The 40 Best Episodes of Adventure Time, Ranked

Adventure Time Jake in Finn's hat

Adventure Time has been delighting fans since the series premiered in April of 2010 and, despite the original series wrapping up in 2018, shows no signs of ending its hold in the hearts and minds of many viewers (including me). The series has become a modern classic on the level of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, in the same way, launched a franchise that includes comics, video games, novels, and sequel (or prequel? or sidequel?) TV series.

Whatever the future of Adventure Time holds, the original series, with its more than 280 individual episodes, will always be the gold standard of the franschise. Here I’d like to argue for what I believe are the forty best episodes the series has to offer. Full disclosure at the top, I won’t be including the forty-minute finale.

40. Slumber Party Panic (Season 1, Episode 1)

Adventure Time Slumber Party Panic Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

The episode that started it all, “Slumber Party Panic,” introduces audiences to Finn (Jeremy Shada), Jake (John DiMaggio), and Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch), aka “PB,” and the Candy Kingdom as well as the tone of the show. The episode is a loose retelling of Night of the Living Dead as Finn has to defend candy citizens from zombies and is full of jokes that come at you so fast and are so silly you can’t quite catch their darkness on first viewing. It also sets up what would become an Adventure Time classic in a “here’s a lesson, but those are silly” style joke when Finn breaks a “royal promise” to Princess Bubblegum and there aren’t really any consequences.

39. Dungeon (Season 1, Episode 18)

Adventure Time Dungeon Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network

“Dungeon” feels like an early acknowledgment on the part of the show that one of its two central heroes is much, much more capable than the other. The episode sees Finn attempt a dungeon crawl without Jake to prove he can complete them himself. But he struggles without Jake’s ability to shapeshift, grow larger, and smell like a dog. Again the episode shows that the series is willing to laugh at itself when we learn that Jake had just as much difficulty making it through another part of the dungeon alone because he’s incapable of spitting as far as Finn or ignoring a laser pointer dot. Beyond the meta-comedy, the episode lands on this list for its inclusion of the Demon Cat (Clancy Brown), with “approximate knowledge of many things,” that is one of the funniest characters in the entire show.

38. Rainy Day Daydream (Season 1, Episode 23)

Adventure Time Rainy Day Daydream Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

One of the best things about “Rainy Day Daydream” is the simplicity of its first narrative beat: Finn and Jake are stuck inside because there’s knife rain; yes, that’s right, it’s raining knives. But that doesn’t factor into the episode any more than that it keeps them inside, and it’s never explained how or why knives are raining from the sky. The story of the episode makes great use of the limited location, though, by having the two have an adventure entirely built by Jake’s overactive imagination, which somehow begins to change the real world. It’s an early episode that highlights the creativity of the writing team and the many possibilities of the world they’ve created.

37. The Eyes (Season 2, Episode 2)

Adventure Time The Eyes Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

“The Eyes” is a narratively simple episode, but it delivers so many laugh-out-loud moments that I must include it here. The episode centers on Finn and Jake attempting to fall asleep while a strange horse watches them from a hill near the treehouse. Their initial attempts to get rid of the nuisance by closing the blinds and ignoring the horse fail, so they go outside to try to get it to move. But nothing, neither Jake’s attempts to lure the horse away nor frighten it with snakes, will get the animal to leave, leading Jake to diagnose the creature with “whacked out poo brain.”

36. Ghost Fly (Season 6, Episode 17)

Adventure Time Ghost Fly Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Adventure Time is full of references to pop culture (there will be more coming up higher on this list), but one of the best one-two reference punches in the entire series arrives in “Ghost Fly.” The episode begins when Jake kills a fly trying to get into his soup, only to be awoken in the night by the ghost of that fly haunting him. The comedy is solid throughout, especially a moment with Peppermint Butler (Steve Little), aka “Pep But,” fleeing the scene after the fly steals his occult tools. But it’s the visual references to The Exorcist and The Fly movies that have secured this episode a place in my horror-loving heart.

35. Princess Monster Wife (Season 4, Episode 9)

Adventure Time Princess Monster Wife Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Ice King’s character arc has been celebrated as one of the best in long-form television, and part of that is how incredibly well-developed and complicated Simon/Ice King (Tom Kenny) is as a character. There isn’t a simple switch from villain to, well, it’s hard to know what to call him by the show’s end. “Princess Monster Wife” is one of the best and most emotionally impactful episodes that draws out the complicated villainy and deep sadness at the heart of Ice King. The concept of him stealing parts from various princesses to make himself a wife is funny and villainous, but the relationship that we see blossom between him and his creation is genuinely touching.

34. Jake Suit (Season 5, Episode 27)

Adventure Time Jake Suit Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

As a devoted fan of both physical comedy and Finn’s “Buff Baby” song, “Jake Suit” has always been one of my favorite episodes. That the episode also features Flame Princess (Jessica DiCicco) only makes it better. The episode begins with Finn abusing the privilege of wearing Jake’s stretchy body as a suit, urging BMO (Niki Yang) to do its best to hurt him and launching himself off the top of the tree house onto a gate. When Jake takes issue with Finn’s treatment, Finn says that Jake can wear him as a suit and do whatever he wants. The worst of that comes when Jake forces Finn to sing the “Buff Baby” song and dance its accompanying dance in front of some of Flame Princess’s relatives. But Finn won’t give up, and by the end of the episode, Jake accepts that Finn will use the Jake Suit as he wishes, even if that means literally jumping into a volcano.

33. The Monster (Season 3, Episode 6)

Adventure Time The Monster Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Lumpy Space Princess (voiced by show creator Pendleton Ward), aka “LSP,” is rightfully a fan-favorite character for her brashness and sometimes unearned confidence. For me, the episode that best characterizes LSP, and delivers several hilarious moments along the way, is “The Monster.” The episode sees Finn and Jake searching for LSP at the request of her parents, who have not heard from her for a while, and hunting down a monster that’s been stealing Fat Villagers’ (no, really, that’s what they’re called), only to learn that LSP is the eponymous monster. But the real joy of the episode comes from LSP regaling Finn and Jake with a story of her time living among wolves after running away from home and before stealing the villagers’ crops.

32. Time Sandwich (Season 5, Episode 33)

Adventure Time Time Sandwich Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

“Time Sandwich” is one of my most-quoted episodes, and it’s a quote that isn’t even finished. In “Time Sandwich,” the ever-jerky Magic Man (Kenny again, who, it’s worth noting, is also the voice of SpongeBob) steals a perfect sandwich Jake has made himself and traps it in a giant time-slowing bubble. Different characters attempt to retrieve the sandwich from the time-dilating space, but BMO delivers a line that’s become a part of my weekly (if not daily) lexicon. BMO has Finn and Jake build a skate ramp that it then uses to leap into the time-altering bubble, and as it flies through the air, BMO shouts, “This is siiiiiiii…” Of course, it’s not just that one moment that lands the episode, which is very funny throughout, on the list, but it plays a significant role.

31. Root Beer Guy (Season 5, Episode 43)

Adventure Time Root Beer Guy Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Some of the best episodes of Adventure Time relegate Finn and Jake to side or even background characters, and “Root Beer Guy” goes one step further and casts them as potential villains. The episode centers on the eponymous Root Beer Guy (Jack Pendarvis), who feels stuck in his soulless telemarketing job and can’t offer his wife the romance she craves but is passionate about writing his crime fiction novel. When he sees Finn and Jake kidnap Princess Bubblegum, he begins to investigate. From there, the episode becomes a procedural mystery as he connects clues and solves the crime by the end.

30. Marcy & Hunson (Season 10, Episode 7)

Adventure Time Marcy & Hunson Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

I’m predisposed to like any episode with Marceline “Marcy” the Vampire Queen (Olivia Olson). But episodes with her dad Hunson Abadeer (Martin Olson, Olivia’s real-life dad), are some of my favorites the show has to offer. “Marcy & Hunson” concludes the arc of their relationship as we see Hunson seriously embarrass Marcy at a concert of hers, but also see her accept that, in his way, he’s just doing his best as a dad. It’s also got an adorable (and embarrassing for Marcy) moment when Hunson says, “I am proud of my punk daughter!”

29. Memory of a Memory (Season 3, Episode 3)

Adventure Time Memory of a Memory Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Another great Marceline episode, “Memory of a Memory,” is also the first time we see Finn, or rather a memory of Finn as a baby, sing the “Buff Baby” song. The episode follows Finn and Jake as they are sent into Marcy’s mind to find and extract a memory by a mysterious wizard who turns out to be Marcy’s ex-boyfriend seeking to delete the memory of their breakup. But Finn realizes that he and Jake remember Marcy’s memory, leading to an Inception-like plot that sees the friends diving into Finn’s mind, where we see his singing and dancing memory, to find his memory of Marcy’s memory.

28. All the Little People (Season 5, Episode 5)

Adventure Time All the Little People Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

It doesn’t happen often, but some Adventure Time episodes are genuinely unnerving and upsetting. One of those few is “All the Little People,” in which Magic Man sneaks a bundle of smaller versions of all the characters onto Finn’s belt, leading Finn to experiment with the little version of himself and everyone he knows. His experimenting mostly centers on forcing characters into romantic pairings to see how they will work out. But by the end of the episode, he’s ruined their lives. Luckily, with Jake’s help, he discovers a way to communicate with them and fix things.

27. The Vault (Season 5, Episode 34)

Adventure Time The Vault Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network

Like the Demon Cat in “Dungeon,” Shoko (Isabelle Fuhrman) only really appears in one episode; but she makes a big impact. Shoko, a young thief who’s lost an arm, is a past-life version of Finn that we meet when Finn takes a journey into his mental “vault” courtesy of a hypnosis app on BMO. The episode tells the story of Shoko’s brief friendship with Princess Bubblegum, whose early Candy Kingdom she initially infiltrates with plans to steal from the princess. She’s a great character, and the episode does a wonderful job telling a story about her in just eleven minutes.

26. Hot to the Touch (Season 4, Episode 1)

Adventure Time Hot to the Touch Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

I struggled with choosing a favorite Flame Princess episode to include here. I very much enjoy her dungeon strategy in “Vault of Bones,” but Finn’s initial condescension holds that episode back, leading me to go with one of Flame Princess’s earliest appearances in “Hot to the Touch.” The episode follows Finn as he follows Flame Princess, who he’s quickly developed a crush on, as the two attempt to talk with one another but keep having a very hard time, given that Flame Princess is literally made of fire and lights everything around her on fire. As with too many Finn and Flame Princess episodes, it makes you wish Finn would do better, but it ends up being one of the sweetest episodes in the series.

25. All Your Fault (Season 5, Episode 9)

Adventure Time All Your Fault Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

As with Flame Princess, there are many episodes to choose from to celebrate Lemongrab (Justin Roiland), the not-quite-right candy person that Princess Bubblegum made and titled an Earl. “All Your Fault” sees Finn and Jake journey to Castle Lemongrap to deliver food seeds after the earldom, now led by two identical Lemongrabs, has run out of food. But when they arrive, they discover that the famine is a result of the Lemongrabs having discovered the formula for candy life (from Princess Bubblegum’s notes) and turning pretty much all of their food into sentient candy people. That plot is funny and troubling enough, but what really makes “All Your Fault” great are the scenes of Finn and Jake traveling through the almost empty castle and discovering organs that we later learn belong to the giant lemon person Lemonjon (Roiland).

24. Jake the Brick (Season 6, Episode 20)

Adventure Time Jake the Brick Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

“Jake the Brick” almost feels like a bedtime story. The episode centers on Jake, who has decided to be a brick in an old brick building when it collapses, as he tells the story of a bunny’s experiences with a deer and storm. But as Jake narrates the story he sees play out in front of him to himself, Finn picks it up on a walkie-talkie he left Jake. And as the story goes on, he brings his walkie to Starchy (Kenny again) to broadcast from his radio station. We see characters throughout Ooo sit by their radios, highly invested in what will happen to the bunny and its warren, and it’s lovely.

23. Return to the Nightosphere (Season 4, Episode 5)

Adventure Time Return to the Nightosphere Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

“Return to the Nightosphere” doesn’t have as much Hunson Abadeer as one might expect, given that it takes place in the hellish dimension he rules. But his absence allows the episode to function as a sort of travelog as we see Finn and Jake, who have woken up imprisoned in the dimension with no recollection of how they got there, attempt to have an audience with the fearsome ruler. There are a lot of great jokes about the horrors of bureaucracy and imagery that riffs on the art of Hieronymus Bosch. But the funniest thing about it is the mystery of why everyone finds the bananas Finn and Jake found and are carrying around as possible snacks, gross. It’s not answered until the follow-up episode (they’re demon bodily waste), but the responses the pair get from Nightosphere residents when asked are pitch-perfect in “Return to the Nightosphere.”

22. Death in Bloom (Season 2, Episode 17)

Adventure Time Death in Bloom Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network

“Death in Bloom” follows Finn and Jake as they take a trip to the Land of the Dead to recover the soul of a plant they swore to protect and let die. It’s one of the earliest episodes to highlight Peppermint Butler’s occult knowledge and power, as he opens a portal to the Land of the Dead that allows them to journey there. Once there, our heroes must overcome obstacles, including the mythical “The River of Forgetfulness,” which Jake drinks from to hilarious results, and a musical battle with Death (Miguel Ferrer). Things don’t go so well for them, though, and it’s their friendship with Peppermint Butler that saves them when Finn remembers to say hi to Death for Pep But.

21. Nemesis (Season 6, Episode 15)

Adventure Time Nemesis Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

While we get to see Peppermint Butler’s dark magic abilities on display in several episodes across the ten seasons, only “Nemesis” centers on Pep But’s magic and his, that’s right, nemesis. The episode introduces Peace Master (Rainn Wilson), who seeks to rid Ooo of “evil,” which in his case means the peppermint practitioner of the dark arts. It turns out that he mostly wants to destroy Peppermint Butler because his kids are really into dark magic, and he’s worried about them. It’s a fun episode that shows off some cool magic( at one point, Pep But bends spacetime) and ensures any viewers that just because he’s a master of the dark arts doesn’t mean Peppermint Butler is a bad guy.

20. Football (Season 7, Episode 5)

Adventure Time Football Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

BMO’s rich, and perhaps hyperactive, imagination inspires some of the show’s most interesting, funny, and visually-striking episodes, and “Football” is among the best. The episode centers on BMO and Football, the reflection of BMO that lives in the mirror after they switch places, thereby allowing Football to live in the real world for a time. But after tasting freedom, Football doesn’t want to go back to living in the mirror, which is visualized in a beautifully unnerving and surreal way. The episode then turns into what feels more like a psychological horror story than an episode of a show ostensibly for children as BMO uses every reflective surface available to terrorize Football into switching back.

19. Dentist (Season 6, Episode 25)

Adventure Time Dentist Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Another incredibly quotable episode, “Dentist” has Finn “go dentist” when neither Jake nor Princess Bubblegum can help fix his toothache. It turns out that “dentist,” which is reached by being dropped down a well with snakes and rotten butter, is ants. Ants that are locked in a war with flies who employ monstrous worms and, therefore, must recruit larger mammals with teeth they can fix in exchange for tours of duty. That premise is enough to land the episode on this list, but the scenes that Finn shares with Jake’s old friend Tiffany (Collin Dean) make it one of the best in the series. Tiffany, who is prone to melodramatic speeches, hates Finn because Finn “stole” Jake from him, but in “Dentist,” the two have to work together, and they manage to do so to fantastic effect in a battle with the worms.

18. No One Can Hear You (Season 3, Episode 15)

Adventure Time No One Can Hear You Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

“No One Can Hear You” isn’t just the most unnerving episode of Adventure Time; it’s one of the creepiest episodes of television I’ve ever seen. The episode begins, 28 Days Later style, with Finn waking up in a hospital bed with no knowledge of how long it’s been since he got there. He explores the Candy Kingdom, but it’s empty except for Jake, who’s acting strange and thinks that everyone is hiding so that they can surprise him for his birthday. The only problem with that theory: it’s been six months. The episode’s finale draws from the Alien franchise as Finn discovers an evil deer has been keeping the candy people hostage in its hardened spit. It’s freaky stuff.

17. It Came From the Nightosphere (Season 2, Episode 1)

Adventure Time It Came From the Nightosphere Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

The first episode with Hunson Abadeer, “It Came from the Nightosphere” sees Marcy’s dad unleashed on Ooo when Finn performs the ritual to summon him, hoping that he can talk with Marcy and mend their relationship. Instead, the demon king tours Ooo and sucks the soul of almost every living creature he encounters. In one delightful moment, he’s unable to suck the soul from the penguin Gunther and calls it “by far the most evil thing I’ve encountered,” and in another, he sings a jaunty little song about stomping on ants and sucking their souls. It’s a very funny episode that also develops Marceline’s character by introducing the idea that even immortal half-demon vampires have tough relationships with their parents.

16. The Hall of Egress (Season 7, Episode 24)

Adventure Time The Hall of Egress Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Adventure Time regularly plays with the mystical, but few episodes feel as otherworldly as “The Hall of Egress.” At the start of the episode, Finn becomes trapped in a dungeon room and discovers that the only way to escape is to close his eyes and walk through a wall. But behind that wall, there’s a complicated obstacle course, and beyond the obstacle course, Finn soon learns, is the problem that anytime he opens his eyes, he returns to the room in the dungeon. He escapes many times, and every time Jake forces him to open his eyes eventually, in part because Jake does not experience the repetition, living each of Finn’s escapes from the room as the first time it’s happened. Like many of the best Adventure Time episodes, it’s an episode about time and the different ways we can relate to it while also being a beautiful, micro coming-of-age story for Finn.

15. Sky Witch (Season 5, Episode 29)

Adventure Time Sky Witch Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

As I said, I’m a big Marceline fan. More than that, I’m a Bubbline (the ship name for Princess Bubblegum and Marceline) fan, so any episode that furthers their romance is a big deal for me. And that’s a huge part of why “Sky Witch” lands so high on this list, but it’s not the only reason. The episode centers on Marcy enlisting PB’s help to get her beloved doll Hambo back from the eponymous sky witch Maja (Jill Talley), who uses items imbued with feeling in her magic. That setup allows for some of the most impactful moments in the Bubbline story, like PB trading Maja a beloved shirt she got from Marcy for Hambo, but also delivers some great comedy, like PB extremely quickly analyzing a room for clues and everything that Maja’s Crabbit Familiar (Dee Bradley Baker) does.

14. Varmints (Season 7, Episode 2)

Adventure Time Varmints Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Another episode that centers on Marcy and PB, “Varmints” is also another episode that heavily draws from horror and action movie history. The episode is essentially a retelling of Aliens as the exes work together to rid PB’s pumpkin patch of varmints by taking the fight to the creatures underground. Throughout the episode, we hear the two work through their past relationship, apologize for how they hurt each other, and grow. It’s really beautiful stuff and some of the best writing I’ve ever seen on TV, in any show. Add the fighting monsters element and some of Marcy’s coolest transformations, and you’ve got one of the best episodes of the show on your hands.

13. BMO Noire (Season 4, Episode 17)

Adventure Time BMO Noire Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

If you know anything about me, the fact that my favorite BMO-centric episode is also the one that’s an homage to/parody of film noir makes perfect sense. The episode, which switches to black and white from color early on, centers on BMO’s investigation of who stole Finn’s sock and why. Throughout its investigation, BMO visits club owner Bebe (a remote control), petty criminal Ronnie (a rat), and femme fatale Lorraine (a chicken), all of whom are voiced by BMO, who is creating the narrative. It’s a delightfully small-scale episode that lets BMO do what BMO does best in creating an entire world and beautifully draws us into it by adapting the art to BMO’s vision.

12. Simon & Marcy (Season 5, Episode 14)

Adventure Time Simon & Marcy Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

The second most emotionally impactful relationship throughout the show, after PB and Marcy, is Marcy’s long and complicated bond with Ice King/Simon. “Simon & Marcy” expands the backstory of their relationship as we see Simon attempt to get the young Marcy some chicken soup while also struggling with the powerful wish magic of the crown that’s turning him into Ice King. It’s an incredibly sweet episode that makes it easy for the audience to understand why Marcy won’t give up on Ice King and why he will always have a place in her heart, but that also just makes it all the more tragic.

11. King Worm (Season 4, Episode 18)

Adventure Time King Worm Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

Adventure Time is one of the most creative and accurate shows when it comes to depicting dreams and dream logic, and the best of the many episodes that feature dreams is “King Worm.” The episode’s story follows Finn as he realizes he’s dreaming and attempts to stop the eponymous King Worm from consuming his life energy via the dreamscape. But it’s the smaller moments of absurdity that make the episode so fantastic. From almost missable things like Finn’s hat having longer ears to things that I still can’t quite wrap my head around, like Lady Rainicorn (Yang again) having two mouths that both make sense, “King Worm” is a perfect dream episode.

10. The First Investigation (Season 10, Episode 8)

Adventure Time The First Investigation Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

If Adventure Time has a central theme, it’s time, and few episodes engage that theme better than “The First Investigation.” The episode follows Finn and Jake as they investigate what may be a haunting at their mom and dad’s old private investigator office, only to discover that timeslips are occurring in the space. It’s a conceptually brilliant episode that allows for great jokes, including a clever cyclical explanation for why Finn and Jake are investigating and a real emotional payoff as the brothers are able to send a message of love back in time to their now dead parents.

9. Is that You? (Season 6, Episode 19)

Adventure Time Is That You Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

If “The First Investigation” is at one end of the comprehensibility spectrum of episodes about time travel and intertwining casualties, then “Is That You?” is on the complete opposite end. The episode follows Finn and Jake as they help interdimensional wish master Prismo (Kumail Nanjiani) reincarnate himself using a series of parallel timelines. I’ve seen “Is That You?” many times and still cannot explain exactly how and when things happen. But I can tell you that watching the puzzle pieces click into place is some of the most fun you can have watching Adventure Time.

8. Checkmate (Season 7, Episode 12)

Adventure Time Checkmate Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

“Checkmate” sort of functions as a stand-in for the entirety of the “Stakes” miniseries on this list, but it is also worth celebrating as a brilliant individual episode. The miniseries sees Marceline and the other central characters go up against a series of vampires Marceline fought in the past; it’s basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Adventure Time characters which is basically perfect television. “Checkmate” stands above the rest, though, for its serious engagement with ideas about, that’s right, time and its relationship to immortality. The Vampire King (Billy Brown) gives a speech about forging his own path and not succumbing to the same fate he has already experienced. It’s funny because of Brown’s operatic delivery, but the content is philosophically sound and a great primer on existentialism.

7. I Remember You (Season 4, Episode 25)

Adventure Time I Remember You Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

There are a lot of great songs in Adventure Time, but none of them have the same kind of immediate gut-punch effect as “I Remember You.” The episode named after the song brings Ice King to Marceline’s, where he wants to jam with her on some songs, and she discovers journal entries that he wrote when he was still Simon struggling with the crown. The two create a song based on his old notes in which he writes about wanting to keep Marceline safe but fearing that the crown will change who he is. It’s simultaneously devastating and beautiful stuff that’s made “Marceline, is it just you and me in the wreckage of the world?” a line that will give me goosebumps every time I hear it.

6. Ketchup (Season 9, Episode 11)

Adventure Time Ketchup Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

It’s surprising that fan-favorite characters BMO and Marceline don’t get an episode centered on them together until season 9, but “Ketchup” makes it worth the wait. BMO arrives at Marcy’s door prepared to help with vampire hunting, only to learn they’ve long been taken care of, leading the two beloved characters to catch up (get it? “ketchup”). But instead of simply functioning as a recap episode, “Ketchup” shows us two stories based (one more and one less) loosely on what happened during the “Islands” miniseries and a third about Marcy’s mom. All of the short stories are animated in unique art styles, and the final one, in which BMO creates a story for Marcy based on an old picture of her mom that it’s recovered from a flash drive, is just as emotionally beautiful as it is visually.

5. Bad Jubies (Season 7, Episode 20)

Adventure Time Bad Jubies Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

There are multiple instances of alternate art styles in Adventure Time, sometimes just for a segment, as in “Ketchup,” but sometimes for entire episodes, as with “Bad Jubies,” which adapts the world of Ooo to stop motion. I’ve been honest before about my love for stop motion, and that plays a significant role in “Bad Jubies” high ranking here, but it’s not just the form of the episode that makes me love it. The content, about different ways of preparing to survive a storm, emphasizes the need to appreciate nature’s simple joys and how they can inspire hope, especially in the face of fear and despair. It’s one of the few episodes of Adventure Time that has a message, one so beautifully and honestly told that it never feels saccharine.

4. Shh! (Season 5, Episode 20)

Adventure Time Shh! Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

As a fan of moving images of any kind, I’m always thrilled by stories that are mostly told visually. To be fair, “Shh!” includes many written cards, but there’s still something special about a major show having an episode largely play out without any speech from its two lead characters. Finn and Jake aren’t talking because they’ve made a wager to see who can make it longer without speaking throughout the day, but they can only use cards that they prewrite in the morning to communicate. That premise is funny and sets up the visual storytelling for the episode that’s mostly only broken by BMO, who begins to panic that identical non-speaking creatures have replaced Finn and Jake. Toss in that the episode visually quotes The Shining, and you’ve got an easy favorite for me.

3. Food Chain (Season 6, Episode 7)

Adventure Time Food Chain Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

It’s a little odd, given that the episode was written and co-directed by anime legend Masaaki Yuasa as opposed to any of the regular staff writers on the show, that “Food Chain” is the most precise any individual episode is about the central philosophy of Adventure Time. The episode sees Finn and Jake transformed into several creatures that exist in a cyclical food chain, allowing them to experience each part of the cycle. The episode speaks to the constant recurrence that is the heart of Adventure Time’s philosophy of existence, whether that recurrence is in time, food, or anything else. That alone earns it a place very high on this list; the fact that it also has a unique art style and features a ridiculously catchy song just makes it better.

2. What Was Missing (Season 3, Episode 10)

Adventure Time What Was Missing Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

I’ve been honest about my love for Bubbline thus far, so it shouldn’t be a shock that the first episode to canonize the ship (at least historically) places near the top of my list. The episode is full of incredible moments for the couple, from Marceline singing “I’m Just Your Problem,” wherein she confesses to missing Bubblegum, to the reveal that one of PB’s most prized possessions is a shirt she got from Marcy. But what pushes the episode all the way to this place on the list is that it’s so full of Bubbline goodness while also making room for Finn, Jake, and their friendship with the girls. It’s an episode about friendship and being honest with yourself about the importance of that friendship, and nothing does that better than Finn singing “My Best Friends In the World.” It’s also a testament to songwriter Rebecca Sugar that both songs make me tear up from their first line.

1. Thank You (Season 3, Episode 17)

Adventure Time Thank You Title Card
Image Credit: Cartoon Network.

While “Shh!” delivers a mostly silent episode, “Thank You” does away with language almost entirely. Besides the conversations we hear from Finn, Jake, and Ice King a few times in the background, there is no language in “Thank You,” and that’s what makes it the best episode of Adventure Time. “Thank You” tells the story of a snow golem (whose non-linguistic exclamations are voiced by Pendleton Ward) and a fire wolf pup (Baker again) that develop a friendship after the pup is accidentally transported to the Ice Kingdom. The lack of language allows visual gags and some hilarious moments of non-linguistic vocal performance to shine, but what makes “Thank You” so wonderful is how much feeling it evokes without words. It’s a phenomenal episode of television and the best episode of Adventure Time.

Author: Kyle Logan

Title: Contributing Writer

Expertise: Film, TV, Horror, Animation, Queer Cinema

Bio:

Film and TV Critic, Pop Culture Writer

  • Expertise: Horror, Animation, Queer Film
  • Education: Master's Degree in Philosophy from Boston College, Dual Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston College
  • Organizer of Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd
  • Over 200 reviews, essays, articles, and lists across various sites

Experience: Kyle Logan has been writing about film since studying film and philosophy as an undergraduate at Boston College. Kyle began writing about film professionally in 2020 and has written for many sites including Screen Anarchy, Film Stories, and Fangoria. Kyle has also organized the Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd since 2020, highlighting the queer history of film and bringing attention to rising queer filmmakers. Kyle now works full time with Wealth of Geeks, contributing lists, reviews, and podcast appearances on topics as varied as film, travel, and Halloween candy.