Penguins Behind Bars (found Adult Swim exclusive pilot of animated series; 2003)

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An ad for the pilot.

Status: Found

Date found: 20 Dec 2017

Found by: Anonymous

Penguins Behind Bars is a pilot created for Adult Swim that aired in 2003. It was adapted from a 1989 novel of the same name by Janet Perlman.


The pilot of Penguins Behind Bars follows the story of Doris Fairfeather, a female penguin who is framed by her "boyfriend" Charlie Abaloney as a pearl stealer and was sentenced to ten years in Knockwurst penitentiary. In there, she met a few other jailbirds such as Madam Milly, an experienced jailer, and Flotsam, a much crazier jailbird. There are other important characters in the pilot special as well, such as Matron Hruffwater, one of the wardens and side antagonists, and Babs and her "slave-girls", who serve as the main antagonists to Doris. In the prison, Doris discovers that Charlie is running for mayor of the unnamed town, and it is up to Doris to solve that problem along with other problems with adjusting to a new setting.


The animated pilot was only aired once in 2003, and due to poor ratings it wasn't greenlighted or aired again. Creator Janet Perlman stated that she didn't have the right to release the short itself; it was up to Cartoon Network because they owned it. Purchasable copies have appeared online, however, it is unknown if these are legitimate copies or not.

Besides a couple of trailers, not much was known about the pilot until September 20th, 2016, when YouTuber (and somewhat frequent LMW user) Rebeltaxi made a video called "Top 6 LOST, UNFINISHED, BANNED Cartoons & Anime, Vol 2". In the video, he talked about what he had seen during the only airing of the pilot, along with some of his own opinions about it. He also made a transcript of what went on in the episode.[1]


On December 20th, 2017, a Tumblr user named ken--f posted a blog post on Pan-Pizza's Tumblr page who says that his friend who works at a university in Canada found the entire pilot and leaked it online in a jumpshare link. YouTuber vulgar managed to re-upload the pilot onto his channel on December 21st, 2017, after access to the link was temporarily disabled for a short period. The video was removed by a copyright claim by Turner EST on August 10th, 2018, but on August 21st, 2018, Adult Swim officially uploaded the pilot on their website.



A sizzle reel of the events in Penguins Behind Bars.


Rebeltaxi's video on "Lost Unfinished and Banned Pieces of Cartoons and Anime" where he posted what he remembered from Penguins Behind Bars.

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