In Cartoon Network’s hit television show Adventure Time, created by Pendleton Wardheroes Finn the Human (Jeremy Shada) and Jake the Dog (John DiMaggio, of Futurama) encounter a number of zany characters. There is Peppermint Butler, Princess Bubblegum’s polite candy servant haunted by a secret passion for dark magic. There is Party Pat (Andy Samberg), a bear who just wants to party in the belly of a ferocious beast. There is Choose Goose, the slack-eyed merchant clad in Renaissance garb who lisps exclusively in rhyming couplets. The series owes its popularity in part to wacky, lovable characters like these.
At times, Finn and Jake’s heroic hearts cloud their judgment. Their enthusiasm for people is admirable, but sometimes a bit misguided. With the best intentions, The Land of Ooo’s favorite dynamic duo often stumble across characters so charming that they simply cannot resist the desire to adopt them as their new sidekick. Finn and Jake face the natural consequences of their impulsivity, but the sidekicks tend to suffer the most.
The Jiggler’s Near-Death Experience
In Season One, Episode Six, Finn and Jake meet a small creature with whom they are instantly enraptured due to his cute appearance and sweet tunes. Finn loves his vibe so much that he decides to take the Jiggler home. Though his intentions are innocent, Finn’s poor judgment in removing the Jiggler from his environment results in traumatizing catastrophe.
The next morning, Finn wakes up ready for more partying with his new pal, but a drooping Jiggler appears to be ill. Jake suggests that he must be hungry, and he feeds him something that exacerbates the poor guy’s condition. The Jiggler begins to ooze pink liquid from the holes in his body. Clearly beginning to panic, Finn and Jake make matters worse by plugging the holes. To their horror, the creature that they have grown so fond of explodes, rendering his body weak and stretched out.
It all works out, of course, as they are able to return the baby Jiggler to his mother and restore his fluids with the proper nourishment. Finn and Jake learn that it is irresponsible to remove a creature from its habitat, especially without knowing how to take care of it. However, they apparently do not learn to make better decisions later in Adventure Time.
Finn’s Hat Wreaks Havoc on the Candy Kingdom
In Season Five, Episode 10, Finn takes off his hat and accidentally brushes it against the Ancient Sleeping Magi of Life Giving. The hat consequently springs to life. Jake is charmed by its innocent appearance, and Finn affectionately names him “Little Dude. “The heroes’ naivety results in disaster, yet again.
Finn brings Little Dude back to the tree house to introduce him to BMO when Little promptly pulls himself over the sentient robot’s head. BMO’s alarm does not phase Finn, who merely attributes his behavior to excitement. To Finn and Jake’s amusement, Little Dude then proceeds to eat all the food that BMO has prepared for his buddies.
The plot escalates when Little Dude escapes the tree house to terrorize the citizens of the Candy Kingdom. The evil hat leaps onto unsuspecting heads, possessing the victim and forcing the individual to commit wrongs, and the situation becomes so chaotic that the Gumball Guardians get involved. In other words, Finn and Jake’s pet project is a disaster. The problem is eventually resolved when The Magi successfully reigns in his incidental creation.
Sidekick characters in Adventure Time like the Jiggler and Little Dude, though different in attitude, serve a similar purpose. They are unique, entertaining creatures that exist to teach Finn and Jake lessons, but also to amuse the audience. The image of the Jiggler, an odd little dumbbell shaped, whistling creature, spewing bright pink liquid from various holes is in itself comical. The idea of dedicating an entire episode to Finn’s signature hat becoming evil is both creative and hilarious.
The Never-Ending Pie-Throwing Robot and The Never-Ending Game of Hide and Seek
In Season One, Episode 15, the series introduces a new recurring character. Heavily involved in a prank war with his best friend, Finn haphazardly jams a bent can, stuffed with wires, onto a microwave. Finn declares that he has engineered a machine to launch a never-ending stream of pies into Jake’s face; however, Finn overestimates his technological abilities and tosses his creation into the rain in frustration. A stray lightning bolt brings his creation to life. The robot, who introduces himself as “Neptr“(NEPTR or, Never-Ending Pie-Throwing Robot), expresses pain because his parts are malfunctioning.
Finn seeks more lightning power from the Ice King. In the feud that ensues, a lightning bolt zaps Finn’s sloppy robotic handiwork to fully-functioning pie-throwing capabilities. Influenced by Ice King’s lightning, Neptr troubles Finn with a desire to kidnap princesses. Finn teaches him right from wrong. Despite his origins and an initial desire to kidnap princesses, Neptr turns out to be an amiable companion.
He seeks fatherly affection from both Finn and the Ice King. Torn between good and evil, Neptr questions his place in the world and his purpose. Neptr concludes that he can maintain a relationship with Finn, whom he calls “Creator,” and Ice King, whom he calls “Pappy.” This concept nicely juxtaposes Neptr’s sloppy invention and robotic identity with his ability to feel and show vulnerability. However, the addition of Neptr as a complex character leads to disappointment and abandonment, as Finn, Jake, the Ice King, and Pendleton Ward commit a grave injustice against the personable prankster.
Neptr does not make his return until Season Four of Adventure Time, when Finn and Jake enter the tree house garage. Neptr, having just won an epic game of hide-and-seek, greets them with joy. He states that it took them 15 months, four days, and nine hours to find him. Finn and Jake exchange looks of unease. Although he appears to be oblivious to his creator’s negligence and the moment is clearly intended to be comical, Neptr still deserves more than what he receives. As added insult to injury, the Ice King also forgets about the robot he refers to as his own son in Episode Eight of Season Five. It appears that the show’s creators may have forgotten about Neptr too.
At this point, a pattern has been established in Adventure Time. With their track record, Finn and Jake are not equipped to tackle the responsibility of a sidekick, much less, characters like the Jiggler, Little Dude, and Neptr who rely heavily upon a doting parental figure. The Jiggler needs his mother for sustenance, Little Dude can only be contained by the Magi, and Neptr’s youthful, complex spirit yearns for an attentive father.
Friends to Enemies
For this next character, Jake’s negligence triggers recurring consequences. To understand the full backstory, one has to recognize all of the pieces of information as they come. His appearances are few and far between, but they reveal information about Jake’s secretive, storied past. (The full Adventure Time series, including Adventure Time: Distant Landsis available for streaming on HBO Max.)
The audience’s initial reaction to Tiffany is meant to be negative, as viewers are not privy to the context of his unbridled animosity toward the heroes, especially toward Finn. Tiffany was once a member of Jake’s gang and considers Jake his best friend. Due to his jealousy, Tiffany projects his anger over Jake’s abandonment onto Finn in the form of violent threats. It is clear that Tiffany is hurt; he views Finn as his replacement and Jake as uncaring. He acts tough because he is insecure, but he really just wants to be friends with both of them.
The Little Guy Who Sticks Through It All
Finn and Jake’s loyal robot companion is the charismatic oddball whose face consumes pop-culture merchandise to this day and inspired his own episode in the epilogue series Adventure Time: Distant Lands on HBO Max. BMO is the ultimate sidekick; he cooks meals, offers a variety of entertainment features, and charms his peers with his amusing little quirks, such as his alter ego, “Football.”
BMO undergoes his fair share of abuse, but BMO is a hero, too. He understands that Finn and Jake are not his parents and is perfectly happy looking after himself. Sure, one may argue that BMO is their sidekick, as he provides useful information and does not have as prominent a role as the two main characters. The difference between him and the others, though, is that BMO does not exist to serve Finn and Jake; he has his own life, experiences, and desires, which Finn and Jake support throughout Adventure Time in various ways. BMO is their friend. Finn and Jake are admittedly pretty lousy caretakers, but they are incredible friendsand all the other characters in this list could’ve used that.
Teen Titans has garnered a massive fanbase that only a few shows could match, and proves to be an enduring gem from Cartoon Network.
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