It’s no secret anymore that most of the stories in Greek mythology exist simply because Zeus can’t resist his urges. Still, it’s probably for the best, since without his urges, television would not have graced its viewers with some timeless tales about the dysfunction of the gods and their favored human champions.
Needless to say, Greek mythology is a favorite source material of modern media due to how poetic, tragic, and philosophical it can be. Even something as seemingly harmless as having an illegitimate child or getting lost in a return journey home changes dramatically when the gods take notice. These TV shows ought to prove that Greek mythology is the real eternally inspiring fire that justifies the torture of Prometheus.
Updated by Kristy Ambrose on March 22nd, 2021: The ancient Greek aesthetic is experiencing a resurgence in popular culture. Fans are excited about new shows with a modern interpretation of Greek mythology and old shows that use a more traditional environment are also experiencing some renewed interest. We’ve put four more entries on this list to reflect both trends, and just to show that this has always been a thing, there’s a mix of vintage and contemporary entries.
14 Blood of Zeus (2020)
The latest among the Greek mythology shows is none other than Netflix’s Blood of Zeus. It’s a made-up tale of a Greek hero but follows a template similar to the story of Theseus. Blood of Zeus follows the coming of age of a man named Heron who, like most fabled Greek myth heroes, is an illegitimate love child of a god, namely Zeus.
It’s not just Heron’s journey the show gives focus to, but also the brewing drama between Zeus and Hera, the latter of which was vengefully bitter regarding her husband’s affair. This set off an intertwined plot that eventually culminates into an epic inter-family war in Olympus.
13 Xena: Warrior Princess (1995)
A classic from the 1990s that still enjoys an enthusiastic fanbase, Xena travels in the same circles as Hercules. In fact, she started as a character on that show and was so popular that she got her own spinoff. Like the original series, Xena was also based in a world that mixes real historic events, people, and places with fantastic elements from ancient mythology. The show eventually surpassed Hercules in popularity and generated a loyal and enthusiastic fanbase along with a lot of positive recognition from critics.
12 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995)
Most people who grew up in the 1990s likely have fond memories of Hercules (or Herakles) no matter which version he assumes. He’s initially what every boy aspires to be when they grow up and before Disney reintroduced the character to the world, there was Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
It’s a campy trip down memory lane and while the show doesn’t necessarily bode well for the critical palate, it’s still enjoyable enough especially back in its heyday. Besides, it’s a TV show about a guy whose main strength is his, well, strength. Hercules isn’t exactly known to be the brightest among the demigods either and that makes him all the more of a relatable character.
11 Class Of The Titans (2005)
Not to be confused the Ray Harryhausen’s epic or the remake, Class of the Titans is a cartoon from 2005 that’s quite similar to the Percy Jackson books and movies. It’s a contemporary adaptation of Greek mythology where the supposed descendants of the gods are walking among mere modern mortals.
It’s a kid’s show, of course, and adults might find it a bit too sterile for their taste but when it comes to introducing children to the wonderful world of Greek mythology (albeit with tons of sugarcoating) then, one can’t go wrong with Class of the Titans.
10 Atlantis (2013)
When it comes to educational shows, BBC proves it won’t lag behind and network loyalists will be pleased to know that it has its own serving of semi-informative adventure title called Atlantis. As the title implies, the whole show takes place in the fictional city in the Greek myth.
A man named Jason somehow got transported several centuries back into the city at its prime after a deep-sea expedition goes awry. A word of warning is in order though: despite the title, the series doesn’t really have much to do with Atlantis as we know it. It just uses some of the familiar and established names in history to spin its own tale that’s similar enough to Greek mythologies.
9 Cupid (2009)
A modern comedic romance that relies on an old legend, Cupid is a revival of a series that aired in 1998. Some basic changes were made, like changing the setting from Chicago to New York, the former having more of a romantic reputation, and also to cash in on the Sex and the City trend.
The basic premise is that the main character just might be the human incarnation of the ancient god and he has a quest to unite 100 couples before returning to Olympus. Although the show’s title uses the Roman name of the god, the main character’s alias, Ed Ross, is a derivation of the Greek name Eros and the name are often used interchangeably.
8 Hercules: The Animated Series (1998)
There’s not much argument that Disney did Hercules better than the 1995 show and made him a more charismatic character as well as a Disney prince. Now, the movie actually did a huge time jump and pretty much skipped Hercules’ progress but the 1998 cartoon series, Hercules: The Animated Series fixes that but makes several contradictions to the film’s timeline.
This show explores the unexplored period where Phil was training Hercules to become a hero and mercenary. That goes to show that montages aren’t all that and it actually takes plenty of time before one can achieve an Olympian physique.
7 Clash Of The Gods (2009)
Turns out History Channel has its own offering for those who might be less inclined to read up on Greek mythology books for particular reasons. They made it a mission to make some compelling visual aids for when Zeus and his siblings fought the titans and many other events.
These events include Medusa’s creation and even the Trojan War. All the stories are told in a stylized VFX similar to the one popularized by films like 300. It might be too 3D or animated for some but anyone looking to enrich their knowledge of Greek mythology ought to be interested.
6 Olympus (2015)
Olympus is pretty similar in theme and story to Netflix’s Blood of Zeus though it existed five years earlier and on the Syfy channel. It’s a series that tackles the story of another brave young man who may or may not be a bastard son of one of the Olympian mainstays.
Throughout the young man’s journey to find out the truth about his past, he eventually becomes a worthy challenger to the Olympians themselves. He must then lead humankind on a quest to become immortal like the gods themselves. Expect the quality of the show to be on par with other Syfy titles.
5 Saint Seiya (1986)
Better known in the English-speaking world by its localized title, Knights of the Zodiac. This vintage show from the 1980s uses characters and events from Greek mythology in animated form before Blood of Zeus made it cool. The western world was first introduced to the series when the French version surged in popularity, and it’s one of the shows that’s been remade and revised for the recent Greek Revival trend in television.
In this case, the Saints are five warriors appointed by the goddess Athena. They were recruited to fight at her side against the other gods, who are trying to conquer the world.
4 The Odyssey (1997)
The Illiad adaptations tend to play more like a regular war movie so when it comes to Greek mythology cravings from Homer, the Odyssey might be a better fit. The Odyssey TV mini-series envisions warrior-king Odysseus’ struggle to return home from Troy.
It’s one of the most faithful visual media adaptations for the said sequel to The Illiad though to be fair, it doesn’t get many films or shows compared to its predecessor. Even so, this one’s a lot less bastardized compared to The Illiad’s many adaptations and can even be used for classroom sessions.
3 Kamigami No Asobi (2014)
There’s something for everyone in Greek mythology and surprisingly, it also works well for the anime format. Kamigami No Asobi is one daring shoujo anime where the Olympians are transformed into the typical edgy anime high-schooler who doesn’t know any love for humans.
That’s not a joke. That’s really the plot— the Olympians have lost much of their touch with humanity so Zeus tasked a human girl named Yui Kusanagi to teach the Olympians about love and what it generally means to be human. Normally, that wouldn’t turn out so well for mortals but it’s anime so expect a much lighter version of Greek mythology here.
2 Wonder Woman (1976)
Audiences have been demanding a Wonder Woman movie for decades partly because Lynda Carter did such a stellar job of portraying the character in the vintage television series. The backstory of Diana Prince is the same as the movies and comic books and uses a lot of ancient Greek mythology. She’s an Amazonian princess from a secretive Greek civilization that’s been hidden for centuries. In this case, however, the Amazons are hidden in the Bermuda Triangle. That’s actually a more believable story than the one from modern films.
1 Jason And The Argonauts (2000)
One of the most popular hero stories in Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts remains an underrated adventure. So far the most popular adaptations for it are the 1963 movie and the Jason and the Argonauts miniseries of the year 2000.
The miniseries plays out much like 1997’s The Odyssey and sticks well enough to the source material. Jason, vying for the throne, must embark on a journey to find the Golden Fleece which symbolizes full authority. The catch is that he was sent on this journey by his uncle who is actually hoping that Jason would perish so that the throne remains his. As usual, the gods have other plans for Jason and have chosen him. They seem to prefer their pet champions innocent and naive.
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