Ten best Adventure Time episodes so far (IMHO)
This list contains spoilers. Yes, SPOILERS.
I hope this is OK, I didn't see anything in the rules that would forbid it.
I love Adventure Time. I asked myself, what are the ten best episodes of Adventure Time? I realized that this is a really hard question to answer. AT is in it's sixth season. Season 5 had 52 episodes alone, and some of the best of the series. It's not just that they are all great episodes, but also that the episodes are all very different. Some are just meaningless fun. Some are deep explorations of the characters past. Others are light hearted romps that expound on Finn or Jake's character, and some are about life and death struggle. The writers, animators and voice actors do a great job of making all the characters come alive and they have only gotten better since the beginning of the series.
Whatever the individual shows are, together they are all a lot of fun, even after watching many times over. So I hope when I tell you it's hard to whittle the list down to just ten, you understand. So hard, in fact, that I copped out and I upped it to 20. Besides, many of my favourite episodes are two or three part episodes.
The 20 best episodes of Adventure Time.
Here we are closing the sixth season of AT, and the show is still only 15 minutes long. Many cartoons with this success would have gone to 30 minutes, but AT has stayed at 15. Without commercials the run time is only about 11 minutes. Even so, those 11 minutes are often tightly packed with character dialogue, exposition, comedy and of course, adventure. I think some of the success of AT can be linked to the length of the shows, the 11 minutes requires tight writing. Thirty minutes gives enough time to get sloppy and boring. But the short episodes leaves some shows running two, sometimes three episodes long to tell the full story. This first pick, number 20, is one of those.
Number 20: The Lich
Season 4 finale episode.
This is a life and death struggle, with Finn and all life on the planet in the balance. These episodes are inventive, I love the concept of the book, the crystals, and Booko. How can you not like Booko?
The Lich tricks Finn and Jake into doing his bidding, and we see Finn's personality starting to change as he spends time with the Lich.
I'm not going to quote Booko. Too much work.
Why is PB cutting off the legs of those poor little creatures?
Your cold, PB.
Number 19: Finn the Human
Season 5 Episode 1
What I like about this and the next is it tells us more about the universe that Finn and Jake live in. Plus it's more fate of the world adventuring, and we meet Prizmo, alternate Marceline, Simon, Finn and Jake. And Jake tries to eat Finn.
Simon saves the world at the cost of his own life.
Those Destiny Gang guys sure are real jerks.
Finn says “It feels natural, like peeing outside.”
Number 18: Jake the Dog
Season 5 Episode 2
Third episode of the Lich story arc.
I love these three episodes. They give us a lot to think about.
Why did Finn change? What happened to his arm? Because the Lich never existed, and the Lich was important in Finn's original world. Why was Marceline such a wimp in this alternate universe, when she's such a badass in the original? Lot's of great writing, lots of drama. Lots of questions.
Number 17: Red Starved
Season 5 Episode 38
A stand alone episode that has Jake acting childish and Marceline being hungry and Jake being hungry. Then Jake ties up Marcy. Jake tries to cook Marcy. Marcy tries to eat Jake. Finn is colour blind. Marcy eats Princess Bubblegum.
A fun show.
PB “Peeps will never starve in my eternal empire.”
Number 16: Evergreen
Season 6 episode 24
We meet Gunther way back in time, where we meet Urgence Evergreen and one of my favourite short time characters, Gunther the brain modified dinosaur. Gunther is easy going, but he can't help but treat Nina, his pet, with occasional derision that is reserved for himself from his master Urgence.
No matter how badly Gunther is treated he still adores his master, Evergreen. It's sad.
There was some little enjoyment from seeing Evergreen get his just deserts in the end, and Gunther get his deepest truest wish, to learn magic, even if it is in the form becoming Evergreen.
Gunther “Are you my father?”
Urgence Evergreen “No, but I stole your egg and mutated your brain.”
Number 15: What Was Missing
A Door Lord runs through the gangs lives, and steals things that are precious to them. They must come together and form a band to get their possessions back. Naturally Jake is the jerk of the band.
This episode is just a lot of fun with more great artwork. It never fails to surprise me, for such simple artwork how great they can make it look. It's really not as simple as it first appears. Sure, it's not crazy complex either, but it is a great feast for the eyes. Plus we get a chase scene.
Jake “That guy must do crazy squats.”
BMO “Oh, my face!”
More awesome artwork:
Marceline the Vampire Queen in her gloves, broad hat and long, long hair set against the red canyon and blue sky.
Number 14: The Tower
Season 6 episode 4
Finn lost his arm in Escape From the Citadel, and he's not happy. Besides losing his arm, his dad is a real jerk, who doesn't care about Finn one single bit. That's gotta hurt. What I like about this episode is the insanity of Finn, growing a magic arm that builds him a tower, an impossible tower, made of stacked dirt cubes and logs and a log house on its side and candy and a skull and doughnuts and lava and ice and a bee hive and penguins and some of the Ice Kings spires, into outer space.
We can see how angry he is, he completely ignores the plight of the fawn that winds up at the top of the tower, something Finn would never regularly do. Jake takes care of the deer and feeds it spaghetti dinner.
More great dialogue and great characters:
Jake “TMLO...That Means Lay Off”
Carroll “Your one of those swimmers, right? A real swim nut.”
Carroll“Be like me and run away, you have to run away and never stop hating your old life. You gotta really dwell on it.”
Finn “You should have pulled off their legs.”
PB “You were hallucinating like crazy so it was really easy to trick you.”
PB “DAAAaa! MY ARM!”
Poor Banana man, he would have loved that spaceship.
Another three episode story line, but this one was broken up into two consecutive episodes, then another single episode later in the season.
Number 13: Wake Up
Season 6 Episode 1
Another episode that continues the Lich plot line.
The Cosmic Owl wants to play Card Wars, clearly Prismo isn't into it.
Shelby wishes for a pony for his girl friend, who names it Speed Boat.
The Cosmic Owl is afraid and leaves when mention of what one needs to do to get to the Citadel, a prison for the worst of the worst.
Number 12: Escape from the Citadel
Season 6 Episode 2
Finn appears to be an excellent example of nurture over nature. His father is a real jerk but Finn grows up to be a guy who cares about others. Finn loses his arm, the possibility of knowing his father, but he finally defeats the Lich, who gets turned into a giant baby. Jake and Finn deliver the baby Lich to Pig and Tree Trunks.
Tree Trunks: “Mr. Pig, I think we should get a d--”
Number 11: Is That You?
Season 6 episode 19.
I like this because of it's over arching themes of friendship, and doing what's right for the sake of your friend, or your friend's friend, even if it costs you. It s summed up in the speech Finn makes.
It's also good quality science fiction. Or at least fantasy. The Almighty Prismo is dead, killed by the Lich when he awoke the sleeping old man. But Prismo enacted a plan in case he died.
Jake: “I remember feelin' like someone had peeled a layer away from my brain, and my reality was no longer anchored to any point of reference, and I had to fight to keep from being crushed under the weight of an unforgiving new paradigm of ultimate reality.”
Jake: “Well... [gulps milk and gets in the bed] hats off to you sir or madam, your trap was a success!”
The bed trap scene gets me grinning every time. Once again, just great imaginative writing that ties together a number of episodes.
Number 10: Card Wars
Season 4 episode 14
I'm sure most of us have a memory, perhaps even a fond memory of playing board games without someone who takes it a little too seriously.
Jake the dog, the game nerd. Who'd a guessed? We get foreshadowing from BMO when he says, “I do not play such games... with Jake.”
Jake shows us some childish emotions, first to manipulate Finn to play the game, then anger when Jake begins losing. This is something we see throughout the series, the two often reverse roles, one playing the voice of reason, the other being childish, petulant, wilful or selfish. In this way they represent real life, few people are rational about all things, especially younger people.
“I thought you'd say it's for nerds, who do not know how life is outside of the nerd universe.”
“Let me explain the rules” Two Hours Later... (Finn is asleep)
“Hey, were you asleep? I'll have to explain it all over again!”
Now, who doesn't want to have a magic game just like Card Wars?
Number 9: BMO Noire
Season 4 episode 17
Fin loses his sock, and BMO is on the case in BMO Noire. The characters are Ronny the rat, who's going out with Loraine the double dealing chicken. Then we have officer Davis the cat and Bebe the remote control, who BMO beats up for information.
This episode is just one more example of the imaginative writing on the show.
BMO “Me and Loraine are dinosaur bones”
BMO “I'm going to go wash this smutch off my grabbers.”
BMO “Sure, he's a dirt bag born out of a mother, but who's not?”
Number 8: Mortal Folly
Season 2 episode 24
Close to the end of season two the AT voice actors have really taken to their roles, they have the parts down pat. Finn is no longer an over excited little boy with a squeaky voice, he's a close to being a young man who's enjoying life while sorting out his responsibilities, and Jake has become a magical talking dog, and often the adult of the two.
Along with the voice actors the artists have upped their game, the backgrounds are no longer just cartoon, but there is real beauty in the scenes. But these are qualities we see in all the episodes. I like these particular episodes because they are life and death episodes, as Jake says “This is our first fate of the world deal.” Packed into two short shows is intense drama and the possibility of everything changing in a terrible way, but that doesn't deter Finn and Jake, indeed, it pushes them on no matter what. Which is also one of the faults we see in Finn. Had they explained to the Ice King what was going on, perhaps he could have helped, but instead, he gets in the way. Or maybe the Ice King would have continued being crazy.
The Lich, a character of pure evil who plays people like pieces on a game, and he's very good at it. The Lich is imprisoned inside resin in the top of the tree that grows on BubbleGum Princesses castle. The snail, which is shown in all episodes so far, is unprotected and is taken over and used by the Lich to free him from his long imprisonment.
The Ice King has real problems with rejection, from anyone, and his timing sucks.
Princess Bubblegum eats her subjects when she's nervous. Eats them alive. Yikes!
Number 7: Mortal Recoil
Season 2 episode 25
Continues the previous episode Mortal Folly. It's an important episode for the story, and continues the Lich story arc. It also has some pretty good dialogue.
Dr. Ice-cream “She's totally gross over ninety percent of her body, the other ten percent is crazy nasty.”
And we find out the Ice King sees “crazy crazy crazy” things, “all the time”.
We see Finn and Jake working with the Ice King.
PB becomes 13 years old, the same age as Finn, and we see the snail is still infected by the Lich.
I like this long running plot line, it gives AT and our heroes some real depth, as well some some real jeopardy.
Number 6: I Remember You
Season 4 episode 25
Yet another one of the episodes that requires multiple episodes to tell the story. In my opinion these episodes are some of the best. The difference is this time they have separated the story across many episodes, making us wait for the second episode in season 5 (E14), and making the episode all the sweeter for it.
This episode gives us a glimpse into Marceline's, and the Ice King's past. I'm partial to the episodes that give us a look into the early lives of the Characters of Ooo, and the Ice King/Simon shows are some of the best for yanking our heart-guts.
We see a completely different side of Ice King, or at least, where the Ice King came from.
We find out that the Ice King used to be a man named Simon who was wandering a ruined city after the destruction of human civilization in the great mushroom war. Simon finds Marcy, a young vampire girl all alone and crying. He protects her, they keep each other company and the crown keeps Simon alive during a time when almost all humans die, but there is a cost.
Number 5: Simon and Marcy
Season 5 episode 14
Simon and Marcy is a deeper look into the Ice King's origin story, 996 years into the past. During a basketball game between Jake, Finn, Marceline and the Ice King, Finn asks why she invited the Ice King. She says she loves him, and proceeds to tell the story of how the Ice King, when he was Simon, kept her company and saved her life.
The episode shows us how the Simon is forced to use the crown to protect him and Marcy, but also how Simon pays a heavy price for that protection.
This episode also gives us a glimpse into the beginnings of Princess Bubblegum, who also plays a part in saving Marcelines life. This episode is a major yank on the heart guts, and further pushes Finn and Jake to treating the Ice King more as a crazy friend than a psychopathic enemy.
When are we going to see how Marcy got stuck on earth? Why isn't she with her father in the Nightosphere? I'm looking forward to finding out, and finding out more of PB's early story.
Number 4: Betty
Season 5 episode 48
Season five has been the best Adventure Time season yet. Not only are there a huge number of episodes, but many of the stories have been fantastic.
This one is another Ice King back story. It introduces Betty Groff, Simon's love interest, and it also sort of explains the Ice Kings constant need to kidnap princesses, as an attempt to replace his one time princess, Betty, even if he doesn't really remember her.
Finn, Jake and Marcy work together to help Simon contact Betty after magic is taken from Ooo and the crown loses it's power, but it's really Betty who risks everything to save Simon's life, even at the cost of losing him to the Crown again. We see the beginning of the end, when the Ice King freezes the world. It's a bitter sweet story giving hope and the possibility of eternal lunacy for the Ice King.
Finn “A-move the bass a down”
Marcy “Simon was my only friend, he was there when I needed help, and now I can help him.”
Death “You lose Simon. Sorry man.”
Great eleven minute emotional roller coaster. I'd put it at number one, but it needs too many other episodes to set it up.
Episode 3 Fionna and Cake
F and C are a favourite of a great many fans, and it's not hard to see why. They're fun, they're different. They're an exploration of people we know and like, except from a different point of view.
Again we see the great backgrounds and wonderful colour choices. One fantastic scene is the Ice Queen travelling down on a the front of a storm cloud, her white hair and purple blue dress offset by the dark grey clouds. The artwork is simply beautiful.
Cake has a dulcimer. I think that's cool.
We get a song, on the back of a weird black horse-rainicorn thing. We see more great backgrounds, and seeing all the gender reversed characters is awesome, some of my favourites: Cinnamon Bun, the Ice Queen and Prince Gumball. The Ice Queen AS Prince Gumball, double gender swapping there.
And of course, the best part of the episode, the reveal that shows us the episode is really just the Ice King reading his fan fiction.
Number 2: James II
Season 6, episode 3
I'm not really a big fan of slapstick, but I am a sucker for a good redemption story.
James is really annoying, as we found in the 42 episode of the 5th season, The Pit, when James dies a hero's death and is cloned back to life. James, a candy person, is constantly saving Bubblegum Princess's life, and that's how this episode opens, with James saving PB's life from loose gravel. PB is mad and says she's not going to bring him back. She sends Finn and Jake to pack up his things. What they find is a room full of crazy, and a whole lot of medals.
Banana Guard “How can 25 guys look like one guy? You mean they're viginti quintuplets?”
PB “No. They're clones.”
Banana Guard “What are clones?”
The explanation PB gives is taken directly from Google search results for “what is a clone”.
Jake “And remember the time James saved PB from that contaminated cupcake?”
Finn “Yeah, he ate that whole cupcake. What a guy...”
James 2 “Why have two medals when you can have all the medals? Medals, medals, medals”
James “For the good of the many!”
Banana Guard “Y'know, I was telling this to the guys... If, if we look alike, we should have the same name. It would just make it a little easier. Life, that is. It would make our life a little easier.”
Why doesn't the earlier episode, The Pit, make the list? To be honest, one James was annoying. But 25 James? Hilarious. Plus the show examines the consequences of Princess Bubblegum's cloning. It also shows that Finn and Jake can step back from a problem that they see isn't really within their remit.
Number 1: The Chamber of Frozen Blades
What can I say except perhaps to quote Dr. Princess:
“I'll field that one. The Ice King abducted me while I was distracted by the horrifying beauty of birth.”
Well, we also find out in this episode that Dr. Princess isn't actually a princess:
“I'm not even a real princess. 'Princess' is just a surname.”
Then as the scene is set for a blistering ice ninja fight between the Ice King, Finn and Jake, she delivers another zinger:
“What am I... looking at here, exactly?”
Doctor Princess only appears in a few episodes, but in this one episode she has some of the best lines of the series as she performs as the straight man. Er, straight woman, ah, candy person.
The Chamber of Frozen Blades exemplifies Adventure Time. It's clever writing, funny lines and pointing out the innocent childishness of Finn and Jake gives us one of the best episodes of the second season, and one of the top episodes (IMHO) of the entire series. Like other of my favourite episodes, it also tells us a little bit about the characters in Adventure Time. Like Gunther's female.
But really, this is a no holds barred anything goes fun episode that doesn't have any deep meaning. So far anyways.
And that's it. Twenty episodes, and a few of the reasons why I like them.
I'd be interested in reading what your top 5, 10, or whatever episodes are, and why.