If the silhouette of that man’s head isn’t problematic enough for you, let’s look at some more not-so-child-friendly moments involving Phil throughout the series.
For example, Phil makes a drug reference in season four’s “Back to School.” Arnold is encouraging his grandpa to return to school since he never finished the fourth grade. Phil is hesitant, claiming that he doesn’t have the smarts to do it because he lost his brain cells at Woodstock. That’s right, at the very least Grandpa Phil smoked some weed, but since it was Woodstock there might’ve been some psychedelic mushrooms, acid, and cocaine ruining that man’s brain cells.
In that same episode, Phil does something more disturbing when he takes two classmates, Connie and Maria, on a date. Yep, the 81-year-old man takes these two 6th grade girls to sneak into a PG-13 movie on a school night. That last sentence has like three acts that are illegal, and one that’s just bad parenting, proof that Phil was low-key a mess.
There was also the time Phil read Arnold stories from his parents’ journal, almost telling him an inappropriate one about their “hottest night in the jungle” in which Arnold’s mom was “wearing nothing but a smile.” Yikes.
And if all that’s not enough, the cherry on top of the questionable Grandpa Phil moments involved Hitler. That’s right, on the season four episode, “Veterans Day,” Grandpa tells a story about how he beat up Hitler. The fact that an evil, red-pupil-having Hitler made an appearance on a show for kids is pretty surprising in and of itself, but perhaps that’s just because there’s no way it’d fly nowadays.
Even though it was all those years ago, it’s funny to think that nowhere along the chain of Hey Arnold’s creators did anyone consider that maybe, just maybe they should steer clear of Hitler. The writers wrote it, the network approved it, and not one person said “Oh, hey guys, this show is rated TV-Y7 because it’s for small children, so maybe we should hold off on the Hitler thing.” Imagine being that cartoonist, sketching out Hitler with your pen, coloring in his little mustache, thinking “this is completely chill and normal and not abnormal.” Maybe the era of sensitivity is wearing on me, but it’s actually not even that this is offensive, so much as it’s an odd thing to include in a children’s cartoon. Anyway, Grandpa Phil talks about how he opened a can of whoop ass on Hitler, poking him in the eyes, then giving him a noogie, and a wedgie, handling him in a fashion worthy of being shown in a World Star fight comp.
All in all, whether he was more PG-13 than Y-7 or not, Grandpa Phil rivals the Rugrats’ Grandpa Lou as the best borderline senile animated Nicktoon. Plus, he was hardly the most inappropriate thing Hey Arnold ever did; have you ever seen the blatant sexual act happening in the background during “Arnold’s Thanksgiving?” That animation is supposed to be people arguing, but it sure looks like something else to me. What do you see?