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Film / Percy Jackson and the Olympians

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Left to right: Annabeth Chase, Percy Jackson, Clarisse La Rue, Grover Underwood, and Tyson.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a 2010 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus, adapted from The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series of books. It stars Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson alongside an ensemble cast that includes Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Abel, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener, Kevin McKidd, Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan.

A sequel, titled Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, which was based on the second book in the Percy Jackson series, was released in 2013, with most of the cast returning to their roles. Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) directed the film, replacing Chris Columbus.

While both films were financially successful, they received widespread criticism from fans and professional critics, and Rick Riordan himself publicly disowned them. A third film was planned but never made before the series would be rebooted for streaming television in 2023.

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    The Lightning Thief
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Medusa in the book is described as a hideous old crone. The movie has her as a Gorgeous Gorgon.
    • Percy himself; in the books he's a typical, slightly pudgy 12-year-old child. In the film he's portrayed by an attractive Logan Lerman.
    • In the books, Luke had a prominent facial scar. The movie removes it completely.
    • Hephaestus is described in later books as being a hulking, misshapen brute with a leg brace and a wild beard that bursts into flames on occasion. Even when said to have cleaned himself up a bit, he's still not noted to be especially handsome. In the movie, he's played by the much better-looking Conrad Coates, whose one close-up features nothing grotesque or abnormal about him.
  • Adaptational Badass: Grover. He's shown to be adept at Cane Fu, as Gabe learns the hard way. He's also responsible for defeating the Hydra by using Medusa's head to turn it into stone.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • All twelve Olympians appear briefly in the throne room of Olympus when Percy returns the bolt to Zeus. In the book, only Zeus and Poseidon were present at that time, with most of the other gods not appearing until later in the series.
    • The Hydra first appeared in the second book while it shows up in the first film.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: This portrayal of Zeus comes off as much more reasonable than his book counterpart. He still pins the theft of his bolt on Percy, but as the film cuts out the obvious means through which Luke did it, it’s not quite as much of a leap to have made; he also accepts Percy’s explanation about what really happened without argument, and even agrees upon request to bring Grover back from the Underworld. There also isn't mention of him forbidding Percy from flying, as he did in the book, and his most notable contribution otherwise — passing the law that forbade gods from being in contact with their half-blood offspring — only came about because Poseidon was neglecting his duties by doing so, to the point that he was starting to become mortal.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book, Percy assumed Hades had stolen Zeus's master bolt because Everyone Hates Hades. Turns out Hades was only after him because he thought Percy had stolen his Helm of Darkness as well, and it's implied he was even going to return the bolt to Olympus once he managed to recover it. In the film, he's changed into a proper villain who wants the bolt so that he can overthrow his two brothers and take control of Olympus himself, and goes back on the promise he made to Percy once he has it.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Zigzagged with regard to Zeus and his master bolt. In the book, it was said to be more powerful than a hydrogen bomb, whereas when Luke uses it in the film, the most it does is blow small chunks off of buildings. At the same time, it's been upgraded so that Zeus apparently can't summon or control any lightning without it; in the book, while it was his superior weapon, he was mentioned as having an arsenal of thunderbolts fashioned after it that he could still use even in its absence.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • In the books, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, and Athena were all depicted with black hair. In the film, the former two are blonde and the latter two have brown hair.
    • Annabeth's hair goes from blonde to brown, and Grover's from red to black.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • Not only does the film not explain how Luke stole the bolt in the first place, but it adds in something that undermines the book's explanation for how it happened. In the book, the gods were too arrogant to think to guard their possessions while the half-bloods were on Olympus for a sort of field trip, whereas in the film, Zeus had passed a law forbidding contact between the gods and their children, so Luke wouldn't have been on Olympus to begin with.
    • It's also not explained in this film that Percy's sword is enchanted to return to his pocket if he drops or loses it, if that's even still the case. This makes Luke look like a moron later in the second film when he ties Percy and his friends up, but they escape using the sword, making it look as though he didn't bother disarming them.
    • The movie explains away Sally’s marriage to Gabe as her needing someone whose pungent odor would mask the scent of Percy’s blood to protect him from monsters. While this is true to the book, it has the effect of making it seem like she settled for an abusive Jerkass for the sake of protecting her son. The book included a throwaway line from Percy revealing that Gabe pretended to be a nice guy early on, before showing his true colors later.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Has its own page.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Percy in the books was rather insecure, but his movie counterpart is downright cocky.
    • Grover was written as more timid and shy. In the movie, he was more of a Casanova Wannabe.
    • In the books, Annabeth might've been a serious Action Girl, but she was also a Plucky Girl who valued brains more than brawn. The movie focused more on her toughness and made her a lot more abrasive, making her more like Clarisse from the books.
    • Hades in the books was a closer representation of how he was in Greek mythology: cold, aloof, and intimidating, but ultimately fair and true to his word. In the movie, he’s much more easygoing, sarcastic and manipulative, with Grover commenting on his lack of godlike presence. He’s also much more disrespectful to Persephone, who was Happily Married to him in the book but very much not so here.
    • In addition to both being significantly nicer and more reasonable than their book counterparts, Zeus and Poseidon are shown to be cockier and less subtle when it comes to keeping mortals unaware of their existence; the film opens with a giant Poseidon emerging from the ocean in full view of a nearby fishermen, their conflict creates an unexplained storm system that stretches from coast to coast, and Zeus wastes no time in letting lightning fill the skies the instant his bolt is returned to him.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Kronos's role in Luke's plan is left out of the movie. He is re-introduced in the sequel.
    • Clarisse, daughter of Ares and resident bully of Camp Half-Blood, is also held off until the sequel, with many of her traits from the first book being assumed by Annabeth in the meantime.
  • Age Lift: To fit better with its cast, Percy and Annabeth go from pre-teens to full-on teenagers, while Grover also appears older.
  • The Backwards Я: Lettering in the films like the credits uses some Greek letters for added effect, e.g. replacing "E" with "Σ" (sigma, which makes an "ss" sound) and "O" with "Θ" (theta, which makes a soft "th" sound). Some letters are also just given random crossbars.
  • Badass Driver: Grover.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Film Grover. He's good for a laugh for anyone with a passing knowledge of Greek satyrs.
  • Blown Across the Room: Hades when Persephone fries him with Zeus's bolt.
  • Book Dumb: Percy is completely ignorant of Greek Mythology, causing him to make mistakes like cutting off the Hydra's heads.
  • Bowdlerization: Cartoon Network's airing of the film edits Luke's line "Kick his [Hermes] ass for me!" so that "ass" is replaced with "butt."
  • Car Fu: Annabeth knocks down Medusa with her own truck, driving it with her eyes closed.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: In the book, the heroes pay Charon with golden drachmas to cross the Styx. Here, Grover tries to pay him with U.S. dollars, but Charon burns the money. The scene is even complete with a recession joke.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Medusa's severed head is shown to be used against Gabe at the end as a Brick Joke.
    • When Percy, Grover, and Annabeth enter the Lotus Casino, the camera zooms on the car they later take out.
  • Composite Character:
    • Though it has never been stated outright, movie Annabeth has Clarisse's first major scene, personality, and hair color. She's really more Clarisse than she is Annabeth.
    • Film Luke takes over Ares' role as the person who duped Percy into taking the Bolt to Hades.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Medusa, played by Uma Thurman.
  • Demoted to Extra: Ares and Dionysus. In the book, the former had been in on Luke's plan to start a war amongst the gods while the latter was stuck at Camp Half-Blood as punishment for a slight against Zeus. In the movie, both roles are reduced to cameo appearances alongside the other gods on Olympus, with no narrative significance in either case.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • Downplayed with Gabe who still gets petrified by Medusa's head but under different circumstances. The book implies Sally deliberately used Medusa's head on him, but here, Gabe breaks open a fridge in which the head is being stored, deliberately ignoring the warning Percy had posted on the door and thereby bringing about his own demise.
    • The Hydra is blown to pieces with a Celestial Bronze cannonball in the books. Here, Grover turns it to stone with Medusa's head.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Grover spots a statue that bears a striking resemblance to his late uncle Ferdinand, even noting that "it" has a mole in the exact same spot he did. It's at this point that he recalls what killed him: Medusa.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Gets off comparatively easy compared to some other adaptations. He makes his first appearance as a fiery demon type thing, but it's pretty clear that was just for show. Much is made of him being abusive but that's not really much in evidence. He is an asshole though (then again most gods are this in general). He offers to let Percy and company go in exchange for Zeus' lightning bolt, but when he gets it he tries to kill them.
  • Faux Action Girl:
    • Annabeth. Despite supposedly being the best fighter in the camp, she's easily beaten by Percy once he's told how to use his powers, is completely helpless against Medusa, isn't able to recognize when they've been enticed by the lotus eaters until after they escape (due to Percy), and does nothing during the final battle.note 
  • The Film of the Book: The movie is based on the book of the same name, as mentioned.
  • Foreshadowing: Luke claims to have gotten the winged shoes and map that he gives to Percy by stealing them from his father, Hermes. To anyone who hasn't read the book, the fact he had both means and a motive to steal from one god hints that he could've also done so with Zeus's bolt.

  • Gorgeous Gorgon: Medusa, played by Uma Thurman.
  • G-Rated Drug: The Lotus Hotel in the film. While in the book, it was the arcade games that kept you there, the film has them literally eat lotus blossoms during their stay. This is treated as them getting high.
    Annabeth: I think I figured it out, I know why we're here.
    Percy: Why are we here?
    Annabeth: To HAVE FUN!
  • Heal It with Water: This ability is expanded from the books. While in the books contact with water (particularly salt water) can empower and heal Percy, in this adaptation he is capable of also using it to heal others' wounds, as seen when he submerges himself and gently holds Annabeth's wrist.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The entrance to the Underworld is underneath the Hollywood Sign (which is changed from being at DOA Recording Studios in the book).
  • Humanity Ensues: The movie adds in a caveat that, by neglecting their divine duties and/or spending too much time with their half-blood children, it’s possible for a god to lose their divinity and gradually become mortal as time passes. To prevent the risk of this, Zeus passed a law prohibiting half-bloods from being in contact with their parents after Poseidon nearly fell victim to this fate.
  • Idiot Ball: The Lightning Thief still holding that lightning bolt while against someone who can wield water. On a quest that consistently involves events from Greek Mythology, Annabeth (who is supposed to be the goddess of wisdom's daughter) enters the Lotus Casino and eats the Lotus blossoms inside, after she is saved she figures out that they are the lotus eaters from the Odyssey.
  • Informed Ability: We are told that Annabeth is a wise combat schemer, probably a combat pragmatist, but in the movie she offers no actual aid to the heroes and just kind of acts like a tag-along child with specks of damsel in distress. All the combat and ideas on how to solve problems are given by Percy the only exception being the idea to keep Medusa's head for later.
  • Informed Flaw: Percy brings up his dyslexia and ADHD as though they're major and recurring problems in his daily life, but we don't see any signs of them hindering him onscreen.
  • Large Ham: Hades.
  • MacGuffin: The three pearls they need to get home.
  • Mushroom Samba: The effect of the lotus blossoms, apparently.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Percy slicing off the Hydra's heads, not knowing that it would come back with ten instead of five.
  • Product Placement: Apple products. Also, when Percy, Annabeth, and Grover go to see Luke on how to get into the Underworld, he's playing Modern Warfare 2, more specifically the "Favela" map on the OpFor side.
    • In the sequel, UPS is revealed as being secretly run by Hermes.
  • The Queen's Latin: The gods all have British accents in the movie.
  • Race Lift: This was done to Grover, Hephaestus, and Persephone.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Invoked. Hades has the appearance and mannerisms of a Heavy Metal star.
  • Red Herring: Hades is not the main villain. Although he is an asshole.
  • Running Gag: Grover getting flirted with by hot girls, from the camp to the Underworld counts.
  • Shirtless Scene: Remember those two scenes with Percy swimming, which was the first thing shown in the commercial? It wasn't in the book.
  • Shmuck Bait: "Do not open this fridge! Ever!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • While passing the river of lost dreams thing in Hades, one can see a little sled floating by.
    • It's mentioned that Medusa's eyes need to be opened to activate her power from her decapitated head. Instead we see them open automatically, just like in Clash of the Titans.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: The film is a Type 2 (Recognizable Adaptation). It keeps some things from the books intact, but also changes a lot of stuff around.
  • Soft Glass: Averted. Grover yells in pain and warns Percy and Sally of broken glass after he crawls through a broken windshield. Averted or not Grover would have negligent in his duties as a protector if he hadn't mentioned it.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: A justified example. Annabeth is subdued by a terrified woman grabbing onto her wrist - because the woman gets turned to stone by Medusa.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Inverted by Medusa, who manages to get a random woman to open her eyes and be turned to stone simply by talking to her.
  • Titanomachy, Round Two: The film follow loosely the plot of the first two books, with numerous departures. One of them being an early confrontation with Kronos, who appears in this adaptation as a large monstrous being made from fire and lava.
  • Title Drop: Count the number of times they say some variation of "Lightning Thief" in this movie.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The teaser trailer deceived fans of the books with a glimpse of Percy entering Olympus the same way regular mortals do in the books, via elevator from the Empire State Building's lobby after being allowed in by the front desk guy. In the film proper, Olympus is only accessible via a secret entrance on the roof.
  • Waist-Deep Ocean: In the film's opening, Poseidon rises straight up out of the ocean as a giant humanoid and walks to shore before assuming a human-sized form.
  • Woman Scorned: Medusa. Also Persephone sort of.
    Medusa: (to Percy) Son of Poseidon... I used to date your daddy! (topples a bunch of statues on him)

    Sea of Monsters
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the books, Clarisse is described as having the height of a basketball and the "broad, lean, and muscular body of a size XXXL rugby player", also making her the most physically adept female fighter at Camp Half-Blood. She's also said to have large, strong hands and small beady-looking pig eyes. In the film, she's played by Leven Rambin, and clearly is much more traditionally beautiful.
    • Tyson himself isn't too hard on the eyes when shown with two eyes.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: After the manticore is killed, it crumbles into dust. No explanation is given in the film for this; however, the books make a point that monsters become dust/sand after being killed. Additionally, they aren't truly killed so much as their souls are sent to Tartarus, where they can be reincarnated later on. Also, in the books, Anaklusmos (Percy's sword) is enchanted to always reappear in Percy's pocket, which Luke might not know about. Though frankly, neither would someone watching the film.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Has its own page.
  • Adapted Out: Oreius and Agrius, Tantalus, Circe, the Party Ponies, and the Laistrygonian Giants (though one does appear on Luke's boat). On a related note, Annabeth's conflicted feelings for Luke are left out; whereas a major conflict between her and Percy in the books was whether or not Luke had become completely evil, Annabeth in the film is clearly on Percy's side.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the books, Percy’s sword, Riptide, was said to have been used by Hercules before him; it originated in the form of a hairclip that was owned by Zoe Nightshade, a former Hesperide who aided Hercules in one of his labors. The film changes its backstory to that of a weapon used by Poseidon himself during the Titanomachy.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Silena Beauregard is shown to be working with Luke. Which is one hell of a played with trope, considering that in the books she was revealed as the mole in the fifth book with no indication of when she'd turned.
  • Adaptational Wimp: The Princess Andromeda, Luke's cruise ship from the books, is here portrayed as a yacht. Not quite as impressive, really.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: "Circeland," which is built on Polyphemus's island. The Cyclop's lair is in one of the rides.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: To find Kronos' tomb, Luke had to crawl through the depths of Tartarus... and then Cleveland.
  • Art Shift: When the Oracle tells Percy the story of the Titanomachy, animation that resembles stained-glass windows is used.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In a huge departure from the books, Luke manages to resurrect Kronos with the Golden Fleece. Kronos then arises from his tomb, as a demonic giant, complete with horns and fiery eyes.
  • Back from the Dead: Thalia, like in the books. Annabeth and Tyson as well.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Demigoogle," which appears to be a demigod search engine of sorts. As in, one can track a demigod's location by searching for them on it.
  • Body Horror: Thalia turning into a tree; the trunk GROWS out of her stomach. In present day, the tree roots still vaguely retain her features.
  • Chickification: Annabeth goes from a skilled, badass warrior (in the novels, not the first film) to a racist who is little more than dead weight.
  • Clothing Damage: When Annabeth is stabbed by the Manticore, her jacket, shirt and top are naturally ruined. Later she is seen dressed in bloodied shirt with hole, while her jacket is discarded.
  • Composite Character: Mr. D takes over Tantalus' role as being the person to assign Clarisse to go after the Fleece.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Kronos had swallowed several characters whole yet they came out unscathed after his defeat.
  • Decomposite Character: An example of this and Retcon: Annabeth in the first movie appeared to be a Composite Character of Annabeth (the book version, anyway) and Clarisse, who was nowhere in the film. In Sea of Monsters, Clarisse is shown to be attending Camp Half-Blood.
  • Disney Death: FIVE of them in The Sea of Monsters. Tyson, as he sherlock-falls from the cliff and comes back alive; Grover and Luke, who were eaten alive by Kronos and reappeared unharmed after he's defeated; Annabeth near the climax, revived within a minute by the Golden Fleece; and Thalia in the epilogue.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Ethan Nakamura and Silena Beauregard are on the Princess Andromeda with Luke.
    • Kronos appears in the final battle.
    • A manticore fights alongside Luke. This would technically make it Dr. Thorn's film counterpart.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Kronos: A horned giant whose fragmented body separates and rejoins in pieces as he moves. Also possesses some Volcanic Veins.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against Tyson.
  • The Film of the Book: Like the previous movie, it is based on the book of the same name, as mentioned.
  • Idiot Ball: So many characters love it. Luke trying to imprison the son of Poseidon on a boat, Luke not searching Percy for his sword disguised as a pen when he ties him up, Percy and his brother hugging instead of stopping the Golden Fleece from resurrecting Kronos, the group crying over Annabeth's body even though they've just gotten the fleece that can heal anyone or anything. Every bad guy saying that Percy can't stop them because he's destined to destroy Mount Olympus even though the prophecy explicitly states he will have the chance to save it. The plot wouldn't move at all if the goddess of wisdom had been a bit more generous with her gift. However, in the books, Anaklusmos is enchanted to always reappear in Percy's pocket, which Luke might not know about. Though frankly, neither would someone watching the film...
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Mr. D thinks so, at least; he's apparently a fan of the wine miracle from the wedding. Interesting, when you consider how the two are usually compared to each other in Real Life. It's also about the most insulting thing he can say to Zeus, who is obviously listening to him at all times.
  • Lamprey Mouth: Charybdis has a truly gigantic one.
  • The Load: Tyson. The guy is so annoyingly clumsy and incompetent it's a miracle he hasn't killed himself yet.
  • Mythology Gag: Some of the quests Percy mentions Clarisse completing — fighting a bronze dragon, recovering Ares' stolen chariot, etc. — were taken from some of the short stories in the original series. Ironically, whereas Percy played a pretty big role in those stories, the film states that Clarisse was the one to complete those, with Percy being mostly ineffectual.
    • The amusement park "Circeland" is also a nod to how she appeared in the book.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: The mechanical, fire-breathing Colchis Bull tears up a lot of Camp Half-Blood.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They prefer the term "Undead Confederate Soldiers whose lives have been given in tribute to Ares." But "zombie" works just as fine.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Due to the Age Lift the characters got since the first film, the Great Prophecy sets the age of the prophesied demigod from sixteen to twenty.
  • Rage Helm: Kronos' face appears to have been designed with this in mind.
  • Remember the New Guy?: After both were Adapted Out of the first film, Clarisse and Mr. D suddenly appear in the sequel, with everyone acting like they were always there.
  • Sequel Hook: Luke survives (but is at the moment captured by Polyphemus), and Thalia is alive once more.
  • Shark Fin of Doom: Charybdis' teeth are mistaken for this at first.
  • Shout-Out: Tyson's get-up (both in shades and under Mist's effects) is close to resemble Encino Man.
  • Snake Talk: Averted. Hermes' staff includes two snakes adorned on it that can talk, but they speak normally, without the typical hissing. Hermes actually admonishes them for this, saying that they should speak Snake Talk just to please any guests he brings around.
  • Title Drop: Count the number of times they say some variation of "Sea of Monsters" in this movie.
  • Truer to the Text: The sequel is more faithful to the books, returning Annabeth's hair color back to blonde, introducing Dionysus as the dispassionate camp leader, Camp Half-Blood's backstory of being protected by Thalia Grace, the Oracle of Delphi being a mummified corpse in an attic, and finally bringing in the book's Myth Arc about the prophecy of a child of the Big Three and Kronos's return. Though, things end up muddled due to the deviating nature of the first film.
  • Womb Level: Inside the Charydbis.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson Sea Of Monsters, Percy Jackson


Book Hades vs Film Hades

Dom describes how the book Hades was a much more terrifying and god-like figure, dangerous and cold. Cut to the film version who's treated more as a joke than a threat.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / AdaptationPersonalityChange

Media sources: