Why Did 'Hey Arnold!' Get Cancelled?

Popular TV shows come and go, but for those who grow up watching the iconic shows, turning on a fan-favorite classic creates a nostalgic moment to a simpler time. For millennials, several 90s cartoons take them back to their childhoods.

Morning and afternoon cartoons were the highlights of many 90s kids’ days. Nickelodeon has always been the go-to network for children’s TV shows, and during the 1990s, it was the prime spot to watch popular shows to discuss with your friends at school the next day. 

Hey Arnold! was one of the shows that hooked many kids and parents on the adventures of the nine-year-old “football head” and his friends. It is one of the most beloved Nicktoons, so why did it get canceled? 

Looking back at ‘Hey Arnold!’

Hey Arnold! is an animated TV series that debut on Nickelodeon in 1996. The cartoon became an instant hit and aired 100 episodes and one movie before it got canceled.

Craig Bartlett was the creator behind Hey Arnold! While working on Pee-wee’s Playhouse in 1987, Bartlett created claymation about characters Arnold and Penny, which was the inspiration for the hit children’s Nicktoon. He created the series’ pilot episode in his living room in 1994, and the producers of Nickelodeon decided to air the series. 

The iconic show centers around a fourth grader named Arnold, best known for his football-shaped head, and his daily adventures in an inner-city with various friends and neighbors. Arnold lives with his grandparents in the Sunset Arms boarding house and is always helping the tenants or classmates solve personal problems or running into trouble himself.

Arnold’s best friend is a street-smart character named Gerald, who serves as his sidekick on daily adventures. Helga Pataki is another main character of the show and is always bullying Arnold to hide her secret love for him. 

When did ‘Hey Arnold!’ end? 

As Nickelodeon’s first animated series to feature actual kids voicing its characters rather than adults, several child actors voiced Arnold due to the actors reaching puberty while filming the show. Despite the need for changing voice actors throughout the years, Hey Arnold! was one of the most successful Nicktoons in the 90s.

The animated series ran for five seasons and came to an end in 2004, shortly after the feature film Hey Arnold!: The Movie was released. Hey Arnold!: The Movie followed Arnold and his friends, Gerald and Helga, as they fight to save their beloved neighborhood from a developer wanting to turn the area into a huge shopping mall.

Unfortunately, the theatrical release did not do well with critics, which led to the cancellation of the second film Bartlett had in the works. Therefore, the series TV finale left fans with many unanswered questions, as it was set up to lead into the second film. 

Disagreements led to the canceled series

After the unsuccessful big-screen debut of Hey Arnold!, disagreements between Bartlett and Nickelodeon began. According to Screenrant, these disagreements prompted Bartlett to leave, resulting in a canceled series. Since the final episode of Hey Arnold!, “The Journal”, was supposed to be the prequel to the second movie, it created a cliffhanger of the fan-favorite series.

However, finally, fans got many of their questions answered nearly a decade later when Bartlett and Nickelodeon joined forces again in 2017. Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie aired as a two-hour TV film, which allowed Bartlett to finish his story and gave millennials the closure they needed for their beloved childhood cartoon. The second movie also allowed Bartlett the chance to set the scene for a Hey Arnold! revival…if he should desire. 

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