A dozen years ago, I caught about two minutes of an animated show on television. I don't know the name of the show or which channel it was on, but I do know that it was quite late at night in spring 2006 and I've been wondering about it occasionally ever since.

What I do have is a fairly narrow time frame for when I saw it, because I was at the first bar to re-open in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, so it was definitely between April and June of 2006, well after dark but before 1am Central Standard Time (there was still a curfew in effect). It must have been available via satellite because the cable companies still hadn't reconnected that part of the coast. The bartender was channel surfing, so I didn't catch much, and I wasn't able to hear any of the sound due to the noise at the bar, but it looked incredible, and I remember only the following:

  • It looked like an animated Conan the Barbarian
  • It was not a children's show (reminded me of Heavy Metal)
  • The animation was somewhat gruesome and detailed
  • I think I saw a nipple (maybe this narrows down the channels?)

That would be Korgoth of Barbaria, an animated pilot that was not picked up. It aired in the summer of 2006.

Per Wikipedia:

Korgoth is infected with a deadly parasite by Gog-Ma-Gogg and extorted to steal an item known as "The Golden Goblin of the Fourth Age" from the wizard Specules, who Gog believes to have recently died. He journeys with a group of Gog-Ma-Gogg's henchmen to Specules' castle, picking up a girl and killing several things along the way. The group reaches the castle and begin to plunder it. As Korgoth searches for the Golden Goblin, Specules returns, explaining that he was on vacation. Specules uses his magic to kill or incapacitate all but Korgoth, who proves too strong for the ridiculous creatures that the wizard conjures through chewing gum. As a last resort, Specules uses his magic directly against Korgoth; however, he is knocked off-balance and accidentally kills Korgoth's girl. Angered, Korgoth takes a two-pronged candle stick holder and impales Specules through the eyes, only to find that the wizard has magically transferred his head onto the dead girl's body. Specules proceeds to fly out the window. Korgoth returns to Gog-Ma-Gogg with the Golden Goblin (a simple novelty item) and gets the elixir for the deadly parasite, though the elixir takes many seasons to take effect. Korgoth is last seen walking away, pulling a cart full of medicine bottles.

The full episode is available from adultswim.com.

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    Disclaimer: don't Google Images that at work. – Jenayah Oct 8 '18 at 20:44
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    As I anticipated, it was on Cartoon Network (specifically, [adult swim]). – RDFozz Oct 8 '18 at 21:05
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    Your answer is the both best and worst news I could have expected. I just found the entire pilot episode on YouTube (is it ok to link this here?), and it was better than I even expected. I am beyond disappointed there aren't any more, and I'm having a mini Firefly moment about this right now. – vallismortis Oct 8 '18 at 21:06

As correctly identified in this answer, the show was indeed Korgoth of Barbaria (NSFW). The 22 minute pilot episode aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on June 3, 2006 at 11:30 PM CST, which was definitely when I saw it. The short glimpse I caught of this show (even without sound) stuck in my mind for over 10 years, probably because it mirrored the surreal surroundings of the destroyed town I was living in at the time. I'm adding this answer to fill in some of the blanks from my question (and my memory).

The pilot was written by Aaron Springer (SpongeBob, Gravity Falls) who also co-directed the episode with Genndy Tartakovsky (creator of Samurai Jack). The voice actors included John DiMaggio (Samurai Jack, Futurama, Gravity Falls) and Tom Kenny (SpongeBob, Adventure Time) and featured an absolutely epic thrash metal soundtrack, composed by Lee Holdridge (Beastmaster). The episode was produced by Cartoon Network Studios and Williams Street and was rated 'TV-MA'.

A description of the show from Adult Swim:

In a dark future wasteland, the great cities have risen and fallen, primordial beasts have reclaimed the wilderness and thieves and savages populate sparse, dirty towns. From the frozen north emerges a warrior known as Korgoth, and his merciless savagery may be his only key to survival.

The above quote is basically a paraphrased version of the voice-over in the title sequence:

The Great Cities have risen and fallen. Civilization's grip on mankind has grown weak and arthritic. Dark forces seek to renew forgotten covenants, and primordial beasts reclaim the wilderness. Out of the frozen north, a man emerges - a man of a barbaric age, whose merciless savagery may be the only key to his survival. They call him...Korgoth!

The official Korgoth of Barbaria poster (also a frame from the title sequence):


From the IMDB entry for Korgoth of Barbaria (2006):

Unsold TV pilot and a dark, violent and gory sword and sorcery spoof set in a post-apocalyptic new dark age about a Conan-like barbarian warrior hired to steal a golden goblin from a dangerous wizard who lives in a tower in the sky.

The painted backgrounds in the pilot episode were created by Justin K. Thompson, and several of his early concept sketches for the show are available here (original source here, and compare to one of his earlier works from 2004):

Korgoth background sketch by Justin K. Thompson

From the Korgoth of Barbaria Wikipedia entry:

...as of December 29, 2007, the only mention of the show on the Adult Swim website is an intro graphic with the words "you couldn't handle more than one anyway".

The pilot episode re-aired on Adult Swim on October 31, 2008 and November 3, 2013.

On October 31, 2010, Adult Swim aired a 15 second bumper listing shows that were not picked up:

Adult Swim bumper, October 31, 2010

A comment on the pilot episode on YouTube (by ChiotVulgaire, June 2018) provides some excellent insight into the context of Korgoth's cancellation:

...this show's production costs were simply too big. It's hand-animated with the vast majority of its assets originally made for the show, and it doesn't use any time-and-money saving techniques like tweening or digital coloring. Even the backgrounds are classic handmade matte painting. Not to mention they kinda shot themselves in the foot with some big-name voice actors (I hear John Dimaggio, Tom Kenny, and Diedrich Bader). To make matters worse, CN is still trying to move to smaller production value stuff including more live-action content and shorter episode formats. Essentially, Korgoth is everything they were trying to move away from, which is a shame because as awesome as everything is, the show itself is more than the sum of its parts. There's a reason they still show it now and then on Adult Swim.

Maybe if Korgoth got picked up by an animation studio that is good at doing this kind of work for cheap it could live again, but there's simply no way CN in it's current state will even attempt a second episode of this show, let alone an actual season.

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