Arnold's Last Name On 'Hey Arnold!' Makes No Sense For One Big Reason
We all have jungle fever when it comes to the upcoming TV flick Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie , and with that comes several burning questions left from when the show ended. Particularly, some fans were still scratching their head about what Arnold on Hey Arnold's last name is, the mystery surrounding it serving as one of the show's longest running jokes. And though it's been whispered around chatrooms and forums for years now, a recent Buzzfeed interview with Craig Bartlett confirmed that Arnold's last name is Shortman, the nickname Grandpa had been using right in front of our noses. However, the last name just... seems a bit off considering it's grandpa's nickname for him.
"Yes, [his last name is Shortman]. That one has just become a fact, but we still are going to do a joke where he reveals his last name in The Jungle Movie — just to confirm it," Bartlett said. "[And] I think [Arnold’s middle name] should be Phillip. Arnold P. Shortman, after Phil, his grandpa." Now, Arnold Phillip Shortman is certainly a dignified name and I have no qualms with it being the official title of Hey Arnold! himself. But it's still a little confusing.
To clarify, if Arnold's last name is Shortman, it's realistic to believe that Arnold's father's last name was Shortman, and as such, Grandpa Phil's last name was Shortman. That's generally how generations work. So why would Grandpa nickname his grandson Shortman if that's his own last name, too?
There are a few farfetched but worth considering theories to that. If you have great-grandparents that are immigrant — think the Ellis Island set — you'll sometimes find through some digging (and documents) that their names were changed to look a bit more Americanized. Though it seems Phil and Pookie are at least first generation Americans, that name Americanization can happen a bit further down the line.
Case and point: my great-grandparents came into the country as the Tsagarakis clan, and my grandfather was born with that moniker. He simplified the name to Garis sometime before my father was born. This is a thing that happens, and my not egregious-sounding last name is proof of that. So it could be possible that's what happened, and it could also be possible that Arnold's father changed his last name independently, and every generation after him is a Shortman.
Yeah, I know, it's exhausting. The other thing to keep in mind is that Grandpa may just be missing Arnold's absentee parents. Using "Shortman" as a nickname on Arnold might be an homage to his lost son and daughter-in-law. If he thinks they are truly gone, then Arnold definitely is the last of the Shortmans. So maybe Arnold's last name kind of makes sense if we can see it as Grandpa hanging onto to the last remnants of his family legacy. After all, Hey Arnold was always one of the most deep Nickelodeon cartoons.
But do I genuinely think that was on the mind of Bartlett and co. from the get go? Not really. Regardless, I'm glad we have one Hey Arnold! mystery... and I can't wait for the other mystery of just where Arnold's parents are to be revealed. (And don't be sassy and say they're in the jungle. My God.)
Images: Paramount Television; Giphy (2)