"I just want my creator to know why I have to enter Oblivion. There's nothing left for me. All the love and joy I had died that night in Cirra when you killed my family. There was... there was hatred... and resentment, and that was... that was absolutely delicious. Wonderful. But now there's nothing left. Nothing. Do you understand me?"
Callisto of Cirra was a major character and villain on Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. She was one of the most bloody and ruthless warlords of the time, due to witnessing the horrific deaths of her mother, father and sister at the hands of Xena, during a chaotic assault on her village. She built an antagonistic relationship with Xena throughout the years, (along with others, notably Gabrielle and Hercules) constantly attempting to destroy her both mentally and physically.
Despite her short temper and evil behavior, Callisto's life was filled by many events. She witnessed the death her family and the destruction of her home, died twice at the hands of Xena and was sent to Tartarus, Hell and Heaven. She has been a mortal, an immortal, due to the golden apples, and a goddess, due to Ambrosia. After her final death, she was sent to Hell and became a Demon and later an Archdemon. She was then sent to Heaven by Xena and became an Angel, before reincarnating into Eve, Xena's daughter, who would later become the bringer of Twilight and peace.
Her murderous nature led to the deaths of several people, such as Strife, Perdicus and Solan, which helped her to build antagonistic relationships with Ares, Gabrielle and Xena, respectively. She was a highly skilled strategist and martial artist, with fighting skills on par with Xena. However she would often get carried away when fighting, entering a blind rage which would cause her to lose focus. She has outsmarted and beaten Xena on several occasions and also seems to have a strange affiliation with Xena's Chakram, catching and using it whenever the opportunity arose.
Traumatized by the raid on her home town as a child, Callisto has been consumed with a twisted hatred and love for violence, pain and torment. She cares not for honor or fair play and takes delight in tormenting her foes. On many occasions she has let the opportunity to simply kill Xena pass by, as she would rather have Xena suffer and feel the same pain that she did. She displays signs of bipolar disorder and sociopathy constantly.
Story[edit | edit source]
Early life[edit | edit source]
Callisto was the daughter of Arleia and Pankos. She also commented on having a sister, but she has never been seen. She grew up in the little village of Cirra, which was attacked by Xena's army. Every living thing was devoured by the flames that swept through the village. It was shown in the Hercules episode Armageddon Now Part 2 that after the death of her family, Callisto's heart was filled with vengeance and hatred.
Vengeance[edit | edit source]
"... Love is a trick that nature plays to get us to reproduce. I want no part of it."
- ―Callisto, in "Return of Callisto"
Callisto's first two episodes set up the themes of hatred, revenge and guilt, and posed the ethical dilemma of how Xena could never put right the damage of her evil past. If she lets Callisto live, she would continue to wreck havoc, kill, plunder and pillage. But if Xena killed Callisto, she is proving that her past deeds would never be forgotten nor set right. In Callisto's first episode, we see that 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. She hands her over to the authorities, who throw her in jail.
However, Callisto later escapes, weaponless, easily crippling and killing her guards. 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 doubtfully as Callisto is sucked under. But the ethical dilemma still hangs in the balance: Xena has killed the monster that she created, but still carries the guilt that it was all her fault.
Callisto works with Ares, God of War to invade Xena's dreams and switch bodies with Xena, so that she is free and Xena is trapped in Tartarus. But Xena persuades Hades to let her return to earth, although still trapped in Callisto's body, where 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.
Immortality[edit | edit source]
Callisto again escapes from Tartarus by making a deal with Hera, Queen of the Olympians. 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 and a whole apple makes a person immortal. Hercules reluctantly agrees, but Callisto traps him and uses him to reveal the tree and eats a golden apple, becoming immortal and restoring her sanity. Hercules escapes and fights Callisto, inadvertently scarring her in the process and breaking her sanity once again, 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.
Divinity[edit | edit source]
When an Amazon named Velasca eats Ambrosia and becomes a goddess hellbent on killing Gabrielle, Xena makes a risky deal with Callisto. 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 divinity, Xena cuts the ropes and Callisto and Velasca plunge into the lava.
Callisto is later freed from the lava by Gabrielle's evil daughter Hope, sired by Dahak who calls her "the monster lady". Hope and Callisto set out to kill the children of the Centaur and Amazons in hopes to break the peace between the two. Hope succeeds in killing Solan and for a moment, Callisto reveled in the torment of her nemesis, though the feeling is swept away as the feeling of "peace" is gone and all she felt was emptiness at the death of Xena's son. Xena defeats Callisto and traps her in a mine by causing a cave-in, telling Callisto that her pain killed her years ago but she would live with hers. Callisto later then appears to Xena and Gabrielle as a manifestation of their own guilt in the musical episode where they eventually reconcile.
Hope later frees Callisto from the mine. She sends her back in time to destroy Hercules and also gives her the Hind's blood, to prevent the gods from interfering. Although she fails to kill Hercules, Callisto uses the Hind's blood to kill Strife. She traveled back in time to first kill Hercules' mother Alcmene before she could give birth to her son. She succeeded, even though Iolaus, who was sent by Ares to stop her, snatched the Hind's blood. She then returned to her own past to prevent Xena from killing her family. Unfortunately, her family didn't listen to her pleas to keep her younger self away from the barn where they would be killed. She was forced to defend them from the marauders, but in her rage killed her own father as well. Filled with sadness and regret went on to kill her mother as well (who charged at her) and then left the "young Callisto" in the burning wreckage. Iolaus rescued the younger Callisto and told her it help if she'd cry, but she refused to do so. Because of Callisto's changes, Hercules was never there to turn Xena away from her path of conquest, creating a future where Xena ruled the known world. Iolaus managed to use the Cronus stone to go back and save Alcemene before she is killed, making it so that the event never happened in the first place. But when he returned to the present, Callisto was waiting for him, having lost her opportunity to save her family because of him. She melts the Cronus stone and prepares to kill him when Hercules escapes the inter-dimensional pocket and throws her in it.
Death[edit | edit source]
Callisto later escapes from this dimension. By this time, she 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.
Meanwhile, Xena and Gabrielle ambush a rogue cult who are trying to sacrifice Gabrielle's friend, Seraphin, for the 'return of the goddess'. Xena jumps to conclusions and immediately thinks that this is about Callisto. After talking to Seraphin, things start to point in another direction - it isn't Callisto she is being sacrificed to, rather it is to Hope.
Having tracked where Hope might be, she confronts Callisto and manages to immobilize her. Ready to strike at a vulnerable Hope, Ares shows up and takes her away.
Xena works out that Ares must have taken her to the only place she would be safe - The Halls Of War. She realizes that there is no possible way that she and Gabrielle could ever battle their way into such a place on their own. As luck would have it, they had a willing immortal to help them - Callisto. After Hope reveals that she wants Callisto to be in Dahak's army instead of being dead and Hope's subsequent alliance with Ares, she storms off in anger. She offers to help Xena and Gabrielle on their mission, as long as Xena fulfills her wish- to kill her, something that Xena merely says to her "may you live forever".
While on their way there, Xena and Joxer stage a fight in front of Callisto, where she tells him to 'get lost'. But in actuality, Xena entrusts him with the location of The Hind's Blood Dagger and tells him to get purposely captured by Dahak's followers to get into the Halls of War.
The plan is a success, but when Xena tries to kill Hope with it, Gabrielle jumps in and grabs Hope and both fall into the lava pit to their 'deaths'. Upon seeing this, Xena is speechless and Callisto becomes elated at the death of Gabrielle, she then says that she now has a reason to live and she has Xena to thank for it. Xena runs up to and before Callisto can react, she plunges the Hind's Blood Dagger into her, fulfilling Callisto's previous request for death and ending the life of her enemy once and for all.
After death and Attempt at Redemption[edit | edit source]
"No more living for you."
Once again, however, this was not the end of Callisto. Stripped of her powers as a goddess, she is condemned to eternal torment as a Demon of Hell. She is, however, given the opportunity to return to the living if she can disrupt Xena's karmic cycle while also install Caesar as Emperor of Rome. She is required to do this without hurting Xena physically and throughout the episode attempts to bargain with Xena. It is revealed that should Xena not interfere in the coronation of Caesar as Emperor of Rome, Xena's vision of her and Gabrielle's death would be avoided, but to do this Xena would have to agree to lay down her sword and walk the path of peace. Realizing Callisto's plot to throw her off the Way of the Warrior, Xena sets out to rescue Gabrielle and Eli. Xena is almost successful in her mission, but in Callisto's blind rage and realization that her mission had been a failure, she breaks Xena's spine with Xena's own chakram. 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, he is assassinated by the Senate, as well by his most trusted Commander, Brutus. Xena and Gabrielle are crucified.
Reincarnation[edit | edit source]
After her death, the Angel Xena encounters the demon Callisto upon her ascension into heaven. Callisto manages to take Gabrielle into hell, tempting her to eat the foods provided to make Gabrielle one of them. Xena enacts to become an Archangel and sets upon the task to rescue Gabrielle. A fight ensues between Xena and Callisto in which Xena cripples Callisto. Callisto spits at Xena, telling her that she would never forgive Xena for all that she had taken from her. In an act of remorse and redemption for her own guilt at Callisto's suffering, she purges Callisto's soul and brings her back to the light while Gabrielle is saved by the Archangel Michael. Callisto ascends to heaven 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 soul to save her. Callisto
now exudes such light and goodness that Gabrielle, now in heaven, at first cannot believe it, nor forgive the woman standing before her. Callisto's memories of her past deeds, crimes and savagery were wiped in the purge and the Callisto before Gabrielle only showed a kind and gentle being that would've been had it not been for the destruction of her home and the death of her parents. Gabrielle eventually does come to the realization that Callisto is no longer the woman she once was and forgives her. Callisto is also reunited with her parents in heaven. Gabrielle soon becomes an Archangel herself, aiding the other Archangels in the defense of heaven as Xena launches an attack upon paradise. While Gabrielle battles against Xena, Callisto - now a Guardian Angel, visits Eli and with her help resurrects Xena and Gabrielle.
In the episode Seeds of Faith, a (mysteriously) pregnant Xena is asked by Callisto to not interfere in Eli's defiance against the Greek gods. When Eli is slain by Ares, Callisto's pleas to not kill Ares are ignored and when Xena is held at knife point does she realize the true intent of Eli's mission. It is also revealed that Xena's pregnancy is no coincidence. Callisto, having atoned for her sins in heaven is now ready to begin a new life and chose Xena as her mother. In this way, Callisto's gift of Eve to Xena is a way of atoning for the death of her son, Solan, while also giving back a family which Xena took away so many years ago.
Skills and Abilities[edit | edit source]
As a mortal, Callisto had dedicated her life to becoming a strong enough warrior to eventually face Xena. Knowing how powerful her mortal enemy was, and having nothing else to live for, Callisto learned everything she could about the Warrior Princess.
Callisto was an exceptionally skilled martial combatant, though she tended to favor the sword or hand-to-hand combat. She was capable of going toe-to-toe with Xena, though in a prolonged fight, the latter's experience gives her a decided advantage. Callisto was also capable of catching Xena's Chakram, something few others were able to do.
After becoming immortal, Callisto effectively ceased to age and gained various new abilities, including an extremely potent healing factor and inexhaustible stamina.
Once Callisto became a goddess, her power increased exponentially. She gained the ability to teleport and use lightning and fire as weapons, the latter being her preferred element. Her previous immortally and neigh invulnerability were dramatically magnified, as she survived being encased in tephra (hardened lava) for some time, and could not be killed by physical or most magical attacks, being vulnerable only to gods more powerfull than herself and to substances deadly to gods.
As a demon, Callisto lost most of her divine powers, but was still immortal, after a fashion, and had limited ability to manipulate the material plane, as long as she acted within the framework that Mephistopheles granted her. As an Archdemon, Callisto was once again a powerful being with enhanced strength, deadly reflexes, and flight.
As an angel, Callisto regained numerous divine powers, including the ability to heal and resurrect mortals when working through a proxy. She also gained the ability to reincarnate herself, which she ultimately did to become Xena's daughter.
Memorable Quotations[edit | edit source]
Callisto: (Catches Chakram for the first time) "You want it? Come and get it."
- - "Callisto"
Xena: "What happened to you was terrible. It was my fault, and I'm sorry."
Callisto: "Oh, well that makes all the difference! And now we can be the best of friends! (Spits) That's what I think of your apology."
- - "Callisto"
Callisto: "The sight, just the sight, of Xena, Warrior Princess, arguing on my behalf amuses me so. Let me tell you. Let me answer your question of what I would do if you let me go. You let me go, and I will dedicate my life to killing everything you've loved - your friends, your family, your reputation, even your horse. You see, I am being so honest with you because the idea of your pity is worse than death for me. You see, you created a monster with integrity, Xena. Scary, isn't it? Now, take me to the mob."
- - "Callisto"
Joxer: "I softened her up for you. Just minutes before you got her, I was pummeling her senseless."
Callisto: "Yes, and what were you hitting her with? Your nose?"
- - "Callisto"
Callisto: "I've missed you, Xena"
Xena: "You never wrote."
Callisto: "It's a pretty day for a bloodbath."
- - "A Necessary Evil"
Gabrielle: "Can I ask you something?"
Callisto: "All right. We both know how much I love chit-chat."
Gabrielle: "When we were at the village and Xena was talking about Cirra, did you feel anything?"
Callisto: "My goodness, are you trying to figure me out? I'm flattered."
Gabrielle: "Answer me. Or are you afraid?"
Callisto: "Let's play a game, shall we? I'll answer your question, if you answer mine."
Gabrielle: "All right."
Callisto: "How did I feel, when Xena confessed her crimes. Well the problem is Gabrielle, I never feel anything. I mean, bits and pieces here and there, but nothing solid. Think back to when you were a little girl and all you knew was your mother and your sister, and all of your faith revolved around them. Now kill 'em. My turn."
Callisto: "When I sliced open your husband, how long did it take him to die?" (Laughs)
Xena: "There's a path out of the mountains... (Gabrielle walks off) What's wrong with her?"
Callisto: "We played a game of Truth or Dare, and she's not very good at it."
- - "A Necessary Evil"
Velasca: "And who are you?"
Callisto: "I’m insulted. Xena, your little playmate doesn’t know who I am! [To Velasca:](She doesn’t like to talk about me). Now, before you start going crazy and blowing things up, I think you should hear what I have to say. In fact, I’m your only friend right now."
Velasca: "I don’t need or want friends."
Callisto: "Another thing we have in common."
Velasca: "You must have a death wish!"
Callisto: "You know, it’s funny -- I think I do."
- - "A Necessary Evil"
Callisto: "Here comes trouble."
(Xena shoots Callisto with arrow after Xena's son Solan is killed:)
Callisto: "Hurts, doesn’t it? Losing your family-- rips out your heart, your guts-- your feelings. All that’s left is the pain, right? Welcome to the club."
Callisto: (Hunting the centaur children in the cave)"Why drag this out?! Can’t you see I bring you the gift of oblivion? Come out, come out, wherever you are. I promise it won’t hurt. (Much)."
Werfner: "You wanna die?"
Callisto: "More than that. I want oblivion. I want my life to end. I want it it all to stop. No nothing! No memories, no Tartarus, nothing! And I know, I know she can do it."
- - "Sacrifice I"
Callisto: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Glory Hallelujah. But first, your promise. Come on. Kill me."
Hope: "You could be a soldier in Dahak's army. Instead, you choose oblivion."
Callisto: "Yeah, well call me short-sighted, but that's our deal."
Hope: "When I'm finished with you, you will get your reward as promised."
- - "Sacrifice II"
Callisto: "I never thought I'd feel so good again. Seeing poor, dear Gabrielle sacrifice herself makes it all worthwhile. It finally gives me a reason for living, and I have you to thank for it, Xena!"
(Xena stabs her)
Xena: "No more living for you."
- - "Sacrifice II"
Callisto: "I will never stop hating you Xena, do you hear me?! Never! You killed my family, my soul, my reason to live and love! ...And I will spend eternity seeking revenge!"
- - "Fallen Angel"
Callisto: "Love is the way."
- - "Fallen Angel"
Callisto: "The new world can only be built on the foundation of the old one. The order of the gods must fall. And you, Eli, are the hammer."
- - "Seeds of Faith"
Callisto: "Eli has a destiny to fulfill. He's brought hope to the world and if that's to survive, he's gonna have to face this challenge alone..."
- - "Seeds of Faith"
Callisto: "Remember... in everything you do we are always with you." (Eli starts to cry and Callisto disappears)
- - "Seeds of Faith"
Background Information[edit | edit source]
Behind the Scenes[edit | edit source]
- Hudson's stunt-double, Michelle Cavert, died shortly after filming "Callisto" in a boating accident. "Return of Callisto" was dedicated to her memory.
- The villian of "The Ides of March" was originally going to be Alti, but R.J. Stewart settled in favor of Callisto.
- The plot for "Ten Little Warlords" was never meant to be: Xena was supposed to have been reunited with her body at the end of "Intimate Stranger", with Callisto sent back to Tartarus. But when Lucy Lawless sustained serious injuries whilst filming The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the plot was altered so that Hudson Leick would continue to portray Xena in the next episode.
- The original ending for "Return of Callisto" had Xena saving Callisto from the quicksand (See the image on the right).
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Callisto is one of few characters to have appeared in five seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess: the others being Brutus, Ephiny, Aphrodite and Argo.
- Callisto was the first person to be seen on-screen killing a god (Strife).
- Callisto is the only character to become an Immortal and then become a god.
- Callisto was originally going to be the villain for the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys series six premiere, but considering that she would be appearing in the Xena: Warrior Princess series 5 premiere the very same night, the writers settled for a new character altogether. Had Callisto appeared, the episode would've featured the revelation that Callisto's sister survived and had been alive the whole time, adding yet another dimension to her redemption.
- Callisto's story strongly resembles that of Xena's: they were both twisted into vicious killers during a violent ransack on their hometowns, which resulted in the loss of family members, they both took charge of fearless armies and they were both later redeemed by one of their enemies (Xena by Hercules, Callisto by Xena).
- Callisto is the only character to have her name featured in two episode names: "Callisto" and "Return of Callisto". This is not counting Eve with "Livia" and "Eve", as her name is not Livia.
- Callisto is the only character to have been a Mortal, Immortal, god, demon, archdemon and angel.
- When Eve is killing the Elijans in "Eve", one of them states that they had seen much worse, living through Callisto's raids. Eve replies: "She did some good work - but I'm not Callisto." The irony of this statement is lost on both characters.
- Callisto was one of the names thrown around to appear in "When Fates Collide," but they picked Alti instead.
- Although there is a mythological character named Callisto, she bears no resemblance to this character. The mythological Callisto was a nymph of Artemis. When Zeus took an interest in her, he disguised himself as Artemis to seduce her. There are various accounts as to what happened next, but all agree that both Artemis and Hera were enraged and that Callisto and her son by Zeus were turned into bears (by either Artemis or Hera) and eventually placed among the starts (by Zeus or Artemis) as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (the Big Dipper and Little Dipper).
- Callisto's Sword vastly resembles the Force Edge  from the video game franchise Devil May Cry, especially the blade and the guard.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Appearances[edit | edit source]
Mentions and References[edit | edit source]
- "Warrior... Princess... Tramp" (Mentioned)
- "The Xena Scrolls" (Archive Footage)
- "Destiny" (As a young child)
- "A Day in the Life" (Mentioned)
- "Blind Faith (Mentioned)
- "The Dirty Half Dozen" (Mentioned)
- "Warrior... Priestess... Tramp" (Mentioned)
- "Deja Vu All Over Again" (Archive Footage)
- "Kindred Spirits" (Mentioned)
- "Eve" (Archive Footage)