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SpeciesSea otter
First appearanceHappy Tree Friends - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Latest appearanceHappy Tree Friends - Put Your Back Into It
Latest portrayalFrancis Carr [citation needed]

"Row, row your boat down a running river!"
— Russell’s starring intro, Season 3 of Happy Tree Friends

Russell (formerly known as Russell the Pirate) is a main character in the Happy Tree Friends franchise. He is a sea otter who dresses like a pirate and has many traits associated with a sailor. His most defining traits are his Jolly-Roger hat, hook and peglegs, and his "Yar" vocabulary. His name "Russell" rhymes with the word mussel, a sea food that Russell commonly eats.

Concept and creation[edit]

Russell's first concept was conceived to be a sea otter who has a compulsive habit of "cracking stuff on chest."[1] This design depicted him with visible ears, a cap, an eyepatch, a smoking pipe, beard, a peg leg, and a boot. The design was then refined, resulting in one closer to his final design, still having the beard. At first, the sea otter did not have a name until Kenn Navarro suggested "Russell" and the other staff went along with it[1]. As for why he was designed to be a pirate, the creators just found it funny[1].

Russell the Pirate's debut episode, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", references the "cracking stuff on chest" concept with Russell the Pirate cracking open a clam on his chest to eat. His design in that episode removed the bushy beard and replaced it with a five o'clock shadow. This in turn happened to disappear in the last third of "Off the Hook". Russell was never drawn with a five o'clock shadow since then.


Happy Tree Friends[edit]

Russell’s debut episode is "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" in season 1 of the Happy Tree Friends, and he has a total of 33 appearances. At the time, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" was not available on the web yet, debuting on the Happy Tree Friends: Volume 1: First Blood DVD as a bonus episode. Russell in the first season, had a gray beard that covers the lower part of his face. Starting with the episode, "Get Whale Soon", Russell lacks a beard.

Russell does not appear in any of the Still Alive episodes and Ka-Pow!, but appears in the Love Bites short "Sea of Love" along with Giggles. He is also the main character in YouTube Copyright School, a YouTube original video utilizing the Happy Tree Friends show as educational tool[citation needed]

Starring intros[edit]

  • Season 1: Russell takes off his hat to reveal a clam, which he eats.
  • Season 2: Russell is standing with his hook hand raised.
  • Season 3 through Season 5: Russell is rowing his boat. The quote says, "Row, row your boat down a running river!"

Happy Tree Friends (television series)[edit]

Russell appears in the television series adaptation of Happy Tree Friends. His first appearance was in the "One Foot in the Grave" episode, "The Wrong Side of the Tracks" as one of the featuring characters. He is a starring character in "Sea What I Found", "Snow Place to Go", and "A Sight for Sore Eyes".

Starring intros[edit]

  • Season 1: Russell is fishing from his boat.

Arcade games[edit]

Going Overboard[edit]

Russell appears as a background character in the Happy Tree Friends Arcade game, Going Overboard. He is seen trying to balance on a piece of wood.

Fire Escape[edit]

In the Happy Tree Friends Arcade game Fire Escape, Russell is one of the characters Flaky must catch in order to land in the ambulance.

Happy Tree Friends - Milk Pong[edit]

In Happy Tree Friends - Milk Pong, Russell makes a brief appearance during the second round's throw scene. His scene is a recreation of the one in "Get Whale Soon" where he and Lumpy were stuck inside a whale.

On Thin Ice[edit]

Russell in On Thin Ice

Russell is the playable character in the Happy Tree Friends Arcade game, On Thin Ice. The player has the guide Russell from one floating ice to another to clear them from the level, though he is restricted to jumping forward or to the side (not diagonally). In this game, Russell can be killed if the player clicks "RETRY", showing him being torn apart by the giant squid before the level's puzzle is properly reset.

Happy Tree Friends: False Alarm[edit]

Russell appears as one of the rescuable characters in Happy Tree Friends: False Alarm, alongside Giggles, Toothy, Flaky, Nutty, Mole, and Flippy. The player, as Lumpy, needs to help aid him and the other Happy Tree Friends in every zone.

Happy Tree Friends: Deadeye Derby[edit]

Russell is the boss in the Rabid Rapids map in Happy Tree Friends: Deadeye Derby. At first, Russell is faced as himself, but dropping his health to around 50% will cause him to gain the ability to get help from a giant squid (though the player can cancel it). Defeating him will result in him being eaten by the giant squid, starting the final phase of the boss fight where the player has to defeat the squid itself. Clearing this boss fight will unlock playable character Flaky as well as the Lost Mines map.


General information[edit]


Russell, in the first and second season of the web series, was an introvert free soul who just does water-related activities like fishing; in these seasons, the closest to an interaction with another character was with Lumpy.

Since the second season, Russell started to appear with more characters like Toothy or Giggles and get into more daily situations as seen in "A Sight for Sore Eyes". He also showed interest in Giggles in "Sea of Love", "You’re Kraken Me Up", and "Put Your Back Into It", the latter of which showing him serving her a dish.

Physical appearance[edit]

Russell is a turquoise sea otter with the same proportions as most of the other Happy Tree Friends. However, he posseses whiskers and is one of the few main characters to not have visible ears. In Something Fishy, Russell is drawn with a single strain of hair on top his head. He also has a small tail that appear noticably beaver-like. Russell normally dresses in pirate garb, which is made of a black hat with the Jolly Roger symbol printed on it, a striped red and white shirt, and black pants. Russell is missing his legs, an arm, and eye, so he wears peg legs, a hook, and an eyepatch over them respectively. Much like Nutty's lazy eye and Lumpy's antlers, the hook and eyepatch often switch positions on his character model. Unlike most characters, Russell's appearance has changed somewhat drastically since his debut. He intially wore a grey stubble in his first two appearances, but as of Get Whale Soon, this is no longer the case. His first appearance depicted him without his tail and had his hook on his left hand, but a few episodes thereafter gives Russell these features as an animation error.


  • Official Happy Tree Friends website (2003-2014): Batten down the hatches when this sea otter pirate comes aboard. He’s got a great right hook![2]