Nickelodeon

7 Ways ‘Hey Arnold’ Taught You Stuff You Should Have Been Learning In School

It's better than opening a book! (Not really, but it's still great)

Most people think watching too much cartoons when you're a kid will make you dumber when you grow up, but watching the classic '90s cartoon "Hey Arnold" probably made all of us way smarter.

If you were able to quote whole lines of "Romeo and Juliet" as a kid or hum the tune to the infamous "Toreador Song" from Bizet's "Carmen" on command, then you were definitely an avid watcher of Arnold and his gang of neighborhood kids back in the day. Here are some other well-earned lessons you probably learned about life, art, literature, and how to be a more cultured person:

  1. First of all, "Hey Arnold!" gave you a deep seated appreciation for jazz music.
    Nickelodeon

    Seriously, that show's background music was so chill. Especially the theme song, which composer Jim Lang told Moniqueblog he created back in the '70s for a completely different gig that didn't work out.

  2. You learned a lot about poetry, obviously.
    Nickelodeon

    Not only did Helga's many odes to Arnold inspire us all to rock our own secret notebooks and tortured souls (except maybe we all didn't create giant gum statues like she did, which is good), but Mr. Simmons also taught Arnold's class a lot about poetry over the course of the show. In one episode he quotes Walt Whitman, and in another he even reads a poem by "Walter Charles Walter," who's a dead ringer for the real life poet William Carlos Williams.

  3. You learned about Shakespeare.
    Nickelodeon

    Who could forget the classic "Hey Arnold!" episode where Helga and Arnold play the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet? Not only is everyone else in the cast perfectly suited to their parts -- seriously, Curly as Mercutio is geeeeeenius -- but they're all performing the original Shakespearean lines as written.

  4. You learned about both the American judicial system and theater at the same time -- and you didn't even know it.
    Nickelodeon

    Did you ever have to read the play "Twelve Angry Men" in school, or catch the 1957 movie of the same name on TMC? The story, about a group of jurors who are ready to convict an innocent man until one lone men convinces the others not to do so, must have felt really familiar to you the time, right?

    That's because it's exactly the same as the "Hey Arnold!" episode "False Alarm," where Arnold must convince his classmates that Eugene didn't pull the fire alarm at their school. The episode is a purposeful spoof of the classic tale, right down to the part where Arnold stabs a pencil into a candy bar -- Juror 8 does the same thing with a knife into the table they're all sitting around.

  5. You learned about world politics.
    Nickelodeon

    The Christmas episode where Mr. Hyunh reunites with his long-lost daughter is the biggest tearjerker of all, but it also has roots in real-life events; it's strongly implied that he gave up his daughter to help her escape the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War, during which refugees were evacuated from the city in helicopters.

    In another episode, "Veterans Day" Grandpa told Arnold all about fighting Nazis in World War II and Gerald's dad also recounted him with tales of Vietnam. And then there's the infamous "Pig War" episode, which was directly inspired by a real even in history.

  6. You learned all about Emily Dickinson AND Edgar Allen Poe at the same time.
    Nickelodeon

    Not only does Phoebe learn a valuable lesson about the dangers of plagiarism when she copies a poem from a book and wins a writing contest in her class with it, but she does it in a way that's eerily similar to that of the protagonist in "The Telltale Heart," which is a Poe short story about a man who goes insane with guilt after murdering someone. But instead of hearing someone's heart thumping in the floorboards, Phoebe hears the voice of Emily Dickinson telling her she's a cheater -- which is preferable, tbh.

  7. And of course, you learned about opera. So much about opera.
    Nickelodeon

    Like the "Romeo and Juliet" episode, the one where Arnold and the gang insert themselves into classic opera storylines is truly one for the ages. The bulk of the episode deals with "Carmen," but Harold also gets a fun cameo as Pagliaccio the clown (or, as he puts it, the "big ugly clown-o"), and Helga steals the show as the infamous Valkyrie from Wagner's "Die Walküre." You were probably singing "Golden Magic Slingshot" to yourself for days after that.