In 2004 a lonely little monster named Salad Fingers appeared in a video on the underground media site Newgrounds. He eventually appeared in one of the weirdest YouTube channels and began running his fingers along rusty spoons. Almost two decades after the initial episode, it's still unclear what Salad Fingers is, and series creator David Firth reportedly likes it that way. Firth is an English writer, animator, and voiceover artist, and while you might not recognize him on the street, if you watch enough Adult Swim, you've seen his work. In 2014 he directed the music video "Ready Err Not" by Flying Lotus.
Firth's first major accomplishment, however, was Salad Fingers - the sometimes funny, sometimes sweet, and always unsettling cartoon about a green creature that lives in a shack and speaks to inanimate objects. Initially, Firth posted only 10 episodes of the series on YouTube, but in early 2019 he released episode 11, called "Glass Brother," which follows Salad as he tries to make his friend Hubert Cumberdale into a real boy.
While this hardly describes the strange thrust of the episode, it's sure to garner a set of fan theories and questions as to what Salad Fingers is all about.
A bleak dystopian landscape, characters that shriek instead of speaking, and a creature that resembles something that crawled out of the sewer in your nightmares - Salad Fingers may sound like a horror film, but that's not what the creator, David Firth, had in mind. From the onset he told the Daily Dot that he felt the series was a "joke," and he's surprised it freaks people out.
While speaking with Vice, Firth explained that the most shocking thing he learned while reading his YouTube comments was how frightened viewers were after watching an episode of the series. He said:
I'm one of those people who just reads the negative ones. Ten people could say something good, and one person says something negative, and I get annoyed. But mainly I was surprised that people were actually scared by it because it's not supposed to be scary.
Due to its dreamlike logic Salad Fingers invites viewers to unlock seemingly coded messages held within the dialogue and picture. If you go on YouTube, you'll find a collection of fan theories and a series of videos with millions of views delving into the meaning behind Salad's existence.
Each theory searches for a link that connects the dream logic of the web series with either something in the real world or a hidden meaning behind the videos, but David Firth says these videos are an exercise in futility. He told the Daily Dot:
Just to be clear, I was very honored to have my work pulled apart and speculated over, but the conclusions reached were just not at all what I was aiming for... I was just laughing so hard. They were taking it so seriously when it's a joke.
In a separate interview with Vice, Firth elaborated on why he thinks viewers seek a deeper meaning in Salad Fingers:
I think it's the unanswered questions and the lack of context, which is something I didn't have any intention of clearing up. I mean, the first episode is kind of silly. Nothing really dark happens in it, it's all suggested... If I wasn't in the dark and I had a big plan, I don't think the whole thing would be as good; I think it would be hinting toward something that maybe wasn't as good as the mystery that surrounds it.
There is an unsettling amount of flesh consumption in the series. In episode 2, Salad "inadvertently" cooks a young boy by tricking him into his oven. In episode 3, he discovers a lifeless man on his front porch and places him on a meat hook. Perhaps Salad's strangest encounter with the practice occurs in episode 6 when he seemingly eats himself.
At the onset of the episode, Salad consumes his puppet friend Jeremy Fisher before taking his horse toy on a trot so he can have a chat with a toilet. When Salad returns to his home, he finds himself sitting in the corner waiting for him. Then Salad eats himself the same way that he ate Jeremy Fisher earlier in the episode.
Throughout the series, Salad uses a variety of implements to mar himself and usually by the next scene he's okay. Even if he sustains abrasions or fractures, these issues never last longer than one episode, making him more like Wile E. Coyote than any other character from the last 100 years.
In the first episode Salad shoves a rusty nail through his finger, and in episode three he produces a rash by rubbing himself with nettles. An episode later, Salad winds up caught in a bear trap while chasing down an errant rusty tap.