Happy Tree Friends (HTF) is an American flash cartoon created and developed by Aubrey Ankrum, Rhode Montijo, Kenn Navarro and Warren Graff for Mondo Media. The show is cited as an example of achieving a cult following. The action and adventure comedy is composed of simple drawings and juxtaposes cute forest animals with extreme graphic violence. Each episode revolves around the characters enduring accidental events of bloodshed, pain, dismemberment, evisceration, and/or death. At one point, there was a warning given to the site "Cartoon Violence: Not recommended for small children, or big babies".
While working on Mondo Media, Rhode Montijo drew on a piece of scrap paper a character who would later become Shifty. He then drew on a spreadsheet poster a yellow rabbit that bore some resemblance to Cuddles and wrote "Resistance is futile" underneath it. 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 rabbit, squirrel and beaver (earlier versions of Cuddles, Giggles and Toothy) with a banjo. From there, Mondo gave them their own Internet series, which they named Happy Tree Friends.
After its internet debut in 1999, Happy Tree Friends became an unexpected success, getting over 15 million hits each month and being shown at film festivals. In some countries, the episodes can be seen on television. The series has been reformed into its own show, rather than as a part of a compilation as before. 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!", were originally only available in the Happy Tree Friends: Winter Break DVD, but are now on YouTube and the Happy Tree Friends website. 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.
The Happy Tree Friends television series was first shown at Comic-Con 2006 and some of the episodes were shown on the website a few weeks prior the show's television premiere, September 25, 2006 at midnight on the G4 network (Web episodes of Happy Tree Friends also aired on the network's animation anthology series Happy Tree Friends and Friends and G4's Late Night Peepshow). Each half-hour episode of the television series contains three seven-minute segments. 13 half-hour episodes were made, making a total of 39 seven-minute episodes. Pictures from the first six episodes can be seen on G4's website. The Canadian channel Razer aired the show in syndication as did the Citytv stations throughout Canada. The show was also broadcast on MTV in Europe and Latin America and on Animax in South Africa. It was also shown on Paramount Comedy 1 in the UK from May 11, 2007 for a short time, with occasional reruns afterward with the channel, now branded as Comedy Central UK.
Mondo Media announced plans to produce a feature film based on the series, expected to be released in 2016. The movie is currently in pre-production. In 2016, Kenn Navarro tweeted that he wasn't aware of work being done on the movie but that his team were "in talk to do more shorts".