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This article refers to the relationship between Helga and Arnold. While Helga constantly bullies Arnold and outwardly puts up the front that she hates him, she is actually deeply in love with him to the point of obsession, as she frequently stalks him and writes love poems about him, builds Shrines, and often speaks in dramatic monologues about her love for him as she admires him from afar.
In contrast, Arnold was often shown to be annoyed with Helga's constant bullying of him throughout the series. However, due to his kind nature, he tolerated her to a certain extent. However, he seemed to have complex feelings for her, as he is sometimes pushed to the edge by her pranks but at other times seemed to show hints he likes her "true self", which is hidden under her tough front. Episodes have been dedicated to their relationship, which is the most catalytic and complicated of the series. In the Jungle Movie, after going through several events, they finally achnowledged their feelings for each other. Creator Craig Bartlett has confirmed that the two are meant for each other, and in the future they get married and have children.
Helga's View of Arnold
As explained in the episode "Helga on the Couch", Helga has loved Arnold since the two had first met. This is partly due to her unstable family upbringing where both her mother and father constantly neglect her and shower all of their attention onto Olga, leaving her deprived of the love and attention she needed growing up. On her way to preschool, Arnold helped shelter her from the rain with an umbrella and even complimented her on her bow. He even later gave her crackers during their break. Arnold's kind actions and being the first person to notice her quickly caused Helga to transfer all of her love and attention to Arnold.
However, because the other kids took note of this and began making fun of her affection, she immediately developed a mean front to avoid being ridiculed for having a softer, kinder self. She also continues to act mean to Arnold so that her feelings for him stay secret, as she fears he will reject her. She easily gets jealous of any girl who he has a crush on and often times attempts to sabotage any chances he has with the other girl. Helga is possessive of her love for Arnold and thinks non-stop about him to the point of obsession. This is evidenced throughout the series by the many shrines and poems she makes of Arnold and of her frequent dramatic soliloquies about her love for Arnold. She does make attempts to improve herself and confess to Arnold, though her attempts usually end badly. Nonetheless, Helga is devoted to Arnold and is willing to go to great lengths to help him whenever she can, even if she has to has to give up or risk something to accomplish it, as is the case in "Arnold's Christmas", "Save the Tree", Hey Arnold! The Movie and Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie. On some of these situations, she doesn't take credit for her efforts and doesn't tell him of her helping him, simply glad to see Arnold happy.
Arnold's View of Helga
Arnold had mixed feelings for Helga and was completely oblivious to her feelings for him despite obvious hints throughout the series. He tended to be annoyed by her frequent bullying of him but very rarely fought back. And while he seems to tolerate her presence the majority of the time, there are times when he thought very negatively of her, particularly in "Egg Story". However, he also seemed to understand that she is not always so mean and that she is kind deep down with feelings like everyone else, though this could also be attributed to the fact that he sees the good in everyone. At the beginning of the series, Arnold mostly saw Helga as an annoyance, even saying that "she bugged him" in "Arnold's Valentine". But as the series went on, he began to see Helga in a more positive light, often talking to her like friends, and even going as far to convince Patty to spare her from a beating. It's also heavily suggested in several occassions (most notably in "Married") that Arnold is aware of Helga's dysfunctional home life.
However, Arnold did seem to show interest in Helga when she acted nice, such as in "It Girl" and "Helga's Masquerade". His feelings are further shown during his dreams. In "Arnold Visits Arnie", he is immediately attracted to Hilda, who is essentially the "real" Helga behind her mean front. And in "Married", he has a nightmare about getting married to Helga who is mooching off of him. At the end of his dream he confronts her, telling her that he knows that she is not truly mean and lazy and that she is a kind person. The dream Helga admits that under her tough exterior, she truly likes him. She comes close to confessing her love before he wakes up, hinting that Arnold subconsciously knows that Helga loves him.
In Hey Arnold! The Movie, Helga confesses her love to Arnold and kisses him passionately. After saving their neighborhood, Arnold and Helga come to an agreement to dismiss her actions as part of "the heat of the moment", although it's implied (by the look on his face after Helga storms off) that he's now fully aware of her feelings for him. This is further evidenced when he seems to flirt with her during their tango in "April Fool's Day", which takes place after the movie.
In the end of Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, after Helga helped Arnold get to San Lorenzo, escape Lasombra's lair, and reawakened his parents with her locket, Arnold kisses Helga and returns her affections. Despite Helga continuing to remain pushy in public towards Arnold, they seem to have become a couple, though Helga seems to be keeping their relationship a secret.
Episodes Focusing on Their Relationship
- "Arnold's Valentine" - Arnold invites Ruth to a date at a French restaurant but Helga, who decides to reveal her nicer self to Arnold, steals a letter from Arnold's French pen pal Cecile and rewrites it to say that she will be visiting Arnold the next night at a French restaurant across from the one he invited Ruth to. She picks a nice dress from her closet, tries to learn French (with poor results), and even goes to a French salon (which is actually a poodle parlor) to get her hair done in order to pretend to be Cecile. Arnold decides to hold both dates on the same night and travel between the two. When she goes to the date, she asks Arnold if he likes someone but she ends up barfing her dinner when she learns she ordered brains. Arnold takes this chance to go back to his date to Ruth but learns he doesn't really like her. Helga comes back with her hair down but believes Arnold has left and is about to leave as well until Gerald tells Arnold to go back to his date with "Cecile" with flowers. Arnold then tells Helga how he thought he liked someone but that he realized they don't have anything in common. Helga then tells him that he might not be looking at the right girl and that sometimes the best gift can come in the plainest box and Helga then tells Arnold she really likes him and asks if he does to. He asks her to give him one last moment so he can set things straight with Ruth as he no longer likes her, but Helga sees this and is furious that he was switching between their date and a date with Ruth. She throws her pumps onto the ground and claims she hates people to lie only to be caught in her own lie when the real Cecile comes. As the real Cecile and Gerald leave, Helga says it was a crazy night and drops down to pick up her shoes as Arnold does the same thing and asks her who she is. She states she can't tell him but that they will see her again soon. She is then kissed on the hand by Arnold and takes one of her shoes with her. As she walks away, she contemplates on how Arnold likes her, or rather the "Cecile her" and begins to state that she is a basket case.
- "Helga's Love Potion" - Helga decides that her obsession with Arnold has gone too far and decides to go to a gypsy to buy a love potion that will make her fall "out of love" with Arnold. However, being "out of love" leaves her completely emotionless.
- Episode 58 "Girl Trouble"- Arnold, Phoebe, Gerald, and Helga are forced to be in a group for a school art project.
- Episode 59 "School Play"
- Episode 64 "Dinner for Four"
- Episode 67 ""Egg Story"
- Epsidoe 70 "Weird Cousin"
- Episode 75 "Helga on the Couch"
- Episode 88 "Beaned"
- Episode 88 "Arnold Visits Arnie"
- Episode 90 "April Fool's Day"
- Episode 92 "Married"
Protecting her Secret
- "The Little Pink Book" - Helga is writing love poems about Arnold while riding the bus. As she is getting off, she tries to put her book in her bag but instead it falls on Arnold's books. Gerald picks the book up and reads the embarassing poems out loud. Helga realizes she signed her name at the end of the book and tries whatever she can to get the book back but fails each time. As Arnold goes to school and reads the last poem, before he can finish, Helga takes tha page and uses it at a spitball to hit at Arnold and is relieved he did not find out her secret.
- "Helga Blabs It All" - Helga goes to the dentist to fill her cavity and uses laughing gas to make her feel peaceful and numb the pain. Unfortunately, it makes her go goofy and she even tells her dentist about how Arnold is always on her mind morning, noon, and night. When the procedure is done, she remains goofy and calls Arnold to admit her love for him. The message is stored on their answering machine. When she realizes this, she decides to erase the message. She meets and beats up a campfire lass to steal her clothes and pose as one to get into the house. She ends up going through the vent to avoid everyone inside. Arnold's grandma hears the message but hears it wrong and tells Arnold that Helen of Troy called to sell him a soft drink. After everyone leaves, Helga falls through the vent, gets the message, and goes back up. However, she ends up in Arnold's room, but she walks out and everyone dismisses it.
- "Helga's Parrot"- While Helga is sleeping, her father slips his new parrot into Helga's room as it is making constant noise in his room. As Helga writes a poem, the parrot copies her words and flies out the next day and into Arnold's ownership. Helga sneaks into his house and tries to steal the parrot back, but can't because Arnold is in the same room as the parrot and she doesn't want him to figure out that the poem the parrot keeps reciting is about her love for him. As she hides behind his couch, she also sees him get undressed and faints happily at the sight. Her secret barely managed to stay safe when a monitor lizard eats the parrot at the last second.
- "Helga Sleepwalks" - After eating pork rinds, Helga sleep walks to Arnold's house attempts to confess her love for him, but narrowly escapes before he can hear it. The first attempt involved her buying flowers and going up to Arnold's front door, but Arnold's grandpa mistook her for a religious promoter and slammed the door in her face, which woke her up. The second time she was asleep at night and walked into his basement and into the kitchen, but she escaped as she heard Arnold coming down. Only his grandmother saw her but she claimed to have seen Eleanor Roosevelt instead. The third time, she finds herself naked in Arnold's shower, barely managing to escape with a bathrobe. Finally, even with Phoebe on guard, she ends up on Arnold's fire escape and confesses her love to what appears to be his shadow, but it turns out to be his plant with a football head likeness to it, and she dismisses being on his fire escape as going out for a midnight stroll.
- "Helga's Locket" - Helga gets her locket enscribed with the words "Arnold, my soul, you are always in my heart, Love Helga G. Pataki". However, her locket is stolen by Abner the pig and Arnold's grandma finds it. Arnold's grandpa takes it thinking it is Arnold's grandma's present for their anniversary and loves it. Helga then tries multiple times to steal back the locket with no success. When Arnold is embarassed with how his grandpa is showing off the locket with his picutre in it, he tries to replace it with grandma's picture. Helga tries to steal it from Arnold's room but Arnold's grnadpa takes it back. Eventually, Arnold convinces his grandpa to change the picture to one of his grandma but can't open the locket so they go down to the basement. Just when they open it, Helga turns off the light and takes the locket back before he can discover her feelings for him.
- "Operation Ruthless"- Helga does whatever she can to prevent Ruth and Arnold from meeting, with disastrous results.
- "Love and Cheese" - Helga does everything she can to prevent Arnold and Lila from having a good time at the annual Cheese Festival, but only ends up making Lila like Arnold more.
- "Eugene, Eugene!" - When Helga learns that Arnold will star in a play "Eugene, Eugene" as the bad guy and the script writer has rewritten the play so the bad guy wins the girl and kisses her (and she is played by Lila), Helga decides to set up a prank where she will pull a rope and pour red paint over them to prevent the kiss. However, after learning Eugene and Arnold changed the play to its original script to preserve the message of the original play and because they didn't like the changes, she realizes Eugene will kiss Lila and not Arnold and tries to stop the bucket of paint from falling, only for it to fall on her.
- "Arnold's Hat" - When Helga finishes her gum sculpture of Arnold, she decides to take Arnold's hat to complete the sculptre but fails each time. Finally, as she is about to give up, by pure chance the hat falls into her hands and she takes it to put onto her sculpture. However, she realizes after seeing how much Arnold misses his hat that she needs to give it back, only for her mother to throw it away. Helga chases after the garbage truck and dives through the dump to find the hat. She eventually does find it and returns it to Arnold, though she claims she just happened to find it, who happily hugs her in gratitude.
- "Runaway Float" - After hearing how his float design won't be built, Helga convinces Bob to fund Arnold's parade float. However, due to the agreement with her dad, and after being offered a spot at the top of the float, Helga leaves Arnold behind, only to regret it later when the float goes out of control.
- "Arnold's Christmas" - Helga does whatever she can to find the perfect present for Arnold, but fails despite her efforts. She learns Arnold wants to find Mr. Hyunh's daughter for Christmas and needs to get a pair of Nancy Spumoni snow boots to Mr. Bailey to do so, but couldn't get any. Helga decides to give up her own pair given as a present from her mother and help him locate Mai, Mr. Hyunh's daughter. When Mai is returned safely, Helga watches outside through the window, smiling and wishing Arnold a Merry Christmas. She doesn't go in or take any credit, showing the depth of her devotion.
- "Save the Tree" - Helga goes against Bob's wishes and climbs the tree he wants to tear down. When the bulldozer is about to ram the tree that Arnold and Helga are on, Helga jumps into Arnold's arms and thinks he smells nice.
- "Arnold & Lila" - Helga writes on a wall "Arnold loves Helga" but it then hurriedly changes it to "Arnold loves Lila", getting Lila to believe Arnold likes her, much to Helga's frustration. After Arnold tells Lila he doesn't like her-like her, but realizes he does like her-like her, he asks Lila to meet him at the park. However, Lila tells him that after much personal thought, she realizes that she doesn't like him-like him anymore. Helga, who was overhearing everything from a nearby tree, comes down and comforts Arnold, telling him he'll recover.
- "Summer Love" - When Arnold and Helga end up at the same beach house, she insults him and later tries to apologize, only to find Arnold interacting with another girl. She ruins their day out of jealousy until Arnold catches her and tells her off. Later, Helga overhears Summer and Sandy's plan to manipulate Arnold in order to win the sandcastle competition. She warns Arnold about this because she doesn't want to see him get hurt. Eventually she succeeds, and she and Arnold win the competition and appear on Babewatch.
- Hey Arnold! The Movie - Similar to "Save the Tree", Helga goes out of her way to help Arnold find the Tomato Document in order to save their neighborhood, even though by doing so, she's forfeiting the chance of her family becoming rich. She helps him in secret, though, by creating a disguise and using a voice changer whenever she calls him to give him vital information to find the document to ensure he doesn't find out it's her helping him. However, Arnold soon finds out it's her helping him, leaving him shocked that she was willing to give up a wealthy life to help him save their neighborhood.
- Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie - Helga donates her video recordings of Arnold's good deeds over the years to help win the trip to San Lorenzo that Arnold was desperate to get. However, she does this in an attempt to win his affections, not to genuinely help him find his lost parents. She later confronts Arnold on the crow's nest about her feelings and he ignores her, making her give up on winning his heart. After Helga sees Arnold crying over the situation regarding his parents while trapped in Lasombra's lair, she makes up her mind and decides to help him no matter what. She convinces everyone to create a plan to escape and find the Green-Eyed People. Finally, she gives up the secrecy of her locket containing Arnold's photo in order to release the cure to the sleeping sickness that was keeping Arnold's parents and the adult Green Eyes in a permanent deep sleep.
- "Monkey Business" - When Helga believes she is going to die, she has all of her classmates come over so she can say goodbye and donate her stuff to them. Arnold is the last to see her and she tells him she has something important to say. She talks about how despite how mean she acts towards him, that is not how she really feels. She almost confesses but Phoebe interrupts and explains to Helga that she is not going to die and that everything was in her head. She is happy but when Arnold reminds her she was going to tell him something important, she says that it is none of his business and bombards him with insults. As he leaves annoyed, she confesses that she thinks he is actually okay, and he responds by saying he thinks she is okay too and touches her arm. As he walks away, Helga is happy that he thinks positively of her and that he touched her.
- "Grudge Match" - After getting hit on the head with a golfball Helga falls to the ground. Arnold then asks if she's alright. Helga then replies by saying "Oh Arnold! I'm fine as long as you're near me! Your honest eyes, so full of concern and, and lo-" just then Big Bob comes over to yell at her for making him miss the shot.
Gaining His Affections
- "Helga's Boyfriend" - Helga tries to date Stinky to make Arnold jealous, but after Stinky makes a mess out of all three of their dates, she decides to dump him.
- "Helga's Masquerade" - Helga tries acting like Lila to make Arnold like her-like her, but quits when she realizes Arnold is only paying attention to her because she reminds him of Lila.
- "What's Opera, Arnold?" - Helga is bored on her school field trip to the opera and imagines herself as Carmen in the opera Don Juan with Arnold as "Don Arnold" who fights against Curly for her affection and nearly kisses him in her dream until she wakes up when the real opera ends.
- "Best Man" - Tish asks Helga to be her maid of honor since her cousin is sick and she was the captain of her girl's bowling team. Helga doesn't want to until she hears Arnold will be there and daydreams of a wedding between her and Arnold until agreeing to Tish's request. Tish then talks to Helga about how she liked Wittenburg since they were children but pretended to be mean to him since she didn't want anyone to be the wiser. However, after he let her win at a game, she realized he liked her the same way she did and decided he was the one and tells Helga she will feel the same way about a boy. While, Helga denies this, she daydreams about a wedding with Arnold. At Coach Wittenburg's second wedding to his wife Tish, as Tish and Coach Wittenburg run off to their car after the wedding, Tish throws her wedding bouquet and Helga catches it, which by wedding myth means she is to be married next. Helga looks at Arnold who looks back at her and she faints of happiness, dreaming of her wedding to Arnold. She consistently says "I do, I do." before she gets back to reality and tells Arnold to stop touching her as he attempts to help her on her feet.
- "The Flood" - As Helga is swept away by a huge storm as she and her other classmates attempt to save their teacher from the flood, she screams "Arnold!" and reaches her hand so he can help save her, showing the first person she thought of to save her was Arnold.
- Arnold has hugged Helga on three occasions: "Arnold's Hat", "Runaway Float" and "Arnold Visits Arnie".
- "Monkey Business" - Helga believes she is dying and is about to confess her love for him before Phoebe interrupts by saying that the disease Helga believes she is dying from is imaginary and was all in her head. As she celebrates this, Arnold reminds her she had something important to say to him but she rebuffs him with insults. As he walks away annoyed, she takes it back and admits she thinks he is an okay guy. He responds by saying he thinks she is okay as well, touches her arm, and walks away smiling.
- "Helga and the Nanny"- When Helga's dad hires a new nanny while Miriam conducts community service, Helga's nanny forces her to dress up. When she goes to school, he tells Helga that she has flowers in her hair. she angrily asks him "What of it?" and he states that he thought she looked nice.
- "Helga vs. Big Patty" - When Helga insults Big Patty, Big Patty challenges her to a fight. Arnold shows genuine concern over Helga and convinces her to apologize to Big Patty to prevent her from beating her up. However, because Big Patty does not want to lose her reputation as a bully on school, she continues with the fight. Arnold then talks to Big Patty, saying that even though the things Helga said about her were mean, she is really a nice person and didn't mean to hurt her. He continues to state that Helga is only saying these things to hide her own insecurities and is not that bad deep down. This is enough to convince Big Patty to spare Helga and have Helga only pretend she was beaten up by her.
- "Arnold's Thanksgiving" - Both Arnold and Helga leave their chaotic family thanksgiving because they wish for a more normal one. They both end up bumping into each other and spend the day together. They come across Mr. Simmons's thanksgiving and initially think it is perfect and want to join, but when they see how chaotic his is, they decide their thanksgiving with their families are not so bad, and Arnold walks Helga to her house. He tells her to go on and watches through the window as she happily celebrates with her family. He bids her a "Happy Thanksgiving" and walks away smiling.
- "Girl Trouble" - Helga works with Pheobe, Arnold, Gerald on a history project. Helga insults Arnold, glues feathers to his butt, and causes him to step in chewed gum. When Arnold goes home, his Grandpa takes note of his obvious bad day and he says it was because of Helga. Grandpa then tells Arnold how he personally thinks that Helga bullies him because she secretly likes him, mentioning how she often skips rope across the street from the boarding house as if waiting for him to come out. Arnold, however, does not believe that to be the case. Grandpa then tells Arnold a story of when he was a boy in school, he dealt with the same type of trouble as Arnold with a girl named Gertie. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Pookie is Gertie. This seems to imply that Arnold and Helga will get married just as Arnold's grandparents did.
- "Helga's Show" - After Helga makes fun of her classmates, they ask Arnold what he thinks about this, Arnold says it was really funny about how Helga makes fun of them.
- "The Flood" - When Helga is blown away by the storm as they are rescuing their teacher from a flood, Arnold screams "Noooo!" and looks extremely worried for Helga's safety.
- "It Girl" - When Helga is recruited to be the new "It Girl" because of her bad attitude, everyone begins to copy her image which annoys her as she feels stripped of her individuality. Arnold suggests that since she became popular because she acted mean then she should act nice. This works and Arnold comes and visits her backstage as she gathers her items from her dressing area, saying it was funny how everyone could love her for being mean and nasty yet hate her for being nice and polite. He then tells her how he likes it when she acts nice and asks why she can't be like that all the time. She tells him that being mean, nasty, and insensitive is just who she is and what makes her special.
- "Grudge Match" - After getting hit on the head with a golfball Helga falls to the ground. Arnold then says "Helga! Are you okay? Say something!" Helga then replies by saying "Oh Arnold! I'm fine as long as you're near me! Your honest eyes, so full of concern and, and lo-" just then Big Bob comes over to yell at her for making him miss the shot.
- "April Fool's Day " - While dancing the tango, Arnold flirts with Helga.
- "Dinner For Four" - At the end where they are washing dishes, Arnold states Helga confessing to the bill mistake was sophisticated and then playfully sprays her with the rinse hose whilst smiling and winking at her. She then nervously tells him to carry on with the dishes.
- In Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie - Arnold kisses Helga and it's implied in the end of the movie that they become an official couple.
- Nicktoons: Freeze Frame Frenzy - If Arnold confronts the Helga robot at the end of the Danny Phantom stage, this exchange occurs:
- Helga robot: Arnold! Did I ever tell you how much I like you? I mean, I really like you!
- Arnold: Aw, man! Even the robot Helga has a crush on me!
- Arnold and Helga's relationship is similar to three other relationships from various Nickelodeon shows:
- Lincoln Loud and Ronalda "Ronnie" Anne Santiago from The Loud House.
- Todd and Maurecia from Wayside.
- Jimmy Neutron and Cindy Vortex from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.