The Pirates of Dark Water

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Short-lived but fantastic 1991-1993 Hanna-Barbera cartoon series which switched off between syndication and ABC. It began as a five-part miniseries which aired on Fox Kids as simply "Dark Water".

Ren is the prince of a fallen kingdom, and he has to find the Thirteen Treasures of Rule to restore it to its once pristine glory. Rounding out his "unlikely but loyal crew of misfits" are ecomancer Tula, roguish Ioz, and the monkeybird Niddler.

However, Ren learns that his quest is far more urgent than simply personal career advancement; the menacing substance called dark water that consumes everything it touches is spreading and it threatens to destroy the world. Only the thirteen treasures can stop it and Ren must find them before it is too late.

It was notable because it was one of the first children's series to have an in-depth, epic storyline. Alas, the production costs were too high, and the art quality suffered a noticeable drop on its second Channel Hop. Ultimately, it was canceled 21 episodes into its run (only eight of the thirteen treasures had been collected). All 21 episodes were released on DVD on August 31, 2010, listed as The Complete Series [dead link].

Notable for being created by David Kirschner, who was also the producer of the original Childs Play movie. No relation to the Japanese horror film Dark Water (or its US remake). Also no relation to Candle Cove. Also no relation to Gothic 5 Risen 2: Dark Water (which shares a pirate themed setting).

Incomplete Cast:

  • The Messiah -- Ren
  • Action Girl -- Tula, during the Five Episode Pilot miniseries
  • The Empath -- Tula, after given girly 'ecomancer' powers (which happened in the first episode after the miniseries)
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold -- Ioz, who wouldn't even be that nice without Ren.
  • Pirate Girl -- Tula
  • Small Annoying Creature -- Niddler, the monkeybird (anyone else notice he's like a cross between Abu and Iago?). It should be noted that in the original broadcast version of the pilot mini-series, Niddler was a more serious character and there was actually a hint that the Monkeybirds would be used to explore themes of racism. This was dropped completely from the character and species after the Retool, along with recasting the voice actor from Roddy Mc Dowall (who used his normal voice) to Frank Welker, who... didn't. Moreover, when the miniseries became the first five episodes of the regular series, all of Niddler's lines were re-recorded by Frank Welker for continuity purposes.
    • And most of Konk.
  • Big Bad -- Bloth.
  • The Dragon -- Mantus.
    • Morpho serves The Dark Dweller in this fashion. He later assists Bloth as a Mad Scientist while still working for the Dark Dweller.

Tropes used in The Pirates of Dark Water include:
  • Abnormal Ammo
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The tunnels inside the Maelstrom are literally large enough to hide a small civilization, and a giant sea monster.
  • Adventure Towns: Adventure Islands, to be specific.
  • Amazon Brigade: "The Living Treasure"
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Ioz has a younger sister Solia, depending on the interpretation she is either this or the follower of the Rule of Cool.
  • Big No: Episode 3, Tula after Ren is knocked out.
  • Chained Heat: Ren and Bloth in one episode.
  • Cool Boat
  • The Corruption
  • Call a Rabbit a Smeerp
  • Channel Hop: The Five Episode Pilot was a miniseries that aired on the Fox network (called simply "Dark Water", with Niddler originally voiced by Roddy McDowall), then that and eight new episodes showed on ABC, then the next (and final) season showed up as part of a syndicated block.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Ren. Heck, most of the characters are pretty dark-skinned yet hair colors tend to run the gamut.
  • Doomed Hometown: Octopon.
    • It gets undoomed in the first season finale and shows signs of being a viable seaport again in the second season.
  • Dumb Muscle: Most of Bloth's crew, but especially the Lugg Brothers.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The source of the Dark Water.
  • Evil Albino: Bloth is pretty pasty. The Pale/White Warriors from the second episode are a subversion, as they were aggressive but not evil. They were also much taller and more muscular than any of the other characters.
  • Fantastic Racism: Monkeybirds were used and the first miniarc even went so far as to show the slavemarkets. While it was swept under the rug later on Niddler does mention on occasion that he can't enter certain pubs because monkeybirds aren't allowed there and characters in general seem to consider Niddler a lesser being even before he has a chance to prove himself as the Small Annoying Creature.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief
    • Ren = Fighter
    • Tula = Mage
    • Ioz = Thief
      • Unusual because Ren (despite being the fighter) is quick, agile and tricky rather than particularly strong, while Ioz seems to be the physical powerhouse (and is the Mighty Glacier in the video game). Also Tula has her thief-ly moments as well, and was trained as a warrior (though this doesn't really come up much after the miniseries and in the Amazon Land episode).
  • Five Episode Pilot
  • Flanderization: In the first episode, Niddler is concerned about getting something to eat because Bloth starves him. It doesn't come up in the rest of the miniseries after he is free from Bloth. After the network jump, Niddler possesses an all-consuming desire for food.
  • Food as Bribe: Niddler loves minga melons and can be bribed into doing almost anything with the promise of them.
  • Freaky Friday Flip: Bloth switches bodies with Ren (and Konk with Niddler) thanks to a powder by Morfo, it has to be noted however that their voices stay the same so the audience has Ren bellowing Curse my eyes! through the entire episode.
  • Functional Magic
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Ioz smacks Tula on the rear in the first episode. Also see Pardon My Klingon below.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The 13 treasures of Rule.
  • High Fantasy
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The ghostpirate captain captures Ioz for this purpose, stressing her appreciation for his looks several times and going so far as to say that while being a ghost may be unpleasant, the sex will make it better.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Tula lowers Ren's body temperature to the point where he dies so he can fight a gang of ghosts. He gets better.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Most of them look like they were designed by Kit Rae.
  • Island Base: many.
  • Jerkass/Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ioz. More the first.
  • Made of Evil
  • Mordor: Any place contaminated by Dark Water.
  • Murder Water: The titular Dark Water.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Ioz. So much so that one of the dislikes on his official character sheet is 'independent women'.
  • Off-Model: The fact that two companies on opposite sides of the spectrum worked on this (Madhouse and Kennedy Cartoons)[1] makes it it more jarring than it should have been.
  • Opening Narration
  • Orphaned Series: The Genesis game does, however, include an ending.
  • Organic Technology: Making a submarine from a baby leviathan! Starfish as shuriken. etc.
  • Ocean Punk
  • Other Darrin, The: In the pilot mini-series, Niddler was voiced by Roddy McDowall and spoke perfectly clear English. When the show switched to syndication however, Frank Welker took over the part and Niddler started to speak with a squawking voice with bird screech accents.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Pardon My Klingon: "Noy Jitat!" seems to be a version of "damn", and is often shortened to the adjective jitatin (probably "damned") as in "that jitatin monkey-bird".
    • Also Chonga and Chongo-longo.
    • "Naja dog" seems to be the strongest as is said less frequently.
  • Pocket Protector: Ioz is saved from a crossbow bolt by a stolen golden goblet in the second episode.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something
  • Say My Name: Often.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Dark Dweller in the backstory. Unlike other sealed evils, he actually managed to free himself and the Dark Water.
    • Kiroptus, one of the servants of the Dark Dweller was also sealed in the backstory. And like The Dark Dweller, he managed to free himself with a little help from Ren - only to be sealed again by the end of the one episode he appeared.
  • Secret Legacy: Ren discovering he is a prince.
  • Ship Tease: Ren and Tula had a few moments, but the series came to an end before anything could really go anywhere.
    • Ioz and Tula had a fair amount of it, too, though with far more sniping. But again, the series ended before anything could happen in that regard.
  • The Starscream: Yellow-wing, possibly Konk.
  • Translation Convention: The odd-sounding swears and plant names and whatnot are meant to give the impression aren't actually speaking English, but we hear English for our own benefit.
  • Un Reveal: Cartoon Network aired a brief segment during commercial breaks in which they were asked about the ending of the show. It then cut to the opening sequence of the show until we finally see... that it has been taped over.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Lugg Brothers just sort of disappear after leaving Zoolie's gamehouse with Konk in the miniseries. Konk is later delivered to Bloth in a barrel by some woman, and the Lugg Brothers are never seen or mentioned again.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Ren's hair is so pale (especially in contrast to his skin) that he verges on being a heroic example of this trope.
  • You All Meet in An Inn: The first time the entire cast meets, it's in an inn.
  1. Fellow studios Tama Productions, Wang Film Productions, Fil Cartoons and Big Star also had a hand in this