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Adventure Time

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This article is about the 2010 animated TV series. For other uses, see Adventure Time (disambiguation).
Adventure Time
Adventure Time - Title card.png
Adventure Time title card featuring Finn and Jake.
Also known as Adventure Time with
Finn & Jake
Genre Comedy, fantasy, adventure[1]
Created by Pendleton Ward
Directed by Larry Leichliter
Creative director(s) Patrick McHale
Cole Sanchez
Adam Muto
Nate Cash
Voices of Jeremy Shada
John DiMaggio
Hynden Walch
Niki Yang
Tom Kenny
Olivia Olson
Dee Bradley Baker
Pendleton Ward
Polly Lou Livingston
Jessica DiCicco
Maria Bamford
Opening theme "Adventure Time", performed by Pendleton Ward
Ending theme "The Island Song", performed by Ashley Eriksson
Composer(s) Casey James Basichis
Tim Kiefer
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 212 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Pendleton Ward
Fred Seibert
Adam Muto
Derek Drymon (Season 1 only)
Producer(s) Kelly Crews
Running time 6 minutes (pilot only)
11 minutes
Production company(s) Frederator Studios
Cartoon Network Studios
Original network Cartoon Network
Nicktoons (pilot only)
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Original release Pilot: January 11, 2007
Official: April 5, 2010 (2010-04-05) – present
Preceded by Random! Cartoons
External links
Production website

Adventure Time[nb 1] is an American animated television series created by Pendleton Ward for Cartoon Network. The series follows the adventures of a boy named Finn (voiced by Jeremy Shada) and his best friend and adoptive brother Jake (voiced by John DiMaggio)—a dog with the magical power to change shape and size at will. Finn and Jake live in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. Throughout the show, they interact with the other main characters Princess Bubblegum (voiced by Hynden Walch), The Ice King (voiced by Tom Kenny), and Marceline the Vampire Queen (voiced by Olivia Olson). The series is based on a short produced for Nicktoons and Frederator Studios' animation incubator series Random! Cartoons. After the short became a viral hit on the Internet, Cartoon Network commissioned a full-length series that previewed on March 11, 2010, and officially premiered on April 5, 2010.

The series was inspired by the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons and video games. It is produced using hand-drawn animation; episodes are created through the process of storyboarding and each episode takes roughly eight to nine months to complete. Multiple episodes are worked on concurrently. The Adventure Time cast record their lines in group recordings and the series regularly employs guest actors for minor and recurring characters. Each Adventure Time episode runs for about eleven minutes; pairs of episodes are often telecast to fill half-hour program slots. Six seasons of the program have been completed, the seventh is currently airing, and the show has been renewed for an eighth season. As of October 2015, a feature-length film is in pre-production.

Since its debut, Adventure Time has been a ratings success for Cartoon Network; the highest-rated episodes have attracted over 3 million viewers. The show has received positive reviews from critics and—despite being aimed primarily at children—has developed a following among teenagers and adults. Adventure Time has won awards including four Primetime Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, two Annie Awards, two British Academy Children's Awards, a Motion Picture Sound Editors Award, a Pixel Award, and a Kerrang! Award. The series has also been nominated for three Critics' Choice Television Awards, two Annecy Festival Awards, a TCA Award, and a Sundance Film Festival Award, among others. A comic book spin-off based on the series won an Eisner Award and two Harvey Awards. The series has also inspired various clothing items and related merchandise, video games, comic books, and DVD compilations.


Adventure Time follows the adventures of a boy, Finn the Human, and his best friend and adoptive brother Jake the Dog, who has magical powers to change shape and to change size at will. The show's creator Pendleton Ward describes Finn as a "fiery little kid with strong morals"; Jake is based on Bill Murray's character in Meatballs, Tripper Harrison .[4] Finn and Jake live in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo, where they interact with the show's other main characters: Princess Bubblegum (voiced by Hynden Walch), the sovereign of the Candy Kingdom; the Ice King (voiced by Tom Kenny), a menacing but largely misunderstood ice wizard; and Marceline the Vampire Queen (voiced by Olivia Olson), a thousand-year-old vampire and rock music enthusiast.[5]


Concept and creation

A brown-haired, bearded man in a red button-down shirt and white pants holds a microphone while his other hand rests in his trouser pocket.
Pendleton Ward, the creator of Adventure Time.

According to series creator Pendleton Ward, the show's style was influenced by his time attending the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and his experiences working as a writer and storyboard artist on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. In an interview with Animation World Network, Ward said he strives to combine the series' subversive humor with "beautiful" moments, using Hayao Miyazaki's film My Neighbor Totoro as inspiration.[4] Ward has also named Home Movies and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist as influences, largely because both shows are "relaxing" and feature "conversational dialogue that feels natural [and] not over the top [nor] cartoony and shrill".[6]

The show began as a stand-alone animated short film that ran for seven minutes. Ward created the short almost entirely by himself, and concluded its production in early 2006.[7] The film was first broadcast on Nicktoons Network on January 11, 2007,[7][8] and was re-aired as part of Frederator Studios' anthology show Random! Cartoons on December 7, 2008.[9][10] After its initial release, the short video became a viral hit on the Internet.[4][11] Frederator Studios then pitched an Adventure Time series to Nicktoons Network, but the network rejected it twice.[12] Eventually, the studio's rights to commission a full series expired, and Frederator—the short's production animation studio—pitched it to other channels.[13] The studio approached Cartoon Network, which said it would be willing to produce a series if Ward could prove the short could be expanded into a full series while maintaining elements of the original's pilot.[14] Rob Sorcher, the chief content officer at Cartoon Network, was influential in getting the network to take a chance on the show; he recognized the series as "something that felt really indie ... comic book-y [and] really new".[13]

A brown-haired man smirks at the camera.
Patrick McHale was the creative director of Adventure Time for the first two seasons.

Ward quickly rethought the concept of the pilot; he wanted a potential series to be "fully realized", rather than be characterized by the "pre-school vibe" that permeated the original film.[4] Ward's college friends Patrick McHale and Adam Muto helped him produce a rough storyboard that featured Finn and Princess Bubblegum going on a spaghetti-supper date.[12] Cartoon Network was not happy with this story and asked for another. Ward then created a storyboard for the episode "The Enchiridion!", which was his attempt to emulate the style of the original Nicktoons short. Cartoon Network approved the first season in September 2008, and "The Enchiridion!" was the first episode to enter into production.[12][14][15][16] Ward and his production team began storyboarding episodes and writing plot outlines. Cartoon Network was still concerned about the direction of the new series. During the pitch of an episode titled "Brothers in Insomnia"—which was eventually scrapped—McHale said the room was filled with executives from Cartoon Network. The pitch went well; the production staff were soon inundated with questions about the stylistic nature of the series. Hoping to resolve these issues, Cartoon Network management hired three veteran animators who had worked on SpongeBob SquarePants: Derek Drymon (who served as executive producer for the first season of Adventure Time), Merriwether Williams (who served as head story editors for the show's first and second seasons), and Nick Jennings (who became the series' long-serving art director).[17] Thurop Van Orman, the creator of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, was also hired to guide Ward and his staff for the first two seasons.[18]

One of the main changes from the pilot to the series was the emphasis placed on the background art. Dan "Ghostshrimp" James, a freelance illustrator who had also storyboarded on Flapjack, was tasked with designing the show's world; Ward told him to make the series look as though it took place "in a 'Ghostshrimp World'".[4][19] James designed major locations, including Finn and Jake's home, the Candy Kingdom, and the Ice Kingdom.[19] During the production of season one, Ward assembled a storyboarding team for the series. He was drawn to "younger, inexperienced people", and he used the Internet to help with his search. During this time, Phil Rynda, who worked as the series' lead character designer for two seasons, was hired.[20]


While many cartoons are based on script pitches to network executives, Cartoon Network allowed Adventure Time to "build their own teams organically" and communicate through the use of storyboards and animatics.[5] Rob Sorcher said this novel approach was sanctioned because the company was dealing with "primarily visual people", and that by using storyboards the writers and artists could learn and grow "by actually doing the work".[5] The storyboard artists generally work on an episode in pairs, independent from other storyboarders, which, according to freelance writer David Perlmutter in his book America Toons In, prevents creative ennui and results in no two episodes being "alike in either content or tone".[21] Many of the series' artists have backgrounds in indie comics, and Pendleton Ward has called them "really smart, smartypants people" who were responsible for inserting weirder and spiritual ideas into the series during its third and later seasons.[22]

A storyboard panel drawn by Adam Muto for the episode "What Was Missing" showing action, dialogue, and sound effects. Adventure Time is a storyboard-driven series; the storyboard artists are also the writers, allowing them to draft the dialogue and the action.

In an interview with The A.V. Club, Ward said the writing process for the show usually begins with the writers telling each other what they had done the previous week in an attempt to find something humorous to build from. He also said, "a lot of the time, if we're really stuck, we'll start saying everything that comes to our mind, which is usually the worst stuff, and then someone else will think that's terrible but it'll give him a better idea and the ball just starts rolling like that".[23] Ward also said a major inspiration for the series is the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons of which many of the show's writers were fans.[21][23] Because of the busy schedule of writing and coordinating a television series, they no longer had time to play the game. Ward said because the writers were too busy, they would attempt to write stories they would "want to be playing D&D with".[23] Sometimes, the writers and storyboard artists convene and play writing games.[24] One game is called exquisite corpse; one writer starts a story on a sheet of paper, which is then folded and another writer tries to finish it.[24][25] Ward said, "the ideas are usually terrible".[25] Storyboard artist Cole Sanchez said episode scripts are either created by expanding the good ideas produced by these writing games, or are based upon an idea proposed by a storyboard artist in the hope it can be developed into an episode.[24]

After the writers pitch stories, the ideas are compiled onto a two-or-three-page outline that contain "the important beats".[26] The episodes are then passed to storyboard artists who are given a week to "thumbnail a storyboard" and fill in the details complete with action, dialogue, and jokes.[26][27] Ward and his creative directors then review the storyboard and make notes. The artists are then given another week to implement the notes and clean up the episode.[27] Storyboard writing and revising can take up to a month. Following the revisions, the voices for the episode are recorded and an animatic is compiled to reduce the running time to the necessary 11 minutes. Prop, character, and background designers then create and clean up the designs. After this, the animation process begins.[28][29] The episodes' design and coloring are done in Burbank, California. Animation is handled in South Korea by either Rough Draft Korea or by Saerom Animation.[29][30][31]

The crew of Adventure Time at the 74th Annual Peabody Awards

Animating an episode can take between three and five months.[28][29] During this time, retakes, music scoring, and sound design are completed.[28] Once the animation is finished, it is sent back to the United States where it is reviewed; the staff look for mistakes in the animation or "things that didn't animate the way [the staff] intended".[29] These problems are then fixed in Korea and the episode is finished.[29] It takes between eight and nine months for each episode to be created; multiple episodes are worked on concurrently.[23][28][29] According to former lead character designer Phil Rynda, most pre-production is done in Photoshop. The animation is hand-drawn on paper then digitally composited.[32][33] Elements in some episodes—such as the second season entry "Guardians of Sunshine", which was partially rendered in 3-D to emulate the style of a video game—were not hand-drawn.[32] The fifth-season episode "A Glitch is a Glitch" was written and directed by Irish filmmaker and writer David OReilly, and features his distinctive 3-D animation.[34] The sixth-season episode "Water Park Prank" features animation by David Ferguson.[35] A stop-motion episode titled "Bad Jubies", led by Kirsten Lepore, is due for broadcast near the start of the show's seventh season.[36][37]

Ward described the show as a "dark comedy" and said he enjoys experiencing ambivalent emotions, such as the feeling of being "happy and scared at the same time".[38] Executive producer Fred Seibert compared the show's animation style to that of Felix the Cat and various Max Fleischer cartoons, but said its world was also inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and video games.[21][39] Ward intends the show's world to have a physical logic rather than "cartoony slapstick". Although magic exists in the story, the show's writers try to create an internal consistency in the characters' interactions with the world.[4][39] In the United States, the series is rated TV-PG;[40] Ward has said he does not want to push the show's PG rating. He said, "I've never really even thought about the rating ... we don't like stuff that's overly gross. We like cute stuff and nice things."[27]

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ward said he had stepped down as series showrunner sometime during the fifth season in favor of Muto. He said, as a naturally introverted person, he found deal with people every day exhausting. Until late 2014, Ward continued to work on the series as a storyboard artist and storyline writer.[41] After November 2014, he stopped writing episode stories and focused on producing a live-action Adventure Time movie.[41][42]


The series employs the voice acting talents of John DiMaggio (left) and Jeremy Shada (right), who voice Jake and Finn, respectively.

Voice actors for the series include: Jeremy Shada (who portrays Finn the Human), John DiMaggio (who portrays Jake the Dog), Tom Kenny (who plays the Ice King), Hynden Walch (who voices Princess Bubblegum), and Olivia Olson (who voices Marceline the Vampire Queen). Ward provides voices for several minor characters and Lumpy Space Princess. Former storyboard artist Niki Yang voices the sentient video game console BMO in English, and Jake's girlfriend Lady Rainicorn in Korean. Polly Lou Livingston, a friend of Pendleton Ward's mother Bettie Ward, plays the voice of the small elephant named Tree Trunks.[43][44][45][46]

The Adventure Time cast members record their lines together in group recordings rather than individually, with the goal of recording natural-sounding dialogue.[21] Hynden Walch has described these group recordings as being akin to "doing a play reading—a really, really out there play".[47] The series regularly employs guest actors for minor and recurring characters.[48] The crew members cast people they are interested in working with. In a panel, both Adam Muto and Kent Osborne said the Adventure Time crew has been attempting to cast the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Office as various characters.[49]

Setting and mythology

The show is set in a fictional continent called the "Land of Ooo",[50] in a post-apocalyptic future about a thousand years after a nuclear holocaust called the "Great Mushroom War".[51] According to Ward, the show takes place "after the bombs have fallen and magic has come back into the world".[52] Before the series was fully developed, Ward's intended the Land of Ooo to be simply "magical". After the broadcast of "Business Time", in which an iceberg containing reanimated business men floats to the surface of a lake, the show became post-apocalyptic; Ward said the production crew "just ran with it".[38] Ward later described the setting as "candyland on the surface and dark underneath",[5] and said he had never intended the Mushroom War and the post-apocalyptic elements to be "hit over the head in the show".[53] He limited it to "cars buried underground in the background [and other elements that do not] raise any eyebrows".[53] Ward has said the post-apocalyptic elements of the series were influenced by the 1979 film Mad Max.[38] Kenny called the way in which the elements are worked into the plot "very fill-in-the-blanks", and DiMaggio said, "it's been obvious the Land of Ooo has some issues".[53]

The series has a canonical mythology—an overarching plot and backstory—that is expanded upon in various episodes.[54][55] The backstory mainly involves the Mushroom War, the origin of the series' principal antagonist the Lich, and the backstories of several of the series' principal and recurring characters.[54][55][56] Ward has said the details behind the Mushroom War and the series' dark mythology form "a story worth telling", and that he feels the show will "save it and continue to dance around how heavy the back-history of Ooo is".[57]

Title sequence and music

When Ward was developing the show's title sequences, the rough draft version consisted of quick shots and vignettes that were "just sort of crazy, nonsensical", which alluded to the show's theme of quirky adventures.[27] These drafts included "the characters ... just punching random ghosts and monsters, jumping through anything and everything [and] there were a bunch of atomic bombs at the end of it".[27] Ward later called this version "really silly".[27] He sent the draft to Cartoon Network; they did not enjoy it and wanted something more graphical like the introduction to The Brady Bunch. Inspired by the title sequesnces of The Simpsons and Pee-wee's Playhouse, Ward developed a new title sequence that featured a panning sweep of the Land of Ooo while a synthesizer note rose slowly until the main theme was played. Ward's draft for this idea was handed to layout animators and the sequence evolved; Ward added "silly character stuff on top of his pass", and Pat McHale worked on the Ice King's shot and gave him a "high school [year]book" smile. The crew also struggled to get the shadows in the shot featuring Marceline correct.[27] After the panning sweep, the sequence cuts to the theme song as shots of Finn and Jake adventuring are shown. For this part of the sequence, Ward was inspired by the "simple" aspects of the introduction of the 2007 comedy film Superbad. When the theme mentions "Jake the Dog" and "Finn the Human", the characters' names are displayed next to their heads, with a solid color in the background.[27] The sequence was finalized immediately before the series was aired.[27]

The theme song features Ward on ukelele.

The show's eponymous theme song is performed by Ward, who is accompanied by a ukulele. The theme first appeared in the pilot episode; in this version Ward was accompanied by an acoustic guitar. In the version used in the series, Ward sings in a noticeably higher register; this is because Ward felt it was necessary to match his singing with the higher key of the ukelele.[27] The finalized version of the theme song was originally supposed to be a temporary version. Ward said, "I recorded the lyrics for the opening title in the animatics room where we have this little crummy microphone just so that we could add it to the titles and submit it to the network. Later, we tried re-recording it and I didn't like it ... I only liked the temp one!"[27] According to Ward, much of the series' music has "hiss and grit" because one of the show's original composers, Casey James Basichis, "lives in a pirate ship he's built inside of an apartment [and] you can hear floorboards squeak and lots of other weird sounds".[27] As the show progressed, Basichis's friend Tim Kiefer joined the show as an additional composer.[58] The two currently work together on its music.[59]

The show's title sequence and theme song have mostly stayed consistent throughout its run, with two exceptions. During the Fionna and Cake episodes, all of the characters featured in the sequence are gender-bent and the theme is sung by former storyboard revisionist Natasha Allegri.[60] The introduction of the miniseries Stakes places most of the emphasis on Marceline, and the theme song was sung by Olivia Olson.[61]

The series regularly features songs and musical numbers. Many of the cast members—including Shada, Kenny, and Olson—sing their characters' songs.[47][62][63] Characters often express their emotions in song; examples of this include Marceline's song "I'm Just Your Problem" and Finn's "All Gummed Up Inside".[64][65] Although the background music for the series is composed by Basichis and Kiefer, the songs sung by characters are often written by the storyboard artists.[66][67] For instance, the "Fry Song" was written by storyboard artist Rebecca Sugar, who storyboarded its parent episode "It Came from the Nightosphere".[67] Frederator, Seibert's production company, often posted demos and full versions of songs sung by the characters.[68][69] The show also rarely but occasionally refers to popular music.[56][70][71][72][73]



Each Adventure Time episode is about eleven minutes in length; pairs of episodes are often telecast in order to fill a half-hour program time slot.[74]

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilot January 11, 2007 (2007-01-11)
1 26 March 11, 2010 (2010-03-11)[nb 2] September 27, 2010 (2010-09-27)
2 26 October 11, 2010 (2010-10-11) May 9, 2011 (2011-05-09)
3 26 July 11, 2011 (2011-07-11) February 13, 2012 (2012-02-13)
4 26 April 2, 2012 (2012-04-02) October 22, 2012 (2012-10-22)
5 52 November 12, 2012 (2012-11-12) March 17, 2014 (2014-03-17)
6 43 April 21, 2014 (2014-04-21) June 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
7 TBA November 2, 2015[77] TBA



Since its debut, Adventure Time has been a ratings success for Cartoon Network. In March 2013, it was reported that the show averages roughly 2 to 3 million viewers an episode.[9] According to a 2012 report by Nielsen, the show consistently ranks first in its time slot among boys aged 2 to 14.[5] The show premiered on April 5, 2010, and was watched by 2.5 million viewers.[78] The episode was a ratings success; according to a press release by Cartoon Network, the episode's time slot saw triple-digit percentage increases from the previous year. The program was viewed by 1.661 million children aged 2–11—a 110 percent increase from the previous year's figures. It was watched by 837,000 children aged 9–14—an increase 239 percent on the previous year's figures.[79] Between the second and sixth seasons, the show's ratings continued to grow; the second season premiere was watched by 2.001 million viewers; the third season debut was watched by 2.686 million, the fourth season premiere was watched by 2.655 million; the fifth season premiere was watched by 3.435 million; and the sixth season premiere was watched by 3.321 million.[80][81][82][83][84] The show's seventh season opener, however, took a substantial ratings tumble, being watched by only 1.07 million viewers.[85]

Critical reviews

Adventure Time makes me wish I were a kid again, just so I could grow up to be as awesome as the kids who are currently watching Adventure Time will be.

Entertainment Weekly staff[86]

The show has received positive reviews from critics and has developed a strong following among children, teenagers, and adults; fans are drawn to Adventure Time because of "the show's silly humor, imaginative stories, and richly populated world".[23] Television critic Robert Lloyd, in an article for the LA Times, said the series was a good companion piece "to the network's [then] currently airing Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack."[2] He complimented the setting and compared the show to the two previously mentioned series, saying each takes place "in a fantastical land peopled with strange, somewhat disturbing characters and has at its center a young male person or person-like thing making his way in that world with the help of unusual, not always reliable, mentors".[2] He also said the show is "not unlike CN's earlier Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, about a boy and his imaginary friend, though darker and stranger and even less connected to the world as we know it".[2] Lloyd also compared it to "the sort of cartoons they made when cartoons themselves were young and delighted in bringing all things to rubbery life".[2] In a review of the third season, Mike LeChevallier of Slate, wrote that the series "scores relatively high marks for storytelling, artwork, music, voice acting, and realization with its neatly wrapped, 11-minute packages of multicolored awesomeness", awarding the third and fourth seasons a rating of four stars out of five.[87][88] He said the show "scarcely appears to be trying too hard to attract attention, yet it does just that".[87] He also said, "the short-form format leaves some emotional substance to be desired", and that this was inevitable for a series with such short episodes.[87] In a review of season four, LeChevallier complimented the show for "growing up" with its characters, and said "the show's dialogue is among the best of any current animated series".[88] He concluded that the series has "strikingly few faults".[88]

The A.V. Club reviewer Zack Handlen called Adventure Time "a terrific show [that] fits beautifully in that gray area between kid and adult entertainment in a way that manages to satisfy both a desire for sophisticated (i.e., weird) writing and plain old silliness".[89] He concluded that the show was "basically what would happen if you asked a bunch of 12-year-olds to make a cartoon, only it's the best possible version of that, like if all the 12-year-olds were super geniuses and some of them were Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the Marx Brothers".[89] Robert Mclaughlin of Den of Geek said Adventure Time "is the first cartoon in a long time that is pure imagination".[90] He heavily complimented the show for "its non-reliance on continually referencing pop culture ... and the general outlook is positive and fun".[90] Eric Kohn of IndieWire said the show "represents the progress of [cartoon] medium" in the current decade.[91] Kohn said he enjoyed the way the show revels in "random, frequently adorable and effusive" aspects and "toys with an incredibly sad subtext".[91] Entertainment Weekly named Adventure Time number 20 on its "The 25 Greatest Animated Series Ever" list.[86][92] In 2013, Entertainment Weekly reviewer Darren Franich awarded the series an "A" and called it "a hybrid sci-fi/fantasy/horror/musical/fairy tale, with echoes of Calvin and Hobbes, Hayao Miyazaki, Final Fantasy, Richard Linklater, Where the Wild Things Are, and the music video you made with your high school garage band".[93] Franich praised the series' "consistently inventive" plotlines and its "vivid landscape", as well as its continued maturation.[93] Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker praised the show, likening it to "World of Warcraft as recapped by Carl Jung", and praised its unique approach to emotion, humor, and philosophy.[94] Freelance writer David Perlmutter, in his book America Toons In, wrote favorably of Adventure Time, calling it "a more sophisticated blend of high and low comedy".[21] Perlmutter applauded the show's voice acting, noting that "the dialogue delivery is far less frantic and rushed than it can be in other series", and he also wrote positively of the show's transcending of its source material.[21] With this being said, he argued that the show's vacillation between high and low comedy epitomizes the fact that Cartoon Network is "unsure of what direction to puruse".[21] He also noted that "while some of [Adventure Time‍ '​s] episodes work well, others simply [are] confusing."[21]

Industry impact

Heidi MacDonald of Slate has argued that Adventure Time‍ '​s scouting of indie comic creators has led to an "Animation Gold Rush" in which major studios are actively seeking under-the-radar talent for their shows. She also pointed out that Adventure Time has influenced the tone of modern comics, noting, "Where once young cartoonists overwhelmingly produced gloomy masculine self-absorption and misanthropy in the tradition of Daniel Clowes or Chris Ware, these days many booths feature fantasy epics with colorful characters and invented worlds heavy on the talking animals. It shouldn't be surprising that up-and-coming cartoonists are absorbing the Adventure Time aesthetic."[95]

Academic interest

Adventure Time has attracted academic interest for its examination of gender and gender roles. Emma A. Jane said although the two main characters are male and that many episodes involve them engaging in violent acts to save princesses, "Finn and Jake are part of an expansive ensemble cast of characters who are anything but stereotypical and who populate a program which subverts many traditional gender-related paradigms".[96] She said the show: features "roughly equal numbers of female and male characters in protagonist, antagonist, and minor roles"; includes characters with no fixed gender; uses "gendered 'design elements'" such as eyelashes and hair to illustrate character traits rather than gender; equally distributes traits regardless of gender; privileges found, adoptive families or extended families; frames gender in ways that suggest it is fluid; and features elements of queer and transgender sub-text.[96] Carolyn Lesie agrees, saying, "despite having two male leads, Adventure Time is particularly strong when it comes to questioning and challenging gender stereotypes". She uses Princess Bubblegum, BMO, and Fionna and Cake as examples of characters who refuse to be readily categorized and genderized.[97]


Adventure Time fans cosplaying at Dragon Con 2014.

Since its debut, Adventure Time has amassed a steadily growing fandom. The show is often described as having a cult following among teenagers and adults;[41][98] Eric Kohn of Indiewire said while it began with a cult following, the series has "started to look like one of the biggest television phenomenons of the decade".[99] The show is popular at fan conventions, such as the San Diego-hosted Comic Con.[99] Reporter Emma-Lee Moss said, "This year's [2014] Comic-Con schedule reflected Adventure Time‍ '​s growing success, with several screenings, a dramatic reading with the show's voice talent and a special Adventure Time Cosplay ball".[100]

The show is also popular with cosplayers, or performance artists who wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent characters from the Adventure Time universe. Moss wrote, "Looking into the crowd, it was clear that [Finn's] distinctive blue shirt and white hat were being mirrored by hundreds of Cosplayers, male and female".[100] In an interview, Olivia Olson said, "Literally, anywhere you look, anywhere in your range, you're going to see at least two people dressed up like Finn. It's crazy."[101]

Awards and nominations


Year Award Category Nominee Result
2007 Annie Award Best Animated Short Subject[102] For "Adventure Time" short Nominated
2010 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program[103] For "My Two Favorite People" Nominated
2011 Annie Award Best Animated Television Production for Children[104] Adventure Time Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program[103] For "It Came from the Nightosphere" Nominated
2012 Annie Award Best Animated Special Production[105] For "Thank You" Nominated
Best Storyboarding in a Television Production[105] Rebecca Sugar Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Animated Series[106] Adventure Time Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program[103] For "Too Young" Nominated
2013 Annie Award Best Animated Television Production For Children[107] For "Princess Cookie" Nominated
Design in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production[108] For "The Hard Easy" Nominated
Storyboarding in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production[109] For "Goliad" Nominated
Storyboarding in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production[109] For "Lady & Peebles" Nominated
Sundance Film Festival Animated Short Film[110] For "Thank You" Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue, and ADR Animation In Television[111] For "Card Wars" Won
Annecy International Animated Film Festival TV Series[112] For "Princess Cookie" Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Animated Series[113] Adventure Time Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming[114] Adventure Time Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Animated Series[115] Adventure Time Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement In Animation[116] Andy Ristaino Won
Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program[117] For "Simon & Marcy" Nominated
British Academy Children's Awards International[118] Adventure Time Won
2014 Annie Award Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Children's Audience[119] Adventure Time Won
Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production[120] Nick Jennings, et al. Nominated
Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production[119] Tom Kenny Won
Outstanding Achievement, Editorial in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production[120] Paul Douglas Nominated
Hall of Game Awards Most Valuable Cartoon[121] Adventure Time Won
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon[122] Adventure Time Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Animated Series[123] Adventure Time Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement In Animation[124] Nick Jennings Won
Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program[125] For "Be More" Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Animated Series[126] Adventure Time Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Colombia Favorite Animated Series[127] Adventure Time Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Mexico Favorite Animated Series[128] Adventure Time Nominated
British Academy Children's Awards International[129] Adventure Time Won
2015 Annie Award Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production[130] Yuasa Masaaki & Eunyoung Choi Nominated
Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Children's Audience[130] Adventure Time Nominated
Pixel Award Best Television Website[131] Finn and Jake's Big Adventure Won
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Cartoon[132] Adventure Time Nominated
Peabody Award Children's Programming[133] Adventure Time Won
Kerrang! Award Best TV Show[134] Adventure Time Won
Annecy International Animated Film Festival TV Film[135] For "Food Chain" Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Mexico Favorite Cartoon[136] Adventure Time Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement In Animation[137] Tom Herpich Won
Outstanding Short-format Animated Program[103] For "Jake the Brick" Won
Ottawa International Animation Festival Series for Kids[138] For "The Tower" Nominated


Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Eisner Award Best Publication for Kids[139] Adventure Time comic Won
Harvey Award Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers[140] Adventure Time comic Won
Special Award for Humor in Comics[140] Ryan North Won
2014 Eisner Award Best Lettering[141] Britt Wilson Nominated

Related media

Comic books

The Adventure Time comics were penned by independent web comic creator Ryan North until 2014.

On November 19, 2011, KaBOOM! Studios announced plans for an Adventure Time comic book series written by independent web comic creator Ryan North, who wrote the series Dinosaur Comics.[142][143] The series launched on February 8, 2012, with art by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb.[144][145] In October 2014, it was revealed that North had left the comic series after three years. His duties were assumed by Christopher Hastings, the creator of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.[146]

After the success of the ongoing comic book line, several spin-off mini-series were launched. In April 2012, a six-issue miniseries titled Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens and written by Meredith Gran—who created the series Octopus Pie—was announced. It was launched in July 2012 and features the characters Marceline and Princess Bubblegum touring the Land of Ooo as a part of Marceline's rock band Scream Queens.[147] Another six-issue mini-series, Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake was launched in January 2013. This series, drawn by Adventure Time series character designer and storyboard revisionist Natasha Allegri, follows the gender-bent characters Fionna the Human and Cake the Cat from the episode "Fionna and Cake".[148] Other spin-off comic series including Candy Capers, Flip Side, Banana Guard Academy, and Adventure Time: Ice King, have been released; each written and illustrated by different writers and artists.[149][150][151][152] One-shot spin-offs have also been announced; the first, Spoooktacular #1, was released in October 2015.[153]

A separate line of comics, officially denoted as graphic novels, have also been released. The first of these, titled Adventure Time: Playing with Fire, was written by Danielle Corsetto and illustrated by Zack Sterling. It was released in April 2013, and focuses on Flame Princess' "very first adventure" with Finn and Jake.[154] A second volume, titled Pixel Princesses, was released on November 6, 2013.[155] The third graphic novel, titled Adventure Time: Seeing Red and written by Kate Leth, focuses on Marceline and Jake's adventure to the Nightosphere. It was released in March 2014.[156] The fourth volume, also written by Leth, is called Bitter Sweets. It focuses on Princess Bubblegum and Peppermint Butler as they travel. It was released on November 11, 2014.[157] The fifth entry, titled Graybles Schmaybles was written by Corsetto and released on May 12, 2015. It follows Finn and Jake as they go on an adventure concerning the titular graybles.[158] The sixth graphic novel, titled Masked Mayhem, will be released on November 11, 2015.[159]

Other literature

Other Adventure Time-themed books have also been released. The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia, published on July 22, 2013, was written by comedian Martin Olson, who is the father of Olivia Olson and the voice of recurring antagonist Hunson Abadeer.[160] This book was followed by Adventure Time: The Enchiridion & Marcy's Super Secret Scrapbook!!!, which was released on October 6, 2015. This book—written by Martin and Olivia Olson—is presented as a combination of the Enchiridion and Marceline's secret diary.[161] An official Art of... book, titled The Art of Ooo was published on October 14, 2014; it contains interviews with cast and crew members, and opens with an introduction by film-maker Guillermo del Toro.[162] There are also a series of prose novels published under the header "Epic Tales from Adventure Time", including: The Untamed Scoundrel written by Adrianne Ambrose, and Queen of Rogues and The Lonesome Outlaw both written by Leigh Dragoon. These books were published under the pseudonym "T. T. MacDangereuse".[163][164][165] Two volumes with collections of the show's title cards have also been released.[166][167]

Video games

A video game based on the series was announced by Pendleton Ward on his Twitter account.[168] The game, titled Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!!, was developed by WayForward Technologies for Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS, and was released by D3 Publisher on November 20, 2012.[169][170] Various video games, including Legends of Ooo: The Big Hollow Princess, Fionna Fights, Beemo – Adventure Time, and Ski Safari: Adventure Time, have been released on the iOS App Store.[171] In May 2013, it was announced that a new game called Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don't Know! would be released. The game follows Finn and Jake as they strive "to save the Candy Kingdom by exploring the mysterious Secret Royal Dungeon deep below the Land of Ooo."[172] It was released in November 2013.[172]

A video game titled Finn & Jake's Quest was released on April 11, 2014, on Steam.[173] Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom was released on November 18, 2014, for Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Windows.[174] Cartoon Network also released a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game titled Adventure Time: Battle Party on, on June 23, 2014.[175] In April 2015, two downloadable content packs for LittleBigPlanet 3 on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 were released; one contained Adventure Time costumes, the other contained a level kit with decorations, stickers, music, objects, a background and a bonus Fionna costume.[176] In October 2015, the fourth major Adventure Time video game, titled Finn & Jake Investigations, was released.[177]

Other merchandise

Jazwares has produced an assortment of 2-, 5-, 10-, and 20-inch licensed action figures for the series, which were launched in the fall of 2011.[178] "Grow Your Own" characters that expand when immersed in water were also released.[178] Role playing toys have be produced; a 24-inch "Finn Sword" was released first.[178] Jazwares is also producing a "cuddle pillow" of Jake and Lumpy Space Princess. "Splat toys" of the same characters were released in early 2012.[179] Since the dramatic increase in popularity of the series, many graphic T-shirts have been officially licensed through popular clothing retailers.[180][181][182] Pendleton Ward hosted T-shirt designing contests on two of these retailers' websites.[182][183] Other shirts can be purchased directly from Cartoon Network's store.[184] A collectible card game called Card Wars, inspired by the season four episode of the same name, has been released.[185]


In February 2015, it was reported that a theatrical Adventure Time movie was being developed by Warner Bros. Pictures, Frederator Films, Warner Animation Group, and Cartoon Network Movies. The film was being produced and written by Pendleton Ward, and produced by Roy Lee and Chris McKay.[186]

Home media

On September 27, 2011, Cartoon Network released the region 1 DVD My Two Favorite People, which features a random selection of 12 episodes from the series' first two seasons. The success of this DVD led to the release of several other region-1 compilation DVDs, including: It Came from the Nightosphere (2012), Fionna and Cake (2013), The Suitor (2014), Adventure Time and Friends (2014), Frost & Fire (2015), The Enchiridion (2015), and Stakes (2016).[187] In addition, seasons one to five have been released on DVD and Blu-ray.[188] On March 30, 2013, the first season of Adventure Time was made available on the Netflix Instant Watch service for online streaming; the second season was made available on March 30, 2014.[189][190] Both seasons were removed on March 30, 2015.[191] Season one through six were eventually made available for streaming on Hulu on May 1, 2015.[192]



  1. ^ In its first season, the series was titled Adventure Time with Finn and Jake[2] because the producers were unsure whether they could secure the rights to the simpler title Adventure Time. Despite these initial concerns, the original title was eventually shortened.[3]
  2. ^ Before the official debut of season one, Cartoon Network "previewed" both "Business Time" and "Evicted!" on March 11 and March 18, respectively.[75][76]


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External links