Move it, football head!
~ Helga G. Pataki to Arnold.

Helga Geraldine Pataki is one of the main antagonists of Hey Arnold!. She is Arnold's arch-nemesis.


In the series itself, Helga often serves as an antagonist due to constantly bullying Arnold and the other children. She often bullies Arnold to hide the fact that she is deeply in love with him. Many of her villainous acts revolve around her attempt to sabotage various people's plans and positions in order to benefit her in some way. Two notable examples are found with "Operation Ruthless" and "Love and Cheese" wherein she repeatedly attempts to ruin Arnold's date at the Cheese Festival with Ruth and Lila respectively. Such methods included entrapping them on an increasingly fast ride, aggressively singling them out on the bumper cars, and drilling a hole in their swan boat to make Arnold and Lila sink in the Tunnel of Love. Neither of these plans led to success. Similarly in "Big Little Sis", Helga tries to cause mayhem in her older sister Olga's "Big Sis, Little Sis" relationship with Lila out of jealousy through causing Olga's car to run out of motor oil and then loosening the wheel of their carriage, prompting the horse to act out of control until Lila stopped it. In all of these cases, Helga is motivated to her acts by jealousy.

One of Helga's most infamous actions as a villain occurs in "Helga and the Nanny" wherein Helga is cared for by hired nanny Inge while her mother Miriam is doing her community service. Helga sees Inge's somewhat invasive and strict but very well-intentioned attempts at improving her image and life as the older woman trying to control her every move. After failing to trip up Inge multiple times, Helga finally frames Inge for theft by planting her father's lucky belt with the diamond buckle in Inge's room. (Subsequently, some see this as a Moral Event Horizon-crossing moment for Helga.) Inge is fired for this act, which eventually drives Helga crazy with guilt. When they meet for the last time, Helga confesses, only to discover that Inge already knew. Inge then explains how Helga is an angry girl who doesn't let anyone help her and thus must suffer in her unhappiness in a tearful deconstruction of Helga's usual Karma Houdini status.


Helga is something of a tomboy, as evidenced by her interest in playing contact sports alongside her male classmates, blatant lack of femininity and disregard, to near dislike, for stereotypical female behavior, as seen in "Helga's Makeover."

She is very sarcastic, cynical and bossy, bullying her 4th-grade classmates with an iron fist, and often taking advantage of her best friend, Phoebe. However, Helga also has a much softer side, which becomes apparent mostly when she is alone and in her school work. She is heavily emotional, and as such, able to comprehend a spectrum of emotions such as love and hate. Occasionally, Helga has acted in a more selfless manner, the biggest examples being when Helga blackmailed Olga's cheating fiance into leaving, knowing Olga would be miserable with him, and when she helped in finding Mr. Hyunh's daughter. During both these events, Helga made sure she was able to cover up her involvement. This emotional extremity is a running joke throughout the series; although Helga is seen as a "tough girl" by her classmates, she is frequently the first to go into hysterics in times of crisis. When it comes to Phoebe doing things for her, she treats her as a servant and rarely thanks her.

Helga is also extremely spoiled and bratty when it comes to Phoebe doing favors things for her and material possessions as seen in Arnold's Christmas when she wants tons of expensive gifts and in the movie when she looks in a magazine for tons of very expensive stuff.

Helga is also known to be a genius. In the episode "The Aptitude Test," in which the class takes a standardized exam, it is eventually revealed that she achieved a perfect score on the test and the most outstanding result since Olga took the test. Presumably, however, the types of grades she receives on an average basis in school vary from low to high — in the episode "Quantity Time," Helga tells her parents that she failed another Math test at school, though in "A Day in the Life of a Classroom," her teacher Mr. Simmons encourages Helga to help Harold because she received excellent scores on the past two Math exams. Her bad grades are most likely caused by her lack of motivation, attention (from both her family and Arnold) and academic concern. Helga appears to excel academically in literature classes, as evidenced by Mr. Simmons' constant praise of her literary work, though he always withholds her name, possibly out of respect as she gets embarrassed when he reads them aloud.




  • Helga is considered the most popular character of the series, except possibly Arnold.
  • Once, there were plans for a spin-off series called The Patakis about Helga and her family, though it was never made. It is currently unknown if or when the series will be created and released.
  • This video by YouTuber DrCoolSex depicts Helga as the main antagonist in a hypothetical horror/thriller Hey Arnold live–action film in which she returns to Arnold's life many years later, still obsessed with him and having grown into a violent sociopath stalker, and attempts to get rid of everyone close to him so she can have him all to herself. The user has stated that this movie may very well be made in full at some time if it is popular enough.
  • One running gag features Helga being followed by an infatuated Brainy, only to have her notice due to his notably heavy breathing and end up punching him in the face in most cases, usually after one of Helga's emotional monologues.

See Also


           Nickelodeon Movie Villains

Animated Features
Rex Pester | Angelica Pickles | Coco LaBouche | Jean-Claude | King Goobot | Ooblar | Poultra | Alphonse Perrier du von Scheck | Nick Vermicelli | Big Bob Pataki | Helga G. Pataki | Sloan Blackburn | Bree Blackburn | Siri | Sheldon Plankton | Mr. Krabs | Karen Plankton | Dennis | Cyclops | Victor | Boat Jacker | Frogfish | Dag | Coyotes | Tortoise John | Rattlesnake Jake | Bad Bill | Hawk | Balthazar | Sakharine | Red Rackham | Burger-Beard

Live-Action Movies
Marion Hawthorne | Kurt Bozwell | Troy and Griffin | Roxanne | Henry Gates | Count Olaf | Bald Man | Hook-Handed Man | White-Faced Women | Mulgarath | Jake | Max | General Zhao | Fire Nation (Fire Lord Ozai, Zuko, & Azula) | Shredder | Foot Clan (Eric Sacks, Karai, Baxter Stockman & Bebop and Rocksteady) | Krang