|“||You're a bold kid, Arnold.||„|
|~ Gerald to Arnold|
|“||Hmm, mm, mm.||„|
|~ Gerald to himself|
Gerald Martin Johanssen is the deuteragonist in the Nickelodeon animated television series, Hey Arnold!, and was the tritagonist of the 2017 TV film Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie. He is Arnold's best friend. Gerald is often acknowledged as the token black character for the show.
He was voiced by Jamil Walker Smith throughout the entire run of the series, even as Smith went through puberty (the voice change was explained away when "Gerald's Tonsils" were removed).
He is voiced by Benjamin Flores, Jr. in The Jungle Movie (Atticus from Happy Feet 2).
Gerald is of African-American origin, and his most distinct features are his hi-top fade (classmate Helga often calls him "Tall Hair Boy"), and his red shirt with the number 33 on it. As a child, his redshirt simply said "3". He also wears blue jeans and red and white high top sneakers.
In The Jungle Movie, he wears a red hooded sweatshirt with the same number on it, and different high top sneakers of the same color with white laces. He resembles his brother Jamie O more closely, as his haircut is now a taller version of Jamie O's, and the shape of his head is now less circular, and more similar to his brother's.
Gerald is Arnold's opposite in almost every sense. While Arnold goes through life maintaining a patient and idealistic view, Gerald has a much more pragmatic view on situations and tells things as they are. Gerald is much more savvy and street smart than his best friend and is normally very relaxed. Gerald is at times selfish but is still a loyal and stable friend.
Gerald is Arnold's best friend — which usually means he's on the scene when Arnold's latest escapade happens. Gerald is also the occasional voice of reason (just when Arnold needs it). Gerald has a good deal of knowledge of many legendary stories in the city, or "urban legends" as he calls them ("Stoop Kid" was the first he told, while "Ghost Bride" was the last). He apparently gets these myths from a source he has nicknamed "Fuzzy Slippers", mentioned in many episodes as his reliable assistant. Until Arnold taught him, Gerald did not even know how to ride a bicycle ("Gerald's Secret"). Gerald's catchphrases usually were "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?", "You're a bold kid". But Gerald's interest in Urban legends gave him a fright in one episode ("Four-Eyed Jack") after Gerald said there's no such thing as ghosts, but at the end of the episode, while Gerald is asleep, the ghost awakens him and says a simple "boo" before Gerald screams loudly. The ghost disappeared afterwards.
At school, Gerald is the class president ("Cool Party", "Mr. Green Runs"), and considers himself very cool, and apparently, so do his friends. When it was revealed that Arnold was on Rhonda's so-called "Cool List", and that Gerald was on her other list known as "The Geek List" (due to a grudge Rhonda had against him over running for class president), many classmates were surprised to find this out ("Cool Party"). He seems to know a great deal of children's street culture.
Gerald may be beginning to notice that Phoebe is paying more and more attention to him — and the feeling could be mutual, although Gerald does accept a date to a dance from an older girl in "6th Grade Girls". (There weren't any "Gerald and Phoebe" scenes in any of the second season episodes, but Phoebe has "that look" after Gerald's solo in "Gerald's Tonsils", and they're together throughout Rhonda's party in Hey Harold!".)
- Gerald's last name is spelt "Johanson" in the first season and "Johanssen" in the second season, although it's spelt "Johannsen" in the credits for "The High Life" and "Johansson" in the credits of the "Urban Adventures" tape; since Gerald signs it "Johanssen" in "The High Life", that's the spelling used here.
- Gerald's most distinct features are his hi-top fade (classmate Helga often calls him "Tall Hair Boy"), and his shirt with the number 33 on it (he also wears 33 on sports uniforms, a reference to Scottie Pippen).
- In the episode "Gerald's Tonsils" Gerald is a soloist of the chorus, and in the episode "Arnold As Cupid" he's briefly seen playing the violin.
- In Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, Gerald seems to already be aware of Helga's secret, as he grins knowingly with Phoebe while Helga stumbles trying to make an excuse for helping Arnold go to San Lorenzo.