Adventure Time creative team picks their 10 favorite episodes
A completely arbitrary, woefully incomplete list of series creator Pendleton Ward and the Adventure Time crew’s favorite episodes. Presented in no particular order.
(Ahead of Adventure Time’s series finale on Sept. 3, head here to see exclusive images from the show’s final episode.)
10. "Hitman," season 3, episode 4
Pen thought we should include this one because the phrase “someone got hit in the boingloings” made him laugh a lot. This episode includes the first mention of Meat Man, a character who was never seen during the series. There was some debate about whether he should ever be shown, but in the end, we opted to leave Meat Man mysterious.
9. "The First Investigation," season 9, episode 8
Similar to another “time slip” heavy episode (“Is That You?”), this is a time travel story without a lot of time travel. Jake gets to witness his own birth! It also prominently features Clockbear, a character Pen drew early on but never wanted to see on the show. But by then he couldn’t stop it.
8. "Shh!," season 5, episode 20
A mostly silent episode that we talked about for a long time. It was also the first time we worked with storyboard artist Graham Falk who, quite fittingly, is also the creator of the series Untalkative Bunny.
7. "Simon & Marcy," season 5, episode 14
We described this as The Road “except for kids” when we pitched this episode to the network. There was a lot of back-and-forth before we could get it approved. But it was worth it to find a way to make the Cheers theme even sadder.
6. "Thank You," season 3, episode 17
This story of a Snow Golem and a lost Fire Wolf pup is a sentimental favorite among fans and crew. The episode screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It was a special version in which Finn, Jake, and Ice King were edited out entirely.
5. "Jake the Brick," season 6, episode 20
Jake narrates the struggles of a rabbit in an Emmy-winning episode written by head of story Kent Osborne. As Jake, John DiMaggio did some wonderful nature documentary style narration.
4. "We Fixed a Truck," season 5, episode 39
Where else would you see an explanation of internal combustion engines delivered by a banana humanoid, an Art Bell type late-night radio show, Reptilians, and a great Al Yankovic song written by storyboard artist Andy Ristaino. Staff writer Jack Pendarvis’ father served as a mechanical advisor. Coincidentally, the episode first aired on his birthday.
3. "James Baxter the Horse," season 5, episode 19
This episode began as a way to get virtuoso guest animator James Baxter to animate a horse balancing on a beach ball. It definitely achieved that. Surprisingly, the surrounding episode ended up speaking to questions about creativity and the pursuit of originality in a very personal way.
2. "It Came from the Nightosphere," season 2, episode 1, & "What Was Missing," season 3, episode 10
These episodes both involve plumbing different emotional depths to Marceline the Vampire Queen and the soul-crushing songwriting of the inimitable Rebecca Sugar.
1. "The Hall of Egress," season 7, episode 24
One of Pen’s personal favorites, it’s the culmination of a series of episodes pitched and written by Tom Herpich set in dungeons and exploring similar themes about choosing the correct course of action. It was just so thoughtfully done.
FOUR MORE FAVORITES: "Marceline's Closet," season 3, episode 21
AT had its share of bottle episodes but ours usually ended up spiraling into regular-sized episodes during the course of storyboarding. This one worked out really nice, though. Ako Castuera boarding this scene of Jake’s silent scream after being bitten by a spider and it’s one of the funniest moments in the show.
"Football," season 7, episode 5
A very cute take on an “evil twin” story that is conceivably all taking place in BMO’s fervid imagination. Em Partridge and Luke Pearson drew some of the most appealing BMOs ever for this one.
"Astral Plane," season 6, episode 25
Finn has an out-of-body experience, slowly ascends through space while pondering the meaning of life, and ends up on Mars before returning to his earthly body. Just like the serial hero John Carter though that was a coincidence.
"Evergreen," season 6, episode 24
It was really exciting to delve into the lore of The Ice King’s magic crown in this story conceived by Tom Herpich. Tom was heavily involved with a lot of the best AT episodes. It also established three distinct timeperiods, something AT shared with a comic called Dungeon written by Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim. That series was a big early inspiration on the show.