Xena: Warrior Princess

American–New Zealand fantasy series (1995–2001)

Xena: Warrior Princess is an Emmy Award-winning American cult television series. It was first shown from September 15, 1995 until June 18, 2001.[1] The series was created in 1995 by writer-producers Robert Tapert under his production tag, Pacific Renaissance Pictures LTD. Later, there were co-executive producers. They were Sam Raimi and R. J. Stewart.[2] The series is a spin-off from the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys where Xena (Lucy Lawless) is a minor character.[3] The series tells the story of Xena's quest to seek redemption for her past sins as a ruthless warlord. She uses her fighting skills to help people. Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) becomes Xena's greatest friend, her initial naïveté helps to balance Xena and helps her in seeing and fighting for the "greater good".[4]

Xena: Warrior Princess
GenreSupernatural drama
Created byJohn Schulian
Robert Tapert
R. J. Stewart
StarringLucy Lawless
Renee O'Connor
Country of originUnited States / New Zealand
No. of episodes134
Executive producersRobert Tapert, Sam Raimi
Running time41-44 minutes
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 4, 1995 (1995-09-04) –
May 21, 2001 (2001-05-21)
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Young Hercules

The series usually had between four and four million viewers on original airings.[5] The series has positive reviews from many reviewers. It was ranked #10 on the list of TV Guides Top 25 Cult TV Shows of All Time.[6] It was nominated for Emmy awards.

Xena's success has led to hundreds of tie-in products, including comics, and video games. The series has received attention in fandom (Uberfic), and has influenced the direction of other television series. The cult of the series (Fandom) remains active on the internet today.





The series is a spin-off of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In fact, the saga began with three appearances Xena's special character in episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, entitled The Warrior Princess, The Gauntlet and Unchained Heart.[7] In the first episode, Xena is a killer, but in the third, she joins Hercules to defeat Darphus, who had taken her army. Aware that the character of Xena had been very successful among the public, producers of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys decided to make a series exclusively for it.[8]


The Main Actress, Lucy Lawless.

In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena was played by New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless. The first actress considered to play the part was British actress Vanessa Angel,[9] while actress Sunny Doench[10] was thought to play the role of Gabrielle. However, neither could travel to New Zealand, the country where the series was shot entirely on location. Finally, Lucy Lawless was cast as Xena and Gabrielle was played by the American actress Renee O'Connor.[11]

The American actor and writer Bruce Campbell played Autolycus, King of the alleged thieves, and appeared in eight episodes.[12] After Lawless and O'Connor, Ted Raimi is the actor who plays Joxer, which has more appearances in the series: a total of 42.[13] We continue to Kevin Tod Smith with 31 appearances, Hudson Leick and Karl Urban with 12 and Alexandra Tydings with 11. In the last episode, the eastern star Michelle Ang playing Akemi.

Theme music


The theme music, composed by Joseph LoDuca,[14] who also co-wrote the lyrics for the songs in "The Bitter Suite", was developed from the traditional Bulgarian folk song "Kaval Sviri", and was sung by Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares. In the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode, "Unchained Heart", in which Xena is introduced, the original "Kaval Sviri" is the music used to announce Xena racing into battle.[15]

Original in Bulgarian
Ženata jazdi samotna
Nejnoto minalo srazi ja
Sreštu vojskite ot tămen svjat
Vojuva za dobro tja
Letter in English
The woman rides alone
Her past vanquished her
Against the armies of a dark world
She fights for the good.
Rogovi zvănove idvat
Naprajte păt na voina!
Tăpani bijat văv rităm
Princesata e pak tuka![16]
The sounds of horns approach
Make way for the warrior!
Drums beat in rhythm
The Princess is here again!

Opening Sequence


The opening of Xena had two models during the series, the first was used during the first five seasons,[17] and the second model was used only in the last season.[18] The opening is composed of scenes from the series itself, there is background music to "Opening Sequence", combined with the voice of an announcer speaking a text that remained immutable.

In time of ancient Gods, Warlords and Kings, a land in turmoil cried for a hero, she was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle, the power, the passion, the danger, her courage will change the world[19]

Setting and storylines


Studios and filming locations


Xena Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys were filmed in New Zealand.[20] Of course some places are confidential, but many scenes were recorded in places as spectacular in Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, part of the Auckland Regional parks often credited at the end of the episodes. Most leases are on the west coast, and is approximately 30–40 miles from the centre of Auckland.[21]



Xena: Warrior Princess is considered a simple television series of adventures whose key ingredients are the two protagonists in the series and their psychological development, attractive exterior in New Zealand and music composed by Joseph Loduca.[22] Although the characters and stories in the series predate Christ, themes, emotions and relationships in the series are well connected with the world today. In addition, the series makes a particular interpretation of the ancient world. For example, represents the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, as a girl silly and pampered.[23]

One of the criticisms that more has been done to the series is the inverosimilitud the scenes of combat, as they give the characters impossible cartwheels, walk the walls and even move objects with the mind. Such scenes are inspired by action movies of Hong Kong.The series was also criticized for very often consciously mixing times, facts and historical characters. Thus, it is possible to see both the Greek gods as characters in biblical, Roman, Scandinavian and Eastern Arabs as well as facts so distant in time as the confrontation between David and Goliath,[24] the birth of Jesus,[25] or the battle of Maraton.[26] Finally, another widespread weakness in the series are multiple inconsistencies in their arguments.

The first season of the series was addressed without many pretensions, as the producers did not want to gamble much. During this season abounded plots based on Greek myths and a focus on defining the personality of the two protagonists. In the second season were improved special effects, consolidation of the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle and increased the strength of the stories.[27] As a negative note of the third season, preference was given to the functionality of certain episodes at the expense of stories and the essence of the characters.[28] However, in the fourth season, the level of the series returned to the first two years in terms of quality. In this season there could be seen a transformation in the structure of the stories and treatment of the characters. It accentuated the spiritual dimension of the series and the Greek myths lost relevance in the hatch.[29] The fifth season was a downturn in the quality of the series. This was contributed to by the pregnancy of main actress, Lucy Lawless, forcing producers to introduce a precipitous turn argumentative. The fifth season also means the start of the references to Christianity in the series.[30] Finally, in the sixth season, the level of the series again back: improved special effects and stories, which were accompanied by excellent music by Joseph LoDuca.[31]

Inspirations and Bases


Xena: Warrior Princess was influenced by many factors, as cultures and eras, one of the most widespread were the sources of action movies from Hong Kong, the jumps, breathing fire and the sounds of weapons in the battles were some of the things that mirrored movies. The scene of the lynching of Xena in The Gauntlet is almost identical to the movie The Bride With White Hair. The fight on the stairs with Callisto on Callisto[32] and the fight against Draco in head of villagers[33] also has its roots in the genre, and the sequence The Debt,[34][35] which was almost completely influenced in the genus.[36]

Plot Summary


The show is a historical fantasy set in ancient Greece, although with a flexible time setting, and also features heavy Oriental,[37] Egyptian[38] and Medieval[39] elements in various episodes. The series details the adventures of former Hercules villain Xena (Lucy Lawless), a reformed warlord on a quest to redeem her past sins. Xena is accompanied on her travels by Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) a young woman who becomes her best friend and, eventually, most trusted ally.

The show freely borrows names and themes from various mythologies around the world, primarily the Greek, anachronistically adapting them to suit the demands of the storyline. Historical figures and events from a number of different historical eras and myths make numerous appearances, and the main characters are often credited with resolving important historical situations. These include an encounter with Homer, before he was famous, in which Gabrielle encourages his storytelling aspirations;[40] the fall of Troy;[41] and the capture of Caesar by pirates, with Xena cast as the pirate leader.[42] This quirky mix of timelines and the amalgamation of historical and mythological elements fueled the rise of the show to cult status during the 1990s and early 2000s. It was one of the first shows to tap into its internet following, allowing for fans from all over the world to discuss and suggest things related to the show. The fandom continues to this day.

The show is a mixture of styles, ranging from high melodrama in one episode to slapstick comedy in another, from whimsical to all-out action and adventure in another. Although it is ostensibly set in ancient times, the themes of the show are essentially modern: taking responsibility for past misdeeds, the value of human life, personal liberty and sacrifice, and friendship. The flexible fantasy framework of the show accommodates a considerable range of styles, including an original musical episode, The Bitter Suite.[43] Although the show often addresses ethical dilemmas such as the morality of pacifism, the storylines rarely seek to provide unequivocal solutions.




  • Alti, outcast evil Amazon shamaness, villain, killed several times by Xena, played by Claire Stansfield
  • Amarice, young Amazon wanna-be, killed in battle with cannibals, played by Jennifer Sky
  • Aphrodite, the goddess of love, played by Alexandra Tydings
  • Ares, the god of war, villain became good, played by Kevin Smith
  • Athena, the goddess of wisdom, villain, stabbed in stomach by Xena, played by Paris Jefferson
  • Autolycus, the self-styled king of thieves, played by Bruce Campbell
  • Borias, Xena's ex-lover and the father of Xena's son, Solan, killed in Battle of Corinth, played by Marton Csokas
  • Brutus, right-hand man of Caesar, villain, stabbed by Gabrielle in battle, played by Grant Triplow and later by David Franklin
  • Caesar, Roman leader, love/hate interest for Xena, villain, killed by Roman revolutioneers, played by Karl Urban
  • Callisto, Xena's greatest nemesis, villain became good afterdeath, stabbed in heart by Xena and returned as an angel, played by Hudson Leick
  • Cupid, Aphrodite's son, played by Karl Urban
  • Cyrene, Xena's mother, Burnt in the stake from the villagers, played by Darien Takle
  • Diana one of the various Xena look-alikes played by Lucy Lawless
  • Discord, goddess of discord, villain, decapitated by Xena, played by Meighan Desmond
  • Eli, healer, teacher and prophet of a new religion- he is later to be revealed playing the role Jesus in the series, stabbed by Ares, played by Tim Omundson
  • Ephiny, queen regent of the Amazons, stabbed by Brutus in battle, played by Danielle Cormack
  • Eve, Xena's pacifist daughter, villain became good, played by Adrienne Wilkinson, also called Livia from her dark warrior days.
  • Hades, the god of the underworld, villain, set on fire and burnt to death by Xena, played by Erik Thomson (seasons 1-4); Stephen Lovatt (season 5)
  • Hercules, the demigod credited with turning Xena from evil to good, played by Kevin Sorbo.
  • Hope, the demonic daughter of Gabrielle, villain, stabbed by her son the Destroyer, played by Amy Morrison as a girl and by Renée O'Connor as a young woman
  • Iolaus, Hercules' best friend, played by Michael Hurst.
  • Joxer, the warrior wanna-be, clown-like friend of Xena and Gabrielle, stabbed by Eve, played by Ted Raimi, the producer's brother
  • Lao Ma, Xena's mentor, executed by her son Ming-Tien, played by Jacqueline Kim
  • Meg, a tramp, one of the various Xena look-alikes, played by Lucy Lawless
  • Pompey, the rival of Caesar to Roman Empire throne, villain, decapitated by Xena, played by Jeremy Callaghan
  • Poseidon, god of the sea, villain, evaporated by a fireball deflected by Xena, voiced by Rick Jacobson (appearances 1-2) and Carl Seibert (appearance 3)
  • Salmoneus, the ultimate merchant man with a lax conscience but good heart, played by Robert Trebor
  • Virgil, poet-warrior, adopted son of Joxer and Meg, played by William Gregory Lee



There have been numerous Xena spin-offs into various media including movies, books, comics and video games.



In August 1997 Hercules and Xena: The Battle For Mount Olympus a DTV animated movie was released, featuring the voices of a number of actors from both Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. The movie plot involves Hercules' mother being kidnapped by Zeus and the release of the Titans.[44] Xena and Gabrielle have supporting roles in the movie, and at one point Xena even bursts into song.

Since the end of the series rumors have circulated that a feature-length movie was in the works. In 2003 Screenwriter Katherine Fugate was approached for the project, and was quoted saying that she expects the start of production to be three to five years away, which suggests a release sometime between 2006 and 2009.[45] Actress Lucy Lawless has been quoted in several interviews as saying she would be interested in participating in a Xena movie as well.[46]

Books have been released as tie-ins, including Xena Warrior Princess: Complete Illustrated Companion.[47] There have also been a number of novelizations by authors like Martin H. Greenberg.

A book was also released in 1998, XENA: All I Need to Know I Learned From the Warrior Princess,[48] allegedly written by Gabrielle, Bard of Poteidaia, and was "translated" by Josepha Sherman.[49] It contains Gabrielle's viewpoint on many of the adventures she and Xena embarked on, and also includes eight pages of black-and-white photographs from the show. The book is basically Gabrielle talking about her view of the world on many different subjects. For example, in one of the chapters, "Anything can be a weapon- Anything!", she instructs the reader on fighting without traditional weapons, such as a sword or a staff, and in another, "Nobody likes a winer", she laments on the perils of alcohol.

It also launched The Official Guide to the Xenaverse, by Robert Weisbrot, with photographs in color and black and white, a complete and detailed episode guide to the first two seasons, a look behind the scenes, the intriguing story of the origin of Xena: Warrior Princess, biographies of cast and crew and trivias about the show.

There is also the fictional books, how The Empty Throne, The Huntress and The Sphinx, The Thief Of Hermes, and Prophecy of Darkness. A recent academic monograph on the series is Wim Tigges' Her Courage Will Change the World": An Appraisal of Xena: Warrior Princess, which was self-published through lulu.com.



There have been a number of comic adaptations. The earliest ones were released by Dark Horse Comics and written by Ian Edginton and John Wagner. More recently the license has moved to Dynamite Entertainment.[50]

Video games

  • Electronic Arts published Xena: Warror Princess for the PSone in 1999. Played from a third-person perspective, the game play involves slashing, jumping, and kicking through a variety of primitive 3D environments. Xena can also find and use power-ups and her trademark chakram. Once thrown, the chakram becomes a first-person weapon to guide toward enemies.
  • Saffire published Xena: Warrior Princess: The Talisman of Fate for the Nintendo 64 console in 1999.
  • Xena: Warror Princess for the Game Boy Color was developed and released by Titus Software in 2000.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Death In Chains, a multi-path video game for the PC adapted from and expanding upon the television episode of the same name, although none of the original actors provide their voices.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, another multi-path video game for the PC, again adapted from and expanding upon the television episode of the same name, again without the original voice actors.
  • Xena: Warror Princess for the PS2 only released in Europe in 2007.

Series Information


Awards and Nominations

Awards Outcome
Emmy Awards:
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series Won
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series Nominated
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards:
Top TV Series Won
Top TV Series Won
Top TV Series Won
Top TV Series Won
Top TV Series Won
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films:
Best Genre Cable/Syndicated Series Nominated
Best Genre TV Actress (Lucy Lawless) Nominated[51]
GLAAD Media Awards:
Outstanding TV - Individual Episode Nominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors:
Best Sound Editing in Television Nominated
Best Sound Editing Nominated
Best Sound Editing Nominated
Best Sound Editing Nominated
New Zealand Film and TV Awards:
Best Contribution to Design Nominated[52]

DVDs releases


Anchor Bay Entertainment has released all 6 Seasons as well as the 10th Anniversary Collection of Xena: Warrior Princess on DVD in Region 1 for the first time. The series has also been released on DVD in Region 2 & Region 4. Only Region 1 DVDs contain special features, Regions 2/3/4 do not have any bonus material on them. The Region 2 releases of Season 1 contain the episodes out of order, creating a number of continuity problems when watching them in the order in which they are presented. The order on these DVDs is episode 1, then episodes 10 through 19, then episode 2, then episodes 21 through 24, and finally episodes 3 through 9. There are also several small changes, such as headbutts and claps over the ears.

Season Release Date
Australia Canada/US The Netherlands Norway/Sweden UK/Ireland New Zealand
1 October 12, 2005 April 23, 2003 July 24, 2007 April 27, 2005 June 6, 2005 June 23, 2005
2 October 12, 2005 September 2, 2003 June 16, 2005 August 31, 2005 August 1, 2005 August 24, 2005
3 December 10, 2005 February 10, 2004 September 22, 2005 October 26, 2005 October 3, 2005 September 22, 2005
4 December 10, 2005 June 15, 2004 November 24, 2005 January 11, 2006 November 21, 2005 November 17, 2005
5 December 10, 2005 October 19, 2004 February 23, 2006 March 22, 2006 TBA TBA
6 December 10, 2005 March 8, 2005 April 6, 2006 May 25, 2006 April 3, 2006 April/May/June?, 2006
10th Anniversary Collection June 6 2007 July 26, 2005 TBA TBA June 5, 2006 TBA



Xena: Warrior Princess has been referred to as a pop cultural phenomenon and feminist icon.[53][54][55] The television series, which employed pop culture references as a frequent humorous device, has itself become a frequent pop culture reference in video games, comics and television shows, and has been frequently parodied and spoofed.

Xena: Warrior Princess has been credited by many, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, with blazing the trail for a new generation of female action heroes such as Buffy, Max of Dark Angel, Sydney Bristow of Alias, and the Bride in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.[56]

Xena and Gabrielle's relationship has been cited as one of the reasons why the series has been so popular, coupled with the denials of her character's lesbianism from Lawless while the series was running.[57] U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been nicknamed "Warrior Princess" by her staff.[58]

Fandom and fan movies


The popularity of Xena: Warrior Princess has led to websites, online discussion forums, works of Xena fan fiction and several unofficial fan-made productions.[59]

U.S. Ratings

Season Highest U.S. ratings Network Rank
1 1995-1996 6.1 million USA Network #12
2 1996–1997 7.8 million USA Network #7
3 1997–1998 6.6 million USA Network #9
4 1998–1999 4.9 million USA Network #13
5 1999–2000 4.1 million USA Network #2
6 2000–2001 3.9 million USA Network #2.[60]



In 2005, the team that discovered the dwarf planet 2003 UB313 nicknamed it "Xena" in honor of the TV character. On October 1, 2005, the team announced that 2003 UB313 had a moon, which they had nicknamed "Gabrielle". The objects were officially named Eris and Dysnomia by the International Astronomical Union on September 13, 2006. Although the official names have legitimate roots in Greek mythology, Dysnomia is also Greek for "lawlessness", perpetuating the link with Lucy Lawless.

Influence on the lesbian community


Xena has enjoyed a particular cult status in the lesbian community. Some of the lesbian fan base sees Xena and Gabrielle as a couple and has embraced them as role models and lesbian icons.[61] A group called The Marching Xenas has participated in many gay and lesbian pride parades.[62]

A subject of much interest and debate among viewers is the question of whether Xena and Gabrielle are lovers.[63][64] The issue is left deliberately ambiguous by the show's writers. Jokes, innuendo, and other subtle evidence of a romantic relationship between Xena and Gabrielle is referred to as "lesbian subtext" or simply "subtext" by fans.[63] The issue of the true nature of the Xena/Gabrielle relationship caused intense debates in the fandom, which turned especially impassioned due to spillover from real-life debates about same-sex sexuality and gay rights.[65]

Some fans felt that the sexual nature of Xena and Gabrielle's relationship was cemented by an interview given by Lucy Lawless to Lesbian News magazine in 2003. Lawless stated that after the series finale, where Gabrielle revives Xena with a mouth-to-mouth water transfer filmed to look like a full kiss, she had come to believe that Xena and Gabrielle's relationship was "definitely gay... there was always a 'well, she might be or she might not be' but when there was that drip of water passing between their lips in the very final scene, that cemented it for me. Now it wasn't just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was 'Nope, they're married, man'."[66] However, in the interviews and commentaries on the DVD sets released in 2003-2005, the actors, writers and producers continued to stress the ambiguity of the relationship, and Ares was also considered at least as a potential love interest for Xena.[64]

The Xena fandom also popularized the term Altfic (from "alternative fiction") to refer to same-sex romantic fan fiction.[67] Many fans felt the term slash fiction carried the connotation of being about male/male couples only and was not a good description for romantic fan fiction about Xena and Gabrielle.

Costume donation


In 2006, Lucy Lawless donated her personal Xena costume to the Museum of American History.[68] In an interview the same year with Smithsonian magazine, she was asked the question "Was the Warrior Princess outfit comfortable?" and she responded:

Not at first, because they would put boning in the corset. It would cover up those little floating ribs that are so important for breathing, so I'd feel like I was having panic attacks. But it just became a second skin after a while. It was very functional, once I got over the modesty factor. I admit to being a little bit embarrassed the first couple weeks because I'd never worn anything so short.

— Lucy Lawless, Smithsonian, November 2006, page 44




Uberfic is a kind of alternative universe fan fiction in which characters or events are portrayed somewhat closely to original canon but usually in a different time period, many times featuring the ancestors, descendants or reincarnations of canon characters. The term originated in Xena: Warrior Princess fandom. This sort of story was used by the series itself, beginning with the second-season episode "The Xena Scrolls".[70]


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