Astronauts embark on a surreal survival odyssey in new series 'Scavengers Reign' (exclusive)

a human figure looks at a piece of broken technology while surrounded by alien-looking plants
A still from "Scavengers Reign." (Image credit: Max Originals)

One of the most terrifying worst-case scenarios for any off-world astronaut mission would be getting stranded on an alien world.

That's exactly what happens in Max's wild new adult animated series, "Scavengers Reign," which launches its 12-episode series on Oct. 19. Judging from the previews we've seen, strange planetary adventures have never been more surreal.

Originating from "Scavengers," Joe Bennett and Charles Huettner's oddly silent sci-fi short that first aired on Adult Swim's Toonami program back in 2016, "Scavengers Reign" takes the source material's premise of desperate astronauts stranded on the weird world of Vesta Minor who learn to harness the local flora and fauna. It soon expands its scope into a hallucinatory series centered around human ingenuity, perception, alien ecology and survival.

Related: Upcoming sci-fi TV shows for 2023 & beyond

Here's the official synopsis:

"The remaining crew of a damaged interstellar freighter ship find themselves stranded on a beautiful, yet unforgiving alien planet where they must survive long enough to escape or be rescued. As the survivors struggle to locate their downed ship and missing crewmates, their new home reveals a hostile world allowed to thrive without human interference."

Co-created and executive produced by animators, writers, and directors Bennett and Huettner, "Scavengers Reign" was initially unwrapped at this past June's Annecy Animation Festival in France. Benjy Brooke ("Love, Death + Robots") acts as supervising director with executive producers Chris Prynoski, Antonio Canobbio, Shannon Prynoski, and Ben Kalina for Titmouse.

Promotional art for "Scavengers Reign." (Image credit: Max)

"The series is actually very loosely based off the short and our goal was to retain the same kinds of foliage, environment and creatures - essentially it is the same planet we saw in the short," Bennett tells "With this version of the narrative, we made characters that have dialogue and we had to give them a story-arc so it was all about planning how they interweave with each other throughout the season."

One of the biggest influences for Bennett and Huettner was the Youtube channel "Primitive Technology," where a resourceful man builds a variety of things such as a bow & arrow, a kiln, and other items of that nature in the middle of nowhere in New Zealand, completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials whatsoever. 

two human figures explore the roots of a giant tree rising from red soil as alien dragonfly-looking creatures soar overhead

Promotional art for "Scavenger's Reign." (Image credit: Max Original)

"I think I was really inspired by how he shows you the entire process of each assembly, from beginning to end including every step," he adds. "Animal documentaries were an inspiration for the design of the creatures as well - shows like 'Blue Planet' and 'Planet Earth.' As far space goes - most of the show takes place on the planet, but we did our best to stay true to the things we know about. For instance - there's no sound design for the scenes in space as we know there is only silence in reality."

"Scavengers Reign" debuts on Max with three episodes on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023 followed by three episodes released weekly through Nov. 9.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.