The show has achieved a cult following on YouTube. In premises akin to children's shows, the series features cartoon anthropomorphic forest animals, who are suddenly subjected to extreme graphic violence. While working on Mondo Media , Rhode Montijo drew a character on a piece of scrap paper who would later become Shifty. He then drew a yellow rabbit that bore some resemblance to Cuddles, writing "Resistance is futile" underneath it on a spreadsheet poster. Rhode hung the drawing up in his workstation so other people could see his idea, and eventually the idea was pitched to and accepted by the Mondo Media executives. They came up with a short named "Banjo Frenzy", which featured a dinosaur an earlier version of Lumpy killing three woodland animals, a squirrel, a rabbit, and a beaver earlier versions of Giggles, Cuddles, and Toothy with a banjo. After its internet debut in , Happy Tree Friends became an unexpected success, getting over 15 million hits each month  along with screenings at film festivals.