Philoctetes, Hercules’s hero trainer, did not have an easy go of things. Sure, his credits included big names—Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus, and even Achilles—but none of them went all the way. Phil was a man with one dream: to train the greatest hero that ever was, so great that the gods would hang a picture of him in the stars. However, Phil was known mostly for training runner-ups, guys who crumbled at the finish line (or when their heel got hurt).
Nobody knows much about Phil’s life between the Achilles debacle and when he met Hercules, but when we first encounter him, he is jaded, bitter, and pretty down on his luck. Phil is fiery angry when Hercules first approaches him (the fact that Herc almost breaks his hand doesn’t help), and does not want one thing to do with the demi-god du jour. We get it—a guy can only take so much disappointment. However, an appeal from Herc on following dreams (and a thunderbolt of a message from Zeus) changes Phil’s mind.
Phil begrudgingly starts training Hercules, and all his hopes are placed on this farm-boy wonderkid, who supposedly had a god for a father. There are quite a few bumps along the way, including:
… but eventually, this farm boy goes from Zero to Hero, for real. See?
Things are comin’ up Phil and Herc, until the winning duo splits over a spat about Megara and her (alleged) allegiance to the bad guys. Phil flees, the all-too-familiar feeling of regret washing over him, until—luckily—Megara finds him and tells him Herc may not make it. Here, Phil faces a choice: walk away from an almost certain defeat or put his faith in a hero one last time. Miraculously, Phil decides to give his destiny one last shot, and against all odds (and the Titans), Hercules emerges victorious.
And Phil? He gets the redemption he deserves, and his dream comes true, down to his most precious wish–hearing these words:
Philoctetes, you did it. You will always be known as Hercules’s right hand goat-man, trainer of heroes, creator of victory. You go, Phil.