The Conan Retrospective

Part 4: The small-screen Conan

Three attempts were made to bring Conan journeys to television. The first two were in animated form.

Conan The Adventurer was a somewhat popular children’s entertainment show lasting two seasons from 1992 to 1994. It was simple in both animation and storytelling, having Conan and pals deal with that week’s crisis before moving on. Several of Howard’s creatures and settings had cameos on the show and one of Conan’s friends was the aforementioned Zula, a male this time. The constraints of children’s television obviously limited the scope of the stories the show’s writers could weave, but, for what it was, Conan The Adventurer was a decent enough attempt to tone down the barbarian for younger audiences.

Much less successful was 1994’s Conan And The Young Warriors, which took the for-kids approach to the barbarian a bit too far. While Conan The Adventurer had a supporting cast of grown men and women to accompany the Cimmerian on his quest, Young Warriors had… these kids.

Conan the Barbarian TV cartoon
“Conan The Barbarian daycare. Six days since our last accidental beheading.”

The show’s plot had something to do with Conan training these little bastards until they… you know what? Nobody cares. Basically, a bunch of annoying kids follow our hero around and stuff happens because they’re stupid kids, possibly followed by a stern lecture and lots of finger wagging from Conan while the evil “Wrath”-Amon (the fuck?) goes around being evil and stuff. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

So following one mediocre cartoon and one emasculating follow-up, surely a third Conan TV series couldn’t fail to knock it out of the park. Having learned the lessons of the past, this third series would undoubtedly be a faithful adaption of Howard’s vision, a fantastic mash of fantasy stylings and mature storytelling… or not.

Conan the Adventurer

“Spoiler alert: NOT.”

Seeking to capitalize on the late ’90s boom of fantasy programs (Hercules, Xena), Conan The Adventurer (What? Again?) premiered in 1997 and ran for a 22-episode single season. Not bothering to come up with an original title is the least of the show’s failings. While body builder and Gladiator co-star Ralf Moeller certainly looked the part and was, mostly, a decent actor despite some impressive English language difficulties (What? Again?), the show was hampered by the same “you know, for-kids” feel as previous television adaptations. Instead of a reaver/pirate/thief/rebel/mercenary, the program’s Conan was a wandering do-gooder who helped people in need and generally made the downtrodden feel positive about themselves. A knock-off of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, you say? God bless you for noticing. While decently budgeted, as far as these things go, the show mostly relied on the old monster-of-the week formula and a TV budget simply isn’t going to produce anything more impressive than a stuntman in a silly rubber suit.

red sonjaOne episode, titled “Red Sonja,” featured the titular female warrior, another Howard creation, played by Angelica Bridges in her first filmed appearance since the similarly titled 1985 Brigitte Nielsen movie. Why is this relevant enough to mention? It isn’t. But it gives me an excuse to include this shot of incredibly hot redhead Angelica Bridges.

Conan: Angelica Bridges
“Pictured: Relevance. Hot, sexy relevance.”


While another TV show, preferably along the lines of Starz’ Spartacus: Blood And Sand, would be awesome, it’s up to Conan The Barbarian 3D, opening on August 19th, to redeem the franchise’s cinematic aspirations. If you’ve been paying attention to Game Of Thrones, you know that Jason Momoa has both the acting chops and the raw physicality to play the role. The only question is: Will viewers flock to a movie starring a relative unknown? Does the Conan brand still hold enough appeal to suck in enough fans to make a profit following several failed TV shows and a period of absence in popular culture? Tune in to Yell! Magazine’s official review, coming soon to a website near you!

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