'Hey Arnold': Why It Took Over a Decade to Make a Second Movie

Hey Arnold! fans finally got the answers they wanted when Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie aired on Nicktoons and TeenNick back in November 2017. It was a long road for creator Craig Bartlett and the show's fans, as the two-hour movie aired over a decade after the show ended. The Jungle Movie also served as a possible launchpad for a revival, but one has never come.

Hey Arnold! debuted on Nickelodeon in October 1996 and ran five seasons, with its finale airing in June 2004. In 2002, Arnold and his friends hit the big screen with Hey Arnold! The Movie. In 1998, Nickelodeon told Bartlett he could develop two movies, with one getting a theatrical release and the other going straight to video. Arnold Saves the Neighborhood was developed as a sequel to the Season 5 episode "Parents Day" and was supposed to be a direct-to-video movie. Nickelodeon and Paramount executives decided to give the film a theatrical release instead because it did well with test audiences. Meanwhile, Bartlett was asked to develop a one-hour episode that would serve as the prequel to a second movie. Titled "The Journal," this aired in November 2002.

Unfortunately, the theatrical release of Arnold Saves the Neighborhood - retitled Hey Arnold! The Movie - turned out to be the wrong move. The movie wasn't a big hit and Paramount canceled the second movie, which was already known as The Jungle Movie at this point. Hey Arnold! fans were left with a cliffhanger ending.

The show's fans never forgot about the canceled movie. TeenNick also began airing re-runs of Hey Arnold! during a special block dedicated to the 1990s Nickelodeon shows, which also revived interest in the series. In 2015, Variety reported that Hey Arnold! would definitely get a revival, a decade after the last episode aired. The network said it would also revive other '90s shows. The Hey Arnold! the revival was not a series though. Instead, it would be the long-awaited Jungle Movie, Bartlett confirmed in March 2016.

"A two-part animated TV movie written and executive produced by the series' original creator Craig Bartlett, will pick up where the original series ended and resolve unanswered questions and plotlines, including Arnold finally getting answers about the whereabouts of his missing parents," Nickelodeon promised. Nickelodeon and Bartlett delivered just that, and The Jungle Movie was a critical success. The movie also won the Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation.

There had been hopes that Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie would lead to a revival or a reboot of the series, but that has not come to pass yet. In 2018, composer Jim Lang said Netflix or Amazon were interested. It seems unlikely that Hey Arnold! would be revived for a streaming platform other than Paramount+ at this point though. Nickelodeon has a Rugrats reboot on Paramount+ that premiered in May. A Dora the Explorer reboot is also in the works. Maybe if these revivals can earn an audience, Hey Arnold! could live again too. In the meantime, you can find Hey Arnold!, Hey Arnold! The Movie, and Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie on Paramount+ to stream.