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Here's Why The Long-Awaited Xena Reboot Never Happened

As far as action-packed shows from the 1990s go, "Xena: Warrior Princess" is one of the best. Xena (Lucy Lawless) was given her own spin-off after a brief recurring role in "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," with creator Robert Tapert recognizing how popular she was with audiences. "Xena: Warrior Princess" quickly became a cult favorite, running for six seasons from 1995 to 2001. The show offers a gripping slice of fantasy action as it follows the titular hero across Ancient Greece, and it isn't afraid to push the boundaries of what could be done with a grand mythological story on TV.

The swords-and-sandals epic doesn't just have the hero facing off against evil warlords or Ares, the God of War, however. No, Xena often battles demons and monsters too — and considering the show was produced in the 1990s, some of the practical effects look pretty great. Sure, the CGI might not hold up to today's standards, but that makes it no less impressive. 

Even so, it's clear that "Xena" is ripe for a reboot — especially in a time where "Wonder Woman" made $800 million at the box office (via Box Office Mojo) when it debuted back in 2017. Just think about the scale of the adventures that could be done with modern budgets and visuals! So, why hasn't a "Xena" reboot happened yet?

The 2015 project

Unsurprisingly, the huge audience surrounding "Xena" has always been vocal about their love for the hero, especially since many saw the clear subtext in the show that she had a romance with Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor). They obviously loved each other; just look at how vicious Gabrielle gets when she defends a paralyzed Xena in Season 4, Episode 21, "The Ides of March." In fact, their relationship was going to be the main focus of a new "Xena" reboot in 2015 from "Lost" alumni Javier Grillo-Marxuach for NBC.

Grillo-Marxuach wrote on his Tumblr page in 2016 (via the Hollywood Reporter) that the reboot would be "a very different show," explaining that it would be pointless to reboot "Xena" unless it would exist "for the purpose of fully exploring a relationship that could only be shown subtextually in first-run syndication in the 1990s." He also noted that the reboot would had some kind of social relevance in its story, saying, "It will also express my view of the world — which is only further informed by what is happening right now."

NBC wasn't interested

Unfortunately, in 2017, Javier Grillo-Marxuach parted ways from the "Xena" reboot, telling the Mary Sue that it was down to "insurmountable creative differences" with NBC. Since the rebooted series would've seemingly focused on Xena and Gabrielle's relationship, it sounds like NBC wasn't keen on putting the pair's romance in the spotlight. However, Grillo-Marxuach also told the Mary Sue that he remains hopeful Xena will return to the screen at some point in the future: "I truly hope that the alchemy of creative elements that has to come together to make possible either a reboot or revival of this amazing property will someday coalesce."

When the news broke that the "Xena" reboot wasn't going forward at NBC, the network's Entertainment President Jennifer Salke explained to the Hollywood Reporter that it came down to the fact that what Grillo-Marxuach wanted to do with the series didn't match up with the desires and expectations of network executives. Apparently, in the eyes of NBC execs, Grillo-Marxuach didn't have a strong enough plan or vision. "Nothing is happening on that right now. We looked at some material; we decided at that point that it didn't warrant the reboot," she said.

However, it wasn't all negative, as Salke pointed out that "Xena" is a "beloved" property that might be rebooted some day. It all depends on who's at the helm of the reboot, she noted. "I'd never say never on that one because it's such a beloved title, but the current incarnation of it is dead," Salke said at the time. "I need someone to come in with a point of view about what they want to do."

The leaked script and a possible movie

In 2018, the pilot script for the reboot leaked online to the Xena Movie Campaign Facebook page, but fans in the comments were disappointed about what the script contained. Many lamenting over changing Hercules into a "heartless mercenary," as one commenter put it. Others felt that it had potential, especially where Xena and Gabrielle's relationship was concerned. Fans also pointed out that a new "Xena" project without Lucy Lawless wouldn't feel right — but would the star ever come back to the role?

Surprisingly, yes! And we all have "Terminator: Dark Fate" to thank. Lawless told Yahoo! Entertainment in July 2019 that seeing Linda Hamilton return as Sarah Connor made her wonder why she couldn't do the same with Xena. "I saw Linda being amazing, and I'm like, 'Why can't we do that?'" she said. "Bring back me and Renée [O'Connor] and reboot Xena!'"

While Lawless did admit that filming all the action wasn't her favorite part of making "Xena: Warrior Princess," she said she'd happily do it for a big-screen project: "I always hated the action, and I don't want to live that life. But for a movie, I can do a little bit." Lawless even suggested that a cinematic outing for Xena could easily set up a brand-new hero, explaining, "[If] it's about handing over the baton to Junior Xena or whatever — if you need mine and Renée's help to do that, let's talk."

Lucy Lawless is in, and so are fans. NBC needs to find a writer with a new vision, stat.