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Xena: Warrior Princess has been off the air since 2001, but its fans are still going strong. The fantasy drama built up a loyal cult following since its premiere in 1995, a time when strong female protagonists in action roles were still finding ground. After all these years, perhaps the most talked about aspect of the show is the relationship between Xena and her traveling companion, Gabrielle, which fans believed was more than a friendship despite it never explicitly being said. And now we know the kind of odd reason why it never happened, thanks to creator/executive producer Rob Tapert.
We didn’t really ever want to get them 100 percent together for a very strange reason. There was Ares [Kevin Smith], God of ?War, who we loved. 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. 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.
That’s an almost credible reason for keeping the characters apart. For those who may not remember, Ares was the God of War and he had a bit of a thing for Xena. He was always trying to sway her to the dark side and get up in some wars with him. Of course, Xena always rebuked him, but the temptation was there. It makes sense why the writers wouldn’t want to give up that dynamic if it was a strength of the show, but it could have still worked after Xena and Gabrielle got together. If anything, it would have evolved her dynamic with Ares as opposed to destroying it.
The nineties being the nineties, it was often thought that either the producers or network affiliates had something negative to say about a lesbian relationship being so heavily referenced. But thanks to EW's oral history celebrating Xena: Warrior Princess for this week's issue, we now know they never took the plunge because others were interested in her letting Ares take his own plunge.
Regardless of what television used to be like, there’s certainly a lot more freedom to show LGBT relationships on screen today with television shows like Transparent, Empire and The 100, to name just a few. Now that we have an actual Xena reboot happening (and it will feature a lesbian romance), fans will finally be able to see a version of Xena and Gabrielle together on the small screen.