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My wife and I are looking for a new TV show or two to watch, for relative values of 'new'.

We've landed on Hercules and the spin-off Xena, as we're both fans of the core mythology, but won't mind seeing it butchered for good stories.

I know that Xena was a spin-off of Hercules, but I'm not sure if the two maintain a relatively tight coupling (like Buffy and Angel did) or if they were more or less distinct.

So my question is twofold:

  1. Do the shows have any significant overlap?

  2. If so, what is the suggested order to watch them in?

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First of all, there's a VERY precise viewing order recommendation here. I won't copy/paste it as it basically lists every episode of BOTH shows in order, but it seems to be fairly well thought out.

Also, a full list of Xena crossovers in Hercules episodes is available.


Second, there are some required orderings, as listed below. The info is lifted from Yahoo Answers - second one is anonymous so can't attribute, but it had 5 up-votes, first one is from "II.Sσñaя εs gяa†ιs.II" Yahoo! answer. I re-formatted for clarity.

First, here's a list of Hercules Episodes required to understand subsequent Xena episodes:

  1. Before watching Xena (any of the episodes), watch the pre-history in the following 3 Hercules episodes from S1: "The Warrior Princess" (#9), "The Gaunlet" (#12), "Unchained Heart" (#13). You should also watch the 5 movies as well before watching Xena (and from what I understand before you watch Hercules as well, but that wasn't terribly clear to me as I haven't watched the movies myself):

    Hercules and the Amazon Women (Lucy Lawless)
    Hercules and the Lost Kingdom (Renee O'Connor)
    Hercules and the Circle of Fire
    Hercules and the Underworld
    Hercules and the Maze of the Minotaur
    
  2. "Surprise" (Hercules, Season 3 Episode 12) and "Judgement Day" (Hercules, Season 3 Episode 15) - Hera has freed Callisto from Tartarus on the condition that she kills Hercules; but the episodes doesn't have any impact on Xena storyline.

    However, it is impacted by prior events in Xena storyline, and therefore should be watched after "Ten Little Warlords" (Xena, Season 2, Episode 8).

  3. "Stranger in a Strange World" (Herculs Season 4, episode 5) and "Armaggedon I and II" (Hercules Season 4, episodes 13 and 14).

    You should watch them after "Maternal Instincts" (Xena, season 3, episode 11), because

>! The Armaggedon story starts off right after the funeral of Xena and Gabrielle´s children, so 
  1. The next set of advice is somewhat unclear, but I included it for now and will try to untangle later. I personally don't see any reason to bother with ordering these episodes.

On to xena S4 and herc S5 - watch Hercules "Faith", "Descent", "Resurrection" first then "Xena" "Adventures in the sin trade" parts 1&2 and "A family affair"

Herc's last appearance in Xena's "God Fearing Child"


I will try to summarize the required orderings:

  • Hercules S1E9, S1E12, S1E13 and 5 movies before Xena S1E1

  • Xena S2E8 before Hercules S3E12

  • Xena S3E11 before Hercules S4E5

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  • Seems like there are a couple things in there that may need spoiler tags. – gnovice Jan 9 '12 at 16:10
  • @gnovice - I'm waaaay confused on what needs spoiler tags and what doesn't. Feel free to edit them in as you see needed as long as it doesn't hide useful info. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 9 '12 at 16:16
  • That's the problem... I never watched either series, so I'm not totally sure what is spoiler-y. Probably the reference to funerals in number 3, and maybe the bullet point of number 2. – gnovice Jan 9 '12 at 16:23
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I decided to watch them in the order that they aired. Based on the original air dates in Wikipedia; I put together a Google Doc detailing which order episodes should be viewed in.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as "Hercules, then Xena" if you're going by the air dates.

If memory serves me, which it may not, there is a lot of cross-over between plots and characters. They scooped up the whole "Dahak" storyline out of Xena and dumped it into Hercules episodes, as a big example.

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No Spoilers

Before watching Xena watch the prequels in The Hercules episodes from S1: "The Warrior Princess" (E9), "The Gauntlet" (E12), "Unchained Heart" (E13).

After "Ten Little Warlords" (Xena S2,E8) watch "Surprise" (Hercules, S3,E12) and "Judgement Day" (Hercules, S3,E15).

After "Maternal Instincts" (Xena S3 E11) watch "Stranger in a Strange World" (Hercules S4,E5) and "Armageddon I and II" (Hercules S4,E13 and E14).

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As someone who did watch all of Xena and didn't watch Hercules, there's only one single crossover point that matters in that direction. Between Xena 2x07 (Intimate Stranger) and Xena 2x14 (A Necessary Evil) is Hercules 3x12 (Surprise):

At the end of Intimate Stranger, Callisto is in Tartarus. Next we see her in Xena, she's immortal, trapped in a cave, and going insane. The events that led to this happened in the episode of Hercules.

While there's likely references and other small things, that's the only one that made me go "Wait, what?" and have to head to the hercxena wiki.

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