The Disturbing Story Behind Helga from ‘Hey Arnold’ and Her Connection to Frida Kahlo

Helga hides more than her obsession for Arnold in that cartoon that we loved when we were kids.

Gabriela Castillo

caricatura mujer cabello rubio y moño rosa en la cabeza

Helga Pataki’s obsession with Arnold wouldn’t be her only secret, behind this character there is a chilling story that will leave you frozen.

It is said it all happened in Russia, where a 14-year-old girl with bipolar disorder lived, representing a great threat to those around her.

The girl, who was considered ‘the weirdo’ in the classroom, was under the rejection of her peers, except for a boy who tried to integrate her.

The boy approached her to talk, but began to notice strange actions on her part and ended up completely distancing himself.

What he didn’t know is that he had awakened the real monster living inside the girl, who fell into a deep depression trying to take her own life several times.

The girl’s family, desperate, admitted her to a mental institution, but every time she was at home, she would escape and spy on her crush.

The boy told his parents what was going on and they talked to her family, who took more extreme measures and locked her up in a psychiatric hospital.

She would escape and run to see her ‘love of her life’. They admitted her again and this time she was under extreme surveillance.

On the seventh day of being locked up, she couldn’t take it anymore and cut off her hand to escape, pretending that she needed to go to the hospital.

She searched for the boy everywhere while leaving bloodstains, but never found him. On the contrary, she bled out and died on the way.

The police found her body on the street and took it to the morgue. When they analyzed her body, they noticed wounds on her skin that formed the word Arnold.

Legend has it that this tragic and disturbing story behind Helga from ‘Hey Arnold!’ was sold to the producer by a psychologist who would take care of separating her, making her one of the favorites of a whole generation.

Helga hey arnold - the disturbing story behind helga from ‘hey arnold’ and her connection to frida kahlo

Helga Pataki and Frida Kahlo

Helga’s face may look familiar to you, and it’s no coincidence. This character from ‘Hey Arnold!’ is inspired by Frida Kahlo.

It was Craig Barlett, creator of the cartoon, who revealed that he took traits from the Mexican painter when she was a child to bring this little girl with a unibrow, blond hair, and pink dress who was obsessed with Arnold, whom she bothered so he wouldn’t notice her crush, to life.

“Helga is the most complex. She is very powerful and vulnerable, full of contradictions. There is something very fun about how she pretended to hate Arnold and then confessed her love for him in crazy and poetic monologues. She could do bad things, and then suffer the consequences in funny ways, a demonstration of instant karma,” Craig once said in an interview.

Story originally written in Spanish by Nayeli Párraga in Cultura Colectiva.