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Film / The Poseidon Adventure

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From heaven to llǝɥ in an instant.

Linda Rogo: So that's the cat this ship is named after, huh?
Captain Harrison: That's right, Mrs. Rogo. The Greek god Poseidon. God of storms, tempests, earthquakes and other miscellaneous natural disasters. Quite an ill-tempered fellow.

The Poseidon Adventure is a 1972 film adaptation of a 1969 novel by Paul Gallico, produced by Irwin Allen, directed by Ronald Neame, and featuring an All-Star Cast that includes Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson, Leslie Nielsen, and the Queen Mary. It's one of the key entries in the '70s Disaster Movie genre.

The passengers and crew of the aging ocean liner SS Poseidon party without a care in the world as the ship — making her final voyage en route to the scrapyard — sails on across the Mediterranean. Already behind schedule, the representative of the Poseidon's new ownership consortium overrides the objections of her captain and refuses to allow her to slow down and take on ballast to more safely ride out some heavy weather. On New Year's Eve, an undersea earthquake strikes near Crete, creating a massive rogue wave; when it hits Poseidon, she capsizes. In the aftermath, one lone preacher, the Rev. Frank Scott, must lead a group of survivors in climbing from the now-upturned ship's ballroom to her hull to be rescued before she sinks. But will they make it?

Followed by the 1979 sequel Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, in which rival salvage crews board the ship, get trapped, and encounter more survivors of the original disaster. Directed by Allen and starring Michael Caine, Sally Field, Telly Savalas, Peter Boyle, Jack Warden, Shirley Knight, and Karl Malden, it was a critical and commercial flop.

Meanwhile, the original story was remade twice within the course of six months around 2005–06, first as a Made-for-TV Movie on NBC and then as the feature film Poseidon; the latter production featured the Queen Mary II.

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     1969 novel 

  • Heroic Sacrifice: Reverend Scott. Belle Rosen does get her chance to swim, of course, but only has a heart attack later on AFTER Reverend Scott perishes.
  • Inspired by…: The author was on the RMS Queen Mary during World War II, when it was hit by a rogue wave and was a degree or so from being capsized. Naturally, he was inspired by what might've happened if she DID flip. Additionally, the Queen Mary had been retired from service two years before the book, informing the idea that the ship would be on her last voyage.
  • Irony:
    • Belle Rosen dies of a heart attack just as rescuers are cutting through the hull to reach the survivors.
    • After being rescued, the characters discover a different, larger group of survivors who apparently had a far easier time making their way to safety by taking a route other than the one Reverend Scott pushed. This is averted in the film, where the remaining members of Scott's group learn they're the only survivors.
      • Or maybe not quite averted; the sequel Beyond the Poseidon Adventure does involve another group of survivors, albeit ones with no connection to the first group. They didn't have that easy of a time getting out, either.
  • Jerkass: Some characters in the novel (in fact, most of them) are a lot less sympathetic than in the movies.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The reaction of the young deckhand Herbert, after learning the girl he raped (Susan) was a passenger, rather than a stewardess... which, in yet another example of the Values Dissonance in that scene, would have apparently been perfectly okay.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Averted with Robin Shelby (who disappears without a trace after going off alone to relieve himself), the Beamer (who drinks himself to unconsciousness), and Pamela (who refuses to leave the Beamer's side). The latter two end up making it out on their own anyway.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Virtually anyone that chooses to stay in the Ball Room. Shockingly, however, it is revealed at the end of the novel that all those people SURVIVED. Also Mr. Kreynos, the third engineer who, moments after the ship capsizes, rambles on about taking his position in the Engine Room to investigate the cause behind the accident. He blindly stumbles into a pool of oil that has formed beneath the Grand Staircase and drowns in the mess.
    • And then comes the sad case of Linda Rogo, who tries to find her own way during the climb through "Mount Poseidon" in the Engine Room. In the darkness, she loses her balance and falls to her death on a piece of steel below, impaling her through the chest.
  • The Unreveal: Robin's ultimate fate is never learned, although he was presumably killed in a stampede of panicked survivors after the ship's lights went out.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Mike Rogo backhands Linda across the face after she unleashes a torrent of verbal abuse on him early in the novel, then follows up with this.

     1972 movie 

  • Action Dress Rip: Some of women were wearing long gowns for the party, and have to remove them to climb out of the ballroom.
  • Adaptational Expansion: Ironically, the film's stunt showcase, the capsizing sequence. In the novel, the ship is so top heavy that when it's hit b the wave and flipped, everyone is thrown across the dining room without warning. The floor literally drops out from under them, and then they all end up on the ceiling. In the film, the captain has time to react, albeit fruitlessly, to the incoming wave, and has time to warn the radio operator, who gets out a brief distress call before he's drowned (he doesn't get a chance at all in the novel.) The even gets time to set off the warning alarm which sounds in the dining room, and the passengers there get time to react, although there's little they can do to brace themselves for what happens. We also get to see the ship first roll onto it's side, and the aftermath of that, before it turns completely over.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Scott is much more ruthless in the novel, basically abandoning anyone who isn't fit during the attempt to reach the hull. This was drastically toned down in the film, in order to make him a leader audiences could root for. However, there are hints that Acres is nervous about it. He seems to sense that Rev. Scott isn't afraid to abandon the lame, and makes a great effort to downplay his leg injury, which is causing him visible pain.
    • Linda Rogo also gets some adaptational heroism. She's completely unlikable in the book, and has no love for her husband, blaming him for their lot in life. Eventually, the novel Rogo calls out the other survivors when they're expressing sympathy for her death, saying they all hated her, and she hated all of them equally in return. When Stella Stevens was cast in the role, and admitted she hadn't read the book, the filmmakers actually urged her NOT to read the book prior to filming, saying the novel character was going to be softened in the film.
      • And even though he's still very antagonistic in the film, Mike Rogo's personality is toned down considerably. At one point in the novel he slaps Linda hard enough to draw blood when she mouths off to him, then gaslights her for making him do it.
  • Adaptational Sympathy: After she was cast as Linda Rogo, Stella Stevens admitted she hadn't read the novel. The filmmakers urged her not to, saying that Linda in the script was going to be vastly superior to the character as presented in the novel, who they said was totally unlikable. (While they weren't wrong, Linda in the novel does have some personal issues, explained later, to account for some of why she acts the way she does.)
  • Adapted Out: Characters who were dropped from the novel include such passengers as Miss Kinsale; Hubie Mueller; The Beamer and his companion, Pamela; and Susan and Robin's parents, Richard and Jane Shelby. Also, there was a second steward, named Peters, and Acres was known as Acre. A final member was Kemal, part of the ship's engineering crew. Also, the novel briefly features a young, confused crewman named Herbert who rapes poor Susan thinking that she's a stewardess in the dark when Robin is separated from the group.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Mike and Linda Rogo. They seem to be at each other's throats in the beginning, but Rogo's confession that he repeatedly arrested Linda while he was a beat cop for prostitution was his way of keeping her off the streets until she married him gets a loving reaction from him, as does his blunt honesty that he doesn't care if someone recognizes her from her former profession. Linda freaks out when Rogo decides to swim the flooded passageway after Scott and Belle have seemingly disappeared, and after Linda falls to her death, Rogo is completely devastated, to the point he goes into Heroic BSoD, and doesn't even notice when Scott sacrifices himself.
  • An Aesop: Scott repeatedly makes the point that God helps those who help themselves, and this philosophy drives his actions through the plot. At times it reaches the point that the Aesop seems to be "doing anything at all is always better than waiting for outside help".
  • And Starring: "and Leslie Nielsen as The Captain".
  • The Ark: Oddly enough, despite this being the least seaworthy vessel, not averted. Much of the story revolves of an attempt to escape an area about to be flooded, despite most of the passengers calling them crazy and staying until the end. As if to drive the point home, the means of rescue from the ballroom is a Christmas tree.
  • Badass Preacher: Rev. Scott, arguably. His sermon about getting up off one's knees and saving oneself is basically the sermon for surviving a Zombie Apocalypse (or, indeed, just about any real-life disaster). And then he starts practicing what he preaches by giving his life to help people save themselves.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Discussed, but rejected as a way of climbing out of the ballroom.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Six people survive to make it off the ship, but they're only six out of what had to have been hundreds of passengers and crew. Also, two of the survivors have lost wives they loved dearly, and the group's fearless leader didn't make it either.
  • Church of Saint Genericus: We're never told exactly what denomination Reverend Scott belongs to. Or, for that matter, his friend the ship's chaplain.
  • Composite Character:
    • James Martin, the meek haberdasher, and Hubert Muller, the San Francisco bachelor searching for love, are combined into one character for the movie, [[spoiler: so that Martin ends up with Nonnie (as Muller does in the novel, though in the novel, Nonnie is separated with other British survivors at the very end of the story and they part ways. Rogo calls him out for not going with her, or asking her to stay. In the film, Martin and Nonnie both board the rescue helicopter together.)
    • Peters and Acre, the two stewards, become simply "Acres" in the 1972 movie. Same for the 2005 movie, except the steward's name has returned to "Acre." Apparently, it was decided to drop the character Peters; like Acre in the novel, both composite stewards suffer a leg injury during the capsizing of the ship.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The wave hits immediately after the stroke of midnight ushers in the New Year. (This was a change from the novel, in which the ship capsizes on the day after Christmas.)
  • Creator In-Joke: Robin jokes about almost dying in the bathroom, and Susan jokes it would be a silly way to die. In the novel, Robin is last heard of when he's going to the bathroom.
  • Death by Adaptation: The movie makes it clear that only the six survive, but the novel ends with others being rescued from other points of the ship.
  • Decomposite Character: Several characters are combined with those omitted from the novel. Mueller, the man who protects Nonnie in the book, had his arc transferred to the character of James Martin. Miss Kinsale's attraction to Rev. Frank Scott was transferred to Susan Shelby. Peters and Acre were combined to the Acres character.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The first half hour takes its time introducing the characters who will be important to the story. Other characters are established though, who don't even survive the initial wave, and a handful of characters are developed who survive the capsizing, but die in the dining room or disappear towards the bow.
  • Dies Differently In The Adaptation: Acres doesn't visibly die in the novel. They encounter him on Broadway but his leg is broken, so he remains behind, and is assumed to have died when the ship sank. Linda Rogo does fall in the novel, but she gets impaled on a piece of broken metal as well, and calls Mike Rogo a son of a bitch before she dies. Also, she dies before Belle Rosen does. And while Belle does have a heart attack, she makes it all the way to shaft alley before she does, and her heart attack is brought on by exertion and a lack of air in the room. She's alive when they start cutting their way in for the rescue, but dies before the cutting is completed.
  • Doomed Contrarian: Played deadly (and immediately) straight with the purser and the people who stay with him. Conspicuously averted with Rogo, the most contrary member of the main group and one of the few survivors.
    • The first one is actually subverted in the novel, where the people who stayed in the ballroom are the first to be rescued.
  • Doomed Hurt Guy: Acres' hurt leg pretty much means he's a goner the minute the injury becomes apparent. Unsurprisingly, he ends up falling to his death down a shaft.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Poor Linda. The door to the propeller shaft room is in sightlines, and then there's an explosion, Poseidon shifts, and Linda is thrown off the catwalk to her death. She was minutes away from surviving.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Since he's the strongest survivor, Rogo is frequently asked (well, more like ordered) to lift/move something or help someone, and he tends to be irritated by Rev. Scott never even saying "thank you". He finally snaps after Scott blames him for Acres falling to his death, even though Rogo tried to save him. He actually has to be held back by the others from punching the reverend.
    Rogo: The boat shifted and he fell! The shaft blew up, and he's DEAD! And THAT'S IT! Or do you wanna make SOMETHIN' MORE OUT OF IT!?
  • Dwindling Party: We begin with all the survivors in the Ball Room plus the main cast, who decide to reach the hull before the ship sinks. The ball room is flooded, leaving all the red shirts to die. Acres is lost when he falls to his death during the climb in the air shaft. Next, Belle frees a trapped Rev. Scott underwater, but dies of a heart attack immediately after. Linda falls to her death from a catwalk when explosions rock the ship. Finally, Rev. Scott sacrifices himself to shut off a steam valve, leaving only six survivors.
  • Fanservice: Dagnabbit, those long skirts worn by Pamela Sue Martin and Stella Stevens are way too inconvenient for them to climb out of the ballroom in. Sorry, guess they'd better take them off. (Conveniently enough, the older and heftier Shelley Winters is not required to strip at all, though in fairness her dress was not as tight as theirs.) Not to mention Nonnie's boots and hotpants combo.
  • Fight to Survive: A very basic story in which the passengers struggle to stay alive and make it out after the ship flips over.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The intro blurb at the start of the film reveals that the Poseidon was lost with only a few survivors.
  • Foreshadowing: The lyrics of the song Nonnie sings at the New Year's party are very on-the-nose considering what's about to transpire.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: The fact that Linda is wearing "just panties" underneath her gown is discussed as if she were Going Commando, with her husband saying she's got "nothing on under it".
    • Well, she wasn't supposed to have a bra on, but the straps are visible in some shots.
  • Gallows Humor: While waiting for the Reverend to scout the kitchen, Mr. Martin asks Rogo what the other survivors should do. Rogo snarkily suggests they get out their hymnals and sing "Nearer, My God, to Thee". That what was supposedly the last song played by the ship's band of the RMS Titanic when she sank.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom:
    Lookout: I never saw anything like it. An enormous wall of water coming at us.
    Captain: (sees it) Oh, my God.
  • Gravity Screw: A "Rotating Castle" variant, albeit one that flips 180 degrees and then stops. This makes things like stairwells a nightmare to traverse.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Virtually every time Frank Scott and Mike Rogo discuss the situation, the conversation either starts like this or builds to it. But since the combatants are Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine, it makes it memorable, rather than a detraction from the film.
  • The Hero Dies:
    • Reverend Scott falls to his death after shutting off a steam valve so the rest of the group can reach the propeller shaft.
    • Also Belle Rosen, who rescues Scott after he becomes trapped swimming through the water filled passageway to the engine room, and has a heart attack from exertion almost immediately after they surface on the other side.
    • And Acres. He clearly has a painful leg injury that he actively ignores to serve as a guide to Rev. Scott and the rest of the party. His knowledge of the ship's decks greatly helps them in their travels until he dies.
  • Heroic BSoD: Martin finds Nonnie in the middle of one due to her brother's death. Rogo later has one after Linda's death, followed in quick succession by Rev. Scott's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Belle Rosen, who turns out to be a former WSA champ, saves a trapped Rev. Scott, but dies of a heart attack once they make it to the engine room. Rev. Scott himself dies trying to shut off a steam valve so the rest of the group can reach the propeller shaft.
  • Hidden Depths: For most of the film, Rogo is the standoffish buffoon of the group... but after Mrs. Rosen dies of a heart attack while saving Rev. Scott, he looks at her dead body, sighs tiredly, and says, "You had a lot of guts, lady. A lot of guts." And here the viewer is reminded that Rogo, for all his bluster, is a cop from New York City, and he's seen this sort of thing way too many times.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Linda Rogo was a hooker before her husband kept arresting her to keep her off the street. Though you have to look really hard to find that heart of gold, she really does love her husband, agrees to go with Rev. Scott almost immediately, and despite making fun of her weight earlier, visibly mourns Belle Rosen's death.
  • Hope Spot: Said by Mr. Rogo after his wife dies in front of him. He'd actually started to believe Scott that they were going to survive. Even before she dies, he's feeling it when Scott shows him the the door to the propeller shaft, right in sight.
  • Idiot Ball: The Captain seems to be firmly holding on to one, as many of his actions leading up to the wave hitting the ship simply don't make any sense for an experienced sea captain. He sees the wave on the radar screen and he's clearly disturbed. He immediately asks if the ship is all battened down, (i.e. that all watertight doors are closed) asks the radio operator to check to see if there has been any recent seismic activity in the area, and orders the lookout in the crow's nest to keep a sharp lookout in the direction of the radar signal. He clearly suspects that a rogue wave is heading towards the ship. However, upon learning this, he doesn't tell the company representative who's been urging him to go too fast and not take on ballast to go fuck himself, which would have been perfectly justified. The proper course of action for him to have taken upon seeing all the evidence would have been to order the Poseidon to immediately turn towards the wave and begin taking on ballast, tell all passengers to prepare for an emergency, and order a distress signal sent. If he'd lived through the capsizing, he in all probability would have found himself on trial for criminal negligence.
    • Ironically, somewhat subverted in the sense that if the Poseidon HAD taken on ballast water as Captain Harrison wanted, she'd have likely sunk straight to the bottom. There was no way the ship would survive being struck by a wave of that magnitude, and all of the air in the empty bowls of the ship helped keep her buoyant, while capsized, long enough for the survivors to escape. If she HAD capsized, and somehow remained afloat even with her holds carrying ballast, the survivors still would have been screwed, as all that water would have flooded down from the ballast holds into the interior parts of the ship, including the dining room, and likely killed everyone who survived the capsizing.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Although Susan and Robin survive, there's no way they were the only children on the ship...
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Both of the Rogos bitch and moan throughout pretty much the entire ordeal, but also make it a point to quietly comfort the other survivors and keep them moving.
  • Karma Houdini: Mike Rogo is constantly at odds with Rev. Scott, repeatedly questions his decisions, and is often an insulting Jerkass to the other survivors, even his own wife. In most other disaster movies, he would clearly be a character who would pay the ultimate price just before the end of the film, especially because he's at odds with the decisions of the film's clear hero. However, he's helpful enough throughout the film, and the novel it's based on, that he not only survives, but it's Rev. Scott who dies, after putting Rogo in charge of the survivors for the last bit of the journey.
  • Large Ham: Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine are seemingly locked in an actors battle to see who can out act the other, and/or chew the most scenery. Unlike other films, this battle actually makes the movie, and remains one of the film's many highlights. Even Stella Stevens gets in on it, and she's just as fun to watch as Hackman and Borgnine.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The purser, who convinces the majority of the dining room survivors to wait for rescue, and claims Scott's party will die. Scott barely leaves the room before there's an explosion, the ship shifts, and water starts pouring in, dooming everyone inside, especially the wounded purser.
  • Lighter and Softer: Relatively speaking, of course — this is still a disaster story we're talking about — but the movie prunes away a lot of the more unpleasant elements of the original novel.
  • The Load: Mrs. Rosen is convinced she's going to be this, but winds up as (you should pardon the expression) a huge aversion.
    • Nonnie is a somewhat of a straight example; her cowardice almost gets her killed several times and she spends a good portion frightened out of her mind. Given that she saw her brother die during the capsizing and will definitely have PTSD, it's a bit understandable but not always excusable. She also turns out to be unable to swim.
    • Much of Nonnie's clueless nature is down to the timing. This is a movie made in the seventies and Nonnie is the epitome of the desperately naive, gentle hippy flower child of the time period, floating through life with an older brother to take care of her. Until he dies, she's probably never been required to make a decision for herself in her entire life. So her confusion and hopeless participation in a crisis is possibly understandable.
  • Manly Tears: Reverend Scott weeps over the death of Belle Rosen and Rogo cries when Linda bites it. The latter also weeps Tears of Joy (albeit bittersweet ones) at the end when the group is rescued.
  • Mood Whiplash: Mrs. Rosen, despite being an overweight woman in her fifties, gets a triumphant moment wherein she manages to swim a great distance underwater to rescue Rev. Scott — then she suffers a fatal heart attack.
    • After spending the majority of the film clashing with every decision Rev. Scott makes, when Mike Rogo finally catches sight of the door to the propeller shaft, he admits that Rev. Scott was right all along. Almost after he says the words, the ship rocks from an explosion and Linda falls from the platform to her death, leaving a completely heartbroken Rogo to scream her name in anguish before turning all of his rage towards Scott and accusing Scott of suckering him in before blaming him for Linda's death.
    • The movie itself starts out as a kind of ensemble comedy, and then the wave hits...
  • Ms. Fanservice: Linda Rogo. "Just panties, what else do I need?"
    • Nonnie and Susan don tight-fitting hot pants through most of the film.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: Martin has to "motivate" Rogo to continue after Rev. Scott dies, especially since it's right after Linda's death.
    Martin: Are you quitting, Mr. Rogo? Are you going out with a whimper, on your belly?
    Rogo: All right, you. That's enough!
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Reverend Scott pointedly tells Rogo they don't get along because Rogo sees a reflection of himself in Scott and he doesn't like what he sees.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Linarcos, who gets a well-deserved Karmic Death when the wave first hits the ship.
    • Ironically, it's Linarcos' greed that ends up helping in the end. Even with ballast, there's no way Poseidon would have survived being struck by a wave of that magnitude. Linarcos' greed-induced decision to keep Capt. Harrison from taking on ballast unwittingly bought the survivors time to escape, as all the holds were filled with air to keep Poseidon buoyant.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Captain's reaction when he spots the wave heading directly at his ship.
    • Linda's reaction when, with the point of rescue literally in sight, the ship rocks from an explosion and she knows she's going to fall to her death.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Roddy McDowall was supposed to be playing a Scotsman but had severe problems keeping up the accent. If you listen carefully his accent changes from Scottish to Irish to his usual transatlantic English/American one.
  • Precision F-Strike: While moving the Christmas tree, Ernest Borgnine as Rogo seemingly breaks character briefly, and clearly says, "Holy FUCK, that's HEAVY."
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Reverend Scott has a yelling-at-God moment just before his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: As in the novel, the film's ending was supposed to show a large flotilla of rescue craft surrounding the sinking ship, but the budget ran out. The shot of the helicopter lifting off the hull with the six survivors was done on the studio lot. The fact that you never actually see the Poseidon sink inspired Irwin Allen to make a sequel about a rescue team going back for more survivors, which wasn't nearly as well received.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The reason Rev. Scott is aboard the Poseidon; as punishment for his unorthodox preaching, his church is sending him to be a missionary in "some new country" in Africa... which is actually just what he was hoping for.
  • Retirony: Is it any coincidence that the SS Poseidon sinks on her last voyage?
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: As if the situation weren't bad enough, the survivors have to contend with the water flooding every deck behind them.
  • Say My Name: Rogo yells out Linda's name about eight times after she falls to her death.
  • Sexy Priest: Susan, at least, is clearly very attracted to Rev. Scott. Of course, part of that is Rescue Romance.
  • Sinking Ship Scenario: May be seen as the template for film portrayals of the scenario for decades to follow.
  • Skyward Scream: Or rather, Floorward Scream, from Susan after Rev. Scott's Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Rogo's reaction after Linda falls to her death.
  • The Smart Guy: Robin and Acres (who is a waiter) are both very knowledgeable about the ship. Martin also counts, as it was his idea to even try to make it to the hull in the first place.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: Rev. Scott, just before his death. Having had enough after Linda's death, he offers himself up to save the remaining members of his party.
    Reverend Scott: What more do you want of us? We've come all this way, no thanks to you. We did it on our own, no help from you. (he climbs down toward the steaming vent blocking their path) We didn't ask you to fight for us, but damn it, don't fight against us! Leave us alone! How many more sacrifices? How much more blood? (he jumps to the valve and starts turning while hanging from it) How many more lives? Belle wasn't enough. Acres wasn't. Now this girl! You want another life? Then take me!
  • The Snark Knight: Mike Rogo. Any time Scott isn't around and the others look to Rogo for advice, snark is Rogo's default setting. When Scott tests out the kitchen to see if they can pass through it and Martin asks Rogo what they should do if Scott doesn't come back, Rogo snarks that they should break out prayer books and sing "Nearer My God To Thee."
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the novel, once they reach Broadway, Robin wanders off, the lights go off, there's a panic, and he disappears. The remaining survivors make an effort to find him, but they don't and continue on. Robin's parents spend the rest of the film hoping against hope they'll find him, and even have some false hope when they discover there were other survivors from the bow, but ultimately, he's never found before the ship sinks at the end, and they never find out exactly what happened to him. Robin's mother is particularly disturbed as the ship sinks, wondering if Robin is still somehow alive down there in the dark, unable to be rescued. Susan also gets a second-hand save. In the novel, during the search for Robin in the darkness, Susan goes off alone and ends up getting raped by a panicked young crewman who mistakes her for a stewardess in the dark, as if that makes his actions any less deplorable.
  • Tagalong Kid: Robin's somewhat a mixture of this and (from his sister's standpoint, at least) Bratty Half-Pint. Somewhat averted in that he arguably is the one who knows the most about the ship.
  • Take Me Instead: Part of Rev. Scott's Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter rant before his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Tears of Joy: Everyone when they're rescued at the end, albeit bittersweet ones considering the ones they lost and that they're the only survivors overall. Rogo has a moment where he's clearly overcome with grief, looking out to where Linda fell before collecting himself and reverting his gaze back to the opening being cut.
  • Tempting Fate: They think they can get an aging ocean liner across the Atlantic — on her final voyage, no less — without a hitch? Not in Hollywood.
    • The 2006 remake inverts the situation but still plays the trope straight — the ship is brand new and is taking her maiden voyage.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Pretty much all the other survivors besides the main group. First the people in the dining room refuse to even try and escape and decide to wait for rescue even after Reverend Scott points out the obvious: that the ship has capsized and is definitely going to sink. Then they later meet another group of survivors being lead by the ship's doctor towards the bow of the ship. Again, Scott points out the obvious: the ship is sinking bow first. Neither group listens and they drown as a result.
    • The purser is the biggest non-lead example. He's honestly convinced the captain is coming to their aid, despite the fact that the captain went to the bridge, which was one of the first places flooded, with everyone in it killed. Scott tells him point blank that the captain is dead for sure, and the purses refuses to believe him and refuses to budge.
  • Totally Radical: Early in the film, as Robin regales his sister with facts and figures about the ship while she brushes her hair, a bored Susan sarcastically responds, "That's heavy, Robin. Real heavy."
  • Twice Shy: James Martin and Nonnie Parry. They both survive and it is implied they get together afterwards.
  • Vehicle Title: "Poseidon" is the name of the ocean liner that capsizes.

    Beyond the Poseidon Adventure 

  • Expy: Frank Rosetti is basically Mike Rogo, but with a daughter rather than a wife. He even wears a tuxedo similar in color to the one Ernest Borgnine wore in the earlier film.
  • In Name Only: Paul Gallico, reading the writing on the wall after the success of the 1972 film, actually wrote a direct sequel based on the events of the film, rather than his original novel, as in his novel, Poseidon sinks in the end. The book comes up with a way to bring Mike Rogo, James Martin, and Manny Rosen back to the ship and retain them as main characters, (Nonnie, Susan and Robin have very brief cameos) while updating their appearances to match the actors that played them in the film, and adds two small groups of salvagers, one decent group that teams up with Rogo, and one ruthless group. The film abandons virtually everything about Gallico's sequel book save for the two groups of salvagers, and the location. In the Book, the only additional survivor found is the nurse from the bow group (who shares what happened to them, a thread left unplucked in the film, and only hinted at,) and a lion. Of everyone in the film, the only characters that have any book counterpart that is slightly similar are Mike Turner and Stefan Svevo, and even then, the similarity isn't much, while Rogo gets an expy in the form of new character Frank Rosetti.
  • Mauve Shirt: Veronica Hamel's character, who serves little purpose other than to be The Mole for Svevo and then being killed off.

     2005 TV movie 

  • Adapted Out: The colorful Linda Rogo is nowhere to be found in this version, and unlike other characters that have modernized versions (The Clarkes take over for the Shelby family, as an example) there's no similar counterpart to Linda.
    • Manny Rosen falls into this too. He's mentioned, but he's passed on before the events of the film, whereas he was a key character in the novel and '72 film.
  • And Starring: And starring...Peter Weller.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most of Schmidt's group are rescued, but as Harrison points out, it's hard to celebrate saving nine people when thousands have died.
  • Canon Foreigner: Jeffrey Anderson and Aimee, Badawi, and Shoshanna are among the passenger examples. Suzanne Harrison and the Navy personnel are also all added characters who don't appear in the novel or original film.
  • Death by Adaptation: Manny Rosen died of old age before the film begins, leaving Belle a widow.
    • Also, James Martin.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Shoshanna, apparently for being an active participant in an affair Richard wanted.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Rogo, in both roles. He initially is harsh towards Badawi, then promises to help him see his family if he cooperates.
  • Good Shepherd: Reverend Schmidt, who is much calmer and even-tempered then Reverend Scott in the original film.
  • Jerkass: The cruise director, who babbles about Rogo's job as Sea Marshal, does his utmost to keep everyone in the dining room when the ship is obviously sinking, and hordes painkillers for himself when they could be used on other survivors. He also yanks a woman off the Christmas tree as he tries to escape the flooding dining room.
    • Richard, who's having an affair with Shoshanna.
    • Shelby. Yes, Richard WAS having an affair with her, which sucks, but hating on her at every turn when she's just trying to survive along with everyone else on a ship that is capsized and sinking is a bit much.
  • Karma Houdini: Played with. Shoshanna gets death as a comeuppance for having an affair with Richard, but Richard becomes contrite, so he's spared. It doesn't appear he's going to make amends completely with his faimly, however.
  • No Name Given: The surviving crewman with the rope (the credits list him as Kemal), and the surviving terrorist (Badawi).
  • Offscreen Karma: The cruise director. While he does die with everyone else in the dining room, we don't get to see it.
  • Random Smoking Scene: Schmidt and Rogo share a cigar after getting out of the air ducts.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Captain Gallico is the first major character introduced, and he's murdered by the terrorists after the ship capsizes to close out the first part.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Once again, Belle suffers a heart attack after getting a guide-rope through a flooded hallway...except there was no reason for her to go in the first place, as the corridor wasn't completely flooded; anyone on the party could have done so just fine.
  • Shout-Out: Captain Paul Gallico is named after the author of the original novel.
    • Dr. Ballard is named after oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard, who was one of the co-leaders of the 1985 expedition that located the wreck of the Titanic.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Reverend Schmidt (while he's technically not Reverend Scott, he does fulfill the same role and purpose).
  • Super Cell Reception: Rachel is able to send out a wireless e-mail from the ship's internet lounge after it's been capsized.
  • Take That!!: During the scene in the sewage treatment plant Dylan makes a jab at Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
  • Tempting Fate: Mrs. Rosen mentions to Martin as they climb the ladder in the air shaft that if they come out of it together, she'll be eternally grateful to him. Guess who dies just moments later when Martin steps in front of an open vent and is met with a faceful of rushing water, causing him to crash into the opposite wall and plunge to his death at the bottom of the shaft.
  • Took A Level In Bad Ass: While Rogo was certainly no slouch in the 1972 version, and the novel, this version takes a full-on leadership role in the efforts to escape the ship, whereas the novel and '72 version of Rogo was more of The Lancer to Rev. Scott. Having Rogo played by the younger and fitter Adam Baldwin doesn't hurt.
  • The Voiceless: Kemal, who never says a single word.
  • Token Minority: Kemal, the only non-white member of the survivors, along with the terrorist.

Alternative Title(s): Beyond The Poseidon Adventure