When Big Bob calls Arnold an orphan during a student-parent competition, Arnold asks Grandpa what really happened
to his parents
Written by Craig Bartlett and Antionette Stella
Directed by Larry Leichliter and Tuck Tucker
Storyboard Directors: Sherm Cohen, Tuck Tucker
Animation Director: Christine Kolosov
Storyboard Artists: Tim Parsons, Chris Robertson, Caesar Martinez, Jay Lender
(Only the "Written by" and "Directed By" credits appeared in the opening)
Arnold - Phillip Van Dyke
Gerald - Jamil Smith
Helga - Francesca Marie Smith
Stinky - Christopher Walberg
Eugene (uncredited) - Ben Diskin
Baby Arnold - Rusty Flood
Arnold's father - Craig Bartlett
Arnold's mother - Antoinette Stella
Grandpa - Dan Castellaneta
Grandma - Tress MacNeille
Big Bob Pataki - Maurice LaMarche
Miriam Pataki - Kath E. Soucie
Mr. Simmons - Dan Butler
Eduardo - Stephen Viksten
The families at the Parents Tournament Weekend
Click on the image to see a larger version, as well as a list of which parents are where
- "Why was this episode delayed?" My best guess is that when Nickelodeon
decided to have the planned Hey Arnold!
movie focus on Arnold's parents, they wanted to make this episode the "lead-in" to the
second movie, the way
the Rugrats episode where Didi
finds out she's pregnant was first shown days before The Rugrats Movie (where she gave birth) premiered. For whatever reason (it could have been some combination
of (a) the fact that it had already been shown in other countries a number of times and (b) the show's staff voted
it as their favorite episode), Nickelodeon decided to turn it into a Mother's Day / Father's Day episode (this
is the first episode of any Nicktoon to have two days associated with it, even though the episode itself has nothing
to do with either holiday other than involving parents). Note that Nickelodeon has been showing this as a "regular"
episode since its first USA broadcast.
- I assume from the way Grandpa tells the story that he's Arnold's father's father.
(If he was Arnold's mother's father, he probably would have told how Arnold's mother was examining ruins
when his father stumbled down that hill, rather than how Arnold's father was delivering medicine when he first
saw his mother.)
In "The Journal", it is clear that Grandpa and Grandma
are Arnold's father's parents.
- Now we know what Arnold saw in Ruth: she has the same melon-shaped head as his
- The flyer Mr. Simmons hands out says "PARENTS DAY" on it, but it's
always referred to as "Parents Tournament Weekend".
- In the crowd or competing, we see the following parents (besides Helga's, of
course): Brainy's parents, Curly's parents, Eugene's father, Gerald's parents, Harold's parents, Lila's
father, Lorenzo and his mother, Nadine's parents, Phoebe's
parents, Rhonda's parents, Sid's parents, Stinky's father,
and Sheena's parents.
- Patty and her parents are in the crowd when Grandma almost falls off the wall
- but isn't this limited to fourth graders?
- Quite a few parents both look like their child: Brainy's (both have Brainy's
grin/overbite), Curly's (both wear glasses like Curly's), Rhonda's, and Sid's (both have long noses like Sid).
- On the other hand, Eugene's father looks a little like Chuckie's father on Rugrats, Sheena's mother looks like Grandpa (well,
Grandpa wearing a lot of long brown hair), and...
- Yet Another Question You Didn't Know You Wanted Answered: "Nadine is black
but has blonde hair - does she have mixed-race parents?" Apparently, yes (in the words of Jerry Seinfeid,
"not that there's anything wrong with that"); assuming she's standing in front of her parents, her father
is white (with blonde hair) and her mother black. (I say "apparently" because you never see Nadine competing
- however, you see the three of them together in "Stinky's Pumpkin".)
- Speaking of the crowd, in the first picture, when everyone is shown from behind,
that could be Eugene's mother at the far right of the front row (which would match the woman we see in "Eugene's
- ...but Eugene is standing next to her - and then he's carrying in the torch from
the other side of the park.
- In the first scene where she's shown, Harold's mother is a brunette, but after
that she has her normal brownish hair color.
- Speaking of changing hair color, Grandma has dark hair in the scenes with young
Arnold, but in "Girl Trouble" and "The Old Building", she used to be a blonde.
- If the music in the last dream scene (between the two days of the event) sounds
familiar, it's because it sounds like "Look Up" from the first-season episode "The List".
- Before the egg toss, Mr. Simmons says that Arnold's and Phoebe's families are
tied for second, and Gerald's family was third; usually (but not always), if there is a two-way tie for second,
the next place is fourth, as there are three that are ahead of that place. (In the Olympics, for example, if there
is a tie for second, two silver medals are awarded, but no bronze medals.)
- In the egg toss, both of Gerald's parents had egg on them, but it appeared as
if a team was out when just one of them dropped an egg - and, presumably, each team consisted of one
- Usually, catching an egg with anything other than your hands is illegal in an
- In the scene where Arnold's parents leave for the last time, Grandma's hair is
dark at first, then it becomes purplish-gray.
- I realize it's "SuperGrandma" against Miriam the bull-rider, but usually
women aren't expected to climb walls in obstacle courses. (Back when The
Superstars had a women's competition, the obstacle course did have a
wall, but there were bars that the competitors climbed up rather than having to use a rope.) Pardon me for
giving what sounds like a sexist reason, but "most women just aren't strong enough".
(Girls, maybe, but females reach a point where their
arms don't develop more strength - this is why, after a
certain age, the Presidential Physical Fitness Test switches
from pull-ups to "flexed arm hang".)
- How are Lila and her father (or, for that matter, Stinky and his father) supposed
to compete in any event that requires both parents (like the obstacle course and the relay race)? (This would have
been a good time for Olga to show up...)
- Did you ask "why bother having a race if it ends with two competitors jousting
each other, so it doesn't matter who gets there first"? I did, until I realized that whoever got their
"jousting stick" first could attack their opponent without worrying about being hit back.
- Mr. Simmons says that Arnold's and Helga's families were the first to compete
in the last event, but that means they were the only ones to compete in it, so how did Phoebe's family win?
- No wonder they won, though; at the beginning of the second day, you can see the
three of them limbering up where everybody else is just standing around.
- In the tricycle section of the last event, the chinpiece of Helga's helmet kept
- There's one thing I don't understand: Arnold's parents lived somewhere
before they left Arnold with Grandpa. What happened to
all of their stuff - like, say, Arnold's father's diplomas
(Grandpa said he was a doctor) - which would have answered a
lot of Arnold's questions as to who his parents were?
Well, Arnold eventually found something of his father's -
April Fool's Day
Arnold, tired of being the recipient of all of Helga's April
Fool's Day pranks, plays one on her, but it blinds her, and he
has to be her "seeing-eye football-head"
Written by Craig
Bartlett, Michelle Lanmoreaux, and Joseph Purdy
Directed by Raymie Muzquiz and Tuck Tucker
Animation Director: Christine Kolosov, Donald A. Judge
Storyboard Artists: (none credited)
Arnold - Alex Linz
Helga, Sheena - Francesca Smith
Gerald - Jamil Smith
Phoebe - Anndi McAfee
Harold - Justin Shenkarow
Rhonda - Olivia Hack
Sid - Taylor Gifaldi (not to be confused with his brother, Sam)
Stinky - Christopher P. Walberg
Curly - Adam Wylie
Eugene - Blake Ewing
Brainy - Craig Bartlett
Grandpa, Wyatt (ice cream salesman) - Dan Castellaneta
Grandma - Tress MacNeille
Mr. Simmons - Dan Butler
Principal Wartz - David Wohl
School nurse (Sheena's aunt) - Mary Gross
uncredited: Man knocked over on sidewalk
"Why were there
so many voice changes?" Mainly because this episode
was recorded about two years after just about all
of the other fifth-season episodes and the first movie.
(Notice that Taylor Gifaldi - I assume he's Sam's younger
brother - voices Sid, for example.) This is one of the
two episodes Nickelodeon asked for to fill in the gap in its
schedule caused when the three-part "Arnold Saves the
Neighborhood" became Hey Arnold!: The Movie; the
other one is a two-part episode that is supposed to be the
build-up to the second movie, assuming Nickelodeon ever
decides to resume production on it (that's a long story in
itself, involving Craig Bartlett and Cartoon Network).
Another of life's
great questions is answered in this episode: right after
Arnold and Helga are almost hit in the street, they land in
front of "Hillwood City Hats", so the name of the city must
be "Hillwood City".
It seems a bit
out of character of Sheena to play a "harmful" prank like
tying somebody's shoelaces together.
tape machine at the dance was a Purdy; not particularly
Joseph Purdy was one of the episode's writers.
Speaking of which, back in the
days before computer sound cards and the ability to record
sounds "digitally", the only "easy" way to play a sound
backwards was to use a reel-to-reel machine (you could try
it with a record player by moving the turntable backwards
manually - this is how most people played Beatles songs
backwards to hear the "hidden messages" that "proved" Paul
McCartney was dead - but you wouldn't get a constant speed
and it tended to damage the equipment). (By the way,
if you play the music backwards, it does sound like "generic
disco" music, most likely played by whoever played the rest
of the show's music.)
Nickelodeon - the
network where you can't (or at least couldn't) say "dead",
but you can say "farted".
To paraphrase a not-too-old
Saturday Night Live joke (used a lot by David Spade in
his "Hollywood Minute" segments), "I liked this episode
better the first time I saw it...when it was called
What, you mean there are
people out there who have never seen the movie It's a
Wonderful Life? (Then again, ever since NBC got
the sole rights to show it, it's not on just about every TV
station in the USA at Christmas like it used to be.)
The movie includes a scene with a dance that ends with the
floor opening up into a swimming pool, just like the
episode. (The movie is probably more famous as the
inspiration for a plot that has been used in what seems to
be every TV show ever made: someone thinking that had they
never been born, then everybody else's life would be better,
until the person is shown (usually by an angel, as in the
movie) what would have happened.)