Adventure Time finale airs in September, here's how the cast feels about it

Commentary: The bittersweet feeling of a conclusion, for a fan and for the talent behind Adventure Time.

Morgan Little Senior Director, Audience
Morgan leads the teams managing CNET's presence and content across social media, news platforms and more after stints in the marketing world and LA Times. Eventually his last byline on the site will be about something other than Godzilla
Morgan Little
4 min read

After 10 years and 278 episodes, Adventure Time is ending. It's amazing to look back and see a series that began as a viral short and evolved into a genuine animation titan.

But that doesn't mean it's nice to see it go.

Adventure Time has aired on Cartoon Network since April 2010, and the original short first aired in 2008. But after years of unexpected viral success, video game, comic and card game adaptations and Emmy awards -- as well as creator Pendelton Ward handing the reins to a new batch of creatives during the fifth season -- it's ending. 

Cartoon Network first announced the series was canceled way back in September 2016, leaving fans waiting to see how things will conclude in the land of Ooo. During a Comic-Con panel on Friday, the cast revealed that the series conclusion will air Sept. 3, 2018. Fans responded exactly as you'd expect. "I never want Adventure Time to end," one tweeted. 

Let's tackle the elephant in the room: After watching Adventure Time nonstop in its first few years, I fell off the wagon. I followed the general comings and goings of Finn and the gang, particularly when story developments around the Ice King ventured further in unexpected directions.

But the impact of Adventure Time rose even as my weekly viewing declined. Thanks in part to the example set by Adventure Time (with some help from ratings and merchandising revenue), series like Regular Show, Steven Universe and Bravest Warriors, which either aired on Cartoon Network or featured Adventure Time alumni (or both) got the runway they needed to become successes.

The then-unfamiliar mix of sustained plot lines, too-serious-for-its-art-style world-building, catchy original music and mature humor was a breath of fresh air at the time. And regardless of how you feel about the emergence of the "CalArts style," it has swept across a resurgent wave of shows both adults and kids can enjoy.

The finale, puberty and bacon pancakes

In a roundtable with press at Comic-Con, voice actors Jeremy Shada (Finn), John DiMaggio (Jake), Olivia Olson (Marceline) and executive producer Adam Muto talked about the show's finale and how the series got to where it is today.

Adventure Time's growth is clearly seen in Shada, who actually matured during the show. After all, he was just 12 when he began to voice Finn, who himself started as a boy and has gone through the trials and tribulations of adolescence as the series progressed.

"The first season I was going through voice change, as most 12-year-olds do," Shada said. "All the voice cracks when Finn would scream and stuff was not intentional in any way, shape or form. It was just happenstance, but they sounded natural and it works, so they went with it."

"As Finn ages, the storylines get more serious at times, more deep and more diverse," Shada added, highlighting the show's ability to grow with an audience that began watching as children.

And it's an audience which, as Shada and Olson are well aware, has taken the Adventure Time universe into its own hands. Whether it's a techno remix of Finn's baby song and dance or the Bacon Pancakes/New York remix Olson has heard even at the gym, creators who have turned to the internet with their own take on the series' characters and songs.

As for whether the finale will officially bring together fan-favorite romantic pairing of Princess Bubblegum and Marceline: "You're going to have to tune in to see…" Olson teased, acknowledging that she ships them as well.

What the finale will bring, more than anything, is a conclusion.

"Half the people will definitely hate it, because that's every show's ending, but just having that experience instead of waiting forever," Muto said about what's he's most excited about once fans actually see the finale. Adventure Time's creators, Muto said, are just as antsy as fans are to finally see their work out in the open and in the hands of fans instead of on Cartoon Network's sidelines because of "business reasons."

Adventure Time, beyond cancellation


John DiMaggio, Adam Muto, Oliva Olson and Jeremy Shada during Comic-Con 2018.

Edward M. Pio Roda / Cartoon Network

This year's Comic-Con featured the continuation of long-running series, the expansion of cinematic universes, adaptations of acclaimed comics and reboots of properties that have already been endlessly rebooted. So it's not hard to think of what will happen to Adventure Time's world and characters once the show ends.

For Adventure Time, Boom Studios announced it would be taking on an 11th season in the form of an ongoing comic. But in conversations with those close to the show prior to the announcement, there was little indication of anything currently planned beyond that.

"Who knows. Anything can happen. Me, from personal experience, how many times did they bring back Futurama?" DiMaggio said, referencing Futurama's Lazarus-like life cycle. "I'm not saying, 'Well maybe they'll bring it back'...but anything can happen."

"Until something's signed on the line there is no speculation ... this is it. It's over. It's done. And that's OK," DiMaggio continued.

Amid the clear issues with Cartoon Network's handling of the finale's rollout and the jokes about Jake eventually becoming a Miller Lite spokesman, something DiMaggio said rings true:

"A lot of me is in Jake, and I'll miss that part, that connection," DiMaggio said, and those of us who have followed the show and its legacy, we're going to miss that connection too. That much was clear during a performance of a song from the finale by Rebecca Sugar, who worked on Adventure Time before creating Stephen Universe.

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