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Creator / Don Hertzfeldt

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Don Hertzfeldt (born August 1, 1976) is the creator of many short animated films, including the Oscar-nominated "Rejected" and Everything Will Be OK. He has an odd style, stick figures on paper with very little use of digital processing. You can get his films at his website, Bitter Films, and read up on some Word of God in this Reddit thread.

His animated shorts include:

  • "Ah, l'amour" (his earliest student work and source of the name "Bitter Films")
  • "'Genre"
  • "Lily and Jim"
  • "Billy's Balloon"
  • "Rejected"
  • "The Meaning of Life"
  • It's Such a Beautiful Day, made up of the three shorts "Everything Will Be Okay", "I Am So Proud of You", and ''It's Such a Beautiful Day".
  • The opening, intermission and ending to the first The Animation Show he did with Mike Judge. These are called, respectively:
    • "Welcome to the Show"
    • "Intermission in the Third Dimension"
    • "The End of the Show"
  • "Wisdom Teeth'" (an adaptation of this Temporary Anesthetics strip)
  • The Couch Gag for The Simpsons episode "Clown in the Dumps", showing the show's decay into Seasonal Rot.
  • World of Tomorrow, the first short film by him to be animated digitally. Two sequels have been made thus far, subtitled The Burden of Other People's Thoughts and The Absent Destinations of David Prime, respectively, and Hertzfeldt has stated his intention to continue making further World of Tomorrow films for the foreseeable future.

There was also a series of Pop-Tarts commercials which were not by him, but made without his permission in his style after he refused offers to make advertisements.

His works provide examples of:

  • Ax-Crazy: All of the female characters.
  • Black Comedy: When his films aren't out-and-out surreal.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Several gags involve violence, with ridiculous amounts of blood throughout.
  • Broken Record: He seems to like this trope a lot:
    • "My spoon is too big!" in "Rejected".
    • "The pipe is leaking!" in It's Such a Beautiful Day.
    • Everyone in the dystopian future version of the Simpsons in his couch gag.
    • Exaggerated with "The Meaning of Life"'s first half, with dozens of people running around, each of them having their own endlessly repeated phrase.
  • * Deranged Animation: And how
  • Mind Screw: His style definitely lends itself to this.
Ah, l'amour

Billy's Balloon

  • Bait the Dog: After abusing Billy, the balloon seems to finally relent and acts friendly toward him, and even lifts him high up into the air to make up for it. And then it keeps going up....and up...and up...until it finally drops him and continues the abuse.
  • Surreal Horror: Ever been beaten to death by a balloon?


  • The Chew Toy: The rabbit suffers from some sort of misfortune in nearly every genre.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In a way. After suffering from the creator's actions, the rabbit finds out that he's suffering from a writer's block, he then holds up a sign describing his short as being a "pretentious student film".
  • Genre Roulette: Deconstructed.
  • Medium Awareness: The rabbit.
  • No Ending: The film simply ends with the creator punching the rabbit.
  • Self-Deprecation: The end: "The Pretentious Student Film?"
  • They Killed Kenny Again: The rabbit dies two times during the film.

Lily and Jim

The Meaning Of Life

  • Welcome to Corneria: The first act summarizes all of humanity as this; a nameless, faceless horde of creatures, each of which only ever has one thing to say.

Wisdom Teeth

  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: A variant. We can see three stitches from Nigel's wisdom teeth operation sticking out of his mouth, whenever he talks.
  • Hope Spot:
    "Yes, yes! I think this is finally the end of it!"
    * Some more pulling*
    "No, wait, there's more. Much, much more."
    Cue WTHH face from Nigel.
  • Foreign Sounding Gibberish: The dialogue is in a strange pseudo-Scandinavian gibberish.
  • Overly-Long Gag: A solid three minutes' worth. Note that the entire video (sans credits) lasts only five minutes.
  • Speaking Simlish: Although it's subtitled, the characters communicate through completely incomprehensible babbling.

"The Animation Show" Bumpers

  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: There is at least one reference to the audience in all three segments.
  • Brick Joke: The beginning segment starts out with the two characters talking about the lobby of the theater, and by the ending there are a slice of pie, a hot dog, and a soda cup walking towards the right of the screen, with music in the background singing about, whaddaya know, the Lobby.
  • Call-Back: Both the characters are based on the "Fluffy Guys" in Rejected, down to the Swedish christmas carols playing in the background.
  • Captain Obvious: The second half of the beginning of The Animation Show.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The erudite character tends to do this a bit. It's especially prominent in the beginning segment.
    "The Animation Show is the greatest animation show ever created by human beings. Only the most animated animation film animations make it into the Animation Show."
  • Energy Weapon: The scene with the Giant Eyeball.
    • As well as the robot battle at the very end.
  • Funny Background Event: in the ending song to the beginning segment, the erudite character (who has long legs and one hand bigger than the other) is running back and forth, on fire.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The result of wearing 3-D glasses: some horrifying hallucinations followed by screaming, "IT'S LIKE I CAN TOUCH YOU!"
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Blobby Cloud Thing: "But I'm not wearing any pants." "ME NEITHER!"
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Left Fluffy Guy: An animated film is not just a random series of mindless, self-indulgent violent cartoon images meant only to be enjoyed by young children and people with mental handicaps, but as a serious, valid art media all unto itself, in which the artist is free to explore the purity of the film medium down to each and every single frame! The animated arts are-
    Right Fluffy Guy: ROBOTS!
    (over a minute of Fluffy Guys getting mauled by robots)
  • Mushroom Samba: The third dimension. At the end of the sequence, one of the characters is holding a giant lollipop shouting nonsense as Swedish Christmas music plays in the background. Then the lollipop becomes a swarm of spiders which begin to eat the character.
  • Offer Void in Nebraska: "3-D Glasses may not be available in all areas!"
  • Robot War: "ROBOTS!"
  • Tank Goodness: Complete with an autocannon on top.
  • Techno Babble: In the second segment, one of the characters asks the other about 'the third dimension', prompting a verbose response that ends with "The very face of god!"
  • Tin-Can Robot: The enemy robots.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Once one of the blobby cloud things realizes that people are watching him while he isn't wearing pants, he gets extremely nervous.
    "I don't like animation!"

Simpsons couch gag

  • Amnesiac Lovar: Homar's memories of the old Marge make her far-future self even more disturbing.
    Still love you, Homar.-Epasode Numbar 20,254
    We are happy family.-Epasode Numbar 37,211.4
    I will never forget you.-Epasode Numbar 100,411.2
    All hail the dark lord of the twin moons. All animals can scream.-Epasode Numbar 164,775.7
  • Art Evolution: First Homer fiddles with a time-traveling remote that viscerally morphs him back to his crude 1987 model, then in a panicked attempt to undo the rewind, he launches into a far future where he (Homar Sampsan) and his family are grotesque mutant caricatures that barely resemble their original selves.
  • Death of Personality: The design of the characters and the show changes so radically that by the year 10,535 the family has been reduced to a disturbing collection of caricatured mutants that can only sputter broken catchphrases and hawk merchandise.
  • Dystopia: A place ruled by a self-styled "dark lord" whose spokesperson remarks that all animals can scream, in a show which uses "amusement is control" as a slogan... doesn't seem to be a very nice one.
  • Evil Overlord: All hail the Dark Lord of Twin Moons!
  • Flanderization: Parodied mercilessly, hosted by the trope namer, no less. The "Sampsans" in the far future are heavily simplified and abstracted versions of their original designs, and are reduced to repeating equally distorted versions of their catchphrases mixed with gibberish.
    "Homar": DOH. DOH. DOH. DOH. DOH. DOH. DOH. DOH-
  • Nu Speling: The terrifying "Sampsans" of the year 10,535 showcases a few new months (Aprall, Oktobar, Marchrüary — no Smarch, though), a new decimal calendar system, and "a"-heavy phrases like "outernet markat," "now availabal," and "epasode number".
  • Only Sane Man: Homar seems to be the only one to retain a portion of his humanity.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack/Lonely Piano Piece: The music that plays in the background as Homar reminisces about his "past" episodes is Fryderyk Chopin's Nocturne Opus 9, No. 2. A bit of a Tear Jerker, at least.
  • Propaganda Piece: In-Universe: The phrase "amusement is control" seems to imply the show has become this, presumably because of The Dark Lord of the Twin Moons.
  • Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: The show airs its 164,775.7th "epasode" on Septembar 36.4, 10,535.
  • Surreal Horror: Sampsans-style.