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Has the Percy Jackson Series Not Lived Up to the Hype? Or Are Diehard Fans Too Hard to Please?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I am sure you have either heard or maybe even watched the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series on Disney+. This long awaited adaptation comes almost 20 years since the release of the first novel and 13 years since the first attempt at an adaptation. Rick Riordan, the author of the series, has publicly stated many times that he was shut out almost completely by the production team of the films. This, he says, is why the movies are so different from the books, which was ultimately the film’s downfall. 

Since the announcement of the series, however, Riordan has made many promises that he is working closely with every detail in this adaptation and that it will stay incredibly close to the original story. Upon hearing these promises, longtime Percy Jackson fans were extremely excited, and the premiere of the show became the top Disney branded Television premiere of all time. With the first season having completed, the last episode began airing on Disney+ on Jan. 30th, many fans have voiced their dislike for the changes that the show has made and some have even gone as far to say that they prefer the movies in certain aspects. As someone who has been a major fan of the Percy Jackson series since middle school, I wanted to see if I think any of these critiques are valid or if diehard fans are simply too hard to please. 

Firstly, I want to take a look at what Riordan has said about the films because as an author myself, it has truly broken my heart to hear how the movies have made him feel. For those unaware, when the Percy Jackson novels were being adapted into the films, Riordan says that he was completely shut out by the production team. In a statement about the films, Riordan states, “Even the most powerful authors (yes, the ones you are thinking of right now) have WAY less influence and control than you think they do. Nobody talks about that though, because when a movie is just coming out it is in the studio’s interest for it to SOUND like everybody was very involved and pleased with the final product. In reality, the best we authors can hope for is a good team effort, where everyone gets along, has the same vision, and works together well. Sometimes, that happens …” In 2020, Riordan tweeted, “Well, to you guys, it’s a couple hours entertainment. To me, it’s my life’s work going through a meat grinder when I pleaded with them not to do it.” He has also confirmed that he has never seen the movies, nor does he have plans to ever do so. He explains that he judged them based on the scripts, and that’s all he needed. So what does that mean for the Disney+ adaptation? 

For many fans, including myself, Riordan’s disdain for the movies meant a completely true to the story adaptation, but this wasn’t really the case. While it is completely true that many of the vital and key details from the books are translated very well into the show, some other key details have been either changed or completely removed. This led to a lot of fans having major critiques of the show, often taking to social media to voice their complaints. 

Tiktok was a very popular place to express these opinions. User @reagans_ratings made the following post where she mentions where she believes the Percy Jackson series went wrong:

While I don’t agree with this video, I can see how the way that Riordan hyped up the Television adaptation for years definitely created extremely high expectations for fans. Older fans of the books have truly waited years for this, and with all of the promises that were made, we were definitely expecting a lot. Unfortunately, many fans agree with Reagan, criticizing that way too much had been changed. Personally, however, I think that instead of seeing the changes as all inherently bad, maybe we should look at the fact that these books were written almost 20 years ago. If I were Rick Riordan, there would probably be a lot that I also would like to change about something that I created a long time ago (probably when I  was a completely different person). For example, having Annabeth be played by a Black actress capsulates Annabeth’s experience as constantly having to prove her intelligence and strength, which is unfortunately something real Black women experience, instead of continuing to use an outdated blonde stereotype that no longer holds much weight. Writers are taught to go back and make changes to their work, even if they believe it to be perfect, because that is how you learn to be a better writer (which is exactly what Riordan is doing).

Another major critique I’ve seen about the television series is that viewers have found the pacing of the show to be far too fast. And while, yes, there are lots of moments where everything moves a lot quicker than it did in the books, I also think there is a pretty good reason for this. For example, in episode 7, it starts with Percy entering a waterbed store and talking to its owner, Crusty, or better known as Procrustes, Son of Poseidon who would stretch innocents to fit his iron bed in Greek Mythology. In “The Lightning Thief” book, Percy has no idea who he is when he first enters the store and only finds out after Procrustes has already trapped both Annabeth and Grover. In the show, Percy knows exactly who Crusty is as soon as he enters the building, and the entire explanation of who Crusty is and what he wants is completely removed. And a lot of the exposition in the books is just left out and explained that Percy already knows a good amount of Greek Mythology because his mother had taught him from a young age. To me, this makes total sense because “The Lightning Thief” is 384 pages, and that all needs to be condensed down to eight 30 to 45 minute episodes. Unfortunately, due to those restrictions, not everything can feasibly be included. Even with the changes and things left out, Riordan has kept to his promise that the series would be way more book accurate to the movies. For me, I think any critique about the pacing is most likely being made by someone who doesn’t understand that books and film/tv are two completely different mediums. It’s important to take into account that when you try to convert one to the other, things are going to have to change to be able to fit the new medium. This is something that Riordan most likely has no control over either. He was most likely given the limit by Disney when they agreed to do the adaptation. 

Lastly, I wanted to talk about the one critique that I completely disagree with, which is that the movie did certain things better. And I have to name the elephant in the room, Lotus Hotel. While I can say that I do think that the movie version of the Lotus Hotel was incredibly fun, hype, and memorable, I don’t think it’s as amazing as everyone believes it to be. This TikTok user @cowboilikeme posted this video, and it gained a lot of views, with many people agreeing that the TV show’s version of the Lotus Hotel wasn’t what they expected. 

However, while of course it isn’t against any law to like the films or their depictions of things like the Lotus Hotel, I think the most important opinion is that of Rick Riordan. Before the release of episode six, which was the one to feature the Lotus Hotel, Riordan took to Instagram and Threads to voice his opinion on the fans hope that it would be very similar to the movies version. He said, “(Side note: as much as I love Lady Gaga, if some of you seriously think I’d allow any callbacks to certain movies, you haven’t been paying attention to the last decade. The show is its own thing. And imo it’s much better!) Normalize Bad Movie Erasure.” At the end of the day, I agree with Riordan completely. And if you are a fan and have issues with the changes made in the Percy Jackson TV series, I highly recommend going over to Riordan’s Instagram or Threads account where he talks about the changes that were made and why they were made. It gives a lot of great insight into the reasons why Riordan and the writers didn’t stick 100% to the books. 

At the end of the day, I am extremely happy for Rick Riordan and Percy Jackson fans Finally, after almost two decades, these fantastic books are getting the adaptation they deserve. I do think that criticism is necessary for growth, and I know that Riordan is going to use the critiques fans have given to make the other seasons of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” even better than the first one. I do think that some diehard fans are simply too hard to please and aren’t looking at the bigger picture when they make their critiques. I trust Riordan completely to bring this story to life again as a television series, and I can’t wait to see Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and their friends continue to grow on-screen. 

Adamari Ruelas

CU Boulder '26

Adamari Ruelas is a contributing writer for the Her Campus chapter at CU Boulder. Her job within Her Campus is to write at least two articles a month, one contributing to a theme week. Outside of Her Campus, Adamari is a first-generation college student who is currently a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in English Creative Writing. During her spring semester of freshman year, Adamari studied abroad in London, wanting to learn about different cultures while also being able to study in a Literature-rich city. Adamari also interned at the Aurora Public Schools Communications Department during her senior year of High School, where she learned how to write articles, interview subjects, and create social media posts for the department under the guidance of multiple professionals. In her free time, Adamari enjoys reading and writing, at least when she isn’t hanging out with her friends or playing Overwatch with her little siblings. She is a very proud Mexican-American who loves sharing her culture as long as Mexican history with anyone who lends an ear. Adamari is also a massive nerd, especially with Harry Potter (she’s a Ravenclaw btw) and Marvel. In the future, Adamari hopes to become a published author, sharing her works with the world and hoping they help people the way books have helped her.