‘Hey Arnold!’: What Is Arnold’s Last Name?
If you ever talked to a ’90s kid, you likely already know how much they love their ’90s TV shows. There isn’t a millennial today who won’t shout from the rooftops how much better the decade was for being a kid, debuting nothing but the best kid show series known today. In fact, most of those shows have transcended the nostalgia of the ’90s and become beloved classics for many adults.
There’s Rugrats, Rocko’s Modern Life, Dinosaurs, and more. Most notably, there was Hey Arnold!, a funny show about a kid with a football-shaped head that was only ever called by his first name or nickname … so what was his last name? A hint from the creator sparks an interesting theory!
The premise of ‘Hey Arnold!’
Making its Nickelodeon debut in 1996, Hey Arnold! was an animated cartoon series that followed Arnold — a football-headed fourth-grader who lived with his grandparents in the city.
The show often took Arnold on a journey that led to him helping another student solve a problem they were struggling with and/or showcase his own problems and him getting through it with his friends by his side. Then, of course, there’s the unforgettable Helga, a girl on the show that bullied Arnold often to hide the fact that she had a big crush on him.
“As much as other Nickelodeon shows tried to straddle the line between kids’ entertainment and sly nods to adults, no show nailed that balance quite like Hey Arnold,” Vox reports. The show “wove urban legends into its empathetic narrative of how hard it can be to grow up — and how rewarding the process can be when you have some friends and a whole lot of imagination.”
Who Arnold is in the show?
With his name in the title, there’s no doubting Arnold is the main lead of the show, even if his friends and grandparents have made a significant amount of appearances as well.
The fourth-grade boy lived with his loving paternal grandparents, but his parent’s whereabouts remain a mystery today. Although he was often bullied by Helga and taking on his adolescence without his parents present, the young boy was still a kind, caring, and optimistic kid. He always saw the good in the people around him, and he’s quick to help anyone out who needs it.
The theory surrounding Arnold’s last name
To be clear, we still don’t actually know Arnold’s last name because it was never said in the show, and the creator never came out and said it or confirmed any fan theories. With that being said, the following theory is as sound as they come.
“In a 2007 Q&A, a fan asked Bartlett which character said Arnold’s surname the most. Bartlett responded with, ‘Grandpa, of course,'” Mental Floss reports. “This has led some viewers to speculate that his real name is Shortman.”
If you’re not totally familiar with the series or simply don’t remember, Arnold’s goofy, good-natured grandfather oftentimes called his grandson by what we all assumed at the time was their own little made-up nickname — “Shortman.”
Now fans are wondering where it came from and if it’s actually his last name. After all, it wasn’t uncommon for people to call each other by their last names back then. Not to mention it is even more common (and even standard in terms of rankings) among army soldiers — and it was revealed in the ‘Veterans Day’ episode that grandpa Phil was a private in World War II.