Although he is a master thief and a skilled fighter, he is often described as having 'a heart of gold'. He has a code that he will never kill, although he was nearly driven to break that code when he came up against the man who killed his brother. He's a great escape artist, capable of escaping 200 chain locks in less than a night.
Autolycus never met his father Hermes. His mother died when he was very young, so he was raised by his older brother, Malacus. As an adult, Malacus was tricked out of his land by a merchant named Tarsus. Malacus protested the injustice, but Tarsus then had him murdered – a crime that was blatantly ignored by law enforcement. Autolycus avenged his brother by robbing Tarsus blind and giving the spoils to the poor. As a result, Autolycus became an outlaw, but he never forgets the good that Malacus had done for him. Autolycus also told once by a twin sister, but the name is unknown.
Autolycus tried to plunder the Quallus Collection in his youth but failed because of King Quallus' superior security systems. Years later, a more seasoned Autolycus disguised himself as a statue of Hermes in the collection itself. He waited until the guards had left for the night and then proceeded to steal the Kronos Stone. When Autolycus discovered that the Kronos Stone could take him back in time he planned to go back and steal the Quallus Collection with fore-knowledge of the security. He did in fact go back in time and encountered his younger self who proved to be too obnoxious and egotistical to work with (HTLJ "The End of the Beginning").
Autolycus appeared in 8 episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess and 10 episodes in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (a total of 18 episodes).
Autolycus was supposed to make no appearances on XWP after its second season because the producers wanted to reduce the reliance on crossovers and expand the supporting character roster of both series. As a result, Autolycus and Salmoneus were to be restricted to HTLJ, while Joxer and Callisto were restricted to XWP. However, Autolycus's popularity caused him to appear in both seasons 3 and 4.
In mythology, Autolycus was the son of Hermes. He was the maternal grandfather of Jason and of Ulysses, through his daughters Polymede and Anticlea, respectfully. It was Autolycus who taught a young Heracles how to wrestle. A different Autolycus was counted among the Argonauts.