Happy Tree Friends (Often abbreviated as HTF) is a Flash cartoon series by Mondo Mini Shows, created by Rhode Montijo, Kenn Navarro, Warren Graff and Aubrey Ankrum. Since its debut the show has become a popular internet phenomenon and has won a cult following.
As indicated on the official site, it is "not recommended for small children". Notwithstanding the somewhat childish shape of the series and the cute appearance of its characters, the show is extremely violent, with nearly every episode featuring blood, gore, and extremely painful, bloody gruesome deaths.
While the violence of these deaths is comparable to that of The Itchy & Scratchy Show (the short cartoon featured on The Simpsons), the portrayal of death in Happy Tree Friends is more graphic and anatomically correct, depicting bloodshed and dismemberment in more vivid, exaggerated detail.
The show is nearly free of dialogue; however, when the characters do speak, their words are severely garbled. Though it is obvious what each character's reaction is, their words can hardly be understood at all. The exceptions to this are Pop and Lumpy, who frequently can be easily understood when they speak for. Like the other characters, they also have garbled speech, but can actually be understood on most occasions. Some other characters can occasionally be easily understood too, such as Cuddles when he says "come on!" According to the website, the idea for Happy Tree Friends was conceived by Rhode Montijo when he drew a yellow rabbit, slightly resembling the character Cuddles, on a piece of paper and wrote "Resistance Is Futile" underneath it.
A HTF spin-off called Ka-Pow! premiered on September 2, 2008.
Encouraged by the show's success, its creators have released four DVDs (First Blood, Second Serving, Third Strike and Winter Break) containing the episodes shown on the website and others that have not been released. A collection consisting of the first three DVDs and five bonus episodes, Overkill, has also been released. Two episodes, Stealing the Spotlight and Ski Ya, Wouldn't Wanna Be Ya!, are only available in the Happy Tree Friends: Winter Break DVD.
At the beginning of each episode, the characters are typically found in everyday situations (also, they are often seen singing or humming the same tune). 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. The show's characters sometimes appear not to notice other characters' deaths/injuries, despite clear indications (such as blood coming out of the latters' mouths), or they seem to quickly overcome their fellows' deaths. The only episodes where none of the characters died (merely being maimed) were Nuttin' But the Tooth, "Sucker for Love pt. 1", "Out on a Limb", "Asbestos I Can Do", and "False Alarm pt.1". Otherwise, every episode has had at least one death.
The continuity of the series does not seem to be affected by the frequent deaths of the characters, as they always appear alive and well in episodes subsequent to those in which they were killed.
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. 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 larger episodes have been released where most of the characters appear. TV episodes last about half an hour, having three segments of about seven minutes.
Currently, new episodes are released once a month. An episode list can be seen on the official website, which contains a list of older episodes available on demand from the site. However, some of these episodes are only available for a limited time, as this list is exchanged with other episodes every other week.
Fall Out Boy's music video for "The Carpal Tunnel of Love" is an episode of Happy Tree Friends. All of them die the same type of graphic, bloody deaths that are featured in the series.
There are 20 main characters in the Happy Tree Friends series, all of which have unique personalities and appearances. There have been many 'minor' characters that have appeared on the show, some appearing many times and some appearing only once. Recently, the creators of Happy Tree Friends announced that there will be more than one character added to Happy Tree Friends in the near future. Only one of them is planned to be in the show permanently.
Many parents have expressed concern about the graphic content of Happy Tree Friends. One parent even complained about the show in a letter to the Washington Post when she saw her 6-year old son watching the show.
The warning "(CV CARTOON VIOLENCE Not recommended for small children or big babies)" is displayed in two places on the home page of the Happy Tree Friends website in very small type in the bottom left hand corner, and in larger, but subdued type on the right hand side under the bulletin board section. Neither the "About the Show" nor the FAQ page indicates that the show is not appropriate for young children. However, the episodes themselves contain the warning in large font before the cartoon begins.
In February 2008 Russian Media Culture Protection Department (Rossvyazohrankultura, a regulatory body for TV in Russia) issued warnings about Happy Tree Friends and The Adventures of Big Jeff, claiming that the shows "promote violence and brutality, harm the psychic health and moral development of children, attack the social morality; all of this being a violation of license agreement". The department warned 2x2, which broadcasts the show, to remove it from air to avoid legal issue. The channel appealed to the evaluation ordered to Versia company (), which denied the accusations.
|Sound Engineer||Jim Lively||The music featured before, after, and during each and every episode of Happy Tree Friends is composed by Jim Lively, the sound engineer for Happy Tree Friends. Lively has been in the sound business since the age of 16. Lively primarily works in sound design and dialog editing, although he continues to mix music.|
|Foley Artist||Francis Carr||Foley artist Francis Carr joined the team later on in development. Usually working with sound engineer Jim Lively, he has been able to expand his career. Francis Carr is also noted for being the voice of Russell.|
|Kenn Navarro||Director, Animation Director, Writer, Voice Actor||1999 – present|
|Rhode Montijo||Director, Art Director, Writer, (former) Voice Actor||1999 - 2004|
|Aubrey Ankrum||Director, Writer, Storyboard artist, Voice Actor||1999 – 2006|
|Warren Graff||Story Editor, Writer, Voice Actor||2000 – present|
|Ken Pontac||Story Editor, Writer, (minor) Voice Actor||2004-present|
|Jeff Biancalana||Writer, Animator, Storyboard artist, (former) Voice Actor||2001 - 2005|
|David Winn||Writer, Animator, Voice Actor||2003 - present|
|Alan Lau||Animator, Writer, Director, Storyboard artist||2001 - present|
|Jason Sadler||Animator, Writer, Director||2001-present|
|Mark Fiorenza||Writer||2000 – 2003|
|Brad Rau||Animator, Storyboard artist||2001 - present|
|Roque Bollestros||Writer, Animator, Director, Storyboard artist||2001-present|
|Paul Allan||Writer, Animator, Director||2000 - present|
|Nica Lorber||Animator, Voice Actor||2000-present|
|Michael "Lippy" Lipman||Storyboard artist, Animator, Director, Writer, Voice Actor||2000 - present|
|Peter Herrman||Storyboard artist, Voice Actor||2000 – present|
|Jim Lively||Sound Designer, Music||2000 - present|
|Francis Carr||Foley artist, Voice Actor||2004 - present|
|Jerome Rossen||Music Composer||2005-present|
|John Evershed||Executive Producer||2000-present|
|Liz Stuart||Producer, Voice Actor||2000 - present|
|Kenn Navarro||Cuddles, (good) Flippy, Lifty & Shifty (present)|
|Rhode Montijo||Lumpy, Splendid (past)|
|Dana Belben||Giggles, Petunia, Cub (past)|
|Warren Graff||Toothy, Handy|
|Michael "Lippy" Lipman||Nutty|
|Ellen Connell||Giggles, Petunia, Cub (present)|
|David Winn||Lumpy, Splendid (present)|
|Peter Herrman||Disco Bear|
|Jeff Biancalana||Russell (past), Buddhist Monkey|
|Francis Carr||Russell (present)|
|Mark Giambruno||Lifty & Shifty (past)|
|Aubrey Ankrum||Pop, flipped-out Flippy|
|Lory Jee||Panda Mom|
|Ken Pontac||additional voices|
|Annecy International Animated Film Festival||2003||Best Animated Short Film Made for the Internet||Eye Candy|
|2007||Best Animated Series For Adults||From Hero To Eternity|
|Ottawa International Animation Festival||2004||Best Animated Short Made For The Internet||Out On A Limb|
|2005||Mole in the City|
|2007||Best Television Series For Adults for the episode||Double Whammy Part 2|