- “Thebes has certainly gone downhill in a hurry.”
- ―Lumpy Woman
Role in the film
The Thebans first appeared in the film complaining about how Thebes was in a downfall so fast, bringing up earthquakes, fires, floods, as well as the crime rate and new monsters wreaking havoc to the city. Supposedly, everything was lost in the fire except a man's cat named "Snowball" with both burnt and singed. When Hercules first approaches them offering the need for a hero, they didn't think Hercules is really a hero, showing their doubt and suspicion of him with various looks of anger, sarcasm, and hesitation. However, when Meg tells Hercules of two boys trapped in a gorge by a rockslide, they followed Hercules to the nearby canyon as the young hero rescued two boys (actually Pain and Panic in disguise), and as Hercules struggled with lifting the large boulder trapping the boys, the Thebans still showed suspicion and doubt. When Hercules succeeded in lifting the boulder and saving the boys, the Thebans were only slightly impressed, offering some light applause, but were still wary. The crowd scream in horror as the Hydra emerges to fight Hercules. When Hercules cut off the Hydra's head off after the monster ate him, that impressed the crowd enough to where they offered better applause and even started to show some respect for Hercules as they smiled at his accomplishment. It wasn't until Hercules apparently sacrificed himself to bury the Hydra in a rockslide and kill it outright that the Thebans began to reconsider being so harsh on Hercules before. When Hercules emerged from the Hydra's claw still alive but very badly bruised and battered, the Thebans stared in total dumbstruck shock for a few seconds before erupting in furious cheers and applause as Hercules had proven to them, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was a true hero, and one they could rely on as they carried him away on their shoulders in triumph.
They kept cheering him on even when he kept saving them from other monstrosities sent by Hades to destroy him. When Hades sent the Cyclops to kill Hercules after taking away his strength for 24 hours, as the Cyclops laid siege to Thebes, the Thebans could do little but hide and wonder where Hercules was, knowing that he would come and save them as he had proven countless times before after earning their respect with the Hydra fight. When Hercules does show up, they are first relieved, but when Hercules is quickly given a beating by the Cyclops due to being without his strength, the Thebans are deeply worried for him and fear the worst, such as going back to their original lives before Hercules came into them. After Hercules defeats the Cyclops, saves Mount Olympus from the other Titans, and rescued Meg's soul from the River Styx, he returns to Thebes to a hero's welcome as the Thebans welcome him back with Alcmene and Amphitryon, and bear witness as Zeus forms Hercules' picture in the stars, fulfilling Phil's long-time wish to train a hero that even the gods would honor in the heavens, earning Phil the respect of the Thebans as well after their earlier ridicule of him.
Back when they thought Hercules was a nobody, a few Thebans like the man with singed hair briefly recalled Philoctetes as the "goat man" who trained Achilles and the tall Theban began mocking him about Achilles' heel up to the point where Phil loses his temper and starts attacking him. The heavyset woman then stated they needed a "professional hero" and "not an amateur." At the end of the movie, the tall Theban was the one to say: "That's Phil's Boy!" when watching Hercules' picture being hung in the stars by Zeus as part of Phil's dream, which finally came true.
- According to the film's junior novelization, each of the initial group of Thebans Hercules meets have been identified as a "lumpy woman", "fat man", "thin woman", "old man", and "man with singed hair". While the burnt man appeared, his cat Snowball was not mentioned.