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Hey Arnold!

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Hey Arnold!
HeyArnold promotional poster
created by Craig Bartlett
Starring Toran Caudell
Phillip Van Dyke
Spencer Klein
Jamil W. Smith
Francesca Marie Smith
Justin Shenkarow
Christopher P. Walberg
Christopher Castile
Ben Diskin
Sam Gifaldi
Anndi L. McAfee
Olivia Hack
Dan Castellaneta
Tress MacNeille
Craig Bartlett
Network Nickelodeon
Aired October 7, 1996 – June 8, 2004
Number of seasons 5
Number of episodes


Hey Arnold! is an American animated television series that ran from October 7, 1996 until June 8, 2004 on Nickelodeon.


The show stars 4th-grader Arnold, who lives with his paternal grandparents Phil and Gertie, proprietors of the Sunset Arms boarding house. Arnold attends P. S. 118, along with several other students, including his best friend Gerald, and Helga, a female bully that is secretly in love with Arnold. In each episode, Arnold will often help a schoolmate solve a personal problem, or he will encounter a predicament of his own.

Format and Setting

Each episode of the show is one 23-minute segment featuring two 11-minute shorts, although there are several episodes that last the full 23 minutes. Episodes of the series take place in the order they were written/produced, without adhering to a chronological timeline. The series has subtle continuity and occasional callbacks, and sometimes new recurring characters are introduced, such as in "New Teacher" and "Ms. Perfect". Character development also carries over between episodes.

The series takes place in the mid-to-late 1990s, as indicated by several in-episode dates:

  • The Gerald Field scorecard in "New Bully on the Block" has the date July 25, 1997.
  • A newspaper in "It Girl" has the print date Friday, October 9, 1998.
  • The clapper board at the end of "Summer Love" when they are shooting the BabeWatch episode shows the date July 22, 1999 (Which would have been a Thursday).

Despite the fact that these dates are from three different years, very few characters are ever shown having birthdays, and none of the 4th grade students ever move on to the 5th grade. These dates (which are minor background bonuses, and not major plot points) were most likely added to confirm the time period the series takes place in, and not meant to pin episodes into specific dates.

Even though the show takes place sometime between 1996 and 1999, old cars are a very common sight. Grandpa Phil drives a green 1930s or 1940s Packard, the Pataki family car is a blue 1970s Lincoln Continental, and Gerald's older brother Jamie-O drives a 1967-1968 Pontiac Firebird, just to name a few. The local police drive around in patrol cars resembling 1960s Dodge Polara sedans. The city buses resemble 1960s models of an unknown make and model, and they have manual transmissions, which wasn't common on buses in North America even during this time period. In a 2002 Nickelodeon Magazine article, it is said that the show's artists are obsessed with weird old cars. Despite the presence of old cars and some older-style appliances like console television sets, modern technology is also present. This includes computers, video games, VCRs, camcorders, modern bicycles, microwaves, and Arnold's high-tech bedroom with its remote-controlled hideaway couch and track lighting.

Hey Arnold! takes place in a realistic setting; the fictional American city of Hillwood. Craig Bartlett stated in an interview that the city the show is based on is actually Seattle, with many features borrowed from other big northern cities, such as Portland and Brooklyn. Bartlett, having grown up in Seattle, bases many of the show's events on his own experience growing up in the city. The Pig War mentioned in the episode with the same title took place on the boundary between what is now the State of Washington and British Columbia.

The overpass above the Sunset Arms is the Alaskan Way Viaduct, located in Seattle. In many first-season episodes and later, the Brooklyn Bridge is seen as a prominent landmark in the city. Other episodes show an overview of Arnold's Neighborhood, with the New York City skyline in the horizon, complete with the Empire State Building, Central park and World Trade Center, suggesting that Hillwood could be a neighborhood in Brooklyn, or Queens. Also according to a list of public elementary schools in New York City P.S. 118 is a school in St. Albans, which is a residential community in the New York City borough of Queens. The area surrounding the city of Hillwood seems to more closely resemble a Northwest city than a Northeast city. In the episode Roughing It, where Grandpa takes Arnold and Gerald camping, and Big Bob takes Helga and Phoebe camping, the campgrounds look like they might be in the San Juan Islands (in Washington). Even though the duplex beach house that Arnold's and Helga's families rent for a week in "Summer Love" has a wall decoration that says "Cape Cod" (seen when Big Bob is in bed recovering from severe sunburns), a resort town on the coastline of Washington, Oregon, or even Northern California fits the storyline much better.

In the episode "Eugene's Bike", Arnold and Eugene visit Quigley Stadium which is in West Haven, Connecticut and was home to the West Haven Yankees from 1972-1979. West Haven is just north of New York. However, the stadium used in the series bears no resemblance to the actual Quigley Stadium.

Background and Production


Original sketches of Harold, Gerald, Arnold and Helga

Hey Arnold! was created by Craig Bartlett and is based on his comics starring Arnold, which he created in 1986. The original Arnold was made out of clay, and created during Bartlett's time working on the Penny cartoons from Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Using the Will Vinton facilities Walkabout Program (a student production lab), Craig Bartlett created his Arnold Escapes From Church short, which later generated two more clay-animated short films: The Arnold Waltz (1990), and Arnold Rides His Chair (1991), which eventually aired on an early-1990s episode of Sesame Street. "Arnold" comic strips also appeared in Simpsons Illustrated magazine.

The familiar, 2D Arnold came about in the mid-1990s. While Bartlett was working as a writer on Rugrats, he showed the claymation shorts to Nickelodeon executives. The network ordered a pilot in 1993 and picked up the series in 1994-1995. Apart from the animation style, Nick's Arnold now wore a sweater, with his plaid shirt untucked (resembling a kilt). Only Arnold's cap remained from his original clay-animation wardrobe.

Some aspects of the series came about through Bartlett's family. Matt Groening (Creator of The Simpsons, Craig Bartlett's brother-in-law) adviced Bartlett to make his character designs recognizable from a distance, and Lisa Groening (Bartlett's wife, Matt's sister) came up with the idea of Helga's crush on Arnold. Other aspects of the series developed as the series went on, such as the whereabouts of Arnold's parents.

Hey Arnold! first debuted as an animated short for the Nickelodeon film Harriet the Spy in July 1996. Production on the show started in 1995 and ended in 2001 after 100 episodes, though the final episodes wouldn't be aired until 2003-2004. One film based on the series was released theatrically on June 28, 2002.

All the music in the series was handled by composer Jim Lang, and the series initally used traditional cel animation, though it switched to digital ink and paint in 1999. Sae Rom Productions handled the overseas animation services starting with Season 2.

The show is notable for being one of the first animated series to use child voice actors for most child characters, in order to add a more "authentic" childhood vibe to the series. As a result of the use of young voices, some characters (such as Arnold and Eugene) were played by multiple actors throughout the years, due to their previous voice actors going through voice changes. Other characters (such as Stinky and Helga) retained the same voice actor for the entire run of the series, and had their voices become deeper as the series progressed, giving the impression of them maturing.

As Craig Bartlett himself has noted years after producing the series, something else that came along with the "realistic childhood" part of the show was a more dramatic and emotional tone, which can be seen in various episodes of the series.

For a brief period, a spin-off series called The Patakis was planned. The premise was to focus on Helga Pataki in her teenage years, and her family.


The canon of Hey Arnold includes:


Main article: Characters

Main voice cast

Character Voice actor(s)
Arnold J.D. Daniels (Pilot) Toran Caudell (Season 1), Phillip Van Dyke (Seasons 2-3), Spencer Klein (Season 4-5, and the movie), Alex D. Linz (Final two episodes), Rusty Flood (Little Arnold)
Helga G. Pataki Francesca Marie Smith,  Katie Barlett (Little Helga)
Gerald Johanssen Jamil Walker Smith
Grandpa Phil Dan Castellaneta
Grandma Gertie Tress MacNeille

VHS Tapes

The show had 6 VHS Tapes:

Hey Arnold: Urban Adventures

Hey Arnold: Love Stinks

Hey Arnold: The Helga Stories

Hey Arnold: Partners

Hey Arnold: Arnold's Christmas

DVD Releases

Nickelodeon initally released seasons 1 and 2 on DVD through's CreateSpace program in August 2008. The DVDs were sold as "burn on demand" items. Later, the episodes were released on DVD in their original airing order and distributed by Shout! Factory.

Nick DVD name Release dateDiscsEpisodes
Season 1August 9, 2011420
Season 2, Part 1March 20, 2012210
Season 2, Part 2July 2, 2012210
Season 3 January 29, 2013319
Season 4 May 14, 2013217
Season 5 October 15, 2013324
The Complete SeriesAugust 19, 201416100

See also

External links

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