Whoosh! Issue 29 - February 1999

Hair as a Function of Personality in
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess
Page Two

Hair As An Indicator Of Family Ties

My next sidekick will know how to use scissors.

The Big Guy's hair hasn't changed much over the years.

[43] Characters on Hercules and Xena are obviously portrayed by actors who are not related, and therefore bear no physical resemblance to one another. A similarity in hair color and texture is frequently used to indicate a blood relationship between characters.

Hercules and his Family

[44] Hercules is shown as fair-haired, like his mother, Alcmene. In the flashback episodes showing Alcmene as a young woman [

(H72-73/413-414), TWILIGHT (H79/420)], she has long, wavy, blonde hair. Iphicles, the half-brother of Hercules (Alcmene's older son), is initially shown as having long, straight hair like his brother, but dark brown in color. In the fourth season HTLJ episode, WAR WOUNDS (H78/419), however, Iphicles turns up with light brown, curly hair, more similar in color to Hercules but less similar in texture. Hercules and his wife, Deianeira, had three children together, two of whom were fair-haired, like their parents, and one somewhat darker.

Xena and her Family

[45] Xena is dark-haired, like her mother, Cyrene. Her older brother Toris is also dark-haired. However, Xena's younger brother, Lyceus, as shown in the alternate- timeline story REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202), has curly blonde hair. It is possible that Lyceus bears more resemblance to the siblings' unseen father, Atrius. Xena's son, Solan, has long, wavy, pale brown hair. If he had lived to adulthood, it is possible Solan's hair might have become darker, like that of his father, Borias.

The Gods

[46] Most of the Olympian deities are related in some way, and these blood ties are often suggested through similarity in hair color and texture.

[47] Aphrodite sports a formidable mane of blonde curls, which suits her fun-loving and sometimes mischievous nature. Her STRANGE WORLD (H64/405) counterpart, wears her hair pinned up neatly, reflecting her proper, ladylike personality. Her son, Cupid, also has blonde hair, though he seems to have inherited little else from his mother. In mythology, Ares was the father of Cupid (Eros), which might explain Cupid's penchant for black leather and facial hair, as well as his dark eyes and skin tone.

[48] A number of the gods have curly hair, including Aphrodite, Ares, Hades, and Apollo. Hades and Hermes have light brown hair. Apollo's hair is blonde.

[49] Zeus has silver hair, which generally serves to highlight his dignity and grandeur as king of the gods. It is unclear what color his hair may have been in his youth, but given his often fair-haired children (Aphrodite, Apollo, Hercules, Hermes), Zeus may also have been blonde.

[50] Hera, on the other hand, has black hair. This is evidenced in two of her sons, Ares and Hephaestus. Two other notable black-haired gods are Strife (Ares' nephew) and Discord, but the relationship of Discord to the other gods is unclear. In the Young Hercules (T.J. Scott, 1998) pilot, Discord refers to Ares as her brother, but in HTLJ she acts more like his girlfriend.

Hair As An Indicator Of Innocence

[51] Hair is used to suggest innocence in certain characters. Young characters, especially children, often have long, soft, wavy, unbound hair. In adult characters, a childish hairstyle typically reflects that the character is naive in some way.


[52] In the first season of XWP, Gabrielle is initially about as different from Xena as possible. Gabrielle is small, fair, cheerful, incredibly talkative, and quite unworldly. At first, Xena seems to find the younger woman somewhat annoying, but gradually comes to prize Gabrielle for her generosity, optimism, and good humor. Gabrielle's hair in these early episodes reflects her inexperience: it is pale and soft, often wispy and curly, and slightly disheveled, like a child who has not quite yet learned to groom herself.

[53] In the episode HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110), Gabrielle becomes an Amazon princess by Right of Caste, and she begins training to fight with a staff. In subsequent episodes, she becomes more proficient with the weapon and adds some other combat skills as well. Her clothing becomes less cumbersome and more streamlined to allow ease of movement. Gabrielle also grows emotionally and intellectually through her travels with Xena and their adventures together. She develops from a comical, immature sidekick into a more serious adult companion for Xena.

[54] Not surprisingly, Gabrielle's hair also changes. She begins wearing it more like Xena: drawn back off her face, bangs clipped neatly above her eyes. This reflects her maturity, as well as addressing the practical needs of traveling and fighting.

[55] The color of her hair darkens from golden blonde to strawberry blonde, also a reflection of her more serious nature. When Ares loses his godhood in TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208), one consequence is that peaceful people lose the ability to control their anger. Gabrielle's behavior becomes increasingly violent throughout the episode. Interestingly, her hair also seems a much brighter red, as if in keeping with the folk wisdom that people with red hair are hot-tempered.

Gabrielle attempts to burn a hole in a contestants costume using only the sun and her sword.

Royal hair for a royal role.

[56] Gabrielle's hair is, like Xena's, very much a part of her identity. In HERE SHE COMES... MISS AMPHIPOLIS (35/211), Gabrielle wears her hair up under a headdress to suggest a more sophisticated nature. In THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210), Gabrielle's modern descendant, Janis Covington, wears her hair braided up beneath a fedora, of which she is extremely fond. Covington is a far tougher character than Gabrielle, and this is reflected in the archeologist's masculine attire and hat. In REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202), Gabrielle is a slave, and wears her hair tied up under a dirty head scarf. When Xena rescues her friend, Gabrielle lets her hair down, suggesting a tentative return to innocence. When Gabrielle betrays Xena to Ming T'ien in THE DEBT (52-53/306-307), her hair is also pinned up.

[57] In general, neater, darker hair reflects Gabrielle's maturity; pinned-up hair suggests worldliness or a loss of innocence and idealism.

[58] Gabrielle's hair also provides a source of humor. In BLIND FAITH (42/218), she tells Vidalis, "I've always considered myself more of a redhead". She is upset when Xena snips a piece of her hair to use on a fishing line in FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS (64/318). Ares refers to Gabrielle as the "irritating blonde" in THE XENA SCROLLS (3/210), and Caesar calls her the "annoying blonde" in WHEN IN ROME (62/316).


[59] The second wife of Hercules, Serena is the last Golden Hind, a fantastic creature with the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a deer. She has two forms: her Hind form, and an ordinary mortal form. In both her forms, Serena sports a long, extravagant mane of wavy hair. As the Hind, her hair is golden; in mortal form, it is brunette. Serena is very much a creature of the forest, and this loose, soft style accentuates the character's wildness as well as her innocence.

[60] In order to survive, Serena accepts the assistance of Ares. He trains her to use a longbow, with which she kills poachers. She also serves in his temple. The other women who serve Ares wear their hair tied up in elaborate styles. Serena, however, does not, suggesting that despite her association with the war god, her heart is still pure. All throughout the four episodes of the Hind arc [ENCOUNTER (H50/313), WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN (H51/314), JUDGEMENT DAY (H52/315), THE END OF THE BEGINNING (H56/319)], Serena is visibly kind, generous, and concerned about others. She seems ignorant of the depth of Ares' evil.

[61] When Serena marries Hercules [WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN (H51/314)], the wedding takes place outdoors, which is fitting given Serena's wild nature. Her hair is adorned with a crown of leaves. She never wears her hair tied up or covered, which reflects that her innocence remains intact, even until her death.

[62] In THE END OF THE BEGINNING (H56/319, Hercules is able to undo Serena's fate, although he gives up his own relationship with her to do so. Serena marries another man and has a child, whose hair is also long, soft, and wavy. This serves to further reinforce the peace and contentment Serena has found in her new, mortal life.


If you're happy and you know it, smack a fiend.

Even Joxer's hair is heroic in FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS.

[63] Joxer's hair is cut short, but is almost always rumpled. This gives his face a wistful expression, and underscores the character's innocence, as well as his clumsy attempts to be heroic.

[64] Even more interesting than his hair, however, is his helmet. Joxer is a misfit who lives very much in his own daydreams. His armor, especially his helmet, provides psychological protection against a cruel world that does not treat misfits kindly.

[65] Joxer's childishness is best highlighted in FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216): in the opening sequence, he is playing make-believe in the woods, pretending to be Xena. However, when under a spell cast by Aphrodite, Joxer becomes the hero he has always wanted to be. One of his first acts is to strip away the clunky armor. As a confident, skilled fighter, he does not need the protection, either physical or psychological. In one of the episode's funniest scenes, Gabrielle squirts water on Joxer, in an effort to cool his ardor for Princess Illeandra. The water, however, only serves to make Joxer more sexy, and he tosses his head in slow motion, flinging off the water in true cinematic heart-throb style. At the end of the episode, when the lifting of Aphrodite's spell has caused Joxer's illusions to be shattered, he quickly grabs his armor and shoves the helmet on his head, as if badly in need of his old defenses.

[66] In other episodes, when Joxer is at his most vulnerable, he is often without the helmet. Some good examples include the end of A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222), when he realizes Gabrielle's love was caused by Cupid's arrow, and in THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER... (56/310), when he sells his scabbard to pay for a gift for Gabrielle.

[67] Naturally, Joxer's heroic rebel counterpart in STRANGER IN A STRANGE WORLD (H64/405) has no need for a helmet, or armor of any type.

Other Characters

[68] Lyceus, Xena's late brother, seen in REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202), has pale, curly hair, which emphasizes his boyishness and youthful optimism. M'Lila, the enigmatic slave girl who teaches Xena how to use pressure points in DESTINY (36/212), also has very soft, wavy brown hair. Both of these characters have a profound impact on Xena, and she seems to value their innocence. When they die violently, their deaths presage tremendous change in Xena's life. The death of Lyceus and the defending of Amphipolis from Cortese, starts Xena on her career as the petty warlord seen in the flashback sequences of DESTINY. When M'Lila dies shielding Xena from an arrow, also in DESTINY, Xena seemingly goes mad from anger, and the Destroyer of Nations, seen in the flashback sequences of THE DEBT (52-53/306-307), ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE, and apocryphally in ARMAGEDDON NOW II (H73/414), is born.

Miscellaneous Functions

[69] Hair is periodically used to indicate additional information to the audience.

Wildness/ Tribal Loyalty

[70] A similarity in hairstyle can be used to indicate solidarity among a group of people. The Amazons, for example, tend to wear their hair in long braids. When the Amazons wear their masks, their identities are concealed, and each woman looks very much like the others, perhaps indicating a tribal unity.

[71] Similarly, the Centaurs almost always have very long hair. While very long hair signifies evil in most male characters, the hair of the Centaurs communicates their wildness and freedom.

[72] The Horde warriors, seen in the XWP episode THE PRICE (44/220), all wear long hair. Their chief, who fights Xena at the end of the story, additionally wears a menacing headdress made from a human skull. The Horde paint their faces in a very striking manner. This serves not only as a form of camouflage, but makes them appear more frightening to their opponents.


[73] Sometimes a character's occupation is indicated through his or her hairstyle. This is particularly true of soldiers, who often wear their hair very short, as in Marcus in THE PATH NOT TAKEN (05/105), Perdicas in BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS (12/112), and the men of the Athenian army in THE PRICE (44/220). Draco's men can be identified by the elaborate rooster-combs they wear in their hair.


[74] Although both Hercules and Xena have had a number of dramatic, serious episodes, the series have their roots in the action-adventure-fantasy tradition. In addition, both series are infused with campy wit: many elements are highly exaggerated and taken to extremes that would not be possible in conventional television dramas. The visual elements of costume, hair, and makeup play a strong role in this hyperbole. The physical appearance of the characters provides a wealth of information before the actors even open their mouths.

[75] In ancient Greek theatre, actors wore masks decorated in a manner that would indicate to the audience their characters' identities. Hercules and Xena, though set in the ancient world, are thoroughly updated for modern sensibilities. In our contemporary "mass media theatre", television, hair becomes the mask that communicates to viewers the characters' personalities, and their roles in the episode or series.


[76] Special thanks to Ed Baker and Jae Fleming for their input. Thanks to Abbie Bernstein and Laura Jefferson for the Hair lyrics.


[77] None of Kevin Smith's hair was harmed during the writing of this article.


Baker, Edward. "Velasca: God of Chaos." Warrior Princess Press #3 (September 1997), pp. 16-17.

Meister, Melissa. "Xena: Warrior Princess Through the Lenses of Feminism." Whoosh! On-Line Edition, Number 10, July 1997.

Powell, Anton. Cultural Atlas For Young People: Ancient Greece. Equinox (Oxford), Ltd., 1989.

Tripp, Edward. The Meridian Handbook Of Classical Mythology. Meridian, New York, 1974.


E. A. Week E. A. Week
E.A. "discovered" Hercules and Xena in the spring of 1997, and quickly became a hard-core nutball. She enjoys writing fan fiction, and her work can be found at Tom's Xena Page and Lessa's Smithsonian Page. She has also contributed to traditional `zines: The View From Olympus, By the Sword of Ares 2 and The Daily Muse (forthcoming). She can be spotted at conventions in costume as Mel Pappas. In mundane life, E.A. holds a master's degree, is gainfully employed, and is an avid swimmer. When not otherwise occupied, she devotes her time to reviving the Cult of Ares for the 21st century. Feel free to leave a donation on your way out.
Favorite episode: TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208); STRANGER IN A STRANGE WORLD (H64/405)
Favorite line: Ares: "What is this infernal throbbing in my head?" TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208)
First episode seen: GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (28/204)
Least favorite episode: THE DELIVERER (50/304), ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313), LOCKED UP AND TIED DOWN

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