Lucy Lawless as Xena

Xena is a fictional character from Robert Tapert's Xena: Warrior Princess franchise. She first appeared in the series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, before going on to appear in Xena: Warrior Princess and subsequent comic book of the same name. The character has also appeared in numerous non-canon expanded universe material, such as books, comics, movies and video games. Xena was played by New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless,[1] but the first choice was the British Vanessa Angel.[2]

Xena is the protagonist of the story, and the series depicts her adventures fighting evil in ancient Greece. Xena first appears in Hercules as a seductive but treacherous warlord.[3] Two more episodes during May sweeps chronicle her evolution from a villain[4] to a friend and ally of Hercules.[5] In her own series, Xena sets out to redeem her murderous past by fighting against tyranny and evil and protecting the innocent and weak. Many of her adventures prior to the televised stories are subsequently revealed in flashback episodes.

Creation and conceptionEdit

Conceived by Robert Tapert, Xena originally was supposed to die at the end of the episode Unchained Heart, but when the studio decided they wanted to do a spin-off from Hercules, Rob said that Xena was the best choice. Xena is a role-model as a strong sexy woman, bringing men to their knees in battle and she influenced many women to do the same.


The original choice to interpret Xena was the British actress Vanessa Angel[6], but an illness prevented her from travelling, so the role was offered to another four actresses before being given to Lucy Lawless.

Lawless became an international celebrity as Xena, she appears annually in the Xena conventions released by Creation Entertainment, in California.

Character historyEdit

Xena was raised as the daughter of Cyrene and Atrius. She had two (half)-brothers: Toris, her older brother,[7] and Lyceus, the youngest of the three, Xena mentioned to Iolaus to have a third brother but this was never explained. Xena believed that her "father", Atrius, abandoned the family when Xena was young,[8] but later learned that Cyrene killed him to prevent him from murdering Xena. Xena had a fairly routine early life. She was born and raised in Amphipolis, a fairly large village in Thrace. She had a typically boisterous relationship with her brothers, and probably helped her mother in the family tavern. Xena's first love was Petracles. They were betrothed, but Petracles left her to take up the life of a warlord. This second abandonment by an important man in her life left Xena with a certain bitterness toward men, and a distaste for close relationships in general.

Xena's life changed when Amphipolis was attacked by the warlord Cortese when Xena was about seventeen. Since no one else would stand up to the raiders, Xena and her younger brother Lyceus gathered an army.[7] They defeated the raiders, but Lyceus and many of the villagers were killed in the process. Xena was blamed for their deaths and was ostracized.[7]

Despite this unjust act, Xena wanted to ensure the safety of her home, and so conquered the surrounding lands. At one point, she took to the sea, during her conquest of Neapolitis, she took Julius Caesar,[9] then a young and ambitious Roman officer, hostage. They had a torrid affair, she naïvely believe they were an "unstoppable team," and allowed him to be ransomed. Caesar returned to recapture Xena and her men, and had them all crucified on a nearby beach.[9] Fortunately, Xena had made another acquaintance during the Neapolitis campaign, M'Lila,[9] a stowaway slave of mysterious origin. M'Lila taught Xena to fight and to use acupressure. Knowing that Xena was somehow important in the greater scheme of things, M'Lila risked her life to rescue her from the cross, and took her to the healer Niklio. They were found by Roman soldiers, who killed M'Lila.[9] In that instant, Xena suffered a psychotic breakdown, and metamorphosed into Dark Xena, whose "purpose in life is death."[9]

Xena gave in completely to her dark side, fighting solely for bloodlust and the love of power. She made her way to Central Asia, where she joined forces with the Hunnish warrior Borias.[10] The two, who quickly became lovers, terrorized the region until Xena angered Borias by alienating the powerful Chinese families Ming and Lao. Xena retaliated by kidnapping Ming Tzu's young son, Ming T'ien.[11] Xena ransomed the boy, and was captured with Borias's help. Lao Ma, the beautiful matriarch of the Lao family, saved Xena from certain death at Ming Tzu's hands, and set about awakening Xena's soul.[11] She was successful only to an extent; Xena's spiritual growth stalled when Borias re-entered her life. She murdered Ming Tzu, and angered Lao Ma by suggesting they kill Ming T'ien as well.[11]

After the incident with Ming, Xena and Borias gradually made their way across the steppes of Central Asia. Near the home of the Siberian Amazons, Xena met an evil shaman named Alti, who, in exchange for Xena's help in destroying the Amazons, made Xena the "Destroyer of Nations."[12] By this time, she was pregnant. During the ensuing Battle of Corinth against the Centaurs, over 10,000 warriors died. Xena had become everything she had fought against in Amphipolis.[12]

Sometime around the time of the Battle of Corinth, Xena became obsessed with possessing the Ixion Stone, a talisman which would give her the power of the Evil Centaur.[13] This became too much for Borias, who left her. Borias's death made her realize what a monster she'd become, and after giving birth, she gave her child to the Centaurs to raise.[13] She didn't want her son to become like her, or to know what kind of person his mother was. She didn't set eyes on him for over a decade. Her son, Solan, never knew that she was his mother.[14]

What happened to Xena in the next few years is largely unknown. We know that she met up with Boadicea, Queen of Britannia, and betrayed her.[15] Xena also challenged Odin in the Norselands.[16] Several years later, Xena attempted to destroy Hercules by turning his best friend, Iolaus, against him.[3] Shortly afterward, she instinctively rescued an infant from death at the hands of her army. Sensing weakness in her, her men mutinied, and forced her to pass through a brutal gauntlet without her armor.[4] With the help of Hercules, who had become her friend, she finally understood what her acts had done to others and to herself, and determined to redeem herself through noble acts.[5] It is at this point that the series begins.

However, Xena finds this to be more painful than she thought, haunted by her past transgressions, she is about to give up on her life as a warrior completely.[17] As she strips off her armor and weaponry and buries them in the dirt, she sees a group of village girls being attacked by a band of warriors. In the group is Gabrielle (played by Renée O'Connor). Xena saves the young women and Gabrielle is left in awe of the Warrior Princess' abilities. Gabrielle persuades Xena to let her be her traveling companion, and over time, Gabrielle becomes Xena's dearest friend. Xena also reconciles with her mother, Cyrene.[17]

Xena has had many adventures since this point, which have been chronicled elsewhere. During her adventures, she encountered the war god Ares, with whom she would have an intense love/hate relationship, even after he subjected to her to sexual humiliation by stripping her clothes off with his sword, leaving her completely naked in front of his soldiers when she was in Illuysia. She has died several times,[18] been reincarnated at least twice, and was inadvertently put on ice for twenty-five years by Ares. The last event prevented her from raising her daughter, Eve, and indirectly brought about the Twilight of the Greek Gods.[19] Not long after this cataclysmic event, Xena and Gabrielle journeyed to Japan to help an old friend. There, Xena learned that she had inadvertently been the cause of a fire which had killed 40,000 people.[20] To vanquish their tormentor and to release them, she sacrificed herself in battle, an honorable death for a warrior princess.[20] Gabrielle had Xena's body cremated, and carries her ashes wherever she goes.[20]

According to the darsham, Naima,[21] this is only one of many lives Xena will live throughout the ages. Her next incarnation will be as the revered peacekeeper Arminestra. In many of those lives, she will walk a path together with her soulmateGabrielle furthering the cause of good against evil. [7]

Appearances in other mediaEdit

Being the title character, Xena has appeared in all of the series spin-offs, normally being the lead character. The animated movie Hercules and Xena: The Battle for Mount Olympus marks the first appearance of Xena outside of the television. She also appears in the comics series Xena: Warrior Princess, originally released by Topp and Dark Horse Comics, in 2007, Dynamite Entertainment acquired the rights to the book upon discovering it still had many fans.

Xena is a playable character in the videogames Xena: Warrior Princess, and a selectable character in The Talisman of fate. Lucy Lawless also appeared in animated format at the television show The Simpsons, in 1999, dressed as her Xena character.


Main article: Xena: Warrior Princess in popular culture

Xena: Warrior Princess has been referred to as a pop cultural phenomenon and feminist icon.[22][23][24] The television series, which employed pop culture references as a frequent humorous device, has itself become a frequent pop culture reference in video games, comics and television shows, and has been frequently parodied and spoofed.

Xena: Warrior Princess has been credited by many, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, with blazing the trail for a new generation of female action heroes such as Buffy, Max of Dark Angel, Sydney Bristow of Alias, and Beatrice in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.[25]

Xena has enjoyed a particular cult status in the lesbian community. Some of the lesbian fan base sees Xena and Gabrielle as a couple and has embraced them as role models and lesbian icons.[26]

It has been argued that within the series, that Xena represent the masculine principle, and that she "periodically struggles with the dark, masculine, warlike shadow within her". [27]

Industry achievements and awardsEdit

Xena's character reached #100 on Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters behind Monk and Steve Urkel.[28]

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