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Adventure Time[l] is an American fantasy animated television series created by Pendleton Ward for Cartoon Network. Produced by Frederator Studios and Cartoon Network Studios, the series follows the adventures of a boy named Finn (voiced by Jeremy Shada) and his best friend and adoptive brother Jake (John DiMaggio)—a dog with the magical power to change size and shape at will. Finn and Jake live in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo, where they interact with Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch), the Ice King (Tom Kenny), Marceline (Olivia Olson), BMO (Niki Yang), and others. The series is based on a 2007 short produced for Nicktoons and Frederator Studios' animation incubator series Random! Cartoons. After the short became a viral hit on the Internet, Cartoon Network commissioned a full-length series, which previewed on March 11, 2010. The show officially premiered on April 5, 2010, and ended on September 3, 2018.
The series drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons and video games. It was produced using hand-drawn animation; action and dialogue for episodes are decided by storyboarding artists based on rough outlines. Because each episode took roughly eight to nine months to complete, multiple episodes were worked on concurrently. The cast members recorded their lines in group recordings, and the series regularly employed guest actors for minor and recurring characters. Each episode runs for about eleven minutes; pairs of episodes are often telecast to fill half-hour program slots. Cartoon Network announced on September 29, 2016, that the series would conclude in 2018, after the airing of its tenth season. The series finale aired on September 3, 2018. On October 23, 2019, four specials, collectively called Adventure Time: Distant Lands, were announced, which will air exclusively on HBO Max starting with two in 2020. Adventure Time has been a ratings success for Cartoon Network and some episodes have attracted over three million viewers; despite being aimed primarily at children, it has developed a following among teenagers and adults. The show has received positive reviews from critics and won awards including: eight Primetime Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, three Annie Awards, two British Academy Children's Awards, a Motion Picture Sound Editors Award, and a Kerrang! Award. The series has also been nominated for three Critics' Choice Television Awards, two Annecy Festival Awards, a TCA Award, and a Sundance Film Festival Award, among others. Of the many comic book spin-offs based on the series, one received an Eisner Award and two Harvey Awards. The series has also spawned various forms of licensed merchandise, including books, video games and clothing. Contents 1 Premise 2 Development 2.1 Concept and creation 2.2 Production 2.2.1 Writing and storyboarding 2.2.2 Animation 2.3 Cast 2.4 Characters 2.5 Setting and mythology 2.6 Title sequence and music 3 Broadcast and ratings 3.1 Episodes 3.2 Ratings 4 Reception 4.1 Critical reviews 4.2 Industry impact 4.3 Academic interest 4.4 Fandom 4.5 Accolades 4.5.1 Television 4.5.2 Comics 5 Related media 5.1 Comic books 5.2 Other literature 5.3 Video games 5.4 Other merchandise 5.5 Possible film 5.6 Other appearances 6 Home media 7 Notes 7.1 Air date and season clarifications 7.2 Explanatory notes 8 References 9 External links Premise Further information: List of Adventure Time characters Adventure Time follows the adventures of a boy named Finn the Human[m] (voiced by Jeremy Shada), and his best friend and adoptive brother Jake the Dog (John DiMaggio), who has magical powers to change shape and size at will. Pendleton Ward, the series' creator, describes Finn as a "fiery little kid with strong morals". Jake, on the other hand, is based on Tripper Harrison, Bill Murray's character in Meatballs. This means while Jake is somewhat care-free, he will "sit [Finn] down and give him some decent advice if he really needs it". Finn and Jake live in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo, which was ravaged by a cataclysmic nuclear war a thousand years before the series' events. Throughout the series, Finn and Jake interact with major characters, including Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch), the sovereign of the Candy Kingdom and a sentient piece of gum; the Ice King (Tom Kenny), a menacing but largely misunderstood ice wizard; Marceline the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson), a thousand-year-old vampire and rock music enthusiast; Lumpy Space Princess (Pendleton Ward), a melodramatic and immature princess made out of "lumps"; BMO (Niki Yang), a sentient video game console-shaped robot that lives with Finn and Jake; and Flame Princess (Jessica DiCicco), a flame elemental and ruler of the Fire Kingdom. Development Concept and creation Main article: Adventure Time (short film) According to series creator Pendleton Ward, the show's style was influenced by his time attending the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and his experiences working as a writer and storyboard artist on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, a series which ran on Cartoon Network from 2008 until 2010. In an interview with Animation World Network, Ward said he strives to combine Adventure Time's subversive humor with "beautiful" moments, using Hayao Miyazaki's film My Neighbor Totoro as inspiration for the latter. Ward has also named Home Movies and Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist as influences, largely because both shows are "relaxing" and feature "conversational dialogue that feels natural [and is neither] over the top [nor] cartoony and shrill". Two men are wearing suits; both are wearing glasses. The Adventure Time series was created by Pendleton Ward (right) for Cartoon Network. Rob Sorcher (left) was influential in getting the network to take a chance on the show. The series can trace its origin back to a seven-minute, stand-alone animated short film of the same name (this short would later be identified as the show's pilot post facto). Ward created the short almost entirely by himself, and concluded its production in early 2006. It was first broadcast on Nicktoons Network on January 11, 2007, and was re-broadcast as part of Frederator Studios' anthology show Random! Cartoons on December 7, 2008. After its initial release, the video became a viral hit on the Internet. Frederator Studios then pitched an Adventure Time series to Nicktoons Network, which rejected it twice. When Nicktoons' rights to commission a full series expired, Frederator—the short's production animation studio—pitched it to other channels. One of the studios that Frederator approached was Cartoon Network, which was interested in producing a full series, but would commit to a deal only if Ward could prove the pilot "wasn't a one-hit wonder". Rob Sorcher, the chief content officer at Cartoon Network, was influential in getting the network to take a chance on the show; he recognized the series as "something that felt really indie ... comic book-y [and] new". A brown-haired man smirks at the camera. Patrick McHale was the creative director of Adventure Time for the first two seasons Cartoon Network asked Ward to submit a sample script for their consideration, but Frederator convinced him to rough out a storyboard instead, as "a board would give a better sense of what was on Pen's mind", according to Frederator's vice president Eric Homan. Ward and his college friends Patrick McHale and Adam Muto (the former of whom served as a writer, storyboard artist, and creative director for the show during its first few seasons, while the latter served as a storyboard artist and creative director for the show before becoming its showrunner) began developing ideas, all the while concentrating on "keep[ing] the good things about the original short [while also] improv[ing] on" them. The group's first product was a rough storyboard featuring Finn and Princess Bubblegum going on a spaghetti-supper date. Cartoon Network was not happy with this story, and so Ward, McHale, and Muto created a storyboard for the episode "The Enchiridion!", which was their attempt to consciously emulate the style of the original Nicktoons short. This tactic proved successful, and Cartoon Network approved the first season in September 2008. "The Enchiridion!" was the first episode to enter into production. Ward and his production team began storyboarding episodes and writing plot outlines, but Cartoon Network was still concerned about the direction of the new series. McHale later recalled that during the pitch of an episode titled "Brothers in Insomnia" (which, for various reasons, was scrapped) the room was filled with executives from Cartoon Network. The pitch went well, but the production staff was soon inundated with questions about the stylistic nature of the series. Hoping to resolve these issues, Cartoon Network management hired three veteran animators who had worked on SpongeBob SquarePants: Derek Drymon (who served as executive producer for the first season of Adventure Time), Merriwether Williams (who served as head story editor for the show's first and second seasons), and Nick Jennings (who became the series' long-serving art director). Thurop Van Orman, the creator of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, was also hired to guide Ward and his staff for the first two seasons. The storyboard for "Prisoners of Love" assuaged many of the fears some Cartoon Network executives had expressed. As production for season one progressed, more artists were brought on board. Dan "Ghostshrimp" Bandit, a freelance illustrator who had also written and storyboarded on Flapjack, was hired as the show's lead background designer; Ward told him to create background art that set the show "in a 'Ghostshrimp World'". Ghostshrimp designed major locations, including Finn and Jake's home, the Candy Kingdom, and the Ice Kingdom. The position of lead character designer was given to Phil Rynda, who held this role for two-and-a-half seasons. The lead production crew for the show (which included Ward and McHale) were initially hesitant to bring him on board, but they were soon convinced by director Larry Leichliter, who assured them Rynda was talented and could draw in a variety of styles. With the producers satisfied, Rynda quickly began designing characters that were simple but still fell in line with "Pen's natural aesthetic". Around this time, Rynda and McHale began drafting artistic guidelines for the show, so that its animation style would always be somewhat consistent. With many of the lead production roles filled, Ward turned his attention to choosing storyboard artists for the first season. He assembled a team made up largely of "younger, inexperienced people", many of whom he discovered on the Internet. Many of these individuals had backgrounds in indie comics, and Ward has called them "really smart, smartypants people" who were responsible for inserting more idiosyncratic and spiritual ideas into the series. For the first four-and-a-half seasons of the show, Ward served as the showrunner for Adventure Time. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ward revealed that he had stepped down from this role sometime during the fifth season. As a naturally introverted person, he found interacting with and directing people every day to be exhausting. Following Ward's resignation from the post, Adam Muto became the series' new showrunner. Until late 2014, Ward continued to work on the cartoon as a storyboard artist and storyline writer. After November 2014, he stopped regularly contributing to episode outlines, but still looked over stories, provided occasional input, and continued to storyboard for the series on a limited basis. Production Writing and storyboarding The image depicts a group of adults on the red carpet of an award ceremony. The crew of Adventure Time at the 74th Annual Peabody Awards in 2014 (From left to right: Kent Osborne, Tom Herpich, Pendleton Ward, Pat McHale, Betty Ward, Jack Pendarvis, Rob Sorcher, Curtis LeLash and Adam Muto) In terms of tone and genre, Ward—a self-professed fan of ambivalent emotions, such as feeling "happy and scared at the same time"—has described the show as a "dark comedy". He has also cited the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons—of which many of the show's writers are devotees—as an inspiration for the show. In the United States, the series is rated TV-PG; Ward said he never wanted to push the boundaries of the PG rating, writing in the Art of Ooo book that he "never really even thought about the rating ... we don't like stuff that's overly gross. We like cute stuff and nice things". Ward intended the show's world to have a coherent physical logic, and although magic exists in the story, the show's writers tried to create an internal consistency in the characters' interactions with the world. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Ward said the show's writing process usually began with the writers telling each other what they had done the previous week to find something humorous to build on. He also said, "A lot of the time, if we're really stuck, we'll start saying everything that comes to our mind, which is usually the worst stuff, and then someone else will think that's terrible but it'll give him a better idea and the ball just starts rolling like that". Because of the busy schedule of writing and coordinating a television series, the writers did not have time to play Dungeons and Dragons, but they still wrote stories they would "want to be playing D&D with". Sometimes, the writers and storyboard artists convened and played writing games. One game that was often used is called exquisite corpse; one writer starts a story on a sheet of paper, and another writer tries to finish it. But while a few episodes (such as the fifth-season episode "Puhoy" and the sixth-season episode "Jake the Brick") have been generated using this game, Ward has confessed that "the ideas are usually terrible". Former storyboard artist and creative director Cole Sanchez said episode scripts are either created by expanding the good ideas produced by these writing games, or are based on an idea proposed by a storyboard artist in the hope it can be developed into an episode. The image depicts two panels filled with cartoon drawings. A storyboard panel drawn by Adam Muto for the episode "What Was Missing" showing action, dialogue, and sound effects. Adventure Time is a storyboard-driven series. This means the storyboard artists are also the writers, allowing them to draft the dialogue and the action how they see fit. After the writers pitched stories, the ideas were compiled onto a two-or-three-page outline that contained "the important beats". The episodes were then passed to storyboard artists (often referred to colloquially as "boarders"). While many cartoons are based on script pitches to network executives, Cartoon Network allowed Adventure Time to "build their own teams organically" and communicate using storyboards and animatics. Rob Sorcher said this novel approach was sanctioned because the company was dealing with "primarily visual people", and that by using storyboards the writers and artists could learn and grow "by actually doing the work". The storyboard artists generally worked on an episode in pairs, independent from other storyboarders, which, according to freelance writer David Perlmutter in his book America Toons In, countered creative ennui and prevented episodes from being "alike in either content or tone". The storyboard artists were given a week to "thumbnail" (roughly sketch out) a storyboard and fill in the details complete with action, dialogue, and jokes. The series' showrunner and his creative directors then reviewed the storyboard and made notes. The artists were then given another week to implement the notes and to clean up the episode. Storyboard writing and revising usually took up to a month. Animation Following the writing revisions, voice actors would record their parts for the episodes and an animatic would be compiled to reduce the running time to the necessary eleven minutes. Specialized artists then created prop, character, and background designs. According to former lead character designer Phil Rynda, most of this pre-production was done in Photoshop. While the episodes' design and coloring was done in Burbank, California, the actual animation was handled in South Korea by either Rough Draft Korea or Saerom Animation. Animating an episode often took between three and five months alone. The animation was hand-drawn on paper, which was then digitally composited and painted with digital ink and paint. Executive producer Fred Seibert compared the show's animation style to that of Felix the Cat and various Max Fleischer cartoons, but said its world was equally inspired by "the world of videogames [sic]". While the episodes were being handled in South Korea, the production crew in the United States worked on retakes, music scoring, and sound design. Upon being completed, the animation was sent back to the United States, at which point it was inspected by the production crew, who looked for mistakes in the animation or "things that didn't animate the way [the staff] intended". These problems were then fixed in Korea and the animation was finalized. From story outlining to broadcast, it took between eight and nine months for each episode to be created; because of this, multiple episodes were worked on concurrently. While a great majority of the series' episodes were animated by Korean animation studios, Adventure Time occasionally featured guest animators and directors. For instance, the second-season episode "Guardians of Sunshine" was partly rendered in 3-D to emulate the style of a video game. The fifth-season episode "A Glitch is a Glitch" was written and directed by Irish filmmaker and writer David OReilly, and features his distinctive 3-D animation. Animator James Baxter animated select scenes and characters in both the fifth-season episode "James Baxter the Horse" as well as the eighth-season episode "Horse & Ball". The sixth-season episode "Food Chain" was written, storyboarded, and directed by Japanese anime director Masaaki Yuasa, and was animated entirely by Yuasa's own studio. Another sixth-season episode, "Water Park Prank", features Flash animation by David Ferguson. A stop-motion episode titled "Bad Jubies", directed by Kirsten Lepore, aired near the middle of the show's seventh season. Finally, Alex and Lindsay Small-Butera, noted for their web series Baman Piderman, contributed animation to the eighth-season episode "Beyond the Grotto" and the ninth-season episode "Ketchup". Cast The image is of John DiMaggio talking into a microphone The image is of Jeremy Shada talking into a microphone The series employs the voice acting of John DiMaggio (left) and Jeremy Shada (right), who voice Jake and Finn, respectively. The series' voice actors include: Jeremy Shada (Finn the Human);[m] John DiMaggio (Jake the Dog); Tom Kenny (The Ice King); Hynden Walch (Princess Bubblegum); and Olivia Olson (Marceline the Vampire Queen). Ward provides voices for several minor characters and Lumpy Space Princess. Former storyboard artist Niki Yang voices the sentient video game console BMO in English, as well as Jake's girlfriend Lady Rainicorn in Korean. Polly Lou Livingston, a friend of Pendleton Ward's mother Bettie Ward, plays the voice of the small elephant named Tree Trunks. The Adventure Time cast members recorded their lines together at group recording sessions rather than individually, with the aim of recording natural-sounding dialogue. Hynden Walch has described these group recordings as being akin to "doing a play reading—a really, really out there play". The series regularly employed guest actors for minor and recurring characters, and crew members cast people with whom they were interested in working. For instance, in a panel, both Adam Muto and Kent Osborne said the Adventure Time crew often sought out actors who had had roles in the television programs Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Office to play various supporting or background characters. Characters Main article: List of Adventure Time characters Setting and mythology The show is set in the fictional "Land of Ooo", in a post-apocalyptic future about a thousand years after a nuclear holocaust called the "Great Mushroom War". According to Ward, the show takes place "after the bombs have fallen and magic has come back into the world". Before the series was fully developed, Ward intended the Land of Ooo to simply be "magical". After the production of the episode "Business Time", in which an iceberg containing reanimated businessmen floats to the surface of a lake, the show became explicitly post-apocalyptic; Ward said the production crew "just ran with it". Ward later described the setting as "candyland on the surface and dark underneath", noting he had never intended the Mushroom War and the post-apocalyptic elements to be "hit over the head in the show". He limited it to "cars buried underground in the background [and other elements that do not] raise any eyebrows". Ward has said the series' post-apocalyptic elements were influenced by the 1979 film Mad Max. Kenny called the way the elements are worked into the plot "very fill-in-the-blanks", and DiMaggio said, "it's been obvious the Land of Ooo has some issues". The series has a canonical mythology—or, an overarching plot and backstory—that is expanded upon in various episodes. The backstory involves mainly the Mushroom War, the origin of the series' principal antagonist the Lich, and the backstories of several of the series' principal and recurring characters. Ward has said the details behind the Mushroom War and the series' dark mythology form "a story worth telling", but that he feels the show will "save it and continue to dance around how heavy the back-history of Ooo is". Title sequence and music When Ward was developing the series' title sequences, the rough draft version consisted of quick shots and vignettes that were "just sort of crazy [and] nonsensical", which alluded to the show's theme of quirky adventures. These drafts included "the characters ... just punching random ghosts and monsters, jumping through anything and everything [and] there were a bunch of atomic bombs at the end of it". Ward later called this version "really silly". He sent the draft to Cartoon Network; they did not like it and wanted something more graphical like the introduction to The Brady Bunch. Inspired by the title sequences of The Simpsons and Pee-wee's Playhouse, Ward developed a new title sequence featuring a panning sweep of the Land of Ooo while a synthesizer note rose slowly until the main theme was played. Ward's draft for this idea was handed to layout animators, who then finalized the timing for the sequence. From there, the sequence evolved; while Ward added "silly character stuff", Patrick McHale focused his attention on the Ice King's shot and gave him a "high school [year]book" smile. The crew also struggled to get the shadows in the shot featuring Marceline correct. After the panning sweep, the sequence cuts to the theme song, which plays while shots of Finn and Jake adventuring are shown. For this part of the sequence, Ward was inspired by the "simple" aspects of the introduction to the 2007 comedy film Superbad. When the theme mentions "Jake the Dog" and "Finn the Human", the characters' names are displayed next to their heads, with a solid color in the background. The sequence was finalized immediately before the series aired. The show's eponymous theme song is sung by Ward, accompanied by a ukulele. It is first heard in the pilot episode; in that version Ward is accompanied by an acoustic guitar. For the version used in the series, Ward sung in a higher register to match with the higher range of the ukulele. The finalized version of the theme song was originally supposed to be a temporary version. Ward said, "I recorded the lyrics for the opening title in the animatics room where we have this little crummy microphone just so that we could add it to the titles and submit it to the network. Later, we tried re-recording it and I didn't like it ... I only liked the temp one!" Because the series' finalized theme song was originally recorded as a temp track, ambient noises can be heard throughout. For instance, the sound of Derek Drymon typing can be heard while Jake is walking through the Ice Kingdom. According to Ward, much of the series' music has similar "hiss and grit" because one of the show's original composers, Casey James Basichis, "lives in a pirate ship he's built inside of an apartment [and] you can hear floorboards squeak and lots of other weird sounds". As the show progressed, Basichis's friend Tim Kiefer joined the show as an additional composer. The two now work together on its music. The show's title sequence and theme song have stayed mostly consistent throughout its run, with seven exceptions. During the Fionna and Cake episodes (viz. season three's "Fionna and Cake", season five's "Bad Little Boy", season six's "The Prince Who Wanted Everything", season eight's "Five Short Tables", and season nine's "Fionna and Cake and Fionna") the series runs a different intro sequence that mirrors the original, with the major exception that all the characters are gender-bent, and the theme is sung by former storyboard revisionist Natasha Allegri. Likewise, the intro to the series' three miniseries are each unique: the introduction to the Marceline-centric Stakes (2015) places most of the emphasis on Marceline, and the theme song is sung by Olivia Olson; the introduction to Islands (2017) adopts a nautical theme, highlights the principal characters in the miniseries, and is sung by Jeremy Shada; and the intro to Elements (2017) features imagery reflecting the four primary elements in the Adventure Time universe (that is: fire, ice, slime, and candy) and is sung by Hynden Walch. The introductions to the guest-animated episodes "A Glitch Is a Glitch" and "Food Chain" are each unique, featuring animation courtesy of David OReilly and Masaaki Yuasa, respectively. Finally, the series finale, "Come Along With Me", features an introduction offering viewers a glimpse of future Ooo, one thousand years after Finn and Jake. This intro features the new characters Shermy and Beth, and is sung by the latter (voiced by Willow Smith). The series regularly features songs and musical numbers. Many of the cast members—including Shada, Kenny, and Olson—sing their characters' songs. Characters often express their emotions in song; examples of this include Marceline's song "I'm Just Your Problem" (from season three's "What Was Missing") and Finn's "All Gummed Up Inside" (from season three's "Incendium"). While the series' background music is composed by Basichis and Kiefer, the songs sung by characters are often written by the storyboard artists. And while it is a general rarity, the show also occasionally refers to popular music. Early during the show's run, Frederator, Seibert's production company, occasionally uploaded demos and full versions of songs sung by the characters to their official website, and when the production crew set up a series Tumblr account, this tradition of publishing demos and full versions of songs to the public was revived. On November 20, 2015, the label Spacelab9 released a limited-edition 12" LP featuring many of Marceline's songs, which was followed by a 38-song series soundtrack in October 2016. Broadcast and ratings Episodes Main article: List of Adventure Time episodes Each Adventure Time episode is about eleven minutes in length; pairs of episodes are often telecast in order to fill a half-hour program time slot. Before the official debut of the first season, Cartoon Network aired both "Business Time" and "Evicted!" on March 11 and 18, respectively, advertising these showings as "previews" of the series-to-come. The show officially debuted with "Slumber Party Panic" on April 5, 2010. During the latter part of its run, the show began to experiment with the miniseries format. The first of these was Stakes (2015), which aired during the show's seventh season. The following miniseries, Islands (2017) aired as part of the eight season. The third and final miniseries, Elements (2017), aired during the show's ninth season. For its first six seasons, episodes regularly aired once a week. Starting in November 2014, the show began to air new episodes via "bombs", or weeks in which new episodes debuted every day. This change in airing style disrupted the viewing patterns of some fans, as Dave Trumbore of Collider explained: "Back when [the show] was regularly airing in a more traditional schedule, it was a little easier to keep track of the completely insane episodes full of half-explained mythology and lots and lots of non-sequiturs. During the last few seasons, however, [when] the episodes started to arrive in more of a scattershot fashion scheduled around multi-part specials [it became easier to miss] the random airings of certain episodes". The series' initial run concluded in 2018, after the airing of its tenth season. Around a year later, on October 23, 2019, Cartoon Network announced that four hour-long specials—collectively titled Adventure Time: Distant Lands—would air on HBO Max, with the first two slated for release in 2020. Reruns have aired on Boomerang and Adult Swim. Season Episodes Originally aired First aired Last aired Network Pilot January 11, 2007 Nicktoons 1 26 April 5, 2010[i] September 27, 2010 Cartoon Network 2 26 October 11, 2010 May 9, 2011 3 26 July 11, 2011 February 13, 2012 4 26 April 2, 2012 October 22, 2012 5 52 November 12, 2012 March 17, 2014 6 43 April 21, 2014 June 5, 2015 7 26[ii] November 2, 2015 March 19, 2016 8 27[iii] March 26, 2016 February 2, 2017 9 14[iii] April 21, 2017 July 21, 2017 10 16 September 17, 2017 September 3, 2018 Special July 20, 2018 Distant Lands 4 2020 TBA HBO Max Ratings Upon its debut, Adventure Time was a ratings success for Cartoon Network. In March 2013, it was reported that the show averaged roughly 2 to 3 million viewers an episode. According to a 2012 report by Nielsen, the show consistently ranked first in its time slot among boys aged 2–14. The show premiered on April 5, 2010, and was watched by 2.5 million viewers. The episode was a ratings success. According to a press release by Cartoon Network, the episode's time slot saw triple-digit percentage increases from the previous year. The program was viewed by 1.661 million children aged 2–11, which marked a 110 percent increase from the previous year's figures. It was watched by 837,000 children aged 9–14, a 239 percent increase on the previous year's figures. Between the second and sixth seasons, the show's ratings continued to grow; the second-season premiere was watched by 2.001 million viewers, the third-season premiere by 2.686 million, the fourth-season premiere by 2.655 million, the fifth-season premiere by 3.435 million, and the sixth-season premiere by 3.321 million. The show's seventh-season opener took a substantial ratings tumble, being watched by only 1.07 million viewers. Likewise, the eighth-, ninth-, and tenth-season premieres were watched by only 1.13, 0.71, and 0.77 million viewers, respectively. The series finale, "Come Along with Me", was viewed by 0.92 million viewers and scored a 0.25 Nielsen rating in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic, which means the episode was seen by 0.25 percent of all individuals aged 18 to 49 years old who were watching television at the time of the episode's airing. Reception Critical reviews "Adventure Time makes me wish I were a kid again, just so I could grow up to be as awesome as the kids who are currently watching Adventure Time will be". Entertainment Weekly staff. The show has received positive reviews from critics. The A.V. Club reviewer Zack Handlen called it "a terrific show [that] fits beautifully in that gray area between kid and adult entertainment in a way that manages to satisfy both a desire for sophisticated (i.e., weird) writing and plain old silliness". Adventure Time has been complimented for its resemblance to cartoons of the past. In an article for the Los Angeles Times, television critic Robert Lloyd compared the series to "the sort of cartoons they made when cartoons themselves were young and delighted in bringing all things to rubbery life". Robert Mclaughlin of Den of Geek expressed a similar sentiment when he wrote that Adventure Time "is the first cartoon in a long time that is pure imagination". He complimented the show for "its non-reliance on continually referencing pop culture". Eric Kohn of IndieWire said the show "represents the progress of [cartoon] medium" in the current decade. A number of reviews have positively compared the series and its creators to other culturally significant works and individuals, respectively. In 2013, Entertainment Weekly reviewer Darren Franich called the series "a hybrid sci-fi/fantasy/horror/musical/fairy tale, with echoes of Calvin and Hobbes, Hayao Miyazaki, Final Fantasy, Richard Linklater, Where the Wild Things Are, and the music video you made with your high school garage band". Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker praised Adventure Time's unique approach to emotion, humor, and philosophy by likening it to "World of Warcraft as recapped by Carl Jung". Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club concluded that the show was "basically what would happen if you asked a bunch of 12-year-olds to make a cartoon, only it's the best possible version of that, like if all the 12-year-olds were super geniuses and some of them were Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the Marx Brothers". Adventure Time's willingness to explore dark, sad, and complex issues has received praise. Kohn applauded the fact that the show "toys with an incredibly sad subtext". Novelist Lev Grossman, in an interview with NPR, praised the backstory of the Ice King and the exploration of his condition in the third-season episode "Holly Jolly Secrets", the fourth-season episode "I Remember You", and the fifth-season episode "Simon & Marcy", noting that his origin is "psychologically plausible". Grossman praised the way the series was able to tackle the issues of mental illness, saying: "It's very affecting. My dad has been going through having Alzheimer's, and he's forgotten so much about who he used to be. And I look at him and think this cartoon is about my father dying". Critics have suggested that the show has grown and matured as it has aged. In a review of season four, for instance, Mike LeChevallier of Slant magazine complimented the show for "growing up" with its characters. He concluded that the series has "strikingly few faults" and awarded the fourth season three-and-a-half stars out of four. The series has been included on a number of best-of lists. Entertainment Weekly ranked it number 20 (out of 25) in a list of the "Greatest Animated TV Series". Similarly, The A.V. Club, in a non-ranked run-down of the "best animated series ever", called the series "one of the most distinctive cartoons currently on the air". The show has also received limited criticism from reviewers. LeChevallier, in an otherwise largely positive review of the third season for Slant magazine, wrote that "the short-form format leaves some emotional substance to be desired", and that this was inevitable for a series with such short episodes. The independent cartoon scholar and critic David Perlmutter, who otherwise applauded the show's voice acting and its ability to surpass its source material, argued that the show's vacillation between high and low comedy epitomizes the fact that Cartoon Network is "unsure of what direction to pursue". He noted that "while some of [Adventure Time's] episodes work well, others [are] simply confusing". The newspaper Metro cited the show's frightening situations, occasional adult themes, and use of innuendo as reason why parents might not want their young children watching it. Industry impact Several former storyboard artists and production crew members who worked on Adventure Time have gone on to create their own series, including Pat McHale (a former storyline writer, storyboard artist, and creative director who went on to create Over the Garden Wall), Rebecca Sugar (a former storyboard artist who went on to create Steven Universe), Ian Jones-Quartey (a former storyboard revisionist and supervisor who went on to create OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes), Skyler Page (a former storyboard artist who went on to create Clarence), Julia Pott (a former storyline writer who went on to create Summer Camp Island), and Kent Osborne (the show's former head story writer who went on to create Cat Agent). Heidi MacDonald of Slate has argued that the scouting of indie comic creators employed by Adventure Time (as well as several other Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon series) has led to an "animation gold rush" in which major studios are actively seeking under-the-radar talent for their shows, with her article surmising that "your favorite brilliant indie cartoonist is probably storyboarding for Adventure Time". MacDonald also pointed out that Adventure Time has influenced the tone of modern comics, noting: If anything, walking around [comic] shows like SPX, I've noticed something of an Adventure Time track among many of the small press comics now coming out: Where once young cartoonists overwhelmingly produced gloomy masculine self-absorption and misanthropy in the tradition of Daniel Clowes or Chris Ware, these days many booths feature fantasy epics with colorful characters and invented worlds heavy on the talking animals. It shouldn't be surprising that up-and-coming cartoonists are absorbing the Adventure Time aesthetic. A 20-year-old making comics now could have been watching the show since she was 15, after all. Academic interest Adventure Time has attracted academic interest for its presentation of gender and gender roles. Emma A. Jane, a senior research fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, said that the two main characters are male, and many episodes involve them engaging in violent acts to save princesses, but "Finn and Jake are part of an expansive ensemble cast of characters who are anything but stereotypical and who populate a program which subverts many traditional gender-related paradigms". She said the show features "roughly equal numbers of female and male characters in protagonist, antagonist, and minor roles"; includes characters with no fixed gender; uses "gendered 'design elements'" such as eyelashes and hair to illustrate character traits rather than gender; equally distributes traits regardless of gender; privileges found, adoptive families or extended families; frames gender in ways that suggest it is fluid; and features elements of queer and transgender sub-text. Carolyn Leslie, writing in Screen, agrees, saying, "despite having two male leads, Adventure Time is particularly strong when it comes to questioning and challenging gender stereotypes". She uses Princess Bubblegum, BMO, and Fionna and Cake as examples of characters who refuse to be readily categorized and genderized.