Adventure Time Showcases How it (and its Audience) has Matured Over the Years with a Tender, Bittersweet Finale

Jack Brink, Editor in Chief

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(Major Spoilers Below)

“Time is an illusion that helps things make sense

So we are always living in the present tense

It seems unforgiving when a good thing ends

But you and I will always be back then

You and I will always be back then”

 These are the bittersweet words first sung by BMO, then followed by the entire main cast of characters during the climax of Adventure Time’s finale episode, “Come Along With Me”. The words come from the show’s final original song, “Time Adventure” which poignantly delves into the feelings of having to say goodbye to an enjoyable time or person in your life. While the song speaks beautiful truths in relation to the events unfolding in the episode, its words truly shine when they are applied to the reality of Adventure Time fans having to say goodbye to this animated masterpiece.

Adventure Time premiered over 8 years ago, way back in April of 2010. The series started out admittedly simple, a basic episode to episode slice of life show, featuring the random adventures of Finn, the last human in the post-apocalyptic (yet incredibly fun) Land of Ooo, and Jake, his easy going magically stretchy dog. The silly nonsensical adventures soon gave way to a larger world with a deep lore, and even sooner became one of the most mature, heartfelt shows on television. One dimensional characters like Ice King became tragic figures, revealing heartbreaking backstories that gave them a whole new depth. Each new miniseries dropped huge plot reveals and peeled away mystery, expanding the scope of its world. Finn went from a brash, goofy kid, to a hardened young adult who had matured considerably through his life experiences. The best part of this maturing is that it coincides with the maturing of many of the viewers themselves. Most of the fans of this show became fans at a young age when the show first premiered, most likely drawn in by the colorful characters and random humor (I for sure was one), but as the years went on, Adventure Time adapted to its ever-aging audience, beginning to tell deeper and more complex stories, while still never losing its sense of childlike wonder. This was so important and helped make Adventure Time the phenomenon it is today. The show expertly showed the struggle and triumph of growing up, and how it’s still possible to hold on to something special, like your youth, while still moving on and changing. It embraced that spirit one last time for its finale, with an epic, emotional, farewell.

 “Come Along With Me” is absolute gargantuan of an episode, having to fit in over 8 years of plot resolutions in a mere forty-four minutes, and yet the show does it excellently, with only a few aspects (if any) of the final episode feeling rushed in any way. This is extremely impressive when you take into consideration that the show not only wrapped up its season long Gum War plot, but then also brought in the series’ biggest baddie yet, the chaos deity, Golb.

The Gum War plot is resolved in a surprisingly quick, yet extremely clever manner. Finn, someone once defined by his desire for a fight and his devotion to Princess Bubblegum, really shows how much he has grown over the years by defying her wishes and sending her, Jake, Gumbald, Fern, and himself to the nightmare world in hopes of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In this dream state, Finn and Fern finally make amends, and together vanquish the grass demon that has been plaguing Fern. Gumbald and Bubblegum make up as well, only for Gumbald to try and fail at a backstabbing the second they return to the real world. Admittedly, this part of the plot is extremely rushed, and feels like somewhat of a letdown considering the entire last season was dedicated to this plot. It’s worth the rush however, as the second half of the finale features the series’, and maybe even television as a whole’s finest moments.

 In Act 2, Magic Betty summons the infinitely-powerful Golb as a last-ditch effort in changing the Ice King into her former fiancé Simon. This obviously backfires, and Golb begins to wreak havoc on Ooo, destroying, corrupting, and killing everything in its sight. It takes the combined forces of Ooo, as well as the remains of Gumbald’s army to resist against the deity. Even then, the heroes still lose dearly and suffer heavy losses. Finn and Ice King, along with Betty are swallowed by Golb while in the process of trying to talk some sense into her. While inside, Ice King reverts to Simon and Betty reverts to her pre-magic self. The two reunite while Finn desperately looks for an escape.

Outside of Golb, our heroes suffer even more heavy casualties and damage, including Finn and Jake’s beloved tree house. Princess Bubblegum is almost lost as well, which sends Marceline into a vampiric fury on one of Golb’s monsters. When she finds out Bonnie is safe, the two embrace and finally share a kiss, confirming a relationship that had been teased all the way back since 2011. It’s a landmark moment for children’s television, a moment made all the better by the genuine connection between the two characters the writers had developed over the last couple of seasons. A triumph for both fans of the show, as well as progressive television.

With all the brutality and fighting, it’s fitting that BMO’s aforementioned song is what finally turns the tide of the battle. The sweet sentiments and harmonizing of the entire cast of characters is exactly what’s needed to harm Golb, as sweet harmony is the direct antithesis of everything Golb represents, that being discord and chaos. His weakened state allows Finn and Simon to escape from inside of him, while Betty sacrifices herself by fusing with Golb so that he’ll leave this world and finally allow Simon to live a happy life. Fern succumbs to his deteriorating and is planted, creating a new tree for Finn and Jake.

It’s a heavy ending, especially when paired with the bittersweet finale montage and the desolate future where BMO is narrating to the new heroes Shermy and Beth (Who may or may not be reincarnations of Finn and Jake). It’s fitting however, as Adventure Time has grown up with its audience enough to know that they’ll understand and appreciate that not everything can have a happy ending. More importantly however, it still shows that there are still great times mixed with the bad, and how crucial it is to always search for the positive in life.

The final montage is an incredible ride, taking us through the lives and futures of almost every character in Ooo, showing long forgotten minor characters living their dreams, the new Ice King Gunter getting married to Turtle princess, LSP finally accepting her role as Queen of Lumpy Space, the humans of Founder’s Island finally returning to Finn, among other great moments. Even if you don’t watch the show, seek out the finale montage. It has some absolutely gorgeous visuals, tender moments, and is set to the beautiful “Come Along With Me” song that has been playing in the episode credits for the last eight years.

Adventure Time has left a huge mark on not only the animation industry, but on television in general. It has crafted some of the best written and heartfelt characters in history, gifting us wonderful, deep moments that anyone of any age can appreciate, while never losing its sense of fun and wonderment. With some of the sharpest writing the series has ever seen, and next level animation and visuals, its finale was the epic conclusion a show of this caliber deserved.

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Adventure Time Showcases How it (and its Audience) has Matured Over the Years with a Tender, Bittersweet Finale