Xena first appeared as a character in the extremely similar Hercules - The Legendary Journeys, which shares its basic formula of a mixture of Greek mythology, Bible stories and a little badly-mutilated genuine history, with plenty of cartoonish swordfights, magical bad guys, magical good guys to combat them and a script which varies from amusingly bad to curl-up-and-wail bad. Her popularity was such that it was decided to give her a show of her own, and thus was born Xena, Warrior Princess.

The show's main character is, obviously, Xena, played by Lucy Lawless, an ex-warlord Bad Person who repented and now wanders around defeating various mythical beasties, sorcerers, errant gods and psychopaths with the aid of her trusty sword and chakram, something between a discus and Odd Job's razor-edged bowler hat. Xena, in true heroic style, has a trusty sidekick, Gabrielle, played by Renee O'Connor, who alternately helps and requires rescuing, exorcising or subduing. Her weapon of choice is a big stick, and she has moral objections to killing people.

Completing the show's all-female base is Callisto, played by Hudson Leick, Xena's arch-enemy and responsibility, since she was created when Xena's army destroyed her village and killed her family. She, naturally, wears black leather, has a big sword and makes deals with bad gods. Callisto is now not Callisto, but is reincarnated as Eve, Xena's daughter, and is off finding herself and learning to be good.

Many other less major characters also get semiregular parts in the show, including Autoclytus, 'king of thieves', played by Bruce Campbell, who was, along with Xena, ferried across from Hercules - The Legendary Journeys. As can be instantly discerned by his name, expression and downright silly facial hair, Autoclytus provides for much of the show's comedy element. Both main characters also have daughters (the aforementioned Eve and Gabrielle's Hope), various Greek gods appear from time to time, and so on.

Much of Xena's appeal rests unashamedly on its costumes, which are distinctly on the skimpy side - our heroine, for example, wears something that looks a little like ancient Greek armour and is apparently made of several tin cans, a leather corset and thirty leather bookmarks. It also has a large following devoted to tracking its lesbian subtext - manifested in a goodly quantity of sexual tension between Xena and Gabrielle, played up perfectly deliberately in the scripts - and then, frequently, taking it to its obvious conclusion in vast quantities of badly-written slash.

Although some episodes stand on their own, the show involves an awful lot of continuity from previous episodes and references to the characters' previous lives, making it quite difficult to pick up at a point late in its history.

As indicated by her relationship with Hercules and the Olympian gods, Xena lived during the time of ancient Greece. She was the champion of the innocent mortal, and she definitely left her mark on Greece; she actually killed most of the Greek gods singlehandedly in a valiant episode known as "the Twilight". However, her historical significance extends well beyond her homeland as well as her home time. In fact, Xena is soley responsible for many of history's most dramatic episodes.

One of Xena's most bitter enemies was Julius Caesar. As a pirate (Xena also had a very interesting and extensive past), she had helped Caesar rise to power in Rome; the heartless tyrant that he was, Caesar soon betrayed her in a terrible leg-breaking scene and left her for dead. In the days of her later glory (i.e. the Warrior Princess era), she battled the emperor on several fronts. She defended innocent lands against his ever-invading army, including Britannia and Gaul. She also aided Pompey in his strife against Caesar. Finally, although she was ultimately crucified by the Romans in the same episode, she provoked Brutus to lead the infamous assasination in the Senate.

Shortly after coming back to life, Xena once again fought the Romans; this time she was defending the mysterious land of Egypt. Upon hearing of her dear friend Cleopatra's death, Xena rushed to Egypt and secretly took her place. It was at this time that she had her infamous love affair with Marcus Antony under the guise of Cleopatra.

Far away, in the land of Chin, Xena spread the wisdom of Taoism and brought about the fall of the Ming Dynasty. Xena had long ago been befriended by Lao Ma, wife of Lao Tzu and creator of Taoism (she had published her teachings in the name of her husband because of gender inequality). Using the teachings of Lao Ma, Xena harnessed metaphisical power from the execution table and destroyed Ming Tien, the last Ming emperor, thus allowing a republic to rise in his place. Xena later returned to Chin to fight a tyrannical army led by the spirit of Ming Tien; once again using the power of Taoism, she turned the whole army into inanimate Terra Cotta warriors with a blast of pure love.

In the North lands, during the rein of the Norse gods, Xena had been the prized Valkyrie of Odin. However, by accident she had transformed her companion Grenhilda into a horrible monster. Xena later returned to the cold North to slay a murderous beast known as Grendel, who turned out the be the child of Grenhilda. Xena, aided by a young warrior called Beowulf, rid the peaceful villages of these two fiends and defeated the selfish Odin.

Perhaps Xena's most significant contribution to history was the spread of Christianity. Xena and Gabrielle met the prince of peace (called Eli in the series) on a trip to India, where they learned to support the way of universal love. They protected Eli from the armies of an evil god who opposed him, thus allowing him to spread his message and heal the sick. It was Eli who revived Xena and Gabrielle after they had been crucified. And after Eli died for the protection of others, Xena defended his followers everywhere from the Romans. It was also Xena's daughter who participated in the first baptism. And it was on a direct mission from God (Xena and the archangels knew each other from their companionship in the battle between Heaven and Hell) that Xena gained the ability to slay gods and brought about the Twilight.

Xena has molded much of history's course in many parts of the world. Without her, we might still be slaves to the Romans, or even the evil god Dahak.

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