Libra characteristic. Go Libras." (See the chat transcript) This implies Arnold being a Libra, which would make his birthday fall sometime between September 24th to October 23rd. It is most likely on October 7, as in ("Married"), he mentions his birthday is on the 7th of a month.


Arnold never dates anyone, but he does have crushes on girls. Throughout the series, his relationships are one-sided on his side. 


Arnold has had two major crushes in the series: 6th-grader Ruth P. McDougal (during Season 1), and a classmate named Lila Sawyer (who was introduced in Season 2). His crush with Ruth ended in "Arnold's Valentine" after he went on a date with her and realized she wasn't his type

Arnold and Ruth

. His crush on Lila ended when he became embarrassed after she overheard him tell his best friend's younger sister, Timberly, to help convince Lila to reciprocate his feelings in "Timberly Loves Arnold". In the episode "Crush on Teacher" Arnold develops a crush on his substitute teacher Miss Felter, and even went as far as to think 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 didn't actually have a crush on him.

Arnold and Lila


Arnold and Helga

Helga Pataki

Arnold's most iconic relationship throughout the series is with his classmate Helga G. Pataki. Unbeknownst to Arnold, Helga is secretly in love with him. Helga is afraid to tell Arnold her true feelings so she resorts to bullying him instead. As such, Arnold is usually wary whenever he's near Helga, but he always maintains the belief that she's a kind person deep down. Examples of this are shown in "Married" - near the end of Arnold's dream when he confronts Helga, in "School Play" at the beginning in the lunch line, and "Helga vs. Big Patty" - whereby Arnold explains to Patty that the reason Helga is mean is that she's insecure of her own feelings, hoping she won't beat Helga up. Also in "Big Sis" we see that after Helga's attempts at foiling Olga and Lila's newly found sisterhood fail, Arnold tells Helga that she must be either "crazy or extremely jealous." Yet in "Summer Love" after Helga is found to be behind all the misfortunes that happen to Arnold and his new love interest Summer, Arnold confronts Helga by saying, "if you're done being mean to me and Summer for no reason..." This may hint at the fact that he is in denial of his true feelings for Helga, due to her outer mean nature. Arnold has said he likes Helga when she is nice multiple times throughout the show. As noted by episodes, "It Girl", "Helga's Masquerade", "Dinner for Four", and especially "Arnold Visits Arnie" where he likes the alternate universe Hilda (who is really just Helga without the mean front she puts up). Another episode where his emotions are shown ever so slightly is in "The Flood"; when Helga falls out the window, he miserably yells "Noo!", while Helga calls his name "Arnold!"

In the movie, Arnold finds out that Deep Voice, a stranger who helps Gerald and him throughout the movie, is actually Helga. This surprises him, as her father was poised to make a lot of money from the demolition of their town which would've made her rich. Helga finally has no choice but to admit her feelings to Arnold, and in a moment of passion, kisses him. At the end of the movie, the two of them agree it was all just in the "heat of the moment", although it's implied by the unconvinced, knowing smile on his face that Arnold knew it wasn't. This is further evidenced when he seemingly flirts with her during their tango in "April Fool's Day".

Series creator Craig Bartlett stated that if the sequel to the first movie, The Jungle Movie had been produced, Arnold would've attempted to return Helga's kiss but would've ultimately been accidentally interrupted by his best friend Gerald. Bartlett also mentioned that Helga and Arnold would've dated and then separated in another aborted spin-off titled The Patakis. In this spin-off, the pair would've kept contact and Helga would've written letters to Arnold, but would never send them out. Instead, she'd file them away in a binder. 

Craig Bartlett has confirmed on several occasions that Arnold and Helga are meant for each other and that they do end up together, get married, and have children. He has hinted at it in various episodes throughout the series as well.


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

Arnold has other notable friendships with Eugene (which goes back to their play school days) HaroldSid and Stinky.


Over the course of the series, Arnold has had a handful of voice actors. In the pilot, Arnold's voice was provided by J.D. Daniels, though when the series came to fruition, Daniels was not brought on. During Season 1 and "What's Opera, Arnold?" Toran Caudell provided the voice of Arnold, though he left the show after the first season due to his voice changing, returning soon after as Wolfgang. Phillip Van Dyke was brought on as the voice of Arnold for the second and third seasons. However, like Caudell, Van Dyke's voice also underwent changes, causing another change in voice actors (though Van Dyke would return during Season 5 to voice Ludwig in "New Bully on the Block"). In Season 4, Spencer Klein started voicing Arnold, and continued to provide his voice all the way through Season 5 and the movie. The last two episodes "April Fool's Day" and "The Journal" feature Alex D. Linz as the voice of Arnold instead. His final voice actor as of 2017 is Mason Vale Cotton.


  • Arnold, along with classmate Rhonda Wellington Lloyd, is left handed.
  • Arnold is nine years old throughout the run of the TV series. If we were to figure out a year of birth for him, we would need to use Helga's birthday as a guide. During an interview with Arun Mehta, Craig Bartlett had quickly figured that Helga would have been 9 in 1996, the year "Hey Arnold!" had first aired on television. Throughout most of the series, Helga had expressed that she was 9, but in "April Fool's Day", which took place a week after her birthday in 1997, Helga would have been 10. Since Arnold and Helga overlapped at nine years of age in the series before the Spring of 1997, Arnold would not yet have celebrated his tenth birthday. Since fans have figured out that Arnold's Birthday may very well be on October 7th, it can be deduced that his D.O.B. is October 7th, 1987, making him about 5.75 months younger than Helga (assuming that's his actual birthday).
  • Arnold's favorite genre of music appears to be Jazz. In various episodes, he expressed interest in the music of Dino Spumoni and in the episode, "Timberly Loves Arnold", he suggested to Gerald that they go look through Thelonious Monk records at a record store. His love for Jazz may be due to the exposure that he had to the genre while growing up in the Boarding House with his Jazz-loving grandparents. Not only does Arnold appear to be a fan of Jazz, but he also seems to enjoy Funk, as he had danced to a "James Brown-esque" song in "24 Hours to Live". Arnold also appears to enjoy Disco music, as he and Gerald danced to it in the episode, "6th Grade Girls". He also shows an appreciation of Country Music, as shown in "Mr. Hyunh Goes Country". Another genre that Arnold may be into is Rock (and he may like it hard and loud). We see this in the episode, "Arnold's Room". When Sid first enters his room and turns on the stereo, the radio or CD changer is set to play Heavy Metal music, and it is quite loud (very similar to Helga's taste in music). For the most part, Arnold's overall taste in music appears to be pretty open and eclectic.
  • Arnold is the only character to appear in every episode of the series, although some of them, he had only a minor appearance in.
  • Arnold appears to be gifted with artistic talent, as mentioned in "Part time Friends" and "Rich Guy".
  • According to "The Aptitude Test", Arnold would make an excellent ambassador to a foreign land.
  • Arnold is capable of perfectly mimicking Grandpa Phil's voice as shown in "Hooky" because he has spent so much time around his grandfather.
  • Any girl Arnold has had a crush on throughout the series has either not returned his affection or has turned out to be a jerk.
  • Arnold has an emotional attachment to his hat as shown in "Arnold's Hat". This is because it was a gift from his parents, as seen in "The Journal". Yet, he has never cried once. 
  • He and Gerald have been friends since at least preschool, as shown in "Helga on the Couch".
  • Arnold may be subconsciously in love with Helga as seen in episodes such as "Arnold's Valentine", "Arnold Visits Arnie", and "Married".
  • Arnold loves watching sports and playing them, but appears to favor baseball, as shown in "The Baseball", "Dangerous Lumber", and "Rich Guy". He appears to specialize in baseball but also appears to be good at football, especially with coming up with plays as shown in "Mud Bowl".
  • Arnold appears to be the stable center of the Sunset Arms, as he helps to stabilize the occasionally hostile relations between the boarders.
    • Evidence of this is shown in "Gerald Comes Over", wherein Arnold collects the rent and breaks up the fight between the boarders.
  • Arnold's room is accessible via ladder and appears to be the biggest room in the boarding house and is a part of the attic with its own panorama view.
  • According to "Married", his favorite color is blue and he was born on the seventh of the month, which is also the number on his jersey in "Benchwarmer"
  • Arnold at first glance appears to wear a kilt but in actuality it is his shirt that is left untucked.
  • Arnold's compassion extends to animals, as shown in "Field Trip" and "Big Caesar".
  • Arnold has won an eating contest in "Eating Contest".
  • Arnold is shown in multiple episodes, to have a taste for tapioca pudding, which Helga shares.
  • Arnold has a foldable couch in his room.
  • Arnold has an alarm clock that looks like him and wakes him up by saying "Hey Arnold" consecutively as it clasps the upper half of its head up and down like the cymbals of a drum set.
  • Arnold is close to his pet pig, Abner and when Abner went missing in "Abner Come Home" he searched throughout the entire town to look for him.
  • It is shown in "Friday the 13th" that Arnold is not superstitous.
  • There have been a number of episodes in which Arnold does something that brings misfortune to Eugene, such as "Eugene's Bike", "Eugene's Pet", and "Eugene's Birthday" and when Arnold tried to make it up to Eugene, his efforts went terribly wrong. However, he did prove to also bring him good luck, as he helped prove his innocence when he was accused of pulling the fire alarm in "False Alarm", when he resuced Eugene from getting mugged in "Mugged", and cooperated with him to fix the play in the episode "Eugene, Eugene!" which Leichliter changed drastically.
  • Despite the two not having an "official" relationship throughout the series, Helga and Arnold have kissed multiple times. All of these kisses were instigated by Helga and they occurred in "School Play", "Summer Love", and Hey Arnold: The Movie. They also kissed multiple times in "Married" although all the kisses happened in their dreams.
  • Arnold seems to often come across something that would expose Helga's feelings for him and Helga always has to sneak into the boarding house to prevent him from finding out. These episodes include "The Little Pink Book", "Helga's Locket", "Helga Blabs It All", and "Helga's Parrot".
  • Helga has attempted to confess to Arnold in "Helga Sleepwalks", "Helga Blabs It All" and "Monkey Business" but was interrupted each time.
  • Arnold became aware of Helga's feelings in Hey Arnold: The Movie but agreed with Helga that it was just part of the heat of the moment. However, he seemed to be aware it was not part of the heat of the moment. This appears to be true as he flirted with her during their tango in "April Fool's Day", which takes place after the movie.
  • Whenever Arnold has attempted to "get back" at Helga for something she did, it never works, as shown in "Girl Trouble" and "April Fool's Day."
  • Arnold appears to be a good tango dancer, as shown in "April Fool's Day."
  • Helga has stated that Arnold smells good in the episodes "April Fool's Day" and "Save the Tree" and in "Hey Arnold!: The Movie."
  • In "Helga's Parrot", Helga apparently saw Arnold naked as Arnold was getting undressed and Helga was hiding behind his foldable couch. She closed her eyes for a few seconds before opening them up again and fainted while smiling.
  • Arnold has gotten stuck in a high place with Eugene twice, in the episodes "Roller Coaster, and "Stuck in a Tree" (with Harold as well).
  • His favorite baseball player is Mickey Kaline and his favorite author is Agatha Caulfield, both of whom he met in person in "The Baseball" (and again in "Dangerous Lumber")and "Crabby Author".
  • Arnold likes hot chocolate.
  • In "The Sewer King" Arnold is shown to be extremely adept at playing chess, which was one of the first of many instances that showcase his keen strategic abilities.
  • Arnold may have arachnophobia (a fear of spiders) as seen by his reaction in "Best Friends" when Nadine brings her pet tarantula and shows it to him.
  • "Ms. Perfect" is the only episode where Arnold doesn't have any speaking lines and one of the very few where he isn't important to the plot. 

Appears in





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