The Adventure Never Truly Ends: A Farewell to Adventure Time

30 Aug 2018 - This post originally appeared on the Turner Blog.

After 10 seasons of adventure, it’s time to say toodle-oo to the Land of Ooo and bid farewell to Cartoon Network’s longest-running series, Adventure Time.

Though it may seem like your average, quirky kids cartoon, Adventure Time has become so much more than a land full princesses and ponies. Behind the comedy and candy is a series full of depth, complexity and emotion that has impacted and developed viewers and artists around the world.

Matthew Lehosit, director of Cartoon Network marketing

Adventure Time is a Cartoon Network-defining show,” says Matthew Lehosit, director of Cartoon Network marketing, who has been working on the series since its inception in 2010. “It really is an incredibly dynamic world that had potential to be anything that we as fans wanted it to be. We could see ourselves in that world, we could see our success and our failures in that world.”

For indeed, Adventure Time has built an exciting and relatable world that invites adults and kids alike on 11-minute adventures, filled with beloved characters and life lessons.  

The diverse, multi-faceted characters of Adventure Time empower young fans to grow into their own unique identities and challenge gender roles and stereotypes around them.

“No character in Adventure Time is infallible. Boys are allowed to be vulnerable and cry. Girls are allowed to be strong and smart and leaders.”

This character complexity is what Jess Silberstein, marketing manager for Cartoon Network Home Entertainment Marketing, believes made the series so prominent and popular. Fans are able to see bits and pieces of themselves in each and every character; they can see their friends, their family, and the world around them within this magical, candy kingdom. And while it’s a completely different world, these cartoon creatures are what viewers connect to at their core.

Adventure Time characters are not just relatable—they’re dependable and wise; they share uplifting statements with viewers that aren’t typically found in a kid’s cartoon yet fit so perfectly into this world of wonder.

“The protagonists are allowed to fail. The antagonists are allowed to have redemption. That component of development is so important for a kid.”

One of the most incredible things about Adventure Time is that it doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of kids, Kim Barnhill, senior publicist at Cartoon Network, notes. Behind all the show’s quests and cartoons is a world that challenges viewers to think and grow beyond the confines of a regular kids show.  

Children who watch Adventure Time are taught self-care and the importance of connection, absorbing each lesson like a sponge.  

Sven Gordon, creative director at Cartoon Network

“It goes beyond animation,” says Sven Gordon, creative director at Cartoon Network, when asked about the series. “You don’t have to be an animation fan to appreciate it.”

Gordon has worked on the series from the beginning and has seen the show evolve and grow into the world-wide phenomenon that it is today. Like Silberstein, he credits the show’s success to its diverse characters, but more specifically, the connections the characters have created with one another.

Fittingly, Finn and Jake, the main characters of Adventure Time, are an inseparable pair, embodying the close connection Gordon references. Though Finn is a human and Jake is a stretchy, talking dog, the two are best friends—practically brothers–-and are constantly supporting and encouraging one another. These types of relationships serve as a base for the show, giving the series a lighthearted nature with values hidden in all of its nooks and crannies.

Mario Piedra, creative director for Cartoon Network Digital

“It’s the lightheartedness,” Mario Piedra, creative director for Cartoon Network Digital, says, “that masks a lot of depth and bits of emotions that just get you every time.”

Though Piedra grew up in the “toy generation,” he admits having a storyline is what truly counts. He believes “Adventure Time” gave kids the opportunity to play with “toys” again; they may not be physical toys, Piedra accepts, but he believes the series gave kids just enough story to expand their imagination and help them grow.  

Growing Up With Adventure Time

During the 10-season run on the air, fans of the show were able to grow up alongside their favorite Adventure Time characters and learn important lessons from every adventure.

Candice House, creative director for Cartoon Network

“Kids have probably grown up with Finn. I think there's been a lot of growth in that character,” Candice House, creative director for Cartoon Network says. “He started out as a little boy, just wanting to adventure, and we saw him have his first kiss and his first girlfriend and go through all of those awkward moments that kids are going through at the same time.”

Kids who watched Adventure Time were able to develop with the series by their side and see their favorite characters go through the same ups and downs of adolescence as they were. Young viewers were able to see real, vulnerable characters with flaws and challenges and highs and lows.  

“Being able to watch these characters through 10 seasons has made me a better person,” Conrad Montgomery, senior director of current series at Cartoon Network, admits. “So, thank you for that.”

But Montgomery and the fans weren’t the only ones to grow from this Cartoon Network series. Adventure Time was a springboard for so many cartoon creators to get their start and have their stories be told and has inspired artists across the globe.

The Adventure Time ‘family tree’ stems far and wide and boasts incredible talent that have gone on to create their own Cartoon Network series, including Rebecca Sugar (creator Steven Universe), Ian Jones-Quartey (creator OK K.O.! Let’s be Heroes) and Julia Pott (creator Summer Camp Island).

Saying Farewell to the Adventure

Maria Layus, senior writer producer for Cartoon Network & Boomerang, LATAM

Employees like Conrad, Matthew, Candice, Mario, Sven, Kim and Jess have loved seeing the show grow over the years; they’ve savored every moment and have enjoyed witnessing the magic of the series come to life. Whether it was late-night storyboarding, interacting with fans at Comic-Con or walking alongside the Adventure Time balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, employees who have worked on the show over the years have had quite an adventure of their own—and their efforts definitely have not gone unnoticed.  

The show has garnered critical acclaim over the course of its run, winning eight Emmy Awards with 15 nominations overall, including winning Outstanding Short Form Animated Program in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The series was also recognized with a Peabody award in 2014.
“Not only did you fall in love with the world, the comedy, the hard-to-predict nature of the show,” Montgomery says, “but then it also became something that was part of your everyday.”  

It’s true, Adventure Time has become a part of so many Cartoon Network employees’ day through the years. And starting Sept. 4, each day will probably feel a little different after bidding adieu to the Land of Ooo.

Candice House looks back at her time working on the series with a smile, noting how inspirational the entire process has been. And though she, and so many others, are sad to see the show come to an end, she knows Finn and Jake will continue being best buds and always have each other’s back.

“It’s such a beautiful universe that even if it’s ending it will always exist,” says Maria Layus, a fan of the show and senior writer producer for Cartoon Network & Boomerang, LATAM. “It’s one of those shows that people will always love and remember.”

And so, the adventure never really ends.

Be sure to tune in September 3 at 6 p.m. ET on Cartoon Network for the series finale of Adventure Time.

Then, pick up the Adventure Time: The Final Seasons DVD collection & the Adventure Time Series Finale soundtrack on Tuesday, September 4. The DVD collection includes 53 episodes, a 44-minute special and a plethora of exclusive bonus content while the soundtrack features 20 tracks from the series finale episode. The soundtrack will be available for digital download and streaming on all major platforms, with a vinyl release to follow.