Xena, that raven-haired, armor-wearing, ancient-times heroine, first appeared in an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys called “The Warrior Princess,” as–gasp—a bad guy. Er…girl. To be more precise, Xena was an evil warlord bent on killing Hercules. Fortunately for Hercules, she had an epiphany and reformed her evil village-destroying ways. She went from pillaging the innocent to protecting them, which just goes to show you, sometimes you can’t judge a warlord by her blood-covered battle-axe.
Where Hercules, a half-god, had brute strength, Xena’s bag was tactical warfare with a penchant for acrobatics and martial arts. Her weapons of choice were her sword and her chakram, a menacing razor-sharp Frisbee-style object. She knew where to pinch and jab pressure points of opponents, she was good with a whip, and best of all, she had got a real taste for her work—she enjoyed the rough and tumble with the bad guys. What else could you want for your fantasy heroine?
But there was a whole lot more to Xena than just the sword and girl power brawn. She had a son whom she rarely saw and used to have one true love who ended up murdered, but on the upside, she opened herself up to companionship in the form of the trusty Gabrielle—a small village girl who gave up a career as a bard to travel the world with Xena. Fans speculated about the exact nature of their relationship, but whatever the case, the chatty and warm Gabrielle made for a good foil to the all-business Xena.
Xena was set in what the show called the “Golden Age” of myth, before ancient Greece or Rome, probably around 1300 B.C. Episodes found her dabbling in the Trojan War, witnessing the Israelites and the Philistines getting their war groove on, watching David fight Goliath, and she also ran into Julius Caesar and Hippocrates in her travels. She and Gabrielle even time traveled to the 1940’s, where they played archeologists who recovered the “Xena Scrolls,” an account of a notorious warrior princess’ adventures.
The series was filmed in New Zealand, where unknown actress Lucy Lawless was plucked for the Hercules guest spot, and later for the series. She was the perfect combination of athleticism and humanism, of mythic hero-type and real lady. And any lady who expertly wields a chakram is just automatically cool, and of course, gives a whole new angle to the game of Ultimate Frisbee.
USA / MCA – Universal – Syndicated/ x50m-e / Broadcast 1995-2000
Creators/Executive Producers: Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert / Producers: Liz Friedman, Eric Gruendemann
Lucy Lawless as Xena
Reneé O’Connor as Gabrielle
Kevin Smith as Ares
Hudson Leick as Callisto (1995-98)
Ted Raimi as Joxer