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Unresolved Plotlines In Xena: Warrior Princess

If you were watching TV in the '90s, then "Xena: Warrior Princess" is probably burned into your memory, with its epic action sequences and impressive feats — all done with a minimal budget. The series was a gamechanger, and it remains a cultural touchstone more than a quarter century down the line.

While the fight scenes were great, those who became fans were more often than not pulled in by Xena's complicated character arc, which sees her struggling to overcome the sins of her past. Having made her debut in "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" as a dastardly villain, Xena has a lot to make up for, and this series walks us through it, starting with day one. This is one redemption arc that never lets its protagonist off the hook as she's still making up for past wrongs, right up to the very last episode of the series.

But considering the number of people working behind the scenes, the demanding shooting schedule, and the loose approach to history and mythology, it might not come as a huge surprise that this is a series that left a number of unresolved plotlines in its wake. However, each dangling thread inspires us to look back at the series once more, and truly, you can never go wrong with a "Xena" rewatch. So prepare for the power, the passion, and the danger as we look at the show's biggest unresolved plotlines.

Xena and Gabrielle are basically married

Let's just get the most obvious one out of the way at the top, Xena and Gabrielle are almost definitely married, and it's never confirmed. By now, showrunners, producers, writers, actors, and all of fandom have more or less agreed that if this show were filmed in 2022, the queerness would've been more explicit. However, rewatching the series today, it's surprising how textual it is. By Season 6, there isn't much disputing it, but you could go so far as to say that after "The Rift" storyline, it's pretty clear that these two are endgame.

When it comes to unresolved plotlines in "Xena," this is generally going to be the first one that comes to mind with six whole seasons of subtext to back it up. The last episodes featured several moments that went well beyond simple wink and nudge hints, including but not limited to Xena awakening Gabrielle with a kiss in "The Ring," Xena tracking down a poem by Gabrielle's favorite poet Sappho to give her for her birthday in "Many Happy Returns," and Gabrielle setting the loom of fate on fire knowing that no matter what universe she ends up in, she and Xena will always find each other in "When Fates Collide." 

Sure, the time period was likely a factor, but with all the series gets away with, it feels discordant that it leaves the central premise of Xena finally being redeemed by her love for Gabrielle completely open-ended.

What happened to Toris?

When it comes to the lore behind why Xena was once a ruthless killer, the death of her brother Lyceus at the hands of a warlord named Cortese is always treated as a pivotal moment that changed her on a fundamental level. As time goes on, there are things that add to that narrative — including a betrayal by Caesar that left her near death — but if anything destroyed her homelife, it was this early loss.

In the Season 1 episode "Death Mask," Xena actually comes face to face with Cortese, but the presence of her equally traumatized brother Toris complicates things. Though at first he appears to be working for Cortese, he quickly reveals to Xena that he's in fact trying to get close enough to kill the man who destroyed his family. Xena ultimately helps Toris overcome his desire to take revenge on Cortese, allowing him to finally forgive himself for failing to protect his loved ones. 

Now, Toris checks all the boxes for someone who could've been a fascinating recurring character, but after the credits role, he's completely forgotten. Not only does he never appear again, he's never even mentioned going forward. He walks off promising to go visit their mother, and he's never seen or heard from after that. Hopefully he just got distracted and forgot to check in, but after this moment of catharsis, it's strange this was his last appearance.

Gabrielle is an oracle?

As she herself often points out on the show, Xena is a woman of many skills, from solving mysteries to dethroning corrupt kings and even occasionally killing gods. However, Gabrielle isn't too shabby herself and has a number of highly useful tricks up her own sleeve. This includes being a talented bard, finding compassion in situations where it's not easy to do so, and always talking her way out of any predicament she finds herself in. Oh, right, and she can also maybe see the future. This is a talent often hinted at but seldom confirmed or explored. However, it plays a major role in the Season 3 episode "One Against an Army."

Xena is torn between saving a village that will soon be under siege and saving the life of Gabrielle, who's been hit by a poison arrow. Forced to hole up in a hut in order to slow down advancing troops all on her lonesome, Xena is distressed by Gabrielle's state, but the wounded Gabrielle makes Xena promise to choose the greater good rather than rushing her to safety. Then, during a fever dream, Gabrielle sees a solider surprise Xena by dropping in through the ceiling, which, a couple scenes later, is exactly what happens. However, with Gabrielle's help, Xena is able to dodge the attack. Having an occasional psychic around is pretty handy, but Gabrielle's precognition isn't an even remotely dependable power, so it's hard to say exactly what's going on here.

So, what happened to Hercules?

"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" kicked off this whole shebang, introducing Xena as a villain in what was intended to be a short three-episode run that was initially intended to end in Xena's death. Fortunately, it instead sprang into its own six-season spinoff, and the rest is history. While his own series ended on a bit of an odd note due to actor Kevin Sorbo wanting to leave and resulting negotiations leading to an anticlimactic eight final episodes, there was nothing to signify that his adventures had come to a close for the character himself. Indeed, Hercules appears in the Season 5 episode "God Fearing Child" to give Xena's newly born daughter a stuffed toy that he affectionately named Iolaus.

A 25-year time jump shortly thereafter sees many of Xena's friends and foes age out of their shared adventures, but that wouldn't necessarily have affected the demigod Hercules. Even if, there's still a good chance that a number of acquaintances wouldn't have survived the 25 years, then there should've been a footnote explaining how they didn't. Joxer gets a conclusion as we see him as a happily married old man, but he's one of the few. Recurring characters like Hercules, Salmoneus, Autolycus, and Iolaus simply drop off the map and are never heard from again. Some things can be shrugged off, but this one feels like a bit of an oversight.

Who else can kill gods?

In the trilogy of episodes "The Rheingold," "The Ring," and "Return of the Valkyrie," there are a few questions that go unresolved, but none are quite so glaring as the implication that Xena isn't the only human with the ability to kill gods. The saga shows Xena and Gabrielle taking a step out of Greek mythology and checking to see what the Norse deities have been up to this whole time. Turns out, mostly antagonizing one another.

Though it's often stated that Xena is the only mortal who could end a god and only due to the circumstances being just so, it's here that Odin hints this may not be the case. This contradicts much of what the series has established prior to these episodes, and we'll tell you now, it's not followed up on ever. Though various objects are known to have power to slay a god — such as the Hind's Blood Dagger that Callisto uses to murder Strife and is then, in turn, herself murdered by — these items are nigh-impossible to come by. As a result, this remains one of the more intriguing loose plot threads of the show given out completely out of context the implication is.

What happened to Velasca?

The Amazonian Velasca is a major player in "The Quest" and "A Necessary Evil," two pivotal Season 2 episodes that see Gabrielle stepping more into the spotlight than ever before as she attempts to deal with Xena's apparent death. After Xena loses her life in "The Quest," it's up to Gabrielle to keep her body safe until she can be buried. For her part, she chooses to return to the Amazons as their queen after the death of their former leader, Melosa. This infuriates Velasca, who feels she's won the right to be the queen and does everything in her power to prevent Xena's resurrection. Naturally, she fails, Xena is resurrected, and the villain is defeated.

However, Velasca finds a piece of ambrosia, which transforms her into a god. To make matters worse, she teams up with another recent addition to godhood, Xena's arch-nemesis Callisto. Fortunately, Callisto and Velasca are quickly at one another's throats, and Xena is able to trap them in a lava pit, which Callisto escapes in follow-up episodes. Yet, despite Velasca being hyped up and clearly intended to return, she apparently never emerges from the trap. Later, she's listed as one among many that Xena put to death, but that doesn't add up since she had god status at the time and wasn't deceased when Xena last saw her. At any rate, she was a fun villain while she lasted, who Xena may or may not have killed.

Gabrielle's kids

We'll preface this with a disclaimer that "The Xena Scrolls" is an alternate future episode, as well as an "Indiana Jones" pastiche, and maybe we should disregard any continuity hints dropped here. However, its predictions were right about a number of things, including Xena's surprise pregnancy in Season 5, so who's to say? Actor Renee O'Connor takes a break from being Gabrielle here and instead portrays rough-and-tumble archeologist Dr. Janice Covington, who discovers Gabrielle's scrolls in the year 1940. Meanwhile, Lucy Lawless plays the apparently defenseless translator Melinda Pappas, who Covington is convinced will be useless on this dangerous excavation. Before you even ask, yes, their chemistry is off the charts.

Ultimately, they discover that they're the descendants of Xena and Gabrielle, and there's Nazi-punching galore, making this a strange but delightful mid-season treat. However, while reading the scrolls, it's mentioned that Gabrielle will have more than one child, which seems fairly unlikely by the time we last see her in the series finale in Season 6. At any rate, it's never followed up on, and Gabrielle's only child by the finale remains her truly awful demon kid, Hope, who presents a number of continuity errors throughout the series that it's perfectly okay to just not worry about. That's a scroll for another day.

Queen of the Amazons?

One of the most important things to happen to Gabrielle throughout the series is her training with the Amazons, where she learns to be an action hero in her own right. In the episode "Hooves and Harlots," Gabrielle puts her life on the line to save a dying Amazon who just so happens to have been a princess. This leads to Gabrielle being given the Rite of Caste, elevating her to Amazonian royalty despite knowing very little about their culture. Naturally, this becomes a whole thing, and Gabrielle is forced to call Xena as her champion in a fight to the death against the then-reigning Amazon queen, Melosa.

Though Xena doesn't hold animosity toward the Amazons and respects their beliefs, she states more than once during the show that she's never had any interest in joining their ranks. Personality-wise, this makes sense, as it's hard to imagine a superstar like Xena falling in with a group dynamic. On the other hand, after she's chosen as Gabrielle's champion, she steps up to bat as queen a number of times during the episode, even in times when theoretically it should've been Gabrielle's time to act. This makes sense for her as the star of the series, but it leaves some questions around what role Xena has among the Amazons. This is more or less forgotten going forward, Gabrielle accepts her role as sometimes-royalty, and the Amazons pop up a number of times both as allies and antagonists.

What's up with Xena's dad?

Xena's early days are the subject of several episodes throughout the series, but "The Ties That Bind" is the only one that focuses on her relationship with her father. When a man named Atrius rushes into a fight to save women being taken hostage by a warlord, he tells Xena that he's her long-lost pop. Though Xena is suspicious, he's able to convince her over time that he's in fact the Spartan once known as Nelo, who mysteriously vanished during her youth. However, by the end of the episode, we see that the god of war Ares was simply posing as her father in order to trick her to returning to her life as a bloodthirsty killer, which Gabrielle prevents by standing up to Xena and telling her to snap out of it.

Later, it's revealed that Xena's mother, Cyrene, killed Nelo when he attempted to attack an infant Xena, but then a number of questions are raised around whether Nelo was Xena's real father as she may or may not be a demigod. Hints at Ares being her dad happen a couple of times throughout the show, but given the sexy nature of their relationship, we're pretty thrilled to let that plot thread go. At any rate, Xena's mom was a tough cookie who tried against all odds to protect her children, and her dad appears to have been a schmuck regardless of who he was.

Xena has powers ... or doesn't

Xena pulls off superhuman feats in about every episode despite being played as an ordinary human for the majority of the show's run, which has led to a lot of speculation not just from fans but within the series itself. Granted, some things can be hand-waved away, like the pressure points that work in ways that pressure points absolutely do not work in real life, which she learned from her subtextual ex Lao Ma. Ma also taught her telekinesis and energy projection, but when and how that works is very much in the realm of writer's convenience.

Yet, putting plausible deniability aside, there are some things that are simply not followed up on. It's implied that Xena has a psychic connection with her weapon, the Chakram, and that there's a level of sentience to the weapon, but that's never fully confirmed. Plus, Xena knows magic, but there isn't a lot of information on what magic or how she learned it. Then, there's the possibility that she's a demigod like Hercules, but we're never given solid answers on that one.

We know she's at least mortal because she dies more than once, but that only raises more questions than it answers after the final episodes. In the end, her abilities allow for a lot of amazing fight sequences, so we're happy that Xena has whatever powers she has whenever she has them.

Xena's daughter Eve

A major plot point of Season 5 is Xena's mysterious pregnancy, then a 25-year time jump that allows for her child to appear as a full-grown adult. Prophesied to bring about the destruction of the gods (this definitely happens, by the way), Eve is on a lot of people's hit lists before she's even born, and the general sense of animosity around her leads her to a life of Xena-like crime. In the end, we discover that Callisto impregnated Xena with herself, and so Eve is actually reincarnated Callisto, which is the kind of thing it's probably best not to ask too many questions about. Lots of NSFW fanfiction theories on that one, though.

Eve has an arc that very much reflects that of Xena, as she's corrupted by Ares and kills countless people, only to be rehabilitated through the teachings of the peace-loving Eli and some interference from her moms, Xena and Gabrielle. Eve (also known as Livia) leaves the show to continue her journey of peace, but we don't actually know what happens to her after she departs. She never sees Xena again, but she might run into Gabrielle down the line after the series ends. Though she was propped up as one of the major recurring characters of the show for several episodes, she dips out at a certain point never to be heard from again.

Gabrielle's arsenal of peace

Xena goes through a lot, from being crucified more than once to surprise pregnancies and everything in between. Yet Gabrielle is right by her side and gets her fair share of the chaos storm. One of the defining traits of Gabrielle's arc is her discomfort with the violence that surrounds her. Though she knows that she can't live without fighting due to the nature of existence, she worries about losing touch with who she is in the same way that Xena once did. This leads her to forego violence, including her staff, for exactly one episode.

For a limited time only, Gabrielle tries her hand at an "arsenal of peace," which involves disarming villains through powders and traps rather than engaging in battle. Unfortunately, this cool concept immediately vanishes, and that's a shame because Gabrielle navigating nonviolence while not being helpless could've made for a heck of an arc. Instead, she adopts the use of two very lethal sai and goes headfirst into her role as an action hero, which, admittedly, is also awesome. 

Another odd note for Gabrielle's weaponry is that she's initially gifted an eagle-headed staff by the Amazons, only to appear with a completely different staff the next episode — which, in one episode only, is collapsible. There are plenty of logistical reasons why an eagle-headed or collapsible staff wouldn't necessarily work for shooting, but the changes are never addressed on the show.

What happened to Gabrielle?

The finale of "Xena" is a two-parter that remains wildly controversial, and plenty of fans are willing to just ignore it considering that Season 6 had several iconic episodes that could've easily worked as a finale instead. Still, whatever your feelings on the conclusion, it wraps up Xena's story by giving her a definitive end to her quest for redemption. Though she's deceased by the time the credits role, she's able to pull off one last heroic feat, and her spirit lives on in her legend. It's a pretty pat ending, except the small matter of Gabrielle, who's appeared alongside Xena since the beginning of the series and who we last see riding a boat to wherever.

Though Xena's spirit appears alongside Gabrielle to tell her that she'll always be with her, we have no idea what happens after this. We can assume Gabrielle returns to the Amazons, but a lot of the final season involved her setting them up so that they'd be self-sustaining and have little need of her guidance going forward. She might've returned to her home village, but why? She might've continued the good fight, which is the option that seems most likely, but if so, why were there never any legends of Gabrielle the Warrior Princess? The last we see of her, she's on a boat, and that's all we get. On the plus side, we know Gabrielle is highly resourceful, so here's hoping she did okay.