Written by: Eric Schucht
Recently it was announced that the Cartoon Network hit show Adventure Time would end on its 9th season, wrapping up the series sometime next year. Fans can be disheartened when a popular show comes to an end, however, there is a sense of calm in the Adventure Time fandom; a consensus it’s time for the adventure to end.
Adventure Time, the crazy, abstract action adventure animated comedy about Finn the Human and the shape shifting Jake the Dog fighting monsters in the land of Ooo was created by Pendleton Ward and premiered April 5, 2010. The show came at a time when Cartoon Network was in a bit of a slump. After experimenting with various live-action shows throughout the mid to late 2000’s, the channel returned to focusing on animation. Adventure Time was their breakout hit and signaled a returned to the network’s popular line of animation. Other hits, such as Regular Show and The Amazing World of Gumball, would follow.
Adventure Time pushed the boundaries of what a cartoon could be and has become the network’s longest running show. I fell in love with the series as a nerdy high schooler and admired the show’s charm, which never required much work on the audience’s part. You can pop in any episode and still follow along well.
The relative ease at which viewers could tune in and out of the show did not diminish the emotional punches that the writers delivered on a regular basis, such as the relationship ups and downs between Finn and his love interest, Princess Bubblegum, or Finn’s bittersweet encounter with his biological father. Adventure Time can be a lot deeper than it’s cute, simplistic nature leads on. Ward has said:
“It’s Candyland on the surface and dark underneath… my favorite kind of emotions—the ones that conflict with each other, and they feel weird inside of you.”
That’s pretty deep when talking about a show made for children.
Adventure Time is one of those shows that as a creator you can pretty much do anything with. Ward has gone on in many interviews to describe the staff’s writing style as one giant game of Dungeons and Dragons. Kent Osborne, one of the show’s writers, described at the Times Talks panel at the 2015 New York Comic Con how the staff plays games to come up with ideas. He said:
“We play these writer’s games where we all sit around the table and you have two minutes to draw a picture, and it’s just whatever you’re thinking — and then you pass it to the next person, and they get it and you have two minutes to write the first act. You’ll do it all day and you’ll get 40 drawings with stories and maybe you can use one of them. It’s hard with two minutes, everyone’s like, ‘They end up pooping!'”
The writers can experiment and add their ideas to the world of the show. This freedom allowed a lot of talented people to experiment and test out their ideas, with many of the staff moving on to create their own shows. Writer Rebecca Sugar, who created many of the songs on the show, went on to write her own hit show for the Cartoon Network, Steven Universe. Storyboard artist and animator for the show Alex Hirsch created an animated hit for Disney, Gravity Falls and show writer Julia Pott has an upcoming Cartoon Network show set to premiere sometime in the near feature titled Summer Camp Island.
So while it may be time for the show to end, Adventure Time’s legacy is everlasting, paving the way for future animated shows and proving that you don’t have to be a child to enjoy quality television about the adventures of an animated shape-shifting dog and his human.