Linda Rogo: "So that's the cat this ship is named after, huh?"
On New Year's Eve, the passengers and crew aboard the SS Poseidon party without a care in the world. Despite protests from its captain, the ship, which is on its way to the scrapyard, still sails on across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Already behind schedule, the new owner's representative refuses to let the ship slow to take on ballast to help ride out some bad weather. Meanwhile, an undersea earthquake strikes near Crete and creates a massive tidal wave. When the wave hits the Poseidon, she capsizes. Now, one lone preacher, Rev. Scott, must get a group of survivors up to the bottom. But will they make it?
A sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, was made in 1979. Meanwhile, the original story was remade twice within the course of six months around 2005-2006, as a made-for-TV movie and as the feature film Poseidon; the latter production featuring the Queen Mary II.
- Anyone Can Die: Even more so in the novel, where Robin goes missing and isn't found again.
- Award Bait Song: "There's got to be a morning after..."
- Butter-Side Down
- Chekhov's Skill: Earlier in the movie, Mrs. Rosen proudly boasts that in her youth, she was a champion swimmer.
- Commander Contrarian: Rogo. Full stop.
- Did Not Do the Research: Tidal waves aren't visible in the ocean. The second remake, Poseidon, averts this by calling it a rogue wave, which is visible in the ocean.
- Real world example: Snopes has a page that claims The Poseidon Adventure originated as a silent film and was playing on the Titanic when it sank. The reference section leads to a page that reminds readers not to believe everything they read, even on Snopes, and to always check the sources. Unfortunately, this didn't stop Leland Gregory from reporting the erroneous fact in his book of historical trivia, Stupid History.
- Disaster Movie
- Don't Look Down
- Doomed Contrarian: Likely the trope originator, or at least one of the codifiers.
- Enclosed Space
- Fan Service: "Just panties, what else do I need?"
- Nonnie and Susan don tight-fitting hot pants through most of the film.
- Good Shepherd: Reverend Scott.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Belle Rosen, Reverend Scott
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Linda Rogo was a hooker before her husband kept arresting her to keep her off the street.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Linda, in the novel.
- Inspired By: The author was on the RMS Queen Mary during World War II, when it was hit by a rogue wave and was a degree or so from being capsized. Naturally, he was inspired by what might've happened if she had flipped.
- Irony: At the end of the novel, the characters discover a different, larger group of survivors who apparently had a far easier time making their way to safety by taking a route other than the one Rev. Scott pushed (averted in the film, where the remaining members of Scott's group learn they're the only survivors).
- Or maybe not quite averted; the sequel Beyond the Poseidon Adventure does involve another group of survivors, albeit ones with no connection to the first group. They didn't have that easy of a time getting out, either.
- John Williams: Composed the music score.
- The Load: Mrs. Rosen is convinced she's going to be this, but winds up as (you should pardon the expression) a huge aversion.
- Lovable Coward: Nonnie in the film. However, this is quite subjective, as her cowardice almost gets her killed a few times.
- Mood Whiplash: Mrs. Rosen, despite being an overweight woman in her fifties, gets her own personal Moment of Awesome by being able to swim a great distance underwater to rescue Rev. Scott -- then she suffers a fatal heart attack.
- Nobody Calls Me Chicken: James has to "motivate" Mr. Rogo to continue after Rev. Scott dies, especially since it's right after Linda's death.
James Martin: Are you quitting, Mr. Rogo? Are you going out with a whimper, on your belly?
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Linarcos.
- Oh Crap: The captain's "Oh, my God!", when seeing the wave dead ahead.
- Panty Shot: Linda Rogo many times, as she spends the 2nd half of the film wearing only a button-down shirt, and panties, which get soaking wet.
- Rape Is Love: In the novel, Susan is raped by a panicking teenage crewman; she later mourns his death and hopes she's pregnant with his child.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: The reason Rev. Scott is aboard the Poseidon.
- Sexy Priest: Susan, at least, is clearly very attracted to Rev. Scott.
- Sinking Ship Scenario: May be seen as the template for film portrayals of the scenario for decades to follow.
- Skyward Scream: Or rather, Floorward Scream, from Susan after Rev. Scott's Heroic Sacrifice.
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Rev. Scott, just before his death.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Robin in the movie.
- Tagalong Kid: Robin's somewhat a mixture of this and Bratty Half-Pint. Somewhat averted in the movie in that he arguably is the one who knows the most about the ship.
- Tears of Fear: Nonnie does this, but given her situation...you'd be doing that, too!
- Tempting Fate: They think they can get an aging ocean liner across the Atlantic -- on her final voyage, no less -- without a hitch? Not in Hollywood.
- The 2006 remake inverts the situation but still plays the trope straight -- the ship is brand new and is taking her maiden voyage.
- Too Dumb to Live: Linda Rogo. In the novel. In the 1972 movie, her death is an accident. In the novel? She rebels and tries to find her own way out.
- The Un-Reveal: In the novel, Robin's ultimate fate is never learned, although he was presumably killed in a stampede of panicked survivors after the ship's lights went out.
- A successful bait, in fact!