1. Xena: Warrior Princess is an American television series filmed in New Zealand. The series aired in syndication from September 4, 1995, until June 18, 2001.
2. The series was created in 1995 by writer-director-producer Robert Tapert under his production tag, Renaissance Pictures with later executive producers being R. J. Stewart (who developed the series along with Tapert) and Sam Raimi.
3. The series narrative follows Xena (played by Lucy Lawless), an infamous warrior on a quest to seek redemption for her past sins against the innocent by using her formidable fighting skills to now help those who are unable to defend themselves. Xena is accompanied by Gabrielle (played by Renee O’Connor), who during the series changes from a simple farm girl into an Amazon warrior and Xena’s comrade-in-arms; her initial naïveté helps to balance Xena and assists her in recognizing and pursuing the “greater good”.
4. The show is a spin-off of the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys; the saga began with three episodes in Hercules where Xena was a recurring character originally scheduled to die in her third appearance.
5. Aware that the character of Xena had been very successful among the public, the producers of the series decided to create a spin-off series based on her adventures. Xena was a successful show which has aired in more than 108 countries around the world since 1998.
6. In 2004 and 2007, it was ranked #9 and #10 on TV Guide’s Top Cult Shows Ever and the title character was ranked #100 on Bravo’s 100 Greatest TV Characters.
7. Xena’s success has led to hundreds of tie-in products, including, comics, books, video games and conventions, realized annually since 1998 in Pasadena, California and London.
8. The series soared past its predecessor in ratings and in popularity.
9. In its second season it was the top rated syndicated drama series on American television.
10. For all six years Xena remained in the top five.
11. The series came to an end in June 2001, after cancellation.
12. It completed a full sixth season and ended with a two-part series finale.
13. The show has since acquired a strong cult following, attention in fandom, parody, and academia, and has influenced the direction of other television series.
14. Xena is a historical fantasy set primarily in ancient Greece, although the setting is flexible in both time and location and occasionally features Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, Central Asian, and Medieval European elements.
15. The flexible fantasy framework of the show accommodates a considerable range of theatrical styles, from high melodrama to slapstick comedy, from whimsical and musical to all-out action and adventure.
16. While the show is typically set in ancient times, its themes are essentially modern and it investigates the ideas of taking responsibility for past misdeeds, the value of human life, personal liberty and sacrifice, and friendship.
17. The show often addresses ethical dilemmas, such as the morality of pacifism; however, the storylines rarely seek to provide unequivocal solutions.
18. Xena freely borrows names and themes from various mythologies around the world, primarily the Greek, anachronistically adapting them to suit the demands of the storyline.
19. Historical figures and events from a number of different historical eras and myths make numerous appearances, and the main characters are often credited with resolving important historical situations. These include an encounter with Homer before he was famous, in which Gabrielle encourages his storytelling aspirations; the fall of Troy; and the capture of Caesar by pirates, with Xena cast as the pirate leader.
20. Competing religions are treated as compatible and co-existent in a henotheistic world, allowing the Greek Pantheon to live side by side with the Norse Gods, Indian Deities, the “God of Love” and others. Each god, or set of gods, controls a different part of the world, and (in the show) survives only while people believe in it. In seasons four and five, the Greek people gradually transfer their faith from the Greek Gods to the “God of Love” over a period of about 25 years, and as their power fades, the Greek Gods are almost all killed off in a climactic battle.
21. This quirky mix of timelines and the amalgamation of historical and mythological elements fueled the rise of the show to cult status during the 1990s and early 2000s (decade). It was one of the first shows to tap into its Internet following, allowing fans from all over the world to discuss and suggest things related to the show. The Xena fandom is still an active community today.
22. Xena: Warrior Princess starred Lucy Lawless as Xena and Renee O’Connor as Gabrielle.
23. The first choice for Xena was the British actress Vanessa Angel, but an illness prevented her from travelling, and the role was offered to four other actresses before the relatively unknown Lawless. Sunny Doench was cast as Gabrielle, but she did not want to leave her boyfriend in the United States, so O’Connor, who had appeared in Hercules in another role, was chosen.
24. The show features a wide assortment of recurring characters, many of them portrayed by New Zealand actors. Ted Raimi became a core member of the cast from the second season as Joxer.
25. Actor Kevin Tod Smith played popular character Ares, God of War, and Alexandra Tydings played his counterpart Aphrodite, Goddess of Love.
26. Other notables included Karl Urban in a variety of roles such as Cupid and Caesar, Hudson Leick as Xena’s nemesis Callisto (Leick also played a body-switched Xena in the episode Intimate Stranger), Claire Stansfield as the evil shamaness Alti; and a number of trusted friends – Jennifer Sky as feisty sidekick Amarice, Danielle Cormack as Amazon regent Ephiny, Bruce Campbell as Autolycus King of Thieves, Robert Trebor as dodgy entrepreneur Salmoneus, William Gregory Lee as the warrior-poet Virgil and Tim Omundson as the spiritual healer Eli.
27. Composer Joseph LoDuca wrote the theme music and incidental music, and co-wrote the lyrics for the songs in “The Bitter Suite.”
28. The theme music was developed from the traditional Bulgarian folk song “Kaval sviri,” sung by the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir. The original “Kaval sviri” can be heard where Xena races into battle in the Hercules episode “Unchained Heart.”
29. The musical score of Xena: Warrior Princess was critically well received and garnered seven Emmy nominations for LoDuca, who won the Emmy award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) for the Season 5 episode Fallen Angel in 2000.
30. Most of the series’ music was made available on six soundtrack albums. Two of these albums contain the soundtracks from the musical episodes “The Bitter Suite” (Season 3) and “Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire” (Season 5).
31. The majority of Gabrielle’s stunts and fight scenes was performed by Renee O’Connor herself, including the backflip from “The Abyss” where Gabrielle kicks a cannibal in the face mid-flight, which was done without any wirework.
32. Won Hitfix’s first March Madness Heroes vs Villains in 2014. A highly contentious match-up between fandoms, Xena beat out the likes of Wonder Woman, Batman, Buffy, Dr. Who, Jack Bauer, and Walter White to take the title as champion.
33. Lucy Lawless modeled Xena’s famous war cry on the ululations of Arab women.
34. Lucy Lawless donated her Xena costume to the Smithsonian in 2006.
35. Universal released seasons 1-6 on VHS in 1999-2001.
36. Anchor Bay Entertainment released all 6 Seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess on DVD in Region 1 for the first time between 2003–2005. As of 2010, these releases have now been discontinued and are out of print as Anchor Bay no longer has the distribution rights. On January 12, 2010, Universal Studios Home Entertainment announced that they plan on re-releasing Xena: Warrior Princess on DVD. They have subsequently re-released the first five seasons. The sixth and final season as well as a complete series set will be released on May 17, 2016. In Region 2 & 4, Universal Pictures released the entire series on DVD. In addition, they released a complete series collection on DVD in Region 2 on October 8, 2007.
37. There have been a number of comic adaptations. The earliest ones were released by Topps Comics, Dark Horse Comics(written by Ian Edginton and John Wagner). More recently the license has moved to Dynamite Entertainment.
38. Quentin Tarantino has stated to be a huge fan of this show.
39. Much debate surrounded the possible lesbian relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, which the writers deliberately kept ambiguous. Since the demise of the show however, Lucy Lawless has stated that she believes the characters were romantically involved.
40. In 1996, while rehearsing a skit for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992), Lucy Lawless fractured her pelvis when she was thrown clear from her horse. As a result, several episodes of Season 2 had to be edited to accommodate her recovery. Some of them were changed so Lucy could have a very slight appearance (in one episode she only appears as archive footage), and they created some brand new episodes.
41. Karl Urban was originally intended to reprise his role as Cupid during the “Twilight of the Gods” storyarc in Season 5, but was unable to return due to filming “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy as the character Eomer. Karl Urban eventually returned in Season 6 as his equally popular character Julius Caesar. When asked about the fate of Cupid at a convention, Karl replied that he remained at Mount Olympus with Aphrodite and Ares – the only two surviving Greek Gods.
42. Gabrielle had a total of 7 regular outfits over the course of the series. Starting off with a Greek Farmgirl’s dress in Season 1, Gabrielle would upgrade to 3 different Amazon outfits, a yellow two-piece Indian garment and two warrior bikini costumes.
43. In an interview given by Lucy Lawless in 2013, she admits regretting not having done a Xena movie when the show was at its highest moment of popularity.
44. Rob Tapert on why and how he picked Xena’s weapon: “I had a book of ancient weapons and I saw this weird discus called the Chakram and I said let’s give her this because it can return and we’ll never have another character use it. John Schulian [series writer] said he hated it and said we should cut around it. I told him ‘that weapon is the coolest thing I’d ever seen’ – it’s her signature piece”.
45. Gabrielle’s fighting style was a mix of martial arts, kickboxing and acrobatics. Her two trademark weapons – the fighting staff and the sais – are both part of a Japanese fighting style known as Okinawan Kobudo.
46. The planet Eris which was discovered in 2005, was nicknamed Xena, after the heroine of the TV series, by the team that found it. Though it wasn’t given the name officially, it’s moon was named Dysnomia, after the Greek goddess of lawlessness which bares a similarity to the name of the actress that plays Xena, Lucy Lawless.
47. In a 2012 article by NBC News, Christian Science Monitor, it was revealed that the US military is developing Xena Warrior Princess style body armor for women.
48. Kevin Smith who recurred in Xena for 32 episodes as Ares, God of War, passed away in a tragic accident in 2002.
49. While she was auditioning for the role of Gabrielle, Renée O’Connor was standing on a chair reading the lines for Rob Tapert. Renee fell off the chair, which made Tapert remember her while he was casting.
50. The Livia/Eve story arc was created to accommodate Lucy Lawless’ pregnancy.
51. Ranked #10 in TV Guide’s thirty “Top Cult Shows Ever” (Friday, June 29, 2007).
52. Gabrielle’s fate is never revealed.
53. A Day in the Life (#2.15) came about because Rob Tapert wanted it make an episode which had as little action as possible giving Lucy Lawless (Xena) a chance to recover from her injury making it like a documentary. The story followed Xena and Gabrielle on a seemingly mundane typical day.
54. In a 2005 Salon article titled “What we owe Xena,” it highlighted how the show has become culturally significant.
55. In the end titles of almost every episode there are a few funny lines, known as “disclaimer”, which usually end with “the production of this motion picture”. They’re related to the content of the episode. Several episodes in Season 1 have no disclaimer; from Season 2 onwards every episode gets one.
56. Zoe Bell joined the series in 1998 as Lucy Lawless’s stunt double.
57. Lucy Lawless played 6 characters in the series: Xena, Princess Diana, Meg (5 times), Leah, Annie Day (twice), and Melinda Pappas. This makes it a total of 8 characters that she played in the Xena/Hercules franchise, as she played two other characters in Hercules The Legendary Journeys: Lysia(movie) and Lyla.
58. In season two, Xena’s ratings soared past it’s predecessor, ‘Hercules the Legendary Journeys,’ becoming the number one syndicated action show. It continued to lead Hercules every subsequent year both series aired.
59. Ranked #9 in TV Guide’s list of the “25 Top Cult Shows Ever!” (30 May 2004 issue).
60. Renee O’Connor played 4 characters in the series: Gabrielle, Hope (3 times), Janice Covington, and Mattie (twice). This makes it a total of 7 characters that she played in the Xena/Hercules franchise, as she played three other characters in Hercules The Legendary Journeys: Sunny Day, The Executioner, and Deianeira(movie).
61. Melinda Clarke, who played the amazon Velasca in Season 2, was originally up for the role of Xena but dropped out.
62. In a 2011 memoir at Alex Belth’s Bronx Banter blog by one of Xena’s creators, John Schulian, titled “From Ali to Xena” chapters 43, 44, 45 he describes how the character of Xena was created, and the success of casting Lucy Lawless.
63. Won Hitfix’s 2015 March Mayhem, Heroes vs Villains for the second year in a row.
64. Most of the fighting scenes take place on dirt ground, to hide the place mats for the actors.
65. The opening credits remained the same for the first five seasons, but they were changed for the sixth and last season.
66. There are two “The Simpsons” toy action figures of Xena/Lucy Lawless based on the 1999 Lucy Lawless’ appearance in the “Treehouse of Horror X” special, “Desperately Xeeking Xena.” The second one was released in 2014 as part of the 25 greatest guest stars series.
67. The shows first two seasons were shot in 4:3 aspect ratio. From the third episode of the third season onwards (the first two episodes were actually shot at the end of season 2), it was filmed in 16:9 widescreen.
68. In the bathtub scene in A Day in the Life (#2.15). When Gabrielle turns to face Xena. Renee O’Connor could be glimpsed wearing a bathing suit, although Xena and Gabrielle are naked in the scene.
69. Jennifer Sky, who auditioned for Gabrielle, but lost out to Renee O’Connor, would later star in the short-lived “Cleopatra 2525” created by Xena creators Rob Tapert and R.J. Stewart. Coincidentally, Gina Torres who played Hel in “Cleopatra 2525”, played Cleopatra in “The King of Assassins” (#3.8), Which Josephine Davison briefly assumed the role in “Antony and Cleopatra” (#5.18).
70. Michael Hurst who played Iolaus in ‘Hercules the Legendary Journeys’ directed six episodes.
71. Xena is a warrior woman from ancient Greece. Lucy Lawless (Xena) would later play the Roman woman Lucretia in “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”.
72. Sam Raimi is such a huge fan of Hong Kong cinema that the series was influenced by it. One such influence was Ching Siu-Tung’s A Chinese Ghost Story (as can be seen in The Debt, Part 1). More influences can be detected if you browse the Xena + Hong Kong Connection site.
73. The three main female characters are: Xena (translates to “foreigner” in Greek), Gabrielle (translates to “messenger of God” in Hebrew), and Callisto (translates to “very beautiful”, again, in Greek).
74. Subject of a 2015 io9-Observation Deck article titled ‘Why Xena Warrior Princess Still Matters Today,’ an in depth look at the show which explores the significance and influence the series maintains many years later.
75. Xena’s horse Argo was played by Tilly. She did many of the close-up shots with Lucy Lawless. She also had a body double, Mac, whom was used in second unit in long shots. And she had a stunt double, Barbie, who did most of the tricks such as kicking and rearing.
76. Lucy Lawless was pregnant during the fifth season and her pregnancy written into the series. In the episode God Fearing Child (#5.12), Xena gives birth to her daughter Eve. In real life, Lucy Lawless gave birth to her son, Julius, on October 16 1999.
77. Several episodes from Season 4 were broadcast in a wrong order by the Spanish public national television.
78. Renée O’Connor was not in the opening credits for season 1. At Lucy Lawless’ insistence, Renee was included in opening credits from season 2 onwards.
79. Gabrielle evolves over the series. She changes from a naive young woman to bard to warrior. In Sins of the Past (#1.1) Gabrielle decides to join Xena on her adventures, so she can learn from Xena and also to fulfill her dream of becoming a warrior.
80. Though there are many other instances of subtext in earlier episodes, and later throughout the series, the episode ‘A Day in the Life’ was the first to largely fuel speculation that Xena and Gabrielle had a romantic relationship. Encouraged by Renée O’Connor’s ad lib “she likes what I do,” Renee’s own idea to add that in. Furthermore, the playful bathtub scene, and Gabrielle kissing Xena on the cheek as they lay side-by-side under the stars to sleep.
81. In a 2015 article, The Mary Sue, a popular geek culture online magazine, published an article titled ‘Twenty Years Later, a Look at How Xena: Warrior Princess Changed Television’ stating: “it’s a perfect time to look back on the legacy of a show that changed pop culture forever.”
82. Rob Tapert , a fan of Hong Kong martial arts films, sought roles models for Xena in the rich Asian movie heritage. More specifically, she was inspired by Brigitte Lin ‘s character in Bai fa mo nu zhuan (1993) , a warrior witch that walks through the gauntlet, survives, and changes her old ways.
83. Series 6 is the only season of the series to have nudity: The slave girl Milda’s (Gina Varela) bare bottom could be seen in Whose Gurkhan (#6,4) and Xena and Gabrielle’s bare breasts could be glimpsed and their bare bottoms are seen in Legacy (#6.5). Body doubles for Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor were used for this scene. In all preceding episodes, only Xena and Gabrielle’s bare backs, bare shoulders and bare upper chests were seen.
84. In 2001. Lucy Lawless and Jeri Ryan did a photo shoot for a magazine. In one of the photos, Lucy Lawless and Jeri Ryan posed in their costumes as their characters Xena and Seven of Nine. Lucy Lawless is a month younger than Jeri Ryan and both “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Star Trek: Voyager” which both first aired in 1995, both ended in 2001.
85. In The Ides of March (#4.21), Caesar has a dream that Xena is having sex with him in woman-top-position and then stabs him with a knife. A nod to the classic 1992 suspense thriller Basic Instinct (1992) , which in that film, the main antagonist Catherine Tramell Sharon Stone is seen riding a man and then kills him with a ice-pick.
86. Gina Varela, the actress whom played Milda in Whose Gurkhan (#6.4) was born to a Greek father and a Kiwi mother. The series takes place in ancient Greece.
87. Brawny Kevin Sorbo was not entirely happy with the direction his bosses at Renaissance Pictures were taking with Xena. Having surpassed his Hercules in the ratings, he felt the companion show was making a mistake by having the heroine presented as his character’s physical equal. “I never understood why [Tapert] made her actually more powerful than Hercules,” he told author Rob Weisbrot. “Hercules is supposed to be the strongest person in the world and a half-god … they made her a doctor and so many other things. And I found it just weird.” Because Sorbo complained so much, people on the set of Hercules would jokingly spit whenever the word “Xena” was mentioned.
88. Long before Marvel Studios made sitting through the end credits a thing, Xena’s producers began inserting throwaway jokes for fans. Liz Friedman, an executive at Renaissance, got the idea after watching Hercules footage one day and wishing she could mention that no centaurs had been harmed. It turns out there was no reason they couldn’t. Xena soon began advising viewers that any winged harpies seen in the show were treated with the utmost respect.
89. Poseidon was created just for the credits. The towering ruler of the seas was seen briefly in the show’s opening credits, an undulating testament to the questionable quality of 1990s television-grade CGI. Viewers kept wondering when he’d show up, unaware that he had been created specifically for the intro. So many fans demanded a proper story for Poseidon that he ended up appearing in two second-season episodes.
90. A reboot is coming. Last month, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told The Hollywood Reporter that the network was actively developing a new incarnation of Xena, with the 47-year-old Lawless likely to be involved creatively. Onscreen, however, is a different story. “We’d love to have Lucy be a part of it,” Greenblatt said, “if we felt that her presence didn’t overshadow the direction we take with it.” Good luck with that.
91. There weren’t many female directors. For a show big on female empowerment, not many women got an opportunity to get behind the camera. Out of the show’s 100-odd episodes, five were directed by women (two of them by Renée O’Connor, Xena’s sidekick). Co-executive producer Eric Gruendemann told the Los Angeles Times that it came down to a lack of qualified candidates well-versed in both action and visual effects work. “We feel bad about it,” said Gruendemann, “but we’re not guilty because we’ve tried.”
92. She was supposed to meet Wonder Woman. Corporate red tape would never allow the two Amazons to meet onscreen, but they came close when DC entered into an agreement with Dark Horse Comics (publishers of Xena’s illustrated adventures) to produce a crossover. According to writer Beau Smith, the project was written and partially drawn before DC decided Xena’s cancellation in 2001 would have lessened interest. The project was scrapped; Lawless later voiced Wonder Woman for a 2008 animated Justice League movie.