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How Will We View Adventure Time in 20 Years?

by Charles Kenny
May 20, 2013 12:01 AM
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Adventure Time is far and away the hottest cartoon on TV right now, this very second. Nothing even comes close to Pendleton Ward's trippy explosion of colour and cavalcade of whimsy that airs on Cartoon Network and has legions of fans around the world.

We've been here before of course. Ren & Stimpy (along with Rugrats and Doug) lit up the otherwise desolate land of animated kids TV shows. The Simpsons single-handedly made animation cool for adults again after a thirty year hiatus. And the likes of Beavis & Butthead has become forever beloved by people of a certain age.

All the examples mentioned above have remained well-known and popular since their prime. Some are noted for their superior quality while others are constantly noted for their continued impact on contemporary culture. Only The Simpsons has managed to achieve both while remaining in production for a full 25 years.

So how will Adventure Time be seen in 2023? Will we look back on it with the rose-tinted glasses that we do with say, Doug? Will we (rightly?) praise it for its innovative approach to character and storytelling? Or will we lament it for forcing its style on all subsequent shows?

Lastly, will we look on Adventure Time as the start of a great era, or the pinnacle of one?

Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.

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More: Adventure Time, Pendelton Ward


  • Pxnki | October 14, 2013 2:29 AMReply

    Comparing AT to the simplistic styles of older cartoons like The Flinstones, The Power Puff Girls and etc. is a waste of time, all those shows lack a strong storyline, it's this-happens-in-this-episode and that's it, whereas AT tells a deep, complex, subtext-laden story in a puzzle manner that let's you want more while giving you a lot more. If it's creators ever fully explain The Mushroom War, the show will lose it's substance 'cause that may well be the biggest part of the series, not saying Finn's history, or why we have princesses but no princes, king or queens should be overlooked. I agree that the series began to develop well into itself with the 3rd season, but what's the point of getting into that if you missed the first 2?
    Adventure Time may form one of the biggest cult followings in a long time and I think in 20 years, still airing or not, it'll remain a timeless classic.

  • PKN | June 17, 2013 2:49 PMReply

    While I cannot comment on "Gravity Falls" or "Phineas & Ferb" (have not seen so much as one episode of either show) -- I think we cannot underestimate the artistic daringness of "Adventure Time."

    First of all, the series has continuity and builds upon its characters. More and more we get glimpses into the 'Mushroom War' that turned Earth into Ooo. We have learned much about how Simon became the Ice King and his early relationship with Marceline. Tell me what other children's series have this kind of recurring backstory other than a few episodes? In AT the backstory is a crucial component of the plot - these characters actually have a deeper psychology than what is seen on the surface.

    Episodes such as "A Glitch is a Glitch" and "Puhoy" are existential on level I have never seen in children's shows.

    The episode "Thank You" in which a Snow Golem forms an impossible friendship with a Fire Wolf is moving and pure art.

    I think anyone who dismisses this show as the flavor of the month or generic only saw the first two seasons and don't realize that beginning with the third - the show really began to hit its stride and was no longer just about having fun and being silly but now strays into some heady, experimental territory.

    I love this show. I saw the pilot ep made for Nickelodeon years ago and then eagerly followed its pre-production for TV. I sat in my dorm room freshman year and watched every episode premiere during the first season. Now I have the new episodes download through iTunes. This show will definitely influence others for years to come and deserves a more serious study of its daringness - rather than a cursory glance at its superficial weirdness (which only masks the depth contained within.)

    Also, search this new NPR article for even more articulate love for this show (I guess I cannot link to it on here because it could be spam):
    "An 'Adventure' For Kids And Maybe For Their Parents, Too"

  • ILDC | May 24, 2013 1:54 PMReply

    "And the likes of Beavis & Butthead has become forever beloved by people of a certain age."
    Both teens of the 90s and today?

  • John Paul Cassidy | May 20, 2013 5:34 PMReply

    I actually enjoy ADVENTURE TIME! There are some who dismiss it as "weird and hipstery." True, but that's its charm. It's very imaginative and trippy in a YELLOW SUBMARINE sort of way. It's an enjoyable show, worthy of its accolades. (If you don't like this series, try BRAVEST WARRIORS, also created by Pen Ward, on Cartoon Hangover!)

    If ADVENTURE TIME continues to be handled well for a time, in 20 years, it will be just as well remembered as other classics like REN & STIMPY and THE POWERPUFF GIRLS.

  • Joseph Martinez | May 20, 2013 5:47 PM

    I'll admit, whenever I see someone dismiss this Adventure Time as weird, I'm get confused because people don't seem to remember the early Fleischer cartoons like the Talkartoons and pre-Hay's Code Betty Boop shorts.

  • Cody | May 20, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    Love adventure time and regular show. They are definitely NOT kids shows XD

    Take acid and watch five short graybles or a glitch is a glitch. Your mind, will be blown.

  • Life Times | May 20, 2013 8:21 AMReply

    This is the most annoying show ever. This and the Regular Show. I can't believe this is what cartoons have come to. Had good shows like the Flintstones, Fosters Home, etc and now this. Maybe, I'm being harsh and have grown up but I do think this show is a waste of time. I'll stick to my anime like Bleach for example.

  • Roy k | March 2, 2014 8:54 AM

    The only way you can call this show bad is if you watch the episode "I remember you" or "Simon and marcy" and still don't like it

  • Cody | May 20, 2013 4:27 PM

    "Im gonna go watch my anime bleach"

    that right there discredits everything you have to say.

  • Jody Morgan | May 20, 2013 3:34 PM

    "Most annoying show ever"? You haven't seen "Annoying Orange" yet, have you?

    If you haven't done so yet, you might want to give "Gravity Falls" a try. And Craig McCracken, creator of "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends", has a new show coming out sometime later this year, "Wander Over Yonder", which looks promising.

  • Mary | May 20, 2013 4:28 AMReply

    It says hottest thing not most popular thing, just to make a point!

  • DarylT | May 20, 2013 3:50 AMReply

    Not to make a point but Phineas and Ferb is the most popular cartoon on tv right now.

  • Joseph Martinez | October 7, 2013 12:53 AM

    Sorry, but I've heard that PnF has declined in quality. Yes, it was praised during 2008-2011, but by the middle of 2012, the show began to wane in popularity.

    Also, is PnF more popular than AT right now? I beg to differ. If you look on FaceBook, AT (as of this comment) has 9.5 million likes on FaceBook and it's going to continue getting more likes as the weeks pass. How many likes does PnF have? 3.7 million! Yeah, that's more popular than AT (That last sentance was sarcasm BTW).

    Take care.

  • Zoran Taylor | May 20, 2013 12:49 AMReply

    * I mean twenty years. Actually no, fuck that, just ten.

  • Mario500 | May 23, 2013 6:10 PM

    Why did you feel the need to type an expletive? That must have required a lot of will power.

  • Zoran Taylor | May 20, 2013 12:47 AMReply

    We won't. We will have realized that Gravity Falls was ten times better. Adventure Time will be relegated to nostalgic curiosity status, while Alex Hirsch will be recognized as the most important commercial animation creator/series director of a generation. Disagree? See you in ten years.....

  • Franky K | April 28, 2014 9:50 PM

    Uh, no Zoran and Admiral, you 2 don't realize how wrong you. Adventure Time is an amazing cartoon loved by billions of peeps worldwide. Gravity Falls is a good show, but not as good or memorable as AT, which will go down as the best, most popular, and most iconic cartoon of the 2010's.

  • Admiral Exposition | August 10, 2013 6:17 PM

    Agreed. How people can even consider AT a show of "phenomenal" status is beyond me. The character designs are horribly simplistic, the plots are idiotic and rely way too much on the surreal and what they call deep and complex is just adult humor, cliched tropes and subtle references to existentialism which aren't even remotely complex.

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