Life is hard enough when you are ten-year-old boy, even harder when you are forced to live with your grandparents, and inconceivable when you have a head shaped like a football. Such were the tribulations of Arnold, an orphaned fourth grader and star of the long running Nickelodeon animated series, Hey Arnold!
Arnold is a wise-beyond-his-years, blond haired tyke who has the misfortune of living with his grandparents, Phil and Gertrude, who run the Sunset Arms boarding house. Phil is a tad senile (much like Grandpa Simpson. If they sound similar, that’s because Dan Castellaneta provided the voice for both, as well as Homer Simpson). Grandma is a retired librarian with an over-active imagination. Living at the boarding house alongside the trio is a colorful collection of strange adults who often don’t seem to act their age.
Growing up in the big city (a blend of NYC and Seattle, according to the creator) is full of challenges for young Arnold. Granted, he is afforded such luxuries as a remote controlled bedroom and a pet pig, and he has plenty of friends, such as Gerald, one of the more level-headed ten-year-olds in existence, but life is never simple. Helga, for instance, sometimes acts as friend, and sometimes as foe, and predicting which it will be is always a daunting task. And, in fact, it seems that everything in Arnold’s life is a daunting task, but somehow things always turned out alright.
Arnold made his debut as an animated short that preceded the film Harriet the Spy in 1996. Its original run on Nickelodeon lasted for eight years, and it can still be seen on the Nicktoons Network. In 2002, Arnold made his big screen feature-length debut in Hey Arnold!: The Movie, featuring the voice talents of Paul Sorvino, Christopher Lloyd and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
All in all, Hey Arnold! is a testament to the fact that one can survive the fourth grade and life in general if you just use your head – even one shaped like a football. Were you a fan of this classic Nickelodeon cartoon? We’d love to hear all of your memories in our comments section, as we pay tribute to this animated underdog from the 90s.