Praised for its loyalty to Rick Riordan's books, Disney's Percy Jackson and the Olympians just launched its first season. Offering a Greek mythological twist on the fantasy archetype of a troubled kid with a secret magical destiny, Percy Jackson is sometimes described as America's answer to Harry Potter. Oddly enough, though, it's still rare to see this kind of children's book get the prestige TV treatment.
In the wake of Game of Thrones, streaming services scrambled to greenlight fantasy adaptations like The Witcher, The Sandman, The Wheel of Time, and The Rings of Power. However, these shows are mostly aimed at teens and adults. Percy Jackson and the Olympians joins His Dark Materials and A Series of Unfortunate Events on a much shorter list of kid-friendly fare — just two of our recommendations for Percy Jackson fans to watch next. These picks include relatable coming-of-age stories like Percy's, sword-and-sorcery adventures, fantasy tales set in contemporary America, and some fresh takes on the Chosen One formula.
It's the gold standard for American animated fantasy TV. This epic series, which originally aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008, takes place in a pan-Asian fantasy setting. In this world, some people have the ability to "bend" one of the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water), a superpower depicted as a cross between martial arts and telekinesis. Aang (voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen) is the titular Last Airbender, a sweet-natured boy who must bring balance to the elements after decades of conflict with the warlike Fire Kingdom. Traveling the world with a wonderfully well-characterized group of friends, his adventures run the gamut from charming single-episode comedies to serious political allegory. With gorgeous music, stunning fight choreography, and impressively complex worldbuilding, it's easy to see why this show is so beloved by fans young and old.
Skewing younger than most Marvel spin-offs, this Disney+ series adapts the smash-hit comics about Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a Pakistani-American teen who gains superpowers and adopts a superhero identity. Pitched as a Gen-Z update on Peter Parker's vintage origin story, it introduces Kamala as a nerdy teen underdog who juggles school and family with a secret double life. In other words, she's an ideal superhero alternative to Percy Jackson — particularly since Ms. Marvel, like Percy Jackson and the Olympians, was singled out for its humor and relatability.
Based on the acclaimed fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman, this three-season show follows the adventures of Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen), a child born in an alternate universe based on 19th century England. Among other intriguing differences, everyone in her universe has a daemon companion: a talking animal that represents their soul. Teaming up with a boy from our own world (Amir Wilson), Lyra's exploits combine fantastical action with deeper philosophical questions about religion, morality, and authoritarianism. It's a pretty explicit response to the more conservative and sentimental tone of the Narnia books. Like Percy Jackson and the Olympians, this series corrects the mistakes of an earlier, poorly received blockbuster movie adaptation. It also boasts a prestigious supporting cast including James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Percy Jackson's Hermes).
Featuring several Avatar: The Last Airbender alumni among its creative team, this animated series takes place in a classic medieval fantasy setting. Think Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings, or The Witcher (albeit suitable for 9-year-olds). In the kingdom of Xadia, two human princes and a young elf assassin get caught up in a war between human and elvish kingdoms. Packed with dragons, magic mirrors, scheming monarchs and mystical quests, this show brings a diverse cast (including queer and trans characters) and contemporary vibes to a slew of old-school fantasy tropes. With five seasons already out, it's set to complete a full seven-season arc at Netflix.
Aimed at older viewers than Percy Jackson and the Olympians, this one is ideal for YA fantasy fans — especially if you're looking for glossy production values. Based on the Grishaverse novels by Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone stars Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov, a young cartographer in a nation inspired by 19th century Russia. (Leigh Bardugo dubbed this "Tsarpunk.") After discovering that she has a unique magic power (yes, it's another Chosen One story!), Alina becomes embroiled in a war involving spies, soldiers and magicians — one of whom is the Darkling (Ben Barnes), a dangerous yet seductive military leader. Is he a love interest or a villain? You decide.
Beautifully animated in pastel hues, Steven Universe is a contemporary sci-fi/fantasy coming-of-age story. The titular Steven lives in a small American town with the Crystal Gems: an alien superhero squad who split their time between heroic missions and hanging out at their beach house. Similar to Percy Jackson's demigod origin story, Steven (Zach Callison) is half human and half Crystal Gem, giving him cool superpowers that set him apart from other kids. With carefully crafted characters and fascinatingly original worldbuilding, this anime-inspired series balances upbeat comedy antics with thoughtful longform storytelling. It's also earned praise for its LGBTQ+ themes and majority-female cast — along with its writing, original songs, and distinctive visual design. Basically, this show has everything. And episodes are only 11 minutes long!
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events books achieved massive success in the 2000s, reflecting Roald Dahl's philosophy that some kids are weird little sadists who like to watch fictional characters suffer. With gothic vibes and excellent production values, this Netflix series is a pitch-perfect adaptation. Filmed in a vaguely Tim Burton-esque style, it's a dark comedy about the many misfortunes of the three orphaned Baudelaire siblings. Fostered by a series of eccentric and incompetent guardians, these kids are constantly beset by villainous schemes orchestrated by Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), a "distant relative" who wants to steal their inheritance. Hilarious, quirky, and stylish, this show will appeal to viewers with a morbid sense of humor.