August 31, 2018 9:04 AM   Subscribe

In 2007 a quirky animated short appeared on the Internet and went viral. It led to one of the greatest TV shows of all time.

As recounted by the creators, Adventure Time was picked up by Cartoon Network. Even before the series started, people were making fan art, and it was an immediate success. But then, over the course of almost 300 11-minute episodes, the backstory of the little boy Finn and his dog Jake, and an increasing circle of friends, was filled in. Even the silly, grumpy villain from the short was given an incredibly poignant and tragic backstory. And given nearly free reign by Pen Ward, the shows creators turned the show into something deeply philosophical.

In such a fertile creative environment, many artists who worked on Adventure Time went on to create their own shows. Most notably, Steven Universe, by Rebecca Sugar, is another huge hit with an enormous, dedicated fandom. Also, not listed in the article above is Hilda, based on a series of graphic novels by storyboard artist Luke Pearson, which debuts in September on Netflix. And many creators, like Jesse Moynihan, continue to pitch their own shows.

For several episodes, renouned guest directors were brought on to create episodes in a variety of styles.

The series finale of Adventure Time airs on September 3.
posted by 1970s Antihero (19 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I think I had that short memorized back in 2007. Gimme back my diamonds!
posted by potrzebie at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am so sad to see AT go. I have been continually surprised and delighted by it since the first episode.

Perhaps a look at my BMO collection might give you a hint as to how much this show has meant to me.

(the round-headed one was the hardest to find and hence, the most rewarding to own.)
posted by 41swans at 9:32 AM on August 31, 2018 [14 favorites]

I love Adventure Time so much, and am glad it's ending before it gets stale. I think we've gotten to see a dark side to every single character at this point, and the cuter, the darker. Eventually we'd have to explore Psychic Tandem War Elephant's PTSD and I don't want to go there.
posted by phooky at 10:09 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I feel such incredible warmth for Adventure Time. I think it really is my favorite cartoon of all time. I need to get my kid back on it. He got obsessed for about 6 months but that's kind of fizzled. We need to finish watching the last couple of seasons.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:29 AM on August 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

I, too, am so saddened that AT comes to an end. Even though the show's emotional highpoint for me was around season 3 to 5, there were some really great, funny, touching episodes and moments throughout.

Also, I envy your BMO collection, 41swans! :)
posted by bigendian at 10:48 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

My nine-year old has seen every single one and can't wait for the next season (and is planning to be Fionna for Halloween this year.) I was interested to see the Family Tree shows--we loved Over the Garden Wall of course. Will check out Summer Camp Island.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:06 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Didn’t Adventure Time also spawn Rick and Morty?
posted by schadenfrau at 11:10 AM on August 31, 2018

Justin Roiland did the voice of Lemongrab, but he didn’t do any of the artwork on Adventure Time.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2018 [3 favorites]



Seriously though, a Comic Con panel feasting the main voice actors showed up on my YouTube feed recently; made me kinda weepy inside.
posted by xigxag at 11:29 AM on August 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

really interested to see how this finishes up, since it seems like the grim lesson of the show's long arc is that probably Finn would have turned out better if he had had been raised by decent parents instead of by his brother-dog and his gameboy.

i hate finn's dad so much. he's worse than the lich. he's worse than magic man. he's the worst.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:59 AM on August 31, 2018 [8 favorites]

Every great animated series has penguin sledding in the very first episode.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:23 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Kafkaesque - next season? Of Adventure Time?

(the last episode of the series airs on Monday.)
posted by 41swans at 2:49 PM on August 31, 2018

man, I haven't watched it since.... something about the ice king's crown being possessed by gunther who was actually a space daemon.... i wonder how far back that was.
posted by rebent at 7:28 PM on August 31, 2018

It will be sad when it's over though I do think pretty much everyone's story has been told. I'm not sure anything is really left to be reconciled, except maybe between...oh, shit, I can't write that. (Sorry...possible current season spoiler and speculation omitted.)

It's also been awesome watching Finn "grow up" across all the seasons, an experience heightened in no small degree by the real-life "growing up" of Jeremy Shada.

I fully expect to continue to re-watch AT for many years to come. It's just so rich, delicious, and rewarding.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 9:07 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

My 10-almost-11-year-old son has jumped the track over to Teen Titans Go (not that I'm complaining), but every once in a while I'll nudge us ever so gently back over to Adventure Time for an episode or three. TTG seems like a fun fad, much like my Superfriends phase back in the 70s. But there's no denying that the long game is Adventure Time.

I'm sad that it's done but relieved that it's going out strong.
posted by vverse23 at 10:48 PM on August 31, 2018

next season? Of Adventure Time?

It's only up to Season 9 on Hulu, which is how our family watches it. We basically have a whole "next season" to look forward to when it finally hits streaming even if those episodes will be months old and the show will be concluded.
posted by davros42 at 11:55 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have to think a lot of the heart of Adventure Time went out of it when Rebecca Sugar left. Aside from SU being more tightly plotted, it also has an element of hope that AT lacks.

I just found AT to be feeding into a more and more hopeless world under the surrealism. I am still interested in seeing what they're going to pull out for the ending, but not as much as I am for the last season of Steven Universe.
posted by happyroach at 11:51 AM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

No Fanfare for the finale? What a lovely episode. [Very vague spoilers...] Fundamentally, it wrapped up nothing, and in fact was kind of a repudiation -- or, repudiation being too strong for AT, a reinvention -- of the Six Feet Under-style finale. There is no "how did they turn out," just adventure in the past, adventure in the future, and the momentary present. They even had a lovely little song about it. Some people like tighter plotting, some prefer standalone stories, but for my money, the light, surreal, open-ended, oblique but infinitely deep narrative of Adventure Time is like nothing else I have experienced on TV, or anywhere else for that matter. In this world of serialized, semi-serialized, and miniseries TV, it somehow managed to find a new mode of story-telling different from all of those, and kept it up for an astonishingly long time. On the one hand it will be missed; on the other, I'm already looking forward to when my kids are old enough to watch with them.
posted by chortly at 11:07 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like to compare Adventure Time to a jazz concert. The storyboard artists are given freedom to create and improvise given a loose set of constraints, then the next artist comes along and riffs on what came before. It's very different than something like Steven Universe, where Rebecca Sugar has in mind a very specific plan about how things are going to turn out.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:20 AM on September 5, 2018

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