If you're here, then you've finished your journey with Percy Jackson and the Olympians season 1! The critically-acclaimed and popular Disney+ adaptation of Rick Riordan's expansive bookverse has kept its audience locked in since its premiere in December 2023.
From episode to episode, this fantasy adventure has been captivating but some episodes were better than others. Depending on if you've read the books, or you went into the first season with very little knowledge of them (like myself!), your ranking of the episodes is likely to be different but we all have our favorites and our least favorites. Below you'll find my ranking of the season along with my reasons for why the episodes are ranked where they are. So, let's make like sea creatures and dive in!
8. "We Take a Zebra to Vegas" (Episode 6)
Episode 6, "We Take a Zebra to Vegas," is on the bottom of this list due to the abundance of exposition. Our trio are on a mission but this is a talking episode so we're learning a lot about their personal lives via walk and talks. It's hard to dig into the emotional stakes of what's going on because the major story beats are focused on characters that aren't present.
We don't know Luke that well so his estrangement from his father, Hermes, doesn't really resonate. Sure, in some ways it connects to Percy's complicated situation with Poseidon, but there's not enough there for it to have real weight in the story at this point. Also, Grover's side plot with Augustus and the returning mini arc about the search for Pan feels out of place compared to the rest of the story.
Despite this, the episode still manages to be fun in place with its needle drop of "Levitating" by Dua Lipa, Grover's memory loss which makes him adorably amenable, and Percy's poor driving skills. To me, "We Take a Zebra to Vegas" is a bridge that gets us from point A to point B, while seeding enough plot to make the season 1 finale make sense. Episode recap.
7. "I Plunge to My Death" (Episode 4)
Don't get me wrong, the character stakes in "I Plunge to My Death" were well done. My issue with this episode was the Big Bad, Echidna. While Suzanne Cryer hit it out of the park, Echidna felt like a footnote in the overall story which might have been fine if she and the Chimera had been defeated but they weren't. They kind of just appeared, caused a lot of panic and chaos, and then disappeared. We never heard from them again.
What I did appreciate about episode 4 was Annabeth's growth as a character. She really was trying to sort out her feelings on Athena and the mythic world that she was born into but isn't treated fairly by. Paired with episode 5, "A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers," this episode does well to establish the young heroine's change of perspective. But, on its own, it doesn't fare as well as the other episodes on this list. The action sequence with the Chimera was cool though, and Poseidon finally stepping up as a father to protect Percy was a good episode ending. Episode recap.
6. "We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of" (Episode 7)
Episode 7 is this far down on the list because of those flashbacks and how underwhelming I found the reveal about Hades to be. Percy Jackson and the Olympians season 1 suddenly started relying heavily on flashbacks in its final two episodes which worked far better in the season finale than it did in the penultimate episode.
While I appreciated that we did learn what memory Hermes showed Percy in "We Take a Zebra to Vegas," it's inclusion in "We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of" disrupted the present day plot for the episode too much. By the end we know why, it's to show how much Sally sacrificed in order to ensure Percy wasn't influenced by his Pantheon family, but I wish it had come earlier in the season or that we had seen it in full as a cold open and then let the rest of the episode play out.
As for Hades, like with Hermes, he'd been one of the gods I'd most been excited to see interact with our trio of heroes. But, just like with Hermes, I wasn't that sold on his appearance. He was there to provide us with information that we didn't have before and didn't move beyond being a plot device which was unfortunate because the Underworld itself is pretty fascinating. Episode recap.
5. "We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium" (Episode 3)
I struggled with whether or not to place "We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium" higher because it's such a solid episode and I have more substantial issues with my number four pick, but ultimately episode 3 lands here because it had less to do, comparatively.
This is the official beginning of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover's quest, and it's not getting off to a good start because they each have traits that are rubbing each other wrong. Percy refuses to listen, Annabeth won't hear other opinions/perspectives, and Grover isn't asserting himself. By the end of the episode, they've each learned that these traits can be detrimental and they'll need to work together in order to not only survive this quest but accomplish it.
Jessica Parker Kennedy as Medusa is probably my favorite guest star role in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The gorgon was absolutely wrong in the way she went about things, but Kennedy was compelling as she told the story of what Athena did to her because she caught the attention of Poseidon. Episode recap.
4. "The Prophecy Comes True" (Episode 8)
Placing the season 1 finale this low on the list may be a controversial choice but, for me, it all comes down to emotional payoff. We spent the whole season with the prophecy hanging over the story, and I don't believe the writing entirely stuck the landing. The betrayer turned out to be Luke, but we didn't spend enough time with him for that reveal to feel like an actual betrayal.
In show, Luke is basically a kid we spent only one full episode with, the rest of the time it was short scenes. His strongest connection is with Annabeth and all of the emotional weight of this betrayal lies in their relationship not his fledgling, friendly bond with Percy. So, while Charlie Bushnell had a superb performance in the role, particularly in the scene in which Luke admits what he'd done, what sells this moment is Bushnell's acting and the writing in-scene not the overall arc of "Who stole the Master Bolt?"
What keeps "The Prophecy Comes True" from being lower on the list is that Percy's season long journey does have the kind of payoff you want in a season finale. His arc was about defining who he is on his own terms without the influence of outside voices. He did that and he stepped fully into his power as a demigod while keeping what sets him apart, his determination to do what is right even if it means personal sacrifice.
3. "I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher" (Episode 1)
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians premiere ranks third on this list because it has so much to do to get us to believe in this journey that Percy is going to be thrust into and it works! A lot of this praise has to do with the acting, the series has a fantastic cast and they're supported wonderfully by the beautiful visual effects work and amazing action sequences in the entirety of the show.
"I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher" has a special place in my heart because it's when I started falling in love with this story. That's perfect because that's what a series opener is supposed to do. From Percy's dry wit to Sally's caring but firm nature to Grover just doing his best, this episode sets the standard for the episodes to come. It also showcases what the audience is getting ourselves into and it's clear this show will be funny, the action will be up to par with the genre, and it'll have an immense amount of heart. Episode recap.
2. "I Become Lord of the Bathroom" (Episode 2)
This one was a no-brainer. Camp Half-Blood remains my favorite setting of the first season. There's no contest. To be honest, I wish we spent more time there because it is such a delight seeing these young demigods learning about themselves and their own personal skills. Like Percy, for those of us who haven't read the books or seen the film series, this place is new and wondrous. Camp Half-Blood is also where Percy begins to fit in. For a kid who has spent his life being the odd one out, you could see the impact that had on him and it added some great texture to this story.
"I Become Lord of the Bathroom" is high on this list because of its pacing most of all. Yes, Percy is launched right into this world, but its believable. His crash course is entertaining to watch and the bullying arc with Clarisse plus his triumph over her and her minions was satisfying. Percy proves his mettle and in doing so gets the attention of his father. I don't see it for Poseidon but the moment he called Percy when he was victorious was pretty cool. Episode recap.
1. "A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers" (Episode 5)
Episode 5 is perfection! There's so much to bite into with "A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers" and the emotional stakes are at an all-time high. It comes off the back of Percy's near death experience which shook his friends up, especially because he prioritized their lives over his.
The episode also happens to be where the pieces start to come together for Percy about just how awful his Pantheon family are and what his mother did to ensure he didn't become like them. There's so much growth for Annabeth as well who has been on a journey since episode 3 of breaking away from the rigidity of the mythic realm's rules to start making decisions with her heart not her head.
For me, "A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers," is Grover's best episode. He actually gets to do something of real note, and it's made clear that though he doesn't have physical prowess, he has a sharp intellect and a solid ability to manipulate and carefully interrogate.
Also, the inclusion of "What Is Love" by Haddaway, which accompanies the animated story on the walls of the Tunnel of Love that depicts Hephaestus' heartbreak, will always been one of the most iconic things this show has ever done! Episode recap.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians season 1 is streaming on Disney+.