In Happy Tree Friends, there are multiple references to pop culture throughout the entire show. Here is a list of all the pop culture references in Happy Tree Friends itself.
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The title to the episode An Inconvenient Tooth, is a direct reference to the 2006 documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, which is about Al Gore's campaign to spread the word about global warming. Considering how the HTF episode is about plants the episode may share a few similarities with the movie.
There is a small but obvious reference to Back to the Future in the episode Blast from the Past, during the scene when Sniffles is watching TV, there is a DeLorean time traveling in the same way as in the movie.
This 1963 horror film by Alfred Hitchcock is referenced in Pet Peeve. A scene where Lumpy is surrounded and attacked by hungry birds bears similarities to one of the film's most popular scenes.
Child's Play is parodied in A Vicious Cycle, where Flippy gets struck by lightning, and his soul continues to live on in a tricycle owned by Cub, similar to Charles Lee Ray, the main antagonist of the movie by transferring his soul into a doll.
There is a big reference to Evil Dead II in the episode Remains to be Seen, with Lumpy having his arm chewed off by zombie Flippy, he goes into a shed, and he attaches a leaf blower to his arm, like how Ash attached a chainsaw to his arm.
This 1966 science-fiction film is largely referenced in I've Got You Under My Skin.
The plot of the TV episode The Wrong Side of the Tracks is a reference to the beginning of the movie.
The episode From Hero to Eternity is a reference to the 1953 drama film From Here to Eternity.
Godzilla, a main character in a popular series of Japanese monster movies, is referenced in Wingin' It three times, with two onscreen cameos, and an off-screen one.
A possible reference to the Ice Age franchise appears in Snow Place to Go. The ice cracking because of Flaky's lawn gnome may be a reference to Scrat accidentally cracking ice with his acorn, both scenarios leading to destructive results.
Another reference may lie in Snow Place to Go, as a similar tune plays when The Orca pursues Russell. Then again, it could be a reference to the 1977 horror film Orca, considering it involved an orca rather than sharks.
In Remains to be Seen, there's a scene where Cuddles and Giggles slurp a brain similar to the familiar "Spaghetti Kiss" scene.
There are many references to Raiders of the Lost Ark throughout Happy Tree Friends. The most prevalent is the The Cursed Idol which makes multiple appearances through out the series. It has a very similar appearance to the fertility idol in the movie. In the episode Treasure Those Idol Moments, Cub is crushed by a boulder, which could be a reference to the boulder chase scene in the movie. In Easy For You to Sleigh, when Shifty is trying to escape from Flippy, he swaps a candle-holder with a bag of sand, which parodies the same scene from the movie, then plays part of the tune to the theme song. There is even a piece of the score that sounds similar to the theme of the movie. Another big reference to the movie is Idol Curiosity which is a loosely based parody of the movie , with Sniffles traveling to a remote jungle ruin to get an idol, and take it to a museum.
The movie is directly referenced in Ipso Fatso when Disco Bear is punching meat in a meat locker.
In Out on a Limb Lumpy breaks his leg with a spoon to free himself from the tree he is stuck under. The whole episode is similar to when Detective Eric Matthews broke and shattered his foot with a toilet lid to break free from his shackle.
The Shining is referenced in a scene in Aw, Shucks! where the crow goes into a bathroom, and Lumpy uses an axe to chop a way into the bathroom, and when he breaks in, he says, "Here's Lumpy!". The movie is referenced again in the title of the season four episode All Work and No Play, which is a part of a famous quote from the the movie, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".
The episode Without a Hitch parodies the Sin City-esque style of color use, which is mostly black and white, with splashes of color, like blood, through out the episode.
In The Wrong Side of the Tracks there's a scene where Lumpy tries to stop the roller coaster cart Giggles and Petunia are in, only for his body to file down against the track's ties and lead the girls to their deaths. This is a reference to the subway scene from Spider-Man 2.
The title of the episode Wrath of Con, parodies the title of this film from 1982.
In Wrath of Con, Giggles is dressed as Princess Leia and playing with a lightsaber, while Petunia is dressed as an ewok.
In Better Off Bread, Splendid references this superman film when he turns back time on the Earth by rotating around it in the opposite direction.
Episodes starring Sniffles and the Ants could be a direct reference to the 1969 cartoon called The Ant and the Aardvark, which involves an aardvark who constantly tries to capture a sly ant, only to fail miserably. The Aardvark himself has a few similarities to Sniffles, particularly they are both blue and have a craving for the ants they can't catch.
A reference to this 1960s series was briefly referenced in As You Wish, in the scene where Lumpy wiggles his nose to grant Disco Bear's wish, similar to how Samantha wiggles her nose to cast spells.Peas in a Pod, Lumpy drives a car operated by two of his clones in a similar fashion to the prehistoric vehicles in the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon.
Toothy may be a reference to SpongeBob as they both have buckteeth and freckles.
In Dream Job, Sniffles swings on a vine until hitting a tree. The background music played during the scene sounds similar to the George of the Jungle theme song.
The entire plot of the episode Easy For You to Sleigh is based on this 1957 children's book written by Dr. Seuss, which was then turned into an animated half-hour special in 1966.
The violence and brutality in this cartoon is often compared to this fictional cartoon from The Simpsons. The Happy Tree Friends series itself is inspired from it.
A reference appears in the episode Party Animal. Nutty, after tasting one drop of sugar, spins into a whirlwind, just like the Looney Tunes character Taz (or the Tasmanian Devil). The show has also been inspired from the Looney Tunes along with old 'sappy' cartoons like Care Bears and The Smurfs.
The title of Pitchin' Impossible is a reference to the TV show Mission: Impossible.
The ever famous comic book series/television specials has been referenced in the episode Eyes Cold Lemonade, during the scene where Giggles and Petunia sit at their lemonade stand in a similar fashion to Charlie Brown and Linus leaning against a brick wall. Kenn Navarro has stated that Peanuts served as some inspiration for Happy Tree Friends.
There is a small reference to The Price Is Right in Dream Job during the scene where there is a wheel that has fruit on it, which looks very similar to the wheel on the show.
Splendid and Lumpy, respectively, were inspired from the characters Rocky and Bullwinkle.
In Something Fishy, Sniffles and Mime wear Vulcan ears and sweaters and use the Vulcan salute. Sniffles wore that same outfit in an earlier episode, Remains to be Seen. If one looks closely when Mime and Sniffles perform the Vulcan salute, they are seen with four fingers and a thumb. This was probably done intentionally, as they needed this amount of fingers to perform the salute correctly.
The title of the episode Whose Line Is It Anyway? is a direct reference to the show Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
The episode We're Scrooged! is named after the protagonist of the Charles Dickens novel. Lumpy is also portrayed as greedy and selfish just like Ebenezer Scrooge, the main character/anti-hero of the story. The beginning text "Based on a true story" may refer to the original story.
The episode Dunce Upon a Time gives its own spin on the story with Nutty as Jack, at first. The role switches over to Giggles as she is the one who climbs the beanstalk, even though Nutty traded for the beans, and Lumpy is the giant.
Starting with Wrath of Con, the end credits for the majority of episodes reference the back designs of the Little Golden Books series.
There are about two references to Pinocchio in the episode Get Whale Soon. After Russell is engulfed by the whale, the camera pans through the creature's stomach, revealing a wood doll resembling Pinocchio as one of the swallowed objects. Also, Russell and Lumpy try to escape by lighting a fire in hopes the whale will sneeze them out, just like in the story.
The story is briefly referenced in Dunce Upon a Time as Petunia is rolling her hair through a spinning wheel.
Twilight was parodied twice in the episode Breaking Wind: the book Splendid was reading throughout the episode parodied the first book in the saga, "Twilight", and the episode title parodied the fourth book in the saga, "Breaking Dawn". Splendid was shown crying over this book but was dissatisfied with the ending.
The events of the episode As You Wish is similar to this supernatural short story written in 1902 by W.W. Jacobs. In the story, a family receives a monkey's paw, and says that the possessor can wish for anything they want, and the wish will come true. However, every wish will have a catch.
In this episode, Lumpy gives wishes for people who have summoned him, but every one of the wishes he grants will give a disastrous consequence for the character who made the wish.
The special episode Cubtron Z is a homage to this manga series, as it involves Pop rebuilding Cub into a robot following the latter's death from a vehicle.
Nutty could be seen wearing a Batman mask in Wrath of Con, during the scene in which Splendid prepares to make his speech.
Ghost Rider is briefly parodied in the episode Brake the Cycle, where Lumpy prepares to do a motorcycle stunt, when suddenly, he is set alight by Toothy, who has the back wheel of his bike on fire, and the fire touches some spilled gas below him. At the end of the episode, Lumpy looks similar to Ghost Rider, since all of his flesh is burnt away to the bone, and his body is still on fire. They even mentioned this in the Blurb version of this episode by saying "Get ready to be sued by Marvel," as Ghost Rider is property of Marvel.
Aside from Splendid being based off of Superman, there are a few other references. In Better Off Bread, Splendid turns back time by spinning the Earth backwards. Also, in Gems the Breaks, Splendid's weakness is Kryptonut, a parody of Kryptonite. A third reference lies in See What Develops, where Splendid has a job as a news reporter and wears a disguise similar to Superman's secret identity Clark Kent. He is also seen attempting to use a phone both to change out of his disguise, which Superman is known to use most often. There is also a fourth reference in Wrath of Con, where Splendid lifts a chunk of the convention building and standing (in a more detailed version, other chunks appear to form a cliff-like appearance, which Splendid steps on).
Three references appear in Wrath of Con. Sniffles carries a badge that very much resembles the blood-stained smiley face. A Generic Tree Friend is dressed as one of the protagonists, Rorschach. Lumpy is also briefly seen dressed as Doctor Manhattan.
A possible reference to the Anteater arcade game appears in Crazy Ant-ics, when Sniffles sends his tongue down the anthill.
In the False Alarm episode, Nutty carjacks Cuddles' after seeing Lifty and Shifty drive off with tons of game consoles. Carjacking is a typical reference to GTA games where the payable character can steal a car within their vicinity (hence the name Grand Theft Auto). Furthermore, Cuddles' car resembles the car Peyote, which is from the game series.
Yet another video game reference from the False Alarm episode occurs when Lifty and Shifty are killed. Their heads are sliced to resemble Pac-Man being chased by a ghost.
In the False Alarm episode, Petunia is shown delivering newspapers along a suburb, in a similar fashion to the 1985 game Paperboy.
Flaky, Cuddles, Toothy, and Sniffles are heard singing this in Party Animal while celebrating Flippy's birthday. Like some cases, it was chosen instead of the "Happy Birthday" song to avoid copyright issues, as that song was not in the public domain at the time.
Plays throughout Kringle Feast.
Plays at he beginning of Kringle Karols.
Toothy sings this song for a school play in Class Act. The song is titled and sung in Oh Xmas Tree. The song can even be heard on The Mole's phonograph in No Time Like the Present. The song also plays in the background of Sight Kringle and Kringle Tree.
Cuddles, Giggles, Toothy, and Lumpy sing this song in Kringle Karols.
The episode titled A Hole Lotta Love is a reference to the song Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin.
Sniffles could possibly be based off of the fictional aardvark Arthur Read, a notable clue being the characters' glasses. Coincidentally, both characters started off with long snouts which gradually got shorter.
Almost every known main character in Happy Tree Friends has a heart-shaped nose, just like the ones the Care Bears have. The series was, in fact, inspired partly by the Care Bears.
When Whistle tears the skin off Giggles' buttocks, the scene clearly references the logo and an old advertisement for Coppertone sunscreen.
The episode called Hello Dolly is a direct reference to the 1964 musical with the same name.
This Internet phenomenon, inspired from motivational posters produced during World War II, is briefly referenced in the Take a Hike Blurb.
Lumpy's act of getting a baby bird to its nest by tying a bunch of balloons to a lawn chair to lift himself is similar to a real life event that occurred in 1982, where a trucker named Larry Walters tied 45 weather balloons to a lawn chair to take flight. According to Walters, he says that this stunt was a lifelong dream he wanted to accomplish.
A scene in Idol Curiosity involved The Mole crashing a large ship into an iceberg, causing it to sink and kill everyone onboard except Sniffles. This is a clear reference to the British ocean liner the Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg in 1912.
The episode Wrath of Con mostly parodies real life convention centers and gatherings, most notably, the Comic-Con event held annually in San Diego, California.
A possible reference to the popular teddy bear character may lie in Take a Hike, in a scene where Nutty becomes obese devouring honey from a bee hive.