Hercules is entry #35 of the Disney Animated Canon, released in 1997. Being a mostly lighthearted musical comedy that serves as a change of pace after Disney attempting three epic features, this film is a very loose, family friendly adaptation of the myth of Heracles, being to Greek Mythology what Aladdin was to the Arabian Nights.
After Zeus fights and sends the Titans to the Underworld, he becomes the ruler of Mount Olympus, home of all Greek gods. Hades is sent to rule the underworld, but he makes plans to throw Zeus out of Mount Olympus with the Titans' help. The three Fates warn him that his plans would be endangered if Hercules, Zeus and Hera's newborn child, is still around by the time he tries to take over Mount Olympus. Hades sends his minions Pain and Panic to turn Hercules into a mortal and kill him, but they fail in their attempt and leave him on earth with his divine strength to be raised as a human. Hercules grows up but later learns he is the son of Gods, and in order to return to Mt. Olympus he must turn into a "true hero".
Over a year after its release, the film spawned a cartoon that ran both in syndication and on Disney's One Saturday Morning on ABC, from 1998 to 1999. It was a Midquel series that presented Herc's life in high school and had him hanging out with fellow Greek characters Icarus and Cassandra. It also presented a plot hole in that Hades was still trying to get him killed, despite the fact that in the movie he didn't know Herc was still alive until he was an adult, but the writers excused it to have some fun with the setting and characters, hoping that the plot hole wouldn't bother viewers too much. Thanks to James Woods coming back, it did pretty well.
The film is also adapted into a level called Olympus Coliseum in the Kingdom Hearts series... heavily. It has appeared in seven out of eight games, and even in the game it didn't appear in, the world's theme music was used in another world. Hades is even the most recurring Disney Villain in the series besides Maleficentnote herself, probably because you can always rely on getting the big name of James Woods to play him.
While far from Disney's most successful movie thanks to competition, it made plenty of money and was still very successful when compared to the Disney franchise as a whole. Its sense of humour was compared to that which Robin Williams brought to Aladdin, showcasing a villain both competent and hilarious. Some mark it as the turning point where Disney no longer confined humour to incompetent sidekicks.
The film was eventually adapted into a stage musical by the Public Theater in New York, and is notable for casting Roger Bart, the actor who provided Hercules' singing voice, as Hades.
This animated film provides examples of:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects:
- The Hydra still looks pretty CG despite advanced cell shading simulation techniques being applied.
- Also, Hercules' 'crib' and the colonnade in Olympus.
- Abusive Precursors: The Titans, the portrayal of which was in some ways very close to ancient Greek Theology (ancient beings defeated by Zeus and imprisoned in the Underworld, their powers were very broad as well) and in some ways very different (the original Titans were deities not that different than the Olympians and the parents of several of them, rather than near mindless elemental monsters).
- Act of True Love: Hercules offers to stay in the Underworld to bring Meg back after she dies saving him.
- Actor Allusion:
- Who knows if this was on purpose, but as Phil is an Expy (or at the very least an Affectionate Parody) of Mickey from the Rocky films, this isn't the first time Danny DeVito has played a character made popular by Burgess Meredith...
- In the victory party scene, Hermes plays keyboards, just like his voice actor, musician Paul Shaffer.
- An animator case - Hercules is seen dressed in Scar's pelt, and both were done by Andreas Deja.
- Acrofatic: Thalia the Muse, despite being physically obese is as skilled, energetic and fast dancer as her much slimmer sisters, including some moves that would put professional cheerleaders to shame.
- Adaptational Alternate Ending: The Disney adaptation completely changes the ending as well along with every other part of the story. In the original myths, Herakles dies, but after Philoctetes lit his funeral pyre, he ascended to godhood in Mount Olympus and stayed there. The Disney movie changes it to where Hercules earns his godhood by saving Meg from Hades and is allowed to come home to Olympus—but Hercules, who realizes Meg can't join him there, willingly gives up his godhood so that he can stay with Meg.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Apollo was already pretty attractive in the myths, but there, he was a slender, youthful Pretty Boy, sometimes closely resembling a woman. Here, he's a big, muscular Hunk with the Badass Baritone voice of Keith David.
- Adaptational Heroism: Hera goes through this as well as Adaptational Maternity. In the original myth, Hera was Hercules's step-mother and main antagonist.
- Adaptational Nice Guy:
- By modern standards, the Hercules of Greek Myth wasn't exactly a paragon of heroic virtue. He killed more than one innocent person simply for being too close when his temper got the better of him (although he was always remorseful when this happened), and he would go stage a HUGE war for a mere verbal insult one day, although he did go to great lengths to help his friends and his deeds did the world a lot of good. The Hercules in this movie is a wide eyed boy scout who doesn't have many, if any, vices. The worst thing he does is lash out at Phil for trying to warn him about Meg being in league with Hades, but he immediately comes to regret that.
- Anyone who knows their Greek mythology knows that Zeus is a self-righteous, womanizing jerk and rapist. Here, he's pretty much a cross between Grandpa God and Bumbling Dad who certainly loves Hercules and stays loyal to Hera, making his status as a Top God of Mt. Olympus and Big Good of the series a lot more plausible.
- Adaptational Ugliness:
- This happens with the Fates, who were traditionally either beautiful women or intimidating but normal-looking old ladies, due in part with confusing them with the Grae Sisters, three eyeless (and toothless) witches who were also somehow sisters to the Gorgons. Some myths suggest that they were also part bird.
- Bacchus appears as a background character, and follows most modern depictions of him as a fat middle-aged man, as opposed to the handsome, Bishōnen youth of the myths.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- In the myths, the Cyclopes were Zeus' allies in the fight against the Titans, and they gave the thunderbolt to Zeus, the trident to Poseidon, and the helmet of invisibility to Hades. The movie has one lone Cyclops who is in league with the Titans, and is sent by Hades to destroy Thebes and kill Hercules.
- And, of course, Hades, as is tradition.
- Adaptational Wimp:
- In the Greek Myths, Deimos (who Pain is based on) was the Greek God of Terror and Phobos (who Panic is based on) was the very personification of fear brought on by war. In the movie, they're watered down into bungling comic relief lackeys for Hades.
- Also, Hermes was able to borrow (or steal) Hades' helm of darkness pretty much anytime he wanted in the myths. In the movie, he's easily captured and subdued by Pain and Panic to be dragged off into the Underworld once the Titans storm Mount Olympus. This is probably because the film chose to depict him solely as a messenger god rather than the more broad-scope trickster that he was in the myths.
- Amphitryon (Hercules' foster father) was a general that ravaged the islands of the Taphians, and took part in other war campaigns, even dying on the battlefield fighting against the Minyans. The movie changes him into a harmless peasant.
- Adapted Out: Hercules' wives after Meg and his children are completely removed from the film.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: One of the lyrics for "Zero to Hero" is "and this perfect package packed a pair of pretty pecs!"
- Adult Fear: Zeus and Hera's terror when they realize baby Hercules has disappeared from his cradle, which by all rights should have been perfectly safe and secure.
- Alien Blood: The Hydra's blood is green slime.
- Alien Lunch: Hades snacks on worms and snakes at a few points, while the other gods have standard fare like grapes and nectar.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Pegasus acts more like a dog with wings than a horse, especially when he's younger.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Hercules is a Cute Clumsy Guy with Super Strength, which results in the whole town bullying him when he accidentally destroys it.
- All There in the Manual:
- The Titan's names are Stratos, Lythos, Pyros, and, rather unfittingly for his powers, Hydros. Likewise, unless you know your Greek mythology, the five Muses are Thalia (muse of Comedy and the plump one), Melpomene (muse of Tragedy and the one with the long, curly hair), Calliope (muse of Epic Poetry and the leader), Clio (muse of History and with the pony tail), and Terpsichore (muse of dance and choral poetry, the one in the two-piece toga).
- While unspecified in the film itself, the giant serpentlike monster Hercules faces is the Hydra. In supplemental material like story book versions, the Hydra is repeatedly stated to be female, but her gender is unspecified in the film.
- Almost Kiss: Meg is sent to seduce Hercules, but ends up falling in love with him. As the two approach for a kiss, Phil shows up on Pegasus and carries him away.
- Always Save the Girl: Hades offers a deal for Hercules to give up his strength for 24 hours in exchange for Megara's freedom and to promise that she will be safe from harm. He's aware that Hades plans to do something nasty but Hades pressures him into it.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: The Gods are different colors and all of them glow.
- Anachronism Stew: The film has elements that definitely weren't around in the time of Greek Mythology, including Gospel style music, sundial watches, traffic signals (albeit crude signpost like ones), emergency phone numbers like 911 (styled in Roman numerals as IX-I-I), cigars, credit cards, shopping malls and merchandise like action figures and soda cups with bendy straws, and Phil and Hades using Yiddish phrases, but they're often played for laughs. Also, when Herc arrives in Phil's house, the Argo's mast is there... while in the myth, Hercules was one of the Argonauts.note Also, Herc is either 40 or a whole 70 years (it's not entirely clear) older than Achilles who wasn't trained by Phil but by the centaur Chiron. In the movie Achilles was already dead before Herc ever met Phil, which also means the Trojan War happened much earlier here than it did in myth.
- Ancient Grome:
- Gladiators and Roman numerals are mentioned in a few places.
- The name of the hero is "Hercules" (the Latinization), not "Herakles", yet the gods are given their Greek names (mostly). Ironically the Greek "Herakles" makes more sense in this version, as it means "Glory of Hera", and considering that in this adaptation Hera is both his actual mother, and a loving and supporting one, the name would make far more sense than in the original myth, where she hated his guts and tried to have him killed repeatedly (the name being an attempt to pacify her wrath).
- Arc Words: The words "Go the Distance" are used many times even outside the song.
- Artistic License Physics: Hades primarily has flaming blue hair, which turns red when he gets mad. In the real world, blue fire is much, much hotter than red or orange fire.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: Herc asks this to Meg (who is currently being held up by a centaur);
- Award-Bait Song: "Go the Distance" by Michael Bolton .
- The UK soundtrack has Shooting Star by the boy band BoyZone.
- Badass Normal: Hades decides to temporarily deprive Hercules of his powers so that he cannot stop him from conquering Mt. Olympus. However, he forgets that Hercules is still a decent warrior even without his superpowers as Hercules is able to defeat the cyclops by scorching his eye.
- Bare Your Midriff: Terpsichore, one of the Muses, wears a midriff baring toga.
- Been There, Shaped History: During his date with Megara, Hercules skips a stone that accidentally breaks a statue, revealed to be the Aphrodite of Milo (more famously known as the Venus de Milo), him being responsible for the loss of its arms. Meg remarks that it looks better that way.
- Berserk Button:
- Expect Hades to blow his top whenever Hercules is foiling his plan. And dont show any form of support towards Hercules around him either. Pain and Panic made that mistake.
- Achilles' Heel is still a very sore subject for Phil. One heckling Theban learned that the hard way.Burned Theban: Hey, isn't that the goat man who trained Achilles?
Phil: [with barely restrained anger] Watch it, pal...
Big Theban: Hey yeah, you're right! Eh, nice job on those heels! Ya missed a spot! Ha ha ha!
Phil: I got your heel! RIGHT HERE! [angrily attacks and beats on the big Theban]
- Beyond the Impossible: Reconstruction. It's impossible to kill a god; no ifs, ands, or buts. However, it is possible to remove their divinity and then kill them once they are no longer a god.Hades: Pain, Panic, got a little riddle for ya. How do you kill a god?
Pain: I do not... know.
Panic: Ya can't. They're immortal?
Hades: Bingo, they're immortal! So first you gotta make the little sunspot... mortal.
- Big Applesauce: Thebes. Try to list all the similarities between it and New York (it's even called The Big Olive, as an obvious riff on The Big Apple, for example).
- Big Book of War: Phil's oft-quoted rules of conduct and engagement for heroes-in-training.
- Big Friendly Dog: Pegasus, who was a gift to Hercules from his father at birth. Described by Zeus as having the heart of a horse and "the brain of a bird", he acts pretty dog-like throughout the movie. Besides the flying, Hercules and Phil get their faces licked by him several times throughout the movie.
- Big Good: Zeus is the benevolent Top God and Hercules' father, and Hades' plan is to take him out so he can rule.
- Big "NO!": Done by Hercules when Meg is crushed; by Zeus after baby Herc is kidnapped from Olympus; and by Hades when Herc saves Meg's soul from the River Styx. The last is really something to see.
- Big "OMG!": Pain and Panic, during the scene in the woods, when Hades finally catches on to their botched infanticide of Hercules years ago, though it is more like "Oh my gods!" in the polytheistic society of Greece.
- The Big Rotten Apple: Thebes is depicted as a stand-in for New York, and crime, poverty, and monster attacks have made its people cynical and distrustful.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- "Someone call IX-I-I!" Which is Roman Numeral for 9-1-1.
- "Two words: I am retired!" While the joke is that Phil gets the word count wrong, the expression "I am retired" does indeed consist of two words in Greek ("Eímai syntaxioúchos").
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: "Zero to Hero" takes a few shots at Disney itself with the "Hercules Store" and the sheer amount of merchandising made off his name.
- Black-and-White Morality: Hercules, Zeus and Hera become purely good. Hades becomes purely evil. In the original myths they were a lot more morally ambiguous. The only grey character in the movie is Meg. This is one side effect of being Hijacked by Jesus.
- Blessed with Suck: Herc's super-strength, when combined with an adolescent's typical clumsiness.
- Bloodier and Gorier: While there's no visible blood spilled, Hercules decapitates the Hydra on-screen while still inside its neck, although the Hydra grew a few more heads but still. Kinda brutal for a Disney movie.note
- Bloodless Carnage: Megara is crushed by a massive pillar pushing Hercules out of the way. Not a drop of blood, not a bruise, on her body.
- Blood-Splattered Warrior: After cutting his way out of the Hydra, Hercules is covered with the monster's green blood.
- Blue Means Cold: Zigzagged for Hades's fire that he has instead of hair. It's usually blue and cold, but when he's mad, it turns into normal fire.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution: Zeus strikes Phil with some harmless lightning when he refuses to train Hercules. Phil changes his mind.
- Bound and Gagged: Meg during Hades' deal with Hercules to symbolize her enslavement. As well as to keep Meg from telling Hercules the truth.
- A major example of bowdlerizing from Greek mythology; for example, besides a total change of Hades' personality, Hercules is the son of Zeus and Hera.
- In European and several other cuts, the Hydra's blood is replaced with purple smoke.
- When Phil beats up that one civilian for making fun of his training of Achilles, he says "I'm gonna wipe that freaking grin off your face!" For television broadcasts, "freaking" is changed to "stupid". Subtitles for the movie also replace "freaking" with "stupid", even though Phil very clearly says "freaking".
- Bookends: During the beginning of the movie after Pain and Panic kidnap Hercules, turn him mortal, and then try and fail to kill him. Panic runs around worrying that "[Hades]'s not gonna be happy when he finds out about this." Pain says "You mean if he finds out" Panic: "If? If is good!" They have a similar conversation after Hercules punches Hades into The River Styx.
- Borrowed Catch Phrase: While still on a high after his date with Meg, Herc jokes with Phil some, even mimicking his voice.Hercules: Hey I got two words for ya: Duck!
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: Hercules already had Super Strength so Phil's training focuses on teaching him everything else he'd need to know: weapons, balance, aim, obstacle courses and other things. Turns out to be a good thing because when Herc is Brought Down to Normal he's able to use the other skills he learned to kill the cyclops even without Super Strength.
- Break the Cutie: Meg. She pledged service to Hades to save an old boyfriend's life - only to have said boyfriend run after another girl shortly afterwards. Plus, she's implied to have had some run-ins with boys who don't understand the word "no". OUCH.
- Breather Episode: Between the heavier themes of The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame and darker films in Mulan and Tarzan, this film is a Lighter and Softer comedy with a tone similar to Aladdin. This is emphasized in the opening, when the serious narration is cut off by the muses, who proceed to give the movie a more lighthearted musical opening. That said, as a quasi-superhero story it arguably plays for higher stakes than any other Disney story, and the Titans arguably have the highest body-count of any Disney villain.
- Brick Joke:
- "'If?' 'If' is good."
- A far more meta example is Scar's cameo as a "very handsome throw rug."
- Bridal Carry: After rescuing Meg's soul, Hercules carries her to freedom in full Tranquil Fury mode. He doesn't even look at Hades at first, simply clocking him without looking...until Hades touches Meg's soul, at which point Hercules punches him into the Styx.
- Brought Down to Badass: The main plot of the film. As an infant, Hercules is stolen from his home on Mt. Olympus and fed a potion that turns him mortal. However, as the Muses explain, since he doesn't drink the last drop, his godly strength remains intact.
- Bullying a Dragon: During Herc's teen years, the other kids mock him and call him "Jerkules", and the townspeople in general call him a freak and disaster because of his Super Strength. Luckily for them, they are in a G-rated Disney movie and Hercules is a kind-hearted and sweet-natured guy, as opposed to the Hercules of the actual myths, who was known for A) being extremely hot-tempered and B) using his strength against those who angered him, often with lethal results for the mortals involved.
- Bumbling Henchmen Duo: Pain and Panic are a duo of goofy imps working for Hades. They regularly botch their jobs, suffering the wrath of their short-tempered boss.
- Burp of Finality: Subverted. The Hydra eats Hercules and burps when done, but Hercules escapes by sticking his sword in its throat and cutting its head off.
- Butt-Monkey: A few examples:
- Thalia from the muses. Though she's the one who shows the most emotion, she often gets the short end of the stick on dignity.
- Pain and Panic regularly suffer the wrath of their short-tempered boss when Hades takes his anger out on them.
- Phil straight up.
- Call-Back: During the beginning of the movie after Pain and Panic abduct Hercules, turn him mortal, and then try and fail to kill him. Panic runs around saying "Hades is gonna kill us when he finds out about this!", to which Pain responds "You mean IF he finds out." Panic is calmed by this, saying "IF? If is good!" They have the same conversation after Hercules punches Hades into The River Styx.
- Canon Immigrant: The Muses, Pegasus and Deimos (Pain) were not involved in the original Heracles myth, and were brought in from other parts of Greek Mythology for the Disney movie. Phobos (Panic) does not appear in the myth per se, but Heracles did worship him and have him depicted on a shield of his.
- Cassandra Truth: Phil, after he overhears part of a conversation between Meg and Hades, catches on that Meg isn't to be trusted and tries to warn Hercules. The lovesick Herc will have none of it, to the point of hitting him in a blind rage, and Phil leaves Herc in his darkest hour. Hades ends up revealing Meg's involvement to Herc after taking his strength away. And boy does it have a more crushing effect on Herc than having his strength gone!
- Central Theme: The main theme of the film is that a person's strength and worth is not defined by their might, fame, or stature, but by their character and integrity. One should also be themselves to achieve their goals instead of something they're not for personal gain. Hercules' Humble Hero contrast with Hades' Ambition Is Evil approach emphasizes this theme.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Herc rushes off to help people as soon as he hears about it. A double subversion in that he's doing heroic deeds to regain his godhood, but later realizes that he should be doing good for good's sake.
- Classical Cyclops: Hercules has to fight against a huge, brutish cyclops released by Hades alongside the titans after losing his phenomenal strength in a deal with the god of the underworld. Despite this handicap, Hercules still has his combat experience and plucky sidekick Pegasus and manages to defeat the giant by tying his legs with a rope and sending him plunging off a cliff.
- Close-Call Haircut: During the training montage, Pegasus ducks to narrowly dodge a badly-aimed sword, which gives him something like a flattop.
- Clothing Damage: During his fight with Hydra, Hercules' cape gets snagged. By the end of the battle, his tunic and cape get shred, with one of the tunic's straps even being ripped off. Similarly happens later during the Cyclops battle later.
- Company Cross References:
- Composite Character: The Fates in this film are three old women who are forced to share a single eye, much like the the Graeae from Greek Mythology. However, their role as weavers of life and death, as well as their ability to foresee the future are characteristics associated with the Moirai.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: The Hydra's first head has Hercules on the ropes during their clash, dodging several attacks, disarming Hercules, and eating him. If he hadn't recovered his sword in time, the first head would have won. None of heads that take the first head's place are nearly as competent, they even start to bang into and bite each other when the monster gets even more. It takes them using the body's claws to pin Hercules down to get control of the fight back, which ends up being a fatal mistake for all of them, after Hercules triggered a rockslide and they couldn't get away. note
- Contralto of Danger: Megara has a sultry, husky voice, atypical of both Disney female love interests in general and female characters in the movie. She's also working for Hades (albeit unwillingly), and at one point tries to seduce Herc into revealing his weaknesses, though she ends up falling for him instead.
- Covered in Gunge: Having cut his way out from inside the Hydra, Hercules is covered with green slime. Swaying on his feet, Hercules tries to sheath his sword, only to drop it on the ground, before he himself collapses in the puddle of gore. Looking at Phil, who asks how many horns he see, a dizzy Herc sees triple and his answer is "Six?" The slime washes off after it started raining.
- Creator Cameo: Caricatures of directors John Musker and Ron Clements appear at the top of an arch as Young Herc speeds his foster father's wagon into the marketplace.
- Credits Gag: Hades gets one more funny moment as the Disney castle comes up.
- Crushing Handshake:
- Curb-Stomp Battle: During the "Zero to Hero" song segment, Hercules dealt these out to every monster Hades sends after him.
- Curse Escape Clause:
- Zeus claims that if his son Hercules proves himself worthy of becoming a "True Hero", he can rejoin the gods. Herc becomes a famous hero throughout the movie, but he doesn't achieve the True status until almost dying from his Heroic Sacrifice to save Meg.
- Thanks to Exact Words, Hercules can get out of his deal of giving up his strength to Hades in exchange for Meg's release: Hades simply promised that "no harm" would come to Meg, so when she pushes him out of the way of the falling pillar, thus bringing her to harm (and sacrificing her life), the deal is broken and Herc gets his strength back.
- Curtain Camouflage: "What could be behind curtain number one?" His little sandaled toes are even poking out under it.
- Damsel in Distress: Lampshaded with Megara, who Hercules finds being harassed by Nessus the river guardian. Megara on the other hand claims to have everything under control.Hercules: Aren't you a damsel in distress?
Megara: I'm a damsel, I'm in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day!
- Dartboard of Hate: With Hercules-painted vases instead of a dartboard. Hades has Pain and Panic throw them up which he shoots down with flames.
- Despair Event Horizon: Hercules comes close to this after giving up his strength to save Meg from Hades, only to have Hades reveal that Meg was working for him all along. Herc is fully prepared to commit suicide by giant cyclops until Phil comes back and gives him a pep talk. Meg's Heroic Sacrifice also helps to pull him out of it.
- Dead-Hand Shot: Used twice:
- The first is a rather odd example. When Hercules uses a rock slide to kill the Hydra, we see its fist go limp. However it's not in sympathy for the monster, but for Hercules who apparently died in the same avalanche. And he happens to actually be held inside the dead hand.
- The second is more conventional, Where we see Meg's hand going limp after her Heroric Sacrific.
- Death by Cameo: Sort of. Scar makes a cameo as the skin of the Nemean Lion Hercules wears for a vase-painting shoot. This is also an in-joke to the fact that both Herc and Scar are animated by Andreas Deja, as well as a clever little Call-Back to The Lion King (1994) itself: when Mufasa asks what he should do with Scar near the beginning of the film, Zazu suggests that he "would make a very handsome throw-rug".
- Death's Hourglass: This film has one with the Fate Sisters and the threads of life: if the thread of life gets cut, said person dies, and their listless soul ends up on the River Styx.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Megara enters as a snarky, cynical young woman. Hades later reveals that she wound up in his service trying to save her boyfriend, who abandoned her, frosting her over. Although it takes some time, Hercules' genuine sweetness and love for her melts the ice.
- Denser and Wackier: Though not to the extent of Aladdin, Hercules is also a very comedic, lighthearted film compared to the other Disney Renaissance films, especially the very dark film that preceded it, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- Dirty Coward: Played with. Pain and Panic sneak into the palace of the King of the Gods and steal his kid all the while bemoaning that he's gonna use them for "target practice" yet they still did it. This is because they fear their boss more.
- Disaster Dominoes: Young Herc's market scene involves a lot of stone pillars, one of which he ends up crashing into, causing the rest to topple over likewise.
- Disneyfication: There's quite a bit of it going on, but the most glaringly obvious was that Herc's original Big Bad was Hera because he was the product of Zeus' adultery with a mortal. If they didn't remove/change that part, how on Earth would the script as a whole pass?
- Disney Death: In the middle of the film, it happens twice in the same scene during the epic fight between Hercules and the Hydra; once when the audience within the film sees him swallowed by the monster, the next time they think he's crushed by an avalanche.
- Disney Villain Death:
- As a god, Hades can't die, but he is defeated by being punched into the River Styx, where the souls of the dead (who he's been treating poorly since they ended up there) dogpile on him. He can't fall to his death, so he falls into a bunch of other people's.
- Played straight with the Cyclops, who falls off a cliff after Hercules blinds him with fire, and then ties his legs together.
- DivineInfernal Family: As in the original myth Zeus and Hades are brothers, though Zeus is the older one here. Unlike the original myth Zeus is a clear stand-in for God and Hades is a stand-in for Satan.
- Diving Save: Meg pushes Hercules out of the way of a falling pillar.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Before his training with Phil, Hercules' Super Strength caused him trouble. Even afterwards he has some trouble with it.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Aphrodite wears no shoes from what the audience sees of her.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- Herc's reaction to Meg and the situation with Nessus is reminiscent of a young, idealistic police officer on his first Domestic Abuse call. When Meg dismisses him after he tries to tell the centaur to let her go, he's confused by her not wanting his intervention. Meg claims to have matters under control, and Herc answers that he thinks she's too close to the situation to see it clearly.
- Hades and Megara's interaction makes you think of an emotionally abusive boyfriend with a girlfriend who is having trouble getting away from him.Hades: Meg, my sweet, my flower, my little nut Meg.
- His Faux Affably Evil personality also mimics her gay best friend trying to console her about her issues with men.Meg: This one is different. He's strong, he's caring, he would never do anything to hurt me...
Hades: Oh please... He's a guy!
- Dramatic Drop: Meg drops a vase when Hades offers her soul and freedom in exchange for seducing Hercules into revealing his weakness.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: When Phil starts training Hercules, he becomes this and it's shown he has to be: Hercules's strength is amazing but he lacks discipline and control initially. He could easily tear apart a damsel or impale a bystander. One wrong move can spell collateral damage, death, or a Humiliation Conga for Hercules in question; that's why he yells at Hercules for storming into battle with Nessus impulsively. As Phil points out, Hercules let Meg's distress and "goo-goo eyes" distract him from pragmatically analyzing the situation.
- Dub-Induced Plot Hole: The Finnish dub changes the last part of the prophecy from "If Hercules fights, you will fail" to "If Hercules lives, you will not succeed", which raises the question of why Hades doesn't kill Hercules after depowering him.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Invoked with Meg, who plays it up to seduce Hercules, and justified. According to Phil, it is a hero's job to save a Damsel in Distress.
- Eagleland Osmosis: Played for Laughs, and adds a Genius Bonus.Child: SOMEBODY CALL IX I I!
- Easy Evangelism: After the initial shock of Zeus appearing before him wears off, Herc readily and immediately buys that Zeus is his real father.
- Eaten Alive: Hercules. The Hydra eats him. It's clear he's still alive because A) he cuts off its head from inside and B) the film's only about halfway through.
- Eating the Enemy: the first monster the titular character faces is the Lernaean Hydra (sans swamp), who quickly swallows him whole. Miraculously, he cuts himself out of her throat before hitting the stomach. Unfortunately, for each head that's cut off, three new ones will grow in its place, as in the original myth. Eventually, the monster gains a veritable army of heads and pins him to a wall. She then tries to eat him again but Hercules is able to collapse the mountain she has him pinned against, crushing her to death in a rockslide.
- Elemental Powers:
- The Titans represent the four classic elements, albeit substituting stone and ice for earth and water, respectively. Oddly enough, despite this the Ice Titan's name is "Hydros", which literally means "water".
- Then there's Zeus' thunderbolts. "Now watch your old man work!"
- Elite Four: Hades releases the Titans from their prison deep within the Earth, using their vengeance against Zeus to engineer a coup d'etat. Four Titans: Lythos (earth/rock), Hydros (water/ice), Pyros (fire/lava) and Stratos (air/wind) advance upon Mount Olympus, while a fifth, Arges (a cyclops with no elemental affiliation) attempts to kill the critically-weakened Hercules.
- Establishing Character Moment: The first thing Hades does when he appears is interrupt a tender moment at Hercules' baby showerand then make a wisecrack that he hasn't been so choked up since he got a hunk of moussaka caught in his throat.
- Everybody Loves Zeus: The gods of Olympus get this treatment, Zeus and Hera especially. Zeus is portrayed as a light-hearted, if not buffoonish king and loyal husband to Hera free of infidelity, while Hera is sweet and considerate (as well as Hercules being her actual son).
- Zeus is portrayed as a light-hearted, if not buffoonish king and loyal husband to Hera. While the spin-off series brings up his flaws—like forgetting he and his wife's anniversary, occasionally losing his temper and the whole "Prometheus" thing—Zeus's frequent infidelity is never brought up (most likely non-existent to keep the G-Rating).
- Hera gets this treatment even more so. In the original myth, Heracles was not Hera's child and was a product of her husband cheating on her. Feeling spiteful, Hera actively sabotaged his life and tried to make his suffer, even forcing him to kill his own family. Here, Hercules is her son and no mention of Zeus cheating on her is ever brought up, so the adaptation portraying Hera as the kind, patient and level-headed of the two. Even in the episode "Hercules and the Return of Typhon" it is revealed that she was the one who threw the lightning bolt that led to Typhon's defeat and that she allowed Zeus to take the credit for image reasons.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Hades usually sends Meg on "errands" to persuade monsters to ally with him, and also asks her to seduce "Wonder Boy" and find his weakness. Meg assumes that all men are the same and accordingly offer some titillating positions after taking Hercules to see Oedipus. Instead, Hercules gives a Loud Gulp, rearranges her dress strap, and sits at a respectful distance to make sure she is comfortable. Meg is surprised that Wonder Boy is Above the Influence and says, partly gushing, that he's "practically perfect". Eventually, however, Hades realizes that he can use Hercules's inherent good nature against him: by using Meg as a hostage.
- Evil Overlooker: Inverted: Hades and his minions are below everyone else on the poster, to correspond with his domain as Lord of the Underworld.
- Exact Words: The reason Herc retains some godly power. The formula to turn him into a mortal required him to drink the whole thing. He sucked down all but one drop.
- The Exit Is That Way: Or rather, Mt. Olympus. The Titans got lost so Hades had to point the way.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
- In the 18 years since they had failed to kill Hercules and decided to lie to Hades to save their skins, Pain and Panic had pretty much forgotten all about it. That is, until Meg mentions Hercules name when she tells Hades about his fight with Nessus.Panic: Hercules... Oh, why does that name ring a bell?
Pain: I dunno. Maybe we owe him money?
Hades: WHAT. Was that name. Again?
Meg: Hercules. (Hades snarls; Meg continues without noticing Hades' rage) He comes on with this big, innocent farm boy routine, but I could see through that in a Peloponnesian minute.
Pain: Wait a minute! Wasn't Hercules the name of that kid we were supposed to
Pain & Panic: OH MY GODS!
Hades: (grabs the demons by the throats) So you "Took care of him", huh? "Dead as a doornail." Weren't those your exact words?!
- Meg, having fallen in love with Hercules, refuses to work for Hades any longer... which, unfortunately, convinces Hades that she is Herc's weakness.Hades: Meg, listen. Do you hear that sound? It's the sound of your freedom, fluttering away, forever!
Meg: I don't care! I'm not gonna help you hurt him!
Hades: [sighs] I can't believe you're getting all worked up over some... guy.
Meg: This one is different. He's honest, and sweet...
Hades: [rolling his eyes] Please...
Meg: ...he would never do anything to hurt me...
Hades: He's a guy!
Meg: [smugly] Besides, O Oneness, you can't beat him. He has no weaknesses! He's gonna—
[turns and sees Hades smirking at her]
Hades: I think... he does, Meg. I truly think... he does.
- In the 18 years since they had failed to kill Hercules and decided to lie to Hades to save their skins, Pain and Panic had pretty much forgotten all about it. That is, until Meg mentions Hercules name when she tells Hades about his fight with Nessus.
- Expy: Hercules' origin is similar to that of Superman. He is adopted by two mortals who raised him to be a good person, his father becomes his Big Good consultant, very Tsundere Love Interest, and becomes a hero beloved by people. The difference is that Superman was sent to Earth out of necessity since Krypton was dying, while Hercules was kidnapped and made to be mostly mortal to prevent his victory over Hades and the Titans.
- "Eureka!" Moment: When Meg talks dreamily to Hades about how Herc is unlike any man she's encountered before and has no weaknesses, she turns around to find Hades giving her a sinister smile. The weakness he's been searching for so long is right in front of him.
- Fade Around the Eyes: Hades does an interesting variant at the end of the scene where he figures out Hercules's weakness. The screen fills up with smoke as it fades to the next scene, and the last things we see are Hades's eyes.
- Failed a Spot Check: Hades is the god of death. How could he not know Hercules, the son of his most hated enemy, wasn't in the underworld?
- Fake-Out Opening: The first 25 seconds of the movie start with Charlton Heston narrating, setting up the movie to be a serious representation of the Hercules myth. Then the Muses cut in, tell him to lighten up, and sing "The Gospel Truth", establishing right then and there that the film is a musical comedy.
- Fangirl: Hercules' heroics mean he has crowds of them. Everywhere. "I'VE GOT HIS SWEATBAND!"
- Fat Bastard: The cyclops titan is very chubby and is repulsive in every way, plus he's sadistic.
- Fauns and Satyrs: Obviously, Phil the Satyr. His appearance is of the later renaissance version, but his nymph-chasing, wisecracking bad looks are in fact taken straight from classical depictions of satyrs.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: The Fates do this, frequently finishing what Hades is about to tell them. It annoys him quite a bit.
- The First Cut Is the Deepest: Megara, as a result of her slime of an ex-boyfriend, is turned off of love entirely.
- When the two "boys" are "trapped", you can hear a slight hissing at the end of their last under-rock sentence.
- When Hades opens his display to ask Megara about the River Guardian, there are two other figurines visible on it: a giant boar and a gorgon, that are both later sent against Hercules in "Zero to Hero".
- When Meg takes Herc to the garden, she is surprised and truly flattered by Herc's sincere compliments towards her. Then she backs into the statue of Cupid's arrow. Then they nearly kiss before Phil interrupts and berates Herc for ditching him. Before leaving, Herc, picks a flower from a tree and gives it to Meg and kisses her. The entire garden scene is what foreshadows the song I Won't Say I'm in Love.
- Young Hercules hitting his head on the mast of The Argo could be seen as a foreshadow to his "death" later in the film seeing as Jason died from having the mast of The Argo fall on him.
- Framing Device: The parts with the Muses, which involves their likenesses coming to life in a modern-day museum and interrupting Charlton Heston.
- Friendly Address Privileges: Megara plays with this trope:Megara: Megara. My friends call me Meg. At least they would if I had any friends.
- From Bad to Worse:
- As a teenager, Hercules crashes into a pillar. While stopping it from falling, he hits another which starts a domino effect, destroying a marketplace.
- While training to be a hero, Hercules has to save a "damsel" which is portrayed as a dummy. The dummy is barely in pieces by the time his training was finished.
- When Hercules confronts Nessus to save Megara, Meg didn't want to be saved. Then Nessus punches Herc into the water. Instead of his sword, Herc wields a fish, causing Nessus to laugh and punch Herc again.
- After freeing two boys, Hercules unintentionally releases the Hydra from its cave. Then, while battling the monster, Herc realizes that his sword is missing and behind him. Then Herc throws a rock at the Hydra, who crushes it with its teeth and laughs at the hero. Then when Herc retrieves his sword, the Hydra swallowed him whole. After Herc cuts his way out through decapitation, the Hydra grows more heads.
- After Meg has fallen in love with Hercules, she tells Hades Herc has no weaknesses and therefore he stands no chance against him. However, after seeing how much she has come to love Herc, Hades puts two and two together and realizes Meg is the perfect weakness to lure Herc into a trap, and so he holds her hostage and has Herc give him his powers in exchange for Meg's freedom. Herc does so and is left utterly powerless, allowing Hades to put his Evil Plan to take over Olympus in motion.
- From Zero to Hero: The titular character might be a scrawny kid who is an outsider, but being a son of Zeus, he was born with tremendous strength. He starts taking levels in badass in a training montage (set to a song with the same name as this trope) and becomes a renowned fighter of monsters.
- "Gaining Confidence" Song: Hercules is ostracized by his peers because he is unable to control his own strength, so he somberly sings "Go The Distance" to express his desire to be accepted. Halfway through the song, his adoptive parents advise him to visit the Temple of Zeus in order to learn about his past, which fuels him with optimism and causes him to happily sing that he will not give up until he finds the place where he belongs.
- God of Evil: Hades is portrayed as an Evil Overlord that schemes and betrays as naturally as a mortal breathes as part of his god of death thing. This is contrary to Greek Mythology and more in line with a Christian line of thought. See Satanic Archetype.
- The Gods Must Be Lazy: Played straight and inverted.
- Zeus singlehandedly defeated and imprisoned the Titans in the prologue.
- Zeus persuades Phil to take Hercules on as a student.
- Hades reveals himself as one behind the release of the Titans and their assault on Olympus seeking to usurp the king of gods from his throne. Yet in the climax all the gods are not in the underworld, and are not proceeding to kick Hades' ass.
- Goofy Print Underwear: When Hercules announces to a small crowd of distressed people that he's a hero, one of the men realizes the "goat man", Phil, that's with him trained Achilles. Phil tries to beat him up and ends up biting his toga, revealing white underwear with red spots. This may qualify Phil under the All Animals Are Dogs trope since that's a very canine thing of him to do.
- Go Seduce My Archnemesis: After Hercules kicks the collective asses of every monster Hades sends at him, he decides to send Meg in to seduce him in order to find out what his weakness is. Predictably, she falls in love with him instead. However, this provides Hades with the answer he wanted in the first place.Hades: Meg, listen. Do you hear that sound? It's the sound of your freedom, fluttering away, forever!
Meg: I don't care, I'm not going to help you hurt him!
Hades: [sighs] I can't believe you're getting all worked up over some guy.
Meg: This one is different. He's strong, he's caring, he would never do anything to hurt me...
Hades: He's a guy!
Meg: [smugly] Besides, O Oneness, you can't beat him. He has no weaknesses! He's gonna...
[she turns and sees Hades smirking at her]
Hades: I think he does, Meg. I truly think he does.
- Gospel Revival Number: Basically, anything that the Muses touch becomes stirring and passionate. Charlton Heston didn't stand a chance.
- Grade System Snark: When Hercules defeats the River Guardian and sends him flying (with just a headbutt) to rescue Meg, Phil loudly says several congratulatory remarks, ending with, "Not bad, kid!" This is directly followed by him muttering underneath his breath, "Not exactly what I had in mind, but not bad.", as not a minute earlier he told Hercules to 'use his head' to beat the Guardian.
- Greek Chorus: Literally! The movie is narrated by the Greek Muses who take part in the story, sort of.
- Groupie Brigade: One follows Hercules after his fame explodes, and tackles him for fan paraphernalia.
- Half-Hearted Henchman: Anyone working for Hades.
- Pain and Panic are clearly with Hades because they are terrified of him. They have no problem lying to him, and after Hercules punches him into The River Styx they clearly do not miss him. Panic is only worried about how angry Hades will be.
- Meg is only working for Hades because she sold her soul, and is paying off a debt. Once she falls in love with Hercules she turns on him.
- Handshake of Doom: Towards the end of the film, Hades holds Meg hostage and forces Hercules into accepting a deal: he will let Meg go free and unharmed but on the condition that Hercules surrender his superhuman strength for 24 hours - more than enough time to for Hades to conquer Olympus. Finally, he has Hercules seal the deal with a handshake.
- Happily Adopted: The human couple that take Hercules in treat him well, though they fade from view after he discovers his godly heritage. He's later shown in one of the musical numbers to be putting his newfound wealth and influence to work paying them back several times over.
- Happily Married: Unlike the mythology, Zeus and Hera are quite happy together. Hercules' human parents qualify as well.
- Heroic BSoD: Hercules, after Hades convinces him to give up his strength for Meg's freedom and safety, and then revealing that Meg was working for him all along. It has such a profound effect on him that he doesn't even attempt to fight back against the Cyclops, until Phil's pep talk.
- Heroic Build: Hercules, following his training with Phil. Just look at the picture at the top of this page!
- Heroic Sacrifice: Twice, from each side of the Love Interest relationship: first Meg pushes Hercules out of the path of a falling pillar to save him (thus abrogating Hades' deal in which he said he wouldn't hurt her, and giving Herc his strength back) and costing her her life, then Herc gives up his life to Hades to rescue Meg's soul (an act of such selfless heroism it restores his godhood).
- High-Five Left Hanging: After Herc defeats the centaur Nessus, Pegasus offers him a high-five, but Hercules is too distracted by the sight of Megara to acknowledge him.
- Hijacked by Jesus: Zeus has become a Grandpa God, Hades a Satanic Archetype, and Hercules a stand-in for Jesus.
- "And that's the gospel truth"
- Hold Your Hippogriffs:
- "Holy Hera! "
- Thebes is called the "Big Olive ."
- "Wanna buy a sundial? "
- "Somebody call IX-I-I! "
- "Keep your toga on, pal!"
- "This is the honest-to-Zeus truth..."
- "Is this an audience or a mosaic? "
- In an interview with Disney Adventure magazine, James Woods said the original line in the script was in fact "oil painting," but he improvised the word "mosaic" and they went with it.
- "That's it, I'm moving to Sparta! "
- "He's just another chariot chaser."
- "...but I could see through that in a Peloponnesian minute."
- Honest John's Dealership: The man who tries to sell sundials to Herc is very shady.
- Honey Trap:Megara: Wonderboy is hitting every curve you throw at him.
Hades: Oh, yeah... I wonder if maybe I haven't been throwing the right curves at him...
- Horsing Around: Pegasus is usually gentle with Herc. Megara, on the other hand...
- Hydra Problem: Obviously when Hercules fights the Hydra. He thinks he's won once he cuts off its head, but three more grow to take its place. Hercules keeps chopping off heads, until there are several dozen.Phil: WILL YOU FORGET THE HEAD-SLICING THING!?
- Hypocritical Humor: Done to show how out of favor Hades is with the other gods. He introduces himself with a lame joke that meets with no response; as he leaves, Zeus cracks a similarly lame joke, and everyone bursts into laughter.
- I Have Your Wife: Hades holds Meg hostage and tells Hercules he will release her safely if he gives him his powers. Herc, being the guy he is, ultimately accepts after a moment of hesitation, rendering him completely weak and letting Hades fully enact his Evil Plan.
- I Know You Know I Know: Between Hades and the Fates because the Fates know everything and feel a need to remind Hades because he explains things to them.
- Impossible Hourglass Figure: Four of the Muses and Aphrodite—especially Aphrodite given that she's the goddess of love and has a waist so tiny she could wrap one hand around. It's sort of explained by the fact that they're goddesses. Artemis and Megara have Hartman Hips.
- Incredibly Long Note: The reprise of "Go the Distance" holds "belong" for a long time at the end.
- In Name Only: Due to the sheer amount of changes made from the source material, the only things this movie has in common with the original Heracles myth is that they both star a super strong demigod protagonist and share a couple of similar plot points and settings.
- Ink-Suit Actor:
- Short, portly Danny DeVito as the short, portly Philoctetes.
- Hermes, who shares the same features and trademark shades of his voice actor Paul Shaffer, best known as David Letterman's bandleader. He even plays keyboards!
- Tate Donovan looks almost exactly like Hercules. Ditto for Susan Egan as Meg. Even after nearly two decades, their resemblances are still incredibly striking.
- Interspecies Friendship: Herc, a demigod, has a flying horse, Pegasus, for a companion, and his mentor, Phil, is a satyr.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": "And they slapped his face on every vase! On every VAHSE!"
- "I Want" Song: "Go the Distance", which also became an Award-Bait Song, focuses on Hercules' desire for acceptance.
- Jealous Pet: Hercule's horse Pegasus becomes jealous of his love interest Megara nigh instantly. As his first act after hero training, Hercules rescues snarky beauty Megara and falls in love with her. His flying steed Pegasus does not share his liking for her. During their first flight, he purposely makes it difficult for Meg, who has a fear of heights. He eventually comes around after Meg frees him from captivity and saves his master.
- Just in Time: Hercules reaches Meg's soul right when the Fates are about to cut his thread. By succeeding, his thread turned indestructible and his immortality was secured. It may even have been part of the unspoken rules that you have to be willing to sacrifice your life to be a true hero.
- Karmic Jackpot: Amphitron and his wife adopt a baby they find on the road, rearing him as their own son. They love him and comfort him when his clumsiness causes problems with the neighbors; when he wants to find out who he is, they let him go seek Zeus's guidance with bittersweet smiles. As a result, Hercules supports them with the royalties he gets from his hero merchandise, their adoptive son is honored as a god, and Hercules returns home with a lovely wife and a hero's reputation.
- Kavorka Man: Phil at the end, since Aphrodite kisses him.
- Kick the Dog: After Hades captures Megara and has Hercules give him his strength and powers in exchange for Meg's safety, the first thing he does is to viciously toss a huge barbell toward Herc, knocking him into the ground and taunting him about how he finally got his wish of being "just like everybody else". To further rub salt into the wound, Hades uses the moment to reveal to Herc that Meg had been working for him the entire time. Herc, already in huge pain from the drastic loss of his powers, is utterly devastated by this revelation.
- Kill It Through Its Stomach: When the Hydra swallows Herc, it looks pretty satisfied with itself, until it gives a confused look moments before Hercules decapitates it from the inside. However, this isn't enough to kill it.
- Kubrick Stare: When Hercules decides to reverse Meg's death by marching into the underworld, he sports one of these almost the whole time, especially when looking at Hades. Beware the Nice Ones indeed.
- Laugh of Love: Hercules and Megara tend to laugh as they hang out together and eventually fall in love, particularly in the garden scene.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Hades' comment "it's only half-time" in reference to Hercules and the Hydra battle comes at the actual halfway mark of the film's runtime.
- "Leaving the Nest" Song: "Go the Distance" is a song about Hercules leaving home for the first time to discover his roots and his purpose after years of being treated like a freak for his godly strength.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Zeus. On his free time, he's a loving father and husband, spends time joking with everyone and attempts to be a good big bro for Hades; in fact, he's much more lovable than the original Zeus, but once the Titans attack and Hades proved to be a backstabber, we quickly see where Hercules' strength come from and why you don't mess with the King of the Gods.
- Lighter and Softer: The take on Greek mythology present in the film, in addition to being Sadly Mythtaken, is much lighter and more family-friendly. Without it, the film would have turned out an R-Rating. It also applies in the context of Disney Animated Canon. Of the '90s Disney movies, this film was considerably lighter and more of a slapstick comedy, especially compared to its darker and more epic predecessors (The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and successors (Mulan, Tarzan).
- Living Forever Is No Big Deal: The Gods seem to consider immortality part of their lives; they are naturally worried when it's removed from one of them, but in normal times they barely refer to their immortality. Phil, too, who is apparently immortal/has an extremely long life span (since he trained all the heroes of the past), doesn't even mention being immortal.
- Lone Wolf Boss: Nessus the Centaur, who has no ties to Hades and Herc fights solely because the creep was making a move on Meg. While Meg had attempted to get Nessus to join Hades army, Nessus took sole interest in her and had other plans instead.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Portrayed rather positively in this case, as Meg's genuine love for Hercules, and his for her, foils Hades' plans.Megara: People always do crazy things when they're in love.
- Meaningful Echo:Panic: Hades is gonna kill us when he finds out!
Pain: You mean, if he finds out.
Panic: Of course he's gonna— [realization strikes] "If." "If" is good.
Panic: He's not gonna be happy when he gets out of there.
Pain: You mean, if he gets out of there!
Panic: "If"? "If" is good.
- Meaningful Name: Pain and Panic. Pain is constantly subjected to pain, and as for Panic, he does just that: panic.
- Mentor's New Hope: Phil believes Hercules to be his final hope of training a great hero after all of his other failures, which is discussed in his song "One Last Hope".
- Mickey Mousing: The coda for "One Last Hope". It seems that, as in Fantasia, the animators took their cue from the music.
- A Minor Kidroduction: The film begins with Hercules as a baby. It appears to be a baby shower, or maybe the day of his birth since he gets gifts.
- Moment Killer: Phil is quite skilled at doing this. He has a megaphone.
- Mood Whiplash: Meg sacrifices herself to save Hercules, her body is crushed. Herc then goes to save the gods from Hades' plot, and partakes in some hilarious hi-jinks, only to snatch right back after the confrontation, as Meg is dying.
- Mortality Ensues:
- At the beginning when Pain and Panic make Baby!Hercules drink the mortality potion.
- At the end when Hercules gives up his reinstated godhood to live on Earth with Meg.
- Ms. Fanservice:
- Meg is drawn to be a lot more sexy than the usual Disney heroine, sharing a similar body type to Jessica Rabbit. She also gets scenes like when she washes herself in the river and seduces Hercules.
- The Muses are also amongst the most attractive women in Disney history, wear robes that expose their shapely legs and cleavage, and spend much of their time in the movie shaking their ample hips. Even the goofy Thalia is gorgeous.
- Muggle Foster Parents: Hercules' human parents have no idea they found the son of gods.
- Multiple Head Case: The Hydra, while trying to eat Herc, accidentally attacks the other heads or knocks into them. The heads themselves also fight over which one gets to eat him. Justified that it only had one head a few minutes ago—growing extra heads takes some getting used to, you know...
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Hercules and Phil after seeing the Hydra grow more heads.
- Herc gets this after he hits Phil in a blind rage. He's very shocked at himself for lashing out.
- Meg also gets this when Hades makes the deal with Hercules to deprive him of his strength, and then reveals that Meg was in Hades's service.
- Mythology Gag: Aptly enough; despite many changes to the actual myths, there are more than a few references to them outside the main plot.
- The Mythological Hercules is best knownnote for performing the Twelve Labors, all of which are referenced in the film, most of them in the "Zero to Hero" segment.
- The first labor, the slaying of the Nemean Lion, is changed from a lion that terrorized the town of Nemea to a monster that Hades sends. Hercules is later shown wearing its pelt (as he is usually depicted in the myths), and the lion's skin looks remarkably like Scar's.
- The second labor is the slaying of the Lernaean Hydra; obviously this is referenced by the massive Hydra battle (although it comes before the lion and is not in Lake Lerna, as it is in the myths, and is sent by Hades instead of Hera). In some (often the more detailed versions) of the myth, the Hydra had at least one immortal head, so Hercules had to finish it by burying it under a large rock. In the movie, Hercules defeats the Hydra by burying it under several large rocks.
- The fourth labor is to capture the Erymanthian Boar, which is alternately said to get its name from where it lives, Mt. Erymanthos, or from Erymanthus, Apollo's son who was blinded by Aphrodite (or in a few accounts Artemis) when he saw her bathing, which led him to send said boar to attack her. A large boar shows up in the "Zero to Hero" as another monster that Hades sends.
- The fifth labor is mentioned in passing as Augeas having a problem with his stables that Hercules is expected to help with.
- The sixth labor is to slay the man-eating Stymphalian birds, which are likely referenced by the large bird shown in passing as being a monster Hercules defeated in "Zero to Hero".
- The ninth labor is mentioned by Phil as having to get a girdle from some Amazons.
- The eleventh labor does not appear in the movie, but is referenced in the series, where Adonis is cursed by Gaia and needs the golden apples of Hesperides to be cured, which Hercules gets Atlas to pick for him, just as he does in the original myth.
- The twelfth labor appears at the end of the movie; Hercules was challenged to tame Cerberus, and appears riding him into the Underworld in the finale.
- As a baby, Hercules saves his adoptive parents from Pain and Panic when they turn into snakes, strangling both of them. In the Greek Myths, two (ordinary) snakes sent by Hera actually did attack Hercules as a baby, and he strangled both of them to death.
- In fact, if you count name drops and people in crowd scenes, it's almost a constant stream of references to Greek mythology.
- There's plenty to other Disney movies too:
- From Fantasia, we get Zeus's wedge-shaped beard, a blue centaur, pudgy Bacchus and a scene of Hephaestus hammering at Zeus's lightning bolts. In addition, Hercules defeats the Cyclops the same way Mickey Mouse defeated the giant in "Brave Little Tailor".
- One of the smallest ones is the blue centaur Hercules battles to save Meg in their first scene together. His name, Nessus, is said exactly once, and in passing, to boot. In Greek mythology, Nessus was a centaur killed by Hercules who tricked Deianeira (Hercules' wife) into using his blood as poison to kill her husband.
- The Mythological Hercules is best knownnote for performing the Twelve Labors, all of which are referenced in the film, most of them in the "Zero to Hero" segment.
- Near-Miss Groin Attack: During the "One last Hope" song:Phil: Rule number 95: Concentrate![Teen Hercules throws half a dozen swords at the targets and misses, surrounding Phil with swords, who's on the tip of his hooves avoiding one between his legs]Phil: Rule 96: Aim!
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- As a teen Hercules accidentally destroys an entire town while trying to catch a frisbee. The townsfolk turn on him and call him a freak and a menace.
- Hercules accidentally releases the Hydra to free two children from a cave in. After trying to defeat it by cutting its head off, three more heads grow in its place. Regardless, he keeps cutting them, producing a swarm of heads until Phil tells him point-blank to stop doing that.
- Meg sassing Hades on realizing she loves Hercules accidentally reveals to Hades that she is Wonder Boy's weakness.
- Non Sequitur, *Thud*: When Phil tries to whisk Hercules back to training after finding he was playing hooky with Meg:Phil: [gets smacked off of Pegasus by a tree branch and lands on his skull behind bench, raises arm in protest, slurred] That's IT! Next time, I'm driving... [arm collapses]
- No Song for the Wicked: Hades has no Villain Song despite being such a Large Ham. Even though Woods loves playing Hades, he doesn't like to sing (according to the DVD commentary for the first Family Guy episode he appeared).note The stage musical averts this by giving him two numbers, "A Cool Day in Hell" and its reprise.
- Not Wearing Tights: Hercules is portrayed as this; unsurprising, considering that the Greek demigods are arguably the earliest forms of the Superhero archetype.
- Nouveau Riche: Hercules gets rich and famous after his victory in Thebes, as "Zero to Hero" describes. The house he buys for his human parents is huge.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: This exchange between Meg and Hercules after Hades has sent her to find out his weakness.Hercules: You know, when I was a kid, I would have given anything to be exactly like everybody else.
Megara: [scoffs] You wanted to be petty and dishonest?
Hercules: Everybody's not like that.
Megara: Yes, they are.
Hercules: You're not like that.
- Obviously Not Fine: Most of the movie runs on supernatural shenanigans and heroics. Hercules shrugs off many injuries that would kill a mere mortal, even when he loses his powers temporarily. Then Meg does a heroic deed, pushing Hercules out of the way of a falling pillar. It crushes her instead, falling on her spine with a Sickening "Crunch!". Pegasus, Hercules and Phil go Oh, Crap! because when Hercules regains his strength and pulls it off her, she's in pain and moaning, voice raspy. Her attempts to smile and say it was Worth It are undercut by her agony. With the town on fire, there are no medics or doctors nearby, and with an injury like that, Meg has no chance of recovery. When she tells Hercules to stop Hades and not worry about her, he reluctantly obeys while Phil holds her hand and waits for the end. She passes away in a short while, writhing in agony.
- Hercules will frequently suffer Clothing Damage to his tunic, only for it to be repaired by the next frame. Most obviously when he's attacked by his fangirls—one strap of his tunic comes down, in the next frame it's fixed and in the next it's the other shoulder down.
- The river in the Underworld before Hercules jumps in. First he's able to dip his hand into the water. A few frames later, he jumps off a precipice to get into the river.
- Offhand Backhand: Done by Herc to Hades near the end and because his divinity was restored, he literally punches Hades' face in.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Because of his clumsiness, Hercules causes accidents and makes a lot of mistakes in his battles. For instance, losing his sword.
- Phil's face when the Hydra starts growing more heads.Phil: [sees the Hydra's corpse twitching] That doesn't sound good. [The Hydra gets back on its feet, grows three more heads and starts moving towards them] DEFINITELY NOT GOOD! [hands Herc his sword and runs]
- The look on the Hydra's faces when Herc triggers the rock slide.
- Pain and Panic do this frequently whenever they screw something up.
- Oh My Gods!: Pain and Panic are the Trope Namer - after all, this is set in polytheistic Greece. There is also an instance where Phil goes "Holy Hera."
- Open the Door and See All the People: Hercules opens the door of his Big Fancy House only to be met with screaming fans who make him want to run back inside and hide.
- Our Hydras Are Different: Hercules faces the iconic multi-headed serpent early in his hero career. The creature starts out with only one head, but three new ones grow in the place of each cranium lost.
- Our Nymphs Are Different: Hercules meets Philoctetes as he is peeping on a group of nymphs lounging by a river. When his cover is blown, Phil tries to catch one, only for them to turn into a pile of flowers and a tree.
- Pain to the Ass: During their introduction scene, Pain and Panic trip down a flight of stairs and Pain lands bottom first onto Panic's horns.
- Papa Wolf: Zeus comes to Hercules' aid a couple of times.
- Panty Shot: Rare male example, as Hercules has a really, really short toga.
- Parental Abandonment: One of the only films in the entire Disney canon to avert this trope. Herc not only has his immortal parents watching from on high, he has a pair of mortal adoptive parents who love him very much.
- Parental Bonus: As expected from a Disney film. Most blatantly, Nessus pushing himself on Megara is certainly reminiscent of a rape attempt, with the centaur noting "I like 'em fiery!" as she keeps rejecting him, and once Hercules frees Meg and asks how she ended up with him, she replies "You know how men are. They think 'no' means 'yes', and 'get lost' means 'take me, I'm yours'!" There is also one of the Muses reacting to a picture of Hercules saying she'd like "make some music," a guy who appears to be a flasher as he reveals he's selling sundials, and this gem of a quote:Hercules: And that play, that Oedipus thing? Man, I thought I had problems!"
- The Pearly Gates: Mt. Olympus possesses glowing-gold gates that the Rock Titan crashes through during the invasion and opens for Hercules when he attains godhood.
- Pegasus: A winged horse made of clouds as a gift for Hercules on his birthday.
- Pet the Dog:
- Hades did bring a gift for the little "sunspot" at the Olympus party. It's just that Hercules bit his finger as well when tasting the sucker. After that, Hades wants to murder the little guy, and not just because of the prophecy.
- Technically, Meg defied Hades and went against their agreement to find Hercules's weakness. She only reveals it by accident when smugly saying that Hercules would never hurt her, causing Hades to have a "Eureka!" Moment. In fact, as far as Meg knew, Wonder Boy was perfectly safe because he seemed to have no weakness. Even so, Hades gets what he wants. Then he frees Meg from her bondage, as promised, despite the fact that she reneged on their deal.
- Phosphor-Essence: The gods of Olympus glow in bright colors, and the loss of Hercules' immortality is visually represented by the loss of his godly glow. His glow makes a triumphant return when he regains his godhood by saving Meg's soul, and disappears again when he chooses to live on Earth with her.
- Pietà Plagiarism: This is played twice: once when Hercules cradles Meg's corpse in his arms, and once when he, restored to godhood, holds her listless spirit.
- Pig Latin:Herc: [The Hydra emerges] Phil? What do you call that thing?
Phil: Two words: AM-SCRAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The original Heracles myth—and Greek Mythology in general—were as family unfriendly as you can get and had a lot of built-in Values Dissonance (the basic conflict alone was unacceptable for a family film, since Hercules is a product of Zeus' adultery with a mortal, and Hera, Zeus' wife, is the villain who constantly makes Hercules' life miserable because of this), so the studio was forced to heavily rework the concept; it borrows the character names (not so much the personalities), story points and the setting from the myths, but throws out and adds in things from other parts of Greek Myth (such as Pegasus and the Muses, who were not in the original Heracles story), and reworks everything else (such as expanding Hades role in the story by turning him into the main villain), ultimately making the film less an adaptation of Greek Mythology and more like a mashup of Superman: The Movie and Rocky set in a burlesque of Ancient Greece.
- Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: Lampshaded:Fates: In 18 years, precisely, the planets will align, ever so nicely...
Hades: Oy, verse.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I've got 24 hours to get rid of this bozo, or the entire scheme I've been setting up for 18 years goes up in smoke, and you. Are wearing. His. MERCHANDISE!?!"
- Rapid Aging: Herc is subject to this in The River Styx, and his thread of life becomes immediate fair play for the Fates; he survives by rescuing Meg and becoming a god.
- Rapid-Fire Descriptors: When Phil argues with Hercules when telling him that Meg is working with Hades (with Herc refusing to believe him), he uses many adjectives in a row.Phil: She's nothin' but a two-timin'...Hercules: Stop it!Phil: ...no-good, lyin', schemin'—!Hercules: SHUT UP! (swats Phil away, sending him flying into some barbells)
- Rapid-Fire Nail Biting: Pegasus bites his front hooves, during the "One Last Hope" number when Hercules goes through the dangerous obstacle course that Phil set up as part of his training to save a damsel in distress.
- Refusing Paradise: At the end, Hercules chooses to remain on Earth with Meg instead of returning to Olympus.
- Rescue Introduction: Hercules meets Megara when rescuing her from a monstrous centaur.
- Rescued from the Underworld: Hercules travels to the Underworld in order to rescue Meg's spirit and reunite it with her body, thus getting his godhood back.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: The movie's plot is basically Superman: The Movie and Rocky IN ANCIENT GREECE! This was no accident either—John Musker and Ron Clements, the directors of the film, are admitted superhero comic fans.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Herc storms the underworld to bring Meg back.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Titans go on one of these against Zeus after being released from the vault he locked them in.
- Rule of Funny: Why isn't Phil a pile of dust from the lightning? Because it's funnier to see him with ash-face instead.
- Rule of Three: The people of Thebes reactions to Hercs first public heroism and their raising reception: when he raises and throws the colossal boulder they are unimpressed but still clap for him, then when he cuts off the Hydras first head they are legitimately impressed and their clapping is much more sincere, then when Herc kills the Hydra they go crazy and erupt into a roaring applause.
- Run or Die: After the Hydra's head is cut off, three more grow in its place. Having had enough trouble while fighting the monster with one head, Hercules had no choice but to run away from three snapping heads.
- Running Gag: "Two words: (insert three [or more or less] words—in a place where two words could have been used)". Bilingual Bonus
- Sadly Mythtaken: Let's just say that the movie plays so fast and loose with Greek Mythology, that it would be far, far easier to list the things they did get accurate. The writers did read up on Greek Mythology when doing research for the film, but deliberately changed elements around and were often forced to change the more unpleasant elements of the Myths due to the film having to be acceptable to kids (a straight adaptation would've gotten the film an R rating and was thus out of the question). They do sneak in a lot of literal Mythology Gags to counterbalance it though. The film has its own page for examples of this.
- Sandal Punk: This movie is a loose re-telling of the ancient myths about Hercules with several anachronistic elements.
- Sassy Black Woman: All five of the Muses; however, Thalia, the short plump one, seems sassier than most. At the start, they sass the narrator over being so somber and serious.
- Say My Name Trailer: Though the last one is Hades saying "Jerkules" (but with the voice of one of Herc's mocking classmates, from the collapsing agora scene).
- Scenery Porn: Mount Olympus and Hades (The Underworld, not the villain) simply look amazing.
- The Scream: There are several instances where Herc screams. After seeing the statue of Zeus come to life, he screamed while running away from the giant figure. Even as an an adult, Hercules screamed in terror during his battle with the Hydra.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
- Phil does this when the Hydra first emerges, hiding behind a rock. After the monster grows three more heads, Hercules initially runs before Pegasus picks him up to resume the battle.
- The Titans attempted to do this when Hercules frees Zeus from their imprisonment, much to Hades' chagrin. Hercules is able to catch them and eject them all into space before they could get away.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Titans. Zeus imprisons them all beneath the ocean with lightning bolts, but when the planets align, Hades is able to release them. Hercules uses the Tornado Titan to suck the other Titans in, then throws them all into space where they explode.
- Seven Deadly Sins: Hades demonstrates all sins throughout the film.
- Pride: He thinks he deserves to be the Top God of the Greek Pantheon, planning to do so by overthrowing Zeus and turning baby Herc mortal so he'll be killed off.
- Sloth: He's the apathetic Lord of the Underworld who hates his job, finding it to be the cosmic equivalent of janitorial duty. Unlike the other gods, it's unknown if he smited anyone personally, preferring to let others do his dirty work for him. It makes sense when handling Hercules (never knowing which god from Olympus might be watching) or the other gods (being hopelessly outmatched), this seems to apply to everybody.
- Greed: The only thing he cares about is becoming king of the Gods at all costs. He'll use manipulation and smooth talk to manipulate various beasts and creatures for his bidding. It's how he got Megara to make a Deal with the Devil.
- Gluttony: All he cares is lording over Olympus. Why would he care about living mortals if he doesn't care for mortal souls?
- Envy: Resents Zeus for getting 100% Adoration Rating while Everyone Hates Hades.
- Lust: If one were to go by the Biblical definition of this sin, he has an insatiable lust for power. If we go by the modern definition, he likes flirting with females (be it mortal or immortal), who are put off by his creepy behavior. The way he talks to Meg makes him look like a crazy jealous guy.
- Wrath: He goes off like a volcano at the tiniest inconvenience or when Herc foils his evil schemes. When he does, he throws hissy fits like a Sore Loser with Pain and Panic being the usual targets to vent off his anger.
- Sexy Figure Gesture: Hades decides to throw "the right set of curves" (i.e. Megara) at our hero, emphasizing the point by making the hourglass gesture around Meg, tracing her figure.
- One of the Muses' sculpture incarnations during "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" should look very familiar to fans of the Haunted Mansion ride at the Disney Theme Parks.
- Hades, just before the fight between Hercules and the Hydra: "Let's get ready to RUMBLE!"
- And Hades again:Hades: Zeusy, I'm hoooooome!
- Followed by:Hades: You are correct, sir!
- The Hydra looks like Mohawk the Gremlin from Gremlins 2: The New Batch. And the way Hercules slides down into a spiral of one of the Hydra's necks is reminiscent of The Jungle Book where Mowgli slides down into a spiral of Kaa's coils.
- This isn't the first time Disney has shown Hephaestus forging bolts and throwing them to Zeus.
- The Muses themselves are very similar to Alan Menken's other famous Greek Chorus.
- Don't forget the lion skin Hercules wears in one scene—it's Scar! Quite possibly to the specific line Zazu says to Mufasa. "He'd make a very handsome throw-rug."
- There's also the Mr. Miyagi-esque bit of the training montage.
- The maiden in the constellation getting her skirt blown upwards.
- There is a sign that says "Over 5,000,000,000 and 1 served", a nod to the McDonald's Corporation.
- Herc's origin story bears a striking similarity to the backstory of Superman.
- The female pegasus that Pain and Panic disguise themselves as to lure Pegasus away resembles a My Little Pony, right down to having a symbol (in this case a heart) on its flank.
- A seductress is sent to find out a seemingly invincible hero's weakness, and he then loses his superhuman strength due to her betrayal... just like Samson and Delilah!
- Pain & Panic after Hades yells at them when the Fates arrived without his knowledge: "We are worms! Worthless worms!". While bowing down.
- The fish that Hercules picks up when facing down Nessus bears a striking resemblance to a certain Mr. Limpet.
- During one of Hades' rants, he referes to Zeus as "Mr. Hey You, Get Off My Cloud".
- Meg catches Hercules hiding behind a curtain and says, "Let's see. What could be behind curtain number one?"
- Phil's house is the head of Talos from Jason and the Argonauts.
- Shown Their Work: The sheer number of references to real Ancient Greek Religion makes it clear that the writers did, in fact, do the research.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Hercules does this to Hades by punching him in the face when the latter tries to enforce Herc's end of their second bargain. Though it could be argued that both parties cheated the other (or at least tried to).
- Silk Hiding Steel: Though crossed with Femme Fatale and Broken Bird, Meg fulfills the trope in her ability to manipulate and her Heroic Sacrifice inner steel.
- Slave Mooks: Meg (by contract) and Pain and Panic (implied) to Hades.
- The Snark Knight: "Megara. My friends call me Meg. At least, they would if I had any friends."
- Something Else Also Rises: As Meg tries to seductively learn if Hercules has any weaknesses, he rises his leg. And keeps it close together with his other leg, to enhance the implications.
- Soul-Cutting Blade: The Fates' scissors. When your life is over, they cut it and that's why it's over. Gods are immune to them.
- Spared by the Adaptation:
- Unlike in the original myth, Megara is not killed by Hercules in this adaptation and even when she does die, Hercules manages to rescue her from the underworld, guaranteeing she lives.
- Amphitryon, Hercules foster father, died in the battlefield fighting against the Minyans in the myth. In the movie, he lives all the way through to the end.
- To a lesser extent, Pegasus stays intact throughout the film and isn't turned into a constellation by Zeus in the end, which was his fate in the myths.
- Squish the Cheeks:
- Hades likes to put his hands on Meg and plays with her cheeks on occasion to mess with her.
- Hercules had his face squished several times. The first time by Phil as he tries snapping Herc out of his lovesick stare. The second time when Herc struggles to get away from fangirls, lying flat on the floor with a girl's feet on his face as Phil is beside him. The third time, when Meg uses her foot to turn Hercules's head around, squishing his cheek in the process, so their eyes will meet.
- Stealth Pun:
- Gospel is a musical genre related to praise and worship of a higher power. What better way to augment the story of Hercules than with a set of Gospel Revival Numbers? Also referenced in the Title Drop of the Muses' (three-part) opening number, "That's the gospel truth."
- Hades' hair is made of fire and he has a short temper. He's a hothead!
- While fighting the Centaur, Herc lost his sword and grabbed a fish by mistake. He pulled out a swordfish!
- Stellification: Philoctetes' dream is to train a hero so good that the gods will make a constellation out of them that will be recognizable as "Phil's boy". After rejecting godhood and immortality to be on earth with Megara, Zeus creates a constellation of Hercules, leading one unnamed recurring character to remark "that's Phil's boy!", eliciting joyous tears from Phil.
- The Stinger: Stick around after the credits and hear the lamentations of Hades.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: When Zeus's statue comes to life for the first time and reaches for Herc, the latter screams and tries to run away.
- Supernormal Bindings: After Hades assaults Olympus, the gods are shown being led away in chains, which vanish rather than fall off after Herc cuts them.
- Sympathy for the Hero: Hades actually sounds like he pities Meg when he reminds her that men are scum, as she's refusing to give up "Wonder Boy's" weakness. After all, the reason why she's in bondage to him is she sold her soul to him to save her jerk boyfriend, who ran off with another girl. Hades points out that a guy is not worth her freedom because not all will appreciate true love. The sympathy vanishes when she goes on about how Wonder Boy has no weakness but he would never hurt her, causing a "Eureka!" Moment from Hades.
- Super Serum: Inverted in that the serum Pain and Panic give Herc is to weaken him, not give him his powers.
- Talk to the Fist: Done to Hades by Hercules when the former tries to make Herc uphold his end of the deal. Overlaps with Shut Up, Hannibal!.
- Tailor-Made Prison: The Titans are imprisoned in an undersea vault.
- Terrible Trio: Hades and his minions Pain and Panic.
- Terms of Endangerment: Hades: "Meg, my sweet, my flower, my little nut Meg."
- This Cannot Be!: See the second Sore Loser example above.
- The Theme Park Version: Hoo boy, let's just say that Disney really played fast and loose with the original Greek Myths when making this film—It would be far easier to list the things they got accurate. It's best to watch the film with a heavy dose of MST3K Mantra, especially if you're a fan of Greek Mythology or a resident of Greece.
- Totally Radical:
- "And that's the world's first dish!"
- They gave Meg, one of the more complicated and interesting Disney love interests, dialogue like "Been there, done that" and "Don't even go there." It... hasn't aged well. Meg has served time in the Underworld so her slang may be somewhat out-of-date.
- Phil also mentions having "been around the block before with blockheads just like you" to Hercules. He means he's trained people like Herc already, but... well, he's a satyr, and it's Ancient Greece.
- Too Dumb to Live: You are fighting a giant serpent. You chop off its head, and three more grow back. What do you do next?Phil: WILL YOU FORGET THE HEAD-SLICING THING?!
- Tough Room: Hades's sarcastic "hunk of moussaka" joke isn't appreciated by his fellow gods, who are unhappy to see him. On the flip side, the entire pantheon bursts in laughter when Zeus made a similar pun about his workaholism.
- Trauma Conga Line: Thebes has seen better days according to its inhabitants, who suffer from frequent fires, earthquakes, floods, and monster attacks.
- A True Hero: Hercules goes into training to become a true hero in hopes of rejoining his birth parents Zeus and Hera. After having become a superstar and beaten a ton of monsters, Hercules thinks he must have met the requirements. Reluctantly, Zeus tells him that while his accomplishments are impressive and they're proud of him, he hasn't yet become a true hero. Not until Herc sacrifices himself to save the woman he loves from Hades are the requirements fulfilled.
- Tsundere: Megara is an easy example. Look at "(I Won't Say) I'm in Love" for a perfect example of a tsuntsun-to-deredere switch.
- Two Words: Added Emphasis: The Latin Spanish dub makes his Last-Second Word Swap the only time Philocetes follows "Two Words" with actually two words.
- Two Words: I Can't Count:
- A Running Gag is that every time Philocetes attempts Two Words: Added Emphasis, he gets the count wrong.Phil: I got two words for ya kid—I am retired!
Hercules: Uh, Phil? What do you call that thing?
Phil: Two words: am-scray! (Pig Latin for scram, for those under a rock.)
Hercules: [imitating Phil] Two words: Duck!
- After the "retired" line, a confused Hercules is then seen counting it out. As a Bilingual Bonus, "I am retired" is two words in Ancient Greek.
- In Phil's song "One Last Hope", the lines "Askin' me to jump into the fray/My answer is two words:" set him to rhyme with something like "No way." Then he's forced to make a Last-Second Word Swap.Phil: My answer is two words... [gets hit by lightning] ...o-kay.
- A Running Gag is that every time Philocetes attempts Two Words: Added Emphasis, he gets the count wrong.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Meg's former lover. She gave Hades her soul for him, and he repays her by running off with someone else.
- Use Your Head: Phil meant tactically thinking, but a headbutt works too against the Centaur. "Not bad! Not exactly what I had in mind, but not bad."
- Vanilla Edition: This became one of the first four movies in the Disney Animated Canon that Walt Disney Home Video released on DVD, as part of the Limited Issues series in late 1999.note Unfortunately, the disc contains only a non-anamorphic presentation of the movie, a making-of featurette that runs less than 10 minutes, and a Ricky Martin music video for the Spanish version of "Go the Distance". A second DVD release, as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection, made literally no improvement to the picture or the extras. The Blu-ray has vastly improved picture and sound, but just one additional bonus feature: a sing along of "Zero to Hero".
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Most viewers are amused that Phil says he's going to say only "two words—I am retired!" which in English is of course three words, but the joke beneath the joke is that the equivalent phrase in Greek is Είμαι συνταξιούχος—which actually is only two words.
- Villain Has a Point: When reminding Meg they had a deal for her to find Wonder Boy's weakness, Hades makes one legitimate point: one guy is not worth her freedom. After all, that's how she ended up in his service in the first place, and Meg knows that men generally don't appreciate grand gestures.
- Villain Reveals the Secret: Hades reveals the hero that his chickie-poo Meg had been working with him all the time. And this happened AFTER Herc accepted to trade his own strength to save her and let everyone else be harmed by any potential threat. As you may imagine, he doesn't take it well.
- Villainous Face Hold: Hades does this to Meg several times, specifically when she's taken hostage. He grabs her face and makes her look at him (Hades) and then at Hercules in order to mock Hercules.
- Visual Pun:
- Phil says "I get the greenhorn!" while his horns are covered in green olives.
- When Herc arrives in Thebes, there's a wall inscribed with the words "The end is near" at the same time that a crazed man comes around shouting the same message. A few steps later, the same wall says "Fin," which is Latin for "end." Very near, indeed.
- When Herc digs around in the river, he's muttering that "A hero is only as good as his weapon!" He pulls a fish out of the river. 'Fish' is also a slang term for somebody completely clueless and inexperienced, as in 'fish out of water'.
- Ares' chariot is pulled by dogs, and he's the god of war—in other words, they're the dogs of war.
- The Muses say "And that's the world's first dish!" in "The Gospel Truth", in the sense of telling a juicy story but also in the literal sense that it's being depicted on pottery as they say it.
- Welcome to the Big City: Hercules' arrival in Thebes. "Wanna buy a sundial?"
- Wham Shot: Meg's Dead-Hand Shot, showing she has died for real. No Disney Death, no fakeouts. Phil saw it coming, but Hercules was hoping to reach her in time to save her from Hades. Hercules only revives her by pulling a miracle in the Underworld and bargaining with Hades.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Phil calls out Hercules for being too distracted by love to see that Meg is using him. Hercules takes a flying leap to avoid the hint, takes his rage out on Phil and disowns him as his trainer, leaving Phil to mumble one last admonishment and leave him to his darkest hour. Although Phil could arguably be said to be doing his own at the same time, by completely neglecting to mention the most important part: Hades' involvement. To Hercules it just sounds like he's being hounded about an old topic, and Phil never tries to clarify that he's hounding him because he discovered a god is after his friend before abandoning him.
- Wild Take: Pegasus does one just before Pain and Panic capture him.
- Win Your Freedom: Megara.Hades: You give me the key to bringing down Wonderbreath and I will give you the thing you want most in the cosmos... your freedom.
- World of Snark: The only other Disney Canon entry that rivals this film in the amount of Deadpan Snarkers is The Emperor's New Groove.
- Wowing Cthulhu: After the battle for Olympus, Hercules goes down to Hades to get Meg's soul back. He offers the god of the underworld his soul in exchange for hers, if he can get her back from the river of death. Hades is stunned when Herc emerges from the river not only alive, but as a god.
- Wrecked Weapon: During his battle with the Hydra, Hercules loses his sword. Continuing the fight, Hercules hurls a boulder at the Hydra, only for the beast to crush it into stones with her teeth and laughs at the hero.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Hercules is happy to finally get accepted into Mount Olympus after becoming a hero...only for Zeus to tell Hercules that he has yet to become a true hero.
- You Can't Fight Fate: While Zeus stopped the Titans single-handedly in the distant past, he and the other gods are swiftly defeated when they come back for revenge, just as the Fates prophesize. When Hercules arrives to turn the tides, the Titans are defeated once more, in line with the end of their prophecy.
- You Got Spunk!:Nessus the centaur: [to Meg] I like 'em fiery.
- You Put the "X" in "XY": "Who put the 'Glad' in 'Gladiator'? HERCULES!"
- Younger Than They Look: Hercules, despite his manly build, is only barely eighteen when he fights against the Titans if the Fates' prophecy at the beginning of the film is correct.
- Your Other Left: During Herc's fight with the Hydra.Phil: That's it! Dance around! Dance around! Watch the teeth! Watch the teeth! Keep going. Come on. Come on. Lead with your left. Lead with your left. (Hercules jumps away at the wrong direction as the Hydra lunges to the ground.) Your other left!
- Your Size May Vary: The titans. While they usually stand at about a hundred feet tall or so, when we first see them they are almost as tall as mountains. Especially noticeable when Lythos (the rock titan) is able to crush an entire town with his foot!