Legendary Journeys
"Sky High" | Episodes of Hercules: TLJ | "Just Passing Through"

Stranger and Stranger
The Gods Imprisoned
Series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Season 5
Antagonist Ares
Setting Greece, Strange World
In-Universe Date Year 4
Production # V0716
Filming Dates 28 October to 6 November 1998
Original Air-Date 1 February 1999
Story By Paul Robert Coyle
Teleplay By Gerry Conway
Directed By Bruce Campbell
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 94 of 111
Order in Season 13 of 22
Order in Franchise 214 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Sky High"
Next Episode in Series "Just Passing Through"
Previous Episode in Franchise "If the Shoe Fits..."
Next Episode in Franchise "Paradise Found"
Title Image

The Olympian gods are still missing, which causes Greece severe problems. Hercules finds an Other Universe portal and jumps in – figuring that the gods fled there to escape Dahak. In Netherworld, Hercules finds a surprising sight – a very much alive Iolaus 2, who blames him for his recent troubles. Nonetheless, Hercules needs his help and takes him to Strange Universe's Earth, which is now ruled by Nebula 2. On top of that, she has teamed up with our universe's Ares. Masquerading as the Sovereign, Hercules tries to find out where the gods are and free them before both Earths are destroyed.


A portal opens nearby and villagers alert Hercules. He has been pondering where the gods of Olympus have gone and thinks he knows the answer, so he dives into the portal and travels to the other universe. There, he finds the Sovereign lying unconscious and Jester Iolaus in hiding. After talking with the Jester, he learns that the Sovereign had been overthrown by the Empress, Nebula, and they had been tossed into prison. The Jester knows a way out. He didn't tell the Sovereign how to get out, but he shows Hercules the way.

During all this, Hercules wonders how the Jester could still be alive if Iolaus is dead. He figures that the rules work differently between the universes.

Back in Greece, Ares shows up and sees Hercules dive into the portal. He remarks that Hercules is about to spoil things for him, so he goes after him.

Now Hercules and the Jester arrive in the town outside the Sovereign's palace. The Jester falls, hurts himself and people begin to laugh at him. Hercules asks why he lets people treat him that way and he begins working to try and build up the Jester's self esteem. He convinces the Jester to act as his guide while he is there. He thinks that the gods of Olympus are in this universe and he intends to find them. He also finds out a little more about the new Empress Nebula.

The Empress is amusing herself by holding a game show entitled "Wheel of Misfortune" whereby contestants are asked a question. If their answer doesn't satisfy the Empress, the game show host, Falafel, spins the wheel to determine the method of execution.

In the prison, the Sovereign awakens in time to meet up with Ares, who has stolen the hind's blood pendant away from him. Ares pours a little blood on his dagger and attacks the Sovereign. They go a few rounds but Ares stabs the Sovereign with the dagger, apparently killing him. Elsewhere, Hercules feels this same pain but he doesn't die.

Hercules and the Jester sneak into the Sovereign's suite and meet up with Ares, God of Love. He knows that Hercules intends to impersonate the Sovereign and agrees to try and help as long as he doesn't have to do any actual fighting. He also tells Hercules that Nebula allied herself with Ares, God of War. Hercules realizes at that point that Ares killed the Sovereign. So Hercules dresses like the Sovereign and heads off in search of the empress Nebula.

Hercules walks into the throne room to find a very psychotic Nebula thrilled to see him. She greets him in a rather enthusiastic manner and is now very impatient to take him to bed. She tells him that the gods of Olympus fled to her universe' Earth when Dahak arrived in theirs. Soon, Ares arrived and persuaded her to help him trap the gods so that he could return and become the King of the Gods in Greece. So, they trap the gods in the Labyrinth of Eternal Memory. This way everybody wins: She gets to be Empress and he gets to be Ruler of the Gods in Olympus. Hercules, impersonating the Sovereign, tells the guards to lock the Empress away ... in his bedchamber.

Later, Hercules and the Jester are searching throughout the labyrinth for the gods. The Jester tells Hercules that Zeus designed the labyrinth when the Sovereign was little but that it drove him insane.

They enter a chamber and walk right into a large snake.

Back in the Sovereign's suit, Nebula awaits the big guy. Ares, God of War, shows up and Nebula tells him that he looks to much like Sissy-boy and she can't stand that. So, Ares informs her that she has been deceived by Hercules. She is furious and they are about to pursue Hercules, but the God of Love shows up and casts a spell on Nebula. Now Nebula is on fire for Ares and the God of War gets his wish.

Meanwhile, Hercules and the Jester continue searching for the gods. As they travel the corridors of the labyrinth, visions of the Jester's past play on the walls around them. They begin to sink into the sandy floor as if they had stepped into quicksand. Hercules realizes what is happening and tells the Jester to stop dwelling on the bad things that have happened in his past. He tells him to focus on the future, to look forward to something good. This works and they rise up out of the sand and are now able to continue on.

Eventually Ares and Nebula realize that she had a spell cast on her by the God of Love to distract and delay them. So, Ares takes off after the two heroes.

Hercules has found the gods of Olympus by now. They are entrapped in a silver sphere. Hercules grabs the sphere and leaves through one exit, but immediately enters through an opposite doorway. They try this several times with the same results. They seem to be trapped. Then Ares shows up. He has the hind's blood dagger with him and he attacks Hercules. After a long fight, Hercules uses his wits to defeat Ares. Hercules takes the vial of hind's blood from Ares and tucks it away, then looks for the dagger. He turns to find that Nebula has it at the Jester's throat. Hercules tosses the sphere behind him and it comes in through a door immediately behind Nebula, hitting her on the head and knocking her out. It rebounds off her head and comes right back to Hercules through the door he originally tossed it.

Then he destroys the sphere, releasing the gods. They leave through one of the passages and Hercules takes the hind's blood dagger and pounds in into a stone pedestal in the center of the room.

Hercules tells Ares to say "hello" to the gods because he knows they are looking forward to meeting with the God of War soon. He also remarks that the gods owe him big time for what he's just done. Nebula goes to prison and Hercules returns to Greece with the Jester.


If you would like to be a contestant on 'Wheel of Misfortune', simply drop us a postcard and prepare to kiss your bottom goodbye.

Background Information[]

  • Unlike other recaps, this episode's was narrated by Kevin Sorbo.
  • As Hercules suggests, Iolaus 2 didn't die when Iolaus did because he was in Netherworld at the time. This technicality also saved Hercules when Ares killed the Sovereign.
  • Ares somehow got a hold of the pendant of Hind's blood from "Stranger in a Strange World", which was last seen with Callisto when Hercules threw her into the portal in "Armageddon Now Part 2".
  • Hemnor's presence suggests Hercules is in the vicinity of Ceryneia at the beginning of the episode.
  • The statues of people chained in different positions in the Empress' throne room are clearly the repainted petrified victims from Aiden's World.
  • Originally, Lucy Lawless was to return as Xena 2, who would've been the Empress. When Lawless proved unavailable, the it was decided to replace her with Gina Torres as Nebula 2. According to Paul Robert Coyle, the only dialogue affected was replacing any reference to Xena's name with Nebula's. [1]
    • This is Torres's final appearance in the franchise, though she had made her final appearance as the "prime" Nebula two episodes earlier.
  • Originally, this episode would've featured 3-D segments. [2]
  • Hercules complaining, "Just once, I'd like to land on something soft," is a reference to Sliders, a TV series about interreality travelers.
  • In response to the bad weather, Hemnor says, "The gods must be punishing us for believing in Dahak's lies" – which was mainly seen in "Let There Be Light". Given that the gods are apparently all missing, it seems the bad weather is actually just a coincidence.
  • Ares II is based on Elvis Presley. When the Empress makes love to Ares I (after they've been overcome by Ares II's love potion), she calls him a "hunk of burning love," the key line of an Elvis song. Episode director Bruce Campbell went on to play Elvis in the movie Bubba Ho-Tep (2002).
  • In a departure from his usual Elvis metaphor, Ares II's line "Can't we all just get along?" comes from Rodney King.
  • This episode features more Olympians than any other one in the series, though only Ares appears in human form and the others are just special effects. The use of lights to represent the characters is similar to traditional treatments of Tinker Bell in stage productions of Peter Pan.

Memorable Quotations[]

"Think, Ares. I know it's a stretch, but try. You can't rule the world if there's no world left."
"Nothing wrong with starting over!"

Hercules and Ares

Links and References[]

Guest Stars[]

Other Cast[]


    • The Empress has some similar mannerisms to Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman in the movie Batman Returns (1992), and her courtiers are dressed as clowns for no discernible reason, much as the Penguin's army of henchmen were in the same movie. Scripter Gerry Conway was the main comic book writer for Batman in the early 1980s, but was not involved in that movie.
    [1] An Interview With Paul Robert Coyle (Whoosh! Issue 30)
  1. [2] An Interview With Paul Robert Coyle (Whoosh! Issue 30)

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