Legendary Journeys

The Quill is Mightier...
Gabrielle Joxer Quill Mightier.jpg
Gabrielle Writes on Her Enchanted Scroll.
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 3
Antagonist Thallonius
Setting Greece
In-Universe Date Year 3
Production # V0408
Filming Dates 28 October to 4 November 1997
Original Air-Date 19 January 1998
Written By Hilary Bader
Directed By Andrew Merrifield
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 56 of 134
Order in Season 10 of 22
Order in Franchise 131 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Warrior... Priestess... Tramp"
Next Episode in Series "Maternal Instincts"
Previous Episode in Franchise "Hercules on Trial"
Next Episode in Franchise "Medea Culpa"
Title Image
The Quill is Mightier TITLE.jpg

Are you looking for this, huh? I, uh, I took it off a peddler, who was being chased by barbarians, who was being chased by, uh, three naked Gabrielles and Minya. She's still chasing them, by the way. Oh, yeah, I read the scroll." ―Xena 

Aphrodite enchants Gabrielle's scroll, causing everything she writes to come true. But when she becomes careless with her wording and the scroll itself falls into the wrong hands, bad things begin to happen and she has to try and break the spell.


Aphrodite is reminded by Ares about Gabrielle's scrolls.

Outside Aphrodite's temple, a boy sprays graffiti on it and as another exits the temple. The two mentions how much Aphrodite sucks and Xena rocks. As they run off, their graffiti reads: "ELECT XENA GOD." "XENA RULES!" and "XENA'S da BOMB. Later in her temple a jealous Aphrodite expresses anger over Xena's growing popularity, Ares reminds her that it is Gabrielle's stories that are really responsible for turning Xena into a legend.

Oh, yeah, a lot of fun.

Aphrodite decides she must do something to stop Gabrielle's tales of Xena's exploits and that night, she steals into their camp. As she secretly eavesdrops on their conversation, she is pleased to hear Xena urging Gabrielle to try her hand at fiction rather than recount their latest adventure. Intrigued by the idea, Gabrielle starts a new story in which she herself is the hero and Xena has gone fishing. When Gabrielle drifts off to sleep, the invisible Aphrodite snaps her fingers and a strange aura passes over the scroll.

Gabrielle and Joxer learn that the scrolls come true.

The next morning, Gabrielle awakens with a startle when five barbarians come riding out of the woods straight towards her. She amazes herself as she fights them off in brilliant Xena-esque style. When Joxer suddenly pops up from the bedding beside her, she deflects a dagger meant for him off her strangely hard stomach and drives off the screaming barbarians. Gabrielle quickly realizes that the morning's events mirror exactly what she wrote in her scroll the night before and further, that whatever she writes is somehow turning into reality.

Soon, a cocky Gabrielle is creating scenarios all over town. She first has a strange man donate a sword to the Sisters of Gaia orphanage, before having a bar become an endless drinking binge place (Drinks are on the house, she wrote). Unfortunately, the barbarians, egged on by Aphrodite arrive for some payback. Gabrielle uses the scroll to send them away, only for it to have humorous results: directing them to the Sisters' orphanage, then Indonesia before compelling them to be pirates.

Ares and Aphrodite lose their powers by Gabrielle's scroll.

To prevent any more damage, she sends the barbarians to a cave and to fall into a deep sleep. Seeing how much trouble she's caused, Gabrielle resolves to put it aside forever. Joxer, however, convinces her that her writing just needs some judicious editing. Eager to use the scroll to end war, Gabrielle inadvertently divests Ares of his godhood when she writes that war has lost all its power. An outraged Ares falls at her feet. Then, as she quickly tries to reverse her mistake by writing that the force that enchanted the scroll is stripped of its powers, Aphrodite falls from above, as helpless as Ares.

Aphrodite deals with mortal life with Minya.

As the two ex-gods clear their heads, Ares admits that he manipulated Aphrodite into going after Gabrielle in order to get Xena out of the way. He confides that he has an army, led by the warlord Thelonius, assembled and ready to attack the surrounding valley, but promises to call off the assault if his powers are restored. The ex-gods then ask how Joxer got there. Gabrielle shows them the scroll and they read the line, "Gabrielle woke with a jerk", and Aphrodite bursts out laughing: Joxer fails to understand what that line meant. Meanwhile, as Thelonius and his lieutenant Munk continue to wait for the signal to attack, Gabrielle and the others decide that they must bring Xena back in order to straighten things out. But as careful as Gabrielle tries to be in describing Xena's return, her written words result in the arrival of Minya, an old friend and Xena wannabe. As they retire to the tavern, the Sisters of Gaia inform Gabrielle that they traded that sword to a patron, who is eating food off of it like a kabob. Then suddenly, a warrior walks into the tavern and recognizes his kinsman's sword and threatens to kill the patron. Gabrielle saves the patron's life by writing that the warrior leaves for the caves. Ares jokes that the caves will mostly be getting full. After several additional attempts fail to produce Xena, Gabrielle and her cohorts set out to find a trout stream or fishing hole, hoping to locate her.

Ares and Gabrielle talk about Xena.

Later, in his never-ending quest to win Gabrielle's heart, Joxer jots down the beginning of a limerick on Gabrielle's enchanted scroll, producing three naked dancing Gabrielles, who are quickly dispatched to the caves. He then trades his scabbard for a beautiful necklace for Gabrielle, unaware that she has hidden her scroll inside it. Gabrielle sends Joxer to wait in the caves and takes off with the others to find the peddler who has the scabbard. Soon Gabrielle and Ares are hot on the peddler's trail, which leads towards the caves.

Xena arrives just in time to stop an army.

Upon entering, they find Joxer, the five barbarians, the three naked Gabrielles, and all the other characters causing trouble in Gabrielle's stories. Pretty soon, everyone is chasing everyone else to get the scroll. Gabrielle finally grabs it and before losing it again, writes that the scroll finds Xena. When the peddler runs out of the caves with the scroll, pursued by Minya, the barbarians, and the naked Gabrielles, Thelonius takes this to be his signal to attack. A short while later, back at the caves, Gabrielle, Joxer, Ares, and Aphrodite are surprised by Xena, who arrives with the scroll in one hand, pulling an enormous wagon of fish with the other. Turns out, all Gabrielle did was send Xena to see her first friend, her mother and other friends before returning to fishing: it was at this point that she became suspicious and realized that she visited everyone she had ever cared about except one and set off to locate Gabrielle.

After questioning Aphrodite closely, Xena concludes that they must write the truth -- with no embellishments -- in order to break the spell on the scroll. Xena instructs Gabrielle to write down everything she does, exactly as she does it. She then begins attacking Thelonius with a slingshot, flinging fish at him and his army, as Aphrodite, Ares and Joxer carefully observe and report the ludicrous scene to Gabrielle from the sidelines. A huge battle ensues, leaving dead fish everywhere: in between, Joxer finally understands what Gabrielle meant by "woke with a jerk". In spite of a brief disagreement over whether Xena disarms an opponent using an octopus or a squid, the plan works: the army is defeated and Aphrodite and Ares are back to being gods and quickly disappear. With the fight finally over and everything back to normal, they find a bit more space at the bottom of scroll. There's nothing else for Gabrielle to write but "The End." The screen goes black before she can finish her sentence.


No naked Gabrielles were harmed during the production of this motion picture.

Background Information[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • The kinsman sword that is given to the Sisters of Gaia is the same prop as the Sword of Hephaestus in "Prometheus".
  • Paul Norell, who plays the peddler in this episode, previously appeared in "Prometheus" as a salesman, and appears on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as the recurring character of Falafel. He also plays several other characters throughout the two series'.
  • "The Quill Is Mightier..." was rated 6.8 out of 10 stars in 1997 by Neilsen's National Ratings, making it the highest-rated "Xena-Lite" episode of the series.


  • This is the first episode of Xena: Warrior Princess featuring Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer, Aphrodite and Ares in the same episode. These characters will not appear together again until series 5's finale, "Motherhood".
  • The title of this episode is a play on words of the saying "The pen is mightier than the sword", which is credited to Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
  • A possible inspiration may be the 1953 short story "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby, best known for its 1961 teleplay adaptation in The Twilight Zone. "Good Life" is about a small boy whose unexplained god-like powers cause his every whim becomes reality. A particular similarity is Gabrielle's tactic of sending inconvenient people "to the caves," which mirrors Anthony's tactic of "sending them to the cornfield."
  • Ares claims in "Forget Me Not" that the events in this episode made him like Gabrielle.
  • The Names of Ares' Commander (Thelonius) and his Lieutenant, (Munk) are a play on the famous pianist, Thelonius Monk.
  • Though Xena doesn't technically use her chakram in this episode, she throws an eel like one.
  • Xena has previously displayed the ability to sense Ares whilst he is invisible but is oblivious to Aphrodite's presence right next to her. This confirms that her sense is a skill specific to Ares's presence, rather than an ability to detect gods in general (which Hercules can do).

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