Arnold Ziffel

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Arnold Ziffel
Green Acres character
Arnold Ziffel, 1967
Created byPaul Henning
In-universe information
SpeciesDomestic pig

Arnold Ziffel was the porcine character featured in Green Acres, an American situation comedy that aired on CBS from 1965 to 1971. The show is about a fictional lawyer, Oliver Wendell Douglas, and his wife, Lisa – city-dwellers who move to Hooterville, a farming community populated by oddballs. Arnold is a pig of the Chester White breed, but is treated as the son of farmer Fred Ziffel and his wife, Doris, a childless couple. Everyone in Hooterville (besides Oliver Douglas) accepts this without question. Arnold's first TV appearance was in the second season of Petticoat Junction in the episode "A Matter of Communication".


The humor that surrounds the character of Arnold comes from his human-like abilities and lifestyle, and from the way the people of Hooterville insist on thinking of him as a fellow human. They invite him to town meetings, they play checkers with him (and lose), and they speak English to him and can understand him when he speaks with pig squeals and grunts. New resident Oliver Douglas is the lone holdout. He tries to explain to people that Arnold is just a pig, but no one will listen to him.[1] On the contrary, they are suspicious of Oliver, because of his inability to communicate with Arnold.[2] This dynamic is part of a larger theme of Green Acres, that Oliver's sense of logic is meaningless in the Hooterville universe.[3]

Arnold can do pretty much anything a human can. He can write his name and change channels on the television. He watches the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite to keep up with the issues.[4] He signs checks and can adjust the TV antenna, and he is the smartest student at the local grade school.[5] He carries his lunchbox in his mouth, and often plays practical jokes on the other students.[6] Arnold is also artistically talented: he is working on a novel, he plays the piano, and he is an accomplished abstract painter, dubbed "Porky Picasso", whose piece titled "Nude at a Filling Station" wins first prize out of two thousand entries in a student art contest.[7][4] He even works as a "paper pig" delivering newspapers, although he has a bad habit of throwing copies so hard and so badly aimed that he sometimes breaks windows.

Arnold is very lucky. He wins a trip to Hawaii in one episode, and a trip to Hollywood in another. After a Hollywood screen test, he is cast in a role originally intended for a horse, but after the horse, implied to be Mr. Ed, explains to Arnold that he needs the job to send his son to Stanford, Arnold's deliberate bad behavior leads to him being fired and the horse getting his job back. He also wins a prize at the Pixley Bijou movie theater for having the most original costume... the theater manager says that Arnold has the best looking pig costume he has ever seen.[8]

At one point, Arnold falls in love with Mr. Haney's prized Basset Hound "Cynthia", but in a scene full of pig grunts and dog barks, subtitles explain that they realize their love can never be. Mr. Haney threatens to sue Arnold's "father" Fred Ziffel, claiming that Arnold has ruined Cynthia for dog shows since she has begun to grunt like a pig, too.[citation needed]

One storyline has Arnold inheriting millions of dollars as the sole descendant of the favorite pig of a pork-packing magnate, distinguished by his ability to predict the weather with his tail. Some doubt exists as to Arnold's weather prediction skills when, during the claims process for the money, his tail predicts snow in the middle of warm weather. This prediction is disbelieved and Oliver finds himself in a difficult situation checking out of an expensive hotel, because he has to deal with Arnold's expensive bill being deemed Arnold's "Pig Lawyer" by the town of Hooterville. However, during this difficulty, Arnold's seemingly impossible prediction proves accurate when a freak snowstorm buries the city. So the hotel welcomes Arnold back with open arms.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Arnold's trainer was Frank Inn, who trained virtually all of the animals seen in the rural television comedies of the time period, including Petticoat Junction and Beverly Hillbillies. Inn said that he had to use delicate psychology to train his pigs. Unlike other animals, he explained, a trainer can never force a pig to do anything or reprimand them, or else they will come to dislike the trainer and will not perform for them or even take food from them.[9] Arnold won three Patsy Awards for Inn during the 1960s.

"Arnold Ziffel Museum (*not open to the public)" between a bar and the Spam Museum in Minnesota.

Arnold was actually played by a piglet, and, since piglets quickly grow into adult pigs, at least one piglet per year had to be trained for the role of Arnold during the six years that the show was in production.[10] In most episodes, Arnold was played by a female piglet. The piglet was paid $250 per day and had a union contract.[11]

Arnold received a great deal of fan mail from children as well as adults. A class of sixth-graders from Ohio wrote with a pledge to stop eating pork chops.[12]

One of the Arnolds is buried with Inn at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).[13]

Influence on popular culture[edit]

A popular urban legend circulated during the era of the show's greatest popularity to the effect that the cast and crew of Green Acres butchered then ate Arnold. The story is false.[14][15]

In Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film Pulp Fiction, Arnold is referenced in the ending diner scene.

In the 1995–1999 American sitcom NewsRadio the central character, news director Dave Nelson, was a fan of Green Acres and of Arnold in particular.[16][17]


  1. ^ St. John Allen "RIP Frank Cady, aka Green Acres' Fred Drucker: In Praise of Hooterville, Hotcakes, and Arnold the Pig" June 14, 2012 Forbes retrieved October 22, 2015
  2. ^ Bauman, John; Biles, Roger; Szylvian Kristin M. (2011) The Ever-Changing American City: 1945-Present Rowman & Littlefield Publishers p. 8
  3. ^ Greene, Doyle "Politics and the American Television Comedy: A Critical Survey from I Love Lucy Through South Park" McFarland (2007) pp. 108-9
  4. ^ a b Greene, Doyle Politics and the American Television Comedy: A Critical Survey from I Love Lucy Through South Park p. 108 (2007) McFarland
  5. ^ St. John Allen "RIP Frank Cady, aka Green Acres' Fred Drucker: In Praise of Hooterville, Hotcakes, and Arnold the Pig" June 14, 2012 Forbes retrieved October 22, 2015
  6. ^ Johnson, Billy "Hooterville, Nev.: It’s time" June 12, 2012 Las Vegas Sun retrieved November 6, 2015
  7. ^ Johnson, Billy "Hooterville, Nev.: It’s time" June 12, 2012 Las Vegas Sun retrieved October 22, 2015
  8. ^ Bloom, Ken; Vlastnick, Frank (2007) Sitcoms: The 101 Greatest TV Comedies of All Time p. 145 Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
  9. ^ Hedgepeth, William The Hog Book p. 110
  10. ^ Hehman-Smith, Margaret "Remembering Arnold: This Pig Was a Trouper Long Before 'Babe'" April 29, 1996 Los Angeles Times retrieved October 13, 2015
  11. ^ Hedgepeth, William The Hog Book p. 111
  12. ^ Hedgepeth, William The Hog Book p. 111
  13. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 23007). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  14. ^ Cox, Stephen (1993). The Hooterville handbook : a viewer's guide to Green acres (1st ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 116, 119. ISBN 0312088116.
  15. ^ "Arnold Ziffel Eaten at Cast Party". 23 April 1997. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  16. ^ NewsRadio script, season 3, episode 8: "Movie Star"
  17. ^ NewsRadio script, season 5, series finale: "New Hampshire"