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Western Animation / The Mighty Hercules

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The Mighty Hercules is a cartoon based rather loosely on the legendary Greek hero Hercules, created by Joe Oriolo.

Hercules comes down from Mount Olympus to battle monsters and villains like the wizard Daedalus, Wilhelmine the Sea Witch, and the Mask of Vulcan. Because on Earth his godly strength would vanish, Hercules must don a magic ring to maintain his power. At his side are the beautiful Helena, Newton the Centaur, Tewt the satyr, and young King Dorian of the kingdom of Caladon.

This series is best remembered for Johnny Nash's Bragging Theme Tune. Also, it partially inspired Superman's look for Superman: The Animated Series, particularly his head shape and facial features.


  • The Ace: Well, Hercules himself of course, but in one episode Newton found himself replaced as Herc's sidekick by a much more competent centaur named Notwen. The whole thing turns out to be All Just a Dream, of course.
  • Audible Gleam: Mostly with Hercules' ring, before and sometimes after the sequence where he puts it on and charges it up.
  • Bat Signal: Newton sometimes has a belt similar to Hercules's, which contains a "moonstone beam" that can be used to summon Hercules.
  • Beard of Evil: Daedalus.
  • Catchphrase: Newton's "That's me! That's me!" and "Suffering psyche!"
  • Crying Wolf: In "Hercules Saves Helena", Helena pretends to be drowning in order to get Hercules's attention. She runs into real danger shortly after, and it takes a while for Hercules to catch on.
  • Day-Old Legend: Even though the Mask kept having the Mask of Vulcan taken away from him, he could just craft another one. In one case, he made one not only for himself, but for the Nemean Lion. In another, he made enough for an entire small village (but they were special versions that only he could remove with a special key). In still another episode, he made enough for an entire tribe of birdmen.
  • Damsel in Distress: Helena.
  • Every Episode Ending: "Olympiiiaaa!!!"
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Sometimes Daedalus summons up something he can't control as well as he thinks. For instance an episode where he created a giant bug to break him, Wilhemine and the Mask out of prison. He offers to tell Hercules how to defeat it if he lets them out. Except the bug endangers the imprisoned villains too, and he has to tell Herc how to beat it to stay alive at all.
  • Evil Sorceror: Daedalus, though the actual powers he displayed could range anywhere from controlling the weather, to making potions, to commanding monsters, to just relying on some gadget he found or stole, depending on the episode. Though he could almost always fly.
  • Good Is Dumb: In many an episode Hercules only bothers to put on his magic ring after finding out the hard way he can't actually tackle the menace of the day without Super-Strength. This tends to happen more in later episodes; in earlier episodes he usually puts his ring on immediately, before even leaving Mount Olympus.
  • Hollywood Magnetism: Hercules employs this in The Magnetic Stone to catch Daedalus, using a magnetic stone and a large iron kettle. He throws the kettle at Daedalus, which lands on Daedalus' head, and drags him back over to him, from outside a window, with Daedalus flying through the air, with the pull of the magnetic stone.
  • Limited Animation: Fight scenes in particular tended to look spastic.
  • Made of Iron: Believe it or not, Daedelus. Most of his defeats end with something huge being thrown on him, but he's always fine right after. Frankly, it's kind of a wonder he still has bones left at all.
  • Magic Skirt: Worn by Hercules himself, no less. (Well, it's usually magic.)
  • Nice Guy: While Newton occasionally gets on his nerves, Hercules for the most part is a pretty affable stalwart hero with a Lantern Jaw of Justice.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: Hercules can't budge anyone wearing the Mask of Vulcan even if he has his ring on.
  • Once an Episode: After Hercules accomplishes his heroic deed, he flies off shouting "Olympi - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"
    • Hercules' donning his ring to regain his god-like strength also qualifies. Even on the rare occasions when he puts the ring on twice, the Stock Footage ring sequence is only used the first time.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Daedelus had no trouble fooling people by wearing a longer beard over his normal beard, but otherwise looking like he always does.
  • Pilot: the very first episode (which had a very different animation style and character design) shows how Hercules received the magic ring and was first sent down to earth.
  • Right-Hand Cat:
  • Ring Around the Collar: Hercules has a medallion that allows for occasional use of this trick
  • Ring of Power: Hercules' magic ring that gives him godly strength, of course.
  • Rogues Gallery: The wizard Daedalus, the sea witch Wilhelmine, Mertis the Mask (who was invincible so long as he wore the Mask of Vulcan), General Diomedes and Otis the Chameleon Man.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: The mythological Daedalus was a cunning craftsman, but he wasn't really evil and certainly didn't plan on conquering any part of Greece. Pretty much everything else, too.
  • Showy Invincible Hero: Definitely showy, mostly invincible. Nothing kept Herc down for long, though.
  • Stock Footage: A lot of the show, as you might imagine. Not only for the ring sequence, but every time Hercules rides Pegasus, and every time he's shown dragging a villain away at the end of an episode (regardless of which villain it is - there's a reason they all dressed in the same purple robes).
  • Stock Sound Effects: The Monster of the Week tended to make the same noises.
  • The Strength of Ten Men: The Bragging Theme Tune describes Hercules as having "the strength of ten ordinary men", although his actual feats of strength usually suggested much more. Even without his ring he appeared to be pretty strong.
  • Strictly Formula: Villain/monster appears, Hercules puts on magic ring, he captures villain/beats the stuffing out of the monster, he returns to Mount Olympus with a shout of "OLYMPIAAA..!"
  • Superhero Gods: An interesting case of source material gods being essentially downgraded to superheroes. For whatever reason (Moral Guardians?), Hercules and the other characters from Greek myth are never explicitly referred to as gods, demigods, etc., only as "King Zeus" and so on, so that Hercules could plausibly be a "mere" superhero from a realm of other superheroes.
  • Tagalong Kid: Newton. Tewt also qualifies (though Tewt is also more helpful). Sometimes the human boy Timon.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Done with a twist; rather than playing when Hercules was about to turn the tables on his enemy, his theme music started playing at the moment they were defeated to celebrate his victory.
  • Un Evil Laugh: Daedalus gives it his best shot, but it ends up being pretty narmy.
  • Verbal Tic: Newton tends to say everything twice. Everything twice.
  • Villain Decay: Daedalus started out as an actual sorcerer, doing things such as bringing statues to life or controlling the weather with a wave of his hand, and he could easily hold his own against Hercules. But later in the series it seems he'd lost most of his powers (except for flying) and became more of an alchemist, gadgeteer, and monster-wrangler, creating potions and devices for his schemes, distracting Hercules with creatures, and being defeated almost instantly in an actual fight.
  • The Voiceless: Tewt can only communicate by playing his pipes. One-shot character Tweet (another child satyr like Tewt) was the same. Newton and Hercules can usually understand them, but it takes a few tries.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • The Chameleon Creature from the episode of the same name could take any form it wanted, though it was controlled by Daedelus. When defeated by Herc, it turned into a giant chicken and ran away.
    • Otis the Chameleon Man, by virtue of inhaling "the essence brewed from the egg of the Chameleon Creature", could likewise turn into anything he wanted. Not that it ever helped him beat Herc, of course. He usually found himself acting as hired muscle for one of the other villains rather than coming up with a scheme on his own.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: If only the Mask had invested in a chin strap, he would have been truly unstoppable. In one episode (mentioned above in Day-Old Legend), he made an entire batch of masks that could only be removed with a key (and then charged the villagers money so he'd remove them), but he didn't lock his own mask, and it was removed as easily as usual.
  • When Trees Attack: One episode has Hercules going to the Garden of the Hesperides to bring back its golden apples. The tree they're growing from makes plain its displeasure at the idea.
  • The Wise Prince: King Dorian wants to be this, as well as The Good King.
  • The X of Y: The show tended to do this with whatever monster or magic item drove the plot of the episode.