Salad Fingers is a psychological horror Flash cartoon series originally created by British cartoonist Daniel Firds in July 2004, which gained rapid internet popularity in 2005. The San Francisco Chronicle ranked it in the "top 10" pop culture phenomena for that year.
Already a well-known Flash animation series available on the internet, Salad Fingers premiered in Australia at the 2007 Sydney Underground Film Festival at the Factory Theatre. The first seven episodes were shown back to back, along with a variety of other animated short films, during the "Re-animation" session. The cartoons' musical score features theremin played by Clara Rockmore.
In the cartoons, the eponymous Salad Fingers inhabits a desolate, sparsely populated world that could be assumed to be post-apocalyptic in which he revels in the delightful feeling of the textures of various objects on his "salad fingers". He enjoys rusty articles (especially spoons) and derives similar pleasure from experiencing pain. He appears to enjoy meeting new people, though many of his acquaintances are simply avatars (such as finger puppets including Hubert Cumberdale, Jeremy Fisher, and Marjory Stewart-Baxter) for which he provides voice.
The eerie music featured in the background is the tune "Beware the
Friendly Stranger" by Boards of Canada. The dark music in the soundtrack that appears when Salad Fingers is scared is actually
Firds playing the guitar, slowed down and reversed. Other music included in Salad Fingers episodes includes work credited to Brian Eno, Sigur Rós and Aphex Twin. David Firth frequently inserts referen
ces to Aphex Twin in his flash cartoons; for example, the Aphex Twin logo can be found on the telephone in Salad Fingers episode five. Firds has also cited the works of David Lynch, South Park, Tim Burton, Tideland, The League of Gentlemen and Chris Morris as sources of
- The main character is a bald hunchbacked humanoid with light-green skin, and no visible nose or ears who speaks with a Northern accent. His long, strangely-shaped fingers are his most notable feature. They were the focus of the first episode of the series, where Salad Fingers is shown deriving pleasure from rubbing various objects, particularly rusty metallic ones such as spoons, taps and a kettle. Salad Fingers appears to suffer from psychosis, and is unable or unwilling to distinguish between living beings and inanimate objects, and is frequently found talking to various inert articles (notably his finger puppets and in two cases a human corpse). He often assigns such objects proper names and appears to believe that they can communicate with him directly, sometimes voicing their perceived thoughts himself. He lives alone in a small shack (containing, among other things, an oven, bedroom, safety cupboard, radio, phone, and table) with the number 22 on the door. His talents include playing the flute and speaking French. It is implied that the desolate world Salad Fingers inhabits is the aftermath of the "Great War", a conflict which is referenced several times in the more recent episodes.
- Salad Fingers
- Salad Fingers takes up various habits, including a regular measurement of the distance between his house and a tree, tasting of the dirt ("floor-sugar"), and listening to his radio. Sometimes he also displays a raspy asthmatic-like breathing when he becomes mesmerized at something or experiences extreme pleasure. The name "Salad Fingers" was invented by Firth's co-writer, Christian 'Crust' Pickup, who described Firth as having salad fingers while playing the guitar.
- Hubert Cumberdale, Marjory Stewart-Baxter, and Jeremy Fisher
- Finger puppets who appear variously in episodes two, three, five, six, seven and eight. They often appear in Salad Fingers' fantasies as life sized beings. Jeremy Fisher is thought to be named after the Beatrix Potter book The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher. In episode 3, Salad Fingers tastes these puppets, claiming Hubert Cumberdale tastes like "soot and poo" and Marjory Stewart-Baxter tastes like "sunshine dust". Jeremy Fisher is not tasted, which is revisited in a later episode. Salad Fingers has also referred to Jeremy Fisher as having been out fighting "The Great War". In episode five, Hubert Cumberdale is temporarily renamed Barbara Logan-Price. In episode eight, Salad Fingers calls Cumberdale a "dirty immigrant" after dropping him in a litterbox.
- Harry/Milford Cubicle
- Appearing in episode three, Cubicle is an aggressive, armless human-like being who wears an apron identifying him as being employed at a "BBQ". Though his nametag reads "Harry" and indicates that he is "Happy to help", Salad Fingers calls him Milford Cubicle. He dies of exsanguination after repeatedly banging his head on Salad Fingers' door. Salad Fingers then finds him and drags him inside his house and hangs him on a meat hook, believing him to be alive and conscious.
- Appearing in episode four, Bordois is a woodlouse which Salad Fingers accidentally kills by attempting to pet her. He refers to this bug as "little sister". Once he squishes her, he says "You've gone all flat, little sister. And you're all gooey! I shalln't play with you again until you've had a wash."
- Appearing in episode five, Mable is a scuffed, grubby, scarred young girl who goes to a picnic with Salad Fingers. She is the first character other than Salad Fingers who can communicate in English, and she is the first person other than Salad Fingers to actually speak— something that seems to shock and dismay Salad Fingers. When she sees Salad Fingers looking at her in dismay she says "What's wrong? Do you not like my mouth-words?" While this is going on, she is seen with her eyes gouged out and bleeding; this is likely a mental vision or hallucination in Salad Fingers' mind, as he is seen cowering in the corner of his house between the shots of the "eyeless Mable". Nothing is known as to what happened to her as she could have left the picnic, or (rather less likely) was killed by Salad Fingers. Either way, she has never reappeared.
- A decomposing corpse found in a hole (one which was apparently dug up completely by Salad Fingers' finger puppet, Hubert Cumberdale) near Salad Fingers' house in episode seven; Salad Fingers claims that it is his little brother, "back from the Great War," and invites him in for dinner before eventually putting him back while singing "We'll meet again".
- Appearing in episode eight, Roger is a broken radio that speaks in a robotic, aggressive manner (much like a Dalek) and scares Salad Fingers into the cupboard twice. Roger, according to Salad Fingers, must be given 'sustenance' (in the form of small brown pellets which appear to be beans or marbles).
- Horace Horsecollar
- A toy horse with which Salad Fingers indulges his senses.::A tree 21 yards from the house. Salad Fingers measures this distance, and then comments to the tree that it's "barely shuffled an inch this week"—implying that it moves (or, at least, he perceives it to) and that he regularly keeps track of this measurement.
- Salad Fingers also ramblingly mentions he has an "old pal" named "Charlie" as well as a daughter, though neither of them are seen. It could be that neither of these characters are real, as they could be nothing more than the title character's delusions.
- A character Salad Fingers' imagination created while hiding from Roger in the safety cupboard. She is nothing but Salad Finger's hand 'walking' across the ledge. Salad Fingers imagines that she is denied raspberry jam by a market trader, who bases his actions on the grounds that her legs are "too long" and "made of cotton".
- Mr. Branches
- Unnamed Characters
- A child whom Salad Fingers visits to "enquire about his spoons" in episode one. He (or she) appears to have a wrinkled complexion, as well as large eyes and can only communicate through screeching.
- A young child wearing a varsity-type jacket whom Salad Fingers appears to have accidentally cooked in an oven in episode two.
- A big-eyed, grotesque, small mutant creature who falls in love with Salad Fingers in episode four. This character was originally created by Jimi Hollis, who refers to it as the "bug-eyed kid". It uses a bear trap and a grubby tap to capture him, then cages him and proposes with a ring topped with a human molar.