Kevin Sorbo was born in Mound, Minnesota, where he attended Mound Westonka High School. He is the son of Ardis, a nurse, and Lynn Sorbo, a junior high school mathematics and biology teacher. His father is of Norwegian descent, while his mother has English, German and Scottish ancestry. He was raised in a Lutheran family. Sorbo attended Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he double majored in marketing and advertising. To help make tuition, he began to work as a model for print and television advertising.
In the mid 1980s, Sorbo started working as a model for print and television advertising and worked in over 150 commercials by 1993. His acting career began with guest appearances in several television series such as Santa Barbara, 1st & Ten, Murder She Wrote and The Commish. He was considered for and lost out to Dean Cain as Superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and was a possible contender for the role of Agent Mulder in The X Files which went to David Duchovny. He appeared in a popular series of international TV ads for Jim Beam bourbon whiskey, known for Sorbo's repeated catchphrase "It ain't Jim Beam".
In 1994, he got his breakthrough leading role of Hercules in the television film Hercules and the Amazon Women which aired on April 25, 1994. This was the first of a series of television films which aired during the year and was followed by the hugely successful syndicated television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys which ran from January 1995 to November 1999 and lasted for 111 episodes. Sorbo also directed two episodes of the series during its run. The success of the show spawned the popular spin-off series Xena: Warrior Princess in which Sorbo also guest starred. In 1998, he voiced Hercules in the spin-off direct-to-video animated film Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus.. After Hercules came to an end in 1999, Sorbo reprised the role for a final appearance in the Xena: Warrior Princess season five episode "God Fearing Child" which aired in 2000.
In between the years playing Hercules, he played his first leading film role in Kull the Conqueror (1997). After Hercules came to an end, Sorbo played the starring role of Captain Dylan Hunt in the science-fiction drama series Andromeda from 2000 to 2005. In 2006, he played a recurring role on the final season of The O.C. and guest-starred in the sitcom Two and a Half Men. In 2007, he starred in the direct-to-video film Walking Tall: The Payback, which was a sequel to the 2004 film Walking Tall. He reprised his role in the second sequel, Walking Tall: Lone Justice which released later that year. He also starred in the Lifetime Channel film Last Chance Café, the Hallmark Channel film Avenging Angel, co-starring his real life wife Sam Jenkins and guest starred as a bounty hunter in the season-two episode "Bounty Hunters!" of the series Psych. He appeared in the 2008 spoof film Meet the Spartans, which was a box office success despite being universally negatively reviewed by critics. He starred in the Albert Pyun directed science fiction vampire film Tales of an Ancient Empire.
He served as Executive Producer and star of the movie Abel's Field in 2012. In 2012, Sorbo appeared in an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories to recount an experience he had while in Minnesota shortly after he graduated from college. He and his girlfriend claimed to have seen the ghost of the "Bride of White Rock Lake" – a woman who supposedly died on her wedding day, murdered by a former lover.
Sorbo voiced one of the main protagonists, Prometheus, in the Wii video game The Conduit. Sorbo returned to the role of Hercules in a more sinister portrayal, in the video game God of War III, which was released for the PlayStation 3 in March 2010.
In July 2013, Sorbo, along with his wife, Sam, provided voice over for characters in the video game Cloudberry Kingdom. In 2014, Sorbo co-starred in God's Not Dead, a Christian film in which he portrayed an atheist college professor who requires his students to disown their religions on the first day of his class. He also voiced Crusher in the Skylanders franchise and Retro Hercules in Smite.
In 2017, Sorbo played the ill-fated King Lar Gand of Daxam on the CW series Supergirl. Ironically, he appeared opposite Teri Hatcher as his wife Queen Rhea. 24 years earlier they were almost cast opposite each other in Lois and Clark before Sorbo lost out to Dean Cain. Cain also appeared in the same series but did not share any scenes with them.
Kevin Sorbo’s career also includes voice over work (or voice acting) with Breathe Bible.
In late 1997 while on a publicity tour for Kull the Conqueror and between the fourth and fifth seasons of Hercules, the newly engaged Sorbo experienced an aneurysm in his shoulder which caused four strokes. As a result, he was weakened for the next several years, a condition kept secret from the public while he recovered. During the last two seasons of Hercules (the fifth and sixth, which aired in 1998 and 1999), Sorbo had a reduced filming schedule to accommodate his condition, and more guest stars were featured in the show in order to reduce Sorbo's duties. The strokes, thought to be triggered when chiropractic manipulation of his shoulder released blood clots from the aneurysm, left Sorbo with a permanent 10 percent vision loss, weakness, impaired balance, and migraines. In his 2011 autobiography True Strength, Sorbo revealed the details of his injury and how his wife Sam helped him recover.
On January 5, 1998, Sorbo married actress Sam Jenkins, whom he met the previous year when she had a guest role on Hercules. They have three children: Braedon Cooper (born 2001), Shane Haaken (born 2004), and Octavia Flynn (born 2005). Sorbo is the spokesman and chair of A World Fit for Kids! (AWFFK!), a non-profit organization that trains teenagers to become mentors to younger children.
In 2001, Sorbo was featured on the Celebrity Edition of TV Hit Game Show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, winning $32,000 after giving Regis Philbin the wrong answer at the $125,000 question for his charity A World Fit For Kids.
Sorbo is a Christian, and believes that his religious views have caused Hollywood to limit his career. While he was raised in the Lutheran church, he later in life chose to attend an evangelical nondenominational church. In August 2014, he gave a call-in interview to the Christian-themed Peter Heck Radio Show, during which the 2014 film Noah and its writer-producer-director Darren Aronofsky were briefly discussed. Sorbo made the following comment about Hollywood not being serious about Biblical movies, as evidenced by Aronofsky, a professed atheist, being hired to make the Old Testament story of Noah: "I sort of understand why they don't want to deal with the New Testament in Hollywood because, you know, it's, it's pretty much run by the world of the Jewish population, and, at the same time, at least get someone who has, at least beliefs, that the potential is there, that it could be a real story."
Sorbo considers himself politically independent, but has expressed interest in the libertarian philosophy of agorism.