Todd McFarlane's Spawn

Last updated
Todd McFarlane's Spawn
Todd McFarlane's Spawn (1997-'99 TV series) logo.jpg
Created by Todd McFarlane
Based on Spawn
Todd McFarlane
Developed by Alan B. McElroy
Voices of
Narrated by Richard Dysart
Theme music composer Shirley Walker
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes18
Executive producer Todd McFarlane
Running time26–30 minutes (episodes)
180 minutes (films)
Production companies
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network HBO [1]
Original releaseMay 16, 1997 (1997-05-16) 
May 28, 1999 (1999-05-28)
External links

Todd McFarlane's Spawn, also known as Spawn: The Animated Series or simply Spawn is an American adult animated superhero television series that aired on HBO from 1997 through 1999 [2] and reran on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block in Japan. It has also been released on DVD as a film series. The show is based on the Spawn character from Image Comics, and won an Emmy Award in 1999 for Outstanding Animation Program (Longer Than One Hour). [1]



The series centers around the story of former Marine Force Recon Lieutenant Colonel Al Simmons, who worked as a government assassin in covert black ops. He was betrayed and killed by a man whom he believed to be his close friend (the man, later to be revealed as Chapel, burned him alive with a flamethrower during a mission). Upon his death, Simmons vowed revenge on Chapel and hoped that he would one day return to his beloved wife Wanda.

Because of his life as an assassin, Simmons' soul goes to Hell. In order to accomplish his vow, he makes a pact with the devil Malebolgia (who was the overlord on the eighth plane of Hell). The pact was a simple one: Simmons would become a soldier in Malebolgia's army (known as a "Hellspawn" or "Spawn" for short) in return for the ability to walk the earth once again in order to see Wanda. However, Simmons was tricked by Malebolgia: his body was not returned to him and he is returned to Earth five years after his death. He had been given a different body which was a festering, pungently cadaverous, maggot-ridden walking corpse that had a massive living red cape attached to it. Because his new body had been rotten for some time and was in an advanced state of decay, his face had become heavily malformed, to the point that he barely appeared human, which led to Simmons donning a mask in order to cover its grotesque appearance.

Upon his return to "life", Spawn seeks out Wanda, who had apparently got over the grief of having lost Al and married another man, Al's best friend Terry Fitzgerald with whom she seemingly had a daughter, Cyan. Terry, a respectable man, works as an analyst for a man named Jason Wynn. Wynn is a powerbroker in the CIA and secretly a black-market arms dealer, amongst other things (such as the head of secret government organizations within the NSA and National Security Council ). Wynn is revealed to be the man responsible for the death of Al Simmons due to a disagreement that the two had between each other concerning their "work." Jason's actions would also prove dangerous to the lives of Terry, Wanda and their daughter as well. Realizing that he is no longer the man in Wanda's life, Al swears to protect her and her new family.

The series depicts Spawn nesting in the dark alleyways, killing any who invade his new-found territory. Rejecting these actions as unworthy of Spawn's time and power, Malebolgia then dispatches another of his minions (a demonic creature known as the Violator that assumes the form of a short, obese clown) to try to persuade Spawn to commit acts of violence and savagery in the name of Hell.

Spawn struggles to fight the lure of evil, as well as seeking to escape being hunted by not only the forces of Hell, but by assailants from Heaven, who have a need to destroy the Hellspawns in order to cripple the forces of Hell so that they do not gain an edge in the escalating war between the two spiritual hosts. As the war intensifies, the line between the forces of good and evil become increasingly blurry. Spawn finds help along the way in the form of a disheveled old man named Cogliostro who was once a Hellspawn that overcame the demonic powers resting within, amongst a number of other characters.

In the last episodes of the series, Spawn learns how to shapeshift and, appearing as Terry, makes love to Wanda, impregnating her. It is revealed that there is a prophecy that the child of a Hellspawn will play the deciding factor in Armageddon, and may be the real reason Spawn was allowed to return to Earth.


Todd McFarlane's Spawn

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"Burning Visions"TBA Alan B. McElroy May 16, 1997 (1997-05-16)
Al Simmons returns from the grave, lost and bewildered at how his wife Wanda is now married to his best friend Terry Fitzgerald. He is followed by a evil demon in the form of a clown, called the Violator, who reveals that Al has been dead for five years and is now a Hellspawn. Meanwhile, Jason Wynn and Tony Twist are trying to figure out how to move out their illegal arms.
2"Evil Intent"John HaysAlan B. McElroyMay 23, 1997 (1997-05-23)
Tormented by the thought that he cannot be with his wife, Spawn is annoyed by the Violator's efforts to drive him into violence and evil in the name of Hell. He eventually engages in a brawl with the demon in his true form.
3"No Rest, No Peace"TBATBAMay 30, 1997 (1997-05-30)
When Tony Twist's hired cyborg hitman, Over-Kill, fails to eliminate Spawn, Wynn sends in Jess Chapel to get the job done.
4"Dominoes"John HaysTBAJune 6, 1997 (1997-06-06)
Police detectives Sam Burke and Twitch Williams begin trailing the sadistic child-killer known as Billy Kincaid, who poses as an ice cream man. Wanda learns of some new evidence that will help her client be cleared of his charges.
5"Souls in the Balance"TBAGary HardwickJune 16, 1997 (1997-06-16)
Spawn must deal with a crazed priest, a person who does not die after a snipe shot. Meanwhile, the Violator tips off the location of Wanda and Terry's sweet daughter, Cyan, to Kincaid.
6"End Games"TBATBAJune 30, 1997 (1997-06-30)
Spawn saves Cyan from Kincaid and returns her to her parents, along with the wedding ring that Al Simmons was buried with. Frustrated that Spawn did not kill Kincaid, the Violator finishes the job himself and promises to continue pursuing the Hellspawn.

Todd McFarlane's Spawn 2

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
7"Home, Bitter Home" Jennifer Yuh Nelson Larry Brody, John Shirley, John Leekley & Rebekah BradfordMay 15, 1998 (1998-05-15)
Chapel steps onto Spawn's territory, and the two have an encounter that shakes the alleyways.
8"Access Denied"Tom NelsonLarry Brody, John Shirley, John Leekley & Rebekah BradfordMay 22, 1998 (1998-05-22)
After Terry discovers more than he should about shipping discrepancies, Wynn orders a hit on his life. Spawn intervenes, wanting to be the one to kill Terry, but after learning that Terry did not steal Wanda from him like he had originally thought, Spawn fights off Terry's attackers.
9"Colors of Blood"Mike VosburgLarry Brody, John Shirley & Victor Bumbalo May 29, 1998 (1998-05-29)
Unable to locate Terry after his hitmen's failure, Wynn turns to Wanda. Spawn takes care of some local drug dealers that are killing the homeless.
10"Send in the KKKlowns"Jennifer Yuh NelsonJohn Leekley & Gerard BrownJune 5, 1998 (1998-06-05)
A man claiming to be doing "the Lord's work" is killing off Black people, but finds that the one he captured, Terry Fitzgerald, is more than he can handle. Spawn attempts to confront Wanda, but only frightens her in the process.
11"Death Blow"Tom NelsonJohn Leekley, Rebekah Bradford & Gerard BrownJune 12, 1998 (1998-06-12)
Lisa Wu begins looking into the recent Rat City alley murders and Spawn visits Wanda at home.
12"Hellzapoppin"Mike VosburgJohn Leekley, Rebekah Bradford & Gerard BrownJune 19, 1998 (1998-06-19)
As Wynn watches the news, he receives a message from Clown and the channel goes back on. Realizing that Wynn had sent people to kill both Cyan and Wanda, Spawn threatens to kill Wynn if he does not back off.

Todd McFarlane's Spawn 3: The Ultimate Battle

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
13"The Mindkiller"Jennifer Yuh NelsonJohn LeekleyMay 23, 1999 (1999-05-23)
Spawn begins feeling regret about abandoning his former mentor, Major Forsberg, as Cogliostro attempts to talk him into giving up the shroud.
14"Twitch Is Down"TBATBAMay 24, 1999 (1999-05-24)
Officer Twitch Williams investigates the alley murders and confronts Spawn. After Twitch learns too much about the alley murders and Jason Wynn, Wynn sends the dirty Police Chief Banks out to kill Twitch in order to keep him silenced.
15"Seed of the Hellspawn"Mike VosburgJohn LeekleyMay 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)
Spawn learns to use his shroud to take on the forms of others. Knowing that returning as Al would worry Wanda too much, Spawn disguises himself as Terry and makes love to his wife one last time. Meanwhile, Sam is watching Twitch get hospitalized. Banks attempts to frame Spawn as Twitch's shooter.
16"Hunter's Moon"Jennifer Yuh NelsonJohn LeekleyMay 26, 1999 (1999-05-26)
Spawn befriends a vampire named Lilly, but when she attacks him and reveals that she was sent by Heaven to kill him, he wastes no time in frying her with sunlight. Lisa Wu, now revealed to Spawn as Jade—a hunter also sent by Heaven to kill Hellspawn—allows him to re-heal himself after his fight with Lilly.
17"Chasing the Serpent"Chuck PattonRebekah BradfordMay 27, 1999 (1999-05-27)
Spawn, aided by Jade, frees Terry Fitzgerald and Major Forsberg from Jason Wynn's opium prison.
18"Prophecy"Brad RaderJohn LeekleyMay 28, 1999 (1999-05-28)
Jade realises Spawn is not what she thought and decides to spare him, and Heaven responds by placing a bounty upon Jade. She is mortally wounded by the new hunters and in the end, she avoids disgrace and is granted a spot in Heaven by having Spawn give her a warrior's death. Meanwhile, Sam and Twitch confront the Chief in the subway, and secure a confession before the last train leaves. "I want my humanity back" was all that Spawn said before the closing credits roll.

Voice cast


The series has achieved a small but loyal cult following who praise the animation, writing, voice acting, music and dark tone, whereas the graphic violence and intentional unresolved cliffhanger has attracted criticism. Variety stated in 1997 that "It's as dark and complex as anything HBO has attempted in the live-action arena. And visually, it's quite the stunner. HBO wanted different, and it surely got it." [3] A more mixed review at the time in 1997 came from The Dallas Morning News , they questioned why anyone would "want to subject themselves to such a relentlessly grim, gruesome dehumanizing experience." [4]


Todd McFarlane's Spawn was ranked 5th on IGN's list of "The Greatest Comic Book Cartoons of All Time", [5] and 23rd on IGN's list of "Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time" (despite the fact the show was aired at midnight on HBO). [6] Series producer Eric Radomski reflected in a retrospective interview that "Spawn TAS was a personal triumph for me. Very rarely do artists get the opportunity to have as much uncensored creative freedom as I did at HBO on Spawn." [7]

John Leekley who served as the head writer and showrunner for the second and third season revealed that some of the ideas for the scrapped fourth season involved the return of Angela looking to avenge the death of Jade who was her previous lover, several one time characters would've returned and had larger roles, a gang war spiraling out of control led by the ruthless Barrabas, Spawn befriending a runaway teenage girl named Kristen with a case of pyrophobia, a now disfigured Wynn looking for redemption, Chapel breaking out of the asylum and winds up a pawn for Angela, Merrimack having to team up with Twitch to save her daughter and most of the characters coming to the realization of Spawn's identity.

A sequel series titled Spawn: The Animation was in development in 2004 and was set to be released in 2007 with Keith David reprising his role, but due to McFarlane wanting to push the animation further, the project ended up in production limbo until it was quietly cancelled. Keith David would go on to reprise Spawn as a guest character for Mortal Kombat 11 in 2019. [8]


The score and opening theme was handled by Shirley Walker, who also composed background music for Batman: The Animated Series . While Batman: The Animated Series featured traditional movie orchestra-type music, the producers of Todd McFarlane's Spawn requested that Walker give the series a more organic and subtle electronic soundtrack, with only minimal usage of orchestral sounds. [7] J. Peter Robinson composed the score for the third and final season.

Home media

All three seasons have been released separately on DVD and VHS as three two-hour movies, under the titles Todd McFarlane's Spawn, Todd McFarlane's Spawn 2, and Todd McFarlane's Spawn 3: The Ultimate Battle.

On July 24, 2007, HBO Video released a 4-disc 10th-anniversary signature collector's edition on DVD with all 18 episodes and multiple bonus features. [9]

When the show's first and second seasons were released on video they were released in two formats. The first format was called the "Uncut Collector's Edition", which is the version that was shown on TV and held a TV-MA rating, and the other was a special edited version called the "Special Edited Edition" which held a PG-13 rating by toning down the violence and sexual content.

The first movie was also released in the UMD format for Sony's PSP handheld video game system, but the other two movies were not.

On July 5, 2016, HBO added all three seasons to its streaming services, HBO GO and HBO NOW. It also available on HBO Max as of 2021.

See also

Related Research Articles

Spawn (character) Fictional character

Spawn is a fictional character appearing in a monthly comic book of the same name published by American company Image Comics, as well as in a number of films, television series, and video game adaptations set in the Image Universe. Created by Todd McFarlane, the character first appeared in Spawn #1.

Todd McFarlane Canadian comic book creator

Todd McFarlane is a Canadian comic book creator, artist, writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur, best known for his work as the artist on The Amazing Spider-Man and as the writer and artist on the superhero horror-fantasy series Spawn.

<i>Tiny Toon Adventures</i> Animated television series

Tiny Toon Adventures is an American animated comedy television series that was broadcast from September 14, 1990 to December 6, 1992 as the first collaborative effort of Warner Bros. Animation and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment after being conceived in the late 1980s by Tom Ruegger. The show follows the adventures of a group of young cartoon characters who attend Acme Looniversity to become the next generation of characters from the Looney Tunes series.

<i>Spawn</i> (1997 film) 1997 film by Mark A.Z. Dippé

Spawn is a 1997 American superhero film based on the Image Comics character of the same name. Directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé, the film stars Michael Jai White in the title role, alongside John Leguizamo, Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle, D. B. Sweeney, and Nicol Williamson in his final film role. The film depicts the origin story of the title character, a murdered US Marine who is resurrected as the reluctant leader of Hell's army. Spawn is one of the first films to feature an African American actor portraying a major comic book superhero.

Hellspawn are fictional supernatural warriors from Todd McFarlane's comic book series, Spawn. The main character in the series, Spawn, is himself a Hellspawn.

Violator (comics)

Violator is a fictional supervillain, who appears in the Spawn comic books published by Image Comics. The character first appeared in Spawn #2 and was created by writer-artist Todd McFarlane. He is by far the most recurring villain of the series and Spawn's archenemy. He is also the maker of the Hellspawns, hence, he trains and keeps tabs on them.


Cogliostro is a fictional character in Todd McFarlane's Spawn comic series, set in the Image Universe. Cogliostro was created in 1993 by author Neil Gaiman and artist Todd McFarlane and introduced in Spawn issue #9. Originally depicted as a supporting character, he becomes an antagonist as the series progresses.

Jason Wynn

Jason Wynn is a fictional supervillain in the Todd McFarlane Image Universe comic book series Spawn. Wynn is the director of the United States Security Group, an umbrella agency encompassing the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and National Security Council. He is perhaps the most powerful man in the world, and has politicians throughout the government on his payroll. His actions caused Al Simmons' soul to be sent to Hell and transformed into Spawn in the first place, making him a major villain in the comics as a result.


Malebolgia is a fictional supervillain appearing as the original main antagonist in comic books featuring the superhero Spawn and later reprise the role in the later issues. Created by writer/artist Todd McFarlane, the character first appeared in Spawn #1. The name Malebolgia is derived from the term in Dante's Inferno used to describe Malebolge, the ditches (bolge) in the eighth circle of Hell, where humans who committed the sin Fraud are punished. He is Spawn's former master who serves as one of the major Lords of Hell.

Necroplasm Fictional magical substance

Necroplasm is a will-controlled magical substance featured in the fictional Spawn universe.

<i>Spawn: In the Demons Hand</i>

Spawn: In the Demon's Hand is a video game developed and published by Capcom for the Dreamcast and arcade. It is based on the comic book character Spawn created by Todd McFarlane and produced by Image Comics. A port was planned for the PlayStation 2 as a launch title but was later canceled.

Mammon (comics)

Mammon is a fictional supervillain from the comic book Spawn. He is Spawn's former ally and is the second primary antagonist, having replaced Malebolgia in that role until #184, in which Malebolgia again takes back this role from Mammon.

Jessica Priest is a fictional character from the Spawn universe. Specifically, Priest serves as a substitute in the Spawn film for Chapel, Al Simmons's killer in the comic book. Priest was played by Melinda Clarke in the film.

Billy Kincaid

Billy Kincaid is a fictional supervillain in Todd McFarlane's Spawn comic book series. He is a child killer and a recurring villain in the series.

<i>Shadows of Spawn</i>

Shadows of Spawn is a licensed Japanese manga adaptation of Todd McFarlane's American Spawn comic series, written and drawn by Juzo Tokoro. It was originally printed in Japan from 1998 to 1999 in the monthly manga magazine Dengeki Comic Gao!, published by MediaWorks. The series retains a number of elements of the original American series, but also exhibits a number of differences from it as well.

The Phlebiac Brothers are antagonists in Todd McFarlane's Spawn series of comic books.

Chapel (character)

Chapel is a fictional supervillain/antihero comic book character appearing in books published by his creator, Rob Liefeld. Liefeld created the character in 1992 as member of the government superhero group Youngblood, which started in their series of the same name.

Nyx is a comic book character created by Brian Holguin who appears in the Spawn series as an ally of Al Simmons (Spawn), and in Bomb Queen as an adversary of the Desarak and ally of Editor Girl. She first appears in Spawn #122. She reappears in issue #169 and plays a major role in subsequent issues, mainly as Spawn's sidekick.

<i>Todd McFarlanes Spawn: The Video Game</i> 1995 video game

Todd McFarlane's Spawn: The Video Game is a video game based on the Spawn comic book character. It was released in the United States and Europe for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System console. Developed by Ukiyotei and published by Acclaim Entertainment and Sony Electronic Publishing in late 1995, it features Al Simmons, Spawn, trying to save the lives of thirteen children in a beat 'em up type of video game. The game received mixed reviews by critics; the graphics were praised while the unoriginality of the game was criticized.


  1. 1 2 "HBO and David Kelley Win Top Early Emmys". The New York Times. August 30, 1999. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  2. Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 857–858. ISBN   978-1476665993.
  3. Ray Richmond (1997-07-20). "Spawn – Variety". Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  4. Kershner, Jim (June 3, 1997). "'Spawn' Storm: Spokane Artist Todd Mcfarlane Always Wanted To Create His Own Comic Book Series, And When He Finally Did, It Became The Hottest Title Of The Decade". The Spokesman Review. Archived from the original on 22 October 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  5. "The Greatest Comic Book Cartoons of All Time - IGN". IGN. Ziff Davis. 2007-01-26. Archived from the original on 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  6. "Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time". IGN. Ziff Davis. 2006-09-28. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
  7. 1 2 Radomski, Eric. "Toon Zone Presents: Todd McFarland's Spawn (HBO)". ToonZone. Archived from the original on 2020-10-19. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  8. Gavin Sheehan (August 27, 2019). "Keith David Confirms He Will Be Spawn In "Mortal Kombat 11"". Bleeding Cool . Archived from the original on August 12, 2021. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  9. "Todd McFarlane's Spawn: The Animated Collection (10th Anniversary Signature Edition)". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2010-12-14.