Don't Hug Me I'm Scared is a popular web series created by Rebecca Sloan and Joe Pelling. The first episode - which was released on YouTube and Vimeo on July 29, 2011 - clocks in at nearly three and a half minutes and uses puppets, costumes, and animation to present an educational topic to the audience before devolving into a terrifying ordeal of twisted visuals and confusion.
Over the course of five years, Pelling and Sloan released six episodes in the series, earning themselves a cult following and a gaggle of theories concerning the true meaning of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. The series still has plenty of loose ends, and fans expectantly await new episodes.
Each Episode Introduces An Educational Topic Before Taking A Horrific Turn
The visuals of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared (DHMIS) bring to mind children's educational programming, especially Sesame Street, with its use of puppets, live actors, and animation.
DHMIS also presents a topic for learning at the beginning of every episode, such as time in episode 2 or healthy eating in episode 5. As soon as the songs begin, however, the real creepiness kicks in.
In episode 2, the bodies of the three main characters - Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Duck - start to decay in order to illustrate how time runs out for all of us when our lives end. In episode 5, the healthy eating tips are nonsensical and culminate in Yellow Guy consuming cans of what appears to be Duck - blood runs down his front and his mouth is full of feathers.
Cryptic References To June 19, 1955, Are Scattered Throughout The Series
As every DHMIS fan knows, each episode shows a day calendar displaying June 19, even though the episodes appear to occur on different days. There are plenty of other references to that specific date throughout the series, even in two short videos released to promote the DHMIS Kickstarter. Titled "Help" and "Help #2," the videos on the Kickstarter page feature mock found footage of the characters being held hostage by a large, hairy beast forcing them to plea for help. At the bottom of the screen is the date "19.06.55," or June 19, 1955.
Other instances of the date include a missing person poster for all three characters posted on a tree in episode 3, proclaiming they were last seen on June 19. That same installment features tombstones bearing the date June 19.
In the next episode, a singing computer shows the time as 6:19, and in episode 5, a can in the microwave has the cryptic date printed on its label. A photo of the trio in episode 2, "Time," shows the date as June 19, 1955, and a wanted poster for Yellow Guy sets his bounty at 1906 pounds.
Interestingly, the last episode was released on June 19, 2016, and shows the in-show calendar finally changing to June 20.
The Background Of Each Video Is Filled With Easter Eggs And Callbacks To Past Installments
Each of the six episodes includes a wealth of "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" callbacks to previous installments. The singing clock from episode 2 appears on the wall of the main trio's home, and he's also in the background of episode 3 as a member of the love cult singing to Yellow Guy, along with the notepad from episode 1 and Yellow Guy's father Roy.
A bust of love god Malcolm from episode 3 appears on mantles and bookshelves through the remaining three episodes. A red phone box Red Guy seemingly uses in episode 5 also houses Roy in episode 6.
There are also unexplained Easter eggs throughout, such as a phone number on a sticky note that appears attached to a magnetic board and the fridge, among other places.
The Songs Are Filled With Confusing, Self-Contradictory Lyrics
Much like every educational topic in the series, every song devolves into contradiction, misinformation, and confusion. For example, a song about healthy eating in episode 5 proclaims pizza and bread to be good foods, while fruits and vegetables will "make your teeth go grey." Later in the song, the singing steak and can proclaim the benefits of plain white sauce, only to declare moments later that it, too, will turn teeth grey.
In episode 3, a butterfly sings to Yellow Guy about the benefits of loving everything around him, only to then scold the puppet for proclaiming his love for a stick, a tree, and a mole.
The notepad from episode 1 even ruins Yellow Guy's painting of a clown, telling him that he "might need to slow down," and ends the song by insisting the trio never be creative again.