Callisto (Xena: Warrior Princess)

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Body shot of a young woman with long blonde hair. She is clad in leather armour, accented with silver detail. She has a sheathed dagger attached to her left hip and holds a sword in her right hand.
Hudson Leick as Callisto
First appearance Callisto
Last appearance Seeds of Faith
Created by RJ Stewart
Portrayed by Hudson Leick
Lucy Lawless (Intimate Stranger) [1][2]
Rebecca Kopacka (young Callisto)[3]
Michelle Nicastro (singing voice, The Bitter Suite)
Species Human, later a goddess, demon and an angel
Occupation Warrior, Goddess, Demon, Angel
Affiliation Ares, Hope

Callisto is a fictional character in the fantasy TV series Xena: Warrior Princess. She features as the most frequently recurring villainess on that show. She also makes appearances on three episodes of the parent show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. She is portrayed by the American actress Hudson Leick.

Character description[edit]

Callisto is Xena's arch enemy, motivated by a desire for revenge for the suffering Xena has caused in her own dark past. When Callisto was a child, Xena's army burned Callisto's village, Cirra, to the ground. She lost her family when Xena's army wiped out the village.

Callisto, a child at the time, was left traumatized by the attack and eventually went insane and became obsessed with getting revenge on Xena. She displays signs of bipolar disorder and psychopathy, manifested in a bizarre brand of sadistic, gleeful, shrieking cruelty towards Xena and her associates.

Callisto intends to make Xena suffer as much as possible rather than killing her, and repeatedly lets chances to kill Xena pass by. This is reflected in Xena's own feelings of guilt that cause her to spare her enemy's life as well.

She justifies herself by blaming her evil on Xena, and refuses to take responsibility for her own actions.

Character history[edit]


Callisto's first appearance was in the episode "The Greater Good", where she shot Xena with a poisoned crossbow bolt, although this wasn't revealed until the next episode, which shared her name. In that episode, Callisto has recruited a small army and spends her days training hard with them until she is 'as good as Xena'. She begins her campaign of revenge by raiding and burning villages and savagely slaughtering people in Xena's name. She hopes to revive Xena's reputation as a villain; planning to kill Xena after destroying her reputation. Xena has no choice but to engage with her, and in a close fight Xena beats her, but cannot kill her.[4] She hands her over to the authorities, who throw her in jail. However, Callisto later escapes, weaponless, easily crippling and killing her guards.[5] She finds Xena, but is still unable to defeat her, and instead makes her suffer by plunging her sword though the heart of Gabrielle's recently-wedded husband, Perdicas. Xena catches her again, and is wracked with guilt as Callisto taunts her about her past. A fight ensues, and Xena and Callisto fall into quicksand. Xena's inventive wit allows her to struggle free, and she watches as Callisto is sucked under. This causes Xena great guilt as she was once evil, but changed, but she let Callisto die, denying her that chance.[5]

Once in the underworld of Tartarus, Callisto works with Ares, god of war (as he has selected her as his new potential partner) to invade Xena's dreams and switch bodies with Xena, so that she is free and Xena is trapped in Tartarus.[1] But Xena persuades Hades to let her return to Earth, although still trapped in Callisto's body, she defeats Callisto and sends her back to Tartarus. Xena remains trapped in Callisto's body for one episode before Ares restores them to their normal selves.[1]

Immortality and godhood[edit]

Upper body shot of the same woman, she has piercing white eyes, her right arm is outstretched and lightning issues from her fingertips.
Callisto as a goddess

Callisto again escapes from Tartarus on the companion show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,[6] by making a deal with Hera, Queen of the Gods. Hera allows her back to Earth for one day to kill Hercules, and promises her immortality if she succeeds, but Callisto plans on getting immortality regardless. She poisons Hercules' family, then tricks him into accompanying her to the Tree of Life, where one bite of a golden apple cures all ills, but eating a whole apple turns them immortal. Hercules reluctantly agrees, but Callisto traps him, and uses him to reveal the tree and eats a golden apple, becoming immortal. Hercules escapes and fights Callisto, and traps her in the Labyrinth. Frustrated, Callisto has only her rage to console her for what appears to be an eternity inside the ruins.

When an Amazon called Velasca eats Ambrosia and becomes a goddess hellbent on killing Gabrielle, Xena makes a risky deal with Callisto.[7] She offers Callisto a chance at the Ambrosia in exchange for her help. Xena tricks her into fighting Velasca for the Ambrosia on a rope bridge over a river of lava, where she gets it and eats it. In her moment of glorious godhood, Xena cuts the ropes and Callisto and Velasca plunge into the lava.[7]

Callisto is later freed from the lava by Gabrielle's evil daughter Hope, who calls her "the monster lady".[8] In a ploy of mythical proportions, Callisto helps Hope to kill Xena's son Solan, and laughs manically as Xena and Gabrielle's friendship is torn apart. However, Xena defeats her and traps her in a mine by causing a cave-in. Callisto then appears to Xena and Gabrielle as a manifestation of their own guilt in the musical episode where they eventually reconcile.[9]

Hope later frees Callisto from the mine in an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Hope sends her back in time to destroy Hercules and also gives her the Hind's blood. Although she fails to kill Hercules, Callisto uses the Hind's blood to kill Strife. During her time travel, the adult Callisto killed her own father accidentally while trying to protect her family from Xena's army, and then filled with sadness and regret went on to kill her mother as well, and then left the "young Callisto" in the burning wreckage. But Iolaus also traveled in time and stopped Callisto from returning to the past, making it so that the event never happened in the first place. At the end of the episode, she is trapped in an interdimensional pocket. She then escapes from this prison right before the events of Sacrifice and the rebirth of Hope.

By this time, Callisto has had enough of the emotional pain that has tormented her since childhood. Hope spins a cocoon around herself for her transformation from child into adult. Callisto agrees to protect her until she hatches, in exchange for permanent oblivion.[10] When Gabrielle sacrifices herself to destroy Hope, Callisto changes her mind and gleefully exclaims that she has a reason for living again. However, it proves to be a moot point, as seconds later Xena slays Callisto with the Hind's Blood Dagger. [11]

Damnation and redemption[edit]

A head shot of the same woman, with shorter wild hair. Her face appears to be covered in scales and horns grow out from her forehead.
The demon Callisto attacks Xena after her crucifixion

Stripped of her powers as a goddess, Callisto is condemned to eternal torment as a demon of Hell. She is, however, given the opportunity to return to the living if she can corrupt Xena and install Caesar as emperor of Rome.[12] She is required to do this without hurting Xena physically, but as a result of her blind rage for Xena she fails at both tasks. She defeats Xena by breaking her spine with Xena's own chakram.[12] Callisto is returned to Hell, but her actions set into motion the events leading to Caesar's, Xena's and Gabrielle's deaths. Xena lies critically injured on the ground and Gabrielle tries to defend her, but they are captured by the Roman guards. On the Ides of March, as Caesar declares himself emperor and is murdered by his peers, Xena and Gabrielle are also crucified at Caesar's command.[12]

After her death, the angel Xena encounters the demon Callisto.[13] As an act of redemption for her own guilt at Callisto's suffering, she purges Callisto's guilt, and brings her back to the light. Callisto is lifted up and becomes an angel, utterly devoid of the pain and torment that she had always known, and in exchange, Xena is turned into a demon, sacrificing her own eternal happiness to save her.[13]

Body shot of the same woman with long blonde hair. She is dressed in white and gold and white wings sprout from her back.
The angelic Callisto

Xena is later resurrected by the power of Eli's God of Love, acting through the angel Callisto. Callisto now exudes such light and goodness that even Gabrielle cannot believe it. She then went into Heaven to be with her family.[13]

Soon after Xena and Gabrielle are resurrected through Eli's efforts and Callisto's spiritual aid, Xena becomes pregnant with Eve.[13] But Xena does not know how it could have happened. It is later revealed that the angel Callisto caused it: Callisto herself will be reincarnated as Xena's child.[14] Callisto's gift of Eve to Xena is also something of a way of making amends for Solan's death. So in a peculiar way, Callisto gives Xena back the child she killed and Xena gives Callisto the family that she killed.

Powers and abilities[edit]

Callisto is an amazing fighter, on par with Xena. She can also hold her own against Hercules. She demonstrates the ability to catch and throw the chakram with the same skill as Xena, a feat that only two others were ever able to replicate, one being Gabrielle.[15][16] Callisto's fighting style is very similar to Xena's with the exception that she often becomes unfocused and carried away in a blind insane rage while fighting. After eating the golden apple, she became immortal, becoming immune to injuries. Later on in the series, Callisto attains the powers of a Goddess, after eating Ambrosia, and defeats Ares in combat, though she had the help of Hope at the time. She is generally seen producing lightning bolts and more commonly, fire blasts. Other divine feats include teleportation, matter transmutation, time travel, enhanced strength and senses, and minor telekinesis.


Xena: Warrior Princess[edit]

  • 1.22 Callisto
  • 2.5 Return of Callisto
  • 2.7 Intimate Stranger (played by Lucy Lawless, with Leick as Xena)
  • 2.8 Ten Little Warlords (played by Lucy Lawless, with Leick as Xena)
  • 2.14 A Necessary Evil
  • 3.11 Maternal Instincts
  • 3.12 The Bitter Suite
  • 3.21 Sacrifice (Part I)
  • 3.22 Sacrifice (Part II)
  • 4.21 Ides of March
  • 5.1 Fallen Angel
  • 5.9 Seeds of Faith
  • 5.19 Eve (as a vision)

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys[edit]

  • 3.12 Surprise
  • 4.13 Armageddon Now (Part I)
  • 4.14 Armageddon Now (part II)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Intimate Stranger". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-11-11.
  2. ^ "Ten Little Warlords". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-11-18.
  3. ^ "Destiny". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1997-01-27.
  4. ^ "Callisto". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-05-13.
  5. ^ a b "Return of Callisto". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-10-28.
  6. ^ "Surprise". Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. 1997-01-27.
  7. ^ a b "A Necessary Evil". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1997-02-10.
  8. ^ "Maternal Instincts". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-01-26.
  9. ^ "The Bitter Suite". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-02-02.
  10. ^ "Sacrifice, Part 1". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-05-04.
  11. ^ "Sacrifice, Part 2". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-05-11.
  12. ^ a b c "The Ides of March". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-05-10.
  13. ^ a b c d "Fallen Angel". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-09-27.
  14. ^ "Seeds of Faith". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-01-10.
  15. ^ "Eve". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2000-05-08.
  16. ^ "A Friend in Need, Part 2". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2001-06-18.

External links[edit]