|Adventure Time character|
|First appearance||Adventure Time (rough-cut)
"Prisoners of Love" (official)
|Created by||Pendleton Ward|
|Voiced by||Tom Kenny
John Kassir (pilot)
|Occupation||Monarch of the fictional Ice Kingdom
Antiquarian (Simon Petrikov)
|Family||Betty Grof (ex-fiancée)
The Ice King is a character in the American animated television series Adventure Time. A supposedly evil wizard capable of creating and manipulating ice and snow, he is the self-proclaimed king of the Ice Kingdom, a land of ice he claimed as his own and lives in in company of many penguins. Although technically an antagonist, he sometimes helps the main characters and is the protagonist of several episodes focusing on his struggles or backstory. The character is voiced by Tom Kenny.
Originally depicted as a two-dimensional, humorously over-the-top villain trying to kidnap Princess Bubblegum on a regular basis, the character's personality was subsequently expanded, revealing him to be a kind-hearted but misunderstood old man with completely twisted senses of morality and social behavior, suffering from loneliness and memory loss. Later seasons unveil his tragic backstory, revealing he was once a good human named Simon Petrikov who lost his mind, memories, and loved ones due to the magic crown giving him his ice powers.
Although the character originally received lukewarm reception and was considered an "irritating antagonist", his later backstory and development into a tragic figure were widely acclaimed, and he came to be seen as an accurate and touching depiction of social isolation and mental illness, notably Alzheimer's and bipolar disorder; the episodes "I Remember You" and "Simon & Marcy", which unveil the Ice King's relation with Marceline the Vampire Queen almost a thousand years before the beginning of the series, are often considered two of the show's very best.
Ice King is a frequent antagonist and occasional ally of Finn and Jake who kidnaps princesses throughout Ooo to forcefully marry them, Princess Bubblegum being his usual target. His ice-based magic abilities come from a magical crown he wears, which directly causes his insanity. Though defined as completely crazy by many, the character is also lonely and misunderstood, having a generally benevolent relationship with the penguins of his realm. When he briefly had a wife, he actually treated her with great care and love. Whenever he kidnaps princesses, he treats them with care and respect. Aside from the actual imprisonment, their only protests seem to be that they don't like him and he occasionally could become possessive and slightly creepy. Despite rarely meaning harm, Ice King is still potentially very dangerous due to his power and his unstable mind which warps his sense of morality and socially acceptable behavior. Furthermore, unaware that the two learned of his origins as Simon Petrikov before being driven insane by the crown's influence, he is somewhat envious of Finn and Jake for being such good friends.
Ice King's crown, the source of his powers, is revealed in the episode "Evergreen" to have been created in the prehistoric past by an ice elemental named Urgence Evergreen to avert a meteor from hitting the planet. After finishing the crown, arranging it to imprint its original bearer's mind while granting the user their deepest desire, Evergreen ends up being incapacitated and is forced to entrust his apprentice Gunther to wear the crown to have him destroy the meteor in his place. But having never been taught magic by Evergreen while being treated poorly, Gunther ended up wishing to be more like his mentor from his perspective and is unable to stop the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. The crown survived the event and would continue its first owner's wish to turn future users into insane parodies of Evergreen.
As revealed in "Holly Jolly Secrets", the crown came to Petrikov when he bought it from a dock worker in northern Scandinavia. He began to lose his mind as he began to wear the crown, deteriorating in both mind and body over the years into his current state. His condition worsened after his fiancée Betty was spirited into his future, which played a role in his subconscious need for princesses. Sometime before the Mushroom War, Petrikov discovered the Enchiridion and then, 996 years before the events of the series, became a guardian to a young Marceline whom he gradually referred to as Gunter as his sanity deteriorated. Eventually, having done his best not to use the crown except as a last resort, he realized he would become a threat to Marceline and wrote a letter to apologize for no longer helping her and for whatever wrong he might do with the crown possessing him. After completely losing his mind, the character ends up in the company of penguins. The most notable of them is named Gunter; however, it is later revealed that the Ice King also calls all other penguins Gunter and variations of the name (Günter, Gunther, ...).
Ice King's crown bestows him with numerous powers in exchange for his sanity, most of which involve ice and snow. He can cast ice lightning to freeze or strike targets, and can summon blizzards at will to cover the land in snow. He is also capable of creating various weapons or structures out of ice. He can also animate beings of ice and snow, like the Ice-o-pede and snowman soldiers. Outside of cryokinesis, the character is also able to fly by using his beard, parting and flapping it like a pair of wings to stay aloft. These powers and abilities are directly tied to the crown, however, and its removal will strip him of all his abilities until he puts it back on. He also has a power called Wizard Eyes, which makes him see strange things and puts him at risk, and he is not fully conscious while he uses this power.
The character, originally earning mixed reception, was considered to widely improve later in the show, mainly for the reveal of his tragic backstory, and his development into a more complex character facing mental illness and social isolation. TV.com stated "it's sort of amazing how Adventure Time has transformed the Ice King from an irritating antagonist to one of the most tragic figures on television".
Novelist Lev Grossman, in an interview with NPR, praised the backstory of the Ice King and the exploration of his condition, noting that his origin is "psychologically plausible". He also stated "My dad has been going through having Alzheimer's, and he's forgotten so much about who he used to be. And I look at him and think this cartoon is about my father dying."
The fourth season episode "I Remember You", which reveals the Ice King's relation with Marceline the Vampire Queen almost a thousand years before the beginning of the series, is usually seen as one of the best episodes of the series, and possibly the very best. Charlie Jane Anders of io9 called the episode "one of the most intense things I've seen in ages". It was also called "one of the most touching stories this series has ever told" by The A.V. Club, and "the finest entry in the series' history" by IndieWire. The episode "Simon & Marcy" was also widely praised for its emotional writing. Both episodes were selected by Geek.com as two of the show's best 10 episodes (in no specific order).
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- Anders, Charlie. "How Did Adventure Time Become Better Than Most Live-Action TV Shows?". io9. Gawker Media. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- Sava, Oliver (October 15, 2012). "'I Remember You' | Adventure Time | TV Club". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- Kohn, Eric (March 26, 2013). "Why 'Adventure Time' Is the Best Sci-Fi Show on TV Right Now". IndieWire. Snagfilms. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- "The Top 25 Episodes of Adventure Time". Earn This. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
- "10 essential episodes of Adventure Time". geek.com. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
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- "Character Facts of the Week: Ice King from Adventure Time". CartoonNetwork.co.uk. March 16, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012.
- Larry Leichliter (director); Kent Osborne & Somvilay Xayaphone (writers) (December 5, 2011). "Holly Jolly Secrets". Adventure Time. Season 3. Episode 19 & 20. Cartoon Network.
- Oliver Sava (October 15, 2012). "'I Remember You' | Adventure Time | TV Club". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
- Sava, Oliver (March 25, 2013). "'Simon And Marcy' | Adventure Time | TV Club". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
- Sava, Oliver (October 9, 2013). "Beneath Adventure Time's Weirdness Lies Surprising Emotional Complexity". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved October 9, 2013.