Xena_LogoXena: Warrior Princess is an American fantasy television series filmed on location in New Zealand.

First aired September 4, 1995 (US)

It has been praised by critics for its strong female protagonist and has since acquired a strong cult following, attention in fandom, parody, and academia, and has influenced the direction of other television series.

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 recognising and pursuing the “greater good”.

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. 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.

The series soared past its predecessor in ratings and in popularity. In its second season it was the top rated syndicated drama series on American television. For all six years, Xena remained in the top five.

Listen to the Xena: Warrior Princess soundtracks by Joseph Loduca on Spotify. Several volumes available.

Lucy Lawless (Xena)

Lucy_LawlessLucille Lawless, (née Ryan, born March 29, 1968) is a New Zealand actress and singer best known for playing the title character in the internationally-successful television series Xena: Warrior Princess (1995–2001).

In 1994, Lawless appeared in Hercules and the Amazon Women, a made-for-television film that became the television pilot for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In that episode, she played a man-hating Amazon named Lysia. She went on to play another character, Lyla, in the first-season episode “As Darkness Falls.”

Lawless received her best-known role when she was asked to play a heroic warrior woman named Xena in the episode “The Warrior Princess,” which aired in March 1995. Lawless subsequently returned as Xena in two more episodes of the first season of Hercules, which portrayed her turn from villainess to a good, heroic character. The character was popular enough that a spin-off series was created: Xena: Warrior Princess debuted in September 1995.

Xena’s ambiguous romantic relationship with travelling companion Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) led to Lawless becoming a lesbian icon, a role she has said she’s proud of.

Lawless first appeared on Broadway in September 1997 in the Grease revival, as the “bad girl” character, Betty Rizzo. She wanted to play the lead role of Sandy, and later stated her belief that the producers typecast her to play “bad girls” following her success as Xena. She said the Sandy character was very similar to her sheltered childhood, growing up in New Zealand with many protective older brothers.

Find out more at lucylawless.net.

Follow Lucy on Twitter and Facebook.

20th Century Highlights

  • Hercules and the Amazon Women (TV, 1994)
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (TV, 1995, 1997, 1998)
  • Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)

Renee O’Connor (Gabrielle)

Renee_O'ConnorRenée O’Connor (born February 15, 1971) is an American actress, producer, and director known for the role of Gabrielle on the television series Xena: Warrior Princess.

At 16, O’Connor began her career with a string of commercials and minor television roles. She first came to the attention of Xena executive producers Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi when she landed the role of Deianeira in their television movie, Hercules and the Lost Kingdom.

Find out more at reneeoconnor.net.

Follow Renee on Twitter and Facebook.

20th Century Highlights

  • Hercules and the Lost Kingdom (TV, 1994)
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (TV, 1997, 1998)
  • Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)