With the recent creation and growing popularity of Disney+, the Internet has been engulfed by a wave of nostalgia triggered by the return of zoomers’ favorite childhood TV shows. For many, this nostalgia has manifested itself in the form of hour-long binges of shows like Victorious on Netflix and Wizards of Waverly Place on Disney+. I, however, was inspired to revisit my favorite childhood show: Adventure Time.
For those of you who don’t know, Adventure Time is an animated show that spanned nearly 300 episodes from 2010 to 2018. It primarily follows Jake the (shapeshifting) Dog and Finn the (non-shapeshifting) Human on their adventures in the Land of Ooo, a continent on post-apocalyptic Earth after a global disaster referred to as “the Great Mushroom War.”
The show’s earliest episodes are deceptively simple, but as the series continues, all is revealed to be far more complicated than assumed at first glance. In fact, the Adventure Time universe’s timeline spans from billions of years before and 2000 years after the Mushroom War. If you’re already a fan, Frederator Studios, one of the studios that produced the show, has an excellent breakdown and analysis of the timeline on their YouTube channel that I highly recommend watching.
Though it is often categorized as a children’s show, Adventure Time’s fan base consists of mainly teens and adults, and for good reason. Through its distinctive, hand-drawn animation style and eccentric cast of characters, the show manages an unprecedented level of emotional realness, despite being a “children’s” show with 11-minute-long episodes.
Finn and Jake are only two of the show’s hundreds of quirky and lovable characters. Some of its best and most heavily featured characters include Marceline, the sultry, musical Vampire Queen, Lumpy Space Princess, the bratty hopeless romantic, Princess Bubblegum, supreme ruler of Ooo and scientist with Frankenstein-esque tendencies, Ice King, a human-turned-princess-kidnapper with ice powers and penguin sidekicks and BMO, living console system who, in Pinocchio-like fashion, wants to be a “real boy.”
Side note: BMO, a favorite character of mine, was not only the inspiration for my mediocre Halloween costume in the 7th grade (see photo below), but also left an unintentionally permanent mark on my existence when I, lacking any forethought, decided to include their name in my Snapchat username in the 6th grade. (Ugh, my mind.)
In addition to the complex topics it tackled seamlessly and the precedents it set, such as including a same-sex kiss between two main characters in the show’s finale, Adventure Time has one of the best soundtracks of any TV show. Period. Music is so integral to the show, in fact, that the final villain in the show is defeated through harmony when the cast sings the tear-inducing song “Time Adventure.”
Simple melodies and harmonies, ukulele, pop-y techno beats and whimsical themes are all characteristics of the show’s musical numbers, with lyrics ranging from nonsensical and lighthearted to incredibly deep and meaningful. “Fries,” “Bacon Pancakes” and “I’m Just Your Problem” are just a few of the most iconic songs from the series. (See the playlist linked below for a more complete list!)
Despite being raised on animated classics like What's New, Scooby-Doo? and The Simpsons, as well as other Cartoon Network classics like Regular Show and Total Drama Island, Adventure Time will always be my favorite.
As a kid, I spent many a morning seated criss-cross-applesauce with my brother watching Ice King (fail to) capture princesses and many a night huddled under my covers watching Finn and Jake thwart off evil on my iPod nano’s laughably small display. Despite this, I think the show is far more enjoyable to view as an adult, as the show’s bits of wisdom, darker themes and sexual innuendos don’t go unappreciated. (The more I reflect, in fact, the more I think I owe my weird, dark sense of humor to this show.)
I wholeheartedly recommend that you, rather than waiting for the next corny, overrated Netflix original movie to come out or rewatching The Office like the silly goose you are, watch Adventure Time. Its short episodes can fit into whatever breaks you have in your hectic schedule and its colorful characters and animation will counter your Winter Quarter blues.
There is no way to do this show justice in just a few paragraphs— you’ll simply have to watch it for yourself. If you’re down for some adventure, grab your friends (and their Hulu passwords, like I did) and add Adventure Time to your watch list!