After the success of The Rugrats Movie (1998) and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000), Nickelodeon came to an agreement with Hey Arnold! (1996) Creator Craig Bartlett for an Arnold theatrical film, as well as a television movie. The original plan was for the theatrical film to be about Arnold searching for his parents, titled The Jungle Movie, while the television movie, originally titled "Arnold Saves the Neighborhood", was about Arnold saving his neighborhood from being torn down. Problems with the script kept the theatrical movie on hold for several years, and Nickelodeon, wanting an Arnold movie in theaters before the show lost its popularity, had "Arnold Saves the Neighborhood" converted into this film. However, a poor showing at the box-office, along with Craig Bartlett leaving Nickelodeon for Cartoon Network, caused The Jungle Movie to be put on the shelf indefinitely. However, the show's cult following convinced Nickelodeon to announce on November 23, 2015 that they have green-lighted The Jungle Movie. Bartlett returned as a writer and executive producer, with many of the original cast reprising their respective roles. 'Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie' premiered as a 2-hour long T.V. movie on November 24, 2017, concluding the series.
The film has many references to other films and media such as Mission: Impossible (1996), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Incredible Hulk (1978), All the President's Men (1976), Speed (1994), Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969), and more.