Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Season 2 Episode 16

Let the Games Begin

Aired Monday 5:00 PM Feb 12, 1996 on USA
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Episode Summary

Let the Games Begin
Hercules escorted a young Spartan named Damon back to the village of Propontus, where he discovered the residents were consumed with war. With help from his old friend Atalanta, Hercules organized a series of athletic contests for the warriors so they could prove who among them was strongest and fastest. Salmoneus named the event the Olympic Games. Tarkon the Elean was not keen on the idea, however. With help from Ares, his soldiers were transformed into Mesomorphs, who attacked the competitors. But the Spartan and the Elean athletes joined together to defeat Tarkon's men, allowing the Games to continue peacefully.moreless

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  • To try and stop the Spartans and the Eleans fighting, Hercules devises the first ever Olympic Games, in this silly but well intentioned story...

    So it was actually Hercules that devised the Olympic Games (with a little help from Salmoneus and Atlanta), who'd have thought it.

    For some reason, when I think of the second season, I always think of this episode.

    It is good to see the return of Atlanta, who first appeared in the first season episode 'Ares'.

    Speaking of Ares, this is the last episode in which he would be represented in an abstract manner, as a skull-encrusted fountain of blood. Kevin Smith had already played the more human appearance of the God of War in the excellent 'Xena: Warrior Princess' episode 'The Reckoning', and would play the role in every future Ares story after this one.

    There are signs of the series becoming more and more comedy based, as when Atlanta reveals her familiar cartoon, her awestruck nephew's reaction is accompanied by sound effects that you'd more likely hear in a Warner Brothers cartoon.

    As always, Robert Trebor comes up trumps as Salmoneus, with some nice moments.

    This is a rather silly fare, and hardly one of the show's best offerings, but it's not without its own certain charm.moreless
Paul Glover

Paul Glover


Guest Star

Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey


Guest Star

Morgan Palmer-Hubbard

Morgan Palmer-Hubbard

Boy #1

Guest Star

Robert Trebor

Robert Trebor


Recurring Role

Paul Norell

Paul Norell


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • For obvious reasons, the cast wore their costumes for the Olympics; in the original games, all participants competed nude.

    • Nitpick: Salmoneus comes up with the name "Olympic games" after seeing a mountain, presumably Olympus. However, the real Olympic games were always held in Olympia, a place well out of sight of Olympus. In fact, they are just about in the opposite ends of Greece.

    • Salmoneus came up with the name "Olympic Games" and the Olympic torch. Atalanta was the one to suggest they use olive wreaths as the prize for victory.

    • This is Ares' last appearance as a pool of blood.

    • Nitpick: Those wreaths brought by Salmoneus are made out of laurel leaves, not olives. Olive leaves are much smaller and have a gray-green color to them.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Hercules: (as they set up the Olympic site) So, where would you like me to start?
      Atalanta: (stroking his chest) Is that a trick question?

    • Damon: You're either with us or against us!
      Hercules: I'm not with anybody. But I am against fighting.
      Brontus: Then you must be a coward.
      Hercules: Actually, I'm Hercules.

    • Damon: I'm not afraid of dying!
      Hercules: Not many warriors are until they're doing it.

    • Hercules: He's a traveling salesman.
      Atalanta: Knew I couldn't trust him.
      Salmoneus: I'm so misunderstood! In matters of the heart I am loyal, dependable and very inventive.

    • Salmoneus: You saved my life!
      Atalanta: Yeah. You're going to make me regret it, aren't you?

    • Hercules: (upon being handed Falafel's latest creation) What is it?
      Falafel: A hot dog.
      Hercules and Salmoneus: Dog?!
      Falafel: Uh, not necessarily. Come on, try one, you might like it!

  • NOTES (3)


    • There are various myths surrounding the start of the Olympic Games (estimated around 776 BC), many of which claim Hercules and Zeus were the founders. Some also say that it was in order to form a truce between the warring city-states of Greece. Originally, there was only one event, the stadion race, or a short sprint the length of the stadium. Only free men who spoke Greek were allowed to participate. The Heraea Games (named after Hera) were the first sanctioned womens' games, held at the Olympic stadium before the men's games. These began in the 6th century BC, and like the men's games, consisted only of foot races.

    • Atalanta never competed in the Olympics, though she was well known for competing with men. She took part in the Calydonian boarhunt and was the first to draw blood, though the kill was awarded to Meleager, who promptly gave the boar's skin to her. She is also famous for refusing to marry until a man beat her in a footrace. She was eventually beaten through trickery.