1 9 9 5 – 2 0 0 1 (USA)
134 x 60 minute episodes
“In a time of ancient gods, warriors and kings, a land in turmoil cried out for a hero. She was Xena, a mighty warrior princess forged in the heat of battle. The power, the passion, the danger. Her courage will change the world.”
The success of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys brought this spin-off series that ultimately proved more popular than the original.
Xena (Lucy Lawless) – sexy, muscular, tall, and dressed in leather – was an evil warrior princess who battled Hercules, but in her last appearance on his series, she vowed to change her ways.
She left her home in Amphipolis and travelled from place to place helping those in trouble, wielding a sword and a chakram – a razor-sharp discus-like weapon which she hurled at enemies with astonishing speed.
Also in her bag of tricks were acrobatic flips, karate-style blows, and the ‘Xena touch’ – a two-fingered pinch on the neck with which she extracted information from otherwise uncooperative antagonists.
Travelling with her, and sometimes adding comic relief, was Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor, pictured below left) who suspiciously resembled – and sometimes talked like – a modern ‘valley girl’.
It had been suggested that Xena and Gabrielle were lesbians, but although Gabrielle told Xena she loved her and vice versa, they never kissed.
Joxer (Ted Raimi) was their well-meaning but klutzy friend who showed up frequently to ‘help’. Argo was Xena’s horse.
One recurring villainess was Callisto (Hudson Leick) – sent to Hades after being defeated by Xena – who returned in various forms to give her trouble. “I smell burning” is the phrase Xena used to indicate that Callistro was near (a reference to the fire which killed Callisto’s family when Xena raided the village of Sera many years ago).
Seen occasionally, as they were on Hercules, were Autolycus (Bruce Campbell), the conniving prince of thieves, and Ares (Kevin Smith), the god of war.
During the 1997-1998 season, Gabrielle’s evil daughter, Hope, born of her mother’s unwilling union with the sinister deity Dahak, murdered Xena’s son and was apparently poisoned. At the end of the season, she returned, emerging from a cocoon and looking exactly like Gabrielle.
Her mission was to serve Dahak and prepare for his New World Order in which all goodness would be snuffed out.
In the battle that ensued, Gabrielle sacrificed herself by leaping into a bottomless pit in order to save Xena, and Callisto, henchperson of Hope and Ares, was stabbed to death by Xena.
Xena and Gabrielle were eventually reunited after Xena managed to get Hope’s dying monster child to kill Hope by mistake, freeing Gabrielle.
In May 1999 Xena and Gabrielle saved the Amazons from Caesar, with Amarice (Jennifer Sky), a young Amazon, joining them. Caesar sought revenge on Xena and allied himself with Callisto, who wanted to make sure Xena went to Hades.
Xena and Gabrielle were captured by Caesar’s men and crucified on the same day Brutus assassinated him.
At the end of the episode, their spirits transcended their crucifixion.
Joxer arrived to take Xena and Gabrielle’s bodies back to Greece but their spirits were caught in an afterlife battle between demons and angels. Gabrielle was taken by a demon, and Xena went after her.
Xena eventually found out she was pregnant (as was star Lucy Lawless in real life) and Callisto – now a resident of Heaven and Xena’s new spirit guide and conscience (do try and keep up) – revealed that she was about to be reincarnated as Xena’s child and had been responsible for the pregnancy in the first place.
According to legend, when Xena’s child, not begotten by man, is born, it will mean the end of the rule of the gods. Zeus – unsurprisingly – wants to kill the unborn child but Hercules, with the help of Hera, fights to prevent it and kills his father to keep him from killing Xena’s baby, Eve.
Most of the other gods then take after Xena and the sprog, because only by killing Eve can they prevent their own destruction. Xena fakes her own death (and Gabrielle’s) so well that Ares places their bodies in secret crypts of ice in which they spend the next 25 years in a form of suspended animation . . .
They wake up. Eve (Adrienne Wilkinson) is grown up and calling herself Livia, shagging Ares and fighting for the Roman legions. Xena fights her daughter in the arena but refuses to kill her.
Livia goes off in a strop, kills Joxer, tries to kill Xena, sees the light and wanders off realising she is actually Eve (still with me?)
More fighting . . . Xena kills some gods . . . Ares become a powerless mortal . . . Xena visits the Vikings . . . helps Beowulf . . . something about a ring . . . blah blah blah . . . Gabrielle is the queen of the Amazons . . . yadda yadda . . . Xena suddenly remembers she killed 40,000 people in her younger days and is beheaded by Japanese soldiers.
In the last scene, Xena’s spirit promises to always be at Gabrielle’s side . . . Filmed in New Zealand . . . The End.