Western Animation: Conan the Adventurer
An Animated Series loosely
based on Conan the Barbarian
(hence the title), but so very much Lighter and Softer
then the original it should be considered more a generic fantasy series that merely borrows inspiration from Conan. The cartoon ran from September, 1992 to November, 1993, for a total of 65 episodes
Thousands of years ago, the demon-god Set ruled the earth as an immortal tyrant, served by legions of monstrous reptilian humanoids called "Serpentmen". However, a mighty warrior-wizard named Vathalos led the other White Wizards of the world in a rebellion against the demon-god and sealed him and most of his minions away in the Abyss. Unfortunately, some of Set's minions, human and Serpentman alike, escaped the purge and slunk into the shadows to prepare for the day when they could release Set and reclaim the world.
None of this is of any concern to Conan, who is a mere youth apprenticed to his father, a blacksmith, in a peaceful mountain village in Cimmeria. One day, a strange celestial event results in a great shower of shooting stars; while they hit all over the world, several of them land at Conan's mountain, whereupon Conan's father forges the "starmetal
" they contain into weapons and makes a profitable business selling them, saving one piece, a mighty broadsword, for Conan. This sword is concealed in a stone sarcophagus, and Conan is told that he will be ready to wield it on the day that he can remove it from its resting place.
Unbeknownst to the Cimmerians, Wrath-amon, the High Wizard-Priest of Stygia and Lord of All Serpentmen, has been told by Set that starmetal holds the key to undoing the spell that keeps the demon-god sealed away, and he immediately sets to gathering the substance for his master. Several years after the starmetal shower, Conan's village is attacked by Wrath-amon's minions, led by the dark wizard himself. Conan runs to retrieve his sword, and finally manages to free it, but returns too late to help, forced to watch as his father, mother and grandfather are transformed into stone statues
by Wrath-amon's evil magic. He vows to never rest until his family are restored, and while leaving the mountain, he stumbles across the tomb of the sage Epimitrias, still haunted by the ghost of this ancient wizard. The benevolent spirit tells Conan the reasons behind Wrath-amon's attack, and gives him a companion in the form of a fledgling phoenix named Needle.
And thus the journey begins... As Conan proceeds to wander the earth and battle Wrath-amon's evil, he makes numberous other allies, including the Vanirman Snagg, the shuriken-tossing acrobat Jezmine, the warrior-wizard prince of the Wasai Zula, the wind-magician Greywolf, and the winged whip-wielding warrior Falkenar.
Later the show was given a "sort of" sequel in Conan and the Young Warriors
, where Conan acted as a mentor to a group of three chosen ones
who are destined to rule over the realm of Hyboria.
The series is currently airing on The Hub
Contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Jezmine.
- An Axe to Grind: Snagg's weapon of choice. Made of starmetal, of course.
- Artistic License – Biology: Set is a giant cobra with a rattle at the end of his tail. Justified since he's a snake god.
- Bad Ass: Pretty much all of the main characters, really. Conan in particular does everything from suplexing a bear to punching a shark in the face.
- Bad Boss: Averted with Queen Mesmira, who, aside from the occasional queenly tantrum and berating, treats her servants well and is in turn highly regarded by them that she can even carry out plans that would require her to be in a high-risk situation, and count on them to do their part. Even very powerful minions obey her requests for seemingly no other reason than loyalty and respect.
- Played very straight with Wrath-Amon.
- Set is an interesting case; he is never seen or even implied to abuse or harm his serpent men in any way. The holder of the black ring is also given considerable leeway and authority, and generally spoken to in a calm guiding manner. However, the rare times he does issue a threat can be very unsettling, and once someone else usurps the ring, no thought is given to the previous owner no matter how loyal they are or how much they have achieved.
- Then came the bad future (described below); while Wrath-Amon retains all his previous privileges and more as second in command of what is now the whole world, he has become rather uneasy and on edge; there was one moment when Set menacingly appeared behind him supposedly just to inquire the state of the local celebration, but judging from Wrath-Amon's startled reaction, he may have had worse in mind.
- Bad Future: One of the late episodes has Conan get pulled into one resulting from him dying in the ambush he was just subjected to. Set has escaped and conquered the world, Falkenar has been killed, Snagg's eye has been gouged out, Zula's hand has been cut off, Jezmine has been transformed into a Serpentwoman, Needle has been frozen into crystal, and Greywolf's siblings have been vaporised. In the course of preparing an antidote to dose Conan with so they can send him back, Snagg is eaten by Set, Jezmine changes into a serpent-beast to hold off Set and is killed and Zula and Greywolf are killed sending Conan back to his own time.
- It's also loosely implied that Jezmine has become a concubine of Set, during the aforementioned scene; "You'll never touch me again!"
- Bald of Evil: Wrath-Amon doesn't have any hair beneath his helm.
- Baleful Polymorph: Greywolf's brother, Misha, and his sister, Sasha, are transformed into wolf-monsters. Greywolf manages to restore their human minds, but is unable to do more in the process than turn them into ordinary wolves. Restoring them to human form becomes his driving motivation for the series.
- Barbarian Hero: Conan, Zula, and Snagg are all different versions of this; Conan is the standard "brawny loincloth-wearing white guy" type, Zula is the "Darkest Africa savage" type (if only in look), and Snagg is the "Horny Vikings" type.
- Barbarian Longhair: As everyone in-universe is constantly reminding us, Conan is "a big dumb barbarian". He also has thick and untamed shoulder-length hair.
- Battle Boomerang: Zula's starmetal boomrang, forged from his starmetal bolas.
- The Beastmaster: Zula, technically, with his ability to request aid from animals. Falkaner, with his loyal falcon Stormclaw, and technically Greywolf, with his lupine siblings, play it much straighter.
- Big "NO!": When Set fails to devour an escaping Conan in episode "Into The Abyss" and again in "A Serpent Coils the Earth" when the dimensional rift to the Abyss is closed, losing half his army.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The frost giants, much like in the original Conan story, have large but fairly human-looking womenfolk and far bigger and more monstrous menfolk.
- Black Magic: Wrath-amon throws this around like it's going out of style. But there's plenty more of it that pops up.
- Bloodless Carnage: Though this series actually has the characters hit their enemies, all they do is change them into Serpentmen (if their enemies are disguised) or cause them to disintegrate and be sucked out of their clothes into the Abyss (if their true form has been revealed). This is actually worked into the story in the ending arc. With Set on Earth, disintegrating the Serpentmen only sends them a few miles away, where they rush right back to the fight, giving Set an inexhaustible army.
- Whether or not watching people being sucked into what is basically hell is, in fact, less entertaining than watching the heroes simply hacking them up, is arguable.
- Averted sometimes, especially when dealing with non-human monsters.
- Bragging Theme Tune: "Conan, the Adventurer, Conan, warrior without fear, he's more powerful than any man, his legend spreads across the land and sea..."
- Butt Monkey: Dreggs is laughably incompetent and routinely humiliated. This is exaggerated for comedic effect in Dreggs-Amon the Great, when even ruling Stygia can't get him out of being the butt of every joke.
- Continuity Nod: The show actually had a fairly decent continuity and several episodes referenced past ones.
- Episode 16 has Jezmine and Conan note that this scenario is much like a previous one, referring to their near-disastrous adventure after the Star of Transmutation. The Evil Sorcerer even turns out to be the same one from that episode, and references it himself.
- In episode 31, a callback is made to Conan slaying the Medusa in episode 6.
- Ram-amon absently refers back to his first meeting with a time-traveling Conan in episode 24 when they meet him again in episode 60.
- Cool Old Guy: Conan's grandfather, Conn, was a pretty impressive adventurer himself in his younger days, and even in the present day thinks nothing of stealing the jewelery of a legendarily possessive and powerful lich-queen in order to trick her into destroying an enemy of his.
- Cursed with Awesome: Skulkar was transformed from a human warrior into an undead skeleton by being exposed to the Black Magic of his treacherous former-friend Sadinar, after having already been empowered by the Black Magic of Wrath-amon. Skulkar actually likes this state, to the extent he goes berserk when Sadinar transforms him back into a human .
- Defecting for Love: Astavis renounces loyalty to Wrath-Amon, and eventually his power-mad god Set, because they fail time and again to guarantee the safety of his beloved human wife and daughter.
- Dem Bones: Skulkar, and any of his minions.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the final episode ("A Serpant Coils The Earth Part 3") Conan and his friends fight Set, the Big Bad and a demon-god, and win.
- Does Not Like Shoes: In "The Treachery of Emperors", Conan recuses a princess whose father promised to make him king of the western province. Save for one short scene, the princess is barefoot throughout the episode.
- The Dog Is an Alien: While not an alien, Needle, a baby phoenix, would occasionally pretend to be a parrot to avoid drawing attention.
- Draconic Humanoid: Windfang is a Multi-Armed and Dangerous version of this who is a recurring opponent. Others include the dragonspawn, minor enemies who show up in several episodes.
- The Dragon: Windfang, once a human general named Venturas who opposed Wrath-amon centuries ago, but was captured by him and forcibly transformed into a flying monster. Gets two episodes devoted to him; "Windfang's Eyrie" and "Earthbound".
- Elemental Embodiment: In one late episode, a renegade Zanthis wizard is transformed by Mesmira into an elemental humanoid, capable of switching between a hulking earth form, a winged fire form, a tornado-like air form, and water form.
- Elemental Powers: The White Wizards of Zanthus study magic that gives them control over each of the four elements. A Zanthus wizard is also allowed to only study one particular element — trying to wield power over multiple elements results in exile.
- Enemy Mine: Conan teamed up with Ram-Amon against Wrath-Amon, not once but twice in the series. It naturally ended with Ram-Amon's betrayal in both accounts.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Set does not want to destroy the human race. He wants to rule over them as their supreme deity, and make them subservient to his Serpent Men.
- Evil Is Hammy: With Scott McNeil as Wrath-Amon, you bet it's gonna be hammy.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: An exiled warlord tells Windfang an ancient legend of how the entire earth was once plunged into darkness by an elder demon so terrible; its shadow alone would cripple victims with despair and horror. Following its imprisonment, great lengths were taken to hide the means to release it, and the story, itself, was a closely guarded secret. Not only does the warlord plan to free it just so it can conquer a city for him, he suggests to Windfang that he can have it next to use as a bargaining tool for his own freedom, as if it were some benevolent guardian or a pokemon to use and trade.
- Evil Sorcerer: The series is full of them, but Wrath-Amon and Ram-Amon are the series most recognizable.
- Expository Theme Tune: It pretty much sums up what Conan is after. Some consider it Crowning Music of Awesome, too.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Conan gets stung by a demon in one episode and begins to transform in a Serpentman.
- Fight Unscene: Happened regularly. Someone would swing a weapon, and things would suddenly zoom into just the weapons as they clanged against each other, and then it would zoom back out again. This would also sometimes happen when the serpentmen would get struck by starmetal — the scene would zoom in on either them or their torsos while they got zapped back to the Abyss, then zoom back out again.
- Five-Man Band:
- Galactic Conqueror: What Set is on the verge of becoming in a dark alternate timeline. Not content with simply ruling Earth, he aspires to invade and conquer other dimensions as well.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Getting Conan to be her submissive lover is one of Mesmira's driving ambitions.
Conan: When I get my hands on you, Mesmira, you'll wish you'd never heard of the purple lotus!
Mesmira: Someday you will get your hands on me, Conan, but on my terms, not yours.
- As mentioned above, it's implied Jezmine was made into Set's concubine in the Bad Future.
- In episode 16, we have Nanok the Nasty cavorting with a women, quite obviously a whore, in his lap.
- Giant Mook: Among the usually fought serpent-men, there was one in the episode "Seven Against Stygia" that was almost twice the size of Conan and sent him flying, shield and all, with one strike.
- God of Evil: Set in a nutshell.
- Gone Horribly Right: Fed up with his servant's Dregs in the past incompetence; Ram-Amon spared no attribute when invoking the powers of darkness to create a replacement. Who would later become Wrath-Amon
Ram-Amon:"Give him the strength of a hundred men, give him cleverness and cunning, give him the power of EVIL!"
- Grand Finale: "A Serpent Coils the Earth" three-parter.
- Half-Human Hybrid: The Serpentmen are half-snake, half human. Jezmine discovers she is half-human, half-Serpentman.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Often in normal dialogue and literally true in every fight scene. Every single voice actor is practically screaming themselves hoarse while Chewing the Scenery.
- Heel-Face Turn: Astavis, a Serpentman with a human wife, falls in love with her and tries his hardest to keep her safe, even personally renouncing Set. When he is banished to the Abyss, his wife is accidentally pulled with him and he fights as hard as he can to keep her safe. When he finally returns to the world as part of Set's army, he deserts at the first chance he gets.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The Kari Dragon sacrifices himself to save the heroes from a recently unleashed Set.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Ironically, Set's own dark magic and energies has often aided the forces of good. The Amulet of Vathelos was powered by his own sorcery, which enabled Epimetrius and the wizards to banish him to the Abyss in the first place. He inadvertently recharges the relic that has now passed to Conan, though the artifact does not grant the wearer immunity to his fangs or coils. Even his venom was necessary to spare Conan from a poisonous toxin that would otherwise surely kill him.
- Horny Vikings: The Vanir.
- Hot Witch: Mesmira, who is frequently making use of mind-controlling and mind-altering spells to get what she can't get through simple flirting.
- Humanity Ensues: Played straight with Skulkar in the episode "Bones of Damballa".
- Identical Grandfather: In the episode "The Amulet of Vathalos", a man tells Conan a story about Conan's grandfather. During the flashback, Conan's grandfather looks like an older, less muscular version of him.
- Invincible Villain: The demon god Set. When an exasperated Conan demands to know what it'll take to destroy the evil serpent, Set angrily replies "More power than you shall ever possess!".
- His creations/minions the Serpent Men also seem to share his immortality, in that while they may be overwhelmed or incapacitated, they can never die, merely be banished to the Abyss.
- Karma Houdini: Ram-Amon, original wielder of the Black Ring and creator of Wrath-Amon, escapes unscathed in the final episode. Ditto Mesmira. Presumably, this was a Sequel Hook for future episodes, had there been any.
- Leave No Survivors: Through deceit and exploitation of the Vanir and Cimmereans' prejudice and distrust of each other; Wrath-Amon successfully incites a war between them while his serpent army and Windfang's hordes lie in wait to finish off whoever's left.
- Lethal Chef: Jezmine boards a ship disguised as a cook, much to the peril of the sailors.
- Liquid Assets: Conan and Greywolf have their youth stolen and turned into a "youth perfume" in episode 23 by an evil old sorcerer. They manage to get it back from the villain.
- Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Conan's dislike using a shield, but he reluctantly carries it because it serves as Needle's resting place. It's also able to resist many attacks.
- Master Swordsman: Conan
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Windfang has four arms.
- Mythology Gag: This show has dozens of references to the novels, from major ones like Conan and his tribe being descendants of Atlantis to minor ones like the usage of character-names and place-names from the novels.
- Conan and Snagg often bicker due to being a Cimmerian and a Vanirman; the Vanir are frequently enemies of the Cimmerians in the novels, though this hasn't stopped peace between them and Conan, indeed, befriended a Vanirman at one point in his travels.
- A literal Mythology Gag is at the ending of episode 11, where the countess tells her son that as count, he should only bow to the King of Aquilonia, who Conan, as he cheerfully admits, is most certainly not. Fans of the novels will remember that Conan's tales eventually ended with him becoming King of Aquilonia.
- The mystical Black and Purple Lotuses are reoccuring items in the series. Both are potent mystical plants/drugs from the original literature.
- Needle's shield once belonged to a "king of Atlantis", which may be an abstract reference to "Kull the Conqueror", another Robert E. Howard Barbarian Hero who was also a King of Atlantis and who shares connections with Conan.
- Needle being a phoenix on a shield might be a reference to The Phoenix on the Sword, one of the very first Conan stories.
- The general look of Dreggs and the other nagas might be considered to be based on the "Man-serpents" from certain Conan stories, first appearing in The God in the Bowl.
- Zula's patron god, Jhebbal-Sag the Master of Beasts, is lifted from Beyond the Black River, though here he is a good-guy, whereas in the novel he was a demon/old gold who was empowering the Pictish shaman.
- The third episode is pretty much the same basic plot as The Tower of the Elephant, with Conan raiding a wizard's tower to steal a highly valuable gem.
- The fight he has with an ape-beast in the same episode could be seen as a Shout-Out to Rogues in the House, which revolved around Conan having to deal with a monstrous man-ape that had taken over the house of its sorcerer ex-master. Especially because the ape-beast has the same name — Thak — as the man-ape from the story.
- Episode four involves the "Cannibals of Darfar", a degenerate race who first appeared in Man-Eaters of Zamboula.
- Episode 26's plot has a certain resemblance to The People of the Black Circle.
- An Evil Sorcerer named the Master of the Black Circle is the antagonist of episode 23.
- Never Say "Die": Turned to living stone? Banishing to another dimension? Definitely not as bloody as the classic stories.
- Never Recycle Your Schemes: One group of Serpentmen ambushed Conan, Jezmine and Falkenar with poles, hooks and other gimmicks that incapacitated their starmetal weapons. The plan only failed because of Venturas' timely arrival. With a little improvement, this could have given the Serpentmen an easy victory, but they never bring that plan again.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In one episode, Conan travels back in time to steal the black ring and therefore, saving his family. Unfortunately, he fails and the black ring changes hands: from Ram-Amon to Wrath-Amon.
- Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: Conan is a Barbarian Hero who ends up learning some of Zula's animal-magic (he's never very good at it, though, but he gets better when he discovers his Totem Animal — a lion), becomes adopted into Zula's tribe as his blood-brother, discovers he's of Atlantean blood and becomes a trained Ninja.
- No Indoor Voice: Needle. OH SO VERY MUCH AWWWWWWWK AWWWWWWK AWWWWWWK!!!
- Jezmine does not speak, ever. She screams every line.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: One Serpentman challenged Conan with an armor that protected him from the effects of starmetal weapons. He's defeated nonetheless and the Serpentmen never craft the armor ever again.
- Our Dragons Are Different:
- The Asiatic-looking Kari Dragon is at least nominally friendly towards Conan and co. once Conan earns his respect.
- Episode 30 has Conan go after a "Fire Salamander", which can be best described as a frill-necked, fire-breathing Stegosaurus.
- Wrathamon's chariot is pulled by two pink wyverns.
- The Phoenix: Needle, a rather immature/weak version. He does get to become a fully grown adult for a few moments, and the episode "Crevasse of Winds" has an evil phoenix show up.
- Polly Wants a Microphone: Needle is this at best, a Small Annoying Creature at worst.
- Precision-Guided Boomerang: Zula's bolas (later forged into a boomerang) and Jezmine's shurikens. They were coated with a magic ointment that make them return to the thrower when yelled "Return!"
- Raise Him Right This Time: While fleeing the heroes, the old sorcerer mentioned in Liquid Assets accidentally knocks over some of his bottles, dousing himself in his perfume and regresses into a baby. Greywolf takes the baby when they leave his tower, stating that he now has a second chance and they should find someone to adopt him.
- Rated M for Manly: The Title Sequence. Yes, Lighter and Softer it may be.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Set is a demon-god that appears as a giant cobra, the Serpentmen are Set's main allies, Wrath-amon is a humanoid monster created from a carnivorous lizard... and that's not even getting into all of the other reptilian monsters that show up.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The god Set and his serpent men creations/worshippers in the Abyss.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Already beautiful but always in travelling gear with no time for the more feminine touch ups. Spending time with her aristocratic mother brought out Jezmine's youthful appearance with smooth long hair and a lady's gown. When she dresses up for a festival; even the familiar Conan is speechless.
- Ship Tease: It's implied a few times that Conan and Jezmine are attracted to each other, but they never officially become a couple.
- Small Annoying Creature: Needle, just hearing his voice is cringing as nails to a chalkboard.
- Spin-Off: Conan and the Young Warriors. And even then, its connection to this series was suspect. There were a few Continuity Nods, but the strongest link was them reusing the Conan character design.
- Stable Time Loop: In one episode, Conan travels in the past to steal the black ring. He ended causing the rise of Wrath-Amon.
- Summon to Hand: Jezmine's shurikens are enchanted to return after throwing. She later teaches Zula how to enchant his bolas to do the same. When he has them reforged into a boomerang, they retain the magic.
- Stalker Witha Crush: Windfang is infatuated with Jezmine because she reminds him of the woman he'd loved, back when he was a human.
- Stripperiffic: Mesmira. She wore some sort of tabard that covered her upper body, but for her lower body just a belt and sash that hung down between her legs leaving almost all of them on display.
- Sycophantic Servant: Dregg, a naga who serve both Ram-Amon and Wrath-Amon.
- Taken for Granite: The spell of living stone that curse Conan's parents and grandfather.
- The Nicknamer: Needle is king of this:
- Conan: Big Dumb Barbarian
- Jezmine: Stargirl
- Snagg: Red Beard
- Grey Wolf: Grey Wizard
- Thunderbolt Iron: Starmetal
- Took a Level in Badass: Subverted. Dregg decided to try for this when he stole the Black Ring while Wrath-amon was briefly transformed back into the lizard he once was. His attempts at spells tended to backfire - for example, when he tried to make a crevice appear under Windfang, Windfang just caught himself with his wings, and then Dregg fell into it. Wrath-amon's troops wouldn't obey him, Dregg didn't know how to use any of Wrath-amon's other artifacts and made a mess, and he finally pissed Set off so badly that Set wouldn't recharge the Black Ring for him.
- Tragic Monster: Windfang
- Tyrannosaurus rex: A skeletal tyrannosaurus rex, courtesy of Skullkar.
- Ultimate Job Security: Failures, incompetence and even betrayal wouldn't stop Dregg from being Wrath-Amon's lackey.
- Ungrateful Bastard: The Emperor of Vendya declares whoever will rescue his daughter from a ghastly cult will be made king of a province. Conan succeeds where no one else even dared and is given a formal half-hearted thank you and a pouch of gold coins tossed to the ground near him.
- Uniformity Exception: One of the main characters is the daughter of a human mother and one of Set's serpentmen mooks. (Apparently the only good one.) When old Dad returns to Earth with the rest of Set's horde, he's a slightly different color from the rest of the mooks, and thus stands out and is easily identifiable.
- Villainous Crush: Its implied that Set is sexually attracted to Jezmine, being a half-breed of human and serpent man, two races he desires to rule over together supreme. In an alternate bad future its plausible he forced her to become his concubine.
- Mesmira in no way makes her desire for Conan a secret. Emphasized when she once disguised as Sasha the wolf; her animal instincts made her overtly affectionate towards him while initially unable to mask her aggression towards Jezmine.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Conan and Snagg routinely exchange tribal insults.
- Was Once a Man: Windfang used to be General Venturis of Koth, before being turned into a four armed dragon-man by Wrath-Amon's experiments
- Weakened by the Light: Set hates the brilliant light of a Phoenix.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Greywolf's subplot is the only one completely unresolved at the end of the series. The best he can accomplish is turning his brother and sister into reverse werewolves (human during a full moon, wolves otherwise).
- Windfang's fate also remains unresolved by the end of the show.
- Whip It Good: Falkenar's weapon with starmetal at the end of the whip.
- Who Dares?: Set is outraged when the black ring is destroyed, momentarily disrupting his powers.
- World of Ham: Second only to BRIAN BLESSED in terms of how much of any given episode a character is shouting. Even the intro is hammy.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Conan considers hitting women against his code of honor, to the point that he allowed himself to be recaptured by the Amazons rather than fight his way out of their camp. As Needle put it, "Big dumb barbarian need better code".
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A servant girl brings Gora personal items covertly taken from Conan and Zula for his latest scheme to take over the Kingdom. She was under the impression that he would make her a queen. Instead, his two large baboons take her away.