Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason Xena And Gabrielle Never Became A Couple

Though it may have begun as an unlikely spin-off series, the fantasy adventure "Xena: Warrior Princess" took off in the 1990s, and has since gained cult status with a loyal army of fans thanks to the show's syndication. Lucy Lawless stars as Xena, a fierce fighter who battles everything from Greek gods to mythological monsters, all while using her chakram weapon and yelling a high-pitched war cry.

Die-hard fans of the series know that while Xena is completely capable, she doesn't fight alone: Her best friend Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) is always by her side. Though their relationship starts out with Gabrielle as an unwanted tagalong, the years that follow prove that she isn't just a bumbling sidekick, but an equal to Xena's strength and cunning. The two women grew notably close over the years, to the point where audiences wondered not "if" but "when" their friendship would grow to be something more.

However, even after six years of building affection between Xena and Gabrielle, their relationship never evolved into a romantic liaison. This was a huge disappointment for many "Xena" fans, especially for those in the LGBTQ+ community. So why is it these two never expressed their "true" feelings for one another on the show? The reasons might not be what you think — or maybe they are.

Xena's executive producer said politics got in the way

In a 2016 interview with Entertainment Weekly, "Xena: Warrior Princess" executive producer Rob Tapert explained two reasons why Xena and Gabrielle never got together. The first — and possibly the most unsurprising — is because the show's studio, Universal Television, said it couldn't happen. "Before we started shooting Xena, we shot the material that we were going to use to create the opening title sequences with," Tapert told EW. "The studio was so concerned that it would be perceived as a lesbian show that they would not allow us to have Xena and Gabrielle in the same frame of the opening titles."

The second reason Tapert gave was that there was another person on the show who was vying for Xena's affections: Ares, played by the late actor Kevin Smith. The God of War may have often been a recurring antagonist in the series, but the writers wanted to delve deeper into the complex character, including Ares' feelings about Xena and the possibility of a romance developing between the two.

"We did not want to give up the hold that character had over Xena and the enjoyment we had with telling stories of Xena and Ares," Tapert said. "So as much as we liked that Xena and Gabrielle were two people who were the best of friends, and perhaps intimate friends, we never wanted to give up Ares."

So while "Xena: Warrior Princess" never did say that Xena and Gabrielle were in love, or whether it was Ares who held the warrior woman's heart, the show made things obtuse enough for fans to make their own assumptions. Had the show been written in another time, perhaps things would have turned out differently.