Percy Jackson Season 1 Omitted These 6 Key Scenes from the Book

By Gillian Blum Posted:
Percy Jackson Disney Plus series wallpaper

From the beginning, Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Disney+ was promised to be a faithful adaptation of Rick Riordan's books — and, for the most part, Season 1 succeeded in doing this.

Of course, the first season of the show is not 100% entirely and completely identical to The Lightning Thief (the first of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians novels). In fact, several key story elements were added or changed.

Season 1 allowed the Medusa sequence to reflect the more mature elements of her myth, Grover saw brand new lore added, and multiple episodes included brand new flashbacks to Percy's childhood.

However, a few elements of the book did manage to slip through the cracks and not make it on screen.

Percy Jackson Book Moments & Scenes Missing From Show

There were not too many moments from The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan that did not get adapted in one way or another for the Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

But, the show couldn't cover everything.

The Rest of Percy's Year at Yancy Academy

Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

In the show, Grover gets Percy kicked out of Yancy Academy (which, though unknown to Percy, was for his safety) immediately after the field trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In the book, though, Percy actually finishes out his year at Yancy and is kicked out following an altercation with a teacher, who insists Percy "was too lazy to study for spelling tests." Of course, Percy still has to take his final exams.

While studying for his Latin final, Percy decides to talk to Mr. Brunner (who he does not yet know is actually Chiron). He knows that even if his teacher couldn't help him at that point, he "didn't want to leave Yancy Academy with him thinking [he] hadn't tried."

When he gets there, Percy realizes his teacher and Grover are in the middle of a conversation about him. 

He listens in and hears the two using words and phrases Percy doesn't understand like "Kindly Ones." Most concerning, though, is one of the last things Percy hears before running off: "Now let's just worry about keeping Percy alive until next fall."

Before he bolts, though, he hears the "slow clop-clop-clop" of hooves, foreshadowing Mr. Brunner's true identity.

After exams, Grover gives Percy his address and phone number, and the two get on a bus to go home. This is where the book version of the scene with the fates happens, rather than it following the Chimera battle like it did in the show. 

Another difference from the show, it's Percy and Grover who see the fates cut the string in the books, not Annabeth and Grover like on Disney+.

"We Get Advice From a Poodle"

Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson and Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

While Percy Jackson and the Olympians did cover some of what happened in Chapter 12 of The Lightning Thief, its context and titular sequence were left out.

The chapter takes place right after the Medusa segment, but before getting on the Amtrak train which brings Percy, Grover, and Annabeth to St. Louis. The trio is camping in the woods for the night, sleeping in shifts. At one point while Annabeth is asleep, Percy and Grover have a heart-to-heart.

The exposition covered in this discussion, such as explaining the satyrs' search for Pan and revealing that Grover was Luke, Thalia, and Annabeth's protector when they came to camp, were scattered into other conversations in the show.

However, there is one fan-favorite part of this chapter that was missing from the show: the conversation with the pink poodle.

Percy wakes up to find Grover "sitting cross-legged on a blanket with something fuzzy in his lap." He quickly realizes that Grover is holding "a pink poodle" with whom the satyr can carry on a full, two-sided conversation.

Grover explains that the poodle "is [their] ticket west," and that they all need to "be nice to him." Grover introduces Percy to the poodle (whose name turns out to be Gladiola) but Percy refuses to introduce himself to the poodle in return. Annabeth tells him that she already "said hello to the poodle," and now it is Percy's turn, which he begrudgingly does.

Grover then tells Percy and Annabeth that Gladiola "had run away from a rich local family, who'd posted a $200 reward for his return." As Percy explains to readers, the dog did not want to go back, "but he was willing to if it meant helping Grover."

So, the trio returns the dog, gets the reward, and pays for tickets on the Amtrak train that will, like in the show, bring them to St. Louis.

Cameras and Spiders in the Tunnel of Love

Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson and Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth Chase in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Episode 5's Thrill Ride 'O Love was, admittedly, very different than The Lightning Thief chapter 15's Tunnel of Love.

The changed version still managed to hit on the key plot and character pieces as the book's version — even adding a couple brand new elements and characters, in the process. But, the show did leave out a couple parts of the sequence that left some fans disappointed.

First, the book's version of the trap is not the golden chair, meant to permanently encase someone in gold, but is instead a trick meant to catch Ares and Aphrodite's affair on camera.

Just after picking up Ares' shield, Percy and Annabeth watch as their surroundings begin to change, revealing cameras and lights pointing right at them. They hear "a loudspeaker voice [boom]: 'Live to Olympus in one minute," before counting down from 60.

Annabeth catches on, realizing that they are "going to be broadcast live to Olympus and look like absolute fools," so naturally, she and Percy try to escape. Just before they can reach safety, though, a "row of mirrors opened like hatches," releasing tiny metal spider-like figures onto the demigods, much to Annabeth's horror.

Annabeth, who readers learn is deathly afraid of spiders, "fell backward in terror and almost got overwhelmed by the spider robots," before Percy helps her get away.

While in full view of the camera, Percy and Annabeth frantically try to escape the ride-gone-wild. After finally making to safety, Percy notices the cameras and lights still following them, and says "'Show's over!' ... 'Thank you! Goodnight!'" before all the cameras shut off.

Compared to the rest of this list, this excluded book moment may seem minuscule, but many fans were fairly disappointed by its exclusion. This even got to the point where Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan had to take to threads and address it.

Many fans were particularly disappointed that Annabeth's arachnophobia — a key element to her character arc, especially in later books and series — seemed to be skipped.

Riordan later explained in a Threads post that the spiders part of the sequence "became a production nightmare" and "in the end distracted more than it added," leading to the scene with the golden throne more or less taking its place:

"One more Episode 105 memory: The writing process for this episode was particularly complex. Why no spiders? We had tons of conversations about this and did a lot of brainstorming on ways to depict it, but it became a production nightmare that in the end distracted more than it added. We chose instead to keep the focus on Percy and Annabeth learning to trust one another with the throne trap & Hephaestus, which imo carried more emotional punch on screen."

In the second post in the thread, he made it clear that he has not "forgotten Annabeth's arachnophobia," and that it will come up "in future seasons if/when we get them" (Season 2 had not yet been confirmed when Riordan posted this):

"So yes, I haven't forgotten Annabeth's arachnophobia. IOU some spiders! We will address that in future seasons if/when we get them - fingers crossed!"

Plus, even though it was not depicted visually, the show itself did later confirm Annabeth's fear of spiders in a conversation between Luke and Percy in Episode 8.

The Journey From Santa Monica to New York City

Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, Grover Underwood, and Ares in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Including the iconic battle between Percy and Ares on the beach in the Season 1 finale was essentially a given. However, the context surrounding the scene is very different from its book counterpart.

In the show, the pearls transport Percy and Grover (and Annabeth earlier) to the beach in Montauk, and the fight with Ares takes place there. In the book, though, the pearls take them to a beach in Santa Monica.

As such, following the battle, the three heroes need to somehow make their way back to New York from California. On top of that, they are also on a time crunch, as (unlike what happened in the show), the deadline for returning the Master Bolt has not passed just yet.

The only realistic way for the trio to get back to New York in time is by plane, despite the fact that Percy is not supposed to ever fly on the plane. As Chiron explains early in the book, he "would be in Zeus's domain. [He] would never come down again alive." This piece of exposition was present in the show, with Grover and Annabeth explaining it to Percy in Episode 3.

Not only is flying across the country dangerous, but it's also expensive, and they can't pay for tickets on their own. So, Percy comes up with a creative solution.

With a little help from the mist, though, the reporters convinced themselves that Ares was "had abducted [Percy] and two other adolescents in New York and brought [them] across country on a ten-day odyssey of terror." This explained away all the chaos that seemed to follow in the trio's wake, and cleared their names as fugitives — something, incidentally, Gabe Ugliano was trying to exploit (which was shown briefly in Episode 5 of the show), much to Percy's anger.

So, as the trio "nodded and acted tearful and exhausted ... and played victimized kids for the camera," and the mortals ate it all up, Percy was able to pull off a stunt that managed to both solved their money problem, and hit Gabe right where it hurts:

"'All I want,' I said, choking back my tears, 'is to see my loving stepfather again. Every time I saw him on TV, calling me a delinquent punk, I knew...somehow...we would be okay. And I know he'll want to reward each and every person in this beautiful city of Los Angeles with a free major appliance from his store. Here's the phone number.' The police and reporters were so moved that they passed around the hat and raised money for three tickets on the next plane to New York."

Of course, the flight is still terrible for Percy, as he expected — he even admitted that "every spot of turbulence was scarier than a Greek monster."

However, none of this needs to happen in the show, as the pearls sent the trio right back to New York, and the battle took place there instead of in California.

Rick Riordan explained why the change was made in a Threads post, saying that Montauk was "a more convenient & important beach," so since "the pearl always returns to the sea, why not the Atlantic, which is closer to camp?"

Plus, as he explained, the change allowed for more time to be spent on other plot points:

"A 107 memory before tomorrow's finale: Good example of a streamlining change I approved for 107/108: The pearl doesn't take Percy back to the beach in Santa Monica, but to a more convenient & important beach: Montauk. We figured if the pearl always returns to the sea, why not the Atlantic, which is closer to camp? This cuts some details like the airplane ride back, yes, but imo this made sense and there were a lot more important things to cover! Like the upcoming battle with Ares . . ."

Percy Learning The Truth About Gabe, and Sally's Personal Revenge

Gabe turned to stone in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

To be clear from the get-go — yes, Gabe was still turned to stone with Medusa's head, like he was in the books, in the season finale's post-credit scene. And yes, it does appear as though someone (theoretically Sally) set up the circumstances to make it happen.

But, the books were a bit more malicious and pointedly intentional about Gabe's fate.

In The Lightning Thief, Percy and his mom reunite at their apartment near the end of the story. However, it's not just the two of them seeing each other for the first time after all that happened, but Gabe too.

After a fight between Gabe and Percy and Sally, Percy realizes for the first time that Gabe was not simply a smelly, mean gambler. He was physically abusing Sally Jackson:

"He raised his hand, and my mother flinched.

For the first time, I realized something. Gabe had hit my mother. I didn't know when, or how much. But I was sure he'd done it. Maybe it had been going on for years, when I wasn't around."

Percy was enraged and actually had the capacity to do something to fix the situation. He had just come from speaking with Zeus and Poseidon on Olympus, and Poseidon told him to expect a package, and that Percy "must make an important choice" related to it.

Turns out, the package contained Medusa's severed head (which still has the ability to turn people to stone if they look into its eyes). The package was returned to sender following Percy shipping it to Mount Olympus earlier in the story.

But, Sally tells him to wait, telling him that she has to "find the courage on [her] own." And, with Gabe barking an order at her being the final straw, she found it:

"'Hey, Sally,' he yelled. 'What about that meat loaf, huh?'

A steely look of anger flared in my mother's eyes, and I thought, just maybe, I was leaving her in good hands after all. Her own.

'The meat loaf is coming right up, dear,' she told Gabe. 'Meat loaf surprise.'

She looked at me, and winked.

The last thing I saw as the door swung closed was my mother staring at Gabe, as if she were contemplating how he would look as a garden statue."

The Scorpion

Charlie Bushnell as Luke Castellan in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The reveal of Luke's betrayal depicted for the Disney+ series is far more visually action-packed than its book counterpart.

In the book, Luke does not use his sword, Backbiter, to try to kill Percy (though this is the part of the story where Luke shows Percy the new sword). Rather, he sets a scorpion on the son of Poseidon.

As such, rather than being an action-packed sword fight like in the show, the book's version of the betrayal is a far slower, more suspenseful scene. As Percy listens to Luke's entire explanation of what he did and why he did it, along with what is essentially a recruitment pitch for him to join Kronos' side, he watches and feels the scorpion crawling on him.

Percy tries to convince Luke to "call off the bug," telling Luke that if he is "so strong," he should be the one to "fight" Percy. Then, like in the show, Luke uses Backbiter to make his escape.

However, the scorpion is still there after the son of Hermes leaves. Percy manages to "cut it in half in midair," but still found that his "palm had a huge red welt, oozing and smoking with yellow guck." In his last moments of awareness, he manages to reach a body of water to try and heal himself.

But, as Luke had told him earlier, the scorpion's poison could kill him in "sixty seconds." After "everything went black," Percy wakes up, healed by the food and drink of the gods, Nectar and Ambrosia. This was another element of the books not included in the show — basically, the substances burn mortals alive, nourish gods, and can heal demigods in small increments.

Also, while in the show, Annabeth witnesses Luke revealing his betrayal to Percy, it is just Luke and Percy there in the book. Annabeth learns about what happened after the fact, as Percy is healing.

The first season of Percy Jackson and the Olympians is available to stream in its entirety on Disney+.

- In This Article: Percy Jackson (Season 2)
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Aryan Simhadri
Leah Jeffries
Walker Scobell
- About The Author: Gillian Blum
Gillian Blum has been a writer at The Direct since 2022, reporting primarily from New York City. Though she covers news from across the entertainment industry, Gillian has a particular focus on Marvel and DC, including comics, movies, and television shows. She also commonly reports on Percy Jackson, Invincible, and other similar franchises.