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Series / Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

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Herc and his li'l buddy Iolaus.

"This is the story of a time long ago, a time of myth and legend, when 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 strength the world had never seen, a strength surpassed only by the power of his heart. He journeyed the Earth, battling the minions of his wicked stepmother Hera, the all-powerful queen of the gods.

But wherever there was evil, whenever an innocent would suffer, there would be Hercules!"

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys followed the life of the legendary hero played by Kevin Sorbo 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 kickass theme song). Hercules was closely tied to its spinoff Xena: Warrior Princess, which soon overshadowed it in popularity. It also spawned another spinoff, Young Hercules, starring a young Ryan Gosling, which didn't fare quite as well.

The show began life as a series of TV movies as a part of Universal's syndicated Action Pack 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 Scenery Porn that other shows couldn't manage. It put a new spin on Greek Mythology, 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 Puns) and impressively epic in its scope, using a lot of Wire Fu action sequences. It was also one of the first television series to make extensive use of CG creatures.

It was executive produced by Sam Raimi of Evil Dead fame, who would later go on to direct the Spider-Man Trilogy movies. Speaking of Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell 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 Mission: Impossible, Transformers, and Star Trek (2009).

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."

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: A Running Gag 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."
  • Alas, Poor Villain: 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!"
  • Actor Allusion:
    • "...And Fancy Free" features an exchange that doubles as a reference to a role that Kevin Sorbo tried out for.
    Father: I thought you’d be wearing a cape or something.
    Hercules: I, uh, I tried, but it just didn't fly.
    • "Porkules" has this exchange after Herc's turned into a pig and encounters Katherine (voiced by Alexandra Tydings).
      Hercules: I'm Hercules.
      Katherine: Yeah, and I'm Aphrodite.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Proteus is depicted as being deformed and ostracized from birth - to the point that everyone on Olympus would mock him for his appearance when he was a child, including Hercules - and is so unloved that he resorts to shapeshifting into people in order to interact with society. In the original myths, not only did Proteus look fairly normal, but never needed to use his shapeshifting powers to pose as anyone, for had no interest in interacting with anyone except on the few occasions when he ended up fathering children. Indeed, his only real trouble in life was the fact that heroes would routinely track him down and wrestle him into submission in order to force him into revealing the future for them.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: 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.
    • Typhon, as depicted in the myth, is a horrifying monster with either a serpentine body of multiple tails, or a body of tentacles, likely a set of wings and a horrible face (either demonic or skull-like), or sometimes as a multi-headed dragon of immense size. He's also quite evil, as he and Echidna deliberately send monsters out to trouble humans. In the series he's a giant that looks like a normal man (played by actor Glenn Shadix), is quite friendly especially with children, and his children with Echidna only turned evil because Echidna was distraught over Typhon's absence, which happened only because Hera had trapped him for a century.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the episode "Protean Challenge," Proteus is portrayed as hideously disfigured, to the point that his shapeshifting powers are used to hide his deformities and find love. In the original myths and artworks inspired by them, Proteus tended to look like a fairly ordinary old man - hence his title "The Old Man Of The Sea" - and any odd features he possessed were usually limited to a piscine lower half. And far from being unloved, he had numerous romantic partners across the Mediterranean, along with several offspring (two of which ended up getting killed in battle by Hercules himself, incidentally).
  • Adaptational Wimp: Proteus is easily given away by his reflection, a weakness he never had in the myths (which would have been quite a pickle considering that Proteus is a sea god). He also doesn't have the ability to predict the future, and his shapeshifting powers are apparently limited to transforming into living things - whereas the myths describe him as being able to turn into everything from trees to fire.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: No kidding.
    • Seriously, if a trope mentions "amazons" in its title, it probably showed up in this series. Or in the spinoff, Xena: Warrior Princess.
  • Apple of Discord: 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 Ironic Echo of the phrase when he uses the apple's power to make the two sides at peace.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Atalanta. Played by Real Life Amazonian Beauty Cory Everson to boot.
  • Anachronism Stew: Where to begin... probably that it was done intentionally for Rule of Funny. 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 the birth of Jesus. And even then the writers sometimes just didn't care either way and threw in then-modern references, such as the fashion show episode in which "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred is played at an event that's supposed to be in ancient Greece. Another big offender was "Darkness Visible" where Hercules met Vlad the Impaler and it was mentioned that they had fought the Turks together. Vlad and his conflict with the Turks wouldn't come into existence until the 1400s in the AD era.
  • Ancient Grome: Hercules goes by his Roman name; all the other gods go by their Greek names.
    • It's possibly because his Greek name, Heracles, has the ironic meaning "Hera's Glory." (His mother consecrated him as a priest of Hera immediately after his birth, in an attempt to protect him from her wrath.) Even if people do not know the meaning, it would sound odd to have his name sound so similar to hers. Then again, "Hercules" has been the more commonly used name in various works of contemporary fiction so it may have been a matter of simply using the familiar name.
    • 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 Eris is? Yup, that's exactly why she went as "Discord". (Same for Strife, who is neither Phobos nor Deimos.)
  • And I Must Scream: In "Descent", Hercules discovers Dumuzi (gatekeeper to the Sumerian Underworld) is using human souls as nourishment.
  • And Starring: 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."
  • Animated Adaptation: A Crossover with Xena: Warrior Princess called Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: 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.
  • Archangel Michael: Appears in the appropriately titled fifth season finale, "Revelations." This version of the character (along with his actor) later had appearances on Xena.
  • The Artifact- 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 Big Bad 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.
  • Ascended Extra: 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.
  • Asshole Victim: Strife, who made frequent trips across the Moral Event Horizon, and was quite amused about it too.
    • Both Deric the centaur and his human lover Lyla came off as this in the episode Outcast. In the episode itself, they were definitely sympathetic characters and their son Kefor definitely didn't deserve any of the persecution that they received in Athens. However, with their previous appearance in As Darkness Falls, the two of them schemed together to poison and blind Hercules. Not only that, but Deric and Lyla also aided Nemis and another centaur in kidnapping two brides from the village. Considering how Deric and Lyla had little qualms about kidnapping and breaking apart families in their first appearance, the punishment and persecution they receive in their second appearance pretty much comes off as a case of Laser-Guided Karma based on how they themselves had willingly poisoned Hercules and helped Nemis to terrorize and tear apart other couples in the past.
  • Back from the Dead: 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?"
  • Badass Normal: Iolaus, Autolycus, and of course Xena, Jason, Atalanta...and a never-ending stream of one-shot badass characters showing up nearly every week. Perhaps most surprisingly, Alcmene demonstrates in "The Wedding of Alcmene" that not only can she hold her own in a fight, she actually enjoys it.
  • Bar Brawl: Hercules gets into quite a few of these. Even regular fights out of taverns do a lot of collateral damage to nearby furniture.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Hercules, without a doubt. Being played by hunk Kevin Sorbo helped.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Hercules does one against Xena's sword.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: The fallen soldiers in "The Vanishing Dead" couldn't move on to the afterlife until they were given proper burials.
  • Batman Gambit: 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?
  • Berserk Button:
    • 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 "Stranger In A Strange World", he really flips out when Iolaus refers to him as "Hercules."
    • Let's just say if you're doing evil in Hera's name, you'd better make sure Hercules doesn't find out.
  • Beta Couple: Iolaus and Nebula.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: 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.
  • Big Bad: Hera in the earlier seasons, Dahak in Season 5. 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.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: During the fourth season, there was a little bit of this going on. Ares, Hera, and Dahak were all at large, though to varying degrees. Ares was serving as Herc's Arch-Enemy and battling him the most. Hera was still active and scheming, but would only make her appearance in the season finale. Dahak was also in the background manipulating events and his presence was acknowledged by Ares. And though Hercules doesn't encounter Dahak, he does acknowledge that he'll have to deal with the evil that is Dahak sooner or later.
    • In the fifth season, Hercules has to deal with even more divine antagonists all working their own agenda. Ares is still his archfoe for much of Season 5. Also, Dahak took center stage as an Arc Villain of the first half of the season. There were also a few deities working outside of Dahak's influence such as Dumuzi and Kernunnos who menaced Hercules. And unconnected with the rest was Archangel Michael who had his own plans for the world in the form of the Four Horsemen towards the end of the season.
  • Big "NO!": Used often, particularly the episode "Not Fade Away".
  • Bittersweet Ending: Not so much for the show but for Hercules himself when it came to his final appearance in the shared Hercules/Xena universe. In his final appearance in God Fearing Child, he manages to save Xena's baby and finally makes peace with his stepmother Hera. However, it came at the high price of Hera dying right after Herc made his peace with her and Hercules being forced to kill his own father Zeus in order to save Xena's baby, starting a chain of events which would spell the downfall of the Olympian gods. Though, this ending does become less bitter if the Hercules-in-modern-times episodes Yes Virginia There Is A Hercules and For Those Of You Now Joining Us are taken into consideration since it shows Hercules moving past the tragedies of his life in ancient times and still leading a happy, heroic, and productive life even into the 20th Century.
  • Blood Knight: Xena(formerly before her Heel–Face Turn), Ares, and Morrigan respectively.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: 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 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.
  • Break the Haughty: 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.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Like in mythology, this cropped up, though the writers seemingly relied on Fridge Logic 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.
  • Brought Down to Normal: 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).
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: 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!
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Strife consistently.
    • In Season 5, Ares was reduced into a sad joke as compared to being treated as a credible antagonist to Hercules in the earlier seasons. During that season, he loses almost every confrontation (Be it with Hercules or another god), in a comical and humiliating fashion. Even Discord was treated with more respect. Overlaps with Villain Decay and Sorting Algorithm of Evil, where Hercules took on more powerful opponents season after season, so Ares was completely displaced as a former threat to the protagonists. By the time he became an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain in Season 6 it was almost a promotion from this status.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: 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!
  • Camera Abuse: Non-stop.
  • The Cape: Hercules. Played straight in the first few seasons, and then Deconstructed from season 5 onwards.
  • Casting Gag: A genius one in "The Academy" as Hercules has to tangle with an upstart corrupt student, who mocks him on "being an old-timer, let me take over." The student's actor? A then-unknown Ryan Gosling who had played the title role in the short-lived Young Hercules spin-off. As a bonus, Jodie Rimmer, who played Lillith on Young Hercules plays Lillith's daughter, Seska, in the same episode.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Hades is portrayed as a beleaguered, overworked middle manager of a constantly understaffed afterlife.
    • In the same vein, Charon (who works for Hades) is portrayed as a disgruntled employee that's irritated with the monotony of his job and willing to bend the rules for a little profit on the side.
  • Character Development: 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.
  • Chaste Hero: You'd be surprised how often Herc turns down women.
  • Chekhov's Gun: 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 Reset Button at the end of the film.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: 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.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: 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."
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: 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."
  • Clark Kent Outfit: In-universe, Atalanta in Let The Games Begin. She was seen in a dress until she challenged her nephew to arm-wrestling. Her nephew was in shock when he saw how buff she was.
  • Classical Mythology: Chewed up, spit out, and hung out to dry.
  • Clear Their Name: 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."
  • Clip Show: 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 Damsel in Distress, 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 Spinoff Babies 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).
  • Combat Tentacles: Echidna has them, although when Typhon returns to her they become altogether naughtier.
  • Composite Character: 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.
  • Continuity Snarl: 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 Young Hercules, you can imagine the awkward 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 Xena: Warrior Princess episode "Death in Chains." The Jason retcon also subsequently affected Xena, such as 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).
  • Contrived Coincidence: 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.
  • Covered in Mud: 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 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.
  • Crapsack World: All of Ancient Greece is shown as this. Not only are the Jerkass Gods on a rampage making things awful, every other king is either corrupt, warmongering, or criminally insane, torch-wielding racist mobs are all over the place, and good is almost always horribly punished.
  • Crossover Cosmology: 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.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: 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.
  • Dark Action Girl: Xena before the Heel–Face Turn
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Iolaus used be to a thief prone to getting into trouble. He credits his friendship with Hercules for turning his life around.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: 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.
  • Dawn Attack: "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.
  • A Day in the Limelight: There are several episodes primarily starring Iolaus, Autolycus, and/or Salmoneus.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: Zig-Zagged in Mirror Universe 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.
  • Death Is Cheap: Unsurpringly, when the Underworld is shown as a physical realm which one can travel to and back from and there are characters with power over life and death, dying is by no means guaranteed to be permanent in the Hercules Universe. Notably Callisto and (more than once) Iolaus have both died and come back.
  • Death Takes a Holiday: Love takes a holiday in the episode of the same name when Aphrodite decides she's bored of being a Love Goddess. The amount of cranky loveless people skyrockets in the interim.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: 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. I'm just glad Alcmene isn't here to see what you've become.
  • Did Not Think This Through: One episode featured a local ruler who spent all his free time in developing primitive industrialization technology that let one man do the work of five... and then realized he couldn't actually use it without putting 80% of his population out of a job.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: 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.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: 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.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the original myth, Hera tricked Hercules into killing his wife Deianeira and their children. Here, she killed them herself to spite Hercules.
  • Diplomatic Immunity: Hercules himself is granted quite a fair amount of this from Zeus, with harsh punishments promised to any Olympian who dares to kill Hercules. Not only does this force the gods to pull their punches when fighting Hercules but it even allows Hercules to go around openly insulting the gods and telling the people to rely on themselves with little retaliation from anybody on Mount Olympus. It becomes especially apparent in episodes where if a mortal like Iolaus would show the same amount of pride as Hercules, the gods would come after him mercilessly ("Pride Comes Before A Brawl" and "Heedless Hearts") whereas Hercules would suffer no such retribution. And while this protection from Zeus didn't completely protect Hercules from being tormented by gods like Hera or Ares, as his two marriages to Deianira and Serena have shown, it did seem to protect him from some of the more petty and humiliating punishments a god like Ares would dish out to both Iolaus and Autolycus in "One Fowl Day".
  • Direct Line to the Author: Some episodes, such as "Yes Virginia, There is a Hercules", show an immortal Hercules having adopted the identity of an actor named Kevin Sorbo and playing himself in the show. Hercules also reveals that the show's creators have taken some liberties with retelling the myth. Apparently, killing off Iolaus (the original one) did not happen as Hercules remembers it. According to him, Iolaus lived to be an old man. And Hercules had to correct them... quite a bit. Ares also shows up, to get the show cancelled.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • 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.
  • Disguised in Drag: Autolycus and Salmoneus in "Men in Pink."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: 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. Played for Laughs in this case.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Social-commentary version in "If I Had A Hammer". Atalanta explains her decision to Stay in the Kitchen.
    Atalanta: Look. I spent my whole life being competitive in a man's world, at work, in sports, and what do I have to show for it?
    Hercules and Salmoneous: Well....
    Atalanta:' Well no social life, that's what! Guys just think of me as one of the guys. So that's why I decided to change my look. They are not interested in the real me.
    • On a more meta-level, Cory Everson (Atalanta's actress) was previously a top-level bodybuilder, then regarded (and still is by some) as a domain exclusively for men.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The Enforcer, with a chariot.
  • Dual Wielding: Xena and Darphus, her former second-in-command, duel with swords in each hand.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Exploited by Xena in her first appearance. She played herself up as an underdog warrior princess bravely fighting against evil and seeking male companions to love her and fight for her. She used this trick to con Iolaus into fighting Hercules, and it's implied she got most of her recruits this way.
  • Dumb Blonde: 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.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first season depicted Ares as a mostly unseen entity that was represented by a skull in the moon and a distorted voice, with his first physical appearance being as an armored glowing-eyed demon about twice as big as Hercules, and was said that his blood was poison that could kill anyone, including Hercules. When Kevin Smith was cast this totally changed and the idea of his blood being poison was dropped.
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: Atalanta does this to Hercules in a bout of playfulness.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Hera's two Enforcers are woman-shaped golems created from a singular element to hunt down and defeat Hercules after Nemesis refused to do so. Whilst they look like human beings, they're actually masses of elemental matter, and this manifests itself if they are injured or they wish to revert to a less human form. The first Enforcer is made of water, and the second is made of fire.
  • Elseworld: Hercules in the French Revolution!
  • Emergency Impersonation: In two episodes Iolaus has to stand in for his lookalike King Orestes.
  • Enemy Mine: Hercules and Iolaus team-up with Ares in "Revelations."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • 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 Papa Wolf reaction. ("He's my son. You don't wanna try me.")
    • Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters. Before her Heel–Face Turn, she was very unapologetic about her actions or those of her children. However, she dearly loved said children and her husband.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: 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. In the same episode, Xena's followers were willing to turn on her in favor of a leader who would allow them to Rape, Pillage, and Burn as much as they wanted, but when ordered to kill her even after she survives the Gauntlet fair and square, they refuse.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Thankfully averted. Hades is completely overworked and under-appreciated, but at no point is he ever shown to be a bad guy. Even when he kidnaps Persephone, it's only because he's so tired of being alone.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • The Sovereign, literally. Ares also counts, as he is an antagonistic son of Zeus.
    • Hilariously subverted when Hercules enters the Alternate Universe, where that world's Ares is a smooth-talking God of Love, meaning the Ares we've known all along is the evil counterpart.
    • Discord falls into this for Aphrodite.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Subverted; Iolaus's alternate-universe twin gets developed into a main character in his own right for about a season.
  • The Faceless: Hera, until the fourth season and the final episode.
  • Fake Shemp: In the first epsiode of the series Hera kills Herc's wife Deianeira. We see this happen, but we never see her face. Guess the producers didn't want to pay Tawny Kitaen to come back for a one second death scene.
  • 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 Star Trek: The Original Series. Special mention should go to Atalanta's outfit which seemed rather lacking compared to the male blacksmiths seen in the series, especially in the back.
  • Fantastic Racism: Hera and Ares have referred to Hercules as either a "half-mortal mongrel" or "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 hunt their parents.)
    • Hercules himself despises all gods regardless of where they come from or knowing anything about them. He thinks the world would be better off with all of them dead and does not hesitate to kill compared to showing some hesitation for humans. He doesn't bat an eyelid at learning he caused the deaths of all the Sumarian gods despite them not attacking humanity. Nor the Norse gods even after learning they care about their human worshipers and try to help them. He only restores the latter because their worshippers actually need them to survive.
  • Fashion Designer: After an episode about ballroom dancing, the show did a follow up with those same guest characters, this time involving fashion design.
  • Fate Worse than Death: This is implied to be the fate of any Olympian that violates Zeus' rule about not killing each other or Hercules. Nobody knows what the punishment is, but nobody wants to find out, either.
    • An episode of Young Hercules sort of answered this. Violating Zeus's orders on killing Hercules would result in eternal imprisonment in the dark abyss of Tartarus.
  • Faux Affably Evil: 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.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Iolaus and Autolycus in "Porkules" and "One Fowl Day."
  • Fire Is Masculine: The Enforcers are two women dispatched by Hera to destroy Hercules. While both are muscular, superpowered women who are laser-focused on their goal, the Water Enforcer has longer hair and a number of Pet the Dog moments that make her seem gentler and more feminine. The Fire Enforcer has close-cropped hair and is far more violent and willing to harm bystanders. The Fire Enforcer also kills the Water Enforcer for saving Alcmene, Hercules's mother.
  • 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.
  • Forced Transformation: 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".
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: 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.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: 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.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: 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.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Hercules'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.She dies next episode
  • Friend to All Children: Hercules and Iolaus.
  • Freudian Excuse: In Other World, the Sovereign was abandoned by his mother, Zeus went insane when he was a child and Cheiron instructed him to be a tyrant. It's also implied that losing his family prompted a Despair Event Horizon.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Iolaus 2.
    • "Doomsday" features none other than Daedalus.
  • Genius Bruiser: While not the smartest people to walk the Earth, Herc and Iolaus tend to win not just by hitting people, but by outwitting them.
  • Ghost Town: In "The Road to Calydon", a group of refugees find an abandoned town whose inhabitants suffered the wrath of Hera.
  • Giant Spider: Arachne in "Web of Desire." Her upperbody remains human (if slightly monstrous), but her lower half...
  • Girl of the Week: Almost every woman Iolaus meets falls for him in one way or another.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Hispides, who appears in "All That Glitters", has a beard even thicker than Salmoneus', whom she finds herself immediately attracted to.
  • Gladiator Revolt
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: Zeus specifically. Whenever he is needed he cannot be found by mortals or gods. He only shows up AFTER he is needed and tries to at some damage control. Instead, he is on dalliances with mortals. When he tries to hide behind the claim of "responsibilities" Hercules specifically calls him out on it. It frustrates the other gods as well. It is so bad his neglect of his responsibilities is the indirect cause for many of the problems on both Hercules and Xena.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: 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.
  • God of Evil: Dahak. More like "personification of all destructive and evil forces."
  • Good Feels Good: 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.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Aphrodite's jealousy over Psyche's beauty in the episode of the same name.
    • And Cupid's jealousy when Psyche falls in love with Hercules. It turns out that Hera had a curse put on Cupid that would turn him into a literal green-eyed monster if he gave into his jealousy.
  • Grand Finale: "Full Circle"
  • Heel–Face Turn: Xena, when she got her own series. Also, Hera, the former Big Bad, turned good in the last season just in time for Zeus to 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, 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 Face–Heel Turn 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 Canon Discontinuity of this arc.
  • Hell Hound: 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.
  • Hero of Another Story: In some of Iolaus' focus episodes, Hercules is either shown or implied to be busy performing heroic deeds elsewhere.
  • Heroes Fight Barehanded: 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, even when punching people wearing full helmets.
    • This at least makes some sense with Hercules, who abhors killing if he can avoid it, and possesses the strength and resilience to effectively use his fists against armed and armored opponents.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: 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 wantsnoe . He dismisses all compliments from Aphrodite, and she has to give a very prolonged You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech in order to get him to think better of himself.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: 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.
  • Hidden Depths: 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.
  • Historical In-Joke
  • Hilarious Outtakes: There is a famous one where Kevin runs onto the set of Xena and says "Woops, wrong show" before running off.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Callisto claims in "Surprise" that all mortals are wicked and should be punished. Though Hercules doesn't outright invoke Rousseau Was Right, he says he's seen too much good in the world for that to be true.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: 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.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: 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 trying to reach Iolaus.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Salmoneus. Falafel is the food oriented version.
  • I Am Spartacus: In one episode, Herc was put to trial for being essentially a vigilante, inspiring other people to try and repeat his feats to disastrous results and some other bullshit like that. In the end, first Iolaus claims to be Hercules and then explains that he means that figuratively. Then others join him; they share Herc's views and are ready to share his responsibility by saying, "I'm Hercules as well". Ultimately, even the judge himself says it. note 
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Aphrodite manages to stop a huge brawl dead in its tracks simply by taking her top off. Herc thinks she's losing her touch if she has to get naked to do it.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: In "Two Men and a Baby", Hercules alludes to feeling this way during his childhood.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: 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.
    • Iolaus tries it against Hercules in 'Be Deviled' but it doesn't quite work.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: 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.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Bruce Campbell, again working with old colleagues Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. When it came time to cast Autolycus, Tapert immediately thought of Campbell and personally called to offer him the role.
  • Improvised Weapon: Iolaus — he was especially good with frying pans
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • Insult Backfire: 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."
  • Interspecies Romance: 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.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: 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 Heel–Face Turn and ruling all of Greece with an iron fist.
  • It's Personal:
    • 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 Fridge Brilliance 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.
  • James Bondage: Iolaus, the male damsel in distress.
  • Jerkass Gods: The show got that part of the mythology right, anyway. Any time somebody's acting out of character, it's a safe bet "the Gods are at work."
  • Just Friends: Herc says this to most (if not all) his female admirers, including Atalanta.
    • A Tear Jerker when Atalanta lampshades the trope in If I Had A Hammer.
      Herc: "He just wasn't the right one for you."
      Atalanta: "Oh? And who is?" (Salmoneus raises his hand with an "ur hum"...) "Not you huh, Hercules?" (turns to leave)
      Herc (grabbing her arm): "Atalanta..."
      Atalanta: "I know! Don't say it: 'We'll always be friends.'"
  • Kansas City Shuffle: 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. Hercules isn't fooled.
  • Kick Chick: Whenever Atalanta gets in a fight, she seems to favor the use of her legs.
  • Kicked Out of Heaven: Archangel Michael sends Iolaus back to Earth at the end of the "Revelations" episode after he snuck out and helped Hercules stop The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from destroying the world. Even though it is called a punishment, the subtext is that being sent back is actually a reward for restoring The Light's faith in mankind since he can be with his friends and loved ones.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Water Enforcer's only weakness is fire. Both of the times she was defeated was when her body was boiled away.
  • Kill It with Water: 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.
  • Lady Luck: Appears in her Greco-Roman form of Tyche. She gave bad luck to a greedy merchant as punishment for not using his money to help the less fortunate.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In "Not Fade Away", Hades tells Hercules he has until sunset to save Iolaus because those are the rules.
    Hercules: Who makes these rules?
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • 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.
    • While far from dark and edgy in the first place, all the five TV movies had a more serious tone while the TV series had a comparatively lighter tone, and each subsequent season gets goofier over time. The lighter tone eventually peaks out in Season 4 with ridiculous episodes involving Hercules and Discord turning into a pig and chicken respectively, while a petty Ares make Iolaus and Autolycus his personal Butt-Monkey instead of killing them like he would have done in earlier seasons. However, some episodes still have their own share of high tension/stakes and/or tragedies.
  • Loophole Abuse: 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."
  • Lovable Coward: Salmoneus. He openly admits he's a coward, but has stood up from time to time.
  • Loveable Rogue: Autolycus.
  • Love Goddess: Aphrodite.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: 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 Make Wrong What Once Went Right, Callisto agrees to commit the heinous act in exchange for the chance to prevent her parents from being killed by Xena's army.
  • Malicious Misnaming: 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.
  • Manly Tears: To be shed whenever someone dies, isn't dead anymore, or when your best friend tells you you're his family.
  • Meaningful Name: The series is loosely based on Greek Mythology, so of course characters like Jason, Alcmene, Autolycus, and Atalanta have roles based on the myths, but there are also characters like a fast food vendor named Falafel after the sandwich (though he claims it's the other way round) and a woman named Cassandra who has prophetic visions that nobody believes. Hercules has to hang a lampshade when he hears that a mercenary is named Thanatos.
    Hercules: He has a name that means "death"?
  • Mercy Kill: In "Web Of Desire", Archne's Super Spit 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.
  • Meta Casting: Atalanta (one of the few Action Girls in Greek Mythology) was played by well-known female body-builder Cory Everson, who probably could beat Kevin Sorbo in arm wrestling.
  • Mirror Universe: The Alternate Universe ruled by the Sovereign, Herc's Evil Counterpart (complete with beard).
  • Missing Mom:
    • This happens to Hercules in the fourth season. Meanwhile, 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.
  • Mistaken Identity: With surprising frequency, when Hercules and Iolaus appear in a village ravaged by a warlord, a lone survivor will mistake them for a member of the ravaging army and attack them out of vengeance.
  • Mood Whiplash: there's a lot of this. The episodes in seasons 1-4 constantly swing between campy and ridiculous with flimsy pretext and the occasional Broken Aesop, 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.
  • Murderous Thighs: Hercules does this to one mook. Atalanta does a slightly less deadly version to Salmoneus.
  • My Beloved Smother: Demeter towards Persephone.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Happens to Iolaus and Autolycus in "One Fowl Day" while chained together (both the chaining and nudity being courtesy of Ares), forcing them to resort to covering themelves with leaves, followed by sacks.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Hercules's blind hatred of the gods and eagerness to help humanity in opposing them causes him to several times make things worse when he tries to make things better.
    • In season 4, Hercules becomes a god to better help mankind while ignoring the political situation on Olympus. His focus on saving humans is used to distract him while Hera overthrows Zeus and seizes control of Olympus.
    • Hercules tries to prove the Norse God Balder is not invincible by trying to wound him with a dart without considering where said dart came from. It poisons Balder starting off Ragnarok and the death of the Norse Gods. Hercules tries to brush it off until he learns the Norsemen are more dependent on their gods than other humans.
    • Perhaps the biggest one, Hercules does not hesitated agreeing to help the Sumarian king/demigod Gilgamesh in stealing a magical chalice that sustains the Sumarian gods since he assumes the Sumarian gods are no different than the Olympians and pointlessly tormenting humanity. In truth, the "torments" were fall out from their struggle to keep the evil Dahak out of the world. The destruction of the chalice, made only possible thanks to the help of Hercules results in the death of Iolaus, destruction of the Sumarian pantheon, and allowing Dahak to enter the world.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: If I Had A Hammer centers around legendary femme athlete Atalanta hiding her strength so as not to intimidate men; it ends with An Aesop about being true to yourself. Subverted in the same episode, though, as Salmoneus has always demonstrated a fondness for Atalanta.
  • Noodle Incident: 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.
  • Nostalgia Heaven: This happens a time or two when Hercules goes to the Elysian Fields and sees his wife and kids.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Ares tries this in "Hercules On Trial", with a little We Can Rule Together 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."
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: 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 Magnificent Bastard 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 The Dragon for Ares. Most egregious example being when he murdered Hercules second wife Serena while she and Herc were asleep.
  • No-Respect Guy: 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.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: 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.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Hercules jokingly accuses Iolaus of doing this so he won't have to do anything.
  • Odd Friendship: Iolaus and Aphrodite. Unsurprisingly, Iolaus 2 develops one with her as well.
  • Oh, Crap!: 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!"
  • Older Than He Looks: Iolaus is actually two-years-older than Hercules.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: An episode that is a Whole-Plot Reference to Some Like It Hot, a guy sees Salmoneous in drag, and pictures doing this date with him.
  • One Bad Mother: Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters. Her children are just as bad, but all of them apparently are much better when around Typhon.
  • One Head Taller: Hercules is taller than pretty much everybody, but specifically he is this to Iolaus.
  • One-Winged Angel: In "Ares", the god of war does this in his fight with Hercules — taking the form of a massive, well-armed monster.
  • Our Hydras Are Different: Hydras appear as threats to the heroes at various points through this series and its spinoffs. They're all descended from the original three-headed Lernaean Hydra, which was killed by Hercules and Iolaus.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: 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 Xena: Warrior Princess and Young Hercules.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: 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?"
  • Parental Neglect: Hercules at times complains how Zeus was never around when he was child. Athena comments Zeus was never around for any of his children mortals or gods. The daddy issues that resulted from this is implied to be why some of the gods are so messed up.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: In "Monster Child in the Promised Land", Klepto bumps into Iolaus and surreptitiously grabs Echidna's invitation from him.
  • Planet of Steves: Traicus was apparently a very popular name for warlords, as several were mentioned or shown.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Works only partly with the Sovereign.
  • Plot Armour: Hercules (obviously), and Iolaus until his encounters with various Hero Killers.
  • Pirate Girl: Nebula (Gina Torres)
  • Powered Armor: The Megoliths in "Doomsday" are the ancient mythical version.
  • The Power of Friendship: used liberally, although particularly with Iolaus. Although the relationship with Hercules and Iolaus really pushes the boundaries of The Power of Friendship and ends up looking like The Power of Love when Hercules goes to lengths for Iolaus that outstrip what he'd do for a significant Temporary Love Interest (or his own family). It doesn't help that in the source material, this is canon.
  • Precrime Arrest: 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.
  • Psycho for Hire: 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 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.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: 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?
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: At one point, Kevin Sorbo read "Wait a minute, this isn't my world. [disappointed]" as "Wait a minute... This isn't my world... DISAPPOINTED!" According to Sorbo, the line made its way into the episode as an in-joke on the part of the creators.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
  • Remember the New Guy?: Happens quite often throughout the show, at least once per episode or every other episode. Usually, Hercules will show up at a place and there will always be a character there that the audience is seeing for the first time but Hercules already knows this person as his old friend, former classmate, girlfriend, relative, mentor, or war buddy. Generally, a lot of characters introduced in an episode already have a pre-existing history with Hercules and Herc treats them like he's always known them.
  • Reset Button: 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.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory:
    • Hercules as mentioned above in Reset Button.
    • 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.
  • The Rival: Ares.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: 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.
  • Running Gag: 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.'
  • Sadistic Choice: 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 Omnicidal Maniac-type plan, but it would also mean Hercules' death, too. Iolaus actually does try to go through with the assassination, but the Sovereign knew about the plot all along and effortlessly stopped him.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: 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.
  • Sand Worm: Of the manta ray variety in "War Wounds."
  • Save the Day, Turn Away: Hercules is forced during a time travel adventure to change things around so that Serena ceases to be the Golden Hind and thus, never gets together with him and loses her life in the process.
  • Self-Deprecation: Oh, so much of it in "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Hercules" and "For Those Of You Just Joining Us."
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: 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 Make Wrong What Once Went Right, Callisto agrees to commit the heinous act in exchange for the chance to prevent her parents from being killed by Xena's army.
  • Sex Slave:
    • 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 Dirty Old Woman who comes on to Hercules, and gets sold said slaver as her own personal "Love Slave".
  • She Is All Grown Up: Hercules is more than surprised at how gorgeous Psyche turned out, since the last time she saw her she was just a tomboyish little girl.
  • Shirtless Scene : 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."
  • Shock and Awe: Much like dear old dad, Ares can also throw lightning bolts.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Unsurprisingly, Evil Dead 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) 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, complete with soundalike music.
    • They fought the Ghidra, which was designed to resemble King Ghidorah.
    • At the end of "Cast a Giant Shadow", Typhon quotes Jackie Gleason's famous line "Baby, you're the greatest" from The Honeymooners — Typhon was played by actor Glenn Shadix, who bears a decent resemblance to Gleason.
    • A good portion of the season 3 premiere episode "Mercenary" is a pretty heavy homage to the Tremors film series.
    • In "Stranger in a Strange World", when Iolaus is arrested and assigned a number, he screams "I am not a numeral, I am a free man!"
  • Shown Their Work: 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. At the very least, this is one of the very few works based on Greco-Roman mythology to avert Everybody Hates Hades.
  • Shrouded in Myth: 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? That’s a little hard to swallow.
    Hercules: Well, actually, that one’s 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.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: 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?
  • Sky Surfing: Apollo gets around this way.
  • Smug Super: Hercules can come off as that at his bad days.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: 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.
  • Spinoff: Xena: Warrior Princess, then later...
  • Spinoff Babies: ...Young Hercules.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Hades and Persephone in "The Other Side", although they are eventually allowed to be together (for half of each year, yes, but still).
  • Stepping-Stone Sword: Hercules is helped scaling a fort by arrows launched into its side.
  • Story Arc: The series was largely episodic, but there were Callbacks 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.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: In Iolaus' focus episodes or the Autolycus/Salmoneus episodes, Hercules either has very little screentime or outright doesn't appear.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: 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. Word of God 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.
  • Swallowed Whole: A sea monster does this to Hercules and Deianeira in Hercules and the Lost Kingdom.
    • Happens again in "The Wedding of Alcmene":
  • Take That!: The tagline for the Battle for Mount Olympus Animated Adaptation brags that it includes "the REAL Hercules", a likely dig at Disney's own cartoon version that was released less than a year prior.
  • Temporary Blindness: 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.
  • Temporary Substitute: Iolaus 2 in Season 5.
  • Terminator Twosome: 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 Make Wrong What Once Went Right, Callisto agrees to commit the heinous act in exchange for the chance to prevent her parents from being killed by Xena's army.
  • Think Nothing of It: Hercules' stock response.
  • The Time of Myths: Parodied in season 1 episode 2. This was so long ago that togas were new at the time.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Iolaus 2.
  • The Unfavorite: Ares sees himself as this to Zeus — especially when compared to Hercules.
  • Unwanted Harem: Hercules most definitely did not want to father children with 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.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Midasius in "All That Glitters" is essentially an ancient version of Las 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.
  • Villain Decay: Ares gets hit with this hard, season after season. He was a faceless and completely serious threat all until season 3, where an actor (Kevin Smith) began portraying him onscreen with semi-seriousness but still remained a principal threat to the protagonists. By season 4 finale he was reduced into Hera's lackey, and in season 5 he was further reduced into what's arguably the show's biggest Butt-Monkey. By season 6 finale, Hercules and Iolaus treated him as if he's the weakest Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain they ever met, even waving him off dismissively when he vocally threatened them.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Callisto with Hercules in her first appearance.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: A good number of male characters, effectively.
  • Walking the Earth
  • Walk This Way: The Widow Twanky managed to get in on this gag in "Greece is Burning" asking a group of young women to "walk this way" and having her exaggerated "palms up, hands moving up and down" walk copied in response.
  • Wallpaper Camouflage
  • War God: Ares.
  • Watch Where You're Going!: 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.
  • Water Is Womanly: Played with. The Water Enforcer takes the form of a beautiful woman... who is muscular, superhumanly strong, and laser-focused on destroying Hercules, slaughtering anyone who stands in the way. However, unlike the Fire Enforcer (who purely wants to destroy), the Water Enforcer has a few Pet the Dog moments with her human guide Gnatius, and eventually redeems herself enough to be sent to the Elysian Fields after her second death.
  • We Will Meet Again: 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.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: 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.
  • Wham Episode: "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.
  • Wham Line: One for both the character and the audience as, at their old academy, Jason runs into former flame Lillith who introduces her daughter, Seksa (played by Jodie Rimmer, who played Lillith on Young Hercules).
    Lillith: I want you to meet Jason...your father.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • 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.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: When Zarathrustra turned against Dahak, his family was murdered and he was cursed with immortality to keep him separated from them.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The four Young Hercules episodes ("Regrets... I've Had A Few", "Medea Culpa", "Twilight" and "Top God") and "Just Passing Through".
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "King for a Day" (The Prisoner of Zenda), "...And Fancy Free" (Strictly Ballroom), "Men in Pink" (Some Like It Hot), "The Enforcer" (The Terminator).
  • William Telling: 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.
  • Worf Had the Flu: 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.
  • World of Badass
  • World of Ham
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Psyche.
  • World's Strongest Man
  • Would Hurt a Child: 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."
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Xena does this in "The Warrior Princess" to make it looked like Hercules ambushed her and tried to kill her in order to further her plot in turning Iolus against him.
  • Xanatos Gambit: "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.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: 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.

Wait a minute... this isn't my stinger. ...Dis-a-POIN-TED!!!


Arm Wrestling Hercules

Well, that's one way to win.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DistractedByTheSexy

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