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Series / Hercules

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A 2005 American television miniseries directed by Roger Young and produced by Hallmark Entertainment that loosely adapted Hercules' myth. It was aired on NBC as a two-part miniseries, the first one telling his origin story and the later one depicting his mighty deeds, though most networks have released both parts together as a stand-alone movie. In this adaptation, Greece is split into two camps: those who worship Zeus and Hera, who constantly bicker against each other. Hercules (played by Paul Telfer) is a child of both worlds, apparently son of Zeus with Alcmene (played by Elizabeth Perkins), a Hera worshiping princess. Unloved by his mortal family, he must endure a series of trials to find his place in this world and create his own legend.


This miniseries contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Badass: Deianeira was just a human princess that had to be saved by Herc from some centaur that wanted to rape her. Here, she is an immortal nymph who doesn't need saving at all, rather she saves him a couple of times and teaches him how to use a bow (which becomes a Chekhov's Gun later on).
  • Adaptational Heroism: While Hercules ends up killing his children under his enemies' influence like in the myths, this is mitigated here by the fact that said children were attempting to kill him and he acts in self-defense.
  • Adaptational Species Change:
    • Deianeira was a normal human in the myths, here she is a nymph (a female wood spirit).
    • The Cretan Bull and Cerberus (Hades' three headed dog) are simply nicknames assumed by a human namely, Antaeus instead of being actual monsters (although it is left ambiguous as to whether an actual three headed dog named Cerberus exists).
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  • Age Cut: Hercules is shown as a boy struggling to lift a young horse, then it shows him as a man effortlessly lifting the now adult horse.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Alcmene and Megara (Hercules' mother and first wife respectively) were hit with this trope pretty badly, since circumstances turns them into highly antagonistic towards Hercules. The former is an Evil Matriarch who tried to have him killed on the crib by settings snakes and the latter hates him with passion for sleeping with him while drugged and arranges for his death by sending her sons to kill him.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Subverted with the Amazons. At first glance, instead of being the dreaded warriors from myth they appear to be just normal women that are also very "friendly" towards (male) outsiders. Then its revealed that at night-fall they turn into man-eating mares.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The story cuts out a lot from the source material by reducing the Twelve Labours to just six, and combining several characters together (See Composite Character for details), in addition to adding a couple of original characteristics.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: In this version, Antaeus is Hercules's father, not Zeus.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Antaeus has been responsible for all misery in Hercules' life ever since he raped his mother Alcmene, however his true parentage is not revealed to him until their final confrontation.
  • Ascended Extra: In the myths, Antaeus was a giant that Heracles fought as a random encounter between his famous labors. Here, he is upgraded to Hercules' real father.
  • The Atoner: Hercules, for murdering his children while mad, must serve Eurystheus and perform six labors. Later, Alcmene after her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Big Bad role is shared between many different characters. Hera (who was Heracles' Arch-Enemy in the myths) is never seen onscreen though her followers serve as Herc's enemies; Alcmene and Megara work together to make Hercules' life a living Hell, but unfortunate circumstances makes them sympathetic and they ultimately redeem themselves towards the end, at the cost of their own lives. Antaeus is responsible for the movie's events to begin with since his rape of Alcmene ended up fathering Hercules, but he serves other people as The Brute most of the time and he is disposed before the climax. Eurysteus serves as the final antagonist, since Hercules is beholden to serve him and perform his labors in penitence for his heinous crimes.
  • Blind Seer: Tiresias, much like in the classical myth.
  • The Brute: Antaeus, naturally.
  • Bury Your Gays: Iphicles is sacrificed by Megara.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Deianeira teaching Hercules how to use the bow and arrow comes really handy later in the movie when he is able to bring down the Cernean Hind without killing it and later save his son.
    • Hercules' arm bands forged from the snakes that he killed as a baby end up saving his life in the final battle when he uses them to deflect Eurystheus' arrow.
  • Child by Rape:
    • Hercules, who had always been treated as a pariah in his household.
    • His own sons with Megara are considered as such, since they were conceived under questionable circumstances, as both parents were inebriated at the time.
    • Hyllus is YMMV on this, as his conception was also under dubious consent, but strangely enough neither of his parents are bothered by this.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Hercules was raised by two parents with two different, opposite faiths (Alcmene is a Hera priestess, while Amphitrion worshipped Zeus) and later learns that he was the son of Zeus. Subverted when its revealed that his real father was Antaeus, who worshipped Hera, and Hercules decides that his heritage doesn't matter.
  • Creepy Child: Hercules and Megara's sons, specially when they are sent to kill their father while wearing demonic masks.
  • Composite Character:
    • Alcmene and Hera fulfill the same purpose as evil matriarchs who want to destroy Hercules, down to putting snakes on their cribs when he is just a baby. She even receives the same Heel–Face Turn that Hera does from the original myth.
    • The harpies (associated with Jason and the Argonauts myths) are combined with the Stymphalian birds from Hercules' sixth labour.
    • The Nemean lion is a zig-zagged example, as while its portrayal as a shapeshifting seductress is actually from some obscure myths about the lion, it is explicitly combinated with the Theban Sphynx (a creature from Oedipus's myth).
    • The Amazons are capable of turning into man-eating mares, much like the ones from his eighth labour. They also have elements from the women of Lemnos, an island visited by the Argonauts populated only by women that sacrificed their own men.
    • Antaeus is the biggest one in the movie, being combined with the Cretan Bull, Cerberus and Zeus, being Hercules' real father.
  • Death by Irony: Antaeus is killed when he's crushed by a huge rock, even though he's strengthened by contact with earth.
  • Depraved Bisexual: King Eurystheus. After Megara's marriage with Hercules being annulled, she is given to Eurystheus instead and he has a daughter with her. However, its shown him having a sexual relationship with Iphicles, which he is entirely blase about when confronted, despite him and Megara seeming to be in love when they married.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Megara is sent down the spiral after her children's death.
    • Alcmene herself crosses it after Iphicles' death.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Antaeus draws his strength from the earth itself and is deprived from his powers when separated from the ground and it's exponentially increased while underground.
  • Divine Conflict: Rather than being a (very dysfunctional to put it mildly) couple, Zeus and Hera are perceived to be at war with each other by their followers, and they are using each other as proxies. The reality is very unclear at the end if this true or actual humans' doing.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Deianeira pretty much takes advantage of Hercules' emotional state while he is in coma and in no position to give consent. It's slightly mitigated by being implied to be her version of Intimate Healing, and actually assisted in his recovery. Later she asks forgiveness for the act (which resulted in a son that he was unaware of until now) but he immediately responds that there is nothing to give, as he loves her and is delighted to be a father. Given how negatively portrayed is Alcmene's rape and Megara loathing Hercules for taking her virginity while they were both drunk out of their minds, this trope then comes into play.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Gender-inverted. Deianeira has sex with Hercules while he is literally in coma due over his children's deaths. It may or may not be part of her healing magic.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite being an high priestess from a bloody cult that likes to sacrifice men to Hera, Alcmene does genuinely love Iphicles and crosses the Despair Event Horizon after he is sacrificed in the Harvest Festival by Megara. She actually comes to love Hercules in the end.
  • Evil Matriarch: Not Hera this time (who is a vague non-entity that is frequently referenced, but never appears onscreen), but Alcmene. Yes, Hercules own mother is saddled with this trope.
  • Evil Mentor: Alcmene to Megara.
  • Exact Words: For his fifth labor, Hercules must enter a archery contest with Eurystheus to bring down the Ceryneian Hind. Everyone is appalled by this since the Hind is sacred to the gods and spilling its blood would be blasphemy. Hercules manages to bring it down by shooting it in the legs without hitting any blood vessels and stops Eurystheus from killing it, since the labour only demanded that they brought down the Hind, not kill it, allowing Hercules to complete his task.
  • Eye Scream: Instead of loosing his sight after seeing some goddess naked, Tiresias has his eyes sliced open out by Alcmene at the start of the movie. Yikes.
  • Final First Hug: Alcmene gives Hercules a hug and a kiss, commenting she had never done it before, right before she kills herself.
  • Gender Equals Breed: Wood spirits' gender determines what is their race, with satyrs being Always Male and nymphs being Always Female. If a nymph has a child with a human, they will be human regardless of gender.
  • The Ghost: While the Olympian Gods are referenced many times none actually appear onscreen. They probably do exist since several monsters were created by them after all, and a very unlikely bolt of lightning prevents Hercules from committing suicide.
  • Heroic BSoD: Hercules suffers a breakdown following the death of his sons, that nearly pushes him to commit suicide.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A twisted example. Hercules has completed his labors, and goes to meet Teresias at a cliffside temple to confirm he has completed the labors, despite not having returned with Cerberus. There he meets Alcmene, who is grieving the loss of Iphicles. Teresias informs them that, while the labors are completed, Hercules war with Eurystheus will only end with the death of "High Born Woman of Tiryns". Hercules outright refuses to murder Megara, but Almene counters that, technically, she herself is the woman in question. She promptly jumps off said cliff.
  • Human Sacrifice: Hera worshipers practice the Harvest Festival, a yearly ritual where they sacrifice a male to Hera. The movie opens with Tiresias being the intended victim, but since he is a Hermaphrodite, they let him live (though they blind him instead). Iphicles himself is not so lucky.
  • Interspecies Romance: Hercules and Deianeira as a result of the latter's Adaptational Species Change from human to nymph.
  • Irony: Alcmene had loathed her son Hercules all his life for him being the child of Zeus, who raped her - an priestess of Hera. Except it wasn't Zeus who raped her, but Antaeus, who is a Hera worshiper like herself.
  • Jacob and Esau: Hercules and Iphicles.
  • Losing Your Head: Hercules decapitates the Harpies. Later, Alcmene pours blood on one of the heads to revive it. She yells at Alcmene for disturbing her death sleep, but gives advice on killing Hercules. The head eventually dies again.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Antaeus is Hercules' real father.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Hyllus is revealed to be Hercules' son with Deianeira.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Several examples
    • Hercules when he thinks he killed Linus.
    • Hercules when he kills his children in self-defense. It's so bad that he attempts suicide.
    • Alcmene when Iphicles is killed in front of her, and the full weight of the emotional pain she brought to Hercules' life is finally inflicted upon her.
  • Never Given a Name: Briefly in the beginning. After Alcmene gave birth to her Child by Rape, the Harpies stopped her from killing him and said it is not right to kill someone without first giving him a name. She grudgingly uses the name Hercules suggested by the Harpies after all her attempts to kill him fail.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • Alcmene begs Amphitrion to kill Hercules when he is just a baby, but can't bring himself to leave the poor baby to die. She decides to pour snakes into his crib instead, but he strangles them to death. While these initial attempts fail, she would later conspire to kill her own son.
    • Hercules himself kills his sons with Megara. Unlike other examples in this movie, he is acting in self-defense.
    • At the end of the movie, Eurystheus spitefully attempts to kill his daughter Iole to deprive his rival's son of marrying her.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Megara survives the death of her children by Hercules and hates him more than ever after that. Alcmene herself when she witness Iphicles' death.
  • Parental Favoritism: Its clear that Alcmene prefers Iphicles over Hercules. Ironically, Hercules is favored by Amphitrion, who is not his real father.
  • Questionable Consent: Hercules and Megara have sex for the first time while they were both drugged/drunk during a Harvest Festival. As a result, she comes to despise him, believing that he violated her.
  • Rape as Drama: Alcmene was brutally raped by a cloaked man believed to be Zeus because of his lightning-shaped scar, in contrast to the myths that had him assume Amphytrion's shape to bed her. In reality, that is actually Antaeus.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Antaeus was originally Hercules' cousin due to being Poseidon's son. Here, he is actually his father.
  • Religion of Evil: The Followers of Hera. Her cult incorporates the most negative aspects associated with pagans and ritually sacrifice males every year during a harvest festival in her honor, and then there are the several monsters created by Hera's power that are also associated with her cult such as the harpies, the man-eating mares and Antaeus.
  • Sadistic Choice: Presented to Hercules during the climax when Eurystheus has Hyllus held at knife point by his soldier with his own arrow pointed at Hercules. He tells Hercules to surrender, even though its clear that Eurystheus will kill them both if he does so. So our hero is forced at arrow point to either shoot Eurystheus and lose his son or shoot the man holding Hyllus and probably getting killed in the process himself. He takes a third option by choosing the latter saving his son's life and then deflecting Eurystheus's arrow with his arm-guard.
  • Scenery Censor: The woman in the lion's cave, as she is apparently naked but hiding behind a rock that covers her body.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Tiresias reveals that if Iole ever gets married, her father Eurystheus will be killed by her husband. Hercules proposes a marriage between his son Hyllus and Iole to heal the rift between their families. Eurystheus refuses and attempts to have his rival and his son killed to prevent his own death. Hyllus (Hercules' son) ends up killing Eurystheus by throwing a knife to his chest - had he not tried to kill them, he might have lived.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Hercules' sons try to stab him while he is drugged and feverish, he is forced to turn the trope on them in self-defense. Later, Hercules himself is on the giving end when he kills his father Antaeus.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Between Hercules and Iphicles in their childhoods.
  • So Proud of You: Amphitrion is mortally wounded in the fight against the Hydra, and uses his last moments to tell Hercules he is proud of him.
  • Standard Hero Reward: After saving the King's life from the Lernean Hydra, Hercules is rewarded with Megara's hand in marriage. Just too bad that Megara hates his guts.
  • Truer to the Text: A strange example since this is a loose adaptation but there is many things here that are more accurate than many an adaptation of the Heracles myth. Alcmene having been impregnated by an individual she believed to Amphytrion? The identity of the individual and circumstances are changed but it is still there. Hercules being banished from Thebes for the killing of Linus? He survived the blow but it is still there. Hercules killing his children? He was drugged and they were trying to kill him but it is still there and thus the initial reason for him performing his labours. Who would have thought that a loose adaptation would have been one of the most faithful.
  • Woman Scorned: Megara, like you wouldn't believe it. She spends the whole movie plotting for Hercules' death along with his hateful mother for taking away her virginity (an encounter she initiated while they were both inebriated). When she finds out her husband has been cheating on her with Iphicles, she has his lover sacrificed in the Harvest Festival. She later on releases Antaeus from his prison intending to kill Eurystheus and rule the kingdom on her own.

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