- “Megara. My friends call me Meg. At least, they would if I had any friends.”
Megara (better known as Meg) is the tritagonist of Disney's 1997 animated feature film, Hercules. A snarky "femme fatale", Meg once served as a reluctant minion of Hades, to whom she was indebted. Having endured a troubled past, Meg developed a cynical disposition, her only goal being to rescind her bind and live a life of solitude. Her outlook would slowly start to change upon meeting Hercules, whose genuine innocence would prove there was still good in the world.
In her youth, Meg was romantic and open to giving love. She deeply cherished the relationship she shared with her boyfriend, who one day lost his life. To save him, she sold her soul and offered servitude to Hades, God of the Underworld. Her boyfriend was revived, as agreed, but he heartlessly left Meg for another woman shortly thereafter. Since then, she's had trouble trusting others and finding the courage to love again. Having become jaded and cynical as a result of her past, Meg upheld her end of the bargain by assisting Hades in his quest to take over the cosmos. According to a brief exchange, however, Hades held some amount of sympathy for Meg's plight and was open to subtracting years from her sentence based on her performances in the field.
Megara is a character that originates from Greek mythology, the wife of Heracles. The Disney iteration loosely took from this by casting Megara as Hercules' love interest, the Lois Lane to Hercules' Superman. Her personality was greatly inspired by actress Barbara Stanwyck, specifically her roles in 1940s comedies such as The Lady Eve and Ball of Fire.
Ken Duncan was Meg's supervising animator; the animator that was initially given the assignment had left the studio to work for DreamWorks early in production on Hercules. Gerald Scarfe and Duncan looked to Greek pottery to figure out the shape of Meg's body. Animators also looked to Susan Egan's body gestures during recording sessions to add nuance to Meg's animation.
Susan Egan began auditioning for roles in Disney animated features as early as Beauty and the Beast, released in 1991. She was ironically cast as Belle in the theatre adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, a role that nearly tarnished her chances of portraying Meg; because the two characters were so vastly different from each other. However, the casting team could not find anyone suitable for the role of Meg and allowed Egan to audition despite any previous hesitation. Though voice actors typically record their dialogue separately, Egan actually shared some of her recording sessions with Tate Donovan and James Woods, who voiced Hercules and Hades, respectively.
Meg is a free-spirited, independent, and quick-witted woman who is also hurt and bitter due to having her heart broken by her boyfriend in the past.
She is also cynical, snarky, and world-weary, making her atypical among Disney's lead females. She plays enough of a heroic part in the movie to be classed as a heroine, rather than just a romantic interest.
Meg has a very low opinion of men in general since most of her experiences with them have been negative. While Hercules falls for her at first sight, far from falling for him on the spot, she seduces him with her good looks, and then she dismisses him as putting on an 'innocent farm boy routine' and it is not until they spend actual time together that she begins to develop feelings for him.
Meg is afraid of heights, but overcomes her fear at the end of the film in order to save Hercules.
In their first meeting in the episode Hercules and the Aetolian Amphora, Meg wants to forget all about her ex-boyfriend (later shown to be Prince Adonis) and shows very little to no remorse, but manipulate the young Hercules into helping her steal a jar of Lethe water.
Her attire is almost identical in this episode, except that her skirt is much shorter. At the end of the episode, her memory is wiped, explaining how she and Hercules met 'for the first time' in the movie.
Megara has a slender body with long, dark brown hair tied into a high ponytail, with its most notable feature being the curly fringes on its tip. She has purple eyes with lavender eyelids. She wears a lavender Greek dress with golden straps, a long skirt with the hem ending just above her orange-sandaled feet, and two purple sashes; a tight one under her bust to give her a tiny waist and a loosened one tied at her right side by a golden spiral pendant around her wide hips.
In the film, Meg sold her soul to Hades in order to save the life of her beloved boyfriend, who she was madly in love with. But shortly afterward he left her for some other woman, abandoning her and leaving her heartbroken and a prisoner of Hades. This leaves Meg feeling trapped, and she vowed to never fall in love again and became embittered towards men. She is first introduced when she is being harassed by Nessus, who shows perverse interest in her. Meg had attempted to recruit him in Hades's uprising. However, Hercules steps in on her behalf and saves her by defeating Nessus. Afterward, Hercules tries to strike up a conversation with Meg, only to stammer throughout their first meeting, though it does little, but mildly amuse her. Following Hercules's departure, Meg is encountered by Hades, who adds two years to Meg's sentence as a result of her failure, leading her to throw the blame on Hercules, whom Hades thought was killed years ago after ordering his lackeys, Pain and Panic, to dispose of him. Megara is then recruited in Hades' resurrected ambition to destroy Hercules.
In the city of Thebes, Meg shows up again frantically telling Hercules about two little boys (actually Pain and Panic) trapped under a rock slide. As Hercules races to the rescue, lifting a heavy boulder above his head, Meg was amazed and astounded while a crowd of Thebans seemed unimpressed. While Hades watches excitedly from high above the canyon, Meg has a guilty look on her face as Hercules is forced to battle the Hydra, which has been set up as a fixed contest by Hades to kill the young hero. Grimacing, Meg clutches her throat as the beast initially swallows Hercules whole. After a rockslide occurs, which buried the multi-headed monster under a mountain of rocks and seems to have killed Hercules, Meg mourned her role in the death of the innocent young hero. However, Hercules emerges from the dead Hydra's claw, and Meg is shown to be, for the first time, impressed by his determination and selflessness as she claps her hands. From that point forward, Hercules goes on a winning streak against all of Hades's monsters and becomes a famous hero, Hades resorts to deciding to use Meg as a pawn to find out Hercules's weakness. Although she refuses the job at first, Hades gets her to agree by promising her freedom if she succeeds or if not, her soul will stay with Hades forever. Thus, she pays Hercules a visit and manipulates him into going out with her. By the end of the day, Meg has clearly fallen for Hercules. Phil and Pegasus find them and interrupt it and drag Hercules home, though not before he gives her a flower. Meg then realizes her feelings for him and tries to deny it to herself.
Hades then comes in, asking Meg for Hercules's weakness. Meg responds by hotly refusing to aid Hades any further, to which Hades fiercely responds by declaring his ownership of her. Despite being bound to Hades, however, Meg is steadfast in protecting Hercules due to her love for him. She then proudly declares that Hades's plot is doomed to failure as Hercules has no weakness, but by observing her purely intense and close romantic feelings towards the hero, Hades comes to realize that Meg is Hercules's weakness. Hades interrupts Hercules's training and uses a bound and gagged Meg to try to get Hercules to give up his strength for twenty-four hours in return for Meg's safety. The gagged Meg tries to talk against the deal, but to no avail—Hercules accepts the offer on the condition that Meg is safe from any harm during Hades's purge. Hades agrees, but reveals to Hercules that Meg was working for him the entire time, much to her shame and Hercules' surprise.
Deeply heartbroken, the now severely weakened Hercules loses the will to fight the Cyclops that Hades unleashes upon him. Meg finds and unties Pegasus and battles her fear of heights to find Phil, persuading him to come back and help Hercules regain his self-confidence and bravery. After Hercules manages to defeat the Cyclops using his wits, Meg sees a pillar about to collapse on him and, in a moment of selflessness, leaps to push him out of the way. Unfortunately, she is crushed by the pillar instead, sustaining huge internal injuries. This breaks Hades's contract, meaning that Hercules regains his strength. When Hercules asks why Meg would do something so dangerous, she finally admits that she loves him, stating, "People always do crazy things... when they're in love". Touched by her equally strong and genuine romantic feelings for him, Hercules promises Meg that she will survive and leaves her in Phil's care while he goes to stop Hades from taking over Mount Olympus.
After saving Olympus, Hercules races back to be with Meg rather than chasing Hades, but arrives seconds after she has passed away from her injuries (after the Fates cut her Thread of Life), much to his and Phil's woe. He then travels to the Underworld and strikes a deal with Hades, trading his freedom for her life. Hades accepts and allows Hercules a chance to enter the River Styx to retrieve Megara's spirit. His sacrifice grants him the status of a "true hero", turning him into a god and allowing him to rescue Meg without dying in the process. Hades is subsequently defeated, and Megara's spirit is returned to her body. After she awakens, Hercules confesses his love for Megara just before the two are brought to enter Olympus on a cloud, where she, being mortal, cannot follow. Meg starts to leave, not before congratulating "Wonder Boy" and says that he'll make a good god. However, Hercules gives up his chance to be a god on Mount Olympus in order to live a complete mortal life on Earth with her, as he claims that life without Meg, even an immortal life, would be empty. Hercules and Megara share their first kiss, officially declaring their love. Everyone celebrates, and Megara and Pegasus establish a much better relationship where Pegasus has now hugely warmed up to her; whereas, in the beginning, he did not like her at all. Afterward, Hercules, Megara, and their friends return to Earth and witness Zeus making a constellation of Hercules in the sky. Meg goes on to live a happy and joyous life with Hercules as his beloved wife.
Due to the fact that the television series is set back before Hercules met Meg, she only appears in the series twice as a special featured appearance, first as a teenager and then as an adult.
Her first appearance is in "Hercules and the Aetolian Amphora" in which she meets Hercules, offering a chance to prove himself as a hero. Having him retrieve her the amphora so she can use it to forget about Adonis after she had a blind date with him that went badly (although it is unlikely that he is the boyfriend mentioned in the film). Although Hercules and Meg retrieve the amphora from Ares' sons, Meg leaves Hercules to escape. She is immediately taken to the Underworld by Pain and Panic; Hercules, despite her betrayal, goes after her. During a fight for the amphora, Meg tells Hercules that she liked him from the start. They almost share a romantic kiss, but the amphora's water is dropped on them, causing them to forget how they met, and reinforcing the fact that Hercules and Meg never established any true romance until the film once the two have grown up into adults.
Her second appearance is in "Hercules and the Yearbook", a clip show episode which shows she, now married to Hercules, finds his old yearbook and looks back on some of his school misadventures. At the end of the episode, Hermes grabbed hold of Meg's own yearbook and it was revealed that she was a cheerleader and in the glee club with a funny hairstyle.
Meg is a frequent guest in House of Mouse, often appearing alongside Hercules. In the episode "Everybody Loves Mickey", Meg was seen commenting to Hercules on one of Mickey's cartoons by stating: "Did you see Mickey in that cartoon? Now that is a hero." In the episode "Pete's Christmas Caper", Mortimer Mouse tries to get who he thought was Meg to kiss him under a mistletoe, but it instead turns out to be Clarabelle Cow wearing a wig.
Meg appeared on the show, portrayed by Kacey Rohl. She appeared in the episode "Labor of Love". In it, she was being chased by the three-headed hellhound, Cerberus, and ran into Hercules, who tried to defeat the beast while she ran. Unfortunately, they both died.
She is later found in the woods by Emma Swan and Regina Mills, who then bring her to safety. She gives them the message. Later, the beast breaks into the apartment, prompting them to run. A frightened Meg hides behind a broken clock tower, Mary Margaret Blanchard and Hercules find her seconds before Cerberus. They then hide in the library. Knowing they need to defeat the hellhound by attacking all three heads at once, Herc hands her his dagger. Frightened at first, Meg musters up the courage to fight and wins with them. The excitement almost makes her faint, but Hercules holds her up and a moment is shared between them. At the Underworld version of Granny's Diner, Megara and Hercules remember their brief encounter. Hercules feels responsible for having failed to protect her back then, but Meg says he made up for it now. They then say their goodbyes to the heroes and ascend to Mount Olympus hand-in-hand.
- “We wish to help you," Megara said in a silky voice. She looked directly at Jess's leg. She was possibly the most beautiful of all the characters the girls had ever encountered in person. "Telephus, son of Hercules, is here in spirit.”
- ―An exchange from Kingdom Keepers
Meg appears in the sixth installment of the series. She meets Amanda and Jess when they cross over into Disney's Hollywood Studios. She also has learned magic, as she heals Jess's wound.
Meg appears in the Kingdom Hearts series as a supporting character in her homeworld "Olympus Coliseum".
In Kingdom Hearts II, Meg is first seen being attacked by a pack of dog-like Heartless, only to be saved by Sora, Donald, and Goofy. According to Meg, she was heading over to Hades' quarters in hopes of convincing the god to allow Hercules times to rest, as the hero has been constantly pushing him far too hard in order to fend off The Lord of the Dead's goons. Even so, Hercules, himself, claims he's just fine, and assures Meg not to worry, though it doesn't do much to ease her tension.
Meanwhile, Hades plots with invader Pete on a new way to permanently eliminate Hercules and decides to do so by re-opening the Underdome coliseum. To do so, however, he needs the use of Sora's Keyblade and kidnaps Meg in order to lure him to the Underworld to do so. While rescuing Meg, however, the Hydra destroys Olympus Coliseum, submerging Hercules into depression, as he believes he's failed as a hero. With Hercules out of commission, Meg offers to help Sora battle and does alongside Phil and Pegasus. After the Coliseum is saved, Meg assures Sora she'll take care of Hercules as he rests and recovers.
During the second visit, Hercules is forced to battle in the Underdome in order to save Meg and eventually sacrifices himself to save her after Hades threw her into the River Styx out of spite. This act granted Hercules the strength of a deity, and with Sora, he battles and defeats Hades. She is last seen with Sora, Donald, Goofy, Hercules, and Phil, as the star constellations dub them "True Heroes". In the game's credits, she watches as the Coliseum is fully rebuilt and then witness wisps moving around when Auron returned to the Underworld.
Meg returns in Kingdom Hearts III, but plays a relatively smaller role than in Kingdom Hearts II. She arrives with Pegasus and Phil to see Hercules alright while commenting on Thebes being set ablaze from the Heartless attack and thanks Sora, Donald, and Goofy for helping out. Hercules tells Meg to go find someplace safe while scouting around the area for any survivors in Thebes before flying off with Pegasus and Phil. Later after the trio and Hercules defeat the Rock troll Heartless, Megara informs Hercules that everyone in Thebes is safe, but soon grows concerned when the clouds on Mt. Olympus darken. After defeating the Titans, Sora, Donald, and Goofy feel saddened about Hercules on leaving Olympus behind, though he assures them that he can visit it anytime he wants, but realizes his life would be empty without Meg. Meg, who is waiting at the front entrance to Olympus for Hercules, embraces him.
In the game's credits, Meg surprises Hercules with a reconstruction of his statue in Thebes while the townsfolk applaud him for his efforts.
Megara appears in the game as a playable character, although she does not have a basic attack, she uses an object to scratch and give energy to the heroes and her abilities are the same as they appear in the movie.
Meg appears as a walk-around character at the Disney parks, though she is semi-rare.
In Fantasmic!, Meg appeared in the Walt Disney World version of the show on board the Steamboat Willie riverboat, but has since disappeared from the show. She sometimes appears in the finale nowadays.
As far as meet-and-greet goes, Meg is an extreme rarity. She appears mostly at this resort, as she is currently reserved mainly for special events. Notably appearing with Hades, Pain, and Panic at the Magic Kingdom for the park's "Rock Your Disney Side" 24-hour event. She has also been known to make "random" appearances at Epcot, however, this is now increasingly rare.
Notably, Meg appeared with Hades, Pain, Panic, and other Disney Villains during the "Unleash the Villains", re-named "Villains Unleashed" event at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2013 and 2014 as Hades' co-host.
She was also a playable character in the now-removed Hercules in the Underworld attraction/game at DisneyQuest.
She's also made a few appearances at Disneyland Paris. At times for special events, and others on a random basis during winter.
Unlike Tinker Bell, Esmeralda, Jane Porter, and Kida who entered the franchise, but were later removed, there was never evidence proving that Meg joined the franchise at some point. The consensus is more likely that she was a "princess test", like Alice, being present in some products:
- Princess Collection 2.
- Disney Princess Sing Along Songs: Once Upon a Dream.
- Disney Princess Pins from DisneyShopping.com.
It is not known whether there was any intent to include Megara in the franchise.
The disclosure to the D23 Expo 2013, Meg was cited as a "Disney Princess" and Susan Egan was confirmed to be at the event. It was also announced that there will be the presentation of previews for Disney products, which led to rumors that Meg could be entered into the franchise. Responding to a fan via email, the production of the D23 Expo 2013 said the matter could not be discussed at the event. On August 21, Meg was seen along with Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Tiana, Belle, and Merida in Walt Disney World, doing poses for photos.
Differences from the source material
While there are many similarities between Megara in the source material and Megara in the Disney version, there are also many differences:
- In Greek mythology, Megara was the oldest daughter of Creon, king of Thebes.
- Megara was offered by her father to Hercules because he defended Thebes.
- She had two children, a boy, and a girl, but was killed with both of them by Hercules in his madness caused by Hera.
- In some sources, it is said that Megara was also killed by Hercules, while for others it is said that she was given to Iolaus.
- In some myths, Hercules felt so guilty for the death of Megara that this was the motive he had for performing the twelve labors, as his repentance.
- Meg's hair is drawn in such a way that it never covers her face, regardless of the camera angle. This was inspired by a similar technique that is used when animating Mickey Mouse's ears.
- During the making of Hercules, Susan Egan broke her foot while performing onstage for Beauty and the Beast. One of her recording sessions had to be rescheduled as a result. By the time Egan returned to the studio, Ken Duncan had sketched a drawing of Meg bearing a broken toe with the caption, "That's the last time I let Herc rub my feet."
- Meg originally had a love ballad titled "I Can't Believe My Heart". After Susan Egan recorded the song with a full orchestra, Alan Menken and the directors decided that Meg shouldn't be a ballad girl and the song was removed and replaced with "I Won't Say (I'm In Love)".
- Meg's family relations differ very much between the movie and the original myths. Where some relatives are her step-in-laws (such as Hera) and some are her half-siblings-in-law (Apollo, Ares, Hephaestus, Hermes, Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena, and in some versions Nemesis) or her full siblings-in-law.
- While in the Disney version Amphytryon and Alcmene are her adopted father-in-law and adopted mother-in-law, in the original myths Alcmene was her mother-in-law and Amphytryon was her stepfather-in-law.
- Meg is recognized for her unusually purple-colored eyes. Originally, they were intended to be blue, but were changed to purple as film production progressed.
- Meg is known for her unique appearance, which differs from the "traditional" Disney style of animation. She has thick hair, a very slender waist, lengthy eyebrows, and a more angular stature.
- At the end of Hercules' end credits, a thank you to the entire team is slotted in, which includes one of Meg's signature lines, "It's been a real slice".
- Megara was the first heroine since Belle to have the same voice actress do her speaking and singing voice.
- Although she is an unofficial Disney Princess, Megara actually was a princess in Greek Mythology and is also a princess by marriage since she married Hercules in the TV series.
- Meg's last full speaking line in Hercules is "Congratulations, Wonder Boy. You'll make one heck of a god." The last word she says in Hercules is "Look" during "A Star Is Born".
- For an unknown reason, on the cover of the VHS Cassette bow for Hercules, Megara has a magenta dress (instead of lavender) and dark brown hair (as opposed to auburn).
- Megara's eyes were originally planned to be colored blue, and this idea is supported by Phil's original line after Hercules defeats Nessus and saves her "Next time, don't let your guard down because of a pair of big blue eyes" as heard in the film's teaser trailer found on the 1996 VHS release of Toy Story. In the final version of the film, her eyes are colored purple, and therefore Phil's line in that scene in question has been changed slightly to "Next time, don't let your guard down because of a pair of big goo-goo eyes."
- Megara was supposed to appear in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, but was removed due to space restrictions. Her profile sprite was found through codes.
- Megara is one of the favorite Disney characters of Matt Braly, who is the creator and executive producer of the Disney animated series Amphibia.
- Megara is the name of a town in Greece.
- Megara is one out of the five unofficial Disney Princesses to get a Classic doll at the Disney store in 2020, alongside Alice, Wendy Darling, Tinker Bell, and Esmeralda.