Samurai Jack is an American animated television series created by animator Genndy Tartakovsky that originally aired on Cartoon Network from 2001 to 2004, with reruns airing until 2008. Reruns also aired on Cartoon Network's sister channel, Boomerang, on a frequent basis, until the series returned to the Toonami block for reruns in February 2014. A new season will air on Adult Swim's Toonami block beginning on March 11, 2017. The series finale aired on May 20, 2017.
Samurai Jack tells the story of a young prince (Jack) from Feudal Japan whose father's empire is destroyed by the shape shifting demon Aku. As a child, the prince escapes destruction and travels the world training his mind and his body for years until he reaches adulthood, becoming a legendary samurai. After taking his father's magic katana, he challenges Aku to a duel and defeats the demon. However, before the prince can deal the killing blow, Aku creates a time portal and sends his opponent into the distant future, anticipating that he would be able to amass sufficient power to deal with the samurai later. He arrives in a dystopian, futuristic Earth ruled by Aku and filled with his robot minions and a large number of alien immigrant races of various appearances. The first people he encounters in the future call him "Jack" as a form of slang, which he adopts as his name (his true given name is never mentioned in the series).
Standard episodes follow Jack's search for a way to travel back to his own time, where he hopes to stop Aku before these events come to pass. The cartoon depicts Jack's quest to find a time portal, while constantly facing obstacles set by Aku in a classic battle of Good versus Evil. Typically each time Jack believes he has reached the end of his quest, something causes him to dramatically miss his chance. In one attempt Jack locates a stable portal to the past, but the guardian of the portal (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) defeats him after a long but noticeably mismatched battle. The guardian is about to crush Jack when the portal starts to flicker and glow, seemingly giving the guardian a message; the guardian has a giant pterodactyl take the unconscious Jack away. After Jack leaves, the guardian states that it is not yet time for him to return to the past, and an image of what is implied to be an older Jack is then seen in the portal; indicating that Jack is predestined to succeed, but it will take years for him to do so.
Samurai Jack takes place in a world where science and technology have developed far beyond what is available in the present day, and in some ways resembles magic on its own. However, despite scientific advances, the future is decidedly dystopian—for example, in one episode the mafia profits greatly from the sale of simple water. Aliens, bounty hunters, and robots are plentiful, and always ready for a fight. The leader of this world is Aku.
While the setting is distinctly futuristic and technological, instances of mythology and supernatural events do occur. Mythologies, like Valhalla, and even supernatural forces, such as demonic enemies, make regular appearances, yet do not seem to stand out amongst the technologically advanced inhabitants. Aku himself is supernatural, as is Jack's sword.
Stories take place in a variety of locations. Ranging from beautiful wilderness to futuristic or even dystopian cities, there is often a stark contrast made between the industrial world and the natural world.