A Definitive Ranking Of 'Hey Arnold' Classmates

by Mary Grace Garis

I think it goes without saying that Hey Arnold was the greatest ‘90s Nicktoon of all time, a series that really took animation to the next level with an array of complex, diverse characters and storylines. That said, you’re probably in agony waiting for the upcoming Hey Arnold movie, long and cruelly delayed from our world. And even though it's slated to be Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie, I really hope that, in some way, all of Arnold’s peers return to the movie, because the kids of the neighborhood really made the show. In fact, I’m sure you could argue amongst yourself which of Arnold’s classmates is the best.

Well, I recently revisited Classroom 206 and did a prolong examination of Arnold’s fellow students. The interesting thing is that even the most combative of his classmates (or especially the most combative of his classmates) make for interesting, even lovable characters. That said, not all of them quite gets their day in the sun, and, moreover, and not all of them are redeemable. Hence, I ranked them accordingly, considering all their good qualities, their bad qualities, and their overall richness in character.

So, without any delay, here is a definitive ranking of Arnold’s classmates... that is, fourth graders only. Don’t bother looking for that insipid Ruth in this.

18. Curly

For all his amusing eccentricities, I would be terrified to be locked in a room with Curly. Kid be crazy.

17. Brainy

Brainy's crush on Helga is akin to her crush on Arnold, which makes him slightly sympathetic, if nothing else. All that mouth breathing makes my skin crawl, though. Somehow he handles his obsession in a way that's far less endearing than the way Helga handles hers. Go figure.

16. Park

I literally had to look up what this kid's name was, so let's move on.

15. Joey

Joey's defining trait is that missing tooth, firmly situated in one of the more intriguing heads on this show. Beyond that, I couldn't tell the difference between him and a hole in the wall.

14. Iggy

Iggy's cool, I suppose, and one of the more fashionable members of the background characters. Then again, his outfit is basically just Arnold's photoshopped in different colors, so he doesn't really get originality points.

13. Sheena

I never really looked at a Hey Arnold plotline and thought, "This could really use more Sheena."

12. Eugene

Your love for Eugene is usually based on your love for geeky, hot mess theater kids. So, on my end, I can stand him in very tiny, incremental doses, but he delivered a star performance in Eugene, Eugene!

11. Torvald

Torvald is one of many Hey Arnold characters who plays a villain on the outside, but is a big old softie on the inside. I'm proud of him when he gets that C+ in remedial math, even if he very debatably gets rid of his bullying ways.

10. Nadine

Nadine is more or less the fourth most important girl in the group of the main four girls, so take that for what it's worth.

9. Stinky

That accent is probably the worst thing to happen to the show, yet at the same time I couldn't imagine Hey Arnold without it... and without Stinky's elongated, hawk-nosed presence.

8. Sid

The truth is, you never turn on Hey Arnold all gung-ho to watch an episode about Sid (like, for example, "Arnold Saves Sid.") However, you're always glad that he's around, a comforting presence in the classroom.

7. Lila

From a personal standpoint, I'm not actually big on Lila. On an average day, her saccharine demeanor sends me into a Pataki-esque rage. Regardless, nobody can deny that she's a sweet girl from a bad situation, and, when she gave up the lead role in Romeo and Juliet for Helga, that was a real classy move.

6. Big Patty

Honestly, I'm not even 110 percent sure that Patty is in Arnold's class, but I love her. Behind those huge fists and furrowed unibrow is a kind heart (um, probably not literally). Also, I 'ship her and Harold forever.

5. Rhonda

Rhonda can be snobby and awful at times, make no mistake. From shutting Helga out of her sleepover to banishing glasses-wearing girls to the back of the bus, she basks in elitism. I have to say, though, she definitely stands out from the crowd, and not just because she's so fashion forward.

4. Harold

Harold is one of Hey Arnold's biggest power players, boorish as he may be. All of his episodes are enjoyable (I learned so much about Judaism from them), and his ability to be a fearsome bully one second and run away in fearful tears the next is hilarious.

3. Phoebe

Not only is she the smartest girl in school, it's always a marvel to see Phoebe crumble under that pressure (remember when she plagiarized that poem)? She may look quiet, but this girl has some serious layers. All that, and considering how she puts up with the ever-cantankerous Helga, you couldn't ask for a better best friend. That is except for...

2. Gerald

Gerald isn't just fly as hell, he's an expert level story-teller. And, truth be told, you can't see him as Arnold's hapless sidekick or something nominal like that. Gerald is worthy of a show of his own. Which leaves only one other character who surpasses him.

1. Helga

Helga almost got her own show, and it's easy to understand why: her hysterical forbidden crush anchors the series. More than that, though, she is a multifaceted display of the complexities of young femininity... that is to say, she is all of us at 9-years-old. She emerges from her troubled home life a heroine who is unafraid to be angry and volatile, yet has a serious sensitive side and a jumble of insecurities. Helga Geraldine Pataki is without a doubt the best character on this whole show. Class dismissed.

Images: Nickelodeon (18)