If you didn’t watch Hey Arnold as a kid, my guess is that you probably had a very bleak childhood. I used to run all the way home from school just so I could sit in front of the TV to watch the classic 90s Nickelodeon show. Back in our younger and slightly more naïve years, most of us probably thought the show was just about a young boy and his group of school friends. However, as we age and our innocence leaves us, looking back on the cartoon I noticed there was much more to it than first meets the eye. I guarantee you in this article you will be shocked to learn about some of the sinister and slightly disturbing subliminal messages that were carefully and consciously woven into the shows story lines. It’s actually quite scary when you think about it. Our brains were exposed to this sorcery from a very early age, who knows what it did to our internal thinking system. I guess we will never really know! Scroll down to learn about some of the innuendos, references, and hidden images you missed as a child. Don't forget to let us know in the comments section which one you found the most shocking. Enjoy!
15 Ernie's 'Making Himself Happy' Technique
If you can’t remember, Ernie is one of the lodgers at Arnold’s Grandparents’ place. Although the show is characterized by a cast of loopy characters, I would definitely say that Ernie was one of the crazier ones. If you pay close attention, he looks a little like Danny DeVito! He runs a demolition company and he plays several different musical instruments. When I think of Ernie there is one scene that particularly comes to mind for all the wrong reasons. It’s a little creepy and pedophillic and definitely something that should NOT appear on daytime TV, let alone a kids show. In the scene, Ernie invites Arnold into his room with his creepy voice and discusses an ‘exercise’ that he should have been practicing which includes the motions ‘reach, pull, reach, pull’, which really makes you wonder what on earth he is preparing him for. Maybe it’s just me and my dirty mind thinking about this wrist action, but then again, I highly doubt it, I mean, what else could it be?
For those of you that don’t know, exhibitionism is when someone likes to exhibit themselves in public. It’s kind of gross, and definitely not something you’d imagine ever appearing on a TV show. There are two examples of this that spring to mind when I think about the show Hey Arnold. The first is pretty damn blatant. Grandma goes to a nudist beach in the episode Summer Love, quoting “When in Rome”, when she decides to join in she scares away the rest of the public. No surprise there then. The second is a little less obvious you have to be really quick to notice it. In case you missed it, we took a screenshot for you to make things a little easier. You’ve got to be quick to spot it. I had to do a double take when I first saw this. When Helga and Arnold are leaving the house you can see a couple getting it on in the corner of the shot, and it stays there for around 3 seconds. There’s no nudity as such, so the creators would probably try and explain it as an innocent glitch. However, I can’t really work out what they could be possibly doing where he would have to bend her over the table.
13 Oskar Pets The Kitty
Yep, Oskar petting the kitty. We see what you did there Nickelodeon. Oskar is another creepy lodger accompanied with another weird sexual innuendo. If you watch this scene back for yourself my guess is that you will quickly start to feel very uncomfortable. Oskar looks a lot like a homeless man and is trying to learn to read. He decides to start off easy, reading something which mainly consists of pictures. From somewhere, he pulls the classic kid's book ‘Pet the Kitty’ (rolls eyes). He then goes on to pet the kitty repeatedly as the librarian watches in glee. After all the sexual innuendos we’ve discussed so far, I am really starting to wonder whether the creators of the show were seriously sexually frustrated or complete weirdos. Most probably both. This innuendo isn’t even that subtle, how did we not notice it back in the day. God bless us and our super young, naïve, and innocent brains. They feel tarnished forever. No wonder we lose our innocence quicker and quicker these days with stuff like this being able to permeate our brains on a daily basis.
12 Hitler Cameo
When you were a kid watching the show, do you remember this guy making an appearance? If you do, I'm impressed; you must have one hell of a memory. I bet you didn't have a clue who this portraying. Thank goodness for our naivety. But take a good look at this picture, tell us, what do you see? An evil man with red eyes? Or perhaps something even more sinister. Hitler! There is no denying it, the dodgy side fringe and strange moustache are uncanny. Who knows what the producers were thinking when they thought involving him in their plot was a good idea. Hitler is one of the worst humans (if not the worst) to have ever lived, not exactly the best role model for young children. He is the reason millions of people died unnecessarily. Not exactly the most desirable character you’d want to appear in your kid’s favorite TV show, right? Luckily, kid’s TV shows these days are a lot straighter edge. However, back in our day, I feel like they could get away with just about anything! Trust me, this isn’t even the worst of it, we are just getting started. Hold tight!
11 Mrs. Felter
Arnold fulfilled all of those weird male fantasies that get thrown around online. You know the ones. The ones about young boys similar to Arnold’s age having huge and uncontrollable crushes on their elders. Do you remember Mrs. Felter? Felt-er. Felt-her! You get the picture. Yet another sexual innuendo, it seems the creators must have got a little bored with the visual ones they decided to throw a pun in there for good measure. She was often pictured in the kitchen doing the cleaning or cooking in the same sorts of proactive outfits that we see online on adult websites. It sickens me to my stomach a little bit to think that I was watching this stuff when I was just a kid. Totally oblivious to the kind of cynicism that was being filtered into the story of the episode. How did they get away with this stuff? Nickelodeon really does have a lot to answer for. I would love to hunt down the producer of the show and ask a lot of things, and demand some answers!
10 Helga's "Girlhood Tremble"
Remember Helga? Of course, you do! The crazy weird stalker girl who clearly had the hots for Arnold. What we assumed was a little girlhood crush now seems to be a lot more about lust when I watch the show back. She is the epitome of the psycho girlfriend stereotype. Despite his head is shaped like a football, she had a shrine to Arnold, she stole locks of his hair and even watched him undress on one occasion (not cool). As if that wasn’t creepy enough, she also wrote poems for him. Some of you may be reading this thinking that’s it’s normal behavior for a 10-year-old, right? Wrong! This is NOT the type of behavior we should be promoting young girls to act like. In one poem written by Helga, she notes that Arnold makes her ‘girlhood tremble’. My god, if my girlfriend told me that I made her ‘girlhood’ tremble, I’d be taking her straight to bed. It sounds like something you’d hear on a trashy reality TV show, not on your seemingly innocent favorite kid's cartoon. It even made me blush a little watching it back. Outrageous!
9 Creepy Classmates
It all makes sense now! I was probably one of the quiet and arguably more normal kids back in school. I always wondered to myself why some of the guys thought it was okay to act like a leech toward the girls. If you ask your girlfriends right this second I bet they can tell you endless stories about the creepy advances they experienced in school. Maybe it all started on Hey Arnold, in this particular episode you can see one of Arnold’s friends clearly hitting on a smart shy girl in the class. He even comes out with something that is way beyond his years, ‘give daddy some sugar’, the creators of the show are partly to blame for all the double standards that exist in society today. Whether they knew it or realized it at the time or not, they promoted this kind of behavior in men from a very young age, when they were particularly impressionable. If only we could rewind the clock and scrap episodes like this, I wonder how different things would be.
8 Chloe Putting It Out There
Does this really look like the pose of a girl in school? Well, maybe if she was from a rough estate, and was in high school and had reached a horribly slutty desperate stage. No! This is Chloe who is supposedly in primary school. Chloe is often pictured throughout the show acting as though she is way older than her years. She is often drawn as if she is sticking her boobs out in front of other boys and chewing gum in a sexual manner before it pops all over her face. This sexual innuendo is probably the one that makes most angry about the show. Why is it that it is always the girls depicted as putting themselves out there for the sake of the men? It’s no wonder some girls grow up to fulfill the personas of characters like Chloe. They had to learn from somewhere, and I doubt it was their mother.
7 "Wearing Nothing But A Smile"
As you’re starting to realize this show is saturated with subliminal messages. Are you ready for another one? This is a quote from Arnold’s father. Some people will argue that because it’s read by an adult character, it makes it slightly less shocking, but if you ask me it’s still highly inappropriate for a children’s TV show. In this episode, Arnold’s father is talking about his wife, and how the two of them came to create Arnold. I know, gross, right! Yuck. As if that wasn’t bad enough he then goes onto read the note to Arnold himself. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that he penned the words ‘wearing nothing but a smile’. As a child, there is no way that most of us would have noticed that he was, in fact, talking about being naked and making babies. We probably didn’t even give it two thoughts, but perhaps these small and slight sexual images culminate over time and morph all of our brains into becoming a little perverted. I mean why else would men become obsessed with doodling pictures of the manhood in their grade books at the age of 14. I guess it’s all starting to make sense now.
6 Grandpa's Pipe
When doing my research about the show, this was another one that appeared online a hell of a lot. I suppose when a cartoon makes explicit references to drug use, you can’t really ignore it. Especially, when most the adults watching the show back are probably stoners. They don’t go as far to give Grandpa Phil a massive joint and get him to start blazing up on screen, but they do say that he killed off the last of his brain cells at Woodstock. Of course, as a kid, none of us would have known what Woodstock was, but as we get older we learn that it was a huge music Festival in 60s synonymous with partying and excessive drug taking. To be honest, if you turn to the members of your family who were alive and in their prime in the 60s, take a good look at them, and I bet you’ll sense some sort of drug taking in their history. It’s unclear in the cartoon whether Grandpa Phil still tokes on the Mary J, I suppose at the age of 104 (that’s really how old he is) one toke on the good stuff would probably kill him.
5 Arnold's Offered A Threeway
Prepare for another blatant reference to sex. Although, this one is a little more laughable. Some people online consider this one of the funniest moments of all time. However, I am not really prepared to agree, as it is still a kids TV show and goes again all my moral compasses. Albeit, the look on Arnold’s face is pretty priceless, he’s award and blushing. Again, we are not sure why the creators decided to use this terminology. All I can think is that it was for their own amusement. It just goes to show how little attention our parents must have paid back in the day. If my kid was watching something like this and I heard this in the background, I’d probably break my neck trying to turn around quick enough. I’d immediately switch off the TV and ban them from ever watching the show again. How can you ignore something as blatant as this! It should make our parents ashamed, subjecting us to stuff like this at such a young age would be considered abuse these days!
4 That Time Grandad Went On A Date With Two Younger Women
This is also wrong on SO many levels. As if Grandpa hadn’t already become creepy enough while reading this, we are here to add fuel to the fire. Not only is his head shaped like a giant shaft, he was also a huge player, fooling around with girls less than a quarter of his age. Gross. There is no way something as disturbing as this would be able to make it on to TV these days. I can’t help but ask myself how they got away with stuff like this. It baffles me. When we were younger we probably didn’t even bat an eyelid at the fact Grandpa is pictured heading out with not only one, but two younger girls! Who knows, maybe he had a secret stash of cash, and these two pretty ladies were just massive gold diggers in the eyes of the producers. I guess we will never really know until we start really digging for answers. However, this is probably the one that shocked me the most when I revisited certain episode. Pimping ain't easy, when you’re Grandpa Joe.
3 Arnold Pulled!
Imagine being brainwashed as a kid into thinking that if you’re a guy you have to start picking girls up from a very early age. Well, that’s what happened here. Shamefully. Again you probably didn’t notice on first watching, but in this screen shot, you can clearly see that Arnold has pulled a much older woman who is writing down her number on his hand. Although most men reading this are probably thinking they should give Arnold a pat on the back for getting this girl's number, I bet the women reading this can’t help but roll their eyes. After all, I’ve never known anyone to write down their number on their hand or on a piece of paper. It’s just not very realistic. Not to mention, Arnold is supposed to be around ten years old, I don’t know about these days, but back in my time I don’t even think I ever spoke to a girl until I was at least 14. It was way too much pressure for my younger self.
2 Hugs From Behind
This is so wrong on so many levels. Do you remember when Arnold gave his friend a hug from behind? You probably missed it on first viewing, let us remind you. Take a look at the picture. Take a very good look. Arnold is pictured giving his friend a hug from behind. First off, who gives hugs from behind? I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. Not to mention, his friend doesn’t exactly look like he’s enjoying himself. It doesn’t exactly promote the right decorum in which children should treat their friends. Especially, because it looks like Arnold’s friend has a broken arm. Who knows what the creators were thinking when they added this scene into the mix. In fact, I don’t even like to think about it for too long because it makes my head hurt.
1 Grandpa's Face
This is one of the most well-known hidden images to emerge out of the show. Take a look at the shape of Grandpa's head. Do you see it? If you don’t, take another look, and pay particular attention to the shape at the bottom and the top. Only the sickest and warped child’s mind would have noticed it when the show aired in the 90s. You’re not telling me that the TV show's animator didn’t notice he was drawing a massive shaft every time he got around to drawing grandpa's face? If like me, you love scrolling through the depths of the internet, you may have also read that many people feel like Peter Griffin from Family Guy also has a face that resembles the male manhood. If you’re an avid watcher of the show you probably noticed that even the show makes a reference to it. Most people thought this was a first when it came to subliminal message in cartoons, but no, Grandpa Phil was definitely the first! On reflection of this revelation, I can’t help but wonder what possessed the creators to want to include such a thing. Maybe they were a little immature and did it as a joke, but when you know that the demographic for your show is so young, I really can’t seem to find it that funny.