Percy Jackson and the Olympians
|Name:||Percy Jackson and the Olympians|
|Date(s):||2005 - 2009 (books published)|
2010 - 2013 (2 films released)
|Medium:||book, film adaptations, musical adaptation|
|Country of Origin:||United States|
|External Links:||Rick Riordan's site , Percy Jackson wiki|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a five-book series written by Rick Riordan, published between 2005 and 2009. It tells the story of Percy Jackson, a demigod (half-god, half-mortal) thrust into a world of Greek Mythology (see Greek Mythology or Greek Mythology on Wikipedia for further reading) and burdened with the fate of being the hero of the so-called First Great Prophecy. Percy Jackson and the Olympians has been adapted into several forms of media beyond the original series, such as television, film, and musical theatre.
The author Rick Riordan later wrote a sequel five-part series, Heroes of Olympus, featuring many of the characters from PJO, as well as several other crossovers featuring Percy Jackson and characters within the author's larger universe.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians is set within a universe where the Greek gods and other figures and concepts from Greek Mythology remain "alive," or are still present and able to influence current events. It is stated that the gods are present in whichever country is deemed to be the center "Western Civilization," and that they have followed "the flame of Western Civilization" from country to country since the times of Ancient Greece. The existence of gods from other mythologies (such as Roman, Egyptian, and Norse) was expanded upon in later series.
Significantly for the narrative, gods are capable of fathering or giving birth to human children. These children are referred to as demigods, and are half-god, half-mortal. These demigods experience several effects due to their godly heritage: some are capable of magical powers, and nearly all are capable of reading Ancient Greek and possess heightened reflexes. However, they also naturally attract monsters and other hostile figures, apparently resulting in a very low life expectancy.
The plight of demigods and how they are largely ignored by their godly parents is a central component to the overall plot of the series.
The namesake of the series, Percy Jackson, was introduced as a twelve year old son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. It was revealed that his birth went against an agreement between the gods Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades dating back to the end of the Second World War, in which the "Big Three" gods agreed to father no children. The cause for this agreement was revealed later: that a sixteen-year old child of those three gods was prophesized to make a choice that could bring about the end of the world.
Being twelve at the time, the events of the five books represent a year-by-year escalation of conflict and the growth of Percy into a hero capable of making this choice (with the exception of Book Three, The Titan's Curse, which took place during the winter between Percy's thirteenth and fourteenth birthdays).
The series culminates in a dramatic battle on the day of Percy's sixteenth birthday, against a resurrected Kronos, the Titan of time.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians was adapted into two films by 20th Century Fox. Only the first two books, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Sea of Monsters were adapted, released in 2010 and 2013 respectively. Both were major commercial failures. It was stated in 2020 that due to the visual media rights of Percy Jackson being purchased by Disney, a third movie will never be released.
The movies were loathed by fans due to the many narrative and character differences between them and the books, and are only present is fanvids and manips. These differences included but were not limited to: significant plot variations, changes to the ages of the characters, and changes to the prophecy itself and other antagonists.
Some fans joke that no one hates the movie series more than Rick Riordan hates the movie series, as in 2018 Rick Riordan published his 2009 emails critical of the script insisting that the fans would hate the movie if it was directed as written. The movies were effectively disavowed by the author Rick Riordan again in 2020, giving an interview stating that "to me, it's my life's work going through a meat grinder."
A Disney+ adaptation of Percy Jackson and the Olympians was announced in 2020, following the announcement that a third movie would not be released. This new series will reportedly be in an episodic format, consistent with other Disney+ releases resembling TV shows.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians remains a very popular fandom, with over 75,000 works published on FanFiction.Net and nearly 20,000 on AO3 as of February 2021. The fandom was at it's peak between approximately 2005 to 2014, when a new book featuring many of these characters was released each year.
Although many works in the fandom are tagged for both the Percy Jackson series and its successor, Heroes of Olympus, the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians characters remain fan-favorites across both series. As PJO are the only books with both film, musical, and soon to be television adaptations, many more fans are familiar with the first series and it's characters.
In terms of shipping, Het, slash, and gen are by far the most popular tags, followed by a smaller number of femslash and polyamory/multi works. Percy/Annabeth is by far the most popular pairing, as it was one of the only canonical pairings from Percy Jackson and the Olympians, as well as being the pairing of the central protagonists of the series. Romantic tension between Percy and Annabeth dominated PJO, and as such many fanworks were created regarding them. Slash and femslash works are more common on AO3; AO3 works often include characters only canonically included from the Heroes of Olympus series, where a secondary protagonist from PJO, Nico di Angelo, entered into a canon gay pairing with a character from HoO (Nico/Will).
Apart from fanfiction, the PJO fandom is most active in the fields of fanart, wikis, cosplay, forums, roleplay etc. While the series remained unfinished, there were quite wild speculations about future plot and canon pairings (Percy/Annabeth vs. Percy/Rachel), as well as guesses about Percy's role in the First Great Prophecy. Since the publication of the fifth and final book of the first series (May 5th 2009), the following series have been largely included under the umbrella of Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
Since the latter half of the Heroes of Olympus series and onwards, the series has diversified and included more characters from different backgrounds.
Shipping and slashing
While the canon in the PJO series promotes strictly heterosexual shippings, fanon and Greek Mythology in general is not restricted by it, which led to the appearance of a number of "impossible" ships, such as Luke/Percy, by far the most popular slash pairing after Nico/Percy which belongs to the Heroes of Olympus series, Percy/Artemis, and Thalia/Nico.
From the beginning, PJO fanfic displayed sharp diverseness and a number of easily identifiable categories besides het, gen and slash. The biggest categories are, besides canon-compliant, AU and All Human AU (often abbreviated as AH) stories where the characters do not possess godly powers. Fanworks exploring Ancient Greece and Rome are also quite popular, as well as cross-generational stories. Perhaps the most popular AU would be that of a traditional High School AU, as all characters within the series are approximately of high school age. Stories that explore how mortals observe PJO world without knowing of its existence remain popular, and frequently humorous in nature.
PJO fanworks can also be sorted by time period in which they were created. As is the case with any multi-part story, the publishing of each new book brought forth a wave of fanworks with new canon interpretations, pairings, and predictions about the next installment. This pattern crossed over to its successor series Heroes of Olympus, which leads to interesting results depending on how one searches through various archives.
Tropes & Subgenres
There are many tropes and subgenres existing in PJO fanfics, but these exist only in PJO:
- Guardian of the Hunt
- Different Godly Parent
- Percy discovers Facebook
- Percy is betrayed
- The characters read the book series and react
- Second/Third Giant war AU
- Powerful/Dark Percy
Archives & Fannish Links
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians fanfics @ FanFiction.net (third most popular book fandom, with 57.9K stories as of 30 November 2014)
- Book canon and film canon fanworks on Archive of Our Own