Don't Hug Me I'm Scared (stylized Don't Hug Me .I'm Scared) is a six-part British surreal black horror comedy puppet web series created by Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling, originally released through YouTube between 2011 and 2016.
The show details the lives of the plainly named Red Guy, Duck and Yellow Guy as they find their routine interrupted by highly varied, increasingly demented teachers. Initially, the draw of the show was the shock of the sudden switch from an upbeat, cutesy edutainment show to a horror show that occurred at the end of the first episode, but later episodes were forced to rely less on shock value, and as a result they angle more towards existential, psychological and surreal horror with a smidge of Nothing Is Scarier and a touch of Surreal Humor.
The first episode was supposed to be a stand-alone short film, but after it went viral a second episode was produced. Past that, all of the episodes were funded thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, which creatively advertised the project by literally holding the three main characters hostage. The sixth episode, released on June 19, 2016, seemed to represent an end to the series.
However, a trailer released on September 13, 2018 made clear that the puppets' journey was not quite over yet. A while after, a 23-minute episode of the show was shown at Sundance Film Festival, with the puppets finding themselves in a new setting known as Clayhill. In July 2020, it was officially confirmed that this pilot episode has led to the series being picked up as a television show airing on British network Channel 4. Though no official statement to the effect has been made, it has been widely suspected that the production of the series had been delayed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In September 2021, it was announced that the filming of the first season had wrapped. On June 19, 2022, a teaser confirming a September 2022 release for the Channel 4 series was uploaded, and the series premiered on September 23, 2022 (with another trailer here). Tropes pertaining to the TV series can be found here.
Don't Trope Me I'm Scared:
- Abusive Parents: Apparently, Yellow Guy's father Roy did all this to punish his son.
- Aerith and Bob: The six characters from the web series who have been given proper names are Tony, Roy,note Michael, Malcolm, Colin and... Shrignold? Bearing in mind that Malcolm is a sentient stone head that eats gravel.
- Affably Evil:
- Unlike the previous teachers, Shrignold and his friends are willing to answer Yellow Guy's questions, and they do seem to want to teach him their version of love as opposed to knowing the real moral and intentionally twisting the moral to brainwash them. Except that their version of love involves joining a cult and feeding gravel to a giant head.
- Sketchbook is this so much it's actually hard to classify it as an outright villain. While they can be controlling and strict (like forbidding color green or spilling ink on the clown painting), they actually seem well-intentioned, they never directly harm the trio and acts more interested in teaching them than in causing them trouble. It could be argued, in fact, that the lesson only got out of hand when said trio misinterpreted their words and acted according to "the voices in their heads", which shocked Sketchbook so much they made them agree to never be creative again.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Colin, the computer in "Computers", continues the trend of sociopathic, unhelpful teachers.
- All Flyers Are Birds: Yellow Guy thinks Shrignold the butterfly is a "little baby pigeon."
- All There in the Script:
- The only confirmed names by This Is It are Sketchbook, Tony The Talking Clock, and Roy (Yellow Guy's dad, as evidenced by one of the makers' Facebook banners).
- Becky & Joe's official T-shirt website mentions "people called Roy Gribbleston", which is assumed to be Roy's full name.
- On the Kickstarter for Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: The Series, the yellow guy and red guy are indeed simply referred to as "Yellow Guy" and "Red Guy".
- On November 2nd, 2014, Becky Sloan confirmed on her twitter that the Butterfly's name is Shrignold.
- Two of his friends' names were revealed at Becky's Instagram: Frog Boy and Rabbit Boy.
- Following that pattern, one may assume that the name "Furry Boy" used in the video is probably the actual name of the brown animal, as well.
- A week after the fourth episode's release, she also revealed that the computer's name is Colin.
- The day after the release of "Computers", Duck's name was revealed by CGI designer Jack Sachs.
- All Just a Dream: The new characters and creepy hijinks in "Love", after Yellow Guy runs off. Red Guy and Duck's subplot is real, though it is extremely low-key. However, the emerging caterpillar at the end and the reappearance of the butterfly with the rest of the teachers in "Dreams" imply that something went down.
- Amazing Technicolour Population: The puppets are yellow, red, and green. They change to green, blue, and red respectively at the end of "Dreams".
- Ambiguous Situation: In "Creativity", it's unclear whether Sketchbook intentionally drove the puppets insane or things just spiraled out of their control.
- Ambiguous Time Period: An apparently recent picture of the puppets is dated "1955", and they have an old-fashioned TV with dials and rabbit ears. They also have a laptop computer. Justified by the illusory nature of the world they inhabit, which is seemingly manned by Roy.
- And I Must Scream: Starting with "Computers", the puppets in Don't Hug Me I'm Scared are shown to be completely aware of past events (including rapidly aging and decomposing alive). Yellow Guy says "You made me die!" to Tony when Red Guy starts messing with the terminal in "Dreams". Really showcases how scary the situation is, if Yellow Guy crying "no more songs" in the beginning wasn't enough.
- Anti-Mentor: The "teachers" of each episode attempt to teach the main characters about something they should in theory know tons about, like a computer teaching, well, about computers. However, these lessons never teach the characters anything, are full of inconsistencies, poor logic and Blatant Lies, and succeed only in scaring or manipulating the characters into following their personal agenda. In some cases, such as "Creativity", they are actually taught not to be creative and punished when showing actual creative ability.
- Anyone Can Die:
- "But eventually, everyone runs out of time." Subverted in that they do survive, but won't forget their experience anytime soon...
- Played straight in "Health", when Duck is Eaten Alive.
- Arc Number: June 19th/1906.
- It is the date in every short. The Kickstarter page, after ominously stating "all will be revealed...", also shows a picture of the calendar with June 19th on it, implying some sort of answer at some point.
- In "Time", the picture on the wall reads 19/06/55. Also, every date during the time travel sequence is June 19th. Additionally, during the Victorian Time scene, you can see that there is a wanted poster for Yellow Guy. His price, dead or alive? £1,906... 19/06, also known as June 19th (since Europeans put day first then month).
- June 19 is when the Kickstarter ended. If it had failed, the three puppets would have been permanently killed off. They were not so fortunate.
- "Love" begins with a scrolling shot of a poster of the three protagonists on a tree, stating that they went missing on 19/6. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Dead died in 1906 — 19/06.
- The time Colin shows is 19:06, the newspaper's date is also 19/06, and the calendar at the end shows the same date.
- The fridge in "Health" has a note on it saying "ROY: 01119067482". Near the end, one of the cans being microwaved can also be very briefly seen to have "EXPIRES 19/06" written on its label.
- There's a chart with a seemingly random assortment of numbers on it in "Computers" and "Health". The observant viewer will notice that 19 and 06 are next to each other on the chart.
- Turns out, this was the date the finale came out. And it switches to June 20th at the end.
- Arc Symbol: Checkered patterns frequently show up in the videos.
- Arc Words: Several, some more subtle than others.
- "What's your favourite idea?" Lampshaded by Red Guy in the trio's interview with It's Nice That: "Why do you ask? Why does everyone ask me that?"
- "Get creative" for "Creativity".
- "What happened after the olden days?" Red Guy poses this question to Tony in "Time", and in the interview with It's Nice That, it appears to have become Duck's Trauma Button. "Time! Time! Time! Time! Time!"
- "What is love?" Yellow poses this question to Shrignold in "Love", and does not appear to have received a well-explained answer. "I don't know. I think he's a little baby pigeon."
- Arranged Marriage: In the third video, Yellow Guy is forced to marry a girl he most likely doesn't even know.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the final video, Shrignold warns Yellow Guy of the world's hatred, darkness, death... and then gets interrupted by the Lamb Chop, who immediately blurts out "ICE CREAM BEEF!"
- Art Evolution:
- Yellow Guy and Duck had their puppets rebuilt between the first and the second video; Yellow Guy has a more defined body and a more noticeable jaw (in comparison to the first video where he was a Muppet-style handrod puppet) and Duck received longer articulated legs for the sequel.
- In the third video, the Yellow Guy was changed yet again by giving him white shoes and a noticeably shorter mullet.
- Yellow Guy's hair was yet again changed in the fourth video, giving him hair that is strikingly similar to his appearance in the second video.
- Art Shift:
- Just before the Creativity Explosion in the first video, the characters and set briefly turn into poorly-rendered, crudely-built CGI.
- And then during the actual sequence, Yellow Guy and the Duck switch from being puppets to people wearing costumes like the Red Guy (with a few noticeable physical differences, like Yellow Guy's wild blue mane and Duck's longer beak).
- The second one features even more shifts, mostly with claymation/stop-motion animation, such as the "Victorian Time" scene, the rotting apple, and Yellow Guy's reflection.
- The third video has noticeably fewer art shifts, but it shifts during the clouds scene and the scene telling the story of Michael.
- A major point in the fourth video, where most of the experience is 3D animated.
- In Episode 6, the dream sequence that Yellow guy is forced into is entirely in fluid 2-D animation, although it only lasts like half a minute, also scenes with Red Guy are done in widescreen, with the scenery looking much more muted and realistic. These scenes also appear to be primarily filmed on location in an existing office building, instead of on a set. There's also a brief switch to 3D animation when Colin appears.
- Astral Checkerboard Decor: In 6, the room where the machine that controls everything is has a chessboard floor pattern. Chessboard patterns also appear in the previous videos, foreshadowing the true nature of the world they live in.
- Used to create the Duck's speaking voice. Weirdly enough, it's less noticeable in "Computers". The autotune effect is at its strongest immediately before he leaves in "Health".
- Used to create Colin's voice in "Computers".
- Back from the Dead: Possibly Red Guy in Episode 5, after having his head popped in Episode 4. This is assuming he died. More likely, he just had his mind blown.
- Duck makes a cameo for a few seconds in episode six. Can apply to the trio as a whole as they are back in their house once the universe resets.
- In the new "Wakey Wakey..." trailer, Duck is alive and well. The same can be said for Red Guy & Yellow Guy as well, given that they were implied to have been erased from existence in Episode 6.
- In the fourth episode, Red Guy says "If only there was a way to learn more about the world..." and turns to the globe. Then Duck says the same thing, also turning to the globe. The globe then suddenly grows a face, leading the audience to believe he's the instructor of the episode. But then, Colin the Computer, the real instructor, suddenly appears and sings about being a computer.
- Gilbert (the globe's canon name) was even in the thumbnail, and was heavily promoted! You can't miss him!
- Big "SHUT UP!": In episode 4, the Red Guy tries to get Colin to stop talking. It only succeeds in angering him further.
- This happens right after Sketchbook smears paint all over Yellow Guy's painting of a clown.
- Also used after Red Guy calls Sketchbook's form of self-expression "boring".
- Used again in the third video after the chicken picnic has been eaten by Duck and Red Guy. Duck insists that they have finished the chicken picnic and stares at the screen for a few moments.
- Happens after Colin reveals his "digital mind" in the fourth video.
- When Red Guy asks about the relevance of the Internet, Colin hesitates.Red Guy: But in this digital world, what can we do?
Red Guy: (insistently) What can we—
Colin: Hey, good question!
- Berserk Button:
- When the puppets begin to question the perception of time and how it works, Tony screams at them and then rots them alive to prove a point.
- The Red Guy slamming on Colin's keyboard is enough to set him off, and precipitates the events of the rest of the episode. In this case, it's a literal button that causes Colin to go berserk.
- Big Bad: The finale seems to imply that Yellow Guy's father Roy is behind it all, albeit for reasons that are never explained (unless the supplementary interviews are canon, where he says it's to punish his son). He's implied to have created the DHMIS universe to punish Yellow Guy via a console used to summon and control the teachers.
- The Big Guy: Red Guy, due to him being a human in a costume, is noticeably larger than the other puppets. However, this is no longer the case during the manic creativity montage at the end of the first film (when the Yellow Guy and the Duck were also portrayed by humans in costumes).
- Blatant Lies:
- "It's out of my hands, I'm only a clock!"
- "Oh don't worry, I'm sure you'll be fine". Possibly subverted as they *are* fine at the end of the video.
- The Love Cult tells Yellow Guy "The Story of Michael", which ends with the eponymous character being forced to live alone in a cave because everyone in town shuns him for being ugly. At the end Shrignold tells Yellow Guy the supposed Aesop of the story:Shrignold: You see? Everyone has a special one.
Rabbit Boy: Even Michael!
- Everything The Healthy Band says about health in Episode 5.
- Special mention to the space-themed teacher in Episode 6 who claims “planets live inside the moon”.
- Bloodier and Gorier:
- The fifth episode, where Duck's organs are torn out and eaten, and later his entire body is mutilated.
- Inverted in Episode 6, which doesn't have any significant blood or gore, and focuses instead more on psychological horror.
- Body Horror:
- The strange creature that pops out of the egg in the third video is quickly smashed by the Duck, leaving the cracked egg full of gore.
- Digital glitches play the part in 4. Also, Colin's "Digital Mind" is some sort of squishy, red substance.
- Book Ends:
- The series begins and ends with the puppets sitting around a table, while the Sketchbook asks what their favorite idea is.
- The Creativity Song is the first and last song of the series. First, when it's sung by Sketchbook, last, when it's sung by Red Guy.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: During the Victorian sequence. "With cobbles and plague and speaking in rhymes!"
- The ways Sketchbook encourages the trio to be creative definitely count: "Listen to your heart! Listen to the rain! Listen to the voices in your brain."
- Break the Cutie: The adorably innocent Yellow Guy goes through absolute hell in Episode 6. For starters, he's completely alone now that both of his friends are gone (keep in mind, he was forced to eat one of them in the preceding episode), and he's left to endure yet another song from a crazy teacher by himself. Throughout the number, it's clear that he desperately wants to escape, fully aware that it isn't going to end well, and once the nightmares kick in, he ends up drowning in oil twice. If that wasn't enough, he's then subject to endure every single previous teacher (excluding the Notepad) along with several new ones, and it's so overwhelming that the poor guy can do nothing but scream and cry, slowly falling into insanity until Red Guy saves him by pulling the plug, all at the hands of his father.
- Breather Episode: The third episode. The only gore comes from the food at the picnic and the scrubby of Yellow Guy's brain, and is relatively low-key, a much longer time is spent on things being perfectly fine and happy before it gets dark, and it's All Just a Dream, ending with a heartwarming Golden Moment.
- Brick Joke: During episode 6, the Red Guy (in an office of other Red Guys) goofs around with a File singing the lines "I am a file and you put documents in me". Later in the episode, a Teacher appears who is an animate file who sings the same lines, in the same slipshod "melody".
- Broken Aesop: Invoked in-universe. The "lessons" taught are misinformed and incorrect, which the puppets begin to pick up on. Many view this as a criticism of the media, but that's open to interpretation.
- Broken Record:Yellow Guy: Wow, look! [x]!
Duck: Digital style!
Colin: Do a digital dancing! Hey, this is fun!
- "You shouldn't eat food from a stranger's plate, a stranger's plate, a stranger's plate, a stranger's plate, a stranger's plate..."
- "Looks like somebody's having a bad dream! Bad dream! Bad dream! Bad dream! Bad dream..."
- In the first one, the Yellow Guy gets all of his suggestions slammed or ruined, including his clown picture and his favorite colour.
- In DHMIS 2, Tony beeps loudly at him until his ears bleed — something that does not happen to his friends because they cover their ears.
- This continues in the third video, but not as extreme. Yellow Guy gets told that he can't love what he wants and must get married to a wife, against his will.
- Yet again, Yellow Guy is the butt of the joke. In the fourth video he is interrupted by Duck and smacked in the face twice by Colin.
- Takes a disturbing turn in #5, when the Food Band tricks him into eating his only remaining friend.
- It gets even worse with #6 which starts with him being dragged into a song about dreams against his will then he endures the horrors of the teachers both old and new getting swapped repeatedly when Red Guy messes with the big machine's controls and all he can do is cry and beg for it to stop. And it's heavily implied that his father is deliberately punishing him.
- In Episode 6, all of the protagonists are now their favorite color as stated in the first Episode, after Red Guy unplugged the machine.
- Also in 6, during the previous teachers' medley, Yellow Guy's "An old man died." in Tony the Clock's song is replaced with "You made me die!", in reference to the events of Episode 2
- The song Red Guy sings in the karaoke bar is also Sketchbook's song on creativity.
- Red Guy notices a cord extending out of the TV show machine and follows it, much the same way he did with the cord on Colin in Episode 4. The cord leads to a plug, which he unplugs after asking "I wonder what will happen?", a line he said before in Episode 3.
- Carnivore Confusion: The puppets are notably having a chicken picnic in the third video. Not only is one of the people eating it clearly a bird, but they are also eating it raw.
- Catapult Nightmare: Yellow Guy jumps up from his bed in the finale after dreaming about drowning in oil.
- Central Theme: Each episode is named after and revolves around a theme subject taught by its teacher.
- Episode 1 revolves around Creativity
- Episode 2 is about Time
- Episode 3 discusses Love
- Episode 4 talks about Technology. The episode itself is titled "Computers", making it the only episode with a different title from its subject.
- Episode 5 is about Health/Nutrition
- Subverted in Episode 6, which is initially about Dreams but then goes Meta.
- Cerebus Retcon: "Dreams" manages to pull this on one of the sillier gags in "Time." Yellow Guy's friendship with his dad is a one-way street.
- Character Focus:
- The Yellow Guy has the biggest role of the three main puppets in the third episode, as the other two are off having a picnic away from the episode's Teacher.
- Similarly, the fourth episode focuses moreso on Red Guy and his tendencies as an Only Sane Man.
- The Duck is the central focus of the fifth episode, coming more into conflict with this episode's Teachers than normal.
- Episode 6 is almost completely focused around Red Guy and his journey to unplug the Teacher Machine.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- In an attempt to turn off Colin in "Computers", Red Guy follows the cord and winds up in the "outside world". While it's not clear if the cord in "Dreams" is supposed to be the same cord he followed before, he nevertheless finally unplugs it.
- In Episode 6, Duck sings an entire solo song about his shredder, which later turns out to be a critical tool in the TV series finale, as Yellow Guy gleefully uses it to shred Lesley's book.
- Chromatic Arrangement: Yellow, Red, and Duck are obvious examples judging by their color schemes (Yellow, Red, and Green; later becoming Green, Red, and Blue).
- Contemplate Our Navels: "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared 2" has the three main characters begin to muse about what time is and whether it actually exists. Their teacher, a talking clock, doesn't take this lightly and begins to screech at them until they stop talking before moving on.
- Continuity Cavalcade: The brief animated segment at the beginning of episode 6 is covered with items and characters from the previous episodes. The episode also features Red Guy reprising the "creative song" from episode 1. Additionally, all of the previous teachers make short cameos near the end, as Red Guy is messing with a machine that controls them.
- Continuity Nod:
- In the second video, there is a line that clearly sets up a rhyme in "green", but Tony uses "brown" instead. Why? Because, of course, green is not a creative colour.
- Yellow Guy's clown painting (Still ruined by black paint) appears in the sequel to the original video, and yet again in the fourth video.
- The craft that Yellow Guy made in the first video appears in the third.
- In 4, when Colin mentions that he can tell the time, Duck turns to the camera and says "time?", referencing the events of episode 2. Later on, the trio turn into approximations of their crude CGI models from the original short film.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Roy is implied to be this, as the products in the fifth episode contain his name on them, carrying the implication that he’s the one twisting the show and its morals to make money.
- Cosmic Retcon: When Red guy (literally) pulls the plug on the whole operation, things reset to back to they were in the first episode (though, coincidentally, all the students are now colored their favorite colors).
- Crapsaccharine World:
- The world of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared is almost entirely made out of soft felt and cloth and is modeled after typical children's edutainment shows like Sesame Street, but once the songs start it goes right downhill, from being mildly uncomfortable to full-blown horrifying.
- The love world in episode 3, where the inhabitants end up being cultists.
- Cult Defector:
- After being subjected to four abusive lessons by some unhelpful "teachers" on their television show, the Red Guy is gone from the group by "Health". Despite being gone from the show, he's still on set attempting to help his friends escape as well.
- Duck tries to leave, but is killed before he can, and "Dreams" shows that Red Guy is still badly affected by his time on set and finds himself unable to function in the normal world, which appears to have taken the "lessons" to heart — everyone is exactly the same, and Red Guy gets rejected when trying to be creative with the song from "Creativity".
- Cut the Juice: In Episode 6, Red Guy unplugs the machine controlling the teachers.
- The Dandy: Duck really likes the different costumes he can try out in number 4 using "digital style!"
- Dark Parody: Of educational kids' programmes.
- Darker and Edgier: The Fifth episode, where there's no indication the trauma will be reversed, a lot more violence and gore, less jokes, and a song that isn't quite as catchy.
- A Death in the Limelight: Duck is featured the most in the 5th episode, which is also the episode in which he is brutally killed and eaten.
- Deconstruction: Of children's shows that attempt to teach morals, showing just how skewed they might be.
- Episode 1: Teaching kids that there's a specific way to be creative, while disregarding a child's ideas.
- Episode 2: Trying to teach kids about the importance of time in evasive, unhelpful ways, and shutting them down when they ask questions about its nature.
- Episode 3: Teaching kids about The Power of Love while failing to mention the unhealthy manifestations of it, like cult worship. They also emphasize romantic love while ignoring the love between Yellow Guy and his friends.
- Episode 4: Teaching kids about the "wonders" of computers and digital learning, which only results in the puppets getting distracted by mindless entertainment.
- Episode 5: Either corporate sponsorship or healthy eating. The former because much of the food promoted as healthy is labeled as "Roy's" and the healthy message may have been hijacked to sell food. That, and... well, who hasn't felt like healthy eating can be a bit conflicting at times? It may be parodying how ideas about what is healthy is change over time. The way that food is divided into healthy and unhealthy is completely arbitrary with a health shape that parodies the food pyramid, which notably has changed over time. Also, their idea of what being healthy means is completely nonsensical, focusing on their teeth going grey.
- Episode 6: Possibly a deconstruction of itself, as it shows just how traumatizing a show with skewed morals and unsettling songs would really be to children. Poor Yellow Guy...
- Department of Redundancy Department: Happens every now and then, especially in "Time".Tony the Talking Clock: Watch it go round like a merry-go-round, going so fast like a merry-go-round.
Tony the Talking Clock: Let's go on a journey, a journey through time! The time is changing all the time, it's time to go to time!
- Dirty Old Man: Yellow Guy's dad is extremely creepy and sketchy, saying nothing and only staring at the viewer with dead eyes. He's later shown viewing what appears to be a heavily-pixellated porn site.
- Disguised Horror Story: The entirety of the DHMIS series is mostly on trope.
"Now let's all agree to never be creative again!"
- The first "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared" starts out innocently enough, with a talking sketchbook encouraging Sesame Street-style puppets to get creative to a catchy song. By the end... well, let's just say that they take it a bit too far.
- The second video starts normal enough, the puppets are waiting to watch their favourite show, Tony shows up and things start out like the usually would in a kids show, this time about... well, time. Cue the main puppets rapidly aging to death near the end of the video.
- The group in the third video go from happy-go-lucky friends trying to show Yellow Guy platonic love to a cult that's trying to get Yellow Guy to join so he can find his feminine "special one". They also feed a giant stone monster they call their king and wear suits with mineral-made hearts and golden rings.
- Colin in the fourth video. When Red Guy gets angry at Colin and slams his hand down on the keyboard, Colin shrieks and the puppets are glitched into an acid trip-like segment where everything is flashing and glitching all over the place. Things are back to normal for a while, but that doesn't last for long.
- There was an interview with the cast-members, in-character, and for the most part they gave off amusing or non-sequitur responses, until the last question, in which they ask Roy what his thoughts are."My silly boy has allowed his eyes to grow arrogant and rude, for this I will take him on a trip to punish land."
- 5 also does this to a lesser extent, it start of with a "song" on health (well, the bands nonsensical version of it, anyway), but the creepiness comes in much earlier and keeps building on it.
- 6 Averts this, it's creepy and strange all the way through.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- Merely insinuating that time is nothing more than a concept gets met with Tony screaming at the puppets till their ears bleed, to say nothing of what happens to them later.
- Colin Hates Being Touched so much that he punishes the puppets by trapping them in a digital world in which all they can do is open doors, check out "digital styles", and do digital dances, over and over again. The only one who manages to escape is the Red Guy, whose head explodes.
- And if this was all Roy punishing his son for being arrogant... Good God, poor Yellow Guy!
- Downer Beginning: "Dreams" opens with Yellow Guy alone in his room, crying over the loss of his best friends after the events of "Computers" and "Health". Before going to sleep, he looks at his buddies' now-empty beds and tearfully says, "Good night, guys. I miss you..."
- Downer Ending:
- "The Story of Michael" from Episode 3 ends with Michael being shunned from society due to his ugliness and lives the rest of his days inside a cave, alone.
- Episode 4 ends with Yellow Guy and Duck still trapped in the deteriorating digital world.
- Episode 5's ending may be the most depressing one yet. Duck gets ground into canned food (alive!) and served as lunch for the Yellow Guy. The latter is then force-fed every can (unaware that he had just eaten his own friend because he was drugged by the teachers), and ends up sitting in the dark kitchen, completely alone. Afterwards, the mysterious caller (who had been trying to call the two throughout the episode) is revealed to be the absent Red Guy, who had been calling from a phone booth outside. The episode ends with Red Guy, dressed in a trenchcoat and carrying a suitcase, walking away from the phone booth in the rain. It's implied that he was the one who called Duck and Yellow Guy earlier in the episode. Judging by the depressing rainstorm, the somewhat melancholic jazz music, and the fact that he has a suitcase, it's certainly not happy with the results.
- Episode 6 plays with this. The ending could either be taken as an aversion where the main characters escape Roy's evil grip and can finally start their show without any horror, or a straight example revealing that they're trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop and will forever be forced to repeat the same torments they've gone through over the entire series.
- Dream Episode: Episode 6, aptly titled "Dreams", is a Double-Meaning Title: not only does it focus on Yellow Guy being tormented by an annoying lamp singing about dreams and nightmares regardless of his pleas, it also involves dreams as in goals, with the episode also focusing on Red Guy working in the boring real world and wanting to inject some creativity into his life.
- Dull Surprise: Red Guy sounds utterly bored by everything. So do all the other Red Guys in the "real" world.
- Ear Ache: Yellow Guy suffers this from Tony's screaming in Episode 2.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The first Don't Hug Me I'm Scared's costumes and characters aren't quite as polished as later ventures (due to the video being made in Becky and Joe's spare time), the creepiness is much more subdued or just implied until the end, and while Sketchbook does pick on Yellow Guy throughout the video, they're much less actively malicious toward the puppets than the other teachers, and they don't appear to have any Reality Warper powers. It's hinted in the Episode 6 that this might be because it's the only episode that wasn't part of Roy's simulation.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The other interpretation of the final episode. Roy, either out of regret or innocence, prompts Red Guy to end the madness, and Red Guy pulls the plug. Either that, or Red Guy defies Roy as he attempts to regain control over the machine. The date finally changes past Father's Day, the room has a door, and the puppets are now their favorite colors, signifying freedom and the ability to move forward without the damaging influence of the media.
- Eaten Alive: Duck awakens to see his body cut open and his innards are being slowly pulled out and devoured by a can monster, giggling as he eats. Duck can only gape and watch in horror as he's slowly eaten alive.
- E = MC Hammer: Don't Hug Me I'm Scared 2 contains, among other things on a blackboard, 卐 = MC2 and π = 19.6(y).
- Every Pizza Is Pepperoni: Fittingly for the "kids' TV show gone wrong" theme, the pizza featured in "Episode 5" is pepperoni.
- Evil Phone: A source of increasing dread in Episode 5. Subverted in that the caller is implied to be Red Guy. Doesn't make the ending go down any easier, though.
- Eye Scream: As the puppets rot in the second episode, the Duck's eye can be seen to have detached from its socket.
- Faux Affably Evil:
- Tony talks quite on length about time, but will often impolitely interrupt the characters trains of thought when they diverge from his pre-established set of circumstances, albeit attempting to be subtle about it, though he eventually just skips the subtlety when the characters just start questioning whether time is just a matter of human perception.
- Colin acts rather nice towards the puppets, and begins by innocently showing off everything he can do for them, that is until Red Guy gets annoyed at him, slamming his hand onto him, which causes Colin to go berserk and trap them all into a virtual world where everything goes wrong very quickly. He interrupts the puppets a few times during the video, and is very self centered.
- The Food Band pretend to be friendly, but they ignore everything the main characters say, and it’s heavily implied they tricked Yellow Guy into eating Duck after harvesting the latter’s organs while he was still alive.
- Fingore: The Duck's fingers get a nice close-up in "Time" as they rot away to expose muscles, veins, and eventually bones.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: In "Dreams", the Teachers do this when Red Guy messes with the machine controlling them.Tony: Time went new and got old like history, stuff from the past went into a mystery!
Yellow Guy: You made me die!
Tony: But look, a—!
[Tony turns into Colin]
Colin: —computer, I'm a computery guy, everything made out of buttons and wires, I'd like to show you—
[Colin turns into Shrignold]
Shrignold: —why we're here, what's it all about you've no idea, and everywhere you look, all you see is hatred, and darkness, death, and—
[Shrignold turns into Lamb Chop Guy]
Lamb Chop Guy: —ice cream beef! Ice cream beef makes your teeth go grey!
[Lamb Chop Guy turns into Spinach Can]
Spinach Can: Doesn't matter, just throw it away! Why not try some—
[Spinach Can turns into Duck]
Duck: —fish on my tray? WHAT?! WHERE AM I?!??!
- Fluffy the Terrible: The murderous god that the cult worships is named... Malcolm.
- Foul Flower: In 3, there are some smiling flowers amongst the group of animals that turn out to be a hypocritical, idol-worshipping cult.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Most characters, being puppets in the vein of shows like Sesame Street, only have four fingers on each hand. The costumed characters, such as Red Guy, have mitten hands instead.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- In the fifth episode, when Duck knocks down the camera trying to escape, you can see Red Guy's head in the microwave, Roy sitting on top of the wall of the set, and a shot of Red Guy just standing as it falls down, when Red Guy has been absent for almost the entire episode.
- In the sixth episode, during the end of the animated sequence, Roy can be seen in a phone booth in the background while Yellow Guy is riding a horse, as well as in a window while Yellow Guy is drowning in oil.
- Also in the sixth episode, Duck makes a very brief cameo before glitching and turning into the next teacher. If you pause it at the right time, you can see a hand inside of his body, presumably the one controlling the puppet.
- In the second episode, when Duck is questioning if time is simply an illusion of our senses, the blackboard he points to is covered in humorously nonsensical diagrams and equations. Including one whose solution is a swastika.
- Gainax Ending:
- Episode 3: Yellow Guy wakes up from his dream of the cult and is discovered by his friends, who have been looking all over for him. Just as they offer him the last boiled egg from their picnic to cheer him up, a bloody caterpillar emerges from the egg, shouting "Father!" Duck smashes it with his flyswatter.
- Episode 4: Ends with the Red Guy discovering a doorway to some kind of recording studio, where he discovers body-suited actors staging a crude recreation of the earlier videos... then his head explodes. Unlike the others, there's no indication that this is some kind of dream or hallucination. He shows up in the next episode, fortunately, although his place or presence in the plot is now unclear.
- The series as a whole: Red Guy messes around with a terminal that controls the world of the puppets, only to be grabbed on the shoulder by Roy. Red Guy walks away and pulls a giant plug connecting to the terminal, resulting in the world resetting only on June 20th instead of 19th and with the puppets' colors switched. The notepad shows up and begins to sing its song once more, cue credits.
- Genre Savvy:
- In 4, after saying that they wish they could learn more about "what is the biggest thing in the world", the puppets look expectantly at a nearby globe, assuming it will come to life and teach them... and then Colin shows up.
- By the time of Episode 5, Duck seems to have realized that the lessons always go horribly wrong. He's utterly terrified the whole time that he's around the Healthy Band, in contrast to his total comfort around Sketchbook, Tony, the Money Man, and Colin.
- By Episode 6, Yellow Guy's noticed too. The moment the lamp starts singing, Yellow Guy tells him "NO!" and shuts him off. Unfortunately, it doesn't shut him up for long. In spite of the cheery music, Yellow Guy can only respond in horror because he knows how it's going to end.Yellow Guy: NO MORE SONGS!
- Gonk: Roy, father of the Yellow Guy. Played for creepiness, especially given his character.
- Gross-Out Show: Every episode of the show features some amount of gore, violence and disturbing imagery by the end, not only for horror, but to some extent for comedy.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: The organ cake in the first video, as well as the dead fish, Yellow Guy's bleeding ear, the characters' rapid rotting in the second video, the bloody chicken, eggs and the maggot in the third video, Colin's "digital mind" in the fourth video, and the can eating Duck's organs in the fifth video.
- Grotesque Cute: Although the characters are more along the lines of ugly cute to begin with, the puppet designs and style seems childish and innocent enough at first to qualify.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: The series ends with one, with Red Guy resetting the events of the series by pulling the plug on the machine controlling the teachers, which reverts all of the main characters back to the first episode. The last (and, by extent, first) line of the series is the Notepad saying "What's your favorite idea?".
- Haute Cuisine Is Weird: Subverted in "Health". The Faux Affably Evil Anthropomorphic Food characters are vastly uninformed about proper eating and biology. They believe "fancy foods" are bad for you. The problem is that their definition of "fancy, show-offy foods" consists of cooked meats, fruits, eggs, and basically anything healthy, while plain or low-nutrition foods like bread and cream are deemed healthy. One of the food's a talking lamb chop, by the way.
- Hell Is That Noise:
- The first video's background music dissolves into discordant screeching during the "get creative" scene. In the sequel, Tony's shrill, high-pitched screeching makes all the puppets cower and cover their ears.
- Colin's shrieking when Red Guy hits him, and the strange noises during the glitchy segment.
- After the lamb chop tells the Yellow Guy not to eat food from a stranger's plate. It starts getting repeated over and over, with the sound getting high pitched then lower pitched and the lamb chop and spinach starting to say it in a more aggressive and mad tone. Also, the Bird Guy's scream during that bit.
- Here We Go Again!: The finale ends with Red Guy pulling the plug to the "Teacher Machine", which somehow resets everything back to where it was in the first video, minus the main characters being different colors and the calendar finally changing to June 20.
- Hollywood Torches: Episode 6's lamp acts as one. The room goes completely dark blue when he's switched off, and the whole room gets illuminated when he comes back on to continue his horrible torture song.
- Hostage Video: This Is It used this trope to promote their Kickstarter for the last four episodes. The first one is a more descriptive video showing the red thing reading out the captor's demands (money) while a synthesized voice describes what the show is about and what the kickstarter is for. The next two are much shorter and really, really threatening.
- Sketchbook berates Yellow Guy for using the colour green, because it is not a creative colour. Earlier when she showed their hair, some of it was clearly green.
- After spending several verses singing about loving each other and their pets, Shrignold and his cronies say that Yellow Guy is only allowed to love his "special one".
- The lamb chop chef in "Health" says that red meats are bad to eat.
- I Am Not Weasel: Duck refers to both a butterfly and a maggot as "pesky bee[s]". The Yellow Guy refers to Shrignold as "A little baby pigeon", despite him clearly being a butterfly.
- Impeded Communication: In Episode 5, Red Guy keeps trying to contact Duck, via the use of a telephone on set. However, every time the Duck tries to answer, the antagonists of the episode take over, making it impossible for him to actually get the message. One such moment has the phone being turned into a sandwich in the next scene, confusing him and making it even harder to break free.
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: The word "time" is enough to summon the clock in 2. By 4 the students are invoking this on purpose.Red Guy: If only there was a way to learn more about the world.
[the three turn to stare at a nearby globe]
Duck: Yes. If only there was some way to learn more information about this.
[continued stare at globe]
- Intentional Engrish for Funny: The 2nd and 3rd videos contain "wrist" and "harmony" spelled as "rizd" and "harmunee" in big letters on the screen.
- Ironic Echo: When Sketchbook shows how they express themselves with their hair, Red Guy claims "That sounds really boring". When he's in the real world, he tells to one of his coworkers that it would be funny if a file started singing a song. The coworker replies "No. That sounds really boring".
- Irony: From the creators: "Animation can at times be a dull and tedious way to work but it also offers you complete creative control, which is something we like to have."
- Red Guy dismisses all of Sketchbook's ideas as boring or uncreative.
- Tony cuts off the trio's navel-gazing about time by beeping loudly and aggressively at them until Yellow Guy's ears bleed.
- In "Creativity", Sketchbook ruins Yellow Guy's painting of a clown by smearing black ink on it just because they think that Yellow Guy isn't following what they think being creative was, and also tells him that green is not a creative colour when he wants to use it.
- Shrignold keeps telling Yellow Guy that he is alone throughout "Love", and also dismisses Yellow's ideas of what love is about. Near the end he also forces Yellow Guy to get married to his "special one".
- Colin, despite saying several times how smart and helpful he is, keeps interrupting people, does not seem to acknowledge the original question being asked of him, and forcibly takes the puppets on a journey.
- The talking lamb chop won't stop jabbing Bird Guy with a meat fork, and condemns all his choices of food as "greedy" — even when he wasn't going to eat it in the first place. No matter what suggestion is offered, he insists that it will "make your teeth/gums all grey", and stomps on the model of the body repeatedly to prove a point.
- Jump Scare: Interestingly enough, The show doesn't utilize any jumpscares, since it focuses more on shocking the viewer rather than startling them. However, "Computers" does have a moment that may qualify: during the scene where Colin the Computer distorts reality in order to warp to his world, Duck's face suddenly pops out (in close up) and glitches in front of the screen.
- Karma Houdini: All negative figures, great and small, in the videos seem get off scot-free, at least until "Dreams", where they're all destroyed and Roy's plot is foiled.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: After the creativity explosion in "Creativity", the puppets are sitting around, confused as to what the hell just happened. Sketchbook says that they should all agree to never be creative again.
- Lost Aesop: When the Yellow Guy is depressed that he can't find love in "Love", the Tree assures him that everyone has a special one, and sings to him about The Story of Michael, the loneliest boy in town. Michael was ugly, everyone called him a freak, and he lived on his own underground... and that's it. He doesn't find his special one, and yet they treat it like he did.This is the story of Michael, the ugliest boy in town
Ugly and weak, they called him a freak
So he lived on his own underground
He lived on his own underground (x2)
Shrignold: You see? Everyone has a special one.
Rabbit Boy: Even Michael!
- Lotus-Eater Machine:
- Seems to be the nature of the kitchen in Episode 5. Yellow Guy and the Bird are trapped there while whatever the food things are feed on their organs. In the credits, it's revealed that Red Guy has been calling them from a phone booth, but whether he succeeds in actually reaching them is unclear.
- Elaborated upon in the finale: Red Guy discovers a machine with monitors displaying Yellow Guy being tormented by another singing object, and the machine’s controls cause other singing objects to appear. When Red Guy unplugs the machine, it apparently resets reality and/or causes time to finally start moving forward again.
- Love Is Like Religion: Shrignold the butterfly teaches the Yellow Guy about love by inducting him into a cult.
- Ludd Was Right:
- A theme in "TIME" is that all the puppets become complacent and indifferent to life, instead getting distracted by, and wasting their time on, the computer, or complaining about missing their programme.Yellow Guy: An old man died.
Tony: But LOOK! A computer!
- This theme was expanded upon in the fourth installment, where the focus is a singing computer who, at first, seems really helpful, touting how much knowledge he has and all the things he can do. However, he then starts asking the puppets extremely personal questions, such as what their blood type is and the colour of their hair. Later on, once the puppets are in the digital world, they can only do three things: look at stuff, try on clothes, and dance aimlessly. They do this again and again, seemingly forever, until Red decides to quit the whole thing.
- This comes up again in the final video. It turns out all the strange Teachers that accosted the puppets were summoned by a large computer, and the series concludes with Red Guy attempting to shut it off.
- A theme in "TIME" is that all the puppets become complacent and indifferent to life, instead getting distracted by, and wasting their time on, the computer, or complaining about missing their programme.
- Mad Artist: Either the Sketchbook or the Puppets during the Creativity Explosion, depending on whether you see it as the Sketchbook's doing.
- Madness Mantra: Most episodes have one:
- In episode 2 there's Tony's "Meh! Meh! Meh! Meh! Meh! MEH! MEH! MEH! MEH! MEH!"
- In episode 3, once the true nature of the Love Cult is revealed, the members chant "Our king... Our king... Our king..." in the background.
- In episode 4, "Wow, look, a [chart type]!" "Digital style!" "Do a digital dancing! Hey, this is fun!" is repeated ad infinitum due to the digital world glitching.
- In episode 5, the food band chant "You shouldn't eat food from a stranger's plate! A stranger's plate! A stranger's plate! A stranger's plate! A stranger's plate!". It's implied that this is the point where they start feeding Duck to Yellow Guy.
- Episode 6 has the Lamp which repeats "Looks like somebody's having a bad dream! Bad dream! Bad dream! Bad dream!"
- The Man Behind the Man: Episode 6 reveals that all the teachers were being controlled by Roy.
- Mandatory Twist Ending: The teacher in each installment always turns out to be Evil All Along. By the fifth, even Duck seems to be aware of this. The sixth subverts the formula by having The Lamp not even bother with acting friendly, and just drowns Yellow Guy For the Evulz four lines into the song.
- Mathematician's Answer:Colin, the Computer: Where do you live?
Duck: I live in my house.
- May It Never Happen Again: The very first episode ends with the cast being told to "get creative" by the Notebook, which spirals into a nightmarish scene of the puppet cast being replaced with people in costumes doing creepy things, while cuts to the real cast reveal them to be having seizures. At the very end, Notebook declares, "Now let's all agree, to never be creative again", seemingly having realized just how bad of an idea it was to "get creative."
- Meaningful Echo:
- When Red Guy sings a song about what an animate file would be like, the response is "That sounds really boring", a line said by Red Guy back in the first episode. He also asks "I wonder what will happen?" (from Episode 3) before pulling the plug on the machine and resetting the timeline.
- When Red Guy messes with Roy's machine to make new teachers in the sixth, Yellow Guy yells "MAKE IT STOP!", which is the same thing he yelled when Tony made them rot alive in the second.
- Meaningful Name: Mr. and Mrs. Dead are, well, dead.
- Medium Blending: The show is primarily a puppet show, but some sequences dips into to other mediums, such as 2D animation (most prominently in the Lamp's Dream Song in Episode 6), 3D animation (most prominently when Colin shows off the "Digital World" in Episode 4), claymation (the new friend’s song from “Death”) and there is even a prolonged live-action sequence in Episode 6.
- Mind Screw: Combined with Serial Escalation. The first few episodes tend to make sense within children's show logic, excepting a few scenes and the Ambiguous Situation. The second half of the show invokes Surreal Horror and psychological storytelling more and more. It all leads up to an extremely confusing reveal (in the web videos) that all the singing teachers are controlled by some kind of weird machine, which may or may not belong to Yellow Guy's creepy dad. Red Guy unplugs the machine, and suddenly we cut to the first scene from the first episode, except all the characters are different colours.
- Mockumentary: True to the surreal tone of the series, the official "Behind the Scenes" featurette on the DVD is this. At first look it more-or-less appears like pretty much every other self-congratulatory "Behind the Scenes" mini-dokumentary transparently meant to sell the show, but on closer inspection the interview with creators Becky and Joe that features throughout the video, has them doing nothing but spouting Meaningless Meaningful Words, that is at best only tangentially related to what actually happens in the series, and telling Blatant Lies about the series' premise, such as claiming that it is about "three best friends who go on a journey to find a magic pirate ship and save the day." Alongside this, there is constantly repeating footage and background music, and an additional interview with voice actor Baker Terrald (actually series co-writer Baker Terry) describing his experiences with voicing several characters, none of which ever appear on the series.
- Monster of the Week: Installments have a new inanimate object come to terrorize the protagonists with a new lesson, and they are collectively known as "the Teachers":
- "Creativity" has the Sketchbook... kinda. It's unclear if they're actually evil or if things just spiral out of their control.
- "Time": Tony the Talking Clock. While at first appearing to be affable and somewhat goofy, he shows himself to be evil when he speeds up time to rot the puppets alive for questioning time.
- The "HELP" videos: The Money Man (not a teacher, but kidnaps the characters and ransoms them).
- "Love": Shrignold the Butterfly, head of a Love Cult who worship a giant stone face named Malcolm.
- "Computers": Colin, a talking computer who traps the puppet trio in Cyberspace.
- "Health": The Healthy Band, who tell the puppets contradicting things on what is and what isn't healthy, with the lamb chop being the most prominent. They're laughable as ever, but horrifically, they go as far as to kill Duck by tricking Yellow Guy into eating him.
- "Dreams": The Lamp is set up as a decoy Big Bad, while the Big Bad of the whole series is revealed: Roy, the father of Yellow Guy.
- Mood Whiplash: Part of the appeal of the "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared" videos is that it goes from bright and cheery into mind-numbing insanity in a matter of moments.
- Most obvious in the third episode, where a single screen wipe causes the scene to go from saccharine sing-along to cult worship of a wrathful stone head.
- Motor Mouth: Duck in the Kickstarter video.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- From the first episode:Sketchbook: I use my hair to express myself!
Red Guy: (flatly) That sounds really boring.
Sketchbook: (with just a slight hint of anger) ...I use my hair to express myself.
Sketchbook: Now when you stare at the clouds in the sky,don't you find it exciting?
Sketchbook: Come on, take another look.
Yellow Guy: Oh, right!
Puppets: I can see a hat, I can see a cat, I can see a man with a baseball bat, I can see a dog, I can see a frog, I can see a ladder leaning on a log.
- In the fourth episode, Colin excitedly says that "in the digital world, there are over three things to do!". The best part is that he's not even telling the truth, there are only three things to do.
- Also from the fourth episode, Yellow Guy repeatedly opening a door to find some sort of chart and saying "Wow, look, a [chart type]!" each time. Then he opens the door to find nothing at all and still says "Wow, look, nothing!".
- From the first episode:
- Never Say "Die": Averted; it's said at least once in the first three installments.
- In "Creativity", Duck writes "DEATH" on the table using potato stamps during the CREATIVITY EXPLOSION.
- In "Time", Tony states that "a tree that is older has shrivelled and died". He does later describe the puppets as "running out of time", but that's probably more due to his personal obsession than censorship.
- In the Kickstarter video, it is made explicitly clear that the puppets will be killed off if enough money isn't raised.
- When The Love Cultists explain to the Yellow Guy what a "special one" is, they show him two tombstones reading "Mr. Dead" and "Mrs. Dead".
- The line "And everywhere you look, all you see is hatred; and darkness, death and fear".
- In "Dreams", Yellow Guy calls out Tony for making him die.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Sketchbook, Tony, the Cult, Colin, and the Foods. And the Lamp, in the literal sense of “nightmare”.
- No Cartoon Fish: An increasing number of dead fish appear in "Time."
- No Ending: The web series ends with a Smash to Black cutting off the Sketchbook.
- Pretty much none of the featured songs (with the possible exception of "Time") have an actual ending; they typically just cut off abruptly or deteriorate into distorted noise.
- No Name Given: None of the main characters' names have been revealed, hence why they are known to fans as Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Duck.
- Ominous Visual Glitch: In a particular scene in episode 4, after Red Guy touches Colin, it harshly launches the puppets into its virtual world, signaled by a disturbing sequence containing visuals of them being distorted and glitched to hell and back.
- Oh, Crap!: This is the reaction of the Teachers in Part 5 whenever Red Guy attempts to call the others from the telephone box.
- Only Sane Man: Red Guy is the only one who isn't going insane during the "creative episode." Additionally, he's much more questioning of the weirdness than the others, and the one who saves the day.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: "Now let's all agree to never be creative again."
- Or Was It a Dream?: In the final shot of "Time", the entire sequence is revealed to be the TV show that Red Guy was waiting to watch... although you can still see the Duck's rotting eyeball in the corner of the room.
- Happens again in "Love", after Yellow Guy wakes up from his terrible nightmare about a cult trying to persuade him to join and find his "special one", his friends offer him an egg which hatches into a bloody worm-like creature that yells "Father!", before being smashed by Duck.
- Orphaned Punchline: The sixth episode has Red Guy tuning into a conversation three other Red Guys are having at a nearby table.Red Guy: —but I was like, "Yeah, that's not even the same bucket!" (laughing)
- Pac Man Fever: Colin the computer is portrayed as a beige machine with a massive CRT monitor that displays extremely low-res, with the most robotic TTS-voice ever heard in the history of computing. Even though in the same video we see a much thinner laptop with a much higher definition display being opened, and Colin's digital world is rendered in 3D, even though the screen shows Nintendo graphics.
- Painting the Medium: In the sixth video, every live-action scene with Red Guy is shown in a cinematic aspect ratio.
- Palette Swap: The three puppets in the ending of the sixth video.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Possibly not intentionally, due to coming from a tape recorder, but just before Red Guy's head pops at the end of episode 4 it recites "You are not invited to the party."
- Putting on the Reich: The Money Man in the Kickstarter video.
- Quicksand Sucks: The oil Yellow Guy sinks in during the Lamp's song basically acts like quicksand, sucking him down as he struggles to keep himself from sinking.
- Rapid Aging: What happens to the Puppets near the end of the second video, before it goes from this to rotting.
- Rapid-Fire Interrupting: This is Colin's primary method to get past unnecessary questions, usually responding with the interjection "Great news!"
- Religion of Evil: The Love Cult might be one.
- Red Herring: At the end of episode 4, the alternate Yellow Guy repeats lines from the first two episodes, then cryptically adds "You are not invited to the party". Most fans assumed this was Foreshadowing a future episode set at a party, but this prediction never came true.
- Reduced to Ratburgers: During the Victorian scene in Time there is a shop called "Rat Meat & Sons".
- Repeated Cue, Tardy Response:
- When Red Guy asks about the relevance of the Internet, Colin hesitates.Red Guy: But in this digital world, what can we do?
Red Guy: (insistently) What can we—
Colin: Hey, good question!
- When Red Guy asks about the relevance of the Internet, Colin hesitates.
- Revealing Continuity Lapse: After Red Guy leaves the show, the picture in the kitchen at the beginning of "Health" has changed to show only Yellow Guy and the Duck, and Yellow Guy is frowning instead of smiling. They seem to notice something is different and missing, but can't put their finger on it before the episode's song starts, which turns out to be the most disjointed and surreal one yet.
- Rhyming with Itself:
- Played for Laughs in "Time".Tony: Let's go on a journey, a journey through time! A time that's changing all the time, it's time to go to TIME!
- Played straight in "Love".Red Guy: Now that we have eaten the chicken, I don't know what to do.
Duck: Maybe we should look for our friend. Isn't that what friends do?
- Also in the sixth:Lamp: You can have a dream about losing your friends! Or you can have a dream about burning your friends!
Space Guy: Planets live inside the moon! A rocket ship can go to space, a rocket ship can go to the moon!
- Played for Laughs in "Time".
- Room Full of Crazy: The CREATIVITY EXPLOSION drives the puppets to smear things like ripped-out hearts in glitter, take out raw meat from their pie, or stamp out DEATH in potato stamps.
- Rule of Symbolism: Oil is used twice to represent the repression of free will. In the first episode, Sketchbook uses it to destroy Yellow Guy's painting, and in the final episode, the Lamp causes Yellow Guy to drown in it due to his protests.
- Sapient Eat Sapient: Played for Drama. The ambiguously human Yellow Guy is forced to eat the remains of his aptly named friend, Duck, in the fifth episode.
- Scenery Gorn: A mouse-hole starts leaking meat during the Creativity Explosion.
- Seasonal Rot: In-Universe. It's invoked and implied that this would happen had Red Guy not taken action in the sixth episode. The previous lessons had been Creativity, Time, Love, Computers, Food, and Dreams, but it was shown by the machine-generated Teachers that the lessons most likely would go on to include Space, Sports, Magnetism, Digging Holes, Canoe Buying, Files, Traffic, Gel, Smoking, and Music. This can be read as another criticism of childrens' media, focusing on topics that become more inane over time.
- Seen It All: By the fourth installment, the puppets are so used to inanimate objects coming to life and singing to them that they actually seem to be prodding the globe in the beginning to just get it over with.
- Self-Imposed Exile: In episode 3, The Tree tells the story of Micheal, a boy who was hated by everyone for being ugly and found a cave to live in.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Season 2 almost ends with the gang escaping their crazy world - and then Duck steals Yellow Guy's intelligence-boosting batteries, causing Yellow Guy to short out and throw the key down a paper shredder. At least "Everybody Laughs" Ending!
- Shame If Something Happened: The Lamb Chop is vaguely menacing throughout: poking Duck with a fork, putting his arm around him in a controlling fashion. He finally drives his veiled threat home by showing what happens if you eat "Show-offy" foods by throwing the model on the floor and stepping on it: "Oh no! It's all broken and on the floor!"
- Tony the Talking Clock also has this manner near the end of "Time," disclaiming responsibility for the fate of the puppets even though it was clearly triggered by his irritation with their questions.
- Shaped Like Itself:Sketchbook: What's your favourite idea? Mine is being creative!
Yellow Guy: How do you get that idea?
Sketchbook: I just try to think creatively.
- Show Within a Show: At the end of "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared 2", the camera slowly zooms out back to the three puppets in the living room, implying that everything that just happened was the show they were planning to watch. Maybe. It's worth noting that the Duck's rotten, fallen-out eyeball is still on the ground when everything goes back to normal. The portrait of the puppets representing "the past" in the first scene has changed to Tony's "The future", a frame with the word "nothing" written on the background.
- In an interview, Becky Sloan informed that the show they were intending to watch was "Craig's Big Day", which is another one of the studio's productions.
- The Smart Guy: Duck was the one most shown as rational and even suggested the possibility that time is just a perception before being turned down.
- So Hideous, It's Terrifying: "This is the story of Michael, the Ugliest boy in town. Ugly and weak, they called him a freak, so he lived on his own underground. He lived all alone underground. He lived all alone underground."
- Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying: Duck refers to a butterfly (and later, a caterpillar) as a "bee," while Yellow Guy thinks it's a baby pigeon.
- Spoof Aesop: "Now let's all agree to never be creative again."
- Stealth Pun: The leader of the Love Cult is notably a butterfly. He's a love bug!
- Tony at the end of 2 claims "it's out of my hands, I'm only a clock!"
- The Stinger: After the credits roll for the first Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, a man can be heard laughing about a "horrible sound".
- Strange Minds Think Alike: In the sixth episode, Red Guy is asked to file files, and suggests to one of the other Red Guys that it would be funny if one of the files came alive and started singing "I am a file and you put documents in me". Later in the same episode, we see several of Roy's ideas for teachers whose lessons we didn't get to see, including a talking file whose song would have included the line "I am a file and you put documents in me."
- Straw Hypocrite: All of the teachers.
- Sketchbook claims green is not a creative colour, yet has green in their hair. In general, they claim to be all about creativity, yet their song is just telling the puppets what to do and getting mad whenever they make or do something without their instruction. At the end, they flat-out tell them never to be creative again.
- Tony starts out telling the puppets that there will always be time for what they want to do, but in the journey through time he shows the puppets a number of examples of people and things dying (running out of time). At the end, he gleefully admits that they, too, will run out of time eventually.
- Shrignold and the Love Cultists teach Yellow Guy about loving friends, but Shrignold spends a good deal of the song trying to convince Yellow Guy that his friends hate him. Eventually, they outright tell Yellow Guy that loving your friends is wrong because love should be saved for your Special One.
- Colin goes on and on about how clever and helpful he is, but not only does he never say or do anything clever, he never even attempts to help the puppets figure out the answer to the question they wanted him to help them with in the first place, instead distracting them by asking them a bunch of completely irrelevant questions claiming that he needs to know the answers to help them become smart like him. He drops any pretense of intending to help when Red Guy hits his keyboard. He also boasts about how much you can do in the digital world, but then reveals that there are actually only three things to do there.
- The Food Band claim that cooked meat is unhealthy because it's a "colourful, show-offy food" despite their apparent leader being a lamb chop. They also later say that the foods that they just claimed were healthy are actually unhealthy.Lamb Chop Guy: Choosing simple plain foods, like bread, cream, white sauce and aspic will keep the body ticking over!
Lamb Chop Guy and Spinach Can: What's that? A pizza slice, but you're better off with plain white sauce! What's that, plain white sauce? Plain white sauce makes your teeth go grey!
- The Lamp is maybe the simplest example. He talks about how the Yellow Guy can't sleep because he doesn't know how to dream, but his attempts to teach Yellow Guy only make him more awake.
- Stunned Silence: In Episode 4, the trio are playing a game and start wondering "What is the biggest thing in the world?" They then prompt a question to the nearby globe; which doesn't respond to their questions, when it is finally prepared to follow the script, it's cut off by the sudden appearance of the computer. From there, the trio are completely confused and speechless when the computer starts singing. Red Guy tries to continue the game and follow the original script but The Computer interrupts him each time until Red Guy finally loses his patience and tries to shut it down. Yellow Guy and Duck are also confused and are trying to improvise; Yellow Guy tries to act impressed by the computer while Duck is trying to figure out the subject they are trying to teach (the computer mentions time and Duck's tone changes as if he's trying to remember the lesson from that episode).
- Stylistic Suck:
- Used at the end of the fourth episode. Red Guy stumbles upon a poorly made set for a Don't Hug Me I'm Scared episode, featuring crude renditions of the characters and very little colour.
- The Food Band's song is blatantly half-assed and sounds improvised, with a repetitive melody and several lines of lyrics being nothing but "doo doo, da doo-doo". Although it could be due to the mysterious phone calls that keep interrupting them...
- Dream Lamp can't sing and the creators know it. His song also seems to consist of nothing but "You can have a dream about XYX, or you can have a dream about YXY..." (and never anything rhyming as the two dream-ideas) ad infinitum once the first few lines are over.
- unused teachers' songs in Episode 6. We only hear snippets of their songs, but each sounds even more repetitive and less coherent than the Food Band's, the singing ranges from vaguely tonal to making Dream Lamp sound like Freddie Mercury by comparison, one of them claims "planets live inside the moon", and the Saxophone proclaims in his song that he will "teach you how to buy a canoe", something obviously completely unrelated to him. Takes on a new intensity with the
- In the bar Red Guy goes to in Episode 6, the music provided is by another Red Guy just stiffly mashing the keys of a piano. The original Red Guy's cover of the Creative Song sounds monotone and off-key as well, and the other characters are 5-minute hand puppets
- Subverted Kids' Show: This series provides the trope page's current image for a reason. Each episode starts off relatively saccharine and gradually become more depraved. By episode 5, though, things are pretty creepy right from the start, with Yellow Guy and Duck already starting to realise that something's wrong.
- Sudden Soundtrack Stop: At many points in the series, a moment of silence or ambiance is used to underscore just how unsettling the events in the seemingly kid-friendly show actually are, just before the music comes back like nothing ever happened. Two examples include:
- The moment in "Episode 1", where the music stops so the audience can only hear Yellow Guy's clown painting being covered in oil. This is one of the first points where it's made clear that something is very wrong.
- In "Episode 3", There's a long, silent moment where Duck does nothing but stare at the camera after speaking, just before the song starts up again, making the entire episode feel even more unsettling.
- Sugar Bowl: The love world in Episode 3. There are clouds and rainbows everywhere, the sky is pink, and it's inhabited by furry animals and talking flowers.
- Surreal Horror: The series mostly parodies children's shows by starting off the episodes innocent and kid friendly before shifing more towards horror.
- Surreal Humor: despite its dark and unsettling content and imagery, the show sometimes may have this touch.
- Teacher's Unfavorite Student: Sketchbook encourages the students to be creative, but seems to dislike Yellow Guy's ways of being creative, as she pours black paint onto his painting of a clown, and tells him "green is not a creative color" when he arranges sticks and leaves into the shape of the word "green", his favorite color.
- Tear Off Your Face: In the Kickstarter video, the page from the anthropomorphic Sketchbook with their face on it is briefly shown on the ground. Given that they're a sketchbook, it could very well be the equivalent of this trope for her.
- Tempting Fate:
- After Yellow Guy runs off in tears in episode 3, Red Guy mentions that he "wonder[s] what will happen"... and shortly afterward, Shrignold, a malevolent cultist, shows up.
- Red Guy says this very same thing near the end of episode 6 right before he unplugs the machine responsible for the teachers.
- That Cloud Looks Like...: In the first episode, the sketchbook has Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Duck look at the clouds out the window. In a very subtle nod to the series' overarching theme of how media instructs its audience to view the world around them, the cast initially don't find it very exciting, but then the sketchbook tells them to take a closer look, and they notice a cloud which starts to constantly change shapes.Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Duck: I can see a hat! I can see a cat! I can see a bird with a baseball bat! I can see a dog! I can see a frog! I can see a ladder leaning on a log!
- Tick Tock Tune: Episode 2, dealing with Time, has a clock ticking sound playing throughout the song.
- Title Drop: When things start getting freaky in Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, the camera rotates and a studio crew with googly eyes can be seen along with a clapboard with the title on it.
- Totally Radical: From the Kickstarter trailer, complete with dancing sunglasses."So far, Don't Hug Me I'm Scared has had over twenty million views on Youtube. And we think that's great. Seriously cool!"
- The Unreveal: Colin asks the characters where they live, what they like to eat, and what their names are. Duck answers "my house" to the first and Red Guy almost reveals his name, but he's interrupted.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Downplayed in "Dreams". Red Guy takes off his clothes and walks on a stage to sing the Creativity Song, but the other Red Guys are more bothered by how bad the song is, while the nudity is simply referred passingly as "rude".Red Guy Pianist: That's rude! No clothes.
- Vague Age: In true Edutainment Show style, although the trio learn about concepts already familiar to any but a very young audience, their actual ages are debatable. Red Guy is most clearly an adult (in 6 we see a picture from his [university?] graduation in Yellow Guy's album, and he's shown working in an office), and Yellow Guy is the most childlike and naive of the three, as well as the only one depicted with a parent. Fanon usually casts Red Guy and Duck as adults (with Duck sometimes interpreted as a Grumpy Old Man) and Yellow Guy as a child...the latter aspect of which might be thrown into disarray by the teaser for the TV pilot, in which he's shown wearing a button that reads "38 Today."
- Verbal Tic: Tony apparently can't help but mention the word "time".
- Given what Tony is and represents, it's a literal instance of Time repeating itself.
- "Great news!" for Colin in "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared 4."
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show:
- In the second video, we are introduced to an anthropomorphic clock named Tony. Throughout the video, he attempted to teach the other puppets that there was enough time in the world for them to do everything they wanted in life, including watching their television show. However, as the journey and song progressed, Tony became more and more controlling and forced the puppets to act strictly on his schedule, and then began to buzz loudly in front of them when the puppets began to show signs of resistance to his teachings about time by wandering about it being real, or a human perception. He was beeping so loudly, that he caused Yellow Guy's ears to bleed. He then used time to cause the puppets to age rapidly and fall apart in bloodily ways. He then ends the song by stating that everyone eventually runs out of time. He's definitely more outright vile than the Notepad from the first video.
- The fourth video has Colin, an anthropomorphic computer who introduces the puppets to the Digital World. But as the video progresses, Duck and Yellow get caught up with exploring the world, and it turns out that Colin trapped them within the world in an endless loop. And unlike the previous videos, it's not just a dream or hallucination.
- The fifth video introduces The Healthy Band, a group of sociopathic food who don't even try to be affable around the puppets. When Duck gets fed up with their "lesson," The Healthy Band has their Cans kidnap him, dissect him alive, and then they force feed Duck's remains to Yellow Guy.
- Visual Pun: Red Guy's head exploding in the end of Episode 4 can be seen as metaphor for a "mind blown".
- "Wanted!" Poster: For some reason, Yellow Guy has a wanted poster when the main characters time travel to the Victorian era in episode 2.
- We All Die Someday: The ultimate lesson of "Time," which Tony the Talking Clock enforces the hard way.Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be fine,But eventually everyone runs out of time!
- Wham Episode:
- Episode 4 ends with a Gainax Ending that suggests... something major. Red Guy escapes from cyberspace and tries to walk out of the episode, only to stumble upon a camera crew making a crude CGI recreation of the first episode. He has just enough time to turn to the camera and let out a baffled "What?" before his head explodes in a cloud of glitter.
- Episode 5 tops it: Yellow Guy and Duck have grown more aware of their surroundings; the "Teachers" in this episode aren't even trying to hide their creepiness; Duck finally cracks and desperately tries to escape only to be killed and eaten alive, leaving Yellow Guy as the only one left; and to top it all off, it's implied at the credits that the mysterious phone calls being sent throughout the episode were sent by Red Guy, who is still alive and now outside of their reality.
- Episode 6 seems to imply Yellow Guy’s weird dad was behind all of their misery, but ends with Red Guy seemingly hitting the Reset Button and rewinding time to the beginning of Episode 1… except all of the students are different colours, and most of the props are gone from the kitchen; the date also finally changes from June 19th to June 20th. Um...whaaaat?
- Wham Line:
- A subtle one in "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared", where it doesn't change the mood entirely but it is where things begin taking a turn for the worse:Yellow Guy: (sitting next to a clown painting) I might paint a picture of a clown!
Sketchbook: Whoa there, friend; you might need to slow down! (black sludge slides down the painting as all music cuts out)
- It happens again in "Time", when Duck starts musing about time being "a concept of human perception" and Tony quite rudely interrupts him with his screeching beeps, causing Yellow Guy to bleed out of his ears.
- And again in the third video. This time, things start to go wrong with the line "No no no, that's not how it's done!" or, a bit earlier, "Ha-ha, harder..."
- And again in the fourth video when Colin yells "DON'T TOUCH MEEEEE!"
- The piece of lamb chop and can of spinach saying "You shouldn't eat food from a stranger's plate. A stranger's plate, a stranger's plate, a stranger's plate..."
- This from Duck:
- In the sixth: "Time is a tool you can put on the wall, or wear it on your wrist." This is one of Tony's lines from the second episode, and is said by the clock himself.
Sketchbook: What's your favourite idea?
- The final line of the episode (and the series), after Red Guy pulls the plug of the Teacher Machine that is torturing Yellow Guy, which is insinuated to have reset the events of the series:
- A subtle one in "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared", where it doesn't change the mood entirely but it is where things begin taking a turn for the worse:
- Wham Shot:
- Halfway through 5, Duck wakes up in a mysterious dark room. Eventually, we see that his body had been sliced open, and his organs are being processed into canned food product.
- And after that, we see a shot of Yellow Guy, now obese, having eaten all of the cans containing Duck.
- In 6, Red Guy walking up to the machine and seeing Yellow Guy, still in his "lesson", on the monitor.
- A few seconds later in the same episode, the reappearance of Tony, followed by several other teachers.
- A third one is the appearance of a long arm tapping Red Guy on the shoulder, belonging to Roy.
- Halfway through 5, Duck wakes up in a mysterious dark room. Eventually, we see that his body had been sliced open, and his organs are being processed into canned food product.
- Wistful Amnesia: In the fifth video, Duck and Yellow Guy have somehow been made to forget about Red Guy, but still sense that something is missing.
- Your Head Asplode: Happens to Red Guy in Episode 4, in a peculiar way. His head is destroyed after a director calls action on the set of something quite like the first Don't Hug Me I'm Scared video.
Tropes with their own pages