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Helga G Pataki Analysis Essay

  • Accidental Pervert: When she snuck into Arnold's room in "Helga's Parrot", she was stuck between the the wall the couch folds into. She ended up seeing Arnold disrobe, even though she didn't mean to. Not that it prevented her from cooing and passing out.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: In "Helga Sleepwalks", Helga started sleepwalking after eating pork rinds.
  • Act of True Love: Her sacrifices in "Arnold's Christmas" and Hey Arnold! The Movie definitely count as this. In the former episode, she gave up her Christmas present, the ultra-rare Nancy Spumoni Snowboots, in order to help Arnold find Mr. Hyunh's daughter. In The Movie, she gives up the chance of profiting off of her dad's new Beeper Emporium in order to save the neighborhood from being destroyed by Scheck, so that Arnold won't have to move away. She also sacrifices her locket in The Jungle Movieas a replacement for the sacred Corazón, which was accidentally knocked into a ravine in order to release the cure for the sleeping sickness.
  • Aesop Amnesia: In both "Arnold's Valentine" and "Helga's Masquerade" Helga learns that she does not need to act exactly like someone else to be liked by Arnold, but generally acting nicer will earn her his love. In her next appearances, she's back to jeering at Arnold.
  • Affectionate Nickname: One from Olga - "Baby Sister". Helga clearly doesn't like it.
  • Age-Inappropriate Art: Her poem in "Helga's Parrot" is way too sexual for a poem written by a nine-year-old.

    "Arnold, my love, my sultry preteen. Why must I hold you only whilst I dream? Will I be forever enslaved by your spell? Why must I worship you and never ever tell? Arnold you make my girlhood tremble, my senses all go whacky. Someday I'll tell the world my love...Or my name's not Helga G. Pataki."

  • Aloof Big Sister: Inverted. Helga is the younger sister but has nothing but contempt for her older sister, Olga. The main reason behind said contempt comes from Helga always seeing her parents fond over Olga and her accomplishments, while ignoring her.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Shitty childhood aside, the way she's able to alternate between loving and hating Arnold, the length she goes to stop Arnold from "rejecting" her, her Hair-Trigger Temper and overall inability to form positive relationships (aside from perhaps Phoebe) indicate that she may have some kind of mental disorder. Borderline Personality Disorder is a possible candidate.
  • Anti-Villain: Depending on the episode. In earlier episodes she tended to be an antagonist with sympathetic motives and goals, while later episodes mostly had her be an Anti-Hero.
  • Art Evolution:
    • In the Pilot episode, Helga's dress was solid pink with a white collar and white stripe instead of pink with a white undershirt and red stripe. And in the first half of season 1, her pigtails were longer and thinner and she was much uglier.
    • Like all the characters, her outfit has also been updated for The Jungle Movie.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • With Olga and her parents. They may not always show it, but Helga and her family do care for one another.
    • Also done with Phoebe, since many episodes imply that Phoebe is more of a slave to Helga than a friend, but sometimes, such as the majority of episodes that Phoebe stars in, Helga will show that she really does care about Phoebe.
  • Batman Gambit: She pulls off quite an impressive one in "School Play". Helga wants to play Juliet in order to get a kiss from Arnold's Romeo, but since she didn't audition, the part is given to Rhonda with Sheena, Phoebe and Lila as the understudies. So she comes up with a plan to convince each girl to drop out of the role by exploiting their idiosyncrasies. First by taking the role of head costumer and constructing a hideous frock for Juliet, knowing that Rhonda would object to wearing it. Then she informs the queasy, pacifist Sheena about the violence in the play, and finally, she exploits Phoebe's perfectionism and nervousness to scare her out of performing. Unfortunately, none of these worked on Lila, who correctly guesses that Helga wants the role to kiss Arnold. Helga is forced to tell her and Lila agrees to drop out of the part.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: The Brawn to Lila's Beauty and Phoebe's Brains.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Helga fell in love with Arnold because he was the first person in her life that noticed her and treated her kindly. In somewhat of an inversion, this is also why she treats Arnold like garbage.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Arnold — Although Arnold is definitely not a jerk, Helga's constant bullying has made him hostile towards her (or at least as much as he can be) and Helga is one of the greatest Tsunderes you will ever see.
  • Beneath the Mask: She pretends to hate Arnold to hide her true feelings for him, and only expresses said feelings when she's alone. Or she thinks so, and Brainy teleports behind her.
  • Berserk Button: Asking what her Mysterious Middle Initial stands for is one way to set her off.
  • Betty and Veronica: The "Veronica" (rude, violent, Loving Bully) to Lila's "Betty" (optimistic, proper, All-Loving Hero) for Arnold's "Archie". In the end, Lila doesn't reciprocate Arnold's feelings for him, and in The Jungle Movie he returns Helga's feelings, with Word of God stating that the two will marry each other as adults.
  • Big Damn Kiss: With Arnold in "The Jungle Movie" after he finds out what she's really like.
  • Big Eater: Implied by her Jabba Table Manners and she orders a crap ton of food in "Dinner For Four" (though most of it was to stall because she couldn't pay the bill). She also orders a very large milkshake on "April Fool's Day" and the waiter tells her that she has a big appetite for such a little girl.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Helga has a thick, black unibrow. While unibrows are a dime a dozen in the Hey Arnold! universe, she's the most notable example.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The Blonde to Phoebe's Brunette and Lila's Redhead.
  • Breakout Character: Helga grew in popularity due to her compelling Character Development. By the end of the series, there were so many episodes that revolved around her that most people would think she was the main character instead of the football head due to how much spotlight she had. In fact, the show was meant to have a spinoff series specifically geared around Helga as the main focus in high school, but it was cancelled before it could air because it was deemed "too dark" for Nickelodeonnote It was also pitched to sister channel MTV, but they too rejected it for being "too similar to Daria".
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Though not a perfectionist like Olga, the aptitude test shows she is nearly as competent, and she writes some damn good poetry. Unfortunately, her hard life has destroyed her confidence and most of the time she doesn't even try.
  • Broken Bird: She's had it pretty hard. A negligent, greedy father, an alcoholic, scatterbrained mother and a perfectionist sister who is loved by all. She mentions in "Helga on the Couch" that she would probably go crazy if it weren't for Arnold.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Gender Inverted and Zigzagged with Arnold. Helga is a Broken Bird who acts as a bully to hide her insecurities and vulnerable side; Arnold is an All-Loving Hero who gives emotional advice and support to others (including Helga) when they are in some personal crisis. However, because the former acts as if she hates the latter, they hardly make any development in their relationship resulting in more friction.
  • Brutal Honesty: Hurt her one too many times and she'll deliver "The Reason You Suck" Speech, with no-sugar coating whatsoever.
  • Buffy Speak: As impressive as her vocabulary is, she still tends to slip into this from time to time.

    Helga: [Ruth]'s nothing but a stuck-up, sixth grade-y, training bra wearing, brace-y faced, sixth grade-y...sixth grader!

  • The Bully: She bullies others as a way to conceal her true self from the world, since she has always been treated like shit when she tries to be nice.
  • Butt-Monkey: She never succeeds in winning the affections of Arnold, is treated like dirt by everyone and all of her schemes backfire in hilarious ways (most times deservingly so).
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: All throughout the show, Helga almost always refers to her parents by their first names - Bob and Miriam - as they often neglect her, and as such, she really has no true bond or relationship with them; any instances where she does refer to them as "Dad" or "Mom' are incredibly rare. The times she does call her parents "Dad" or "Mom" are often times when her parents show care for her or show a skill, as a sign that she recognizes/respects it. Neither parent seems to care as they don't bother to correct her.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Keeps her crush on Arnold secret because she's both afraid of rejection and afraid that other kids will bully her for it. When she finally did admit it in Hey Arnold! The Movie... she took the chance Arnold gave her to deny it.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Football Head."
    • "Criminy."
    • "Bucko!"
    • "Geekbait."
    • "One side, moron!"
    • "Doy!"
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: In "It Girl": Helga is against modeling for Johnny Stitches from the start, only doing it for the money and the free stuff. Seeing nearly everyone around her wearing her dress and bow (even some boys are wearing it) pushes her over the edge. So she tries to get fired by shoving a model during another one of Stitches' shows, then by spitting in front of the press. Realizing that being mean only makes people love her more (since Helga's nastiness is much of her image), Arnold suggests that she try acting nice at Fashion Week. And it works.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Much of her background becomes unfunny after "Helga on the Couch" shows it in a far more serious light.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the first half of the first season, Helga more or less lacked any redeeming qualities (even though it was a throwaway line and Played for Laughs, hearing her say she wants "world domination" in "Arnold's Hat" is quite unnerving), her crush on Arnold was more selfish and stalker-like that was also Played for Laughs, and the mistreatment she suffered at home was presented as a straight-up Hilariously Abusive Childhood. After that, she developed a Hidden Heart of Gold, performed several acts of true love towards Arnold and had several Pet the Dog moments with Phoebe and various others. By the end of the series, the neglect and abuse she suffered stopped being Played For Laughs.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: With Arnold — They first met in pre-school, have a complicated relationship by elementary school (mostly due to Helga being unable to express her proper feelings to him), and Word of God confirms that the two would eventually marry as adults.
  • Child Prodigy: A more subtle version of this trope (and it's never really ventured on). It's only revealed in bits and pieces such as being the only one (other than Olga) to score a 100 on the school's aptitude test, learning Romeo and Juliet in one night (though not seeming particularly interested in anything Shakespeare's written earlier on), winning poetry contests several times and having Dr. Bliss bring up her above average knowledge.

    Helga: Yeah [Edward Hopper]'s okay. Kind of simple, though. And what's his deal with women, anyway?

    Dr. Bliss: That's pretty astute for a 4th grader.

  • Chromatic Arrangement: Pink to Phoebe's Blue and Lila's Green.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: She often tries to ruin Arnold and Lila's time together because she wants to be the one going out with Arnold.
  • The Collector of the Strange: Helga's statue of Arnold made out of wads of ABC gum the boy threw away, doubles as a Stalker Shrine.
  • Consummate Liar: When she has to put up an act, like amnesia in "Beaned" or blindness in "April Fool's Day", she pulls it off very convincingly. Other times, she's an expert at hiding her feelings for Arnold which makes him completely oblivious in the first place.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Pick an episode where Helga's secret is in danger of some sort, and you'll get an episode where the universe itself plots against her for eleven minutes straight.
  • Crash-Into Hello: A common Running Gag has her rounding a street corner and bumping right into Arnold, with both falling over, then Helga yelling, "Watch where you're going, Football Head!"
  • Cry Cute: She doesn't cry often, but when she does, she's absolutely huggable.
  • Cursed with Awesome: As Olga points out, being The Unfavorite means that Helga isn't raised by her parents with expectations of great academic and career success, allowing her to live her life however she pleases.
  • Cute Bruiser: A nine-year-old girl who can kick butt.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Her early childhood had her being raised by two parents (who are one way or another pretty screwed up) doting all of their time to Olga and ignoring Helga. Needless to say, this resulted in Helga becoming a Broken Bird with other major emotional issues.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Helga is by far the most sarcastic character in the entire series.
  • Determinator: Whenever her secret is in danger of being exposed, she'll go to hell and back to ensure it isn't. "The Little Pink Book" (where her journal containing a love poem about Arnold ends up lost), "Helga Blabs it All" (where she calls the boarding house and confesses her love to Arnold while delirious from gas at the dentist) and "Helga's Parrot" (where she accidentally lets loose a parrot that has learned to imitate a love poem she recited) are examples of this.
  • Deuteragonist: The series takes a heavy focus on Helga, revolving around her home life, friendships, and love for Arnold. One may argue that near the end of the series, she had become the true protagonist.
  • Dirty Kid: There are many moments that show that Helga is horny for a nine-year-old child.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Zig-zagged. In "Girl Trouble", she tortures Arnold so much that Arnold snaps and throws paint on her in retaliation. Arnold is given detention for his actions while Helga gets no punishment for it. However, "Helga on the Couch" features Helga being sent to counseling after being caught punching Brainy, and the shrink tells her that that type of behavior is unacceptable.
  • Drama Queen: Even taking into account her usual hamminess and issues, she's usually the first person to crack up and go melodramatic in a crisis. (Ironic, considering she's considered the toughest girl in school behind Big Patty.)

    (when stuck on the other side of town) "Walk!? It'll take days! We'll freeze to death! WE'LL GET EATEN ALIVE BY PIGEONS! Or worse... rats!''"

  • The Dreaded: Early on she was the most feared of the kids (Arnold and Gerald dreading her wrath in "Downtown as Fruits" for example), but as the series progresses, the other students see her as more of a nuisance than a genuine threat, much like what eventually happened to Harold.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Boy, does she ever. It took 100 episodes, two movies, and two decades, but after all she went through and all she did, Arnold is finally hers at the end of The Jungle Movie.
  • Easy Amnesia: Helga gets amnesia after getting hit with a baseball. Subverted in that she gets her memory back normally when she wakes up the next day, not by getting hit again. However, she continues to fake amnesia to take advantage of Arnold's kindness, and when she feels guilty about it, she intentionally hits her head again so she can pretend that she just then got her memory back.
  • Entitled to Have You: A lot of the time, Helga will only consider doing nice things for Arnold if it means he might return her feelings as a result. Ultimately subverted when she usually ends up helping out Arnold unselfishly, either without him knowing it ("Arnold's Christmas" and Hey Arnold! The Movie, though he caught her in the act in the latter) or when doing so wouldn't benefit her in any way ("Summer Love"note As allowing Summer to break Arnold's heart would theoretically allow her to "Nice Girl" her way into romance and The Jungle Movienote when she gave up her prized and likely very expensive locket to cure the adults of the Green-Eyed village).
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • She does some nasty things to Arnold, but takes major offense to her father calling Arnold an orphan within ear shot of him.
    • In "Curly's Girl", Helga calls out on Rhonda for embarrassing Curly after dumping him while pretending to be Curly's girlfriend. Considering that she fears the same happening to her with Arnold, it's possible that this event struck a nerve with her.

    Helga: I think Miss Rich and Fancy did a number on him. (Referring to Curly.)

    Rhonda: May I borrow the black paint?

    Helga: (Paints a heart with the black paint.) Perfect, it'll match the color of your heart.

    Rhonda: (Annoyed) Excuse me!

    Helga: You heard me Cruella.

    • On top of that, once she found out that Summer was using Arnold for personal gain (with the intent on dumping him afterwards), she focused all her efforts on exposing her for Arnold's sake.
  • Evil Laugh: Has a very impressive one. Not as psychotic as Curly's (but then, who could be?), but she gets points for once doing it in a theatre, with ominous music and everything.
  • Evil Plan: She explicitly refers to her schemes to get what she wants as such, and she has a ton of them. They nearly always fail in ways that harm her and help those she schemes against.

    Helga:"Why are none of my evil schemes working?!"

  • Expressive Hair: Helga's pigtails occasionally perk up or droop depending on her mood.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Her Anguished Declaration of Love in The Movie. Arnold ends up confused about it and she takes the chance Arnold gives her to deny her feelings. Subverted by The Jungle Movie, however.
  • Fatal Flaw: Insecurity. She is unable to be her true, kind, articulate and intelligent self because she fears being shunned by others. Arnold would likely return her affections if she were to stop treating him like garbage and be herself. If she were to try harder in school, her parents would probably pay more attention to her (but as we've seen with Olga, that might not be a good thing) and while she might get a few snickers from Harold or the others, she'd be in a much better place and would be happier for it. Her nanny Inga in "Helga and the Nanny" even tells her that she's doomed to suffer as long as she continues to push others away.
  • Femininity Failure: In "Helga's Makeover", she tries to be a girly girl to attend Rhonda's sleepover but reverts to her old self after refusing an avocado cream mask.
  • Foil: To Arnold. Both are the blonde-haired stars of the show with an Improbable Hairstyle, Iconic Outfit, and Iconic Item that adorns their head (Arnold's little blue baseball cap, Helga's giant pink bow), and are probably the smartest among their peers. Arnold is a sweet and friendly person who rarely gets angry who grew up in an "atypical" family but was given love, respect, and attention. Helga is a mean and anti-social girl who does have a kind side she keeps hidden and grew up in a "typical" family but was emotionally neglected by her parents in favor for her older sister. Then there's their love lives: Arnold has many crushes over the course of the series and they never work out, while Helga only has eyes for Arnold and they become a couple at the end ofThe Jungle Movie.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Deconstructed with Olga. Helga is the Foolish Sibling — she cares very little for her academics even though she's proven to be quite intelligent, while also usually showing little to no respect for her family, peers, or anyone in general (this leads to her being The Friend Nobody Likes except for Phoebe and occasionally Arnold). However, the reason for her gruff personality comes from growing up in a dysfunctional household with both of her parents neglecting her in favor of Olga, making it clear to Helga at an early age that she's the unfavorite child. Her older sister, Olga, is the Responsible Sibling — she's an ace student who is friendly to everyone (making her well-liked not only by her parents, but all of Helga's classmates), but she reveals to Helga that she's a Stepford Smiler who is always trying to keep up her "perfectness" because of the extremely high standards her parents expect her to meet, especially her father.
  • Forceful Kiss: Gives a big kiss to Arnold without warning in The Movie.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Choleric. She's very ill-tempered and often takes a hands-on approach to things.
  • Freudian Excuse: "Helga on the Couch" explains why Helga is the way she is. The reason for her violent behavior is because she feels neglected by her parents and she believes that she has to be aggressive to get any respect from the other students, since negative attention is better than no attention at all.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Only Phoebe and Arnold (Depending on the Writer) truly consider Helga a friend. Everyone else mostly just tolerates her out of fear and/or proximity. Gerald especially has made it perfectly clear that he can't stand her.
  • Genius Bruiser: She is already fairly known among her classmates as a formidable bully. She's also a talented writer/poet, and quite intelligent for her age.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: She doesn't usually get along with her older sister Olga, stemming from Helga being The Unfavorite and Olga being seemingly perfect.
  • Gratuitous French: She speaks French in "Arnold's Valentine" (where she mispronounced all of her French) and "Dinner For Four", to impress Arnold.
  • Hair Decorations: She always wears her trademark pink bow, presumably because Arnold complimented it when they first met.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Double subverted. Helga has blonde hair, but is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: It doesn't take much to set her off. The slightest provocation is usually enough for her to either beat someone up, yell or insult them.

    Arnold: Helga, I'm really full. I don't think I can eat another bite.

    Helga: You'll eat it and like it, Arnold!note Though this time she actually had a good reason to be testy, since she used her free dinner coupon at the wrong restaurant and now has no way of paying.

  • Haughty "Hmph": She does this all the time— she even does it when there's no one around to hear her! She especially likes doing it before diving into one of her lovestruck soliloquies about Arnold.
  • Hates Being Touched: She tends to get angry when anyone touches her. Though when Arnold does it, she's obviously faking it.

    Arnold: (After Helga finds his hat.) Thanks Helga! Thanks a lot! (hugs her)

    Helga: (Sighs dreamily before switching back to bully mode.) Yuck! Who said you could touch me?

  • Heel Realization: Several episodes show us that Helga is very aware of how mean and cruel she is to others and how it affects them, but is unable to stop herself. "Magic Show" has the subversion of It's a Wonderful Plot where Helga dreams of what the world will be like if she disappeared. Everyone celebrates her disappearance and no one misses her, not even Arnold. Her attempts at apologizing fall flat and she's back to her old ways after that.
  • Before I delve into this topic, let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Jill, and I’m a 21 year old pre-med college student who rediscovered Hey Arnold! in August 2010. Since then I’ve fallen back in love with the show and have realized how much more I appreciate it as an adult! I’m thrilled to be able to critically analyze it here as it is so complex and rich with story and development. My goal is to update this at least once a week, but it may be more or less so bear with me! My other major fandom is Harry Potter which I also write for on occasion. If you want to know anything else, just ask! Okay on to the topic of this post!

    Motifs of Helga and Arnold

    To begin, let’s first define motif for those of you who don’t know. A motif is a recurring subject, theme, idea, etc. It is clear to see that the show has quite a few motifs surrounding the explosive relationship of Helga and Arnold. Whether or not you believe they are soul mates which you totally should because it’s true is totally up to you. However, allow me to shed some light on the motifs used for them.

    1. Arnold Hears Helga

    Tendra has already discussed this one in a prior post, however it is clearly a big motif within the show. First started in the first episode on Nickelodeon, “Downtown as Fruits”, it has remained a quintessential gag. The first one went like this:

    Helga: Hey! Where are the fruits?!

    Phoebe: They’re not here Helga. They never showed up.

    Helga: What? *blinks* Arnoooooold!!

    *cut to wide city view then to bus*

    Arnold to Gerald: Did you hear something just now?

    Gerald: No.

    This gag continues throughout the series, most notably in “Helga Blabs it All” and “Buses, Bikes, and Subways” where Arnold is the only one to notice that Helga is missing from the school bus. While many people seem to find this to just be a gag or just meaning that Arnold is possibly so fearful of Helga that he can sense her anger, there is a camp of people who believe that it is a sign of Helga and Arnold being meant for each other. It’s a common cliche in romantic films for the male to sense when his female companion is in danger, so it is logical to conclude that the purpose of Arnold being the only one to hear Helga scream his name, or just scream, is to show that they are meant for each other. Furthermore, while some may argue the fear of bullying end, think of this. In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, soul mates Lily and Marshall discuss how connected they are to the point where if Lily eats ice cream, Marshall gets ill because he is lactose intolerant. So why else would the writers make this gag except to push the idea forward that Helga and Arnold are soul mates? Furthermore, in the episode “Magic Show” where Helga experiences a dream world where she no longer exists and is not missed a la It’s a Wonderful Life, whenever Helga screams in her dream world, Arnold does not hear her as she doesn’t exist and therefore cannot be his soul mate. I don’t know if I’m going to far with that bit, but eh I’ll note it.

    2. Disguises

    Throughout the show, Helga dons a variety of disguises around Arnold. The only time he doesn’t know that it’s her though is when she is disguised as Cecile in “Arnold’s Valentine”. Through her disguises, pivotal moments occur and important lessons are learned. The first time that Helga dons a disguise around Arnold is in the aforementioned episode. Initially, the disguise fails as Helga nearly reverts to her bullying mechanism and abrasiveness when Arnold notes that Helga really bugs him. Furthermore, Helga is so fearful initially that Arnold will figure out its her that she is unable to relax and let her true personality shine through. The initial disguise also isn’t very good as it is quite, erm, gah there were no words. However, after she vomits her cervelles braisees avec les oeufs brouilles, which she was kindly informed was calves’ brains and eggs, she relaxes, allows her soft side to shine through, and even cheers Arnold up after he realized how vapid Ruth really was. Her disguise even becomes more feminine and softer and she does somewhat confess to liking Arnold. Through this disguise, Helga was able to show Arnold the side of her that only Phoebe ever saw and gains confidence in their compatibility as he really likes what he sees. Here’s a listing of her various other disguises through out the show’s run and their pivotal moments and lessons.

    “Arnold’s Halloween”: Alien


    Arnold basically saves Helga's life, or at least from great bodily injury, as he runs up and attempts to persuade her father that he is not holding an alien, but his own daughter.


    “Helga’s Boyfriend”: Stinky’s Girlfriend


    Helga disguises herself as Stinky's girlfriend in a failed attempt to get Arnold jealous. She believes it has worked when Arnold tells her that a friend has something important to say to her, however the friend turns out to be Stinky. Lesson learned through this episode is that deceit will not get you what you want and someone will get hurt.


    “School Play”: Juliet


    After manipulating Rhonda, Sheena, and Phoebe into dropping out of the role of Juliet, Helga confesses her secret to Lila in order to score the part. The major pivotal event that occurs is that Helga gets her deepest desire; a kiss with Arnold. She later attributes the kiss's length to good acting.


    “Dinner for Four”: Sophisticated Helga


    In order to impress Arnold, Helga holds a dinner with her friends at Chez Paris to show that she is sophisticated. There is a moment after Helga says, "Lovely little bistro, n'est-ce pas?" where Arnold has a stunned look on his face, as though he realized something. Arguably, he may have flashed back to Cecile. Another important thing of note, Arnold shows that he is impressed with Helga when she does the right thing and acts like herself.


    “It Girl”: Model


    As a model, Helga learns that having everything doesn't necessarily mean happiness. Furthermore, it's shown that her abrasiveness is as much a personality as her soft side.


    “Helga’s Masquerade”: Lila


    Seeing how Arnold reacts to Lila's innocent and sickly sweet personality, she emulates her during a costume party. Thus she and Arnold hang out and have a great time during the party, until he accidentally calls her Lila. Once she reverts to her normal appearance, Arnold becomes disinterested. Helga learns that it is better to be herself than to act like someone else. Furthermore, she learns that Arnold does like her, and in her eyes that means she's halfway there to him liking her liking her.


    “Summer Love”: Babewatch Lifeguard


    As a Babewatch lifeguard, Helga seizes her opportunity at a second kiss with Arnold by shoving aside the other actress and saying, "Move over Barbie, I've got this one."


    “Hey Arnold!: The Movie”: Deep Voice

    As Deep Voice, Helga sacrifices great personal gain in order to secretly help Arnold save the neighborhood. She also confesses her secret to Arnold, albeit in a crazed manner. Lesson learned? Happily ever after in romance doesn’t always happen as she takes back the confession and returns to normal.

    3. Storms

    Whenever something major happens between Helga and Arnold, it always seems to happen during a storm. It’s almost as though the storm is a metaphor for their relationship. Storms are unpredictable, wild, and exciting. They also provide what is needed for life to grow and the eye of the storm is extremely calm. Thus as I see it, if Helga and Arnold were to indeed become a couple at some point, their relationship would be filled with their highs and lows, however they would balance each other out and provide the other with what they need.

    One notable moment that occurs during a storm is their first meeting during the flashback in “Helga on the Couch”. After Helga has walked by herself in the storm to school, it’s Arnold who shades her from the storm with his umbrella. This moment is then repeated outside of Helga’s home in “Beaned”, where Arnold again shades her from the storm and even takes her arm to walk her to school. In fact, the episode actually starts with a storm where Helga watches as he assists Rhonda from the bus while she ends up having to get soaked in the rain.

    4. Crash into Each Other

    It always seems that when one of them is rounding a corner, the other is rounding it at the same time leading them to crash right into each other. This is continually done throughout ┬áthe show. One fan fiction, entitled “Arnold on the Couch” brought the light the idea that this continuous literal crashing into each other could be the universe’s way of pushing them together. It’s not an illogical idea and certainly one under consideration. Another sign that they’re soul mates? I believe it is.

    Whenever Arnold and Helga are rounding a corner at the same time…
    …they crash into each other, as though the universe is pushing them together.

    5. Arnold Nearly Hearing Helga’s Secret

    On quite a few episodes, Arnold surprises Helga by showing up near her during one of her soliloquies about him. She always manages to recover her cool and cover up her moment with some excuse to which Arnold generally responds to with “Whatever you say, Helga.” Now while it’s not really that major of a motif, it’s something worth noting as it’s quite amazing that Arnold has never heard or realized Helga’s secret during these intrusions. Odd, but then again he didn’t figure out that Cecile was Helga, even though it was fairly obvious.

    6. Moral Dilemmas

    Whenever one of them has a dilemma of some sort, the other tends to step up and help the other. This happens more with Arnold helping Helga out rather than the other way around. For instance, in “Olga gets Engaged”, Arnold points out that Helga taking pleasure in her sister’s probable bleak future is wrong, leading Helga to scare off her sister’s horrid fiance. Arnold does have his dilemmas too. In “Deconstructing Arnold”, it’s Helga who shows Arnold that even though they sometimes find his helping them solve their problems to be annoying, it’s something they need and something he does better than her. Overall, without each other, they may have gone down very dark paths, especially Helga.

    7. Connection

    It is rare that Arnold and Helga connect over something, but when they do it’s a very beautiful thing. The biggest example of this is “Arnold’s Thanksgiving”, where they spend the day with each other venting about their dysfunctional families and the fact that neither have had a normal Thanksgiving. Also of note, while Arnold is standing outside Helga’s home watching her happily sit at the table surrounded by her family, he says, “Happy Thanksgiving, Helga” in almost the same tone as Helga said, “Merry Christmas, Arnold” in “Arnold’s Christmas”.

    8. Subconscious

    Via daydreams, dreams, and nightmares, the psyches of Arnold and Helga are explored and reveal many interesting things. Helga often daydreams of futures with Arnold, such as their wedding, him seeing her as sophisticated, etc. Her dreams and daydreams are typical girl stuff, with her personality thrust into it such as her dream in “Married”. For Arnold though, the motif of the subconscious reveals some interesting things about him. For instance, in “Arnold visits Arnie”, Arnold has a dream/nightmare about visiting his cousin Arnie where everyone in the town is the exact opposite of the person he knows at home. The only exception to this is Hilda, the country version of Helga. Arnold believes that he is seeing Helga’s opposite, however Hilda’s personality is very similar to Helga’s when she is not being a bully. He in fact falls for Hilda, and thus this episode is considered strong evidence of a future for the two. Furthermore, at the end of his nightmare in “Married”, dream Helga confesses her love for him just as his alarm rings, suggesting that deep down he understands her and cares for her. The only other notable dreams are the ones they have during Carmen in “What’s Opera, Arnold?”.



    In "Arnold Visits Arnie", Arnold dreams of everyone in Hillwood as their opposite. He falls for Hilda, whom he believes is the opposite of Helga. However her personality is basically what Helga's is when she's not in bully mode.


    9. Helga’s Trinkets

    An interesting motif is the one where something of Helga’s that could reveal her love for Arnold ends up in his home. Helga thus goes to great lengths to retrieve these items and keep her secret safe. Items that she had to retrieve include her little pink book of Arnold poems with her name in it, a confessional voice message, a parrot that had memorized an Arnold poem with her name in it, and her locket with an inscription of love. Each time Arnold gets very close to learning the secret before Helga successfully retrieves the object. It’s a wonder as to why Helga never learns her lesson to not put her name on these items!

    10. Sacrifice

    The final motif that I could think of is the multiple times that Helga and Arnold sacrifice something in order to make the other happy. While this is done more on Helga’s part, there are several instances where Arnold sacrifices too. Helga’s sacrifices tend to be huge too. An excellent example of this is in “Arnold’s Christmas” where she gives up the one thing she wanted for Christmas, the difficult to find Nancy Spumoni snow boots, in order to find Mr. Hyunh’s daughter and preserve Arnold’s belief in miracles. Through doing this, Helga learns the true meaning of Christmas and preserves Arnold’s good heart and positive outlook. Arnold has sacrificed things too in order to make Helga happy.



    By sacrificing her brand new snow boots, Helga preserves Arnold's positive world view. Also notice that she is wearing the Cecile dress.


    In “Beaned” when he thought that Helga still had amnesia, he sacrificed his reputation and time with his friends in order to make sure Helga was safe and to help Helga regain her memory. He was even going to miss out on a big baseball game in order to make sure Helga got home safely. There are many more examples of sacrifice, but to go into them all would require another post entirely.

    Closing Remarks

    Overall, the running gags and motifs of this wild pair drives home the idea that they are meant for each other, and that Arnold will one day figure it out. If only The Jungle Movie had been made! *shakes fist* Gah!


    Whether or not you believe they are meant for each other, they still have one of the most complex relationships on the show.



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