Don't Hug Me I'm Scared

Don't Hug Me I'm Scared[a] (often abbreviated as DHMIS) is a British surreal comedy horror series created by Becky Sloan, Joe Pelling, and Baker Terry. The original web series consists of six episodes, released from 29 July 2011 to 19 June 2016 on YouTube;[4] the television series premiered on 23 September 2022 on All 4 with simulcast on Channel 4 the next week.[5] The series combines segments in live action, puppetry, traditional animation, flash animation, clay animation, and computer animation.

Don't Hug Me I'm Scared
DHMIS poster.png
Official poster
Created by
  • Becky Sloan
  • Joe Pelling
  • Baker Terry (2022-present)
Written by
  • Becky Sloan
  • Joe Pelling
  • Hugo Donkin (2014)
  • Baker Terry (2014-present)
  • Sam Campbell (2022-present)
  • Natasha Hodgson (2022-present)
Directed by
  • Becky Sloan
  • Joe Pelling
  • Baker Terry (2022-present)
Voices of
  • Charlie Pelling (2016-)
  • Joe Pelling
  • Baker Terry (2022-present)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes6 (YouTube)
6 (Channel 4)
Executive producers
  • Becky Sloan (2014–16)
  • Joe Pelling (2014–16)
  • James Stevenson Bretton (2014–)
  • Thomas Ridgewell (2014–16)
  • Benjamin Lole (2014–16)
  • Hugo Donkin (2014-present)
  • Charlie Perkins (2022-present)
  • Max Halstead (2014–15)
  • Edward Tucker (2014-)
  • Spike Morris (2nd Unit, 2021-)
EditorNick Armstrong (2022-present)
Running time
  • 3-8 minutes (YouTube)
  • 23 minutes (Channel 4)
Production companies
Original networkYouTube (2012–16)
Channel 4 (2022–present)
Original release29 July 2011 (2011-07-29) –

In the series, each episode starts like a typical children's series, consisting of anthropomorphic puppets akin to those featured in Sesame Street and other popular children's television programmes. The series parodies and satirises these TV programmes by contrasting this childlike, colourful environment and its inhabitants against disturbing themes; each episode features a surreal plot twist in the climax, including psychedelic content and imagery involving graphic violence, dark humour, existentialism, and psychological horror.

The six episodes of the web series explore and discuss basic subjects typically found in preschool, namely creativity, time, love, technology, diet, and dreams, while the television series touched on jobs, death, family, friendship, transport, and electricity. The series received widespread acclaim for its story, production design, psychological horror, humor, hidden themes, and characters, and is regarded by many as one of the greatest web series of all time. Similar acclaim was met with the television series as well.


Each episode revolves around three characters: a yellow childlike humanoid[b] with blue hair and overalls, an anthropomorphic green mallard duck[c] with a plaid coat, and a red humanoid with a mop-like head. They have no names explicitly stated within the series, but are often referred to as Yellow Guy, Duck and Red Guy respectively. Yellow Guy's father, Roy, also occasionally appears.[6] An episode typically goes with the three main characters meeting one or several anthropomorphic characters, who begin a musical number related to a basic concept of day-to-day life with an upbeat melody, similar to that of a Sesame Street segment. As each song progresses, it becomes apparent that its moral or message is nonsensical and self-contradicting, and that the "teacher" character has ulterior sinister motives. The climax of each episode typically involves a plot twist involving the addition of escalating psychological horror, which then culminates into gore and graphic violence. Later in the series, the characters begin questioning the nature of their reality and the bizarre messages of the teachers.


Sloan and Pelling met while studying Fine Art and Animation respectively at Kingston University, where they started THIS IS IT Collective with some friends.[7] They produced the first episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared in their free time with no budget. When they started on the project they imagined making it into a series, but initially dropped the idea after finishing the first episode. After the short film gained popularity, they decided to revisit that idea.[8] Channel 4's Random Acts commissioned the second episode. The show soon attracted mainstream commissioners; however, Sloan and Pelling turned these offers down because they "wanted to keep it fairly odd" and "have the freedom to do exactly what we wanted".[6]

In May 2013, Sloan and Pelling announced that they would start a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to make four or more additional episodes, one every three months, starting in September 2014. They uploaded low-quality camera footage of the characters being taken hostage and held for ransom. A 12-year-old American boy tried to use hacked credit card information to donate £35,000 to the campaign, but he was caught and those funds were thrown out.[9] Their Kickstarter goal of £96,000 was reached on 19 June 2014, and in total £104,935 was raised. YouTuber TomSka became an executive producer on the series after donating £5,000 to the Kickstarter.[10]

In January 2016, Sloan and Pelling collaborated with Lazy Oaf to release a line of clothing based on the characters and themes of the show.[11]

Television seriesEdit

On 19 June 2017, a year after the release of episode 6, Sloan hinted towards additional work into the Don't Hug Me I'm Scared series.[12][non-primary source needed] A teaser trailer titled "Wakey Wakey..." was released on the channel on 13 September 2018, teasing a new television show made in a collaboration between Blink Industries, Conaco, and Super Deluxe. The 30-second video gained over two million views within 24 hours of its release and peaked at No. 1 on YouTube's Trending list.[13][14] Details of the plot were released on 3 December 2018 in advance of a 2019 Sundance Film Festival screening of the pilot.[15] The pilot episode ran at 23 minutes, and it appeared in the "Indie Episodic Program 1" alongside other short films.[16]

On 7 July 2020, it was officially announced that the series had been picked up by Channel 4.[17] The series wrapped up filming by September 2021,[18] and it was expected to be originally released[19][20][21] streaming exclusively on All 4 on 12 September 2022.[22][23] However, the series was delayed slightly because of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.[24][25] On 16 September 2022, it was announced that the series would be releasing on 23 September 2022 on All 4 and premiered 30 September 2022 on Channel 4.[26][27]


All episodes were written by Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling, with Baker Terry co-writing each episode starting with "Time". "Time" is also co-written by Hugo Donkin.

Web series (2011–16)Edit

No. in
TitleOriginal release date
11"Creativity"29 July 2011 (2011-07-29)
A talking sketchbook explains the concept of creativity.
22"Time"8 January 2014 (2014-01-08)
A clock explains the concept of time.
33"Love"31 October 2014 (2014-10-31)
The gang is out on a picnic, until Duck kills a butterfly, thinking it's a bee. Yellow Guy gets upset and runs away. He then finds another butterfly that explains how things could be better in its world of only love.
44"Computers"1 April 2015 (2015-04-01)
As the gang plays a board game, they start wondering if there's an easy way to learn about the world. The computer then awakens and shows them all the things a computer can solve.
55"Health"14 October 2015 (2015-10-14)
Yellow Guy and Duck are planning to make a meal, but something seems off. Before they can figure out what it is, they get surrounded by various talking foods that try to explain how to be healthy. They learn to "do it healthy" and eat healthy foods such as white sauce, cream, and aspic. Yellow guy eats the Duck.
66"Dreams"19 June 2016 (2016-06-19)
Yellow Guy is all alone and scared. But when he tries to go to sleep, a lamp awakens and sings to him about how dreams work. Meanwhile, Red Guy wakes up at an office job, and talks about singing, dancing objects.

Pilot (2018)Edit

A long form TV pilot was produced in 2018 with Super Deluxe, Conaco and Blink Industries.[28] The pilot premiered at 2019 Sundance Film Festival, appearing in the "Indie Episodic Program 1" alongside other short films.[29][30] The idea, which involved "current affairs", had been scrapped,[31] and the trailer was removed from the YouTube channel.[32][33] The setting, which Sloan attributed some roots to South Park, did not have "the timelessness and claustrophobia of the originals."[31]

No. in
Title [34]Original release date
Roommates Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Duck live simple and repetitive lives in the complacent colourful community of Clayhill. When the town’s mayor disappears, everything descends into chaos.

Television series (2022–)Edit

All episodes for this series are co-written by Sam Campbell.

No. in
Title [35]Original release date
81"Jobs"23 September 2022 (2022-09-23)
Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Duck have an important day of 'nothing at all' booked in. Red and Yellow are both very excited but Duck is outraged. He demands to have something to do! And that something turns out to be something called a job.[35]
92"Death"23 September 2022 (2022-09-23)
What do you think happens when we die? Do we come back as our favourite animal or object? In today's lesson Duck learns that he is in fact dead because he forgot to drink water. The other two seem a little confused by this: there are usually three of them. Who's going to sit in Duck's chair?[35]
103"Family"23 September 2022 (2022-09-23)
What does family mean to you and your family and their family? Well in today's lesson we will find out. Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Duck meet two adorable twins who point out that they should not be living with each other as they are not related, like a family. The guys begin to question their relationship and get very upset. Luckily the twins invite them over to see a real family in action and have their blood tested![35]
114"Friendship"23 September 2022 (2022-09-23)
What is real friendship? In today's lesson the gang are excited to get online using their computer but, oh no! Yellow Guy has lost the password. Red Guy and Duck berate him but luckily a confident worm called Warren steps in to stop the bullying getting too out of hand. Warren decides to show the guys the true meaning of friendship by climbing inside Yellow Guy's head.[35]
125"Transport"23 September 2022 (2022-09-23)
Where do things go when they are not where they should be? It's time for Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Duck to be taught about transport by a very old leaking train. Red Guy is excited by the idea of going on a journey and finally getting away from the house but unfortunately it's not that simple. He will need a personalised number plate.[35]
136"Electricity"23 September 2022 (2022-09-23)
While Red Guy and Duck are downstairs having a typical episode (learning and singing), Yellow Guy, with new consciousness, goes upstairs to an unexplored area of the house. At the topmost floor, he finds a mysterious, real, live-action woman.


In a faux interview, Becky and Joe jokingly described the plot as "three best friends who go on a journey to find a magic pirate ship and save the day".[36]

A student writer for Nouse compared the appeal of the first episode to themes in Gothic literature, arguing that they are both "tapping into the same cultural fear of a violent subconscious hiding beneath the façade of normality".[37] In The Wesleyan Argus, another student writer called the series a "fine example of the era of esotericism" and noted that, "There is a building meta-commentary on the relationships between viewer, perception, creator, participant, and art (and perhaps death) that began with the first episode, but what that commentary is trying to say is not yet entirely clear. However, there is an absolute sense that the series is building toward a culmination."[38]


YouTube series castEdit

  • Baker Terry as Yellow Guy, Duck, Tony the Talking Clock, Shrignold, Steak and Lamp
  • Becky Sloan as Sketchbook and Spinach Can
  • Joseph Pelling as Red Guy and Colin the Computer


Unaired pilot castEdit

  • Baker Terry as Yellow Guy, Duck, Key, Mayor Pigface, Security Thing, Policeman, Big Ian, and Milk Jar
  • Joseph Pelling as Red Guy
  • Becky Sloan as Mrs. Grenald, Tree, and Ladder

Channel 4 series castEdit

  • Baker Terry as Yellow Guy, Duck, Briefcase, Andy, Duncan, Trash Can, Lucky Mo, Family Tree, Warren, Yumferdinger, Dr. Bushman, Choo Choo Train, Tony the Talking Clock, Steak, Big Duck and Bigger Duck
  • Joseph Pelling as Red Guy, Colin the Computer, Big Red Guy and Bigger Red Guy
  • Becky Sloan as Unemployed Brendan, Stain Edwards, First Tooth, The Lump and Electracey
  • Vivienne Soan as Lesley
  • Leila Navabi as Wrench
  • Amy Gledhill as Wet Floor Sign
  • Kath Hughes as Printer
  • Phil Wang as Vending Machine
  • Jen Ives as Free Vending Machine
  • Chris Cantrill as Safety Video Announcer
  • Lolly Adefope as Elevator and Mrs. Grelch
  • Charlie Perkins as Yellow Guy's Daughter
  • Kevin Eldon as Coffin
  • George Fouracres as Lamp
  • Sam Campbell as ID Card
  • Katy Wix as Tissue Box
  • Freya Parker as Grandma and Bread
  • James Stevenson Bretton as Lily and Todney
  • Liam Williams as Apple
  • Emma Sidi as Bubble Bath Memory
  • Kiell Smith-Bynoe as Saturdavid
  • Johnny White Really-Really as Imaginary Older Brother
  • Charlie Pelling as Market Man
  • Chris Hayward as Instructional Tape Announcer
  • Katie Kvinge as GPS
  • Jimmy Slim as Time Child
  • Jamie Demetriou as Boundary Hand
  • Michael Stranney as Mirror
  • Beattie Hartley as Thing
  • Jason Forbes as Safe
  • Natasha Hodgson as Rock
  • Nathan Foad as Toilet


The series as a whole has received widespread critical acclaim. Scott Beggs listed the original short film as number 8 on his list of the 11 best short films of 2011.[39] Carolina Mardones listed the first episode as number 7 in her top ten short films of 2011.[40] It was also included in as part of a cinema event in Banksy's Dismaland.[41][42] In April 2016, the main characters of the series were featured on the cover of the magazine Printed Pages, along with an "interview" of the three main characters written by the magazine's editor.[43][44] All six episodes of DHMIS were included in the September 2016 festival XOXO.[45]

Drew Grant of the Observer described the series as "mind-melting".[46] Freelance writer Benjamin Hiorns observed that "it's not the subject matter that makes these films so strangely alluring, it's the strikingly imaginative set and character design and the underlying Britishness of it all".[47] Joe Blevins of The A.V. Club praised the show's "sense-to-nonsense ratio" and its production values.[48] Samantha Joy of TenEighty praised the sixth episode of the series, writing that it "creates a provocative end to a pretty dark narrative about content creation".[49]


Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling are British graphic designers, artists and animators. Their advertising runs through commercial productions.[50] The duo have worked as part of the THIS IS IT Collective.[51]

Their content consists of videos, graphic design art, animation, music, and working with real-life materials to resemble things in the real world as art.[52] They have won multiple awards, including the 2012 SXSW Midnight Shorts Award,[53][54] and the 2016 ADC Young Guns award.[55]

They have also co-written and did puppeteer work for Cartoon Network's The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Puppets" (season five, episode 36). Sloan and Baker Terry provided voices of Grady, Frank, and Howdy (the three puppets featured in the episode, who trap the main characters Gumball and Darwin in their world). This episode features a song where the puppets sing about never-ending fun to Darwin with toned-down disturbing content similar to the Don't Hug Me I'm Scared series in theme. A series of shorts based on the episode followed, titled Waiting for Gumball, made by the same team as the original TV episode.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The official YouTube channel for the series is called "Don't Hug Me .I'm Scared" with a space and full stop after Me. The series is often stylised as Don't Hug Me .I'm Scared, and abbreviated as DHMIS.[3]
  2. ^ In the second episode of the Channel 4 series, entitled “Death”, Yellow Guy claims he is a “yellow kid”.
  3. ^ In the second episode of the Channel 4 series, entitled “Death”, Duck claims he is a “talking crow-like thing”.


  1. ^ Joe Pelling [@japelling] (31 May 2022). "Yes. (not with Coco but yes)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ "DHMIS x C4". Becky and Joe. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  3. ^ "DHMIS TV". Blink Industries. Blink Productions. Archived from the original on 21 June 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  4. ^ Sloan, Becky; Pelling, Joseph (3 March 2014). "Awards. Festivals. Talks". Becky & Joe's Art.
  5. ^ Guide, British Comedy. "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared - C4 Sitcom". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  6. ^ a b Coldwell, Will (27 January 2016). "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: the puppets who sing, dance and eat raw meat". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  7. ^ Matt Mansfield (6 January 2014). "Becky&Joe are this week's Dazed Visionaries". Dazed. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  8. ^ Boult, Adam (26 October 2015). "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: Interview with creators Becky & Joe". Metro News. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  9. ^ DiGangi, Christine (25 June 2014). "12-Year-Old Used Stolen Credit Cards to Fund Puppet Show". Archived from the original on 30 August 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  10. ^ "TomSka pledges £5K to Don't Hug Me I'm Scared series".
  11. ^ Shin, Nara (18 January 2016). "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared + Lazy Oaf". Cool Hunting. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  12. ^ Sloan, Becky [@BeckyBocka] (19 June 2017). "It's June 19th!! Big DHMIS news coming in the FUTURE... #DHMIS" (Tweet). Retrieved 20 June 2017 – via Twitter.[dead link]
  13. ^ Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer (14 September 2018). "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared is making new episodes". CNET. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  14. ^ Sloan, Becky [@becky.sloan] (13 September 2018). "Wakey Wakey..." Retrieved 28 May 2022.
  15. ^ "2019 Sundance Film Festival: Indie Episodic, Shorts and Special Events Announced". Sundance Institute. 3 December 2018. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  16. ^ "don-t-hug-me-i-m-scared-08fc1516-a01a-45c6-912f-22995f07b722". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Latest Young Audiences Content Fund production slate announced". British Film Institute. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared on Instagram: "Life’s a laugh when you are making a TV show with the BEST TEAM EVER đ&#x;Ž‰đ&#x;'€đ&#x;ŽŹđ&#x;Ž‰ 3 months of filming done‌.woo! #dhmis"". Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  19. ^ "FLY". YouTube.
  20. ^ "Our show that we have been working on for a hundred years will be on channel 4 in September!". Twitter. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  21. ^ "The Long-Awaited Don't Hug Me I'm Scared TV Series Will Debut This September". The Gamer. 19 June 2022. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  22. ^ Pelling, Joe (5 September 2022). "6 eps out on the 12th on @All4". Twitter. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  23. ^ Channel 4 (5 September 2022). "Six brand new episodes of the hit web series 'Don't Hug Me I'm Scared' will be available to stream exclusively on All 4 from Sept 12th 👀 #DHMIS". Twitter. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  24. ^ "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: your guide to the cult webseries making the jump to TV". 9 September 2022. Retrieved 10 September 2022.
  25. ^ "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared - All 4". Archived from the original on 9 September 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  26. ^ "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared on Instagram: "Update! New DHMIS available on All4 from Friday 23rd September & on Channel 4 from Friday 30th September 11.05pm … 📺👀 #dhmis #donthugmeimscared"". Instagram. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  27. ^ "Joe Pelling on Instagram: "NEW AIR DATE. All eps on all4 from Friday 23rd September & on Channel 4 from Friday 30th 11.05pm."". Instagram. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  28. ^ Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer. "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared is making new episodes". CNET. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  29. ^ "2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: INDIE EPISODIC, SHORTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS ANNOUNCED -". 3 December 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  30. ^ "don-t-hug-me-i-m-scared-08fc1516-a01a-45c6-912f-22995f07b722 | Sundance Institute". 18 May 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  31. ^ a b Healy, Rachael (12 September 2022). "'People might cry': welcome to the hilariously creepy world of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  32. ^ "Don't Hug Me .I'm Scared - YouTube". 15 May 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  33. ^ "Don't Hug Me .I'm Scared - YouTube". 7 June 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  34. ^ "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared -Sundance Archives". Sundance Archives. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  35. ^ a b c d e f "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared episode guide". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  36. ^ Gilbert, Jan (1 May 2012). "Directors of Short Films at Sundance London". Sundance London. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  37. ^ Licht, Jordan (22 October 2013). "When YouTube gets dark". Nouse. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  38. ^ McGhee, Will (22 October 2015). "'Don't Hug Me I'm Scared' Melds Comedy with Horror". The Wesleyan Argus. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  39. ^ Beggs, Scott (30 December 2011). "Year in Review: The 11 Best Short Films of 2011". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  40. ^ Mardones, Carolina (3 March 2012). "Seleccionan los 10 mejores cortometrajes de 2011". (in Spanish). Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  41. ^ Jobson, Christopher (20 August 2015). "Welcome to Dismaland: A First Look at Banksy's New Art Exhibition Housed Inside a Dystopian Theme Park [Updated 8/22]". Colossal. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  42. ^ "Watch: Banksy Dismaland Previ ew & Short Film Program". Slashfilm. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  43. ^ "Printed Pages, s/s 2016". magCulture. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  44. ^ Pritchard, Owen (3 May 2016). "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared – an exclusive interview with Duck, Red Guy and Yellow Guy". It's Nice That. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  45. ^ "Our favorite discoveries from the internet's best festival". The Verge. 11 September 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  46. ^ Grant, Drew (3 February 2015). "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: This Series Will Break Your Brain and It Will Be Magic". Observer. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  47. ^ Hiorns, Benjamin (16 October 2015). "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared by Becky & Joe launches to solve world problems". Creativepool. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  48. ^ Blevins, Joe (7 July 2016). "Don't Hug Me I'm Scared has been baffling the internet for five years now". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  49. ^ Joy, Samantha (27 July 2016). "Five of the Best: YouTube Animations". TenEighty. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  50. ^ "Becky & Joe". Blinkink. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  51. ^ "About – This Is It Collective". Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  52. ^ "Project Focus: Becky & Joe for Tame Impala". YCN. Archived from the original on 13 February 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  53. ^ "FAME". BECKY AND JOE'S ART. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  54. ^ "SXSW Film 2012 Award Winners". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  55. ^ "Art Directors Club Announces 2016 ADC Young Guns Winners". Animation World Network. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016.

External linksEdit