Xena: Warrior Princess – An Episode Road Map

Have you always meant to catch up on Xena: Warrior Princess but don't have the time for 134 episodes? This may help...

Maps To TV Shows: Is there a popular show you’d really like to watch but you just don’t have time to wade through years of it all at once? Do you just want to know why that one character keeps turning up on Tumblr? Do the fans all tell you ‘season one is a bit iffy but stick with it, it gets great!’, leaving you with absolutely zero desire ever to watch the boring/silly/just plain weird season one? Then Maps To TV Shows is for you!

In these articles, we’ll outline routes through popular TV shows focusing on particular characters, story arcs or episode types. Since part of the aim of these articles is to encourage new viewers, spoilers will be kept to a minimum. However, be aware that due to the nature of the piece, certain elements of world-building, bad guy-revelation, late character arrivals etc. will be spoiled, and looking at the details of one suggested “route” may spoil another.

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A few words before we start

As one of the series which helped comfort yours truly during the Doctor Who wilderness years, Xena: Warrior Princess will always hold a special place in my geek heart. A spinoff from the popular Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the show followed the adventures of a fierce, female warrior as she sought to atone for her past sins. With a handy set of skills, including the manipulation of pressure points and wielding her throwing weapon of choice – the Chakram – Xena started upon her road to redemption by battling gods, warlords and the odd king or two.

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Creating a star in one Lucy Lawless (Battlestar GalacticaAgents Of Shield) and giving birth to a pop culture icon, the programme steadily rose to top the US syndicated TV charts – outperforming the big hitters of the time – such as Star Trek DS9 and even its own parent show. Ably abetted by her companion Gabrielle (the charming Renee O’Connor), Xena and the young bard sealed a friendship which would become as important to the show as its spectacularly staged action sequences.

As the bond between the Warrior Princess and her earnest companion grew, fan speculation over the true nature of Gabrielle and Xena’s relationship developed. Xena secured a strong following within the gay & lesbian community, with the show’s writers embracing said speculation and teasing the fan base even more. With the emergence of the internet as a forum for fan fiction – it benefited from an earlier form of the fandom we see as commonplace on social media today.

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While beginning life as a fairly straight forward action hour, the show quickly developed a quirky nature all of its own. Switching effortlessly between high melodrama, horror and slapstick comedy from one episode to the next – the production team began to push the boundaries of 45 minute episodic television, and in “The Bitter Suite” delivered a superlative musical episode a full three years before the acclaimed Buffy The Vampire Slayer attempt. “The Rift” arc which develops throughout season three, and cumulates in the show’s first musical offering, is a notable high point and while not every risk the show took would translate as convincingly to the screen – its witty, adventurous nature would always win out.

Generally considered to have reached a creative peak in its second and third years, Xena: Warrior Princess ran for six seasons and amassed a total of 134 high octane adventures. Although the show faced a reduction in budget in its final two years, plus a noticeable dip in ratings and in some cases quality – a consecutive run of three extremely poor episodes in the fifth season were almost unforgivable – the series thankfully never truly jumped the shark. The “Twilight Of The Gods” arc in season five produced several memorable instalments, with the epic “Ring Trilogy” from season six proving the Warrior Princess could still dazzle and inspire – even under such tough circumstances.

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It may be hard to believe but it is a staggering 20 years since Xena made her full series debut, and with rumblings of a potential reboot, now may be the perfect time to discover the original Warrior Princess for yourself. So in the finest traditions of Den of Geek’s road maps, I present a collection of episodes showcasing the evolution of the show from its humble beginnings, through the peak of its powers and up to its heartbreaking conclusion. Encompassing the varied nature of the show, the 45 episodes listed below can be complemented by including further recommendations, depending on which area of the Xenaverse intrigues you the most. Sooner or later we will be presented with a new interpretation of everyone’s favourite Warrior Princess, I only hope it will be as brave, heart-warming and downright inspiring as the original. Buckle up, it’s one hell of a ride…

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Route One: The Best Of

Season One

Sins Of The Past

Warrior… Princess

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The Royal Couple Of Thieves

Callisto

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Season Two

Remember Nothing

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

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Return Of Callisto

Warrior… Priestess… Tramp

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Intimate Stranger

The Xena Scrolls

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Destiny

The Quest

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A Necessary Evil

A Day in the Life

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Season Three

Been There, Done That

The Deliverer

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Gabrielle’s Hope

The Debt Part 1

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The Debt Part 2

The Quill Is Mightier

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Maternal Instincts

The Bitter Suite

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One Against An Army

Sacrifice Part 1

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Sacrifice Part 2

Season Four

A Family Affair

In Sickness And In Health

A Good Day

Paradise Found

Devi

Between The Lines

The Way

The Ides Of March

Season Five

Fallen Angel

Chakram

Seeds Of Faith

Lyre, Lyre Hearts On Fire

God Fearing Child

Livia

Eve

Motherhood

Season Six

The Rheingold

The Ring

Return Of The Valkyrie

A Friend In Need Part 1

A Friend In Need Part 2

Additional viewing: The Quirky Comedies

Include these episodes into the mix if the lighter moments of Xena: Warrior Princess have tickled your funny bone.

Season Two

A Comedy Of Eros

Season Three

Warrior… Priestess… Tramp

Season Four

A Tale of Two Muses

The Key To The Kingdom

The Play’s The Thing

Season Six

You Are There

Additional viewing: The Rift Arc

The fallout from Gabrielle and Xena’s rift is explored further in this late season three episode. Broadcast after “One Against An Army” and before the two part finale – this episode finally explains how, as seen in “The Debt,” Gabrielle makes it to Chin before Xena.

Season Three

Forget Me Not

Route Two: Xena’s path to redemption

Adding this bevy of episodes into the mix will help shed more light on Xena’s attempts to leave her dark past behind…

Season One

Dreamworker

The Path Not Taken

Mortal Beloved

Death Mask

Season Two

Orphan Of War

Season Four

Adventures In The Sin Trade Part 1

Adventures In The Sin Trade Part 2

Locked Up Tied Down

Past Imperfect

Season Five

Animal Attraction

Purity

Back In The Bottle

Amphipolis Under Siege

Looking Death In The Eye

The God You Know

When Fates Collide

Season Six

Heart Of Darkness

Route 3: Gabrielle’s Story

Initially given a rough ride in some quarters, Gabrielle evolved from the pesky kid into the Battling Bard of Potidaea, before finally taking her place as Xena’s soul mate. Add these episodes to your list for further insights into the woman who captured the Warrior Princess’ heart…

Season One

Beware Of Greeks Bearing Gifts

Athens City Academy Of The Performing Bards

The Greater Good

Season Four

Crusader

Season Six

Who’s Gurkhan

Legacy

To Helicon and Back

Route 4: Joxer’s Journey

If it weren’t for an endearing portrayal by Ted Raimi and some astute characterisation, Joxer could have easily ended up as the Xenaverse equivalent to Jar Jar Binks.

Thankfully, Joxer won just about everyone over and returned time and time again to enjoy his moment in the spotlight…

Season One

From Him The Bell Tolls

Season Three

The King Of Assassins

Fins, Fems and Gems

Season Four

Eternal Bonds

Route Five: Divisive Episodes

Any long running series will throw up the occasional stinker, spilt fandom right down the middle or force devotees to simply lose the plot altogether. Derided by many and championed by the few, the following is a selection of shall we say somewhat controversial episodes which you may wish to view for yourself…

Season Four

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Season Five

Married With Fishsticks

Lifeblood

Season Six

Send in the Clones

Disclaimer: No memories were harmed during the production of this feature. It was, in all honesty, a labor of love…