Llamas with Hats is an animated web series created by Jason Steele of FilmCow that ran for four episodes from 2009-2010 as a fun and well-received Dark Comedy, then later revived for a further eight episodes from 2014-2015 that turn the show into something much darker.
The original series featured two llamas, both wearing hats. One of them (the sane and logical Paul) accuses the other (the murderous and in-denial Carl) of committing a monstrous crime. Carl's crimes become more grandiose with each episode. A fifth episode was planned, but cancelled when fans easily predicted the joke.
As detailed in this spoiler-heavy analysis from the creator himself, the show's revival came about when he had an idea for a legitimately surprising fifth episode and decided to extend the idea into a fully-fledged, eight-episode story arc that would deconstruct the show's comedy with a sense of dark meta-humour as the viewer became privy to Carl's tormented, self-destructive psyche. Being inherently less funny, the revival was at first panned by some fans as an attempt to cash-in on the earlier episodes' success, but this faded as the series reached its climax.
In late 2019, a Spinoff Babies picture book titled Llamas with Hats: Babies was released.
Llamas with Hats provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Carl is a mass murdering, remorseless psychopath. A cheerful mass murdering, remorseless psychopath, that is.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Second vid:Paul: Carl, I watched you fire a harpoon into the captain's face!
Carl: That sounds dangerous!
Paul: You were headbutting children off the side of the ship!
Carl: That, uh, that must have been horrifying to watch.
Paul: And then you started making out with the ice sculptures!
Carl: Well, thank god that the children weren't on board to see it!
- Inverted in 4, here it looks like Carl's latest crime is ruining the carpet with muddy hoofprints... then the nuke detonates.
- Artistic Licence – Biology: How Carl was able to eat a hotel bartender.Paul: Your mouth unhinged like a snake.
- Ask a Stupid Question...:Paul: What is wrong with you, Carl?!
Carl: Well, I-I kill people and I eat hands. That's— that's two things.
- And from episode 4, we have:Paul: Why would you think any of this was a good idea?
Carl: Probably because I'm a dangerous sociopath with a long history of violence.
Carl: I don't understand how you keep forgetting that.
- And from episode 4, we have:
- Ax-Crazy: Is an Informed Attribute of Carl's. The bloody remains and the orphan meat are a good indication anyway.
- He certainly has a taste for human flesh.
- While we still don't really see Carl kill anyone, after Episode 4, Carl's insanity gradually becomes less and less of an informed attribute. He begins hallucinating, and believes that a mask of Paul's face is telling him to murder everything in the world, including himself.
- Bait-and-Switch: Episode 4 opens with Paul whining at Carl the way he always does, but only over Carl treading mud into the house (which for once is an offence the whining is actually appropriate response to), with Carl making his usual insane excuses. Then their entire house is blown away by a nuke detonating in the background and it starts raining human faces tied to party balloons.
- Blatant Lies:Carl: I do not kill people. That is- that is my least favorite thing to do.
- Carl's refusal to take the blame for the muddy hoofprints on the carpet in episode 4.Carl: I'm not responsible for this, I've been jamming on the saxophone all morning.
Paul: They're clearly your hoofprints, Carl.
Carl: Then there is an imposter on the loose!
Paul: They lead directly to you!
Carl: Clue #1: The imposter is a phantom!
- Carl's refusal to take the blame for the muddy hoofprints on the carpet in episode 4.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:Paul: Tell me, Carl, exactly what you were doing before I got home!
Carl: Alright, well... I-I was upstairs...
Carl: I was, uh, I was sitting in my room...
Carl: Reading a book...
Paul: Go on.
Carl: And, uh, well, this guy walked in...
Carl: So, I went up to him...
Carl: And I, uh, I stabbed him 37 times in the chest.
Paul: Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarl, that kills people!
- In episode five, Carl donates to the local girl scouts, washes the car, bakes banana bread for his neighbor Pat... and rips a crack in space-time to steal baby hands.
- Breather Episode: Horribly, horribly subverted with Episode 4. Amusingly, Episode 5 could be viewed as this, which is even lampshaded by Paul.
- Brick Joke: In Episode 6, Carl finishes the Meat Dragon he mentioned he was working on in Episode 3.Paul Did you finish your Meat Dragon, Carl?
Paul: (sigh) It's horrifying, Carl.
Carl: ...Thank you.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Slaughtering and mutilating humans, crossing the Moral Event Horizon, all of this is just another weekday to Carl. Of course, even Paul starts getting used to it. Carl's response is to find another Moral Event Horizon to cross.
- Call-Back: In Episode 3, Carl mentions he's stuffed their luggage with Orphan Meat because he's building a Meat Dragon. In Episode 6, Carl's "surprise" is that there's a giant Meat Dragon outside their house.
- In Episode 1, Carl mentions having the rumblies in his stomach, that only hands can satisfy. In Episode 10, Carl mentions having the rumblies and being hungry for hands. He even asks Paul if he remembers.
- In Episode 2, Carl says that the sound of forgiveness is "screaming then silence." The last episode ends with Carl, finding out that he indirectly killed Paul (and everyone else on earth as well, but meh), flinging himself from an overpass, screaming his name like Paul did. As he hits the water, the music and sound goes quiet...
- Card-Carrying Villain:Paul: Why would you think any of this was a good idea?!
Carl: Probably because I'm a dangerous sociopath with a long history of violence.
Carl: I don't understand how you keep forgetting that.
- Catchphrase: ''CAAAAAAARL!'
- Comedic Sociopathy: It becomes obvious that Carl is a total psychopath, but he otherwise acts like a normal person, which is kinda why it's so damn funny.
- Comically Missing the Point: Paul doesn't appreciate Carl's birthday gift of human faces tied to balloons. Carl assumes it's because the nuclear explosion left them undercooked.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Carl likes to be inventive and creative with his homicidal urges. And then he likes to do stuff with the remaining corpse. Sometimes eating them, sometimes building furniture out of them, sometimes creating monsters out of them.
- Deadly Rotary Fan: In the third video, Carl has apparently pushed people, including a South American resistance leader, into a giant fan.
- Deconstructive Parody: Episodes 6 (and later 8) are mainly about Paul getting fed up with Carl's psychopathic antics, and like a normal person, deciding to leave. Things proceed to go downhill from there.
- Disproportionate Retribution
- The lovely elderly couple from 2B, who were liquefied by Carl for hogging all of the crescent rolls during the cruise.
- One of Carl's neighbours, Mrs. Bigsby, was Buried Alive by Carl because she didn't keep up with weeding her garden.
- Dissonant Serenity: Carl, especially in the aftermath of the nuke.Paul: ...CAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRL!
Carl: Happy birthdaaay~!
- Don't You Like It?: Carl's birthday gift to Paul in episode 4 consists of a city-levelling nuclear explosion and severed human faces tied to balloons. Paul is, understandably, horrified.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Raw face is just gross.
- Evil Is Petty: Don't hog the crescent rolls — if you want to live.
- Failed State: Episode 3 starts out with South America completely in shambles, with Carl having been the perpetrator yet again.Paul: You toppled the South American government, Carl!
Carl: The people have spoken. "Viva la resistance!"
Paul: You pushed the resistance leader into a giant fan!
Carl: He was a traitor and a scoundrel!
Paul: He was trying to stop you from pushing other people into a giant fan.
- Foreshadowing:Carl: I'll have to try harder next time.
- As well as the music at the end of Episode Six being a semi-tone lower. And then slightly distorted in the next episode. And more distorted in the next. And the next, almost as if the show were decaying.
- Flat "What": Carl's response to his roommate's Unsettling Gender-Reveal.
- From Bad to Worse... and then it got worse some more... then it got worse again, and finally, yep, it got even worse.
- How Did That Get in There?: Carl's first reaction to the body in the first episode.
- How Is That Even Possible?: Paul's reaction to Carl nuking an entire city in the fourth episode.Paul: How did you even do this?
- Gets a Call-Back in the next episode, when Carl escalates it further and gets upset that Paul isn't more shocked:Carl: How did I even do this?
Paul: I don't understand how or why you do anything!
- Gets a Call-Back in the next episode, when Carl escalates it further and gets upset that Paul isn't more shocked:
- Hypocritical Humor: This moment:Paul: I can't go anywhere with you, Carl.
Carl: That hurt my feelings. Now we're both in the wrong.
- Implausible Deniability: Carl, all the time. He will stand next to the corpse of the person he killed and cheerfully deny having any part in their death.
- Improbable Weapon User: In Episode 3, Carl kills La Résistance with a giant fan.
- In Medias Res: The first 3 episodes take place after Carl's rampages. The fourth episode seems to continue this trend by starting with Paul upset at Carl for tracking mud into the house... Then the nuke goes off.
- Instant Turn-Off: Carl is shocked to learn that his roommate, Paul, is a man (he assumed that Paul was a woman because of his effeminate hat). After the reveal, Carl ends the episode with this remark:Carl: Well, if you'll excuse me, I have some pictures to delete from my computer.
- Lighter and Softer: Horribly, horribly subverted by the fourth installment.
- Limited Animation: Most of the episodes feature no movement from anything but the characters' faces. Lampshaded in the ad for the iPhone game.Paul: I literally never see you move!
Carl: Now that you mention it, I never see you move either.
Paul: Oh my god, you're totally right!
Carl: This is really strange.
Paul: I can't move anything except my mouth and my eyes!
- Mattress-Tag Gag: Carl blames a nuclear explosion on him ripping the tag from a mattress. That, or fairy dust.
- A Million is a Statistic: Discussed by Paul. Even if it is a higher body count, simply saying you mutilated millions of babies just doesn't have the same shock value as a nuke going off in your own home city.
- Minimalist Cast: Carl and Paul are usually the only characters on the show. Or rather, the only survivors of Carl's rampages.
- Monochrome Casting: When Carl rips a tear in space time to collect baby hands, Paul noticed that out of the millions of hands flying out of the portal, every single one of them came from a white baby. Carl points out that he specifically targeted white babies.Carl: Well, you know, Whitey's gotta pay. And the payment is baby hands.
- Monster Roommate: Yes, Paul is very annoyed that Carl is a psychopathic monster who destroys people, ships, and countries when they're on vacation. In Episode 6, he's finally had enough and decides to leave.
- Moral Guardians: Parodied. When Paul accuses Carl of making out with the ice sculptures on the cruise ship, Carl's reaction is to thank God that the children (whom he'd headbutted off the side of the ship) weren't on board to see it.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Always... If there is not a reason, Carl will find one.
- Never Bareheaded: The llamas, appropriately enough.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: In early episodes, Carl attempts to play himself off as this. It becomes increasingly clear that he's aware of what he's doing as the series proceeds, though.
- No Name Given: Until the third animation, Paul's name was never given. Not even Carl could remember it.
- Phrase Catcher: "Caaaaaaaaaaaarl!"
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Carl harvests orphan meat. Why? "Well, I'm going to build a meat dragon, and not just ANY meat will do!"
- Properly Paranoid: Paul is this by episode 5. "I know you've done something. You've always done something. It's a lovely day out, we're having a good time. What have you done?"
- La Résistance: ...no longer exists, thanks to Carl and a giant fan.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilised: Mostly Carl's fault.
- Rubber Orifice: Mentioned in episode three, where Paul tells Carl that his "mouth unhinged like a snake", allowing him to swallow a hotel bartender whole. A foot kicks in Carl's stomach, stretching from Carl's midsection before recoiling back.
- Say My Name: Paul's Catchphrase.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The trailer for the iPhone game has Carl pull this. Paul has had enough and is prepared to leave in Episode 6, and does by Episode 7.
- Seen It All:Paul: You know what? Forget it. I'm not even shocked anymore.
Carl: Aww, that's no fun!
Paul: This has become the norm for you, Carl!
- In full effect by episode five.Carl: Fine. I may have created a crack in spacetime, through which to collect millions of baby hands.
Carl: What do you mean, "huh"?
Paul: I think I was expecting worse.
Carl: Worse? But this is totally fudged, bro.
- In full effect by episode five.
- Serial Escalation: In the first video, Carl killed one person (an implied trespasser, it must be admitted). In the second he sunk an entire cruise ship and in third he toppled the south-american government. Then in the fourth, he nukes an entire city. Lampshaded and subverted in the fifth, where Paul notes that after that, Carl stealing baby hands through a rip in spacetime is comparatively minor. By the end of the series, Carl's actions have seemingly wiped out all life on earth.
- The Sociopath: Lampshaded by Carl himself.
- Spoof Aesop:Carl: Shhhh... do you hear that? That's the sound of forgiveness.
Paul: That's the sound of people drowning, Carl!
Carl: That is what forgiveness sounds like. Screaming, and then silence.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: Guess who.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Episode four. Carl's responsible. Not that it's a surprise.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: On Carl's part. A lot.
- Swallowed Whole:Carl: I appear to have swallowed an entire person.
Paul: That would be the hotel bartender.
Carl: Well, that explains why my mojito was taking so long.
Paul: It was horrifying. Your mouth unhinged like a snake.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Paul's hat.Carl: Oh. I thought you were a woman.
Paul: Why would you think that?
Carl: Mostly the hat.
- There Is No Kill like Overkill: The dead guy from Episode 1, who was stabbed 37 times in the chest by Carl.
- To Serve Man: Cooked hands, orphan meat, entire live human beings...
- Tough Act to Follow: Parodied and lampshaded to hell and back in the fifth video. Yeah having baby hands from another dimension fall around is pretty bad but compared to completely annihilating a city from existence with a nuke then having flayed faces rain from the sky, it's almost a relief. In fact, depending on how the whole other dimension thing works it's entirely possible that Carl didn't kill or harm a single person in the video.
- Unnecessary Time Precision: While not technically time-based, Paul's conversation with Carl rings of this trope. The former asks the latter for the rest of the lifeboats. Carl seems to be calculating trajectories as if the boats just got lost adrift. Instead, they sunk because he bit holes in them.Paul: Where are the other lifeboats, Carl?
Carl: Looking at the trajectory of the moon and the sun, probably at the bottom of the ocean. I bit lots of holes in them.
- Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Paul's gender, to Carl.Carl: Are you sure?
Paul: Of course I'm sure.
Carl: Well, if you'll excuse me, I have some pictures to delete from my computer.
- Vacation Episode: Episodes 2 and 3. Carl enjoys himself rather more than Paul does.
- Villain Protagonist: Carl, of course.
- Villains Out Shopping: Carl will try to play off almost anything as normal, then admit to it... but it sounds like he was telling the truth about his activities of the day in episode 5. He just neglected to mention the rift in spacetime he "may have" opened.
- The Watcher: Paul.
- Would Hurt a Child: Carl allegedly headbutted children off the side of the cruise ship in episode 2. Episode 3 has it implied that he killed orphans to use their meat to build a "meat dragon". And of course there were bound to be children in the city he nuked in episode 4. Explicit by episode 5, where Carl steals the hands of millions of babies. By episode 6 he has built a conveyor belt to carry ground-up orphans through the house, and he's finished the aforementioned meat dragon.
- "You!" Exclamation: Crossing over with Hey, You!, Carl's comeback to Paul at the end of Episode 3 provokes Paul's Armor-Piercing Question.Carl: I'll have to try harder next time!
Paul: Please don't.
Carl: I feel like I've been issued a challenge.
Carl: It's too late now... You!
Paul: (beat) ..."You"?
Carl: I totally don't remember your name.
Paul: We've known each other for three years, Carl!
Carl: And what an impression you've made!
- Alas, Poor Villain: After learning he killed his old friend Paul during his 15 year rampage, Carl is Driven to Suicide and jumps to his death off a bridge, his final words being an imaginary conversation he's having with Paul with tears running down his face.
- Anyone Can Die: Paul is revealed to have starved to death some time between Episode 8 and the final episode. Carl kills himself when he finds this out.
- Arc Words: "You must finish your work, Carl," said by Carl's hallucinations of the Paul Mask. It has been confirmed by the creator that the work that must be finished is Carl himself.
- Apocalypse How: By Episode 11, Carl has apparently eradicated all life on Earth.
- Beard of Sorrow: Starting in episode 8, Carl gains a stubbly chin. In episode 11, it becomes a full beard.
- Black Comedy: Considering that it's FilmCow we're dealing with, it's Surreal Black Comedy. The last episode seems like a straight up depressing ending... until Jason said that it was the funniest way to end the series he could think of.
- Call-Back: A subtle one in episode 12. After Carl finds Paul's corpse, he screams at the top of the bridge, and then kills himself. This causes the music to cut out as well. That's what forgiveness sounds like, screaming, and then silence.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Starting with Episode 7, the videos start focusing less on humor, and more on the disturbing aspects of Carl's mental state, and it only gets darker and darker as the series continues. Steele commented on this saying it would be like if the last season of Friends had the sun go out and the characters spending every episode in hopeless despair before freezing to death.
- Darker and Edgier: Although the series has always been dark, Episode 10 brought it to a whole new level by having Carl end up in a pit full of dead bodies with great damage done to him, including broken bones, a torn ear, a few bruises, etc. All the while, the Paul Mask is convincing him that he needs to do more.
- Dead Hat Shot: The last episode ends with Carl's hat slowly submerging into the water after he drowns himself. Considering that the llamas are known for their hats, this is more tragic than other examples.
- Despair Event Horizon: Carl, after discovering Paul's corpse.
- Downer Ending: The final episode ends with all life on Earth destroyed, Paul dead and Carl, no longer hallucinating the Paul Mask, committing suicide by throwing himself off a bridge and drowning himself. Unlike the rest of the series, this is not played for Black Comedy in any way.
- Driven to Suicide: Carl, consumed by his loneliness, casts himself off a bridge into the ocean after having found Paul's corpse.
- The End of the World as We Know It: How the series ends. Carl killed off every living thing in the world, discovers that Paul is among his victims, and then ended it all.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: As much a monster Carl is, it shows that Carl definitely cares for Paul, in his own twisted way. Finding his corpse in the finale is what breaks him entirely.
- His leaving in the first place is what seems to really push Carl off the deep-end, taking him from his "normal" psychopathic behavior to something so destructive that it ends up with the death of all life on Earth.
- "Everybody Dies" Ending: By the end of the series, everyone on Earth, including Carl and Paul, die.
- Evolving Credits: Throughout the second half of the series, the ending theme becomes increasingly distorted and out of tune, mirroring Carl's Sanity Slippage. Special mention to the final episode's credits, where although the music is suddenly back to normal, this is the only time it plays fully to the end instead of fading out after a few seconds like it does before.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Paul Mask has them whenever it's not around Carl's neck.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: In Episode 7, a sheep with a Paul mask temporarily replaces Paul himself, despite lacking proper speech, Carl can understand it just fine.
- Internal Deconstruction: The second group of episodes explores the implications of Carl's mental state and trademark escalation to a logical and very dark conclusion.
- Killed Offscreen: Everyone who dies, due to the Limited Animation, with the exception of Carl when he offs himself.
- Latex Perfection: The mask Carl makes of Paul's face after he moves out.
- Mood Whiplash: The final few episodes are definitely more creepy than the rest, but the ending hits the ball out of the park, what with Paul dying offscreen, Carl finding his decayed carcass and then tearfully committing suicide by throwing himself off of the side of a bridge.
- Never My Fault: Carl refuses to take any blame whatsoever for any of his actions.Carl: I burned my house down once it had enough swans inside, and I used up the rest of my savings buying the swans.
Paul: And whose fault is that, Carl?!
Carl: Society. Society and the swans.
- Newhart Phonecall: The entirety of Episode 7 is presented as this to the viewers because the sheep wearing the Paul mask's dialogue is unintelligible.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Carl ends up being this. In the final episode he wanders around a barren wasteland, with absolutely no signs of life left, except for himself. He changes that.
- One-Shot Character: The sheep that wore the Paul mask that appears in Episode 7, that's the sheep's only appearance, maybe a Tragic One-Shot Character due to the fact that Paul killed said sheep off in a blood canal.
- Put on a Bus: Paul decides to move out in the sixth episode. He's last heard in the eighth. In the finale, Carl finds his dead body.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Episode 12 ends on Pachelbel's Canon in D Major.
- Replacement Goldfish: Episode 7 sees Paul replaced by a sheep (in a Paul mask, no less!) that despite lacking the ability to speak can still hold the same sort of conversation with Carl. It doesn't last though.
- Sanity Slippage: The entire Story Arc revolves around Carl undergoing this as a result of Paul leaving.
- Say My Name: In Episode 12, after discovering that Paul is dead, Carl starts shouting Paul's Catchphrase over and over again to try to deal with the loneliness.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: After Carl sees that Paul (and everyone else) is dead, the scene fades out to a few slow-panning shots of the burning, desolate landscape as Pachelbel's Canon plays.
- Status Quo Is God: Averted. When Paul says he's moving away in Episode 6, he means it. He's not present for Episode 7, and has been replaced by a sheep in a Paul Mask.
- Time Skip: According to Word of God, Episode 11 takes place fifteen years after Episode 10.
- Wham Line: In Episode 9, "Carrrrl!", said by the mask without Carl's mouth moving. This is the first indication we get that Carl has become truly insane.
- Wham Shot: In Episode 12, the shot of Paul's decayed skeleton. Also notable in the shot is that the Paul Mask is no longer floating, but hanging around Carl's neck, meaning Carl has broken his own illusion.