Why The Xena: Warrior Princess Reboot With Lucy Lawless Was Canceled

Xena: Warrior Princess ended over 20 years ago, but star Lucy Lawless almost returned for a reboot in the 2010s. Xena was a spinoff of the already quite popular syndicated adventure series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, with Lawless' character originally beginning life as a villainous thorn in Hercules' side. However, her popularity led to a solo series, with Xena looking to change her ways, fight for good and atone for her mountain of past sins.

Along for the ride is Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) who starts as Xena's sidekick, before maturing into a warrior in her own right and Xena's seeming soulmate. While each episode featured the two characters battling bad guys, going on adventures and the like, over time Xena: Warrior Princess' dramatic core began to center on Xena and Gabrielle's relationship. The two were clearly more than friends, but Xena's writers always stopped short of fully confirming they were a lesbian couple, much to the chagrin of Xena's sizable LGBTQ+ fanbase.

Related: The Actress Who Almost Played Xena (Why Lucy Lawless Was Cast)

Xena has never really stopped being popular in the decades since its cancellation though, and it's safe to say most of its fans would welcome some kind of revival with Lawless returning. That's almost what happened in 2015, and the plan was to more fully explore Xena and Gabrielle's romance in a way not really possible in the 1990s, but ultimately, the project ended up failing to get off the ground.

In 2015, it was revealed that NBC was considering doing a reboot of Xena, although without Lawless reprising the lead role. Instead, it was floated that she would play a different supporting character. Lost writer/producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach was hired to take point on the reboot, and it then headed into official development. However, by April 2017, Grillo-Marxuach had exited the project and the non-Lucy Lawless fronted Xena reboot was left adrift. According to Grillo-Marxuach, he ran into a creative impasse with NBC that made it impossible to move forward. Considering his statements about wanting to focus on the Xena/Gabrielle romantic relationship, many assumed that was why NBC decided to pass, but Grillo-Marxuach publicly denied that claim.

For their part, NBC executives simply said the material they reviewed from Grillo-Marxuach wasn't strong enough to move forward with his vision for the Xena reboot. The idea of rebooting or reviving Xena has been dormant since, outside of Lawless expressing a willingness to return alongside O'Connor for a movie, after being impressed by Linda Hamilton's return to playing Sarah Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate. While that has yet to materialize, Lawless surprised fans in August 2021 by revealing she's already aware of a new reboot pitch she found impressive. If that pitch becomes reality, hopefully, she'll play Xena because it's hard to imagine someone else in the role.

More: Why The Xena: Warrior Princess Finale Was So Controversial

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