While it is very clear that the main couple examined in Hey Arnold! is Arnold and Helga, there is a lesser known couple shooting each other sweet looks in the background. This couple is comprised of Phoebe and Gerald, Helga and Arnold’s best friends respectively. Their attraction and love for each other is never stated explicitly, however it is creatively implied. It also can be concluded that the other students of PS 118 know about their feelings for each other. Furthermore, if The Patakis had been made, Phoebe and Gerald would have been an official couple in the series.
Signs of Romance and Compatibility
One doesn’t have to look very closely to notice the definitive signs of Phoebe and Gerald’s love. In fact, the animators have put their feelings out there very clearly, however never in the foreground. Their relationship is never explored as a stand alone episode and no character ever explicitly states anything regarding Phoebe and Gerald’s affections.
Gerald and Phoebe appear to be a very compatible couple. Phoebe’s logic and realistic view of life compliments Gerald’s personality very well. Gerald is a smooth talker and is very street smart. With Phoebe’s book smarts, they’re an unstoppable duo. Furthermore, Phoebe’s logic alleviates some of Gerald’s fears and they both have a very calm personality. With their chaotic best friends, it’s not a mystery that they are able to find comfort and happiness with each other.
The recurrent things that occur between these two include dancing together, talking in the background at parties, shooting each other quick glances, and making offhand comments about the other.
The first hints we see of their relationship is in the season one episode, “Operation Ruthless”. After Helga runs into the Maze of Mirrors after Arnold, who is following Ruth, Phoebe and Gerald exchange a glance that obviously conveys mutual attraction. These glances occur throughout the series at random moments.
Later on in the same episode, during mystery match night at the Tunnel of Love, Phoebe and Gerald end up in the same boat. In their boat they have a conversation where Phoebe relays to Gerald the story of her bumper car accident. This is what follows:
Gerald: Wow. Are you okay?
Phoebe: Yea, I’m okay now.
It is also important to note that Gerald puts his hand on Phoebe’s shoulder as he asks her if she’s okay.
At the end of the episode, Phoebe walks up to Gerald and they leave the fair hand in hand. Interestingly enough, Helga looks surprised at this development, suggesting that this episode marks the beginning of Phoebe and Gerald’s relationship and possibly that Helga did not know about Phoebe’s attraction to Gerald.
Another major episode for the two is “Hall Monitor” where Phoebe emulates Helga in order to gain respect and power in her new position. One thing Phoebe does is give Gerald a ridiculous amount of detentions for things such as turning a corner too wide and having suspiciously quiet shoes. When he throws the tickets up in the air, she gives him an additional one for littering.
It almost seems like that by emulating Helga in her hall monitor duties, she is also mimicking Helga’s actions around Arnold. By showering Gerald with probably the most amount of punishments, Phoebe annoys him and does exactly what Helga does to Arnold. While all the kids are in detention, everyone appeals to her to return to her old self, including Gerald who walks up to her and says the following:
Gerald: And what about the old Phoebe? Who used to always eat the crusts off my sandwiches and give me the middle?
Can I get a resounding AWWWWWWWWWWW!!!! So sweet and adorable.
A final major episode would have be “Wheezin’ Ed” where the two are paired up together to explore the caves for treasure. When Helga pairs them up, they look at each other sweetly. There is also a cute scene where Phoebe kindly explains why there shouldn’t be any sudden drops in the cave, alleviating Gerald’s fear.
Other notable scenes in the series include them talking to each other at Rhonda’s party in “Hey Harold”, enjoying the fair in “Love and Cheese”, Phoebe admiring Gerald’s skills in “Roughin’ It”, Phoebe complimenting Gerald on his solo in “Gerald’s Tonsils”, Gerald’s photo in Phoebe’s locker in “Phoebe Breaks a Leg”, the class photo at the end of “New Teacher”, and the two dancing together in “April Fools Day”. There are many more minor scenes, but these are the ones that stand out to me.
One does have to admit that the ironic thing about Gerald and Phoebe’s pairing is that they are the best friends of Arnold and Helga. Thus they are unable to talk to each other about everything. Gerald definitely doesn’t know about Helga’s true feelings about Arnold and one can presume that Gerald does not openly bash Helga when speaking with Phoebe. Furthermore, Gerald and Phoebe are definitely more loyal to their best friends than to each other. For instance, in “April Fools Day” Gerald supported Arnold’s plan of revenge on Helga while Phoebe supported Helga in fooling Arnold.
Also, it seems that everyone at PS 118 knows about their relationship. Whenever they are seen together, the other students around them act like it’s a normal occurrence and don’t give them any grief about it. The strongest evidence suggesting that their relationship is common knowledge can be seen in the episode “Dinner for Four”. The following occurs:
Helga: Phoebe! You’re coming with me to dinner on Saturday night. 5:00 at a fancy French restaurant.
Phoebe: I am?
Helga: And you’re gonna invite Gerald and then ask Gerald to invite “a friend”. See?
Seeing as how Helga point blank asks Phoebe to invite Gerald shows that she knows Gerald and Phoebe are a thing and that it is normal.
While they’re not necessarily the center of the show, Phoebe and Gerald’s love is probably the sweetest one on there next to Phil and Gertie’s. Their adoring looks, small moments, and calmness behind the chaos that is Arnold and Helga is what makes their quiet relationship an amazing and integral part of the show.