Despite All Odds, the Wildest Sci-Fi Show of the Century Pulled Off an Impossible Ending
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sing along.
Bringing an end to any beloved TV show is always a challenge. You can wrap things up with a gut punch (like in Succession or The Sopranos). You can try to resolve every last detail (like Six Feet Under or The Good Place). Or you can take a wild shot and hope for the best (like Lost or Game of Thrones). Then again, sometimes the only option is to do all three at once.
That was the approach taken by Adventure Time, which attempted to wrap up almost 300 episodes of worth of character development and incredibly complex lore in one 44-minute odyssey. I’m going to attempt to explain the plot of this episode, but before I do, consider this:
In the very first episode of Adventure Time, the story revolves around a slumber party in the “Candy Kingdom” that’s almost ruined by a candy-zombie outbreak. But in the 10 seasons that followed, the show explored everything from a multiverse woven together by a space god named Prismo to a secret island colony where the last surviving humans lived after escaping a nuclear holocaust. We also got flashbacks to the immediate aftermath of the “Mushroom Wars” that transformed Earth into the magical Land of Ooo, along with experimental episodes like one dialogue-free hallucinatory exploration of the food chain.
In other words, wrapping up Adventure Time seemed like an impossible task. And yet, the final episode, titled “Come Along With Me,” somehow makes it look easy.
Released on September 3, 2018, “Come Along With Me” begins 1,000 years after the events of Adventure Time. Instead of our usual protagonists, Finn and Jake, we’re now following Shermy (a humanoid cat believed by some fans to be the reincarnation of Finn) and his friend Betony Burrito "Beth" Jakson IV (a distant ancestor of Jake with teleportation powers). Shermy and Beth set out on an adventure, leading them to the immortal King of Ooo, who, of course, turns out to be BMO (the lovable robot living with Finn and Jake in the show’s present).
But this is just a framing device for BMO to recount the actual plot, which focuses on an epic battle between the forces and good and evil in Ooo. The battle itself isn’t particularly interesting. It’s a conflict manufactured earlier that season between Princess Bubblegum and her power-hungry uncle (voiced by Fred Melamed), with the various heroes and villains of Adventure Time picking sides. After a trippy dreamscape sequence, the entire dispute is resolved amicably. Then, things get interesting.
From out of a portal comes GOLB, the living embodiment of chaos (pictured at the top of this article). The sky is covered by dark clouds and a horrible monster rises up out of the living tissue of the candy armies. Heroes and villains unite in what appears to be a losing battle against entropy itself, leading to some powerful moments as the various Adventure Time characters come to grips with their own mortality. Ice King transforms back into the mild-mannered Simon. Fern (the semi-evil grass-based doppelganger of Finn) turns good again. Princess Bubblegum and Marceline finally kiss.
All seems lost, but then salvation comes from a surprising place: music. Many of Adventure Time’s best moments are associated with songs, and one of the show’s greatest episodes, “What Was Missing,” is all about the main characters overcoming their differences to write a perfect piece of music. So, in a sense, it makes sense that music would save the Land of Ooo.
Of course, it's BMO who figures this out. The robot starts singing a song to comfort Jake, and it turns out that music is GOLB’s only weakness. (Harmony is the opposite of chaos, Bubblegum reasons.) The monsters collapse and GOLB explodes as Adventure Time’s usual animation style briefly devolves into a swirl of black-and-white sketches reminiscent of the opening explosion scene in the 1988 anime classic, Akira.
With this world-ending crisis averted, life in Ooo returns to normal. A final montage, set to an extended version of the show’s theme song, reveals what happens in the coming days, months, and years. Everyone seems happy, including Beth and Shermy (who totally deserve their own spinoff one of these days). Somehow, despite a rocky opening, Adventure Time’s series finale manages to stick the landing by giving fans the best of all possible worlds.
Like any classic episode of Adventure Time, this one will make you laugh, whoop, and cry. In 44 minutes, “Come Along With Me” manages to encapsulate everything great (and everything overwhelming) about the show.
I could go on for another 800 words, but instead, I’ll leave you with this video of Adventure Time writer Rebecca Sugar (who also created Steven Universe), singing the episode’s original song, “Time Adventure,” at Comic-Con that year. It’s a special moment that perfectly captures the pure beauty of one of the most ambitious, bizarre, and silly shows of the 21st Century.