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Sadly Mythtaken / Hercules

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There have been a lot of adaptations of the Herakles myth that tend to either get facts about the story or the Greek Myths they hail from blatantly wrong, or just play around with the source material a lot, as these examples will attest.

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     The Disney Movie/TV Series 
Out of all the adaptations of the Herakles myth, the 1997 Disney animated adaptation is by far the worst offender when it comes to this;
  • The original film contains the following examples:
    • Although it's the more commonly-used epithet today, "Hercules" is actually the character's Roman name. As he was born mortal in the myths, his birth name was Alcides, before being changed to the Greek "Heracles", in a fruitless attempt to appease his vengeful stepmother. (See below.)
    • Hercules in the myths was something of an Anti-Hero, who was known for fits of rage in which his strength got the better of him, yet he also demonstrated considerable wit and intelligence in situations where his physical might alone would not suffice. While Disney's iteration has moments of not knowing his own strength, he is at all other times a gentle and somewhat dim All-Loving Hero who always stops to help those in need and has relatively few genuine vices.
    • Pegasus was never in the original Heracles myth. He's a Canon Immigrant from another part of Greek Mythology, where he was born from the blood of Medusa's severed head, captured, and tamed by Bellerophon; he was subsequently used to assist in the killing of the Chimera.
    • The Fates in the movie seem to have more in common with the three Grey Sisters, most notably including the single eye among them.
    • Hades was hardly the most chipper or friendly god in the myths, but rarely was he presented as an outright villain as he is here. In fact, one of his most notable interactions with Hercules in the mythos was when he helped him complete one of his labors.
    • The original nine Muses are condensed to five, and they're actually less sassy than the original myth. They're also much nicer here too.
    • The parentage of Hercules is an egregious example; here, he's the legitimate child of Zeus and Hera and was born an immortal god. In the myths he was the spawn of Zeus's affair with Alcmene, a mortal woman, and he only gained immortality upon his death. Zeus's infidelity also caused Hercules to suffer the jealously and wrath of Hera throughout his life, starting when she sent two snakes to kill him as an infant.
    • The 12 Labors performed by Hercules in the myths (many of which are alluded to in "Zero to Hero") were done as his way of atoning for the killing of his wife (who was also named Megara), which he committed in a fit of rage that was also incurred by Hera.
    • Philoctetes in the myths was a human only notable for lighting Hercules' funeral pyre upon his death, though he also borrows certain traits from Chiron, a mythological centaur who was also a trainer of heroes.
    • There are a couple mythological errors related to the depiction of the Titans; their portrayal in the film is marginally more similar to that of the Protogenoi, primordial deities who personified the elements and forces of nature. The Titans of mythology were presented as completely human-like figures, akin to their offspring, the Olympians. The film also makes it seem as though Zeus alone was responsible for the Titans' first defeat, whereas in the myths, there was a great war between the two sides, in which his five siblings played significant roles.
      • There were also no myths concerning the escape or revival of the Titans; rather, the battle in which Hercules was fated to secure the gods' victory was taken from the Gigantomachy, which was a confrontation in which he helped them to defeat a group of giants who served Gaia.
    • Several references are made to Achilles and the Trojan War. In myth, Hercules predated said war by three generations. Note that the myths are unclear about by how much. General consensus is that Herakles was either 40 or 70 years older than Achilles. Hercules also curbstomped Troy first -but left the youngest son alive.
    • While his presence only amounts to a one-off gag, Narcissus was not a god in the myths and so would not have appeared on Mount Olympus. He was only a mortal who was so handsome that he fell in love with his own reflection.
    • Much of the film revolves around Hercules needing to prove himself a true hero in order to ascend to Mount Olympus and achieve immortality; apparently, neither Zeus nor the other gods could restore his godliness on their own. In the myths, they had no such limitations, and were free to bestow godhood upon just about anyone they pleased.
    • Upon meeting Hercules, Phil scoffs at the idea of him being descended from a god like Zeus and recounts how many heroes he trained in the past, among them Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus, and Achilles, lamenting how each one had failed to achieve greatness. In the myths, many of these heroic figures were the offspring of gods like Zeus and Poseidon, and while some of them may have met somewhat-sticky ends, they were not without their glorious achievements as opposed to the failures Phil makes each of them out to be.
    • When he first enters Phil's house, he knocks his head on what Phil claims is part of the mast of the Argo, which Hercules seems amazed about. In the actual myth, Herakles was among the Argonauts when they set sail.
    • While it's true that Herakles was the one who killed the Hydra, some of his other monster foes seen in the "Zero to Hero" number were not faced by him. The Erymanthian Boar, Nemean Lion, and Stymphalian Bird are all seen in the number, which were all killed during the twelve labors and the number also includes Ceto the sea monster, which he also killed, but he did not kill the Minotaur (killed by Theseus), the Gryphon (which is generally not a monster in any particular myth), or Stheno (who was generally agreed to be immortal).
      • Additionally, the centaur Nessus was directly responsible for Herakles' death, instead of being a Starter Villain.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series (also made by Disney as a tie-in to the movie) has the usual changes/mistakes, a number of gods that weren't in the movie make appearances some using their Roman names (Bacchus, who was Dionysus in Greece, and Cupid, who was Eros). In particular the god Trivia stands out, presented here as a god of useless knowledge, where Trivia was actually the Roman name for the goddess Hecate, who makes a separate appearance of her own in the series. The only thing they got right was that he was the god of where three roads meet, which is among Hecate's schticks.
    • The Trojan War is implied to take place after The Odyssey (which chronicles Odysseus' return home following said war). Additionally, Achilles was not suggested to be a participant in the "war", which is instead a simple inter-school feud that gets blown out of proportion by a tabloid journalist. Instead, Achilles is already a washed-up has-been by the start of the series, after the discovery of his weakness at some time in the past (in the original myth, said weakness again is discovered after the Trojan War started).
    • While Adonis is attributed a variety of fathers depending on the story, none of them were from Thrace.
    • In a similar way, there is a combination of Sadly Mythtaken with Critical Research Failure, in the episode "The Kids"; Herc has to take care of a child version of Alexander the Great and his classmates Alcides, Philip, Brutus and Callisto. The complications to this episode come from the fact that Alexander claimed descent from Heracles through his father.
    • It's claimed that Athena and Ares were rivals since they were babies. In the original myths, Athena was Born as an Adult.
    • Hercules is portrayed as a contemporary of Andromeda. He was her great-grandson in the original mythology.

  • DC Comics' Hercules has some differences in backstory to the myths, drugging and enslaving the Amazons and spending centuries imprisoned and tortured as a statue that is supporting the weight of the island of Themyscira. He is generally portrayed as an utter jerkass at best though not too far from his mythological counterpart and with a heaping helping of Values Dissonance accounting for his more unpalatable acts. He does sometimes try to be a hero in the more modern sense but spends a fair amount of time as a villain to Wonder Woman.

     Live Action Films 
  • The two Hercules (1983) movies from The '80s starring Lou Ferrigno and produced by The Cannon Group derive part of their So Bad, It's Good appeal from how badly they mess up Classical Mythology. The planets, moons, etc. derive from the fragments of the explosion of Pandora's Jar, which serves as a big bang. (No actual Pandora appears.) The gods live on Earth's moon. Athena is a "fairy goddess" of witches who dress, indeed, like a good fairy rather than a goddess of wisdom clad in armor. Hercules himself is a light being incarnated in the body of a human. The Big Bad King Minos rules Atlantis and has imprisoned a phoenix. Daedalus is an embodiment of science who creates giant mechanical monsters — and is female. This is an incomplete list of examples of this trope from just the first film.
  • The 1960 film The Loves of Hercules puts the wrong multi-headed creature as the guardian of the Underworld, using the Hydra instead of Cerberus. Making it weirder is the Hydra only has three heads like Cerberus instead of the usual seven, so clearly they were vaguely aware of at least some of the real myth.
  • Hercules (1958) does alright as an adaption of "Jason and the Argonauts", at least compared to many examples on this page, but with a rather glaring exception: in the original myth, Hercules abandoned Jason and crew before they finished the voyage, to search for his lost friend Hylas. That never happens in the film, where he's there for the whole voyage.
  • Hercules Unchained does something similar by inserting Hercules into the legend of the Seven Against Thebes. You won't find him mentioned anywhere in Aeschylus' account. A lot of movies in this series don't even try, breaking completely away from the original myths to have him fight aliens from the moon or rescue slaves from Atlantis with the help of his dwarf sidekick. Of course, for some of them, the original Italian versions don't even call the hero "Hercules".
  • The Loves of Hercules:
    • The crew seems to have gotten their multi-headed monsters from Greek mythology mixed up. Here, the Hydra guards the Underworld, even though that's supposed to be Cerberus's job. It is also stopped once Hercules cuts off its middle head, instead of growing more in its place.
    • Depending on which version of the Hercules myth you go with, his wife Megara should have either been killed by Hercules himself during a bout of a Hera caused madness (leading to the famous twelve labors to atone for her death and the death of their children) or given to Iolaus after he left Thebes. Megara being killed as part of a mortal political plot is wholly an invention of the film.
    • There's a random Big Foot. Mystery Science Theater 3000 probably said it best.
      Jonah Heston: I must have fallen asleep in Greek Mythology the day they talked about Sasquatch.

     Live Action TV 
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess:
    • Despite having approximately the same relationship to myth and history that spray cheese has to food, both shows had a pretty good grasp of the personalities of the gods, spirits and other critters they appropriated from various mythologies. Zeus was a philandering jerk; Ares was bullheaded, aggressive, not too bright, and rotten to the core; Thor was bullheaded, aggressive, and not too bright, but at least well-meaning; and so forth...
    • While Xena usually has a (relatively) good grasp on mythology, the episode "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" included Bacchus as a demon lord of some kind, his Bacchae followers (who should have been Maenads, since they're Greek, but Bacchae was the Roman name, just like Bacchus is for Dionysus, so points for keeping a theme) as vampires, and, most bizarrely, dryads as skeletal harpies. Well, it was a Halloween Episode.
    • The makers of Hercules took a look at Typhon – the biggest and most dangerous monster in all of Greek mythology, the greatest enemy ever faced by Zeus and the Olympian gods – and decided to make him into a dim-witted but lovable oaf. Apparently having him as a villain would have been just too awesome or something.
    • Speaking of Typhon, while the Lernaean Hydra was one of his children, as shown in this portrayal, the show also adds the Stymphalian Bird (singular, which in itself is inaccurate as the Stymphalian Birds were a population of monsters) and a nebulous humanoid "She-Demon". While Typhon and Echidna had many horrible offspring, there are no known ancient records of the Stymphalian Birds being among them—and if any do exist, they've certainly been lost to time, or at least haven't been uncovered yet—while the She-Demon appears to have been made up for the show.
    • Hercules' mother Alcmene was portrayed as a peasant farmer. In the myths, she was royalty.

     Western Animation 
  • Daedalus was a skilled and cunning craftsman in Greek Mythology, not the flying sorcerer whose only motivation is For the Evulz that The Mighty Hercules would have you believe.
  • Despite what The Amazing Feats of Young Hercules says, Hercules never rode Pegasus or fought Medusa in the actual myths, especially since Medusa was slain by Heracles' great-grandfather Perseus and thus would not have been alive by his time.


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