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Hercules: The Animated Series

Hercules: The Animated Series is an animated series based on the Disney's 1997 feature film and the Greek myth. The series follows teenage Hercules training as a hero as well as trying to adjust to life. With his free-spirited friend Icarus, his future-seeing friend Cassandra and his teacher Philoctetes ("Phil"), he battles his evil uncle Hades. Like all teenagers though, Hercules has to worry about peer pressure when the snobbish prince Adonis ridicules him.

Premise

Disney's Hercules, like the animated series Disney's The Little Mermaid, is a spin-off of the 1997 theatrically released animated film of the same name (Hercules) and is based on his teen-aged adventures, though it is not a prequel to the film of the same name (Disney's The Little Mermaid featured tales of a 16-year-old Ariel which occurred before the start of the theatrical film). Nor is it truly a sequel like Disney's Aladdin (whose tales takes place after the original film and Return of Jafar). Rather Hercules features events which occur midway through the actual film (sometimes called a "midquel"), during his years in training on the Isle of Idra under the tutelage of Philoctetes (Phil) the Satyr. Many of the Olympian Gods and Goddesses only glimpsed during the film pay visit to the young hero-to-be and help or hinder him in his adventures. Other characters from the film that appear are the evil god Hades (James Woods) and winged stallion Pegasus (Frank Welker).

Production

Disney’s revamping of Greek legend moved to the small screen in the fall of 1998. Disney’s Hercules had the Greek god still in "geek god" mode, before his “Zero to Hero” transformation. In the series, "Herc" was enrolled at Prometheus Academy, a school for both gods and mortals. Since events occur before young Herc meets and falls for the lovely Megara (Meg), he is joined by two new friends Cassandra (comedian Sandra Bernhard) and Icarus (French Stewart).

Disney’s Hercules debuted as part of Disney’s One Saturday Morning block, joining Winnie the Pooh and Disney's Doug. The show proved to be as big a hit on television as it had been in theaters, still going strong in the early 00's.

Disney's Hercules reruns on Toon Disney weekends at 12:30/11:30c.

Characters

  • Hercules (Tate Donovan) - The god turned mortal hero-in-training thus he is now half-mortal, half-god. He is a son of Zeus and Hera which is in contrast to the myth.
  • Philoctetes (Robert Costanzo) - The satyr hero trainer. One of the few characters from the movie whose voice actor (Danny DeVito) didn't return.
  • Pegasus (Frank Welker) - The winged horse formed from clouds by Zeus, childhood pet and faithful companion of Hercules with the brain of a bird.
  • Icarus (French Stewart) - The boy who escaped from the Labyrinth with his father on wax wings appears as a complete nut (he was "brain-fried" by flying too close to the Sun). Despite his accident, Icarus still flies every chance he gets resulting in a few more encounters with the sun. Icarus is very adaptive and hence could adjust to about every situation. He could become an ultra serious soldier at boot camp or a nearly identical version of Hades himself. Thankfully, at the end of each episode, he reverts to his own odd self. His father, Daedalus (David Hyde Pierce), is a teacher in the academy.
  • Cassandra (Sandra Bernhard) - The Trojan War prophet appears as an anti-social girl, that has visions of the future (usually bad) once in a while. Icarus is completely obsessed with marrying her; she has no reciprocation, but merely tolerates him.
  • Adonis (Diedrich Bader) - The narcissistic prince of Thrace, self-obsessed prince who bullies Hercules and Icarus every chance he has. He even annoys the gods which resulted in Gaea even putting a curse on him once. Adonis believes that anything can be solved with power and money.
  • Tempest (Jennifer Jason Leigh) - An Amazon, daughter of Hippolyta (Jane Curtin). She sports a mohawk hairstyle and is very tough. In the Amazon culture, the women fight and work while the men stay at home baking cookies and cleaning the house.
  • "Bob" the Narrator (Robert Stack) - The incorporeal voice who opens most episodes and is helped by the Muses who act as a "Greek chorus" typically singing their narration. Bob has an incorporeal wife (Mrs. Bob) and two incorporeal children named Tiffany & Chad.
  • Helen of Troy (Jodi Benson) - Helen was the sweetest and feminine character of the series. She was the most popular girl in the academy and Adonis' girlfriend. Helen tries her best to keep Adonis from being a jerk but mostly fails. She likes Hercules but as a friend. She is a princess as in the myth but is not a half-sister of Hercules in the series.

Greek pantheon

  • Zeus (Corey Burton) - The king of all gods. Contacts his son through his temple. He is seen to be a silly god in contrast to the mythology. He showed lavish closeness for Hercules despite the distance between them and helps him out whenever he could. Sometimes, his attempts go wrong, causing Herc even more trouble than before.
  • Hades (James Woods) - the smooth-talking lord of the underworld, who constantly makes plans to overthrow and rule Olympus. His crazy shapeshifting imp assistants, Pain (Bob Goldthwait) and Panic (Matt Frewer), have also returned from the movie. He is disappointed about being named Pluto in the episode "Hercules and the Romans", saying he wouldn't even name his dog Cerberus "Pluto" (a pun that Pluto is Mickey Mouse's dog).
  • Hera (Samantha Eggar) - Hera in the Disney's Hercules movie plays as the mother of Hercules due to the reasons that the Disney producers wanted to avoid referencing spousal jealousy, though many cartoon versions of Hera do present spousal jealousy though Hercules' complete origin is not entirely revealed but people know him as a son of Zeus through the film. Hera was just as loving to Hercules as Zeus but she is in more control and helps keep Zeus under control.
  • Poseidon (Jason Alexander) - God of the sea. He, Hades and Zeus are brothers, as Hercules referred to him as "Uncle Po-po" in "Hercules and the Son of Poseidon", but which of them is older is unknown. Is married to the sea-goddess Amphitrite (Leslie Mann) and has a son, Triton (Chris Elliott), a cousin of Hercules.
  • Hephaestus (Kevin Michael Richardson) - The one-legged god of fire and the Gods' blacksmith. Whether or not he is a son of Zeus and Hera is still to be revealed. Engaged to Aphrodite and hates it if Hades flirts with her.
  • Morpheus (Jonathan Katz) - God of sleep, is and has a little brother called Phobetor who wanted to become god of sleep but Zeus said that Thanatos can't be God of sleep because of his "seniority."
  • Phantasos (Tom Kenny) - He became the god of dreams and nightmares after a failed attempt to make Morpheus look bad. Hercules and Morpheus convinced Zeus to give the job of dreams to Phantasos since he was much better at dreams and nightmares than his brother.
  • Ares (Jay Thomas) - The god of war, who just wants to destroy things and prove the superiority of Sparta. He hates using 'egghead', and similar words, and is a brash god. It can be assumed he and Hercules are full brothers, since he is a son of Hera and Zeus. Served by his sons Fear (David Cross) and Terror (Toby Russ). Ares also has two "dogs of war" who draw his chariot named Brutacles & Sadisto.
  • Athena (Jane Leeves) - The goddess of wisdom and warfare, witty sister of Ares - her rival. Ares tries frequently to destroy her worship city, Athens, but Athena always receives help from Hercules. Athena has a pet owl named Ibid. Though she doesn't get along with Ares, when the two team up, they are a formidable pair.
  • Boreas (Alan Rosenberg) - The god of the north wind, seems to have a grudge against Ares for beating him up when Sparta was being created. Aeolus or any of the other winds do not appear so in the show he may be the god of all of the winds.
  • Apollo (Keith David) - God of the sun. He rides a chariot around and has very dark skin. Brother of Artemis.
  • Aphrodite (Lisa Kudrow) - Goddess of the love, with a theme song that even she thinks is annoying. She is quite strong minded, feisty and clever. Shown to be engaged to Hephaestus but only in one episode. She has pink skin and blonde hair. Hades is constantly trying to flirt with her, to no avail.
  • Demeter (Florence Henderson) - Goddess of agriculture. Summoned Nemesis to smite the satyr Pan (Joe Pantoliano) for his inadequate offerings at her harvest festival.
  • Persephone - Contrary to seemingly popular opinion, she never actually appeared in the show. According to an inside source from the show, several different stories were considered for her, including one where she was the daughter of Hades and Demeter who were embroiled in a custody battle, and another where she would have been a teacher at Prometheus Academy, but nothing ever felt really appropriate and her storyline was dropped.
  • Cupid (Tom Arnold) - The god of passion also appears. He is shown as a pink, short, overweight, middle-aged man wearing a diaper; not explicitly stated to be a son of Aphrodite. Cupid has minions called Cherubs, and his quiver holds both "love" and "loathe" arrows.
  • Hermes (Paul Shaffer) - The messenger of the gods and god of thieves. Frequently a companion to "Herc", whom he furnishes with comic relief, possibly another son of Zeus and Hera.
  • Bacchus (Dom DeLuise) - God of the vine, nearly sinks Phil's island with his revelry.
  • Nemesis (Linda Hamilton) - The Demigoddess of Vengeance who works for the Infernal Retribution Service (IRS), a service which punishes mortals for offenses committed against gods.
  • Trivia (Ben Stein) - The God of when three roads meet. Considered boring and unimportant and not invited to Hades' pool party (actually a memory-erasing plot) at the River Lethe. He speaks in a monotone. Depicted as a god of Trivial Information, sought out Hercules to help maintain order in the world while the other gods have lost their memories. In actual mythology this name belongs to Hecate.
  • Artemis (Reba McEntire) - Goddess of the moon and more shown as the goddess of the hunt, Artemis has a few appearances mainly relating to episodes involving hunting, sporting McEntire's accent. In particular, she is seen protecting the Calydonian Boar and transforms a few of the characters into animals, a reference of her turning a hunter who saw her bathing into a stag in mythology. She is also seen scolding Orion also making references to the Belt of Orion in terms of the star patterns. A few times, she is comically seen fighting off her adoring animal fans like a snake that starts to constrict her. Sister of Apollo
  • Hestia (Betty White) - Only making a few appearances, the goddess of family and the hearth is seen as a cheery housewife type. She is often seen cooking or marveling at her own confections... most of which end up being ruined in a comical fashion.
  • Hecate (Peri Gilpin) - An Underworld goddess, Hecate is the goddess of witchcraft and longs to take over the Underworld from Hades in much the same way he longs to take Olympus from Zeus. Despite his seeming dislike of the place most of the time, he's very possessive of his kingdom whenever she tries to overthrow him.
  • The Muses: Clio (Vanéese Y. Thomas) (portrayed as being rather haughty), Melpomene (Cheryl Freeman)(portrayed with the longest hair), Terpsichore (LaChanze Sapp) (portrayed as the 2nd shortest with a sweeter voice), Thalia (Roz Ryan) (portrayed as the shortest and the plumpest Muse) & Calliope (Lillias White) (portrayed as the leader of the Muses) - Daughters of Memory, goddesses of the arts and proclaimers of heroes. They are usually the ones who set the scene for the story. They sometimes have comical exchanges between the narrators. Terpsichore even has her own special appearance when Hercules is afraid of dancing in front of others.
  • Narcissus - God of Vanity? Not truly a god in Greco-Roman mythology, but was depicted several times in both the film and the series as an Olympian god.
  • Gaia (Kerri Kenney) - Goddess of the Earth, mother of the Titans.

Heroes

Jr. Prometheus Academy

Guest characters

  • The Fates - Atropos (Paddi Edwards), Clotho (Tress MacNeille/Amanda Plummer) & Lachesis (Carole Shelley) from the movie reappear in some episodes, including one where they accidentally sink Atlantis. They also doubled as the Norse Norns in one episode.
  • Echidna (Kathie Lee Gifford) - The Mother of all Monsters. Echidna had a recurring role in the series and was typically seen as an obsessive and doting mother to her various children who one-by-one were defeated by Hercules (a reference to Kevin Sorbo's Hercules fighting Echidna, except here she serves Hades). Her mate was Typhon (Regis Philbin) the many-headed Titan who battled Zeus, but was defeated by Hera (which is celebrated as an annual school holiday called "Titan Smit'n Day." Among their children were the cyclopes Brontes, Steropes & Arges, Polyphemus and Zool and Orthros, the two-headed Bi-Clops (Wayne Knight/Jeff Bennett), Cerberus, Hydra, Erymanthian Boar, Nemean Lion, the Harpies, Ceto, Minotaur, Medusa, the Furies, Chimera, Ladon, Gaggenus (the multi-armed yeti-like sailor-eating monster), Geryon, Argus Panoptes, and Briareus.
  • Homer - Homer (coincidently voiced by another "Homer", Dan Castellaneta) is Journalist for a National News-scroll, the "Greekly World News."
  • Another episode featured the Titan Prometheus (Carl Reiner) himself, with Hercules rescuing him from the Eagle (Jerry Stiller).
  • One episode featured a cross-over with Aladdin, in which Hades and Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) team up to destroy both their respective enemies (ignoring the fact these two series seem to take place a thousand years apart from each other).
  • One episode deals with Egyptian gods (Horus, Bastet and Ra) and the dual role of the Greek gods in Rome who answered the petitions of Romulus and Remus and vied for patronage with Icarus, Nemesis and the Grecian Gods of Olympus. At the end of the episode, Icarus gives all the gods Roman names, where Zeus became "Jupiter", Hera became "Juno" etc. Hades is infuriated at receiving the name "Pluto". As he storms out of the room in a rage, Hades shouts: "Pluto?! I wouldn't name my dog Pluto!" Having given nearly all of the Greek gods new Roman names, Icarus suddenly found himself at a loss when he came to Apollo and finally dubbed him "Larry." (reference to both Romans and Greeks using the same name for Apollo)
  • The Norse Gods also appeared where Loki (Vince Vaughn) tricks Hercules into depowering Thor (David James Elliott) to cause the Twilight of the Gods. This is slightly referential to the episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in "Somewhere Across the Rainbow Bridge" where Ragnarok would begin but to a lesser extent. Also The Fates are accused of "moonlighting" as the Norns, a reference to how the Norns bear striking resemblance to the Fates. Vaughn's portrayal of Loki is obviously comparable to Woods's portrayal of Hades as a slick showbiz agent-type, and is very reminiscent of his role in Swingers. Even Odin (Garrison Keillor) is portrayed somewhat similarly to Zeus's persona in the show.
  • The Nemean Lion (Jeremy Piven) made an appearance in an episode involving Icarus moonlighting as a costumed superhero.
  • Medusa (Jennifer Love Hewitt) made an appearance in an episode. Here Medusa rescues Herc from drowning and has a crush on him. Hoping to befriend him, she ask for divine assistance to make her beautiful. Aphrodite offers useful but utterly ignored self-esteem tips and stone-preventing sunglasses, while Hades grants her a beautiful appearance. But Hades had other plans.
  • Galatea (Jennifer Aniston) also made an appearance, but not as the wife of Pygmalion the art teacher, but as the statue Hercules beseeched Aphrodite to bring to life for him as a date to the Aphrodasia Dance. Hercules learned a decidedly different lesson than the one from the original myth.
  • Circe (Idina Menzel) also made an appearance, but not with Odysseus, who appeared in other episodes. She was simply looking for suitable boyfriends and turned most of the male cast into various animals.
  • Electra (Joey Lauren Adams) is a beatnik-like girl, that when angered summons the Furies, vicious birds.
  • Midas (Eugene Levy) is a greedy king whose touch turns everything into gold, which wanted Hermes' sandals to transform the whole world. After being foiled in a James Bond manner by Hercules, Midas sees the negative side of his power after accidentally touching his daughter Marigold (Tia Carrere).
  • The Minotaur (Michael Dorn) appears in two episodes, the first following his myth, being housed inside the Labyrinth — built by Daedalus for the insane Crete king Minos (Charles Nelson Reilly) —, and the second has him escaping and reaching Athens, where he faces Hercules and Theseus.
  • Megara (Susan Egan) appeared twice, once as a teenager and once as an adult from the movie timeline. One interesting note is that the person to whom Megara sold her soul to Hades to save, (in the Hercules movie), was actually Adonis.

Episodes

Original Air Date Title
08/31/98 Hercules and the Apollo Mission
09/01/98 Hercules and the King of Thessaly
09/02/98 Hercules and the Secret Weapon
09/03/98 Hercules and the Assassin
09/04/98 Hercules and the Big Kiss
09/07/98 Hercules and the River Styx
09/08/98 Hercules and the Techno Greeks
09/09/98 Hercules and the World's First Doctor
09/10/98 Hercules and the Pool Party
09/11/98 Hercules and the Prince of Thrace
09/12/98 Hercules and the First Day of School (ABC)
09/14/98 Hercules and the Tapestry of Fate
09/15/98 Hercules and the Living Legend
09/16/98 Hercules and the Return of Typhon
09/17/98 Hercules and the Owl of Athena
09/18/98 Hercules and the Visit From Zeus (ABC)
09/18/98 Hercules and the Girdle of Hippolyte
09/21/98 Hercules and the Bacchanal
09/23/98 Hercules and the Underworld Takeover
09/26/98 Hercules and the Driving Test (ABC)
09/29/98 Hercules and the Comedy of Arrows
10/02/98 Hercules and the Hostage Crisis
10/03/98 Hercules and the Parent's Weekend (ABC)
10/05/98 Hercules and the Disappearing Heroes
10/08/98 Hercules and the Argonauts
10/10/98 Hercules and the Prometheus Affair (ABC)
10/14/98 Hercules and the Drama Festival
10/16/98 Hercules and the Phil Factor
10/17/98 Hercules and the Hero of Athens (ABC)
10/21/98 Hercules and the All Nighter
10/29/98 Hercules and the Song of Circe
10/30/98 Hercules and the Trojan War
10/31/98 Hercules and the Caledonian Boar (ABC)
11/02/98 Hercules and the Dream Date
11/04/98 Hercules and the Big Games
11/06/98 Hercules and the Jilt Trip
11/07/98 Hercules and the Epic Adventure (ABC)
11/10/98 Hercules and the Falling Stars
11/12/98 Hercules and the Golden Touch
11/13/98 Hercules and the Minotaur
11/14/98 Hercules and the Poseidon's Cup Adventure (ABC)
11/16/98 Hercules and the Son of Poseidon
11/18/98 Hercules and the Twilight of the Gods
11/20/98 Hercules and the Griffin
11/21/98 Hercules and the Muse of Dance (ABC)
11/24/98 Hercules and King For a Day
11/25/98 Hercules and the Pegasus Incident
11/28/98 Hercules and the Kids (ABC)
12/11/98 Hercules and the Big Sink
12/16/98 Hercules and the Big Lie
12/21/98 Hercules and the Prom
01/04/99 Hercules and the Spartan Experience
01/09/99 Hercules and the Gorgon (ABC)
01/13/99 Hercules and the Complex Electra
01/16/99 Hercules and the Green-Eyed Monster (ABC)
02/08/99 Hercules and the Long Nightmare
02/10/99 Hercules and the Arabian Night
02/12/99 Hercules and the Aetolian Amphora
02/15/99 Hercules and the Romans
02/17/99 Hercules and the Yearbook
02/19/99 Hercules and the Odyssey Experience
02/22/99 Hercules and the Grim Avenger
02/24/99 Hercules and the Spring of Canathus
02/26/99 Hercules and the Big Show
03/01/99 Hercules and the Tiff on Olympus

Zero To Hero

4 episodes of Hercules: The Animated Series were put onto D2V home video in movie format, Zero To Hero. The episode Hercules and the Yearbook is the main plot of the video. Unlike the televised version, the random clips are replaced with 3 other episodes (In the following order):

  • Hercules and the First Day of School
  • Hercules and the Grim Avenger
  • Hercules and the Visit From Zeus

Some of the dialogue between Hercules and Meg are altered to fit the episodes. An example of this is Hercules and the Visit From Zeus replacing the clip of Hercules graduating from Promethous Academy.

Differences from the original mythology

  • Every character is portrayed with their original Greek names, except for Hercules, Cupid and Bacchus, who are portrayed with their Roman names (the original ones being Heracles, Eros and Dionysus). Cupid is given his Roman name due to the family-friendly theme of the cartoon.
  • Hercules is shown in the film and in this series to be a son of Zeus and Hera but in the mythology, he is the illegitimate child of Zeus and a mortal woman (named Alcmene in Greek mythology). In this version, Alcmene is the mortal woman who, with her husband Amphitryon, simply finds the abandoned infant Hercules and raises him as their own. The legends generally depict Hera as despising Hercules; with the Goddess frequently trying to kill him or otherwise hinder his quests.
  • Narcissus is depicted in the series as an Olympian god, which he was not in original mythology.
  • There were 9 Muses in Greek mythology; in the series there are only five shown, with no mention as to the other four.
  • The series show Pegasus being created by Zeus to be Hercules' pet and servant. In Mythology, Pegasus was a wild beast created from Medusa's blood, who was captured by another hero, Bellerophon. The original Hercules never even encountered Pegasus.
  • Homer appears as a reporter, yet is a historical, not mythological figure
  • Icarus originally died when he flew too close of the Sun.
  • In the Series, young Hercules claims to be a fan of Odysseus, whose exploits took place after the mythological Heracles
  • In mythology, Cassandra received her ability to see negative events from Apollo, but with the curse that nobody would believe her predictions. In the series, everyone usually believes Cassandra's predictions, unlike the original myth.
  • The original Adonis was a deity, while the one in the series is a mortal.
  • In the original mythology, Hera is the one who tries to interfere with Hercules, not Hades.
  • Cupid isn't shown as being the son of Aphrodite and Ares, which he is in mythology.
  • Pan is portrayed as a simple satyr in the series; He was originally a god son of Hermes, and king of the satyrs.
  • Hercules introduces the Greek Pantheon to Rome, a city yet to be founded let alone grow to a large city.
  • Trivia, the god of when three roads meet and of trivial information, doesn't exist in Greek Mythology. Trivia was, however, the Latin name for Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and darkness.
  • The series depicts Atlantis being sunk. The island was sunk many years before Hercules's time.
  • Ceto, Medusa, the Minotaur, the Harpies, Geryon, Argus Panoptes, the Cyclops, the Erymanthian Boar and the Furies are depicted as children of Echidna and Typhon, which they are not in mythology.
  • In mythology, the Nemean Lion is killed by Hercules and isn't able to talk, unlike the series' version.
  • Galatea was created by Pygmalion, not Hercules.
  • Hercules never found Medusa in Greek mythology. In the series Medusa gradually becomes Hercules' friend.
  • Unlike the Circe of the series, that seduces men to her island, the original Circe turned to animals those who dared to go there.
  • Unlike in the series, griffins can't talk in mythology.
  • Hercules participates in the Ancient Olympics, which he didn't in the original mythology. Also, most likely due to the family-friendly theme, the participants of the Olympics wear clothes.
  • Hades refers to himself as Zeus' younger brother, but Zeus is the youngest of his brothers in mythology.

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