In the year 994 AD, a medieval castle in Scotland is attacked by a band of Vikings led by Hakon. One of his men expresses misgivings about attacking a castle full of gargoyles this close to sunset, but Hakon angrily silences him before ordering a full-scale charge, with him personally grappling up to the highest turret. When the sun goes down, the gargoyles come to life and drive the Vikings off, with Hakon bearing witness personally to the awakening of the leader of the Wyvern Clan, Goliath, who makes it clear the Vikings are not welcome in the castle. Afterward, the Captain presents Goliath to be honored by Princess Katharine, the ruler of Castle Wyvern. It's revealed that the human inhabitants dislike the gargoyles, except the captain, due to regarding them as "unnatural creatures" and instead of paying Goliath respect, the Princess insults Goliath, to the ire of both Goliath's mate and the captain. Goliath is shown to be tolerant of this attitude. The next day, a hooded man rides to the Vikings' camp and offers Hakon a bargain that will deliver Castle Wyvern into his hands. That night, the captain and Goliath's mate urge him to go after the Vikings with the entire gargoyle clan to finish them off. Goliath refuses and instead intends to bring the clan's previous leader with him to finish the job. Meanwhile, the clan's watchdog and three of its younger members meet a boy named Tom, who likes the gargoyles. This meeting causes a fight between the four gargoyles and the humans, which is broken up by Goliath, who banishes the four gargoyles to the rookery. Goliath then leaves with his mentor. Meanwhile, the traitor cuts the strings of the castle's bows. Goliath and his mentor find the Vikings, only to realize they had followed a decoy group, and realize too late they have been led away from the castle when the sun comes up, leaving the castle wide open for attack by Hakon and the main Viking army. Hakon orders his men to attack. The castle guards try to stop them, but their bows' strings snap, as was intended by the traitor, who opens the castle gates and lets the Vikings in. Princess Katherine appeals to the captain, who is revealed to be the traitor. Castle Wyvern falls to the Vikings, and all the human residents of the castle, refugees and nobles alike, are taken prisoner and led away by the triumphant Vikings. Hakon asks him why he betrayed his kind, the captain retorts "They're not my kind." Hakon decides to smash the gargoyles. The captain tries to stop him, but Hakon won't listen. When Goliath and his mentor arrive back at the castle, they find it has fallen and their clan has been massacred.
Goliath and his mentor return to the castle and find their clan has been smashed during the day. Finding three of their younger surviving comrades, those being the ones Goliath had banished to the rookery earlier, they plan vengeance on Hakon, his Vikings, and the castle's Captain of the Guard who had betrayed them, and lay siege to the Vikings' main camp to rescue Katherine, the Magus, and the other human residents of Castle Wyvern. However, during the siege, Hakon and the captain flee with Katherine, and while Goliath pursues them, the others remain behind, only to be confronted by the Magus. Believing the princess was killed in the attack, the Magus curses the Gargoyles into their stone sleep until the castle rises above the clouds, only to discover afterward he acted prematurely, blinded by his anger and grief, when he prepares to do the same to Goliath, only to see Goliath saved Katherine, causing the Magus to recoil in guilt and shame at what he had done. Goliath furiously demands he reverse the spell, but he cannot reverse it as the page carrying the counter-spell had been burned earlier by Hakon. Goliath reunites Princess Katherine and the Magus and, unwilling to live without his family, asks him to cast his spell on him. The Magus agrees, and shortly afterward, Castle Wyvern is abandoned by Katherine, the Magus, Tom, and Tom's mother Mary, who flee with the rookery eggs for safer havens.
Having been awakened in Manhattan in the year 1994 by industrialist David Xanatos as he rebuilt Castle Wyvern atop the Eyrie Building, thus fulfilling the requirement to break the curse, a furious battle breaks out, causing detective Elisa Maza to investigate and discover, then befriend, Goliath. Xanatos informs Goliath that three important computer disks had been stolen during the raid by his rival company Cyberbiotics and implores their help to retrieve them.
Goliath and Elisa decide to name the former leader Hudson after the Hudson River before going to explore the city. In Central Park, Goliath and Elisa are ambushed by the men who had attacked the castle. Goliath turns to stone, and Elisa saves his life by drawing the guards away from him. It is revealed that Goliath's mate had survived the attack on the castle as well, and in thanks, agrees to retrieve the data disks. The younger Gargoyles who survived with Goliath and Hudson name themselves Brooklyn, Lexington, and Broadway, while they name the canine Gargoyle Bronx.
The clan goes to retrieve the data disks from three locations belonging to Cyberbiotics. Hudson goes to an underground Cyberbiotics bunker with Bronx, Brooklyn, Broadway, and Lexington attack a Cyberbiotics tower on land, while Demona and Goliath take the Cyberbiotics airship, Fortress I, which Demona mercilessly sets to crash before they escape. After Elisa discovers and tells Goliath about Xanatos' deception, he reveals robotic Gargoyles dubbed the Steel Clan to kill the group. Demona also reveals her name and her allegiances both with the Captain at Wyvern and with Xanatos. When both she and Elisa are put in danger, Goliath must choose who to save.
Gargoyles the Movie: The Heroes Awaken was the direct-to-video animated movie re-cut of the five episodes, edited into one long feature film, approximately 90 minutes in length. As a result, numerous scenes were cut from the original broadcast episodes due to time constraints. Also, several scenes were moved around and some dialogue was changed. This version of the pilot was released to Laserdisc and VHS on January 31, 1995, and featured an interactive VHS/LD board game.
As the full-length episodic version of "Awakening" was released to DVD as part of the Gargoyles: The Complete First Season DVD set, the condensed movie version is unlikely to be released independently again.
- Thom Adcox Hernandez as Lexington
- Edward Asner as Hudson
- Jeff Bennett as Brooklyn, Magus, and Owen
- Clancy Brown as Hakon
- J.D. Daniels as Tom
- Keith David as Goliath
- Bill Fagerbakke as Broadway
- Jonathan Frakes as David Xanatos
- Patrick Fraley as Brendan
- Ed Gilbert as Captain
- Peter Renaday as Commander
- Salli Richardson as Elisa
- Marina Sirtis as Demona
- Kath Soucie as Princess Katharine
- Frank Welker as Bronx
- Contains the debuts of:
- Because the direct-to-video version of the first five episodes was released as a full-length film, we don't hear Xanatos say in the film, "Pay a man well enough, he'll walk barefoot into Hell."
- Typical of the series' daring dark tone, when Goliath has the Magus cast the stone sleep spell on him, he is effectively committing suicide considering the only way to be revived would be for the seemingly impossible requirement that the castle would have to "rise above the clouds." Of course, the series gets away with this since the story quickly moves to the present day where David Xanatos arranges for that exact situation to happen when he has the castle moved to the top of his Eyrie Building which is so tall that the top is above Manhattan's cloud cover.
- One of the programs that can be seen on the castle's TV as Hudson changes channels is The Lion King's opening sequence.
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