Young Hercules

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Young Hercules
A blond haired teenager wearing a light brown tunic top. At the bottom of the image is the title of the show in yellow capital letters.
Young Hercules intro card
Developed byRobert Tapert
Composer(s)Joseph LoDuca
Country of origin
  • United States
  • New Zealand
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes50, plus pilot
Executive producer(s)
Running time21:20 min.
Production company(s)
DistributorNBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original networkFox Kids Network
Original releaseSeptember 12, 1998 (1998-09-12) – May 14, 1999 (1999-05-14)
Related shows

Young Hercules is a prequel series from the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. It was aired on Fox Kids Network from September 12, 1998 to May 12, 1999. It lasted 1 season with 50 episodes and starred Ryan Gosling in the title role. The series was based on the Greek mythology hero, Hercules.


The show features the efforts of Ares, the god of war, played by Kevin Tod Smith, who attempts often to destroy his younger half-brother to win over Zeus' good graces. Among his group is his nephew Strife (Joel Tobeck), who is the rather weaker member of the team. Strife's mother is Discord, goddess of retribution (Meighan Desmond), who acts more level-headed and power hungry than her counterpart on more than one occasion. The series has two other villains: Hera, queen of the gods and Hercules's stepmother; and Apollo, god of the sun and Hercules's half-brother.

The storyline follows Hercules (Ryan Gosling) as he attends Cheiron's Academy to train in the arts of the warrior under the wise headmaster Cheiron the Centaur (Nathaniel Lees). He makes friends with the future king of Corinth Prince Jason (Chris Conrad) and a thieving former member of a bandit group named Iolaus (Dean O'Gorman), who was sentenced to train at the academy as an alternative to prison for his crimes. Hercules also meets the academy's first female cadet, Lilith (Jodie Rimmer). Other characters of interest include Kora, the inn keeper who unknown to Hercules and his friends is a devotee of Artemis: Goddess of the Hunt. As the series develops, Kora is revealed to have special powers which allow her to do Artemis' bidding. There are hints of romance between Hercules and Kora, although their friendship keeps it all innocent.


Main cast[edit]

Supporting cast[edit]


Young Hercules' executive producers were Robert Tapert and Spider-Man director, Sam Raimi. Liz Friedman and Eric Gruendemann were co-executive producers and former MTV producer, Cynthia Hsiung was producer of the series. Eric Lewald and Julia Lewald were head writers. In New Zealand, where principal photography was shot, Janine Dickins held down the fort as the New Zealand Producer while three series directors took turns shooting the episodes in blocks of four along with a fourth director for second unit. Chris Graves, Charlie Haskell and Andrew Merrifield shot principal photography and Simon Rabbi shot second unit. Later in the series, Simon Rabbi shot principal photography for the 50th episode, "Valley of the Shadow."[citation needed]

The series has been used in case studies of how to shoot television series efficiently. Traditional television series are shot one episode at a time. Young Hercules was shot in blocks of four episodes at a time. The three main directors of the series were on a rotation, one director for each four episode block. The four would be written with this in mind, keeping sets, locations, and actors similar in all four episodes even if story and plot lines might not interrelate. This saved tremendous amounts of money and time allowing the series to be shot on a shoe string budget, but with maximum on-screen dollars. The 50 episodes had a budget of roughly $20 million which includes above and below the line costs. Shooting in New Zealand also allowed the series to circumvent considerable Guild regulations for further savings. Additional money was saved shooting the series on 16 mm film. Early research was done to see if digital cameras could be used, but it was determined that technology wasn't adequate at the time to make digital filming economically viable.[citation needed]

Principal photography took place in New Zealand while post-production elements including visual effects and music were all edited and integrated together in Los Angeles. Ian Bohen played Young Hercules in the pilot movie and was offered the part, but opted not to move to New Zealand where the series would shoot principal photography. Early on in the series, special visual effects were conceived by Richard Taylor's Weta Workshop, the then little known visual effects company that went on to win several Academy Awards for their work on The Lord of the Rings. Weta and Richard Taylor stepped off Young Hercules early on to work on Lord of the Rings. In fact, the early production days of Young Hercules saw many of its crew leave to work on the then little known Peter Jackson sensation, Lord of the Rings.[citation needed]

Ryan Gosling was only 17 when he was cast in the lead role. To train for the role, Ryan took intense martial arts classes by the same trainer who taught Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo. He was so tall and thin that his costume had to be reworked to minimize the look of how thin he was. Original costume sketches showed a darker upper body costume. When Ryan was cast, the costume designers made the upper body of his costume lighter in color and broader in the chest to help create a more bulky look. Makeup was used on Ryan's arms to help add muscle contours. Similar tricks were used for both Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless for their characters.[citation needed]

It was known to be only superficially faithful to Greek mythology, as was its predecessor; it uses similar characters, but in a variety of stories, some of which contain anachronisms.


The series was filmed entirely in New Zealand.


The series was aired out of order. The episodes are listed below, as presented on DVD,[1] in the order of their production codes.[2] Despite this, the episodes list is not completely correct chronologically. For example, in The Head That Wears a Crown Jason is crowned king, yet in several following episodes, such as Winner Take All, he is still a prince. Similarly, even though Lilith visits Hercules's mom in Mommy Dearests, they later appear to meet for the first time in Home for the Holidays.

No. in series Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"The Treasure of Zeus - Part 1"Chris GravesStory by : Rob Tapert & Liz Friedman
Teleplay by : Mark Edens
September 12, 1998 (September 12, 1998)
2"Between Friends (The Treasure Of Zeus - Part 2)"Chris GravesStory by : Rob Tapert & Liz Friedman
Teleplay by : Michael Edens
September 16, 1998 (September 16, 1998)
3"What a Crockery (The Treasure Of Zeus - Part 3)"Chris GravesStory by : Rob Tapert & Liz Friedman
Teleplay by : Hilary J. Bader
September 17, 1998 (September 17, 1998)
4"Herc and Seek"Chris GravesJohn LoySeptember 22, 1998 (September 22, 1998)
5"Girl Trouble"Charlie HaskellAdam Armus & Nora Kay FosterSeptember 19, 1998 (September 19, 1998)
6"Teacher's Pests"Charlie HaskellJim Fisher & Jim StaahlSeptember 26, 1998 (September 26, 1998)
7"Inn Trouble"Charlie HaskellLen UhleyOctober 1, 1998 (October 1, 1998)
8"Keeping Up with the Jasons"Charlie HaskellBrooks WachtelOctober 2, 1998 (October 2, 1998)
9"Amazon Grace"Andrew MerrifieldShari GoodhartzFebruary 4, 1999 (February 4, 1999)
The goddess Artemis doesn't want her sacred hind to be hunted by anyone.
10"Cyrano de Hercules"Andrew MerrifieldJan StrnadFebruary 23, 1999 (February 23, 1999)
11"Battle Lines - Part 1"Charlie HaskellSteven MelchingNovember 11, 1998 (November 11, 1998)
12"Battle Lines - Part 2"Charlie HaskellDoug Molitor & Eric LewaldNovember 13, 1998 (November 13, 1998)
13"Forgery"Andrew MerrifieldMichael EdensOctober 10, 1998 (October 10, 1998)
14"No Way Out"Andrew MerrifieldJim Fisher & Jim StaahlSeptember 25, 1998 (September 25, 1998)
Lilith gets trapped in a cave with Hercules, while their friends plan a surprise birthday party for her. Jason licks frosting off Iolaus's face.
15"Ares on Trial"Andrew MerrifieldCarter CrockerSeptember 29, 1998 (September 29, 1998)
Hephaestus forges a metal statue and calls it Galatea before giving it life.
16"Down and Out in Academy Hills"Andrew MerrifieldMark EdensOctober 3, 1998 (October 3, 1998)
17"Winner Take All"Chris GravesMichael ReavesOctober 30, 1998 (October 30, 1998)
The famous musician Orpheus plays the lyre. The lyre was given to Orpheus by the god Bacchus, another son of Zeus.
18"A Serpent's Tooth"Chris GravesBob ForwardOctober 31, 1998 (October 31, 1998)
19"The Lure of the Lyre"Chris GravesLen UhleyNovember 3, 1998 (November 3, 1998)
20"Fame"Chris GravesPaul SauerNovember 4, 1998 (November 4, 1998)
21"Lyre, Liar"Charlie HaskellJim Fisher & Jim StaahlSeptember 18, 1998 (September 18, 1998)
22"A Lady in Hades"Charlie HaskellJohn LoyOctober 9, 1998 (October 9, 1998)
23"The Mysteries of Life"Charlie HaskellAdam Armus & Nora Kay FosterOctober 7, 1998 (October 7, 1998)
24"Dad Always Liked Me Best"Charlie HaskellMark EdensSeptember 24, 1998 (September 24, 1998)
25"Herc's Nemesis"Andrew MerrifieldMark EdensOctober 29, 1998 (October 29, 1998)
A basilisk is hatched and wreaks havoc in Corinth. The basilisk spits out a goop that turns into a flame.
26"Cold Feet"Andrew MerrifieldJohn LoyNovember 5, 1998 (November 5, 1998)
27"Mommy Dearests"Charlie HaskellMichael EdensFebruary 5, 1999 (February 5, 1999)
Hercules wants to save his mother's midwife Galinthia from getting executed in Corinth.
28"In Your Dreams"Charlie HaskellAdam Armus & Nora Kay FosterMarch 2, 1999 (March 2, 1999)
29"Sisters"Andrew MerrifieldMichael EdensOctober 24, 1998 (October 24, 1998)
Hercules meets his demigod half-brother Pollux of Sparta. Jason of Corinth challenges Pollux to a fight at the Pankration.
30"The Golden Bow"Andrew MerrifieldLiz Friedman & Vanessa PlaceNovember 6, 1998 (November 6, 1998)
31"Home for the Holidays"Chris GravesStory by : Brooks Wachtel
Teleplay by : Hilary J. Bader
May 11, 1999 (May 11, 1999)
32"Cram-Ped"Charlie HaskellBrian HerskowitzNovember 12, 1998 (November 12, 1998)
33"Con Ares"Andrew MerrifieldMichael Edens & Julia LewaldMay 10, 1999 (May 10, 1999)
34"Get Jason"Chris GravesJohn LoyNovember 20, 1998 (November 20, 1998)
35"My Fair Lilith"Andrew MerrifieldLen UhleyFebruary 1, 1999 (February 1, 1999)
36"Hind Sight"Charlie HaskellJim Fisher & Jim StaahlNovember 10, 1998 (November 10, 1998)
37"The Head That Wears a Crown"Andrew MerrifieldJim Fisher & Jim StaahlFebruary 2, 1999 (February 2, 1999)
38"Me, Myself and Eye"Chris GravesStory by : Michael Edens
Teleplay by : Julia Lewald
February 25, 1999 (February 25, 1999)
39"The Skeptic"Charlie HaskellVanessa PlaceFebruary 3, 1999 (February 3, 1999)
40"Iolaus Goes Stag"Charlie HaskellPatrick PhillipsFebruary 17, 1999 (February 17, 1999)
41"Adventures in the Forbidden Zone"Chris GravesMark EdensNovember 19, 1998 (November 19, 1998)
42"The Prize"Chris GravesJohn LoyNovember 18, 1998 (November 18, 1998)
43"The Beasts Beneath"Chris GravesHilary J. BaderNovember 24, 1998 (November 24, 1998)
44"Parents' Day"Andrew MerrifieldJessica Scott & Mike WollaegerFebruary 26, 1999 (February 26, 1999)
45"a Life for a Life"Chris GravesMark EdensFebruary 22, 1999 (February 22, 1999)
46"Under Siege"Chris GravesJohn LoyFebruary 24, 1999 (February 24, 1999)
47"Mila"Andrew MerrifieldJim Fisher & Jim StaahlMarch 8, 1999 (March 8, 1999)
48"Apollo"Andrew MerrifieldClark Carlton & John LoyMay 12, 1999 (May 12, 1999)
49"Ill Wind"Simon RabyJim Fisher & Jim StaahlMay 13, 1999 (May 13, 1999)
50"Valley of the Shadow"Simon RabyStory by : Mark Edens
Teleplay by : Vanessa Place
May 14, 1999 (May 14, 1999)


The series aired on Fox Kids Network at first on Monday through Friday at 4:30 p.m. PST and Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. PST. Later in the year, the series aired Monday through Friday only at 3:30 p.m. PST. Although ratings on Fox Kids Network were strong for the season (2nd top-rated live-action series below Power Rangers), Young Hercules was not renewed.[citation needed]


Daytime Emmy Award[edit]

Year Recipient Category Result
1999[3] George Haddad (post sound supervisor)
Tim Isle (music editor)
Outstanding sound editing[4] Nominated

Writers Guild of America Award[edit]

Year Recipient Category Result
2000[5] Shari Goodhartz (writer; for episode 36: Hind Sight) Outstanding children's script Nominated

Home media[edit]

On June 23, 2015, Shout! Factory released Young Hercules- The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.[6]


  1. ^ "Shout! Factory - Young Hercules: The Complete Series". Shout! Factory. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  2. ^ "Search results for Young Hercules in the U.S. Copyright Records database". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  3. ^ "Young Hercules - Awards - IMDb".
  4. ^ Young Hercules Awards and Nominations
  5. ^ "Young Hercules - Awards - IMDb".
  6. ^ Ryan Gosling in 'The Complete Series' on DVD! Archived 2015-03-05 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]