How is 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' different from the books?

Percy Jackson and the Olympians fans, the wait is over. A worthy adaptation of Rick Riordan’s beloved novels is finally hitting TV, and I, for one, could not be giddier to relive my childhood.

As is the case with all book-to-screen adaptations, Percy Jackson and the Olympians deviates occasionally from the source material. However, the main arc of the series remains the same: 12-year-old Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell) learns that he’s a demigod, the son of a human woman and a Greek god. Not long after this discovery, he undertakes a cross-country quest to recover Zeus’s stolen Master Bolt and stop a war of mythic proportions. Accompanying him are Annabeth Chase (Leah Sava Jeffries), a daughter of Athena, and Grover Underwood (Aryan Simhadri), Percy’s satyr protector.

This story will sound familiar to book fans, but the show does make a few changes along the way, adding new story beats, omitting others, and focusing on other characters beyond Percy’s narrative point of view. So what are the biggest changes the show makes? Do they work? And if so, what do they add to the show? Let’s dive in. (But take heed: From here on out, spoilers for the show and the novels are in full effect.)


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Episode one: The Mrs. Dodds fight (and aftermath) look a little different.

A young boy grips a gold sword while hiding behind a crate.

Walker Scobell in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Season 1 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians tackles Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, meaning it kicks off, like the book, with Percy’s fateful field trip to the Met. In the novel, math teacher Mrs. Dodds (Megan Mullally) lures Percy into the museum alone. She reveals herself to be a Fury and attempts to kill him. Luckily, Latin teacher Mr. Brunner (Glynn Turman) — later revealed to be the centaur Chiron — tosses Percy a ballpoint pen-turned-sword, and he’s able to slay Mrs. Dodds.

The show takes a different approach, moving the fight to the front steps of the Met and removing Mr. Brunner’s involvement. Instead, Mrs. Dodds lands on top of Percy and nearly finishes him off. It’s only by a stroke of luck that Percy survives, as his pen (given to him earlier) turns into his sword Riptide and impales Mrs. Dodds without Percy realizing it.


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On the one hand, this change threw me for a loop, as the scene plays out extremely quickly and robs Percy of his first big monster-slaying moment. If anything, Dodds’s death here reads more like an accident! However, the fast-paced, confused framing of the incident places us deeper in Percy’s horrified mindset. His math teacher is trying to kill him — of course he’d be freaking out and not be completely aware of what’s going on. His less coordinated attack here also contrasts nicely with his slaying of the Minotaur at the end of episode one. Armed with more knowledge about who he is, Percy is able to take down another fierce beast with more control this time. It’s his first classic hero moment, something the show has built to from his initial flailing defense against Mrs. Dodds.

The fallout from Mrs. Dodds’s attack plays out a little differently in the show as well. Percy is expelled from Yancy Academy because he supposedly pushed bully Nancy Bobofit (Olivea Morton) into the Met fountain — a story Grover corroborates even though he’s supposedly Percy’s best friend! While this may seem like a betrayal at first, it was actually Grover playing the part of protector to a tee. Knowing that monsters will find Percy at Yancy, Grover realizes he has to get him away from the school as quickly as possible. We get hints of this motivation in the book, especially when Percy eavesdrops on a cryptic conversation between Mr. Brunner and Grover. Yet Grover’s choice in the show is a concrete example of him doing everything he can to keep Percy alive — even if it means he may lose his friendship. The seeming betrayal also isolates Percy further, bringing him to an even lower emotional point by the time he learns the truth about who he is.

Episode one: Sally Jackson has a bigger part to play.

A brown-haired woman in a blue flannel shirt.

Virginia Kull in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Speaking of the truth about who Percy is, let’s get into how he finds out the truth in the show versus the books. The Lightning Thief sees Percy getting a crash course in very real world of Greek myth from his mother, Sally (Virginia Kull), and Grover on the ride to Camp Half-Blood. At camp, Chiron, Annabeth, and Luke (Charlie Bushnell) teach him even more, including telling him outright that he’s a half-blood.

However, in the show, a lot of these revelations fall to Sally. She’s the one who tells Percy he’s a demigod, hoping to console him about why he’s always felt different from everyone else. We also see how she’s been training Percy for his birthright his whole life. One sweet flashback scene features her telling Percy why she named him after Perseus. It’s not just because Perseus was a hero, but because of the bond he and his mother shared while cast adrift at sea. Later, we also understand just how far Sally will go to get Percy to safety. When the Minotaur attacks, Sally takes a more active role in keeping it away from her son, including distracting it with Percy’s red jacket, matador-style.


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None of this is to say that Sally doesn’t get a lot to do in the books: Right from the start, we see that she’s a fiercely devoted, loving mother. She listens to Percy’s worries about being expelled from Yancy and even gives him tips on how to survive the Minotaur attack. We just get less time with her is all. In the show’s first episode (which was co-written by Riordan), that time is expanded upon somewhat. By giving Sally more of a say in telling Percy about who he is, the show also helps build their emotional connection, which in turn informs Percy’s decision to go on his quest in the first place.

Episode two: The hellhound goes missing.

A young boy in Grecian armor and an orange T-shirt stands on top of a hill overlooking a forest.

Walker Scobell in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

The main set piece of the second episode is a camp-wide game of Capture the Flag. The game plays out the same way it does in the books, with Annabeth using Percy as bait to distract the rival team captain — and daughter of Ares — Clarisse La Rue (Dior Goodjohn). Her plan results in victory, and here’s where the show and the book diverge. In the book, the win is quickly overshadowed by the appearance of a bloodthirsty hellhound, whose attempt to kill Percy is thankfully unsuccessful.

The hellhound scene is all of a page and a half long, so perhaps that’s why it simply doesn’t appear in the show. After all, Percy Jackson and the Olympians calls for the creation of several complicated on-screen beasts. If you’re going to cut one to save the brunt of visual effects for other creatures, this would be the one to choose. Still, the hellhound’s arrival marks an important change for the atmosphere at Camp Half-Blood. A hellhound on camp grounds is a signal that something is very wrong. Only a traitor in the campers’ midst could have summoned the beast, stoking an atmosphere of paranoia that culminates in Percy accepting the quest to recover Zeus’s Master Bolt. Without the hellhound, we unfortunately get less of a sense of that paranoia, or much of a hint at a certain traitor.


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The absence of the hellhound also changes the sequence where Poseidon claims Percy as his son. After suffering severe wounds from the attack, Percy goes into a nearby creek on Annabeth’s orders. Just like with his injuries from Capture the Flag, his hellhound wounds heal magically thanks to the water. Poseidon chooses this moment to reveal himself as Percy’s father.

With the hellhound missing from the show, we only see the water’s healing properties working post-Capture the Flag. But between that instance and Percy’s magical control over water in his bathroom fight with Clarisse, Annabeth has gathered enough evidence to realize who Percy’s father is. Wise girl, that one! To prove her point, she shoves him back into the water, and we get the show’s rendition of the Poseidon-claiming scene. Honestly, I adore the shove — it’s so deeply in keeping with the mildly contentious start to Percy and Annabeth’s dynamic, as well as a reminder of just how young these kids are.

The only part of this scene that disappoints me is the Poseidon reveal. After the triton appears over Percy’s head, we get a disembodied Chiron voiceover telling us what that means. However, we don’t get to see his or the campers’ reactions in the moment. And given that Percy is a forbidden child of one of the Big Three gods — Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades — their reactions should be massive! For example, the book sees campers kneeling (some, like the children of Ares, do it reluctantly). I wish the show could have included something like that in order to let us sit in this moment more and understand the momentous consequences of Percy’s parentage.

Episode two: Grover learns about Sally Jackson’s fate from the Council of Cloven Elders.

A young satyr standing in the pouring rain.

Aryan Simhadri in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

A totally new subplot in episode 2 involves Grover speaking to the Council of Cloven Elders, a group made up of satyrs. He learns from them that Sally is not actually dead, a fact neither Chiron nor camp director Dionysus (Jason Mantzoukas) want Grover to tell Percy. However, Grover does so anyway, as Percy is his friend and deserves to know the truth about his mother. Knowing that Sally is alive and could be brought back from the Underworld motivates Percy to take the quest to get the Master Bolt back from Hades, lending an extra layer of drive to his epic journey.

In the book, Percy doesn’t know his mom isn’t fully dead. Still, when he realizes his quest will take him to the Underworld, he does think about what that could mean for Sally. The show just surfaces this thought even more. The addition of Grover’s involvement also helps him mend his somewhat rocky relationship with Percy, who’s understandably upset about his best friend keeping major secrets — god-tier secrets, in fact — from him.

Book-wise, we don’t learn Sally’s fate ourselves until (spoiler alert!) our valiant crew reaches the Underworld. There, Hades reveals he took Sally hostage right before she died in order to gain some leverage over Percy. You can bet we’ll get that confrontation in the show farther down the line, but for now, we know that Percy didn’t just accept his quest in order to gain glory or save the world. He accepted it to save Sally, whose relationship with Percy is the emotional core of the show’s two-episode premiere, even when she’s not on-screen.

Episode three: The selection ceremony begins.

As Percy prepares to undertake his quest to retrieve Zeus’s Master Bolt, Chiron presents him with a selection ceremony. Here, he must choose two companions from the camps’ best and brightest. Options include Clarisse and Luke, but Percy has eyes for only one member of this formidable lineup: Annabeth. He picks her without hesitation, finally giving her the chance at the quest she so desperately craves. When telling Chiron his reasoning, he also acknowledges that she will do anything to succeed — even push him down the stairs without hesitation.

Percy’s second choice is Grover, who wasn’t even an option at the selection ceremony in the first place. Yet Percy knows he needs someone on his team he can trust completely, especially after the Oracle prophesied that Percy would be betrayed by someone who calls him a friend.

The selection ceremony is a show-only invention, but it certainly works as both a character- and world-building device. On the one hand, it gives Camp Half-Blood an even deeper sense of ritual. On the other, it also strengthens the bond between our main trio. Percy choosing Annabeth is a deep demonstration of respect, particularly after Luke told Percy about Annabeth’s desire to go on a quest. (Also a great moment for Percabeth shippers!) Elsewhere, Grover and Percy have gone through a lot in the past two episodes, with Grover getting Percy kicked out of Yancy (granted, for his own safety) and revealing that he was Percy’s satyr protector this whole time (again, for safety reasons). Any tension from these secrets is long gone, and these two best friends are ready to take on the impossible.

Episode three: Alecto offers Annabeth a deal.

A girl with braids wearing Grecian armor over an orange T-shirt.

Leah Sava Jeffries in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Thought evil math teacher Mrs. Dodds died in episode 1? Think again! She’s a monster — a Fury, to be more exact — and monsters can’t truly ever die. Her real name is Alecto, and she and her Fury sisters are back on the hunt for Percy. They find him and his friends at a bus stop in New Jersey. Here, Alecto offers Annabeth a deal: If she lures Percy to the Furies, they’ll make sure her quest continues unimpeded. But Annabeth is having none of this. Sure, she may disagree with Percy sometimes, but she’s not going to sell him out to the Furies who killed her friend (and daughter of Zeus) Thalia! She warns Percy and Grover, and they manage to escape.

Alecto’s proposed deal is completely new to the show. It is also a scene without Percy’s perspective, marking a departure from the books, which are told strictly from his point of view. We see this broadening of perspective often with TV adaptations, as they take the opportunity of a new medium to explore other characters whose interiority we don’t always get to see in the source material. In this scene’s case, that character is Annabeth.


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Annabeth’s conversation with Alecto hints at an interesting element from the books: fatal flaws. These are weaknesses demigods must reckon with, as they could lead to their tragic undoing. In Riordan’s work, Annabeth’s fatal flaw is hubris, or pride. Alecto’s bargain works to exploit that flaw, balancing Annabeth’s friendships and sense of duty against her need for glory and acknowledgment from Athena. But it looks like Annabeth isn’t ready to let her pride be her downfall just yet.

Episode three: A very different Medusa appears.

A woman in a veiled hat.

Jessica Parker Kennedy in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

The main set piece of the third episode is an encounter with Medusa (Jessica Parker Kennedy), she of the snake hair and stony gaze. The Lightning Thief sees our main trio stumble upon Aunty Em’s Garden Gnome Emporium, where Aunty Em, concealing her real identity as Medusa, plies them with food before trying to turn them into statues. The show changes that entirely, and in doing so, opens up some fascinating thematic questions.

In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Annabeth realizes right away they’re in Medusa’s realm — and why wouldn’t she? She’s well-versed in Greek myth, and since her mother cursed Medusa in the first place, it makes sense she’d be familiar enough with her legend to the point of recognizing her in the wild. Medusa doesn’t keep up any Aunty Em pretenses either. She introduces herself right away and offers Percy, Annabeth, and Grover shelter from a pursuing Alecto.


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Once inside, Medusa gives our heroes her side of her myth, showing us a completely different side of the character we got in the book. She likens herself to Annabeth: The two are devoted worshippers of Athena, even if they hear nothing back from the goddess. So when Poseidon told Medusa he loved her, she felt seen by a god in a way she never had with Athena. Unfortunately, Athena did see Medusa’s interaction with Poseidon. She blamed her for desecrating her temple and cursed her, even though it was all Poseidon’s doing. (Given that Percy Jackson and the Olympians is meant for a young adult audience, the show skirts around the sexual violence of the original myth. However, if you are aware of said violence, Medusa’s discussion with the children takes on an even more somber quality.)

Because of her past relationship with Poseidon, Medusa also feels a kinship with Sally Jackson. She tells Percy, “Your mother and I are like sisters, in a way. Targeted by the same monster.” Her words cause a reckoning, in more ways than one: Did Poseidon take advantage of Sally in the same way as he did with Medusa? Should Percy continue on this quest to help his father clear up his quarrel with Zeus, even after all the pain he’s caused?

This is the test Medusa poses Percy: Let her get rid of his companions so he can save Sally without worrying about the quest, or continue to serve the wrathful, unjust gods. Like Annabeth with Alecto, Percy chooses his friends and the Medusa fight ensues, ending — like it does in the books — with Medusa’s severed head shipped to Mount Olympus. Still, the ideas Medusa raises in this iteration of Riordan’s story will reverberate throughout the rest of the series. Should the demigods really be serving their parents if all they do is ignore them and mistreat others? And in becoming monster-slaying heroes, are they doomed to repeat their mothers’ and fathers’ mistakes?

Episode four: More time with Echidna.

The fourth episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians introduces us to yet another important adversary from Riordan’s books (and Greek mythology, obviously): Echidna (Suzanne Cryer), otherwise known as the Mother of Monsters. Naturally, like every other monster from Hades to Olympus, she’s after Percy Jackson.

Both the book and the show versions of Echidna’s pursuit of Percy end with a confrontation at the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. However, the buildup to that point varies from page to screen. In The Lightning Thief, Echidna takes the form of a tourist at the Arch, with her beloved Chimera disguised as a chihuahua.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians introduces Echidna far earlier. She meets Percy, Annabeth, and Grover on a train, then chases them all the way to the Arch. As with Medusa in episode three, this shift from the books allows for an expansion of Echidna’s character. She spends quite a bit of time talking to Percy, Annabeth, and Grover on the train. And as sinister as she is, this discussion clues us into her relationship to her darling children (aka her brood of terrifying monsters) and how she trains them to hunt. After all, she only lets Percy escape her initial clutches so the Chimera can get some practice. These changes — like most of Percy Jackson and the Olympians‘ shifts from the books so far — complement our understanding of Echidna as she appears in The Lightning Thief, while also allowing for fun twists that will surprise new and old fans alike.

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A young boy in a green flannel holds up a bronze sword.

Walker Scobell in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Here’s a much smaller change between Riordan’s books and the show, but an important one nonetheless. In The Lightning Thief, Echidna only reveals herself to Percy after he gets separated from Grover and Annabeth at the Arch. The separation isn’t anything dramatic, just that the two of them get on a different elevator down. Notably, the two don’t know about the Echidna attack until after the fact.

With Echidna and the Chimera hunting our main trio for much longer in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the reason for that separation gets tweaked a bit in the show. Annabeth tells Grover and Percy to save themselves while she takes on the Chimera in the Arch. But at the last second, Percy shoves her to safety and locks her and Grover out of the Arch’s observation deck, all so he can face the Chimera alone.

Remember how Alecto’s offer to Annabeth in episode three hinted at pride being her fatal flaw? Here, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is hinting at Percy’s own flaw: He’s loyal to a fault. In fact, he’s so loyal he’ll risk fighting a monster — while poisoned! — in order to save his best friends. Since we don’t officially learn about fatal flaws until The Sea of Monsters, book two in Riordan’s book series, instances like this are a nice way to seed them for future seasons of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Plus, Percabeth fans get another awesome new moment to freak out about, with Percy getting Annabeth out of harm’s way. It may be a seaweed-brained move, but it’s only making this ship stronger.

Episode five: Say hi to the Fates!

In the fifth episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, our characters have a brush with fate — sorry, I meant a brush with the Fates. Annabeth spies three old women knitting by the Gateway Arch. One of them snips a piece of yarn with foreboding flair, meaning that a member of our main trio will die soon. The Lightning Thief features a similar scene much earlier on, where Percy sees the Fates on his way home from Yancy Academy. In that scene, the yarn snip foreshadows the loss of Sally. Here, it’s hinting at Percy and Annabeth’s disastrous trip to Waterworld, raising the stakes for the episode.


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Episode five: Percy and Annabeth visit Waterworld.

A young boy and girl sit in a boat in an amusement park Tunnel of Love ride.

Walker Scobell and Leah Sava Jeffries in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Speaking of Waterworld, let’s get into all the ways Percy and Annabeth’s side quest to retrieve Ares’ (Adam Copeland) shield differs from the book. The main conceit is the same: Hephaestus (Timothy Omundson) used the park as a trap to catch his wife Aphrodite in an affair with Ares. In the book, said trap involves a Tunnel of Love ride, booby-trapped Cupid’s arrows, and a livestream to Mount Olympus. In the show, only the Tunnel of Love ride remains, and it poses Percy and Annabeth with a heartbreaking choice: In order to get the shield, one of them will have to sit in an inescapable chair designed by Hephaestus. It’s as good as a death sentence, and both Percy and Annabeth know it.

Just like in St. Louis, Percy is ready to sacrifice himself in order to save Annabeth so she can continue with the quest. But even once she gets the shield, Annabeth isn’t willing to leave Percy behind, proving just how deep their friendship has become. Her attempts to tinker with the chair’s mechanism summon Hephaestus, who is so moved by Annabeth’s insistence that Percy isn’t like the other backstabbing Olympians that he releases him. Hephaestus’s appearance and the dilemma with the chair are all entirely new to the series, though they are based in Greek mythology. However, they all serve the episode’s larger theme of how horrible the familial relationships between the Olympians are — and how people like Percy could break away from the gods’ violent, self-destructive patterns.

Episode five: It’s bonding time with Grover and Ares.

Where was Grover during all this drama? Buddying up with the Greek god of war, that’s what. In a twist from the books, Grover doesn’t actually go to Waterworld. Instead, Ares keeps him as collateral. A nature-loving satyr might seem like the antithesis of all that Ares stands for, but Grover wins him over by citing some of his “deep cuts,” like the Turbot War and the Lobster War. (In classic satyr fashion, both are bloodless conflicts over various fishing disputes.)

Grover uses Ares’s goodwill to pry for information about Camp Half-Blood’s visit to Mount Olympus on the winter solstice, the day the Master Bolt was stolen. As he does, he uncovers some information about Ares’s annoyance with Athena. Based on what he tells Percy and Annabeth at the end of the episode, it seems like this conversation clued him into who really took the Master Bolt. But did he really solve the mystery? Or is this another red herring?

Episode six: Is Clarisse the lightning thief?

Grover’s clever manipulation of Ares in episode six led him to believe he’d cracked the case of who stole the Master Bolt. His guess? None other than Ares’ daughter (and major Percy hater) Clarisse.

For book fans, this twist will come as a shock to the system. Clarisse is only very briefly a suspect in The Lightning Thief. (Like, one line in a conversation with Ares levels of brief.) In fact, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover don’t find out about Ares’ connection to the Master Bolt until much, much later in their quest. So besides being a new wrinkle in Percy Jackson and the Olympians‘ main mystery, what other purpose does the Clarisse misdirect serve? Now that Annabeth and Percy have told their suspicions to Luke, will there be greater conflict with the Ares kids at Camp Half-Blood?

Episode six: Hermes crashes the Lotus Hotel and Casino.

A man in a tan hoodie laughing at a poker table.

Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

The sixth episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians centers on one of the most iconic set pieces from The Lightning Thief: our heroes’ stay at the Lotus Hotel and Casino. (Let’s be real, it’s also the best part of the pretty middling Percy Jackson movie, thanks in large part to the use of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”) But just as with every stage of Percy’s quest so far, Percy Jackson and the Olympians has a few tweaks to make from the books. For this sequence, that includes throwing Hermes (Lin-Manuel Miranda) into the mix.

Percy, Annabeth, and Grover don’t just stumble into the Lotus Casino in the show the way they do in the book. Instead, they’re on a clear mission to get there and get a ride from Hermes. Unlike in The Lightning Thief, they’re already aware of the casino’s connection to the myth of the Lotus Eaters, whose consumption of lotus flowers led them to forget their lives and live in ignorant bliss. The kids’ immediate comprehension of the new threats they’re facing — like recognizing Medusa right off the bat in episode three — creates a pattern of consistent deviation from the books. These changes emphasize just how much these characters understand the stories that make up their world, yet they don’t sacrifice an ounce of conflict. With the Lotus Casino, for example, our main trio decides not to eat any lotus flowers. Little do they know the scent of the flowers is actually pumped through the vents, meaning they still experience its effects.


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Beyond the creeping dread that Percy, Annabeth, and Grover will forget their quest, the meat of this episode centers on Hermes as a father. We learn more about his relationship with Luke’s mother, May, whose ability to see through the Mist that separates the mythic world from the human world led to some painful visions. Luke blames Hermes for it, and although it seems like Hermes wants to reconnect with his son, it’s clear something painful is stopping him.

Here, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is playing the long game. We may only be in Season 1, but this whole focus on Hermes, May, and Luke is already teasing elements of The Last Olympian, the final book in the series. More immediately, though, it also gives us a better understanding of Luke’s perception of the gods — an understanding that will be crucial as we move into the later weeks, and learn that Luke may not be all he seems. Sure, we may have missed out on some of the time-traveling horror of the Lotus Casino, but we also gained valuable character development that lays the groundwork for episodes (and seasons) to come.

Episode six: Wait, the quest deadline has passed?

The good news: Percy, Annabeth, and Grover escape from the Lotus Casino and make it to Santa Monica with the help of Hermes’ magic cab. The bad news: They’re too late. In a massive shift from The Lightning Thief, the Summer Solstice deadline for finding the Master Bolt has passed. Zeus and Poseidon are officially at war.

But is Percy going to give up? Absolutely not. He can sense that there’s a greater threat behind all this Master Bolt drama, and he’s determined to alert the gods and save his mother. Both goals require him continuing on to the Underworld. There’s no doubt about it: This kid is a hero.

Episode seven: Welcome to the Underworld.

They did it! Percy, Annabeth, and Grover finally make it to the Underworld, where they encounter many obstacles in their quest to reach Hades (Jay Duplass). Some are new to the show, while others are tweaked from the books. Examples include entering the Underworld through Procrustes’ (Julian Richings) mattress store instead of a recording studio, as well as a much more intense encounter with Cerberus. We also get the added angst of beginning the journey in the Underworld with four of the pearls that can return people to the land of the living, instead of the books’ three. That change means Percy starts out with the hope that he can save the whole main trio and his mom, only for him to realize he’ll have to make some tough choices once Grover loses his pearl.

Another fascinating shift in this section is Annabeth’s early departure from the group. She gets trapped in the Fields of Asphodel and begins to put down roots. The only escape is using one of the pearls. Not only is this a change from how Riordan characterizes Asphodel — as a crowded, boring purgatory — but it also removes Annabeth from the confrontation with Hades. However, it does raise an interesting  question, as you can only grow roots in Asphodel if you’re weighed down by regret. So what does Annabeth regret? Perhaps how she left things with her mortal father?

Episode seven: A visit to Hades.

A man in a green and black suit.

Jay Duplass in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Percy’s confrontation with Hades in the show follows similar beats to their meeting in the books. He learns that Hades just wants his Helm of Darkness in exchange for Sally, then decides he has unfinished business with other gods and leaves, vowing to return for his mother. 


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Yet there’s an extra layer of danger hanging over this exchange in the series. Percy has finally realized that the Titan Kronos is behind all of this drama, recruiting Ares to help steal the Master Bolt and frame Percy. As soon as Percy reveals his suspicions to Hades, the tone shifts. Hades drops his prior sass and becomes deadly serious, offering Percy sanctuary along with his mother — in exchange for the Bolt, which Hades will use to defend himself. But Percy’s got his priorities straight, preferring to return the Bolt to Zeus, prevent all-out war, and get the word out about Kronos. Once again, we’re seeing Percy’s heroic streak out in full force. We’re also getting a sense of how high the stakes will be coming into the battle against Kronos. If the God of Death is terrified, what does that mean for the rest of the world?

Episode seven: Even more Sally Jackson!

Earlier this season, we got more insight into Sally’s relationship with the gods. We saw her telling Percy the truth about his father, along with flashbacks of her teaching him about mythology and giving him swimming lessons, just in case Poseidon (Toby Stephens) didn’t come through for him. This style of flashbacks returns in Percy Jackson and the Olympians‘ seventh episode, which alternates between Percy’s time in the Underworld and the difficulties Sally faced raising him.


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Each vignette, from a painful parting at a new school to a discussion with Poseidon, emphasizes how hard Sally has worked to keep Percy safe, even though the process proves difficult for both mother and son. On top of further deepening her character, these flashbacks are a reminder of why Sally means so much to Percy, and why he’s fighting so hard to free her. Really, their journeys are mirrors: Each would go through hell and back to save the other. 

Episode eight: Poseidon surrenders to Zeus.

A bearded man in a blue button-up shirt.

Toby Stephens in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Since the Zeus-Poseidon war never officially kicks off in The Lightning Thief, the stakes for Percy’s trip to Olympus are even higher in the show. He’s not just here to return the Master Bolt — he’s here to end a war that’s already been set in motion.


Toby Stephens breaks down Poseidon’s big sacrifice in ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’

Despite wanting to kill him, Zeus (Lance Reddick) is willing to hear Percy out on the matter of Kronos. What he is not willing to do is go back on the war he’s planning to wage against his brother, to the point that he almost strikes Percy down. But Poseidon interferes at the last moment, surrendering to his brother and saving his son’s life. The scene is proof that Poseidon may be prepared to sacrifice much more for Percy — and Sally — than anyone had previously thought, but theirs is still in no way a perfect relationship. Between Poseidon’s godly history, including his violent mistreatment of Medusa, and the Olympians’ general cruelty, there’s a lot to overcome before you can establish a good father-son connection. Still, Poseidon’s first discussion with Percy hints at a deeper care for him and his mother, no matter how complicated the situation may be.

Episode eight: Annabeth fights Luke.

Two boys, one in an orange shirt and one in a green shirt, sit together in a camp cabin, talking.

Charlie Bushnell and Walker Scobell in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

The secret is out: Luke is the friend who was prophesied to betray Percy. Not only is Luke the lightning thief, he’s also been in cahoots with Kronos this whole time! He reveals all this and more to Percy in the Season 1 finale, hoping to recruit Percy to his cause. In The Lightning Thief, Percy hears all of this alone. Here, though, he has a surprise ally in Annabeth, who wore her Invisibility Cap in order to snoop on their conversation. Heartbroken, she helps fend him off, losing her closest friend at Camp Half-Blood in the process.

Having Annabeth present for Luke’s reveal hits especially hard given that the two arrived at camp and witnessed Thalia’s death together. The show hasn’t really surfaced Annabeth’s in-book crush on Luke, so we do miss out on some of that extra angst. However, the loss of that found-family connection also provides plenty of anguish that could come into play in the as-yet unannounced Season 2. 

Episode eight: Sally does not murder Gabe!

A man in an armchair.

Timm Sharp in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

After Sally comes back to life in The Lightning Thief, Percy encourages her to use Medusa’s severed head to petrify her horrendous husband Gabe (Timm Sharp). It’s a pretty brutal move — murder, as a matter of fact. Percy Jackson and the Olympians softens that plot point quite a bit.

An end-credits scene sees an irate Gabe complaining to his lawyer over the phone about how Sally is divorcing him and has changed the locks to her apartment. (Side note: Good for her.) He discovers a package at Sally’s door and opens it. You know, a felony! But he immediately pays for his crime when the mythical contents of the box turn him to stone. Had Hermes just delivered this package by the time Gabe showed up? Or, a darker possibility, did Sally and Percy put it out there to get Gabe off their backs? The finale keeps it vague enough to let you make up your mind, but it’s certainly a big leap from the full murder portrayed in The Lightning Thief.

What’s next for Percy Jackson and the Olympians?

With Kronos officially in play, any future seasons of Percy Jackson and the Olympians will only get darker from here. The next book on deck to be adapted in a potential Season 2 is The Sea of Monsters, which throws a brand new quest at our half-blood heroes. Said quest will break up our main trio of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover, but it will also give characters like Clarisse, Luke, and new friends we have yet to meet more time to shine. Plus, with a name like The Sea of Monsters, you can expect to see even more mythological creatures. Think Cyclopes, Scylla and Charybdis, the Hydra, and more.

How does Percy Jackson do as an adaptation?

Two boys and a girl stand in a line outside.

Aryan Simhadri, Walker Scobell, and Leah Sava Jeffries in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Percy Jackson and the Olympians immediately understands the adventure-of-the-week potential of Riordan’s original novels, bringing the magic and action of The Lightning Thief to the screen. But the show also recognizes that it can do some things that a book written in first-person can’t, such as expanding upon the perspectives of characters other than Percy. We see this in small moments throughout the season, like Grover’s trip to the Council of Cloven Elders or Annabeth’s discussion with Alecto. As we get further into the Percy Jackson series, where Percy sometimes spends whole books without some of his closest allies, these narrative possibilities could prove to be Percy Jackson and the Olympians‘ secret weapon, giving us scenes we wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise.

Another of the show’s most compelling changes from the books is an even deeper focus on how screwed up the Olympians are as a family. From examining Poseidon’s history with Medusa to learning about how Hermes approaches fatherhood, we get a closer feel for the sometimes untouchable-seeming gods.

Some changes are less successful: Having our protagonists always be aware of what threat they’re facing, such as with Medusa or the Lotus Casino, can deflate any tension. And the breakneck pacing of each episode means that crucial moments don’t always get the time they need to breathe. Despite this, though, Percy Jackson and the Olympians still does justice to Riordan’s novels, and the future of the series, should we get more seasons, looks bright.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is now streaming on Disney+.

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