'Hey Arnold': 3 Life Lessons Learned From The Best Cartoon Of The 90s

by Tamara Tisdale

Like myself, I’m sure you’ve wondered why we all were so utterly obsessed with "Hey Arnold" and his very eclectic group of friends.

My obsession with "Hey Arnold" developed because the life he led was much similar to mine (although, I wasn’t aware of this at that time).

I was an inner-city kid from Queens with a very diverse group of friends very similar to Arnold’s.

He attended PS 118; I attended PS 176.

He rode the bus throughout the city and explored different areas of his gritty, yet welcoming neighborhood. I did the same.

Unlike many cartoons, "Hey Arnold" gave viewers a peek into reality, and it wasn’t far-fetched like “Ren & Stimpy” or “Rugrats” of that era, which is why we love "Hey Arnold" to this day.

Arnold was a kid who was ahead of his time. He had swag. He was wise. He was Mr. Cool and everyone wanted to be his friend.

Arnold was unlike many protagonists we were accustomed to seeing, which further extended his appeal.

He lived a very humble life with his Grandpa Phil and Grandma Gertrude.

We tuned in each week to see how Arnold would finesse his way out of the most complex ordeals, and more importantly (but subtly), teach us lessons about life.

I recently went on a “Hey Arnold” binge (don’t judge me), and here are three life lessons I discovered:

Unrequited Love

At some point in each of our lives, we will be faced with exploring some elements of unrequited love.

No other character on "Hey Arnold" experienced one-sided love like Helga G. Pataki.

Her relentless obsession for Arnold was funny at times, but increasingly disturbing at others.

Although we’ve all experienced, or will experience intense crushes (brace yourselves) at some point in our lives, let Helga serve as the prime example of what you should not do.

Unrequited love is anything but healthy, and you will only end up hurting yourself in the end.

Not to mention, you will scare the sh*t out of your crush once he or she finds out you’ve become consumed with his or her existence, one you regularly denounce whenever said person is present.


We could all benefit from possessing Arnold’s optimism. Although overlooked at times, it’s what made Arnold so likable.

In life, people genuinely do not like being around negative people; it’s draining and unappealing.

Possessing the ability to discover the silver lining whenever we become faced with adversity is truly a gift.

Thoughts become things. If you approach situations with a negative perspective, you will receive negative results and vice versa.

It seems easy, but it does take discipline and practice. Start sewing positivity into the universe, and sooner than later, you will reap the benefits, just like Arnold.


It’s no secret Arnold and his friends were everything but perfect. They were plagued with real problems and issues that may seem foreign to many of us.

Both of Arnold’s parents were not present, which caused him to be raised by his grandparents in a neighborhood boarding house.

Helga was raised in a very dysfunctional family where she was often overlooked by her workaholic father and disengaged, inattentive (some may argue, alcoholic) mother.

Despite the circumstances that surrounded each of the characters, they all possessed some elements of courage and managed to survive without depending on other people. They were bold and brave.

Often, we seek answers to our problems from other people. We fail to realize the answer lies in us. We just have to be courageous enough to acknowledge it.