“Nobody gets to choose when it’s going to happen son”
Come along with me
and the butterflies and bees
We can waddle through the forest
and do so as we please
Finales are a hard thing to juggle. People often have lofty expectations for the conclusion of a long-running program. They want to see major and minor plotlines wrapped up neatly and nicely to their content. They usually envision the ending to a story and it can be jarring when it doesn’t end that way.
Fandoms can be toxic, but Adventure Time was anything but.
For 10 seasons we were treated to a world filled with amazing characters, where everyone was equally important as our stars Finn and Jake. From Princess Bubblegum to Marceline to Root Beer Guy to Shelby the Worm’s little brother who is really his sentient butt that got lobbed off while he was horsing around at a party. Pendleton Ward helped create a universe, not just a TV show, it’s the reason why we’re all so sad to let it go. We became wrapped up in the day to day lives of the people of Ooo and the fact that we won’t see them anymore is what pulls at the heart strings a bit.
“Come Along With Me” messes with us a few times. The show opens with Shermy and Beth, two adventures parallel to Finn and Jake respectively (Beth seems to be a descendant of Jake and Lady Rainicorn) who are exploring Ooo when they find a mechanical arm. They rush to find the King of Ooo, who’s revealed to be none other than B-Mo. They take a quick tour and are about to be dismissed when they put the arm down in front of B-Mo to ask him about where it came from. It’s here that B-Mo begins to tell them about the Great Gum War, which is where we last left off.
It’s here where we’re gearing up for battle between Princess Bubblegum and Uncle Gumbald, the two forces are in standoff and Finn gives one last attempt for things to end peacefully. When things don’t go the way Finn and Jake expect them to, Jake slams down the dream juice the duo received from Nightmare Princess in between the “Islands” and “Elements” mini-series, sending Finn, Jake, Bubblegum, Fern and Gumbald into the dream realm.
I won’t go too far into detail, but it is in this dreamscape that we resolve the Gum War and Finn/Fern reconcile. When Bonnie and Gumbald walk off to draw up their agreements, he’s tripped by Aunt Lolly and spills dumb dumb juice on himself, proving he was going to betray her anyway. Lolly agrees to rule in peace with Bubblegum, and the first half of our finale plot ends. From there is where the real trouble starts: GOLB arrives and we learn what Betty’s plan was to revive Margles and fix Simon. The group must work together to stop the embodiment of chaos and destruction from destroying OOO, which they eventually succeed in doing via song (there’s a lot more to it, some of which I’ll dive into, but it’s much less cheesy than it sounds).
Adventure Time’s end was abrupt, the show had been cancelled by Cartoon Network earlier than the crew wanted it to end, resulting in some rushed and abbreviated plot lines. If the crew were given one more season, I think we would have seen a more fleshed out Gumbald, learned more about Aunt Lolly and Cousin Chicle as the beings they were created to be and not the dumbed down versions they were given. The Finn/Fern resolution takes place in a matter of seconds with the two of them conquering the Grass Demon (and Fern slowly losing his body in the process), when this could’ve been a story we were really able to dive into for a full episode. We could’ve gotten an extensive plot/resolution to the Gum War instead of it being over and done with in 22 minutes after months of buildup. Yes, we knew GOLB was the endgame, but we really could’ve gotten an entire mini-series to extend the plot and provide more substance about everything from Betty’s plan to GOLB’s actual role in the Universe. This is hinted at over time in the series, and like everything else in Adventure Time, it’s up to us to piece this together.
Those aren’t complaints, because this finale was still phenomenal. It still was Adventure Time, and what I mean by that is they gave us a finale in only the way that they can. We get our mix of humor (CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECK PLEASE), tense moments, tear jerkers, and all out sobbing. We get confirmation of Marceline/Bonny, and even get Lemongrab and LSP to share a tender moment. We get all of that within the greater plot of GOLB’s destruction of Ooo and the mourning of things lost to time as well as the appreciation for those things happening (major spoiler video below -but if you’ve made it this far, have at it):
“Time Adventure” feels like an ode to AT fans more than anything. The song has some relevance to the plot as B-Mo sings it to Jake once the Treehouse is destroyed, but the lyrics themselves pen to just being a love letter to those of us who have watched this show over the years.
If there was some amazing force outside of time
To take us back to where we were
And hang each moment up like pictures on the wall
Inside a billion tiny frames so that we could see it all, all, all
It will look like, will happen, happening, happened
Will happen, happening, happened
And, there we are again and again
‘Cause you and I will always be back then
You and I will always be back then
As the crew sings this song, we’re then treated to a major mood shift and a moment that provides the final, pivotal moments for this series. It results in a gut wrenching realization that Betty makes the ultimate sacrifice to keep Simon safe, the finale gives context to why she does what she has to do. It becomes all the more sad knowing that she didn’t have to do any of this and it all resulted in her desperate attempts to change fate.
One of AT’s major themes throughout the series as a whole, but particularly poignant over the final seasons, is the notion that life goes on. In life we must sometimes accept the loss that is most difficult to actually accept. Whether that’s the passing of time, the end of innocence or any era altogether, the loss of a loved one, whatever. We can enjoy and waddle in it for awhile, but we cannot remain there permanently. Betty, for one, paid the price for the obsession with trying to change what has already been made concrete. She gave Simon the chance for a normal life in Ooo, but at the ultimate cost of becoming something that must exist through time and space. Simon loses the insanity, yet innocence of the Ice King and becomes himself, but has to adjust to a world without his Betty that he is unfamiliar with.
It all comes full circle.
What really clinches everything, to me, are the closing credits. Right after the final conclusion, Finn plants the seed of Fern as his body continues to blow away with no host and he immediately grows into a tree with the Finn Sword planted inside of him. As we flash forward to the future, B-Mo kicks out our new adventurers, who then ask him what happened to Finn, Jake and everyone else. B-Mo answers in the most B-Mo way possible: “they just kept on living their lives I guess”, which is the only final statement we should expect out of a show that can be as ambiguous as this. The adventure continues forever, but we don’t stop there.
As our new duo leaves the King of Ooo’s home, we see Shermy realize where he’s seen the aforementioned tree of legend (with a Giant Sweet Pea passing through the background). They rush in the direction of the tree as we return back to Present Day Ooo with Finn and Jake lying near the music hole and reflecting on the events of the day. The Music Hole decides to play a song for the two that “is about a really specific feeling that’s hard to describe.” It’s at this moment, the “Island Song” (Adventure Time’s outro) plays with a montage of various residents of Ooo playing out their lives.
This montage ends with the Humans coming to Ooo, presumably to live in the land. Finn gets to see and live the rest of his life out with his own kind as well as his Mother’s consciousness. We see Lemongrab smiling and content with himself, we see LSP becoming ruler of Lumpy Space and finally earning respect. Gunter becomes the Ice Thing and marries Turtle Princess, T.V. takes over his Grandparents’ detective service, Carroll enters the Water Cycle and is finally happy with herself, B-Mo moves on by sending Mo’s consciousness into Outer Space. We get peace and everyone seeing out the rest of their lives, Marcy and Bonnie living life together with Peppermint Butler, and the series ends with everything coming full circle as Beth and Shermy reach the top of the tree. Shermy grabs the Finn Sword (with assistance from Beth) and hoists it high in the original pose that Finn and Jake have on the Adventure Time intro.
Adventure Time took us a lot of places. We learned of this land called Ooo and some of the mysteries it had to offer. Although we didn’t get the amount of time we really wanted from it, no amount of time would have been satisfying. We were given a proper conclusion with satisfying results and knowing that these characters will live in our hearts forever and ever. We will always have these stories to keep us warm inside and when it’s all said and done that’s all we can ask for.
Adventure Time brought us into the Cartoon Network revival that gave us “The Amazing World of Gumball”, “Steven Universe”, “Regular Show” and more. It’s responsible for shows like “Craig of the Creek” and the new wave that we’re seeing now. It was given time to wrap up its many plotlines, but not enough time to introduce a bigger issue to resolve within a reasonable deadline like Regular Show, which created a whole season that explained the base of the problems in the show and gave us a tear jerker finale.
Adventure Time wrapped up some plot lines, but not all, and that may have been intentional.
I didn’t “grow up” with Adventure Time. It debuted when I was at the end of my college years, I didn’t even start watching it until my now Wife and I were bored one evening back in 2013 and turned to it. So entertained and enthralled with these nuggets of entertainment that we attempted to watch every episode. That we binge watched every episode over this last summer to make sure we were ready for the finale. A finale she can’t bring herself to watch.
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
You and I will always be, best friends.