Xanatos Tag

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The Xanatos Tag was a staple of the series both on television and in the comic books. [1] Often it would seem like Goliath and his clan won the night only for the audience to learn that the villain of the episode, usually David Xanatos, achieved victory.

Notable Xanatos Tags

  • "The Thrill of the Hunt" - Although the Pack had been defeated, we learn that Xanatos created the Pack and that he wanted to test them and Goliath. He was pleased with the results.
  • "The Edge" - While Xanatos failed to capture the gargoyles or locate their new home, he still successfully tested his new prototype battle exo-frame, recovered the Eye of Odin and still had the city owe him a favor. All in all he was assured that he had not lost his edge.
  • "Leader of the Pack" - The Pack had failed to defeat the gargoyles, but that never mattered – Xanatos had no interest in revenge and the Pack's escape was engineered to give Fox a shot at an early parole and test out the robot, Coyote 1.0.
  • "Metamorphosis" - While the Mutates escaped, Xanatos was successful in transforming Derek Maza into Talon and making sure he'd keep them under his thumb. Anton Sevarius also remains in his employ, unbeknownst to the Mutates.
  • "Legion" - Xanatos awoke the comatose Coldstone and sent him to invade Golden Cup thus providing cover for the police to send in RECAP in an attempt to download the defense specs Coldstone was stealing. While the defense specs weren't recovered, a powerful computer virus that Xanatos could use as a weapon was.
  • "Upgrade" - The upgraded Pack may have been defeated and Xanatos may have lost his chess game with Fox, but he was thrilled to have found in her an equal.
  • "New Rules" - Xanatos successfully engineered Goliath's Hearing to go the way he wanted thanks to a bribe he had provided to Judge Roebling.

Non-Xanatos Tags

However, Xanatos isn't the only villain who earns such moments.

Production Background

Greg Weisman has written that the idea and appeal of the Xanatos Tag was his "desire not to undercut our lead villains. Villains get tiresome when they lose all the time. And heroes are pointless if they lose all the time . . . But if a hero wins the battle and then we secretly reveal (in our patented Xanatos tags) that he may still be losing the war, then that keeps both sides interesting." [2] He also appreciated the ambiguity that Xanatos might be "just full of it. He loses, but claims victory anyway." [3]

On TV Tropes, a wiki devoted to cataloging and defining various writing "tropes", the Xanatos Gambit was named for David Xanatos's signature style of turning any defeat into a victory. Before long, "Xanatos" became a standard modifier for pages relating to devious planning (i.e. "Xanatos Roulette" for a Gambit gone out of control, or "Xanatos Sucker" for the person being manipulated), culminating in a sub-section of such tropes being titled, "Xanatos Planned This Index".