Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Season 1 Episode 16

The Vanishing Dead

Aired Monday 5:00 PM Apr 24, 1995 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
51 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


A mystery drew Hercules and Iolaus to the city of Tantalus. There, the bodies of fallen warriors were disappearing from the battlefields. Hercules learned that Ares, the God of War, was to blame. After King Memnos' death, his son Daulin had assumed the throne, and Daulin's sister Poena took up arms against him. She believed Daulin had killed their father. Ares had created the entire situation merely to satisfy the appetite of his bloodthirstyDog of War, Graegus. After leashing the vicious beast, Hercules explained the truth to Daulin and Poena, bringing an end to the family war.


Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • hercules and iolaus are trying to stop a war between 2 brothers and find out why the bodies of the dead warriors are missing

    this was supposed to be an 8 but reading the previous review made me change my mind a little,this episode has a great plot,but if you read the previous review you will understand the unreasonable of the episode.Anyway the theme of hercules trying to stop a war between two brothers,knowing them since they were kids is interesting.Also the episode contains the impotance of buring the dead bodys,a thing that was refering a lot of times at the greek mythology.The fight between herc and ares was good and makes you wondering how hercules will beat ares,the way was very good.I dont find kevin's acting bad,he is into the role from the begining of the movies unlike lucy lawless,Iolaus look a bit arrogant but ok.Also the monster was a little cheap,but not big deal,is the first time we see hercules and iolaus have an interesting fight with a monster since the fight with the hydra.I thing that the battle between peace and war was well maden.The ending leaves you with a peaceful feeling that means that forgeting the unreasonable of the story,the episode was great.As wee see at all the movies the ghosts cant appear any time they want,it depends of their luck ,try and they can an some hours and places,are traped,they cannot leave the earth but neither to go to the other world.I like the episodemoreless
  • Ares' brings his Dog out for a romp.

    It's back to god's causing trouble in the 11th episode Hercules' first season "The Vanishing Dead". Ares is back again and he's bought his pet doggy with him. This isn't a cute and cuddly little pet though, the dog of war likes feeding the bodies of dead left on the battlefield. Only those consumed by Graegus aren't allowed to move on to the underworld and so the spirits walk the earth in limbo. Meanwhile, Ares has borrowed the dead body of an old friend of Hercules' (Jarton). An in the form of Jarton, he pits two siblings against each other in war. One problem I have with this is that if the spirits appear when they do to sort everything out, why couldn't the spirits have sorted it all out without Hercules? What did Hercules do besides walk around (from brother to sister) hoping two siblings he once knew as kids wouldn't kill each other? I mean "spirit Jarton" could have appeared to the siblings on his own couldn't he? Even Iolaus is little fun here. This episode (despite it being an Ares episode) just doesn't work for me.moreless
  • Hercules, with Iolaus, is asked to investigate the ghost of a deceased soldier, and wind ups finding himself battling Graegus, Ares' Dog of War, in this good concept but poorly told story, the first to be directed by Bruce Campbell...moreless

    This episode starts off really promisingly, as some villagers are visited by the ghost of a deceased relative. I found this scene really promising, and couldn't wait to find out the reason behind it. Sadly, from there, the episode fell into an unfocused mess, with several plots – a brother and sister both prepared to lead their sides to war against each other, etc. – colliding untidily with each other. The intreague of the ghosts appearing is soon lost in the unfocused mix of plots, and never fully dealt with. Things eventually do slot together, but not after the episode has become one confused mess.

    This is the first episode of the series to be directed by Bruce Campbell, star of such cult classics as 'The Evil Dead' horror trilogy, and who, of course, would soon go on to play Autolycus in both 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys' and 'Xena: Warrior Princess'. I don't know if it's down to his first time directing, or the writing (maybe a bit of both) but the telling of this episode is really choppy and reduces what was potentially an intriguing and exciting tale into a sub-average tale.

    Near the start of the episode, Iolaus makes a comment about much preferring to slay a monster than to till fields, yet goes on to spend much of the episode trying to convince a young man not to become a soldier. I have a feeling they were trying to make a point here, but I'm damned if I can deduce what it is!

    Graegus is created by CGI work, and an animatronics head for close ups. The CGI is reasonable, but far from the show's greatest, looking like something you'd expect to find in a computer game of the era.

    Part of the trouble of this story is that there are way too many plot-lines, and introduced at awkward points where they make the episode choppy and slightly confusing to watch. I disagree with the previous reviewer in that I wouldn't count this as bottom of the barrel - it is an interesting premise and does have its moments; I would personally rank the uninteresting 'The Festival of Dionysus' as the weakest of the season – but it is certainly not the strongest of the season. The fact that it falls between the excellent 'Gladiator' and 'The Unchained Heart', the second of the Xena trilogy, does it no favours either.

    The climax is exciting, with Ares (is it Ares' true body, or another person he had possessed? I wasn't quite sure), and the final scene as the ghosts are finally laid to rest, are well done, but after such a mish-mash story, it's hard to care as much as you should. Which is a real shame, because somewhere in here was a great story. It just didn't make it from paper to screen.moreless
  • Hercules and Iolaus try to prevent a civil war and save the dead from Ares' Dog of War Gragus. Unfortunately, you have to be dead yourself to enjoy this choppy episode.moreless

    This is one of the weakest episodes of the canon, certainly of the first season. The plot is all over the place, trying to deal with a civil war, a young man trying to avenge his brother, a God disguised as an old friend of Hercules, a pair of comic mercenaries, and a new monster for Hercules to fight, and Iolaus' attempt to get recognition as a hero in his own right. They couldn't do justice to any of these storylines, so instead they gave us superficial scraps of everything, apparently with the hope that the sum of the parts would add up to something greater than the parts themselves. This is wishful thinking, however But this episode was a problem in another important area, and that is acting. This episode is absolutely full of stilted, wooden acting in the secondary and tertiary roles. Even Kevin Sorbo had more difficulty than usual making Hercules sounding other than preachy and full of clichés. A disappointment on every score, except the introduction of Ares in the flesh, though not yet the flesh we will grow to love in Kevin Smith. When being Ares the actor playing Jarton finally comes to life a little, delivering witty lines with the aplomb of Kevin Smith. Too little, too late to save the episode from being a waste of time better spent on other episodes.moreless
Reb Brown

Reb Brown


Guest Star

Stephen Hall

Stephen Hall

Lead Soldier

Guest Star

Jon Brazier

Jon Brazier

Second Mercenary

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions