Superhero Sunday: The 21st anniversary of ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’

On September 4, 1995, the land of weekend syndicated television answered viewers’ cries for a female action hero in the form of Lucy Lawless as Xena: Warrior Princess.  A spin-off of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the legacy of the character began with Xena as the evil warlord opposite Kevin Sorbo’s half-man, half-god hero.  But in the course of her trilogy on Hercules, Xena slowly but gradually changed for the better thanks to the son of Zeus, who honored the memory of his family by dedicating his life to helping people who can’t fight for themselves against the monsters led by his stepmother Hera.

Taking on the mantle left by Lynda Carter as TV’s Wonder Woman, Xena: Warrior Princess led the way for the next generation of female empowerment with Lawless as the titular reformed heroine who pays her debt to the world as a servant of the greater good: a crusader for justice on behalf of the common people.  With the aid of her friend/partner/protege Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor), Xena fulfills her destiny in atoning for her past sins: becoming a friend in need to those who are in need of her superhuman strength, her sword, her chakram, and her many skills against the forces of evil … while fighting the evil that continues to remain within her.

From 1995 to 2001, Xena surpassed Hercules and Baywatch as the top-rated show in syndication: paving the way for shows that includes Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, the Vampire Slayer; Charmed starring Shannon Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Rose McGowan, Alyssa Milano, and future Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco; Dark Angel starring Jessica Alba, and Alias starring Jennifer Garner.

Fifteen years after making the ultimate superhero sacrifice, Xena: Warrior Princess may be reborn as a potential reboot on NBC from Lost writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach.  For devoted fans, though, the original Xena: Warrior Princess remains the best, so see why with reruns on the Heroes & Icons (H&I) network (

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