Sep 172011
 

In Cheshire’s extremely biased opinion

Adventure Time with Finn and Jake represents some of the best programming Cartoon Network has ever had to offer. Even compared to the “classic” Cartoon Network shows from the ’90s (The Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Courage the Cowardly Dog, etc.,) Adventure Time is excellent. I’m saving that discussion, however, for another day. Right now, I’d rather focus on the characters that populate Adventure Time’s remarkably well-developed world, The Land of Ooo.

As I mentioned in my My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic review, many current cartoon creators and writers are creating a cohesive world for their work, and I absolutely love it. A large part of achieving this task is taking the time to give attention to background characters, so I’d like to share my personal, completely biased list of the top ten best minor characters on Adventure Time.

A couple of disclaimers: This list includes only minor characters. I love main characters such as Finn, Jake, Marceline, and the Ice King as much as the next fan, but I don’t see any point in talking about them here. Their appeal is obvious, and necessary for such a show to continue being popular. I’ve also had to include MINOR SPOILERS in some of the explanations for my choices. If spoilers bother you and you haven’t seen all of the episodes, I’d recommend that you come back and read this when you’re completely caught up.

10. Starchy the Gravedigger (recurring character)
Voiced by Tom Kenny

Starchy is the resident gravedigger in the Candy Kingdom, meant to resemble a round piece of chocolate. He appears in several episodes with varying amounts of screen time, but my favorite Starchy moments are whenever he appears as a bystander commenting on the main action of the episode. He’s basically the same character as Scruffy from Futurama: the matter-of-fact blue collar character who delivers hilarious nonsequiters. And I love both of them for that very reason.

9. Poo-brained horse (“The Eyes”)

I’ll concede that this one only loosely qualifies as a character from the show, since the horse turns out to be a disguise that the Ice King uses to spy on Finn and Jake at home, but I felt a need to include it anyway. In the episode “The Eyes”, Finn and Jake look forward to a good night’s sleep after being awake for seven days straight. Jake makes a realization that proves to be a huge problem: there’s a creepy horse staring at them through their window. Neither of them can sleep once they see it, so they spend almost the entire episode trying to shoo it away.

Because it’s unresponsive to all of their prodding, Jake declares the horse suffers from “poo brain”. Many characters on this list are included for their comedic value, and I think that’s the main appeal of the poo-brained horse. It doesn’t do anything the entire episode except stand there and occasionally widen its eyes while it stares at Finn and Jake. And yet—it’s hilarious. Especially if you, like me, are the type of person who laughs uncontrollably at those pictures of stupid-looking dogs with the caption “HURRRRR DURRRRR” that are all over the Internet.

8. Death (“Death in Bloom”)
Voiced by Miguel Ferrer

Out of the countless physical representations of death in fiction, this has to be one of my favorites (second only to Death from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comic book series.) Finn and Jake encounter Death during a trip to the Land of the Dead, where they hope to “resurrect” a plant that Princess Bubblegum entrusted to them. There are two reasons why I love Adventure Time’s version of Death so much. One is the way he’s characterized.

Despite being the personification of death and purveyor of the Land of the Dead, he tends a zen garden, dresses like a pilgrim, and carries a messenger bag everywhere he goes. That’s exactly the kind of absurd humor that Adventure Time does so well. Plus, he plays death metal. That’s right: death plays death metal. There are no words to describe how mind-blowingly awesome that is. Or, if there are, I don’t have them.

7. Ricardio (“Ricardio the Heart Guy”)
Voiced by George Takei

Ricardio appears in the seventh broadcast episode of Adventure Time, called “Ricardio the Heart Guy”. It’s the first episode that deals with Finn’s crush on Princess Bubblegum, as it involves Finn becoming extremely jealous of the dashing Ricardio’s friendship with Princess Bubblegum. There’s really not much to say about this one. George Takei provides the voice for Ricardio, and his face is modeled after Takei’s. On top of that, the makers of Adventure Time somehow managed to get this cameo in the seventh episode. That was definitely enough to get me hooked on the show, and as a result Ricardio is one of my favorite characters.

6. Marceline’s Father (“It Came from the Nightosphere”)
Voiced by Martin Olsen

“It Came from the Nightosphere” is one of the strongest episodes of Adventure Time. It’s so good, in fact, that it was the episode that Cartoon Network submitted for consideration in the “Outstanding Short-format Animated Program” category for this year’s Emmy awards, and it got them the nomination. One thing that Adventure Time does really well is dark humor, and this episode reflects that.

Marceline the Vampire Queen’s father appears to be and acts like a strait-laced middle-aged man in a suit, but turns out to be a diabolical demon bent on sucking the souls out of every living creature in the Land of Ooo. This duality makes him amusing to watch, but there are moments at the end of the episode where he’s genuinely frightening. He’s at once surprising and familiar, and of course very memorable.

5. Peppermint Butler (recurring character)
Voiced by Steve Little

Peppermint Butler is mostly a background character in the Candy Kingdom, and he appears fleetingly in many episodes as Princess Bubblegum’s butler. For much of the series, he’s not a particularly compelling character, though I do love the character design. There’s one moment in the episode “Death in Bloom”, however, that made me completely change my outlook on Peppermint Butler. Throughout the episode, it’s hinted that Peppermint Butler is actually a former citizen of the Land of the Dead, where the main food is human flesh.

During the final scene of the episode, Peppermint Butler suddenly tells Finn and Jake that he will steal their flesh as payment for helping them get into the Land of the Dead. I think it’s amazing that Adventure Time can expose a character’s shocking backstory in a single line. Ever since I watched that episode, I’ve seen Peppermint Butler in a completely different light and have enjoyed him as a character.

4. Lady Rainicorn (recurring character)
Voiced by Niki Yang

Lady Rainicorn is Jake’s interspecies girlfriend throughout the series. There is so much to like here. Her design is brilliant; she’s the inspiration for countless pieces of Adventure Time fanart online. She speaks entirely in Korean, requiring an electronic translator to communicate with Finn and Jake. For me, though, the biggest draw is the way that her species, the rainicorns, have been fully characterized on the show.

Rainicorns eat humans, speak Korean, can perform magic with their horns, and fought in a great war against the dogs many years before the show takes place. I love the fact that this show gives its viewers that much detail about the species in the show. I suppose it’s more accurate to say that rainicorns are my favorite fictional species on the show, and that Lady Rainicorn is my favorite rainicorn, but either way, they’re high on my list of favorites.

3. Gunter (recurring character)

This is another one that may not actually count as a character, since Gunter is technically the name Ice King gives to any one of his army of penguins which happens to be around at the moment, but these penguins are just so damn cute. They appear in many episodes throughout the show, and it has been implied numerous times that they are much smarter and more evil than they seem.

There’s an entire episode about one of the Gunters creating mischief for Finn and Jake, and it’s just…adorable. I could talk about how clever I think the idea of these endearing creatures being the most evil being Marceline’s father “has ever encountered” is, but I honestly think I’m just a victim of their cute. I’m sure that’s how they get the Ice King’s dirty work done, too.

2. The Earl of Lemongrab (“Too Young”)
Voiced by Justin Rolland

In order to understand the Earl of Lemongrab’s appeal, I think you need only hear his voice:

That voice. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. You almost don’t even need any context to understand why he’s so high on my list, but I’ll give it anyway. The Earl of Lemongrab appears in the episode “Too Young.” At this point in the series, Princess Bubblegum has been transformed from an 18-year-old to a 13-year-old. By Candy Kingdom law, she’s too young to rule the kingdom.

The Earl of Lemongrab is next in line to the throne, and claims it for himself in the episode. What ensues is an episode made expressly to showcase that amazing scream voice actor Justin Rolland does so well, and I love every ear-splitting minute of it.

1. Beemo (recurring character)
Voiced by Niki Yang

There are a quite a few reasons why I (and the rest of the Internet) love Beemo, Finn and Jake’s sentient video game system, so much. His appeal comes mostly from being absolutely adorable. He speaks with a Korean accent, and seems at times to have an abusive relationship with Finn and Jake. Nearly everything Beemo does is a “Daaaaw” moment, from dancing with joy to being sent to sit in a corner when he won’t obey Jake’s instructions.

Beemo is basically “If my video game console was also my pet,” which I think is a secret wish of the gaming community. He’s also one of the most well designed characters on the show, in my opinion: part Gameboy, part Macintosh, part Atari 2600, his design instantly recalls a sense of nostalgia for classic games. Beemo is not only my, but many other Adventure Time fans’ favorite character on the show, and I think that’s well deserved.

  4 Responses to “Saturday Morning Cartoons: Top 10 Adventure Time Characters”

  1. You know, it's not until I get them all lined up in a row like this that I realize how interesting the designs for this show are. They range from the typical pop cute that's being spammed everywhere (You know, the kind of animu cute that Hott Topic exploits) to the bizarre, even the grotesque. Much kudos to the creators of Adventure Time, their designs and backstory just make these guys – although they are minor characters – all sorts of awesome.

    And I can never get over the Earl of Lemongrab and his screaming, screeching voice.

  2. Lemongrab is my favorite by a considerable margin. His dialogue is some of the funniest in the show. "Mystery Dungeon" and "All Your Fault" are hilarious episodes. PUT YOU IN MY OVEN!

  3. LUMPY SPACE PRINCESS! LSP!

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