Adventures End: The Closing of the Cartoon Renaissance

“With a great pang in my gut, I guess I should start looking forward”


“Adventure time is ending in 2018” or words to that effect are what greeted me after coming back from a long day at university last week and I’ll be honest, I couldn’t be happier. Now before people sharpen their pitchforks and light some torches hear me out. I absolutely love Adventure Time it’s a show that I started watching when it was only in its second season 6 years ago. It shifted my perception of cartoons, from something to be enjoyed to a form of study and placed me on the path I find myself now. It reminded me that I could be both a kid and a grown up, that cartoons were something I could keep watching even as I progressed into adulthood.

And it wasn’t just myself that this show seemed to affect, it has been a mark on pop culture ever since its release, finding a home across all age groups and across all media forms. It has become this living, breathing cross-platform behemoth. With episodes covering everything from loss, depression, existentialism, terror, horror,  young love, old love and even going so far as to display a young boy going through the trails of puberty with no guide but coming out the end a better person.

This is the Adventure Time I want to remember, a clever, cute, poignant show, that has successfully tapped into every emotion I had. And now that the announcement has come out of its end. Hopefully it’s the one that will leave us. I can’t have been the only person that noticed how tired this show has been getting. With the show hopping from plot point to plot point, setting up these ideas that could very well fuel half a season or more on their own which end up forgotten about in the next episode (consider this a teaser for a blog post about my issues with Adventure Time). Even the most recent season started on an incredibly strong note with the 8 part mini-series “Stakes” which was like a condensed chunk of everything Adventure Time has done great rolled into one amazing package. Before it returned to its sadly humdrum roots.

This brings me nicely to the title of this post. It is pretty easy to claim that it’s Adventure Time that started this “Cartoon renaissance” we have found ourselves in, with Steven Universe being, arguably, an off shoot of Adventure Times themes and general design philosophy (also helped by Rebecca Sugar being one of the best story boardists and writers they had before she moved to heading Stevens Universe) Shows like Gravity Falls appearing, proving that a show themed around never telling the audience everything can grip kids and adults alike. Whilst Over the Garden Wall, proves that a wickedly dark, macabre, gothic cartoon can reach prominence in todays landscape.

However, it isn’t really the announcement that Adventure Time will be ending 2 years from now that prompted me to discuss this in more depth, I was content to just say “good decision” and be done with it, saving it for a larger post later down the line. What makes me declare the true end of the Cartoon Renaissance is the loss of Regular Show which had the quite announcement that it will be ending within the next year on its 8th season. This comes a massive surprise because whilst I felt that Adventure Time has begun to stagnate, Regular Show continues to impress me with every episode I watch. Its 7th season was strong throughout, and the season 8 opener is a different approach to the shows themes but still manages to stay true to what made it great. Writing this I can’t actually think of a bad episode of Regular Show, sure there are some worse than others, but nothing I didn’t enjoy and it will be a true loss to see this strong show disappear.

However, a larger piece on Regular Show is something for another day. To wrap up this article that should’ve only a 300 word news roundup before I spoil a bunch of articles I have planned. Regular Show, is, in my opinion, the cartoon of the decade. Adventure Time ushered in the Cartoon Renaissance with a great display of colour and gusto, but it feels like Regular Show has been the one just slightly out of sight for the past few years, pushing the boundaries of what a cartoon can be ever so slightly further, when Adventure time made one giant leap every 10 episodes or so Regular show would be just ahead with almost every episode doing something new or different.

So with a great pang in my gut, I guess I should start looking forward to what fills the places of these two great shows. After the renaissance comes the enlightenment after all, so more should be on the way. Especially with a show like Steven Universe shining the way forward, We Bare Bears showing signs of growing into something more and Star vs The forces of Evil reminding me that whatever monkey runs the TV animation section of Disney has some taste it’s shaping up to be an interesting few years. Especially with Pendleton Ward soon to be free of the shackles of Adventure Time and I presume eager to start up something new.

Regular Show ending:

Adventure Time ending:

Header image:


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