Religion in HBO's Carnivàle

The Story of Carnivàle

 “Into each generation is born a creature of light and a creature of darkness.”


Carnivàle was created for the network HBO by Daniel Knauf who also doubled as the shows’ executive producer. It ran for two seasons from 2003 to 2005. While the show was intended to run for six seasons in order to fulfill all the intended storyline that was written, HBO announced on May 11, 2005 that it was canceling Carnivàle after just 24 episodes due to low ratings and increasing production costs. This abrupt canceling resulted in the incompletion of the majority of the shows’ intricate storylines. Despite being cancelled so early, the show was nominated for 25 awards and won 14 including five Primtime Emmys. (


Carnivàle is set in the United States during the Great Depression. The story follows a traveling carnival across the “Dust Bowl”, which consisted of the American Great Plains where dust storms due to drought were fairly common.The story mainly focuses on teenager Ben Hawkins as well as the evangelist Brother Justin Crowe. The carnival contains such attractions as a bearded lady, tarot reader, Siamese twins, and a psychic, among others. With every episode an encroaching theme of good verses evil becomes more and more prevalent due to Ben Hawkins hidden gift of healing and Brother Justin’s devout belief that he’s meant to follow and preach the will of God at any cost.




 Nick Stahl - Ben Hawkins

Clancy Brown - Brother Justin Crowe

Michael J. Anderson - Samson

Clea DuVall - Sofie

Tim DeKay - Jones

Adrienne Barbeau - Ruthie

Debra Christofferson - Lila

Brian Turk - Gabriel

John Carroll Lynch - Varlyn Stroud

Amy Madigan - Iris

John Savage - Scudder

Ralph Waite - Rev. Balthus

Toby Huss - Stumpy

Cynthia Ettinger - Rita Sue

Carla Gallo – Libby



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