Don't Hug Me I'm Scared Show Is Nothing Like The Pilot (& That's Good)

When Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared came to television, it was nothing like its pilot or online teaser; however, the new creative direction proved to be a good move for the series. Known for its bizarre horror and surreal sense of humor, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared was one of Youtube’s most popular series before finding its way to TV. However, with infinite possibilities and a new platform to explore them, the creators of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared needed to figure out what kind of show they wanted, making decisions that resulted in a very different story from what was originally teased.


After a successful six-episode run on YouTube, in 2018, a teaser entitled “Wakey, Wakey” showed select scenes from a Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared series whose first episode played at 2019’s Sundance Film Festival. Centered around the colorful town of Clayhill, the pilot featured the show’s stars Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Duck at the center of a politically-charged plot satirizing current events with themes of xenophobia, democracy, and the price of national security. However, after the “Wakey, Wakey” trailer disappeared from the official Youtube channel and the show aired in September 2022, viewers saw a very different show, exploring subjects like death and family while asking more abstract, mind-bending questions about existence.

Related: Everything We Know About Don't Hug Me I'm Scared

Much of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’s identity came from the bizarre world it created. Timeless and dreamlike, part of the original series’ horror derived from the surreal situation of Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Duck trapped in Sesame Street episodes that they had no control over. Additionally, politics and current events tend to be the basis for works of horror and comedy, often struggling to make them feel relevant years later. Becky Sloan, Joe Pelling, and Baker Terry made the right decision to change Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’s creative direction, and the reactions they got from audiences reflected this. DHMIS managed to make a presence on television by taking a more evergreen approach, and it’s good news for the series’ future.

What Happened to Don't Hug Me I'm Scared's Pilot?

Don't Hug Me I'm Scared's Duck Reading

Current events have oversaturated television, and series like The Simpsons and Family Guy have become a pastiche of adult animation. Many animated adult shows have small towns and hyperbolic plots with much of their humor based on politics. The pilot’s zeitgeist is something Becky Sloan addressed in an interview (via The Guardian): “It had a town and neighbours and was 'a bit South Park.'" Additionally, co-creator Baker Terry acknowledged that originally they wanted to include current events in their pilot. However, for the DHMIS creators, a new horror evolved from being in quarantine. The writers recalled the feeling of claustrophobia and timelessness that the original Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared shorts channeled and wanted to recreate for the TV series. While political satire isn’t necessarily bad, it’s a surreal kids’ show-styled setting that gave Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared an identity and an opportunity to explore subjects in ways other series couldn’t. Drifting away from the pilot’s political premise, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared asked more profound questions about life with an adult mind but from the simple vantage points of its protagonists and in an uncanny setting that’d never feel dated.

With an almost perfect score from critics and audiences alike, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’s changes from the pilot proved to be a good decision. In a landscape saturated with shows reliant on topical jokes like The Simpsons, sometimes a unique identity and a timeless quality stay with audiences the most. With a successful first season, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared proved it has a place on television and plenty to say through the mouths of its puppet cast.