Series / Young Hercules

In an age of light and darkness, Zeus, king of the gods, rules the universe. He had a son: young Hercules! Half-god, half-man, young Hercules longs to find his place in the world, the father he's never known, and what it means to be a hero. Before the man became legend, before the legend became myth came the greatest story of all! Young Hercules!

A spin-off/prequel series of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys about Hercules, Iolaus, and Jason's teenage adventures that ran back for one season in 1998-1999 on Fox Kids, airing 50 episodes. One of the executive producers was Sam Raimi.

It starred Ryan Gosling as the titular Hercules, with Dean O'Gorman as Iolaus.

The entire series is available on Hulu. In 2015, Shout! Factory released the series on DVD.

This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Contrary to his claims, Bacchus is never seen seeking his revenge against Hercules and no such event was ever referenced in the parent series.
  • Academy of Adventure: Cheiron's Academy
  • Adorkable: Hephaestus. Hercules, Jason and Iolaus all have their own moments
  • An Aesop: Considering the series aired on FOX Kids, this was a given.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Zeus forbid the gods from killing each other. Extending the rule to include Hercules is the only thing keeping Ares and the like from killing him.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "The Skeptic," a new student refuses to believe the gods exist.
  • Ascended Extra: Strife, who only appeared in six episodes of the parent series, appeared far more often.
    • Jason also counts as well. When the pilot movie was produced, Jason had only appeared in about four episodes up to that point. Here he's a main character.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Hercules and friends have found an Ares lookalike, and need to convince Strife and Discord he's the real thing.
    Jason: Don't hit Hercules or I will hurt don't throw me backwards Ares!
    Ares: (to Discord) You are insolent, and disobedient...and naughty!
And later
Jason: Oh no it's Ares! (cringing badly)
  • Bad Boss: Ares often punishes Strife and Discord for their failures or just because he's in a bad mood.
  • Badass Normal: Iolaus, Jason and Lilith.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • In the "Battle Lines" two-parter, Discord and Strife manipulate a war between Cheiron's Centaurs and Cyane's Amazon tribe by kidnapping members of both sides and making it look like they were killed. They also impersonate Cheiron and Cyane's top advisers to properly goad them into a fight.
    • Hercules quickly figures out in "Ares On Trial" that the war god was framed for attempting to kill him. Knowing that Discord wants the job herself, he figures she got Strife to impersonate Ares for the fight. Hercules goads Strife into admitting the truth by insisting "Ares"'s fighting abilities were off, even claiming he made him cry.
  • Big Bad: Ares.
  • Big Brother Bully: Ares mainly, but Apollo also causes trouble in one episode.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Averted. Ares and Discord are siblings and while the parent series shows them in a sexual relationship, that is obviously downplayed here.
  • Butt Monkey: Strife.
  • Cain and Abel: Herc's half-brothers Castor and Pollux subvert this. Pollux is openly antagonistic and Castor is completely good-natured, but they get along fine. It's everyone else that Pollux has a problem with.
  • California Doubling: Filmed in New Zealand, set in ancient Greece.
  • Call Forward: The pilot movie ends with Hercules and Iolaus discussing the possibility of fighting a three-headed monster. They do years later in Hercules And The Amazon Women (the first TV-Movie), where they fight a hydra (which ultimately grows three heads).
  • Classical Mythology: Superficially.
  • Clear Their Name: "Ares On Trial." Ares is accused of breaking Zeus' rule about no god trying to kill Hercules. Who does he get to defend him? Hercules.
  • Cruel Mercy: The punishment for breaking Zeus's protection rule involves being condemned to a pit of Tartarus and tortured for eternity. Ares faces this in "Ares On Trial" for allegedly trying to kill Hercules, but when Strife and Discord's Frame-Up is revealed, Athena intends to condemn them to this fate. Ares intervenes—asking that they be turned over to him. Everyone is fully aware that he'll be able to think of an even worse punishment than this, to the point of Strife and Discord begging to be sent to Tartarus instead.
  • Disappeared Dad: Zeus is obviously this to Hercules, but Hephaestus says he doesn't see much of him, either. Castor says he and Pollux have never even met him.
  • The Dragon: As on the original series, Strife is officially Ares's second-in-command. That doesn't stop Discord from constantly bossing him around and doing the heavy-lifting for various plots.
  • Evil Counterpart: Lucius to Hercules.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Hercules' quest to meet his father face-to-face, especially as HTLJ showed their first official meeting. Subverted, though, in the last episode in which a character Hercules encountered turned out to be Zeus in disguise. So, Hercules did meet his father; he just didn't know it at the time.
    • To say nothing of the gods' plots to kill Hercules.
  • Fantastic Racism: As on Xena: Warrior Princess, Amazons and Centaurs openly dislike and think the worst of each other. Cheiron subverts it in "Amazon Grace" (where he welcomes Cyane's Amazon's to the Academy), but it flares up in the later "Battle Lines" two-parter.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Hercules, Iolaus, and (to a lesser extent) Jason.
    • Towards the end of the season, Herculs and Theseus.
  • Foreshadowing: "Amazon Grace" opens with the three cadets heading home through the woods. A marker informs them they'd be trespassing if they take a shortcut. Iolaus is content to ignore it, but Jason says he doesn't ignore the law whenever it's convenient. This comes up in the main plot when King Leeseus claims the Amazons as his slaves. Iolaus is deeply opposed to slavery on moral grounds, while Jason (though opposed to it himself) says that Leeseus is within his legal rights.
  • Freudian Excuse: In "No Way Out," Lilith says she came from a village that was under constant bandit attacks. She wanted to be a warrior like her brother, Marcus, who died in one of the attacks.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Hephaestus.
    "Ideas come to me. I look at something, and I see what it could be."
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Hercules is half-god, half-mortal. Ditto for Castor and Pollux.
  • Irony: In "Ares On Trial," Hercules is stunned Ares would name him as his defense council after being accused of trying to kill him. Ares says the irony of the situation appealed to him.
  • It's Personal: Ares's vendetta against Hercules. Discord says in "Ares On Trial" that he'll constantly talk about finding ways to kill him.
    Discord: It's his favorite topic.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Kora starts serving a new foreign drink that she describes as heated beans strained through water (in other words, coffee) with milk added. Hercules is rather put off by that unflattering description and is further unsettled when he notices that Kora is incredibly jittery from drinking so much of it.
  • Jerkass Gods: Almost every god that Hercules regularly interacts with fit this trope. Hephaestus is the only subversion. He has his bad moments, but he is genuinely one of Hercules' friends.
  • Just Think of the Potential: Stated by Hephaestus himself to be the reason hes such an incredible inventor. He has the ability to see what anything can become, their potential
  • King of the Gods: Zeus.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • In the opening three-parter, Ares manipulates Hercules into stealing a prized chalice from Hera. Ares knew that Hera was promised whoever stole the chalice would be put in their proper place—meaning Zeus's protection would be invalidated and that he'd have the leeway to finally kill Hercules.
    • Cyane's Amazons were made slaves and sold to Leeseus, king of Athens. He intends to collect on this in "Amazon Grace" and the heroes struggle to find a way out. After looking over the laws, Hercules proposes combat by champions, where each side names a fighter and the first one to hit the ground loses. The episode proceeds to exploit a couple loopholes, as Leeseus can name whoever he wishes, so he picks Hercules and says the law allows him to claim the half-god as a slave should he lose. Ultimately, Hercules beats Cyane in the fight, but the law also says that the winner is entitled to a reward of his choosing and can't be denied. Hercules immediately asks for slavery to be abolished in Athens.
    • Ares's scheme in "No Way Out" relies on this. He wants to poison Hercules, but he can't give him the poison himself, so he tries to trick Lilith into doing it.
  • Mr. Fanservice: And how. Just look at the three main characters.
  • My Greatest Failure: In "Teacher's Pests," Hercules and Jason discover that Fiducius's much praised son actually washed out of the Academy and ran away.
    Fiducius: He was a good boy once, good student. Made me proud. Then he started getting into scrapes—small ones at first. I went easy on him, covered for him, let him get away with things. He got wilder and wilder, uncontrollable. I didn't know what to do with him. One day, he just ran away. You wonder why I'm so hard on you boys? It's because I don't want the same thing to happen to you. I don't want to let you down the way I did him.
  • Mythology Gag: In the Pilot Movie, Hercules wears the same outfit that his adult counterpart wore years later in the Hercules And The Amazon Women TV-Movie.
  • Nice Guy: Hephaestus. Hes the only god that has no desire whatsoever to harm Hercules or his friends. Hercules is this as well.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Regularly, the heroes would have to get themselves out of a situation that they got themselves into in the first place. To be fair, they are younger and less experienced.
  • Not Quite Dead: In "Ares On Trial," Iolaus and Jason think that Hercules is actually dead, but viewers know he's simply on Olympus for the trial.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Cheiron is normally the sensible, level-headed teacher, but in the "Battle Lines" two-parter, he's made to think his brother and nephew were killed by Amazons, so he's blinded by rage.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: In "What a Crockery," Ares could've simply allowed Hera to kill Hercules, but he wanted the pleasure of doing so himself.
  • Opening Narration: See the page quote.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Iphicles is mentioned in the Pilot Movie as having run away from home out of frustration over being in Herc's shadow.
  • Out of Order: "Down and Out in Academy Hills" depicts the first time Hercules met Hephaestus, but it originally premiered after he already made a few appearances.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Ares truly despises Hercules and spends a good deal of time every day thinking of plans to kill him, but he's not going to incur Zeus's wrath by outright breaking the protection rule.
  • Pygmalion Plot: "My Fair Lilith," in which the guys try to pass Lilith off as a princess to help get Jason out of an arranged marriage.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Cheiron
  • The Resenter: Ares deeply resents Hercules for being Zeus's favorite.
    "Supplanted by a half-mortal. I could have destroyed you long ago, if not for Zeus's special protection!"
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Subverted with Ruff the Basilisk. He is generally kindhearted (particularly towards Iolaus) and only causes trouble when he's scared.
  • Retcon: In his first appearance on HTLJ, Hephaestus said his father wasn't Zeus and even lamented that. On this series, that was changed in order to make him and Hercules half-brothers.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: If you know what franchise this series is a part of, you already know the answer.
  • Ship Tease: Hercules and Cyane
  • Shirtless Scene: Hercules got one shirtless scene. And he wasn't the only one. Iolaus (played by the lovely and talented Dean O'Gorman) had at least three, and Jason (played by the equally-if-not-moreso lovely and talented Chris Conrad)...well, it's easier to find episodes where he isn't shirtless, really.
  • Shrouded in Myth: According to "A Serpent's Tooth," Basilisks are thought to be legendary creatures because no one has ever seen or heard of one until Ruff turned up. The end of the episode suggests there are many Basilisks out there and that they just stay away from humans.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Not only between Hercules and Ares but many of Hercules' half siblings as well. Everyone just wants to impress Dad.
    • With the notable exemption of Hephaestus
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Ares and Hephaestus
  • The Smurfette Principle: In the pilot movie, Yvenna. In the series proper, Lilith.
  • Spinoff Babies: Well, teenagers.
  • Stern Teacher: Fiducius
  • Terrible Trio: Ares, Strife, and Discord.
  • Thieves' Guild: Iolaus was part of a bandit group.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Guess who...
  • War God: Ares.
  • Warrior Prince: Jason.
  • We Will Meet Again: As on the other shows, Ares constantly vows this.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Hercules' main goal in this series is to meet his father and be acknowledged. It's kind of subverted, though, as viewers are well-aware that Zeus knows who Hercules is and even considers him his favorite child.
    • Hephaestus initially was this for Hera, but he grew out of it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Though the movie provided an explanation why he wasn't around, some found it odd that Iphicles never made an appearance on the show or was even mentioned.
  • You Look Familiar: Michael "Iolaus" Hurst appears as a peddler in the pilot movie.