Happy Tree Friends
|Happy Tree Friends|
|Creative director||Dean MacDonald|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||5 (total: 6)|
|No. of episodes||93 (total: 194) (list of episodes)|
|Running time||1–5 minutes|
|Production company||Mondo Media|
|Original release||December 24, 1999 –|
December 22, 2016[nb 1]
Happy Tree Friends is an American adult animated web series created by Aubrey Ankrum, Rhode Montijo, and Kenn Navarro, and developed by Montijo, Navarro, and Jeremy Viet Duong for Mondo Media. The show had achieved a cult following on Mondo Media, G4 and YouTube. Montijo, Navarro, Graff, Ankrum serving as showrunners.
Being an adult animated show disguised as a kids cartoon show, the series features cartoon anthropomorphic forest animals, who are suddenly subjected to very extreme and cruel graphic violence in any episode. Each episode revolves around the characters enduring accidental or deliberately inflicted pain, murder or mutilation.
While working on Mondo Media, Rhode Montijo drew a character on a piece of scrap paper who would later become Shifty. He then drew a yellow rabbit that bore some resemblance to Cuddles, writing "Resistance is futile" underneath it on a spreadsheet poster. Rhode hung the drawing up in his workstation so other people could see his idea, and eventually the idea was pitched to and accepted by the Mondo Media executives. In 1999, Mondo gave Aubrey Ankrum, Rhode Montijo, and Kenn Navarro a chance to do a short for them. They came up with a short named "Banjo Frenzy", which featured a dinosaur (an earlier version of Lumpy) killing three woodland animals, a squirrel, a rabbit, and a beaver (earlier versions of Giggles, Cuddles, and Toothy) with a banjo. From there, Mondo gave them their own Internet series, which they named Happy Tree Friends.
Mondo Media CEO John Evershed attributes the success of the series to animator Kenn Navarro. "He had a clear vision for that show and he's just a brilliant animator. He has created something that is pretty universal. I envision kids watching Happy Tree Friends 20 or 30 years from now the same way that they watch Tom and Jerry now. So really it's Kenn Navarro."
In 2014, after the episode "Dream Job" was released, Mondo Media announced plans to produce a feature film based on the series, but in 2016, Kenn Navarro tweeted that he was unaware of work being done on a film, but that his team were "in talk to do more shorts". Later, when a fan asked Kenn Navarro about the film, he replied: ""a treatment that [I] and the writers did was all the work (that [I] know of) for the movie."
Throughout December 2016, Mondo Media released five all-new episodes for purchase online. Bundled as a set named "Happy Tree Friends: Still Alive", the episodes came with some additional bonus material such as background designs, animated storyboards, the animation process, and a writer's session video. Upon purchase, the buyer was allowed to download the DRM free video files to their own computer. In January 2017, Kenn Navarro tweeted "As I understand, sales were OK but fell below what was expected."
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Happy Tree Friends is a parody of children's television shows (e.g. The Smurfs, The Get Along Gang). All the characters are anthropomorphic mammals, they all (with the exception of Lumpy, Sniffles, and Buddhist Monkey) have two front buck teeth and pink heart-shaped noses. In early episodes, most characters played the roles of children playing childish games. However, as the series progressed, the age concept was dropped, and now characters act variously like children, teenagers, and adults in different episodes. The only characters who are unaffected by this concept are Pop and Cub, who always act like an adult and a child respectively, and characters whose roles usually are not affected by age, such as Splendid or Cro-Marmot.
At the beginning of each episode, the characters are typically found in everyday situations. However, these situations always escalate into violence, and the inevitable deaths of those involved and/or "innocent" bystanders, mostly because of very unfortunate, surprising accidents with otherwise harmless instruments. Some of the characters have mental illnesses, like Flippy, who has post-traumatic stress disorder from a war and will become a killer in certain situations (such as when balloons pop, which sounds like gunfire to him).
The show's characters sometimes appear not to notice others' deaths or injuries, despite clear indications (such as blood coming out of their mouths), or they seem to overcome their deaths (save for the web episode "Happy Trails Pt. 2," in which several funerals are held, and the first few are taken seriously). Most characters always reincarnate for the next episode.
Each episode starts with introduction credits resembling a children's book, which portrays the show's logo, the episode title (which is usually a pun), and the cast – and ends with an iris shot, followed by the end credits, where a moral is shown at the very end. Internet episodes have a typical duration of a maximum of four minutes. Usually only a few of the characters are used in a single episode, but occasionally longer episodes have been released in which most of the characters appear (and in one case, the entire cast [with the exception of the Buddhist Monkey, Lammy, and Mr. Pickels] have appeared). Television episodes last about half an hour, having three segments of about seven minutes each.
|First released||Last released||Network|
|1||27||December 24, 1999||October 20, 2001||Mondo Media|
|2||28||September 1, 2002citation needed][||December 15, 2005|
|TV series||39||September 25, 2006||December 25, 2006||G4|
|3||25||October 24, 2007||March 29, 2013||Mondo Media|
|4||9||June 14, 2013||March 6, 2014|
|Still Alive||5||December 7, 2016||December 22, 2016|
A total of 132 segments have been released across ninety-three web episodes and the thirteen episodes (39 segments) of the television series.
The television series was first shown at Comic-Con 2006, while some of the episodes were shown on the website a few weeks prior to the show's television premiere. The television series would premiere on September 25, 2006 at midnight on G4's late-night block, Barbed Wire Biscuit (later renamed Midnight Spank). The web series also aired on the network's animation anthology series; Happy Tree Friends and Friends and G4's Late Night Peepshow.
The Canadian channel Razer (now MTV2) aired the show in syndication with then-sibling television network Citytv, and then OLN. Internationally, the series was broadcast on MTV in Europe and Latin America, and Animax in South Africa.
Characters and cast
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- Cuddles – A yellow rabbit who has big ears, pink cheeks, and a tiny fluff of fur on his head that looks like his tail, along with a pair of pink bunny slippers. He is sometimes shown to be rebellious and often does things that are extremely dangerous, while he is cute and cuddly at other times. He is considered to be the series' (unofficial) mascot and has the highest death count in the series. His deaths usually involve his body being sliced apart, vehicles, and his intestines. He is voiced by Kenn Navarro.
- Giggles – A pink chipmunk with a small red bow on her head. She was the first female Tree Friend introduced. She is generally considered a girly girl along with her best friend, Petunia. Her early design depicted her as a blue squirrel. Her deaths usually involve being crushed, her chest, and her head. She has been voiced by three actresses since her debut: Dana Belben (Season 1–2), Ellen Connell (Season 2–present, TV Series), and Lori Jee (Season 3).
- Lumpy – A blue moose with mismatched antlers. He is extremely dim-witted, which often leads to the deaths of many other characters and sometimes his own, but ironically, he has had more jobs than any of the other Tree Friends. His early design in Banjo Frenzy portrayed him as a dinosaur instead of a moose, and also presented him as quick to anger and having murderous tendencies, both of which were removed with his first appearance in the series proper. He is the tallest of the main characters, and is one of two main characters to not use the basic body shape. He is usually portrayed as an adult, or at least older than the other characters. He is usually considered as the show's main character, as he has appeared in the most episodes, had the most starring roles, survived the most, and has killed more characters than any other character, although these deaths are mostly unintentional and a result of his stupidity. When he dies, his deaths often involve machinery, animals or his own mistakes. He was first voiced by Rhode Montijo (Season 1–2) and is currently voiced by David Winn (Season 2, TV Series, Season 4).
- Toothy – A purple beaver with freckles and huge buckteeth unlike the others (hence the name "Toothy"). He is friends with Cuddles. His deaths mostly pertain to his eyes and sharp objects. Many people consider him the most undeveloped character in the show or a "redshirt". He is voiced by Warren Graff.
- Nutty – A jittery green squirrel with a crazy candy fetish and a candy outfit consisting of three lollipops on his head and a candy cane on his chest. He is shown to be quite obsessive, as seen in the False Alarm episode, since after getting over his candy addiction, he gained interest in video games and quickly became addicted to them. Eating sugar makes him experience an exaggerated sugar rush. He has one small black pupil on his left eye, while his right, which is afflicted by a case of lazy eye, has a green iris (making it resemble Evil Flippy's eyes). His deaths usually involve his mouth, getting impaled, crushed, split apart, or shredded, and breathing problems. He is voiced by Michael "Lippy" Lipman.
- Flippy – A green bear with an soldier uniform. Flippy is a war veteran with a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder. Whenever he sees or hears anything that reminds him of war, he flips out (hence the name "Flippy"), thinking he is still in the middle of warfare, which generally results in him murdering everyone around him. This alter ego is known as "Fliqpy" (as the first "p" in his name is flipped horizontally into a "q") or "Evil Flippy". He is one of the most popular characters in the series and has the highest intentional kill count. He rarely dies in the series, but when he does, his deaths usually involve vehicles, machinery, and explosions, and these deaths mostly happen when he is in his good side. He is voiced by Kenn Navarro, while his evil self Fliqpy is voiced by Aubrey Ankrum, who also provided Flippy's normal voice up until 2005.
- Flaky – A red, nervous porcupine with spiny dandruff on her quills (hence the name "Flaky"). Flaky is a paranoid character with an extreme fear of dying, is shown to be a coward and is highly unstable. Flaky's gender was never made clear, though hints always leaned toward her being female. Flaky's deaths usually involve her getting skinned, burned, or even eaten, and can also involve animals. She is voiced by Nica Lorber.
- Handy – An orange beaver, ironically named for his amputated hands that are wrapped in bandages, a tool belt, and a yellow hard hat. His amputated hands cause him trouble that often frustrates him, and his disabilities result in the death of either him or other Tree Friends. He is the Tree Friend that most often does construction work, which he manages to do without trouble as long as it is off screen. He also briefly had boots. His deaths usually involve glass, his organs, impalement, being cut in half, and his head. He is voiced by Warren Graff.
- Petunia – A blue skunk with a pink flower head accessory and a tree air freshener necklace. She is generally considered a girly girl along with her best friend, Giggles. In later episodes, she develops obsessive–compulsive disorder and seems to feel the need to keep everything clean. Her deaths usually involve her head and household appliances. She has been voiced by three actresses since her debut: Dana Belben (Season 1–2), Ellen Connell (Season 2–4), and Lori Jee (Season 3).
- Disco Bear – A golden bear with an afro and '70s-style clothing. He is also a bit overweight, as is pointed out in Ipso Fatso. In most episodes, he is seen flirting with the girls, such as Giggles and Petunia, who simply find him to be a nuisance. His deaths usually involve his head, his eyes, and explosions. He is voiced by Peter Hermann.
- Mime – A purple deer with a white-colored painted face and striped shirt. He means to be entertaining, but results in others around him getting killed or getting self-killed. He normally rides a unicycle while juggling three balls. Being a mime, he does not talk, which normally results in the Tree Friend he is communicating with not understanding him, which in some cases causes many deaths. For example, in the television episode "Who's to Flame?", he tries to tell the fire department that the house is burning down, but since they are talking over the phone, Lumpy the firefighter is unable to understand him before hanging up. Later, seeing more firefighters, the Mime tries to communicate with them using body motions, but they still do not understand. His deaths usually involve his head, metallic objects, machinery, and vehicles. His rare instances of audible noises (such as choking or gagging) are provided by Sarah Castelblanco.
- Splendid – A blue flying squirrel with a red superhero mask. As a superhero, he ironically causes more harm than good and bears some similarities to Superman, such as his weakness being a green crystalline acorn known as Kryptonut (a parody of Kryptonite) in the television episode "Gems the Breaks", which is also his only death. His archenemy is an evil doppelgänger of himself known as Splendont. He was first voiced by Rhode Montijo (Season 1–2) and is currently voiced by David Winn (TV Series–Season 4).
- Russell – A light blue sea otter pirate, adorned with a pirate's hat, an eyepatch over his right eye, a hook on his right hand, and two peg legs. He has the overall appearance of a pirate, but after Season 1, he lost his five o-clock shadow. He is often seen doing water-related activities such as fishing or sailing, and his deaths are often nautical-themed, such as being eaten by an orca, impaled through his eye socket on his own ship's mast, or speared through the mouth by a swordfish. He was first voiced by Jeff Biancalana (Season 1–2) and is currently voiced by Francis Carr (TV Series–Season 4).
- The Mole – A blind purple mole with black glasses, a purple turtleneck sweater, a cane, and a mole near his nose. Due to his blindness, some of his actions get him and the other Tree Friends killed. He often does things blind people should not be doing, such as reading and driving. His archenemy is a noir-type rat villain simply known as The Rat. He rarely dies, but when he does, his deaths usually involve his head, getting impaled or crushed, explosions, and losses of body parts. Unlike other characters, he is not voiced by an actor.
- Lifty and Shifty – Two green raccoons who steal whatever they can when possible. Shifty wears a dark green fedora, and Lifty does not. Shifty was the first Tree Friend to be created, way before Cuddles. Even though they are brothers, they often argue, and one brother is prone to turning his back on the other in favor of the loot, but it always end up backfiring, as the double-crossing brother suffers a karmic death as a result. They have the lowest survival rates of all the characters as they always seem to get their comeuppance. Their deaths usually involve machines, vehicles, being mashed together or sliced apart, impalement, and heat. Both were initially voiced by Mark Giambruno (Season 1–2) and are currently portrayed by Kenn Navarro (TV Series–Season 4).
- Sniffles – A brainy blue anteater with big glasses and a mouth on his snout. Sniffles is the smartest character in the Happy Tree Friends series, but sometimes lacks common sense. He makes many inventions, but these tend to backfire at inopportune times, sometimes resulting in his death or the death of other characters. He often attempts to eat a family of ants, who manage to save themselves while killing their natural predator in some of the most graphic and sadistic ways possible. His deaths usually involve his tongue, head, limbs, and organs. He is voiced by Liz Stuart.
- Pop and Cub – Two tan father-and-son bears. Pop wears a robe and is always seen smoking a tobacco pipe, while Cub wears a diaper and a beanie with a propeller. Cub has appeared without Pop in some episodes and vice versa. Pop usually causes misfortune to his son casually or negligently, ending with Cub and others injured or dead – sometimes this negligence gets himself killed as well. Other times it is Cub that gets himself into danger. Pop is voiced by Aubrey Ankrum; Cub has been voiced by three actresses since his debut: Dana Belben (2000–2005), Ellen Connell (2005–2009, 2011–present), and Lori Jee (2009–2011).
- Lammy – A purple sheep with a purple bow and a white sweater representing her wool. Introduced in Q2 2010, she has a supposedly imaginary friend named Mr. Pickels, a sentient pickle who apparently enjoys brutally murdering everyone for fun (however, Mr. Pickels' actual sentience is still ambiguous). She is voiced by Renée T. MacDonald.
- Mr. Pickels – A pickle with a top hat and mustache. He acts similar to Evil Flippy, due to his tendency of violently killing anyone nearby simply for his own enjoyment. He is also Lammy's "imaginary friend" that only she can see in animated form. However, in the web episode "Royal Flush", Giggles is able to see him, in which he also manages to single-handedly kill Flaky. At first, Lammy thinks of him as nice, but Mr. Pickels then starts causing chaos, such as from ripping the head off of Petunia's teddy bear to running over Handy with his own truck in their debut appearances in the web episode "A Bit of a Pickle".
- Cro-Marmot – A yellow-green marmot who wears a leopard-skin loincloth and holds a browm club. He is frozen in an giant block of ice and lives in an igloo in a giant snow-globe in the forest. Despite being frozen, he can perform many tasks when off-screen. He often drives around in an ice cream truck. The only episode where he is not frozen is "Dino-Sore Days", as this episode takes place in prehistoric times. He rarely dies in the series, but when he does, his deaths usually involve heat, disasters, or being eaten. Like the Mole, Cro-Marmot is not voiced.
- Buddhist Monkey – A yellow Buddhist monk monkey who has appeared in three episodes, "Enter the Garden", "Books of Fury", and "Three Courses of Death". His enemies, the Generic Tree Ninjas, are bears that try to destroy what he cherishes. He is voiced by Jeff Biancalana.
- Generic Tree Friends - Black characters who are often used in masses.
- Truffles - A bluish-gray boar. He makes his debut in the episode "A Bit of a Pickle", but most prominently appears in ''Clause for Concern". While he is not a main character, he has been killed in two episodes, by Lumpy in "All in Vein" and Flippy in "By the Seat of your Pants". It was officially stated that he is a bully, indicating that he could be an anti-hero.
|Annecy International Animated Film Festival||2003||Best Animated Short Film Made for the Internet||"Eye Candy"|
|2007||Best Television Series for Adults||"From Hero to Eternity"|
|Ottawa International Animation Festival||2004||Best Animated Short Film Made for the Internet||"Out on a Limb"|
|2005||"Mole in the City"|
|2007||Best Television Series for Adults||"Autopsy Turvy (Double Whammy, Part 2)"|
In other media
Fall Out Boy's 2007 music video for their song "The Carpal Tunnel of Love" was directed by Kenn Navarro and stars characters from the series. The band members also make a cameo as animated characters.
A video game titled Happy Tree Friends: False Alarm was released on June 25, 2008. It was developed by Stainless Games and Sega for Xbox Live Arcade on the Xbox 360 and the PC. There was also an iOS game titled Happy Tree Friends: Deadeye Derby, released in 2014.
A spin-off series called Ka-Pow! aired in September 2008 and is an anthology of action-oriented stories starring The Mole, Flippy, Splendid, and Buddhist Monkey. A total of six episodes have been produced.
In 2014, Kenn Navarro created D_Void, a show similar to Happy Tree Friends and only two episodes had been produced for the series
- While the final official episode "In Over Your Hedge" was uploaded for purchase, it was not made available for free until December 24, 2018.
- Humphrey, Michael (November 11, 2011). "Mondo Interview: Happy Tree Friends Join Eminem, RWJ In YouTube's Billion Views Club". Forbes.
- "Happy Tree Friends: Season 1". Metacritic.com. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
- Horn, Jesse (December 10, 2010). "Happy Tree Friends". Interview with Mondo Media CEO John Evershed. Oddities Magazine. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- "Gruesome fun with Happy Tree Friends". G4tv.com. June 22, 2005. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- "The Kenn Commandments". coldhardflash.com. April 5, 2005. Retrieved April 9, 2005.
- Citia. "2003 Official Selection, film". Annecy.org. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
- No Comments (December 10, 2010). "Oddities Magazine interview with John Evershed". Azalert.com. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- "Mondo Announces Feature Film Plans for 'Happy Tree Friends,' 'Dick Figures' and 'Deep Space 69'". cartoonbrew.com.
- "'Happy Tree Friends' Movie Leads Three-Film Slate For Mondo Media". Tubefilter.
- "FEATURE FILMS ‹ Home Plate Entertainment". homeplateentertainment.com.
- Kenn Navarro [@ChainKnuckle] (August 23, 2016). "@SpringtrapTrap As far as I know, there's no work being done on an HTF movie but we are in talks to do more shorts. Stay tuned..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "QA – Happy Tree Friends – Mondo". mondomedia.com.
- "Happy Tree Friends: Still Alive". htf.mondomedia.com. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
- Kenn Navarro [@ChainKnuckle] (January 16, 2017). "@BL00DYKILLS As I understand, sales were OK but fell below what was expected. 😔" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "CityTV.com". Archived from the original on June 18, 2008.
- "Mondo Media Gaining Revenue from International Licensing". Beet.tv. March 9, 2010. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013.
- Rowe, Abigail. "Would You Watch A Happy Tree Friends Movie? The Scary Aughts Revival Is Coming". NYU Local. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
- "Sega announces Happy Tree Friends False Alarm". sega.com. February 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2007.