Before I throw myself on the line, admitting my extreme love for a 9-year-old with the tails of his red flannel peeking out of his blue sweater, I would like to remind you all of something. You also loved him. We all did. We looked past that tiny hat perched on his head, and saw the pure-hearted soul of this animated boy who would teach us all how to grow as teens. He was so put-together, so wise for someone in elementary school, so unlike any real person in my elementary school. So, yes, Arnold from Hey Arnold was my '90s TV crush, circa 1998. But, hey, at least it's not as bad as admitting that you had a crush on Simba from The Lion King, or Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. And furthermore, there is not one among you who didn't crush on Arnold. Admit it.
The following are nine reasons why we all loved Arnold. He was a multi-faceted character with many quirks. There was a lot going on in that young man's life, whether it be eating contests or crushing on sixth grade girls or exploring haunted parts New York (because the town they lived in was clearly New York City, right?). These are reasons why, despite his questionable football-headedness and cartoon exterior, we all hoped to someday find an Arnold in our lives.
1. He's So Mature
Arnold lives in a boarding house run by his crazy grandparents, with a bunch of adult tenants, who are, if possible even crazier. I'm looking at you, Oskar Kokoshka. Hanging out all day with adults, who he had to assist with their whacky problems, created such a mature young man. Swoon.
2. He Is Thoughtful
Arnold always sees things from all the angles. For example, in Field Trip, Arnold frees the ancient turtle, Lockjaw, with the help of Grandma. He doesn't think of Lockjaw as an attraction like all the other kids at the aquarium, but as sees the turtle's true soul. So thoughtful.
3. He's A Good Friend to the Gang
No matter what goes down with his friends, Arnold is there to provide an encouraging word or helping hand. He always seems to appear when someone is about to make a bad decision, like an all-seeing protagonist. Who can forget when Arnold helped Stoop Kid finally leave his stoop? Stoop Kid was no longer afraid, because Arnold worked with him, hand-in-hand, to achieve his dreams. What a guy. What a pal.
4. He Can Dance
Whenever Arnold and his buds get down, he shows no fear. Which is honestly the trick to dancing: just seeming confident. In Sixth Grade Girls, Gerald and Arnold get invited to a middle school dance, and they seriously break it down. I want to dance in disco apparel with Arnold.
5. He Has A Sad Story...
In Parent's Day, we find out that Arnold's parents were world travelers but stopped traveling to raise their son Unfortunately, they went on one last mission to save some village people from Sleeping Sickness, and went missing. Poor little orphan Arnold. Such baggage.
6. ...But Never Lets It Get Him Down
In the same episode, Arnold is sad he doesn't have actual parents to compete in the competitions at school. But then, he realizes that his grandparents are the ones who raised him, and they are just as important to him as parental figures. His ability to find the positive is inspiring. I am literally tearing up right now.
7. He Has The Coolest Bedroom of All Time
That kid really knew how to decorate, as shown in this Nickelodeon bumper from 1997.
8. He Has Great Taste In Music
Dino Spumoni is just one example of the classy music taste Arnold exemplifies. (Also, the score of Hey Arnold is baller, though that has very little to do with Arnold.)
9. He Embodies That Boy At School You Were Mean To Because You Liked Him
Arnold came at a point in many '90s children's lives when they were still in elementary school and didn't know how to talk to boys/girls they had a specific longing for. I very specifically remember associating Arnold with a blond-haired boy I looooooooooved, but tortured Helga Patacki-style. The fact that Helga and Arnold seemed to get together in the end based on hints throughout the series gave me such hope that I, too, would find more healthy ways to express my feelings and end up with a guy like Arnold.
I think we should all aspire to be more Arnold-like, but, if you can't swing that, just try to surround yourself with friends who resemble the Arnold crew. They're so fun, and won't judge you for your crush on Arnold "What Is His Last Name?"
Image: Nickelodeon (2); Giphy (5)