|Also known as||Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal|
|Created by||Genndy Tartakovsky|
|Directed by||Genndy Tartakovsky|
|Voices of||Aaron LaPlante|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||15|
|Animator||Studio La Cachette|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original network||Adult Swim|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||October 8, 2019 –|
Primal (also known as Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal) is an American adult animated action adventure television series created and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network's late night programming block Adult Swim. Primal draws in elements of fantasy, horror, action, and adventure. The first 10-episode season of Primal was split into two 5-episode parts. The series premiered on Adult Swim on October 8, 2019, with the remaining episodes released daily that same week. The second half of the season premiered October 4, 2020. In August 2020, the series was renewed for a 10-episode second season, which premiered July 21, 2022.
Critics have praised the series, in particular the animation, the pacing and editing, and the storytelling. The show has won three Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation Juried Awards from the Emmy for Storyboard Artist (Genndy Tartakovsky), Art Director (Scott Wills) and Character Designer (Stephen DeStefano).
Set in an anachronistic and fantastical prehistoric-like world, the premise is a bond between a Neanderthal and a Tyrannosaurus (named Spear and Fang in the production notes and credits, respectively) who struggle to survive as they encounter the various dangerous fauna and people that live in their world.
In comparison to Tartakovsky's other shows where there are multiple characters, Primal initially only features two protagonists in the show as they encounter different prehistoric or fantastical species and various tribes of hominins. Tartakovsky stated that although the show is a work of fantasy, the animals in the show are based on real prehistoric animals, mythological beasts, as well as some new ones created by the artists involved in the project.
According to Tartakovsky, Primal was an early piece of work he scrapped because it did not click with him at the time. As he learned more and more about what drew people in to his shows, he wanted to experiment with those artistic traits, particularly the use of no dialogue and slow moments. He also stated that the method in which he approached animated shows and films began to slow down in terms of energy after Dexter's Laboratory. By the time he began working on season 5 of Samurai Jack, it had come full circle. He said he was inspired by Conan the Barbarian and vintage pulp novels, as well as films such as The Revenant. Tartakovsky felt that people would not take the show seriously because they were "breaking the rules" by having "a man and a dinosaur together," so he emphasized that it is a character study, a "buddies" journey about two characters who are very different but bonded by tragedy.
The first season consists of 10 episodes. On August 31, 2020, the series was renewed for a second season which consists of 10 episodes.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||10||5||October 8, 2019||October 12, 2019|
|5||October 4, 2020||November 1, 2020|
|2||10||July 22, 2022||TBA|
|Title||Written and storyboarded by||Story by||Original air date ||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"Spear and Fang"||Genndy Tartakovsky||Tartakovsky||October 8, 2019[d]||0.538|
|A caveman named Spear returns from a fishing trip to find his mate, son, and daughter devoured by a trio of horned Tyrannosauroidea. Distraught, he contemplates suicide before resolving to take revenge. He sees the silhouette of a dinosaur. Believing it to be one of the horned tyrannosaurs that killed his family, Spear silently pursues it into a thicket. He encounters the normal Tyrannosaurus Fang, with two offspring with her. The sight of the young dinosaurs causes Spear to back down just as they are attacked by the horned Tyrannosauroidea pack. Though Spear helps Fang kill three of them, their gargantuan alpha eats Fang's offspring. Spear and Fang slay the alpha, but Fang is left distraught over the loss of her children. Spear leaves Fang alone, but is later approached by Fang, and the two decide to travel together.|
|2||2||"River of Snakes"||Genndy Tartakovsky||Darrick Bachman & Tartakovsky||October 9, 2019||0.661|
|While hunting a Metridiochoerus, Fang consistently steals any food she and Spear come across, causing him to grow increasingly agitated at her. Eventually, Spear snaps and attacks Fang, losing his spear in the process, but their fight is interrupted when they wander into a den of large snakes. A flash flood rushes them and the snakes into a swampy river, where a Titanoboa resides, though Fang kills it. Despite working together to stay afloat, she and Spear fall down a waterfall, causing him to hit his head on the way down. Fang pulls Spear from the water. As he comes to, Fang fetches Spear's lost weapon. They reconcile and continue their journey together, now hunting food as a team.|
|3||3||"A Cold Death"||David Krentz||Bryan Andrews, Darrick Bachman, Krentz & Genndy Tartakovsky||October 10, 2019||0.573|
|In the harshness of primordial winter, a one-tusked elderly woolly mammoth is separated from its herd and subsequently killed by Spear and Fang. Spear harvests as much meat from it as he can, using its tusk to pull a makeshift sled. When the dead woolly mammoth's herd comes across their desecrated elder, they follow the sled's tracks and attack Spear and Fang. The pair attempt to fight them off, but are quickly overwhelmed by their power and numbers. In a final act of desperation, Spear defends himself with the elder woolly mammoth's tusk and notices that the other woolly mammoths stop their attack upon seeing it. He returns the tusk to them who leave in peace and bring it to their mammoth graveyard to mourn.|
|4||4||"Terror Under the Blood Moon"||Don Shank & Genndy Tartakovsky||Bryan Andrews, Darrick Bachman & Tartakovsky||October 11, 2019||0.557|
|After Spear and Fang escape a pack of dromaeosaurs, they experience a red lunar eclipse and encounter a tribe of near-ape cavepeople (credited as "monkeys") being attacked by gigantic red human-like bats. They attempt to fight the bats off, but Spear is carried away by one, with his spear left behind with the cavemen. Fang pursues the bats to a tall stone pillar, which she finds impossible to climb. Seeing two of the bats emerging from the top, she plays dead and allows them to carry her to a cave at the peak. While searching for Spear, Fang discovers the nest of a massive spider that the bats share their food with. Fang frees Spear, who helps her kill the spider. As the bats return, Spear and Fang use the spider's webbing to safely descend the pillar. Spear retrieves his spear from the cavemen as he and Fang flee from the bats and lead them into a fight with the dromaeosaurs before safely escaping towards the rising sun.|
|5||5||"Rage of the Ape-Men"||Bryan Andrews & Genndy Tartakovsky||Andrews, Darrick Bachman & Tartakovsky||October 12, 2019||0.654|
|Spear and Fang reach a seemingly peaceful oasis and relax before they are captured by a vicious tribe of ape-men. The ape-men hold a brutal tournament to the death, with one of them eventually winning. After the gorilla-like champion Krog drinks an enhancement serum provided by the chimpanzee-like shaman which mutates and enrages him, Fang is lowered into the arena for him to fight. Helplessly watching as Fang is beaten to near-death, Spear breaks free from his bindings and drinks the rest of the serum, causing him to transform into a hulking monster. After killing Krog, Spear proceeds to massacre the other ape-men overnight. When Spear eventually returns to normal, he runs to Fang's side as she lies motionless.|
|6||6||"Scent of Prey"||Bryan Andrews||Andrews, Darrick Bachman & Genndy Tartakovsky||October 4, 2020||0.442|
|Spear agonizes over the apparent loss of Fang after the events of his fight against the ape-men. Fang proves to still be alive, but is too weak to move. Seeing that the ape-men corpses are attracting a flock of Teratornis, Spear builds a litter to carry Fang and fashions a new spear for himself. He struggles to nurse her back to health while simultaneously trying to fend off a pack of scavenging Epicyon while she is in her helpless state. As the pack grows and continues stalking the pair, Spear and Fang are forced to take shelter in a cave, where Spear has to fight flesh-eating armored beetles. When the pack attack the cave in large numbers, Spear defends Fang long enough for her to heal and help Spear annihilate their assailants.|
|7||7||"Plague of Madness"||David Krentz||Bryan Andrews, Darrick Bachman, Krentz & Genndy Tartakovsky||April 1, 2020(April Fools Day) ||0.539|
|October 11, 2020||0.404|
An Argentinosaurus is infected with a flesh-eating virus by a diseased Parasaurolophus, transforming it into a zombie-like state and compelling it to decimate its herd. Spear and Fang stumble across the devastated nesting grounds and become the crazed sauropod's next target. Running for their lives, the duo trick the behemoth over a cliff and into a narrow ravine before finally escaping with their lives by making a mad dash across a lava field. The sauropod's massive weight makes it fall into the magma, which incinerates it as Spear and Fang observe its final agonizing moments.
Note: This episode made an unannounced premiere on April 1, 2020 as part of Adult Swim's annual April Fools stunt.
|8||8||"Coven of the Damned"||Nagisa Koyama & Genndy Tartakovsky||Bryan Andrews, Darrick Bachman & Tartakovsky||October 18, 2020||0.464|
|Spear and Fang come across a tribe of primitive witches during a ritual. The leader uses dark magic to steal the essence of a male caveman and birth a female baby, which she gives to a follower as her daughter. The witches spot Spear and Fang and give chase to the duo, capturing Spear and magically controlling Fang. A witch named Lula uses her magic to travel into both of their pasts and watches the tragedies that befell them. Having lost a daughter of her own, Lula saves the pair from the other witches, sacrificing herself by stalling the leader to help them escape. Fang and Spear mourn the loss of their savior before continuing into the jungle. In the afterlife, Lula reunites with her daughter.|
|9||9||"The Night Feeder"||Genndy Tartakovsky||Darrick Bachman & Tartakovsky||October 25, 2020||0.355|
|Spear and Fang find the mangled remains of a Smilodon, killed by an invisible Suchomimus/Therizinosaurus-like creature. While Spear wants to investigate it, Fang runs away in fear. The next night, the mysterious creature slaughters a herd of Anchiceratops. Hearing the carnage, Spear tries to intervene, but Fang refuses to let him go anywhere near the area. The next day, Spear and Fang hear bizarre screeching while braving a powerful storm. Later that night, the unknown creature attacks the duo, forcing them to flee into a misty forest. The creature catches up to them and they struggle against the unseen foe, but Fang manages to wound it. As the beast emits earsplitting shrieks, Spear learns of its weakness to light. Using sparks from his weapon, Spear and Fang create a ring of fire to trap and kill the monster.|
|10||10||"Slave of the Scorpion"||David Krentz||Bryan Andrews, Darrick Bachman, Krentz & Genndy Tartakovsky||November 1, 2020||0.348|
|While fishing, Spear and Fang encounter a bound and bald-headed tall woman with a scorpion tattoo on the back of her head fleeing from a Liopleurodon which Spear kills. The three take a mutual interest in each other and the woman joins Spear and Fang on their travels. After the pair free her, she introduces herself as Mira and uses a combination of Arabic and sand drawings to tell them how her people were enslaved by invaders before she escaped. The next morning, Mira is kidnapped by a group of monkey-men. Spear and Fang follow, but find the ape-men killed by arrows and strange footprints. The pair follow the footprints to the beach, where they see Mira bound on a boat with a sail marked with the same scorpion tattooed on her head. Unable to continue their pursuit, Spear and Fang watch helplessly as Spear says Mira's name.|
|Title||Written and storyboarded by||Story by||Original air date ||U.S. viewers|
|11||1||"Sea of Despair"||Genndy Tartakovsky||Darrick Bachman & Tartakovsky||July 22, 2022||0.180|
|Determined to rescue Mira after her abduction, Spear attempts to swim after the boat whilst frantically shouting her name, but fails. Refusing to give up, he builds a makeshift raft with Fang's help. The duo set sail, with Spear paddling them out to sea before Fang uses her tail to propel them. Exhausted, Spear and Fang rest for the night. The next day, Spear attempts to search for food. After some time, the duo manages to kill a large Archelon, which they feast on before Spear uses its shell to construct a shelter. Days later, whilst collecting a bounty of Potanichthys and Dunkleosteus, the raft sails into a storm, where the duo encounters an Ornithocheirus flock and a Megalodon that destroys their vessel. After a struggle, Spear manages to blind the shark, but the violent waves separate him and Fang. Washed ashore on an unknown beach, Fang awakens alone and searches for Spear.|
|12||2||"Shadow of Fate"||David Krentz & Genndy Tartakovsky||Bachman & Tartakovsky||July 22, 2022||0.167|
|Separated from Spear in a strange new land, Fang explores her surroundings and encounters a male red and gray Tyrannosaurus, whom she competes with while hunting an Arsinoitherium before befriending it. Meanwhile, an unconscious and injured Spear washes ashore and is discovered by Celtic warriors, who take him to their village. Spear is startled awake by a one-eyed medicine woman and violently attempts to escape despite being pursued by the warriors until the village Chief stops the group and offers Spear food and water. As the medicine woman treats his wounds, Fang and the Tyrannosaurus attack the villagers. Spear and Fang briefly reunite before he and the warriors battle the dinosaur, who destroys part of the village. Fang attempts to protect Spear from it, but accidentally kills her new friend. After comforting the dying Tyrannosaurus, a depressed Fang leaves the village with a remorseful Spear in tow despite the Chief's pleas.|
|13||3||"Dawn of Man"||Genndy Tartakovsky||Bachman & Tartakovsky||July 29, 2022||0.205|
|While taking shelter from the rain in a cave, Spear cheers up Fang, who is still mourning the dead tyrannosaurid, and discovers cave paintings. The next day, he finds a valley teeming with Megaloceros, Bison latifrons, and visions of people from the cave paintings. After acquiring a new spear from a nearby abandoned village, Spear hunts for himself and Fang. Later that night, Spear and Fang are attacked by Viking warriors riding Arctotheriums. Though Spear is injured, the pair manage to defeat their enemies. Recognizing the scorpion sigil on one of the warriors' shields, Spear calls out Mira's name, which causes the remaining warrior to flee. The two give chase before Fang kills him, with Spear taking the warrior's sword after his spear is destroyed. The two follow the Arctotherium tracks to a populated village, where Spear finds a group of slaves and reunites with Mira, who is delighted to hear him speak. Spear tries to get Mira to leave, but she refuses to leave her people behind. Spear and Mira lead the others out of the village before Spear hears something growling in the nearby mist.|
|14||4||"The Red Mist"||Mark Andrews||Bachman & Tartakovsky||August 5, 2022||0.231|
|Viking warriors and their Arctotheriums emerge from the mist. Mira and her people are forced to bow, angering Spear. He and Fang battle the warriors while Mira and her people flee into the forest. The duo are overwhelmed by the warriors, with Fang being injured by a female warrior, Rikka, while Spear accidentally kills an attacking child, Rikka's son. Under the cover of a red mist, the pair give into their rage and kill Rikka and the remainder of the warrior clan before they return to their senses and escape with Mira using a stolen boat. Sometime later, another boat arrives carrying the Viking chieftain Eldar, his eldest son, and a small group of slaves. After discovering the massacre, they become devastated over the loss of their clan and Eldar's wife Rikka and youngest son. They soon bury their clan members, free the slaves, and give their deceased family a ceremonial ship funeral. Seeking revenge, Eldar and his son set sail to hunt down the ones responsible for the destruction of their village.|
|15||5||"The Primal Theory"||Genndy Tartakovsky||Bachman & Tartakovsky||August 12, 2022||TBD|
|In England, 1890, a biologist named Charles unsuccessfully tries to defend his theory on evolution to his fellow scientists Lord Darlington, Blakely, Bertie, and Giroud. Charles surmises that, in the right situation, any person would regress back to their primitive roots in order to survive. The evening is cut short when an escaped inmate from a nearby asylum breaks into the house, kills the butler Stevens, and proceeds to prey on every person inside. As the night progresses, the survivors take on weapons in Darlington's collection, such as guns, swords, and arrows. One by one, the guests are either killed or knocked out by the brutish madman, leaving only Charles and Darlington left. They pursue the inmate to the greenhouse, but he overpowers them and begins to cannibalize Charles. Out of his wits, Darlington attacks the inmate with a massive bone, arms himself with a spear, and emits a primal scream before frantically killing the inmate. Coming back to his senses, he looks at a wounded Charles, who feels vindicated to have his theory proven right.|
|16||6||"Vidarr"||TBA||TBA||August 19, 2022||TBD|
|17||7||"The Colossaeus, Part I"||TBA||TBA||August 26, 2022||TBD|
The first season premiered on October 8, 2019, with episodes from the first half of the season airing daily from the premiere date. An episode from the second half was shown during Adult Swim's April Fools' Day 2020 run. Adult Swim announced on their Twitter that the second half would start airing on October 4, 2020.
The first season of Primal was broadcast during Thanksgiving weekend on Adult Swim's Toonami programming block for the first time on November 29, 2020. The marathon commemorated the launch of the series on the HBO Max streaming service. The first season began a second run on the normal schedule of the Toonami block beginning on May 15, 2022. The second season encored on the block on July 24, 2022.
The first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 1, 2021 by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. It was later released in France and Belgium.
Initial reception for Primal was highly positive; much praise was given to the art and animation, the use of storytelling with no dialogue, and the balancing of the show's interpretation of violence and beauty. In a review from IndieWire, Steve Greene wrote "Primal is a piece of elemental storytelling that finds some real emotional depth without either of its protagonists uttering a single word of dialogue", ultimately giving the series an "A−". On Rotten Tomatoes, the show has an approval rating of 100% based on reviews from 23 critics, with an average rating of 9.10/10. The site's critical consensus states: "Epic in every sense, Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal is a stunning feat of visual storytelling." On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 87 out of 100 based on 5 critic reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
A film retelling of the first four episodes, Primal: Tales of Savagery, screened at the London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on November 21, 2019. This version was submitted in the Best Animated Feature category for the 92nd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.
|2020||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation||Stephen DeStefano (character designer) (for "A Cold Death")||Won|||
|Genndy Tartakovsky (storyboard artist) (for "Spear and Fang")||Won|
|Scott Wills (art director) (for "Spear and Fang")||Won|
|2021||Annie Awards||Best General Audience Animated Television/Broadcast Production||Primal||Won|||
|Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production||Genndy Tartakovsky (for "Plague of Madness")||Won|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Program||Genndy Tartakovsky, Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey,
Keith Crofford, Mike Lazzo, Oussama Bouacheria,
Julien Chheng, Ulysse Malassagne, Erika Forzy,
Shareena Carlson, Darrick Bachman, David Krentz,
and Bryan Andrews (for "Plague of Madness")
|Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation||David Krentz (storyboard artist) (for "Plague of Madness")||Won|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Animated Series on Television||Primal||Nominated|||