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Jason and the Argonauts is a two-part television miniseries based on the story of Jason and the Argonauts in Classical Mythology, directed by Nick Willing and featuring a cast that includes Jason London, Natasha Henstridge, Dennis Hopper, Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Williams, Angus Macfadyen, Jolene Blalock, James Callis, and Brian Thompson. Produced by Hallmark Entertainment, it first aired on NBC over two nights in May 2000.

The story revolves around the hero Jason (London), rightful heir to the throne of Iolcus, whose throne was usurped from his father by Evil Uncle Pelias (Hopper). Pelias offers to give Jason the throne if he sails to the end of the world to claim the Golden Fleece, something which many have tried but failed. Jason gathers a Badass Crew, including Hercules (Thompson) and other Greek heroes, and sets sail aboard the ship Argo. Together, the Argonauts encounter all sorts of adventures along the way. Jason's love interest is Medea (Blalock), a sorceress, and the gods Zeus (Macfadyen) and Hera (Williams) play roles in the story as well.

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It has no connection with the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts apart from being based on the same source material.


This work contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Hercules is played by Brian Thompson who previously appeared in an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The women of Lemnos were cursed with an unbearable stench by Aphrodite, but appear to be otherwise very attractive here. Or perhaps the Argonauts are just desensitised to bad odours after sailing with a bunch of other men for days.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Jason's entitlement about reclaiming his father's throne is lessened, as Pelias orders him to get the Fleece or else his mother will be killed. Pelias also kills his own son in cold blood, meaning Jason is overthrowing a tyrant in the final act.
    • Medea's worse deeds are eliminated; in mythology, she killed her brother and chopped his body into pieces purely to delay their father's pursuit of the Argonauts (and they're ready to throw her overboard because of this). Here, her brother is driven mad with jealousy and she kills him in self-defence (while also grieving for him afterwards). Even her trick on Pelias from the mythology - lying that he'll be restored to youth if he takes part in a spell that would kill him - makes her look better since he had just killed his own son.
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  • Adaptational Ugliness: Greek mythology describes the huntress Atalanta as a gorgeous blonde with endless suitors. However, the miniseries portrays her as a plain Tomboy — so much so that Jason refers to their relationship as a brotherly one (he clearly thinks of her as a man rather than a woman). Though despite this, Atalanta does attract one man in the course of the story.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Acastus steals the fleece and brings it to Pelias. He didn't betray them in the original myth and ended up becoming King in his father's place. He did end up banishing Medea from the kingdom, but then again she did cause his father's death.
    • The women of Lemnos are made even more evil, removing their Freudian Excuse. In mythology, they were cursed by Aphrodite to have an unbearable stench that made their husbands desert them for Thracian concubines - and that's why they killed all the men. Hypsipyle also saved her father from the massacre, but he is Adapted Out here. Indeed, the only reason the women wore armour to the beach was because they thought the Argonauts were Thracians about to attack them. And while they lie about killing their men, the women were content to keep the Argonauts as their new husbands, and weren't planning to sacrifice them to Artemis.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • Atalanta here is Jason's childhood friend.
    • There's a psychic link established between Jason and Medea long before he reaches Colchis.
  • Adapted Out: Zetes had a twin brother called Calais. Presumably he was left out since they already had Castor and Pollux.
  • Advertised Extra: Natasha Henstridge is billed third, yet only appears for twenty minutes in the middle of part one.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Aeëtes is killed by his subjects once the Argonauts escape with the Fleece. Medea must witness the event through a psychic link, and is horrified.
    • Acastus betrays the Argonauts to take the Fleece for himself, attempting to overthrow Pelias. He gets stabbed by his own father and left for dead on the steps of the palace.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Atalanta doesn't really show much interest in the thief that is attracted to her, having eyes for the strong Jason. The trope isn't played literally since she shows no interest in Hercules himself.
  • All There in the Script: The thief's name is never said onscreen, but according to the credits, his name is "Actor."
  • Amazon Brigade: The women on the Isle of Lemnos. However it's ultimately subverted. While they wear armour and carry weapons, it's implied that they're not skilled warriors. Rather than just capturing Jason and his crew, they have to resort to drugging and trickery. One woman simply falls off her horse when trying to chase after them. Aside from one or two getting hit with arrows, the women of Lemnos pose no threat once the Argonauts are aware of their plans.
  • Ancient Grome: Set in Greece, but uses the Roman "Hercules" instead of the Greek "Heracles". However averted when Eros appears; he's normally confused with his more famous Roman counterpart Cupid.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Mopsus has grown one since Pelias took over.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Subverted. Hypsipyle offers the Argonauts her beautiful slaves as companions (though she gets Jason for herself). However it's all part of a trick to sacrifice the men to Artemis.
  • Betty and Veronica: Atalanta is the Betty to Jason — childhood friend and already very close to him. Medea is the Veronica — exotic Hot Witch. The set-up is played with as Jason never saw Atalanta as anything other than a friend — and Medea never knows about Atalanta's feelings for him.
  • Big Damn Heroes
  • Black Dude Dies First: Echion lasts long enough to suggest they kill Acastus for stowing away before he is drowned by Poseidon. Averted with Orpheus who survives.
  • Black Vikings:
    • Orpheus, a Thracian, is portrayed by a Black actor. Thracians were white.
    • Castor and Pollux are portrayed by actors with Middle Eastern heritage. They appear to be local to Iolcus, since they've never sailed before.
    • Echion is also played by a Black actor, but very little is known about him beyond being a demigod son of Hermes, so he could be from anywhere.
  • Blessed with Suck: Phineas is given the gift of making prophecies but has lost his eyesight and has his eyes sewed shut.
  • Boring Return Journey: The protagonists have plenty more to do when they get back to Iolcus with the Golden Fleece. However the actual return journey from Colchis is smoother than the journey there, leaving out the Sirens and Talos, whom the Argonauts encountered on the way back in the original myth.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Atalanta the tomboy huntress has shorter hair than the other highborn ladies.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Thief already proves useful for snatching the Fleece. He also proves useful by revealing to have stolen Jason's amulet when he dropped it in Lemnos.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jason's Amulet of Dependency it is a memento from his childhood and turns out to be the key that opens a secret tunnel to the palace, allowing the Argonauts to sneak in and surprise Pelias.
  • Chekhov's Skill: "The legs are springs, the arms wings."
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Climbing down cliffs in this case. The Fleece is on a high plateau that the Argonauts must climb down from to get to their ship and escape.
  • Composite Character:
    • The women of Lemnos are sort of combined with the Sirens. The Argonauts are portrayed as being hypnotised by them, with some kind of magic involved. Likewise another element from the Siren part of the adventure — Orpheus using his harp — happens instead when trying to get the Fleece. Here he uses it to lull the dragon guarding it to sleep.
    • Acastus has his role as Jason's cousin, but they're also siblings in this version through Polymele, making him a composite of Jason's infant brother Promachus. Pelias also kills him before Jason's official return, like he does the latter.
    • Aspyrtes has his role as Medea's brother, but also shares the role played by Phrontides, Melas, and Cylindrus - who the Argonauts find shipwrecked and then bring them to Medea.
  • Costume Porn: Most of the royal characters have splendid finery. Indeed, Medea has several beautiful gowns that contrast heavily with the dull armour of the Argonauts.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Aeson is killed by Pelias in the opening invasion. Most versions of the myths have him surviving until Jason is an adult, where he either commits suicide during the quest or lives to be the subject in a spell Medea casts in front of Pelias.
    • Hercules, after pulling a You Shall Not Pass! Heroic Sacrifice. As Jason cradles his body, it disappears and he becomes a constellation.
    • Acastus is killed after betraying the group. In the myths he ruled for many years.
  • Dirty Old Man: Argos, watching the women of Lemnos bathe.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jason's mother hearing false news that he died.
  • Dull Surprise:
    • Jason London. From being told that his uncle killed his father to nearly drowning, he has the same nauseated look.
    • Jolene Blalock.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Everyone Chasing You:
    • The Argonauts have to flee Lemnos when the plans to sacrifice them to Artemis is exposed, and the women chase them to the beach.
    • Multiple times they have to flee an approaching army in Colchis.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • Pelias's hair gets greyer the further along the story moves.
    • Mopsus is shown with long shaggy hair and Beard of Sorrow when Jason meets him. When the ship sets sail he has cut his hair short and shaved his beard.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Acastus betrays the Argonauts.
    • King Aeetes when he finds out Jason wants the Fleece.
  • Gendercide: The women of Lemnos have killed all their men, and intend to sacrifice the Argonauts to Artemis. There is mention of "a sacrifice of men", so it seems as though Atalanta might have been spared.
  • The Ghost: Although the Gods feature in the story, only Zeus, Hera, Poseidon and Eros are seen on screen. The women of Lemnos are planning to sacrifice the men to Artemis, and Medea is a priestess to Hecate, who of course don't appear. Aphrodite's role in cursing the women of Lemnos is also removed.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: Poseidon has a little fun with the crew by pretending to be an island and then standing up to create a tidal wave which destroys most of the ship. The only reason they survive is probably because Zeus blows them onto the Isle of Lemnos where they get repairs.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: The majority of the situations the Argonauts get into are solved by Jason's quick thinking, like him creating a zipline for them to cross the gorge and tying a noose to the dragon guarding the Fleece.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Zeus creates several obstacles for the Argonauts early on in the adventure, purely because he's jealous that Hera rather fancies Jason.
  • Harping on About Harpies: The harpies steal from Phineus's table and the Argonauts have to defeat them. They are killed when everyone makes the temple cave in on them.
  • The High Queen:
    • Hypsipyle, Queen of Lemnos. At least to her own people anyway.
    • Hera is portrayed this way too. The story does play up her jealousy but it's mostly used to show that she and Zeus are both being idiots.
  • Hot Witch: Medea is a more obvious witch in this version and still Jason's love interest.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Pollux is bald, Castor has a beard and hair.
  • Improvised Zipline: The Argonauts are pursued by an army and come across a ravine. One produces a rope with which to climb down, but Jason has a better idea, tying the rope to a shield and asking Hercules if he's any good at the discus. Once the shield is thrown, the Argonauts cross on the improvised zipline, only waiting for the enemy to start crossing to cut the rope.
  • Incest Subtext: Between Medea and Aspyrtes as he seems especially jealous of Jason's attraction to her, and not just because it means losing the throne.
  • Ironic Echo: "My destiny is to rule."
  • Jerkass Gods: Surprisingly averted — likely due to the original myth featuring one of Hera's positive portrayals. Zeus cheats on Hera with mortal women and then gets jealous when Hera is attracted to Jason, causing several problems for the Argonauts as a result, but he and Hera are given an Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moment.
  • The Lad-ette: Atalanta. Played for a bit of drama since she is in love with Jason but he considers her like a sibling — in fact he says like a brother.
  • Lady Land: The Isle of Lemnos. It turns out there used to be men but they were all killed, sacrificed to Artemis.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Medea's portrayal.
  • Last Girl Wins: Out of all the women Jason encounters, Medea is the last and she is his love interest. Likewise Medea has grown up on Colchis — and Jason is also her Last Guy.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Jason drops this (unknowingly making it double as this) on Atalanta. For an added sting, he says "you're as dear to me as a brother".
  • The Lost Lenore: Orpheus's Eurydice — his love for her stops him from being seduced by the women of Lemnos.
  • Loveable Rogue: A thief joins the crew and ends up taking the Fleece off its tree and finding Jason's lost amulet.
  • Love Goddess: This version leaves out Aphrodite but has Hera ordering Eros (portrayed as being made completely of fire) to shoot Medea with one of his arrows and make her fall in love with Jason.
  • MacGuffin: The Golden Fleece, which doesn't actually do anything other than look pretty. It is said to grant someone their heart's desire, but it's implied that this is mostly superstition.
  • Maybe Ever After: The thief and Atalanta get a lot of Ship Tease moments and some scenes hint that Atalanta might reciprocate his feelings notably when he catches feathers for her arrows. The two of them are seen standing together at the end.
  • Meaningful Echo: The Golden Fleece is referred to as "worth a kingdom". Towards the end of the movie Jason says the same thing about his amulet.
  • My Greatest Failure: For Mopsus, it was being unable to protect Aeson from being killed by Pelias.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Medea reveals she can heal wounds when Acastus is shot with an arrow. She doesn't bother healing her brother though.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Played with as Jason considers Atalanta to be a sibling (he actually says brother) and rejects her romantic advances but Atalanta does catch the eye of the thief who stows on board.
  • One of the Boys: Atalanta is the only woman on the ship, yet is treated as if she were one of the men (by everyone except Actor).
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Castor and Pollux.
  • Psychic Link: Between Jason and Medea. A convenient plot device to introduce Medea earlier in the story.
  • Race Lift: Orpheus is commonly imagined as white in Greek mythology. Here he is played by Anglo-African actor Adrian Lester.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Unlike in the myth where the Argonauts are famous heroes or princes prior to the quest, Jason mostly recruits peasants not as much for skills but for pluck. Castor and Pollux are stoneworkers. Odysseus's future dad Laertes is a cowherd who vaults over charging bulls for fun. Later he vaults straight into the dragon's mouth.
  • Red Shirt Army: Several Argonauts die, even Hercules and old Argus himself. The body count snowballs as the story progress.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In the myths, Heracles/Hercules is Zeus's son along with a mortal woman. (He was named for Hera, but that was pretty much to curry favor. Plus it didn't work, since she made his life a misery.) In this retelling, Hercules is Hera's son.
  • Sandal Punk: A Greece where fantasy monsters and automatons are real.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Jason is shirtless as he sleeps with Hypsipyle, and he later has to strip off so that Medea can rub magic oil on him.
    • Many of the Argonauts go shirtless in Lemnos, relaxing in a pool with the women.
    • The men also go shirtless at various points on the voyage, usually when it's a period of boredom.
  • Shout-Out: May be coincidental, but Orpheus is black and there happens to be a 1959 multi-awarded Brazilian film called Black Orpheus.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Orpheus is uninterested in the women of Lemnos, because he still mourns his deceased Eurydice.
  • Those Two Guys: Castor and Pollux are always together, as befitting the mythological twins.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Acastus as the king's son. Played with, as he wins the men's trust over and his royal status isn't an issue once they've reached Lemnos.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Atalanta is the tomboy huntress while Medea is the girly girl princess.
  • Truer to the Text: This version follows the events of the myth more closely than the more famous film version. It also more accurately represents Greek culture and architecture.
  • Turtle Island: How Poseidon appears in this version.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Atalanta towards Jason.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Hercules shows up wearing a cloak, but drops it pretty quickly to show off Brian Thompson's physique for most of his screen time.
  • Warrior Undead: The stop motion skeletons are possibly the most famous example due to their at-the-time breakthrough animation.


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