During the Great Depression, an Oklahoma farm boy and a charismatic minister learn that they are key players in a proxy war being fought between Heaven and Hell.


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Top Rated TV #204 | Won 5 Primetime Emmys. Another 9 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »


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Series cast summary:
...  Samson 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Ruthie 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Brother Justin Crowe 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Lila 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Clayton 'Jonesy' Jones 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Sofie 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Rita Sue Dreifuss 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Libby Dreifuss 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Felix 'Stumpy' Dreifuss 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Iris Crowe 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Ben Hawkins 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Gabriel 24 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Apollonia 18 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Professor Ernst Lodz 16 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Reverend Norman Balthus 16 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Henry 'Hack' Scudder 15 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Burley 14 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Tommy Dolan 13 episodes, 2003-2005
...  Gecko 12 episodes, 2003
Karyne Steben ...  Alexandria 12 episodes, 2003
...  Varlyn Stroud 12 episodes, 2005
Sarah Steben ...  Caladonia 12 episodes, 2003
...  Osgood 12 episodes, 2003-2005


1934, America. The Dustbowl. A fugitive named Ben Hawkins finds refuge within a traveling carnival comprised of a tarot card reader and her catatonic/telekinetic mother, a blind mentalist, a bearded lady, and conjoined twins, amongst others. The carnival is owned by the mysterious and unseen Management, who has designs on the young Hawkins, for the boy is concealing an untapped gift: he can heal the lame and raise the dead--at a price. Ben also finds himself disturbed by cryptic and prophetic dreams, which he shares with a Methodist preacher in California, Brother Justin Crowe. Brother Justin, convinced by his dreams he is following God's will, has begun to practice his own extraordinary talents, although the preacher's plans increasingly lead to disturbing and tragic consequences. In this "last great age of magic," Ben Hawkins and Justin Crowe are moving toward a great conflict between Good and Evil, although it not yet clear on which sides these men will stand. Written by matta2k

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Into each generation is born a creature of light and a creature of darkness. See more »


TV-MA | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

14 September 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La feria ambulante  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Both John Aylward and Clancy Brown appeared on several episodes of the TV series ER. See more »


Sofie consistently deals Tarot cards incorrectly. When shown taking cards from the deck and placing them face-up on the table, she always turns them lengthwise, thereby inverting the card from its position in the deck. Since a Tarot card has a different meaning if upside-down, cards should always be turned over sideways, so that if they are right-side-up in the deck, they remain so in the spread. See more »


[Samson has just hinted to Rita Sue that he killed Stangler]
Samson: You can only know a man so much.
See more »


Referenced in Man Seeking Woman: Lizard (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Faith & The Carnivale
19 September 2006 | by See all my reviews

HBO's Carnivale was and is an amazing television series. Beautifully presented, well written, well cast and undeniably unique. Carnivale allows us to escape to a not so distant time and an existing place, yet it's the circumstance that brings it all to life in wonderfully supernatural fashion.

Predominantly following the stories of two men - One of great faith and honour and one with little faith or belief in anything, the carnival is the catalyst in the inevitable meeting of these two souls and it is the series that maps this journey. Yet it is not until deep into the series that we come to realise the importance of these men and the consequences of their abilities and eventual meeting.

Stellar performances from Clancy Brown(Justin), Nick Stahl(Ben), Clea Duvall(Sofie) and co. bring to life unusual yet brilliant characters in the forms of priests, healers, psychics, snake charmers etc. Who all play significant roles in what is almost a chess battle of good and evil, yet as the viewer we are left to determine who the kings and queens are and strangely - who is good and who is evil?

As far as comparisons go, the moment Michael J.Anderson(Samson) appears on screen he is instantly recognisable from his role as 'The man from another place' in Lynch and Frost's 'Twin Peaks'. Although each show shares paranormal elements the stories are very far apart with Peaks taking a much more comedic approach. Each show has an enchanting, memorable quality but sadly the most similar aspect between the two - They were both cancelled prematurely!

So that brings us to faith. Faith that the powers that be will one day offer us some resolve in what was arguably one of the most fascinating TV series in recent years. Faith in the millions of other like myself who loved the show, to go out and purchase the box sets, sign the petitions and make it known that Dan Knaufs Carnivale is a great story that deserves to be told - in full!

If you haven't seen this show then I implore you to do so. The story itself is compelling, the characters are original and it's a very bright and colourful show to watch. By sticking with Carnivale you are rewarded with twists, turns and revelations and by the 'current' finale you are left begging and pleading for more. If we never see beyond season 2 then so be it, But I hope this show, in due time, get's the recognition and praise it truly deserves. Thankyou to the creators. I still have faith in a return!


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