Tom’s Top Ten Adventure Time Episodes

This week marks the conclusion of Cartoon Network’s flagship series and, with it, a remarkable era of television. Throughout the decade, children and adults have found themselves enamoured with the heroics of Finn (Jeremy Shada), a human teenager, and his surrogate brother Jake (John DiMaggio), a magical dog, as they traverse the enchanted Land of Ooo, a journey which is soon to end.

Renowned for its animation, music, storytelling and humour, Adventure Time has been a huge creative force, paving the way for ground-breaking programmes and fostering a litany of artists, including Rebecca Sugar (Steven Universe), Patrick McHale (Over the Garden Wall) and, more recently, Julia Pott (Summer Camp Island). But with those other shows now earning the attention of audiences, CN has called time on Pendleton Ward’s creation, which is to wrap-up with the special “Come Along With Me”.

Before that happens though, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on all the wonderful moments that Finn, Jake et al have provided over ten seasons and 279 episodes by listing my favourite stories from the show’s entire run, and why they deserve to be held as timeless classics. Some of the choices are rather obvious, others rather obscure, yet all are episodes I take pleasure in viewing at every and any opportunity.

10. Furniture & Meat (S6, E8)

Furniture & Meat - Finn

Having accumulated a lot of dosh from their adventures over the years, Finn and Jake decide it time to spend their riches in Wildberry Kingdom. Whilst there, they use their treasure to manipulate people into doing their bidding, drawing the wrath of Wildberry Princess (Maria Bamford) in the process.

The exploration of wealth, and its effect on society, in “Furniture & Meat” is a fascinating one, alluding to folk heroes like Robin Hood and, more subtly, the works of sociologists Emile Durkheim and Max Weber – note how Finn and Jake don’t give away their bounty for free, only offering it in exchange for services. In short, the episode talks about greed in a way which is comprehensible and amusing to viewers of all ages.

9. Shh! (S5, E20)

Shh - BMO

One morning, Finn and Jake decide to have a good-natured bet to see who can go the longest period without speaking. They try to inform their sentient computer BMO (Niki Yang) about the wager, but are unable to do so; BMO is led to believe that the two are possessed by evil forces and makes for the cavities in the nearby walls. Finn sums up their conundrum thus:

From Adventure Time with Finn and Jake

BMO’s innocence and juvenility has always been one of the most charming aspects of Adventure Time, and that strength is utilised fully in “Shh!” – hilarious though BMO’s actions are, running and hiding seems like the most natural thing for a childlike being to do. Equally hilarious is seeing Adventure Time’s two central characters reduced to using placards, forgoing the perfectly-timed banter that they, and other characters, usually take part in.

8. The Vault (S5, E34)

Vault - Shoko

Adventure Time is no stranger to flashback episodes, many of which are among the series’ best. This author originally considered the heartfelt “Simon & Marcy” (S5, E14) for the Number 8 position, before reneging and selecting “The Vault” instead, which sees Finn come to terms with a vision he has been experiencing – that of a streetwise girl named Shoko (Isabelle Fuhrman) who has known nothing but hardship her entire life.

Before “The Vault” went to air, little was known about how the Candy Kingdom came to be, or what life was like prior to Finn and Jake’s existence; the episode helps to address those ponderings, offering a fascinating insight into pre-Kingdom life. More importantly, Shoko’s story is one which resonates, telling of a lonely teenager who is taken aback at offers of friendship, kindness and acceptance, echoing the series’ main themes.

7. Susan Strong (S2, E18)

Susan Strong

Again, this author had great difficulty in deciding which story should be placed in the Number 7 spot, all of which featured the titular character of this episode – also considered was “Beautopia” (S3, E14), “Dark Purple” (S6, E29), and “Hide and Seek” (S8, E24) from the Islands mini-series. Yet it is Susan’s (Jackie Buscarino) first appearance that makes it to the list here, for a very important reason.

“Susan Strong” is the earliest episode to hint at a wider storyline, noting Finn being the last human and leaving Susan’s true identity ambiguous. It marked a crossroads for the series, blending the surreal elements of the first season with a more mature, nuanced conflict, the kind it would later be acclaimed for. Additionally, it’s quite charming to watch Susan be educated about the world around her, and bond with Finn.

6. We Fixed a Truck (S5, E39)

Taken from "Adventure Time"

In a rather fun and surprisingly informative episode, Finn, Jake and BMO call upon the services of their neighbour, Banana-Man (“Weird Al” Yankovic) to repair a pick-up truck found in the woods. It allows an opportunity for the gang to bond, learn about mechanics and talk openly about their feelings, before saving their leader, Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch) from an unruly mob.

Having previously made a minor appearance in “The New Frontier” (S3, E18), Banana-Man is gifted with a larger role here, with a fair share of the dialogue and even a ditty sung by Yankovic himself. Watching him explain how internal-combustion engines work, and repairing the truck with others, is quite a cathartic experience; the climax that follows is an absolute thrill, with the animation among the best the series has seen.

5. Jake the Brick (S6, E20)

Jake the Brick still

Wanting to fulfil a self-administered rite of passage, Jake ventures into a remote area of Ooo to become part of a dilapidated brickhouse destined to fall at any moment. Bored, and with only a walkie-talkie for company, he decides to narrate his surroundings, while Finn, BMO and a captive radio audience intently listen to him on the other end.

The recipient of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-form Animated Program, “Jake the Brick” is the most unique of the episodes on this list. Jake’s calm, soothing narration is diametric to the loud, energetic character that fans of the series are used to, but is nonetheless a perfect accompaniment to the gentle surroundings. The brief glimpses of supporting characters listening to Jake’s words only add to the enjoyment.

4. Root Beer Guy (S5, E43)

Root Beer Guy still

Adventure Time is so preoccupied with warriors, royalty and living electronic devices that it rarely has time to focus on anybody else, least of all the commoners of the Candy Kingdom. Yet as “Root Beer Guy” proves, their lives can be just as fascinating, and entertaining, as any of the principal characters, telling of a telemarketer (Jack Pendarvis) who yearns for more excitement in his life – like that experienced by his fictitious alter-ego, Joe Milkshake.

In an interesting twist, “Root Beer Guy” presents Finn and Jake as antagonists, with the role of hero instead being given to the titular character. Another point of difference is the type of tale this episode tells – it is not one of swords and wizardry, but of intuition and detective work, much like the crime books that Root Beer Guy enjoys reading. Prepare also for plenty of comedy involving the Princess’ Banana Guards.

3. Lemonhope (S5, E50-51)

Lemonhope - Titlecards

Similar to “Root Beer Guy”, this eponymous two-parter focuses on an outsider to Adventure Time’s central conflict: a young, naïve boy struggling to find his place in the world. He cannot pay attention at school, has little care for anyone but himself and disregards the advice of his guardian, Bubblegum. Desperately wanting unadulterated freedom, he heads on a journey of self-discovery in which he finds his true identity and purpose.

“Lemonhope” is a story that constantly keeps the viewer hooked, showing a hilarious propaganda video that cleverly acts as exposition, surreal dream sequences, the wise words of a mentor and a beautiful, heartfelt song being played over a flashforward of a bleak, lifeless future. Depressing though that last part may sound, it’s possibly the most moving moment of any Adventure Time episode.

2. Ketchup (S9, E11)


From the moment this post was first thought of, this author was certain that “Ketchup” would be one to make the list of favourites, yet it was not anticipated to reach the Number 2 spot. The episode sees Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson) and BMO share stories loosely inspired by events in their life, referencing their adventures in the mini-series Elements and Islands, respectively.

Each short story told by the characters in “Ketchup” is animated in a distinct style that differs greatly from that of the show, and narrated with warmth by the two voice-actresses. The beautiful, mesmerising shorts are bookended with the interactions between BMO and Marceline, two characters who rarely ever share words or even screen-time, and it’s a pity they haven’t – after seeing them converse here, one wishes they had more episodes together.


1. Too Young (S3, E5)

Too Young

To date, there has not been an episode that better represents the wit, heart or absurdity of Adventure Time than “Too Young”. Following-on from the events of Season Two’s “Mortal Recoil”, it sees Finn try to flatter a younger Bubblegum (Isabella Acres), only for their fun to be interrupted by the Earl of Lemongrab (Justin Roiland), a socially-inept despot who seeks to rule the Candy Kingdom until the Princess becomes an adult.

Two reasons stand out as to why “Too Young” is this author’s favourite episode. The first is Lemongrab, making a debut appearance that would later net him a recurring role in the series, including in the aforementioned “Lemonhope”. His piercing screams, strained delivery and bizarre responses always leave one in stitches, particularly when he reacts to the prank below.

You Really Smell Like Dog Buns

The second reason for “Too Young” being favoured above all other episodes is the friendship between Finn and young P.B. With both characters now being the same age, it gives them the opportunity to bond and take part in activities they wouldn’t usually do, which is joyous for both them and the viewer. It’s heartbreaking that their relationship would prove short-lived, but the reasons for it being so help to ease those feelings.

Other notable episodes

Several more stories were in contention for a Top Ten berth, only narrowly missing the final list, which is always the case with a show like Adventure Time. Among the episodes not listed above, but still enjoyed by the author, are “Storytelling” (S2, E5), in which Finn must concoct the perfect get-well tale for Jake; “To Cut a Woman’s Hair” (S2, E10) and “Go With Me” (S2, E20), both encapsulating Finn’s struggle to be romantic; “Goliad” (S4, E10), exploring the always engaging Nature-versus-Nurture argument; “Bad Little Boy” (S5, E11), the best of the gender-swapped Fionna & Cake stories; “Graybles 1000+” (S6, E35), hinting at events yet to come in the series; “Varmints” (S7, E2), an opportunity for Bubblegum and Marceline to reconnect; and finally, “The Thin Yellow Line” (S7, E26) which focuses on artistic expression among the Banana Guards.


What are your favourite episodes of Adventure Time? Are there any that have been missed? Be sure to comment below with your thoughts!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s