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Top Reasons Helga Pataki is a Great Cartoon Character

Updated on July 29, 2016

Helga Pataki is not your typical Disney princess, and that is evident by more than just her placement on Nickelodeon. Often engulfed by a brash demeanor, she is far from graceful. Others see her as a bully, and she does tend to dominate her peers with a cynical facade. But, she consistently retains a diverse complexity. Within moments, Helga can shift from fuming with anger to longing for love. These are traits that make her unique, fun to watch, and relatable. So, she might not have that archetypal female persona evident in many animated characters, but she still is one of the best animated characters ever written. Let's take a look at what makes her so interesting.



Helga struts around in a pink dress with a pink ribbon in her hair, but that is about the extent of her femininity. She doesn't wear makeup or high heels and even speaks out against girls who think they need wrinkle cream in the fourth grade. She has a unibrow that she doesn't wax and embraces it proudly. Even though she often plays sports with the males, she is one of the more competitive players and is far from afraid to get dirty, making her a tomboy by most conventions.

While other female characters might take a back seat or even side seat beside the male protagonist, Helga refuses to be just another character who should be seen but not heard. She is loud and harsh, asserting herself as a strong female lead. If she chooses to be feminine, it is her own choice. A character written with that level of self-confidence can only be appreciated.


Helga far exceeds her peers when it comes to natural intelligence. This is most evident when she receives a perfect score on an aptitude test, matching her perfectionist sister, Olga. This leads Helga to believe that she can do anything. Helga often does not try, however, as she does horribly on test when she fails to put forth the effort. Her mind is often elsewhere though, and her motivation towards schoolwork is slight.

Helga demonstrates the most promise in her writing and literature ability. She is often found delivering Shakespearean style poetry and monologues that she concocts herself. Most of this poetry is aimed at her frustration towards Arnold and the love she has for him. For Helga's character, these poems display a wide range of vocabulary and draw viewers into the dual nature of her feelings. Without this element, Helga could easily be seen as no more than a series antagonist.



As one of the few lead characters in Hey Arnold!, Helga has an extensive background to draw from when analyzing her character. Her background is filled with conflict and doubt as she has parents who pay her little attention. Her mother struggles to take care of herself, and there are hints that she is an alcoholic who suffers from depression. Helga's father, on the other hand, constantly works and has little time for the family, especially Helga. He does hold a fond appreciation for his oldest daughter, Olga, because she is an overachiever.

Of course, there is also Helga and Arnold's relationship. Helga's history with Arnold can be traced back to when she first met him on her way to pre-school. Due to her absent family, Helga latched onto Arnold who was the first person to ever care about her. Helga can't tell Arnold how she feels, though, because she fears that he might reject her, but the fear of rejection makes Helga a much more relatable character.

Emotional Complexity

Helga is a uniquely layered character who expresses emotions counter to what she actually feels in the moment. Her damaged identity is fragile, and she forcefully puts on a mask that covers her intimate desires. For example, she loves Arnold but cannot express that love because she needs to maintain the false sense of power she has over him. If Arnold were to reject how she feels, then she would resort back to having no one.

Even though she hides behind her pushy and somewhat cynical persona, Helga does display a sense of care for others, especially Arnold. In one instance, she helps Arnold finish a Christmas list that he sets out to complete, and in another, she advices him as he searches for a document that will keep his neighborhood from getting demolished. Due to her emotional shifts, she is a character that intrigues viewers.


Helga's diverse nature makes her a difficult character to pass judgement on because she is conflicted with emotions that are identifiable. The struggles that she faces drive much of the story in Hey Arnold!, and the show would not be the same without her.

H is for the head I'd like to punt.
E is for every time I see the little runt.
L is longing for our firstest kiss.
G is for how good that longing is.
A is for Arnold. Doi!!

Farewell for now, Heroic Prince.
Our yellow love chariot has arrived.
Gladly I go now to see to your delicious face.
Sadly, I stash my passion deep in this secret pink place.

-Helga Pataki

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    • Gavin Thagard profile image

      Gavin Thagard 21 months ago from Georgia

      Thanks cairoqween. I felt like she deserved an article.

    • cairoqween profile image

      Cairo Qween 21 months ago from USA