Adventure Time is getting a movie! The recent news that the beloved Cartoon Network animated series is getting the big screen treatment is cause for celebration for everyone who loves The Land of Ooo and its many insane inhabitants. For six seasons, Finn the Human (Jeremy Shada) and Jake the Dog (John DiMaggio) have gone on mend-bending adventures that span time and space. Along the way, memorable characters like Princess Bubblegum, Marceline the Vampire Queen, BMO, The Earl of Lemongrab, and many more have come to be loved by fans around the world.
The imagination of creator Pendleton Ward and the many inspired artists and writers behind Adventure Time have led to tales that constantly subvert expectations and delight fans. There’s something incredibly unique about the series while still being appealing to fans of fantasy and science fiction.
From completely bonkers one-off episodes to mythological entries that expand history of The Land of Ooo and its many inhabitants, no two episodes of Adventure Time are completely alike. The delight comes from the unexpected and energetic nature infused into each. Before you know it, you’re completely immersed in the world and have come to greatly love its many weirdos.
The following 20 episodes are some of the very best from across the series, representing a wide variety of the qualities that make the series one of the most imaginative and unique on television. There seems to be no slowing down for Adventure Time and the strength of the series and its creators only grows from season to season. There will surely be many more amazing episodes to come. Have you own favorites? Let me know in the comments section!
20. It Came from The Nightosphere (Season 2, Episode 1)
When Finns summons Marceline’s father from The Nightosphere, it turns out that he’s Hunson Abadeer, the Lord of Evil. And he immediately goes on a soul-sucking spree across Ooo. “It Came from The Nightosphere” is part adventure and part family tale, as Finn and Marceline are put through the ringer emotionally and physically. From Marceline singing “The Fry Song” (it’s about Hunson eating her fries, which is what severed their relationship) to the terror of Hunson’s monster form, this is one of the first truly classic Adventure Time episodes.
Best Moment: Finn plays Marceline’s song to Hunson, giving him pause in his rampage and leading him to apologize. Then Finn stabs him and banishes him to the Nightosphere.
19. Sons of Mars (Season 4, Episode 15)
To escape punishment from his kin on the planet Mars, Magic Man switches bodies with Jake. But when the magic dog is taken to the planet to for judgment, Finn is determined to save his best friend. Magic Man always causes trouble when he comes around, but in “Sons of Mars” he puts Jake’s life at stake. But we also get more of a backstory for the character, giving him more depth than just a simple trickster. Plus, there’s more about what’s happening on Mars, including immortal King of Mars Abraham Lincoln, who was first seen in the pilot episode. And that tiny manticore. So weird.
Best Moment: After realizing he’s killed an innocent, Abraham Lincoln travels into the afterlife and exchanges his life for Jake’s. For something so weird, it’s strangely touching.
18. Mystery Train (Season 2, Episode 19)
Finn and Jake take a train ride to get to Finn’s birthday party, but are sucked into a murder mystery as passengers are being killed off one by one. Despite the conductor being incredibly sinister from the moment they meet him, Finn seems stumped concerning the identity of the killer. The victims turning into skeletons the moment the lights flicker is so random and severe that it stays funny throughout, mixing menace with comedy. By the end, we learn that the entire ride was a birthday present created by Jake, as it’s something that Finn always wanted to experience. Of course, the train flying off a cliff and them nearly dying isn’t quite in the plans.
Best Moment: Finn and Jake survive the train crash thanks to landing on a Jello Candy Person. But that wasn’t planned at all and they could have really died. Happy birthday, Finn!
17. Time Sandwich (Season 5, Episode 33)
Jake makes a sandwich like an artistic masterpiece, but his deli creation is stolen by Magic Man, who puts himself in a super slow motion time bubble to savor his first bite. Finn and Jake can’t seem to figure out how to stop the magician, as anything that enters the bubble is slowed as well. From BMO’s skating to PB’s science to Marceline’s demon power, everyone works to save Jake’s sandwich, but the outlook seems grim. Jake’s grief over the impending loss of his sandwich is hilarious, as he becomes more and more despondent over the fate of food. The elaborate setup and solutions all for a sandwich are classic Adventure Time zaniness.
Best Moment: Jake’s sadness allows him to avoid the effects of the time bubble, but he has to stay sad for it to work. So he runs through various strange imaginary scenarios, strangely centering on Mr. Cupcake.
16. Jake the Brick (Season 6, Episode 20)
Jake tries to fulfill a longtime wish of his – to experience what it’s like to be a brick inside a collapsing building. So he morphs into one and waits in the wall of an old home. But his broadcasts back to Finn, who he doesn’t want around while he waits, become transmitted across Ooo on the radio as the entire land becomes enraptured with his narration on the little stories in nature happening all around him. In particular, the story of a little bunny working to survive a storm and the help of his fellow woodland creatures reflects the community that forms around Jake’s story. It’s a small, intimate little episode that shows off how quickly Adventure Time can make the most of a concept in only 11 minutes. While the animation and fun visual gags are an important aspect of “Jake the Brick” it’s the voice work of the incomparable John DiMaggio that makes this one hit every note just right.
Best Moment: After all their hard work, the bunny’s home is destroyed by a malicious deer. But the bunny finds a new home in a fallen log, showing the beauty of adaptability and the cycle of life in nature.
15. Root Beer Guy (Season 5, Episode 43)
A parody of hard-boiled detective stories, this episode sees Root Beer Guy, a new character in the series, investigate the mysterious kidnapping of Bubblegum by Finn and Jake. Root Beer Guy lives a boring life and longs for adventure, writing detective stories when he’s not at his telemarketer job, but his distractions alienate his wife. The writers craft Root Beer Guy into a relatable character whose slightly heightened circumstances as a member of the Candy Kingdom make the entire story both funny and low key. Root Beer Guy’s investigation allows him to live out his dreams and the revelation that he was right all the time gets him the fulfillment that everyone seeks in real life. No more writing. Now he gets to really live his dream.
Best Moment: Root Beer Guy lies to the dumb Banana Guards so they can come to the lake and find out that Finn and Jake kidnapped P.B. And he’s right! It was all a test and because he solved the mystery, Root Beer Buy gets to be captain of the Banana Guard.
14. The Creeps (Season 3, Episode 12)
Finn and Jake are invited to a costume party in a spooky mansion, only for a ghost to begin picking off the guests one by one. While “The Creeps” is similar to “Mystery Train,” it acts like a sequel, as Finn’s suspicions of the entire setup being a fake out like his previous experience add layers to the mystery. The macabre nature of the whole event mixed with the funny costumes and identities taken on by the guests (Jake’s alias of Randy Butternubs is the highlight) shows off Adventure Time’s delicious dark humor. As things get more and more insane, you can’t help but wonder how it will all be explained in the end. Also, it’s definitely worth it to translate Lady Rainicorn’s Korean in “The Creeps” for a highly inappropriate joke.
Best Moment: Finn remembers the one unexplained incident – a run-in with a terrifying ghost in the attic. So he decides to never remember it again. Classic twisted dark ending.
13. We Fixed a Truck (Season 5, Episode 39)
Finn finds a broken down old pickup truck in the woods, so he, Jake, and BMO enlist the help of Banana Man to get it running again. The mechanically savvy Banana Guy works to fix the truck as he drops some real world knowledge on his cohorts. Starchy’s Graveyard Shift radio show also adds more to The Land of Ooo as BMO and Banana Man work overnight. Of course, it all culminates in a lizard replicant takeover, forcing the gang to sacrifice their newly refurbished truck to destroy the threat. Altogether, it’s a light and fun episode, but the simple nature of four fantastic characters working together makes “We Fixed a Truck” into an incredibly enjoyable entry. There’s also some great music and animation throughout, highlighting the artistry of the show.
Best Moment: Banana Man loses his peel in the action, leading to his arrest for public indecency despite his heroic efforts.
12. Is That You? (Season 6, Episode 19)
One of the many episodes that throws Finn and Jake into a trippy and twisty world, “Is That You?” works like the world’s weirdest clip show. After eating the last pickle made by their late friend Prismo, our heroes become trapped in a strange dream loop. Finn sees Jake reenact many moments from past shows, only to explode, while Jake sees images from Prismo’s past. The two experiences collide as they create multiple time loops and paradoxes. It’s a mind-bending experience that turns from trippy into genius as they coalesce into a caper planned by Prismo in order to bring him back to life, as alternate timeline Jake dreams forever to give life to Prismo once again.
Best Moment: Jake encounters the perfect bed and can’t resist falling asleep in it. “This looks like a trap designed by some made genius. Well, hats off to you sir or madame, your trap was a success!”
11. The Tower (Season 6, Episode 4)
Silly in many ways, but with a deeper idea at the center. “The Tower” deals with Finn’s post-traumatic stress disorder after the loss of his arm, which was severed due to the actions of his irresponsible newly-discovered father. Finn’s psychological turmoil manifests itself in the form of a psychic arm, which he uses to rashly construct a humongous tower into space. His goal? To find his dad, who escaped into outer space, so he can rip off his arm, too. Along the way, Finn is told many different rationales by the people he encounters. Some say he should run away, others say he needs to bury his feelings. But he actually needs to confront his trauma in order to move forward. Like many of the best Adventure Time episodes, the strange ideas at play surround something deeper and emotionally honest.
Best Moment: Finn continually sings about ripping off his dad’s arm as he constructs an enormous teetering tower. He’s so focused on his pain that he can’t focus on really healing.
10. Card Wars (Season 4, Episode 14)
Finn learns why he should never play “Card Wars” with Jake when a friendly game turns into an aggressive competition. This shows off the great interplay between Finn and Jake – two best friends whose differences are just great enough to cause comedic friction and a constantly fun dynamic. While Jake goes on an emotional roller coaster from furious at being on the losing side to rapturous joy at turning the tables on his opponent, Finn tries to cope with his friend turning into a monster during a friendly competition. The extreme emotions over low stakes lead to great comedy in typical Adventure Time fashion. But having a narrow focus on the two main characters makes the laughs come from character moments, rather than insanity and randomness. It’s a nice change of pace in the larger scope of the show.
Best Moment: “I floop the pig.”
9. Thank You (Season 3, Episode 17)
One of the rare Adventure Time episodes that breaks away from focus on Finn, Jake, or any of the other main characters, “Thank You” centers on cute budding friendship between a kind Snow Golem and a lost Fire Wolf pup. It’s an almost completely wordless episode as neither the Golem nor the pup speaks, but the wonderful animation has their expressions show everything that you need to know. The simple but emotional ride is evocative of Raymond Briggs’ “The Snowman” and creates a fast bond between the characters that draws you in despite the change of focus. While “Thank You” takes the audience away from the show’s usual focus, the background story of Finn and Jake fighting Ice King inside his impenetrable armor ties it back to the world and adds some fun flair outside the adorable main narrative.
Best Moment: The Snow Golem braves a fiery mountain, slowly melting along the way but determined to reunite the pup with its family.
8. Fionna and Cake (Season 3, Episode 9)
The introduction to the gender-swapped alternate Land of Ooo, “Fionna and Cake” is responsible for even more experimentation and fandom in Adventure Time. With the title song completely gender swapped, it’s clear from the first moment that everything about the episode is different. But once you go along with it, “Fionna and Cake” works as both a strange twist on the formula and its own well-crafted narrative. Everyone from the female Fionna and Cake to Prince Bubblegum and Ice Queen work as their own individual characters, not just a funny little take on a “what if?” formula. It’s no wonder that Fionna and Cake have their own devoted following!
Best Moment: The end reveals that the entire story has been Ice King’s fan fiction, which he’s reading to a kidnapped Finn and Jake. It’s great subversion of what was already a subversion, flipping the whole story once again.
7. Simon & Marcy (Season 5, Episode 14)
Vampire Marceline tells Finn, Jake, and Ice King the tale of when Ice King protected her as a young girl in the wake of The Mushroom War. While the secret relationship between Ice King and Marceline had been revealed before (Ice King can’t really remember due to the madness caused by his magical crown, “Simon & Marcy” actually shows what happened centuries ago. It’s a far more serious Adventure Time story, as the danger is real and the idea of the valiant then-Simon and young Marceline is filled with pathos and emotion. It’s quite the tragic tale, as the only way Simon can protect the young girl he is watching over is to put on the crown, which is slowly turning him into the insane Ice King. “Simon and Marcy” is fantastic and sad all the way through.
Best Moment: Ice King saves young Marcy by putting on the crown, but he’s permanently insane. But in the present, Marceline tells him they lived happily ever after.
6. Mortal Folly/Mortal Recoil (Season 2, Episodes 24 & 25)
The first major lore-centered story in Adventure Time, the two part “Mortal Folly/Mortal Recoil” sees the debut of The Lich, the biggest and scariest villain in the entire series. When The Lich breaks out by possessing the snail (which cameos in every episode), Finn and Jake fight to stop him from regaining his power and destroying the world. The stakes are incredibly high, as The Lich is clearly the biggest and most serious threat ever seen in the show. Even Ice King plays a vital role in the fight to save the day. But The Lich’s possession of Bubblegum turns the second part into an Exorcist-like affair, full of creepy developments and scares. This is the first instance of Adventure Time expanding beyond a single 11 minute episode to tell a larger story, and the gambit paid off wonderfully to create an epic story that elevated the series as a whole.
Best Moment: Finn overcomes The Lich’s spell to destroy his first form – a major victory for the young hero and one of his biggest steps in his early years.
5. Food Chain (Season 6, Episode 7)
Equal parts simple and extremely experimental, “Food Chain” stands out due to the artistry of quest writer and director Masaaki Yuasa. When on a trip to a museum with Princess Bubblegum and a class of young kids, Finn and Jake are throw into a magical exploration of the food chain by Magic Man after they reveal how little they know about life. The heroes cycle through being worms, small birds, large birds, bacteria, plants, and back to worms again as they live through the food chain and learn about life. It’s all done with top notch animation that is somewhat of a departure from the Adventure Time style and eight bit music that highlights just how unique this entire episode is from start to finish. The stylistic choices and the way “Food Chain begins and ends can make the entire episode into a never ending loop.
Best Moment: Finn’s realizations about the food chain lead to him bursting into song, with “Food Chain” being Adventure Time’s best and catchiest song yet!
4. Wake Up/Escape from the Citadel (Season 6, Episodes 1 & 2)
One of the biggest game changers in the entire series, this two-parter can be seen as the next step in the larger Adventure Time story. Following the events of season 5’s finale (“Billy’s Bucket List”), Finn discovers that his father is alive in an interdimensional prison. This two-part opener to Season 6 sees Finn and Jake trying to get to the man, but their journey results in wishmaster Prismo being killed by the evil Lich (Ron Perlman). When all of them are transported to the giant crystal prison, Finn finally meets his father, who is a total jerk, while having to fight off the powerful Lich. Finn’s abandonment issues lead to drastic actions, as his attempt to keep his father from leaving causes him to lose his arm, a development that has been long hinted at throughout Adventure Time. The discoveries and developments here will cause ripples throughout the series.
Best Moment: The Lich confront Finn, draining him of all power by simply saying “Fall.” But the brave hero avoids death and ends the threat of The Lich (temporarily?) through some fast thinking. One of the most terrifying scenes in the series gives way to triumph.
3. Too Young (Season 3, Episode 5)
In the aftermath of Princess Bubblegum being de-aged to 13 years old, her rule over The Candy Kingdom is questioned by the arrival of The Earl of Lemongrab. Of course, it’s the debut of Lemongrab that is what this episode is really all about. Lemongrab’s shrieking and harsh temperament play off the fun loving Finn and Bubblegum throughout the episode, as they continually prank him to try and get him to leave. The absurdity and randomness of their pranks gives way to PB having to grow up once again to save the Candy Kingdom from its new tyrant overlord. Lemongrab would go on to star in many memorable episodes, but his first is by far his most hilarious. This may be the flat out funniest Adventure Time episode in the entire series so far.
Best Moment: Finn and Bubblegum set up an elaborate Rube Goldbergian trap that ends with Lemongrab waking up to a sign that reads “You really smell like dog buns.” His freakout is amazing.
2. The Lich/Finn the Human/Jake the Dog (Season 4, Episode 26 & Season 5, Episodes 1 &2)
While “The Lich” was the finale of Season 4 and “Finn the Human” and “Jake the Dog” comprised the two-part opener of Season 5, they really comprise one massive episode. When Finn and Jake are tricked by The Lich to give him access to the wishmaster Prismo, Finn wishes that The Lich was never born, creating the parallel reality of Farmworld, where The Great Mushroom War never happened and Earth never turned into The Land of Ooo. What first seems like an idyllic world filled with toned down versions of beloved characters quickly turns dark as Finn takes on the mantle of The Ice King and Jake turns into The Lich. All the while, original Jake and newfound buddy Prismo have fun and are eventually forced to revert the world. The dark and light moments contrast wonderfully here, giving the mega-episode great layers and really showing off the many sides of Adventure Time.
Best Moment: When Finn’s wish is granted, everything suddenly shifts to a far different and strange looking world at the end of “The Lich,” ending Season 4 on a major cliffhanger.
1. Princess Cookie (Season 4, Episode 13)
A cookie known as Baby Snaps holds a store hostage in the Candy Kingdom. His goal? To take Princess Bubblegum’s crown and become a princess himself. “Princess Cookie” plays off the hostage narrative seen in countless movies and TV episodes, but gives it the Adventure Time twist. Jake’s undercover disguise as a milkman and Finn’s disguise as his shadow are incredibly weird and random. Plus, Finn yelling “Alvin’s hot juice box” as he ambushes chips is so strange it just seems like it would really work. But “Princess Cookie” is just as much about the burden of unfulfilled dreams, as Jake and Cookie bond over never having gotten what they really want. This touching emotional core really heightens the comedy, which stays insane while being tied to the theme of the episode. “Princess Cookie” shows off the versatility and storytelling strengths of the show.
Best Moment: Chased to the edge of a cliff by the police, Cookie thanks Jake for giving him hope and then jumps to his death. But he’s a cookie, so he just breaks into still alive pieces that can be put back together. “I glubbed up!”
Honorable Mentions: The Enchiridion, My Two Favorite People, Blood Under the Skin, Crystals Have Power, The Other Tarts, Incendium, Shh!, Death in Bloom, Dad’s Dungeon, Another Way, Something Big, Memory of a Memory, Astral Plane, Evergreen, Mystery Dungeon, BMO Noire, I Remember You, Be More, Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe!
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