[[quoteright:320:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hercules.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:320:Herc and his [[HoYay li'l buddy]] Iolaus.]]

->''"This is the story of a time long ago, [[TheTimeOfMyths a time of myth and legend]], when [[JerkassGods the ancient gods were petty and cruel]], and they plagued mankind with suffering. Only one man dared to challenge their power: '''Hercules!'''''

->''Hercules possessed a [[SuperStrength strength the world had never seen,]] a strength surpassed only by the power of his heart. He [[WalkingTheEarth journeyed the Earth]], battling the [[{{mooks}} minions]] of his {{wicked stepmother}} Hera, the all-powerful queen of the gods.''

->''But wherever there was evil, [[WeHelpTheHelpless whenever an innocent would suffer]], there would be '''Hercules!"'''''

''Hercules: The Legendary Journeys'' followed the life of the legendary hero played by Creator/KevinSorbo throughout ancient Greece as he fought tyrants, monsters, and the machinations of the Olympian gods with the help of his trusty sidekick Iolaus. It never took itself too seriously, it started out cheesy and got campier and campier as it went on, but it retained a good sense of humor throughout its run (And it had a [[SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic kickass theme song]]). ''Hercules'' was closely tied to its spinoff ''Series/XenaWarriorPrincess'', which soon overshadowed it in popularity. It also spawned [[SpinoffBabies another spinoff]], ''Series/YoungHercules'', starring a young RyanGosling, which didn't fare quite as well.

The show began life as a series of TV movies which proved successful enough to go on to a series (which had a good deal of cosmetic and thematic differences, the events of the movies were not referred to in the show proper), and being filmed in New Zealand gave it an unprecedented level of SceneryPorn that other shows couldn't manage. It put a new spin on GreekMythology, deliberately avoiding the white togas normally associated with this time period. It was delightfully tongue-in-cheek (including a hearty serving of {{Anachronism Stew}} and lots of awful {{Pun}}s) and impressively epic in its scope, using a lot of WireFu action sequences. It was also one of the first television series to make extensive use of [[SerkisFolk CG creatures.]]

It was executive produced by Creator/SamRaimi of ''Franchise/EvilDead'' fame, who would later go on to direct the ''{{Film/Spider-Man}}'' movies. Speaking of ''Evil Dead'', Creator/BruceCampbell directed a few episodes (Including the series finale), and played Autolycus. As an interesting note, the writing duo Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci got their start on this show, and have continued to complete a nerd trifecta of scripting movies for ''MissionImpossible'', ''[[TransformersFilmSeries Transformers]]'' and ''Film/StarTrek.''

Incidentally, although the series ended two years before ''Xena: Warrior Princess'', Kevin Sorbo's final appearance as Hercules was on the spinoff's "God Fearing Child."

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!!This series provides examples of:

* AccidentalMisnaming: A RunningGag in "War Bride" is Princess Melissa constantly getting Iolaus' name wrong and calling him "Iolfus." She gets it right in the end, though Hercules can't resist a little fun with it himself.
-->'''Hercules:''' I was just starting to get used to "Doofus."\\
'''Iolaus:''' Hey, that's "Iolfus."
* ActingForTwo: "Yes, Virginia, There is a Hercules" had Kevin Smith portray both Ares and show writer Jerry Patrick Brown. One particular shot used DoubleVision. Kevin Smith also played Hercules' full human brother Iphicles.
** Michael Hurst played Iolaus and a look-alike distant cousin in "King For A Day" and "Long Live The King." The one time he played Iolaus and Charon in the same episode was "Highway To Hades." He also played Widow Twanky and while Iolaus never appeared in those episodes, Hurst did play a one-scene homeless man role in Twanky's last appearance.
** And Kevin Sorbo in the episodes containing Herc's EvilCounterpart from a MirrorUniverse "The Sovereign".
** Alexandra Tydings played Aphrodite and Katherine, a pig that was turned into a woman.
* AlasPoorVillain: When Strife is killed by Callisto in "Armageddon Now," ''Ares'' is visibly upset:
-->"He wasn't so bad. He-he tried real hard. He was just no good at his job." ''(to Callisto)'' "You didn't have to do this!"
* AdaptationalAttractiveness: Hephaestus is supposed to be quite disfigured, but when he appears he just has some burn scars on the side of his face which don't detract much from his attractiveness. He's actually kind of cute, as Aphrodite attests.
* AllAmazonsWantHercules: No kidding.
** Seriously, if a trope mentions "amazons" in its title, it probably showed up in this series. Or in the spinoff, ''Series/XenaWarriorPrincess''.
* AppleOfDiscord[=/=]HowDoYouLikeThemApples: The golden apple makes an appearance in the episode "The Apple", but strangely it's one of Aphrodite's little toys instead of Discord's. Aphrodite actually says the phrase "how d'you like them apples?" when she incites a war in order to wipe out shrines set up in rival kingdoms to her sisters Artemis and Athena. Hercules makes an IronicEcho of the phrase when he uses the apple's power to make the two sides at peace.
* AmazonianBeauty: Atalanta. Played by RealLife AmazonianBeauty Cory Everson to boot.
* AnachronismStew : Where to begin... probably that it was done intentionally for RuleOfFunny. Apparently, the big rule in the writers room was "Anything B.C." though even that seems to go out the window pretty early, as season 3 episode 9 "A Star To Guide Them" has Hercules and Iolaus witness [[UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}} the birth of Jesus]].
* AncientGrome: Hercules goes by his Roman name; all the other gods go by their Greek names.
** Possibly because his Greek name, Heracles, has the ironic meaning "Hera's Glory." Even if people do not know the meaning, it would sound odd to have his name sound so similar to hers.
** Except Cupid who also goes by his more well-known Roman name rather than the actual Greek Name Eros.
** Eris. You don't know who is Eris? Yup, that's exactly why she went as "Discord". (Same for Strife, who is neither Phobos nor Deimos.)
* AndIMustScream: In "Descent," Hercules discovers Dumuzi (gatekeeper to the Sumerian Underworld) is using human souls as nourishment.
* AndStarring: After becoming a regular, Michael Hurst had a "Also Starring" credit. And as seasons wore on, Bruce Campbell and Robert Trebor got this kind of treatment - varying between "And ... as" or "Special Guest Star."
* AnimatedAdaptation: A Crossover with XenaWarriorPrincess called ''Battle for Mount Olmypus''
* ApeShallNeverKillApe: Despite their supposed immortality, the Olympians are powerful enough to kill each other. To prevent ensuing chaos, however, Zeus long ago forbid the Olympians from ever doing so and promised severe punishment for any that do. He later included Hercules into this rule to protect him from his godly enemies.
** This might be more so because of 2 factors. Firstly, there are a few ways to kill Gods with special items that can be used on any God, and the last thing Zeus wants is certain individuals looking for those items, squabbling over them, and them falling into the hands of his enemies; and secondly, a ''real'' all-out fight between Gods would probably wreck most of Greece, if they were lucky. This also means that Gods who try to thwart Hercules can only do so in a certain, scope, to avoid killing him.
* ArchangelMichael: Appears in the appropriately titled fifth season finale, "Revelations." This version of the character (along with his actor) later had appearances on ''[[XenaWarriorPrincess Xena]]''.
* TheArtifact- This part of the opening narration: "He journeyed the earth battling the minions of his wicked stepmother Hera the all powerful Queen of the Gods" while this is true in the Action Pack movies and the first two seasons to an extent, Ares takes over the rule of BigBad midway through season 3, Hera appears in the season 4 finale but gets sealed off with Dahak becoming the new Big Bad in season 5 yet the narration always stays the same.
* AscendedExtra: Iolaus. When the character died in the first TV-Movie, ''Hercules and the Amazon Women'', he was originally going to stay dead. But Michael Hurst impressed the producers with his performance, so they re-wrote the ending to leave Iolaus alive. The only reason Iolaus doesn't appear in the next three movies is because they were written before the change was made. Iolaus returned in the fifth movie and was a recurring character in the first two seasons before becoming a regular in Season 3.
* AssholeVictim: Strife, who made frequent trips across the MoralEventHorizon, and was quite amused about it too.
* BackFromTheDead: Iolaus, repeatedly. Lampshaded in "For Those Of You Just Joining Us" after Rob Tapert suggests killing Iolaus again, as Liz Friedman responds, "How original. We've only done it twice already."
** Iolaus lampshades this himself when he is bitten by a vampire:
-->"Am I dead again?"
** Played for much drama with Iolaus in a later season when he dies and stays dead saving Hercules' life. When Hercules finally returns home to Greece an arc and a half later, Iolaus is up and walking around, [[GodOfEvil but things aren't exactly what they appear to be at first...]]
* BadassNormal: Iolaus, Autolycus, and of course Xena.
** Jason, too.
* BalefulPolymorph: Discord turns Hercules into a pig in "Porkules", and Hera turns a woman favored by Zeus into a dog in a flashback in "The Road to Calydon".
* BarBrawl: Hercules gets into quite a few of these. Even regular fights out of taverns do a lot of collateral damage to nearby furniture.
* BarehandedBladeBlock: Hercules does one against Xena's sword.
* BarredFromTheAfterlife: The fallen soldiers in "The Vanishing Dead" couldn't move on to the afterlife until they were given proper burials.
* BatmanGambit: In "Reunions," Hera has Apollo provoke Hercules and threaten a village. Of course, this distraction allows Hera to overthrow Zeus without any difficulty.
-->'''Apollo:''' And you could've stopped it to if you'd been there instead of here.
-->'''Hercules:''' And how many of these people would be dead if I hadn't?
-->'''Apollo:''' Well, that was sort of the point of it all. Who cares... other than you?
* BerserkButton: Demeaning the memory of Hercules' family is one of the fastest way to get him angry.
** The Sovereign is a pretty unstable person in general, but in "Strange In A Strange World," he really flips out when Iolaus refers to him as "Hercules."
* BetaCouple: Iolaus and Nebula.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Hercules is probably the nicest, most easy-going guy in the series. Course, if you threaten innocent people or those he cares about - well, remember, he has super-strength.
-->[[OhCrap "No more Mr. Nice Guy."]]
* BigBad: Hera in the earlier seasons, Dahak in Season 5. [[spoiler: Zeus is the Big Bad in the last episodes, being the real reason behind Hercules misfortune...mostly by just being a Bad Father.]]
** Alternately, Ares serves this function in Season 4 and (after Dahak is defeated) Season 5.
* BigNo
* BloodKnight: Xena(formerly before her [[HeelFaceTurn Heel Face Turn]]), Ares, and Morrigan respectively.
* BondVillainStupidity: The Olympians are far stronger than Hercules, but often instead rely on mooks to face him. Whenever they actually do fight him directly, he wins despite their [[InformedAbility purported power]]. This, however, is justified (at least by Season 4) in that the reason the Olympians pull their punches is because of Zeus. He granted Hercules special protection and the others know violating it means serious punishment.
** Ares in particular, is aware of this. Hence why the plans of both himself and Hera regarding Hercules have to be mindful of not actually putting him in enough danger to kill him, and yet try to hurt him at the same time. For Ares, whose plans usually are either A) seduction, B) kill, or C) wage war, this is very frustrating and stretches his limited creative ability rather thinly.
* BreakTheHaughty: Princess Melissa in "War Bride" starts off as very spoiled, whiny, self-centered and greatly romanticizing war. Being kidnapped, hoofing it through wilderness and having to tend to wounded soldiers causes a sizable shift in her character and priorities.
* BrotherSisterIncest: Like in mythology, this cropped up, though the writers seemingly relied on FridgeLogic for the viewers to realize it. Ares and Discord have a blatant sexual relationship on this series, and the ''Young Hercules'' movie confirmed her to be Hercules' sister (which makes her Ares', as well). And in different episodes, Aphrodite and Hephaestus are confirmed to be children of Hera.
** You ''can'' kind of skirt around this in that the Gods have a rather...odd concept of the 'family unit' that is rather estranged. They seem to only consider each other brother and sister if they have a common ''father'' and if they are brought up as brother and sister. You only find this out if you track who calls who ''brother'' or ''sister''. For example Aphrodite calls Hercules and Ares her brother, but not Haephestus.
* BroughtDownToNormal: In "The Enforcer," Hera takes away Nemesis' godhood for refusing to blindly follow orders and kill Hercules.
** In "When A Man Loves A Woman," Hercules willingly surrenders his powers in order to marry Serena (who also gave up her powers to do the same).
* ButForMeItWasTuesday: Subverted in that Hera is well-aware that she murdered Hercules' family; it's just one action among many and she just doesn't see it as a big deal anyway.
-->'''Hera:''' I wanted Zeus to understand what he had done to me. The world was incidental.
-->'''Hercules:''' Not to me!
* ButtMonkey: Ares in his later appearances
** Strife.
* CaliforniaDoubling: New Zealand ''for ancient Greece''.
** Hilariously {{Lampshaded}} in the DVD commentary for "For Those Of You Just Joining Us" during a clip set in Eire.
-->'''Michael Hurst:''' Strange, that beach looks just like--
-->'''Kevin Sorbo:''' Very similar to Greece.
-->'''Michael Hurst:''' Yeah.
-->'''Kevin Sorbo:''' Or New Zealand or... Norway.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Seems like every time Zeus showed up, Hercules delivered one of these.
-->"I owe you? You have permitted the greatest sorrows of my life. Where was your protection then? I owe you nothing!"
** Iolaus gets his own chance to do this to his father in "Not Fade Away."
* {{Camp}}: ''And how!''
* CameraAbuse: Non-stop.
* TheCape: Hercules. Played straight in the first few seasons, and then {{Deconstructed}} from season 5 onwards.
* CharacterDevelopment: Aphrodite. In her first appearance, she's shown to be quite amoral, willing to start a war between two kingdoms so she could gain possession of the gold there. She was also willing to use her spells to age her own son's love interest because of how jealous she was that mortals considered Psyche more beautiful than her. However, by the episode Reign of Terror, she eventually learns to start genuinely caring for others and even sheds tears over one mortal who was on the brink of death.
* ChasteHero: You'd be surprised how often [[ChickMagnet Herc]] turns down women.
* ChekhovsGun: a magical candle which takes Hercules back to his babyhood in "Hercules and the Amazon Women" is the gun that Herc gets Zeus to use for a ResetButton at the end of the film.
* ChivalrousPervert: Iolaus. He was shown to get involved with a number of women - so much so that "The Cave Of Echoes" had a montage about it. Still, true to the trope, he showed the upmost respect to each one.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Ares. He wants to be top god and some of his plans and actions revolve around achieving that. {{Lampshaded}} and justified by Ares himself:
-->"Zeus stuck it to old Cronus like Cronus stuck to his old man. What can I say? It's a family trait."
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: Kind of a given, isn't it? {{Lampshaded}} in "Faith":
-->"You're blinded by your own goodness. In a way, you're your own worst enemy."
* ClassicalMythology: Chewed up, spit out, and hung out to dry.
* ClearTheirName: Hercules has to do this for Iolaus in "The King of Thieves".
** How could you forget "Hercules on Trial"? There he has to clear his own name, with help from Iolaus, Dirce and previous guest characters.
** And also in "Judgement Day," where he's framed for murdering his own wife.
** Hercules and Iolaus for Amphion in "The Sword of Veracity."
* ClipShow: Five overall:
** ''Hercules And The Maze Of The Minotaur'': The fifth TV-Movie featured a number of clips of the preceding four.
** "The Cave Of Echoes": Hercules, Iolaus and a one-shot character enter a cave to rescue a DamselInDistress, recapping old adventures. Notable in that clips from the TV-Movies (which aren't regularly re-broadcast) were also reused.
** "Les Contemptibles": Set in revolutionary France, a pair of con men (played by Sorbo and Hurst) are educated about the heroes of Greece by a pair of seeming aristocrats. This and succeeding clip shows would see the regular and recurring actors playing different characters.
** "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Hercules": One of the most clever uses of this trope ''ever''. All of the supporting actors play a part in the modern day as actual members of the production staff, panicking over Kevin Sorbo going missing. They desperately try to figure out how to carry on without Sorbo, including SpinoffBabies and an animated feature. Pretty much epitomizes the humor of this show. Bruce Campbell as Robert Tapert, etc.
** "For Those Of You Just Joining Us": A sequel episode of sorts, as the Ren Pics staff go on a corporate retreat to come up with ideas for the fifth season (recapping every important development up to that point).
* CombatTentacles: Echidna has them, although when Typhon returns to her they become altogether naughtier.
* CompositeCharacter: Hercules first wife Deianeira on the show is actually closer to Heracles wife Megara from the myth. Although Heracles did marry a Deianeira she was his third wife and she wasn't killed by Hera directly or indirectly.
* ContinuitySnarl: Jason and Corinth. In "Once A Hero," it was made explicitly clear that he was much older than Hercules. His next appearance "The Wedding Of Alcmene" indicated he was a contemporary of Hercules' mortal stepfather, who died before Herc was born. If you saw ''YoungHercules'', you can imagine the awakward retconning performed to make Jason Herc's peer. Additionally, in his first appearance, Jason was king of Argos (as in the myth), but his second appearance changed it to Corinth. This was particularly bad, as that same season had already given us "Highway to Hades" (where ''Sisyphus'' was king of Corinth). The snarl becomes real evident because the Sisyphus storyline is a follow-up to the ''XenaWarriorPrincess'' episode "Death in Chains." The Jason retcon also subsequently affected ''Xena'', such as [[NoodleIncident the previously mentioned Battle of Corinth]]. Apparently, despite Herc and Iolaus never having heard of Xena before Season 1, she attacked their best friend's kingdom (a place that was even retconned into being their hometown, so to speak).
** Also the ''entire'' plot of Serena. Only in ''that'' episode is it shown that Hercules frequently visits his family with extreme ease and that not only do they ''know'' that they are dead (something they previously didn't), but that they are cognizant of his visits (while before it was a one-time-thing to visit his family, and Hercules told Hades to wipe their memories of his visit so they didn't have to 'live' with his pain of separation).
* ContrivedCoincidence: quite a few in the earlier seasons.
** Every time someone is landed with a horrible and unfair punishment that Hercules would have to rage against the Gods in order to change, they turn out to be evil anyway so he doesn't have to do a thing. Unfortunately this dilutes the entire ethos of the show that is stated in the narration.
* CoveredInMud: Iolaus does this twice - first in "Pride Comes Before A Brawl" and then in "Cast A Giant Shadow." In both examples, he's running from mooks, so he hides himself by [[WallpaperCamouflage covering himself in mud and lying in a mud puddle]] because "it's an old hunter's trick." (He actually stays covered in mud for a few scenes afterwards in the second example.) In the first example, he's also doing it with a girl he is rescuing.
** In "One Fowl Day," Catherine does this for fun.
* CrapsackWorld: All of Ancient Greece is shown as this. Not only are the JerkassGods on a rampage making things awful, every other king is [[BadBoss either corrupt, warmongering, or criminally insane]], torch-wielding racist mobs are all over the place, and [[NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished good is almost always horribly punished]].
* CrossoverCosmology: Herc spends a season hanging out with the Celtic and Norse gods, and later fights the Babylonian ones. He even fights Michael and the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse...for some apparent reason, since they had to find even tougher Gods for him to fight.
** And then they had the episode where they walked through Bethlehem and saw Christ and his family in the stable.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Autolycus may be comical, but he earned the right to be called "the King of Thieves." Heck, he once stole items from two different gods... in the same day.
* CrusadingWidower: Hercules.
* DarkActionGirl: Xena before the HeelFaceTurn
* DarkAndTroubledPast: Iolaus used be to a thief prone to getting into trouble. He credits his friendship with Hercules for turning his life around.
* DarkIsNotEvil: Hades rules the Underworld and usually dresses in all-black. Though understandably feared by mortals, he's actually a pretty nice guy in general.
** Echidna also counts. She's the mother of monsters, but she's not really evil. She only tries to kill Hercules because Herc killed her children. After Hercules reunites her with her husband she becomes a lot nicer.
* DawnAttack: "Hercules and the Lost Kingdom" has:
-->'''Hercules:''' We attack at dawn.\\
'''Telamon:''' Dawn? Why don't we attack tonight?\\
'''Hercules:''' Because we attack at dawn.
* ADayInTheLimelight: There are several episodes primarily starring Iolaus, Autolycus, and/or Salmoneus.
* DeadAlternateCounterpart: ZigZagged in MirrorUniverse episodes, where they established a rule that if your alternate universe counterpart dies, you also die. Which didn't stop them from breaking that rule with Iolaus.
** They sorted out that if you are in the weird alternate dimension - the "space between worlds" - you are suspended from time and space, and hence the rules of normal universes don't apply. Hence, when Hercules is forced into one of these alternate dimensions with the Sovereign, and he is wiped from existence due to an alternate timeline, he survives, but if he went back into one of the universes ''while'' that alternate timeline was in place, he would cease to exist (he had to wait for the original timeline to be restored before he could go back). Likewise, when Iolaus's double stumbles into an alternate dimension through a weird portal, and is there ''while'' the original Iolaus is killed, he doesn't experience the killing blow, and hence he is okay.
* DeathTakesAHoliday: Love takes a holiday in the episode of the same name when Aphrodite decides she's bored of being a LoveGoddess. The amount of cranky loveless people skyrockets in the interim.
* DefeatingTheUndefeatable: None of the Olympians are allowed to directly kill Hercules, but this only mostly applies to Ares since he's more likely to physically fight him instead of direct someone else to. He's the god of war, immortal and really hates his brother, but dreads the punishment for violating the "no kill" rule, so he pulls his punches. "Stranger In A Strange World" and ''Xena'''s "God Fearing Child" show exactly how dangerous Ares could be to Hercules if he wasn't willing to play by the rules. Though, it is implied that Herc's victories over the gods were more legitimate later on in the series as Ares was unable to defeat Hercules even when the Olympians were out of the picture(Stranger and Stranger) and he proved unable to kill his brother despite feuding with Hercules up to modern times(long after Zeus's life and protection over Hercules had ended in the Xena episode "God Fearing Child").
* {{Demonization}}: In Season 5, Dahak (pretending to be Iolaus) claims to the people of Greece that Hercules has gone insane and vowed to kill the Olympians, thus causing them to flee. By the time Hercules makes it back to Greece, most everyone (including Jason) believes the lies.
-->'''Hercules:''' Livia, you were my mother's best friend. You know me.\\
'''Livia:''' I don't know who you are anymore. [[KickTheDog I'm just glad Alcmene isn't here to see what you've become.]]
* DidYouJustFlipOffCthulhu: Hercules does this regularly and gets away with it thanks to Zeus' protection.
** Iolaus does this to Ares in "Porkules." Ares spends the entirety of "One Fowl Day" making him (and by extension, Autolycus) pay for it.
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu: Every time Hercules faces one of the gods, he wins. It's a subversion with the Olympians, who have been forbidden from killing him directly. (The rare times where they do choose to violate the rule, Hercules only manages to survive via good fortune and not just his strength.) Played straight, however, when he faces gods from other lands that aren't bound by said rule.
* DisappearedDad: One of Hercules' complaints about Zeus is that he took no visible role in his life. From "Regrets... I've Had A Few":
-->"Look, I appreciate that the other gods realize I exist, but it'd be nice to know that my own father does... even if he does think of me more than I know."
** Iolaus' father abandoned his family and later died in war.
* DisguisedInDrag: Autolycus and Salmoneus in "Men in Pink."
* DisproportionateRetribution: Hera repeatedly tries to kill Hercules because Zeus had an affair with Alcmene.
** In "One Fowl Day," Ares goes out of his way to make Iolaus and Autolycus miserable simply because the former showed him disrespect. PlayedForLaughs in this case.
* DrivesLikeCrazy: The Enforcer, with a chariot.
* DualWielding: Xena and Darphus, her former second-in-command, duel with swords in each hand.
* DumbBlonde: Subverted with Aphrodite. She does prefer the materialistic, easy side of life, but as Hercules notes in her first appearance, she's smarter than she lets on.
* EffortlessAmazonianLift: Atalanta does this to Hercules in a bout of playfulness.
* {{Elseworld}}: Hercules in the French Revolution!
* EmergencyImpersonation: In two episodes Iolaus has to stand in for his lookalike King Orestes.
* EnemyMine: Hercules and Iolaus team-up with Ares in "Revelations."
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Ares generally uses "loved ones" for his own goals, but he demonstrates some genuine fondness for family, such as Aphrodite. In "Two Men And A Baby," after Discord threatens to drown little Evander (Nemesis' son with Ares) out of jealousy, the god of war has a genuine PapaWolf reaction. ("He's my son. You don't wanna try me.")
** Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters. Before her HeelFaceTurn, she was very unapologetic about her actions or those of her children. However, she dearly loved said children and her husband.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: In "The Gauntlet," Xena is against killing women and children. She even saves one baby that survived a slaughter her army carried out while she was away.
* EverybodyHatesHades: Thankfully averted. Although Hades is completely overworked and under-appreciated.
* EverythingIsMessierWithPigs: The episode, ''Porkules''.
* EvilCounterpart: The Sovereign, literally. Ares also counts, as he is an antagonistic son of Zeus.
** Discord falls into this for Aphrodite.
* ExpendableAlternateUniverse: Subverted; Iolaus's alternate-universe twin gets developed into a main character in his own right for about a season.
* TheFaceless: Hera, until the fourth season and the final episode.
* FanService: Pretty much every female character on the show... and the male heroes as well. This show had some of the skimpiest clothes on television since ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries.''
* FantasticRacism: Hera and Ares have referred to Hercules as either a "half-mortal mongrel" or "[[HalfBreedDiscrimination half-breed]]." Also, Centaurs are regularly depicted as an oft-mistreated minority.
** Monsters, likewise are frequently the children of Typhon and Echidna, who don't necessarily go out of their way to eat anyone not dumb enough to wander into their open maw. Dragons, while not the babies of Titans, are likewise immediately feared and loathed despite being more apathetic than antagonistic toward humans by default (unless humans [[spoiler: hunt their parents]].)
* FateWorseThanDeath: This is implied to be the fate of any Olympian that violates Zeus' rule about not killing each other or Hercules. [[NothingIsScarier Nobody knows what the punishment is]], but nobody wants to find out, either.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Dahak. He presents himself as a pleasant being that wants "to bring freedom to the world." Of course, among his deeds are: using Iolaus' good intentions against him, temporarily driving Nebula insane, slaughtering the Druids and nonchalantly killing anyone in his way.
* FireForgedFriends: Iolaus and Autolycus in "Porkules" and "One Fowl Day."
* {{Flanderization}}: For "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Hercules," real-life quirks of the production team (such as Rob Tapert enjoying to fish) were incorporated into their fictional counter-parts and purposefully taken to extremes for laughs.
* ForgottenPhlebotinum: In "Rebel With a Cause," Antigone and Hercules sneak Oedipus out of Thebes in some underground tunnels that Antigone used to escape through as a child. Later, when Antigone attempts to sneak back into Thebes undetected, she tries to do so through the front gate. Naturally, King Creon catches her.
* AFormYouAreComfortableWith: Subverted in "Be Deviled," where a Devil-like being takes the form of Serena. She claims it's because Hercules would find it pleasing, but Herc finds it insulting instead. Later, as we learn more about her character, it's clear "Serena" did this solely to mock him.
* FourthDateMarriage: Hercule's second wife Serena. He meets her in one episode and they share a kiss at the end of the episode, he's ready to marry her by the very next episode (mere days at best in universe) and they do at the end of the episode.[[ILetGwenStacyDie She dies next episode]]
* FriendToAllChildren: Hercules and Iolaus.
* FreudianExcuse: In Other World, the Sovereign was abandoned by his mother, Zeus went insane when he was a child and [[SadistTeacher Cheiron]] instructed him to be a tyrant. It's also implied that losing his family prompted a DespairEventHorizon.
* GadgeteerGenius: Iolaus 2.
** "Doomsday" features none other than Daedalus.
* GeniusBruiser: While not the smartest people to walk the Earth, Herc and Iolaus tend to win not just by hitting people, but by outwitting them.
* GenreSavvy: Strife of all people in "Armageddon Now, Part 1." He is dead set against trusting Callisto and tries to warn Ares, but is brushed off. (Ares doesn't trust her either, really, but he's foolishly overconfident that he can handle her.)
* GhostTown: In "The Road to Calydon", a group of refugees find an abandoned town whose inhabitants suffered the wrath of Hera.
* GiantSpider: Arachne in "Web of Desire." Her upperbody remains human (if slightly monstrous), but her lower half...
* GirlOfTheWeek: Almost every woman Iolaus meets falls for him in one way or another.
* GirlsWithMoustaches: Hispides, who appears in "All That Glitters", has a beard even thicker than Salmoneus', whom she finds herself immediately attracted to.
* GladiatorRevolt
* GrievousHarmWithABody: One of Hercules favourite battle tactics. Most often he grabs a bad guy, or occasionally a person he is rescuing, and holds them in his arms bridal style, across his shoulders in a fireman's carry, or sideways behind his back and swings them so their feet knock out the bad guys. If the person being used is a bad guy themselves, he will often put them down after this and punch them for good measure, if they are still feeling feisty after being used as a weapon.
* GodOfEvil: Dahak. More like "personification of all destructive and evil forces."
* GoodFeelsGood: Xena mentions this to Hercules in "Unchained Heart"; when previously all she felt when going into battle was hate and rage, fighting to help people gave her a different and altogether happier feeling.
* GrandFinale: "Full Circle"
* HeelFaceTurn: Xena, when she got her own series. Also, Hera, the former BigBad, turned good in the last season just in time for Zeus to [[FaceHeelTurn turn bad]] on ''Xena''.
** In Zeus's case, he had always been selfish. Hera finally allowed the mother aspect of her divine role to gain supremacy, and like the best of mothers, [[spoiler: she will defy her husband, who considers his own survival to be of primary importance, and die for the sake of her children]].
** Zeus's FaceHeelTurn happened in the ''Twilight Of the Gods'' arc, though, where ''every single god'' turned evil, for no explainable reason other than that the writers wanted to get rid of the entire Olympian mythology in order to push a Judeo-Christian one. Hence Zeus' actions and motivations should be taken with this in consideration, considering how all prior characterizations of the Olympian Gods in both ''Hercules'' and ''Xena'' were ignored in the CanonDiscontinuity of this arc.
* HellHound: Graegus, who devours the dead in "The Vanishing Dead", preventing their souls from passing on. He is one of Ares' pets, though, instead of Hades'. Cerberus himself also makes an appearance.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: In some of Iolaus' focus episodes, Hercules is either shown or implied to be busy performing heroic deeds elsewhere.
* HeroesFightBarehanded: Very evident in the fight scenes, where most fight descent into brawls and people being tossed around- swords might be held and clashed against each other, but punches and kicks are still the the effective takedown method utilized by our heroes.
* {{Heroic BSOD}}: Hercules suffers this several times following the deaths of his family, Serena and Iolaus. Iolaus' death in Season 5 proves to be the gravest, as it takes Hercules a couple episodes to recover from the loss.
** Iolaus, meanwhile, goes through this in "Hero's Heart" after failing to save a woman from falling to her death.
** Salmoneus experiences this in "Unchained Heart," when he freezes up during a crisis.
* HeroicFantasy
* HeroicSelfDeprecation: poor Haephastus. Your typical angsty ridiculously talented artist who sees both himself and his creations as worthless. He's been so broken down and convinced that he's horrifically ugly (he has a burn on one side of his face) and untalented by not only the other gods (his small deformity was mocked mercilessly and he was thrown out of Olympus for it by Hera), but also his generations of human advisors who manipulated him to their own ends. He's a really very sweet, nice guy who wouldn't hurt anyone but in an early season 3 episode it's obvious that his advisor lies to him to get him to do what he wants[[labelnote:noe]]and his father was in the same position much earlier when Haephestus banished a small town for 50 years, and considering that when Iago lies to Haephestus and says that all the villagers hate him, called him names and committed sacrilege against him, Haephestus ''agrees that he's worthy of mockery'' and basically just feels terrible and does nothing, being ''very'' reluctant to do anything forceful, the amount of manipulation required to get him to take an ''entire town'' out of time for 50 years must have been insane![[/labelnote]]. He [[DismissingACompliment dismisses all compliments]] from Aphrodite, and she has to give a very prolonged YouAreBetterThanYouThinkYouAre speech in order to get him to think better of himself.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: [[CaptainObvious Hercules and Iolaus.]] How much of the "heterosexual" actually applies will depend on the individual's interpretation of their close, loving relationship where each means more to the other than any family or romantic relationship ever. Xena and Gabrielle could probably relate.
* HiddenDepths: Salmoneus often displays a cowardly streak (justified in that he doesn't know how to fight) and is quite greedy, but that doesn't stop him from stepping up when needed. In his ''second'' appearance, he helps a blinded Hercules against three Centaurs.
** Hercules views Autolycus as an egotistical thief when they first meet, but then he learns about his past. Turns out his older brother was cheated out of his land and then murdered. When the authorities did nothing, Autolycus robbed the murderer blind and gave ''every'' spoil to the poor.
** Contrary to her valley girl-like persona, Aphrodite is rather smart, falls for a god that considers himself ugly and cares more for mortals even more than Herc thinks.
* HistoricalInJoke
* HilariousOuttakes: There is a famous one where Kevin runs onto the set of Xena and says "Woops, wrong show" before running off.
* HobbesWasRight: Callisto claims in "Surprise" that all mortals are wicked and should be punished. Though Hercules doesn't outright invoke RousseauWasRight, he says he's seen too much good in the world for that to be true.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Aphrodite gave a golden apple to Iolaus in a complicated plan to make a princess fall in love with him, so her father would go to war against his rival. When the two sides, who worship Athena and Artemis, were wiped out, she planned to take their shrines as her own. Pity she didn't foresee that her love apple would also bring the two rival rulers together.
* HollywoodExorcism: In "Redemption," the plan is to perform an exorcism to drive Dahak out of Iolaus. However, before it can truly begin, Dahak kills Zarathrustra (the only one who knew how to perform the ritual). Hercules resorts to simply [[IKnowYoureInThereSomewhereFight trying to reach Iolaus]].
* HonestJohnsDealership: Salmoneus. Falafel is the food oriented version.
* HumanMomNonHumanDad: Hercules, of course.
* IAmSpartacus: In one episode Herc was put to a trial for being essentially a vigilante, inspiring other people to try and repeat his feats to disastrous results and some other bullshit like that (it was all set up by Ares). In the end first the judge and then other participants indicate that they share Herc's views and are ready to share his responcibility buy saying "I'm Hercules as well".
** Actually, Ares had nothing to do with it, though he did enjoy Hercules being ArrestedForHeroism.
* IJustWantToBeNormal: In "Two Men And A Baby," Hercules alludes to feeling this way during his childhood.
* IKnowYoureInThereSomewhereFight: Hercules tries this in "Darkness Rising" and "Let There Be Light," but Dahak was feigning that it was working. Herc pulls it off in "Redemption," though.
* [[IntrepidReporter Intrepid Scribe]]: Katrina in "Doomsday".
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: After his second wife Serena is murdered, Herc eventually goes back in time and manages to save her life but at the cost that she no longer remembers him and their time together technically never happened.
* IWantYouToMeetAnOldFriendOfMine: Creator/BruceCampbell, again working with old colleagues Creator/SamRaimi and Rob Tapert. When it came time to cast Autolycus, Tapert immediately thought of Campbell and personally called to offer him the role.
* ImprovisedWeapon: Iolaus - he was especially good with frying pans
* InstrumentalThemeTune
* InsultBackfire: After clobbering Ares for the umpteenth time, Hercules calls him a masochist. Ares doesn't know what the word means, but he does "like the sound of that."
* InterspeciesRomance: Hercules with Serena, the Golden Hind. He actually falls in love with her human form, and she gives up her Golden Hind side while he gives up his strength so that they can be together, but still.
* InvincibleHero: 100 ft tall monster? Piece of cake. Immortal God? No sweat. The monsters ''might'' be okay, but how a mortal half god can kick the hell out of an immortal full god not just once but on a regular basis is a mystery to me.
** Not just any god, but the god of ''freakin'' '''war'''!
*** Though, in the actual mythology, Zeus's children by his actual ''wife'' tended to be the least impressive. Ares in particular loved fighting on whatever side was already winning, and would run back to Olympus as soon as he was wounded, ''despite being immortal.''
** They actually covered that, Zeus had told the other Gods not to kill Hercules, so every time they fought Ares was forced to pull his punches.
** It doesn't work quite that way. While Hercules got his mother's mortality and lack of godlike powers, his strength is all from Zeus's side. He can physically fight Ares as an equal, but can't match him metaphysically. However, in fights on ''Xena'', its been shown that Ares is rather brilliant at using his powers to his advantage (ignoring the CanonDiscontinuity in season 5)
*** Eventually, Hercules upgrades to fighting Archangels, Archdemons, and the head gods Zeus and Hera themselves. Not won easily, mind you...technically, he lost the physical fight but won the metaphysical fight instead.
** Also, while never actually put to the test or confronted directly, it is hinted more than once that Hercules is actually immortal.
*** Hercules has longevity, which means that he doesn't age or die naturally, but he can be ''killed'' - although he doesn't seem to injure easily.
*** It should be noted that in actual mythology, Hercules was not only capable of beating Ares in a straight fight, But was powerful enough to fight ''Apollo'' on equal terms, to the point that Zeus had to break up their fight with a lightning bolt. He also gained a favor from Helius, the Sun God, with nothing more than a DeathGlare. Remember, in mythology Hercules, unlike his fellow demigods, was actually more god than man--he was intentionally sired by Zeus to be a god who would live as a mortal, so that when he died he would rise to Olympus, so the gods would have someone with experience to give them advice on how to deal with mortals.
*** He was also canonically lovers with Iolas, so YMMV on how much myth was ignored... or not.
* InstrumentalThemeTune
* ItsAWonderfulPlot: Subverted with the "Armageddon Now" two-parter. Hercules isn't in distress about his life, but thanks to a time traveling Callisto, he and Iolaus witness what the world would be like without him - Xena never experiencing a HeelFaceTurn and ruling all of Greece with an iron fist.
* ItsPersonal: Hera's vendetta against Hercules.
-->'''Hercules:''' That's between you and Zeus.\\
'''Hera:''' No, you're what's between us. But if you die a horrible death, maybe he'll think twice next time his eyes start to wander - before he fathers any more half-mortal mongrels like you.
** The Sovereign has it out for Hercules due to his trapping him in Netherworld, but it escalates when a bout of FridgeBrilliance hits him.
-->'''Sovereign:''' You must've had a family just like I did.\\
'''Hercules:''' I did. Hera killed them.\\
'''Sovereign:''' So she kills ''your'' family for something ''you'' did and when ''yours'' died, ''mine'' did, t--!\\
'''Hercules:''' I'm sorry that happened. I'm sure you loved your family very much.\\
'''Sovereign:''' You're to blame for everything that's happened to me. You can forget about getting out of here. You're mine.
* JamesBondage: Iolaus, the male damsel in distress.
* JerkassGods: The show got ''that'' part of the mythology right, anyway.
* KansasCityShuffle: In the Season Two premiere episode, ''The King of Thieves'', Hercules is chasing a thief who uses a grappling hook. While the two are in a castle, the thief dangles the grappling hook out of a window and hides in the rafters. [[spoiler: Hercules isn't fooled.]]
* KickChick: Whenever Atalanta gets in a fight, she seems to favor the use of her legs.
* KillItWithFire: The Water Enforcer's only weakness is fire. Both of the times she was defeated was when her body was boiled away.
* KillItWithWater: A subversion happens when Hercules is fighting Pyro: the camera moves to a large barrel of water, making it look like Hercules is planning to trap Pyro in it. But instead Herc dunks himself in the water to temporarily protect himself, then lures Pyro into an empty well and smothers his fire.
* LampshadeHanging: In "Not Fade Away," Hades tells Hercules he has until sunset to save Iolaus because those are the rules.
-->'''Hercules:''' Who makes these rules?
* LighterAndSofter: Compared to the original myth, Hercules is a Boy Scout and more in line with our traditional views of a hero as opposed to the he-man who wasn't above rape and murder and had a short temper, Hera kills his family directly instead of driving Hercules insane and having him do it
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: "Yes Virginia, There is a Hercules" claims that Kevin Sorbo is the real Hercules, subtly influencing his real adventures into the show.
** Which also qualifies as a head-on assault on the CelebrityParadox.
* LoopholeAbuse: Zeus' protection only specifies that the Olympians themselves aren't allowed to kill Hercules. Hera and the like typically send everything from mooks to monsters after him instead. Ares {{Lampshades}} this in "Two Men And A Baby."
* LoveableRogue: Autolycus.
* LoveGoddess: Aphrodite.
* MakeWrongWhatOnceWentRight: An interesting case occurs in the two-part episode "Armageddon Now" when villain Callisto is sent back in time by Hope to kill Hercules's mother to prevent his being born. While this is clearly an example of MakeWrongWhatOnceWentRight, Callisto agrees to commit the heinous act in exchange for the chance to [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong prevent her parents from being killed by Xena's army]].
* MaliciousMisnaming: Salmoneus is in hiding in the episode "Let the Games Begin", under the pseudonym Psoriasis. Naturally, Atalanta keeps referring to him like other diseases, like Gingivitis.
* ManlyTears: To be shed whenever someone dies, isn't dead anymore, or when your best friend tells you you're his family.
* MercyKill: In "Web Of Desire," Archne's SuperSpit causes one of Hercules' shipmates to slowly melt away. As the man begs for something to relieve the pain, Nebula stabs him in the chest--saying she's already seen the end result before the others arrived.
** Subverted in "Redemption," when Zarathrustra's immortality is removed following an attack by Dahak during the exorcism. Hercules thinks it's proof Iolaus' true self is emerging. Dahak then reminds him that only Zarathrustra knew how to perform the exorcism.
* MetaCasting: Atalanta (one of the few {{Action Girl}}s in Greek Mythology) was played by well-known female body-builder Cory Everson, who probably ''could'' beat Kevin Sorbo in arm wrestling.
* MirrorUniverse: The AlternateUniverse ruled by the Sovereign, Herc's EvilCounterpart (complete with [[BeardOfEvil beard]]).
* MissingMom: This happens to Hercules in the fourth season. Meanwhile, [[EvilCounterpart the Sovereign]] said his mother ''abandoned'' him, which explains a lot.
** Iolaus is an inverse of this trope. His mother is very much alive, but he left her and stayed away out of shame for the way he behaved while living with her.
* MoodWhiplash: there's a lot of this. The episodes in seasons 1-4 constantly swing between campy and ridiculous with flimsy pretext and the occasional BrokenAesop, and dark serious episodes with genuine introspection and deconstruction of moral conflict. It ''really'' hurts your neck, and feels like two sets of completely different writers are working on the show.
* MurderousThighs: Hercules does this to one mook. Atalanta does a slightly less deadly version to Salmoneus.
* MyBelovedSmother: Demeter towards Persephone.
* NoGuyWantsAnAmazon: One episode centers around legendary femme athlete Atalanta hiding her strength so not to intimidate men; it ends with AnAesop about being true to yourself.
** Subverted in the same episode, though, as Salmoneus has always demonstrated a fondness for Atalanta.
* NoodleIncident: Several of the Twelve Labors (e.g. slaying the Nemean Lion or capturing the Erymanthian Boar) are specifically referred to, but never shown on-screen.
* NostalgiaHeaven: This happens a time or two when Hercules goes to the Elysian Fields and sees his wife and kids.
* NotSoDifferent: Ares tries this in "Hercules On Trial," with a little WeCanRuleTogether thrown in:
-->"We've had our differences, but it's because you refuse to look past what you think you see in me. We want the same thing for this world. ... Order. Perfect order. It can be a place without crime, without vice. Think how happy that'd make your beloved mortals. And wouldn't it set Zeus back a step? You and me? Think about it."
** Inverted with Gilgamesh. Both he and Hercules are half-god heroes that lost their families to pointless violence and were effectively betrayed by their godly fathers. However, these comparisons are made before Gilgamesh is revealed to be a servant of Dahak.
* NotSoHarmlessVillain: Strife. Now, there is no doubt that he was extremely goofy and often harmless, but there where moments where he was actually a genuine threat, even bordering on MagnificentBastard to the point that he even impressed Ares from time to time. In fact, he would be a much bigger threat if not for Hercules, something that tends to be forgotten thanks to his over the top silliness. In the series Young Hercules this is expanded even further, actually making a much bigger threat and more than capable of going head to head with Hercules and playing him like harp. Let's not forget this guy was TheDragon for Ares.
* NoRespectGuy: a couple crop up over the series.
** Iolaus, who despite not having Hercules strength or god-like legacy, still faces the same threats as Hercules ''knowing'' that he is the one who will probably end up being killed (and still being okay with dying for Hercules), and who is barely known or applauded as the hero he is. {{Lampshaded}} constantly.
** Hades. Poor guy is constantly overworked, and is really pissed off that Ares gets a larger staff than him ''while'' making the wars that cause back-ups across the River Styx. Charon isn't really pleased when he gets overlooked either, but at least he doesn't have to deal with the statistical nightmare of co-ordinating and judging the dead while the Olympian Gods and Hercules run around screwing things over whenever it suits them.
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: Actor Michael Hurst (Iolaus) was supposed to sound ambiguous (read: American), but his native Kiwi accent slipped in every now and then, especially in the beginning.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Hercules jokingly accuses Iolaus of doing this so he won't have to do anything.
* OddFriendship: Iolaus and Aphrodite. Unsurprisingly, Iolaus 2 develops one with her as well.
* OhCrap: In "Darkness Rising," Hercules listens to Nebula's story, where she thinks she's been hallucinating Iolaus and is going crazy. Hercules thinks he knows what's going on and starts to look distressed. When he checks out Iolaus' coffin, he finds it empty and then finds someone standing right behind him.
-->"Hercules. Boo!"
* OlderThanHeLooks: Iolaus is actually two-years-older than Hercules.
* OldFashionedRowboatDate: An episode that is a WholePlotReference to ''SomeLikeItHot'', a guy sees Salmoneous in drag, and pictures doing this date with him.
* OneBadMother: Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters. Her children are just as bad, but all of them apparently are much better when around Typhon.
* OneHeadTaller: Hercules is taller than pretty much everybody, but specifically he is this to Iolaus.
* OneSidedArmWrestling: Hercules vs Atlanta.
* OneWingedAngel: In "Ares," the god of war does this in his fight with Hercules - taking the form of a massive, well-armed monster.
* OpeningNarration: See the page quote
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: In "Darkness Visible," Hercules and Iolaus face vampires led by Vlad. Typically, the vampires have no reflections and drink blood (being able to turn a mortal or just feed). They also possess healing abilities. Note that these are explicitly referred to as vampires (or Strigoi) - not Bacchae, who appeared on ''XenaWarriorPrincess'' and ''Series/YoungHercules''.
* OvershadowedByAwesome: Iolaus is skilled, resourceful, and a kickass fighter. He is not, however, a superstrong demigod, so he sometimes winds up as this. Sometimes he is angry about it ("Pride Comes Before A Brawl" and "The Warrior Princess"), or introspective ("A Star To Guide Them"), or very aware of it ("Medea Culpa"), or it is used to mess with his head ("Redemption").
** Iphicles might have it even worse, where he has to live in the shadow of his ''little'' brother. It's a major plotpoint in "What's In A Name?"
* PleaseSpareHimMyLiege: Works only partly with the Sovereign.
* PlotArmour: Hercules (obviously), and Iolaus until his encounters with various {{Hero Killer}}s.
* PirateGirl: Nebula (Creator/GinaTorres)
* PoweredArmor: The Megoliths in "Doomsday" are the ancient mythical version.
* ThePowerOfFriendship: used liberally, although particularly with [[CaptainObvious Iolaus]]. Although the relationship with Hercules and Iolaus really pushes the boundaries of ThePowerOfFriendship and ends up looking like ThePowerOfLove when Hercules goes to lengths for Iolaus that outstrip what he'd do for a significant TemporaryLoveInterest (or his own family). It doesn't help that in the source material, this is ''canon.''
* PrecrimeArrest: One episode had Iolus given a chance to kill a man who had raped and killed a family. The catch was that Iolus had been transported in time before that man had committed any crimes. Meaning Iolus had killed an innocent.
* PsychoForHire: Most of the gods' executioners are basically monsters who just want to kill humans for fun. A noteworthy example is Pyro the fire demon, who was tasked by Hera with killing Hercules' family. We later see him in action when he's tasked with [[spoiler: killing Salmoneus for unwittingly looting Hera's treasure hoard]]. Despite being on an important mission he's clearly more interested in just burning things, particularly Hercules. He even burns one of his own comrades to death just for being there.
* PyrrhicVictory: In the flashbacks to "Twilight," young Hercules manages to end a bloody war, but not before watching an old friend die.
-->'''Alcmene:''' For every boy that's not coming home, one hundred more will and that's because of you.\\
'''Hercules:''' Then why do I feel like I failed?
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech:
** Back-and-forth in "Faith," as Hercules condemns Gilgamesh for turning to Dahak and Gilgamesh mocking Herc for his ChronicHeroSyndrome.
** Dahak to Zarathrustra in "Redemption," when Hercules defends the latter for not sacrificing his family to the demon.
--->"The truth is, he didn't deserve them. Not much of a family man, were you, Zarathrustra? Otherwise, you wouldn't have accepted me into your heart so greedily. But don't worry. Your failure is my success. [[KickTheDog And if it's any consolation, when I killed your family, I didn't give them a chance to scream.]]"
* ResetButton: Herc gets his father Zeus to do this towards the end of the first Made For TV Movie, "Hercules and the Amazon Women," undoing the deaths of the Amazon queen (who he had fallen in love with but post-reset he never meets), a villager Herc likes, and Iolaus. Herc remembers what happened pre-reset, but no other non-god does. Zeus refuses to do it at first, saying that the other gods get ticked off.
* RippleEffectProofMemory:
** Hercules as mentioned above in ResetButton.
** Following "The End Of The Beginning," only Hercules and Autolycus remember what really happened to Serena. "My Best Girl's Wedding" would later suggest that not even the gods really remember the original history. (Aphrodite sees Serena and finds her familiar, but needs Herc to explain why.) Serena only remembers following spending a prolonged amount of time with the big guy.
* TheRival: Ares.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: In the first episode, after Hera kills his family, Hercules proceeds to destroy all of her temples in the area. It takes Iolaus falling victim to the She-Demon to cause him to shake the vengeful streak.
* RunningGag: During "Prince Hercules", Iolaus is dunked into a grape wine vat, turning purple for the remainder of the episode, prompting everybody who runs across him to ask 'Why are you purple?' The villains of the week even start calling him 'Purple Man.'
* SadisticChoice: In "Stranger In A Strange World," after switching places with his double, Iolaus finds himself as the assassin in a resistance plot to kill the Sovereign. Killing the Sovereign would mean stopping a brutal tyrant with a OmnicidalManiac-type plan, but it would also mean Hercules' death, too. [[spoiler:Iolaus actually does try to go through with the assassination, but the Sovereign knew about the plot all along and effortlessly stopped him.]]
* SadlyMythtaken: Obviously. Numerous members of production have commented that they were well-aware an established myth was being twisted, but did so anyway in the interests of the story.
** Which is rather funny considering that it still reflects classical Greek Mythology much more closely than [[ThemeParkVersion most American media at the time]].
* SandWorm: Of the manta ray variety in "War Wounds."
* SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong: An interesting case occurs in the two-part episode "Armageddon Now" when villain Callisto is sent back in time by Hope to kill Hercules's mother to prevent his being born. While this is clearly an example of MakeWrongWhatOnceWentRight, Callisto agrees to commit the heinous act in exchange for the chance to [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong prevent her parents from being killed by Xena's army]].
* SexSlave: When Hercules wants to infiltrate a Kingdom that engages in gladiatorial games (to the death) in "Gladiator", he allows himself to be captured and sentenced to slavery. The Queen of this Kingdom is intent on making Hercules one of these, after having her servants rip his shirt off to inspect his muscles.
** "The March to Freedom" involves a slaver who betrays a band of settlers, and intends to sell off their leader (played by Lucy Liu) as one. The episode also has a DirtyOldWoman who comes on to Hercules, and gets sold said slaver as her own personal "Love Slave".
* ShirtlessScene : Kevin Sorbo said in interviews and on the DVD commentary that the producers wanted the shirt off in every episode, but he did not. He said there were more shirtless scenes in the first season than in the rest. See particularly, "Gladiator," the TV movies "Hercules and the Amazon Women," and "Hercules and the Lost Kingdom."
* ShockAndAwe: Much like dear old dad, Ares can also throw lightning bolts.
* ShoutOut:
** Unsurprisingly, ''Franchise/EvilDead'' got quite a few: 1) the Mr. Goody Two-Shoes routine in "The End of the Beginning"; 2) "Gimme some sugar, baby" in "Men in Pink"; 3) [[KlaatuBaradaNikto Klaatu Verada Nikto]] being a passage in the Egyptian Necronomicon in "City of the Dead". Parts of Joe LoDuca's score for ''Army of Darkness' were also re-used in a few episodes.
** The two enforcers made by Hera are clearly shoutouts to the {{Terminator}} franchise.
** They fought the {{Ghidra}}.
* ShownTheirWork: For all the griping about the series not following established myths, the writers clearly knew what they were considering the many references to people, locations and events in various episodes.
* ShroudedInMyth: In "Doomsday," a scribe tracks Hercules down and asks him about past heroics, thinking the myth outweighs the man. Hercules believes that's always a possibility, but it doesn't play out that way with the provided examples.
-->'''Hercules:''' People do tend to exaggerate.\\
'''Katrina:''' Yeah, like the tail of you killing a giant sea-monster with your bare hands? Thatís a little hard to swallow.\\
'''Hercules:''' Well, actually, that oneís true, and it was ''pretty'' easy for him to swallow me.\\
'''Katrina:''' Okay, but that yarn about the two-headed Hydra? I mean, come on.\\
'''Hercules:''' That one they got wrong.\\
'''Katrina:''' There you go.\\
'''Hercules:''' It had three heads.
* {{Sidekick}}: Iolaus.
* SinsOfOurFathers: Being Zeus' son, Hercules usually has to deal with anyone with an ax to grind - almost always Hera. Comes up also in "Web of Desire":
-->'''Arachne:''' You'll pay for your father's crime.\\
'''Hercules:''' What else is new?
* SkySurfing: Apollo gets around this way.
* SmugSuper: Hercules can come off as that at his bad days.
* SoapOperaRapidAgingSyndrome: Evander was born early into Season 4, but was already about grammar school age two years later in Season 6. Possibly jusitified by his father being the god of war and his mother being a former goddess.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: Several episodes, including "For Those Of You Just Joining Us" which takes place in modern times, and "Les Contemptibles" which takes place in revolution-era France.
* {{Spinoff}}: ''Series/XenaWarriorPrincess'', then later...
* SpinoffBabies: ...''Series/YoungHercules''.
* StarCrossedLovers: Hades and Persephone in "The Other Side", although they are eventually allowed to be together (for half of each year, yes, but still).
* SteppingStoneSword: Hercules is helped scaling a fort by arrows launched into its side.
* StoryArc: The series was largely episodic, but there were {{Callback}}s and follow-up episodes to build on previous events. ("The End of the Beginning", for example, to the Golden Hind trilogy.) However, Season 5 was a highly serialized one - the first half featuring the Dahak storyline, the second half depicting Iolaus 2's teaming-up with Hercules and some stand-alone episodes for good measure.
* {{Stripperiffic}}: Anything worn by Aphrodite. Anything worn by most female characters. Low cut top, short skirt, and (usually) bare midriff were standards for them.
* SupermanStaysOutOfGotham: In Iolaus' focus episodes or the Autolycus/Salmoneus episodes, Hercules either has very little screentime or outright doesn't appear.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Nebula 2/The Empress for Xena 2 in "Stranger And Stranger." The original intention was for Lucy Lawless to appear in the episode, but when that fell through, she was replaced by Gina Torres. WordOfGod states that the script was not changed to reflect this, however, barring any name changes of course.
** Iolaus 2 is an inversion, being a different character but played by the same actor.
* SwallowedWhole: A sea monster does this to Hercules and Deianeira in ''Hercules and the Lost Kingdom''.
** Happens again in "The Wedding of Alcmene":
-->'''Hercules:''' [[ContinuityNod Y'know, I've been inside one of these things before.]]\\
'''Jason:''' [[DeadpanSnarker Really? This is my first time.]]
* TakeThatUs: Oh, so much of it in "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Hercules" and "For Those Of You Just Joining Us."
* TemporaryBlindness: Hercules in "As Darkness Falls" via a drug in his drink. Rather than wait to see if it will wear off, he chooses to (with some help) go after the Centaurs responsible and rescue their captives.
* TemporarySubstitute: Iolaus 2 in Season 5.
* TerminatorTwosome: A complicated case in the two-part episode "Armageddon Now" - Callisto is sent back in time by Hope to kill Hercules's mother to prevent his being born. Iolaus is sent back in time by Ares to prevent this. While killing Hercules's mother is clearly an example of MakeWrongWhatOnceWentRight, Callisto agrees to commit the heinous act in exchange for the chance to [[spoiler: [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong prevent her parents from being killed by Xena's army]].]]
* ThinkNothingOfIt: Hercules' stock response.
* TheTimeOfMyths: Parodied in season 1 episode 2. This was so long ago that togas were new at the time.
* TookALevelInBadass: Iolaus 2.
* TheUnfavorite: Ares sees himself as this to Zeus - ''especially'' when compared to Hercules.
* UnwantedHarem: Hercules most definitely did not want to father children will all fifty of King Thespius' daughters, and they actually chased him around for most of the episode. Salmoneus was more than happy to step up to the challenge.
* VivaLasVegas: Midasius in "All That Glitters" is essentially an ancient version of Vegas, complete with gambling, cheap all-you-can-eat buffets, exotic dancers (and not just female ones; there's a man in the background whose job is to pose and flex), and boxing matches.
* WalkingShirtlessScene: A good number of male characters, effectively.
* WalkingTheEarth
* WallpaperCamouflage
* WarGod: Ares.
* WatchWhereYoureGoing: Used in the Animated adaptation, and may have been employed in the regular series as well. Tricking two {{Mooks}} into knocking each-other out was a good time saver.
* WeWillMeetAgain: Ares does this often--either saying essentially that or making a comment about his list. He does it so often that Herc and Iolaus mock him for it in the last episode.
* WellDoneSonGuy: This is more true in ''Young Hercules'', but the flashback episodes show a young hero who wants nothing more than to meet his father and be acknowledged.
* WhamEpisode: "Faith." Greece is left behind (and will be for about half a season), Iolaus dies (again... for a while), a devastated Hercules has to work through his grief, Nebula becomes a queen and the Dahak storyline officially begins on this series.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse:
** Salmoneus was a fairly prominent recurring character early in the series' run, but made fewer appearances later on - stopping with an early Season 5 episode. This was {{Lampshaded}} in a Season 6 episode:
-->'''Iolaus''': Hey, Herc, you'd hear what happened to Salmoneus?
-->'''Hercules''': Yeah, he got sent to prison for tax fraud.
** Jason also stops making appearances by the end of Season 5. His last episode ("The Academy") arguably gives him something of a send-off (a rekindled romance with Lilith, a daughter in Seska and taking over as headmaster of Cheiron's academy). However, "A Wicked Good Time" features Seska going through a rough time and absolutely no mention is made of Jason.
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: When Zarathrustra turned against Dahak, his family was murdered and he was cursed with immortality to keep him separated from them.
* WholeEpisodeFlashback: The four Young Hercules episodes ("Regrets... I've Had A Few", "Medea Culpa", "Twilight" and "Top God") and "Just Passing Through".
* WholePlotReference: "King for a Day" (''ThePrisonerOfZenda''), "...And Fancy Free" (''Film/StrictlyBallroom''), "Men in Pink" (''SomeLikeItHot'').
* WilliamTelling: In "Reign of Terror" King Augeus gains Zeus' powers and forces a man to stand with an apple on his head while he takes shots at the apple with lightning bolts. He misses wildly. Aphrodite saves the man by distracting Augeus, just as the last bolt passes between the man's legs.
* WorfHadTheFlu: In one episode Hercules is injured in a shipwreck and had to face against a dangerous escaped prisoner. If he was completely healthy there would be no difficulty fending him off, and the prisoner compliments Hercules on his skill even with a busted arm.
* WorldOfBadass
* WorldOfHam
* WorldsStrongestMan
* WouldHurtAChild: Callisto says as much in "Surprise," picking up on what was established over on ''Xena''. Who she threatens, however, is what really boils Herc's blood.
-->"If I go back to the Underworld, I won't be suffering alone. I'll find your children. Aeson, Klonus and little Ilia, is it? And I'll dedicate eternity to making them suffer. After all, I got here, didn't I? I can get to them."
* WrittenInInfirmity:
** Early into the fourth season, Kevin Sorbo suffered some health issues. To accommodate him, the writers put more focus on Iolaus, produced "Men In Pink" (an Autolycus/Salmoneus episode), utilized Autolycus more and produced three additional Young Hercules episodes. Sorbo actually appeared in all but "Men In Pink" during this period, but his screentime was reduced from its usual length - only increasing the more he recovered.
** During a CrossOver with ''Xena'', Michael Hurst broke his arm while filming a fight scene. Iolaus' arm was subsequently injured in "Cast A Giant Shadow" and was seen in a cast for a couple episodes.
* XanatosGambit: "You see, he thought he stopped Dahak from entering the world. ''But''... all Dahak needed was a warrior heart. So, when little Iolaus sacrificed himself for the fair maiden Nebula, Dahak had ''everything'' he needed!"
** Dahak pulls it again in the same arc by trying to get Hercules to kill him and send him back into his realm. Doing so would condemn an innocent soul (Iolaus) to the same fate, thus shattering the balance between good and evil - plunging the world into chaos and darkness. Of course, if Hercules does nothing, then Dahak "will take the world soul by soul" and win regardless.
* YearOutsideHourInside: In "Love Takes A Holiday," Iolaus stumbles upon a village that Hephaestus cursed. The villagers think only a morning has passed, but it's actually been 50 years. It's later revealed that Iolaus' grandmother lives there and his father escaped the curse because he was playing by a nearby river.
* YouLookFamiliar:
** Herc's two half-brothers Ares and Iphicles bore an awfully strong remarkable resemblance to each other, despite not sharing any blood relation. (Out of universe, both were of course played by the late Kevin Smith.)
** In one episode, Aphrodite turns a pig named Catherine into a human (ItMakesSenseInContext). Catherine's human form is played by Alexandra Tydings, who plays Aphrodite. The goddess of love even compliments Catherine's attractiveness.
** Besides Iolaus, Michael Hurst played both Orestes and the Widow Twanky. Orestes is Iolaus' half-cousin and the two looking alike is a [[TwinSwitch plot point]] for both episodes he appears in. Instances of something "familiar" about the Widow Twanky, though, is played as pure LampshadeHanging. He also played Charon, although it's harder to tell under the prosthetics.
** Before playing Xena, Lucy Lawless appeared as Lyla, the human girlfriend (and then wife) of a centaur. In "Outcast" (which was produced after Xena was established), Salmoneus notes the similarity.
** Lawless also played an "Amazon" in the first ''Legendary Journeys'' MadeForTVMovie. These are different Amazons than the ones which come up later in the ''Herc/Xena'' verse. She has sex with Zeus (not knowing he's a god).
** Lisa Chappell played three different characters over the course of the series--Lydia, Dirce, and Princess Melissa--with a lampshade hanging when Dirce met Melissa in "Hercules on Trial" and commented that she was "uncommonly beautiful".
** Those who only remember Renee O'Connor as Xena's sidekick Gabrielle may be surprised to see her playing a totally different role in the second Hercules movie, "Hercules and the Lost Kingdom," as a young Trojan princess who is quite smitten with our hero.
** Joel Tobeck played a villain of the week in a Season 2 episode. He later returned to play Strife. After Strife was killed, he turned up as cousin Deimos. The resemblance between the two gods was {{Lampshaded}} in "Fade Out:"
-->'''Ares:''' They look enough alike, don't you think?\\
'''Deimos:''' Do not. I'm taller, and he's dead.
** Erik Thomson played King Daulin in the Season 1 episode "The Vanishing Dead". He would later go on to play Hades ([[TheOtherDarrin replacing Mark Ferguson]]) for the rest of the show's run, in four seasons of ''XenaWarriorPrincess'', and in one episode of ''Series/YoungHercules''.
** A number of the minor villains are played by the same actors. A slaver from the season 1 episode "March To Freedom" returns as the brother of the defeated warlord Demetrius in Season 2 episode "Cast A Giant Shadow." Similar, but more apparent examples are the two centaur twin brothers who both seek to kill Hercules, one for his wife, the other to avenge his dead brother.
** Also, actor Glenn Shadix played both the giant Typhon and his twin brother Typhoon.
** Robert Trebor, Salmoneus, shows up in the second MadeForTVMovie as Waylon, a slave who runs away from his mistress to become the slave of Hercules, who frees him.
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