"Selfless, pure Love is the only divine perfection we have in this world. It is the greatest power one can possess."
- ―Eli in "The Ides of March"
Eli, The Avatar of the God of the Ultimate Way is a recurring character on Xena: Warrior Princess. First introduced as a mere street magican, Eli began to realise his true potential when he discovered he was a Devi and began to follow the Way of Love. After this discovery, Eli travelled the Earth, preaching the Way of Love to all.
Eli lived a life of serenity and compassion, and wanted to spread the message of peace from the One God of Love. Ares feared that Eli and his teachings would bring about The Twilight of the Gods, as he was gaining quite a following. Although Ares killed him, his legacy lived on and his teachings spread across the land. These teaching spawned what Olympian worshippers called the "Cult of Eli," known as the Elijans to outsiders.
Xena, the Warrior Princess became dubbed the Defender of the Elijans, as she fought against Livia and her campiagn to kill all of the Elijans in honor of Eli and his teachings. Once Livia realised her true identity as being Eve, the bringer of the Twilight, she took her role as the Messenger of Eli, preaching love and peace in the same way that he did.
He was played by Timothy Omunson.
When Xena and Gabrielle travel to India, they meet an illusionist named Eli. While watching him perform, Gabrielle becomes possessed by the demon Tataka. The demon in Gabrielle's body begins healing people and deceives the people into thinking she is a devi, a divine healer. Tataka then proceeds to use her adoration in an attempt to destroy Xena and Eli, who discover in the temple that Gabrielle has been possessed by the demon Tataka. Armed with holy water, they go to save Gabrielle from the grip of the demon and discover that Eli is the true "devi". Eli uses the powers of his god to free Gabrielle from her demonic possession. Gabrielle and Xena thank Eli for his help, say goodbye, and continue on their travels.
The Avatar and the Demon King
After Eli saves Gabrielle from Tataka, the people now believe that Eli is an avatar, a god in human form. When Xena and Gabrielle meet a group of people worshipping a man, they find that the man is Eli, who is now trying to accept that he is the avatar, but is unsure of his new-found powers, telling Gabrielle: "When I thought you were a devi. You seemed to have the power to heal people. That thing I sought after all my life. I envy that. Now I have this power to heal people and cast out demons, give people hope. And it terrifies me." The three later meet Hanuman, who tells Eli that the Demon King Indrajit is hunting him and that he should seek the assistance of Krishna. As they travel to Krishna's temple, Eli tells Gabrielle about his way of life, and that there is only one universal truth and that is reverence for life, and that fighting is never allowed. When they arrive at the temple they are confronted by minions of Indrajit, Xena battles them as Eli, Gabrielle, and Hanuman flee into the temple. Indrajit attacks villagers outside the temple to lure Eli out and captures him.
Hanuman tells Xena that Indrajit has taken Gabrielle and Eli to the demon land of Lanka and that she will need the help of Krishna in order to liberate them from Indrajit. Xena prays to Krishna, who appears to her and tells her to embrace her path as a warrior in this life, in order to ensure her next life as the Mother of Peace. Krishna tells Xena if she should need help against Indrajit then she should call upon him. Gabrielle is with Eli and she has a vision of Xena beaten and bruised about to be killed, she runs to help Xena, but she turns into Indrajit and he tries to strangle her.
Inside an Indian temple and man and woman with multiple arms fight each other with various weapons. Xena arrives and frees Gabrielle from the hands of Indrajit by cutting off his hand with her chakram. He begins growing more arms until he has six, he grabs swords and axes and begins attacking Xena and he manages to disable her long enough to sever both her arms. While lying bleeding on the floor she calls on Krishna for help and as she is imbued with the power of Kali she grows four new arms and springs back into battle. She beats Indrajit by cutting off his head. Now free from the demon, Gabrielle relinquishes her past as a warrior and chooses to follow Eli's Way of Love, whereas Xena becomes even more firmly rooted in her Way of the Warrior. Gabrielle throws her staff into the river and Xena suggests that Gabrielle should travel with Eli because she and Gabrielle are following different paths, but Gabrielle says they should stay together since even though they are on different paths they will end up in the same place.
Eli preaches the Way of Love
When Eli comes to terms with his new calling, he tells Gabrielle: "Selfless pure love is the only expression of divine perfection we have in this world. It's the greatest power
one can possess." When he, Gabrielle and Amarice are taken as hostages by Brutus, he and Gabrielle try to teach the impetuous Amarice about the Way of Love, but she tells them the only power she needs is at the end of her sword. Xena arrives to free them from the Romans, but during the battle she is injured by her own chakram. Gabrielle, seeing her friend in need, turns from the path she had chosen and begins killing the soldiers before they can attack Xena. With this act of brutality, Gabrielle believes she has failed all the people in her life, namely Eli, Xena and herself, for going against everything she had previously believed in. Xena says she made Gabrielle leave her Way of Love, but Gabrielle tells Xena that she made the choice to save her friend and follow a different path from the one she had chosen.
Doubting his God and his powers
With his friends Xena and Gabrielle now dead, Eli begins doubting the power of God. Amarice blames him because his preaching the Way of Love made Gabrielle weak. He asks God: "What good is this gift if I can't at least protect the ones I love? Why did you even give this to me? What am I supposed to do?". God answers his questions when the powers in heaven send an angelic Callisto to Eli in a vision. In the vision she tells Eli that he must use his powers to bring Xena and Gabrielle back from the dead. He begins praying to God for help and Callisto comes to aid him in resurrecting Xena and Gabrielle.
As Eli comes into his own and fully accepts his new Destiny destiny, he still fears it. Callisto comes to him and tells him he is to be martyred. The age of the gods is coming to an end. The new world is to be built on the foundations of the old world: she tells him he is the hammer that will cause the fall of the gods. He asks whether there is another way, to which she replies that there is not. Eli then sits crying at the answer. Knowing his destiny is to usher in a new age without the gods, Eli faces it knowing it is what he must do. Ares confronts him and Gabrielle.
He tells Eli that he must die so that the gods can live. Gabrielle defends him, but he tells her that she cannot save him with violence, but he tells her it is for the greater good. Gabrielle turns her back to him so she will not see Ares kill Eli. The death of Eli triggers courage in his followers and they realise they do not need to depend on the Olympians to protect them. Xena vows that Ares will pay the price for Eli's death with his own. Callisto tells her that killing Ares would not honour Eli's memory, but she says she will kill Ares anyway. When she is about to kill Ares, she has a vision of Eli and remembers all his preachings of peace and the words of Callisto, which provides Xena with enough wisdom to not avenge his murder by shedding more blood. Ares tries to kill Xena, but she tells him her death will only strengthen the belief of Eli's followers. Eli appears as an angel and tells Xena and Gabrielle that "Love is the Way".
When the adult Eve, now known as Livia, the bloodthirsty champion of Rome tries to kill the Elijans as a favor to Ares and nearly kills Xena, Eli stops her and shows Eve visions of her as a baby, revealing to her that Xena loved her with all of her heart. When Eve sheds her identity as Livia and gets baptized and accepts the Way of Love, Eli comes to Xena and tells her that his God has granted her the power to kill gods so that she may protect Eve and bring about the Twilight.
Later on when Xena is trying to stop Caligula from stealing Aphrodite's powers and becoming a full god, Archangel Michael tries to kill her to stop this from happening but is stopped by Xena. Xena, then tries to kill Michael for convincing Eve to nearly sacrifice her life against Caligula, but Eli stops her by removing her ability to kill gods.
- Eli is Aramaic/Hebrew for "my God". It cannot be denied that as the show evolves, strong similarities are drawn between this character and Jesus Christ. For example, his teachings of non-violence and the Christian fish symbol which is seen in "Seeds of Faith", and "Eve" and "Heart of Darkness" In spite of Jesus' presence in the Xenaverse, his role in the series narrative and history in general appears to have been largely supplanted by Eli. Eli is also short for Elijah, who was an important prophet in the Old Testament and one of two figures who never died. He, along with Moses, was a witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ.