Llamas with Hats: An Explanation

When the original Llamas with Hats took off and got millions of views I decided to turn it into a five-episode series.  There are popular shorts of mine that don’t really makes sense to continue (A Depressed Whale comes to mind) but the comedy duo of Carl and Paul seemed like it could be consistently funny for at least five episodes.

The plan was to escalate things more and more with the final episode being the full destruction of Earth.  After episode four came out, however, everyone had the fifth episode pegged.  Most of the comments predicted that the fifth episode would see Carl “blowing up the Earth.”  I was embarrassed that my plan for the series was that predictable.  Llamas with Hats isn’t as funny if you know exactly what Carl is going to do next.

So, episode five never happened.

Llamas with Hats could have gone on forever.  Like Garfield, or the Annoying Orange.  Carl would do something bad and Paul would yell at him, over and over again for as long as people would watch.  I could have written it well enough to satisfy most people, but it would never have had the same magic as the original episodes.  The only way for Carl to continue surprising people was for him to actually do something surprising.

A few years ago I was talking about Llamas with Hats with my partner Scuffy, who never particularly liked the series.  Scuffy suggested the llamas should just “blow up.”  This sparked an idea for a legitimately surprising fifth episode: Paul would die, and Carl would wander the world without meaning or purpose, and eventually drown himself in a river.

I laughed every time I considered the idea.  It was certainly something no one had predicted.  It would be like Garfield Minus Garfield, but if Jim Davis himself actually killed off Garfield.

As time went on, the idea evolved.  I decided it should take place over a longer period of episodes instead of just one.  Carl’s decline into depression and loneliness should be gradual.  What happens to a character who was written as part of a comedy duo when half of that duo leaves?  What meaning does that character’s existence have anymore?

Episode 5 would set up the problem: Carl’s antics can’t be shocking anymore.  “I think I was expecting worse” says Paul.  So did people in the comments.  Carl opened up a crack in space-time to collect severed baby hands, and people were not surprised.

Episode 6 set up the solution: Paul would leave.  What does Costello do if Abbott leaves?  How does Costello as a character even make sense anymore?

Episodes 7-12 would depict the decline.  Without Paul, Carl has to make a Paul.  He tries putting a Paul mask on an animal.  He tries talking to himself with the mask.  Eventually he hallucinates that the mask really IS Paul.

Carl continues doing what he’s supposed to do – killing people and destroying things.  But the art to his work is gone.  Carl does things so that Paul will react to them – without Paul he falls apart, and so does the series.  It’s less funny now.  The end music gets more distorted.  “You must finish your work” says the mask.  The mask is Carl’s delusion.  Carl no longer has meaning in the world he exists in.  The work that must be finished is himself.

This is all still comedy.  You might not find it funny and I’m sure a lot of people won’t.  But imagine talking with a friend and they mention Llamas with Hats.  They haven’t seen any of the episodes beyond the fourth.  Now explain to them what happens in the series after that.  “Oh yeah, Paul leaves Carl and then Carl spends every episode after that getting more and more depressed before throwing himself off a bridge.”

“Hey did you see the last season of Friends?  Remember when the sun went out and they spent every episode in hopeless despair before freezing to death?”



57 Responses to “ “Llamas with Hats: An Explanation”

  1. Blrp says:

    I feel like the finale would have worked much better with a more melancholic choice of music. Other than that, I love where you took the series.

  2. Micheal says:

    Llamas With Hats, was never suppose to go on forever thank god it didn’t as you said it would be as unfunny as Garfield. But it ended sadly for Carl. So mind if I ask, what’s next??????????

  3. AdamsUniverse says:

    Well played. Well played indeed.

  4. lordgob says:

    It did kind of end up Carl did destroy the whole earth. Well he did not blow it up but he did make it lifeless.

  5. Higbey says:

    This matches my personal explanation that explains the logic behind it all, basically, why they are llamas, why the hats are involved, why Paul does what he does, why Carl does what he does…

    Two creatures, possibly demons, aliens, alternate dimension beings, whatever you would call them, visit earth. The take the physical forms of hats, because that is what makes humans so different to them, we wear different looking hats. They then take human names, Carl and Paul. They do not understand names, shown by Carl forgetting Paul’s name and forgetting his gender. The physical forms they adopted are llamas. Perhaps llamas have bodies that are easier to control and operate, perhaps they were the closest animals near when they landed on earth, and perhaps llamas are the closest structurally to whatever true form they had before. These beings are very different when it comes to their personalities.

    Paul cares about information and fitting in, stressing over “normal” socially accepted things. He constantly reminds Carl about what kills people, about what is not okay among humans. Paul tries to change Carl, trying to fit in, adopting a human visage, explaining why he could be on that cruise, own a home, get a restraining order, and rent an apartment, because he knows how to act human and appears as a human to everyone else. He ultimately decides to abandon Carl, realizing he cannot stop Carl from ruining the world he has tried so hard to fit into. He spends the rest of his days alone.

    Carl is clearly not insane. He possesses great power, using it cause destruction that gradually increases as he becomes more and more powerful. He thrives on Paul’s company, the only being he cannot destroy. He uses his powers to create a sentient fake Paul, in the form of a mask of his likeness as seen by Carl. He ravages the world, no longer held back by Paul. In the end his power is drained. He blacks out, and hurts his legs, as he no longer has the power required to maintain his form. He has to make a peg leg, he grows unkempt, and the very hat he is taking the form of must be patched up. He rejects the false Paul he created as seen by the mask returning to being an inanimate object.

    Then we get to this episode. Carl seeks out the only friend he has ever had, as he has nothing left to destroy. No one to witness his horrible actions. Then he finds what he has done to Paul, finally decided to die rather than witness the humanity he tried so hard to fit in with be destroyed by Carl. Paul’s spirit leaves this world, leaving behind the llama skeleton and hat he possessed. Carl says, “I guess you aren’t here anymore”. Note how he doesn’t say Paul died. Paul cannot “die” or Carl would have killed him long ago. Carl knows what he has done and how he made his only friend leave. Depressed, Carl uses what power he has left to throw himself into the water, using up his life essence, leaving behind the hat and his llama body that he possessed. Finally freed, the ending music is no longer distorted.

  6. zurabinho says:

    Interesting. I didn’t really like the second part of the series at first. It felt a little bit like Loooost season 6, as in a long conclusion. But when the final episode came out I decided to rewatch the whole thing and it all flows pretty well together, and I could clearly see the evolution of the characters and appreciate the ending. By the way the montage sequence was great and that shot on the bridge was gorgeous, it reminded me of the more cinematic shots of the aborted Spatula Madness movie. I can’t wait for Detective Heart of America ! I know it will be great.

  7. Draco Metallium says:

    It was a great ending. I thought that you would just not give the series a proper end. I’m happy to see I was mistaken.

  8. CB says:

    But it was an ending…It was still thrilling to watch, the audible laughs were fewer but I still found myself enjoying every second of it. Hope you have as much success with your next project!

  9. Different Michael says:

    Bravo, Jason. Bravo.

    I enjoyed every one of the episodes, when Carl found Paul I even almost teared up.

    You’re right of course that a lot of people won’t get it, but I got it and loved it, thank you.

  10. TGTSTOTR says:

    Well done. I enjoyed the series to the fullest. Ending on episode 5 definitely would have left a lot of discontent in the community. Showing Carl’s downfall rather than his ultimate triumph brings about a finality that wouldn’t be as poignant otherwise.

  11. Dustin says:

    I Honestly loved this series through every episode. It was a great way to end a series. I still look forward to watching more videos from the future!

  12. Tim says:

    I’ve loved the series in its entirety. What more can be said?

  13. garrrrrreeeetttttttttt says:

    Masterful.

  14. Bobby says:

    I really loved what you did with the finale. I totally understand what you mean about not wanting the surprise to go away.

    I really appreciate that you made the conscious decision to put an end to it, and not just stretch it forever.

    And honestly, at least personally, I found the whole ending pretty impactful.
    Bravo, good sir.

  15. Tristen Nord says:

    this series was amazing, im sad to see it go but it could not have ended better. my sister actually almost cried. been watching since the beginning, and will continue to watch to see whats next. keep it up jason and friends.

  16. Paul says:

    The ending was kind of depressing. Certainly not what i expected though so that definately worked out like you hoped.

  17. M says:

    You’re brilliant. This is art and you are a genius.

  18. Pokefan says:

    Wow, this series was not meant to last further than 5 ep’s, You made it last 12 ep’s congrats for this. Charlie The Unicorn is a prime example of a series that can still be funny because the blue and pink unicorn can’t be that predictable. All we known is that the blue and pink ones will trick Charlie in to something that gets him nearly killed or loses some body parts.

  19. Long time fan says:

    That was the perfect ending, tragic, beautiful. Perfect.

    I’m conflicted on the use of suicide at the end; but, I mean, … you made him a person, and you gave him person ideas, and that was the choice he made. Perfectly tragic.

  20. VileTerror says:

    So long and thanks for all the orphan meat!

  21. J says:

    Brilliant ending to the series, brought a tear to my eyes.

    Surely it’s not the end of Carl, maybe a cameo appearance with Horseman? that would be hilarious

  22. Michael says:

    Well, it certainly was art. Not funny, but artistic in a sort of Andy Kaufman type of way. The type of way that more people pretend to enjoy because they think themselves superior to others rather than those who actually do enjoy it. It says something about an artist who would rather annoy people than bring them actual pleasure. But, it was artistic.

    • Jason Steele says:

      I’m not really seeing posts from people being “annoyed” here, do you?

      • Annoyedfan says:

        %&/GUYG%/(T@G&%)O=)UK!/&(
        CARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL
        GRLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
        GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

  23. MisyKatina says:

    I loved every part of the Llamas. I loved Carl for how he needed to cause chaos and Paul for wanting him not to. It also was a very passive-aggressive way to annoy my boss who hates Carl. The more I loved him, the more he hated him. When I got a personalized license place that said Carl with a handprint on it, I thought he was going to fire me. It would have been worth it.

    Years ago I watched Spock die and the enterprise be destroyed, and in time, watched them both return. I will hold on to the small hope that Carl and Paul may someday, someway, somehow, return.

    • Jason Steele says:

      If we ever bring the characters back it’ll be called something like “Llamas with Hats: Miami” where Carl is an out-of-control cop and Paul is the angry police chief.

      • Fickelstine says:

        People will expect this, and keep bugging you about it but it will be nice, the characters are great it is the series that was getting old. it was a good to end it.

      • Paul's Mask says:

        Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarlllll… Your work isn’t finished. You must finish your work Carl. Caaaaaaarl.

  24. Josh says:

    I actually almost cried at the end of llamas with hats 12. I hardly ever get emotional about movies but seeing Paul’s skeleton and Carl’s descent in a lonely depression and suicide made me just think to the first episode when Paul simply yelled “Caaaarrll”! This was an amazing series

  25. Supertom2000 says:

    Carl fell too quickly. Otherwise, A+

  26. Rob says:

    More Unicrons!

  27. pongo3010 says:

    Outstanding! I love the series, the ending made me cry uncontrollably. Will there ever be a sequel or prequel to the series?

  28. Jordan says:

    Any chance we get a one-off “heaven” episode? Could be funny if Paul thinks he’s finally free and then boom – Carl.

    • Lolyotta says:

      Even better Paul is in Heaven and enjoying himself then he see a vortex from Hell opening up and boom Carl arrives with his Hell meat dragons and other spawn Hell creatures destroying Heaven.

    • Tony says:

      I was thinking the same thing. An epilogue. That would not take away from the beauty of your ending, but might restore some of Carl’s meaning.

      Paul and Carl, after all, were always friends.

    • Panic says:

      That sounds FANTASTIC.

  29. Flake-Aismal says:

    Thanks for all the memories, Jason. I think you handled the series well and as a fan who saw it since the first episode it was a great series in a moribund sort of way. After reading your notes i understood the ending a little better. Would have been nicer to see carl and paul together one more time but i couldnt have done it with more class. Til your next hit series!!!!

  30. Brian says:

    Christ, I would have loved to see that season of Friends.

  31. A Depressed Whale says:

    “Carl’s decline into depression and loneliness should be gradual.”

    It actually appeared to me like a decline into schizophrenia, including the imperative auditory hallucinations, and the credits reminded me of the schizophrenic artist Louis Wain. Up to this point I was certain this is what you had in mind. Or maybe you did and just chose the wrong words? Because Carl’s development doesn’t reflect what a simple depression would look like.

    Still, I loved how you continued and ended the series. Now I kinda want you to pick up Charlie the Unicorn again and kill it off in whichever way you seem inappropriate.

    • Jason Steele says:

      Yes, Carl falls pretty deep into delusional madness. But it’s brought on by his extreme depression and loneliness, rather than a specific mental illness that would have manifested itself regardless of the situation.

  32. CUCKBOY says:

    I loved it

  33. BopBop says:

    You made us laugh with Carl, feel concerned about his health and finally sad because of his death.

    But Carl is no Garfield, he was a monster who destroyed all life on Earth. But still we loved him and of course Mr Steele you enjoyed this.

    We loved this charismatic monster, in a similar way personalities like Hitler were loved by its contemporaneous. As a matter of fact the images you show in the last episode resemble a lot what we have seen in the holocaust (he even committed suicide).

    No matter how much of a genocide someone is, if he is correctly introduced, people will love him and ask for more. Just like you did to us.

    The big message behind this series is quite simple… humanity is stupid.

  34. Nicholas B says:

    Alright, I can believe that he can open portals in space time. I can believe that he was somehow able to destroy all humanity without anyone stopping him. I can believe that a talking llama was able to somehow animate deceased meat into monsters and then defeat said monsters in single combat and eat them. There is only one thing I don’t get…

    How did he get up on that bridge? It’s all broken and stuff behind him and it is srsly high.

  35. Jose Talamantes says:

    All i have to say is thank you, it was a great series from beginning to end. I even found myself covering my mouth in awe when Paul was found dead and Carl jumped. Playing Cruise Catastrophe will never be the same :,(

  36. isghrurehre says:

    Genius

  37. MarkTauno says:

    Jason,

    You are a visionary. You are a luminary.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    It’s funny because ignorant people mock the God of the Bible because he “was violent”. Violence is a means to an end. God’s ways are higher then our ways.

    Genesis 6. Cain murdered his brother Abel. (His brother. His flesh brother. He killed him.) When he murdered him, God did not smite him. Would I have ordered Cain dead if I was King? Probably not now, but when i was 6 years old and immature, yeah, probably.. Anyways, God was super mega nice and let Cain live. He gave him a sign or mark so that all people would know he was a cursed man. Cain’s crew or brotherhood you might say, built a city. Built a city in the land of wandering. Seems contradictory.

    His family also built this big ‘ol tower and was like “Hey we’re so awesome, we don’t need YOUUU God”

    So God was like “oh yeah? how about you can’t talk to each other now so easily”

    And Cain and his bros were like “noooooo”

    Or.. “nonnnnn” or … “neinnnnnnnn”

    So yeah, you get my point. Noah came through Seth, not Cain.

    Global Defence Initiative Baby. Trying to protect the innocents. And if this useless brotherhood oF NOD keeps killing innocents and playing meat organs, well, I want to do my part to help stop the killing of innocents and playing of meat organs.

    We only live once but our spirits live forever.

    #Triangular!

  38. Indiana Smith says:

    Brilliant and unexpected.
    I was longing to see Carl and the Cloak get together at some point, but I love the poignancy of your ending and I’ll admit I am going to miss Paul and Carl both. I guess I’ll fry up some hands to assuage my grief.

    (More of The Cloak? Pretty Please??)

  39. PhilM says:

    I shed a tear when Carl walked into Paul’s house and said… ‘oh, I guess he’s gone’. It was so sad that they didn’t go together. But that’s what made it such a great, emotional ending. Music choice was spot on.
    Bravo FilmCow

  40. PhilM says:

    …more (neighhhhhh it is I,) Wizard horse and Spatula Madness please!

  41. Chaos Pony says:

    I laughed.

  42. Pablo says:

    I, can see you guys are taking a break well you deserve it after making all those Llamas with Hats in a short time. No complaints from me.