The Pirates of Dark Water
Created byDavid Kirschner
  • Thomas Chase Jones
  • Steve Rucker
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons2 + original miniseries
No. of episodes21
Executive producers
  • David Kirschner
  • Paul Sabella
  • Mark Young
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseFebruary 25, 1991 (1991-02-25) –
May 23, 1993 (1993-05-23)

The Pirates of Dark Water is an American fantasy animated television series created by David Kirschner and produced by Hanna-Barbera. The series premiered as a five-part miniseries on Fox Kids early 1991, simply entitled Dark Water. The first season, consisting of 13 episodes including the original five-part miniseries, aired on ABC from September to December 1991. A second season, consisting of just eight episodes, aired in syndication in the United States from 1992 to 1993.[citation needed]


Ren, the son of the dying King Primus of Octopon, sails around the alien world of Mer on a ship called the Wraith, searching for the "Thirteen Treasures of Rule". The treasures are prophesied to save Octopon and Mer from the threat of Dark Water, an all-consuming black liquid that has taken over the seas. His loyal crew of misfits that help Ren on his journey are the ecomancer Tula, a monkey-bird Niddler, and the treasure-hungry pirate Ioz. Ren's opponent in his quest is the pirate Bloth of the warship the Maelstrom, who will stop at nothing to get the treasures and control the Dark Water himself.[1]





About Mer

Mer is a planet very different from Earth with a variety of its own creatures with varying degrees of intelligence, such as the monkey-bird and the leviathans. The world has twenty seas, and most of the crew's stops are made at islands. Parts of Mer are continually in flux, like a river of spiked rocks that rises out of the ocean in the first episode and appears to defy physics (none of the characters are bewildered by the spectacle aside from its danger), but whether this is the Dark Water's doing or just the nature of the geologically hyperactive planet is unknown.[3]

Octopon was once the greatest city on Mer, referred to as "the jewel in the crown of Mer" by Ioz in episode 14, though lying in ruins until Ren collects the first seven treasures and it is partially restored. Octopon seems to have been centuries ahead of the current technological state of Mer, although it is probable that civilization is continually in decline due to the Dark Water oozing from the planet's core.[3]


Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
Miniseries5February 25, 1991 (1991-02-25)March 1, 1991 (1991-03-01)Fox Kids[Note 2]
18October 19, 1991 (1991-10-19)December 7, 1991 (1991-12-07)ABC
28November 8, 1992 (1992-11-08)May 8, 1993 (1993-05-08)Syndication[citation needed]

Miniseries (1991)

No. in
TitleWritten byOriginal air date
11"The Quest"Lane Raichert, Mark Young, Kelly WardFebruary 25, 1991 (1991-02-25)
Ren discovers that he is the son of a (now deceased) king Primus. He escapes Bloth with his new friend Niddler and they travel to a ship port. There, they befriend a pirate named Ioz and a runaway girl named Tula.
22"Dishonor"Lane Raichert, Mark Young, Kelly WardFebruary 26, 1991 (1991-02-26)
With Bloth in hot pursuit, Ren and his friends seek refuge within the labyrinth of sea caves where the Pale Warriors make their home. Ren discovers that his companions are not what they seem to be, nor they are all entirely trustworthy.
33"Break Up"Lane Raichert, Bill MathenyFebruary 27, 1991 (1991-02-27)
With both the compass and the first Treasure stolen, Ren and his friends pursue the thieves, including Konk, to the island of Pandawa, home of the monkey-birds. The island is in the midst of an uprising, as Niddler's people seek to free themselves from the predations of slavers.
44"Betrayal"Lane Raichert, Bill MathenyFebruary 28, 1991 (1991-02-28)
Ren and Niddler are captured by Bloth. Ren meets Abagon, one of his father's most trusted captains, and learns the history behind the Treasures of Rule.
55"Victory"Kristina Luckey, Laren BrightMarch 1, 1991 (1991-03-01)
Ren and his friends try to escape and regain the First Treasure from Bloth.

Season 1 (1991)

ABC reaired the miniseries from September 14,[4] to October 12, 1991, before premiering new episodes.

No. in
TitleWritten byOriginal air date
61"Andorus"Peter Lawrence, Laren Bright, Kristina LuckeyOctober 19, 1991 (1991-10-19)
After rescuing Teron from the Maelstrom, Ren and the crewmen stop to gather supplies, but are interrupted by Bloth and his men. During the pursuit, they wind up in Andorus, where it is revealed that Tula is an ecomancer and they find the place in ruins. Teron and Tula try to use their powers to restore the island, but something evil is around and guarding one of the Treasures.
72"A Drop of Darkness"Laren Bright, Kristina LuckeyOctober 26, 1991 (1991-10-26)
While running from Bloth, the crewmen of the Wraith rescue an old woman named Cray who knew Ren's Father Primus and is also an alchemist. She saves them, but offers anything for a sample of Dark Water to use in a potion of hers, but Ren refuses. She then uses one of her potions on Tula to force Ren to do her bidding and uses the Dark Water in a potion to make herself young again in an attempt to reclaim her youth.
83"The Beast and the Bell"Matthew Malach, Bill MathenyNovember 2, 1991 (1991-11-02)
Ren sees a vision of his father telling him if he rings "The Bell of the First Sound" that all the Dark Water will be gone forever. But when he rings the bell, he finds out that it was all a trick by an imprisoned servant of the evil Dark Dweller, a creature named Keroptus. Ren swears to re-imprison the monster he freed by accident.
94"Panacea"Sean RocheNovember 9, 1991 (1991-11-09)
The crewmen of the Wraith find another Treasure, but it is guarded by a creature that can only be defeated by feeding it a loac flower (the best cure on Mer for most illnesses). Ren sets off into the swamp guided by a creature with a mysterious past given to them by a shady Bio-transmuter.
105"King Niddler"Glenn LeopoldNovember 16, 1991 (1991-11-16)
An underappreciated Niddler deserts the Wraith's crewmen upon learning that he is supposed to be a king to a tribe of non-flying monkey birds. What he doesn't know, however, is that he is also the only hope of defeating a giant dangerous creature, which he can't do alone...
116"The Collection"David EhrmanNovember 23, 1991 (1991-11-23)
The crewmen of the Wraith encounter a wizard who "collects" ships by shrinking them. While trying to save Ioz, they are shrunk as well and left stuck in a glass bottle.
127"The Little Leviathan"Glenn Leopold, David EhrmanNovember 30, 1991 (1991-11-30)
Ren saves a baby leviathan and a bond is born. However, the baby leviathan, Ren and Ioz are taken captives by Bloth as its family starts to appear.
138"The Dark Dweller"Sam Graham, Chris HubbellDecember 7, 1991 (1991-12-07)
While once again running from Bloth, the crewmen of the Wraith are forced to leave the Wraith itself, but Tula falls victim to the Dark Water in the process. Ren is shaken and they are captured by Bloth, but a slight glimmer of hope comes when it seems that Tula may still be alive. Ren then escapes and takes the Treasures and enters the realm of the Dark Dweller to search for his lost friend.

Season 2 (1992–93)

No. in
TitleWritten byOriginal air date
141"The Dark Disciples"Glenn LeopoldNovember 8, 1992 (1992-11-08)
The Wraith is damaged during yet another escape from Bloth and the only nearby port is Octopon, but it's in ruins and overrun by the servants of the Dark Dweller.
152"The Ghost Pirates"Story by : David Ehrman
Teleplay by : Kristina Luckey
November 15, 1992 (1992-11-15)
Blinded by greed, Ioz tries to steal a treasure from a seemingly deserted ship. Unfortunately, it appears that the ship is full of ghosts, who want to make Ioz one of them.
163"The Dagron Master"Michael MaurerNovember 22, 1992 (1992-11-22)
While washed ashore Ren and Niddler encounter "the Dagron Master". He offers to help them to find one of the Treasures. In the middle of journey, Ren finds he has been tricked and is turned into one of the reptiles.
174"The Game Players of Undaar"Brian T. Gaughan, Glenn LeopoldNovember 29, 1992 (1992-11-29)
Two strange creatures in control of a moving island interrupt Bloth just as he is about to capture Ren. They then blackmail Ren and Bloth, chaining the two together and making them play their deadly game while competing with their best warriors while betting on the contest.
185"The Pandawa Plague"Story by : Glenn Leopold, Kristina Luckey
Teleplay by : Kristina Luckey
May 2, 1993 (1993-05-02)
When Ren and his crew are taking a break back in Octopon, the Queen of the monkey birds shows up asking Niddler for help. She says that there is a plague on Pandawa and that Niddler needs to protect the egg of the future queen. Ren and Niddler fly ahead, but there may be more to this plague than a simple disease.
196"Sister of the Sword"Glenn LeopoldMay 9, 1993 (1993-05-09)
The crew is forced to go to port to buy supplies after Konk destroys what they had gathered. There, Ren bumps into Solia, Ioz's sister, who is a pickpocket with an eye to go hunt a treasure located on Arakna Island, the most dangerous island in Mer. When Ren and Ioz refuse, she steals the crew's gold and the compass and gets Konk to help her while Ren chases after her to retrieve the stolen compass.
207"The Soul Stealer"Glenn LeopoldMay 16, 1993 (1993-05-16)
Bloth comes up with a new plan after talking to a soothsaying creature who says that Ren is the only one destined to collect the treasures. He decides to become Ren by swapping bodies with him using a potion made by Morpho. He manages to catch Ren, but not without Niddler who he makes Konk swap bodies with to avoid suspicion. The potion has a drawback that any mirror will show their true identities. Ren and Niddler (now in Bloth and Konk's bodies) steal Morpho's potion and escape The Maelstrom to try to get their original bodies back. Things get a bit more complicated when Joat shows up to get revenge on Ren (Bloth) and Ioz for stealing The Wraith back in Episode 1.
218"The Living Treasure"Kim Costalupes, Mark Kavanaugh, Glenn LeopoldMay 23, 1993 (1993-05-23)
Ioz and Tula are arguing yet again and Ren is trying to be the peacemaker as they chase down another Treasure. Niddler has gotten separated from the group having gone to raid a nearby freighter for food. The Monkey bird falls asleep and narrowly escapes when the freighter is attacked while passing a strange island and winds up there. The Wraith is not far behind, It is the same island where the next Treasure is located. Niddler meets a strange but cute little creature while the others run into the Amazon like warriors who live there and are soon captured. The warriors see the creature as a pest, but Tula knows what it truly is and tricks the warriors into thinking she has joined them so she can stay free, rescue Ren and Ioz and save the little creature.


David Kirschner, the president and chief executive officer of Hanna-Barbera, created the series based on an idea he had when he was a child, inspired by "the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and the pictures of Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth". The original five-episode miniseries was "the most expensive animated project" Hanna-Barbera had taken on up to that time, with each half-hour episode costing US$500,000. Each half-hour episode consisted of 12,000 cels, double the number "of a typical Saturday morning cartoon series".[1]

Overseas animation studios

Other studios

Broadcast and release

The show first premiered on Fox Kids in early 1991 as a five-part mini-series titled Dark Water. Following a number of animation tweaks and other changes by Hanna-Barbera, those episodes were rebroadcast later in 1991 as the first five episodes of the regular series.[5] Notably, the original mini-series featured the voice of Roddy McDowall as Niddler, whereas in the revised version, the character was voiced by Frank Welker.

The first season, consisting of 13 episodes, aired on ABC. The second season, consisting of the last 8 episodes, aired in first-run syndication as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera.[citation needed] The series was never completed, ending abruptly after 21 episodes with only eight of the thirteen treasures collected.[6]

Home media

On August 31, 2010, Warner Archive released The Pirates of Dark Water: The Complete Series on DVD in region 1 as part of their Hanna–Barbera Classics Collection. This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively through Warner's online store and[7][8]


The Pirates of Dark Water was reviewed favorably in The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide, which contrasted it with other cartoons from the same period, noting that it was "...serious, well-written, and had a certain amount of craft in its character animation and watercolor backgrounds."[9] Collider called it one of the 14 greatest kids cartoons of the 1990s as well as a property worthy of resurrection.[10][11] Screen Rant said the show "has a robust cult following to this day and was one of the best adventure shows of its era, with surprisingly strong writing and a beautifully designed world."[12]

In other media


In November 1991, Marvel Comics produced a comic book series based on the show. Originally intended as a six-part limited series, it was extended to nine issues to include a three-part original story. A series of action figures based on the characters from the show was also produced. The toyline consisted of Ren, Niddler, Ioz, Zoolie, Bloth, Konk, Mantus, Joat, and the Wraith.[citation needed]

Video games

Pirates of Dark Water video games were released for the Super NES and Sega Genesis platforms, both published by Sunsoft. The Super NES version is a side-scrolling beat 'em up, co-developed by Japanese and American staff members, where players can choose to play as Ren, Tula or Ioz and proceed to fight Bloth's gang. Up to two players can play simultaneously. Each character has a life-draining Desperation Attack (spinning kick for Ren, ecomancer energy for Tula, and spinning punch for Ioz) and the ability to block – something not common in games of this genre. The Genesis version, developed by Team Iguana (later known as Acclaim Studios Austin), is a side scrolling platform game with role-playing elements. A Pirates of Dark Water role-playing game was released in 1994 but had a limited production run.[citation needed]

Niddler was parodied in 1993's Might and Magic V: Darkside of Xeen, as Nibbler the Monkeydog, who loved Monga Melons.[13]

Cartoon Network interstitials

The show was parodied in one of a series of early interstitials on Cartoon Network. These commercials featured a "viewer's" question and Cartoon Network's comical take on the "answer". In Pirates' case, it was on the "unaired episodes". Cartoon Network claimed to have the episodes on tape and promised to air them, instead showing footage of a cat lapping milk, suggesting that someone taped over the only copy of what would have been the nonexistent episodes.


  1. ^ Credited as "Hanna-Barbera Productions" for the first season.
  2. ^ The miniseries was reaired on ABC from September 14 to October 12, 1991, before the premiere of the season 1 episodes, beginning on October 19, 1991.


  1. ^ a b Brennan, Patricia (February 24, 1991). "Fox Broadcasting's 'Dark Water'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  2. ^ "Pirates of Dark Water Ioz Voice Actors". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  3. ^ a b c d The Pirates of Dark Water World Book. MindGames, Inc. 1994. ISBN 0964267705.
  4. ^ Charles Solomon (September 14, 1991). "TV REVIEWS : Saturday Cartoons: Adapting to the New Season". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2023-05-25.
  5. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 622–623. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  6. ^ Markstein, Don. "Pirates of Dark Water". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  7. ^ "Pirates of Darkwater DVD news: Announcement for Pirates of Darkwater – The Complete Series". Archived from the original on 2013-03-27. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  8. ^ "The Pirates of Dark Water: The Complete Series : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  9. ^ The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide. Sasquatch Books. 2004. p. 526. ISBN 1-57061-415-6.
  10. ^ "The 14 Greatest Kids Cartoons of the 90s". Collider. June 1, 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  11. ^ Trumbore, Dave (September 12, 2012). "Hollywood! Adapt This: THE PIRATES OF DARK WATER". Collider. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  12. ^ Cotter, Padraig (March 26, 2020). "Forgotten 1990s Cartoon Pirates Of Dark Water Is Nostalgic Bliss". Screenrant. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  13. ^ Darkside of Xeen – Nibbler the Monkeydog – via Youtube.