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. 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.