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Ares

Kevin Smith as Ares, God of War

First appearance "Ares"
Last appearance "Soul Possession"
Created by Robert Tapert
Statistics
Name Ares
Occupation The Olympian god of war
Classification God, occasionally human
Affiliation Xena, Callisto, Hope, Livia/Eve
Notable powers
Ares possesses most of the common powers and abilities of a god:

Portrayed by Kevin Smith
Mark Newnham

Ares is a fictional character on the television shows Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Young Hercules. He was portrayed by Mark Newnham in one episode of Hercules, with Kevin Smith later taking over the role for the remainder of all three series.

Ares on Xena: Warrior Princess Edit

Suave, charming, witty, yet ruthless and amoral, Ares often represents, especially in the early seasons, the seductive power of war and the dark side. He repeatedly attempts to lure Xena away from her quest for redemption alongside Gabrielle, and to win her over as his Warrior Queen. He offers her huge armies and historic victories, great wealth and great power, and in later seasons his love, offers which she consistently rejects despite being sometimes tempted.

Much of Ares' relationship with Xena remains ambiguous, including whether he is at least partly redeemed by his love for Xena, or to what extent Xena reciprocates his feelings. He says several times that he "has a thing" for Xena, and this seems to prevent him from killing her, even when pitted against her in deadly combat. There are some suggestions that he may be her true father, , yet he pursues her sexually and romantically.

Their relationship prior to the show's timeline is also a mystery. The dialogue in an early episode strongly suggests that this is their first face-to-face meeting; subsequent episodes, however, establish that at some point in the past he trained her and may have been her lover as well. It is also stated that Ares gave Xena her signature weapon, the chakram.

"They had this idea for the God of War," Kevin Smith remembered. "They wanted a foil for Xena - someone who could beat her in battle, and a former mentor. The weird thing is there's sympathy for the character, because he's done terrible, terrible things and yet, at the bottom of it all, the only way this works is if you believe he truly loves Xena."

The story Edit

During the season 1, Ares frames her for murdering three villagers in the hope that she will call on him for help when threatened with execution. He also takes the shape of her long-lost father Atrius and nearly tricks her into attacking a village. However, these plans are thwarted by Xena and Gabrielle.

In a Season 2 episode, Ares joins forces with Xena's now-dead archenemy, Callisto of Cirra, and engineers a body switch so that Callisto's soul occupies Xena's body while Xena is trapped in Tartarus. He seems to be grooming Callisto-in-Xena's body to be his new Warrior Queen, and has sex with her, but later turns away from her, realizing that she is too madly obsessed with revenge against Xena and too uncontrollable. Xena, who persuades Hades to release her, is able to send Callisto back to Tartarus.

In the next episode, the audience sees a different side to Ares for the first time. After losing his godhood due to the king Sisyphus of Corinth' trickery, he needs Xena's help to get it back; Xena reluctantly agrees to help him after realizing that the world needs a god of war and Ares is the best man for the job. As a mortal, Ares shows a new humanity and conscience, but after getting his godhood back he seems to revert to his former cold-hearted self.

In Season 3, Ares' relationship with Xena grows more complicated; he is still trying to win her back into the fold, using the the Furies to drive her mad for that purpose, but also tries to form an alliance with her to fight the evil god Dahak. Under threat from Dahak, Ares ends up briefly switching sides until Dahak is defeated by Xena. Ares also makes an unusual appearance in the musical episode where, as the "Emperor" in the fantasy land of Illusia, he personifies the seductive appeal of the dark side. The tango Ares and Xena dance to Ares' song, "Come Melt into Me", also highlights the erotic chemistry between the two.

At the same time, however, Ares becomes less of a villain and more of a romantic interest. The sexual tension between Xena and Ares, and the suggestion that he is secretly in love with her, have been there all along. As early as Season 1, it is clear that he can't kill her; as a mortal, he suggests that she can inspire him to change. His obsession with her is evident as well. It is also suggested that he might be her father, but this scenario is later dropped. In Season 5, the theme of Ares' love for Xena is brought out into the open. After the Fates prophecy that Xena's child Eve will bring about the end of the Olympian gods, Ares tries to declare his love for Xena, offering to protect her and her baby from the other gods and willingly become mortal if they can be together and have a child of their own. Xena rejects his offer, refusing to believe that his feelings are sincere. Later, however, she uses his help to defeat Athena.

When Xena and Gabrielle fake their deaths to escape the gods' persecution, Ares inadvertently thwarts their plans by burying them in an ice cave where they sleep for 25 years. After mourning Xena for years, Ares unknowingly takes Eve, now the Roman warrior Livia, as his protégée and lover. When Xena returns, he resumes his pursuit of her; enraged by her continuing rejection, he first encourages Livia to kill her, and then joins the other Olympians in their effort to kill Eve. At the last minute, however, his love for Xena prevails, and he gives up his godhood to heal the mortally wounded Gabrielle and Eve.

In the Season 6 premiere, Xena risks her life to save the now-mortal Ares from the Furies. At the end of the episode, the two share a tender kiss, and Xena tells Ares, "You always got to me. But you were bad for me, Ares; you still are." She also says that the chance of their ever being together is "one in a billion".

Later in the season, Xena helps Ares again, hiding him from vengeful warlords on her family's farm. She restores his godhood with a golden apple wrested from Odin, but refuses his offer to become a goddess and rule by his side. In the next episode, Ares and Xena are once again adversaries as she foils his plot to get the Amazons into a war with the Romans in order to gain more worshipers. However, they also seem to share a new mutual understanding and acceptance.

The "uber" episodes of Xena, set in the future, suggest that at some point Ares is imprisoned in a tomb from which only a descendant of Xena's can free him, and that after getting out of the tomb, he continues to pursue a reincarnated Xena in the 20th Century. It is unclear whether these episodes are intended to be an actual part of the Xena storyline, or as jokes/parodies.

Ares on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Edit

Demon Ares

Ares in non-human form

The character of Ares on Hercules is quite different from his character on Xena. In Hercules, he is shown to have a hand-to-hand combat style and strength similar to that of Hercules, whereas on Xena his combat style matches Xena, as he performs acrobatics and martial arts maneuvers. In the show's first season, prior to Ares' appearance on Xena, Ares appears in non-human form as a skull in the moon or a fountain of blood, and in one episode, he takes the form of a slain warrior. He first appears in the familiar form of Kevin Smith in the Season 3 "Hind trilogy", in which Hercules falls in love with Serena, a mysterious woman who sometimes becomes a golden hind and who is a protegée of Ares. Ares tells Hercules that he will release Serena from her vow of service to him, and allow her and Hercules to marry, if Hercules gives up his superhuman strength. Later, Ares' underling, the god Strife, kills Serena and he and Ares attempt to frame Hercules for her murder. He is saved by the intervention of Xena and Zeus.

Ares' main goal on Hercules is to destroy his half-brother Hercules, both because Hercules constantly stands in his way by preventing wars and because he resents his father Zeus' preference for Hercules. Ares' schemes are invariably thwarted. In later episodes of Hercules, he changes from a dark villain to a more comical one. This is especially true following the rise of evil entities such as Dahak, or the rise of a mere powerful God in Xena: Warrior Princess which sought to destroy all Pantheons of gods and become the sole ruler. While most of the Olympians are destroyed during this time, Ares remains a mortal and appears in many comedic episodes such as "Old Ares Had a Farm".

In a Season 4 episode, it is revealed that Ares had sired a child with the now-mortal Goddess of Revenge, Nemesis. The child, Evander, is born with supernatural abilities, particularly telekinesis. Ares wants to take the boy from Nemesis and raise him to be loyal to him, hoping to use him as a weapon against Hercules. However, Hercules and Iolaus manage to foil his plan and return the child to his mother. Later in that season, Ares teams up with Callisto, now a goddess, to trap Hercules in a passageway between parallel worlds. Callisto, working with Dahak's daughter Hope, then turns on Ares, gets thoroughly beaten up by him in a hand-to-hand fight (during this, Ares admonishes her, "Pain? I invented it!"). However, she is then "recharged" with supernatural energy by Hope, turns the tables and roundly defeats Ares, and finally uses a dagger dipped in the blood of a golden hind, lethal to gods, to kill Strife. In the Season 4 finale, Ares plots with his mother Hera to kill Zeus.

In Season 5, Ares and Hercules briefly team up to stop the archangel Michael from destroying the world by unleashing the Apocalypse. In the show's finale, Ares is back to plotting against Zeus, this time by releasing two of the Titans once imprisoned by the gods, but Hercules and Iolaus stop him again.

In two episodes, the series introduced a parallel world in which Ares is a god of love wearing white and without facial hair, while Cupid is a god of war.

Ares also appears in two Hercules "uber" episodes. In these episodes, which are set in the present day and based on the premise that Kevin Sorbo is actually the immortal Hercules himself, Ares is still at war with his half-brother and is plotting to get Hercules: The Legendary Journeys off the air.

Powers and abilitiesEdit

Ares possesses most of the abilities of a god. He has shown superstrength at times and cannot feel pain or be killed unless affected by Hind's blood or more powerful gods such as Dahak. Ares can teleport around Earth and to Mt. Olympus at will. He can also turn invisible to everyone or just certain people, though it has been shown that Xena can sense his presence even when invisible. His offensive powers are fire balls and lightning bolts. He also has telekinetic abilities, can heal people or bring them back to life and time travel as seen in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episodes Armageddon Now part 1 and 2. Ares possesses good combat skills similar to Hercules and Xena. He is also a great swordsman. Ares has had several sidekicks including Strife, Discord and Deimos. His favorite warrior is Xena and he tries to use Serena but ends up killing her. Ares also has a demon-dog creature that he tries to use to kill Hercules but fails.

Ares is shown to be a skillful manipulator and a master strategist.

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