6 of the Saddest Lessons You Can Take Away from Hey Arnold!

by: on | in TV | 4 Comments

Rugrats may be the shadiest cartoon ever, but we’re fairly certain that Hey Arnold! is the saddest. Unlike Rugrats, which is full of disturbing hidden messages and sexual innuendos, the latter-mentioned Nickelodeon animated series brought tears to our eyes on more than one occasion. Here, let us remind you of some of those particular moments, plus some other meh lessons you could take away from the show:

1. Parents can leave their child behind as they go off on adventures… and never return. Arnold’s mom and dad were adventurers, so it was their jobs to jet off for long periods of time. So much so, that they left young Arnold in a boarding house with his already elderly grandparents. Though their fates are never exactly mentioned, it’s pretty much implied that they met their demise on one of their trips.

Tumblr (bemobrown)

Tumblr (bemobrown)

2. Alcoholism. As a kid, you probably thought of Helga’s mom, Miriam, as forgetful, sleepy and just slurred her words a lot. Now, though, her problems seem more serious than that. Here, watch this to get a better sense of what we mean.

3. Favoritism. Keeping up with the whole ‘Helga’s parents suck’ thing, the young girl’s d-bag father clearly loved his eldest daughter, Olga, more than the baby of the family. RUDE.



4. Violence. And a blatant disregard for authority, as proven in the GIF below. Mainly when Brainy’s around. Though, to be fair, he was kind of a stalker.

5. Stalking. To be fair, the girl had quite the dysfunctional upbringing (as referenced above), but her obsession with Arnold reached creepy levels.

6. Bullying. Not the best way to get the guy to like you back.

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  • Gabreya

    I loved this show when I was younger. I didn’t quite catch on the dark themes until someone online mentioned it and I went back to rewatch the show. The episode about Arnold’s parents made me cry yet it showed how he did became quite a strong and extraordinary young man thanks to his grandparents. I always felt sorry for Helga because of severely dysfunctional, screwed family. Even though I still do, I began to really despise her because of how how she’s a total bully and how she treats Arnold, the person she supposedly loves more than anything. I know I know. The reason she treats him like that is because she’s trying to hide behind her true feelings for him and is afraid of been abandoned by him. However, the things she has done to him throughout show is borderline harassment and abuse. If this was a real situation, Arnold would never be relationship with her, in his right mind. Helga would most likely be just like her father and mother combined in their relationship. She’d be more equipped to hurt Arnold(mentally, emotionally, and physically) and put him in serious danger. Despite growing up without his parents, at least Arnold shows he’s pretty stable and compassionate. She looks like the kind of person that will want to tear him down her own sick pleasure and control as adults. Not to mention, she’d stalk him to the point where he may have to get a restraining order. I used to think that they’d make a cute couple when I was a child. But now, as an adult and a victim of relentless bullying and harassment myself, they’re like a catastrophe waiting to happen.

    Alcoholism, parental neglect and abuse, violence, stalking and especially bullying are not cool.

  • Geoff

    You know, these are all reasons to love the series. It didn’t baby us like other series did, it was real and treated the audience with a mature theme. They also showed why these things are bad, and what the effects have on those around them. 1) It delved heavily in the abandonment of Arnold, it showed how it affect him, and how at times, he would get into a depressed state because he had no idea what his parents were like. But this also made Arnold stronger because even tho he didn’t get raised by his parents, his Grandparents were great role models who looked after him because his parents were trying to heal the sick. 2) Marium was a neglectful mother, and it was a reason why Helga had to act so tough. I mean Mariums alchoholism made her so neglectful that it showed Helga having to really fend for herself, and provide for herself. 3) Favoritism, this again let’s us delve into how it affects Helga, and ironically, another reason she’s such a strong character. I mean from a young age, with her being neglected, she became a world class poet, able to live on her own if need be, and one of the most intelligent characters of all time. 4) it’s something every kid deals with, and it sometimes even shows the consequences (Helga on the couch). But really, to say we shouldn’t show kids this is idiotic because that’s ignoring the fact that kids don’t deal with violence. What they could do is delve further into why it’s wrong, bu otherwise, don’t hide it. 5) Stalking is wrong, and creepy, and every child saw that in Helga, for even tho we loved her, we also saw that obsessive personality, and we all knew why it was wrong. You see, kids aren’t dumb, they know right from wrong, and can see it. To take that away is a horrible idea and really shows how little faith we have in kids who actually know more than we give them credit for. 6) Bullying, this is everywhere, all kids deal with it, and they learn how to deal with it in one way or another. This show actually showed the issues with bullying and how it can backfire. I mean look at Harold, Stinky, and Sid…. started off as bullies, but actually had to get help from Arnold over and over again, to the point they stopped picking on him in later seasons because he was the moral compass of the series.

    I honestly think in the end, this series was really mature and a good thing to show kids, because it delved into things most programs refuse to and didn’t shy away from it. It treated us like adults we we were growing up, and let us come to our own conclusions about what was right and what was wrong, and showing that it’s not all black and white, that there is a lot of grey to it and that what we assume may not always be as it appears. This series had great morals and in the end, is a masterpiece of child entertainment that needs to return.

  • Barney

    This was one of the best shows in my childhood. I kinda actually feel bad for Helga, since Olga is like a queen or something, but other than that, she is on the No. 1 of the Bullying List, one rank above Harold.

  • Sammy

    I used to love this show!