The Pirates of Dark Water

The Pirates of Dark Water
Genre Action
Created by David Kirschner
Starring George Newbern
Jodi Benson
Earl Boen
Peter Cullen
Jim Cummings
Tim Curry
Héctor Elizondo
Brock Peters
Frank Welker
Composer(s) Thomas Chase Jones
Steve Rucker
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 21
Executive producer(s) David Kirschner
Paul Sabella
Mark Young
Running time 30 min.
Production company(s) Hanna-Barbera Productions
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network ABC (Season 1)
First-run syndication (Season 2)
Original release February 25, 1991 – May 23, 1993

The Pirates of Dark Water is an American fantasy animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera and created by David Kirschner and first aired in 1991.[1] It was later aired on Fox Kids and Boomeraction.


The alien world of Mer is being devoured by an evil substance known as Dark Water. Only Ren, a young prince, can stop it by finding the lost Thirteen Treasures of Rule. His loyal crew of misfits that help in his journey are an ecomancer (Tula), a monkey-bird (Niddler), and a treasure-hungry pirate (Ioz). The evil pirate lord, Bloth, will stop at nothing to get the treasures for himself and provides many obstacles for Ren and his crew.

Network television run

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. Most 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 aired on ABC, while the second season aired in first-run syndication as part of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. The series was never completed, ending abruptly after 21 episodes with only eight of the thirteen treasures collected.






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 leviathan. 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.

Octopon was once the greatest city on Mer, referred to as "the jewel in the crown of Mer" by Ioz in episode 14, though it lies in ruin until Ren collects the first seven Treasures. It is then 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.


No.TitleWritten byOriginal air date
1"The Quest"Lane Raichert, Mark Young, Kelly WardFebruary 25, 1991
Ren discovers that he is the son of a (now deceased) king Primus. He escapes Bloth with a new friend Niddler and they travel to a ship port. There, they befriend a pirate named Ioz and a runaway girl named Tula.
2"Dishonour"Lane Raichert, Mark Young, Kelly WardFebruary 26, 1991
With Bloth in hot pursuit, Ren and company 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 are they all entirely trustworthy.
3"Break Up"Lane Raichert, Bill MathenyFebruary 27, 1991
With both the compass and the first Treasure stolen, Ren and company pursue the thieves 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.
4"Betrayal"Lane Raichert, Bill MathenyFebruary 28, 1991
5"Victory"Kristina Luckey, Laren BrightMarch 1, 1991
6"Andorus"Peter Lawrence, Laren Bright, Kristina LuckeyOctober 19, 1991
After rescuing Teron from the Maelstrom, Ren and the crew stopped 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.
7"A Drop of Darkness"Laren Bright, Kristina LuckeyOctober 26, 1991
While running from Bloth, the crew rescues an old woman named Cray who knew Ren's Father Primus and is 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.
8"The Beast and the Bell"Matthew Malach, Bill MathenyNovember 2, 1991
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.
9"Panacea"Sean RocheNovember 9, 1991
The crew finds 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 creature with a mysterious past given to them by a shady Bio-transmuter.
10"King Niddler"Glenn LeopoldNovember 16, 1991
Niddler 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...
11"The Collection"David EhrmanNovember 23, 1991
The crew 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.
12"The Little Leviathan"Glenn Leopold, David EhrmanNovember 30, 1991
Ren saves a baby leviathan and a bond is born. However, both leviathan, Ren and Ioz are taken captives by Bloth.
13"The Dark Dweller"Sam Graham, Chris HubbellDecember 7, 1991
While once again running from Bloth, the crew is forced to leave the Wraith, 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.
14"The Dark Disciples"Glenn LeopoldNovember 8, 1992
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.
15"The Ghost Pirates"(Teleplay by Kristina Luckey) (Story by David Ehrman)November 15, 1992
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.
16"The Dagron Master"Michael MaurerNovember 22, 1992
While washed ashore Ren and Niddler encounter "the Dagron Master". He offers to help them to find one of the Treasures, but in the middle of journey, Ren finds he has been tricked and is turned into one of the reptiles.
17"The Game Players of Undaar"Brian T. Gaughan, Glenn LeopoldNovember 29, 1992
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.
18"The Pandawa Plague"Kristina Luckey (Story by Glenn Leopold, Kristina Luckey)May 2, 1993
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.
19"Sister of the Sword"Glenn LeopoldMay 9, 1993
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.
20"The Soul Stealer"Glenn LeopoldMay 16, 1993
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.
21"The Living Treasure"Kim Costalupes, Mark Kavanaugh, Glenn LeopoldMay 23, 1993
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's 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.


Additional voices


Home Media releases

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[2]

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.

Pirates of Dark Water video games were also 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 RPG elements. A Pirates of Dark Water role-playing game was released in 1994, but had a limited production run.

Cartoon Network interstitials


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."[3]


  1. "The Pirates of Dark Water: The Complete Series : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  2. "Pirates of Darkwater DVD news: Announcement for Pirates of Darkwater – The Complete Series". Retrieved 2012-10-20.
  3. The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide. Sasquatch Books. 2004. p. 526. ISBN 1-57061-415-6.
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