Hercules: The Legendary Journey and Xena: Warrior Princess can't be streamed on any service.
Back in the mid-90s, when syndication was how most shows made money, Hercules: The Legendary Journey and Xena: Warrior Princess was the most popular pair of shows on television. Campy and off-beat executive producer Sam Raimi brought his strange touch to the shows, somehow creating two of the most influential shows in history that still have a major cult following today, 28 years later. The biggest problem with each show, which must be corrected as soon as possible, is that neither one can be found streaming on any service; even trying to purchase them from Amazon will still leave you short five seasons of Hercules.
Hercules: The Legendary Journey starring Kevin Sorbo as the mythological warrior, came first, introducing Lucy Lawless as Xena in Season 1 Episode 9, “The Warrior Princess,” as a villain, but it wasn’t long, only four episodes later in “Unchained Heart” when Hercules converts Xena to the side of good. Originally, Xena was going to die in her third appearance, but by then, the character had become a fan-favorite, so instead, she was spun off into her own series, which arguably, became more successful than Hercules. The two shows would go on to share casts, crew, filming locations, and even frequent cross-over stories.
Filmed in New Zealand, Hercules, and Xena used mostly local performers, resulting in lots of familiar faces across the shows, including the various Gods, from Ares (Kevin Smith…no, a different Kevin Smith), Hera (Meg Foster), Strike (Joel Tobeck), Aphrodite (Alexandra Tydings), Discord (Meighan Desmond) and frequent villain, Callisto (Heidi Hudson Leick). Bruce Campbell, portraying the King of Thieves, Autolycos, frequently appeared on both shows, while Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) and Joxer (Ted Raimi) were Xena’s sidekicks, and Hercules had Iolaus (Michael Hurst).
In addition to the main cast, a few recognizable names appeared in Hercules and Xena, most notably, the man behind Julius Ceaser: Karl Urban. Long before he was part of the Enterprise crew, the future Johnny Cage made recurring appearances on Xena as the Emperor of Rome. Gina Torres, before Firefly, also appeared on the shows, and Ryan Gosling starred in the Young Hercules spin-off.
Part of the fun was seeing how the different characters played off of one another, with Ares constantly pursuing Xena, contrasting with his more straightforward villainy towards Hercules. Each episode was mostly self-contained; eventually, longer arcs were introduced, but neither Hercules nor Xena ever embraced serialized storytelling in the vein of their sci-fi contemporaries, Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Since the shows aren’t available to stream, a whole new generation can’t appreciate the off-beat stories involving Xena re-enacting Footloose or Hercules getting changed into a pig.
The lack of Hercules and Xena being found on streaming is one of the worst parts of our digital future. At any moment, media can be wiped from existence; look at Warner Bros Discovery deciding to remove Looney Tunes shorts from HBO Max for an example of how bad this can get. Each show exists in the soon-to-be-forgotten DVD format, but streaming is far more convenient and the preferred way to watch shows today.
Maybe if Hercules and Xena were streaming, the planned reboots would have happened instead of being canceled multiple times. In 2018, NBC announced that a planned Xena reboot wasn’t moving forward, and since then, there’s been nothing on the future of either program. This is a shame, as each influenced an entire generation of adventure shows on tv, including The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Jack of All Trades, BeastMaster, and Tarzan: The Epic Adventures.
Often duplicated, never surpassed, the campy earnestness of Hercules: The Legendary Journey and Xena: Warrior Princess needs to be on a streaming service. Even without new shows or the originals being easily available, yearly conventions are still focused on the shows, tons of cosplay, and a constant roar from the fanbase for a return to the time of myths, legends, and tight leather outfits.