Legendary Journeys
Legendary Journeys
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King For A Day
King for day 02.jpg
Iolaus Meets Orestes
Series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Season 2
Antagonist Minos
Setting Attica
In-Universe Date Year 1
Production # 876816
Filming Dates 18 January to 26 January 1996
Original Air-Date 18 March 1996
Written By Patricia Manney
Directed By Anson Williams
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 32 of 111
Order in Season 19 of 24
Order in Franchise 55 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Promises"
Next Episode in Series "Protean Challenge"
Previous Episode in Franchise "The Prodigal"
Next Episode in Franchise "Protean Challenge"
Title Image
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A man seeking their help approaches Hercules and Iolaus. Hercules goes off with the man and Iolaus travels onto Attica, where he looks for some distant relatives. While hunting in the forest, Iolaus meets his double, Prince Orestes.

They discover that they are distant cousins. During a conversation at a party, it is revealed that Orestes is to become king in the next few days. One of his soldiers, Hector reminds him about Niobe, the woman to whom he is betrothed. Orestes just continues drinking and Hector calls an end to the party. Iolaus heads off to bed and Orestes takes another drink. He begins choking and, clutching his throat, falls to the floor unconscious.

Meanwhile, General Archaeus is informed that Orestes will not be attending the coronation as his wine was drugged. Archaeus attempts to encourage Orestes' brother, Minos, to overthrow his brother, telling him "it is easily remedied". He tells Minos that he has taken care of everything and on the day of the coronation, Minos will be crowned king.

The following day, Iolaus finds Orestes, tastes the wine, and concludes he was drugged with some sleeping potion. He informs Hector that Orestes will be unconscious for a while, and Hector suggests that Iolaus take his place at the coronation. Iolaus protest, but then reluctantly agrees to help. Hector and his lieutenant prepare Iolaus for his act as Orestes.

At the coronation, Iolaus plays the part of Orestes and is proclaimed the new king of Attica. After being crowned, he is then married to Niobe. After the wedding, Iolaus and Hector discover that Archaeus has captured Orestes. Hector tells Iolaus he must continue playing Orestes for a while longer, so that Minos and Archaeus cannot take the throne and marry Niobe.

While talking with Niobe, Iolaus almost reveals to her that he is not really Orestes. Hector comes and shows him a letter from Archaeus. Hector says it is a trap, but Iolaus says they need to take the bait in order to get Orestes back alive. Iolaus meets with Minos and finds that Orestes is still alive, but then some soldiers appear and prepare to kill Iolaus.

Iolaus manages to block all their attacks and Hector arrives to help and Iolaus escapes with his life intact. Later, Minos discovers that Archaeus plans to betray him and kill Orestes anyway. While pretending to be Orestes, Iolaus manages to ease some of the tensions within the kingdom, thus allowing Niobe to see "Orestes" in a new light.

Niobe invites "Orestes" to go for a walk with her, meanwhile, Orestes is waiting in a cell with Minos begging him to give up the throne to allow him to rule, but Orestes refuses. While walking with Niobe, Iolaus finds out more about the history of Attica. He suggests that he could revoke the old taxes laws, and ensure equal rights for peasants. Later, Minos sneaks into the castle and tries to kill Iolaus. He asks Iolaus for his help and he agrees to help; meanwhile, Niobe overhears the conversation.

Iolaus scales the castle walls, and after fighting the guards and Archaeus, frees Orestes with the help of Niobe and Hector. A battle ensues and Minos is stabbed while trying to save Orestes. As the battle ends, Orestes is injured and Iolaus tells Hector to get him back to the palace to a healer. Orestes requests Iolaus' presence and tells him he is grateful for what he has done. Iolaus says his goodbyes to Orestes and Niobe and returns to meet Hercules.


"No slightly soused kings-to-be who finally pull themselves up by their bootstraps and realize the true meaning of leadership were harmed during the production of this motion picture."


This is the first "Iolaus-centric" episode of The Legendary Journeys, with Hercules appearing only in the opening and closing scenes.

This is one of numerous Xenaverse episodes that feature one of the big four (Hercules, Iolaus, Xena, Gabrielle) impersonating royalty. It aired just one month after "Warrior... Princess," where Xena starred in a similar plot.

The plot is closely based on the British novel The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) by Anthony Hope. The novel, together with the "Man in the Iron Mask" subplot of Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers cycle, and Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, form arguably the most well-known and frequently parodied set of "royal double" novels in popular culture.


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